Senin, 26 September 2016

Free Creative Package: “Light and Dark”

Free Creative Package: “Light and Dark”

CP - Light
Jesus is our light in the darkness.

Free Creative Package

Download this creative package for either t-shirt graphics or social media sharing in your youth ministry.
From Open Network, “Based on a verse from Job, this t-shirt design from Life.Church expresses the joy of knowing Christ. He is our light in the darkness. Use the print-ready design as-is or edit it for your own project.”


Get Download Now

Resource provided by Open Network

Avoiding the Volunteer From Hell, Pt. 1

Avoiding the Volunteer From Hell, Pt. 1

Avoiding the Volunteer from Hell, Pt. 1
How to avoid having the nightmare volunteer experience from the start.
Whenever my dad and I teach a workshop about recruiting, retaining, training…and even firing today’s New Breed of volunteers (based on our book on the subject), we can guarantee we’ll get questions about “The Volunteer From Hell.”
You know the one I’m talking about. That one volunteer that you either inherited or recruited without thinking. We’ve all had them. I had one. She was terrifying.
The question most people ask is, “How do I get rid of this volunteer?” (Garlic and a cross?)
Allow me to ask a much better question: “How do I make sure I never recruit this volunteer?”
In the next few posts I’m going to provide three effective ways to screen volunteers so you avoid “The Volunteer From Hell.”
No. 1: Make the Call
It’s funny. Most jobs require references. Most ministries require applications, which have a line at the bottom where our volunteers fill out references. But honestly…do you always call them?
Our ministry gets a lot of emails from youth workers on the front lines asking us questions. At times these Q&A emails are from volunteers complaining about their pastor or youth pastor. I’ve received several emails over the years from one individual in particular who always complained about her pastor, how he didn’t support her and didn’t understand youth ministry. In her emails to our ministry she explained how she left the church and began serving at another church. Soon I received another email about her new pastor—same situation. It didn’t take long for us to begin reading between the lines. After all, we didn’t know this person…and it was pretty evident we were only hearing one side of the story. This person left several ministries, causing a stir with each move. I finally confronted her on something she wrote and she lashed out at me (and conveniently doesn’t email me any more).
Here’s the funny thing. This person has left a trail of destruction at each ministry she volunteers at…yet new churches keep putting her into positions of leadership.
Why?
They sure aren’t calling references. If they were, they’d hear, “Run for your lives! She caused a church split. She’s convincing kids to leave with her!” (Sadly, if you’ve been in ministry long, you’ve probably seen something like this)
This is an easy fix.
Make the call!
I don’t care how desperate you are for volunteers. I don’t care how amazing they are with kids. It doesn’t matter if one person in your church recommended them. Call references. Find out where they served in ministry previously, pick up the phone and call.
A few phone calls will take you 10-15 minutes.
“The Volunteer From Hell” can take years to recover from.
But this isn’t the only effective way to screen volunteers…  
Jonathan McKee is the president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of 20 books including the brand new 52 Ways to Connect With Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; More Than Just the Talk; Sex Matters; The Guy’s Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites,TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan and his wife, Lori, and their three kids live in California.

