Eat. Think about snacks. Why snacks? What kind of snacks? Will crinkly candy wrappers and crunchy potato chips be a distraction in your cabin?
Pray. Paul instructs us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). So when it comes to cabin time when should pray? Right when you start? At the end of the meeting? Yes, but more than that… Pray on your way to club, during club, and as you head back to cabin time. What should you be praying for? Pray that the Holy Spirit will move in kids’ hearts, provide you with wisdom, and guide conversations.
Love. The depth you are looking for in cabin time is built on a foundation of trust. If the kids don’t trust you then you’ll get a bunch of surface level responses to your questions. [This also applies to how much the kids trust one another in the group.] If you’re taking leaders to camp who do not know kids well, do something together before getting on the bus. Give new leaders an opportunity to learn kids’ names, and give kids an opportunity to feel comfortable around leaders. Cabin time starts before you even get on the bus… Still, the bus is a great opportunity for developing a foundation for cabin time. Why do you think that’s so? What could you do on the trip to camp?
Look. Look over questions before club. Then, as you listen to the talk, think about which cabin time questions will be best for your group. You may not need to ask every question provided, but know that the speaker has suggested these questions knowing the details of the talk.
Cabin time is such a crucial time at Young Life camp; it’s where kids get to process the talks they’re hearing and ultimately process their response to the gospel. Sadly, some of our cabin times can get a bit derailed. Here are some issues that you might want to be aware of. Keep these in mind as you lead cabin times this summer.
Problem 1: I’m not safe here. A student might not verbalize this but you might figure it out based on their body language or even some other things they say. You might just know that they feel that way because of who else is in the cabin! Emphasize that this is a safe place to share. How can you do that? One suggestion: Clearly state the “Vegas rule” of cabin time: What’s said here, stays here.” (Aside from mandated reporter type situations, so keep that in mind.) Students don’t have to share their deepest things with the entire group, but as a small group leader, encourage them to talk with someone with whom they feel safe.
Problem 2: No Time to Think. Our tendency is to answer the questions we ask. Two seconds of silence can seem like an eternity. A good practice is to ask a question and then mentally count to five. It will seem awkward at first, but it will allow for people to think and answer when they are ready.
Problem 3: You don’t go with the flow. If discussion is going great on some question, don’t force the cabin to move on to the next question just for the sake of the agenda. Go with your kids and dig deeper into the areas with which they connect. That’s what processing is all about. You can only know where your kids are at and understand the direction of the conversation if you are giving full attention to the group. As the cabin time leader, do not plan your next question or your next announcement while students are sharing. Let your students’ responses shape the movement of the discussion. Be a good and compassionate listener, and be ready to care for students who express hurt, uncertainty or strong emotion related to their own journey.
Problem 4: (I don’t get what you’re asking) Confusing Questions. If you wait several seconds and it seems no one understands the question, then you can rephrase it, but do so carefully. Keep the small group discussion questions open-ended. Do not answer it or change it to a “yes or no” question. Questions with one-word answers do not promote processing. For example:
If the question is, “After what you saw today, how do you feel?”
Do not rephrase it to “Do you feel sad about what you saw?”
Instead, rephrase it to “What do you think about what you saw today?” (This helps students transfer abstract feelings to concrete thoughts and keeps it open to a wide range of possible answers.)
Problem 5:Derailed Conversations. Abandoning your plan when kids are engaged in great group discussion is fine, but be aware of the tone of the conversation and redirect if your small group wanders into unhelpful territory. As the cabin time leader you should pull the conversation back by gently jumping in (trying not to interrupt but waiting for a break) and refocusing the conversation.
Discussions have a tendency to go off the rails. As the leader you have to take responsibility and ownership for guiding the conversation. You don’t want to be too rigid, but you can’t hesitate to speak up and provide direction, bringing the group back to the topic at hand.
What are some reasons that cabin times get derailed?
