Students and the Church free sermon resource

Students and the Church slide title blog

This is a sermon resource I put together based on a sermon I gave at my church, Brandywine Valley Baptist Church, in which I was challenging the church as a whole to be more intentional about integrating young people and children into the body and life of the church as a whole. The core of the message comes from Galatians 5:5, with input from current research and experts. The resource includes a sermon manuscript, powerpoint slides, graphics, and audio from when I gave the sermon. I hope it can be useful to other ministries! Click here to download it!

Lamentations: How to Grieve

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My latest resource just went live on the Download Youth Ministry website! It’s a three week teaching series on the book of Lamentations. I really enjoyed creating this one and taking my group through it; Lamentations is a powerful book with a lot to learn from. You can find the resource on the Download Youth Ministry website here. Here’s the official description:

Lamentations is a collection of five ancient poems that the Israelites would recite together as part of their grieving process. Students will learn some great principles for handling their grief today and ways to process it in a healthy, God-honoring way. Through the themes of God’s judgement, compassion, and sovereignty. students will find hope in their deepest suffering.

This is a complete three-week teaching resource that would work great as a sermon series for students, college-age students or even the church at large.

This Resource Includes:

  • Complete message manuscripts (Word files)
  • PowerPoint presentation file for each message
  • Student handouts – blank and filled-in (Word files)
  • Series graphics (jpeg files)
  • Resources and sources document (Word file)

Obadiah: Where Do You Find Your Joy?

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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)

Song of Songs series available now!

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Over the last year or so I’ve been creating youth ministry resources for the Download Youth Ministry website; they’re starting to trickle out (you can see what else is on the way here)! The first one to be published is a three week teaching series on the Song of Songs! I had a lot of fun working on this one; hopefully it can be a strong resource for other youth ministries. You can purchase the resource here. Here’s the description:

Song of Songs is a three-week series taking a close look at the Bible’s most explicit book. It’s not just erotic poetry, though; it communicates powerful messages about God’s view of love, sex, and wisdom. Over the centuries, Song of Songs has been a controversial yet important book with important lessons for young people.

Week 1 – “Solomon”
Series kickoff on the Song of Songs with a closer look at the life of Solomon and how God uses Song of Songs to powerfully communicate what God intends love and sexuality to be; a beautiful thing that couples enjoy, builds marriages, and builds families.

Week 2 – “Love”
The series continues with a closer look at chapter 1 and exploring the use of the word “love” throughout the book, emphasizing the three Hebrew words that are translated as “love” and what that tells us about God’s heart for the marriage relationship.

Week 3 – “Wisdom”
The series concludes with a look at a reoccurring phrase throughout the book of Song of Songs; a challenge to “not awaken love until the time is right.” Through a closer look at chapter 2, as well as passages from Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, students will be challenged to have wisdom when it comes to love, friendship, and sex in a culture that points them in a different direction.

While the series includes comments based on current scholarly research portraying Song of Songs as a collection of poetry collected by Solomon (some written by him, others collected by him), for teachers who hold to a traditional view that Song of Songs is one poem written entirely by Solomon, it is possible to teach the series from that perspective without changing the lessons or main teaching points.

This Resource Includes:
• 3 message manuscripts
• 3 PowerPoint presentations
• 3 fill-in-the-blank handouts
• Title and Blank graphics (jpg)

Spiritual Grit & Suicide

spiritual gritSome thought provoking words on suicide from Rick Lawrence in his book, Spiritual Grit:

We live in the most affluent society in the history of the world, and one deadly (and counterintuitive) side effect of affluence is suicide. A 2012 study by the U.S. government found that the richer the neighborhood, the higher the risk of suicide. Arizona State psychology professor Suniya Luthar studies resilience in teenagers, and her work reveals that affluent kids are among the most emotionally distressed in America. “These kids are incredibly anxious and perfectionistic,” she says, but there’s “contempt and scorn for the idea that kids who have it all might be hurting.”

If we have the means to make life easier for our kids, we will extract hardship from their path as often as it seems reasonable. It’s just the way things work. And when we systematically make things easier for our kids, they don’t develop the perseverance they need to keep moving through their inevitable seasons of disappointment, conflict, and depression. Spiritual grit is not merely a catalyst fueling our determined response to challenges, setbacks, and opportunities in our lives—it’s a core strength that can mean the difference between life and death. (Kindle location 3261, chapter 7)

We prioritize so many things; tutoring for school, camps for sports, special classes for SAT prep. But what do we do to prioritize faith development? To help young people develop a long lasting faith that will serve them in all areas of life? How are we developing spiritual grit in our own lives, modeling to the young people around us the importance of this?

Highs and Lows of Ministry

MAD Man 2009

This photo was taken almost ten years ago on a service weekend in Philadelphia. I stumbled across it last week; it has a lot of emotions tied up in it.

It was a fun moment. I love Rocky, I loved getting my picture at the statue, loved having fun with these students, loved seeing them serve. I was their new youth pastor and excited about the future.

A few years ago I attended the funeral for one of them. A few weeks ago, I performed a wedding for one, and a week ago I officiated at the funeral for another. One of the best moments followed by one of the worst moments.

Ministry is full of joy and heartbreak. A long youth ministry tenure only heightens that. It is a gift to involved in people’s lives, to be invited into their best and worst moments. It is energizing and exhausting. It’s often times overwhelming, but I’m thankful for the calling.

Ten Years at Brandywine Valley Baptist Church

Melissa and Zach pulled off a massive surprise for Heather and I at the fall retreat this year; we had no idea they had been collecting videos, notes and pictures from current and former students and leaders to put together a video (see above) and a memory book to honor our ten years at Brandywine Valley Baptist Church (August 24th marked the official ten years since I had started). It’s not often that I am that caught off guard or speechless!

All that to say, I really, REALLY appreciate everyone who contributed to it and a huge thank you to Melissa and Zach for making it happen!