Our Picks: Reasons for Thankfulness in 2020

Have you felt like this has been a year for the record books…and not in a good way? Have you found yourself wishing that 2020 would just be done? Have you been frustrated or discouraged for far too much of this year?

We get it, 2020 has been a difficult year in many ways. But if we think honestly about this year, there are also many things for which we can and should be thankful. This week we want to share with you reasons we are thankful for this year and ways we have seen God show up. Our hope and prayer is that you find this to be encouraging and uplifting, and that it helps you to think through the ways you have seen God at work in your life during this season.

Ministry is still occurring.

Even though this year has brought challenges and differences, ministry is still happening. Yes, it looks very different in some ways, but ministry is still happening. We are still able to fulfill the calling that God has placed on our lives, and in many ways we have been stretched and grown during this season as we continue to pursue that calling. Ministry hasn’t died, but instead is growing and shifting in how it is done for the better.

Students and families are hungry for what you offer.

Students and families desire community and the truth of God’s Word. And during this season we have seen that so clearly. Students want to be encouraged and challenged, families desire a place for their students to grow, and students want to be with people who love and care about them. This is an opportunity for us to rethink how we are getting the truth of the Gospel to our students and how we are looking to engage in community with them. This hasn’t stopped because it’s 2020, rather we have the privilege to rethink and reshape how we do this for our people.

More time at home with families.

I’ll be honest: in the beginning this was awesome. Working from home, just changing from lounging sweatpants to work sweatpants, having unlimited amounts of coffee, lunch dates every day with Elise. But as time moved forward, I realized I began to get frustrated because home and work were no longer separate. I no longer had a place to retreat to after a long day because I stayed in the same spot…well I moved from the dinning room table to the couch, but still. Eventually I took a step back (in thanks to meeting with our counselor) and realized that working from home is a huge blessing and setting boundaries is key. I set work times, I put my phone on do not disturb after hours, and created the space I needed. This then allowed for me to be more focused on time spent with Elise, to be all in. I got to spend my days with the person I am closest to and to truly do all of life together. This allowed for us to take advantage of the time we had together and to leverage it for the good of everyone involved.

God is still at work.

This is something I need to remind myself of weekly, and sometimes daily. It is so easy to be discouraged in 2020 and to find yourself feeling down, overwhelmed, and questioning if what you are doing is working. While connecting with leaders, parents, and students it has been easy to ask “what has been difficult” and “how can we serve you?” But it has also been encouraging to ask “how have you seen God working” and “what is going well?” Asking these questions has helped us to see God is doing amazing things and that just because how we do ministry has changed doesn’t mean that God has stopped working. It can be easy to just see the hard things, but it is also important to remind ourselves that God is working, even during those hard moments.

We have been forced to assess what is needed and working.

I know this isn’t necessarily the way we wanted to go about this, but if we were to look at 2020, many of us would admit we have taken a hard look at what we have done in the past and changed it. And in many ways we have been forced to change it for the better. This year has given us insight into how ministry should look and perhaps has encouraged us to change what we have been doing. I have found that the big programs and weekly gatherings aren’t the capstone to ministry, but rather small groups and discipleship. We moved from a large gathering to small group meetings and it has strengthened our program so much that we will continue in a similar model moving forward. This is something we would not have considered if not for 2020, and now we are reaping the rewards from it.

As we think through this past year it is easy to just pull back and say “2020 is a wash and I can’t wait for 2021.” I get it, we’ve been there. But if we do that, we ignore the power and work of Christ in our lives and in the world. We want to encourage you to take some time to step back and think through reasons you are thankful for what happened in 2020. What were moments that should be celebrated? What did God do in your life this year? What were ministry wins in this season? How has God stretched and challenged you? How has God provided and blessed you and your family? What were moments that made you smile?

These questions allow for us to step back from all the craziness and discouragement this year has brought, and instead allow us to shift our focus to what God has done in and through us. Yes, 2020 is one for the books, but it is also one where God has continued to move and do great things. Let us remind ourselves of what He has done and thank Him for the continued blessings He gives to us.

Our Picks: Must-Have Books [Part 2]

Last week we kicked off a new “Our Picks” installment as we looked at books that have been helpful during our time in ministry. These books might not directly relate to student ministry, but they are extremely helpful to ministry overall. Today, I want to share part two of this series, and I hope that these are as helpful for you as they are for me.

