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Making Goals for Your Youth Ministry

The end of summer and the start of a new school year is a time of great transition. Youth are about to begin new classes and are meeting their teachers for the year. Some may be starting to participate in activities and sports. It’s a whirlwind season. It is a time that feels much like January 1; new goals are formed and strides toward them are being made.

Teaching Parables: The Rich Fool

There is a beguiling temptation to read Jesus’ parable of the rich man’s meditation as nothing more than an admonition against wealth: “Flee from the comforts of this life, for death is coming, and cometh soon!” Instead, the Holy Spirit leads our weary souls to a something more profound: a Gospel-oriented meaning where we find freedom from fear and the peace of Christ.

The Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:1321)

Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And He said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Teaching Parables: Teaching the Rich Man and Lazarus

This parable teaches the importance of viewing others as people who Jesus loves and wants to save, through the work of the Holy Spirit. It warns against valuing property above people. Interestingly, however, a great deal of what this parable has to offer Sunday School teachers is what it doesn’t teach. We’ll explore the central meaning of the parable in more detail, as well as the theological pitfalls and how to avoid them.

VBS Volunteers Who Make a Lifelong Impact

Mr. Vedder was my VBS crew leader when I was eleven. He seemed super old—except when he smiled. He had a smile that seemed to break his whole face open, and light shone through! He had a loud, hearty laugh, and his laugh made me laugh too.

Supporting Youth Who Have Non-Christian Parents

When I started going to church at age 16, church was practically a foreign landscape to me. Having been raised by non-Christian, non-churchgoing parents, I didn’t really know what to expect, and I was terrified of somehow embarrassing myself in that “Christian judgment zone.”

Five Roles of the Church Youth Leader

This post is adapted from Connected for Life: Essential Guide to Youth Ministry and was written by A. J. Mastic.

Maybe serving in youth ministry is a new journey for you. Perhaps you trained for this—or maybe you’re a new volunteer and you’re wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into! No matter how you got to this point, what’s important is that as you take your first steps in youth ministry, you do so with an awareness of not only your skills, but your roles. Am I a teacher? chaperone? dodgeball referee? friend? mentor? A good understanding of your roles will help define your work and the nature of your relationships with the youth.

Teaching Parables: The Laborers in the Vineyard

The parable of the laborers in the vineyard may at first seem obscure. There are multiple layers; but this fact makes the parable all the more useful for teaching in the Sunday School classroom and beyond. As you prepare to present this parable in the classroom, keep in mind that Jesus is on His way to the cross. He wants His hearers to understand that salvation and the Church—that is, the Body of all Christians in heaven and earth—is founded on the forgiveness of sins, which He will provide at Calvary. What’s more, Jesus engages the rich young man in Matthew 19 who asks, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (v. 16).

The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:13–16)

Summer Ministry Ideas for Children, Youth, and Families

My family moved last fall, and we’re still adjusting to new routines in our new city and state. One of the major differences between our old and new hometowns is the school schedule. There, kids are in school through the middle of June. Here, school’s out for the summer by mid-May! The end of the school year has snuck up on me, and I’m scrambling to plan some intentional summer fun for my three young boys to fill the days with more than just screen time and naps. I’m taking the opportunity to freshen up our play space, toss out the broken toys, rotate the books, and make things more age appropriate. Good-bye soft infant toys (sob!), hello wooden blocks, LEGOs, and train tracks. Seasonal books are being packed away, and I’m digging out the kids’ crafts and nature activities. Everything feels refreshed, and I feel ready to tackle a new season in our new home.

Summer Sunday School Evangelism Opportunities

As the summer gears up, my mind is drifting toward how I can make the most of the opportunities I will have to interact with children and their parents this summer! My calendar likely looks very similar to yours—Sunday School will look different in some ways from the normal school year programming, and we will have VBS starting in a few weeks. Many families are heading out on vacations here and there, and in years past I have done less at church in a sort of one-way “non-compete clause.” Last fall, I heard from many families that they missed chances to be with other families outside of Sunday worship, and I got to thinking that perhaps summer is a unique time in a family’s year where outreach and evangelism can happen in fun, different ways than could be done in other seasons.

An Invitation to a Lifetime with Christ

When I was growing up, my family did not attend church regularly, so going to church events was never “automatic.” For me, going to a church event—summer picnics, wintertime sledding, VBS—meant getting an invitation. I didn't know it then, but those invitations were more than just invitations to have some fun; they were invitations to learn about Jesus and other important Bible stories. They were my look into the church. Events like these are perfect opportunities for you to encourage your youth to invite others because those invitations could very well be life-changing for someone (like me).