Disagreement between two people
Phrases for bringing the conversation back…
Let’s hold on that for the moment, but I want to hear more about that from you after our meeting.
I’d love to hear more about that when we’re done, but I want to make sure we have time for others to share on this topic right now.
Thanks for sharing! Many people feel the same way. On the other hand, many Scriptures point to . . .
Thanks for sharing! Many people have the same question. There are many scholars who interpret that Scripture to mean . . .
Thanks for sharing! I have a few more thoughts I’d like to share with you about that after we’re done tonight. In the meantime, does anyone else want to chime in?
Problem 6: Forced Answers. There’s a time to teach and a time to listen. Before you or your fellow leaders jump in with the right answer, let students grapple with hard questions on their own. Injecting your answers into discussion will silence productive conversation.
Problem 7: I’m not respected by my leader. I’ve seen small groups where someone shares and the leader moves on to the next person or question with little to no acknowledgement of what was just said. After you’ve listened to what they have to say, let them know you heard them. Engage with each member’s contribution, and affirm what they’ve shared. Here are some ways to do that:
“Thanks for sharing that!”
“That’s really good!”
“What I hear you saying is . . .”
“Can you tell me more about that?”
“Thank you for your honesty.”
This is a small way that you can reward the people in your group for their participation. It makes them feel heard, valued, safe, and encouraged to share again.
I wasn’t followed up on. After the discussion is over, don’t miss your opportunity to follow up with students about what they said. Ask a student if he still has questions. Invite further conversation. Tell a student that you appreciated what she said. Small group discussions can lead to incredible one-on-one conversations.
Of course there are other things that can go wrong in cabin time but these are just a few examples of things that you might want to keep in mind as you get ready to lead cabin time at camp this summer.
There’s no shortage of good commentaries written by men (and also, tbh, some really bad ones). However, we miss out on something vital when we ignore the voice of women as they read and interpret the Scriptures for us. Because we’re left impoverished if we don’t hear women’s voices when studying the Bible for our club talks I offer to you a list of my favorite commentaries and New Testament resources written by women.
Commentaries on The Gospels
In Young Life we are in the gospels on a weekly basis. Because of that I recommend having some commentaries on the Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The NIV Application commentary series is my favorite for YL. There is also one called the Tyndale New Testament Commentary series which is really affordable. A one volume set you could invest in is the Expositor’s Commentary – Abridged New Testament. Besides these general commentaries I’d recommend the following ones written by women on the gospels. The ones marked by “***” are the ones I would ESPECIALLY recommend.
Matthew: Two Horizons – Jeannine Brown and Kyle Roberts
The Sermon on the Mount – Jen Wilkin
Gospel of Mark: Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture – Mary Healey
Luke: New Covenant Commentary Series – Diane Chen***
Spiritual Practices of Jesus: Learning Simplicity, Humility, and Prayer with Luke’s Earliest Readers – Catherine Wright
John: New Testament Library – Marianne Meye Thompson***
Reading John and 1, 2, 3 John: A Literary and Theological Commentary – Alicia Myers
A couple of years ago I posted an excerpt from Peter Martyr Vermigli on the image of God. My research at the time was focused on what “view” various reformers held to. I was interested in exposing that the standard textbook answer that the reformers held to a “relational” view was severely undernuanced. In fact, Vermigli gravitates toward something like a functional view combined with a substantive view.
What I copied for the blog post was enough to make that view pretty clear. However, because of a twitter interaction I went back to look at what he had to say about the image of God in women. It’s still related to a functional view. Regrettably he uses the functional motif to argue that women have the image of God in a relative manner.
