Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Category: Youth Ministry (page 1 of 5)

Giveaway: Jeremy Camp CD

Jeremy Camp, the Indiana-born Christian artist, has released a new album, The AnswerThe album as a whole seems to be ordained for such a time as this. With the brokenness and darkness, we see in the world on a daily basis, a message of hope and light is needed.

And a reminder that Jesus is the answer.

In the title track, ‘The Answer,” Camp speaks to the questions, hurt and pain that is in our own lives and in the world today. If you watch the official video you will meet individuals who have gone through darkness and pain in their lives and have found light and joy, including Camp himself. The message of the song is clear, Jesus is the answer to the questions of life.

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YouTubevotional: Election Day

ballot-box-bunny-bigger-stickThis is the first of what I hope will be a weekly occurrence. YouTubevotionals are for personal devotional time, or for use in a small group, youth group, or a Sunday school class. -JCS


It has been a long – long –  election season. It will soon be over, as citizens head to the polls on Tuesday to cast their votes. The 1951 Looney Tunes cartoon Ballot Box Bunny is eerily similar to this election season. The cartoon may help us explore the impact of the election season and think about leadership.

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Pete’s Dragon: Discussion Questions

Petes-Dragon-Movie-PosterPete’s Dragon is the newest family film from Disney. It is a brilliant film filled with adventure, laughs, and plenty of tear-jerkers. It is a great film to take a youth group, or other group, to. You can read my ponderings on the film here.

Below are some discussion questions you can use with your group. I’m sharing them here for those who are looking for such a resource. As a Christian educator, I should tell you, if you use these questions, don’t feel like you have to use them all. If anything, let the questions be a guide to having a conversation around the themes presented in the film.

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It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Discussion Questions

I wrote this for our middle schoolers a few weeks ago to use in their Sunday morning small group. It’s a discussion that focuses on doubt and faith, and that we can trust in God.



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“We’re Home”: Star Wars 7 & Vocation


This week the second official trailer for Star Wars VII was released. In no time, Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere were alive with comments and thoughts about what this means for the movie coming out in December 2015.

In case, some how, you missed it, here it is:

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Charlie Brown Valentine: Discussion Questions

I wrote this last year to use with my youth group after watching A Charlie Brown Valentine. It was a great discussion about God’s love in our lives.

charlie brown valentine

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Called to Include

The smell of Central American coffee was rich in the air.  The roar of the blenders making smoothies filled the small coffee shop.  High school students were slowly gathering in for their Thursday night ritual of coffee, cookies, smoothies, and Jesus.  Andrew had been working as the youth minister at a small mainline Protestant church for a number of years.  This small group of high school students had just started meeting at a local coffee shop recently.  The owners of the shop had graciously allowed Andrew’s students to meet in the back of the coffee shop where sofas had been set up.

The high school students were scattered on the sofas, some were on the floor, and others had pulled chairs over.  Then, Mike walked in.  Mike was a freshman in high school.  Middle school had not been good to him.  He had been picked on, teased, bullied, beat up, face stuffed in lockers.  You name it, it most likely happened to Mike.  Mike was a tall and skinny guy, but he walked slummed over as if an old man beaten down by age.  He found a space on one of the sofas, and slouched down into the sofa with his long legs extending higher into the air than his head.

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We held a fundraiser at our church for the Youth Mission Fund where the congregation could “vote” for someone’s yard (choosing from four people) to get flocked with flamingos by the youth. Their votes were in dollars. The person with the most “votes” won the flocking. Well, I won this year, and here is the flocking:

Noah: Discussion Questions

ark4As I’m been working on collecting my thoughts and reading other thoughts about the new film Noah, the Christian educator in me wrote out some questions. I’m sharing them here for those who are looking for such a resource. As a Christian educator, I should tell you, if you use these questions, don’t feel like you have to use them all. If anything, let the questions be a guide to having a conversation around the themes presented in the film.

Noah Discussion Questions

1. Which of the characters, as they are presented in the film, did you relate to the most? In what ways?

2. There is a lot of longing for communication with God in the film. How have you experienced (or not experienced) communication with God? What was that like?

