2018 Music-Media Manifesto


Fact #1 – Kids love music & entertainment media. They are engaged in it a whopping 9 hours everyday. 19,500 hours between 7th and 12th grade. Get the data here.


Fact #2 
– To be effective in ministering to them, a youthworker must be aware of and know how to use Christian Music, Worship Music, Mainstream Music, Movies, and other forms of media.

 

Fact #3 – Youthworkers don’t have time or finances to stay on top of the fast-moving music & media world kids live in.


Fact #4 
interlínc/Youth Leaders Only is youth ministry’s most trusted low-cost resource used by over 30,000 youthworkers over the past 30 years.

Tether Yourself

The Enlightening Talk Parents Aren’t Having Can Keep Teens from a Damaging Drift

Many of the students in your youth ministry got a smartphone for Christmas. This article by Rachel Macy Stafford could be a huge benefit to the parents of the teenagers in your church – and make you look good in the process! Read this article, and then copy its URL (http://interlinc-online.com/blog/?p=3346) and send it to all of the parents of teenagers in your church or ministry.

“I’ll take your hand when thunder roars
And I’ll hold you close, I’ll stay the course
I promise you from up above
That we’ll take what comes, take what comes, l
ove.”
-Imagine Dragons, Walking the Wire

We bought my daughter a smartphone when we moved to a large metropolitan area three years ago. She was participating in a massive year-round swimming program where we knew no one. Her dad and I decided it would be best for her to have a phone to communicate with us.

Over the years, we’ve implemented all the recommended parental restrictions, safe-search settings, and online safety guidelines. We’ve had on-going talks about cyber dangers like online bullying, predators, pornography, sexting, and what to do in each situation. But despite these protections, I’ve felt an unexplainable uneasiness about teens and smartphone consumption. I’ve continued to read extensively on the subject, finding an increasing number of articles on teen suicide as they relate to online bullying and social media use.

But recently, the uneasiness I’ve been feeling came to an all-time high and spurred me into action – a preventative action I’d not taken before.

In one heartbreaking week, I was contacted by two friends from previous places our family has lived. Each family has a daughter in the same grade as mine. These vibrant young ladies with whom my daughter played Legos and shared towels during swim meets are now harming themselves, hating themselves, the light dimming from their spirits right in front of their parents’ eyes.

Right after learning of their struggles, I read a sobering article on Time.com about an outgoing young lady named Nina who shocked everyone with an attempted suicide. The particular details of her story gave me great pause:

“After her attempted suicide and during her stay at a rehabilitation facility, Nina and her therapist identified body image insecurity as the foundation of her woe. ‘I was spending a lot of time stalking models on Instagram, and I worried a lot about how I looked,’ says Nina, who is now 17. She’d stay up late in her bedroom, looking at social media on her phone, and poor sleep—coupled with an eating disorder—gradually snowballed until suicide felt like her only option. ‘I didn’t totally want to be gone,’ she says. ‘I just wanted help and didn’t know how else to get it.’

Nina’s mom, Christine Langton, has a degree in public health and works at a children’s hospital. Despite her professional background, she says she was ‘completely caught off guard’ by her daughter’s suicide attempt. ‘Nina was funny, athletic, smart, personable . . . depression was just not on my radar,’ she says.

In hindsight, Langton says she wishes she had done more to moderate her daughter’s smartphone use. ‘It didn’t occur to me not to let her have the phone in her room at night,’ she says. ‘I just wasn’t thinking about the impact of the phone on her self-esteem or self-image until after everything happened.’”

Nina sounded a lot like my highly driven, very lovable, athletically-gifted brown-eyed girl.

And for the first time in three years, I knew exactly what I needed to do about the uneasiness I’d been feeling about her smartphone consumption.

I walked straight out of my bedroom and into my fourteen-year-old daughter’s room. I felt my heart racing at the importance of the conversation we were about to have. I found her stretched out on her bed, homework splayed across the bed. She was scrolling Instagram, as teens often do.

