A Review of the Search Terms

I thought I’d keep it (somewhat) light today and write about some of the lesser-known search terms that bring people to this blog. It’s really surprising to see some of the things that bring people here. The one that surprises me the most is:

1. Dangerous prayers to get your husband back

This is the second most common search term for this blog, and that’s sad…and worrying. To you women out there looking for an answer, let me say this:

There are no magic words you can utter that will force God’s hand into bringing your husband home. All you can do is pray fervently. And if you’ve been praying fervently with no result, realize that could be God saying, “No.” If your husband was abusive to you before he left, asking for his return might actually be a dangerous prayer–for you and your children. Continue reading

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The Best “Youth Pastor” I Ever Had

pastor-micah-marshall-THE-REFUGE

He was the complete opposite of this guy.

You might be surprised to learn that the best youth pastor I ever had was not a youth pastor at all. At least, not in the official sense. He was simply a church deacon who taught the teen Sunday school class.

Don would have never been hired to lead a high-profile youth ministry. He was not what today’s church administrators would call hip, cool or “relevant.” He didn’t wear skinny jeans. He didn’t play guitar or have a tattoo. He probably couldn’t pronounce the words ‘latte’ or ‘espresso,’ let alone tell you what they mean. He couldn’t name a single contemporary Christian band. He had never set foot on a college campus, Christian or otherwise. His wife wasn’t a former cheerleader with a perky personality or a Cover Girl smile. In fact, the man himself was in his early 40s, rotund, with a slow Southern drawl and neatly trimmed beard. He wore the same clothes every Sunday: a white dress shirt, black or brown pants and plain black shoes. He didn’t own a cell phone, an iPad, or even an email address.

Yet this extremely reserved, humble, down-to-earth deacon of a backwater Southern church uttered seven words that likely saved me from a lifetime of pain and poor decisions: Continue reading

How Not to Do Youth Ministry

It all started with these words: “God has given me a vision.”

It was a grand vision, too–a vision of a youth group with 250 attendees: one teen for every adult member of the church. At the time, my youth group had around 40 teens, meeting in a room where 120 was a tight crowd. If we were going to welcome 200 new teens into our youth group, we had work to do. So, we got busy. Continue reading

Why youth ministry is failing and this generation won’t win the world for Christ

Sure, it’s a big cross. But will it get teens fired up?

After my guest post on Defeating the Dragons, I decided to start a series on modern youth ministry and my experiences within it. Enjoy.

The other day, a fellow church member posted the following quote from Greg Stier, founder of Dare 2 Share youth ministries:

Here are three quick, yet powerful reasons to reach the next generation with the message and mission of Jesus:

1. The vast majority of people who trust in Jesus as their Savior do so before the age of 18.

2. Christian teenagers can be mobilized to reach their friends for Christ quickly and effectively.

3. If Christian teens are trained and unleashed to reach their circle of influence for Christ, this nation can be transformed from the inside out and the bottom up.

As a former preaching pastor and church planter I can tell you with firm conviction that I did not get into youth ministry because it was cute. I chose to go into youth ministry because it was strategic.

Let me just say for the record, I’m not here to critique Stier’s ministry. Up until the other day, I’d never even heard of Dare 2 Share. It could very well be a wonderful, life-changing program. However, I will say this: Stier’s comments are nothing new to me. I’ve been listening to similar statements for over 15 years.

And whenever I hear them, alarm bells start ringing. Continue reading

learning the words: on fire

Here is a guest post I wrote for Defeating the Dragons, an awesome blog I discovered about a week ago. The blog’s author writes about recovering from fundamentalism and spiritual abuse. If you haven’t visited yet, please do!