Top Posts from 2013

2013Every December I like to post my top posts from that year. I look at the posts I have posted that year and see which ones have the most views. Below are my top five posts from 2013.

Negative Impact of Social Media on Teens. I posted this following a parent seminar I did at CCC called Social Media 101. In that seminar I shared a few negative ways social media has impacted teens. I shared those same thoughts in this post.

Bang With Friends-An App Parents Need to Know About. Yearly this year a Facebook app called Bang With Friends was released. The title says it all. This is something within Facebook parents can’t afford to overlook.

What Does Macklemore’s “Same Love” Teach Christians. I believe every Christian must engage the culture around them in order to reach people in that culture with the Gospel. That means Christians must not shy away from examining things in their culture. One of the musical artist that blew up this year was Macklemore. He released a song called “Same Love” which supports homosexuality and religious pluralism. I share more about that in this post and what I believe Christians need to learn about culture from this song.

What Miley Cyrus is Promoting to Your Teens. Miley Cyrus was making headlines every few days it seems like this past year. Not always for the best of reasons though. Cyrus went from a seemlessly innocent Disney star to an adult who is promoting everything from drugs and twerking. In this post I share what she is promoting to our teens, especially our young women.

Social Media Slang Parents Need to Know About. Teens have their own language when it comes to social media and texting. Parents are many times totally clueless to some of the things their teens are saying with their social media slang. I shared a list of social media slang terms Youth Leader Stash provided.

I hope you enjoyed these post from 2013 and learned a little more about our current culture and how we minister to teenagers that are within that culture.

Ask.fm – What Parents Need to Know

Ask.fm, a social networking platform where anonymous users can ask other users questions, was released a few years ago, but is now gaining a lot of popularity among teenagers. Ask.fm integrates with Twitter and Facebook which makes it easy to use and share with others. Also, they have an app so you can use Ask.fm on your smartphone. Everyday I see multiple teens pop up on my Twitter feed using Ask.fm.

With Ask.fm becoming so popular, what do parents needs to know about this social network? Really there isn’t much to know about it. It’s simple, easy to use, and makes for fun interaction among anonymous users. However, there are three issues that parents need to be aware of when it comes to Ask.fm.

Safety. The big issue here is safety. The unsafe part comes in when you have no clue who is asking you questions because they are anonymous. Ask.fm does have a safety page on their website that offers practical guidelines on how to be safe while using their service (click here to view that page). They also offer the option of turning off anonymous questions. In their words, “this way nobody will be able to ask you anonymously and you’ll have a better control over content you receive in your Inbox.” However, with all of this said, your profile and content stays public.

Cyberbullying. The biggest issue when it comes to Ask.fm is cyberbullying. Because you can ask questions (or make statements) and stay anonymous, cyberbullying is becoming very popular on Ask.fm. So much so that there have been teenagers who have committed suicide due to bullying that was linked to Ask.fm (click here to read more about that). Cyberbullying is becoming a huge issue with among teens and social networks sites are making bullying that much easier. In my opinion, the biggest issue with Ask.fm is the bullying aspect.

Inappropriate Conversation. Another issue is the inappropriate, most of the time sexual, conversation that often takes place on Ask.fm through questions and answers. Through this network, teens can ask anything they want without having to tell who they are. What more could they ask for if they want to make sexual comments. I have seen this trend on most teens Ask.fm accounts that I have looked at.

These are just a few things parents need to know about Ask.fm. Please remember social media is an amoral thing (it’s neither bad or good). Don’t throw out all social media just because some people use it in a bad way. Teach your teenagers to use Ask.fm in a way that honors and glorifies God.

What Miley Cyrus is Promoting to Your Teens

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Music has always been a powerful force in shaping culture. Music is a powerful tool in teaching people morals, beliefs, and attitudes. Teenagers more than anyone are shaped by music in their culture. Teenagers are in a period of life where they are asking questions about life, forming beliefs and worldview, and choosing what behavioral patterns to follow. This is why music is so important to teenagers. It gives them a voice and helps them form opinions about the world around them.

This is why parents need to be careful about what kind of music they are allowing their teenagers to listen to. I’m not suggesting we boycott “secular music” and only listen to “Christian music.” That distinction has never been a good one anyways. We must look past the genre or style and see what exactly teenagers are learning from a particular artist or song.

Recently, Miley Cyrus has released a new song that parents need to be aware of. My fear is that when most parents hear that their teenager is listening to Miley Cyrus they may feel no need to ask anymore questions because what comes to their mind when they hear Miley Cyrus is the Disney Channel star Hannah Montana. Unfortunately, Miley Cyrus is no longer a cute, little Disney Channel star, but a young woman who is not ashamed to be outright sexual, confrontational, and offensive.

Cyrus new song “We Can’t Stop” (along with the music video) is teaching promoting things, attitudes, and behaviors to your teenager that are not consistent with what God has revealed in His Word. Click here to read the full lyrics to this song.

Sexuality and Promiscuity. This song is full of sexual references and behaviors. Lines such as “Bet somebody here might get some now” and “To my home girls here with the big butt shaking it like we at a strip club,” Cyrus is not ashamed to promote sex and sexual behaviors. This song, like many others, tears apart the Biblical purpose and beauty of sex. Instead of sex being something reserved for marriage between one man and woman as a way of pleasure and intimacy with each other, sex is now something you do for fun whenever you want and with whomever you want. It’s not about intimacy anymore, it’s about recreational pleasure.

