Posts in Articles
Planning Events: The Reality of our Resources

We are limited beings. We require resources – perhaps finances, buildings, food, but definitely people, time, effort, etc. – in our creative work.  If this is the case, then knowing what resources you have and considering how to best steward those in the work of ministry is a huge part of the planning process.

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ArticlesStephen Yates
Planning Events: The Intentionality of our Programming

‘Why are we doing this again?’ I hate it when I have this thought in the middle of an event. While sometimes it’s simply the fatigue of staying up until 3 AM with middle school boys to blame, it also comes from having an ill-defined purpose for putting on an event in the first place. But nobody starts off wanting to hold an ineffective event. Why might we do this?

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ArticlesStephen Yates
Series: How to Plan an Event

Those of us with difficulties in these areas must grow, surround ourselves with other gifted leaders, and develop structures to help us serve our teens, parents, and churches through our event planning. As a start, we should consider four areas of improvement to grow in our planning capabilities…

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ArticlesStephen Yates
What Does 'Real' Discipleship in Youth Ministry Look Like?

Scripture calls us to a very different type of assessment. Instead of growing crowds, doing cool things, or gaining praise, Jesus calls us to make disciples. Discipleship should be the main assessment tool as to the health and effectiveness of our ministries. But that even feels like an ambiguous, moving target. How do we judge when a student is ‘discipled’?

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ArticlesStephen Yates
The Top 5 Books on Youth Ministry Your Youth Worker Needs to Know

While we review some of the most current and newsworthy books related to youth ministry today at the Next Institute, one of the most common questions we receive isn’t about new books at all. Rather, it is common for new youth workers and churches about to hire youth workers or interns to ask what our top, entry-level resources are. This Christmas season, reach out to a youth worker you care about and find out if they have our top 5 books about youth ministry!

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ArticlesStephen Yates
The Ethic of Baking - The British Way

What emerges over the course of the show is that it doesn't only have a style; it has an ethic. Mary and Paul do not fall victim to the misdirection of small but spectacular-looking mistakes. If the custard in the middle of whatever you're making doesn't quite set, the entire thing may collapse and run all over the counter, but they'll taste it anyway! And they'll tell you that your custard not setting isn't necessarily a bigger mistake than anything else; it just looks worse. If you can't get your cake put together, they'll still taste the layers. You may not be out. Do not lose heart. Do not lose heart.

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ArticlesStephen Yates
Intergenerational Ministry -- An Emerging Innovation for Next Generation Ministry

One widespread, fictional fabrication in youth ministry and churches is that droves of students leave the church after they graduate from the youth group.  Many youth pastors have been hurt and threatened by these various, dubious statistics.  These erroneous figures often report that 80% to 90% of students leave church after they leave youth group.  As a youth (and family) pastor of 25 years at my church (yes, one church for 25 years), I have cringed when guest preachers have visited our church, promoting these erroneous statistics, and leaving me with worried parents, an upset Session, and a very concerned Senior Pastor.   

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ArticlesStephen Yates
My Youth Are (Not) Secular 3: Under Cross-Pressure

Often erupting out of deep existential periods such as moments of profound joy or heart-wrenching suffering, many ‘secular’ individuals feel the failure of the immanent frame to provide enough meaning for their lives in these tender moments. They have a sense that there must be more. James KA Smith further notes that these illogical cracks in the immanent frame are commonly recorded by artists, who mourn the shallowness of the meanings we are able to create.

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ArticlesStephen Yates
Eugene Peterson (1922-2018)

It is perhaps a tragedy that Eugene Peterson may be most remembered in the annals of youth ministry for flashy, over-produced ‘remixes’ of his best-selling paraphrase of the Bible, The Message. Here are a few things youth ministers would do well to remember him for instead…

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ArticlesStephen Yates
My Youth Are (Not) Secular 2: Living in the Immanent Frame

In student ministry, the immanent frame rears its head more and more as youth workers encounter students who simply have no need of Jesus. Not that they have no problems - they are keenly aware of their amount of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and rejection at all times. However, they face such issues without considering God - not because of an active atheism that sees them angrily rejecting the existence or intervention of the divine, but passively. They never even consider praying at all.

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ArticlesStephen Yates
Youth Ministry Reflections: Transition and Culture

One of my favorite tools I always carry around with are my rubber ducks that I call my “yay” and “yuck” ducks. These two ducks always swim together even though they’re opposite. This activity introduces the term paradox (from ages 2 year old to adult) and it describes the missionary life incredibly For example, saying good-byes to friends in our home country is sad, and also it means that you have loved well and there is something so good and happy about that. The paradox of transition is “the best of times and the worst of times.” Very frequently if we focus only on the “yays,” the unprocessed grief can lead to years of counseling in later adult years.

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My Youth Are (Not) Secular 1: What Does 'Secular' Mean?

At its base level, this first thesis calls youth ministers to not only not assume biblical literacy in students, but also to not assume biblical motivations or proclivities. Students today are just as likely to not believe they have a ‘god-shaped hole’ they are filling with something, just as likely to not believe in the authority of the Bible not because of historical criticism but because their understandings of science and ethics seem implicitly more valid, just as likely to not consider the perspective of a pastor or youth leader as necessary or helpful when making big decisions.

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Demystifying Youth Ministry in Japan

Human resources are certainly lacking here in Japan, and I want to affirm that being in full-time next gen ministry really is a special and necessary calling, but it seems to me that this “superhero youth worker mentality” betrays a fundamental flaw in our understanding of what next gen ministry really is. Because of that, I’ve spent much of my time here in Japan simply calling people back to the 3 W’s - The Word, the Warmth and the We.


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