But perhaps you will argue, that after this manner a woman also is the image of God. We say, that if you compare her with the rest of creatures she is the image of God; for she has dominion over them, and has the [?] of them. But in this place you must compare her unto man, and then is she not said to be the image of God, because she does not bear rule over man, but rather obeys him. Wherefore Augustine in the 13th chapter of his book, De Trinitate said: If it be understood of man and woman in respect that they be imbued with mind and reason, it is meet that they should be according to the image of God: but the woman being compared to man, as touching the actions and affairs of his life, she is not the image of God, because she was created to be a helper of man. And in the same place he has another exposition, but the same allegorical. He says, that we be called men, seeing we contemplate God; and that we are of good right bare headed, because we must there reprove ourselves with incessant endeavor: for unsearchable is the end of divine things. But we are called women (says he) when we descend with our cogitations unto the care of earthly things. There it is meet to have the head covered, because a measure must be held and we must take heed, that we be not too much plunged into worldly things. Now be it we must not lean unto allegorical interpretations. The exposition which we alleged before is plain.
I’m no Enneagram enthusiast. I’m not different than most people though, I enjoy personality tests. I think they can be helpful. They have some value. Still, I’m not making critical life decisions based on my enneagram number or my Myers-Briggs results or anything like that. Having said that… I’m an Enneagram 3: I’m an achiever. One of my highest scores on Strengthfinder is: Achiever. When the next big personality comes onto the scene I’m sure I’ll get some variation of an achiever again. Basically, I’m an achiever.
My “achiever” personality has been beneficial in some ways but it’s also caused a lot of stress and anxiety. There’s nothing more frustrating to me than not accomplishing what I know I’m truly capable of. COVID has highlighted that in brand new ways for me. There’s so much I’ve wanted to achieve in this season but life keeps getting in the way! Life has introduced all kinds of limitations upon me. Life has placed limits on my (perceived) ability to achieve. And it’s frustrating.
Because of that I’m thankful for Sean McGever’s recent book: The Good News of Our Limits. Sean is a friend and we’ve talked about limits quite a bit over the years. I don’t know his personality test types but I’d venture to say he’s an achiever too. So if he can learn to operate within his God-given limits then maybe I can too.
The Good News of Our Limitsis immensely practical. I could see myself walking through this book with a small group at my church. But it is also grounded in some solid theology. He doesn’t use the term in his book but it really is a work of Christological Anthropology. Sean operates out of the conviction that Jesus reveals to us what it means to be truly human. As he explains (25): Jesus was tempted, slept, got hungry, was thirsty, got tired, slept, cried, slept, bled, had a physical body…. He was like us in every way except for sin. In his human nature Christ had limits. We have limits and that is okay! To act and live as though we don’t have limits is to overstep our metaphysical makeup.
Sean explains that way have relational limits, cognitive limits, vocational limits…. And that is okay! To know that we don’t need to achieve to attain God’s love is so freeing! Sean draws upon his years of ministry and educational experiences to make this point. You’ll get plenty of stories, solid biblical teaching, and practical advice in this book.
The following is a short worksheet/Bible study on God’s mission and our role in it that I’m using with the Young Life student staff in LA.
God’s Mission: Genesis to Revelation
I’ve heard them described as the “navy seals” of Christians. They’re sometimes talked about as an “elite” bunch, while everyone else sort of just goes about their day living their regular life. At least, that’s how people often think about them—if they aren’t explicitly saying those kinds of things. I’m talking about people who are on mission or, more commonly “missionaries.” They are the people who have answered a call from God to take the message of Jesus to those who haven’t heard it yet. They’re the ones who give up their way of life—family, friends, career aspirations—to cross significant cultural or geographic barriers, carrying the good news about Jesus. While we might often think about “missionaries” in that way, and our churches might often talk about them in that way, that’s not the main way that the Bible talks about mission and the ones who take part in it.
