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Author Archive | Justin Knowles

Do You Talk Too Much?

Small groups are all about discussion. that is one of the many benefits and draws it has for teenagers to even consider joining one. Fellowship is a huge part of it as well yes, but having it be a place where students can actually have a discussion about faith, what the Bible says and what they believe is huge. From talking with leaders from all over, one of the biggest set backs are leaders who dominate the group. If small groups are the place of discussion, they definitely are not the place for the leader to give a 30 minute sermon, pray and then dismiss.

Here are some thoughts when it comes to leading an effective small group:

  • Is small group time about you showing off how much you know about this subject? Or is it a time where you get to see how much your students know about it?
  • Do you like to hear your voice more than you like to hear about how your students wrestle with whatever the topic or passage is?
  • Do you spend so much time studying (which is not a bad thing at all) that you want to make sure you say all you need to say int he group time?
  • Do you say, “Any questions?” at the end of your teaching time or do you start with a reading of the passage and ask, “Any questions?” and allow students to dictate where the discussion goes?
  • Do you value your own questions or do you value the questions your students are actually asking?
  • Do you want to show how close to Jesus you actually are or do you want to help your students get closer to Jesus through discussion time?
  • Do you talk way too much or do you know how to ask the right questions to get students talking about their faith?

When we get students to talk about their faith it means they are actively thinking about their faith. When students get to talk about their faith, we get to see the state of where their faith is in real time. When we stop talking and ask good questions, we get to teach more on who Jesus is and what He wants to do in their lives because we get to help guide them in their faith and doubts and help them develop their own, solid faith rather than the faith we tell them to have.

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4 Roadblocks To Small Group Growth

As groups are winding down for the summer I’m just reflecting on how groups grow and how awesome it is to see some leaders just dominate their groups and they are growing in their faith. I love it. I had a conversation with a few leaders a couple weeks ago about things that keep groups from growing. Here are the top 4:

Focusing on knowledge. Wait what? Isn’t that what a small group Bible study is for? To learn? Yes, but what good is knowledge if there is no application in one’s life? Paul says, “Knowledge puffs up but love builds up”. How does a group love? One of the biggest ways for your group to grow is to serve with them. Watch them grow when they are getting out of the circle and into the community. In James it says not to just listen to God’s word but to go do what it says. Growing groups serve others.

Forget Jesus is there. Sounds pretty elementary right? A non-growing group does it’s own thing. Maybe there is only focus on fun rather than actually sitting down and going through a study. A growing group remember that when two or more gather in His name, He is present. They know Jesus has power and that through conversation is where student’s faith is stretched as they wrestle with certain topics. They go through the curriculum provided by the ministry. They pray together.

You talk too much. Some leaders love to hear themselves teach. The only problem is, sometimes the students don’t. Small group is not the time to preach a sermon for 20 minutes to students. There is a time for this and it’s called church. Growing small groups are a place where the leader is a discussion facilitator not a preacher. Are there teaching moments? Of course. But growing groups have leaders who will know how to ask great questions and get students to think critically about their faith and help walk them through their thought process.

Why so serious? No one wants to come to a boring group. Especially students. Studying is great. Talking about faith is great. Bible discussion is great. But I see growing groups have fun! They don’t only talk about things of faith but things that are going on in their lives. They go see movies together, go eat together after youth group, they go play ninja tag in a park late at night. I love fun. Our jobs are fun so small groups should be fun too because even though you are having fun, some of the best conversations come out of having fun because having fun breaks down walls and barriers. Don’t be all business, go have fun with your group and see it grow.

What else do you think keep small groups from growing? What would you add?

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(Want to help train your volunteers/small group leaders? Click HERE to check out all DYM’s volunteer resources!)

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Transitioning Seniors

We run our life groups from October to June and take a break during the summer time. For our seniors, life groups are the hardest things to leave because for most, their groups have been together for years and most of them have had the same leader the entire time. No one likes to say goodbye, but graduating from the ministry is something that every church has to deal with.

