What is Worship?


What worship is to others, is it is an ongoing process in our faith
journeys. It isn't something we arrive at. It is a reflection of who we
are. To worship is to love and adore something through all our actions and
everything. So if we are worshipping God, it should be seen outside the
four walls we meet in on Sunday AM. AGREED....

I like the following illustration from the Unquenchable Worshipper by Matt
Redman. pg. 74

"The year is 1744. Hymn writer Charles Wesley is in Leeds, England, holding
a prayer meeting in an upstairs room. Suddenly there is a creak in the
floorboards, followed by a massive crack, and the whole floor collapses.
All 100 people crashed right through the ceiling into the room below. The
place is in chaos - some are screaming, some are crying, some just sit in
shock. But as the dust settles, Wesley, wounded and lying in a heap, cries
out, "Fear not! The Lord is with us, our lives are all safe." And then he
breaks out into the doxology: "Praise God from whom all blessings flow." -
perhaps a bizarre choice of a song, considering what just happened!"

Here's the point, I would love to be like that worshipper in the midst of
crisis to respond with unstoppable praise, I just know many of those
moments I fail our Lord.

A Course of Study


I know that many of you are planning out your curriculum for the fall and winter. Let me encourage you to do five or six weeks on social justice. There are so many directions the discussions and study could go. Based on my experience your teens will be thinking, questioning, and challenging their faith in ways they might not have before. Which is always a good thing.

This summer our group spent time thinking about how we are called be just in a world that is very unjust. We didn't find too many easy answers, but we did learn from the journey. One of the things we did was show a movie called Invisible Children. I showed the film to my teens and we decided to put on a film festival and showcase the film. IN conjuction with the screening we did a mini children's film festival during the day where parents could dropped their kids off to watch movies and do crafts. We raised almost $1,000 by selling baked goods to the kids and audience at both events (admission to both things was free). I also got one of my kids to do a painting that we auctioned off. My youth group kids were ecstatic and the church was very moved by the whole event.

I write this post on this blog because when I was trying to figure out where to send the money (we settled on the "Invisible Children" fund) I wrote to some missionaries in Uganda asking them for some direction. One of the missionaries wrote back and recommended Invisible Children because he had heard good things about the guys who made the film. But he added a couple of sentences in an e-mail to me that have stuck in my brain. He wrote:
Thanks for your work! It is rare to see a youth ministry do more than devo's and church camps, not that anything is wrong with those things, but to here about your youth organizing a Childrens Arts and Film Festival for the sake of raising awarness and money for Acholi children is quite refreshing! To hear that a youth minister is exploring God's justice in the world and His concern for all creation, especially the marginalized, is fantastic. I only know one other youth minister in the CoC who is doing something like this and he lives in Oregon. So, praise God for your work and thank you, thank you, thank you!
One of the things that the Invisible Children movie encourages a person to do is use their time, talent, and resources to tell the story of these children. I hope to influence you to use your YM budget to purchase the movie ($20) and just take an evening and watch it. Then show it to your teens on a Wednesday night, and at the end ask them "What can we do." I believe you will be surprised by their answer.

Of course studying justice doesn't have to focus on just Africa. It could be Asia, South America, or even your own backyard. I challenge you all to find time in your curriculum schedule to teach, question, and explore the theme of Justice in scripture.

Thanks - Jason

Dateline just did a segment on Northern Uganda. You can read about it here.

"Anyone, Anyone, Bueller?'


Hey Everyone,

I am thinking of writing a series for a combined parent/teen class. The idea is a class on basically how kids can better get along with their parents and vice versa. Helping the teens understand the parents perspective and helping the parent understand the teens perspective. I have some resources, but I would love to hear about any resources that you have used in the past and think they are worth looking at. Also, anything you have done that has worked in a class type setting would be helpful.

Fire away!

By the way I am going to use it starting in the winter, I will let you know how it goes, when I am done I will make it available to whoever wants it.

Need some advice


I've been in youth ministry for two years now, and I would like some advice on how to recruit parents. Recruit maybe the wrong word, how do you intergrate and utilize your teen's parents in your youth ministries?

What are ya'll doing to promote spiritual formation in your youth groups? What are you doing to encourage, and equip parents to take responsibility to impress upon their children spiritual matters?

Being 13


Might want to pick Up Time magazine
this week.

The article Feels like Teen Spirit
is very amusing.

So what did you think about it?

History of youth ministry in the Church of Christ


If you are historian junkie like me and are interested in the history of youth ministry in the churches of Christ, go over to The National Conference on Youth Ministries web page, and follow the links. The article is written by Dr. Steve Joiner from Lubbock Christian University.

Youth Culture Crisis Guide


For your FREE Youth Culture Crisis Guide, log onto:

Winning with parents


These seven tips come from Dean Hawk Ministries.

1. Invite parents to youth services. Let them know they are welcome any time. You may want to have a special youth service night when all of the teenagers bring their parents.

2. Utilize their talents and gifts. Parents are a wonderful resource for youth leaders, artist, cooks, drivers, corporate sponsorship, etc...

3. Always hear both sides of the story before casting judgment. At times I have been ready to read a parent the riot act, but then I hear their perspective and it changes the situation completely. Teenagers are not always great at communicating all of the facts.

4. Seek and rely upon the input, advice, and wisdom of parents. Often I would call a parent to run an idea by them or see what their opinion was on showing a certain movie and it was often a fresh perspective.

5. Let parents know you are here to be a support to them, not trying to "win their teen" from them. As youth leaders our job is to steer teenagers back to their parents.

