Walking Alongside a New Believer

Montoring-Teen“What tools can I use to help new Christians understand the commitment they just made?”

It’s one of the most common questions I hear from youth ministries who are actually reaching young people for Christ. And I’m glad to hear the question, because it means these ministries realize the need to walk alongside new believers and disciple them.

My friend Scott Rubin, the Director of Student Ministries at Willow Creek Community Church outside of Chicago, just wrote a helpful little resource called The Essential Guide to My New Life With Jesus. I just read it and felt compelled to tell you about it… for two reasons:

  1. Scott is the real deal! He not only has been effectively reaching young people for the last two decades, he’s a great dad, a caring friend, and those characteristics leak into everything he touches.
  2. He knows how to disciple new believers like no one I know. Scott’s ministry reaches literally thousands of teens each year, and a huge chunk of them are the type of kids who don’t typically go to church. Scott’s ministry not only introduces hundreds of kids to Jesus each year, he disciples them and walks alongside them as they learn about this new relationship with Jesus.

That’s the kind of guy I want developing discipleship resources!

New Life with Jesus SCOTT RUBINThis book is really a one of a kind. It’s what I’m going to recommend to ministries who are looking for material to disciple new believers.

Scott begins the book by congratulating the new believer, and telling them a little about their new relationship with Jesus. Scott uses words new believers understand (Scott speaks that language fluently) and even defines some Christianese terms that they’ll hear. He doesn’t waste time with anything peripheral… he cuts straight to the real and relevant questions new believers have.

Scott addresses:

  • It’s a relationship, not a religion
  • How you can be sure you’re a Christian
  • The importance of reading the Bible, and why
  • How to actually find Bible verses and “meditate” on scripture (and what that means)
  • What to do if you don’t feel like reading the Bible
  • How to pray- pretty prayers aren’t required
  • What to do if Jesus doesn’t answer
  • Fessing up so God can obliterate our sins
  • Seeking mentors and other Christians
  • How to make new Christian friends, and reach out to old friends who still need Jesus
  • Answers to tough questions
  • Answers to churchy questions

Scott leads a new believer through all the essentials they need, in a format that’s colorful, easy to read, and in small conquerable pages so you feel like you’re reading a lot fast! (I think today’s kids like that.)

One of the parts I enjoyed most about his book was how he urged the reader to surround themselves with Christian friends that will encourage them. He addresses this point with several examples, emphasizing that your faith isn’t something you should do “solo.” But then Scott shares stories of Jesus reaching sinners and encourages us to do the same (a tricky balance for many—having unsaved friends, but an inner circle of Christian friends). He says it like this:

“As you follow Jesus, you don’t need to discard your non-Christian Friends. In fact, they need you to live like Jesus—and to point them toward his love for them. Instead of trading in your old friends, you can add some new Christian friends to your social circles. And your Christian friends can help you show Jesus’ love to your non-Christian friends.” (page 79)

This book is the perfect tool for discipling new believers. Personally, I would give my leaders each two copies, and encourage them to go through the book with a new believer, giving one copy to the young person, and meeting each week to talk about what you read.

I’ll be adding this helpful book to the collection of discipleship resources I frequent!

What discipleship tools have worked well for you?

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Will Your Kids Watch “Easy” on Netflix?

Easy NetflixToday’s young people love Netflix. It’s mobile, it’s commercial free, and as a bonus… most parents have no idea what their kids are watching.

That’s why parents should probably be aware of the new sexually-charged Netflix original series, Easy, streaming on their devices starting today, September 22nd. The show follows (and I quote) “diverse Chicagoans fumbling through the modern maze of love, sex, technology and culture.”

I’m not telling you to write your congressman and get the show banned. I’m just suggesting, in a world where 49% of 15-20-year-olds stream on demand content like Netflix daily, and 78% of “on their own Millennials” have subscriptions to these entertainment venues… it might be good to know what exactly it is they’re watching, how we can use Netflix binging for bonding, and how to respond if we discover them watching mature or adult content (which is why I’m going to provide you with 3 ways to overreact react when this happens).

In the trailer we observe…

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The Christian music kids like… or do they?

LecraeLast week I hosted a contest in this blog asking you which Christian songs today’s kids actually like and wouldn’t hesitate playing to their friends. Here are the results.

The response was overwhelming. You’ll probably find that post’s comment section is a great resource for you to peek at the variety of some of the top Christian songs kids like today!

Key word: variety.