I sat down and told her about the two mothers who’d reached out to me for help. My daughter’s face fell as I told her about her former playmate who discovered her looks had been rated on Instagram. The painful comments she read about herself caused her to harm herself until she bled. She expressed hating herself so much that she no longer wanted to live.

I then read aloud the eye-opening statistics from a study by Jean Twenge, author of iGen, found in the same article as Nina’s story:

“Using data collected between 2010 and 2015 from more than 500,000 adolescents nationwide, study found kids who spent three hours or more a day on smartphones or other electronic devices were 34% more likely to suffer at least one suicide-related outcome—including feeling hopeless or seriously considering suicide—than kids who used devices two hours a day or less. Among kids who used electronic devices five or more hours a day, 48% had at least one suicide-related outcome.”

“I am worried,” I told my daughter truthfully. “And it my job to protect you,” I added.

My daughter assured me she had good friends, a sensible head on her shoulders, and would come to me if anything was wrong.


Your kids are involved in entertainment media 9 hours everyday. Let us keep you up on all the new Christian Music, Worship Music, and Mainstream Music.


At that point, it would have been easy and convenient to end the conversation, have faith everything would be ok, and walk out of the room. At that point, I could have decided to take back the phone her father and I let her borrow so she wouldn’t be exposed to damaging influences. Instead, I chose to enlighten her with information that will benefit her for the rest of her life, especially a prosperous, happy life.

This is what I said to my daughter in letter form. It is my hope that others will say these words to those they love. If our teens can learn to tether themselves, there is hope. Their lives are too valuable to let drift … their lives are too valuable to let fade away.

Tether Yourself: An Awareness Strategy to Keep You from Drifting from Your Best Life  

Dear one, it is natural to go through difficult periods where you don’t feel like yourself … when you question your worth … when your purpose is not clear. During those times, I want to use this information to give yourself an unfiltered view of your beautiful worth and your extraordinary potential.

First, you need to know what is happening to your brain while on your device. Social media is known for creating algorithms to capture and manipulate our consumption. The goal is to achieve the highest amount of engagement possible. (source) There is even a term for this in Silicon Valley: Brain Hacking. It is having a negative impact on our mental health – especially susceptible are teenagers. Here’s why:

The teen brain isn’t done forming and the part of the brain that manages impulse control, empathy, judgment, and the ability to plan ahead are not fully developed. This means you’re more likely to see disturbing online content or have troubling encounters; it means you’re more likely to become distracted from the important tasks at hand; it means you’re more likely to become addicted to your device than adults. When you are addicted, you will experience distraction, fatigue, or irritability when you’re not on your phone. Teens who excessively use their phone are more prone to disrupted sleep, restlessness, stress and fatigue.(source)

So let’s think about this in terms of your life:

Each time the phone notifies you, you stop what you are doing—whether it’s homework or a job you have to do. What might take you one hour to do, will take you several, and it won’t be completed as well. The inability to focus will reflect in your grades and impact the job opportunities you have as you grow. Spending quality time with friends and family will be impacted by the need to check the phone, making you believe what is most important is on your phone when it is really the person in front of you.

Each time you scroll, you are being influenced by what you see on the screen. Your thoughts and beliefs about what your body should look like or what your life should look like are being shaped. The hidden influence of the internet can create a poor self-image, unrealistic comparisons, and harmful judgements – and you won’t even know it is happening.

But here’s how you take back control:

Awareness … you see, awareness changes everything. Awareness is your weapon against the hidden influences and damaging behaviors. While you are online, your mind, your thoughts, your core values are drifting to wherever tech companies want you to go. The remedy is to limit the time you spend drifting in the online world and tether yourself to real life. 

Tether yourself
To real people, real conversations, and real scenery.

Tether yourself
To furry animals, interesting books, good music, the great outdoors.

Tether yourself
To spatulas, hammers, cameras, paintbrushes, and yoga mats.

When your worth is in question … when you feel lost and alone … when you feel sad and can’t explain why, tether yourself to real life. Tether yourself to real people. Tether yourself to real love. And I will help you set limits because I know teens feel pressure to be available 24/7. But you need and deserve time to be alone with your thoughts, doing things you enjoy, without constant pressure and interruptions from the outside world. 

