So I'm doing some digging through old files - specifically message and study notes - from the last 5 or 6 years, and I made a few interesting discoveries about my speaking/teaching.

#1 - How I use the Bible in messages has changed.  When I was younger I used the Bible as support for my points.  Most of my points were (luckily) Biblical, but I was starting with what I wanted to say and THEN bringing the Word in.  More recently the Bible has been my starting point, and I draw my points from the text.  The intelligent-sounding way to say this is I've become much more exegetical vs. isogetical in my preaching/speaking.

#2 - I've been talking about the same things for years.  It's kind of funny. I've been teaching on the same handful of topics for years, because I feel they are the most relevant to students.  They are:
- Who Jesus is, loving Him.
- The Bible, growing in your faith.
- Serving others.
- The importance of Christian community.
- Family.
- Sex/dating/relationships.
- Friendship.
- Being different (in a good way - see Rom. 12:2).

#3 - I'm at the point where I can stop writing messages.  Seriously.  I could just edit and reuse what I have now for the rest of my life.  Obviously I'm not going to do this, because my favorite part of YM is communicating God's truth to students in new and relevant ways, but it's nice to know that if things get crazy one week I've got a nice vault of stuff to pull from.

What about you?  Have you looked back through your archives lately?  What does your teaching/preaching history say about you?

- Tim B.
There are much better youth ministry websites than this one out there, and this week I'd like to point you to Youth Ministry 360.

YM360 is all about providing Bible Study Resources, Training, Community, and Networking opportunities for the youth worker.  They are a newer site but one that is making a big impact in the YM world (if that's even really a thing).  I love the YM360 blog, and they also regularly offer freebies on their site.

What are you waiting for?  Head over to YM360 and check out what you're missing!

- Tim B.
So last Sunday night I gave a talk to the adults in our church called "Youth Culture: Challenges and Opportunities".  The message is a (brief) overview of 5 areas of youth culture - technology, pop culture, family, sexuality, and spirituality - and the challenges and opportunities for the church in each area.

I may have been a little overconfident in trying to cover this much content in such a short time, but received a lot of good feedback from some of our adult youth and children's ministry workers and parents and grandparents in the congregation.

If you want to listen to YC:C&C, click right here.  I'd love your feedback!

I'm hoping to take this material and share it with other churches and teams sometime in the future as well (contact me if you'd like me to do this seminar or one like it at your church!).

- Tim B.
This song expresses what I and a lot of other youth workers feel for our students!

- Tim B.
Every once in a while I'll pull an old post or article I've written and repost it.  I'd love any thoughts you may have!  This post is from December of 2009.  Please forgive the lack of capital letters - I went through a cool lower-case phase...

last night trisha and i were talking about several of our students that are going through some rough patches. some are making some bad decisions and facing the consequences, some are just caught in the middle of other people's bad decisions. it's tough watching those that you are seeking to shepherd in ministry go through seasons like these.

trisha remarked that it's especially tough when we've been walking with them for so many years and can remember them when they first entered our ministry. it's heartbreaking to remember a bright-eyed, unburdened, laughter-filled middle schooler and see them today caught in the middle of a messy divorce, or succumbing to the pressure of a bad influence in their life, or choosing lying and deception over honesty and taking responsibility.

it's hard to watch children become adults.

kids are full of optimism, hope, simple joy, and laughter.

adults are (sometimes) full of doubts, pessimism, depression, and tears.

while it's all at once disheartening to watch this change happen in so many young people we care about, it's also one of our biggest privileges in youth ministry to walk with them during times like these and offer them friendship, hope, direction, purpose, and most importantly JESUS.

as trisha put it, "maybe a big part of our job is just to be there with them while they go through it all."

no maybes about it.

- tim
I'm doing a lot of studying and prep for a talk I'm doing on Sunday at FBCCS called "Youth Culture: Challenges and Opportunities" (more on that later!).  Part of my talk is on sex and sexuality in youth culture.  Here are some stats on teen sexual activity I pulled from the book Youth Culture 101 by Walt Mueller (every decent youth worker should have a copy!).  Check them out:

1.  Among high schoolers, 34% of 9th graders, 43% of 10th graders, 51% of 11th graders, and 63% of 12th graders have had sexual intercourse.

2.  80% of college students ages 18-24 have had sexual intercourse.

3.  20% of children ages 12-14 have had sexual intercourse.

4.  36% of teenagers ages 16-18 have sexual intercourse in their own homes.

5.  21.4% of high school students have had sex with 4 or more partners by the time they graduate.

6.  ~75% of all teenagers have engaged in oral sex by the time they are 19 years old.

Shocking?  Or do these numbers resonate with your experience in YM?- Tim B.
Often I feel like I'm simply being reactive in my ministry instead of proactive.  I think there's a huge difference.

- Reactive youth ministries plan one week ahead.
- Proactive youth ministries plan 6 months to 1 year ahead.

- Reactive ministries deal with issues in students' lives as they come up.
- Proactive ministries find out what the big issues in students' lives are (through conversations, reading, paying attention to media, etc.) and address them and invite students to talk about them before they bring them up.

- Reactive ministries fight hard to sustain what they have.
- Proactive ministries fight hard to gain and keep momentum.

- Reactive ministries see change as more work there simply isn't time for.
- Proactive ministries see change as the fertile soil in which healthy ministries grow.

- Reactive ministries (may) survive.
- Proactive ministries (often) thrive.

I want to be more proactive.  Which one are you?

- Tim B.
So good!

- Tim B.
I'll be honest - becoming a "famous" youth worker is something I've daydreamed about.  The idea of speaking on a big stage to thousands of teenagers and/or adults seems like an opportunity afforded to those who have really "made it".  

But it's a dangerous dream to have.

That's why I love Doug Fields (one of those famous youth workers) post at his blog today.  You should definitely head over and check it out, right now!

- Tim B.
I shot this video last night after youth group with one of our students and one of our adult leaders for our pastor's "Bridging the Generation Gap" series.

To me, this video sums up what relational youth ministry is all about.  Amber started attending our church but did not participate in our youth ministry for over a year.  When Angie started working with our students, she told Amber she would pick her up and bring her with her to our midweek youth service.  Amber hasn't missed a single youth gathering since then!

This video, and more importantly this relationship, is a big win for me in YM.  I want to foster more and more of this in our ministry!

- Tim B.