Tag Archives: Youth Ministry

Jonathan Edwards, Sex, and the Trinity (New Paper)

Teens getting pregnant, bundling, and boys chasing around girls making fun of their periods – no its not your local jr. high – its Puritan Pastor Jonathan Edwards’s church. If you want to know what “youth” ministry was like in Jonathan Edwards day take a look at my latest journal article:  Bad Books and the Glorious Trinity: Jonathan Edwards on the Sexual Holiness of the Church


You can now read it for free over at the McMaster Divnity College’s Journal of Theology and Ministry website. Print copies of the article will be available through Wpif & Stock Publishers soon.

 

 

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Book Review – The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family by Kara Powell

Last year our church transitioned from having a “children’s ministry” department and a “student ministry” department to having a “family ministry” model. Instead of seeing these two stages of life as two-clear-distinct-separated stages we came to the realization that we can minister more holistically to parents and their children with the understanding that the development of a child’s faith is a process that really begins at birth and continues on even into the college years. In the process of transitioning into a “family ministry” model we have sought to discover ways that we can help parents cultivate environments and experiences that can help their children’s faith flourish – because the truth is parents can often feel overwhelmed by the idea of being their child’s primary source of spiritual care, its easier to outsource that to the kids ministry pastor, small group leader, or youth pastor.

Parents can often feel overwhelmed by the idea of being their child’s primary source of spiritual care.

As we have been trying to figure out how to practically help these parents we have been scouring all sorts of resources that we can use to create resources for parents – that is when I came across The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family by Kara Powell….

The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family is an easily readable, easily accessible, and entertaining collection of “Sticky Faith” research findings partnered alongside of “Sticky Ideas.” Youth pastors know that the Sticky Faith team is at the forefront of youth culture research, so you know that the findings you are reading in this book are very well researched and are the latest-greatest thing. Youth pastors also know that the Sticky Faith team isn’t simply a group of theoreticians, the Sticky Faith team is a team run by practitioners, so you know that the practical advice offered in this book is tested and tried.

Pro’s

  • The Sticky Ideas Seep Into Every Area of Life – Its easy to think of a child’s spiritual formation as simply something that happens on Sunday’s or Wednesday nights at church or possibly around the dinner table at home, but Powell does a good job pointing out that faith develops at home, on vacation, in community, in our mistakes, in our transitions, and even in our times of service. Basically if you are looking for “sticky faith ideas” to start applying to many areas of life, you will find them here.
  • It is Super Practical – The cover of the book states that there are “over 100 practical and tested ideas to build lasting faith in kids.” 100 ideas! Trying to implement 100 new practices in your family can seem overwhelming if not impossible. However Powell is pretty clear on the fact that parents can’t implement all 100 ideas, they probably can’t even implement 10 ideas really well! She recommends that you aim for 5, 3 or just even 1 idea before you start to implement new ideas.
  • The Chapter on Transitions – Transitions between elementary to jr. high to high school to college can be some of the most difficult seasons in a child’s life and even in a parent’s life. But one thing that is often underestimated is how difficult those transitions can be for youth pastors. As somebody who had the difficult task of helping high school students transition into our college ministry I certainly appreciate any help I can get. Powell provides plenty of practical advice for making that transition. She also provides (in the appendix) an overview of the College Transition Project – within this appendix she provides research criteria for “vibrant faith.” College ministers will definitely appreciate this criteria, not as a fool proof list of things to judge one’s student’s faith but as a helpful guide to evaluating where your students might be at.

I highly recommend this book – and that isn’t just me saying that – I actually liked this book so much that I gave it to our family ministry’s pastor as a possible resource for equipping parents to instill vibrant faith into their student’s lives.

(Note: I received this book courtesy of Zondervan in exchange for an impartial review.)

What do Kids Really Want?

This last week I made my way through Kara Powell’s new book The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family – a book that contains a lot of research on creating sticky faith and even more practical tips on building lasting faith into kids. One chapter that really caught my attention was her chapter on “Service that Sticks.”

Dr. Powell interviewed five hundred youth group graduates and asked them the question: “what do you wish you would have had more of in youth group?” This was these student’s opportunity to openly and honestly share what they would have really wanted to do at Church. Its sort of scary question, because it can make a youth pastor/leader feel like the students didn’t actually like what the ministry was doing.

What do you think students really want from their youth groups?

Well Dr. Powell and her team at Fuller seminary compiled all of their research and discovered that youth group graduates wanted the following four things from their youth group:

  1. Time for deep conversation
  2. Mission Trips
  3. Service Projects
  4. Games

Who would have imagined that students didn’t place games and fun activities at the top of their list!??! Your pastors and leaders would do well to listen to what these students really want. If our students want to go on mission trips – give them mission trips! If they want to serve others, let them serve others! We need to be intentional about creating missional opportunities for our youth groups – hopefully those experiences carry over into adulthood!

High School Students on a Mission Trip
High School Students on a Mission Trip