Preventing Suicide: A Handbook for Pastors, Chaplains, and Pastoral Counselors

Karen Mason writes a powerful book about suicide, myths about suicide, triggers and causes, and helpful steps to prevent it. I truly believe that this book is necessary for anyone in ministry but especially for those working with students. Students are wrestling with multiple issues including depression, anxiety, image, and identity that all cause them to grapple with “am I enough” and “do I have value.” This book will help to equip you to step into those moments when students need you the most and help them. Another helpful part of this book is that it provides resources for helping survivors of attempted suicide, families, other lay people, and the community of which you are a part.

The Bullying Breakthrough: Real Help for Parents and Teachers of the Bullied, Bystanders, and Bullies

Jonathan McKee just released this book in 2018 and I had the privilege of reading an advance copy, and cannot recommend it enough. The Bullying Breakthrough provides the reader with firsthand accounts of bullying as well as ways to minister to all parties. Jonathan truly approaches this from a holistic scope and offers readers ten tools to help bullied kids and seven tools to help schools. Jonathan writes from the heart as he experienced bullying and he seeks to unearth the root of the issue so it can be treated appropriately. This book provides you with insight into physical bullying, cyber-bullying, helpful practices, and resources and steps that you and your community can take to combat this issue among students.

Understanding Your Teen: Shaping Their Character, Facing Their Realities

This is a helpful resource for you to have on hand for parents. Jim Burns is one of the foremost authors and speakers on youth and families, and this book is a helpful guide for parents. Dr. Burns offers insight into how to help shape behavior and character, how to navigate social media, conflict resolution, and much more. Dr. Burns’ book is vital to parents who are attempting to shepherd and disciple their student(s) well, and it is also applicable for pastors and leaders of students as it provides insight and knowledge that will make you a better shepherd. Burns not only highlights the issues and pressures facing students but also gives practical tools and insight into how to care for and walk with students.

99 Thoughts for Parents of Teenagers: The Truth on Raising Teenagers from Parents Who have Been There

Walt Mueller is more than a friend, he is a noted author, speaker, and trust source on all things related to youth and families. His ministry is one of the best out there, and I would highly recommend any and all of his resources. This book is designed in an easy to read format of 99 thoughts to help parents succeed. Literally, most of these thoughts are no more than a paragraph but they are designed to offer helpful truths in a soundbite sort of way. This book would be an awesome idea to bless parents with at a parents meeting or at a training event.

Living in a Gray World: A Christian Teen’s Guide to Understanding Homosexuality

Preston Sprinkle is one of the top scholars in this particular area of study, and his book is one of the best out there. It is an easy read and it provides solid insight and Biblical truth. Preston approaches this topic with heart, tact, and a listening ear and is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors and speakers. His insight into this topic and how to minister as a whole to the LGBTQ+ community has helped shape how I have approached these topics in my ministry and the church in which I serve. This is a must-have for any youth worker.

Our Picks: Must-Have Books [Part 1]

One of the things I love about what I do is the opportunity to read, process, and apply books to what I am doing as a student pastor. Today, I want to share with you some must-have books that I have found exceptionally helpful in ministry. They are not all youth ministry focused, but they do have a tangible application to what we do as youth leaders. I will highlight why I believe each book is helpful in the description and provide a link for you to check them all out as well.

The Quick-Reference Guide to Counseling Teenagers & The Quick Reference Guide to Biblical Counseling

These are both solid resources written by Christian doctors who are seeking to help pastors and youth workers process the information related to a variety of counseling issues. It provides typical symptoms and patterns, definitions, key thoughts to help you process what the student is feeling, questions to ask, action steps, biblical insights, prayer starters, and much more. These books are not simply focused on a “read your Bible and pray to get better” methodology, but rather they utilize Biblical truth and application with science and medicine. These have been exceptionally helpful in a variety of circumstances.

