The Top 10: October 2017

Each month we compile a Top 10 list for the Rooted community. This list represents ten articles from the month of October that we believe will encourage and equip you to continue in your ministry to students and their families. If you have an article you’d like to share, please include it as a link in the comment section below.

Gospel Centered Ministry
Research Reveals the 5 Biggest Influencers on Your Child’s Spiritual Health by Eric Geiger
“What do you think makes the biggest impact on a child’s spiritual development? Dinner as a family? Parents who don’t miss special events? Having church friends? Being at a good Christian school? Being at a church with a vibrant kids and student ministry? While surely those are all good things and things I want for my daughters, none of them showed up in our recent LifeWay Research study on how kids really grow spiritually.”

3 Things Student Ministry Is Not (and 3 things it should be) by Joshua Branum (Facts & Trends)

“When parents and pastors think about student ministry, they often have vastly different expectations. Most agree churches should have a healthy ministry for teenagers, but not everyone agrees on how that should look. According to a multi-year study by Barna, pastors and parents tend to have sharp differences in their goals for student ministry. I believe these differences come from a few misconceptions about the nature of student ministry.”

Youth Pastor, Preach God’s Word  by Ian Conrey (For The Church)

“Anyone who is a youth pastor for more than ten minutes knows how difficult it can be to run a student ministry. Summer camps, fundraisers, student drama, parents, sermon prep, students texting during your sermons—it’s hectic. And whether you are a youth pastor, Sunday school teacher, or volunteer parent, presenting the gospel and God’s Word in an understandable way can prove to be the most intimidating task of all. I still have much to learn (and have had my fair share of mistakes), but over the years, there are a few essentials I have learned for ministering the Word of God to students.”

Partnering With Parents

The Secret to Raising Grateful Kids by Kristen Welch (We Are That Family)

“I’ve discovered the secret to raising grateful kids in an entitled world. Lean in and I’ll tell you… It doesn’t exist. Every home and every kid is different. That’s one of the things that makes family life so amazing and challenging–we are unique!”

No One Here But You by Katie Blackburn (Coffee and Crumbs)

“Special needs adds a layer of complexity at times, but we have two neuro-typical kids who have had their fair share of “moments” too. And when someone is having that moment, they often choose it in the company of other people. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, these “other people” tend to help themselves to opinions. Opinions we do not always get the luxury of explaining away, even when everything in us desperately wants to.”

Youth Culture

23 Honest Confessions From People Who Self-Harm by Anna Borges (Buzzfeed)

“The urge to self-harm isn’t uncommon, but, because people often keep their habit a secret, a lot of people have misconceptions about who does it, why they do it, or what it means. To help others better understand self-harm, we asked the BuzzFeed Community what they wished they could tell people and what misconceptions they wanted to clear up.”

Cyberbullying: 5 Insights for Helping Generation Z by Joshua Straub (Facts & Trends)

“The problem with bullying today is heightened by the fact that victims of cyberbullying are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and more suicidal attempts than kids not bullied online. Even online bullies themselves are found to be more likely to have suicidal thoughts than other kids.”

Performance-Based Culture Is Killing Us by Scott Benhase (Mockingbird)
Loneliness increases our risk of heart disease, premature death, and, yes, violent behavior (pay attention to that one). Add to that the declining rates of religious participation and we see why many have lost meaning and hope. Church used to be a place for people to develop not only a relationship with God, but also social cohesion protecting them from the medically-documented disease of loneliness. Today, however, the religiously unaffiliated account for 23% of all adults, up from 16% ten years ago.”

Engaging People With Stranger Things by Jonathan McKee

“Young people love them some Netflix… and this week they’re especially buzzing about Stranger Things, because Season 2 will be premiering this Friday… and everybody’s talking about it! … Did you know that we have free discussion starters for EVERY episode of Stranger Thingson our Netflix discussions page? (Did you even know we had a free Netflix Discussions page?) And next week we’ll be launching discussion questions for Season Two, one week at a time.”

Ministry Skills

Seeking Spotlight Fame or Shadowed Faithfulness? by Walt Mueller (Center for Parent/Youth Understanding)

“Today, all you need are a few social media accounts, some marketing savvy, and some aggressiveness. Start blogging, posting, curating, fabricating and promoting yourself. This is the same path our kids take when they want to become internet celebrities. Let’s be honest here. It’s shameless self-promotion… and that is shameful.”

Rooted’s Two Most-Read Articles of October

Three Powerful Questions to Unlock the Heart of Your Teen by Chap Bettis (Rooted)

“A quick survey of the gospels reveals that Jesus, our Savior and Teacher, asked 307 questions. He used questions to gather information (“How many loaves do you have?”), to teach (“Whose likeness and image is on this coin?”), and to gain commitment (“Who do you say that I am?”). Too many times as a parent, I want to lecture my child when in fact a question is a much better tool to teach and to strengthen the relationship.”

We Must Never Forget Moralistic Therapeutic Deism by Cameron Cole (Rooted)

“In many ways, I view the publications about moralistic therapeutic deism by Smith and other scholars as youth ministry’s nailing of the 95 Theses on Witteberg’s castle door. It was an indictment of a works-based faith — contrary to the biblical gospel — a misrepresentation of God that had begun to pervade the way churches represented Christianity to kids.”

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

Sola Gratia: Grace Alone for the Weary Student by Mike McGarry (Rooted)

“One of the rally cries of the Reformation was Sola Gratia, “Grace Alone.” This is the proclamation that salvation entirely and completely comes as a gift of grace, not by any effort of our own. This gospel of grace is a message that issues a direct rebuke to the claim, “You are loved because of what you do.” It instead proclaims, “You are loved because God loves you.”

In the midst of increasingly high expectations, teenagers need to hear the gospel of grace alone.”

Advancing Grace-Driven Youth Ministry

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