This year we are trying to be more intentional with our senior life groups and getting them connected with our college ministry here at the church. I have been working with our college pastor and his team to scheduling time with our senior life groups for them to stop by their place of meeting and drop off some gifts and prizes and begin the connection between our ministry and theirs. I feel like transitions either go really well or really bad, and there is no in between. Having a place where students can go and be connected after high school is huge if we want to keep them involved in the church.

Our college ministry meets Thursday nights for a service with small groups attached to the end. College ministry takes over and help run our Sunday night services for the church as a whole (Service geared for 35 and under. This service is louder, different music, after service parties, but same message as the other services with Rick) and we push our students to those services after high school. Which is great because they are then connected to the church as a whole as well as with others their own age on Thursdays. With our college team meeting with and getting time with our seniors months before they graduate, they begin relationships and connections for when time comes where they are now in their ministry. Can’t start early enough to get them connected with the next stage of life and ministry in the church.

I think this will be a great win for our ministry and their ministry as we say good bye to our seniors and they say hello to their new freshman class.

What are some things you do to say good bye to your seniors? Do you get them connected to the church as a whole? What ministry? What does this look like for you?

(Here is a great 1-off message to send off seniors in the best way in the DYM store!)

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Student-Led Small Group Bible Study

One of my favorite things I do with my small group at the end of every year is allowing them to take us through a study. I allow them to take the lead and come up with and lead a discussion based on whatever topic they feel the Lord is pressing on their hearts. They are not always the smoothest, they are not always the “greatest”, but they are a huge part of learning and leading.

I know there can be some things that happen when a student runs things, but I believe those are risks worth taking because of the following reasons:

They read the Bible- You don’t need to be in youth ministry long to know most teenagers struggle reading consistently. But some some reason when they are given a chance to lead a study, they dive deeper into the text than I ever did leading them. They know more about the passage than I do, and it sticks for them.

They wrestle with it- I know when they are asking questions, it is questions they are wrestling with themselves. This shows me what they are thinking while they were reading through it and they want their peers to wrestle with the same.

They are working out their theology- Is everything they say theologically sound? Not always. But that’s why you are there. To help guide the discussions. How are students supposed to work out their theology if we are the ones who are telling them what they should be thinking. Small groups are the place for these things to be worked out and discussed.

I get to meet with them- For every study, I get to meet with the student leading that week for a one-on-one session to go over what they have planned to share. This is where I can help them and speak into the lesson a little bit to help them develop where they want the group to go.

Students need to hear other voices - Again, we know when students hear from people other than you, they will remember it more. I don’t know how it works but it does. Especially when it’s from a peer.

Like I said, it’s one of my favorite things I get to do with my students. I get to see them grow in leadership and faith. It is pretty great. I am always surprised by how great they all turn out. Do you do anything similar with your small groups? Do you allow students to try and lead?

Take a look at some small group teaching outlines students/small group leaders can walk through different books of the Bible with.

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Students Mess Up My Work Day

Today was a non-stop kind of day for me. Ever have one of those. I had a meeting with a volunteer, then a long, tough phone conversation with a parent, edit a sermon that a high school student is giving this weekend and meet with a friend who needed some encouraging words. Non-stop. If I am being honest, I would have not felt as rushed if it was not spring break in our area and if we did not have a bunch of students coming in and out of our offices all day long and if I didn’t have students come sit on my office couch and interrupt me while I was working. When asked, “Why are you here, in our offices? On your spring break?”

They say, “Because you guys (HSM staff) are here.”

I love it.

Jesus was available. When he was asked to come to a guys house to heal his child a woman touched his cloak and he stopped to engage her. He had stuff to do, but he chose the relationship with the women over the task that was on His “desk”. Look what happened when he did that.

Obviously my tone above is one of a joking manner. Hopefully you got it. Was my day stressful? Yes, it really was. Was it interrupted at least 5 times today by students coming in and sitting on my couch? Yes, it actually was. Would I trade that for getting my work done quicker? Absolutely not.

