Friday, October 16, 2015

Online version - Insight Youth Resource magazine - 4th Quarter 2015

Welcome to the website blog of Insight Youth Resource magazine. The 4th quarter 2015 issue of this publication is available online only. Scroll down for the articles or use the following quick links to go directly to each section of the magazine.

Leadership - A Chapter is Closing - by Debbie Battin Sasser, editor

TeenWorld Express - by Pat Humphrey

Outreach Ideas - Foodapalooza! - Brittany Winkfield

Super Social Suggestions - by Alita Byrd

Honest Help - God's Purpose is Not a Pizza Party - by Sarah Faith Hansen

Fresh Ideas - They Don't Know Everything! - by Omar Miranda

Stepping Stones - Lost All - November 28 - by Nivischi N. Edwards - Student Handout (PDF)

Stepping Stones - Will You Trust Me? - November 14 - by Nivischi N. Edwards - Student Handout (PDF)

Stepping Stones - Saul: The People's Choice - October 31 - by Richie J. Charles - Student Handout (PDF)

Stepping Stones - Parenting - October 17 - by Samantha A. Gregory - Student Handout (PDF)

Stepping Stones - Answered Prayers - October 10 - by Norma P. Brown - Student Handout (PDF)

Stepping Stones - God's Plan - October 3 - by Evadne E. Ngazimbi, PhD - Student Handout (PDF)

Program Ideas - by Curtis Rittenour

AYS Programs - Celebrate Living - by Myra Walton-Basnight

Youth Ministry Spotlight - Youth Ministry Made Simple - by Kymone Hinds



4th quarter 2015 online - Leadership - A Chapter is Closing

A Chapter is Closing

You are viewing the last issue of Insight Youth Resource. God has blessed the publication through its 20+ years of circulation. Although Insight Youth Resource’s chapter has come to a close, youth ministry will continue to be a top priority for the Seventh-day Adventist church. Our church is blessed with an abundance of youth ministry resources online and in print.

Seek out these resources, and the youth ministry leaders of our Seventh-day Adventist church denomination. Continue making efforts to share the journey of faith with teenagers. Include them in every aspect of ministry and lead them by example. Let them see you helping other people as the hands and feet of Jesus. Let them hear you sharing a testimony of how God provided for your needs during the week and saved you from a crisis. Show them love. Treat the young people in your church like family and they will not want to leave the church and they will always want to come back to see their "aunties and uncles and cousins and grandmas and grandpas"!  Love them, accept them, value them. They need you and you need them.

Everyone can minister to youth

Even if you are not the youth leader at your church, volunteer to work with the youth leader in some way to bring about more ministry opportunities for teenagers. If you have a large home or property --invite the group to come over for a social or Bible study. If you find out about a city-wide community service day, let the youth leader know and offer to help organize your church's youth group to participate. If you know about a special event-- like a county fair or Christian concert or discounted day at an amusement park-- in your city tell the youth leaders about it and see if they want to bring the youth and offer to help chaperone and provide transportation. Join together with your church leaders to form a caring relationship between adults and teens. And keep it going. Imagine if you have a brand new "niece or nephew or grandson or granddaughter" --do you just celebrate their first birthday and then forget about them. No way! You keep the relationship going by continued love and care, spending time with them and showing them how important they are to you. The same must happen with young people in our churches. They need to see God's love in us and then as they grow and mature they will also want that same love to be in their own lives.  

Children who have responsible, loving, supportive, and involved adults in their lives are much more likely to succeed and take advantage of the resources available to them. They are less likely to look for trouble in gangs or drugs or with inappropriate relationships with the opposite sex. They will feel more secure and confident knowing that they have people who know them personally, value their talents and abilities, and who want to see them succeed in every area of life. As a church family, we are first concerned with their success in their walk with God --that they may continue to grow in their faith and have a personal, meaningful, life-long relationship with God. Secondly, we desire their earthly success --to complete school and have a productive career and strong family relationships. Without a meaningful, loving experience in their church family, they are likely to look elsewhere for help in their lives, but we know that God always wants the very best for His children, so we must do our best to be the hands and feet of Jesus to reach out to youth and with the goal of forming long-term connections with them in mind.

Walk with young people on their journey of faith

Continue making efforts to share the journey of faith with teenagers. Include them in every aspect of ministry and lead them by example. Let them see you helping other people as the hands and feet of Jesus. Let them hear you sharing a testimony of how God provided for your needs during the week and saved you from a crisis. Show them love. Treat the young people in your church like family and they will not want to leave the church and they will always want to come back to see their "aunties and uncles and cousins and grandmas and grandpas"!  Love them, accept them, value them. They need you and you need them.

