Story Teller God – Two Debtors

A few weeks ago we had Student Ministry Sunday at Christ Community Chapel (Stow Campus). This is a Sunday where our students takeover our worship services and they lead and serve our congregation. It’s aways a blast! You can click here to read more about what we did.

One of the things I get to do each year when we do Student Ministry Sunday is preach. I love speaking to our students on a weekly basis but it’s always a joy and honor to preach to our whole congregation. We have been in a series called “Story Teller God” where we are looking at some of the parables Jesus taught. I preached on the two debtors from Luke 7:36-50. Below is the video of this sermon that you can watch. Also, click here if you want to check out other sermons from this series.

Books I’ve Read Recently

Wonder-Working-GodThe Wonder Working God by Jared Wilson. I’ve always enjoyed Wilson’s books so I was excited to read this one. In this book Wilson dives into the subject of miracles and helps the reader understand what miracles are all about. Wilson says, “Miracles do not serve so much to prove that there is a God but that the Lord is God and we are not” (page 13). Throughout this book Wilson discusses various miracles Jesus performed and helps us understand what they reveal about Him. Many of the miracles that are discussed in this book are ones I have heard, read, and even studied many times, but I seemed to learn something new about each one of them from this book. I look forward to hopefully reading Wilson’s book The Storytelling God soon, in which Wilson talks about the parables of Jesus.

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The 7 Best Practices for Teaching Teenagers the Bible by Andy Blanks. This is a book that has been on my shelve for a while. I try and read as many books on teaching and preaching as possible. Before taking this book off my shelve it had been awhile since I read a book on specifically teaching the Bible to teenagers. Since I do that on a weekly basis I’m always willing to learn more and sharpen my skills. In this book Blanks shares (you probably already guessed it from the title) seven best practices to help you become a better teacher of the Bible to teenagers. Teaching the Bible to teenagers is not an easy task and to do it well is even harder. In this book Blanks shares tons of practical advice and insights to help you become a better teacher. I’d encourage anyone who teaches the Bible to teenagers, whether that’s a full-time student pastor or a volunteer leader, to do yourself a favor and read this book. It’s a good, simple read that will help you tremendously.

51J-pTktLUL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Better Safe Than Sued by Jack CrabtreeStudent pastors and youth workers don’t always like the word “safety.” It’s an area that is often times overlooked for the sake of a crazy game or thrilling activity. Crabtree says, “Safety is one of the last concerns discussed as youth activities are planned and implemented” (page 13). However, one of our top priorities in student ministry should be the safety of the students God has placed under our care. We know the top priority is helping students come to know Jesus and grow in a relationship with Him, but another serious priority is keeping those students we are trying to reach safe. Crabtree says, “In addition to the important job of communicating the Christian message to young people, a youth ministry leader must also provide a safe, responsible environment” (page 20). In this book Crabtree helps student pastors understand the importance of safety and helping them stay away from any form of lawsuit or negative experience because safety was not a concern. I liked the wide range of topics regarding safety Crabtree covers in this book. Everything from driving and using vans and buses to sexual misconduct is discussed in this book. Also, there are some great chapters on safety regarding mission trips, retreats, and seasonal sports. There is also a very helpful chapter on bullying. This is one of those student ministry books that I believe every student pastor should read. It will make you a better student pastor and will help you create a ministry that is not only fun (which we all want), but also safe.

Up next on my reading list is Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels and A Fresh Look at the Book of Jonah by Greg Laurie. I also plan to finish Seven Men by Eric Metaxas and The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer soon.

Freebie: Resource to Disciple Students Who Come to Faith

I love seeing students coming to Christ! It’s why I do what I do. I love it! But when a student comes to Christ, that is only the beginning. Yes, it’s awesome and should be celebrated, but we must then start the process of making sure that student get discipled and they learn the basics of walking with Jesus.

There are tons of great resources out there to help youth pastors and youth workers do this important task. However, I have yet to find one I am 100% sold on. Not that they are not good and helpful, but I just haven’t been able to stick to with one resource. So I figured I would make my own. I sat down and asked myself, “What are the basic topics (or conversations) I would have with a student who has just come to Christ?” What I came up with was eight conversation topics that I believe are vital for a student who has just come to Christ to have with another believer.

