Ministry With “Screenagers“

This Cambridge University study on “screenagers” caught my eye – probably because I can relate to it in my own ADHD online life. I find myself following the online path from one interesting post or article to another and then after 15-20 minutes asking myself, “Was that time spent productively? Did it help achieve my objectives for today?” Almost always the answer is, “No”.  So, it is easy to understand the macro impact on a student’s grades. Check it out.

Boy using an Ipad© So many screens, so little time!


Parenting, Teenagers, and Technology

This Huffington Post UK article caught our eye this week.

As the parent of an elementary schooler, I’m thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve quickly learned that things I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with for a few more years … like online safety and cyberbullying … are a part of being in elementary school.

Here’s one of my biggest takeaways from this article:

So approach the internet talk like you would the sex talk and be clear, honest and non-hysterical. Tell them that there are things on the internet that might seem naughty or funny, but are in fact probably staged, made up, or might well have hurt someone (or several people) in the creation of them. 

For me, this means talking about it BEFORE it happens. My daughter just brought home her first “research” assignment this week, and she’s going to be looking up things online for her presentation to her class. I don’t want to wait until something “bad” appears in her Google search or on YouTube, so we’ve already started talking about the fact there are things online that are not good for her to watch (or for mommy and daddy to watch, for that matter).

This might be a great article to share and start some conversations with parents of your youth group students.

What We All Should Learn From Ashley Madison

Guest Blog from Ron Boehme of Youth With A Mission

Up until six weeks ago, I had never heard of Ashley Madison. I thought she might be the great-great-great granddaughter of James Madison, the fourth president of the United States.

Not by a long shot.

Ashley Madison is an adultery website that helps men and women cheat on their spouses. Their sickening slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair.”

Six weeks ago Ashley Madison ran into a huge problem that exposed the names and personal secrets of up to 29 million people. That’s bad for them.

But what should we ALL learn from the Ashley Madison expose?

It saddens me to think about a story like this, but the more I pondered it, the more I realized there was a huge lesson to be learned. I’ll get to that shortly, but first let’s tell the tale of Ashley Madison.

It’s a popular web-site started by Noel Biderman in 2001 whose purpose is to link married men and women together who want to cheat on their spouses. Prospective adulterers fill out a profile, say what they are looking for, and pay a fee to be linked to someone as sordid as them.

As CEO of Ashley Madison, Biderman lauded his cheating business in a 2014 interview with the Washington Post where he explained that the goal of the company was global outreach because infidelity is universal.

“You get married, and after a period of time, your sexual attraction to your partner seems to wane,” he said. “Both genders do it, even where it is prohibited by law.” Biderman, who is married, even said that cheating can be good for society — as long as the trysts stay under wraps.

How he came to that conclusion I’ll never understand.

Ashley Madison is a sin site. Building on the universal reality of human lust, Biderman decided to make a lot of money condoning and promoting adultery. He is a Web-based adultery pimp who got wealthy encouraging people to cheat on their marital promises.

All was going well is this lurid, satanically-inspired world until some hackers came along.

In July 2015, a group called “The Impact Team” stole the user data of Ashley Madison and threatened to release users’ names and personal identifying information if its parent company, Avid Life Media, did not immediately shut down both Ashley Madison and its sister site, “Established Men.”

When Ashley Madison’s leaders didn’t respond to the threat, the group leaked more than 25 gigabytes of company data, including user details on August 18 and 20.

In its message to Ashley Madison’s leaders and the world, “The Impact Team” blamed Avid Life Media, accusing the company of deceptive practices: “We have explained the fraud, deceit, and stupidity of ALM and their members. Now everyone gets to see their data … Too bad for ALM, you promised secrecy but didn’t deliver.”

That brought a world-wide gasp to millions of men and women cheaters. They had been exposed as liars and creeps.

What the hackers did was illegal. They should be tracked down and prosecuted for stealing personal property. But I’m not writing to debate that point. Their theft of information, and the exposure that it brought to millions of people around the world can be very instructive to all of us.

To put it in a nut-shell: Your sin will find you out.

