Here is the recording from the webinar yesterday. It was an honor to have the opportunity to interview my good friend Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds Bookstore and to hear his recommendations for summer reading and study. For what it’s worth, I purchased 6 of the 54 books he mentioned!
The mission of CPYU is to work with churches, schools, and community organizations to build stronger relationships between young people and those charged with helping them grow into healthy adulthood. I was reminded yesterday that in order to fulfill that mission, for CPYU, for parents, and for church leaders, we need thoughtful and biblical resources. Byron’s calling is helping us in our calling, by pointing us to the best of what’s available. Thank you Byron!
Click here to download (.pdf) the power point presentation to see the list of books recommended.
Click here to order books from Hearts & Minds (Byron is offering 20% off all the books mentioned during the webinar!).
Click here to read Byron’s very popular Booknotes blog.
Join me as I ask CPYU’s favorite bookseller, Byron Borger, to suggest the best books to read this summer. Byron owns Hearts & Minds, a bookstore in Dallastown, PA and has been in the book business for over 30 years. He enjoys crafting custom-made lists for specific audiences. He is a long-time friend of us here at CPYU and has agreed to offer a list for us. Listen in as he shares key titles to inspire us in our tasks as parents, youth workers and Christian leaders.
Watch a video of Byron discussing why reading matters here:
The term worldview is now widely used in discussions about faith, philosophy, culture and education. The word jumped into English from the German, Weltanschauung, and has become increasingly familiar in the last fifty years, especially in some Christian circles. Many Christians latched onto the term because it helped to describe the all-encompassing, cosmic scope of the Gospel. The Christian faith is not just a religion, but a way of life that has far-reaching implications for the way we “see” reality and live in the world. A worldview is a vision of life and for life. Familiarity often breeds contempt, however. While many agree that the popularity and wide-spread acceptance of the concept has been a good thing for the church, some critics suggest proceeding with caution when teaching that Christianity is a worldview.
J. Mark Bertrand has spent much of his adult life teaching young people the value of understanding worldviews and thinking “Christianly” about all areas of life. But he too has concerns about the misuse and misapplication of the term. In his book Rethinking Worldview: Learning to Think, Live, and Speak in This World (Crossway) Bertrand seeks to capture a more complex, nuanced appreciation of what worldviews really are. Bertrand has a degree in English from Union University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Houston. He is also the author of a successful 3-part series of “Roland March” detective novels (Back on Murder, Pattern of Wounds and Nothing to Hide). What follows is an interview with Bertrand about worldview and how the concept, when properly understood can help young people grow in faith…
This past weekend I presented the College Transition Seminar for the Black Rock Church in Fairfield, CT. Over lunch, the seminar also featured a panel discussion with current college students. Parents and students had the opportunity to ask “real live” college students about the struggles and successes they had transitioning to the next chapter of their life story. The conversation was rich. Not only did the parents and high school students gain much wisdom from what they heard, but the college students greatly benefitted from telling their stories as well.
It got me thinking… a college student panel is a simple thing to do and it can make a big difference in the lives of soon-to-be college students! It doesn’t even require much prep work. Ask college students you know if they would be interested in sitting on a panel. If they say “yes” they probably have something they would like to share! And then ask simple questions to get the conversation started, like:
How did you decide on the college you chose?
Was it difficult to find Christian community on campus?
What surprised you the most when transitioning to college?
If you could do the transition over again, what would you do differently?
What advice would offer to high school students who are nervous about the transition?
In between each question, open it up to the parents and students to ask follow-up questions. It’s also a good idea to pass around 3×5 cards beforehand, in case people are more comfortable writing their question instead of asking it in front of others.
Students need a vision for what it looks like to have a successful transition to college. Hearing from current college students can help them gain a vision for what their transition could and should look like.
It’s no secret. Many young adults are no longer finding a “home” in most churches. This common trend used to be dismissed with the pithy response: “They’ll return when they get married and have kids!” But that’s no longer the case. For one thing, more and more young adults are prolonging marriage. What’s more, waiting for people to get married in order to have them fully participate in the life of the church is not an effective or biblical strategy. The church needs to disciple people regardless of their marital status. In fact, the young adult years are considered by many to be the most formative years in a person’s life. But why has it become so difficult to reach emerging adults? What can the church do to more effectively connect with the next generation?
