Thursday, February 28, 2008

    IDEAS FOR LENT #5: Spiritual Practices

    Still looking for Lenten resources? Look no further than this great FREE resource on spiritual practices for youth offered at the Way to Live website. A companion to the text Way to Live:Christian Practices for Teens, this guide offers a host of ideas for engaging youth in spiritual practices related to prayer, creation, the body, creativity, friends, forgiveness, justice, and music, to name a few. Each section provides focus activities, Bible study, ideas for engaging the practices in daily life and resources for worship and further study.
    Check out our previous ideas for Lent: #1, #2, #3, #4.

    I SURRENDER?

    The prayer below originates with Charles de Foucauld, a French aristocrat who eventually gave over his life to to serving the poor and founding the religious order The Little Brothers of Jesus. The prayer is called the Prayer of Abandonment. I have to admit that I still struggle with the notion of "giving it all to God." The idea or relinquishing control over my life flies in the face of everything taught me by our self-sufficient/ self-made man/capitalist culture. But in recent weeks, as I've engaged in a group study of the text The Last Week: A Day-by-Day Account of Jesus' Final Week in Jerusalem, I've been reminded of the central theme of Mark's gospel: the way of Christ is the way of faithfulness to the end, even unto death. Though we do not face the sort of death for our faith that folks did in Mark's day, we are called to other kinds of death: death to our own sense of self-sufficiency, death to self-centeredness, leading to the realization that we do need something beyond ourselves. When I find myself embracing this notion, the truth always washes over me that surrender doesn't bring confinement but freedom. If only we could teach this to our youth. Teach them that their faith is not just one more thing on a list of activities or distractions but it is rather the ultimate thing, the ultimate path, the ultimate way, to which they can give themselves over fully. And it is in this giving or surrendering that we find our true identity as God's beloved.
    --Brian

    Father, I abandon myself
    into your hands;
    do with me what you will.
    Whatever you may do,
    I thank you.
    I am ready for all,
    I accept all.
    Let only your will be done in me
    and in all your creatures.
    I wish no more than this, O Lord.
    Into your hands
    I commend my soul;
    I offer it to you,
    with all the love of my heart,
    for I love you, Lord,
    and so need to give myself,
    to surrender myself into your hands,
    without reserve, and with boundless
    confidence,
    for you are my Father.

    Monday, February 25, 2008

    COOL IDEA: Elements of A Great Retreat


    The youth ministry blog "Confessions of a Human Being" offers up a series of posts with some excellent tips for leading a retreat with your youth. Here's one I particularly like:

    Ban Personal Electronics - The two major factors of most every retreat are building community and getting away from the hustle and bustle of life. Anything that requires headphones will automatically cut a person off from the group, and cell phones, PDA’s, etc. being present are not getting people away from life’s bustle. Do not allow students to bring anything that falls under this category, or you will be fighting an uphill battle the entire trip.

    Read more here.

    --Brian

    VIDEO: Letter from God

    JENGA PRAYERS

    Here is an interactive worship idea inspired by one of Jonny Baker's worship tricks. Pass out markers and wooden Jenga-style blocks to each person. Invite them to write words or symbols on the block describing the gifts and talents that they offer to the youth group/church/ministry. As a unique way of giving an offering during worship, invite each participant to share what is written on their block and then place it in the center of the group. Each block should be layed in such a way that as people share they are also building a tower with the blocks. The result is a visual representation of the way all of our gifts for ministry work together as one. At the end of the worship, invite each person to take one block from the tower, Jenga game style, and keep as a memory of the experience. Variation: You could also use this activity as a way to share prayer concerns. Each particpant writes words or thoughts to offer for prayer and the tower then becomes a tower of collective joys and concerns of the group. See yet another creative Jenga Prayer idea here (pdf file).

    Thursday, February 21, 2008

    What Should We Do?



    Did you hear about this? Probably not:


    "Two days before a shotgun-wielding Steven Kazmierczak shot 21 students inside a lecture hall on the campus of Northern Illinois University, taking the lives of five people as well as his own, 15-year-old Lawrence "Larry" King was shot in the head at the E.O. Green School in Oxnard, California, reportedly for being gay. He was in the eighth grade.


