Why God’s promises can cover a multitude of our sins in teaching

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God’s Word never returns empty.

It’s a great promise and an encouragement for youth leaders who are trying to reach students with God’s words. But it’s also one of those promises that can cover a multitude of sins. Our sins in bad, lazy teaching for instance. Our sins in not building deep and true relationships with the students we minister to. Or our sins in failing to apply what we teach in our own lives.

[Read more…]

The 7 regrets of youth pastors (2)

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Looking back isn’t always easy. Many of us have regrets when we look back on our life and ‘career’ as a youth pastor. We’ve listed four regrets so far in our first post on the 7 regrets of youth pastors: avoiding conflicts, not communicating the vision enough, settling for a low salary and not training a successor. Here are three more regrets many youth pastors have:

5. Not taking care of yourself

As youth pastors, we seem wired to put ourselves last. We take care of everyone else, but we forget to take care of ourselves. Our own physical health, our spiritual health, they don’t get the attention they need to stay healthy. As youth pastor Jason Sansbury tweeted to me: [Read more…]

The 7 regrets of youth pastors (1)

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I’ve been in youth ministry for about fourteen years in one capacity or another. Looking back, I sure wish I would have done some things differently. I’m fairly sure many of us feel that way.

Now I personally think regrets are a waste of time but ‘7 things many youth pastors wish they’d done differently in hindsight’ didn’t sound quite as catchy for a title…

So here, we go with 7 things many youth pastors wished they had done differently aka the 7 regrets of youth pastors:

1. Avoiding conflicts

As Christians, we’re supposed to be loving, kind and forgiving. The problem is that this often results in an avoidance of conflict at all costs. I’ve let certain situations continue for too long because I wanted to avoid a conflict. Well, the conflict happened anyway and it was much nastier than it would have been if I had faced it head on.

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Youth Sermon Idea: What is the Truth?

youth sermon topics

One of the key characteristics of the postmodern culture young people live in nowadays, is the changed vision on truth. For most modernists, truth is absolute and preferably objectively and scientifically proven. For most postmodernists, truth is relative and is based on experience, rather than facts. I’ve written a bit more about this in a post called The challenges of Postmodernism: What is the Truth?

Because the definition of truth has changed, because truth has become relative, young people don’t see Jesus as the absolute truth anymore. They believe He is truth for those who believe this and most of them certainly don’t believe He’s the only way to God. This is an important belief that needs to be challenged.

Bible passage: John 14:1-7, John 8:32

Key message: Jesus Christ is the only way to God…whether you believe it or not [Read more…]

Youth Sermon Topic: Jephthah

youth sermon topics

Jephthah is a biblical figure who’s not so well known, especially amongst students. There’s a lot to learn from his successes and failures however, which is why he’s a good topic for a youth sermon. Interested in more sermons for youth? Check out our Topics for Youth Sermons page!

Bible passage: Judges 12:1-6

Key message: Insecurity comes at a price

Synopsis: It’s the time of the judges. Jephthah is ‘a mighty man of valor’ (Judges 11:1), but he’s illegitimate and driven away by is half brothers. Still, he proves himself to be a good leader. It’s hypocritical, but when they face a threat, the leaders of his tribe ask Jephthah to lead the Israelites in a war against Ammon. Lesson one is then that God can use anyone, no matter how broken or hurtful your background. The Bible shows this over and over. [Read more…]

Presenting my first book: Beyond Small Talk

Beyond Small Talk - DownloadI am very proud and honored to announce the publication of my very first book: Beyond Small Talk: Connecting with Teenagers through Conversations that Matter. It’s published by Simply Youth Ministry, in the Everyday Youth Ministry series.

We talk a lot with teens as youth workers and youth leaders, but it’s not always easy to have conversations that go beyond small talk. But if we want to make a difference in the lives of our students, it’s imperative that we do get teenagers to talk to us, to open up to us. In this book I share my ‘secrets’ for getting students to talk to you. There’s loads of practical advice on listening, building trust, asking the right questions, responding the right way and also on what not to say. [Read more…]

Are you showing or telling your students?

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There’s an old adagio for writers, a golden rule if you wish. It’s this:

Show, don’t tell.

It’s about the difference between telling a reader what he should know, conclude, feel and showing him the situation, allowing for room for his or her own interpretation and emotions.

As a writer (while my main activity is non-fiction writing, I’m very much in love with fiction writing as well), this rule is very familiar to me. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to execute. [Read more…]

Two ideas for sermon outline templates

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Do you have a more or less standard sermon outline that works for you? If not, you may find some much needed fresh inspiration in these two sermon outline templates.

1. Head-heart-hand

This sermon outline is based upon the importance of stories in a sermon and it’s fairly straightforward:

Story opening

Head: what some are thinking now

Heart: what God says we should think

Hands: what we should do

Story closing

(source: Artie Davis)

[Read more…]

More on arousal addiction: the resurrection of guys

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More and more research is being done into the effects of heavy internet use and especially internet porn. And all that research is showing how devastating the effects of internet porn are on guys.

Last week I wrote a post about a TED video on ‘The demise of guys’, in which psychologist Pillip Zimbardo talked about the phenomenon of ‘arousal addiction’. Today I came across another TED talk called ‘The great porn experiment’ that offers more proof for what Zimbardo claimed. [Read more…]

A powerful story of pain overcome

X factor logo

Jillian Jensen can sing, that’s for sure. The contestant in the X-factor’s audition has a lot of YouTube videos already in which she sings covers from all kinds of songs. But in her X-factor audition, she showed something that made each and every person in that room cry, including Simon Cowell and that’s saying something.

She showed her pain.

In the interview, Jillian connects with singer Demi Lovato and shares that she’s been bullied severely as well. When she talks about this, her pain is so real and so on the surface, that everyone becomes quiet. This is not show, this is real.

Real pain.

And then she sings her song and it’s so emotional, so full of that pain. “It’s okay not to be okay” she sings and you know she’s been there. She hasn’t been okay. [Read more…]