A Good Commentary Set

I specifically didn’t list one in the topical heading because there are way too many to think through and honestly, we will all find ones we appreciate more than others because of our denominational preference, upbringing, current context, and theological preferences. With that being said, we must acknowledge we will never fully agree with everything a single commentary says. There are a couple of solid commentary sets that I personally have found helpful and would recommend. Walvoord and Zuck’s two volume set is exceptionally helpful and breaks down the text in an easy-to-understand way that anyone can read and use to help shape their messages or to answer questions people may have. Another helpful option is the NIV Application Commentary Set. This is a larger set and significantly more expensive, but it is worth it. The information is very helpful and it is written in an easy-to-understand format. This is a commentary set that will help you in crafting messages and help you grow in your own knowledge and understanding of the Biblical text.

The Pastor’s Handbook (NIV)

As I have progressed in my ministry career I have had the honor and privilege of officiating many different ceremonies. I have led weddings and funerals, handled baptisms, officiated communion, and been a part of anointing ceremonies. Some of these I felt my ministry training had prepared me for, but during others I felt completely ill-equipped. This pocket-sized resource provides you with various outlines and order of services for a variety of settings and is completely malleable to however you want to shape the ceremony you are officiating. It provides everything from Scripture suggestions, to outlines, to helpful tips and timing thoughts. This is a must-have for any minister.

How We Got the Bible

This is an excellent resource by Timothy Paul Jones because it answers many of the questions that students and adults are asking about the Bible. Where did it come from? How do we know we have it all? Are the texts reliable? Why do we have some books included but not others? These questions and more are answered in this easy-to-read and compact book. It includes dates, helpful charts, and exceptional appendices.

How to Solve the People Puzzle: Understanding Personality Patterns

I know there is a lot of excitement surrounding the Enneagram, but I love the DISC Assessment as it relates to personalities and interpersonal relationships. Working with students and volunteers (and churches overall), this is a helpful resource to understand your personality, the personalities of those around you, and how to best work together. Carbonell provides resources for each personality that include how you act in various situations, how you react when you are stressed or emotions are heightened, how you engage with other personalities, and much more. I use this resource whenever I lead mission trips and walk my teams through it to help them understand how to engage with each other during those intense moments. It is a must-have for any youth (and church) worker.

Next week we will share more books that have been helpful to us, but we would love to hear which books you have found helpful in your ministry setting.

Our Picks: Study Bibles for Message Prep and Personal Use

When it comes to preparing messages and personally studying God’s Word, there vast amounts of resources at hand. There are commentaries, various theological resources, countless articles, websites, and more. One of our favorite resources to utilize is the study Bible. The ability to read God’s Word and have helpful and insightful information all together is a huge win.

Today we want to share with you some of our favorite study Bibles that have helped us in our own relationships with Jesus and have allowed for us to become better communicators as we seek to know God’s Word at a deeper level.

The CSB Apologetics Study Bible

This is a great resource for personal study and message prep. The CSB has quickly become one of our favorite translations of the Bible because it relies upon the best manuscripts we have on hand, and is translated in a way that is easy to understand without sacrificing truth for ease.

The Apologetics Study Bible offers more than 100 commentaries and articles on various questions, thoughts, and difficult topics. The reason this is helpful for teaching is that these articles contain many of the questions that students (and arguably all Christians) have but may not voice. It also helps us to keep our minds sharp and ready to answer questions that are voiced, and it provides resources we can share with others.

CSB Worldview Study Bible

I really like this Bible when it comes to preparing messages for our students and for our church. The purpose of this study Bible is to showcase how the truths of Scripture impact our worldview. This approach provides many practical and tangible applications for when we are teaching.

As we think about our students who are part of Gen-Z, they are always looking for ways to engage and be involved, and this resource provides just that. There are extensive notes and articles that will provide you with insight into how to apply the Bible to our lives and make our faith real and active.

ESV Study Bible

This is a must-have resource for anyone in the church, regardless of whether you are paid staff, a volunteer, or an attendee. The ESV Study Bible has an amazing set of notes and information that allow you to glean additional information that you may not have seen by simply reading the text. This is a Bible that has been put together by 95 Bible scholars from around the world with a variety of denominations contributing to it.

It also has more than 20,000 study notes, over 80,000 cross-references, more than 200 maps, helpful articles, and a concordance. This Bible will help you in so many ways as you seek to grow in your personal relationship with Jesus and as you lead others in your ministries.

NIV Zondervan Study Bible

This study Bible is a great resource that was overseen by the guidance and insight of Dr. D. A. Carson and more than 60 other contributors. Its purpose is to help readers see God’s special revelation in the Scriptures and to help readers grow in their faith.