Those are famous words in the Bible that Moses spoke to the nation of Israel in Numbers 32:23. In the story, Moses asked two of the Israelite tribes who had land east of the Jordan River to go across and fight for the other ten tribes whose inheritances were to the west. He said if they refused to go to battle with their brothers, their cowardice would become known.

Their sin would find them out.

Plenty of sermons have been preached on that verse over the past two thousand years. It’s the basic moral premise that you reap what you sow;  You won’t get away with your sin;  Cheaters don’t prosper–and other similar proverbs.

In this life, that’s not perfectly true–but it often is. In the case of Ashley Madison’s customers, 29 million men and womens’ chickens come home to roost. That included some people currently in the news, and even the founder of the website–Noel Biderman–who had publicly stated that he’d never cheated on this wife.

His personal data said otherwise–indicating at least two trysts with other liars in Toronto hotels. Biderman has since been dismissed as CEO of the company and who knows the state of his union with his wife, Amanda.

Lying and cheating don’t help a marriage.

How Mr. Biderman could passionately promote and receive a big salary for an adultery web-site, and swear that his marriage was pure, is beyond me. I guess once Satan traps you in his web of lies you end up getting lost in the propaganda.

Your sin will find you out.

But let’s be honest. Our sins are not always exposed in this lifetime. The Bible rightly tells us in 1 Timothy 5:24, “ Remember, the sins of some people are obvious, leading them to certain judgment. But there are others whose sins will not be revealed until later.”

What’s that referring to?

The eternal judgment of God.

Here’s where the Ashley Madison revelations are very important to every human being–not just those who cheat on their husbands or wives.

First, I want to point out a very important word clarification in the Bible. In both the Hebrew and Greek languages, the root terms used for judge, just, justice and righteousness are essentially the same.  In past time periods, it was common to talk about God’s judgment on human character and activity.

In the 21st century, the word judgment has fallen out of vogue. Some think it conjures up images of an ogre-like Deity who hates human beings. The Millennial Generation prefers the word justice and are actively involved in many justice issues including human slavery and trafficking.

Millennials like the word justice.  Other generations are more familiar with the word judgment.

But they mean the same thing. The righteous and just God hates all sin while loving (dying for) all people. Judgment and justice are the righteous part of his Character. There’s no difference between the God of Judgment and the God of Justice. They are one and the same.

Now to the real point.

Many things on earth, whether man-made or God-created are pictures of eternal realities. For example, the family structure is a small snap-shot of the eternal relationship that redeemed people will share with God and others in heaven.  Human prisons are “types” of the eternal abode for the rebellious–hell. Even airplanes are primitive symbols of how angels and human beings will be able to soar one day.

So what do the Ashley Madison revelations picture in the future?

The day of eternal judgment/justice when every human being will be exposed before God.

There are at least 68 verses in the Bible that describe this awesome reality. Revelation 20:11-15 says that our actions or deeds will be revealed:

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.”

Matthew 12:36-37 says that our words will be revealed: “”But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

1 Corinthians 4:5 goes even further and says that even our thoughts will be exposed. “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the thoughts of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”

And finally, Romans 2:16 says that all secrets will be known, “on that day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.”

Gulp. This is no little computer hack. It’s the Righteous Judge exposing our words, thoughts, motives and deeds. Nothing will be hidden about any of us.

Makes the Ashley Madison leak seem like a harmless prank.

All of this should motivate us to live in the fear of God on earth, be humble about our many sins and failures, and cry out now for God’s mercy and grace–before we face the inevitable day of reckoning.

We’ll all be fully exposed. Get ready. Be saved through Jesus Christ.

That’s what we all should learn from Ashley Madison.

The VMA’s: What’s a Youth Leader To Do?

083115_vma_blog_500Every year, for the last 32 years, MTV has broadcast the Video Music Awards into millions of living rooms. Each time it seems they try and top the prior airing with a show that’s even more outrageous than the last (good luck with that next year, guys).

Also every year, many youth leaders express horror and outrage at the latest pop star antics and scantily clad performances. It’s as much a part of the season as back-to-school and football season countdowns. We wonder when the world got so dark and strange. But, in all honesty, the world has been like this since Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden. I think it takes something like the VMA’s to shock us out of our comfort zone and truly confront the reality that not only is this world not our home, but it’s actually a pretty hostile environment that rewards things that are the complete opposite of what we believe.