Even if you are not the youth leader at your church, volunteer to work with the youth leader in some way to bring about more ministry opportunities for teenagers. If you have a large home or property --invited the group to come over for a social or Bible study. If you find out about a city-wide community service day, let the youth leader know and offer to help organize your church's youth group to participate. If you know about a special event-- like a county fair or Christian concert or discounted day at an amusement park-- in your city tell the youth leaders about it and see if they want to bring the youth and offer to help chaperone and provide transportation. Join together with your church leaders to form a caring relationship between adults and teens. And keep it going. Imagine if you have a brand new "niece or nephew or grandson or granddaughter" --do you just celebrate their first birthday and then forget about them. No way! You keep the relationship going by continued love and care, spending time with them and showing them how important they are to you. The same must happen with young people in our churches. They need to see God's love in us and then as they grow and mature they will also want that same love to be in their own lives.  

Be a real, Christ-like friend to teens in your church and community

Children who have responsible, loving, supportive, and involved adults in their lives are much more likely to succeed and take advantage of the resources available to them. They are less likely to look for trouble in gangs or drugs or with inappropriate relationships with the opposite sex. They will feel more secure and confident knowing that they have people who know them personally, value their talents and abilities, and who want to see them succeed in every area of life. As a church family, we are first concerned with their success in their walk with God --that they may continue to grow in their faith and have a personal, meaningful, life-long relationship with God. Secondly, we desire their earthly success --to complete school and have a productive career and strong family relationships. Without a meaningful, loving experience in their church family, they are likely to look elsewhere for help in their lives, but we know that God always wants the very best for His children, so we must do our best to be the hands and feet of Jesus to reach out to youth and with the goal of forming long-term connections with them in mind.

Jesus is coming soon! Let us each make extra effort to insure the children of our churches and our communities have every opportunity to get to know who Jesus is and how He has saved them from their sins. As we lead them to the feet of Jesus, He will transform them day by day. Offer love and solid support to the youth, they need to know we are on their side and have Christ-like love for them.

Thank you! 

Thank you to all our readers who have supported this publication with your subscriptions. We know God has blessed you as you were inspired toward more creative, meaningful youth ministry in your churches and communities.

Thank you to all the many freelance writers who have shared out-of-the-box ideas, success and lessons-learned stories, and practical step-by-step resources passionately and by the Holy Spirit’s leading. God has blessed countless young people and inspired fresh perspective to youth pastors and youth leaders through your contributions to Insight Youth Resource.


“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,  always in every prayer of
mine making request for you all with joy,  for your fellowship
in the gospel from the first day until now,  being confident
of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work
in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ . . . ”
Philippians 1:3-6 (NKJV).
            



Debbie Battin Sasser
Editor, Insight Youth Resource magazine

4th quarter 2015 online - TeenWorld Express

Teens Who Lost Weight—How and Why They Did It

A study conducted by Brigham Young University on formerly obese teens who had  lost weight found that about 60 percent of the teens were motivated to succeed by a desire to be healthy. About 43 percent of those who successfully lost weight were motivated by a desire to be accepted by their peers. Most had made the decision on their own to lose weight and their weight loss progress was not quick, but slow and steady, losing about a pound or two a week. According to Chad Jensen, a professor at the university who conducted the study, “"None of these teens in our study lost weight in a hurry. Their advice to other teens is to stay the course and sustain it over the long term.”
— Childhood Obesity, December 2014

TALK ABOUT IT:

• Do you know someone who has lost a lot of weight? What strategies did they use? Were their methods healthy or unhealthy?

• Why do you think so many children and teens are struggling with weight problems today? What can we (the church) do to help combat this problem? As a friend, what could you do to help someone who is overweight?

• What are some of the challenges brought on by being overweight (especially for teens)? What are the benefits of being at a healthy weight?

The E-Cigarette Craze Among Teens

A study conducted in 2014 by the University of Michigan entitled Monitoring the Future, found that use of e-cigarettes surpassed the use of tobacco cigarettes in 2014. E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that produce a vapor that is inhaled and they come in hundreds of flavors, such as bubble gum and chocolate. A senior investigator in the study, Richard Miech, said, "As one of the newest smoking-type products in recent years, e-cigarettes have made rapid inroads into the lives of American adolescents." The study also pointed out that e-cigarettes could also serve as a point of entry for tobacco cigarette use. Miech also stated that part of the reason e-cigarettes are so popular among teens is the perception that they are not harmful. Source: ---—http://www.monitoringthefuture.org//pressreleases/14cigpr_complete.pdf

TALK ABOUT IT

•Do you think it’s safe to use e-cigarettes? If not, why? Defend your answer.