Drugs. This is something many listeners may not catch at first, but Cyrus makes mentions of drugs and drug use a few times in this song. In the second verse she says, “And everyone in line in the bathroom, trying to get a line in the bathroom.” Get a “line” is a slang way to saying snorting powdered drug. There is another time drugs show up in this song, but in a very interesting way. In the song Cyrus says, “So la da di da di. We like to party. Dancing with Miley.” Sounds ok doesn’t it? Dancing with Miley. However, when the song first came out many people thought Cyrus was saying “Dancing with Molly” (aka MDMA, ecstasy). I normally wouldn’t have an issue with this because this isn’t what the song actually says. I’m not going to get up in arms about what I thought our “heard” Cyrus say. However, she responded by saying this when she was asked about that line in the song:

If you’re aged ten [the lyric is] Miley. If you know what I’m talking about then you know. I just wanted it to be played on the radio and they’ve already had to edit it so much…I don’t think people have a hard time understanding that I’ve grown up. You can Google me and you know what I’m up to — you know what the lyric is saying (click here to read more).

It’s all about having fun and doing what you want. The whole idea of this song is doing whatever you want because it’s your party, house, and mouth! Cyrus promotes fun and pleasure as the end goal and doing whatever you want to get there is ok. In Cyrus own words, just remember “only God can judge ya.” Which I find very interesting because I’m not sure why if only one person could judge you, why would you want that person to be God? I’d much rather someone else judge me, not the ruler and Creator of this world. However, Cyrus, like many others, use this phrase as a justification to do whatever they want.

Are these things and behaviors we really want our teenagers to be taking in? I tweeted the other day that this is one of the trashiest songs I have ever heard. I’d encourage parents to take a listen and view the video. What are your thoughts on this song?

What Does Macklemore’s “Same Love” Teach Christians

Same-Love-Macklemore-Ryan-LewisAfter Macklemore made it onto the scene with his hit “Thrift Shop” he later decided to make waves with a much more serious song called “Same Love.” If you haven’t heard this song yet you will want to take a few minutes to listen to it. It’s a song that Billboard has pegged as the “Gay Equality Anthem.” It’s much more than a song, it’s a statement about equality and how homosexuality is something that cannot be changed with religion or just trying not to be gay. In this song, Macklemore takes shots at Christian culture and how many people have been hateful and disrespectful towards homosexuals.

Even though I disagree with Macklemore statements in this song, I do however believe Christians shouldn’t write this song off because it’s “secular.” If you do, you will miss the opportunity to look through the window into the culture and what people in our culture believe. I believe “Same Love” teaches a lot of things Christians need to know about the culture around them. Not so they can point fingers and judge others, but so they can understand the culture God has placed them in and become missional in their approach to everything in that culture. I hope Christians listen carefully to “Same Love” and learn how to better understand and ultimately reach a culture of people that are far from God. So here are a few things this song teaches Christians about our culture:

Many in our culture see the Bible as an out-dated book that has no authority. In “Same Love,” Macklemore says, “But we paraphrase a book written 3,500 years ago. I don’t know.” The Bible is now seen in our culture has a book that old and has no authority over how we live our lives. They may agree that the Bible condemns homosexuality, but culture has evolved and now marriage can be between the same sex. Not only do they see the Bible as out-dated, but it’s just a book that contains errors. It’s not innerant so therefore has no real authority.

Many in our culture view homosexuality has a natural thing you are born with, therefore change is not necessary or even possible. It’s to this point Macklemore takes a shot at Christianity. He says, “The right-wing conservatives think it’s a decision. And you can be cured with some treatment and religion. Man-made, rewiring of a pre-disposition, playing God.” In Romans, Paul says homosexuality is “unnatural” and includes it in his description of how sinful mankind really is. But many in our culture see it as a natural thing you are born with. What I love about this line in “Same Love” where Macklemore says homosexuality can’t be cured by religion is he is right! Yes, Macklemore is right. Homosexuality, and every other sin, cannot be cured by religion. Religion cannot do anything for you except make you prideful and legalistic. However, the Gospel can change you. Christianity is a relationship with a Person based on the good news of the Gospel. Keeping a checklist and trying harder is religion and Macklemore is dead on is saying that can’t change you. But the Gospel has the power to change someone. That’s what Macklemore and many in our culture are missing. Take a look at this incredible story of a former lesbian who talks about this idea of change in regards to “Same Love.”

Many in our culture believe in religious pluralism. Religious pluralism is the idea that all religion and faith-based systems are equal. Not only are they equal, but they all lead to the same place. No matter what religion you decide to believe in, it up to you because at the end of the day they will all lead to God. In “Same Love” Macklemore says, “Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one. Strip away the fear. Underneath it’s all the same love. About time that we raised up.” Even though  Awhile back I shared a talk with our middle school students about the idea that Jesus is the only way. Click here to read a summary of that talk or click here to listen to the audio of the whole talk.

Many people in our culture support homosexuality even though they are not gay. About half way through the song Macklemore drops an interesting line where he says, “I might not be the same, but that’s not important. No freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it.” This is very important for Christians to understand. In our culture, homosexuals are not the only ones crying out for their equal rights. Even non-homsexuals support their lifestyle, belief, and rights. Don’t assume that because some is not gay they don’t support that lifestyle.

I hope Christians take time to listen to popular songs that come out in our culture. You don’t have to agree with them or even like the, but take a moment and listen to learn about the culture around you. Doing so will help you better understand who you are called to reach and how the Gospel communicates best in the culture.

4 Things Student Pastors Must Learn To Do Well

dark-blue-background-backgrounds-wallpapersWith 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.