Daniel in the Lion’s Den resource

Daniel_in_the_Lions_Den_title

My seventh resource with Download Youth Ministry is available! It’s a one-off message that was a fun challenge for me; how do you make something so familiar to people feel fresh? I also created a screen based trivia game for it, which was a new thing for me. You can find the resource here. Here’s the description on DYM:

Editor’s note: Good writing, good flow, good application. So good that I’ll teach it this weekend.

Details: A one-off message on Daniel 6, the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. This story is incredibly familiar to us which sometimes allows us to miss the point. Through this message, the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den will be brought to life for your students in a new way, bringing home the message that God is sovereign, and we are meant to live our lives for Him every day.

This Resource Includes:

• “Lion or Lyin’?” trivia screen game
• Complete message manuscript (Word file)
• PowerPoint presentation file
• Student handout (blank and filled-in) (Word files)
• Small group guide (Word file)
• Graphics package with title image, content image, image for Instagram (jpeg files)

Micah: The Poor Man’s Prophet resource

Micah_title_blog

My latest resource, a three week curriculum on the book of Micah, released today on Download Youth Ministry! I’m particularly excited about this one; Doug Fields actually highlighted it as a strong resource that he loves! I’m hoping it can be useful for youth ministries! Here’s the product description from DYM:

Doug’s note: Strong! A ton of content here… you could stretch this into a 5 week series if you wanted. Love it!

Description: This is a three-week series taking a look at the prophecy and message of the book of Micah. “The Poor Man’s Prophet,” Micah was an advocate and defender of the weak, the poor, the struggling, and the abused. During the time of the divided kingdom, the political leaders, (false) prophets, and priests of Judah may have been claiming to still follow God, but their actions told a different story. Each of these groups abused their status and power to take advantage of those God had entrusted in their care to lead.

Week One: Truth and Lies. Looking at chapters one and two, this week’s lesson both introduces who Micah was, as well as highlights the sin of the people in listening to the false prophets – those who told them what they wanted to hear, rather than those who told them what they needed to hear.

Week Two: Judgment and Restoration. Tackling chapters three through five, this week’s lesson asks the question of whether or not there is sin too big for God to forgive. Even in the midst of the atrocities that were happening, there is a thread of hope in Micah.

Week Three: Justice and Mercy. Looking at Micah 6:1-8, God’s covenant lawsuit against the people of Judah, students are asked who they are trying to please. Has God transformed their hearts or are they simply looking out for themselves?

This Resource Includes:
• Complete message manuscript for each week (Word files)
• PowerPoint presentation file for each week
• Student handouts (both blanks and filled-in) for each message, including discussion questions (Word files)
• Series graphics (jpeg and png files)
• Series resources and sources document (Word file)

A Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry (review)

biblicaltheologyofyouthministry

Dr. Michael McGarry’s new book, “A Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry,” is an important resource for the youth ministry community. He powerfully addresses the need for, and the importance of, youth ministry from a number of perspectives.

An experienced youth pastor, McGarry opens the book addressing one of the fundamental concerns many youth ministry veterans and experts have identified; the drop out rate from church is far too high when young people graduate from the youth ministry. We can’t just keep replicating the approaches and systems that have contributed to this problem.

McGarry writes, “the emphasis of this book is on presenting a clear and simple but thoroughly biblical framework for thinking about youth ministry as the church’s expression of partnership with the family for co-evangelizing and co-discipling the next generation.” (p.3)

Towards that end, he does something I have not seen done before; he works through the modern landscape of youth ministry, youth ministry in the Old Testament and New Testament, youth ministry in church history, the theology of youth ministry, and ultimately how this all connects to the family and the local church. For me, this systematic working through youth ministry in each of these contexts is what makes this book so important. He creates a backdrop of history and story that gives weight to his final chapters describing the important components of a healthy approach to youth ministry.

I love his quote, “Youth ministry is for adolescence, the family is for life, and the Church is for eternity.” (p.143) This theme is repeated throughout the book and plays a critical role in shaping a biblical theology of youth ministry.

At 164 pages, this is an easy read. While part of the Randall House Academic line, McGarry does a great job of balancing solid research and methodology with an approachable writing style making this a book for youth ministry professionals and volunteers alike. I highly recommend the book; it is definitely a must read for anyone who wants to see young people and families impacted for God.