Teens Don’t Care About Your Youth Group Name

Teens Don’t Care About Your Youth Group Name

Teens Don't Care About Your Youth Group Name
We spend so much time on coming up with the coolest names for everything we do. Guess what? It doesn’t matter.
To figure out what someone thinks is important, you follow the three Ts:
Time, Talent and Treasure
We’re given only a limited amount of time on this earth, so when we spend a lot of time on something, we must think it’s important. When we focus our talents on something, we’re not just doing it as a hobby, we’re invested. And when we spend our treasure—MONEY—that is the ultimate sign of what is important.
Youth ministers and youth ministry is no different. If we think something is important for our ministry, we’ll spend tons of our time, talent and treasure to make it work. We invest a lot in things we think are important. Judging by what I see youth ministers spend a lot of time and effort on, here are few things we think are important:
  • Youth Group Names
  • Youth Group Logos
  • Exciting Games
  • The Perfect Curriculum
  • An Awesome Youth Room
We spend so much time trying to come up with the perfect youth group name and create an awesome logo, get the best curriculum and start youth group with the latest viral game in our awesome youth room. The problem is …
They. Do. Not. Matter.
Teens don’t care. The lost students in your local school aren’t all amped up to come to “ZORT” on Wednesday. They think your game of Hungry Hungry Hippos looks dumb. Your logo is cool and all, but compared to the marketing they see every day it’s kind of lame. Your youth room with the pallet walls reminds them of their summer job stocking shelves at the local store.
Why are we wasting time on things that don’t matter? Stop it. The reason students are not coming to church has nothing to do with marketing and everything to do with not addressing their needs. They see church as a place that’s boring, worthless and unimportant. If they do show up, it’s not because of the awesome curriculum you wrote. More than likely, your perfect amazing curriculum bored them even more than they imagined.
These things are nice, but in the end they don’t matter. No one in the history of the world has been saved because of a youth group logo. It would be like going out and buying a $40,000 car because you loved the shape of the cupholders. Cupholders are nice. Cupholders are, after a fashion, important. Personally, I love not spilling my Coke all over the car. But no one buys a car because of cupholders.
So what is the answer? What matters to teens? What is important to them? Here are five things teens in your community think are important…
1) A place where they matter
Teens need to know they are important, that they are valuable. The church provides THE place where they matter, because God loves them so much that He gave His son for them. They matter to God. Ultimately, they can only find this in Jesus.
2) A place where they belong
Teens need friends that genuinely care about them. They need people that love them. Our youth groups need to be places that are about belonging. Our youth group should be the most loving place that students can find.
3) A place where they can make a difference
Teens have an intrinsic desire to change the world. We can give them that opportunity, both through service and through evangelism. If your students are not making a difference, they’re not being fulfilled and are only going through the motions of Christianity. If they’re doing that, they’ll not think it’s important.
4) A place that encourages them
The world tears teens down. The church should be the place that builds them up, not just another place where students are torn apart.
5) A place where people invest in them
Teens long for people to see something in them, to see a hidden spark that they themselves can’t see. Teens seek out this affirmation like a wanderer in the desert seeks out water. Your church can pour life into students and they will respond.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not bad to have a youth group name or logo. A curriculum is important. Games are fun. A youth room is cool. These things are not sinful—they’re just not the most important things. Spend your time on the most important things, and then do the other stuff if you have time.
What is most important to your ministry? Do you think it makes an eternal difference? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!  

Tabernacle of Praise Church International: No. 3 Fastest-Growing Church

Tabernacle of Praise Church International: No. 3 Fastest-Growing Church

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Pastor T.J. McBride is man with a vision: to reach lost souls for Jesus Christ that all men may be saved by any means necessary.
Tabernacle of Praise Church‘s pastor, T.J. McBride, is man with a vision: to reach lost souls for Jesus Christ that all men may be saved by any means necessary. We’re growing because our vision highlights three focal areas: the worship experience, a time for one to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit; the youth, modeling a Christ-centered fulfilled experience for all ages; and outreach.
Being community-minded allows Tabernacle of Praise to minister to “the least of these” from many facets. With the meal-share programs, hand-cooked and hand-delivered meals are given to our local homeless population and displaced families. The social justice and life skills programs provide education and awareness to the community at large, focusing on issues that are pivotal to the success of the community as well as our nation. And community connections facilitates partnership with local nonprofit organizations.
Read about the No. 2 fastest-growing church »
Read about the No. 4 fastest-growing church »
TABERNACLE OF PRAISE CHURCH INTERNATIONAL
McDonough, Georgia
Senior Pastor: Timothy McBride
Website: TOPCI.org
Twitter: @TimothyJMcBride@TOPChurchLive
Facebook: /TOPChurchLive
Founded: 2005
Affiliation: Nondenominational
Locations: 2
A 2016 OUTREACH 100 CHURCH
Attendance: 2,684
Growth in 2015: +1,184 (79%)
Fastest Growing: 3

How to Kill Envy and Embrace Contentment

How to Kill Envy and Embrace Contentment

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“Envy is resenting God’s goodness in others’ lives and ignoring God’s goodness in your own life.”