•From a moral perspective, do you think it’s OK to use e-cigarettes since they aren’t a tobacco product?

•Do you have friends who use e-cigarettes? What do you think makes them attractive to teens?

Teens Missing Out on Sleep

A new study published in February 2014 indicates that fewer teens are getting the sleep they need to function at their optimum. “Just 63 percent of 15-year-olds reported getting seven or more hours of sleep a night in 2012. That number is down from 72 percent in 1991, according to the study,” a recent news article reported. Further complicating the issue is that lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, poor school performance, depression, and other problems. And the researchers found that girls tended to be less likely to get adequate sleep than boys. While the study did not indicate the reasons why teens are sleep deprived, a possible reason cited was use of electronic media before bedtime. In a separate study conducted on 10,000 Norwegian teens, reported in Health Day News on February 3, 2015, researchers state that “the use of any electronic device during the day and in the hour before bedtime was associated with an increased risk of taking longer than 60 minutes to fall asleep.” In that same study the use of computers, smartphones, or MP3 players before bedtime was most strongly associated with difficulty falling asleep.

Another theory as to why teens aren’t getting the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep centers around early start times for school, and many medical professionals are recommending that teens start school later in the day.  Getting as much as an hour more of sleep could help ward off problems, say the experts.
Sources: http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/u-s-teens-getting-less-sleep-than-ever-study-finds-696477.html and http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/electronic-devices-may-disrupt-teen-sleep-study-reports-696016.html.

TALK ABOUT IT

•Are you getting enough sleep? How do you know when you’ve had enough sleep? How do you know when you haven’t? If you’re not getting enough sleep, why not? What can you do to remedy the problem?

•What do you think about the recommendation to start school at a later time of day in order to keep teens from being sleep deprived? Would that be helpful? Why or why not?

Did You Know?

• According to a Brigham Young University study, 30 percent of adolescents in the U.S. are overweight or obese.

• 49 percent of teens have uploaded a video to YouTube.

• 61 percent of teens have been “in love.”

• 49 percent of teenagers believe in “love at first sight.”

• Female teens rank Honesty/Trust, Friendship, and Mutual Respect as the top three most important factors
in a relationship.

• One out of two teens report having struggled with mental illness (such as depression and anxiety) at some point.

• 91 percent of teens say that civility, manners, and etiquette are either “very important” or “important” in their lives.

Source (for all except the first statistic): http://www.stageoflife.com/StageHighSchool/OtherResources/Statistics_on_High_School_Students_and_Teenagers.aspx



Pat Humphrey is a former editor of Insight Youth Resource. She is currently a wellness coach and freelance writer with a special interest in health and wellness.

4th quarter 2015 online - Outreach Ideas - Foodapalooza!

Serve, save, connect

Nothing brings people together like good food. Breaking bread together is an opportunity for nourishment on so many levels. Food brings people together in ways that words cannot, as it provides a universal outlet of creativity through which we can express ourselves. We don’t have to speak the language or have the same values as someone else in order to appreciate and enjoy the food that represents him or her. We can pour culture and inspiration into our food, a form of communication that is understood by all. With the suggestions below, you are invited to feed the soul of our young people through God-centered, mealtime outreach.

Sabbath School Breakfast Club
Former General Conference President Jan Paulsen has said that Sabbath School is like breakfast. Providing breakfast at Sabbath School would make the analogy more real. For more than 150 years Sabbath School has provided the spiritual nourishment that is needed to meet the challenges that arise during the rest of the week. Announcing that there will be breakfast at Sabbath school will encourage people to get there on time, or even early! What better way to gather young people in the morning over waffles and eggs!

Cafe Church
The goal of a cafe church is to impact the local community with a consistent message of God's love and the transforming power His love can bring. Youth groups can use the cafe as a model for their ministry can take different forms. Some cafe churches maintain a permanent cafe or restaurant, which offers the local community delicious beverages (Juice, coffee, tea), fruit, pastries, sandwiches, and meals, and provides a venue for fellowship. With good food comes a good reputation, and there’s a good chance that guests will translate their respect for the food to respect for the church.

