Archives For Discipleship

© Graceway Media

Our students just got back from attending a conference about evangelism and the discussion that came from that from our students was extremely helpful and has shifted my thoughts on what it means to be evangelistic or to do evangelism. Our discussions seem to center around the difficult conversations we have when talking to people about God, Scripture and multiple issues. It seems that the student’s perception of evangelism is that it cannot be based on one simple, “throw-it-all-out-there” conversation but it takes multiple conversations built on a relationship.

That’s not to say the gospel cannot be offered to someone whom we have only just met but it is to say that most of the time evangelism takes time, initiative and a whole lot of prayer. This leads me to how we teach students what it means to be evangelistic. For a long period of time I taught students at Main Street that evangelism is sitting down and studying systematic doctrines so that when people assent to a knowledge of who God is and what the bible teaches then they could make a decision to follow Christ and put Christ on in baptism.

That’s sounds good except the issue I have with it is that the first century Christians did not do evangelism this way. I know you are quick to go to all of the conversion stories in the book of Acts but I want you to think about something for a minute:

When Peter, Paul and others are involved in the conversion of people what exactly is said? What is discussed? Do they use Scriptures and if so what Scriptures do they use?

I think what happened in the beginning stages of the church was that the Spirit played a role in the preaching and teaching and what happened was that a lot of people bore witness (Greek – martureo) to the works, words and life of Jesus and part of that testimony was how Jesus completely changed their own life.

 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard,which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1-3)

There was testimony from what they saw in Jesus himself but they, in turn, bore witness to that testimony with the joy (1 John 1:4) of fellowship in Christ. In other words, Christ changed their life and they shared that news everywhere (Dare we talk about the apostle Paul here?). The original disciples were not quick at sharing dogma (i.e., teaching) but at sharing life. They were vulnerable and they invested themselves in the work and ministry of local churches all around the Roman Empire. That does not mean a system of beliefs is not necessary for Christians as part of sanctification includes knowing what to believe and what to do with those beliefs.

Yet it is entirely different to approach Scripture saying, “What do I need to know?” versus having the attitude, “What does God delight in or what brings God joy?” One seeks information and the other seeks transformation. I think where we fail in evangelism is that we are more interested in making converts instead of disciples. We seek to concentrate on their eternity (which is absolutely important) but we fail to tell them what to do here in the meantime.

So I want to blog a little about evangelism and how it relates to youth ministry. I admit that I am not good at evangelism because I am not good at sharing my life with people. I recently was asked to speak at the aforementioned conference about evangelism and my response was as blunt and confessional as I could be:

 I feel like I have not been evangelistic enough and teaching about evangelism when I am not practicing it like I should sounds a bit troubling to me.

Yet, I am learning. So join me as we journey together.


I am writing this from the Denver airport as my time to fly is upon me. I will give a few highlights from Day 3.

Wednesday Morning Mike Cope “Community in Lars and the Real GirlHebrews

  • It’s a movie about church, it begins in church and ends in church.
  • Hebrews
    • Imagining a world where we are not our own.
    • Somebody who watches for you.
    • The real test for community is the worst things you have done who is up there watching you.

Wednesday Morning Keynote Scot McKnight @ScotMcKnight “Did Jesus Found the Church?”

Major Idea: The church is naughty and the kingdom is nice

–       People today love the kingdom but are embarrassed by the church

–       The kingdom has come to mean “good things Christians do in the public sector usually involved in the political process.”

  • It has nothing to do with the church…people say
  • Social Justice? Where did we get this idea of social justice? There is one idea of justice in Scripture. Justice is connected to righteousness and justification.
  • Peace…compassion…walking from Cape Town to Alexandria raising money for water.

–       Kingdom has been flattened into an ethic: peace, justice.

–       “When we flatten kingdom to an ethic we deny the gospel.”

–       We have a young group of Christians whose kingdom theory has to do with changed political processes and are neglecting the church.

  • But…doing good in a society is a good thing.
  • Being compassionate is a good thing.
  • Working for peace in our world is a good thing.
  • But we do this because we are disciples of Jesus.

–       Good work versus Kingdom work

  • Did Ghandi do kingdom work?

–       The most profound act of kingdom work is when we celebrate Eucharist on Sunday morning.

–       “You cannot be committed to kingdom unless you are committed to the church and your commitment to the church is the sum total of your commitment to the kingdom.”

–       It is far too easy giving money to Rwanda and not to local people in the church.