Some of the resources in this Bible include full-color maps, charts, photos, and diagrams, study notes in the margins, introductory material for each book of the Bible, cross-references, and a concordance.

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible

This is not a Bible that I have in my personal library but one I have borrowed often from friends and colleagues. This provides so much context and insight into what was happening during the time period of the text and why it was happening in that way. When we are thinking about critically reading and analyzing Scripture it is vital that we know the context to what is taking place so we can make informed and accurate assessments and applications.

This Bible provides you with much-needed context along with verse-by-verse study notes, introductions to each book, defined terms from both Testaments, more than 300 articles discussing contextual topics, over 300 full-color photos, illustrations, and images, and various maps, charts, and diagrams. This is a great Bible to help us grow in our knowledge and understanding of what was happening in context, which will then help us shape how we apply this text to our lives and the lives of those we lead.

What Study Bibles or other resources have you found that have been helpful in your individual studies and to make you a better teacher?

Our Picks: Top Bibles for Students

Part of our role in ministry is helping students understand and interact with God’s Word. However, it seems that this is a struggle for our students, and I would assert for most Christians, and we don’t often see results. But as I have contemplated why this is, I have come away with two thoughts:

  1. Students needs to be taught and discipled in how to read and understand the Bible, and
  2. Students need Bibles that they can read and understand.

During a series on how to study the Bible, I actually ended up giving away over thirty Bibles to our students. Many of these students had Bibles that were gifted to them or passed down from another family member, but they all stated that they were too difficult to read. So I resolved to offer them multiple versions and translations in an effort to help them study and be in the Word more often.

Today I am sharing some of our top picks of Bibles for students in hopes that it will allow you to better equip, challenge, and disciple your students.

NLT Study Bible

This is an easy to understand Bible that uses common English language, and I have found many students enjoy how readable it is. It offers a lot of resources and helpful tools for students throughout the text, and is a less cumbersome Bible to carry around. You can find this in many variations (student’s, men’s, women’s, etc.), but I personally like the regular pocket size style or the Teen Life Application Study Bible for students. The compact size is an easy addition to a backpack and the Teen Life Application Study Bible is not very large or heavy and has applicable material for students.

CSB Apologetics Study Bible for Students 

This has quickly become a favorite resource of mine and I have multiple copies of this Bible in my office. I have many students who are asking the hard questions and wondering what the Bible has to say about it. This Bible offers a vast amount of conversational pieces designed to help students understand how the Bible is integrated with real world issues, and how they should cultivate a Biblical response. This is on top of the already detailed notes and insights that come with a standard study Bible, and it is in the easy to read and understand CSB version.

ESV Student Study Bible

This is a solid study Bible, and frankly I like it better than the larger ESV Study Bible most adults prefer. It doesn’t skimp or trim on the material, but rather puts it in easier to understand verbiage that is geared toward students and practical life application. This version also comes in a variety of colors and in hardcover and paperback which allows for preference and versatility.

Jesus Centered Bible NLT

This has become one of my favorite Bibles to date, and my students love it! I have also handed this out to adults and my senior pastor who have found it be incredibly helpful in understanding more about Jesus and how we engage with Scripture. What makes this Bible stand out is that the over 600 Old Testament passages that point Jesus are in blue text with additional helpful information about said text. It helps students who are reading the Old Testament to understand how Jesus played a role during that time, and how that then applies to their lives. It helps them to see the validity and necessity of all Scripture.

CSB Study Bible 

This is a personal favorite and one that I have seen more and more students gravitating toward. The CSB Study Bible is designed to help you grow in your relationship with God by using readable and reliable text. The editors of the CSB have sought to remain as literal as possible to the original text and meaning, while also making it easier to engage with Scripture by making it readable. This version is becoming more and utilized throughout churches and students love the easy to read and understand translation. They also have a student version of this study Bible, and I am always trying to get these into the hands of my students.

Have a Bible that you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

Our Picks: Gender and Identity Resources

This past Sunday I had the privilege of preaching on the topic of gender and identity. In thinking through this conversation, it became apparent how needed resources are in order to approach it with grace, love, and truth. I wanted to share with you some of the resources that I used in preparing for this sermon and hope that they will be helpful to you.