In fact, if you pour through those comments you’ll discover two things:

Continue reading “The Christian music kids like… or do they?” »

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CONTEST: What Christian Music Do Today’s Kids Actually Like?

Teenagers-SmartphonesOkay… it’s time for me to give something away. A Christian CD of your choice to the winner. Here’s what I want– answer this simple question:

What Christian songs (I want song and artist) can you play that today’s young people actually enjoy?

I could expand the question like this: What Christian music would they not be afraid to play around their friends?

Continue reading “CONTEST: What Christian Music Do Today’s Kids Actually Like?” »

Posted in Contests, Music | 70 Comments

Kanye West, MTV and Small Screens

Kanye-fade-MTVKanye West debuted his bizarre new music video on the MTV Music Video Awards (VMAs) a week ago… and nobody cared.

Until the next day. Then it went viral.

The reason is simple: young people are changing the way they view entertainment media.

Young people are no longer limited to a time and place to watch what they want to watch. With almost 88% of American teens owning smartphones this year, this allows young people Continue reading “Kanye West, MTV and Small Screens” »

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An Interview with Doug Fields & Josh Griffin

Doug-and-Josh-GEffectively Resourcing Today’s Youth Workers
An Interview with Doug Fields & Josh Griffin

Both Doug and Josh have served on the front lines of youth ministry for literally decades. They are two of the leading thought-leaders in our profession and know incredibly well what it takes to equip teams of volunteers with the tools they need to effectively reach today’s young people with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. I was excited to sit down with them recently to talk a little bit about serving youth workers and running my favorite youth ministry resource organization: DownloadYouthMinistry.com (DYM).

* Be sure to peek at the freebie they are giving away to my readers at the bottom of this post… no strings attached!

JONATHAN: What are some of the resources each of you found yourselves on the hunt for in your own ministries decades ago?

JOSH: When Doug started, way back during the middle of the Civil War, there weren’t Continue reading “An Interview with Doug Fields & Josh Griffin” »

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Top 5 Impactful Christian Music Artists in the 80’s

StryperDid you grow up in the 80’s?

Did you listen to Christian music in the 80’s?

My wife Lori was playing Amy Grant’s Straight Ahead album in the car the other day and my girls began complaining. Lori and I both defended the album because it was nostalgic for each of us. In a time where there wasn’t a lot of good Christian music options, Amy delivered something that resonated with young believers.

Amy wasn’t the only one. In fact, I recall 5 Christian artists that really made an impact on Continue reading “Top 5 Impactful Christian Music Artists in the 80’s” »

Posted in Music, Personal | 12 Comments

Contemplating “Suicide Squad”

Suicide-squad“Outside you’re amazing, but inside you’re ugly.”

“We all are.” (Harley Quinn, Suicide Squad)

Imperfection isn’t anything to celebrate. But awareness of your own flaws is a step in the right direction.

That’s probably why I enjoyed DC Film’s Suicide Squad so much. It’s the story of a band of notorious criminals given a second chance to use their strengths to do good, and in the process, they discover a sense of comradery and purpose. It’s a story of redemption.

Don’t get me wrong. This movie is far from an afterschool special you’d show your kids (although today’s parents seemed to miss that memo—the theatre was packed with kids). Like most Hollywood heroes today, the characters are gritty and flawed. At times the Continue reading “Contemplating “Suicide Squad”” »

Posted in Entertainment Media, Movies, Youth Culture | 2 Comments

The Volunteer from Hell: Part III

background checkYou’ve discovered an amazing potential volunteer… but you don’t want to mess anything up!

You’ve taken the advice of experts and dedicated actual time out of your schedule each week for recruiting and keeping volunteers. Then you took the next step and actually asked them to serve in a small way, a one-time opportunity that was easy for them to say “yes” to, and that gave them a taste of your ministry. After that, you’ve met with them several times and they seem like a perfect fit…

But how can you make sure they don’t turn into the Volunteer from Hell?

Continue reading “The Volunteer from Hell: Part III” »

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The Volunteer from Hell: Part II

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-donkey-profile-farmland-some-sheep-around-him-image35076227This week I began a 3 post series in my blog about those ministry volunteers who make our lives miserable. How can we avoid getting ourselves in this mess in the first place?

Great question.

Let’s continue with our 3 effective ways to screen volunteers so you avoid ‘The Volunteer from Hell.’

In the first post, I addressed the importance of actually calling references. Not just asking for references… but using them. (How many of you have skipped this step?)

Today, let’s talk about the second way to avoid ‘The Volunteer from Hell’… Continue reading “The Volunteer from Hell: Part II” »

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