How to Share Your Testimony

Talking

A gospel-centered testimony can be a powerful way to share the good news of Jesus Christ with your nonChristians friends (or with complete strangers, as opportunity arises). Over the last decade I’ve heard some people talk about testimony-sharing as “the key” to good evangelism while others decry testimonies as man-centered rather than God-centered.

What is a Testimony?
Your testimony isn’t your autobiography. It isn’t your life-story or an opportunity to talk about the details of your sinful life before Jesus in order to gain “street cred” with nonChristians.

The word “testimony” comes from the same root word as “martyr.” To be a martyr is to testify and tell about what God has done through Jesus Christ. It isn’t first about you, it is about God. When you share your testimony, you are talking about what God has done and what God has done for you. It is both objective (who God is and what He’s done) and subjective/personal (what he’s done for you). Unfortunately, I’ve heard many testimonies that only emphasize the subjective (what God has done for them).

A testimony that isn’t about Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, and the freedom that comes through confession of sin and repentance isn’t a gospel-centered testimony.

How to Share Your Testimony
Here are a few things I have noticed about gospel-centered testimonies that put God front-and-center.  Continue reading

Top 5 Books I’ve read in 2016

It’s the final week of 2016 so I figure it’s time to share some of best books I’ve read year. Some of these were published this year, some were not.

If you’re thinking, “I don’t read books. Blogs are enough to keep up with, but books are too long,” then let me encourage you to stop reading this blog if it means you start reading good books again. Seriously, books are that valuable.

Mature Christians should be readers, for God made his Word available to us through the written word. Good books are are worth the investment… and this is why these type of lists are helpful (to keep you away from books that aren’t worth the time).

best-books-of-2016 Continue reading

Playing the Long-Game in Ministry

Last night in youth group we said goodbye to our students who have graduated high school and are heading out to college this week. It’s always difficult to see them go. But it’s also a joy. Because this is when we start to see whether our ministry to students was fruitful and effective.

As a youth pastor, I’m very much aware of the reality that the long-game matter more than the short. And yet, so much of ministry (especially in youth ministry) immediate results are how we measure success (and how others measure our effectiveness). Whether you’re a youth pastor, worship pastor, senior pastor, or a faithful volunteer in your church… there are a few important questions we need to ask.

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Why Seminary is Worth It

On the Facebook groups I’m a part of, this seems to be a fairly regular question: “People keep encouraging me to go to seminary. Is it worth it for youth pastors?” As someone who has studied to complete two seminary degrees (M.Div. & D.Min., both at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary), and as someone who has been in full-time youth ministry for a decade, I think I’m qualified to finally address this question on the blog. What I’ve written below is largely based off my M.Div. since that’s far more common. If you would like to discuss the benefits of a D.Min. please comment on this post and we can dialogue there.

I want to address three common objections before presenting some reasons why I believe seminary is important (not essential, but important) for anyone who is called to lifelong pastoral ministry. After those three objections, you’ll see my list of arguments for why seminary is worth pursuing.

Why Seminary? Continue reading

10 Books Every Youth Worker Should Read

With the amount of books out there today, it’s overwhelming to know what to read and what’s worth skipping. These books run the spectrum from books for youth workers to theology books that address issues youth workers should be aware of.

Since I’m giving you plenty to read below, let’s cut to the chase… here are ten books (other than the Bible, that’s obviously the #1 book for us all) I’m convinced every youth worker should read, followed by a short explanation why I think it’s so valuable.

Bookshelves

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5 Reasons Youth Workers Need Theology

I was sitting in the car with one of my youth group students. We had just spent the last two hours hanging out and talking about the movies and video games he’s been into lately when he asked seemingly silly question. It turns out, those are the questions that are usually the most difficult to answer. He asked, “Why do you think God made us so we need sleep? It seems like we could get more done without needing the sleep.”

He was curious, but didn’t even take his own question seriously. But it turns out, that very question gets to the heart of creation. Why did God create the Sabbath? Why are there seven days in creation instead of six? Simply put, so we would have a very tangible reminder that we are not in control. We can’t even control our bodies. They need sleep and rest. No matter who you are, your need for rest demands that you lay down your strength and rest in your weakness. In fact, those who are healthiest and most productive are strong advocates for rest! God made us with a built-in system to remind us that he is in control and we are not.

It was a great conversation that never would’ve happened without a reasonable degree of competence in Christian theology. I’m not wise enough to come up with all this on my own. Thankfully, I don’t need to!

Here’s the thing: you never know when significant theological questions are going to be asked. Usually, it’s unexpected and from the least likely student.

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Milk, Meat, or Soda?

Which best describes your teaching… Milk, Meat, or Soda?

As youth pastors. We are often tasked with feeding our “sheep” milk. We often minister to nonChristian teens, to students who are new believers, and to those who are doubting their faith (whether they admit it to us or not). These are not people who need spiritual meat, they need milk.

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