Offering reliable and trustworthy information

water

There have been some serious floods in our area a few weeks ago due to heavy rainfall. Luckily the small village where we live is on a hill, so we escaped damage, but many towns around us have been flooded as rivers rose too high.

This weekend, we were confronted with an unexpected result of the flooding: our drink water has been contaminated as the sewer system couldn’t handle this much water. We can’t consume our water without boiling it first.

It’s a bit of a hassle that makes you appreciate the necessity of clean drinking water, that first and foremost. But it also made me ponder the importance of reliability.

I’ve always trusted our drinking water, trusted that it was safe, healthy and good for me. After this, that trust is somewhat damaged, although the water company did a great job in being open and honest and warning everyone about what’s going on.

[Read more…]

10 preaching tips from Tony Campolo

Tony-Campolo

When I saw Tony Campolo was leading a preaching master class on the early day of the Youth Work Summit, I immediately booked this stream. He’s a brilliant communicator and I was pretty stoked to be able to spend a whole day learning from him. And I have to say: he didn’t disappoint. He was funny, sharp, and wise and I could have listened to him for hours more. Let me share some of the highlights of what he taught that day: 10 preaching tips from Tony Campolo himself.

1. Make sure you have the gift

Speaking, preaching, teaching, whatever you want to call it: it’s a gift. You need to have this gift if you want to have an impact. Churches are dying because their pastors don’t have the gift of teaching, so make sure you have a call and a gift to preach.

2. Prepare physically

This is something Tony Campolo could speak on with authority, considering he’s in his seventies and still going strong. He stressed the need to be physically fit, to eat well and keep yourself in shape to be able to keep going.

[Read more…]

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

rainbow

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…]

Helping your students with ‘anchoring’ new Biblical truths

Anchoring to existing knowledge is an important part of the process of learning new knowledge.

In cognitive psychology there’s a very interesting phenomenon called anchoring. It means that people will always try to anchor new knowledge, problems or issues to existing knowledge and experiences. This not only helps us to remember things better (example: the same math equations work for math, chemistry and physics), but it’s also a big help in problem solving skills. In short: anchoring is a very important part of the process of learning.

Example: when given a problem (‘How do I open this jar that is stuck’?) we automatically try to recall previous similar knowledge (‘A few weeks ago I managed to open one with a knife’) and experiences (‘I have to be careful to use the knife in the right direction, otherwise I’ll end up cutting myself like I did last time’).

This process of anchoring has some interesting and important consequences for teaching Biblical truths in youth ministry:

1. We should help students with anchoring

A well known problem with anchoring is that we anchor to the wrong information or that we can’t find any related information at all to anchor to. This is especially the case when the new knowledge is abstract or conceptual. This is obviously fairly often the case in teaching Biblical truths.

Anchoring to existing knowledge is an important part of the process of learning new knowledge.

[Read more…]

How to make a good youth small group study

Making a youth small group study yourself is a rewarding process...(photo: Creative Commons, Marcia Furman)

Making a good youth small group study yourself is time consuming perhaps, but also very rewarding. It gives you more flexibility than bought curricula and you can adapt your study specifically to the needs of your small group. While I don’t believe there’s one right format for good small group studies, I do think there’s a process you can follow to help you create a good study. Here’s what I advice on how to make a good youth small group study:

1. Pray

Everything you do needs to start in prayer, be imbedded in prayer. Without God’s blessing, the best Bible study in the world won’t make a difference for your students. Make it a habit to spend some real time in prayer before writing a small group study, not just a two minute ‘rescue me’ prayer a few hours before small group starts.

2. Pick a topic or a passage

Some prefer to start with a defined theme (‘friendship’ or ‘grace’), some prefer to let a Bible passage be the start. Either route has its advantages and drawbacks, so changing tactics regularly is probably a good idea. Whatever you do, make sure that the Bible is front and center at your small group. If you spend more time doing games or other fun stuff than you do reading and discussing God’s Word, you may need to refocus on the goal of your youth small group.

Bible Study Small Group

[Read more…]

How to make a teaching plan for youth ministry

Making a teaching plan for your youth ministry has several benefits, for instance less stress and more variety in the topics and passages you teach on.

One of the most challenging plans to make for a new season of youth ministry is a teaching plan. Yet it’s also the most rewarding one, both spiritually and in terms of stress reduction. First, let’s have a look at some of the benefits of making a teaching plan. Then we’ll discuss how to actually make one for your youth ministry.