As youth workers, I think when we get interrupted from our office hours because students want to hang out with you, it means we are doing something right. It means we are not only locked to our desk (which sometimes we clearly need to get stuff done) but we are making lasting, meaningful relationships with students who are choosing to come to a lousy office to hang out with you instead of being somewhere else. That is amazing.

So stop. Pay attention. Turn to that student on your couch and engage them in a great conversation. A fun conversation. Take them to Starbuck’s really quick. Yes your work will be pushed back a bit but that relational time with them is priceless. Know you are doing something right outside your office when students are willing to come chill with you while you need to be in your office.

Be available. Be present. Enjoy it. We have the best jobs on the planet. Students mess up my work day, but I love it.

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I Don’t Know What To Do Here

Have you ever been in a situation where you really did not know what to do or say? Of course you have, you are in student ministry. We all have been (or I promise you will be at some point) in a position where we step back and think to ourselves, “I don’t even know what to do in this position. I don’t think I signed up for this.” We get that random call from a student or parent explaining some heart breaking situation from their student or from a friend that blows you out of your seat. And you are the person they call because you are the pastor, expecting something.

I can write this because I am in the middle of something right now with a former student of mine. I have never been in a situation quite like this, so I’m taken back a little bit. So what do we do in situations like this when we come to them? I thought I would share some of my own thoughts as I go through this process:

I can do nothing- Really though. I cannot change anybody. I do not have this power. The Lord does though and I know he can work through me. I know I can be there and be present, so that is what I am going to do. (Just wrote a full post on this, click HERE to read it.)

Pray- Be praying for the student involved. Be praying for their family. And be praying for yourself. Pray for the student and family’s mind and hearts for Him to move. Pray for the Lord to use you in a way that is effective.

Seek knoweldge- In the past few days I have called a few pastors and volunteers who have dealt with situations that are similar to what I am now. I have seen what they have done and any advice they can give me to best handle the situation in a Godly manner.

I’m there to serve, not to fix- I constantly need to remind myself I’m there to serve the student and their family. It’s not about me saying anything or doing anything, but being there to serve. Sometimes in the midst of craziness, your being there is one of the most comforting things.

Listen- I tend to walk to fill awkwardness with my dumb mouth. When we go into some scenarios we tend to talk too much when we really need to be asking good questions and listen instead. If we look how Jesus handled difficult situations, he was the master at asking great questions. Let us learn from him.

Seek His peace- Finally, we need to seek His peace daily by filling our minds with His Word, lifting all things to Him in prayer, and sitting at His feet in awe and reverence. It is only by His grace, mercy and love that the stresses in our lives  (and students lives) can be managed.

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Why Spiritual Growth Happens In Small Groups

I love our weekend services. I really do. I think they are so fun and I love the high energy that comes along with it. I love that students are high energy and they are being exposed to who Jesus is when they come on the weekend. But even on the weekends, we want to push students into small groups for spiritual growth because of these reasons:
  • In a  large group a student can feel like they don’t matter because they don’t know anyone. While in a small group they are reminded that they are loved greatly.
  • In a large group you can come in and go out without anybody really noticing. While in a small group it is impossible to hide. You will be seen and heard.
  • In a large group there is usually no food. This is tragic. In a small group (at least mine) we feast over amazing food and have great conversations while doing so.
  • In a large group they are listening to the teaching, which is great. While in a small group they can discuss and ask questions about the topic.
  • In a large group there is almost no accountability. While in a small group it is way easier to follow up with students.
  • In a large group we tend to think about our stuff going on in our lives. While in a small group we are reminded that others have problems just like us.
  • In a large group when a student is convicted, unless they come to us, we won’t know. While in a small group we have the time and ability to talk about those convictions.
  • In a large group any specific prayer requests can go unnoticed. While in a small group there is an opportunity to share what is going in student’s lives and be able to pray for them specifically.
  • In a large group after the teaching, students usually will just go home. While in a small group, hard questions can be asked and there will be time allowed for discussion and discovery.