As you practice these self-regulation skills that will benefit you for life, I vow to do the same. I am here to set an example of a well-rounded life and to help you navigate this challenging territory. You can always hold on to me.

I love you,

Mom


Go HERE to read more!

Abraham Lincoln and the Meaning of Thanksgiving

NOTE: This is such a powerful Thanksgiving message, we are reposting it again in 2017.

A note from interlinc President Allen Weed: My long time friend and co-laborer in youth ministry Ron Boehme sent me his Thanksgiving post this morning. His insights on President Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation blew me away! With Ron’s permission and our editor’s kind readjustment, Ron’s thoughts are here as a Guest Blog Post.

These thoughts and application points will be foundational for our family discussions over the next couple of days. I hope you will find them equally as helpful. Jesus Christ is the same – 1863, today and forever! Happy Thanksgiving to you, your family, and the kids in your youth ministry.


Thanksgiving is a uniquely biblical holiday (should we go back in time and rightly rename it a “holy day?”).

It is not simply a day off, with turkey and trimmings, time with family members or a good football game. Yes, it can involve all these elements, but it is much more than that.

Thanksgiving is a “reality reminder” day: There is a God. He is awesome, loving, and just. And everything we have and hope for comes directly or indirectly from him.

At least once a year we should “re-center” our lives and spend a day giving thanks to Him.

Abraham Lincoln, our most respected president, understood that truth. Here is his reminder, during a grim time in American history that can help us navigate our own.

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Bill O’Reilly’s book Killing Lincoln has been out for over a year and is currently ranked at number two on the New York Times best-seller list (amazingly his new book Killing Kennedy is number one–and both are excellent reads).

Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln, starring David Day-Lewis, is also out in theaters this week and is getting excellent reviews. I am looking forward to seeing it as my “movie of the year.”

What made Lincoln a great president was his clear, uncompromising faith in God and his view that history is being guided by a Being who is worthy of our prayers, devotion, and thanks.

Here is his text for an 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation. I would encourage you to read it slowly to get the depth of his thinking. In between paragraphs, I will comment on his wisdom.

Washington, D.C., October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”

Lincoln reminds us that we tend to “forget” about God. Do you forget him in your daily life and struggles? Lincoln rightly reminds us that God is our “source” of everything good in our lives. He says that our gratefulness to God should “soften our hearts” and make us aware of God’s watchful providence in our lives. Is your heart soft toward God and his blessings? Do you realize that a Loving God is watching over your life as well as guiding the affairs of nations?

“In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.”

Lincoln is grateful that even during our nation’s darkest war, there was a peace and harmony in the world that only God could create and maintain. If left to ourselves, everything would explode or fall apart. But God keeps the world together with his ever-wise and loving care.

“Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.”

Despite the war and national travail, Lincoln is grateful that America is a fruitful, growing nation in which he expects a “large increase of freedom.” Do you expect same? Does your faith go beyond the horizon of your personal circumstances and national problems to thank God for his abundance?

“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

Abraham Lincoln understood sin–and God’s anger against it. If you love people and truth then you must hate evil and its destructive forms. But he also knew that God was gracious–and that ALL the great things in America have come via his grace and mercy. Do you consciously realize that truth? Do you give God credit for all the good things in your life?

“It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.”

I love Lincoln’s word choices here. Solemnly–don’t joke away Thanksgiving or fail to give God serious thought. Reverently–with respect, prayer, and admiration. Gratefully–it only has meaning when it is directed toward someone. Gratefulness in general is just pleasant feelings. Gratefulness to God grows a loving relationship with your Lord and Savior.

“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Lincoln asks all Americans to observe Thankgiving day–whether they are atheists, pantheists, or believers in God. It will benefit all because, whether they believe it or not, God is there. You may not see the sun for the clouds, but it is there and you couldn’t live without it. Even more so with God in whom you live, breathe and have your being (Acts 17:28). He exhorts all Americans to the double barrels of joy–thanksgiving and praise. One recognizes what God does and the other, who he is. He is our Father whose home is in the Heavens (the ultimate destination of his children).

