Archive for category: Religion (Page 53)

Growing Souls: Experiments in contemplative youth ministry

09 Aug
August 9, 2008

In a culture where busyness and frantic, consumerist centered programming is often times celebrated and demanded, Yaconelli urges the reader to rethink this methodology. He first lays out the groundwork for what a contemplative based youth ministry looks like, and then chronicles the experiences of several churches who participated in this project with different levels of success. He is thorough in his exploration of the subject, and I appreciated his honesty in not only describing the successes, but also the failures in these experiments. Yaconelli is a breath of fresh air, describing a type of ministry that my spirit longs for. Over and over I found myself stopping to reflect on the thought provoking material. His writing is deep, the message desperately needed. This book certainly has my recommendation!

This review, by me, originally appeared in The Journal of Student Ministries.

2009 National Youth Ministry Conference

08 Aug
August 8, 2008

Check out this new promo video for the 2009 National Youth Ministry ConferenceGroup Publishing and Simply Youth Ministry have been teaming up to produce one of the big youth ministry conferences of the year (Youth Specialties is the other big dog in the YM convention world).  This upcoming event will mark their third year and I’m starting to think I need to check it out!  : )  Youth ministry conferences have been the highlight of my year the last five years (I’ve become a regular at Youth Specialties’ events), and for good reason.  There’s just something incredibly refreshing and energizing about getting together with a couple thousand other youth workers, learning together, interacting with each other, and celebrating and worshipping together that is absolutely indescribable.  My philosophy of ministry has been heavily influenced and shaped through the teachings of the guys in the Simply crew (from way back in college before I ever even met any of them and was just being assigned their books!), so I’m finding myself very interested in a conference that features so many of my favorite and most trusted voices in youth ministry.  To find out more about the conference, click here.

Wii Pray???

06 Aug
August 6, 2008

Just some Christian video game humor to lighten your day … what can I say, it made me laugh!

Getting Students to Show Up

03 Aug
August 3, 2008

By Jonathan McKee; Youth Specialties, 2007, 192 pp., $9.99

McKee has certainly tapped into his experience and expertise on this subject! He writes with the confidence of someone who has spent years working in this exact area: designing and implementing weekly and large events that work. In other words, that successfully target and draw the audience intended, and faithfully follow through with the planned purpose. He takes the reader through all the steps; identifying the purpose of the event, the planning process and agenda, bringing it all together and even gives some great ideas for events that work. This book has really helped to bring focus and direction to my event planning already. It’s an excellent tool for showing the reader how to make their great event ideas reality. Definitely a worthy addition to any youth ministry library.

This review, by me, originally appeared in The Journal of Student Ministries.

The Top 12 Most Humorous Scriptures

02 Aug
August 2, 2008

I really enjoyed this article from The Journal of Student Ministries and thought I’d pass it on!  If you enjoy, click the title or the link at the bottom to get the rest of the article!

The Top 12 Most Humorous Scriptures …And Why It’s Okay to Laugh at Them
By Josh Tinley

Josh Tinley is the an associate editor of youth resources at the United Methodist Publishing House. He’s also a freelance writer and speaker, a high school Sunday school teacher, and an occasional math instructor (when he needs the money). You can find him online at

View all articles by Josh Tinley Enjoying the Good Book’s funny stuff
Christians rightfully revere the Bible. It is the “Good Book”; the “Word of God for the people of God.” We study the Bible, meditate on its words, and argue about the proper way to interpret the text. Sadly, our reverence for our sacred book often keeps us from enjoying the funny stuff. Students may chuckle at the racy parts of the Song of Solomon or guffaw when Balaam’s donkey opens its mouth to speak.

But biblical humor goes deeper than poetry that makes us blush or stories that seem absurd on their surface. Some Scriptures were (and are) meant to be funny and may have had their original audiences doing spit-takes. Others are funny to present-day audiences, if only because ancient people did and said a lot of funny things.

Either way, acknowledging the humor in the Bible can give life to a book that many young people view as stuffy and archaic. So, counting down from 12 to 1, are a handful of funny Scriptures that Christians can laugh at safely:

12. Ezekiel Eats a Scroll

He said to me, “Mortal, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey.” (Ezekiel 3:3)

Why It’s Funny

Through the prophet Jeremiah, God said, “I will put my law within [my people], and I will write it on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33). An emphasis on internalizing God’s law arose around the time of the Exile (especially since the destruction of the Temple compromised the people’s ability to observe the ritual aspects of the Law). To drive home this point, God told the prophet Ezekiel to literally internalize the law, thus laying the groundwork for countless puns about digesting God’s word and savoring the teachings of Scripture.

Why It’s Okay to Laugh

Because Ezekiel didn’t choke, nor did he die of ink poisoning. Often the Old Testament prophets had to become living metaphors for the sake of making God’s message known. Compared to marrying a prostitute (Hosea 1:2-3) or walking around naked for three years (Isaiah 20:1-6), eating a scroll is pretty painless.

To read the rest of the article, click here!

Questions you can't ask your mama about sex

01 Aug
August 1, 2008

By Craig Gross & Mike Foster; Invert Books, 2005, 128 pp., $9.99,

They aren’t kidding with the title! Wow! There are questions about stuff I didn’t even know about! At first I was a little put off by the style of the book; it literally is just questions and answers. But after a few pages it really started to grow on me, and by the end of the first chapter I was really wishing this book had been around when I was a teenage guy wanting answers but too afraid to ask. And that’s the beauty of this book – the questions are real! They come from visitors to Craig and Mike’s famous XXXChurch website, and the answers are solidly based in scripture. There is a flow to the book, with the questions being grouped into different topics covering the likes of sex, porn, lust, masturbation, addiction and more. The writing won’t win any awards, but I couldn’t put it down. In a market crowded with books on sex and lust, this one stands out.