YLO Members get our exclusive re:Tuned Discussion Starters: talking points for the mainstream music students are listening to. 

Yes, last night’s show glorified everything it possibly could about drug culture, sexuality and freedom to do whatever makes you feel good. But honestly, this should not be news. These are the things our students face head-on every single day. Is it possible that we’ve become numb or willfully unaware of this sometimes? Is it possible that after we visit a student at school for lunch, we go back to our office at the church and continue planning our lessons for Sunday and we forget just how dark their everyday environment is? Many posts you’ll read today will hold up the VMA’s as an annual wakeup call to the depravity of youth culture. But as youth leaders, we should already know that “people love the darkness rather than the light because their works are evil” (John 3:19). Instead of a big, shocking, annual wake-up call, this should be one of dozens of heart-tugging reminders for us to pray without ceasing for our students to be light in an ever-darkening world. Let’s not be so insulated in church culture that we forget the daily battle our students are fighting … a battle to keep from getting  sucked into darkness and depravity. Instead, let’s engage with them often, asking how we can best serve and equip them to stand strong.

Also, on an encouraging note, the single most Shazammed and tweeted about performance last night came from a young artist named Tori Kelly. In the midst of all of the salaciousness, a young lady performed – fully clothed – playing an instrument and singing a song that she wrote. There was no choreography or jaw-dropping spectacle. Just a girl with a guitar and an anointed voice (Tori is a believer) and that was the moment that the most people responded to on social media. This should tell us something. Maybe it isn’t all hopeless out there. There are young people who are interested in things that are real and wholesome.

You can introduce your students to amazing music that reinforces the messages you’re working so hard to instill.

Let’s continue to pray for and with them and lift up the young people in Hollywood who are willing to be lights in a dark, dark world. And let’s continue to equip our students more than ever before, and encourage them that it’s ok to stand out and stand up for what they believe in.

Movie Review: Straight Outta Compton

Rated R for language throughout, strong sexuality/nudity, violence, and drug use. Starring Jason Mitchell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Aldis Hodge, Corey Hawkins, R. Marcucs Taylor and Paul Giamatti. Directed by F. Gary Gray (Law Abiding Citizen and The Italian Job).

Straight Outta ComptonIn the mid-1980s, the streets of Compton, California, were some of the most dangerous in the country. When five young men translated their experiences growing up into brutally honest music that rebelled against abusive authority, they gave an explosive voice to a silenced generation. Following the meteoric rise and fall of N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton tells the astonishing story of how these youngsters revolutionized music and pop culture forever the moment they told the world the truth about life in the hood and ignited a cultural war.

Over the years I’ve discovered that some reviews are easier to write than others. For example excellent films and terrible movies are the easiest reviews to write. Movies that are just ok can be tough but the most difficult reviews are for films that are of the highest quality but the lowest virtue.

Needless to say Straight Outta Compton is one of those films. It is filled with disturbing images and inappropriate language … a lot of inappropriate language. The messages of disrespecting authorities, sexual immorality and solving conflict with violence are not things we would or should celebrate. On the other hand, there are some very positive things about this film. There are strong messages about passionately following your dreams, working hard, perseverance, friendship and loyalty.

So how does one reconcile those two extremes?

Well let’s look at a few of the technical elements of them film. The true story about the rise of N.W.A. is insightful and entertaining. Gray keeps things moving at a steady pace and uses a clever trick to introduce the characters as well as inform us of the timeline.

The cast is superb. Jason Mitchell, O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Corey Hawkins look so much like Easy E, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre respectfully, that at times I forgot I was watching a movie and not a documentary … although to be fair O’Shea Jackson Jr. is Ice Cube’s son. And Marcc Rose looks exactly like Tupac Shakur. Paul Giamatti, as always, delivers a very strong performance.

I have no musical talent, but I love music. I love the power of music and how it can amplify or even change your mood. For the men in NWA, it was a vehicle to express their frustration at a broken system and it affected millions of people. That is amazingly powerful.

