First Third Conversations

Dispelling Cultural Myths by Tim Coltvet

In Disconnected: Parenting Teens in a MySpace World, Chap and Dee Clark take on a popular cultural myth that, sadly, most of us in youth ministry buy hook, line, and sinker: simply, that teenage youth do not want to spend time with their parents.

We often run into the smokescreen when recruitment for small groups comes around. We think, "I bet Jimmy or Janie’s mom/dad would be a great small group leader." 

But, after planting the seed, we soon get the parent’s somewhat dejected

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Coaching Your Pastor by Nancy Going

Exemplary Youth Ministry is really about leadership on multiple levels -- your leadership as the youth minister, your adult leaders. One of the key findings of the EYM study is that the pastor is the chief youth minister. A senior pastor who champions and keeps youth ministry central to the congregation’s culture is critical.

Now in case you are nodding your head saying, “I KNEW IT!  That’s why I’m having such a hard time. My senior pastor doesn’t get it.

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About Your Pastor by Kristen Baltrum

One of the key ingredients to effective youth ministry is that the ministry is supported by the senior pastor. I have found this to be so true.

I will never forget the time I was sitting in worship listening to my pastor’s sermon. I don’t remember the text he was preaching on, but I do remember that he was preaching about how the home is the primary place of faith nurturing, and how we need to be thinking differently about the role of the congregation in this process.

Essentially

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Name It by Kristen Baltrum

When I first started in professional youth ministry, I simply wanted to create an environment of relationship and “church fun” that mirrored my own experience as a teen. While that worked on some levels, I was pretty sure something else was happening that I could not name -- I had no language for it. After a number of years in the field, I decided I needed “Language Lessons.”

After a few years studying youth and family ministry, continued reflection on the assets of

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The Sweet Spot by Tom Schwolert

The term “sweet spot” is often used in sports. It is that place on the face of a golf club that creates the best possible shot or on the baseball bat that sends the ball over the center field fence.

Have you ever thought of having a “sweet spot” in ministry? I can think of a few times when a Bible study just seemed to have all the right ingredients for a unique ministry moment.  I can think of those times when a leadership team of youth just suddenly “clicks”

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It's all about YOU! by Nancy Going

While it may sound like the Exemplary Youth Ministry study was just about these 121 congregations who have it all together, that’s far from a complete picture. The EYM study is really all about your church. In the years since the study was completed we’ve discovered that all-important transferability factor.

Churches who take on these Faith Assets and focus their ministry on maturing Christian young people instead of a myriad of other goals, really can and do develop a Spirit-filled

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On Maturity by Nancy Lee Gauche

What is maturity anyway?

Take a look again at the characteristics of a spiritually mature youth from the EYM study.

  • Demonstrates a Personal Spirituality
  • Believes God is present in the world
  • Acts out of a commitment of faith
  • Is active with God’s people
  • Possesses a Positive, Hopeful Spirit
  • Lives out a life of service
  • Lives a Christian moral life

I agree that just getting our heads around the notion that Youth Ministry is about maturing Christian young people is challenging. 

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What Works by Todd Buegler

I’ve been working in children, youth and family ministry for 23 years, and in that time, there is one thing I have learned:  The longer I do this, the more clueless I am.

Seriously.

When I started out, I was quite certain I knew and understood the whole thing. I knew what to do…I had great advice…I was program-ready at the drop of a hat…I played guitar…

Now? Not so much.

I think this is due to a few different “standard” things:

1.      

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First Third Dialogues: Ministering to Children of Divorce

In September 2010, Luther Seminary's Center for First Third Ministry, hosted a First Third Dialogue on the topic of Children of Divorce.

This conference was for those on the front-lines of ministry with children and youth who know the realities of divorce. Participants shared their own powerful experiences of divorce and heard from experts in the field about the impact of divorce on youth and young adults particularly in regards to sociology and faith.

The goal was to provide space to share stories

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Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce


Elizabeth Marquardt invites us into the strange and complicated experience of traveling between two homes, two parents and two families as a result of divorce. Marquardt asserts that couples are responsible for navigating the differences of their worlds and the conflict that comes when the rough edges of those worlds begin to come up against one another. However, when parents are divorced, this navigation of these conflicts becomes the job of the children.This happens when each parent has different

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