How does the Bible talk about “mission?” The first character in the Bible who is described as having a mission is actually God. God’s mission to rescue, redeem, and gather a people for himself is the primary thread that runs through Scripture. God creates for relationship. Humans fall. God goes on a “mission” to redeem the world and gather a diverse community back to himself. So what is our role in God’s mission? Christopher Wright puts it this way:
Fundamentally, our mission (if it is biblically informed and validated) means our committed participation, as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of God’s creation. (Wright, Mission of God, 23)
In what follows we’ll take a look at some passages from Scripture that talk about God’s original vision for creation, God’s mission to redeem creation, and our role in His mission.
God’s Vision for Creation
-Genesis 6:1, 5
God is on a Mission
“The God of the Bible is a God on mission. From Genesis to Revelation his unfolding story reveals his heart for the nations and his plan to gather lost sheep… Even now, God is gathering to himself a multitude of peoples from every nation who are enjoying his grace and extending his glory. And he calls every believer to join him in that mission.” – Robert Wells V
God’s Mission Fulfilled
The mission is God’s but God chooses to involve people in his plan. He wants to use his people—that includes us!—to be his agents of blessing to the world. If you follow the entire story of the Bible, you’ll notice that God is constantly in the business calling people to join him in what he is doing.
Who God Used…
2 Cor 5:18-20
Brad Brisco mentions that if it is ultimately God’s mission, and not ours, then we must first discover how God is at work in our communities (neighborhoods, schools, sports teams, etc.). That means we have to learn to listen. Listen to what the Spirit is up to and listen to the people in our community. Once we do that, we need to ask ourselves—in conversation with God—how can we participate in what God is already doing?
Questions for Reflection
1)Where do I see God at work?
2)Where and how is God working in the lives of those around me?
3)How might God want me to be involved in what he is doing in my community?
This year I was focused on a project that led me to reflect upon the intersection of Christology, the doctrine of creation, and theological anthropology so you can imagine how excited I was to find a book titled: Christ the Heart of Creation. [If you follow the London Lyceum, you already know that this was my favorite book of the year.] I try to read most of what Rowan Williams writes because his writings stretch my theological imagination all while digging my roots deeper in the “great tradition.” This book, which was actually published in 2018 lived up to my expectations. There Williams argues that the relation between the Word and the created nature of Christ described in the Chalcedonian formula—while being unique—is a model for understanding God’s relation to creation. This is a “non-competitive” relation because God is “not another thing” in the world. Weaving his way through the New Testament, Maximus, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Bonhoeffer, among others, he concludes that Christ not only is the heart of the doctrine of creation, but that Christ is the heart of creation itself.
Now on to the books I read this year… For the first 6 months of the year I kept track of the books I read each month. Then I stopped writing them down *sigh* so the list for July to December isn’t in the order I read them.
Total Books Read in 2021: 54
Books Read in 2021
Restless Faith: Holding Evangelical Beliefs in a World of Contested Labels – Richard Mouw
Reading While Black – Esau MacCaulley
Andrew Fuller’s Theology of Revival – Ryan Rindels
Creation – David Fergusson
Christ the Heart of Creation – Rowan Williams
Christ and Creation – Colin Gunton
Brown Church – Robert Chao Romero
Youth Ministry in the 21st Century: 5 Views – Chap Clark
God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World and Why Their Differences Matter – Stephen Porthero
Being Disciples: Essentials of the Christian Life – Rowan Williams
Tokens of Trust – Rowan Williams
In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls us to Reflect his Character – Jen Wilkin
Beyond Colorblind: Redeeming our Ethnic Journey – Sarah Shin
Natural Rivals: John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, and the Creation of America’s Public Lands – John Clayton
A Spirituality of Fundraising – Henry Nouwen
Meister Eckhart’s Sermons – Meister Eckhart
