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How To Talk To Your Youth Group About Gender From A Biblical Perspective

By Growth

“How do I talk to my students about gender from a biblical perspective?”

This is a question so many youth pastors are asking right now — and it’s a great question to ask!

Do you feel equipped to talk about gender with your students?

It’s a prevalent topic in our culture right now, especially this month. This is exactly why it’s important you, as a youth pastor, find your voice in this area. Your students need to know what God’s Word says about the things they are encountering all the time.

We get it — topics like this can feel challenging to tackle. That’s why we’re here to help.

Our new series on sexuality, “Don’t Say” tackles some of the most prevalent topics in culture right now — gender, purity, pornography, and homosexuality — from a biblical perspective.

Check it out 👇

One of the most relevant yet uncomfortable conversations that your students are having is around sex and sexuality. Sometimes these topics become so taboo that the church doesn’t speak about them. Scripture, however, has a lot to say about sexuality. In this four-week series, we’ll address the topic of sexuality that your students are facing in their culture.

Our Youth Pastor Co sermon series library has more than 100 sermon series on a comprehensive list of topics. We’re here to make sure you’re equipped to walk your students through the biblical worldview of virtually any topic in culture or in Scripture.

Each month, Youth Pastor Co brings together the most creative minds in youth ministry to build sermon series packages that are powerful, relevant, and easy to use.

Every new series includes:

✅ Sermon Series Graphics

✅ Sermon Builder Curriculum

✅ Sermon Bumper Video

✅ Small Group Materials

✅ Social Media Graphics

If you’re not yet a subscriber to Youth Pastor Co, why wait? Sign up today to get access to the sermon series library!

Learning To Fail Leads To Success

By Growth

Failure is no bueno.

I don’t like it.

It makes me feel devalued and incompetent.

I feel like a 5th grader is smarter than me…

I am not trying to downplay 5th graders, but I am a graduate of elementary. It’s a pretty big deal.

For years, I thought I did not fail. I might have said something like “I am not perfect” or “I don’t know everything.” When deep down I thought, I was close to perfection and I knew almost everything. I might have been blind to arrogance in my life. Let’s just say I failed at humility.

The more I succeeded, the more I ignored failures. I maintained this way of thinking for years. Until I went through a season of failures. Back to back. One after the other. I made almost every kind of failure. The biggest failure I made, was being blind to it all.

So, I took a hard look at my track record and asked three questions:

1. How did I not see the failures coming?

2. How could I have prevented the failures?

3. Why didn’t anyone tell me?

The answers to those questions were not very fun.

Like I said, I don’t like to fail.

Actually, the more I think about it…

I don’t know many people who like to fail.

We all fail. There is no way around it. We fail in relationships. We fail in school. We fail at work. We fail at budgeting. We fail at communication. We fail. Plain and simple. No one is perfect (except Jesus).

But failure actually presents an irreplaceable season of opportunity.

When we fail, we have an opportunity to grow. When we fail, we need to first recognize it and own it. If we do not own it, we will quickly rationalize it away and miss an opportunity for growth. To achieve success, you have to grow. Truthfully speaking, successful people stand on a pile of failures like they have climbed a huge mountain that others thought was impossible to climb!

You and I can improve and get better through three practices:

1. Anticipate Failure

Failure is inevitable, so we need to anticipate and prepare for it. One of the best ways to anticipate failure is to look at a track record. Sit down and make a list assess all your failures from your profession to your personal life.

Solve a problem before it is a bigger problem. Unsolved problems lead to failures. If you can make a list of all your failures, you are one step closer to succeeding at what you do!

Craig Groeschel says, “The difference between a good leader and great leader is that great leaders learn to anticipate rather than react.” Click HERE to check out his podcast

2. Evaluate Failure 

Failure is the result of an absence of consistent evaluation. When you consistently evaluate your failures, you will grow in your anticipation of failures.

Now take the list you just created and with laser focus evaluate and analyze your failures. Ask questions like: When did this problem arise? What can I control? What can I improve and do better next time? Why did I fail? What would a win look like? This list will quickly turn into your self-improvement strategy. You will only get better if you evaluate your failures.

3. Receive Feedback 

Receiving feedback is not easy at first, but once you embrace this practice, you will begin to have one success after another. When you are ready to receive feedback from your boss, your peers, and your family, you will not only be able to anticipate failures before they arise on a big scale, you will be able to lead others through their failures. Click HERE to learn more about Receiving Feedback.

Everyone fails. You. Me. Your Neighbor. Your boss.

Don’t worry. You are not alone.

People have been failing for thousands of years.

Check out what Paul said to the church in Corinth.

“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

— 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Paul said it best. Weaknesses and failures are a window of opportunity to let the power of Christ work through you and me.