Weekends are a great conversation starter for students. But small groups are where the conversations can continue and where spiritual growth can happen. They are where transformation happens. They are where leaders can push, encourage and challenge students in their faith and really open them up to what God has planned for them.

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My Own Learning On Identity In Ministry

I usually try to write practical things in ministry. But I thought I would share something I have been learning personally in my own life and I have been wrestling with myself and I hope it can speak to some of you as well:

To have your identity in Christ means that you’re placing your confidence for life and eternity in the Lord Jesus Christ. It means that you’re learning to do all that you do with and for Jesus. It means that you want other people to see Jesus when they look at you. To have your identity in Christ means that you are being formed more and more into the image of the Lord.

Identity is trusting.  We show what we have trusted in every day, almost every moment.  Who we hang out with, what hurts us, what we spend the most time doing is where our trust is, where are treasure is, in all honesty, it is where our god is.  Sharing Jesus wouldn’t be scary if we trusted his promises.

Trust takes time.  It also takes risks.

What this means is that you abandon any image of yourself that is not from God. You stop accepting what others have said about you, how others have labeled you, how others have defined you, how big your ministry is. You start believing what God says about you, that he is pleased with how he created you.

You’re not defined by your feelings. You’re not defined by the opinions of others or by your circumstances. You’re not defined by your successes or failures. You’re not defined by your ministry or leadership. Craig Groeshel said this and it has resonated me ever since, “You are not who others say you are. You are who God says you are and He says that you are His.” You are defined by God and God alone. He identifies you as his own (2 Corinthians 1:22).

The thing is, if you don’t know who you are, then you’re vulnerable to other people telling you who you are. But the gospel truth is that you are who God says you are, and no one else has a vote in the matter. This “identity issue” is an important part of living the abundant life. Jesus was able to face the incredible demands of his mission because he knew exactly who he was. He knew that he mattered to God, and that gave him confidence to move purposefully in faith. You have a specific purpose for where you are at in this time in ministry.

Ephesians 1:3-7

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

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How Do You Set Up Small Groups?

I think it can go without saying, I love small groups. I can talk about small groups all day long. I’m always interested in how others have their small groups set up, why they have them set up that way, and what do they think are the benefits of doing so. I love how there are so many different ways to do it and how different ways work better in some contexts of ministry better than others.

Right now, ours are set up as follows:

  • Midweek on tuesday or Wednesday night.
  • They meet in homes (for the most part).
  • They are grade specific.
  • The are gender specific.
  • They meet from October to June.
  • They go through a curriculum we wrote.
  • They would’t be able to happen without our amazing volunteers.

Tell us how you have your small groups set up and why! Interested to hear!

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We Can’t Change Students

I think one of the hardest things about a job as a youth worker/pastor is watching a student who used to be so involved not be anymore. A student who you have seen God made a complete 180 degree turn in go back to the ways they struggled with before and become more and more distant. It is heart breaking. It is even more heart-breaking when you need to console the mother of that student because she doesn’t know what to do anymore. What does one do with this? What can we possibly say in times like this? What can we actively do with this to move forward?

I’m going to be honest, I don’t know. It’s hard.

I have been working through this myself lately with some students and what I keep coming back to is this verse:

“How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God. That power is the same divine power which was demonstrated in Christ when he raised him from the dead.” (Ephesians 1:19b-20)

Something I have learned more this year than in my previous years in youth ministry is that we have the power to change no one. As much as we want to, we don’t have the power to do this. But we serve a God who can change the hearts and minds of those He created and loves. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power in which can cause someone to be open to listen to God, to others and take advice to turn their hearts around.

I don’t know if there are more steps to this, but this is what I have been doing this past year and I have seen God move in students who used to be far from Him to call them back and I am confident in prayer that He will do the same with those students right now that are far from Him as well.

