X3Church: Demonstrating A Healthy Sexual Ethic To Children

this was originally posted at xxxchurch.com, and can be found here.

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As youth pastors and youth leaders, we’re always thinking of better ways to equip our teenagers to be successful when they leave the nest of our youth ministries.  Within weeks of graduation, our seniors will be inundated with opportunities, temptations, and situations that will test their faith and determine the trajectory of their futures.  How can we set them up to have the best possible sexual ethic as they enter their young adult years?
Here’s some things we’re trying in our context; would love to hear what you’re doing in the comments section below!
  • We’re committed to leading by example. Teens can see inauthenticy in adults a mile away, and they know better than anyone that actions speak louder than words.  When a youth leader can sit down with a teenager and share specific things they did LAST WEEK to fortify their purity, a powerful connection is made.  We’re always looking to recruit adult leaders from our church who are honest and real about their struggles; it’s critical that our teens are surrounded by people willing to relate to what they’re going through with honesty and vulnerability.
  • We’re trying to talk about it in large group more often.  If you’ve never been accused of talking about sex too much in youth group, you probably aren’t talking about it enough.  It’s constantly running through their minds, their bodies are primed and ready for it, and whether we like it or not, it’s the language of pop culture.  The Bible has a lot to say on it as well, so we’re trying to bring it to the front of the room!  We recently did a great series on sex, love, and dating called “Facebook Official”, which you can find over at www.downloadyouthministry.com
  • We’re consistently bringing it up in our small groups.  Whatever your small group ministry looks like – whether you have groups that meet in homes during the week, or as an element tagged onto the end of your crowd program, small groups are a great environment to go deeper on issues of purity.  Take your group through books like Pure Eyes or a video curriculum like Pure Sex by Simply Youth Ministry.  Small groups are also a great environment to teach students how to hold one another accountable, and you can help by pairing them up.  If they’re using X3Watch on their computers and mobile devices, ask them to add you to their account. 
  • We’re trying to resource our parents so they can do the heavy lifting themselves.  Most parents are deeply concerned about their kids’ sexual ethics, and don’t want to hand the entire responsibility over to the church (nor should they).  As pastors, we can help resource and empower them to have successful discussions with their kids.  If you’re like me and you haven’t yet parented teens through their teenage years, you may feel inadequate in this realm.  One thing we’re going to be trying soon for our parents is a meeting on this topic, and I’m going to invite 4-5 different parents who have navigated this stuff successfully to participate in a panel discussion.  I will moderate, but the real teaching will come from these seasoned and successful parents and will give practical ideas to the other parents in the room.
  • We’re trying to do more than just drop a book in a teen’s lap There are some great books and resources out there for kids and teens – way more than when I was in high school.  Don’t ever discount the mentoring role you as a youth worker can have in the life of a student when you work through a book together.  Instead of just handing them a book to read, what if you threw a $10 Starbucks card in the back of it, and invited them to talk about it with you when they finish?

5 Powerful Questions To Ask Your Kids At Bedtime

adelina recently learned how to climb out of her crib, so this week has been a week of transitions and new routines. as i was putting her down tonight, i remembered a list of questions i jotted down in my moleskine that andy stanley noted in his must-read choosing to cheat. my daughter is not quite old enough for these yet, but i plan to ask them to her on a regular basis in a few years. powerful and transformative conversations can happen right before a kid’s eyes close for the night.

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5 Powerful Questions

1. Is everything ok in your heart?

2. Did anyone hurt your feelings today?

3. Are you mad at anyone?

4. Did anyone break a promise to you?

5. Is there anything i can do for you?

what are other good questions to ask your kids at bedtime?

The Middle

everytime i see this girl i’m thankful for the brave and courageous youth leaders who invest in junior highers. i remember my braces. and my awkwardness. and my missed social cues.  and they didn’t give up on me. and i love it that we have some amazing leaders at lakeshore who love on junior highers with everything they’ve got.

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find a junior high youth leader today and encourage them!

Never Stop Being A Youth Worker

there’s a certain level of excitement and energy that i (and so many others) find with working with teens in a church. and it seems that for whatever reason we tend to think and operate very differently than other ministries and people. however, from time to time God calls certain youth workers to serve Him in other areas.  the cool thing is that you don’t have to stop being a youth worker, even if your calling changes. just today i interacted with a former youth worker and his heart and passion for teens hasn’t gone anywhere… it was so refreshing.
josh griffin blogged about this recently. it was such a great post, i put the entire thing below. enjoy!
For a long time in our shared calling we’ve made a big deal about being a “youth ministry lifer” – someone who does youth ministry until they’re super old. There certainly was good reason for that when the average stay of a youth worker in a church was less than a year and people recklessly used the position as a stepping stone to become a real pastor.
But here’s what I started thinking this morning: we need more youth workers in other parts of the church, too. We need more youth workers to become senior pastors. We need more leaders of businesses, organizations and non-profits to think like and care like youth workers. Why do we guilt people into staying when God is calling them on? Maybe it is a good thing that many don’t stay in youth ministry their whole life – I just want them to still think, serve and love like a youth pastor when they move on.
I’m not planning on going anywhere – so you’re hearing this from the heart of a youth ministry lifer: if you’re dropping out of youth ministry, always be a youth pastor, even if you’re title changes a little bit.