So how should we as Christ followers respond to a film like Straight Outta Compton? Well hopefully we can recognize the talent, passion and work ethic of the members of N.W.A. Hopefully we can acknowledge the power and influence of music and make wise decisions about what we are listening to. And hopefully we can engage in intelligent conversation about the subject matter.

Things you need to know about the movie

There are several scenes where women are seen fully nude and engaging is sexual activity. The language is extremely graphic and strong. There are over 330 F-words, almost 100 N-words, 180 S-words and a lot more.

There are also a couple of scenes of violence – mostly fighting and recreational drug use is seen throughout, mostly marijuana. Characters smoke marijuana throughout the film. Cocaine is also seen in the opening scene of the movie.

How to talk to students about the movie

Most people view the members of N.W.A. as either heroes or villains. Either way, there is no denying their influence. In one scene, Ice Cube says, “Speak a little truth and people lose their minds”.

  1. What do you think of that quote?
  2. How did they speak the truth?

Read Ephesians 4:15. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

  1. How does Paul tell us to speak the truth?
  2. What does that mean?
  3. How can you speak the truth in a love this week?

Robbie Maddison’s “Pipe Dream”

You won’t believe this until you see it! And even then, we had to watch it twice. Robbie Maddison made history by surfing his motorbike (!!!) Read the interview on

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Comic-Con 2015 Reel

Let The Music Tell The Story

STORY 20 from 30 Years, 30 Stories in YLO100

061115_ylo100_30stories_blogsEditor’s Note: This is one of a series of 30 Stories that appeared in the 100th edition of Youth Leaders Only. Make sure you check out the other great stories  from this special edition celebrating 30 years of YLO. 

We started working closely with Lisa, Andrea, and Danielle (known as Out of Eden) soon after they did their first record. We soon found that they had a great love for God’s Word and for teenagers (because they were teenagers themselves!) As we did more and more TalkBack meetings between youth leaders and the girls, what emerged was a tremendous heart to minister to the real needs of young girls.

Out Of Eden
Out Of Eden

We connected Out of Eden with several female youth ministry denominational leaders. They identified the key issues that the teenage girls were facing. The Out of Eden girls started writing songs, and our writers began working on the scope and sequence for the video and instructional package around these six key issues:

  • Discovering Life’s Destiny and Purpose
  • Finding Security and Acceptance
  • Maintaining Modesty and Fashion in Today’s World
  • Discerning God’s Views On Dating and Sexual Purity
  • Overcoming Abuse
  • Sorting Out Parental Relationships

The outcome was spectacular—and over 15,000 girls went through theOut of Eden Girls’ Event materials during the next year.

The Out of Eden Youth Event
The Out Of Eden Youth Event

We have worked with Team interlínc Artists in developing dozens of youth events including:

  • Petra’s “This Means War” Youth Event and “On Fire” Youth Event
  • Steve Taylor’s “I Predict The 1990’s” Youth Event
  • DC TALK’s “Largest Youth Group Lock-In”
  • Tobymac’s “City On Our Knees” Youth Event and “Speak Life” Youth Event
  • “ROCK’N U” Youth Event
  • Owl City’s “Good Time Youth Event”
  • The “Beach Party” Youth Event
  • Uncle Si’s “Si-cology 1” Youth Event”
  • …and many more
The Steve Taylor Youth Event
The Steve Taylor Youth Event

Here’s why these events are so popular with Youth Leaders Only members: when a youth leader combine the power of music and media with the power of God’s Truth, their students are more likely to internalize what they encounter. That means that their lives will change as God’s Word works it way from their heads into their hearts!

There’s another reason Youth Leaders Only members love these events so such: teenagers are “event” oriented. They need something “fun” to look forward to—preferably something a few weeks away from now. Think of those anticipated events as highlights on their calendar during the year. The Youth Events that we’ve created help youth leaders have enough “events” during the year to keep the momentum, enthusiasm, and anticipation flowing!

Finally, the Youth Events that YLO members have available to them help them plan better camps, retreats, overnighters, and other special events. So much of the “work” of planning those things has already been done, so youth leaders can focus on the students and other issues about those events.