Spirit and Sacrament: An Invitation to Eucharismatic Worship – Andrew Wilson
Quiet Talks on Prayer – Samuel Gordon
Viewpoints – Steve Shadrach
Being Human – Rowan Williams
Trinitarian Grace and Participation: An Entry into the Theology of T. F. Torrance – Geordie Zeigler
Gospel Driven Church – Jared Wilson
With: Reimagining the Way you Relate to God – Skye Jethani
Relational Spirituality: A Psychological Paradigm for Transformation – Todd Hall and M. Elizabeth Lewis Hall
Where Prayer Becomes Real – Kyle Strobel and John Coe
July to December (in no particular order)
T.F. Torrance as Missional Theologian: The Ascended Christ and the Ministry of the Church – Joseph Sherrard
Better than the Beginning – Richard Barcellos
Worshipping with the Reformers – Karin Maag
Milk for Little Ones: An Introduction to the Baptist Catechism
Disability and the Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion – Lamar Hardwick
Person, Personhood and the Humanity of Christ: Christocentric Anthropology and Ethics in T.F. Torrance – Hakbong Kim
Jesus, Humanity, and the Trinity – Kathryn Tanner
Science and the Doctrine of Creation: The Approaches of Ten Modern Theologians – Geoffrey Fulkerson and Joel Chopp
Redemptive Kingdom Diversity – Jarvis Williams
Making Sense of God: Finding God in the Modern World – Timothy Keller
Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics – Joli Jensen
Divine Ideas – Thomas Ward
Streams of Latin American Protestant Theology – Ryan Gladwin
Why Science and Faith Need Eachother – Elaine Howard Ecklund
Science and the Christian Faith – Christopher Knight
Sacred Rhythms – Ruth Haley Barton
How to Talk about Jesus – Sam Chan
Thriving With Stone Age Minds – Justin Barrett and Pamela King
An Analysis of Herman Witsius’s The Economy of the Covenants – Patrick Ramsey and Joel Beeke
The Book of Pastoral Rule – St. Gregory the Great
An Exposition of the Apostles Creed – Caspar Olevianus
The Art of Prophesying – William Perkins
The Same God who Works All Things – Adonis Vidu
Reformed Theology – R. Michael Allen
Reformed Theology – Martha Moore-Kiesh
Dogmatic Theology – Vladimir Lossky
Faithful Theology – Graham Cole
A Reformed Baptist Manifesto: The New Covenant Constitution of the Church – Samuel Waldron and Richard Barcellos
Water to the Angels: William Mullholand, His Aqueduct, and the Rise of Los Angeles – Les Sandiford
As you know, this was my first year coming on to Young Life staff. Because of that it really was a year full of ‘first times.” It was my first time leading our Student Staff and Staff Associate cohorts, first time training our regional staff, first time leading workshops for our regional volunteers, and first time speaking at a college weekend camp.
Thanks to your prayers and support I’ve been able to invest into leaders across LA: leaders who are just getting started and leaders who are seasoned veterans. I’ve seen leaders who were wrestling with their calling to gospel ministry step into their roles with greater confidence because of our training cohorts. I’ve gotten to walk alongside staff who’ve started ministries in new schools; all the way from the Antelope Valley to the Chino Valley to the San Fernando Valley. I’ve been able to speak into our younger Student Staff as they lead clubs on school campuses – often for the very first time – in Whittier and Long Beach. And in all these places, kids are hearing the gospel and their lives are being transformed.
One of my highlights this year was speaking at our SoCal College Weekend. 300+ students from CSUN, SDSU, UCLA, CSULB, Pepperdine, Chapman, Cal State San Marcos, Point Loma, and other colleges from across Southland got to hear about how Jesus meets their longings for identity, purpose, satisfaction, and transformation. For many of these students it was the first time hearing the gospel clearly explained and for others it was an opportunity to examine places in their life where they’ve been following their idols instead of Jesus.Thank you so much for your support in 2021!
The West Valley
Even though I have the privilege of training staff across Los Angeles, I get to work especially closely with staff from the Antelope Valley, Santa Monica, Chino, Upland, Whittier, and the West Valley. I hope to highlight some of the ways these staff are being Christ’s presence in their communities. This time I want to highlight what’s going on in the West Valley [full disclosure, this is the area I volunteer in and my wife is on staff in]. In this video you’ll get to hear students describe, in their own words, how growing closer to God has impacted their life. You can give to Young Life West Valley here.