Lunch & Learn
Discover and discuss Biblical stories and political, moral, and religious issues that you never knew before. Perhaps there is a study series that you want to start with this group. Combining study with lunch will give you food for your physical, emotional, and spiritual body. In addition to a tasty lunch, allow a time for singing, sharing and questions. What works well is a peer-led discussion. Consider rotating teachers each week/month and have them lead out in study for 30 minutes, with time for discussion and questions. Promote that no previous Bible study is required to invite newcomers to the group. The opportunity to interact with other young people makes for a great boost to one's walk with the Lord!

Progressive Dinner
A progressive dinner (or safari supper) is a successive dinner party with each course prepared and eaten at a different residence. Participants go to each house for the various courses (appetizers, salads, entree, dessert). This is a spin on a potluck dinner and is sometimes known as a round-robin. This event would involve travel, however, an alternative is to have each course at a different dining area within a single large establishment. In a safari supper, the destination of the next course is generally unknown by the participants, and they have to figure out a clue together before moving on. Often there is a theme for each dinner, such as Italian, Hispanic, or French.

D Bar
D is for dessert! This outreach activity is for those who love sweet treats and even those who do not. D Bar is a destination dessert dining experience created to put people at ease. This is a great intro event for new families, community neighbors and friends from school. Prepare an array of cupcakes, tarts, parfaits, cakes, pies and whatever you call your favorite dessert. Arrange them on different levels so that the display is inviting and easy to see. The goal of this event is to keep it social and open for conversation. A band usually works well for atmosphere music.

Midnight Crunch Brunch
Worship is an act of war against the enemy of our hearts. It is an inward feeling and an outward action. At Midnight Crunch Brunch, you will experience worship that will reflect the worth of God. It is recommended to have this as a Saturday night activity. Through song, video, testimony, spoken word and of course food, your soul will be fed and you will leave full. This is a time when we pay deep, sincere, awesome respect and love to the one who created us. Acts 17:24-25 says, “God who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives life, breath, and all things.”

As strange as it sounds, food truly holds the power of communication. Sometimes food does a better job of solving problems than words do. Food can tell a story about a person, promote diversity and bridge the gap between cultures when words fail to do so. Mealtime is a necessity in our lives and it helps in bringing people close. If Christ were sitting at our table, would we be enthusiastic to serve Him our food?




Brittany Winkfield is the founder and publisher of Back2Basics Magazine. She resides in Denver, Colorado with her husband and daughter. 

4th quarter 2015 online - Super Social Suggestions

Bowling, miniature golf, movie night — they are all fun, but everyone needs some new ideas every now and then. Here are some ideas for super social activities that maybe your group hasn’t tried yet. They are infinitely variable, so use this list as a jumping-off place to find the perfect activity for your individual group.

1. An Evening of Storytelling
Telling stories is an important part of being human. Stories help to make us who we are. Jesus was a big fan of stories, and used them consistently in his ministry. A Storytelling Evening can be a great activity to build friendships, learn about differences and similarities, and help teens get to know themselves better.
Start by asking different members of the group to define what a story is. You can read them portions of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s popular TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story. (https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story)

Talk about the difference between true stories and fiction. Then move into several different storytelling activities.

1) First, divide the group into several smaller groups (anywhere from two to five people works). Each person should share a personal story from his or her life with his small group — something that they feel helped to make them the person they are. Other group members need to listen carefully. After 20 minutes or so, come together again as a larger group. Take turns having one person from each group tell what he or she remembers from someone else’s story. Then discuss what makes a story memorable.

2) For the second activity, form a circle for storytelling-in-the-round. Depending on the size of your group, you can all do it together, or form several smaller groups. One person begins a made-up story, and talks for two minutes, ending on a cliffhanger. The next person then takes up the story, and again ends on a cliffhanger after talking for two minutes. Go around the circle, and see where you end up. (Note: You may need a timer!)

3) A storytelling competition is a third activity. Take turns telling a five to 10-minute story to the group. At the end, judge the winner by the level of applause for each story. Talk about what made it a great story. The narrative arc? The humor? The storyteller’s expressions and body language? A surprise element? The honesty and truthfulness of it (true to the human experience, even if it was made up)? The way it captured the listeners’ attention?

2. Improv Night

Practicing improvisation is a great way to build confidence, learn to think quickly, and laugh a lot! Long lists of improv games and activities are available online, but here are some basic ideas. You could start by watching some segments of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (either the American or British version).