–       Matthew 16:13-20

  • Their options to the question were not good enough.
  • Jesus was more than a prophet.  Prophetic Christianity is not enough.
  • The answer is that Jesus is messiah.
  • 1 Samuel 8—“They want a king because they want to be like other nations.”
    • Saul collapse
    • David…
    • Eventually they realize that Jesus is the king.
  • Peter labels Jesus with the right title. When the Messiah was said all the ideas came to completion: Temple, Torah, Land, Citizens, Command, Covenant.

–       When Jesus is the Messiah kingdom will always mean more than social justice.

–       Peter had no idea what Messiah really meant.

  • Messiah –> Kingdom –> Cross –> Resurrection –> Kingdom
  • Kingdom and social justice does not mix well.

–       Jesus came to establish a whole new social order. The ekklesia….the church.

–       There is an inextricable connection between kingdom and church.

–       Church is the only place kingdom work can occur because in the church is the only place where Jesus is king.

–       Kingdom never refers to social action in Scripture.

  • We have become intoxicated with social power and justice.

–       The kingdom is more than an ethic because Jesus is more than a prophet.

–       Kingdom work is about telling people about King Jesus.  Summoning people in the church as the place where God’s redemptive work is now alive.

Wednesday Afternoon Jon Acuff @JonAcuff “Our Relationship With the Gap”

Our job is hard because…

1)   We never feel it is over…

2)   There’s no manual for most of the things you do

3)   The success rate is really low for youth ministers

4)   You run into a period of life most people run from

  1. 1 out of every 4 girl will be raped by the time they graduate

5)   We don’t get to see the end of the song.

Three things of the challenges


–       It’s so easy to compare.

–       Never compare your beginning to somebody else’s middle.

–       Always play to the size of your heart not to the size of your audience.

–       If you tie what you do to the success/failure of it you will disappoint.

–       Measure your obedience not your results

–       God will not be handcuffed by my failures or unleashed by my successes.

2)   FEAR

–       It only bothers you when you do things that matter.

–       Voices?

  • You are not a youth minister…
  • You are woman.

–       The best way to fight those is to share those. Fears fears community.

–       The higher you climb in leadership the harder it is for you to be honest.

–       “Enough” is a slippery slope

–       If you ask “fear” when you will have enough experience it will be later.

–       Fear always says, “This is forever.”

–       What to do with voices

  • Write down the voice…
  • Answer it with truth
  • Share them


–       We are not good with criticism and compliments

  • Critic’s Math – 1 Insult + 1000 Compliments = 1 Insult
  • We have the ability to lose heart with insults.
  • Are you giving power to the very people you don’t need to give it to.

Those were the extent of my notes. I did not attend an afternoon class because I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Scot McKnight and Rusty Pettus for an hour and talk theology. Scot was gracious enough to extend some time just to talk and share some coffee. He even bought my coffee which he did not have to do. Before I close this blog I want to share something I did on my way back from Denver. I visited the Century 16 Theater in Aurora where 12 people were killed by James Holmes. Tragedy. Just like praying at Columbine I wanted to reflect and pray at the theater. To the left is a picture I took while driving to the theater.

Tomorrow I hope to reflect on the week with some implications.

Great day I experienced with classes, super-sessions and keynote messages from some of the finest people in Christianity. I typed 10 pages of notes yesterday so I cannot include everything here but I want to give you some highlights that stood out to me.

Tuesday Morning, Mike Cope “Spiritual Intubation: How Community Keeps Us Alive” The Wizard of Oz: Revelation’s View of Community

  • “No church ever existed in a pure state. The church is made up of sinners. The fleas come with the dogs.” (Eugene Peterson)
  • Four characters who are known by their deficiencies. Much like Christians today.
  • Showing of who Oz really is. “The great Oz has spoken, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
  • Pergamum
    • It’s a great distance from Colorado Springs to Pergamum.
    • In Pergamum it was very, very different.
    • Everywhere people went they told two stories: the power of Rome and Greek gods and goddesses. Everywhere they went they are told that they are caught up in and how could they not believe it. It “has to be true.”  Every market, athletic event, silver item told them about temple worship.
    • Where is the Pergamum church of Christ?
      • A tiny…insignificant few.
      • Imagine holding on to the story of Jesus while walking among the temples and other places where the minority is huge.
      • Have you been the minority?
      • Power, honor, identity was wrapped up into gods and Rome not Christ.
    • Persecuted Christians get it
    • “Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw he saw no creatures so wild as one of his own commentators.” G. K. Chesteron
  • Deep Community is anchored in Jesus
  • Deep community has to be eschatological in nature.
  • Deep community is at its best when it is part of a mission…a larger story.