6. Inform parents of any serious or ongoing discipline problems. I always ask myself, "Would I want to know about it if it was my child?" In order not to break the confidence of a teenager or make them feel like I am going behind their back, I give them three options: 1) You tell them. 2) I tell them. Or, 3) We tell them together. The teenager usually wants there parents never to find out, but by taking this approach it gives them some control of the situation.

7. When a teenager asks you a question your first question back to them should be, "What do your parents think?" Otherwise, they could use your answer as ammunition with their parents. Be leery of questions about dating, curfew, etc. Always steer the student back to their parent's advice and opinions.

Choking Game Is Deadly Child's Play


Any of you guys dealing with any of this? I think it would be good if you read the article from ABC. You can read it here.

Vide Games and Violence


I thought you might like to read this article, it tackles violence and video games. This is only the first part of the article, you can read the whole article here. I'd be interested in your thoughts:

(CBS) Imagine if the entertainment industry created a video game in which you could decapitate police officers, kill them with a sniper rifle, massacre them with a chainsaw, and set them on fire.

Think anyone would buy such a violent game?

They would, and they have. The game Grand Theft Auto has sold more than 35 million copies, with worldwide sales approaching $2 billion.

Last winter, a multi-million dollar lawsuit was filed in Alabama against the makers and marketers of Grand Theft Auto, claiming that months of playing the game led a teenager to go on a rampage and kill three men, two of them police officers.

Can a video game train someone to kill? Correspondent Ed Bradley reports on this story that first aired on March 6, 2005.
Grand Theft Auto is a world governed by the laws of depravity. See a car you like? Steal it. Someone you don't like? Stomp her. A cop in your way? Blow him away.

There are police at every turn, and endless opportunities to take them down. It is 360 degrees of murder and mayhem: slickly produced, technologically brilliant, and exceedingly violent.

And now, the game is at the center of a civil lawsuit involving the murders of three men in the small town of Fayette, Ala. They were gunned down by 18-year-old Devin Moore, who had played Grand Theft Auto day and night for months.

Attorney Jack Thompson, a long-time crusader against video-game violence, is bringing the suit. "What we're saying is that Devin Moore was, in effect, trained to do what he did. He was given a murder simulator," says Thompson.

"He bought it as a minor. He played it hundreds of hours, which is primarily a cop-killing game. It's our theory, which we think we can prove to a jury in Alabama, that, but for the video-game training, he would not have done what he did."

Moore’s victims were Ace Mealer, a 911 dispatcher; James Crump, a police officer; and Arnold Strickland, another officer who was on patrol in the early morning hours of June 7, 2003, when he brought in Moore on suspicion of stealing a car.

Moore had no criminal history, and was cooperative as Strickland booked him inside the Fayette police station. Then suddenly, inexplicably, Moore snapped.

According to Moore's own statement, he lunged at Officer Arnold Strickland, grabbing his .40-caliber Glock automatic and shot Strickland twice, once in the head. Officer James Crump heard the shots and came running. Moore met him in the hallway, and fired three shots into Crump, one of them in the head.

Moore kept walking down the hallway towards the door of the emergency dispatcher. There, he turned and fired five shots into Ace Mealer. Again, one of those shots was in the head. Along the way, Moore had grabbed a set of car keys. He went out the door to the parking lot, jumped into a police cruiser, and took off. It all took less than a minute, and three men were dead.

"The video game industry gave him a cranial menu that popped up in the blink of an eye, in that police station," says Thompson. "And that menu offered him the split-second decision to kill the officers, shoot them in the head, flee in a police car, just as the game itself trained them to do."

After his capture, Moore is reported to have told police, "Life is like a video game. Everybody’s got to die sometime." Moore is awaiting trial in criminal court. A suit filed by the families of two of his victims claims that Moore acted out a scenario found in Grand Theft Auto: The player is a street thug trying to take over the city. In one scenario, the player can enter a police precinct, steal a uniform, free a convict from jail, escape by shooting police, and flee in a squad car.

"I've now got the entire police force after me. So you have to eliminate all resistance," says Nicholas Hamner, a law student at the University of Alabama, who demonstrated Grand Theft Auto for 60 Minutes. Like millions of gamers, the overwhelming majority, he says he plays it simply for fun.

David Walsh, a child psychologist who’s co-authored a study connecting violent video games to physical aggression, says the link can be explained in part by pioneering brain research recently done at the National Institutes of Health -- which shows that the teenage brain is not fully developed.

Does repeated exposure to violent video games have more of an impact on a teenager than it does on an adult?

"It does. And that's largely because the teenage brain is different from the adult brain. The impulse control center of the brain, the part of the brain that enables us to think ahead, consider consequences, manage urges -- that's the part of the brain right behind our forehead called the prefrontal cortex," says Walsh. "That's under construction during the teenage years. In fact, the wiring of that is not completed until the early 20s."

Walsh says this diminished impulse control becomes heightened in a person who has additional risk factors for criminal behavior. Moore had a profoundly troubled upbringing, bouncing back and forth between a broken home and a handful of foster families.

"And so when a young man with a developing brain, already angry, spends hours and hours and hours rehearsing violent acts, and then he's put in this situation of emotional stress, there's a likelihood that he will literally go to that familiar pattern that's been wired repeatedly, perhaps thousands and thousands of times," says Walsh.

"You've got probably millions of kids out there playing violent games like Grand Theft Auto and other violent games, who never hurt a fly," says Bradley. "So what does that do to your theory?"

"You know, not every kid that plays a violent video game is gonna turn to violence. And that's because they don't have all of those other risk factors going on," says Walsh. "It's a combination of risk factors, which come together in a tragic outcome."

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