I don’t claim to have the best resource for discipling students who have just come to Christ, but I have been seeing it work in my context. It’s simple and easy to use. I also don’t claim to be that good at graphics so don’t expect anything to flashy with the look of this resource. Just a simple, easy to use resource to help youth workers disciple students. Click the link below, download it, and use it if you’d like. If you do use it, I’d love to hear what you thought so feel free to leave a comment below.

Click Here to Download This Free Resource

What “Hot or Not” is Teaching Teens

Hot-or-Not-575x340One of the most popular trending apps right now is an app called “Hot or Not.” Even though this app attracts many young adults, teenagers are very much into it as well and are using it. Basically, it’s an app where you browse pictures other users have posted and you rate them as “hot” or “not.” The rating scale is 1-10 with low rating obviously meaning your “not” and high ratings meaning your “hot.” The photos can range from appropriate to sexual explicit. If you rate someone as “hot” and they rate you as “hot” as well, then you become connections and can chat (which is where this app opens up a huge window for sexting). That’s basically all the app is. So it seems harmless right? Seems like it’s a fun app teenagers can use to find people they think are attractive and maybe chat with them. Parents, click here to read a really good parent review of this app.

I’d like to suggest that this app is teaching teenagers, especially teen girls, that their value is found in their outward appearance and the approval for others. If you have a teenager, again especially a girl, or work with teenagers, you know how much of a struggle this is. Even though this is a tough issue for girls, the guys are not excluded from this as well. Teenagers want to be liked by their peers. Teenagers, in many different ways, are crying out for the approval of others. So many teenagers will run to this app, find the best pictures of themselves, post them, and wait in hopes that someone will make them feel valuable by rating them as “hot.” However, this comes at a cost and a risk. The risk is not everyone will think they are “hot” and that approval they long for may instead by shouts of disproval by people rating them as “not.” And maybe if they wear less clothes and show more skin they can get their ratings up? Do you see how this app can be devastating to teenagers?

It’s most devastating because it goes right against the Gospel. While teenagers are fighting for acceptance, approval, and value their Creator is shouting to them that He has the eternal acceptance and value they are looking for! He sent Jesus to die on a cross, to pay for their sins, so they can find eternal value and acceptance in a relationship with Him. They don’t need to look for approval and value in their outwards looks, even though there is nothing sinful with outward beauty, and the approval of others. The Gospel is what they need and when they take that step of believing in that Gospel and entering into a personal relationship with their Creator they can find all the acceptance, approval, and value they need in Him!

I think it’s important for parents of teens and those who work with teens to understand the devastating message this app could be sending. As parents, you may want to discourage your teens from even using this app or at least having honest conversations with them about the message it may be sending them. It may be that this could be a great platform to explain and teach the Gospel to your teenager.

The bottom line is that what teenagers want, what all of us want, is found in the Gospel. The Gospel is the answer and our only hope.

Book Review: Leadership as an Identity

9781575673073_p0_v1_s260x420I recently finished reading Leadership as an Identity by Crawford Loritts. Out of all the books I have read on leadership, this by far as been my favorite. Loritts approaches leadership in this book very different from most books on leadership. The leadership theme that runs throughout this book is leadership is not necessarily about what you do, but about who you are.

Most books on leadership, even Christian leadership books, tend to talk a lot about how leaders can develop and become better at what they do. Skill and professional development is the focus. Those things aren’t bad and leaders need to focus on those areas, but for Christian leaders they are not the priority. The first priority of a Christian leader is not really about their leadership at all, it’s about who they are. It’s about being a man or woman who is following Christ and growing in their relationship with Him. That is the point of Loritts book. In fact, Christian leaders don’t even have what it takes to get the job done. The assignment God has given them as leaders is too big for them. Loritts says, “It’s good to be reminded that we are most useful to God when we realize that in ourselves we don’t have what it takes to get His assignments done” (page 39). Christian leaders must be walking with Christ in order to do what He has called them to do because they cannot do it apart from Him. In John 15:5, Jesus reminds us, “…apart from me you can do nothing.”

Loritts breaks this book down into four main parts. Each part covers a characteristic that should be true of every Christian leader. The four characteristics that make up the four parts of this book are: brokenness, uncommon communion, servanthood, and radical and immediate obedience. I’d love to share what Loritts says about each of these, but I want you to grab a copy of this book and read it for yourself.

I would recommend anyone who finds themselves in Christian leadership to read this book. It’s challenging and will remind you that who you are as a leader is more important than what you do as a leader. Do yourself a favor and read this book.