“And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.”

Lincoln finishes his Proclamation with three distinct admonitions:

1. That we have repentant hearts over our “national perverseness and disobedience.” What would Abraham Lincoln think of the evolution of those sins today? Do you care? Do you grieve over America’s perversion and turning away from God? In 1863, the president of the United States encouraged our citizens to repent.

2. That we reach out to the needy, hurting, and unfortunate in our society. God cares–so should we.

3. That we pray that God would heal and restore us to Him. Have you personally prayed today beyond bowing your head before the turkey is served? Were your prayers passionate for your family and nation?

“In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.”

“Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.”

“By the President: Abraham Lincoln.”

There’s no mention here of the phony definition of separation of Church and State. Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States, calls all Americans to repent, thank God, praise Him, and serve others.

Will you act upon his timeless words?

Happy Thanksgiving–in the year of our Lord 2012 and of the Independence of the United States the Two-Hundred and Thirty-Sixth.

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Parent Roundtable

Being A Parent In Music & Ministry

We were talking about the “Parents” theme of this issue of Youth Leaders Only, and the thought that youth leaders and musicians share some of the same, umm, “unique conditions” in which we ourselves are trying to be good parents. We wondered if we could get a conversation rolling between several of our Team interlínc youthworkers and Team interlínc artist-musicians about this subject. What you’re about to read is that virtual conversation. There are some deep insights here, and some smirks that are too good to miss. Read on!

L = Lecrae Artist Atlanta, GA
ST = Steve Taylor Artist Nashville, TN
RB = Rick Bundschuh Youthworker/Pastor Kauai Christian Fellowship, Poipu, HI
JW = Jeremy White Youthworker/Pastor Valley Church, Vacaville, CA
TP = Todd Pearage Youthworker New Hanover UMC, Gilbertsville, PA
DR = Doug Ranck Youthworker Free Methodist Church, Santa Barbara, CA

Youth leaders and musicians don’t have normal “9-to-5” schedules. How do you work around your schedule in order to be a good dad to your kids?

L      It’s all about prioritizing and reverse-engineering. I treat my family as a priority over work and outside obligations, which then governs how my weeks and months are laid out on the calendar. I tour a lot less
than I could simply because I value the health of my family over whatever I might gain from doing more concerts. Some practical things I do in planning my weeks include consistently giving my wife a day off every week. My wife and my team know that the kids are my responsibility for that entire day, no matter what. I also commit to doing breakfast with my kids every morning, and devotionals with them every night when I’m home.

RB   I found that my weird schedule actually worked as an advantage when the kids were young. I was around a lot in the morning. And since my wife also worked, we juggled our schedule so that we seldom had daycare. When the kids got older, I would yank them out of school from time to time to go with me to a conference or speaking commitment. Oh, and I insisted that I would work from home rather than a church office.

Get the complete insightful and rollicking “Parent Roundtable” when you are a member of Youth Leaders Only. Our Access Membership costs less than a pizza each month!

ST   Early in the morning isn’t always my favorite time of day, but it’s the one time I know nothing else is going on. So I’ve always been the one to drive our now teenage daughter to school; for some reason it’s easier to talk when we’re both looking through the windshield than when we’re sitting across from each other having a “talk.” We also try to schedule weekly daddy/daughter nights that typically involve going out to eat—she’s more talkative when there’s food involved—and although I often work nights, there’s usually one or two free nights a week.

DR  When the kids were still at home my short answer was to “bend and flex.” If I had an evening away from home, then I had “down” time scheduled in the late afternoon or morning and tried my best to choose time when they were around too. Taking at least one day off a week is important too. Although the kids are out are of the home now, I still want to take care of my marriage in the same way.

What advice would you give to a youth leader or musician who’s about to become a parent?