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You’ve seen them before.
It’s the person at your job everyone loves to hate. Everything always goes right for them. They get the promotion, have the biggest salary and the perfect family, and just returned from a two-week vacation.
Do you have that picture in your mind yet? Good!
Now, imagine you’re on your way to work and notice a police officer giving someone a ticket on the shoulder of the road. You look again and discover that the person getting the ticket is THAT person from your job. What are you feeling inside right now? Do you smile and whisper to yourself, “Got ‘em!”?
Welcome to the wonderful world of envy.

What is envy?

“Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.” (Galatians 5:25-26)
Envy is resenting God’s goodness in others’ lives and ignoring God’s goodness in our own life. In today’s society, envy is encouraged. Look at commercials: Many of them have nothing to do with the actual product. The product they’re actually selling is envy. They’re subliminally saying, “Buy our product and you will be envied! You’ll be the envy of everybody else!”

Conspicuous Consumption

Economists and sociologists all agree that people will buy inferior products if the products are expensive and project to the world that you are wealthy and you can afford it. They call this conspicuous consumption. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a good or bad product. If it has a certain name on it, it implies we can show off our wealth, status, and power—and we will buy it simply to make other people envy us. We work hard to be envied.
So how do we tame envy? How do we live at peace in the middle of competition?

1. Stop comparing.

“Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!” (2 Corinthians 10:12)
In 2 Corinthians 10:12, Paul says that if I’m comparing myself to somebody else, it’s unproductive! There is always somebody better than me, so no matter what, I’ll get discouraged. At the same time, there is always somebody that I’m better than, and I’ll get full of pride. Either way, I lose.
I personally don’t compare myself to other people. Comparing is the root of envy. If you’re going to stop envy, you’ve got to break it by stopping the mindset of comparing.

2. Be content.

“We’re grateful for what we’ve already got, but we’re so busy worrying about what we don’t have; we don’t enjoy what we do have.” (Ecclesiastes 6:9)
It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to be always wanting something else. There is a myth behind envy that says I must have more to be happy. This is far from the truth. Happiness has nothing to do with achievements or acquisitions. It has to do with accepting your uniqueness while rejoicing in what you love to do.
We’re content when we know that God has provided all that we need for our happiness, not for tomorrow or next year, but for right now. When we can understand this, then we have true happiness.
So should you have ambition, goals and desires? Of course you should. You can admire something somebody else has and not envy it. You can even say, “I’d like to have that one day,” and not envy it. Envy is when you say, “I wish he didn’t have it, because I don’t.” You resent it because he’s got it and you don’t. That’s envy.
Where are you struggling with envy today?
© 2016, Clarence E. Stowers, Jr. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.clarencestowers.com.
Clarence Stowers is the pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Chicago, Illiniois. He has been in full-time ministry for 20 years.

5 Essentials for an Evangelical Future

5 Essentials for an Evangelical Future

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Ed Stetzer: “To thrive, I think there are at least five things we need to face the next 10 years.”

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Many people are saying it’s been a tough decade for evangelicals. The media says that Christianity is in great decline. The media, and some Christian authors, predict doom and gloom.
While the research isn’t as doom-and-gloom as people are saying, I do think we are in challenging times. The last 10 years have brought us to that reality. There have been a few distractions along the way.
The emerging church promised a “third way” to evangelicals, but it flamed out and now looks more like the avant-garde wing of mainline Protestantism.
Some tried to withdraw from culture, but culture just kept coming.
Some slowly replaced regular gospel proclamation with moralistic therapeutic deism—being good makes you a better person, and that makes “the man upstairs” happy.
Still others were so driven by pragmatism that they eventually began to look like a collection of programs and strategies, devoid of the message of Jesus.
So, what’s next? What needs to happen for the new few years?
I don’t know that this answers everything, but a few things keep coming to mind as I look to the future. To thrive, I think there are at least five things we need to face the next 10 years:

1. A Clear Understanding of the Gospel

Too many have assumed it, but we need to teach it. The gospel is not you do, it’s Jesus did. People don’t need to be taught to turn over a new leaf—they need to receive and live out a new life. That new life is from Jesus’ death on the cross for our sin and in our place. Don’t build a message that would still be true if Jesus had not died on the cross for our sin and in our place.

