Putting the ‘Fun’ in ‘Fundraiser’

Both my stomach and heart are filled each year at my church’s annual chili cook-off and dessert bake-off. Always well-attended, the cook-off is a high point for our church. The fellowship and food serve as a backdrop for fundraising for hunger-related causes, or perhaps it’s the other way around.

Dreams for the Church

I like Reformation Day. Probably more than a person should like Reformation Day. I’ve written Reformation Day carols. I used a Martin Luther bobblehead in this past Sunday’s communion meditation. At our youth Halloween party, I dressed up as the Wittenberg-by-way-of-Asgard Avenger Martin Lu-Thor. Yes, I like Reformation Day quite a bit.

A View from the Pew: Where Do Your Teens Sit?

Next time you’re in church (which should be this weekend, right?) conduct this experiment: look around, find the group of youth, and note where they are sitting. As an unofficial churchiologist (church+sociologist, a new thing I just invented), I would humbly assert that just like in the real estate business, location is everything.

Welcoming the Blue-haired Home

When I first shared my experience with a blue-haired girl and her friends, I noted the deep hurt I was hearing. But I also noticed the beautiful community created at this two-week teen writing workshop.

She has Blue Hair. She is Not Your Grandma.

Getting to the auditorium late was bad enough. Then I had to find a seat. After several “oh, it’s saved” interactions I finally found seating next to a 14-year-old girl with electric blue hair.

Nine Helps for Teaching

It’s summer. Families are traveling and the youth you do have are drowsy, but the following nine guidelines will help you build toward meaningful teaching and learning in the classroom.

Something to Talk About (As if They Need It)

One gift that many young people possess is the ability to talk. Some teens seem to talk all the time: in the halls at school, during class (even when they are not supposed to), during the sermon, and on Gchat, Snapchat, Insta, and so on.

Having a Good “Hare” Day

“I never lecture,” the teacher bragged. “Lectures bore teenagers. I just throw a topic out there and let them talk about it.” It is true—lectures can be boring. They can also be entertaining and insightful.

Introducing Formations for Youth

This January, we are proud to announce a new addition to the Formations line of curriculum resources. Available as a digital download, Formations for Youth is an engaging, low-prep curriculum resource for Middle and High School youth groups.

All Quiet on the Sunday School Front

One of the Saturday night fears of Sunday morning small group leaders is having to face a crowd of learners resistant to joining discussion on the day’s lesson. Few teaching challenges are more daunting than finding fresh ways to draw in a reticent class.

In Search of Self

Youth are particularly image-conscious. Developmentally they are at the stage where they are trying on selves to see what fits—to see what feels right.

Cry, Baby

They blamed it on me. And they were probably right. Apparently, I opened the floodgates just because I got a little emotional during my prayer for our graduates prior to their sermons.

Beyond Church Chat

“Here’s the church and here’s the steeple, open the doors and see all the people.” Remember that preschool fingerplay? If it had cute hand motions to go with it, we might add an extra verse: “Here is the church, and here are the pews, and here are the holy words that we use.”

Passing the Scroll

Some folks who teach young people wonder if their efforts are worthwhile. It can be difficult to stay focused on a scriptural text when teenagers are preoccupied with the latest gossip regarding what happened over the weekend, who likes who, and so on.

Dare to Prepare: A Daily Plan for Effective Sunday School Lessons

I’m a huge college basketball fan, and I have to admit that I succumb to March Madness in a big way each year. And for good reason…the team I follow is Duke.

Youth Workers Living with Life’s Pressures

How do you view the stresses you experience as a youth worker? Do you cry when you hear the words “ski trip”? Do your youth ask if you had any fun when you were young?

Songs of Innocence: Using Popular Music to Engage and Inform Youth Sunday School

On Tuesday, as almost an afterthought to its announcement of a new iPhone, the Irish rock band U2 dropped a surprise new album, Songs of Innocence. What is quite remarkable for a band with this sustained level of popularity is the fact that three-quarters of the band members are professed Christians.

A View from the Pew: The Fervent Chaperone

Those minor inconveniences pale in comparison to the overwhelming benefits of giving up a few days of work or personal time to go to camp. This month’s dispatch comes to you live from PASSPORTkids Camp in Crossville, Tenn., where I’m wrangling four boys from Parkway Baptist Church.

Gateway to Church for Young Adults – Ken Garfield

Charlotte/One is a ministry in North Carolina’s largest city that brings together 20- and 30-year-olds with the intention of losing them—to local churches.

Reaching Youth Across the Digital Divide

Mason Wallace Park was across a road that became busier as the years of my childhood passed. The worst of it did not arrive until after those key years when my friends and I spent countless hours riding our bikes on the trails, chasing balls on the outfield grass, and cooling off in the concrete wading pool.

Thrive: Intentions vs. Legalism – Kristy Bay

Student ministry is my passion because I love watching students grow emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally. But student ministry is not for the faint of heart. One of the most important things I have learned about meeting a new group of students is how to sort them into three categories: the literalists, the intentionalists, and the politicians.

Digital Disciples – Elizabeth Wellington

Twenty-six teenagers dillydally on smartphones, sending instant messages, scrolling through news feeds, liking statuses and posting updates on social media sites Twitter, Facebook and Instagram while intermittently gazing at farmland images beaming from a digital projector. New Age tunes echo through the room courtesy of online music service Spotify.