    Three days after the shooting, on February 15, King was taken off life support and pronounced dead. King's killer, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney, apparently targeted the student because he was openly gay and sometimes dressed in women's clothes. King also wore makeup and jewelry to class on occasion. It's possible that McInerney, who has been charged with murder and the commission of a hate crime, will be tried as an adult, which means he could face 50 years to life in prison if convicted.


    King's death came 10 years after the brutal murder of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was also killed because of his sexual orientation. But for some reason, King's murder generated just a fraction of the media coverage that follows most school-shooting incidents. In fact, most of the initial reports about the killing were turned out by local news agencies, and the national media didn't catch up until several days later. "


    More here and here.

    Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    IDEAS FOR LENT #4: Who Am I?

    Eden, a great youth ministry colleague of mine for many years, offers up this suggestion for Lent which creatively combines an activity from our archives with another of our previous ideas for Lent. After exploring with your group the story of Jesus' wanderings in the wilderness where he encounters the Tempter and struggles to discern his true identity and his call from God, ask: "What did Jesus lose or give up by going out into the wilderness alone? What did he gain?"
    Next, invite youth to try a mini-version of Jesus' soul-searching retreat. Provide each teen with a sheet of paper which says "Who Am I?" at the top. Down the side of the page the unfinished phrase "I am____________" should be written 8 or 10 times. Invite the youth to take some meditative time to fill in the blanks with words, phrases, ideas that describe their identity. You could just let the group go at this independently, or try a guided meditation such as "Use the first blank to describe yourself physically. In the next blank, describe yourself emotionally. Now describe one of your gifts or talents. Next, describe yourself spiritually. Next, share how you see your identity in the church. Next, describe how you see your future. Next, describe how you see yourself called by God in ministry" and so on. The beauty of this activity is that the repetition encourages the youth to think more deeply and more thoughtfully. Take time at the end of the activity to invite willing participants to share their "Who Am I?" poems and discuss how God knows our identities intimately and God calls us, as unique persons, into mission in the world.
    Check out our previous Ideas for Lent: #1, #2, #3

    Monday, February 18, 2008

    Talking Youth Ministry : A Profile of Youth Ministry Blogger Jeremy Zach

    This post begins a series of interviews with fellow youth ministry bloggers who are themselves rethinking the ways in which we approach ministry with youth in the Church.


    Jeremy Zach is the youth pastor at an Evangelical Church in Laguna Beach, CA and authors the blog Crazy Contemplations where he regularly posts essays on youth ministry, book and film reviews, and theological discussions on ministry and culture. Jeremy describes his blog as a "collection of crazy ideas and thoughts that are somehow related to youth ministry. It is my goal to mess with the 'standard and traditional' paradigm of how to do youth ministry. I want to confront the methodologies, theologies, and philosophies to why we are doing youth ministry the way we have been doing it." We regulary read Jeremy's blog and interviewed him via the magic of the "internets":

    Share with us about the journey that led you to youth ministry.

    To be honest, I never thought I would be doing what I am doing today. If someone would have told me, 10 years ago, and explained to me that I would be a youth pastor-- I would have said some pretty non-Christian things as my response back to that person. I thought I was “destined” to be a pilot, with my hair on fire and with a motorcycle. How ever I tried and tried to make this dream come true, I was only left feeling more clueless to what I was supposed to do. I am not big into dates, but I am big with the date where God literally spoke to me about my youth call.

    It was April 22nd, 2002 and I just perfectly landed and parked the Cessna 152 ( a small single prop engine plane). I got in my car and was driving home. I was about half way from my place and I just started bawling. I did not know why, but I felt this sense of relief. Right then and there I had this thought/vision/idea of me being a youth pastor. I was like "no………. I used to make fun of those guys and gals! I am not wired to do that. Me a pastor….look at me?" Meanwhile, I was working with the High School ministry at my church because I just love working with students so me being a “Youth Pastor” was not such a foreign idea. So that night I went home and stayed up all night and just prayed. I was like: Lord, is this me or is this you? I knew the hardest part about accepting this call was communicating with my dad. My dad was a pilot and was a mechanic at Northwest Airlines. My first word was "airplane.

