Emotion and Discipleship

I am not an emotional person. That doesn’t mean I am emotionless, that I feel nothing and exude a tough-guy persona that screams, “I’ll mock you, then take your candy if you cry in front of me.” I just mean that I don’t trust raw emotions. They are fickle and often lie. Still they play … Continue reading Emotion and Discipleship

Beyond the Sinner’s Prayer: Biblically Illiterate, Theologically Void Youth Ministry

I was raised in a conservative home, worshiped in a conservative youth ministry at church, and attended a conservative seminary. I’m thankful for my conservative roots. They are part of what shapes me. Interestingly, I’ve discovered that those conservative roots did not claim to be the sole possessors of truth. Beliefs and how they played … Continue reading Beyond the Sinner’s Prayer: Biblically Illiterate, Theologically Void Youth Ministry

How Tensions Can Change Your Ministry and Change You, Too

“Kara, we want to meet with you because we don’t think you’re teaching the Bible enough to our kids.” This was John and Patty’s greeting one Sunday morning as I was getting ready to speak to our students. Not only were John and Patty parents of two high school girls, but also influential leaders in … Continue reading How Tensions Can Change Your Ministry and Change You, Too

Team Building for Mission Trips

Successful mission trips require preparation. Proper preparation builds and unifies teams, roots them in Scripture, equips them for cross-cultural ministry, and focuses them on Christ. Regardless of what type or duration of mission trip your team will be taking, effective mission trip preparation includes team building, Bible study, cross-cultural training, and the creation of a … Continue reading Team Building for Mission Trips

Building a Three-Year Mission Cycle

Even if your bags are barely unpacked from this summer’s trip, it’s time to start planning your next mission trip. Before you zoom in on the specifics of your next mission trip, zoom out. Spend time with your church’s staff, as well as your youth ministry’s leaders prayerfully considering your ministry’s overall missions strategy. To … Continue reading Building a Three-Year Mission Cycle

Mission Trip Disconnect

It was all over in a matter of hours… Gone were the conversations revolving around poverty, hunger and injustice during our mission trip. They were replaced by the purchasing of our wants that had become needs, of $2 sodas and $5 ice cream in the mall food court, discarding the items with a consumeristic ease … Continue reading Mission Trip Disconnect

Maxing the Memories: Solid Ideas for Creating Rites of Passage for Students

I was 13 when my parents enrolled me in two years’ worth of confirmation classes. It wasn’t my choice, but I didn’t fight it either. It’s what kids in my church did. I had no expectations other than it would be boring. After all, the teacher was the pastor, and he was boring. My personal … Continue reading Maxing the Memories: Solid Ideas for Creating Rites of Passage for Students

Becoming Wise Guides

Teens are transitioning from children into adults. It is an amazing transformation. In that remarkable journey, one nagging question looms large: At what age does a teenager become an adult? The question is more difficult to answer than it appears. For example, at what age does the government believe you are old enough to drive … Continue reading Becoming Wise Guides

The Unexpected Gift of Burnout

For more than a year, I told others I perceived I was headed toward burnout. I had used that word before—burnout—but only in a hypothetical sense. Burnout was a terrible experience that happened to other people in ministry, not me. Then it happened. Burnout appeared, and it changed everything. I hesitate to say I burned … Continue reading The Unexpected Gift of Burnout

Ideas for Helping Your Students Battle Porn

“I want to talk about pornography.” That’s what the 15-year-old boy said to me after hearing me talk at his Christian school about “God and Sex.” Sadly, he wasn’t a curious young dabbler looking for someone to help him understand whether pornography was right or wrong. Instead, he already was spending several hours a day … Continue reading Ideas for Helping Your Students Battle Porn