Each month we compile a Top Ten list for youth workers. This list represents ten articles from various sources that we believe will encourage you in your ministry to students and their families. Some give explicit instruction on gospel-centered ministry, while others are included because there is a message of common grace that is helpful to youth workers. If you find an article that could speak to the Rooted community, please share it in the comment section below.
Let the Little Children Come to Church, Safely by Abby Perry (Christianity Today)
Change starts with shifting policies on a church level: at the very least, background checks, staff and volunteer screening, training to recognize grooming behaviors, rules against adults being with children or teens one-on-one, and mandatory reporting when abuse allegations arise. But that’s just the beginning. If evangelicalism’s future depends on how leaders address abuse in their churches, it requires an accompanying culture shift.
3 Ways Churches Coddle KidZ and StudentZ by Eric Geiger (ericgeiger.com)
Greg Luianoff and Jonathan Haidt coined the phrase “coddling of the American mind” in their Atlantic article and subsequent book by the same title. They lament the unintended consequences of an over-protective culture that shields people from reality, ideas, diverse thinking, and risk. They wisely conclude that coddling hampers growth and development.
Will GenZ Hold Onto the Faith? by Jaquelle Ferris (TGC)
According to a study from LifeWay Research, 66 percent of American young adults who attended a Protestant church regularly for at least a year as a teenager say they also dropped out for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22. These statistics are staggering and heartbreaking. In their wake, churches are asking, “What did we do wrong?” There is wisdom and humility in asking this question, and I’m thankful we do. But what about what went right? What about the other 33 percent, the teens who stay? What if we examined their lives and asked, “What did work?”
Partnering with Parents
Help! My Teen is Questioning the Faith by Melissa Kruger (TGC)
As our teens search for answers, how can we foster home environments where they can bring their questions, doubts, and insecurities to us? How can we proactively create spaces for discussions and respond to their doubts and questions with a listening ear and prayerful heart? Here are a few ways we can build homes that allow our children to wrestle with questions of faith.
God Gave Me Three Children (And Three Friends) by Tim Challies (Challies)
Speaking to older, wiser, and more experienced friends—friends who had successfully raised children to adulthood—I came to understand that honor and love are different in a key way: I could demand honor, but I could not demand love. At least, not the kind of love I wanted to share with them.
Piper Jaffary 38th Semi-Annual Taking Stock with Teens © Survey, Fall 2019 (Piper Jaffary)
86% of teens expect an iPhone to be their next phone; all-time survey highs • Instagram remains the most frequented social media platform among teens for the third survey in a row • Teens care about social/political issues naming the environment, immigration & gun control as the top three.
Every Movie Cliché We Have About Teenage Dating is Basically Wrong by Chris Bourn (Mel Magazine)
This received caricature, of non-dating high school students as misfits to be pitied, avoided and/or laughed at, is an instantly recognizable and relatable one. But it turns out that it’s also, in most cases, utterly wrong, and to a surprising statistical extent: In reality, the average adolescent who doesn’t date, whether through choice or lack of available options, will usually have significantly better social skills than their classmates who regularly hook up.
Adverse Childhood Experiences…What You Need to Know and a Helpful Infographic by Walt Mueller (Center for Parent/Youth Understanding)
An ACE (see infographic below) is a potentially traumatic event that occurs during the first 18 years of life. An ACE brings toxic stress with the child experiencing strong, frequent, or prolonged adversity in the absence of adequate adult support. In a nutshell, researchers learned that Adverse Childhood Experiences can have negative lasting effects on health and well-being. These experiences harm a child’s brain, lead to how they learn to respond to stress, and damage immune systems in ways that are so profound that the effects continue to show up decades after childhood. In other words, these things are not neutral or benign. Sin and brokenness can wreak havoc on a kids life in both the present and the future.
Your Teenagers Think the Bible is Boring. Here’s How to Change That by Andy Blanks (YM360)
Our students must see US value the Bible. Ideally, they are in a home where the Bible is read and taught and referenced. But even if they are not, you can model for them the value of Scripture. When you ground your youth ministry in God’s Word, you show students how essential it is to know God in the Bible. When you teach the Bible, you unlock for them the wonder and power of the Word. When you counsel them and speak Scripture into their lives, you show them that God and His ways are authoritative over our lives.
Three Ways You Can Create New Insights In Your Youth Work by Dr. Lucie Shuker
Knowing our context can help us resist the idea of one solution or model that universally works. There is a popular compulsion across all kinds of organisations to find out ‘what works’ and then share it with everyone, so everyone can do it.But the truth is that nothing just ‘works’, instead new things are introduced into different contexts and those contexts react to it – often in particular ways.
Rooted’s Two Most-Read of October
Youth Pastors, Beware of Making Counterfeit Disciples by Chris Li
Churches come in all shapes and sizes but we must all build our foundation on Jesus. If the gospel is not central, we are not making disciples. When something else is at the center, we make unbalanced, immature or incomplete Christians. The disciple, on the other hand, is holistic, balanced and centered on what is most important: the gospel. A disciple learns truth which moves him or her to feel and do. A disciple attends church not because of the gifted leaders but to worship God and to serve the needs of others.
Four Surprises from (Nearly) 10 Years in Student Ministry by Seth Stewart
Recently, I transitioned from a church in Oklahoma City where I’ve been a member and a youth pastor for nine and half years. As I packed up my office I asked myself what I’d learned and what I was surprised by in that decade, particularly in my preaching. Here’s what came to mind.
In Case You Missed It (Rooted’s October Honorable Mention)
Sharing the Gospel and Our Lives As Well by Skyler Flowers
During those early days, I had a significant lunch with the parent of one of our students. This dad took time to help me to understand his child and their family, and he spoke into the direction of our youth ministry. As we parted that day, he had one more word for me. He noted that although I spoke a lot about ministry to students, I was missing getting into the lives of these students and bringing them into mine. I realized I had been thinking of sharing the gospel with students, but failing to see that I must also share myself.