1) Mirror Game: Divide the group into pairs standing opposite each other. One person is the mirror and must copy everything the other person does.

2) Foreign Film Dub: Two people speak very meaningfully and expressively to each other, using exaggerated facial and hand gestures — however everything they say is in gibberish, resembling a foreign language. Two other people, who stand off to the side, “translate” each thing the two main characters say.

3) Classic Freeze: A version of what is probably the most popular improv game, this is a great one for “thinking on your feet.” Two people begin a scene (provided to them ahead of time) as the others form a semi-circle around them. After some conversation happens and the scene is established, the group leader yells “freeze.” The first person standing in the semi-circle then takes the place of one of the players, who moves into the semi-circle. The dialogue continues, but the scene changes. After the new scene is established, the leader again yells “freeze” and the original player is replaced by the new first person in the semi-circle. Players continue to rotate until the circle has gone one full time around.

4) Hitchhiking Emotions: Set up four chairs to resemble four seats in a car. A driver and two passengers sit in the car and talk, with one emotion as the overriding one (fear, happiness, anger, sadness, etc). They then pick up a “hitchhiker” who sits in the fourth seat. The hitchhiker brings a new emotion to the car, and gradually all the other people adopt this new emotion. Then the driver exits, people rotate around, and a new “hitchhiker,” with a different emotion, is picked up. New hitchhikers are picked up and bring new emotions, and the passengers continue to rotate until everyone has had a turn.

5) Sit, Stand, Bend: As seen on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”, three people are required to act out a scene, but one has to be sitting, one standing and one bending at all times, with the conversation justifying their actions. Move fast. (Watch a great example at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lfnsxYCzJo)

3. Hare and Hounds Run
This is a great social activity for building fitness and fun. This noncompetitive running game can be long or short. You can do it anywhere: wide open spaces, dirt roads, subdivisions or cities. First the “hares” (maybe the youth group leaders the first time, at least) set out, making a trail as they go. This is accomplished by dropping small piles of flour, or using chalk markings on the ground. The trail might loop around, there might be dead ends, there might be false trails. About 20 minutes later the “hounds” set off in pursuit, following the markings. Everyone ends up back where they started for refreshments and stories from the trail.

4. Costume Competition
Take the group to a local thrift store — the bigger the better. If you have a budget, you can give everyone a set amount of money to spend. Nobody should be allowed to spend more than $10. The group will have 25 minutes to choose clothes and/or accessories to make up an outfit. Afterward, go back to you youth group meeting room and give everyone a set amount of time before they each take turns walking down a “catwalk” to show off their creations. The rest of the group can be the judges of the costume’s creativity and hold up numbers between 1 and 10. The person with the most votes wins.

Alternatively, play charades with the costumes. The group has to guess which Biblical or historical character the dressed-up person is pretending to be.

Afterwards, donate the clothes and accessories back to charity.

5. Quiz Night
Divide the group into smaller groups of four people each. The quizmaster reads from a prepared set of questions, and groups quietly discuss each question, and write down their answers as a group on a piece of paper. Five rounds of 10 questions each work well. Each round can have a theme. Some possibilities include:
1) Geography
2) Music (quizmaster can play bits of recorded songs for the group to guess song titles, artist, etc)
3) Old Testament
4) New Testament
5) The Olympics
6) Classic children’s literature (ie Winne the Pooh, Charlotte’s Web, Little House on the Prairie, etc)
7) Adventist history
8) Flora and fauna
9) Current events
10) Ancient history

Quiz questions can be taken from the cards of a trivia game, or easily sourced online.

6. Record a Music Video
Borrow a video camera, or just use someone’s cell phone to record the group in a music video. Play the music of the chosen song in the background, and have the group lip synch the song, while acting out rehearsed choreography. It could be a pop song, but it could also be a lullaby, a hymn or an original song by a group member.

7. Secret Sister/Brother
This is an ongoing activity. Write the names of all youth group members on pieces of paper. Then each person draws a piece of paper from a hat, returning it for another only if you draw your own name. (Or use an online name drawing tool, like drawnames.com.) Each person must keep the name he or she drew a secret. Set a time, like three to six months, where each secret brother/sister must do nice things for the person whose name he or she drew, while keeping his/her own identity secret. Little gifts or snacks, notes of encouragement, help with problems, postcards in the mail — anything works. Conclude the activity with a Reveal Party.



