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

Blog

Culture In The Comics. . . .

My grandmother used to call them “the funnies.” I can still remember a few occasions when she read me comics from Philadelphia’s “Evening Bulletin.” For me, the best comic strips are those that capture some aspect of reality, twist it around to shed light on some kind of absurdity, then cause me to grin while... more »

Kids, Caffeine, and Now Death. . .

If you’re under the age of 35, you probably didn’t notice it. If you’ve been around longer than that, you may have picked up on it. It was the role caffeine played in the recent Netflix hit, “13 Reasons Why.” It seems that in just about every episode, some combination of characters wound up hanging out at... more »

The Cultural Mission of Youth Min and Parenting. . . .

Because I grew up in a Pastor’s home, we oftentimes had missionaries visit and stay with us. I remember listening to the stories and watching the slide shows they’d deliver during the all-ages Sunday School hour. These encounters shaped my understanding of “mission.” I rapidly learned that the Christian’s calling is to fulfill the Great... more »

Parenting and Idols. . . Truth? Consequences? . . .

I was curious about what was happening on social media yesterday. It was Mother’s Day. God’s good gift of mothers and the power of Godly parenting is what we’ve come to celebrate.  .  . or at least should be celebrating. I saw plenty of posts thanking and honoring moms. Some were emotion-inducing nods to mothers... more »

Youth Workers and Public Schools. . . Some Helpful Resources. . .

Over the course of my last 28 years of studying youth culture full-time, one of the best and most helpful exercises I’ve engaged in is taking the time to listen to the hearts, cares, and concerns of public school teachers and administrators. A wonderful by-product has been the realization that youth workers and educators can and must... more »

Youth Ministry Is. . . .

Youth ministry (really any ministry) is not about building a personal brand, a following, a resume of product, and an admired presence. It is about stepping out of the way, quietly following Christ, faithfully bearing fruit to God’s glory, and seeking to participate in God’s kingdom mission. Continually ask yourself, “To what do I aspire?” more »

Marijuana and the Teen Brain. . . A Helpful Infographic. . .

So the good news from the annual Monitoring the Future Survey is that teen drug use is trending down. But the title of a press release from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research reports on an additional finding that should cause us to wake up, take notice, and start talking: “Teen use of... more »

Youth Ministry. . . And Pushing Back On Evil. . .

It’s been a week since the start of the NFL draft. Are you feeling good about how your favorite team fared in the annual event? As an Eagles’ fan, anything is a step up. And this year we drafted a balanced combination of offensive and defensive players. You’ve got to develop your abilities on both... more »

Bill Nye The Science Guy. . . Sex Junk Education. . .

If you’ve been paying attention at all to those elements of the rapidly changing culture soup that have been talked about online over the course of the last week, you’ve probably heard some rumblings regarding the latest venture from long-time science educator, Bill Nye. From 1993 until 1998, Nye was a PBS staple with his popular kids’... more »

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 »