    The next day my dad just randomly stopped by my place. It was weird; my dad would not typically just stop by like that. Immediately, I said: “Dad, I need to tell you something. I am not going to be a pilot, but a pastor.” My dad intensively looked at me with no reaction at all. Then he smiled while saying: “When you were first born, I prayed that God could do whatever He wanted with you and I would be fine with whatever He wanted. So I guess this means He wants you to be a youth pastor.” Right then and there, I was convinced. I was done. I was signed, sealed, and delivered—I was getting called to the pastorate. I had no idea what that meant or what that was going to look like, but I turned in my pilot wings and basically started living at the church. I wanted to learn, volunteer, teach, lead small groups, clean bathrooms, and learn the ropes of church.

    Well five years later here I am. I am at a great church in Laguna Beach. My life call is to students. My call is to be an influencing agent to the youth culture in Southern California. I want mid-to-late adolescents to know, trust, love, and experience Jesus and His Kingdom values. Sometimes I leave youth group banging my head against my steering wheel yelling: why am I doing this? But, I always need to remember this is what God has called me to do and this is why I am wired the way I am---crazy, wild, random, weird, passionate, determined, even more weird and random, and all over the place.


    What are the greatest challenges you personally see today in relation to the Church and youth?

    I see two challenges that are interconnected: 1) Student abandonment and 2) students not feeling part of the “Big” church service. Chap Clark alludes to this in his book Hurt:

    By the time adolescents enter high school, nearly everyone has been subjected to a decade or more of adult-driven and adult-controlled programs, systems, and institutions that are primarily concerned with adults' agendas, needs, and dreams(46).

    Even the church tries to bring young people from a wide variety of schools and clusters into what they call fellowship. These and countless other programmatic assumptions may have a noble intent, and in some cases may even appear to the adults in charge to be somewhat workable, but they do not take the changing youth culture and relational shift seriously. As a result, young people are once again offered up on the altar of an adult agenda at the cost of their personal sense of safety (86).

    Youth ministers needs to do everything in their power to join forces with the Holy Spirit to intentionally respond to the issue of student abandonment. Youth ministry does that by surrounding students with adults--preferably 5 adults to 1 student. Historically youth groups have been another extension of church. Youth ministry has separated [itself] from the entire church body functioning as their own mini-cool-student church . . . . [Y]outh ministry's goal should be to intentionally assimilate students into the church body and to surround these mid to late adolescents with as many adults as possible. The goal of the church is to make their adolescents disciples who are authentically walking with Jesus Christ within the context of the church community. This is why it is imperative that the youth ministry department exists to encourage, equip, and invite the entire body of Christ to come along side to assimilate students into the church community.


    What change(s) would you like to see in youth ministry in the next decade?

    I would love to see a youth ministry that is both missionally and family-driven. A missional youth ministry is outward and others-focused, with the goal of expressing and sharing the love of Jesus. Students realize that they are missionaries’ everyday of their life. God is working in all of their life, and because of that they seek to work in all of life with Him. Youth group is so much more than games, Bible studies, pizza, and twister. A youth ministry that is missionally driven takes Church outside of the walls of church. The missional focus reduces programs and elevates deep relationships with people of all generations.

    A youth ministry that is "family friendly" means that the youth ministry department is parenting with the parents. A family-based youth ministry recognizes the great reality of the parental influence. Kids need to be close to their family and are in need of familial relationships. Parents must see the youth ministry as [in] partnership with themselves, not replacements or superheros!

    What advice would you offer to those who are just starting their careers in youth ministry?

    Expect failure—problems and conflict are going to happen. You will fail. But when you fail, fall forward. Youth ministry is a road of success and failures. Do not get discouraged by failure, but be encouraged. Every youth talk or every youth group [gathering] is not going to be smooth and perfect. Simply prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

    Trust the Holy Spirit—Doing youth ministry essentially means you will be in the fast lane—24/7. Take some intentional time for you to be with God in prayer. Take silent retreats. Pray for and with your leaders. Let the Holy Spirit lead your ministry. Such a easy thing to do, but a hard thing to remember—let the Holy Spirit be your guide.

    Listen—Listen to everyone and anyone-especially the parents who you do not like and the parents who do not like you. Listen to your students. And when you are listening do not state your opinion until you have earned their trust. It is amazing how far listening will take you. Simply shut your mouth and listen!

    Learn—be a student. Read anything and everything. Read things that will stretch you, but yet comfort you. Take some seminary classes. Watch and observe your senior pastor. Create a youth pastor’s network in your area so you can learn from other youth pastors in the same geographical region. Learning is exciting. Consider learning a new adventure. A leader is a learner.