> Gender: A Conversation Guide for Parents and Pastors by Brian Seagraves & Hunter Leavine

> Living in A Gray World: A Christian Teen’s Guide to Understanding Homosexuality by Preston Sprinkle; prestonsprinkle.com; podcast: Theology in the Raw

> Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been by Jackie Hill Perry; jackiehillperry.com

> The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield; rosariabutterfield.com

> Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality: A Biblical Approach to Prepare Them for Life by Jim Burns

If you’re interested in listening to my sermon on gender and identity, you can find it here.

Our Picks: 4 Podcasts We’re Listening to Now

I love listening to podcasts while I’m getting ready in the morning. Nick likes to listen to them while he’s on his way to work. They’re a great way to take time that is typically mundane and make it educational.

Today we are sharing some of our current podcast choices with you. We would also love to check out your recommendations. What is a podcast you’re currently listening to? Leave your suggestion(s) in the comments so we can check them out, and share them with others.

For those who love students…

Check out Youth Culture Matters, a podcast by the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding. They feature a wide variety of topics, from “Navigating LGBTQ Issues” with guest Rosaria Butterfield, to “Why Youth Stay in Church when They Grow Up” with Jon Nielson. They focus on topics relating to students, and ask pertinent questions from the perspective of youth leaders, parents, and culture-watchers. We recommend listening through their past episodes, you may even find one that includes Nick!

For the ladies…

There may be some men who listen to The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, but this podcast is all about following Jesus as a woman. It is hosted by author, speaker, and podcaster Jamie Ivey, who interviews a new guest each week. Jamie dives into both deep and lighthearted conversations with her guests that will make you think, laugh, and maybe even cry. I absolutely love listening to this podcast and always recommend it to my girl friends.

For those looking for honesty…

And a wide variety of topics, 30 Minutes with the Perrys packs a refreshing punch. These short, authentic podcasts feature Jackie Hill Perry and Preston Perry who discuss things like “Healing from Church Hurt” and “When You’re Afraid to Talk about Jesus.” They bring humor and raw honesty to each podcast as they look at topics from a biblical perspective.

For those looking to combine faith and culture…

Preston Sprinkle takes a fast and fresh look at topics relating to faith and culture in his podcast Theology in the Raw. Topics discussed include LGBTQ issues, sex, drinking, porn, immigration, racial tensions, guns, patriotism, and much more. Preston brings a wealth of knowledge and many intriguing guests to a show that will challenge your way of thinking and push you to understand what Scripture is saying and what it means for us as Christ followers today.

Our Picks: Go-To Websites [Part Two]

Last week we took a look at some of my go-to websites, but I couldn’t fit all of them in one post so I wanted to share some more with you. These websites are ones that have a lot of resources, but also allow for you to be equipped and affirmed in what you do. Some of them are more broad in what they provide, but others will be very specific as I believe they speak to areas in student ministry that we will all face at some point during our ministry careers.

Homeword

This website is a ministry of Jim Burns and Doug fields designed to help equip, grow, and strengthen families. As youth workers we must understand that we are being called to not only care for the youth we work with, but also to care for and help their families grow together and in their relationship with Jesus. Homeword provides a lot of free resources including a culture blog, an advice column, devotionals, blogs, and help for leaders. Jim’s blog has a lot of helpful information that will be highly beneficial to anyone in ministry. You can also sign up for seminars, training, and coaching through their website which is a great opportunity for equipping you or your leaders. There are also items you can purchase from them, and I would highly suggest purchasing as many of Jim Burn’s books as you can because they will help you succeed in ministry in so many ways.

CPYU (Center for Parent/Youth Understanding)

This website is managed by my good friend, Walt Mueller, and is honestly one the best resources for youth workers that I have ever come across. With decades of experience in youth ministry, studying culture, and educating youth workers and parents, Walt brings a wealth of knowledge to the table and looks to help you succeed. A few go-tos on the website for me include their blog, the podcast, movie and music reviews, trend alerts, and top tens. The resources on this website are endless and it isn’t just for understanding students and culture, they also advocate for sexual integrity, digital kids initiative, and college transitions. This website is one I am on constantly and have found to be exceptionally beneficial to my ministry.

