Message to Students on Homosexuality

Countercultural Title SlideThis week we launched a new series in our Christ Community Chapel (Stow Campus) student ministries called “Countercultural.” In this series we are talking about some issues that we think are relevant to our culture right now. The topics we are hitting in this series are homosexuality, manhood/womanhood, and sex. To kick off the series this week we tackled the topic of homosexuality.

Because many of our parents wanted to hear this message I wanted to post it here on my site. In a few weeks we hope to have the entire series posted on our church website as well. Even if your not a CCC Stow parent, feel free to listen to this message. I hope you find it helpful in approaching this tough topic of homosexuality in light of God’s Word.

Below are the audio recordings of this message on homosexuality I gave to our students. Porch is our high school ministry and Edge is our middle school ministry. The Porch recording includes a Q&A session we did with my friend Shawn Harrison. Feel free to listen to whatever one is from the ministry your student attends or if you don’t go to our church, pick whichever recording  you want.

Countercultural-Homosexuality (Porch)

Countercultural-Homosexuality (Edge)

Freebie: 2 Part Easter Lesson for Students

question-crossIt has been awhile since I have done a freebie so today I wanted to make sure I highlighted a freebie that my friends over at LeaderTreks have put together for you to use this Easter season with your students. It’s a two-part lesson called “The Why Behind Jesus Death and Resurrection,” which includes a facilitator’s guide, student handouts, and parent resources. Below is what LeaderTreks has to say about this great resource.

This Easter season as you celebrate Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, have you stopped to ask why? Why did Jesus have to die for humanity? Why did he have to rise again? This free two-part lesson will help your students answer these weighty questions. They’ll learn about sacrifice in ancient Israel and how it relates to Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. Then they’ll discover some of the most important promises Jesus made during his life and how his resurrection proves his trustworthiness.

All you need to do is click the link below to go to LeaderTrek’s website and download this free resource. Be sure to look around at their website for other great resources as well.

Click here to download “The Why Behind Jesus Death and Resurrection”

 

3 Effective Ways to Structure Student Small Groups

???????????????????????????????????????Small groups are an important part of an effective student ministry. They are important because they move students past just showing up at youth group every week and listening to you teach. Small groups move students to a place where they can better develop community with their peers (and an adult leader or two) as well going deeper into God’s Word. These two factors, community and Bible study, will help them grow in their faith. This is what we want as student pastors. We want students to develop community and dig deeper into God’s Word. So we make small groups a part of our student ministry. But how do we structure those small groups? Do we do them in homes? Do we do them within our mid-week or weekend gathering? Do we make them something for every student or just students who want to go deeper? These are all good questions to ask when thinking about how to structure small groups in your student ministry.

This past year we restructured our small groups and are planning to tweak them yet again this coming year. Because of this I have been doing a lot of thinking about how small groups are structured in our student ministry. I have also been talking to other student pastors about how they structure small groups in their ministry. There are many different ways you can structure small groups. There is not one perfect way. Every student ministry looks different and small groups will look different in every ministry. However, I have seen and be a part of three different structures of small groups in student ministries that I believe are effective. Let me share those with you.

Small groups in homes of adult leaders outside your normal mid-week or weekend program. This by far is the most popular way to structure small groups in your student ministry. Basically students meet in small groups in leaders homes throughout the community. It could be on the same night or different nights. Leaders open up their homes and the students in their small groups meet there to build community and study the Bible. This happens outside your normal “youth group night.” The positives to this structure is that small groups are there as a “next step” for students who want to go deeper. You don’t force students who may not be Christians or that are not ready to go deeper into a small group. Your large group gathering serves as a place for non-Christians to feel comfortable and hear the Gospel. Also, this structure helps students feel safe and comfortable as they meet in a home. Plus, adult leaders get to display hospitality and fellowship by opening up their homes to students. The major downside of this structure is your asking students to give up another night of the week. They are already coming to your large group gathering and now you ask them to give up another night for small groups. For busy students this may be difficult and keep them from getting involved in a small group.

Small groups every other week in place of your mid-week or weekend program. This is the structure we are currently doing with our middle & high school students. We are actually moving away from this and going to in homes outside of our large group gathering for high school students next year, but keeping it this way for middle school. This is a great structure if you want to see all your students be in on a form of small groups. Basically small groups happen every other week in place of your large group gathering. You can have them come to the same place you meet for large group and then just have them split up into groups or you can have them meet in homes at the same time you would meet for large group. Either way, small groups happen on the same night/time of your large group. This is a great way to not make your students give up another night. It allows you to accomplish both large & small group ministry in one ministry night a week. The downside to this structure is you may scare away non-Christian students who don’t want to be in a  small group yet. Also, your students may not want to invite their non-Christian friends because they know they will be split up into small groups and it may be uncomfortable for them.