2. A Stronger Focus on Discipleship

God shapes congregations through the shaping of individual members’ lives. But this doesn’t just happen by accident or as a byproduct—God grows us as we are in a position to receive that growth. This can only happen through intentional awareness and leadership on the part of both leaders and church members. In our Transformational Discipleship project, the largest statistical study of its kind, we found that discipleship was both lacking and simple—we just needed to remind people to live out who God has made us in Christ.

3. A Greater Passion for Mission

We need to stand up against the clergification of the modern-day church—the tendency to look at those who are professional ministers and say that they are the only ones who are called to the mission, while the people in the pews are merely consumers of religious goods and services. We need to see all of God’s people engaged in God’s mission, from their respective neighborhoods all the way to the nations. We stand at a key moment, and part of the answer is to engage more of God’s people in mission.

4. Evangelism in the Age of the “Nones”

We are now increasingly facing what I have called a post-seeker context. This does not mean that seekers no longer exist. The Spirit is always at work in the hearts of people. But churches that once focused their energies and efforts toward targeting seekers are finding it more difficult to appeal to a constituency with little to no religious memory. Churches will have to find new ways to lead their people to reach out to their neighbors—not just attractional evangelism, but incarnational evangelism, as well—being, doing and telling good news where we live and work.

5. New Thinking in Developing Best Practices

God often uses tools for his ends. Think of bus ministry in the 70s or radio ministry in the 50s. That’s still true today. As believers, we can and must be good stewards of our ministry and utilize tools wisely—like multisite churches and viral church planting—and find new ways to serve those who are hurting and in need.
The sky isn’t falling for evangelicals, but we do have reason to look in the mirror. As the church continues to navigate an increasingly post-Christian culture, we have to ask ourselves if we are willing to face some tough truths and change some behaviors to reach the world with the message of the gospel. I’ve read the end of the book and I know what you know—Jesus wins.
I just want to be a part of what Jesus is doing until he returns.
Read more from Ed Stetzer »
Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham distinguished chair of church, mission and evangelism at Wheaton College and the Wheaton Grad School, where he also oversees the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism.

Why Most People Leave Religion? They Just ‘Stop Believing’

Why Most People Leave Religion? They Just ‘Stop Believing’