Fight the New Drug

This is a great website that helps people who are struggling with pornography, as it provides resources, equips, and highlights the damages of porn and its subsequent results. Their blog is very helpful and beneficial, as well as their social media feeds, and they post content that is relevant for students, parents, and youth workers. This is not the 90’s and early 2000’s style of anti-porn websites, but rather one that looks to educate, help, and heal those caught in this vicious cycle. They are not a faith-based organization nor are they a legislative one, but one that looks to help others by raising awareness through science, facts, and personal stories. This is a great resource to have in your quiver to assist others and to help guard your own heart as you serve.

Preston Sprinkle

Preston Sprinkle is a professor, speaker, and a best-selling author who has taught on a wide variety of topics. Sprinkle looks to communicate Christian truths through thoughtfulness, honesty, and grace. He covers a wide variety of topics on his website including sexuality, alcohol, hell, and grace. His blog is thoughtful, provoking, challenging, and engaging. He will force you to think, dig deep into Scripture, and consider how you are communicating God’s Word to the upcoming generations. Sprinkle also has a podcast that is called Theology in the Raw in which he will look at different theological issues and also answer questions that you submit. This website is a great one for getting help to answer those hard question from students.

Christopher Yuan

Dr. Yuan is a noted writer, professor, speaker, and author who communicates in a raw and authentic way. Dr. Yuan’s testimony is one of a young man who was addicted to drugs, dealing drugs, and living as an openly gay man until he had a radical interaction with Jesus. His book Out of a Far Country chronicles his journey and looks at how God’s grace has ultimately changed his life, and he also seeks to clarify that God isn’t calling us to a certain sexuality, but rather to holiness. Dr. Yuan’s website has information about his story, speaking engagements, various articles, and videos to help in understanding and ministering to those struggling in this area.

Nancy Pearcey

Nancy Pearcey is an author, speaker, professor, and visiting scholar who speaks on a variety of topics including sexuality, identity, and healthy image. Pearcey is a thought-provoking writer and speaker who is a former agnostic and now an ardent supporter of Christianity. Her books are a must-have for any youth worker as they deal with many of the cultural issues our youth groups are currently facing. Her website includes links to her books, interviews, and more information about her work and ministry. Her Twitter handle is a must follow as she consistently posts relevant and thoughtful information.

Rosaria Butterfield 

Rosaria Butterfield is a former lesbian who was an outspoken critic of religion and all that comes with it. Through a radical conversion with Jesus her life changed, and she began to pursue Him and His mission for her life. Her website has some amazing resources including commonly asked questions about sexuality and the LGBTQ Community with very thoughtful and personal responses. Her questions page also has many other key areas that she focuses on including growing in your faith, personal struggles, politics, and social change. She also has a a link for finding certified Biblical counselors who will love, care for, and walk with people. This is a great resource to have for those moments when you need clarity, wisdom, or help in caring for those in your flock.

My hope is that these resources help to equip you and make you a better minister to those under your charge. You may not need all of these, but I do hope that at least one of these websites helps you as you follow the calling God has placed on your life.

Our Picks: Go-To Websites [Part One]

On this edition of Our Picks, I wanted to share some awesome online resources with you. Throughout my time in ministry these websites have provided me with a lot of skills, resources, sermon tools, and much more. This will be part one of the picks because I didn’t want to overwhelm you with too much information. Instead, I want to encourage you to click through these resources and see what will be most helpful to you. Next week I will drop the second part and hopefully those will also be beneficial.

Some of the resources will be repeated from our last edition of Our Picks, but I will also go a little more in-depth about what you can find on each website. My prayer is that these resources can help you in your current ministry position and that they equip you and your ministry.

The Source for Youth Ministry

This is an amazing website with a bunch of free materials that is curated by Jonathan McKee and other youth ministry veterans. Jon is a great guy and friend, and the content he puts out is next-to-none. You can find free resources including thousands of games, discussion starters for movies and music, curriculum, messages, event ideas, articles, and much more. His online game generator is a must-have resource: simply plug in what you need and his website cultivates a game for your group. This is a lifesaver. Aside from all the free stuff, Jon also has tons of materials you can purchase and his books are phenomenal. I personally have purchased most, if not all, of his books for the solid materials and practical application they offer.