Tuesday Morning Keynote Kurt Johnston @kurtjohnston “Deep, Redefined”

  • Have you ever stopped and thought about all the things in youth ministry that you don’t do very well? We are great at trying to control the perceptions of other people. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great at creating perception of us.
  • Four truths I have learned that have 1) pointed out my shallowness and 2) led him into a deeper experience in faith.
    • Life is a squiggle
    • I need a travel partner
    • Busyness will keep you in the shallow end.
    • When you begin to have a long view of youth ministry

Tuesday Super Session Frank Viola @FrankViola “The Missing Ingredient”

Observations about ministry to young people:

  • Catch30 Crisis – Human beings go through developmental stages as they get old. When they are 30 they reassess every decision they made in their 20s and they either abandon what hey believed or abandon them. You don’t know where someone is spiritually until they are thirty. You could not serve in the house of God until you were 30. Jesus did not begin his ministry until he was 30. Young people need to be prepared for this.
  • There is a difference between youthful enthusiasm and spirituality. Most of the big Christian movements are built on youthful enthusiasm. The problem is that many operates on youthful enthusiasm and the well runs dry
  • You can’t pass on to those whom you minister to what you have not experienced yourself.
  • I have to prepare them for the forgotten beatitude. Blessed is he who is not offended by me.

Other Notes from class…

  • If you cut the bible in any place it will bleed Jesus Christ.
  • Moses and Christ
  • Creation and Christ
  • Isaac and Christ
  • Jacob and Christ
  • Conclusion  – #1 – Find Christ in the bible. #2 – Do business with the Lord

Tuesday Afternoon Class 1 Josh Graves @JoshGraves “The Bible Jesus Read: Genesis 1-2”

2 Timothy 3:14-17; John 5

  • We need a more mystical understanding of Scripture. But also how it calls us to new spaces.
  • “All Scripture” does not exist yet and he has in mind Torah.
  • Inspired…he does not infallible, inerrant. They never show up in the bible. Sometimes the most important work we do is not learning new things but relearning old things.
  • 2 Timothy is not about proving Scripture over science but it is about inviting people into God’s world in order to see the world differently and “to do something about it.”
  • These stories carry the freight in any given culture.

Genesis 1

  • God can’t help but to create. He is in control. The things God creates would not be believable if we have not seen them.
  • Everything else that has creativity or imagination that somehow it is all linked back to the God who started.
  • One of the ways Genesis invites us to go deeper and that we live in a good creation. Does not deny the dark side of life but he made everything and called it good.
  • Most people who tell the story of God begin with Genesis 3 and not Genesis 1.
  • We have to introduce paradox to our students. Life is full of joy and pain. Paradox is one of the greatest contribution to the Western world.

Tuesday Afternoon Class 2 Sally Gary @centerpeaceinc “Reaching out to Teens Who Identify as Gay and Lesbians”

Many who struggle with same sex attraction but still love the Lord.  Struggles do not divide us.

Starved for Intimacy. Facebook and its struggles for intimacy. Question is: How can we meet this need? This desire for community. There is a great need for this connection.

What teens learn from the world: Glee, Modern Family.

What teens learn from the church: Nasty messages about homosexuals from the church

What they need is looking for a safe place.

How to be a safe place?

Deal with our own fears.

  • Change our thinking
  • Change our language
  • Listen
  • Be consistent
  • Model the Love and Acceptance of Christ

Tuesday Night Keynote Frank Viola @FrankViola “God so loved the world vs. Love not the world.”

The world in the New Testament is used in two ways…

  1. Speaks of the material universe. Jesus of Nazareth is this world’s true Lord.
  2. A system or network or order of things designed to draw us away from God.

Historically Christians have taken two postures: 1) Retreated from the world’s system (Isolationism) 2) Enmeshed by the world and married to it.

The most miserable person is a Christian who is living in a way where deep inside them they are told to give something up and they can’t. When we are in community with other Christians the Holy Spirit is clearest.

The Holy Spirit will reveal to you what is of the world.

2 Kind of legalists: 1) Salvation by works 2) I am going to take what the Holy Spirit has shown me personally and make it a law to you.