The benefits of a teaching plan

I admit: I’m a planner, so making plans and planning in advance comes natural to me. Yet I’m convinced of the benefits of a teaching plan for every youth ministry. Here’s why:

  • It prevents you from last minute stress, trying to figure out what to teach on
  • It prevents you from teaching the same (familiar) topics each year because you lack inspiration at the moment you need to come up with a topic
  • It ensures more variety, because you can take the time to come up with topics and passages from the entire Bible instead of just the books or passages you’re familiar with
  • It gives more depth to your Bible studies and sermons, as you have more time to prepare
  • It creates clarity for guest speakers because you can ask them to preach on a certain topic or passage in advance, thereby giving them time to prepare properly as well
  • You can let Bible studies, sermons and anything else you teach reinforce each other by painting the bigger picture instead of just picking random topics that students can’t connect within the bigger story of the Bible
  • You can select your topics and passages in such a way as to stress an overall message, theme or the gospel, therefore being way more intentional in your teaching

Making a teaching plan for your youth ministry has several benefits, for instance less stress and more variety in the topics and passages you teach on.

[Read more…]

Dealing with disruptions during your talk

How do you deal with disruptive behavior from teens during your talk effectively, yet lovingly?

[This post is part of the series on Preaching for youth]. Teens aren’t exactly the easiest audience for a speaker. Disruptions during a talk are fairly common as a matter of fact. Teen whisper with each other, or even talk out loud. They giggle, look at their cell phones, show pictures to each other. All the while, you’re standing there trying to give a talk. So how do you deal with these disruptions in an effective, yet loving way?

Ignore when possible

When it’s just a couple of teens talking a bit too loud with each other and the rest is still listening, ignore it. Usually, they’ll stop after a bit.

Use silence

An effective and subtle way to address the disruption is by using silence. Just be quiet for ten seconds or so. You don’t even have to look at the tens making the racket, as a matter if fact I would advice you not to as to make it subtle. Their noise can be heard better and nine out of ten times they’ll notice and stop, or their peers will ask them to.

How do you deal with disruptive behavior from teens during your talk effectively, yet lovingly? (Photo: Creative Commons)

[Read more…]

Creative ideas for memorizing Scripture

Memorizing Scripture is a powerful discipling tool in youth ministry.

In the church I grew up in, we spent quite some time memorizing Bible verses. We always had vacation Bible weeks for kids where we were taught one or more verses, we did the same every Sunday in Sunday school and even the teen ministry gave it a shot.

But after that, I didn’t devote much attention or time to memorizing Scripture. In the last few years however, I’ve become more and more convinced of the importance of knowing verses, passages and maybe even whole chapters or books from the Bible by head.

If you want to know the many benefits of memorizing Scripture, I refer you to this excellent post (with very inspiring quotes) by John Piper and a more recent one from Sermon Central. I’m convinced that memorizing Scripture is a very important part of discipling our young people and I’d love to do more of this in youth ministry.

Memorizing Scripture is a powerful discipling tool in youth ministry.

[Read more…]

The lasting power of simple images

Campus train

I was still a college student when I first encountered this image, or drawing actually. My husband and I were part of a Campus Crusade for Christ group and that’s where we first saw it. In the years we spent there, it became sort of funny, because the thing kept popping up in sermons, speeches, talks, Bible studies and testimonies. We referred to it as the ‘Campus-train’ and by the time we left the group, we could draw it off the top of our heads.

It’s a powerful demonstration of the necessity to put the facts first, followed by faith and then feelings. In this postmodern culture with its focus on experiences and ‘what feels good’, the temptation to put feelings first is big. But as we all know, our feelings aren’t reliable and they certainly are no indication or evidence of what God is doing in our lives. It was a deep truth, the depth of which we didn’t even fully realize at that time. Still, we found the image to be a bit silly.

[Read more…]

Dealing with nerves when giving a talk

Being nervous before a talk, presentation or sermon is completely normal. There are good ways to help you combat these nerves.

[This post is part of the series on Preaching for youth]. Being nervous before or during a talk or sermon is completely normal. It’s not something to worry about or feel ashamed about.

But your nerves can hinder you from speaking freely and with conviction. So here are some tips on dealing with nerves while speaking to youth. There are four things you can do before hand and four tips for dealing with nerves while talking.

What you can do beforehand to minimize the changes of getting really nervous for a talk or sermon:

Know your stuff

When you’re prone to nerves, make sure you know your stuff. That means preparing your talk well and making sure you know it by heart. There should be no doubt in your mind that you have done everything you can in prepping your sermon, so that cannot cause extra nerves. You should be able to focus on your delivery because you have the content down to a t.

Being nervous before a talk, presentation or sermon is completely normal. There are good ways to help you combat these nerves.

[Read more…]