The Source for Parents

This is another website that Jonathan McKee has started because he understood the need for student ministry leaders to walk alongside parents and help equip them. This is a must-have resource for youth leaders as you look to walk with families and help them to be all that God has intended. Jon includes video game reviews, conversation starters for current music, discussions for current Netflix and Hulu series, cultural insight, curriculum, an opportunity to submit questions, and tons of amazing articles. Jon’s insight into the parenting world is solid, and will help you grow as a leader and shepherd to the families under your care.

LeaderTreks

This website has been churning out amazing student ministry sources for a long time and has a litany of great materials. The first thing you should do is create a log in and sign up for all their emails. You will get a ton of free resources sent right to your inbox that are great to have in your repertoire. Once you have your log in set up, click around the website and see what you can find. They have a freebie section that you need to just download everything from, and the paid resources are some of the best I have seen. The Deep Discipleship curriculum is amazing for student leaders or for small groups to work through as they grow in their faith. Also, if you are a church that has a D-Now weekend, make sure to check out all of their studies for that and you will find ready-to-go resources right in your hands.

Download Youth Ministry

If you haven’t heard of DYM yet, you need to check this website out! This is the brainchild of Doug Fields and Josh Griffin, and it was created as a place to have amazing curriculum, resources, and games. It also allows youth workers to sell their curriculum to others as a resource and means of income.

In order to utilize the full potential of the website, I would encourage you to create a log in and sign up for one of the memberships. It does cost money for the different memberships, but the Gold Membership is one the best deals in the youth ministry world. You get free downloads each month, online credit to the store, training resources, access to Sidekick (a ministry presentation tool and so much more), a newsletter builder, and much more.

There are also freebies on this website that are super helpful, but the curriculum and games can be lifesavers in student ministry. You can search based on your needs, the type of group you ministering to, and what you are looking to teach in order to help your youth group grow and flourish.

Youth Specialties

Youth Specialties is an awesome resource for everyone to be aware of. Their website hosts a job search function for youth pastors which allows you to search for a job, post a job, or search for applicants who may fit a need in your ministry. They also have a great blog that is curated by youth ministry veterans, current youth workers, and amazing writers from all over. The content that is provided is extremely beneficial for youth workers and will provide you with main tips and tools for working in ministry, as well as refreshing your mind and spirit. There is a great search function for the blog to find just what you need, so make sure to spend some time checking this out.

Parent Ministry

In order to have a successful student ministry, you must be thinking about ministering to the student holistically. This means, in addition to caring for the student, you have to be ministering to their parents, and their families. This website is one of the best out there for how to do just that. The materials they offer include a ready-to-go parenting website created for your ministry, tons of discussion starters and activities for parents, book reviews, articles, research, curated experiences for families, parenting classes, newsletter materials, and so much more. Another huge part of this website is they have content for either parents of students or parents of children, or you can get both and get all the material you need to help you minister to families.

There is a cost to all of this material, and they only open membership once a year. In order to know when the next enrollment period is, make sure to sign up at the bottom of the homepage. You will not regret this, and you will become a better youth worker as a result of leveraging this amazing resource.

Campus Ministry Link

An area many student ministries need to grow in is the transition from high school to college ministry. It isn’t always easy or fluid, especially when students are going away for school and entering a new environment. It is often hard for students to get connected to a church or ministry because they are overwhelmed or ill-prepared for how to even begin the search. This then leads to many students walking away from the church and their faith.

Enter Campus Ministry Link. This is a relatively new resource that is designed to combat the statistics and create a place to help students get connected to churches and ministries in colleges. This website is a search tool designed for students, parents, youth workers, and churches. Once you have selected the appropriate designation for who you are, you can search for schools and find the ministries and churches that are in that area. Or if you are a youth worker or church representative, you can add in your church information and help other students who are searching.

I recently rolled this out to our graduates and their families, and everyone was able to find at least one ministry or church near their school through this resource. The website also has some amazing resources including articles and video clips that are worthwhile and beneficial. I will say that since the ministry is just getting off the ground it isn’t foolproof or without glitches, but it is definitely a resource to have ready and one that I have found very helpful for my graduates.

Our Picks: 10 Must-Follow Twitter Accounts

Today we are starting a series that will show up periodically called: Our Picks. This series is designed to look at resources and tools to help youth workers succeed. Part of what we want to do here at Kalos is encourage and equip other youth workers by getting the best possible resources into your hands.

