Youth Ministry and the 5 Whys

girls asks why

Car manufacturer Toyota has become known for a question-asking technique used to come to the root cause of a problem. It’s as simple as asking why until you have come to the bottom of an issue. The term ‘5 whys’ refers to the number of times you usually have to ask ‘why’ before you have found the real problem, cause or reason.

Let’s illustrate with an example. One of the most popular events in a Dutch church was the autumn retreat. This took place at the end of October and usually at least 60 students would sign up. When a new youth pastor came, he changed the date to September because he wanted to use it as a team-building kick-off event for the season. Suddenly only 20 students showed up for the retreat. What had happened? [Read more…]

One Sober Friend is All it Takes


It’s tough for teens to abstain from drinking if all their friends do liquor up. We’ve all heard stories of ‘he-would-never-do-that’ or ‘she’s-not-the-type’ teens who got drunk at a party. How can we help teens stay strong amongst peer pressure when it comes to drinking? [Read more…]

Email like you could be hacked


A recent hack has left Sony Pictures Entertainment scrambling to apologize after emails were leaked. In these emails, executives trashed actors and made racially insensitive jokes about President Obama. Now, they’re left trying to backpedal and explain and apologize to everyone they discussed.

It’s not the first hacking scandal (think of many pictures of celebrities that were hacked from a cloud storage a while ago) and it won’t be the last. You’d think that leaders on that level would learn to be more careful, but evidently not.

Yet there’s a bigger picture here. If these emails had never been made public, the remarks about for instance the president would still not have been okay. They would have still been racially insensitive—and I’m using a much more politically correct expression here than they deserve. [Read more…]

How upspeak can ruin your credibility as speaker


Intonation – how you pitch your words – matters more than you may realize. When we listen to someone speak, we use intonation to distinguish between a question and a statement for instance (you can’t see the question marks after all). But we also determine the credibility and self confidence of a speaker by the intonation.

One growing trend is ‘upspeak’ or ‘uptalk’, a way of speaking where you end your sentences on a higher pitch or upward inflections, thus making it very similar to asking a question. In Australia, this is quite common and is known as AQI: Australian Question Intonation. But more and more people are using this way of speaking, especially teenagers. It makes everything they say sound like a question. [Read more…]

Make better long term decisions with this simple tip


In the last year we have had to make a lot of decisions.

Do we accept the job and move from Germany to New York?

Do we put our son in public or private school?

What car do we buy?

Should we rent or buy a house?

The list of decisions seemed endles. Some had big consequences, some were on a much smaller scale. Some had emotional value, like the decision to attend my grandparents’ 65th weding anniversary or not, at the cost of one very expensive airplane ticket to The Netherlands.

The more emotional the decision, the harder it is to get the right perspective. Imagine having to choose between attending a funeral or making an important presentation at work that may get you the promotion at your job you’ve been working for for years. Which do you choose? [Read more…]

Youth Sermon Idea: Why does God Allow Evil?

youth sermon topics

It’s one of the questions that keeps popping up in conversations with teens: why does God allow evil? If He is all powerful, if He loves us, why does He allow bad things to happen to us? And why don’t Christians do any ‘better’ in this department than non-Christians?

While this is not a topic that can be dealt with to everyone’s satisfaction in a 20 or even 30-minute sermon, it is good to address it. You could do a follow up in the small groups with the sermon as a starting point.

I’ve picked the person of Job here as a basis to discuss this difficult question, as his story helps us to find answers. Because his story is important to understand the advice his friends give him, you may need to either read several passages from the Book of Job, or explain them yourself in a narrative way. [Read more…]

The 10 TED Talks every youth leader should watch (2)

In the previous post we already shared 5 great TED talks every youth leader should watch and here are 5 more that have made it into my top 10 of awesome TED talks for any youth worker.

6. Sarah-Jayne Blakemore – The adolescent brain

I’m a big fan of brain research, especially when it’s focused on adolescents. The info I’ve read and watched over the years, like this great TED talk on the adolescent brain, has really helped me to not only understand teens better myself, but help their parents understand their kids better as well.

[Read more…]

The 10 TED Talks every youth leader should watch (1)

I love TED talks. They’re often inspiring, challenging and it’s a quick and easy way to get fresh perspectives and new ideas.

For youth leaders, TED talks are a brilliant resource. I’ve truly learned a lot by watching a few talks each month and in this post, I want to share my favorites with you. Here are the 10 TED talks that every youth leader should watch:

1. Brene Brown – The Power of Vulnerability

This is the ultimate TED talk in my opinion. It’s brilliant, it’s funny, it’s personal and it will completely change your perspective and paradigm. Literally life changing.

[Read more…]

Youth Sermon Idea: Love is a Choice

youth sermon topics

In our postmodern society, there are many words and concepts that have gotten a completely different definition than before. Truth, right, wrong, tolerance, these are just a few. Love also falls into that category. Where once upon a time love meant commitment, monogamy, friendship, and for the most part something that lasted, it has now often become cheap, physical, quick, a matter of feelings that can pass as quick as they have come. It’s time to explain what love is al about…

Bible passage: 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

Key message: Love is a choice

Synopsis: This passage gives us a perfect picture of what love should be like. It describes a perfect love in clear and uncertain terms. But reading this almost hurts, because we all know love like this doesn’t exist in real life…or does it? This passage first and foremost describes God’s perfect love. This passage and others (like Isaiah 54:10, though this was spoken to Israel and not to us) make clear that God’s love is perfect and eternal and that we can trust it to always be there. God’s love is a choice based on God’s character, not on out worthiness of being loved. God proved that when He loves us when we were still sinners and gave up His Son to save us from our sins. Secondly, it shows that love is a choice. Love is not a feeling, it’s a choice we make every day, every hour, to do the loving thing. Love exists where people choose to love. Are you trusting in God’s love for you? And what are you doing to choose love? [Read more…]