3. In the film, God communicates with Noah through a dream. How has God traditionally communicated with the Church?

4. His father tells Noah about the tradition that has been handed down regarding caring for God’s creation. How is this a part of your faith tradition? How do you feel about humanity’s responsibility for caring for creation?

5. The film depicts the results of sin and wickedness through the barrenness of the earth. In what ways have you seen sin and wickedness depicted in prayers, hymns, or other forms of faith tradition?

6. Use this chart to compare the Biblical narrative with the film. Discuss how the filmmakers depicted different parts of the story.

7. There were a number of added scenes that were not recorded in Genesis. For example, the Bible does not communicate what happened on the ark through all the rain and floating. The filmmakers make an attempt to fill in that gap. What do you imagine may have happened on the ark? If you were one of Noah’s family members, what would it have been like for you?

8. One of the Watchers comes to Noah in the middle of the night to help him and his family get to Grandfather. Why do you think he came at night to help him? In what ways is this Watcher like Nicodemus (John 3)?

9. When Noah is describing his dream from God, he tells his Grandfather, “I saw death and new life.” How does this statement summarize Christian theology?

10. The first animals that are sent to the ark are doves. What do you think the significance of that is?

11. Ila, the girl Noah adopts and who will become Shem’s wife, is barren at first. Note other women in the Bible who were barren (at first). What similarities are they between them and Ila? What does barrenness symbolize in the spiritual life?

12. Noah changes in the film. At what point does this change happen and how does it affect him and his relationships?

13. What significant changes have happened in your life that has affected you and your relationships?

14. Noah and his wife have a conversation where Noah says that there is wickedness in all of us. His wife counters that there is goodness in us. How does this relate to the debate over original sin?

15. In what ways is Noah’s wife like the persistent widow in Luke 13?

16. In the battle scene, the Watchers one by one return to the Creator. What form do they take when they return to the Creator? How is this redemption?

17. While on the ark, Noah tells his family the story of creation. Temptation is symbolized by a black snake coming out of a green snake, living the skin behind. The fruit of the tree, beats like a human heart. A shadowed figure of Cain kills his shadowed figure of Abel. These images are shown throughout the film. Talk about each symbol and how it is significant to the Christian Story.

18. When Noah finds out that Ila is pregnant, he holds true to his task of destroying humanity. Why is Noah so certain that God has called him to destroy all of humanity?

19. Noah walks out of the ark and cries to God, “Why do you not answer me?” When have you had days like that? Why do you think God seems so silent at times?

20. After the ark finds dry ground, how has Noah changed? If you had such an intense experience, how would you have changed?

Follow Friday: Adam McLane

Adam McLane is one the most prolific youth ministry writers, consultants, and educators out there. Adam is a partner at The Youth Cartel. He blogs at AdamMcLane.com. Adam started blogging in May 2004 on Blogspot. But he was writing quite a bit before he started blogging. He says:

Really, I started journalling in 1993 as a junior in high school. I was living in Hanau, Germany and my curmudgeonly old english teacher made us keep a journal. The habit stuck and I’ve written a little bit nearly every day since.



Getting Started

In 1994 Adam started his life online with AOL. Remember AOL? He used the old dial-up 14.4 baud modem to connect to chat rooms and forums. As a student at the Moody Bible Institute he wrote a paper for his Personal Evangelism class about establishing a ministry online. His vision was a presence to discuss faith and build relationships with people all over the world.

His professor, Dr. Mike McDuffee gave him an “A.” His encouragement to keep going was really what got Adam started on this path of building relationships online, something he continues today. On his bio page, he states, “I love connecting with blog readers.” He also states that is avaiable for rent.

When he really got started with blogging in 2004, he stated his purpose this way:

Mostly as a way to share with myself, just what is going on. I’m not going to use this as a platform for anything else but . . . Well, whatever I feel like posting. Quotes. Golf scores. Youth Group talks. Carry-over rants. Interesting articles. Stories about the kids. Whatever I want!