This post will look at my (Nick’s) must-follow Twitter accounts. These aren’t exhaustive, and trust me I may post more about this later because picking just ten is incredibly difficult! But I do believe these accounts will be advantageous to anyone who utilizes them, their resources, and the people who curate them.

1. @CPYU – CPYU stands for the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding and is run by Walt Mueller. Walt and his team have been investing in the lives of families for over 30 years, and they produce quality resources. Their mission is to work with churches, schools, and community organizations to build stronger relationships between young people and those charged with helping them grow into healthy adulthood.

One of the benefits of CPYU is that many of their resources are free and easily accessible. They deal with cultural trends, family dynamics, youth ministry resources, and difficult topics like self-harm, eating disorders, LGBTQ+, and many others. One of the best resources they have is their podcast, Youth Culture Matters, which I would highly recommend listening to; it is one of the best out there.

2. @HomeWordCenter – HomeWord is the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacifica University and is curated by Dr. Jim Burns (see below), Doug Fields, and Jim Liebelt. They put out quality resources and their mission is “Helping Families Succeed.” This website contains Dr. Burn’s blog which will deal with marriage, families, relationships, and much more; free resources on cultural trends, devotionals, help for leaders, and advice; and there is an online store to purchase additional materials.

3. @drjimburns – Jim Burns is one of the founders and creators of HomeWord and contributes to the HomeWord website and resources. He has been instrumental in helping parents, marriages, families, and children in understanding key developmental aspects in their relationships, and providing insight and knowledge into helping to shape and grow families.

4. @christopheryuan – Dr. Yuan is a professor, author, and speaker who specializes in helping people understand biblical sexuality and identity. His content is Biblically sound, theologically thought out, and easy to understand. He gives insight that church leaders can easily use in a variety of contexts and and is always willing to look to the heart and Gospel rather than just issue blanket statements. Dr. Yuan writes often on various topics and these can be found on his website.

5. @JackieHillPerry – Jackie Hill Perry is an author, speaker, spoken word artist, and very active on her social media accounts. Jackie wrote a book called “Gay Girl, Good God” which looks at her life as a gay woman and how the Gospel radically changed her life. Jackie is very honest, real, and thoughtful in her approach to homosexuality and any topic she discusses. Be prepared to laugh, be challenged, and think through a variety of topics should you follow her.

6. @DianeLangberg – Diane Langberg, PhD, is a noted psychologist for trauma survivors and clergy, an international speaker, author, and consultant. Diane has her own podcast, resources, and articles where she helps survivors process through what happened, talks through ways to move through pain and grief, examines the church’s role in counseling, and equips ministers of the Gospel to helps others.

7. @PrestonSprinkle – Preston Sprinkle, PhD, is an author, speaker, professor, and avid blogger. Preston speaks on a variety of topics that churches have often shied away from. He approaches topics like sexuality, identity, hell, violence, and much more. Sprinkle always looks to make you think, to challenge the status quo, and to help you process through a thoughtful and Biblical response to how we engage with culture. His website has his blog, resources, his podcast, and much more.

8. @timothyeldred – Tim is an author, speaker, pastor, and a great friend. Tim has a heart for students and you see this often in the content he puts out. He is also the author of “Alone Sucks;” the founder of YouEquip, which helps to set youth workers in the proper role while moving them toward greater success; and the founder of WAVES, which is a worldwide program designed to help young people grow, recognize their potential, put their faith into action, and change the world.

9. @stuffyoucanuse – Stuff You Can Use is a great resource for any youth worker or for a pastor who oversees a youth worker or youth ministry. They put out great resources (many of which are free), develop and offer curriculum, host online forums and Facebook groups, and are actively engaged in helping and coaching youth workers. This is a community resource and a place to be grown, challenged, resourced, and equipped.

10. @fullerFYI – Fuller Youth Institute is a great resource that looks at handling everything student- and family-oriented and is a must-follow. They are constantly researching, posting new content, offering resources, and hosting interviews and podcasts. This is an invaluable resource for anyone in any ministry position as it will offer you great insight and understanding in how to minister to the families in your church.

I hope you give all of these resources a follow and that they benefit your ministry and you as you serve. I would love to hear of some of your favorite Twitter accounts and can’t wait to check them out as well!