Category Archives: youth ministry

10 Spiritual Legacy Conversations

In Paul’s letter to Timothy, his young apprentice and “son in the faith,” Paul mentions 10 important things that Timothy knows full well about Paul’s own life and faith journey. So, I’m very excited to share a guide to help others have 10 spiritual legacy conversations based on 2 Timothy 1:5, 3:10, 14 (see below).

How many of these things have we talked about with our children? How many of these things do we know about our parents, mentors and spiritual influences? I hope my kids will “know all about” such things when they are old enough. I also want to spend this next year having weekly lunches with my dad and asking him about these 10 things.

This guide is perfect for mentor/mentee relationships, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, grandkids and grandparents, or any other spiritual friendships. You may need to use this guide for some self-examination or introspection. You might want to journal through the questions in this guide. I trust these “Legacy Conversations” will help “fan into flame the gift of God” and grow your faith!

This guide was inspired and based on a sermon preached by Pastor Colin Smith. 

1:5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands…. 3:10, 14 You, Timothy, know all about my teaching, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know about my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured…[and how] the Lord rescued me from all of it...Continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it.”

DOWNLOAD GUIDE: 10-legacy-conversations.


A Graduate Blessing: Live A Love Song

I wrote this blessing for an outstanding young Christian graduate and musician friend. But it is a good challenge to all. -JB

Dear young Christian graduate,

As you graduate from high school and prepare for the chapter of your life (“adulthood”), allow me to offer this blessing and challenge. From one musician to another, we both know the power of a good song, a joyful groove, a beautiful melody. We also both know all too well the ear-piercing sound of an out of tune guitar, the awkwardness of a band playing out of sync, and the dissonance of a bad melody.

The world is filled with noise and a cacophony of millions of souls all whistling their own tune and dancing to the beat of their own drummer. It’s a moshpit world with bodies flailing recklessly and crashing against other bodies, people are getting crushed and trampled on. Its a world full of posers and comformers, all mindlessly humming the same culturally trendy beat because its trending on the charts and “everybody’s doing it.” Everyone’s consuming and few are composing and creating.

But you are different. God has created you to be an artist, to make music — music with your guitar and music with the kind of life you live. God has called you out of the noise, He’s whispering His Song in your ears, teaching you His divine melody and inviting you to join his band of disciples called to move to a different beat and live by a different soundtrack.  Continue reading A Graduate Blessing: Live A Love Song

New Study on Teens & Technology

A repost from 2010. Things have only gotten worse! -JB

Albert Mohler, Jr. reports on a significant new study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation on teenagers and technology HERE The study states:

As anyone who knows a teen or tween can attest, media are among the most powerful forces in young people’s lives today. Eight-to-eighteen-year-olds spend more time with media than in any other activity besides (maybe) sleeping — an average of more than 7 1/2 hours a day, seven days a week. The TV shows they watch, video games they play, songs they listen to, books they read and websites they visit are an enormous part of their lives, offering a constant stream of messages about families, peers, relationships, gender roles, sex, violence, food, values, clothes, an abundance of other topics too long to list.

Mohler notes the following:

. . . .And it’s not just that these kids are devoting 7 1/2 hours of their daily lives to media immersion — their multitasking means that they somehow consume nearly 11 hours of media content in that 7 1/2 hours of time. Over the last ten years, young people have increased their consumption and use of every type of media with one exception — reading. As the researchers make clear, the vast increase in the amount of time teenagers are able to access the media is due almost entirely to the fact that their mobile phones allow an online life that can be carried in the pocket (and in far too many cases, taken to bed). “The mobile and online media revolutions have arrived in the lives — and the pockets — of American youth,” notes the report. “Try waking a teenager in the morning, and the odds are good you’ll find a cell phone tucked under their pillow — the last thing they touch before falling asleep and the first thing they reach for upon waking.” Continue reading New Study on Teens & Technology

Constantly Buzzed: Teens & Technology

As the school year wraps up, I’m reminded of my youth pastor days. Here’s a repost from 2009. 

I’m typing this blog from my laptop while text messaging, checking my email, listening to my Ipod, updating my Twitter and sipping an iced mocha. I’m totally wired and buzzed — both from caffeine and all the electrical cords juicing all my gadgets. Just another over-stimulated day in the “technopolis” of the 21st century world.

As I wrap up another year of high school ministry one thing is for certain: teenagers are too busy, involved in too many things, trying to please too many people—all this while trapped in a fast-paced, over-stimulated world of hypertechnology and seeing no easy way out of this vast web of over-connectivity.