Life, The Universe & Everything [science & faith resource]

lifetheuniverseandeverything

My second resource with YouthMin.org! I have to admit, this is one of my all time favorite teaching series that I’ve put together; it tackles science and faith. You can find it here. Here’s the description from YouthMin.org:

Life, the Universe & Everything is a three week message series that tackles some of the toughest questions. The issue of faith and science is one that the church has not had a great history with; it’s one of the main reasons young people give for leaving the faith after high school. Using some of the latest research, as well as quotes from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Doctor Who, this series attempts to give students a new framework for reconciling faith and science, while at the same time exploring the core message of scripture.

  • Week One, “The Ultimate Question,” challenges students to consider whether we are asking the right questions of scripture when we address the topic of faith and science. This message also addresses the core purpose of scripture: to guide us to God.
  • Week Two, “Don’t Panic,” takes a deep look at Genesis 1, four different theories of origin, and how Christians can approach Genesis 1 in a way that honors God.
  • Week Three, “Mostly Harmless,” explores Genesis 2, the creation of Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, and what scripture teaches us about the nature of humanity and its origins.

This series draws heavily on current research and Biblical experts for guidance. It is not a series that advocates for one approach to interpretation (e.g., young earth, old earth, etc.), rather, it challenges listeners to a different path, one in which we can have unity in faith while having different approaches to questions regarding science.

Includes:

  • 3 Manuscripts
  • 3 PowerPoint presentations
  • 3 Handouts with discussion questions
  • Graphics package, including social media images

Zach, Caleb, and Micah’s Mission Reports

This past month three of my sons went on mission trips, two of them with me. Zach, my youngest, went with me to Belize, Caleb went to Kentucky, and Micah went with me to Bolivia! It was an amazing and exhausting month. This past Sunday, all of the teens reported on the mission trips; the above video is Zach, Caleb, and Micah’s report!

Obadiah: Where Do You Find Your Joy?

Obadiah_title_image

My latest youth ministry resource is available on the Download Youth Ministry website (you can see what else is on the way here)! This is a one-shot lesson on the book of Obadiah. I had a lot of fun making this one; Obadiah is such a fascinating part of the Old Testament. You can purchase the resource here. Here’s the description:

Obadiah: Where Do You Find Your Joy?

This one-off message on Obadiah explores the history and relationship between the Israelites and the Edomites, challenging students to ask the question, “do I find my joy in my enemies’ suffering, or in their salvation?” Do we have the heart of God for the world around us, or would we prefer to see only those we like to know God?

This Resource Includes:

• Complete message manuscript (Word file)
• PowerPoint presentation file
• Student handout (Word file)
• Message graphics (jpeg files)

Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age (review)

Disruptive Witness Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age

I recently finished Alan Noble’s “Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age.” Noble’s goal in writing the book is to challenge the reader to a deeper, more disruptive (to the culture around us) faith, freed from the distractions of the technology and culture we are immersed in. I found the following passage particularly powerful:

We can adopt thin beliefs about almost anything. Perhaps you become deeply convicted about the plight of Syrian refugees after the US president callously calls for them to be banned. His words strike you as offensive, inhumane, and cruel. And while you may still harbor some unspoken suspicions about Middle Easterners after 9/11, this issue feels like the perfect opportunity to show your goodwill. The next time you see a meme showing refugee children with a superimposed verse about caring for the “least of these,” you decide not only to like it but to share it with your friends. This signals what your stance is on the issue and maybe something about your personal character, your open-mindedness and concern for foreigners. An argument breaks out on your post, with some of your distant relatives and old high school friends arguing over whether Islam is a religion of peace and whether “moderate Muslims” exist. You jump in to defend your position, citing lines of argument that you’ve picked up from other viral images or a John Oliver clip you watched on YouTube. You care about this issue passionately. There is a tremendous moral urgency to your writing, and you are even willing to anger and lose friends over your stance—a stance you adopted fifteen minutes prior, after seeing a compelling viral image on Facebook. Meanwhile, the foundation of your belief goes unquestioned. (p.45)

When he’s calling out these kinds of thin beliefs, the ways we allow ourselves to be distracted, disconnected – Noble really hits his stride. His challenge to live a life of faith that brings a witness to the world around us is a strong one. I found those parts of the book deeply compelling. In other parts, he critiques contemporary worship services, expresses his dissatisfaction with Vacation Bible School, and other modern attempts to bridge culture and faith. I wasn’t convinced that he was right that these approaches are wrong – just that they don’t resonate with him and his pursuit of God, and even found myself somewhat frustrated with his conclusions in those areas.

Overall, I’m glad I read the book. Having said that, it was a bit of a mixed bag for me; parts I loved, parts I found frustrating.