ST       Having been both, I’d advise you to kiss life-as-you-know-it goodbye.
L          Parenting is a priority. God gives specific directions to parents and it’s a…

Get the complete insightful and rollicking “Parent Roundtable” when you are a member of Youth Leaders Only. Our Access Membership costs less than a pizza each month!

5 Ways to Pray for Las Vegas

Jeff Chaves is a YLO Member, a pastor who still works with students, and who “wrote YLO Bible studies back when YLO had cassettes!” He is the pastor of Northpointe Community Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. This article first appeared on OutreachMagazine.com.

Over the past few weeks, I was honored to talk with pastors in Houston and South Florida, and bring their stories to you. I was encouraged to hear about how the church has been coming together and being the hands and feet of Jesus in their communities in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. I have used their examples in my own preaching and teaching.

I never imagined that my city would be the next to experience a tragedy.

I’m a pastor in Las Vegas. In fact, I graduated high school, got married, raised a family, was ordained and have served in a variety of ministries here. I woke up this morning to find text messages asking if I was awake and if I’d seen the news. I opened a news website on my phone and was devastated to find out what had taken place last night: hundreds injured and dozens killed. I was devastated. I’m still in shock and disbelief.

My first texts were to my grown sons who had been following the events. I praised God that they were not close to the tragedy. I then went on social media to see who else had been affected. Were there church family members present during the shooting? Other friends? What is the local media saying? The stream was so full, I was overwhelmed. I had to pray. With tears welling up, I prayed, “Lord, I don’t know what to pray, but help the people of my city!”

As the dust has settled this afternoon and I have heard many stories, I thought it would be helpful to put together some thoughts about how the church at large can help. This is nothing like the aftermath of the hurricanes. We are not going to need building supplies, but there are homes that are devastated today. The greatest way the church can be of service to Las Vegas is to pray.

1. Pray for those directly affected.
You can be certain that there are families out there who are going to hear that a loved one has been lost or injured. They will need the most support. They will need the Comforter to show up in their lives in ways that we may not understand.

I know that God is in control, and he alone can bring beauty from these ashes. For the families who are mourning, they may not be ready to hear that. Pray that God can turn hearts who may be asking “Why?” toward him. In the midst of tragedy, people have the tendency to either draw closer to him or push him away. Pray that this tragedy draws people to Jesus. Our city needs that!

2. Pray for our first responders.
Las Vegas has a top-tier group of police, fire and emergency responders. One of my best friends just retired from the police force and has become a pastor. In him, I see the face of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Like many of his peers, he was always professional and always vigilant. They have a tough job.

There is nothing that could ever prepare an officer for a scene like this. We have friends whose daughter is a rookie officer and got called to the scene just a few months out of the academy. Pray that God will help her process what she’s seen. Pray the same for every officer, firefighter and paramedic. Pray for everyone who was there at the scene during the long night.

Pray for the hospital staff of Sunrise Hospital, University Medical Center and other medical centers in the Vegas Valley. No matter what they have been through on past nights, they have never had this many wounded. I am certain that they were and are overwhelmed. I picture all of the kind faces that I have encountered over the years in hospital emergency rooms.

3. Pray for others who were present.
We have church family members who stayed up late watching the news, wondering if their adult kids were safe. I know of two families who are holding each other a little closer today because they were able to escape the area unharmed. I am certain that those young people have seen way too much, as well.

Pray for all those who will never be able to erase the images of last night from their minds. We know someone who is a professional photographer. He went to the concert that night to capture some images of the country singers. He was there until daybreak and brought images of the tragedy to the world. Pray that this tragedy will draw him closer to God.

4. Pray for the Las Vegas community.
Las Vegas has a reputation around the world for what takes place in that relatively small section of the city. Most people do not think of the desert town that is home to more than a million people. My mother is a retired schoolteacher and heard many times, “There are schools in Las Vegas?” Yes, lots of them. Please pray for those kids who don’t feel safe today. Pray for the teachers, school counselors and staff who need to comfort those kids.

Very early this morning, I heard from our blood bank that the supplies were running low. It warmed my heart, later in the day, to see images of lines down the block for people to give blood. Pray that our city would come together to supply this and other great heart needs in this community.