Friends giving piggy backs through music festival campsite
The study challenges the assumption that the unaffiliated are leaving religion because they are offended by religious institutions’ treatment of gay and lesbian people…
(RNS) It’s bad news for organized religion: A majority of the religiously unaffiliated—the so-called “nones”—say they fell away from faith not because of any negative experience, but because they “stopped believing,” usually before the age of 30.
Gloomier still for religion is this—nones now make up 25 percent of the American population, making them the single largest “faith group” in the U.S., ahead of Catholics (21 percent) and white evangelicals (16 percent).
And only a fraction—7 percent—say they are looking for a religion to belong to at all.
Those are among the more salient findings of a new study of the religiously unaffiliated conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute.
"More Young Adults are Unaffiliated than in the Past." Graphic courtesy of PRRI
“More Young Adults are Unaffiliated than in the Past.” Graphic courtesy of PRRI
The study challenges the assumption that the unaffiliated are leaving religion because they are offended by religious institutions’ treatment of gay and lesbian people or clergy sex abuse scandals, said Daniel Cox, PRRI’s research director.
“Those things matter but they are dwarfed by this central idea that people no longer believe in religious teachings,” he said.
Even the study’s title is a downer for the devoted—“Exodus: Why Americans Are Leaving Religion—and Why They Are Unlikely to Come Back.” Here are some of the central findings of the survey of 2,201 adults that was conducted in late July and early August and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
• Only 18 percent of nones say “religion is important in their lives,” and only 40 percent say they are “moderately spiritual.” The majority of the unaffiliated—53 percent—describe themselves as neither religious nor spiritual.
• Nones do not generally leave religion due to negative experiences. Sixty percent said they simply “stopped believing” in their childhood religion, while 32 percent cited their family’s lack of religious commitment. Less than a third—29 percent—said negative religious teachings about gays and lesbians was important to why they left their childhood religion, and only 19 percent cited the clergy sex-abuse crisis.
• A majority of nones still believe in God—22 percent say God is a “person,” while 37 percent see God as “an impersonal force.”
• One in five nones say a belief in God is “necessary” to morality.
But the study, released Thursday (Sept. 22), is full of interesting contradictions, too. While only one-fifth of all nones say morality is fostered by belief in God, one in three believes children should be raised in a religion to learn “good values.”
And while one third of all nones say they do not believe in God, only a fraction—13 percent—accept the label “atheist.”
“There is still stigma attached to the word ‘atheist,’” Cox said. “I think there is a disinclination to claim the label if they are nonbelievers who just don’t think about religion all that often.”
"Three Subgroups Within the Religiously Unaffiliated." Graphic courtesy of PRRI
“Three Subgroups Within the Religiously Unaffiliated.” Graphic courtesy of PRRI
The study attempts to further define nones by dividing them into three subgroups—the “Rejectionists,” the “Apatheists” and the “Unattached Believers.”
The Rejectionists are the largest group, at 58 percent of all nones, and agree that religion is “not important” in their lives and “does more harm than good.” Apatheists—22 percent—say religion is not important to them, but isn’t harmful to society, while Unattached Believers—18 percent—say religion is personally important to them.
"Reasons for Leaving Religion." Graphic courtesy of PRRI
“Reasons for Leaving Religion.” Graphic courtesy of PRRI
None of these findings surprise Elizabeth Drescher, a Santa Clara University adjunct professor. In researching her book Choosing Our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones, Drescher found the religiously unaffiliated seldom mentioned negative experience with religion.
“The way religious education and formation is set up in mainline and Catholic churches parallels high school,” she said. “Once you graduate from it, you got it. You know, don’t be a jerk, do unto others, and nones just kind of get bored with it and move on.”
But what do they move on to? Katherine Ozment is the author of Grace Without God: The Search for Meaning, Purpose and Belonging in a Secular Age and a none who simply drifted away from her childhood Presbyterianism.
“It’s not that nones don’t believe in God, it’s that they don’t believe in religious teachings,” she said. “They have detached completely from religion and are finding meaning in their jobs, in raising kids, in their communities, in nature.”
But many, she said, still want a sense of community they once found in church. She believes that’s behind the fast and recent rise of so-called “atheist churches” like Sunday Assembly and Oasis, which now have branches across the U.S. and in several countries.
“I think there are a lot of nones who miss singing in the choir, who would love to go into a building and hear a moving speech, but the minute someone starts talking about the Bible they check out,” she said. “It no longer feels applicable to them. That’s a big challenge to the church.”
Ed Stetzer, the executive director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College and an expert on evangelicals and leadership, agrees.
While evangelicals know how to appeal to nominal Christians—those who still identify as Christians but don’t practice—they do not have the same success relating to the nones, he said. “So I think ultimately there will have to be some retraining about what it means to reach secular people.”
Stetzer takes heart from the study’s finding that more than half of all nones say they believe in some concept of God.
“That’s where the entree is,” he said. “There is still an awareness that there is a God, and the Christian’s job is now to explain who that God is and what he has done for them.”
The PRRI poll, conducted in partnership with Religion News Service, was funded by the Henry Luce Foundation and the Stiefel Freethought Foundation.