Pray- Prayer is simple but it is not always easy. Patience is key to prayer. Pray God begins to soften their heart to be open to talking about what is happening.

Pursue- For students who are not coming like they used to because they know they are doing things that are not right, constantly pursue them. Let them know that you are thinking of them and praying for them and are there for them. Whether if they text back or not, they will know that you are still thinking about them.

Persist- We don’t know how long it will take, but we need to persist. I have seen in my own ministry, I have gotten a random text from a student months after them not being around but because they knew I was thinking about them weekly, when things got hard I would get a text to meet up with them because they knew I was wanting to meet with them for months.

Prepare - If they do reach out to you, be prepared for what is coming. Be prepared to listen. Listen well. Most of the time when I have these meetings I don’t say anything because I just want to hear what’s going on. I’m not quick to give advice unless asked. Usually this is the first of many meetings to follow.

God has the power to bring people back to Him. We do not. So pray, pursue, persist and prepare for those students who walk away. God can still move in huge ways and we get to be a vessel in bringing students back to Jesus. What an awesome job we have.

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Things To Keep In Mind Before You Confront Someone

As much fun as ministry is and can be there always is a time in which you need to confront a student or leader with life choices they are making or they are being disruptive in service. Let’s be honest, no one loves confrontation. It can be very hard at times. Even though it’s tough it is important in ministry to handle conflict with students and leaders well. A confrontation handled well can help launch them into the next level of personal growth in life and with Jesus. A confrontation handled badly can cause way more damage to the situation than their was before you entered into the situation. Hence, the importance of handling conflict well.

So what do you do?

  • Pray before- Seems obvious but if I do forget to one thing the most, it’s this one. It’s so easily overlooked but it really is the most important. There is nothing better than going into what can be a very difficult conversation than going in knowing that you went before the King and gave Him the situation before you even began with the student or leader. I pray that He gives me the correct words to say in ministering to the student and discernment when counseling them.
  • Ask - Ask yourself, “Does this need to be even brought up? Does it need to be handled right now? Am I thinking about this too much? Does it really matter? Does something even need to be said?” Going through some of these things can help you process what is about to happen.
  • Be up front- There is no use to dancing around the situation. I would always try to “warm them up” before actually getting to the meat. As soon as they sit down, I lovingly let them know that I want to talk about something that can be hard to hear but it important because I love and care for them, then I go into it.
  • Be on their side- Confrontation is exactly that when two people are going head to head. If you can’t confront someone with love and with a positive end in mind for them (redemption, restoration, growth), you shouldn’t be confronting them in the first place.  Remind them of this as well—that you’re on their side—and that you want to see this issue resolved in a way that everyone learns and grows through it.
  • Go in private-  Go in private according to Matthew 18:15. A one-on-one conversation. If you cannot overlook the issue then attempt to resolve the conflict or misunderstanding by applying God’s principle of going one on one whenever possible. There is no benefit in calling them out in front of their friends after service or small group about something they have been doing (Finish reading Matthew 18 if one-on-one doesn’t get through).
  • When it gets heated, slow down -When things get heated it can be really easy  to get revved up with them. It is easy to get caught up in the moment and just go for it.  Slow down, get collected. Take a few breaths and think about what happened. The art of holding your tongue is hard and the art of confrontation with a calm demeanor is harder. Not going off and slowing yourself down before speaking will always be beneficial.
  • Point Them To Jesus- Overall, you are to point them to Jesus. As ministers that is what we are supposed to do. We need to use these times of confrontation as teaching and learning for our students and leaders and for us as pastors as well. If we can leave the conversation with the students leaning on Jesus more, than it is a success.

What else would you put? Add to the list?

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Discipleship = Time + Relationships

Matthew 28:18-20 – “Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’”.