There is no doubt, when you let the music tell the story, good things happen!

Youth Ministry Goes To The Movies

STORY 27 from 30 Years, 30 Stories in YLO100

061115_ylo100_30stories_blogsEditor’s Note: This is one of a series of 30 Stories that appeared in the 100th edition of Youth Leaders Only. Make sure you check out the other great stories  from this special edition celebrating 30 years of YLO. 

We have worked on over forty movies over the past thirty years, starting with ECHOES – a film that we produced, directed, and distributed in 1985. One that has reached as many teenagers as any faith-based film was Soul Surfer – The Bethany Hamilton Story. Rick Bundschuh, longtime Team interlínc Member, told interlinc’s Allen Weed, “There’s a 13-year-old surfer girl in our church who got her arm bit off by a shark. I believe that the Lord is going to do some amazing things through her life.” Allen totally missed how important what Rick was saying would be.

Several months later, Allen was eating lunch at Puckett’s Grocery — the local hamburger joint — and noticed on the television on top of the soft drink machine that the young teenager Rick mentioned was making a guest appearance on the Oprah show!

She was amazing as she shared her remarkable confidence in the Lord about the events surrounding the shark attack, how she had been dealing with it, and how she viewed her future. She quoted Jeremiah 29:11 as her rock-solid stance.

Allen immediately called Rick and asked him to get interlínc connected with Bethany’s family. From that association, The Heart of a Soul Surfer documentary was shot and sent out to all YLO members. Interlínc then worked with her family and her manager producer to coordinate the youth ministry outreach for the Soul Surfer theatrical release.

Soul Surfer Movie Guide
Soul Surfer Movie Guide

When most youth leaders think of interlínc, they rightfully think of music. We are, after all, heavily involved in the Christian music world, and most of our resources are created to use music as a hook to teach biblical truth. While teenagers are exposed to more music than any other media, we know that movies are very important and have a huge impact.

Your students are into movies—big time. Most of our young friends watch several movies a week. They watch them alone and with friends, on their phones, computers, televisions, and local theater screens. They quote lines and sing songs from favorite films, and adopt the fashions they see in the movies they like. Yep, movies are big time important to teenagers.

That means that YOU want to be able to take advantage of films that will help you reach young people for Jesus Christ, and help them to grow in their relationship with Him!

When we find movies that you would find useful, we create resources that help you use those films in your ministry to students. We review scripts and view screeners to find movies that can help you use the movie experience to impart Biblical truth to your students.

Some of the movies we've created youth ministry resources for
Some of the movies we have created youth ministry resources for

We have developed youth ministry resources for large blockbuster movies (like The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and The Passion of The Christ), medium sized movies (such as Soul Surfer, and Disney’s A Christmas Carol) and smaller movies (like Alone Yet Not Alone and The Identical).

Movies can have a big impact on students. We want to help you to use that potential for Christ!

The Future – YLO Anytime, Anywhere

STORY 30 from 30 Years, 30 Stories in YLO100

061115_ylo100_30stories_blogsEditor’s Note: This is one of a series of 30 Stories that appeared in the 100th edition of Youth Leaders Only. Make sure you check out the other great stories  from this special edition celebrating 30 years of YLO. 

The interlínc warehouse is a 5600 square-foot barn filled to the bursting point with CDs, DVDs, Bible study books, posters, artist standees, and old YLO boxes. It is literally a gold mine of youth ministry resources—just sitting there.

That was 100% true—until this year! Thanks to the “digital bookcase” (aka the “YLO music-media resource vault”) those resources are no longer stuck in a warehouse or stuck on a bookcase behind your desk. They are available to YLO Members 24/7 ready for you to use—What you want. When you want it. Where you want it!

ylo_ipadLooking for a song with a theme you are teaching on this weekend? Worship band need chord charts to learn new songs? Got a student struggling with depression? One of your students asks about a mainstream band that’s got a top 10 hit? Got a student who loves Lecrae’s music? Need a movie and study for a retreat movie night?

It’s all right there in the YLO Music-Media Vault! All YLO Members anywhere around the world have their own user name and password.

We would love to show you the future! Give us a call for a Test Drive of the new YLO!