“The gospel spreads best not through force but through fascination” (Shane Claiborne)

Dinner in Colorado Springs: Uchenna Ethiopian Restaurant

This was ranked #2 in Colorado Springs by TripAdvisor and it was awesome. I had Yebeg Alecha which was tender pieces of lamb marinated with butter then sautèed with ginger, garlic, and 12 spices. There were no forks but you had this roll that you put the meat and the sauce in. It was excellent. The owner’s name is Maya and they cooked everything to order so it took a while but the food was worth it. They have mostly organic food and a substantial vegetarian menu. I have never tried authentic Ethiopian cuisine but this was a must! Went a left the owner looked at me and said, “Go in peace.” I love her already.


I was watching Shrek 2 with my kids the other day and noticed something that sparked my attention. Shrek and his wife Fiona (both ogres) visit Fiona’s parents who are the King and Queen of the kingdom Far, Far Away (I feel like my maturity is dropping). Fiona’s parents never met Shrek and the encounter is fraught with disagreement because Shrek is an ogre and he can’t change that. Fiona and Shrek argue because Shrek feels as if Fiona is challenging who he is and who he can never be (a beautiful prince to please her “Mummy and Daddy”) and so Shrek leaves the castle. He meets Fairy Godmother and finds out she has a potion that could change his fate. The potion is called “Happily Ever After” and it is supposed to make their dreams come true. Shrek and Donkey both drink the potion and Shrek turns into a handsome person while Donkey turns into a white stallion. See video below…

The problem is that Shrek’s happily ever after is only skin-deep. He is still the same ogre and his looks are at best superficial. As it turns out, his happily ever after was right in front of his eyes the entire time. This leads me to the point…

Don’t drink the “happily Ever After” Potion…It sucks!

Seriously, how much time, money and resources have you wasted chasing dreams that in the end, do nothing but leave you brokenhearted and empty-handed? Think about every “new” thing that marketing gurus are trying to get you to buy and their gran pitch is that in some form or fashion this new “thing” will somehow make your life better. It will make your life easier. It will make your dreams come true. But you have to buy it. Insert sigh here.

Your happily ever after potion could be a relationship that you are in which has become toxic at best. Or it might even be the pursuit of a relationship which has captivated your passion and you think to yourself, “If I just have this relationship then my life will be happily ever after.” When those dreams don’t come true your life…

…to put it bluntly…


It’s not God’s fault either. You bought the potion Satan sold you and ignored the warnings God gave you and your crappy life just might be the direct result of your own folly. Why? Because anything less than glorifying God is idolatry.

In your possessions…

“Because life does not consist in the abundance of things” (Luke 12:15).

In relationships….

“Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2:22).

Life is not about a “happily ever after” it is about a “glorifying God forever.” There is no potion for that. There is no quick fix for that. And if you put your life, your worth, your energy and your passion in things that hold a temporal value then life will suck.

So don’t drink the potion.

Drink, instead, from the water which gives life and life eternal (John 4).





I talked with a friend at the YMCA this morning and he told me about this new project his church is doing. He said that discipleship has been on their minds for some time and they discovered this new effort where David Platt (wrote Radical) and Francis Chan (wrote Crazy Love and Erasing Hell) are collaborating to help churches be better disciples. It’s called Multiply Movement (

Multiply Movement

The tag line is simple:

“A simple, practical, biblical, helpful, and personal tool for disciples of Jesus who want to make disciples of Jesus.”

I think this is something that can be a game-changer for your church and just might be the help you need to get things… moving. Watch one of the videos below.

Francis Chan and David Platt talk discipleship



I have attended many youth conferences where the speaker offers an invitation at the end of a lesson. At some of the conferences the speaker is really effective and it seems a combination of life circumstances and the Spirit of God ripping people’s hearts out causes people to go forward during the invitation and confess their sin asking for prayers. Now I think this is a good opportunity but I also believe this has been abused and turned into a completely different entity than what it started out as (I may blog on the origin and nature of the invitation at some other point). After the students and adults pour forward there usually is a person who will read their responses. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this said:

“I have not been the right person God wants me to be and I just need prayers.”

I applaud their effort to go forward which takes a lot of courage but on the other side I can make the above statement any second of the day. I have not been and never will be the right person God wants me to be. That is what sanctification is for. We will never arrive and say, “I am the right person and I am done” this side of eternity. So what is really occurring in that confession is that there is something else they are struggling with that they are not willing to share. This is an issue because, in my opinion, there is this pervasive thought pattern that all one has to do is “go forward” and confess a general sin to the church and suddenly God has wiped their slate clean. The colloquial term in the tradition I minister in is that this person has been “restored.”

