First Third Conversations

Cultivating a culture of service

ServeA blog post by Tim Bowman

Last week, I wrote about the different service project ideas that my middle school students came up with. Today, I want to use that experience to spark a new conversation. In varying situations, churches have avoided, wrestled with, rejected, and/or embraced our modern culture and contexts. We live in the modern world, and culture is a part of who we are and is something we are impacted by every day.

There is no getting around this -- we don't live in a bubble. We live

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The Practice of Making Mistakes

MistakesA blog post by Megan Clapp

About a year ago, I made a pretty big mistake. I attempted to make a huge change in our Sunday School programming, and it was a colossal failure.

I had spent a full year working with the youth and family leaders in the congregation. We produced a vision statement, and relationships among the people in the group seemed to have mended. We were on the same page and moving forward instead of treading water in the current program.

I had heard about a great program for faith

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Our God is a God of Action

God ActionA blog post by Adam Butler

Yesterday, Aaron wrote these words about idolatry and the dangers of a self constructed God: “We call this the incarnation, and that is the core of what the Gospel is all about: the reality of what it means to be human, in God’s view. And most of the time, God's action is a mystery, one that goes well beyond proof or conceptualization.”The heart of Aaron’s argument is in these words. And the key to it all is the belief that God is not only a God

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The #1 Threat to Christian Faith (and it's not Immorality)

Golden CalfA blog post by Aaron Fuller

“You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." ~Anne Lamott

My faith has been shaken up a bit recently...well, more than a bit. I've been engaging with another blog lately, the author of which is an atheist living in South Africa. He's an interesting guy, pretty straightforward, and sometimes just a downright jerk in his remarks...but aren't we all from time to time? 

Honestly, his

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Incorporating Adventure Experiences into Your Ministry

Grand CanyonA blog post by Sarah Bane

I was tired, and it was hot. The top of the canyon could have been Mount Everest for all I cared. The last week had tested my grit, and I was ready to be done. I kept asking myself why the hardest day of hiking had to come when I was so physically and emotionally spent. One of my best friends from high school, Kaitlin, had asked me to join her family on a hiking trip through the Grand Canyon. Our itinerary was to hike from the north rim of the Grand Canyon to the south rim

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Listening to the Ideas of Our Youth

ListeningA blog post by Tim Bowman

As youth ministry people, so much of our time is spent either planning or being active that it is sometimes difficult for us to listen. It is not so much that we do not want to listen, because I genuinely believe that we do, but when there are camps, retreats, VBS, and service projects to prepare for, we simply don't often have the time.

Sure, we might have a one on one meeting with one of our students or a parent, and those are times when we do actively listen; however,

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Top Ten Characteristics of a Healthy CYF Ministry

Family MinistryA blog post by Pastor Nancy Lee Gauche

I read this post on Kenda Creasy Dean’s Blog on April 14, 2011, and it got my juices flowing around this question: "What are the Top 10 Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry?" There are a million lists like this floating around, but my challenge to you is to make your own list related to your present context and culture.

I’m asking myself the same question, but in my present contexts that question expresses itself like this: “What are

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Weddings: Community, Faith, and Pastoral Ministry

Wedding Ceremony 9.18.10A blog post by Adam Butler

I love weddings. I’m partial to my own, but they can’t all be perfect, right? Weddings are awesome, though. You get to watch two people commit to life with one another in the midst of a group of people who love and care about those two lovebirds.

All in one spot, there are little kids running circles around grandpas and grandmas. You’ve got young couples, families, and folks who’ve been at this marriage game a while. Not to be forgotten are those

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Faith Five Steps for your family

Hands faith fiveA blog post by Megan Clapp

I recently moved from Arizona to Iowa. Before we left, my husband and I spent an evening with a family that we had grown to be friends with. We played laser tag, raced go-karts, and finished up the evening with a round of mini-golf. It was our last time all together before we moved. As the moving van pulled up to our apartment and the moment came to say our goodbyes, we all became quiet. We hugged and tried to hold back our tears.

My friend Elizabeth, a spunky eight year

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Leadership and Management in your ministry context

Aaron FullerA blog post by Aaron Fuller

Question for ya: Are you a leader or a manager?

Before you answer, take a minute to hear me out -- while we often will acknowledge that leadership and management are not the same things, if you pick a part your role in ministry, there's a good chance you'll discover some pretty significant contradictions.

Let me put in this disclaimer: leadership and management are linked to some degree. It's not like you're one or the other. But here's what I've found in my relatively

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