The Role (and Danger) of Fun in Youth Ministry

In some youth ministry communities, fun and games is becoming a four-letter word: avoided, forbidden, wrong. As if fun is something that no serious youth worker would encourage.

Fun is not the enemy. I don’t know anyone who thinks it is. But I do know a lot of people who are suspicious of “too much fun.” I see this youth pastor often who is highly suspicious of ministries with “too much fun.” He makes some good points, but I often feel conflicted about whether or not I listen to him too much. There are other times when I think he’s sharing his concerns because I myself am guilty! Afterall, where exactly is that line between healthy-fun (which provides fertile ground for relationships and cultivating trust) and entertainment-driven ministry (where fun overshadows everything else you’re attempting to do). In the midst of my struggles with this youth pastor’s concerns about too much fun, I can’t just ignore him… because I see him every time I look in the mirror!

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How to be Good

This week at Youth Group we resumed our series, “Think About It: Christian Cliches… what’s this even mean?!”Other messages in the series include: “How to be a Strong Christian,” “What’s it Mean to Invite Jesus into Your Heart?,” “It’s Not My Gift,” and “Let Go, Let God.” 

If you were to measure the people on the scale below, where would you place them on a ‘goodness scale?’

Goodness Scale

Why would you put them there? What makes the Pope “better” than Bieber? How do you decide if Taylor Swift belongs? Really think about it… what does it mean to “be good.”
It all depends on how you’re measuring!

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Honoring God by Honoring Your Parents

The word “Honor” literally means “to make heavy.” When my kids are stressing me out and I drown my stress in ice cream, I somehow don’t think this is what the Bible had in mind by being honored by my kids. What does it mean to honor your parents? This post serves as a general summary of the fifth commandment.

Cardboard figures of the family on opened book

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What is an “Unreached People Group?”

At our teen guys’ Bible Study last night we were talking about evangelism, and about the importance of sharing the gospel with those who haven’t heard before. They were shocked to hear that almost half the population of the world has never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus. If we believe the gospel is necessary for salvation and eternal hope, this is utterly tragic! And this is why our church is so emphatic about the importance of global missions.

What is the Story of the Bible all about?
The Bible is the story of God’s work to rescue creation from the judgment she has fallen under because of sin. The Bible is not a “rule book” or “instruction manual,” but instead, it’s the story of Good News that we can live with eternal hope and security because of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ! This is the message of Christianity.

Check out this video, which gives an excellent summary of the whole Bible in only 6:30.

What is an Unreached People Group?
A People Group is a group of people with a distinct culture (think about all the tribes of Native Americans, who had their own customs, histories, and languages, even though the different tribes were all considered “Native Americans”). An Unreached People Group (UPG) is a group who has no access to the gospel of Jesus Christ. If they heard you talk about Jesus, they’d respond with, “Who’s he? Does he live down the road? I’ve never heard of him.” The three-minute video below gives a compelling vision for why Christians need to care about UPG’s in our world.

More info about UPG’s

  • There are roughly 16,400 people groups in the world. 6,648 of them are considered UPG’s (according to The Joshua Project, a ministry devoted to promoting information about UPG’s). That’s roughly 40.5%.
  • The global population is estimated at 7.28 Billion people, with 42.2% of them being people who have no access to the gospel (3.07 Billion people).
  • Once a people group reaches 2% who are Christians, that people group is no longer considered “unreached.” Those 2% are then a viable Church who is further equipped take the gospel to their people.
  • 95% of these people live in the “10/40 Window” (10 & 40 degrees north of the equator). Less than 10% of missionaries are serving among these UPG’s in the 10/40 Window.
  • Finishing the Task estimates there are 506 people groups who have still never been engaged by anyone attempting to share the Good News of Jesus Christ

 

Operation World logo
Click image above to sign up for daily emails to fuel your prayer for Unreached People Groups.