Equipping the church to wrestle with these questions is what inspired the authors of The Slow Fade: Why You Matter in the Story of Twentysomethings (David C. Cook). Reggie Joiner, a senior pastor, Chuck Bomar, a college pastor, and Abbie Smith, a twenty-something, offer insight into the often hard to reach college aged crowd. When many churches seem to be looking for the latest and greatest program to attract young people who have slowly faded away from church, these authors provide a simpler, more biblical approach: mentoring. Their plea is for the older generation to take the younger generation more seriously by investing their time in developing meaningful relationships with young adults. According to the authors, “Halting the slow fade happens when adults start investing in the college-aged people.”
Most notably, they are suggesting that the church re-think its finish line. For too long, the church has seen graduating from high school as the big “finish” before moving off to college. The authors ask a perceptive question: “If the slow fade in someone’s faith begins to occur at the point he or she goes off to college, then why don’t we focus some of our best energies on the first few years of college?” What would it look like if the church pushed back its finish line to age 20, or better, didn’t have a finish line at all? It would require a major paradigm shift in the way most churches think about youth and youth ministry.
The authors realize that mentoring is not easy and offer wisdom and guidance to be more effective and authentic disciple makers. Church leaders who care about seeing young people grow in faith should not miss this book. Confused parents who are struggling with their young adult son or daughter will gain valuable insight into why he or she is no longer apart of the church. The Slow Fade will open your eyes to the needs of young adults and provide steps forward for reaching them with a faith that lasts.
It’s that time of year. Senioritis at school and church is kicking in. Students are ready to coast to the finish-line and make their way to the next chapter of their life story. For many graduating seniors (but not all), the “next step” will be college in the fall. According to recent research by the Fuller Youth Institute only 1 in 7high school seniors report feeling prepared to face the challenges of college life. How can we engage seniors during the last few months of high school so that they are better prepared for the challenges ahead? What follows are three suggested activities to invite students to think more deeply about this crucial transition (each activity takes about an hour and could work well as three consecutive youth group meetings):
First, create space for better conversations about life after high school. Host a panel discussion with college students and have soon-to-be graduates ask them questions about how they can be better prepared. Consider including older members of the community as well. Have them reflect on their own decisions and transitions when they were about to graduate from high school. Ask people 20+ years removed from college this question: If you could do it all over again, what would you have done differently? Conclude the meeting by giving students the article “Conversations for the College Bound: 10 Talks to Have Before Arriving on Campus.” Have the students discuss the article with the group.
What conversation(s) stuck out to you as you read?
Were there any conversation partners listed that you hadn’t considered?
What conversations would you like to pursue over the next few weeks?
Second, have an open and honest conversation about faith after high school. To generate good discussion, watch a Veritas Forum video with college bound students. Veritas Forums are university events that engage students and faculty in discussions about life’s hardest questions and the relevance of Jesus Christ to all of life. I highly recommend The Veritas Forum featuring Tim Keller at the University of California, Berkeley.
What stuck out to you as you listened to Dr. Keller presentation?
What do you think were his strongest points?
Did you have any disagreements with Dr. Keller arguments for belief in God and the Christian faith?
How do you think Dr. Keller handled the questions from the audience? What can you learn from him about how to have discussions with people who disagree with your worldview?
If you were given the task of explaining or defending the Christian faith at an event like The Veritas Forum, how would you do it? What would the outline of your talk be? Would you be nervous? Why or why not?
Third, help students connect with Christian community before they arrive on campus. Remind students of the value and necessity of community to Christian faith. As you learn where students will be going to college, take a proactive approach by contacting campus ministries and churches in those areas. Start by asking others in your congregation who might be familiar with the community in which the college is located. Next, browse the college’s Web site to see what is offered on campus. Send e-mails and make phone calls. Get in touch with campus ministers and pastors in the area. Consider using a night at youth group to help college bound students make these important connections months before they arrive on campus. Check out this article for more ideas: “Finding Community in College: 5 Ways to Help Students Connect.”
Do you think it will be easy or difficult to make new friends in college?
Why do you think community is important to Christian faith?
Do you think college relationships will be the same as high school relationships? Why or why not?
Do you think you will attend church while in college? Why or why not?