I have been thinking a lot about discipleship lately. It’s hard. It’s so worth it. I have been thinking about how I myself have become a disciple of Jesus. I have been thinking about how we as a ministry are making sure we discipling students in a way that they would be making other disciples. My office mate and I were talking and he said something pretty great which got me thinking. He said, “I’m not concerned with how many students we baptize, I’m concerned with how many of those we baptize end up baptizing others. How do we get better in this?” Such a great question isn’t it? It’s a challenge we all need to take seriously and step back and look at how we are doing this.

Looking at what a disciple is: 1) someone who is willing to “go”. They knew what they saw about Jesus and had to go out and tell others about Him. We need to make sure our students KNOW what they believe to go out and tell others. 2) Disciples challenge others who believe to be baptized. While baptism is not what saves a person, it is the public confession of allegiance to Christ and willingness to enter into Christian discipleship. 3) a disciple reproduces themselves. While only some believers are gifted in teaching, all believers are called to share what they know about Jesus with others growing in their knowledge of Christ.

So what does this look like for you? How can you measure this in your ministry? I don’t know. I do believe that our small groups are the beginning of where many disciples are started but we always need to be striving to be better. I just know it takes a lot of time and it mostly stems out of a lot of relationships. As I look back on my own journey of discipleship, I can pin point certain people who were instrumental in my faith. They time they spent with me and the things they talked to me about regarding my faith made me who I am today and I’m grateful. Those people were Greg Tisor, who I used to volunteer for and now is a senior pastor and Mike Brook, who is now the college pastor here at Saddleback. They spent so much time and intentional in their relationship with me pointing me to Jesus.

I’m sure many of us can look at our stories and realize the same thing. There was a lot of time and a relationship in which helped us turn towards Jesus even more and I would love to hear your stories! DYM is a family and how do you get to know your family better? You share stories, so share in the comments below:

 How did you become a disciple?

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So You Want To Make a Change…

So you want to make a change in your ministry? Get ready! There is a ton of things that come a long with changing something in your ministry, some great things and some challenging things.

It’s an uphill battle. If there is a certain culture or thing that has been going on in your ministry and you want to change it, know that it is going to be an uphill battle. Programs can be easy to kill but a culture dies slow and fights hard. People get comfortable with status quo and change ruffles feathers. Just know it will be a fight.

Just because you are passionate doesn’t mean others will be. There have been things in life where I get really excited about certain things and when I tell others they are not nearly as excited, as I want them to be. If you want to lead a shift, you need to get others passionate about your version and start to help them see it like you do. You have to be a passionate leader who lays clear vision so others can effectively see the direction you want them to go.

You have to a broken record. Some of the greatest advice I have ever heard when it comes to casting a vision for change was: “When you start tot feel like a broken record because you repeat the vision over and over is probably the moment when your team is just now beginning to process the vision in general.” We have to be willing to be vocal and be consistent at it. A culture shift will take time.

We can’t change people. Only Jesus can. If we feel God is leading our ministry one way and we are seeking after Him and wanting to do what we feel he is calling us to do, the best first step is prayer. Pray for clear vision. Pray for clear communication. Pray for your team and their hearts. Pray for your ministry and your student’s hearts. If it is where God wants you to go He will begin to change the hearts of the people. Warning: this could take time.

It’s worth it.  The uphill battle, the vision casting, sounding like a broken record, the hard work, the sacrifice, the constant conversations, the struggles, the fights, the hard conversations, the yelling, the praying, the struggle is all worth it if it is going to produce better disciples of Jesus in the end.

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Shake Things Up

We all have a routine. We also all have a routine in our services and small groups, and this is okay. I think there is a healthiness in routine in our groups. Our teenager’s worlds are constantly changing. Their bodies are changing, they are changing in mental development, and the world around them is changing. So having a consistant routine in our groups is a great thing because they can count on it. I think it is healthy.

But with all of that said, I think it is okay to switch things up a little bit at certain points. What do I mean by that?