5. Pray for our churches.
Another little-known fact: Las Vegas has a vibrant community of faith. I became a Christian while I was away in the army, and I returned to Vegas to find healthy, growing and outreaching churches. I am pleased to see my fellow pastors opening doors and arms to those in need. Pray that this horrible event brings people to a point of seeking God. Pray for churches who are opening their doors and arms to the hurting.

It was my pleasure to serve as the pastor of the Las Vegas Rescue Mission for more than 12 years. In that time, I got to know many pastors. I am seeing them gather their flocks tonight for prayer vigils. I am seeing encouragement coming from others who have left Las Vegas but still have a heart for the ministry here. Pray for our city’s pastors, myself included, to stand strong.

3 WAYS TO UNDERSTAND THE YOUTH CULTURE DIAGNOSTIC

By Mike Calhoun, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

Culture is more than a grocery list of distinctives or a demographic study. People groups can have the power to change a society – and ultimately history – by virtue of their choices or preferences. I am referring to the sheer force that a group of people can have as a unit.

The power of culture demands that a youth leader be a “student of students.” Music genres, clothing styles, political agendas as well as movements are influenced by young people. It is imperative that we understand each generation and their distinctive cultural nuances. Being a student of the culture will provide insight into the generation, its influence and open strategic ministry opportunities.

Three Ways to Understand the Youth Culture Diagnostic:

  1. Realize some cultural nuances are causes rather than symptoms. We must restrain ourselves from too quickly making judgments based on behavior which is often purely symptomatic. Dr. David Ferguson, often reminds people to “look for the need behind the deed.”
  2.  Maximize the opportunity for communicating truth. Make no mistake – the foundation of our message is the Word of God for communicating the Gospel. However, the platform for communication grows exponentially when we understand the culture of our audience.
  3. Refuse to accept the social constructs imposed upon an unsuspecting generation. Did you ever wonder who determines what is “Hot” and what is not in “Youth Culture?” We think it is students but most of the time it is marketers. Often even the characteristics assigned to the generations are more conceived than perceived by those very same marketers.

Members of Youth Leaders Only get all kinds of music and media resources that help them stay on top of what’s cool in the youth culture. Join today!

Marketers do not wait around to discover what teens want…they just tell them. Focus groups determine what the next trend will be and then carefully crafted marketing campaigns are created. Marketers even name the generations and those names are often defining.

Bruno Mars’ “Versace on the Floor”

A Youthworker's Personal Thoughts

By Al Forsythe • Christ Prince of Peace Retreat Center • Knoxville, Tennessee

After watching the very lustful and sexualized video of Bruno Mars’ song “Versace on the Floor”, I needed to ask myself, “How is a Christian man expected to react?” My first thought goes to Romans 12:1-2.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

Do I want to be a man of God? While this video at first seems to be a love song and comes across as sweet and charming, what it really is doing is objectifying women and encouraging lustful thoughts that lead to sinful destructive desires. As men of God we must put away all of the rationalizations justifying our lustful thoughts to excuse it: “I’m just a normal, red-blooded American man. My thoughts aren’t any worse than any other man’s. It’s not hurting anyone. Besides, I’m a good man.”

No – I am disobedient to God when I entertain lustful thoughts.

Who is Bruno Mars? What are his messages?

When we objectify women even in our thoughts, we continue the exploitation of women by people who, like Bruno Mars, mask this sin and say that it is a victimless situation. In reality, it plants the seed in women that they then have to act, dress, and look a certain way if they want men to really love them. Is this how you want your spouse to be viewed by other men? Do want your daughter to be looked at as an object by other men?