— Abe Haley

How My Youth Ministry Tripled In Size

By Growth, Spiritual

Three months into becoming a student pastor my church asked me if the  youth were going to do a disciple now. They had always done a disciple now. I casually said I would pray about it and let them know by Friday. I had full intentions of doing a disciple now. Besides, they had always done a disciple now.

That Friday morning I was about to leave for work, and the thought popped into my mind, “you didn’t pray about the disciple now.” So I went to my room, shut the door, and quietly asked God about the disciple now. Almost instantly I had the idea, “do a student revival.” In 2012 and in my limited experience I had never seen a student revival. This was also before Hillsong Young and Free had released their “Youth Revival” album. But I decided to do a four-night revival service for students.

It was electric. 

Many were saved. Many were set free. And there was a lot of chatter in the schools about our church. Needless to say, we grew — a lot.

I’m a huge fan of strategy, excellent leadership, and amazing content but there is another factor that goes into growing a ministry. The x-factor.

What is the x-factor? The favor of God. 

Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.”

I fear that sometimes we can get so caught up in building the ministry that we fail to ask God for His input. I’m convinced that, when invited, God brings divine ideas, strategies, and conversations into our meetings. 

Unless the Lord grows your ministry, it won’t grow.

When the hand of God is on your ministry, it’s unstoppable. So I want to encourage you, seek God. Pray and ask God directly about your series, events, and outreaches. You might not get a “word from God,” but the invitation is all He needs to help you reach more students.

-Daniel Maddry

Make Defeat Your Fuel

By Growth

I saw a Gatorade commercial recently. It started with Michael Jordan telling a story of how he missed the varsity basketball team in high school. It’s followed by other well-known players telling their story of failure. The commercial wraps up with Matt Ryan doing drills, he was the quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons who blew the biggest lead in super bowl history and lost to the Patriots.

He said DEFEAT was his FUEL.

If all you do is WIN WIN WIN (insert song here) you won’t have a depth and strength to overcome when the challenging seasons come. And trust me the seasons will come where all you know is DEFEAT and LOSS.

Winning is amazing, I love it. I hate losing but I can tell you from personal experience that my best successes have come from the hardest DEFEATS.

No character in the Bible succeeds without sacrifice or defeat — our lives are no different. The story goes that one of the greatest basketball players of today, Steph Curry, grew up going to games with his Dad, who also happened to be a professional basketball player.

His dad played a few seasons in Toronto. Another great player happened to be on the team, Vince Carter, who will go down in NBA history. Most nights after warm up Vince would play Steph in a game of one on one. He never let Steph win — or score a point.

Now Steph is arguably the best shooter and has changed the game as we know it. I wonder how many of his now victories are found in the defeats of his youth?

I believe it’s the same for you and me — our past defeats aren’t fatal but they are the proving ground for success.

So I agree with Gatorade. Make DEFEAT your FUEL.

— Joel Bennett

3 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Going Into Ministry

By Growth

Hey there, I know you probably have no idea who I am. If you are like me, then you are asking yourself, “Who is this guy? What does he have to prove? What can I learn from him?” I totally understand the skepticism and thought process. Honestly, I welcome it and appreciate it. Although there is a part of me that desperately wishes people would see my credibility because God has approved me.

Can you relate? Be honest.

We live in a word where people’s lips say one thing, but their lifestyle say’s something else. I don’t want to be that type of person anymore. I want to be a man that is real, honest, and wise. I want to be real about myself, be honest with others, and be wise with what I share.

To get to know me briefly, I was born and raised in the church. The type of church I was a part of prayed until people started falling down. I was raised in a church with dynamic worship. I am talking about the kind that you sweat during “Deep Cries Out” by Bethel and then bawl your eyes out during “With Everything” by Hillsong.

The same church I grew up in, I was employed at for four years as a Co-Director of Student Ministries to Director of Student Ministries. In Fall of 2017, I got the opportunity to be a part of a global ministry called Elevation Church with Pastor Steven Furtick for eight months. It was such a frustrating, but fruitful time. It’s interesting that most of our fruit or productivity comes from frustration or pain.

My hope isn’t to try and give you three points on how to be successful or build a ministry. I hope to share three areas that I struggled with. Three areas I wish I would have just “got” when I was just starting in ministry. I am still learning and do not have it all figured out, but I hope these lessons can speak to you.

Early on, I was so afraid of people seeing my struggles that they wouldn’t want to follow me. I was so nervous to let people into seeing my weakness. Who wants to follow a weak leader, right? Who wants to go into battle with someone who isn’t bold and courageous? I led out of insecurity and let it get the worst of me. Something I wish I would have done is let people in on my struggle. I am not saying the struggles your supervisor should know, I mean things like administration, consistency, and…hard conversations.