This review, by me, originally appeared in the Journal of Student Ministries.

Live Bible review

29 Jul
July 29, 2008

I just got a couple copies of the new LIVE Bible from Group Publishing.  I got a hold of the hard cover version and the soft cover.  It’s very, very cool.  I really like the look of it, and the fact that even though it’s aimed at teenagers, it doesn’t label itself that way.  It kills me when I see Bibles with “youth Bible” on the cover, or “teen Bible.”  Flashback to when you were fifteen – that’s just not cool.   And it’s labeling it in such a way that when they hit a certain age they’re going to discard it because they want to look older!  It comes with some cool extras, like a poster based on the Live Bible (we put our favorite musicians and movie stars on the wall, why not God’s living word?), and some stickers with the instructions to personalize your copy of the Bible.  It’s the New Living Translation, which is a solid and easy to read translation – great for young people.  And it’s full of articles, devotions, resources and creative expressions by other teens.  I think my favorite part of the whole thing, though, are the blank “creative spaces.”  Every few pages there is space set aside for teens to draw, write, take notes, create art, whatever.  I love that every aspect of this Bible sends the message that we are to interact with it, that we are not casual observers but very involved with God’s word.  It’s a great way to teach important study disciplines and it’s done in a very relevant and enjoyable way.

At first glance I thought the price was a little steep for my preferences when it comes to stocking the youth room ($22.99 for the softcover, $27.99 for the hardcover), but places like Simply Youth Ministry have it listed at a great discount ($16.99 for the softcover, $19.99 for the hardcover, with bulk discounts as well; here’s the link – LIVE Bible).  Group also has some great bulk quantity rates.  At the end of the day, I really, really like it.  It’s definitely my top recommendation for parents and youth workers to grab for their teens – just make sure you spend the extra few bucks and get the hard cover.  It will last a LOT longer!

How to quickly get students involved with skits

24 Jul
July 24, 2008

Hey, I just found a great article by Eddie James of the Skit Guys over on  Personally, I think drama in ministry is an incredible resource and a great way to use God given artistic and dramatic abilities for His glory.  Anyway, click the link and check it out!

It gets your team or a couple of really excited students involved and helps their ad-libbing skills. More to boot–they become fearless.

Summer Sale @ Simply Youth Ministry

23 Jul
July 23, 2008

Hey, I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while now and keep forgetting!  Simply Youth Ministry is having a massive Super Summer Sale.  Very, very cool.  Most of these resources are normally between $25 and $60 – getting them for less than $10 each is a crazy deal.  Click here to get the whole list of products on sale.  Here are the ones I’ve bought over the years that are a part of this sale:

  • Developing HABITS – I can’t believe this is part of the sale.  It’s normally $60; I’ve used it, absolutely LOVED it and plan on using it again.  Good solid teaching on the basic disciplines of the Christian life.
  • 26 Teaching Outlines Vol. 1 – I’ll admit it, this isn’t really my style.  I haven’t used it too much.
  • I-Life – The first super sermon series I ever bought.  Loved it so much I’ve been using them all the time ever since!
  • 24 – A three sermon series on spending 24 hours a day with God; with focus on morning, afternoon and night.  We used it one year at snowcamp; another great resource that I plan on using again.
  • Simplify Your Life – Great sermon series on keeping our life in balance.
  • Rescued from an Ordinary Life – We used this at snowcamp this year!  Awesome!
  • Untouchables – Taboo topics normally not spoken about in church. 
  • Fresh Start – A good Bible study or small group resource.
  • Power Play Vol. 2 – Anyone in any kind of youth work should have this.  High quality, fun powerpoint games!
  • Power Play Vol. 3 – Same comments as power play volume 2!  A must have!
  • Game On Vol. 2 – Fun games that are easy to put together and do.  There are bigger game collections out there, but these are fun.
  • God’s Extreme Makeover – Another sermon series that Greg and I used at snowcamp a couple years ago.  Great stuff on God changing us from the inside out.  Very relevant stuff!

Scarred: Preparing for the hurt in life

23 Jul
July 23, 2008

I just got a hold of Simply Youth Ministry’s latest super sermon series, Scarred: Preparing for the hurt in life, by Doug Fields & Megan Hutchinson.  Like SYM’s other sermon series, it includes a TON of resources; MP3s of each message, transcripts and outlines of all three messages, Powerpoint outlines (editable, as well as blank slides to create your own with), promtional materials (ecards, postcard, poster & background), 3 new powerpoint games, Scarred themed countdown, Scarred motion background & Scarred themed motion intro.  I’ve used quite a few of these super sermon series over the years and I have yet to be able to use everything they include – they definitely cram a lot of product into one of these resources!

I’ve spent some time exploring the disc & I’ve listened to all three MP3’s of the messages.  I really like how they’ve used a LOT of voices to talk about the subject of hurt; while Doug Fields & Megan Hutchinson split the bulk of the teaching, quite a few students and leaders also shared their stories and the hope they found in God.  Over the three weeks they explored the different ways that hurt happens, the risks of dealing with hurt, and personal stories of hurt – how God can turn your hurt into something beautiful.  I found the teaching to be powerful, relevant and moving.  I like that Fields & crew were honest and real about the hurt that’s out there and how God can use it.  Involving so many voices in the teaching definitely takes more preparation – but the impact is so much more powerful.  Definitely a great resource on the topic of hurt!

To check it out and download the first week free, follow the link: Scarred: Preparing for the hurt in life.  To find the first week freebie, just click the “freebies” link at the top of the page!