    Think Big—Dream and envision big for your student ministry. The sky is not the limit, heaven is. If there is a will, there is a win. Think positively. Have courage. Construct and develop a step-by-step action [plan] on how your vision can be achieved. When dreaming, think of the needs (both real and felt) of the students and the resources your church offers. Ministering for the Kingdom is a privilege, so maximize and capitalize on every opportunity.

    Friday, February 15, 2008

    Pocket Scavenger Hunt

    Here's a quick activity perfect for anytime the weather or time of day does not allow an outdoor scavenger hunt. Divide the youth into small teams and one-at-a-time read off a list of things they might have "on their person." The first group to present the object to you gets the point. Items can be simple things but make it more challenging by giving clues for the youth to figure out such as:


    • Something with teeth, but not a person (e.g. a comb)
    • A facsimile of someone in your group (e.g. a photo from a wallet)
    • A dead president (e.g. coin or bill)
    • An electronic image (e.g. a photo on a cellphone)
    • Magnifiers (e.g. glasses)
    • Something sticky or chewy
    • Something striped
    • Something with a hole in it
    • An item that gives you permission to do something. (e.g. driver's license)
    • The voice of a friend or loved one not in this room (e.g. recorded message on a cellphone)

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    Hardcore Youth Ministry

    Check out this deceptively simple post by Alaina at the Passionately Pensive blog. She describes a powerful youth group gathering that has nothing to do with loud Christian music, wacky games, engaging youth pastor talks, or piles of pizza. Just a quiet afternoon with hot chocolate, a few friends, scripture, candles, and some silence. This is truly hardcore youth ministry at it's best.

    To read a little more of what Alaina has to share about using contemplative practices in Christian education, go here.

    Monday, February 11, 2008

    Community Builder: The Parent Trap

    Involving parents directly in youth ministry activities can often be a challenge--either they don't feel comfortable hanging out with the youth or the teens aren't comfortable with their parents "invading" their sanctum sanctorum. But once in a while, it's a good idea to bring both groups together to create some community, to allow parents to connect with one another, and provide an opportunity for families to do some bonding in a church setting. We spend so much time taking their kids away from them -- off on trips, retreats, lock-ins, etc. -- that it's only fair to ocassionally bring them together! One way to do this is with a "Parent Trap" event in which parents and youth are challenged to discover how much they know about each other (in the style of the the old "Newlyweds" tv game show). Separate parents and youth and have them each write down their answers to a series of personal questions. The lists for parents and youth will be a little different. For example:
    Parents:
    • Where did you go to high school?
    • What was the first car you ever owned?
    • Name one TV show that was popular when you were young.
    • Name one of your favorite foods.
    • If you were alone on a desert island, what kind of reading material would you want to have with you?
    Youth:
    • What is one of your favorite movies?
    • Name a musical group/singer you really like?
    • What is your favorite/worst subject in school?
    • Who is your favorite teacher?
    • What is your favorite place to get fast food?
    Once answers are written down, bring everyone back together and team up the parents and youth. Go through each question for the parents, first challenging youth to see if they can guess their parents' answers. Next, go through the questions for the students, seeing how many correct answers the parents can guess about their own kids. Prizes for winning teams could include passes for the family to go to the movies together or a board game to enjoy together at home. And, of course, you can adapt this event to fit your particular make-up of families. Rather than just telling youth to bring a parent(s) to the event, suggest they could also pick a grandparent, aunt, uncle, coach, or other significant adult in their lives.

    MAX: A Film About High School

    Friday, February 08, 2008

    Joel Osteen and Authenticity in Youth Ministry


    Anyone catch the recent 60 Minutes interview with Joel Osteen? I've said before that I think he is sincere in his efforts but it would probably be better if he would just drop the pretense of being a pastor and give into his wish to be a full-fledged self-help guru. He admits that he has no formal theological education and doesn't feel really qualified to interpet the Bible for others. So he sticks to a simple brand of Christianity that conveniently sidesteps mention of sin and redemption.