I tried too hard to carry this vibrato of having it all together, but underneath that, I was scared. I was afraid. What if people really knew that I hate when people don’t like me? What if people really knew I want to live in my comfort zone? What if people really knew I don’t like inviting people to church because I am so scared of being rejected?

If you haven’t, don’t be afraid to let people into your struggle. Something I am learning is that people connect to your weaknesses, and are led by your strengths. Be vulnerable!

Accountability is a love/hate relationship. I love that I am held to a standard that is set by my supervisor or me, but I hate when I miss the mark and am reminded I am really not “killing it.” Something I wish I did more wasn’t so much have accountability, but hold others accountable to what they promised me. You know…like telling a volunteer if they show up late again, they will be asked to step into a different role, but you kept extending grace because they were all you had to lead worship. Then you were wondering why all your volunteers are always late and not on time.

If you set a standard, learn to stand on that standard. Do it YOURSELF. If what you are demanding out of others is not set by YOU, then people might begin to question your leadership. If you want to be on time, show up fifteen minutes early. If you don’t hit the standard you set (it’ll happen), own up to that first before you say anything else. Trust me, this builds trust with the people around you!

Don’t forget that you are a local church pastor in some sense. We are never too busy to be interrupted. Get involved in people’s world! They may never step into your world, so why not jump into theirs? Jesus didn’t wait for us to come to heaven, he left heaven to come to us. Therefore, go to their games, presentations, hospital rooms, or anything else to show that you are available. God used Moses because he was available, not because he had a Masters Degree in Theology and Biblical Studies. It’s funny how you see faith work when you actually work it!

My prayer is that these are three things you can learn from me that I have not mastered, but am continually learning. Keep going, youth pastor; you are making a bigger difference than you know!

— Ryan Martinez

One Reason We Fall (And How To Get Back Up)

By Growth

Having arrested Him, they led Him away and brought Him to the house of  the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance.” Luke 22:54

Most of us know the narrative. 

It’s a cold night, and Jesus has just been betrayed by Judas. In an effort to do what is right, Peter follows Jesus as He is being taken away and interrogated. And there, around the comfort of a fire, Peter denies knowing Jesus three times.

The rooster crows. The guilt comes. And Peter runs away weeping bitterly.

Although none of us have been in this exact situation, I feel many of us can identify with Peter. We’re trekking with Jesus daily, maybe even involved in ministry, and seemingly from nowhere, we fail. Maybe we fail miserably. Our instinct is to run and hide. But Jesus teaches us a better a way.

I want to cover two areas of failure that I think we can learn from this story.

1. Why do we fall?

The scriptures say, “but Peter was following at a distance.” I believe that if Peter had been in the same room as Jesus, he wouldn’t have denied Him. And if Jesus would have been sitting around the fire with Peter, he wouldn’t have denied Him.

When you follow Jesus from a distance, you position yourself to fail.

A major key to holiness is living with an awareness that Jesus is with you at all times. And your proximity to following Jesus will directly affect your ability to stand strong in the midst of temptation. 

That’s why I love the promise that Jesus gives the disciples at the last supper, “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.” John 16:7.

It’s to our advantage to live with the Holy Spirit in us rather than the physical Jesus beside us. There’s never a separation, and the power to walk in righteousness is always there.

2. How do we get back up?

Rather than learning from Peter’s experience, let’s look to Jesus for this one. Jesus prophesied that all would desert Him then immediately says, “But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” This is when Peter speaks up about never denying Him — we all know the story.

Let’s fast forward to the fall, Luke 22:61, “The Lord turned and looked at Peter…” This is when Peter runs away weeping. It would be easy to confuse this look with a, “I told you so” but this look was no doubt one that was full of grace and mercy. The actual character of Jesus. 

Once Jesus is resurrected he says to Mary, “tell the disciples and Peter, I’ve gone ahead of them to Galilee.” Jesus will always look at you with eyes of love and tell you in the midst of your failures, “I’ve gone ahead of you.

  • You messed up big time — Jesus has gone ahead of you.
  • You fell miserably — Jesus has gone ahead of you.
  • You broke your promise to Him — Jesus has gone ahead of you.

So what happens when they meet up at Galilee?

Peter recognizes Jesus on the shore and immediately jumps into the water, clothes and all. He’s no longer satisfied with following at a distance. Once on shore, he has breakfast with Jesus around a new campfire.

And everything is alright.

I want to encourage you. If you’ve failed miserably, Jesus knew and has already gone ahead of you. Close the distance gap and choose to follow him closely.

He’s waiting to see you again, with breakfast.

— Daniel Maddry