Being a parent of a teenager is hard. I am not there yet, but from my observations and conversations with parents of teens, I know it’s not an easy task. Teenagers are in a stage of life where they are questioning everything and trying to figure out who they are. They are asking tough questions and parents need to be ready to answer them. The good news parents, there are resources available to help you out! I want to share one of those resources with you today that is totally free!
Roland Boyce has written an eBook called Issues and Answers: A Handbook Providing Biblical Answers to Questions of Children and Youth. In this book, he gives parents the tools they need to answer questions regarding topics such as homosexuality, abortion, dating, divorce, pornography, and many more. What I love about this book is the how the writer addresses each topic and gives parents the tools they need to talk to their teenagers about it. For each topic, he gives a Biblical synopses, modern reasoning, responses, resources, fact, and a life lab. Click here to see more details about this book from Tim Schmoyer.
If you are a parent of a teenager, or any age child really, do yourself a favor and download this eBook. It’s free and will be a great resource as you talk to your teenager about tough topics. All you have to do is click the link below to view and download this great resource for yourself.
With every job comes the demand to learn how to do certain things well. When it comes to being a student pastor there are a few things I believe you must learn to do well. I’m still pretty new to full-time student ministry myself, but I’m learning a ton of stuff along the way. Here are four things I am learning that I believe myself and other student pastors must learn to do well.
Teach well. I believe the most important thing students pastors must be good at is teaching God’s Word. Student pastors can build a program, plan great events, and build great relationships with students, but if they cannot teach the Bible effectively to students they will struggle. I’m not suggesting that they must be able to stand on stage and give the perfect expostional sermon, but they must know how to take the truths of God’s Word and teach them in a way that applies to the current culture of today’s teenagers. Students pastors must learn to teach the Bible well on stage to a large group of students as well as within one on one relationships with students. Student pastors must always be striving to be better teachers of God’s Word.
Work with people well. Ministry is about people and student ministry isn’t any different. Student pastors must learn to work well with all types of people. First, they must work well with the church staff. Nothing is worse than a young student pastor who thinks he knows how to run the church better than the rest of the staff. Student pastors must learn how to work well within the whole church staff. Second, they must work well with parents. Student pastors not only minister and serve students, but their parents as well. Third, they must work well with volunteers. A student ministry cannot be effectively ran by just the student pastor, it takes a team of volunteers. The student pastor must learn how to work well with these volunteers. Learning how to work well with people is very important in student ministry.
Program well. Don’t get me wrong, I know student ministry is much more than building a creative and attractive program, but that program is an important part. Student pastors must learn how to be good programmers. That means programming the mid-week or weekend services well, retreats well, events well, and other things we do in our student ministries. I know some student pastors are all about relationships and that’s great! Relationships are key to effective student ministry, but you cannot sacrifice building an effective program for the sake of only building relationships. Student pastors must learn how to program their student ministry well.
Study teen culture well. I hesitated throwing this last one in, but I believe it’s something student pastors must do well. To be a good missionary you must study the culture your going into. The church doesn’t just send missionaries into foreign mission fields without giving them time to learn the culture. It’s the same with student ministry, student pastors must see themselves as missionaries to students who have their own subculture. Therefore, student pastors must learn to study that culture well. How will a student pastor effective teach Biblical truth if they don’t know the culture they are applying it to? How can they build a relevant program if they don’t know what attracts and connects with teen culture? Student pastors must learn to study teen culture well. Studying teen culture isn’t hard, it just takes time. Click here to see a list of helpful tools I use to learn more about teen culture.
I know there are many things student pastors must learn to do well, but these are the ones I have been thinking a lot about recently. I would love to hear from you on this subject. What do you think are the most important things student pastors must learn to do well? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
Making good connections with the students in your ministry is vital. One thing every student in your ministry will have is a birthday. Birthdays are one of the most overlooked connection points with our students. Usually they get drowned out in the busyness of our ministry, but I believe they are a great way to connect and show students for a day that you appreciate them and enjoy having them in your ministry.
Honestly, I’m not the best person to be writing about this. This is an area I am trying to improve and get better at. I want to use birthdays to connect with students and show them I love them. So here are a few things I’m going to start doing in the future that may help you as you try and capitalize on your student’s birthdays.
Use Facebook! Let’s face it, most of your students are on Facebook and your friends with them. Facebook keeps track of your friend’s birthdays and notifies you when it’s their birthday. Keep an eye on this as a way to remember which student’s birthdays are coming up.
Don’t underestimate a card. Don’t overlook birthday cards because you think your students find them lame. A simple birthday card with a hand written note from you will go a long way with students. Buy a box of goofy (keep it appropriate of course!) birthdays cards and send them to students when it’s their birthday. We actually have cards made with our ministry logo. That helps students identify with our ministry and makes them feel like they are super important, because they are!
