Enjoying the Journey

Youth Ministry

The Most Important Lessons I Learned in My College Years

A few days ago I had the joy of addressing a group of college students in a local church. There were freshmen and upperclassmen, full of hope and excitement as they approached the beginning of a new year. Life is divided into seasons and every season has a purpose (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11). The college years are a time of preparation. In these days God is at work in so many ways to prepare young people for all He has for them. All of college was good for me. Dorm life. Student Events. Even History of Civilization. As I reflected on my college years I began to see that it was in this season of life that I began to understand that some…

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How To Keep the Next Generation

A fellow preacher and personal friend asked me recently how I believed we could do a better job of retaining young people in our churches. It is a problem of epidemic proportions. The vast majority of young people are exiting the local church by the time they are eighteen. For many years I said to prospective youth workers that we must get young people connected to more than the youth group. It is my conviction that, as early in life as possible, young people must find their place in the church. It must be their church. The pastor must be their pastor. And some work for the Lord must be their ministry. This cannot begin when they graduate from high…

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A Post By My 17 Year Old Daughter

Tammy and I thank the Lord for our children. Like every parent we pray that they will desire to follow Christ. More and more I understand the words of John, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4). Recently our oldest daughter Morgan posted some thoughts through social media on the subject of teen suicide. The Lord used them to speak to some young people and I asked her for permission to share her thoughts here. It is our prayer that they will encourage others. The following are Morgan’s own words… As I look on my generation I see a group of teenagers filled with questions, filled with pain, and filled…

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10 Suggestions for Those Who Work With Youth

Thank God for faithful youth workers. As a parent of two teenagers I realize more than ever that no one raises their children alone. My wife and I praise God for every youth pastor, youth pastor’s wife, teacher, coach, administrator, and choir leader who influence our children…and we pray for them. We need them. Our kids need them. The role of youth leaders is more indispensable than ever. They cannot take the place of parents or the pastor, but they can extend the influence of both. Youth workers are key in strengthening two God ordained institutions – the home and the local church. Much of our ministry has been with young people and helping to train those who work with…

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This Is Our Generation

Last night I finished preaching in another youth conference. These are special meetings and more needed than ever. It was a privilege to have our daughter Morgan with me on this trip. Having teenagers of your own changes your whole perspective! As I looked at a sea of faces last night, hundreds of young men and young women, I was reminded of something very important – This is our generation to reach and teach for Christ. Fifteen years ago I had a sermon that I preached to young people entitled “This Is My Generation.” At the time, I was part of the same generation as those I was preaching to. I am a little older now and the young generation is now…

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What I Learned from a Child About Singing Hymns

You can learn a lot from a child.  Sometimes those we are teaching become our teachers.  This happened to me again recently.  As I walked through a certain place I heard the voice of a young man singing a great hymn.  Not just singing it…singing every word…with abandon! Suddenly so many things were clear.  This young boy has parents who love the Lord.  He is being raised in a church where the great hymns of the faith are being sung.  Now he loves them too. Young people love old hymns.  Many churches today have followed the assumption that kids only want “new music.”  In fact, they want something that is real.  They want truth.  It doesn’t have to be new…

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Counsel to Young People and to Those Who Counsel Them

It is my privilege to work each week with hundreds of middle school, high school, and college age young people.  It is fascinating that the older I get the younger they seem!  Not long ago (in my mind) I sat where they sit.  Making decisions and seeking direction. Recently I spent several days just meeting with kids, listening, talking, praying.  Full of hope for their future, every one of them is in the middle of a season of decision.  Decisions that will alter the course of their life.  Perhaps I am more concerned than they are because I have seen so many poor choices and sad casualties. Meeting after meeting it seemed that the conversation returned again and again to…

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Conducting An Effective Youth Rally

The youth rally is not the entire youth ministry, but it is a component part. Like summer camp or Vacation Bible School it serves as an emphasis on the things you are trying to teach young people every week. Most people believe that if you have pizza, interesting props, and prizes to give away you have all this is needed for a good youth rally. There should be much more! I am in youth rallies frequently and have seen many rallies done well and a few that were not as effective as they could have been. Here are a few suggestions… Determine the purpose of the youth rally. What are you rallying them to? Determine the destination early. Is it…

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When Young People Ask Hard Questions

Questions are opportunities to teach.  God gave explicit instructions to Israel about what to say when your children ask (Deuteronomy 6:20-25).  And ask they will!  All of us who have young people in our homes are well acquainted with the question, “Why?”  It is the way we answer that determines the outcome. Recently I allowed the young people in our Academy to submit anonymously questions that have troubled them.  I was overwhelmed by the response.  Sincere questions and concerns.  Some doctrinal, some personal – family, eternity, morality, God, the Bible, and relationships.  We have since tried to schedule chapel speakers who could address specific topics that are on their minds. Questions cannot be ignored.  In fact, they should be encouraged.…

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The Power of Parents

As I sit in my study at home there are two pictures of my parents on the desk in front of me.  One is a photograph taken on the night that I graduated from high school.  It is hard to believe that I will soon be the age that they were then.  This picture is the way they are indelibly impressed on my mind.  Time has moved on, but some things do not change. The other picture is a recent photograph taken of mom and dad.  They have aged very little through the years but my appreciation for them has grown more than I could ever express.  Children are in so many ways a product of their parents influence.  All…

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