I’m researching the power of culture and media technology in preparation for two messages I’m giving this weekend to senior high students at a missions retreat. I’m speaking on the topic of “Discipleship of the Mind” based on the popular movie trilogy, “The Matrix.” The book I’m reading is A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Pop Culture by Craig Detweiler and Barry Taylor. Here’s some insights from the chapter I’m currently reading.

Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Age of Access, notes, “The techno gurus promised us that instant access would lighten our loads and give us back more time. Is it possible, instead, that the nanosecond culture is enslaving us in a web of ever-accelerating connections from which there seems to be no escape?” Continue reading Constantly Buzzed: Teens & Technology

‘Race to Nowhere’: Performance Pressure on Today’s Teens

Repost from 2010.

Something has changed since I went to school.  Like all cultural changes it came slowly, subtly, under the radar and is now boiling many teens like frogs trapped in kettle of pressure and busyness.

Today’s teens are experiencing an enormous amount of pressure to “produce, produce, produce” and out-perform their peers to live up to the standards placed upon them and get into the college they want.

There’s a lot of research being done of this toxic trend slowly eating away at so many young people today.  Many parents just don’t see or admit what’s happening, and many therefore end up perpetuating the problem.

As a youth pastor, I interact daily with teens whose schedules would give an accomplished CEO’s weekly calendar a run for it’s money.  Many such teens will manage with smiles on their face for a long time, but many are just one step away from a sudden collapse or emotional break-down. Don’t be fooled by the demeanor of these seemingly content frogs seconds away from being boiled in the cauldron of constant activity and stress. Continue reading ‘Race to Nowhere’: Performance Pressure on Today’s Teens

EPHESIANS 14: God’s Masterpiece (2:10)

Michaelangelo's David
Michaelangelo’s David

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Eph. 2:10).

If I were called to the hospital bedside of a person who just attempted but failed to take their own life, I think I would bring this verse.

If I were asked to give a graduation convocation at a Christian college and send forth a group of young leaders into the big scary world, I might send them out armed with this verse.

If I were addressing a guild of artists, or writers, or innovative entrepreneurs I might inspire them with this verse.

If I were speaking at the nursing home chapel to elderly folks who believe their life is now behind them, I might remind them of this verse.

Packed into this one explosive verse are some of the most vital things we need to get on in this world. I can list at least 4 that all conveniently start with P. Continue reading EPHESIANS 14: God’s Masterpiece (2:10)

Two by Two 1: He Sent Them

In this series we’ll be picking apart this episode in Luke 10 piece by piece, exploring what it looks like on the road to discipleship in the company of Jesus.

“The Lord now chose seventy (-two) other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.” (Luke 10:1-3)

Part 1: “He sent them…”

Roger has been teaching Driver’s Education for 4 decades, providing instruction for 50,000+ young people and logging well over 300,000 hours in the passenger seat of a car.  I once asked Roger what’s the most valuable lesson he’s learned about teaching students how to drive. I believe his answer is a prophetic word to the church, and brings us back to the disciple-making approach of Jesus found in above in Luke 10.

Roger said: “The state system has it all wrong.  They put students through 30 hours of classroom instruction listening to lecture, watching videos, memorizing facts and statistics, and learning all about driving.  Then they only require 6 hours of actual behind-the-wheel, on-road training.  They have it completely backwards. Students don’t learn best by listening to lecture but by being thrown in the driver’s seat with a trained expert and actually doing it.”

And so it is with the church and making disciples of Christ.  Have we put too much emphasis on congregational gatherings and Sunday sermons?  As leaders do we GATHER more than we SEND our flock out onto the rugged yet exciting road of discipleship?  I am not dismissing the significant role of corporate gatherings, worship and good sermons.  But I would submit that this is not the most effective way to make disciples. Continue reading Two by Two 1: He Sent Them

Guitar Hero & Open Heart Surgery

A repost from my youth pastor days. God bless all you youth workers in the trenches. -JB

DAILY ILLUMINATION | Reports from the intersection of faith & everyday life.

“I will remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.  Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.  They will be my people and I will be their God” (Ezek 11:19-20). 

Many still view youth ministry as a second-class calling, a holding tank for immature, video-playing adults who couldn’t quite make it in “real ministry” who end up playing dodgeball and Guitar Hero through their 20s and eventually go on to more respectable work in their 30s or maybe even grow up into “real” pastors with a more wounded-heart1respectable salary. 

Now I am a bit biased, or course, but I personally think youth pastors have much more in common with heart surgeons than community recreation directors.  Every Wednesday night dozens of fragile, broken, confused, hurting teenagers come to our gatherings, hungry for meaning, purpose, self-worth, love, acceptance and a word of hope.  In the…

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