 

Rules of Engagement: “How” to Practice Christian Tolerance

Over the last few weeks I’ve really been chewing on tolerance – what it is, and how to practice it as a gospel-centered Christian. Last week we looked at the question, “Is Evangelism Intolerant?

1 Peter 3:15 says this, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

The center of evangelism is this: honoring Christ. Honoring him by telling others what he has done to give them hope and salvation. Honoring him by receiving his grace and responding to the call to live a life of honoring Christ with what we think, what we say, what we feel, and how we treat others. Faith brings new life and new hope.

With this foundation for evangelism in mind, I want to offer a few “Rules of Engagement” for how Christians can evangelize while demonstrating tolerance (“respect despite disagreement“).

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How to be a Strong Christian

This is the fourth message in our series “Think About It: Christian Cliches… what’s this even mean?” Other messages in the series include “What’s it Mean to Invite Jesus into Your Heart?” “It’s Not My Gift” and “Let Go, Let God.” 

Think about the strongest Christian you know. What is he or she like?

When we think about strong Christians, we think about someone who knows the Bible inside-out, who is bold about sharing their faith, whose prayer-life is something we could only imagine having. Essentially… we think about a Christian ninja. And we know that does NOT describe us!

But what if being a strong Christian is about something else? What if you don’t need to be a Christian ninja for God to use you?

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What Does it Mean to Invite Jesus Into Your Heart?

This is the third message in our series “Think About It: Christian Cliches… what’s this even mean?” Other messages in the series include “It’s Not My Gift” and “Let Go, Let God.” 

I used to go to a Christian camp every summer when I was a kid. Almost every year I would be encouraged to “let Jesus into my heart.” I was already a Christian, so this invitation confused me. I know others who always felt pressured and guilty that maybe they sent the invitation to the wrong place or forgot the stamp? Maybe Jesus only visited their heart last year, and this year they hope he chooses to stay. It’s a confusing invitation: letting Jesus into your heart.

What’s that even mean, really? Is it a one-time invitation, and then we’re set for life? Or is it a habitual invitation that we need to keep on issueing so he doesn’t leave?

 

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Is Evangelism Intolerant?

I’ve been thinking about tolerance quite a bit over the last few weeks. Last week I attempted to provide a clear definition of What Tolerance Is (and Isn’t). My hope was to simply clarify what tolerance is without getting into what it looks like for the Christian to be tolerant in an unChristian world. I believe tolerance is a good thing and we need more of it.

In a tolerant world, would Christians still evangelize and send missionaries? Is evangelism inherently intolerant?

Some people believe evangelism is inherently anti-tolerant. Here are a few reasons I answer, “No, evangelism is not inherently intolerant.”

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What Tolerance Is (and Isn’t)

One of the things that is so great about America is our diversity. Like the states who form the United States of America, the American people have different cultural backgrounds but come together united. That can cause some problems, because we so easily slip into a mentality that says, “Different = Wrong.” How do we learn to get along and respect others who are so different from us?

Tolerance… it’s practically the religion of today. Unfortunately, what often gets called “tolerance” is anything but. It’s become a word that gets thrown around but never defined.

What Tolerance Is Not
Tolerance doesn’t overlook differences. It’s not tolerant to tell people, “You think you disagree, but you really don’t.” Telling Christians and Muslims and Buddhists they all believe the same thing and worship the same God isn’t tolerance, it’s disrespecting their religious beliefs.

When tolerance becomes intolerant of differences, we are not practicing tolerance… we’re practicing uniformity. Doing that is like cutting down all the trees so they get the same amount of sunlight.

 

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What’s So Dangerous About Busyness?

When I was interviewing for my current position as a youth pastor someone asked me, “What do you think is the greatest challenge facing teenagers today?”

It’s a great question. I remember giving some answer about postmodernism and the challenge of living in a relativistic culture. Blah blah blah. I’m sure my answer was brilliant… but let me take another crack at it.

Busyness

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