Gotta plug these guys!


Hey Everyone,

If you are looking for an awesome group to come and work with your teens to do teambuilding and leadership training, then look no further. Check these guys out, they might be the best I've seen: Challengepoint. Hey Jason, can we put a link to these guys up on the forum page? Thanks brother! God bless you guys as you work to encourage and strengthen the kingdom.



Hey Everyone!

I would like to request your prayers for Ed Merkel. Ed is a youth minister in California and is dealing with some adversity, please pray that the Father will continue to watch over him, guide his steps, and that he does not lose his fervor for serving the Lord. God bless!

Something to Chew On...


Taken from the National Study of Youth and Religion web page:

Mothers and fathers in religiously involved U.S. families with early adolescents, those ages 12 to 14, are more likely to have significantly stronger relationships than families that are not religiously active. These findings were released by sociologists with the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR), based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in the report Family Religious Involvement and the Quality of Parental Relationships for Families With Early Adolescents.

Youth with both a mother figure and a father figure living in the household were asked questions about the relationship between their parents such as whether their mothers and fathers express love for each other, compromise with each other, insult each other, and other indicators of the quality of the parental relationship. The responses to these questions indicate that family religious involvement is strongly associated with the quality of the relationship between the mothers and fathers of the youth respondents.

According to Christian Smith, principal investigator of the National Study of Youth and Religion, "This report examines associations between three dimensions of family religious involvement and the quality of the relationship between teens' mothers and fathers. All 12 of the family relationship variables examined for this report were significantly related to some dimension of family religious involvement, after controlling for the possible effects of eight control variables." The report is available for free download as a PDF at

Smith is Stuart Chapin Distinguished Professor and associate chair of sociology at UNC-CH. He co-authored the report with Phillip Kim, a Ph.D. graduate student in sociology at UNC-CH. The three measures of family religious involvement examined were the number of days per week the family does something religious, parental worship service attendance and parental prayer. The report uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1997).

The National Study of Youth and Religion is a four-year research project funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. It began in August 2001 and will continue until August 2005. The purpose of the project is to research the shape and influence of religion and spirituality in the lives of American adolescents; to identify effective practices in the religious, moral and social formation of the lives of youth; to describe the extent to which youth participate in and benefit from the programs and opportunities that religious communities are offering to their youth; and to foster an informed national discussion about the influence of religion in youth's lives to encourage sustained reflection about and rethinking of our cultural and institutional practices with regard to youth and religion.

The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1997) is a nationally representative survey documenting the transition from school to work of youth living in the United States who were between 12 and 16 years old as of Dec. 31, 1996. The analyses for this report focused on early adolescents, ages 12 to 14 years old. Reports of religious behavior are based on the parent surveys, where the questions were asked: "In a typical week, how many days from 0 to 7 do you do something religious as a family such as go to church, pray or read the scriptures together?" "In the past 12 months, how often have you attended a worship service (like church or synagogue service or mass)?" and "I pray more than once a day" (True/False). Reports about parental relationships are based on the youth surveys.


Preliminary Research Findings taken from the National Study of Youth and Religion

-Sociologists Find Stronger Relationships Between Mothers and Fathers In Religiously Active Families
-Parental Religious Devotion Protects Against Major Delinquency
-Parents in Religious Families with Teens More Likely to Express Affection or Love to Each Other
-Religious 12th Graders More Likely to Have Positive Self-Attitudes
-Sociologists Find that Religious Teens Are More Positive About Life
-Significant numbers of religiously active teenagers are involved in serious risk behaviors involving alcohol and drugs.
-Religious 12th Graders Are More Likely to Exercise
-Religious Youth Are More Likely to Have Positive Relationships with Their Fathers
-Religious 12th Graders More Likely to Be Glad to Be Alive
-Correlation Found Between Religion and Community Service

Welcome Again...


I wanted to take the time to welcome our newest member, Mark Rodriguez. Mark is personal friend of mine, and a great asset to our youth ministry network.

Welcome to the Forum brother!






First let me welcome the newest member of our team, Jovan Barrington, Jovan, I am looking forward to reading your insight here, and hope that what you find here may be of encouragement as well.

Also, for the rest of the guys that have signed up here, thank you for what you do for the Kingdom, and for teens and families. I appreciate it, and I know that those you serve do as well.

If you have friends that might benefit from being a part of this blog, let's invite them to participate in our discussions. Any takers?

The Brain and Video Games


Carson Reed had an interesting post about violent video games and the brain. If you are in youth ministry or have teenagers that play video games, especially the violent ones, you have to check this out.

"More from the Economist:Video Game Violence
In the study mentioned in yesterday's blog more interesting things emerge. Functional brain-imaging challenges another aspect of American culture. I think that I will simply quote the article without comment:

"Dr. Mathiak enlisted 13 gamers who played video games for, on average, 20 hours a week. While the gamers stalked and shot the enemy from the relative discomfort of a scanner's interior, the reserachers recorded events in their brains.

As a player approached a violent encounter, part his brain called the anterior cingulate cortex became active. This area is associated with aggression in less fictional scenarios, and also with the subsequent suppression of more positive emotions, such as empathy. Dr Mathiak noted that the responses in his gamers were thus strikingly similar to the neural correlates of real aggression. As he puts it, 'Contrary to what the industry says, it appears to be more than just a game.'"

Wow! I don't know about you, but I have noticed in kids who are the heaviest gamers a lack of empathy. For many of these guys they are spending hours at home each week living in a false reality, escaping the real world, isolating themselves from family and friends, and even God.

How do we as youth ministers combat this? Do we tell our kids they can't play video games? I don't think this will keep kids from playing games. I have tried to have Friday Night Game Nights here at church where my guys will bring the X-Boxs' and Halo, and we play games for a few hours. There have been some really positive things come out of this, namely, a few of our inactive guys have started coming to other youth group funcitions, as well as worship, and one young man has even given his life to Christ, not as a direct result of the Game Nights, but I hope by the Christ he saw modeled in me, and the other boys. On the flip side there have been some negative things from these game nights. Well, my guys just seem more aggressive, from what the results of the above study are showing, my guys aggressive behavior could be related to thier gaming? Hmm, maybe I need to re-think our game nights?

Let me know what you think about this study, and what we as youth ministers can do to help our teens.

Spiritual Proctology...


Last weekend I was in Tulsa for a Group Magazine Youth Ministry training workshop. It was a great day of education, fellowship and fun. One of the activities that I was priveleged to be a part of was diagnosing some of our struggles as youth ministers we face with volunteers or parents and we overcome those obstacles. One of the issues we identified were some who were at times, anal retentive. Our diagnosis of this issue was for this person or persons to see the spiritual proctology for thier spiritual dingle-berries aka - hang-ups. Okay, I know the image is a little graphic, but I think you get the hint. All of us in ministry will deal with difficult people. How we respond to those who are upset at us, or just annoying is important. Think of the harm that is done when ministers let themselves get angry and let someone have it, when they could have offered to pray with so and so, instead of blasting them verbally. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that we can't get angry, just how we respond in intense moments is important. I think how we respond in these moments says something about our integrity as men of God. Differences of opinion, and conflict aren't bad things, we should always try to leave a conflicted situation having done all we can to promote reconciliation and building others up.

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