Alita Byrd is a writer living in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and three-year-old and two-year-old sons.,

4th quarter 2015 online - Honest Help - God's Purpose is Not a Pizza Party

“Youth look for the church to show them something. Someone, capable of turning their lives inside out and the world upside down.
Most of the time we have offered them pizza.
We are painfully aware that we have sold them short.”
—Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster, The Godbearing Life 

If your church youth program is a four-year holding tank with pizza, then don’t expect the youth to stick around. The numbers vary depending on the study, but one thing all research agrees upon: young people are leaving the church at an alarming rate.

Why? The main reason is that teens don’t see God and His church as relevant. The best way to change this perspective is to make sure that you put in the extra effort to help your kids see that both God and staying active in His church are vital for their lives.

Here are seven concepts that you should prayerfully consider to ensure that your kids stay involved in God’s mission to reach the world.

1) God Doesn’t Need You to Make Him Cool

Too many youth programs try to take Biblical concepts written thousands of years ago and wrap them up in today’s clothes. Biblical teachings are not dress-up dolls that you must keep in the latest spring fashion. Kids shouldn’t be subjected to programs that simply try to keep Christ cool. Many youth leaders want so much to be relevant, that they stop being real.

Don’t dumb down the message to pump up the volume. The youth will see right through this act. If a program relies on flashy smoke, strobe lights, and silly string without a deeper truth platform to reach their kids, then they aren’t showing them God’s message.

2) Don’t Send Them Out Unarmed

Kids need time to explore the tough concepts. They need you to address the hard questions with them, so that they aren’t blindsided by them later.

Everyone understands that we should just love people and love God. That is also the mantra of every other religion. Even movements that claim to not believe in any god, still push a love for people. While it is a fundamental truth that we should love, kids need deeper spiritual truths than are typically written in teen devotionals. If they only stay at the surface level, then there is no distinction.

If you don’t address the confusing passages now, understand that the opposing side will point them out later. So, don’t shy away from the deep discussion, and become informed about the arguments professors or peers will use to undercut faith. This way, when someone shows them an obscure passage, they won’t be shocked, because you will have already prepared them for it.

3) Don’t Fear Questions

If God Himself welcomes questions, then why are some people so afraid of them?  “Come, let us reason together…” (Isaiah 1:18), should be the attitude of all church leadership, but it is vital for youth ministry.

When children are small, they happily accept whatever they are told by an authority figure. However, as they become independent thinkers, they begin to question. This is perfectly normal. Teens should feel that the church is a safe place for them to work through the intellectual debates, free from guilt or judgment. If they aren’t allowed this freedom, then their faith will never be their own.

4) Don’t Sell an Emotional Christianity 

There is a reason churches try to draw kids in by appealing to their emotions. It works. Just ask any secular marketing agency. Unfortunately, a predominately emotional connection to God and the church means that faith is without intellectual foundation. We all know that emotions come and go. Is that the kind of anchor you would choose for your faith?

There is nothing wrong with relating to God emotionally. However, there must be a balance. When you don’t tie in an intellectual foundation, you are placing your kids’ hearts up for auction to the highest emotional bidder.

The day will come when following God doesn’t feel as good as following their hearts. The world tells kids to follow their feelings. But, God says that sometimes we must do things even when we don’t feel like it. When teens come to this crossroad, if their faith is built mainly on their passions, then they will turn away from God because they believe that today’s emotions are more important than tomorrow’s eternal rewards.

5) Be Real 

One of the biggest issues in church is that we are all messed up, but pretend to have it all together. The main reason that young people site in their decision to leave the church is because they think it’s full of hypocrites.

Everyone struggles as a Christian. Yet, so many people are too worried about what others think that they bottle up their struggles and secret pain. Admitting the problem and asking for help is the first step to healing. However, because they don’t feel safe, people build up their walls of butterfly wings, and then try in vain to protect them. They are so afraid to crack the facade of perfection and reveal the true weaknesses and heartbreak underneath.

The church can cease to be a safe place in which to bring deeper struggles and insecurities. People fear being labeled and shunned. Therefore, many continue to wear a mask. Kids can see through this.

Today’s youth need a sanctuary to land in a world where image is the most sought-after commodity. Our church should resist the urge to embrace a modern Pharisaical mindset. People should provide help and love, and not look down upon those sacrificing their own pride to open up to their deeper distress. We have all struggled. It’s time we let go of our pride in our own perfection and admit to them.

As a youth leader, don’t show kids just your holy side. If you mess up, fess up. They will respond much better to a real person than an unattainable standard.