    Now, I'm no fire-and-brimstone kind of guy, but I do think that the reality of the human condition is that we fall short of what we were created to be and the gospel message is that God loves us in spite of these shortcomings and calls us to a new way of life. But that message doesn't play too well to the masses. So Osteen tends to make life look big and shiny and tidy on his tv broadcast. And no where is this more obvious than in his perfectly delivered sermons (this guy can really preach!). This is why I found it so interesting in the 60 Minutes interview when he revealed that he spends Wednesday through Sunday of every week crafting and memorizing his sermons for the tv taping (what pastor do you know who can give that much time to a sermon?). And even with all that prep, he still makes mistakes in his speaking. But, through the magic of TV, they edit together his identical sermons from the first and second service into a seamless, polished, and perfect sermon that . . . never actually happened (see the "Making it Right" video clip here). All of which gives gives the impression of a polished, smiling, perfect preacher who is the living embodiment of a polished, smiling, perfect brand of the prosperity gospel.

    I've written before about my concern for the need to be authentic with youth. They need to know that those who lead the church are just as fallible as they are, just as prone to sin, just as in need of someone to point the way. Kids don't need a polished, smiling, perfect youth minister. They need a fellow "sinner" who makes mistakes, too, and will walk with them as a companion in all the messiness that is life.

    --Brian

    IDEAS FOR LENT #3: Youth Bible Study

    This is a bible study I intend to use with my group this Sunday. Lent is perhaps one of the least understood times of the Christian calendar, yet with its emphasis on introspection, spiritual journeying, and repentance, I think it is a season tailor-made for tapping into the adolescent search for identity.




    Focus: Lent is a time to look inward to seek how we might more fully accept God’s love and peace and grace in our lives.
    Objectives:

    • Youth will take part in a game to review basic facts about the season of Lent.
    • Youth will create masks as a way to reflect on our inward sin.
    • Youth will discuss the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.
    • Youth will participate in a worship experience to consider their own journey of Lent.
    Materials needed: Bibles, copy of questions for opening activity, undecorated paper mache masks, glue, magazines, markers, note cards, pens.
    1) Opening Activity: (10 minutes) Play “One Step Forward, One Step Back.” Line group across the middle of the room and ask the questions below. Those who get the answer right, take one step forward. Those who get the question wrong take one step back. The “winner” (and aren’t we ALL winners?) is the first one to cross the finish line where you are standing. What do they win? Hmmm? How about something purple?


    • The official (liturgical) color of Lent is red. True of False? (False. It’s purple – representing royalty and repentance.)

    • Lent lasts for 40 days, not counting Sundays. True or False? (True.)

    • The word Lent comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning “midwinter.” (False. It translates “springtime” since that is the time of year the season generally falls.)

    • The 40 days of Lent are a reminder of the Bible story in which Jesus spends 40 days alone in the wilderness and is tempted by the Devil. True or False? (True. It also recalls the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness.)

    • Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, when people often have the sign of the cross made of ashes placed on their foreheads. Most often, these ashes are made by burning palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service. True or False? (True.)

    • The ash is supposed to represent the story in which Jesus places dirt or ash on a blind man’s eyes to make him see again. True or False? (False. The ashes represent humility and our own mortality – from dust we came and to dust we shall return.)

    • Many people give up something during Lent. The point of this practice is to show your willpower. True or False? (False. It is a practice of self-denial that allows room in your life for God to do something new.)

    • Fasting is a common practice in Lent but the one day people don’t fast during Lent is Sundays. True or False? (True. People traditionally do not fast on Sundays as Sundays are to be reminders or a foretaste of the coming resurrection.)

    • The phrase “Glory to God” is traditionally never spoken during Lent and does not make its return until Easter morning. True or False. (False. “Alleluia” is the what many churches abstain from saying in worship during Lent.)

    • The last week of Lent is known as “Holy Week.” True or False? (True.)

    • On Maundy Thursday, the last Thursday in Lent, we recall the last night and meal that Jesus shares with his disciples. True or False? (True.)
    2) Digging In: (25 minutes) People often wear masks during the Mardi Gras activities that come just before Lent. Masks symbolize the way we often try to hide our sinfulness or our true nature. Lent is a time of taking off our masks, of examining our true selves, of being real before God so that we can come to understand that God knows us fully, forgives us, loves us, and encourages us to grow and become all we were created to be. Within this context, give youth an unfinished paper mache mask (available in craft stores)(UPDATE: I couldn't find those masks so I used the smaller half masks that just cover the eyes and they worked great). Ask them to decorate the outside of the mask with words, images, and colors that represent how others see them – their “outside” self. On the inside of the mask, encourage them to display their “inside” self – their fears, their doubts, their shortcomings. When finish, invite responses from youth about the experience of creating these masks.

