Learning my lines . . .
. . . discovering what it means to follow Jesus, seeing my story swept up into his . . .

Blog

This Question Changed Youth Ministry For Me. . . .

I’ve been engaging in a little back and forth over the last couple of days with a guy who was providentially placed in my path a couple of days before I left seminary and moved to Pennsylvania for a return to local church youth ministry. It was July 1985 and the encounter happened in one... more »

Teaching Up. . . Youth Ministry And Age Aspiration. . .

  Because marketing is so pervasive and powerful in today’s culture, youthworkers need to be aware of the many advertising strategies marketers employ in an effort to influence children and teens’ spending decisions. Of course, the main goal of marketing is to sell product. But marketing is actually even more effective at shaping the worldviews,... more »

“13 Reasons Why” . . . Looking For True North. . .

  Have you been watching? It’s compelling. It will suck you in. It’s certainly done that for millions of kids. It’s the Neflix series “13 Reasons Why.” High School student Hannah Baker has taken her own life. But before she does, she records a series of messages to individuals who have given her a reason. Like... more »

Youth Culture In The Comics. . .

In, but not of the world. . . starting the day with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. . . listening to the Word and world to know how to bring the light of the Word into the dark world. . . these are all descriptors of the task of... more »

Parents And Screentime. . . A Surprising Infographic. . .

It happened the other night. . . again. I shared the December 2015 data from Common Sense Media regarding media use by teens and tweens. I stated it simply: “Excluding time spend using media for school or homework, our 8-12 year-old tweens spend 6 hours a day engaged with screens. Our 13-18 year-old teens spend... more »

Mike Pence’s Borders and Boundaries. . . Why They’re Necessary. . .

I’m not sure that there’s anything anyone can do in today’s world that won’t summon some kind of push-back. That reality came to mind late last week as I watched the on-air personalities on a network morning show debate and even pick-apart Mike Pence after his personal rules for one-on-one dinners with members of the... more »

Divorcing Disruptive Kids? . . .

As I think back over my life in youth ministry, I realize that things would have been a lot easier if certain kids hadn’t shown up. Every year seemed to bring a handful of kids who took great joy in exercising their spiritual gift of “disruption.” I’m guessing that this reality is common to us... more »

Little Ears. . . Big Mouth. . .

Comedian Brian Regan has a funny little bit (reality is, he’s got lots of funny bits!) on his propensity to blurt things out without thinking. . . and then trying desperately and without success to pull them back in. Like when the gate agent sends you down the boarding ramp with a “Have a nice... more »

Recruit A Puritan Youth Pastor. . . .

“If it’s old, it can’t be the least bit insightful or relevant.” I used to believe that. I was young. In my mind, I was incredibly enlightened. Older folks were without a clue. Maybe you thought that about your parents. . . or your teachers. . . or your coaches. . . back when you... more »

The Spirituality of Peer Pressure. . . .

 The reality is that negative peer pressure is a spiritual battle all of us fight constantly, regardless of our age. Peer pressure is always there. It’s a fact of life in a sinful and fallen world. Our kids may know what is right and try with all their effort to do what is right, but... more »

Kids, Work, And The Path To Flourishing. . .

Some of them are old enough to hold down part-time jobs. . . and so they do. Others are old enough to hold down part-time jobs, yet for any number of reasons, they don’t. All of them will someday leave high school and take a step towards adult life that will either include stepping right... more »

“Did God Really Say?” . . . The Snake-Charmer And Youth Ministry. . .

The older I get, the more I see how important it is for me to put that stake in the ground. Then, I need to use that stake to tether me to God’s Word in ways that will hold me secure in the midst of both the storms of life and the winds of change that... more »

Framing Sexual Sanity. . .

In just a little over 50 years, our media culture has gone from treating matters of sexuality as a “hush-hush” topic, to putting all kinds of sexual practices and issues center-stage. That’s certainly been the case in the last few months as a variety of high profile stories regarding – among others things – molestation,... more »

Twenty-One Pilots And Teen Stress. . . Talking Points. . .

It was a well over a year ago that I sat with our doctoral cohort at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary deconstructing a music video that featured a couple of mid-twenty-somethings riding oversized Big Wheels (admit it, we all want one, don’t we?!?) through the streets of their Columbus, Ohio neighborhood. The video addressed a most-serious youth... more »

Fifty Shades Returns. . . Darker. What Now?

I spent the last couple of days in Mississippi. On Wednesday night, I spoke to a gym full off parents and teens about pornography. What is it? Why are we drawn to it? What effect does it have on us? How does it distort God’s grand and glorious gift of sex and sexuality? How do... more »

Lady Gaga’s Broken Halftime Theology. . .

First things first. No matter who you were rooting for, that was an amazing game. And second. . . let’s think about Lady Gaga and her halftime show. . . beginning with some thoughts on Super Bowl halftime shows in general. As a culture-watcher, I’ve always processed the Super Bowl halftime show as something very,... more »

Super Bowl Commercials. . . A Little Exercise In Critical Thinking. . .

Parents and youth workers… why not make your Super Bowl viewing experience productive for you and your kids? I want to challenge you to see it as an opportunity to teach how to apply their faith to the glut of marketing messages they face each and every day, by helping them think critically and Christianly... more »

Teens and Self-Injury. . . A Helpful Infographic. . .

We’ve been talking about it for a couple of decades for the simple reason that far too many kids are doing it. “It” is self-injury. I’ve blogged on it on numerous occasions. Our good friend Marv Penner has become a renowned expert on it. Marv has written a helpful book and is leading seminars on... more »

The Epidemic of Anxiety. . . Some Helpful Words. . .

Ever feel like this? . . . Apparently anxiety was a problem way back when Time Magazine ran this cover in 1961. The covered featured the now-familiar Edvard Munch painting known as “The Scream.” Interestingly enough, Munch painted this way back in 1893. I guess that proves that paralyzing and scream-inducing anxiety has been around... more »

Pleading For Our Kids. . . .

Early this morning I was reading in the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 5, about a distraught father named Jairus. As I pondered his two-sentence urgency-filled request to Jesus I kept thinking about kids today. Jairus said to Jesus, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so... more »