6) Plug Them In To Church, Community, and World Service

Your youth must feel included! This means that they should have an opportunity to play an integral role in your church and outreach. In today’s self-centered culture, kids rarely get the opportunity to feel the joy of serving others, especially with people outside of their normal circles.

When your youth are able to see the impact they make just taking time to give, they will be even more excited in their faith. So, give them opportunities to visit people in nursing homes, or feed the homeless, or spend a Sunday morning mowing lawns just to show God’s love. Take kids on mission trips to spread the gospel all over the world, and also show them how to be witnesses in their own community.

Additionally, the church should give their youth the opportunity to be a part of the actual church service. Here, they can learn leadership and speaking skills that they normally wouldn’t have a chance to practice. Pathfinders has a great program, called Team Leadership Training, which allows kids to rotate through the church in six key areas: administration, outreach, activities, teaching, records, and counseling.

If your kids remain passive, they may also be passing right out. Instead, get them involved to keep them connected.

“For the kids to feel a part of the church, they have to be a part of the church.” Kim Lucas, Assistant State Varsity Pathfinder Director / Teen Leadership Training Coordinator

7) Make Mentorship Connections

If your teens aren’t already connected to strong mentors within your church, it’s time to create those networks. Godly relationships are what help teens grow in their faith.

One pastor, whenever he would baptize a new convert, would ask for three people in his congregation to commit to nurturing this new believer. He would also give the new believer a living plant as an object lesson. He would talk about how a plant needs to be tended to thrive, and that it was now the job of these mentors to help the new church member grow in Christ.

In the same way, teens need to have people in their lives to help nurture them. Let your youth pick their mentors, and help them form those alliances.

One of the main reasons teens stay connected to their church is because someone invests in them. Our kids are the future, and we are a reflection of Christ to them. So, instead of giving them pizza parties, let’s give them a deeper purpose.


Sarah Faith Hansen is an accomplished writer with a heart for missions and a calling to provide encouragement to those undergoing trials. She just returned from a two-year mission trip to Grenada, West Indies, where she worked with an Adventist media organization to help spread the gospel. 

4th quarter 2015 online - Fresh Ideas - They Don’t Know Everything!

“You can’t do that!” came the reply—almost in unison—from my church board. I had just informed them that I was interested in having not only youth from our youth group regularly teach Sabbath School, but also act in the capacity of Assistant Leader. When I asked for their main objection, they—again, almost in union—whined (not as loudly this time): “But . . . they . . . don’t know everything!”

Neither did them or me--but I’ve observed that their collective attitude encompasses the main obstacle that, over many years of youth ministry, keeps youth from being effectively involved in leadership. For some reason, many people feel that our youth have to somehow be like “mini-adults” in terms of their Bible knowledge before they can be allowed to lead and teach; that for some reason, they’re expected to be fully mature Christians before they can begin leading others.

Not so.

Let’s take a look at this story in the New Testament book of Acts, a comprehensive record of how the
Christian church began, for a progressive framework of five specific principles that will help us more effectively develop youth for leadership.

Our entire story is found in Acts 18:18-28, although we’ll only be focusing on verses 24 through 27. Before we get started, take a minute to read verses 18-23 as background for our story. Done? Great! Let’s dive into the rest of the story:

“Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah” (NIV).

Fabulous Five Framework
Now that you’ve read the rest of the story, let’s dig deeply into these five verses and squeeze every last drop of God’s wisdom out of them:

1. They recognized God-given gifts, abilities and talents in youth. (verses 24-26a) 
Doc Luke tells us that Apollos was a dynamo! Specifically, he had 6 things that were unique to him:
Learned man
He had a thorough knowledge of the scriptures
He had been instructed in the way of the Lord
Spoke with great fervor
Taught about Jesus accurately
Knew only the baptism of John

Although Apollos--though naturally gifted as a powerful preacher and effective Bible teacher--had been initially taught by somebody (maybe his parents or a rabbi), he still had huge gaps in his spiritual knowledge base. I find it interesting that Priscilla and Acquila (a Jewish married couple, Acts 18:2-3) recognized and confirmed Apollos’ gifts.

2. They used hospitality and developed an authentic relationship with youth (verse 26b)
Acquila and Priscilla not only recognized Apollos’ gifts, but they took it a step further (this is the hard part) and built an authentic relationship with him.

This fact makes me very happy to know that even back in the day this couple understood the power of a couple/family getting involved in youth ministry. We don’t know what kind of history or home life Apollos had, but in today’s culture our youth need not only to be encouraged and have their gifts of leadership and teaching confirmed but they also desperately need to see an example of a Godly, loving, healthy Christian marriage and family life.