    3) Going Deeper: (20 minutes) Invite youth to read the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4: 1-11). Ask one or more persons to read the narration, another to read the words of Jesus, and one or more to read the words of the Tempter. Help the group to explore this story where Jesus goes off on his own to do some soul-searching and , in a sense, confront his own demons. The journey Jesus takes into the desert -- the journey to be alone with God and to seek God’s guidance about our true identity -- is the journey we are all invited to focus on during Lent.

    ASK:
    • What do you think Jesus might have had to give up to go out in the wilderness by himself?

    • The things the Tempter offers him are not intrinsically bad: food in a time of hunger, political power in a time of Roman oppression, a leap of faith. So why do you think Jesus resists these temptations?

    • What memories do you have of times you faced choices that at the time seemed like good ideas but were ultimately led you in an unhealthy or unfaithful direction?

    • Share what you do when you want time alone to think/pray/reflect. Where do you go? What do you do?

    • What might be the benefit of spending time in Lent examining your life, considering your sins, thinking about what God wants for you?
    4) Reaching Out: (20 minutes) For this time of worship, go to a quiet space and show a slide or video presentation of "40" which consists of 40 sequential images representing Jesus’ time in the wilderness (You can find this resource here.). Most interestingly, these wordless images portray the Tempter as a mirror image of Jesus – in a sense representing a wrestling with his inner self.



    Ask youth to reflect on how Jesus gives up much to go out in the wilderness to move closer to the heart of God. What do they make of the artist's interpretation of the Tempter? Distribute note cards and ask participants to draw a line down the center. Invite them to echo Jesus’ journey by writing on one side of the card something they will consider "giving up" during Lent (food, TV, internet, etc.) and on the other side something new they would like to take on during Lent that might help them connect more deeply with the experience of God in their daily lives (prayer, random acts of kindness, helping their parents, going to worship, reading the Bible, exercise, etc). Encourage youth to keep these note cards and place them somewhere that they will see them daily in the coming weeks of Lent.

    Finally, invite the group to gather in a circle and place their completed masks in the center as an offering to God of both their inner and outer selves. Conclude together with a prayer of confession and assurance of pardon.

    SEE ALSO: Ideas for Lent #1 and Ideas for Lent #2
    --Brian

    Wednesday, February 06, 2008

    Luther Rethinks Youth Ministry?

    Who would've thought that good ol' Martin Luther might have something to say about the need to "rethink" youth ministry. Check it out here and see what you think. Too bad we can't ask him to be a guest blogger.

    Boy Geeks vs. Girl Geeks


    Is Hollywood biased toward boy geeks? It seems so lately. Read the lowdown here.

    Friday, February 01, 2008

    Self-Serve Youth Ministry Link Dispenser


    Wish We'd Thought of That: Scott Russ, On the Scooter 4.0 blog, features a hilarious video made by his youth group that simultaneously promotes their 30 Hour Famine event and pokes fun at their senior pastor. Would that all senior pastors had such sense of humor!

    I LUV LOCK-INS! Do you really? Nigel at the Relational Youth Ministry blog invites you to weigh in on this most important topic in youth ministry.

    The End of Mission Trips? We are always fans of anyone who strives to do some rethinking when it comes to youth ministry. That is just what Matt Cleaver has been doing lately as he thoughtfully rethinks the whole of idea of youth mission trips here and here.

    Jr. Highers are Cool! That seems to be the the sentiment of our blogger friend Jeremy Zach in this post where he reminds us just what is so great about working with middle school youth.

    The Future of Youth Ministry: Grahame at the Insight blog continues his thoughs on the future of youth ministry with a look at the question: "Isn't one of the marks of a deepening faith, a servant heart?"

    Fun & GAMES:
    The Reaching New Heights blog initiates us into the future of youth ministry games with two hilarious videos from Japanese TV.

    What Do We Do Now?
    Tim links to a free full-year curriculum put out by World Vision that focuses on student advocacy in the area of AIDS, poverty and justice.

    The Marriage Problem:
    With all the talk on our blog recently about sexuality, it seems an equally important topic is marriage -- something most adults don't understand, let alone our youth. UCC seminarian Tom offers up some thoughtful comments on the wild and wacky history of marriage.