The Top 3 Online Articles of 2022
We hope that 2022 was a fantastic year for you and your youth ministry. We considered it a blessing to have come alongside you and equipped you with Online Articles and Training posts this year. Although we hope that every post has been beneficial to you, there were a few that stood out to you and other youth workers like you. To celebrate the end of a year of ministry, we want to revisit those posts today! Look below to see the Top 3 Online Articles and Training posts of 2022!
I love this quote by Thomas Brooks, the Puritan preacher and author:
“The Word of the Lord is a light to guide you, a counselor to counsel you, a comforter to comfort you, a staff to support you, a sword to defend you, and a physician to cure you. The Word is a mine to enrich you, a robe to clothe you, and a crown to crown you.”
If knowing God is our chief aim as humans, then we must know God's Word. As I have written here before (and will again, I imagine), while we can know God through means other than the Bible, God's Word is the primary way God has chosen to make Himself known to us. It is impossible to have a full and saving knowledge of God and His ways apart from a knowledge of His Word. We can't know God if we don't know His Word. Which begs the question: Do your students know God's Word?
The sad fact is that many of our students do not. Study after study shows that the overwhelming majority of Christian teenagers in the US aren’t reading their Bibles. Only about 1 in 5 have a regular, meaningful relationship with God’s Word. Most Christian teenagers rarely touch their Bibles, with another nearly 1 in 5 who report never reading their Bibles at all in a given year. For the most part, teenagers in America cannot articulate the basic tenets of their faith. They do not know what they believe. They cannot distinguish between the foundational elements that make their faith unique from other faiths.
When we consider that the Bible is the MAIN way God has chosen to make Himself known to us, this is a particularly alarming truth. How can students follow what they don't know? I believe that as youth workers, we’re in the perfect position to change that.
With that in mind, here are six ways we can develop in our teenagers the discipline of Scripture study!
What brought you into ministry?
What are the reasons you decided to give so much of your energy, time, and life to be a pastor or ministry leader?
Some of you may take a page from Tupac and say, “I didn’t choose the ministry life; the ministry life chose me.”
Regardless of how you ultimately ended up in ministry, I think I can make a few assumptions about the initial drives that brought you into ministry. Among them would be a love for God, a love for His people, a desire to cultivate a church community, and create disciples (by God’s grace) who go on to create more disciples.
There’s a sense that you're in ministry because you felt this was the life God was calling you into as a means by which to reflect Him. Think back to the creation story; God creates humanity to reflect Him and to care for, cultivate and tend to His creation. As image-bearers, we get to partner with the work God is doing and exercise our gifts to cultivate the world.
For many, occupational ministry is one way to do that. And for many, that is a motivator that drives us day in and day out.
What happens when our motivations become misplaced? Adam and Eve had a role and remarkable blessings to go with it. But rather than living into the task God has invited them into, they rebelled and choose their own desires. Rather than participating in building God’s kingdom, they set themselves on the throne and made their calling about themselves.
The task of teaching the Bible is daunting when you think about it. Not only do you have to stand in front of people and present. You have to do so and get what God said right(!) even though everyone listening already has a preconceived notion about what you are saying. It is a lot to consider even before you have done anything to get ready.
My best understanding of what it means to preach/teach boils down to this: Present Gospel information (a knowledge of Scripture) in order to see Gospel transformation (applying the truth of Jesus to our everyday lives) in the lives of yourself and your listeners.
I have always been drawn to teaching. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, which meant that I would inevitably have some connection to a group called the Royal Ambassadors. Basically, we R.A.s are Baptist Boy Scouts. In the 80s, we would wear a blue jean vest with gold trim. When you accomplish a task, they give you a patch. Can you build a fire? There is a patch. Are you physically fit? Another patch. Can you make a s’more? Here is a patch … which may serve as a contradiction to the previous patch.
Royal Ambassador gatherings were also a time when kids started to study the Bible in depth. It was in this setting that I ultimately delivered my first message (and by “deliver” I mean “put my all-male peer group to sleep in less than 15 minutes”). At the age of 17, I was asked to teach a Sunday school class. It didn’t go much better. I remember being so ill-equipped that I had to literally walk on tables to keep the kids’ attention. After surrendering to a call to full-time ministry, my pastor thought it was high time that I preached to our church as a whole. I studied for days. I knew the passage. I read commentaries. It was a rousing 18 minutes on the conversion of the apostle Paul. I talked really fast, told too many stories, and may or may not have mentioned Jesus.
If you are like me, you have also realized teaching and preaching are petrifying endeavors in which you inevitably have to lean into the ever-present grace of God. There will be moments where you walk away from the pulpit and feel as if you have hit home runs. Other times, it seems as if you only get on base by being plunked in the head with a ball. Then there are the times when you need to be thrown out.
The grace of God shown to us in Jesus has to equip, shape, drive, and saturate both our preaching (presentation) and the time it takes to get ready (preparation). With that in mind, let’s explore what needs to be present when you preach or teach. Here are some questions that I use to shape messages that hopefully speak Christ’s truth into a teenager's life.
We are looking forward to another year of serving you well in 2023!
Ready for more articles and training? Check out these top posts!