My wife and I led a team of college students to Thailand in June 2005. We were there to help with the rebuilding efforts after the Tsunami ripped through Southeast Asia in 2004. I had never seen devastation like this before. Our guide took us first to the place where they brought the dead bodies. A memorial signifying all of the countries that had lost people was stretched across one of the outer walls. While the team gazed at the memorial and took pictures, two new bodies were delivered by pick-up truck. Immediately, the tone and posture of the team changed, and the trip took on even deeper meaning. We were surrounded by death and destruction and our “mission” was to bring hope and light into a very dark place. This wasn’t going to be easy.
Not only did we see villages destroyed and families in pain, but we also encountered another issue that we weren’t ready for: rampant prostitution. We visited a beach resort community deemed “the pedophile capital of the world.” Men were paying thousands of dollars to have sex with children, right in our midst. I was personally solicited a number of times by men and women looking to make money. We learned of an orphanage director who was offered $50,000 or more for children age 10 or younger.
How could a place so beautiful on the outside, be so ugly on the “inside?” If God is good, why was there so much pain in the world, especially among innocent children? Where was God the day the Tsunami hit the coastline, and the countless other days that sexual “tsunamis” devastate lives of young girls?
As you can imagine, for the first few days in Thailand, having confidence, faith and trust in the God of the Bible was difficult. Sure, we had all asked the philosophical, abstract question: “How can God be good with all of the pain and suffering in the world?” We even had arrived at some satisfying answers. But our questions were asked in Bible studies in suburban Pennsylvania, not in tragedy stricken Southeast Asia, and not surrounded by this kind of intense pain and suffering. Put simply: we began to have our doubts about the God we worshipped. We voiced these doubts in our conversations, prayers and journals…
According to a recent study conducted by Stanford University, only 1 in 5 (20%) of teenagers “express a clear vision of where they want to go, what they want to accomplish and why.” Many youth workers and parents are concerned with teen apathy and directionlessness. Even Christian teens seem to have a difficult time connecting their faith with their future plans and career aspirations. What is needed in many churches and youth groups today is a robust theology of vocation. Enter Stephen J. Nichols and is very helpful booklet (only 30 pages!) What is Vocation? (P&R Publishing).
While this booklet is useful for everyone in the church, much of the content and concern derives from his work with teens during the formative years as a college professor. He writes, “It’s the goal of this booklet for you to see all of your work, whether you get a paycheck for it or not, whether it’s considered a noble profession or a menial task, as germane to your calling as a child of God and a disciple of Christ… The doctrine of vocation enables us to see our work, all our work, as a means by which we can serve, worship, glorify, and enjoy God.”
Not only does the booklet provide a biblical, theological and historical overview of the doctrine of vocation, but it also makes connections with personal stories and popular culture. This is recommended reading for anyone who desires a deeper understanding of calling. It would be especially helpful to youth workers and parents who want to instill the value of calling and purpose in their teens.
Click here to download (.pdf) my interview with Dr. Clydesdale, first published in 2007. Feel free to pass it along, especially to parents and youth workers who are thinking strategically about how to help young people develop a faith that lasts.
Research from the Fuller Youth Institute reveals surprising insights into instilling lasting faith in young people. It is estimated that around 50% of students that grow up in the Christian faith walk away from the church after high school. Many church leaders have known about this growing trend but have not been sure what to do about it. The Fuller Youth Institute, under the direction of Dr. Kara Powell, conducted a ground-breaking, four-year study of this phenomenon. This “Sticky Faith” research followed teenagers from their senior year of high school until their senior year of college, hoping to discover what helped them to make their faith stick. Dr. Powell explains, “As many churches and denominations experience decline, and as anxious parents wonder about their children’s futures, the Sticky Faith research has the power to spark a movement that not only changes youth, but also families and churches.”
Here are three key findings to consider: First, while most U.S. churches focus on building strong youth groups, teenagers also need to build relationships with adults of all ages. Teens need intergenerational community. Second, churches and families overestimate youth group graduates’ readiness for the struggles ahead with dire consequences for the faith. Most teens are not ready for the challenges and temptations of life after high school. Third, while teaching young people the “dos” and “don’ts” of Christian living is important, an overemphasis on behaviors can sabotage faith long-term. Teens desperately need a Gospel of heart transformation, not just behavior modification.
Visit the Sticky Faith website to learn more about the research and to discover helpful resources that equip parents and churches to nurture in young people a faith that lasts.