The Top 10: July 2018

Here are the top ten articles from the past month that can be of benefit to youth workers and parents in their ministry to teenagers. Some of these give explicit instruction on gospel-centered ministry, while others are included because there is a message of common grace that can help us in our ministries. If you find an article that could speak to the Rooted community, please share it in the comment section below.

Gospel Centered Ministry

When Re-Conversion is Easier Than Repentance, Samuel D. James (Letter and Liturgy)

“Now the youth group is taking another week-long summer trip, and she’s coming too. And just like last year, at some point in the week, she gets emotional about Jesus. Also like last year, she asks to talk to her youth minister, and yet again like last year, she comes to realize that she wasn’t “really” a Christian after all. Through tears and hugs she announces her newfound authentic faith, and again brings her testimony home to the church. But like last time, summer doesn’t last forever. By February people are asking where she’s been, and some are already becoming cynical: ‘Just wait til she gets saved this summer.'”

Keep Planting: Student Ministry and the Gospel, Emma McLeod (Challies)

“Student Ministry is tough. Maybe I’m biased because I’ve felt its wrath. But I’ve also felt its blessing, and it far outweighs the difficulty. Student Ministry requires meeting teenagers where they are, whether you’re welcomed or ridiculed, invited or rejected. It requires faithfully being an example of what walking with Jesus looks like instead of teaching them “the rules.” And often times, you might not see the fruit for yourself. But we keep planting the seeds, knowing that God waters in His time, and resources like The Gospel Project helped me to keep pointing my small group girls toward Jesus.”

Letter to an Aspiring Theologian, Kevin J. Vanhoozer (First Things)

“An Evangelical theologian who shall remain nameless once advised a student, “be prepared to be misunderstood and under-valued.” I would add, prepare to be unpopular: Many people resent being told they are not lords of their own lives. Theologians ought not be nags, but they must be “the conscience of the congregation” (Thielicke), reminding people that faith is not the same as anti-intellectualism, and that God is not a supporting actor in their stories but that we have bit parts in his.”

Partnering with Parents

Parents and Pastors: Partners in Gen Z Discipleship, (Barna)

“Who owns the responsibility to develop their teen’s faith? According to engaged Christian parents, they do. Three out of five say that they, the parents, are primarily responsible (59%) and more than one-third says that it’s mostly them, with the help of church leaders (36%). …Considering the climate in which Gen Z is coming of age, all youth pastors and Christian parents need to prepare for robust conversations on these and other topics relating to biblical worldview. Teens may not be entirely at ease talking about these subjects, but that doesn’t make them any less urgent.”

The Most Frightening Prayer I Could Pray for My Children, Christina Fox (Desiring God)

“It is hard to ask that God reveal their sin to them, that they see their need for a Savior, that they would be broken over their corruption and truly learn to cling to the gospel.”

Youth Culture

Taking Away the Phones Won’t Solve Our Teenagers’ Problems, Tracy A. Dennis-Tiwary (NY Times)

“…if smartphone addiction is a reflection of adolescent anxiety, cutting screen time may not solve the broader problems that drive teenagers to their screens. Just blaming the machines is a cop-out, a way to avoid the much more difficult task of improving young people’s lives so they won’t need to escape. Yes, we should devote resources to making smartphones less addictive, but we should devote even more resources to addressing the public health crisis of anxiety that is causing teenagers so much suffering and driving them to seek relief in the ultimate escape machines.”

The Newest on Teens, Social Media & Technology, Jonathan McKee

“Pew Research just released their newest report on Teens, Social Media & Technology giving us the newest numbers confirming what we already knew: almost all teens have smartphones and use social media a lot! But their numbers also revealed some interesting realities about where teens navigate and their perceptions about social media.”

Ministry Skills

Helping Teenagers and Children Cope Spiritually and Emotionally after a Crisis Like the Thai Cave Rescue, Dr. Jamie D. Aten (The Exchange)

“Statistically speaking the odds of being trapped in a cave like the Thai soccer boys is rare.

But numerous national studies have shown trauma is more common in childhood than most people realize. …For this reason, it’s important for parents and caregivers to be informed, recognize the signs of reactions to stress, and learn how to best help teenagers and children cope spiritually and emotionally.”

Relational Capacity and Ministry Burnout: 5 Practices that Cultivate Relational Health and Longevity in Ministry, Caleb Roose (Fuller Youth Institute)

“In other words, youth ministers tend to have bloated inner circles but a smaller number of overall friends. What does this mean? Relational network size impacts risks for burnout (burnout is “a job-related syndrome characterized by emotional exhaustion, lack of accomplishment, and feeling disconnected from those one is working to support” 2). While maintaining relationships with best friends has been shown to guard against burnout, sustaining more than 15 close relationships actually significantly increases risks of burnout. Keeping up with a large inner circle eventually wears on us.”

A Letter to Senior Pastors, Walt Mueller (CPYU)

“What can you do to foster deep and significant connections with the emerging generations that extend from the pulpit to the pew, in order to point young people to the cross and new life in the Kingdom?”

Rooted’s Two Most-Read of July

The Heresy Lurking for Gospel-Centered Youth Ministers, Mike McGarry (Rooted)

“We teach our students that ‘God is love,’ and yet we often shy away from showing them just how undeserving of that love they (and we) really are. The astounding undercurrent of God’s love for us lies in the fact that he died for us while we were still sinners. In our efforts to build on Gospel centrality, we must not discard the Law. Grace and transformation cannot fully be known or experienced without a proper view of Law.”

Podcast: A Conversation Between Dr. Julius Kim and Clark Fobes (Rooted)

“Check out this conversation between Julius Kim (Dean of Students at Westminster Seminary) and Rooted Ministry’s Clark Fobes. Dr. Kim talks youth ministry and lays out some of the points in his excellent book (released 2015), Preaching the Whole Counsel of God: Design and Deliver Gospel-Centered Sermons.”

In Case You Missed It (Rooted’s July Honorable Mention)

The Danger of the Aesop’s Fables Bible, Brad Gray (Rooted)

“So much of what’s taught in Sunday School within mainline Christianity, though, fails to deliver what students actually need. The place where teens should be learning how to read and study their Bibles has become a place that reduces Scripture to a series of moralistic stories that seek to make them ‘good people.’ Such is why scores of students graduate without a firm grasp on how to read their Bible rightly.”