Youth Ministry

Post image for Wholeness & Holiness Biblical Purity Curriculum

Since October 2011, my colleague Erik and I have been working to craft a youth- and young adult-friendly biblical purity curriculum out of Dr. Ritva Williams’ grant-funded research on the topic. The result of our collaboration is called Wholeness & Holiness. It’s an eight lesson curriculum that includes comprehensive leader guides, engaging student sheets, images, movie clips, and lots of other supplemental resources that can be utilized right out of the box.1

Ritva’s research sought to “reclaim” the word purity to encompass all of the oft-ignored aspects of biblical purity. These include temporary contact impurity, ingested impurity, how purity practices have changed throughout time, what you should or should not wear or tattoo on your body, etc. Now, just one of the eight lessons is about sex and sexuality, and this is intentional — the idea of biblical purity includes sex and sexuality but is by no means limited to it, regardless of what you may be lead to believe while browsing the aisles of your local Christian bookstore.

Needless to say, we are really excited about this resource and look forward to getting it into the hands of church leaders. And so (as you no doubt surmised by the graphic leading this post) we’re offering a 12 Days of Wholeness & Holiness sale starting on Christmas Day, which sale allows you to purchase the curriculum for as low as $25, which is over 55% off the full retail price.

I encourage you to poke around the Wholeness & Holiness website to read some reviews, and take a look at what’s included in the curriculum, including a free download of lesson four, “Loving the Skin You’re In: Purity on Display.”

For continued updates on Wholeness & Holiness be sure to follow @ElbowCo on Twitter and on Facebook.

  1. The phrase “right out of the box” is a bit of a misnomer, however, since the whole curriculum is delivered as a digital download. []


Post image for What’s the deal with Hantis?

I saw this tweet show up in my stream yesterday:

Seeing the phrases “crazy game” and “sweeping the nation” pretty much forced me to watch the video (You don’t have to watch the whole thing; you’ll get the gist fairly quickly):

Basically, Hantis looks awesome. Although it looks like there are “official” tables, it appears from the video that any similar-sized tables can be used. And when it comes to youth ministry and games, I’m all for limited set-up and supplies without sacrificing fun or inclusivity — and I speak from personal experience. There are several times I have spent lots of time, energy, and money on a “game” that lasted a grand total of 3 minutes and involved only a couple of youth. With Hantis, though, it seems like you really only need tables and a tennis ball (and a big enough space).

If you have spent even a short amount of time in youth ministry, you’ve probably seen a bunch of “games” that students will arrange and pass on to other youth groups. “Ninja” is one such game that I was introduced to several years ago on a mission trip. Like Hantis, Ninja requires no supplies and can be played almost anywhere, so long as there are a few willing bodies. Downtime + easy, quickly organizable game = Success.

Hantis looks super promising, and I have a feeling it could be a great addition to our youth group’s arsenal of games. But before I figure out all of the detailed rules, I want to know if anyone else has had experience with Hantis. Pros? Cons? What do I need to know before I unleash this awesome-looking game upon the youth at the church I serve?


Post image for “Evangelism in the Dark” published in Immerse Journal

The latest issue of Immerse Journal, a “journal of faith, life and youth ministry,” features an article I wrote titled “Evangelism in the Dark.”

It begins with these words:

It wasn’t only that I generally felt like a failure at it, as if I weren’t zealous enough to convert everyone around me or charismatic enough to make the good news seem irresistible; I have been haunted by the suspicion that evangelism itself has largely missed the mark.

In the article, I use the work of theologian Douglas John Hall (whom none other than Andy Root turned me on to) to make the case for an evangelism that is unafraid of setting up camp in the “dark” of questioning and doubt, and discuss how this kind of evangelism might take form in a youth ministry setting.

A preview of the January/February issue, including the entire first page of my article, can be accessed on the Immerse website until (I assume) March, when the next issue is released. If you want to read the whole thing, you’ll have to subscribe — which I totally recommend.

Immerse Journal is on Twitter as well, if you’re in to that sort of thing.

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As part of my course work at Luther Seminary in the Children, Youth, and Family Ministry program, I was required to write a “Theological Foundation Statement for Ministry with Youth”. The process of writing the paper provided the chance for me to codify many of the thoughts that have been rumbling around in my head for the last few years (years!).

Anyway, I realized that the authors and works cited in the paper is, well, interesting. These are some strange bedfellows, to be sure. Peruse the list and draw your own conclusions.

  • Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation
  • Gerald Bruns, Hermeneutics Ancient and Modern
  • Frederick Buechner, The Hungering Dark
  • John Caputo, What Would Jesus Deconstruct?: The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church
  • Philip Clayton, Transforming Christian Theology: For Church and Society
  • Kaiser Family Foundation, Daily Media Use Among Children and Teens Up Dramatically from Five Years Ago
  • Thomas Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century
  • Douglas John Hall, The Reality of the Gospel and the Unreality of the Churches
  • David Lipsky, Although of Course You End up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace
  • David Lyon, Postmodernity: Second Edition
  • Lesslie Newbigin, Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship
  • Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See
  • Christian Smith, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers
  • David Foster Wallace, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life

    Kenda Creasy Dean has a new article in The Christian Century titled Faith, nice and easy:
    The almost-Christian formation of teens
    . “Young people will not develop consequential faith simply by being absorbed into a so-called Christian culture as an alternative to the culture at large; churches are quite capable of developing deformative cultures of their own, while washing down the gospel with large gulps of rationalization. Consequential faith is the result of doing ministry, and not simply being ministered to.” The article is a distillation of her new book Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church which Tony Jones is blogging his way through.


    Relationships Unfiltered

    A quick message from Andrew Root:

    Hello Youth Ministry friends, I’m sorry to interrupt your regularly scheduled blog reading, but I have broken transmission to offer you an opportunity.

    I wanted to get before you the chance to get a free copy of my book Relationships Unfiltered. As the new school year approaches and you think about volunteer leader meetings and trainings I would like to suggest you take a look at Relationships Unfiltered. It’s written just for this setting with discussion questions and chapters filled with illustrations and stories–but also promises to get you and your team thinking theologically about your core practice this coming school year: forming relationships with young people.

    Here’s what I can do: If you’ll email me I’ll send you a free copy of the book so you can look it over and decide if it would be of help to you and your volunteers. If you’re interested in using it you can then go to or and type in the code 980752 in the “source code” box. Starting August 1 this will give you a 40% discount on as many books as you’d like.

    And I’ll also offer this, if you do use the book with your team, I’m willing to do a select number of Skype or iChat conversations with you and your team after getting through the book.

    If you’re in youth ministry and don’t already own Relationships Unfiltered, you’d be a fool not to accept this offer.

    I’ve written previously about the book here (which includes a nice little video) and had the opportunity to interview Dr. Root, which you can listen to here.