You don’t have to whack somebody over the head with a Bible study about “right and wrong” or even pry about a youth’s home environment and life . . . just befriend them—with no strings attached. Invite them over to your home and get-togethers. Get to know and love them and if you love them, feed them (physically and emotionally), nurture and pay attention to them, just like a flower, they will eventually open up . . . you won’t be able to stop them from talking with you about who they really are, their hopes and dreams and what their biggest stressors and fears are. Why? Because they know that you care about and love them—simply for who they are.

3. Within the scope of that relationship, they taught youth deeper info about Jesus (verse 26b)
Here’s a powerful truth: youth won’t care that you know unless they know that you care! There’s a simple and organic progression of the relationship that Acquila and Priscilla had with Apollos. First they recognized his gifts, then they really got to know him and then—and only then—did they begin to teach and instruct him about the full way of the Lord.

If you try to just give somebody truth or teaching without a relationship, they have no relationship to hang it on! You can’t hit somebody with a bunch of life-changing stuff and expect them to accept it and go deeper with God . . . just because the truth is the truth. That’s not the way it works. You have to temper and pace the amount of information that you’re sharing with a youth based not upon what grade of school they’re in, but upon who they are—both spiritually and emotionally. If you have kids of your own, as a parent, you already know this. You just can’t hit somebody with something difficult to understand until you’re sure that the relationship you’ve built can withstand the stress of that new piece of information. Youth ministry is about relationships. They come first and foremost. Never forget that!

4. As he matured in his spirituality; relationship with God and understanding of scripture they allowed youth to choose where he wanted to get plugged in (verse 27a)
This is an important truth that needs to be understood by youth leaders. You can encourage, educate, equip and inspire your youth that are interested in leadership, but ultimately the choice as to how they want to get plugged in has to be theirs and theirs alone. They must own it or they won’t be motivated to do it and do it well.

5. They honored and supported his choice. (verse 27b)
Once youth choose how they want to lead and own it, we must support them whole-heartedly. We must move heaven and earth in order to make leadership successful and effective for them. We must pick up our “pom-poms” and cheer them on to victory. What does cheering them on look like? Well, for some, it may mean advocating for them by educating church and/or school boards and families of origin about the realities of youth culture, youth ministry and that specific youth’s giftings and potential. For some, it may mean having a tough conversation with them about what they’re doing right—and wrong. Still for others it may mean acting as a sounding board and allowing them to vent their fears, anxieties and stressors related to their increasing leadership roles.

Happy Endings
If we, as youth leaders do our jobs consistently and effectively, our youth will want to step up and they will be successful and effective. Apollos ended up becoming a huge spiritual blessing to others and became an effective disciple (verses 27-28) and his leadership grew to become crucially important in the formation of the early church (1 Corinthians 1:11-12; 3).

You and I want nothing less for our youth. By understanding and effectively applying these powerful principles of youth leadership:

1. Recognizing gifts
2. Building effective and authentic relationships
3. Within the context of those relationships, teaching deeper spiritual truths
4. Allowing youth to own their roles
5. Supporting and encouraging them in those roles

We will not only prepare this generation to effectively, consistently and joyfully lead but also—and more importantly--to lead an effective, consistent and joyful Christian life. Ellen White made two powerful observations about our youth:

“Preachers, or layman advanced in years, can not have one half the influence upon the young that the youth, devoted to God, can have upon their associates” (Messages to Young People, p. 204).

“With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Savior might be carried to the whole world” (Education, p. 271)!

I know that your greatest hopes and dreams for your youth are the same as the Apostle Paul’s for the Colossian Christians when he wrote: “He [Jesus] is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:28-29, NIV).

You and I are only in leadership for a specific season. By following God’s fabulous five principles for youth leadership development, we’ll be working smarter--not harder--and making the most of the time (Psalm 90:1 & Ephesians 5:15-16), energies and gifts that God has given us.



Omar Miranda is a freelance writer; and the author of Searching: It’s Not What. It’s Who. He is a youth Sabbath School director and teacher at his local church. A counselor for more than 20 years with Abundant Life Ministries, he specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of sexual and pornography addiction and working with youth/young adults. Omar lives in very unplain Plainville, Georgia, with his wife and two children. He enjoys bird watching, writing, reading, and—much to his family’s dismay—watching documentaries. He blogs at omirandawrites.wordpress.com