When To Give Your Senior Pastor “The Heads Up”

as a youth pastor, good communication with your senior pastor (or direct report) is always wise and helpful, but there are definitely situations where a time-sensitive heads up is critical.  i learned alongside another youth pastor who was always great at this – it was always important to him that the lead guy never got blindsided by something under his area of leadership.
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here are the top 5 types of situations i’ve learned where “the heads up” is pretty much automatic if i want to save myself and my ministry from future pain.  the types of situations may definitely vary from church to church, and i’m sure i’ve missed some… so feel free to leave them in the comments!
  • WHEN A CHURCH MEMBER OR INFLUENTIAL PERSON MIGHT LEAVE THE CHURCH BECAUSE OF A DECISION YOU MADE.  leaders make decisions, and there’s no way to always keep everyone happy. from time to time, i’ve had to make an unpopular decision, and though it always bugs me that some church-goers’ commitment to a church is relatively fragile, it doesn’t help your ministry if the lead guy finds out about it from somewhere else before you.  their side of the story usually isn’t balanced, and the teeter totter certainly isn’t leaning towards your side of the playground.  let your pastor know what your decision was, the reasoning behind it, and offer to help bring clarity through any of the tough conversations to come.
  • WHEN IT’S TIME TO “RELEASE” A YOUTH LEADER TO A DIFFERENT MINISTRY IN THE CHURCH.  it always stinks, but not everyone that makes it on the team is a good fit. no matter how hard you try to help them transition into a different serving role in the church, conflict often emerges from these conversations. i still remember the youth leader i had recruited with seemingly good intentions, to later find out they were just trying to keep tabs on their own kids.  it was a tough situation to navigate because they made me force them out, and out of it i remember learning how much easier it is to say no to someone who wants on than to kick someone off.  let your senior pastor know you’re moving them off the team before the conversation happens.
  • WHEN A PARENT ISN’T JUST UPSET, BUT HOT AND ANGRY AT YOU OR YOUR MINISTRY. again, conflict is inevitable in leadership, but many times angry parents can be the worst because their protective emotions can fuel extra anger. unfortunately the immature will look to go over your head and take it up with your boss rather than dealing directly with you… and it will help you immensely to let your lead guy know in advance if you see it coming. give him the facts, let him know what you could have done to avoid the situation, and assure him that you’re taking steps to resolve the conflict. i remember a situation like this a few years ago. it still totally sucked, but at least i knew my senior pastor had my back the whole way through.
  • WHEN A STUDENT IS IN DANGER AND YOU HAVE TO INTERVENE. of all the things we do in student ministry, pacing with hurting students through messy situations is both sacred and scary. as pastors we are mandatory reporters, and from time to time we have to get the authorities involved. before calling CPS or setting up a 1AM meeting with the parents, get your senior pastor clued in on the important details. you don’t have to break confidentiality, but you do have to give him enough info to know you’re on it and doing your best to see it through responsibly. he’s probably got a lot of wisdom to offer in situations like this as well, and you can earn points by coming in with humility and glean from his experience.
  • WHEN YOU THINK YOU SHOULD BUT YOU’RE NOT 100% SURE. just do it anyways. i’ve learned the hard way that it’s better to over-communicate and have him tell you to keep it to yourself than to under-communicate and leave him grasping for answers when everything hits the fan. to make matters worse, the one time he DOES call asking for an explanation you’ll be out with a student at starbucks and your phone battery will be dead… or you’ll be snowtubing down a mountain and it’ll go to voicemail. no matter how “covered” you are in the situation, you WILL lose credibility points and make the situation worse.
what did i miss?

Poll: Cussing & Vulgarity

this weekend we’re starting a new teaching series with our students on a few different topics that would fall into the “it’s complicated” genre.  there are many verses throughout scripture that give biblical principles by which to navigate the grey areas, but it’s not easy… and depending on how you look at it there can be multiple viewpoints.

cussing and vulgarity is one of the topics we’re gonna touch on.  i’m curious on YOUR thoughts – please vote and help me out!

 

 

“Been There” Parents

i hate seeing people struggle in isolation. so often we think we’re the only ones, and that if we open up to others they’ll be shocked, embarrassed, or stand in judgment.  sadly, i know parents of teenagers often feel this way as well.

what if we as youth leaders were able to connect parents who have already “been there” with other parents going through the very same thing?  we scheduled an email to send out next week to take a step in this direction – copy and paste it in your email client if it can work for you!

PARENTS:  WE NEED YOU TO BE A “BEEN THERE” PARENT
we are looking to start up a list of parents to support one another in various areas of challenge that other parents face from time to time.  it is our hope to develop a list of parents who have “been there”, that we can use as a resource to point other parents to who may be looking for some extra support.  what situations or challenges have you been through as a parent that you can say “i’ve been there!” or “my kid has been there!” (drug addiction, pornography, same-sex attractions, anger issues, disabilities, bullying, etc.)?  nothing is off limits, and if you’re going through it, you’re not alone!  we would love to include you on our list and have your name and contact information available to give to other parents who might benefit from your experiences because they’re going through a similar situation.  if you are willing to be part of our “been there” list, please email us back and let us know your name, contact info, and what area(s) of support you might be a resource for.

stole this idea from the youth ministry garage.