Small groups every week as part of your mid-week or weekend program. Basically you make small groups a part of your large group gathering. Most student ministries that do this will have small group following the teaching time so students can discuss what they just heard. Again, this is a great way to not make your students give up another night. Also, it helps every student get a form of small group ministry. I like this structure because it allows students to instantly discuss and talk about what they just heard. The downside with this structure is that you usually don’t have a ton of time for small groups so it may not accomplish the community goal of small groups. Also, students are only discussing what they heard instead of actually digging into Scripture.

There are a ton of other ways you can structure small groups in your student ministry, but these are three I have seen that are effective. How are small groups structured in your student ministry?

Book Review: Sticky Faith (Youth Worker Edition)

Sticky-FaithRecently I finished reading the book Sticky Faith: Youth Worker Edition. I have heard many good things about this book and have had a copy of it myself for awhile, but I never got around to reading it. I’m glad I finally picked it up and read it because it has been one of the most challenging youth ministry books I have ever read.

Sticky Faith: Youth Worker Edition is all about how youth workers can help develop long-term faith in teenagers. Let’s face it, if you have been in youth ministry for any stretch of time you know that many teenagers abandon the church and their faith after they graduate high school. Forty to fifty percent of teens who are connected to a  youth group when they graduate high school will fail to stick with their faith in college (page 15).

Based on research done by The Fuller Youth Institute, Sticky Faith: Youth Worker Edition outlines  the various factors that helps develop long-term faith in teenagers. The factors include things like the Gospel, identity, justice, parents, the youth group itself, and a few more. Each factor helps youth workers understand what develops long-term faith in teenagers. Each chapter is broken down into two parts. First, the “sticky findings.” This is the part the writers tell you what the research found in regards to that factor. Second, the “sticky faith made practical.” This is where the writers helps youth workers understand what they can do practically in their ministries to help develop long-term faith in teenagers.

I especially enjoyed the chapter on family relationships (chapter 6). At the end of the day, parents are the ones who are responsible for teaching and pointing their children to a healthy relationship with God. Youth workers just come alongside the parent and partner with them in this process. In fact, teenagers are heavily influenced by their parents when it comes to matters of faith. “Most teenagers and their parents may not realize it, but a lot of research in the sociology of religion suggests that the most important social influence in shaping young people’s religious lives is the religious life modeled and taught to them by their parents” (page 117). This shouldn’t come as a surprise, because this is how God intended it (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). This chapter on family relationships was huge for me and helped me better understand why parents are so important in the faith development of teenagers. Also, it helped me understand how I can better partner with parents.

Overall, this was a great read and I’d recommend it to anyone who is a volunteer or paid youth worker. Our calling is to not just create a large youth group that teens love, but create a ministry that helps teenagers develop long-term faith that will outlast their youth group experience.

Guest Post: Always Good Love

Jason-Clark-HeadshotI have prayed when my wife Karen starts to get a migraine, “Father, heal Karen’s migraine in Jesus name.” And we have thanked and praised Him for His always-good love as the headache that typically becomes a migraine fades away.

I have also prayed against a coming migraine and watched, feeling helpless, as Karen still gets the migraine. And yet, while she is in pain, we have hurdled the disappointment and thanked and praised our Father for His always-good love.

We have trusted our Father absolutely in our finances, risking everything to start a company. Karen and I watched God come through miraculously giving us favor and increase. As the company prospered, we thanked and praised our Father for His always-good love.

We have trusted our Father completely in our finances, risking everything while we gave the company back to Him. Karen and I have hurdled the disappointment of a failed business and substantial debt. And as we wondered how to pay the mounting bills, we thanked and praised Him for His always-good love.

We are becoming convinced that His love is perfected in His goodness – always. We are learning that if we measure our Fathers good love by our interpretation of a need met, then we will eventually be forced to re-define His good love. God is love and He is always good – period. The moment His goodness must be re-defined, He is no longer always good. If we define His love by a need met, then if at some point the need appears to go unmet, we set ourselves up for a crisis of faith.

It’s about Faith. While Faith always looks like risk; faith is about trust. Faith believes that He loves me and His love is perfected in His goodness. It’s our trust in our Fathers always-good love that empowers us to hurdle pain, loss, the disappointment and even death – to still believe.

I would like to suggest that faith believes His love is always good. I would like to suggest that we exist to believe, to know, to experience God’s always-perfect love. I would like to suggest that our circumstances don’t determine His always-good love.

And this faith, it sets us up to know more of His always-good love.

Jason Clark is a singer/songwriter, author, speaker, and pastor. Jason’s passion is to know the love of God more each day. He lives to see a generation step into their identity as sons and daughters of the King and establish His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children. Jason’s new book “Prone To Love” is available now: www.jasonclarkis.com.