Tag Archives: Rooted Ministry

Why Youth Ministry Methodology Matters

After a 3-day Rooted Ministry conference in Dallas, I’ve been reading back through my notes and seriously want to share it all. Honestly, it probably will trickle out into this space. Two of the key note speakers this week were Scott Sauls and Jen Wilkin so if you are familiar with their teaching/writing you know why it was so good! Plus, workshops were led by Walt Mueller (founder & president of Center for Parent/Youth Understanding), pastors, practitioners and licensed counselors, like Sharon Hersh (author of 8 books on addiction, parenting, etc), all of whom specialize in the realm of teens. I learned so much from one workshop (my friend Alice’s) on Teen Stress and Anxiety I even typed up my notes in an email to someone.

To back up a bit, Rooted is a ministry seeking to transform the way youth ministry is done through educating, equipping and encouraging youth leaders across denominational lines with grace-driven and cross-centered content. I got acquainted with Rooted a couple years ago after my publisher suggested I reach out to Rooted founder Cameron Cole to endorse my first book. I did, and he did.

Since that time I have been a contributor to the Rooted blog and have traveled to multiple cities for Rooted related speaking events, including this recent conference. And now for the next three years I will be serving on the Rooted Steering Committee.

So why am I so passionate about Rooted?

Statistics tell us approximately 70% of kids who grow up in the church will leave the church upon college and adulthood. Did you get that? Sadly, this number is not inflated! I’ve written about that in the past here.

The reason for this stark reality stems from a lack of gospel teaching to our students. Instead of discipling them in how to read their Bibles as the one story about Jesus so they see his goodness and grace to them in light of their badness, we spoon feed them feel good nuggets, morality and law. We focus more on entertainment, fun and games then the hard truths of Scriptures and the inner working of their hearts. And along the way we lead them to believe Christianity is based on their good behavior not his. All reasons why I wrote Get Your Story Straight.

Instead we need to help teens see their need of a Savior, which includes seeing the depth of their sin. Sin is not just outer behavior, but the inner desires of our heart, the selfish motivations, the idolatry and misplaced identity. When we don’t go there we falsely assume we are pretty good and don’t see our deep need of rescue and redemption.

Therefore it is said, our view of God rises or falls proportionally to our view of sin. If we aren’t that bad, what Jesus did for us living the perfect life and dying on the cross isn’t that great. But to the extent we know our sinfulness, the greater our love for him will be.

To see how this plays out with youth ministry, imagine you have a student who grew up in the church and was primarily taught what to do (have a quiet time, go to church, be nice) and what not to do (don’t drink, have sex, look at pornography). The student followed the “laws” and everyone considered him a “good” Christian. Or, maybe the student didn’t obey, but hid his sin so everyone around thought he was a “good” Christian.

What happens when he goes off to college and messes up?

He is likely shocked by his sin and filled with shame. Phrases like, “How could you do that?” flood his mind as he beats himself up. Yet at the same time he secretly found the sinful behavior to be fun. He still resolves to do better or try harder next time, but he struggles to follow through. Each time he fails to live up to what he should do the more shame is heaped upon him. Eventually, like the friends who are freely enjoying not having to hide their sin anymore, the shame sends him running from the church. “How could God love someone like me?” is all he’s left with.

But now consider the the student rooted in the gospel of Christ. This student knows in her sin she can go boldly to the throne of grace. She’s been growing in this truth for years because she’s been taught to trace her behaviors down to the root to discern her heart. Therfore, she isn’t shocked by her sin and she knows but by grace our human default is sin. There is nothing within her that is worthy, but it is Jesus’ worth and work for her that makes her right. This student is able to live transparently and freely admit her sin without fear of condemnation because she knows He is strong where she is weak. And while she continues to be grieved by her sin, she knows she is always met by God’s unending accepatance and love. She longs to obey, not out of duty, but out of worship and praise. And she knows she needs to constantly hear the gospel preached (at church and being in the word) to reorient her mind back to the truth the selfie world she lives in seeks to distort.

Do you see the difference?

It makes sense to me why kids abandon the church. But it doesn’t have to be this way. What these kids are leaving is not true Christianity. But they don’t “get” that because the gospel has been so diluted or misconstrued.

Let’s teach our kids the gospel of who Jesus is for us, because it is the power to salvation. It is freedom from sin and shame. And we didn’t even talk about how only the true gospel speaks to suffering and serves as the only hope in this broken world.

I love what Rooted Ministry is doing because in helping youth leaders and parents of teens raise up teenagers who know and rest in Christ alone, these students, their future marriages, families, relationships and the church at large will be transformed. To God be the glory! Let’s steep our students in the Word about Christ. Let’s flip the statistics, as we at Rooted like to say!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Parenting & Grace: A Podcast with Author Jessica Thompson

Back at a conference in October in the beach front church of La Jolla Presbyterian I had the privilege of joining Cameron Cole, founder and chairman of Rooted Ministry, for a podcast interview with Jessica Thompson, co-author of Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relatioships with the Love of Jesus and Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus.

Though I was a little nervous about the recording, I was more than thrilled with the opportunity to visit with a kindred soul about grace and the gospel as it pertains to parenting.  But my favorite part happened off air when she and I and my friend Anna Harris got to spend an hour’s downtime just chatting about life, being moms, and raising teens.

As women at the conference we were in the minority, and as moms of teens I believe we were the only ones, so we naturally gravitated toward each other. Just in our short time together, Jessica quickly turned from someone I admired from afar through her books and fun podcast (Front Porch with the Fitzeswith her brother Joel and mother, Elyze Fitzpatrick, to someone I wished I could do daily life with.

But even if our physical paths never cross again (I hope they will!), her imprint is bound to my coming book.. Jessica has graciously written the foreward for Face Time!

I am beyond humbled by her words and endorsement, and can’t wait to share it in the coming months. But for now, if you aren’t already a fan, I think you will be after listening to our podcast (link below). Then, go get your hands on her books!

Link to listen to our podcast: Why Kids Need to Heart the Message of Grace (Side note: The sound improves after the first part so keep with it!)

Links to Jessica’s books:

Would you be interested in being apart of my upcoming Book Launch team? Submit your email on the top right-hand side of the home page to receive all blog posts and the monthly newsletters in your inbox.

Why Our Teens Don’t Know They Need Jesus

For seven years, I have led a small group Bible study for teens. For seven years before that, I ministered alongside my husband to college students on the campus of a prestigious Christian university. In both contexts, I encountered students who were predominately church and youth group-going kids from “good” Christian homes. By all appearances, these kids talked the talk and walked the walk of Christianity. Yet the more I’ve come to know this type of student, the more glaring the lack of true gospel impact in their lives becomes.

Believe it or not, I am often even met by blank stares and hesitant responses when I ask teens what the gospel is.

How can this be? For the rest of the article follow me where I am today over at the Rooted Ministry site: here.