3 Powerful Words for Ministry with Youth

Have you ever asked a teenager a question and received a yes or no answer?  Have you ever asked a string of open ended questions and received a few words or a short sentence in response to each?  Have you ever felt like at a certain age the ability for youth to speak openly and freely comes to an abrupt halt? A Different Question Brad M. Griffin, Director of the Fuller Youth Institute, wrote an in-depth article about a relatively simple yet incredibly powerful approach to extending, Read More …

Sermon: An Opportune Time

Sermon Text: Ecclesiastes 3:1-6 Sermon Excerpt: A month before I graduated from seminary I started my first pastoral position.  I was one of the associate pastors in the oldest continually meeting Protestant congregation in Dallas, Texas.  My official job title was so long even I had a hard time remembering it.  It included elements of congregational redevelopment with an emphasis on reaching new people – especially those who were younger. For some reason people assumed that since I was Read More …

Ask the “Why” Questions

Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi - director of the United Church of Christ's Center for Analytics, Research and Data - recently wrote about the importance of asking "why" questions.  She reminds us that Jesus was the master of using just the right why question at just the right time, and offers several examples including: Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your Read More …

Elements of a Great Blog Post

Paul Steinbrueck, co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, recently shared 7 must have elements for a great blog post: tantalizing title, hook in the opening paragraph, connecting image, unique style and perspective, new insight, formatted for easy reading, and conversation-starting question. So What? I have been blogging since 2009, and am always interested in learning how to be more effective.  While many of my posts contain these seven elements, a good number contain a Read More …

Christian Expectations

Stephen Mattson recently shared a list of invalid stereotypes held by Christians about Christianity. His list includes: all your questions will be answered; you’ll be “blessed” with wealth, prosperity, comfort, and security; and you're always happy. So What? Christianity is thankfully far too rich a tradition to answer all the questions thinking people ask.  It is far too deep a religion to suggest material prosperity is associated with living out one's faith; it acknowledges that Read More …

Christians Should be Saying

Christian Piatt is the author of multiple books, including Banned Questions About Jesus and Banned Questions About the Bible.  Recently, he shared a list of ten things he feels Christians should say more often.  His list includes: How can I help? I don't know. I could be wrong. So What? Our vocabulary is of great importance.  As people who follow the way of Jesus, we should be agents of love who seek to help others and all of creation while admitting the limits of our knowledge, Read More …

The Future Church (v.2020) – 10 Shifts

Over the last two weeks I have shared the top ten ways I hope the American church of 2020 will differ from the church of 2012.  The list builds on trends in church and the larger culture; is realistic rather than idealistic; and is guided by hope in rather than fear about the future. The list seeks to consider broad shifts within American Christianity rather than specific changes or changes more likely in some traditions and less likely in others.  Additionally, it intentionally Read More …

Future Church – More About Questions

Church v.2020 - Ten Changes: #7 More About Questions – Less About Answers When compared with the American church of 2012, the future church (v.2020) will be a community that is more open to questions and less about providing black and white answers.  This change in philosophy will be evidenced in many ways, including: Increased focus on both the content and style of Jesus’ teaching with a particular emphasis on parable.  When teaching with parables Jesus invited his followers to enter Read More …

Welcoming Doubts & Questions in Youth Ministry

"How to Welcome Doubts and Questions" is perhaps at once the most interesting and most relevant title for a youth ministry blog post that I have encountered in quite some time.  The article, written by Youth Specialties staff, list six ways that youth ministry leaders can create an environment that welcomes doubts and questions.  This "how to" list fails to mention what I have found to be the most helpful piece of advice on the topic: there are many aspects of the Christian faith for which one's Read More …