We cannot become vulnerable to lust. When we indulge in a particular sin, it makes us more vulnerable to temptation in that sin. For Christian men who have yielded to the sin of lust, we have to recognize that we will never become so strong that lust will just glance off us. Whenever we start thinking that we have finally conquered lust once and for all, we are in trouble. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

But being vulnerable to lust and yielding to it are not synonymous. We will never be free from the temptation, but we can be free from the sin. By constantly recognizing our weakness, we must be determined to trust in the Lord, who is our strength. “When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Someone once said, “Be careful of your thoughts, they become words. Be careful of your words, they become actions. Be careful of your actions, they become habits. Be careful of your habits, they become character. Be careful of your character, for it becomes your destiny.” Lust must be conquered at the thought level. Unfortunately that is where our world takes us through music and images that mask themselves as something harmless and all about love. Let’s not be confused.

As Bruno Mars himself says “Don’t be confused by my smile, ’cause I ain’t ever been more for real, for real.”

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Getting New Music Into Your Kid’s Earbuds

Sharing Playlists Is Easy!

Remember the “CD Lending Library” and the  “Joyful Noise Room”?  We have always been about 3 major objectives:

  1. Make youthworkers aware of all the new music (and give you VIP access to the artists who create it)
  2. Give you tools to use that new music in your weekly group meetings
  3. Equip you with a system to get the music directly to the kids

That third objective led us to help you set up a lending library in your youth room. Remember kids would check out the CD and hopefully sometime bring it back!

It was a pain to maintain the system, but there was no other way.

Now there is an easy and IMMEDIATE way to share the new YLO music with your students..

Our fearless editor KennyMac will show you how and it will change your life!

5 Essentials To Start Your Youth Ministry Year

EARLY in the morning, like before the sun was up early – I was gathering my gear to go on a difficult nine-mile hike in the local mountains. “Let’s see. Water’s loaded into the pack? Check. Dog’s pack is loaded? Check. Hat? Check. iPhone? Check. Dog’s leash? I’ll get it on the way out. Okay, let’s go.”

I forgot the leash.

Even though I thought through what I needed to have, my sleep-deprived stupor made me forget something important. If I had remembered the leash as I was getting into my waiting friend’s truck, I would have run back inside the house and retrieved it. But, I didn’t realize my folly until we were at the trailhead.

The new school year is about to begin, and even though you may have left the house for your hike, there’s still time for you to run through a checklist of items that you need to have for your fall kick-off to be effective. Here are five items that I think you need to have for this start to the new ministry year. I’ve even been able to tie them to the five items on my list this morning!

1. Supporters In Place
Your supporters include, but aren’t limited to, your church leadership, the parents of your students, the people who you have regularly praying for the youth ministry (you DO have a group of those amazing people, right? And you communicate with them often, right?), and those people who are willing to help out “anytime you need anything.” The ability that you have to generate “support” for you and the youth ministry will determine the long-term success of your efforts. Your support group is the water in your pack. You can do a bunch of hiking without it, but you won’t be able to go very far. And, you won’t recover from a big effort as quickly or as well. So, build relationships with those who may not be directly involved with what you’re doing, but who want to support your efforts. Make sure those relationships stay near the top of your checklist.

2. Team In Place
Since youth ministry happens person-to-person, not program-to-person, you need a whole team of people to help make the person-to-person happen. Since you’re just one person, you can’t expect to have significant relationships with all of the kids in your ministry PLUS all the kids who show up to check things out. All kinds of people are needed to reach all kinds of kids, so recruit as many folks as you can who are willing to befriend, teach, befriend, cajole, console, befriend, encourage, and challenge teenagers. (Did I mention that they should befriend kids?) Your team of volunteers will help you carry the load, like my dog carries his water and food that I would otherwise have to pack.

Get Music & Media Resources for Back-to-School!

3. Big Events Identified
A youth ministry gains a lot of its reputation and momentum from the “Big Events” that it can pull off. The “GOOD TIME Event” in YLO89 is a good example of a Big Event. It generates tons of exposure, “brag factor” (what the kids talk about the next morning at school), and helps cement the youth ministry as an important part of the youth culture of that area. Think of Big Events as being paydays. You get an infusion of resources at each one that helps you continue on to the next. They are to youth ministry what a hat is to a hiker – they cap everything. (I know. It’s a stretch.)

The GOOD TIME Event is a great kick off special event — and it’s free!