The main purpose of the blog was to be an outlet for Adam to express himself. “I just had things I wanted to say,” he says, “and write that weren’t about my job. And I found blogging a great outlet for that.” He writes about a wide range of things, from gardening to college sports to photography to youth ministry to Haiti to whatever matters to him at the moment.

As a pastor, Adam was heavily influenced by Ray Pritchard. Ray was Adam’s pastor during his undergrad years in Chicago. He and his wife Kristen were in a church with other young couples. One of the ways Ray connected to his congregation was through his blog. “I felt like I could connect to Ray better as my pastor because of the transparency his blog provided,” Adam said. Ray was on the cutting edge of this medium. The church had “Ask Pastor Ray” forums and an internet broadcast in the late 1990s. Adam recalls, “I wanted to be a blogging pastor because he was a blogging pastor.”

One of the other reasons that Adam started his blog was because he had more to say than he could share on an internet forum. “I didn’t like that I had a thought but it was only read or talked about by members of the forum I posted it on,” he says. The blog became the place for those thoughts to engage a broader audience.

Adam blogs a lot about social media. One of his most read (and most commented) posts was about SnapChat. He originally wrote the post for about six moms who had asked about the picture taking social media app. At the time it was not on his radar, but he promised that it would be. A few months later he was asked about SnapChat by another mom via Facebook.

Why You Should Delete SnapChat

With that little bit of interest, he sat down and the wrote the post. As of earlier this week, the post has been read about 4,000,000 times since August 2013. And the feedback from the post has been overwhelmingly positive. The post has been shared more than 450,000 times on Facebook and about 5,000 times on Twitter.

Most of the feedback that matters to me has been from young women who had been exploited by a man they trusted to share images. They have been thankful that I’m sharing the truth about the dangers and I’ve been able to share with them that they are image bearers of God, more important than an image shared in a moment.

Blogging about social media is important to Adam because the medium allows youth to introduce a third life: “a life lived mostly online.” This third life, combined with their school life and their church life, is another way to represent Jesus everywhere we go and with everything we do.

Using the example of the SnapChat post, which wasn’t religious in any way. In that instance sharing something important that has helped lots of people was good news to them. My friend Morgan Schmidt says in her new book, Woo, that this action is Gospeling. When you share something is good news, it’s God’s good news even if it isn’t exclusively about good news. All good news belongs to God.

Adam’s love for teenagers and love for the tribe of youth ministry is a main motivator for why he writes about social media, teenagers, and youth ministry.

On Writing

jasoncstanley.com - blogDue to the growth of his ministry, Adam has gotten a little bit more strategic. “Writing,” he says, “is like any other artistic expression, sometimes its hard and other times you’ll be gushing with things to write.” Yet, Adam does not have a stringent plan. His goal is to have at least five full posts per week. Sometimes it may be less due to his travel schedule or it may be more if there is something that is particularly inspiring.

The “what to post” usually comes to Adam in the mornings. There is no formula or trick to blogging for Adam.

Being transparent, sometimes I have to write things for my blog as an obligation. Like if it’s a book review for a friend or a post that’s tied to a project I’m doing. I find those ones to be the least natural for me and are the hardest to write.

His process is pretty simple. As ideas come to him, he will write them down on scraps of paper or record them in Evernote. Most of his writing gets started in the morning. And it starts, as he says, with “the kettle to make coffee, and stare at an empty screen.” He says that about 75% of the time he wakes up knowing what he wants to write about. About 20% of the time he consults his scrap pieces of paper or Evernote. And about 5% of the time he will go over to google.com/news to search for something that is of interest to him.

His target is 500 words a post, “though,” he says, “I usually go over.” He goes on to say, “I give myself about an hour from start to finish. And I just write my ass off.”

Adam’s final thoughts is great advice for other bloggers and writers: “It’s not magic. It’s just like any craft, it gets easier and you get better at it over time.”

Adam blogs at adammclane.com and can help with your creative needs through McLane Creative. You can follow him on twitter at @mclanea.

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