NEW BOOK: Answers to Teenagers’ 50 Toughest Questions

This week I am excited to announce three new books by 3 of us here at youthworktalk.com. As a part of Simply Youth Ministry’s brand new Every Day Youth Ministry series, Leneita Fix, Darren Sutton, and myself are excited to see three highly practical youth ministry books get in the hands of youth workers. In the next few days, we’ll tell you a little about each of the books.

For now, here’s a snapshot of Answers to Teenagers’ 50 Toughest Questions 

Teenagers are hungry for solid answers to the relentless questions gnawing at their hearts and minds.  They’re yearning for help, hope, and healing that are founded in truth—and youth workers are the ideal people for delivering those answers!

If you’ve ever felt unprepared when students want to talk about tough topics, then this is the book for you. Answers to Teenagers’ 50 Toughest Questions will equip you with biblical, practical, specific responses to the thorniest questions students may toss your way.

Written collaboratively by a diverse team of youth workers, this book examines tough questions from six different areas:

• Faith Basics

• Faith Struggles

• Discipleship and Evangelism

• Life Choices

• Family and Friends

• Dating and Sex

For each question, you’ll find a biblically based response, along with next-step ideas that will engage students in conversation and exploration.  And for most of the topics, we’ve provided a list of recommended readings and resources to aid their investigation.

This is a perfect equipping resource for any youth worker—whether you’re a youth pastor, a small group leader, or simply an adult who loves teenagers and wants to see them pursue Jesus-centered lives.

Click here to purchase a copy. 

Phil <><

5 Reasons I am Looking Forward To The Simply Youth Ministry Conference

This weekend I join 3000 youth workers along with Darren Sutton, John Fix and Leneita Fix, (contributors here at youthworktalk). I am excited about this conference for many reasons, but here are a my top five:

1) It’s For Youth Workers, By Youth Workers: This conference is designed and implemented by in the trenches youth workers who understand youth ministry and what youth workers need. Not only do these guys and gals love this conference, they absolutely love the people that come there! Many feel like this conference is “home” to them. (For most people, calling a youth ministry conference “home” might sound weird, but at #SYMC it really does feel that way). As someone who is on the inside track to this conference, I can tell you these people are as authentic as you can get!

2) It’s A Time To Breathe: This years theme is breathe. So often youth ministry can catch up with you. What started off as blessing can sometimes feel like a curse if we don’t take care of our souls. This year I am excited to be a part of a conference where I can breathe in and recharge.

3) They Have A Shelter: My good friend Len and his SYM Soul Care Team are providing a safe place for youth workers to get free, confidential pastoral support when they need it. It’s like “urgent care” for a youth worker’s heart & soul!

4) There’s Over 200 Learning Opportunities: Here’s what they say on their site: You’ll get 2-3 times the amount of content and options to choose from than other training events—with more time for depth and discussion and more practical solutions to your ministry needs. From peer panels to workshops, from “half-tracks” to “deep learning tracks,” there are a gazillion learning options there!

5) I Get To Bring Some Of My Volunteers: I super excited to bring some incredible volunteers who I have the privilege of doing ministry with. They are an incredible group and I can’t wait to hear their stories and process all that they are going to learn. This conference is a place for the volunteer, the rookie, and the veteran who all have one purpose: To love God and love students!

If you are going to SYMC, leave me a comment or send me a tweet @PhilBell

Phil <><

Gaining Healthy Respect & Influence In Youth Ministry: Parents

Gaining healthy respect and influence in youth ministry can sometimes be challenging. Many youth workers are young and often feel like people see them as “the young kid.”  Even veteran youth workers feel like the title of “youth worker” devalues their influence. It’s true,  we do face stigmas and inaccurate perceptions. However, it doesn’t mean that we cannot gain the respect and influence that will help us build strong youth ministries…

Today, I want to encourage you to consider how you can gain healthy respect and influence with the parents in our ministries. As many of you know, having parents “on our side” can make or break the success of our ministries. Below are three things that when consistently worked on, will help us gain healthy respect and influence with parents in my ministry.