My small group meets every Wednesday night from 7-9pm. The order usually goes as follows: show up, eat dinner, hang out, bible study, prayer dismiss. They know it like clock work. So this last week without letting them know but working with the parent who lets us use their house, they showed up to a pool party BBQ. The pool was heated, the BBQ was going, we had extra swim trunks and we enjoyed a night of fun and hanging out together. Why is this a big deal? Because we all ended up in the spa after dinner and we had some of the greatest conversations we have had since the beginning of the year. Shaking things up a bit can open the door for a conversation that the students themselves didn’t think they would be having coming into group. Plus who doesn’t like a pool party?

Another example would be this week in our Life Group Workshops. For workshops we have all our small groups come to our student building to get some teaching about a certain topic. It is great because it gives our leaders a break and they can just be with their students. In the middle of the message, we had all of the students get up and walk outside to a designated area we previously set up for a point in the message. Students were shocked and went along with it, but they loved it. When coming back into our room from the message where they were used to the band being on stage for a time of worship, the band was set up in the back of the room, behind everyone. The only thing on the stage was a cross. We prompted students to respond in what ever way the Lord was leading them. Some stayed in their seats and read the words, some stood with their hands raised, and some came and sat at the foot of the cross. All while the band was in the back of them room leading in worship. It definitely was awkward at first because we are used to reading the band on what to do, but students soon realized the band didn’t need to be in front of them and they only needed to focus on the cross and its meaning and they began to worship in a way I have never seen. Students then began to pray for each other around the room. It was so good!

Point? While routine is great, don’t be afraid to change things up once in while to get students out of the “church routine” because I believe you will get their attention and they will be more open to how God wants to move that night.

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Cynicism Doesn’t Look Like Jesus

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m pretty sure we have all had some cynics of the ministries we run. They are not the elders, deacons, or even the parents but they are the ones in whom we are serving. They are the students who have been around and think they know all of the “ins” and “outs” of ministries. They say things like, “I feel like I’m not getting fed here.” Or “I do not bring my friends because it’s not as deep as it should be with all the games.” Or “I just rather listen to Judah Smith because I actually feel something.” My first response is always, “Well what makes you think church is about you?”

Part of me believes there is a healthy place for cynics because it keeps us honest and really checking why we do certain things but cynicism is something youth pastors run into all of the time and it is something we need to be aware of. If not addressed it can do more damage than good.

I read this great article in Relevant Magazine called, “The Most Damaging Attitude In Our Churches” all about cynicism. I even posted it to Facebook the other night in hopes that some of the students who need to read this would click on it. Subtle right? But there comes to the point where we need to teach our students that words matter and we need to watch what we say if it’s hindering the spread of the Gospel in any way. Read a section of the article below because I love how they put it:

We tend to think of cynicism as something that’s overt. We love watching the overt cynics—Bob Kelso, Gregory House, Don Draper. We laugh at their bitter rants and quote their best one-liners. Perhaps their extreme negativity makes it easier to justify our quiet tendency to be overly critical, especially in the name of something good.

But cynicism doesn’t always present itself in the sweeping, broad negativity we see on TV. In the day-to-day, it looks more like quick, unwarranted, “constructive” criticism. I’m not talking about the critical thinking required for success as an adult. I’m referring to the way we constantly evaluate and critique people and what they do…

The Church is the Bride of Christ and deserves our respect.

It is made up of broken people. We may not agree with everything, in fact, we may be spot on in calling out behavior that opposes the Gospel, but let’s speak truth with the love and humility of Jesus. He died for this Bride that He adores, so I’d imagine how we talk about her matters to Him.

When we become subtle cynics, our ability to grow becomes stunted.

Unveiling flaws outside of ourselves requires little to no personal sacrifice. Examining the depths of our own brokenness requires vulnerability and risk, both of which are essential for growth.

It is a great article. It’s a tough subject. How would you deal with cynicism? Do you deal with it now in your group? Do you address is as a group? Do you pull individuals aside and talk to them? What is the best way to handle it within our own groups?

Read the whole article at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/most-damaging-attitude-our-churches#Ry1mLFLjDh0JCj1o.99

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