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

Blog

Do You Control Your Phone? . . . Or Does It Control You? . . . A Helpful Infographic

A few minutes ago we finished recording an interview with Tony Reinke for our “Youth Culture Matters” Podcast. We talked about Tony’s book, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. The book is a beautiful piece of accessible, hope-filled, practical theology that offers a timely critique of how our phones are shaping us, and how we... more »

This Is Who We Are. . . But Is It Who We Should Be? . . .

“Can’t you see what’s happening around you and to you?” Good question. How would you answer? Because history tells us that we typically don’t recognize the fall-out from our believing and behaving until we are paying the consequences of that fall-out, we need to be constantly on alert as to how and where the winds... more »

Camille Paglia on Transgenderism. . . .

I’m not a reader of The Weekly Standard. But I was directed there this week by my friend Sean McDowell, who had posted a link to an interview with feminist Camille Paglia. Going straight to the source, I read Jonathan V. Last’s interview with Paglia. I’ve been tracking with a wide-spectrum of opinions on transgenderism as... more »

Youth Ministry Hazard: Emotional Affairs

One of the basic habits effect driver education instills in student drivers is the habit of scanning the road ahead for hazards. That’s a healthy habit for us as we engage in youth ministry. For those of us in youth ministry, a “perfect storm” of cultural forces and vocational nuances makes us especially susceptible to... more »

Pornography: Necessary Talking Points With Kids. . .

“I want to talk about pornography.” That’s what the 15-year-old boy said to me after hearing me talk at his Christian school on “God and Sex.” Sadly, he wasn’t a curious young dabbler looking for someone to help him understand whether pornography was right or wrong. Instead, he was already spending time every day looking at... more »

Learning Who We Are From Bill Cosby, Michelle Carter, and The Law. . .

I hope you’re tracking with the news this week. Of course, in today’s world there’s that difficult task of sorting out the real news from the fake news as the constant flow of mediated reports flood the feeds on our smartphones. Are we being fed truth? Or are we being fed lies? Still, there are... more »

Why Youth Ministry Shouldn’t Be The Greatest Show On Earth. . .

The truth is that I was jealous. I was convinced that there was no way I could compete.  Even worse, I believed there was a competition. I was a young youth worker doing ministry in a suburban church during the 1980s, a decade marked by excess and greed. I realize now that I had allowed... more »

Teens And Anxiety. . . A Helpful Infographic. . .

It was all quite telling. It would be an understatement to say that our nation was anxious as last November’s Presidential election arrived. Social media, water-cooler, and family dinner table conversations were all windows into the anxiety and nervousness we all felt as we faced the inevitability of wandering as a nation into uncharted cultural... more »

I’m Surrounded. . . And We Should All Be. . .

One thing I’ve always loved about the Old Testament are the passages of remembrance. These are the times when the leaders of Israel would call all the people around to remind them of what God had done in their midst. Then, they’d look to the future, issuing calls to obedience in response to God’s great... more »

Ed Sheeran, Body Image, and New Rules For Dating. . . .

It’s been on the charts for 18 weeks. It peaked at #1. Today it sits at #4. “It” is Ed Sheeran’s single “Shape of You,” one of two lead singles from his third studio album, ÷ (divide). The video (embedded below) has amassed well over 1 billion views. And with Sheeran currently touring in South America and... more »

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 »