I think what has happened is that we are confusing confession and repentance. Confession is the declaration that we have deviated from God’s path and are incapable of earning our salvation and therefore we desire to place our complete faith and hope in God who, through the gospel and work of the Holy Spirit, will forgive us our sins (see Ps. 51:3-4; Eph. 2:1-10; 1 John 1:9). Repentance is the process in which we reorient ourselves to the good news God has offered to/for us. Peter demanded the Jews at Pentecost to turn (repenance; μετάνοια metanoia) from their old ways and be baptized (Acts 2:38). In the Old Testament the idea of repentance is represented by two verbs: שוב shuv (to return) and נחם nicham (to feel sorrow). In Amos 4 God sent all kinds of disasters to the people of God but was amazed because they did not return (shuv) to him.

What’s the point? True biblical repentance is not centered only in the act of confession. An alcoholic can confess that they are drunks every single Sunday but until they stop picking up that bottle they will never understand repentance.

I believe confession and repentance are two different animals. Confession is important but let’s not forget the dirty work of coming clean and sanctification.


Last night I had the opportunity to speak at the Old Hickory Church of Christ on the subject, “Crafting Your Personal Vision.” I made the statement that in order to find your personal vision one needs to understand what bothers them in this world. In other words, in their heart of hearts, what do they look at and think to themselves, “This needs to change”? I made the statement that isn’t it ironic that many of the things we are most passionate about hold no eternal weight when it comes to the kingdom.

Enter Alabama Crimson Tide Fans.

I have witnessed a lot of SEC fanatics and the conference has some of the craziest fans in the world. The team that takes-the-cake are Alabama Crimson Tide fans. These people are dedicated and come in masses overtaking the Facebook, Twitter and every other social networking site. It is phenomenal and somewhat impressive. It’s also somewhat comical because these fans (every school has them…BAMA just has more) have real problems differentiating between Tide football just being a game versus the meaning of life. Remember this guy?

BAMA fans I realize you are getting mad right now and probably have websites, pictures and evidence to prove me wrong. I can hear the chorus now, “Robbie, there is a reason why BAMA has 14 national championships and your team doesn’t.” I guess so. I even think it is hilarious when I go to some of the major conferences among some of the youth ministry circles I run around in. Without failure I will see more Tide paraphernalia than any other team combined. It’s hilarious. I wish I saw more VOLS stuff there but we have had little to cheer about. I digress.

My point?

Why are we not that passionate about the gospel? What would it look like to have droves of people lining up to hear, proclaim and share the good news of Jesus Christ? I look at some other settings like The Village Church, The Church at Brook Hills, Mars Hill Church and North Point Community Church and the masses are coming to hear the gospel and I wonder, “Why can’t we do that?” I am not talking about copying models or giving up core doctrines but I think it comes down to something: passion. I wish we had 1/8 the passion for the gospel that BAMA fans have for football.

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

What do you think?

You can see the first two posts here:

I had a conversation with my sister who lives in Toronto and we were talking about recycling and how, at least in the areas I have lived (Southeastern US) we have more trash and less recycling than Canada. She responded in jest, “You American consumers!” I think a lot of truth is said in jest and that is evident with the Olympic games as we watch all of the money spent on getting the games ready. I saw where the money raised and the budget used for the Olympics was in the neighborhood of over £2 billion (Source: That is $3.1 billion in U.S. currency! Not to mention all of the advertising. Consider this quote:

The 11 biggest corporate sponsors doled out nearly $1 billion for the rights to flaunt the Olympic seal during the London Games and 2010’s Winter Games in Vancouver. Coca-Cola is using social media to nudge Olympic fans to create and share music videos. General Electric is using it to coax folks to improve their health. Visa is using it to nudge fans to post elaborate cheers for the athletes. During the London Games, “we are going to see the use of social media surpass any sporting event in history,” says Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers (USA Today).

All of this to garner our attention away from the competition and towards a particular product. Then I wonder how used (consumed) athletes feel. We use them until they no longer entertain us and then we are off to the next best thing in which we can consume as entertainment. All of this makes me as the obvious question: “Do you feel a bit used yourself?” It’s like they are saying, “Take our product, use our product and we will take your money and use your money to make another product and on and on the cycle goes.”