1) Set An Example And Stay The Course: This is perhaps the most effective way of gaining healthy respect and influence with any group of people in our church. Parents entrust their kids to us on a daily basis and it’s important that they see someone who is setting a consistent Godly example. It’s easy to get frustrated when people don’t give us time of day, but it’s also important to realize that trust takes time to build. Being a solid and consistent example will bear much fruit in time… Getting frustrated and defensive with parents will only go to confirm any negative ideas they might already have about youth workers… Set an example and stay the course… Read more

Going to SYMC 2012? Don’t Miss These Video Links!

If you are going to the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in March, you have got to check out these videos made by my good friend Matty McCage. Matty has scoped out all the good and essential places to go, see, and experience while you are in Louisville, KY.
Take a look:

5 Things I Pray At Every Youth Program

There are five things I try to make sure I pray almost every time at our youth programs. Not only I am genuinely wanting to pray these things every week, it helps to give our students a prayer focus, I find it also helps to continue to cast the vision of why we meet each week. Prayer is powerful, life changing, and focuses us on the things of God.

Here’s what I pray regularly at our weekly programs: 

“Thanks so much for the new faces here tonight, and thanks for the students who call this place home” – It’s imperative to communicate care to the new students as we pray for them and thank God for them. It’s also imperative that I thank God new people while also reminding our regular students that there are new faces here to look out for.

“Thanks to these incredible youth leaders who show up week after week to love students” – I have some of the most fantastic youth leaders a youth pastor could ask for! I realize this, but students don’t always consider the sacrifice their small group leaders make to show up week after week. In addition, it’s my job to help the small group leaders become ‘ministry heroes’ to the students. Praying for adult leaders every week truly helps students to see how much they are loved by these brilliant people! Read more

Transitions In Youth Ministry: Part 2 – The Comparison Game

In my previous post, I talked about the importance of building healthy foundations when transitioning into a new ministry. Today I would like to talk about a potential danger that new and transitioning youth workers can easily struggle with:

PLAYING THE COMPARISON GAME: So often students, parents, and leaders are hurting from the loss of the previous youth worker that they will naturally compare us with the previous person. The LAST thing we should be doing is joining in to play the comparison game too! It can become a dangerous and unhealthy foundation to build in our first year. Here’s what the comparison game can cause us to do:

  • We change who we are to keep others happy while we are not fulfilled ourselves…
  • We become defensive when we are compared to the last person and end up “bashing” the guy or gal before us…
  • We change our vision and priorities to keep others happy and continue what others thought was successful…
  • We can become frustrated when we change who we become frustrated in working toward a vision that is not ours…

THE REALITY OF THE COMPARISON GAME: Let’s be honest, every good youth worker should be creating a strong connection with their students, leaders, and parents. Therefore, we need to expect that people will have a natural tendency to miss the previous person and talk about them a great deal. Often a comparison statement is communicating “I miss the previous person, and you are not him or her.” This is natural and normal, but it’s important that we fight the urge to change who we are or take it too personally when we are compared…

HOW TO WIN THE COMPARISON GAME:  Read more

Transitions In Youth Ministry Part 1: Healthy Foundations

Transitioning into a new youth ministry, or your first ministry can be very challenging! A good start (or a poor start), makes all the difference. But what are some of the keys to making a good transition into a new youth ministry? There are many, but here are the ones I have found to be paramount in making a good transition:

LISTEN FIRST: A commitment I have made in my last two positions was to move slowly and take time to understand the people and programs first. In my opinion, we should be committed to not making any major changes in the first year, (only tweaking what has been done in the past). This is easier said than done, but it’s important to glean important insights, learn good lessons, and most importantly build trust with leaders, students, and parents.

RELATIONSHIPS: No matter what happens in our first year, we cannot forget that relationships are at the core of everything we should be doing. In a new position it’s so easy to get task focused, but we cannot get too busy to build relationships…  After the first year it will be solid relationships that will make you and your students want to achieve greater things together…  Read more

FREE Valentines Lesson

Our friends at youthministry360 are giving away a FREE Valentines lesson. It’s a solid lesson that uses the story of Ruth and Boaz to talk about the God-centered love we see in the Bible versus the broken image of love the world bombards students with. The lesson also makes the connection that the aspects of love seen in Ruth’s story are perfected in the love we see in Christ. The lesson features a really cool, really interactive PowerPoint slideshow as well as a Leader’s Guide. If you want to teach the lesson, all you have to do is go to http://youthministry360.com/free_stuff/free-valentines-bible-study-lesson/ to check it out.

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