Stick a volunteer on it. Delegate this area to a volunteer. Have them keep track of birthdays and write cards to students from your ministry when it’s your birthday. I’d suggest having the volunteer keep track of the birthdays, but have you as the student pastor or head leader write the personal note inside. That will mean more to students.
Take them lunch. You may not want to do this for every student in your ministry, but at least the core ones. Either take them their favorite fast food lunch to school or on the weekend take them to a fast food restaurant yourself. This will also give you some great one on one time with them.
Make a big deal in your service. This may not work for larger student ministries, but for smaller ones it works great. Bring the student up during your mid-week or weekend student gathering and make a big deal about their birthday. Embarrass them a bit (all in good fun) and make them feel like they have the spotlight for a minute.
I hope these simple ideas help you capitalize on your student’s birthdays. Again, I’m no expert in this area and trying to do better myself. Feel free to share your ideas and how you have done this in your ministry by leaving a comment below.
This post was originally a guest post I wrote for my friend Justin Knowles. Justin is Pastor of High School Ministry Small Groups at Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA. He has a great blog loaded with tons of good student ministry content so check it out!
Recently, we just finished up a series called Get Real in our middle school ministry. During the series we addressed major questions many people, including Christians, ask about Christianity. For example, “How do we know God is real?” or “If God is so loving than why is there so much suffering in the world?” The question I tackled a few weeks ago was “Is Jesus really the only way to God?” I want to share the main ideas from that talk in this post and hope to share why we can believe that Jesus really is the only way to God.
A popular belief in our culture is that all religions are equal. Not only are they equal, but they all lead to the same place. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what religion, or path, you take, we will all end up in the same place. Some people may choose Christianity and if that’s works for them then it’s all good. Or some people may choose Islam, or some other religion, and if that’s best for them then it’s all good. We call this belief “religious pluralism.” You see this kind of thing pop up in things like the coexists bumper stickers. You know, those stickers that spell “coexists” with the symbols of different religions. As good as all this sounds, it couldn’t be any further from the truth. In John 14:6, Jesus makes a claim that goes against any claim that all religions are the same or that all paths lead to God. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus claims that there is only one way to God and that’s through Him. How do we know that’s true? Let me share with you three other things that support Jesus claim that He is the only way.
1. Jesus is the only way God provided. In Matthew 26:36-44 we read about Jesus going to a garden to pray before He would be betrayed and arrested. Jesus knew what was coming. He knew He was about to be beaten, spit upon, and murdered on a cross as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. In complete agony He prays to the Father and asks Him if there is another way to do this. He asks God that if it would be His will, could He get out of doing this. But we see Jesus complete surrender and determination to follow God’s will. Jesus goes to God three times and basically asks Him if there is another way. And three times God doesn’t repond. There is no other way. The death of Jesus as a sacrifice for sin was the only way. God’s silence screams this truth from the pages of Scripture! Think about it, if God had another way would He really send His only Son to be nailed to His death on a cross? This sacrifice only makes sense if what we believe is true-Jesus is the only way!
2. Jesus is the only way that fixes our problem. Everyone enters this world with a common problem called sin. All religions recognize this is some way. They may not call it sin, but they realize this world is broken and things are screwed up. So all religions, or paths to God, try and fix this problem. Some try and say that all we need to do is be better, try harder, and hope our good outweighs our bad. Sadly, all religions, except Christianity, just puts a band-aid on our problem. Only Jesus actually fixes the problem. How does He do that? He becomes a curse for us and take our sin upon Himself. In exchange we get His righteousness which means we continue as if we have never sinned. We are justified and stand before God perfect because of Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:21 explains this great exchange to us.
3. Jesus is the only way transforms our life. No one actually experiences life change outside of Christianity. All other religions don’t change a person. In actuality all they do is become an “add on” to someones life. But Jesus comes and gives us a new start. The Bible calls this being “born again” or the “new birth.” We literally go from death unto life and experience a whole new life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” No other religions can make that statement. In their book Red Like Blood, Joe Coffey and Bob Bevington tell a story about a situation the famous evangelists Dr. Ironsides found himself in. At a Salvation Army event, Dr. Ironsides was called to the platform to share a few words. On his way up, a outspoken atheists started making remarks and yelling at him. The atheist called Ironsides out for a debate between Christianity, which he claimed was false, and atheism. Ironsides looked at the man and said this: “Yes, I will debate you this Saturday morning. But there is one condition. You bring one person whose life has been transformed by the power of becoming an atheist and I will bring fifty ex-alcoholics and fifty ex-prostitutes whose lives have been transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. And then we will debate.” Christianity is the only religion that has to power to change a life.
All religions, or paths, to God are not the same. There is only one way and that is through Jesus Christ. That is the only way God provided, fixes our sin problem, and brings transformation. No other ways to God claim those three things.
Click here to view my speaking page where you can hear the audio of this sermon as well as other sermons I have preached in the past.