Jesus said this: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). In other words, Jesus is saying that our lives is not made by what we consume rather our lives are made by who we are.  Watch the Olympics… by all means! Enjoy it but be cognizant of what narratives are being fed to you and understand how they relate to the overall narrative of God.

Starting June 1st I decided that I would take a break from Facebook until August 1st so that I could devote more time to the ministry, to my family and to my God. I must say that I still have not done very well at all three but not checking Facebook all the time has helped. I will make a confession that I got on Facebook a couple of times because I had to send someone a Camp Staff Packet who does not check their email. But I did not browse nor check updates or messages. Just sent a message. Whew…I feel better after that!

When I first started with my Facebooklessness there were some mental challenges, nay devilish temptations, that I had to overcome:

  • What if I missed a ministry opportunity?
  • What if I missed some important information that came on?
  • What if a door was opened on Facebook and I miss it because of this “fast”?

On and on came the temptations and pretty soon I came to the conclusion that if something were important enough to occur on Facebook two things were bound to happen:

  1. Either God was going to reveal this door to me some other way (he can do that you know?) or,
  2. God was going to put someone else there instead of me to help that situation.

Either way I felt as if God was in control and that he either uses me or does not use me but either way he gets the glory.

As I am halfway through my journey I wanted to give you some lessons I have learned (am learning) about my facebooklessness:

  1. You don’t know how dependent you can be on something until it is taken away from you. Learning to do without is a lot harder and takes more self-control than having it all.
  2. I never realized how much Facebook was about gossip. In the conversations I have had with people I noticed there is the “Did you see what they had on Facebook?” It has been a real joy to be able to say, “No.”
  3. The world still goes on without my participation. I used to think I had to contribute to Facebook so that people who are (supposedly) interested in me could stay aware of my whereabouts, studies, pictures, etc. The fact is that out of my 1000+ friends only 10-15% probably look at my statuses. Score a 10-15% on a test and the teacher might consider you completely useless.
  4. I am not tempted as much. Please don’t read into this much but I am a male and part of my struggle is the opposite sex. Most guys appreciate the female anatomy and most (if they are honest) struggle when women wear revealing clothes or, as is the case with Facebook, little-to-no clothes. I don’t have to look at girls (sisters-in-Christ?) and their proud pictures of bikini’s as they pop-up on my news feed. I don’t have to get frustrated by that because I don’t see it at all.  It has been a blessing.
  5. Time has been diverted to what’s most important. I will say that I have spent hours more this month than last month with my kids. Why? Simple…time. I don’t look at my phone for updates, or messages or anything because it does not matter.

Facebook is not intrinsically evil but like many things can be used for both good and bad. Fasting may not be for you but I have really grown from it. I look forward to another Facebookless month. Try it.

I take a pause from the DOR series to ask a few questions I hope some of my youth ministry friends can answer. All of it stems around the idea of discipline. Quickly, hopefully even a cursory reading of Scripture leads you to a conclusion that from the standpoint of discipline, God is for it. Consider this brief example (one could make an argument that most of the prophetic literature is about God’s discipline of his people for their wayward idolatry):

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject tothe Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7-11).

Now I wonder about our youth ministry programs. According to the Hebrew author the discipline is not to punish us but to restore us. It is for our good. He says that all have participated in discipline and thus it is a universal human experience (think parenting, think self-discipline, on and on). So how does this play out in our youth ministries? I dare say that most of us want to shy away from this subject as if it is a nasty bit of cancer. We, as youth ministers, have to put up with a lot and sometimes we are quick to please people. I am guilty of this myself. Sometimes we become afraid of certain parents (someone who is in leadership) and we refuse to discipline their children for fear of what they might say.

As a parent my goal is to make sure my children 1) Have fun, 2) are respectful, 3) they change the world and last and most importantly they, 4) glorify God. Anything less than that is unacceptable. I had a conversation years ago with a parent one time and they became concerned that I was thinking about not letting their child attend youth activities because of their persistent disruptive behavior (months). The parent thought what I was doing was not a good idea because we should “never refuse a child from attending an activity.”

So here you go?

  • What types of policies do you have about discipline in your ministry?
  • Is it right to refuse a youth group student to attend an activity based on certain patterns of behavior?
  • How do you typically address this with parents? I.e., what are your methods of communication?
  • How do you address a student who is doing things you see on Facebook (or other social networking sites) that is not God-honoring but there seems to be no issue with the parents or students and your repeated attempts of help are either refused or ignored?