In a short, but helpful, article, Roslyn Hernández writes about the diverse, complicated, sometimes painful, but also rich history that people of Spanish speaking descent bring to the table. Our city consists of a 48% Latino population. Not every area (or even the region as a whole) is going to reflect this percentage in their demographics but still, if you are doing Young Life in our region, you will be doing ministry among Latino/a students.
Roslyn writes about three things we can do to engage Latino/a students, grow in our understanding of their ethnic identity, and help them with their sense of belonging. Here are some takeaways from that article.
She encourages us to be curious about cultures, traditions, and histories. Some students will feel comfortable sharing these things. Some will even be excited to share these things with you. That’s not always the case though. She encourages us to develop relationships with parents because this allows us to take relationships to a deeper level. I think of how many Quinces my family has been invited to because of how Amelia is pro-active with her engagement of parents. Roslyn also recommends that we become familiar with socio-political issues affecting the lives of our students. As she explains, you don’t need to become a foreign policy expert, but knowing a bit about these kinds of things goes a long way because many of these issues tangibly affect our students and their families.
Acknowledging the unique contributions that your students’ ethnic and cultural backgrounds bring to your club speaks volumes of how you value them as individuals. What events or holidays do your students celebrate? Here’s a practical question: How can you incorporate these holidays or events into club? Into social media? How about having a fundraiser in December selling homemade tamales or champurrado? You can connect with your student’s traditions in various ways, this shows that you see them and value their heritage.
Roslyn also talks about making space for lament. This doesn’t need to be – but can be – in a large group (i.e. club) setting. This can be more of a one-on-one thing. But to enter into that space of lament you’ll need to build relationships with them to the point where they feel safe enough to share what they are lamenting about.
She makes several suggestions about “recovering” but one that stuck out to me—because it is so in line with our values in Young Life—is the idea of creating spaces where students can just rest. She points to a phenomenon that many Latino/a kids experience: guilt associated with rest. There can be a huge expectation placed upon the shoulders of some of our students that if they aren’t actively doing something for the wellbeing of the family then they should feel guilty. I don’t want to take away from the practical realities of this, some of our students need to work to help the family, some of our students will need to function as a parent towards their little siblings because of the long hours their parents spend at work. Because of that, creating an environment where kids can be kids, where they aren’t expected to perform, or to be responsible for something, can be such a life-giving thing, even if its just for 2 hours on club nights.
In our TheoPsych project, we provided training in the psychological sciences for theologians from around the world in 3 small, private learning cohorts. We brought in psychologists, skilled in interdisciplinary dialogue, to inspire conversations around using the psych sciences as a tool for developing theology.
But now, we’re excited to share that the material from the seminars we hosted, is now available to anyone who wants to access it. We’ve adapted material from our 3 events, into a series of courses that you can explore for free in something we’re calling TheoPsych Academy.
These courses include short lectures from psychology experts working in many subfields including: Robert Emmons, Justin Barrett, Pamela Ebstyne King, Mari Clements, Peter Hill, Lindsey Root Luna, Brad Strawn, Joey Fung, William Newsome, and more! In addition to this group of psychologists, there are also conversations with theologians from the project, discussing how they’re using psychology in their work.
If you decide to work through a course with a group, there are opportunities for great interactions as the courses are highly customizable, including options for discussion questions, quizzes, and “dig deeper” supplemental sections to help you take the material in different directions.
Those who enroll within our launch year will have access to private online events, for live interaction with psychology experts, to get their burning questions answered. It’s our hope that theologians, ministry leaders, and those just curious about how psychological science might interact with our understanding of God and the world will benefit from these courses! Enjoy!
Above content comes from the TheoPsych team at Blueprint 1543.