4. Game Plan In Place
My iPhone tracks my hikes using a GPS app. I can see at any moment where I am, how fast I’m going, how far up I’ve climbed, how far I have to go – and see it all with the satellite imagery of the terrain I’m hiking. You need a similar view of your ministry. That’s your Game Plan. Set your teaching series, objectives, and other vital issues into place before you roll into your new year. Now, every year presents unique opportunities and challenges to a youth ministry. Maybe this year you have a huge influx of new freshmen, or you have a bumper crop of seniors. Maybe you’re really connected with the athletes this year instead of the musicians last year. You can’t use last year’s plan. So plan your programming, and your teaching series, to maximize the resources you have. You also need a degree of flexibility with your Game Plan. If something takes off unexpectedly, you need to be able to adjust – like when we decided to take a trail spur this morning instead of staying on the main trail. My iPhone showed me a possibility, and we adjusted our Game Plan to take advantage of it.

5. Budget Available
My dog, Tipper, is very well behaved. I have spent a ton of time (and money) training him. He comes when called, heels on command, and generally is a very well mannered dog. But, he’s big and black. And even though he has his own pack (which usually gets a lot of “Cute!” comments), a big black dog can spook some people. To keep him from going off in directions he shouldn’t, I bring a leash with me to use when other people with dogs are on the trail. Your budget should be like that leash. As long as you’re disciplined and well mannered, you won’t necessarily need the restrictions it brings. But, when tempted to go too far too fast, or engage in activities that might spook your church’s Treasurer, use a budget as a tool to control those urges.

I hope your new school year is AWESOME this year. I’m sure that these five items will help you make it even more effective!

Why I’m a Pastor and Still a YLO Member

By Jeremy White • Valley Church • Vacaville, California

ylo_shirt

Once a youth pastor, always a youth pastor, right?

Regardless of whether a title changes as mine did a few years ago, I will always treasure my fifteen years in youth ministry as the formative years of my ministry life and calling. I am a better leader, teacher, mentor, and friend today because of the opportunities God afforded me through youth ministry. No matter what my current title may be, I simply cannot sever myself from my heart-connection to investing in youth.

Share this blog with your pastor, and get their approval to join YLO!

My relationship with interlínc and Youth Leaders Only began back in those early youth ministry days. A lover of music myself, I always had a deep sense of how powerfully music could be used to connect ideas to the hearts of human beings. Now in my sixth year as a Lead Pastor, I am still a member of YLO.

Why? Because, YLO is one of the great ministry tools out there. Although I’m not in the weekly trenches of youth ministry the way I once was, I see YLO as a blessing for numerous reasons. Some of those reasons include the following:

  • YLO blesses me with great current music. Every quarter, I get a box full of goodies, including hundreds of dollars worth of the latest and best stuff available in the Christian market. I benefit from it personally by the fresh new stuff, and I always have music on hand to give away as gifts.
  • YLO blesses me with great inspiration. Through the feature articles, artist interviews, online content and other tools, I am constantly reminded of the blessings and challenges of youth ministry. This helps me be a better lead pastor to my own youth pastor, and reminds me of how critical our student ministries are to the life of our church.
  • YLO blesses me with assistance. Even though I’m far less cool than I used to be, I’m still often asked to speak at youth camps, chapel services, graduations, and even once in awhile at our youth group when our youth pastor is desperate! With YLO in my toolbox, I can easily find help with prepping a great and relevant message targeted at the audience I’m speaking to.

There are numerous other reasons I love YLO, not the least of which is that over the years I’ve gotten to know the heart of the men and women who run this operation. They are youth workers themselves, they are ministry-minded to the core, and they truly desire to make your life easier as a teacher and communicator.

Are you a pastor?  You need YLO … click here to find out how to join

I’ve seen and even contributed to a lot of curriculum out there. YLO is so much more! It’s a culturally relevant, always up-to-date, Christ-honoring ,and truly helpful tool for doing youth ministry better. If you haven’t signed up, do yourself a favor and GO FOR IT!