Talking with God Teaching Series

Talking With God Title SlideCommunication is vital in any relationship including a Christian’s own relationship with God. Helping people understand how God communicates to us and we to Him is so important. That’s why we took two weeks in our middle school ministry to talk about just that – how to talk to God. The idea behind this short series is very simple. We wanted to our students to understand that God speaks to us through the Bible and we have the privilege of speaking to Him through prayer. The first week we talked about Bible reading. We looked at what the Bible is and a very practical tools we can use to read it better. The second week we talked about prayer. Much like the talk on the Bible, we looked at what prayer is and how we can pray better following the example Jesus gave in Matthew 6.

I wrote the talk for the first week and our two-year intern Allen Williams wrote the talk for the second week. We wanted to make this short series available to others to use in their own ministry context. As stated above, these talks were originally written for a middle school audience but can be tweaked to fit in almost any context. Click the link below to get both teaching manuscripts as well as the graphics for this series. There is also a “Bible Study Plans and Methods” handout that you can share to go along with the first talk in this series.

Talking with God Teaching Series

Books I’ve Read Recently

Catalyst-Leader-BookThe Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick. I decided to pick this book up and read since I haven’t read a leadership book in a while. Brad Lomenick wrote this book while he was the leader of Catalyst, which is an organization that equips and inspires young Christian leaders through events, resources, consulting, and community. In this book, Lemonick puts forth eight essentials that are required for what he calls a “change maker.” The eight essentials (which could also be called characteristics) are: called, authentic, passionate, capable, courageous, principled, hopeful, and collaborative. Each chapter covers one of these essentials. In each chapter Lemonick explains why the particular characteristic is important to leadership as well as ways leaders can grow in that area of leadership. Two of the things I really liked about this book was how practical it was as well as all the stories Lemonick includes of people who demonstrate each characteristic. The stories are inspiriting and serve as great reminders of what being a “change maker” really means. This is a great read for anyone in leadership who wants some practical tips on becoming a better leader.

Amish-Values-for-Your-Family-195x300Amish Values for Your Family by Suzanne Fisher. I have always been intrigued by the Amish. Their simple life and faith has always been something I want to learn more about. One of the areas of the Amish I have always admired is how they view and go about family, which is why I decided to read this book. The point of this book is not to encourage people to “go Amish.” It’s an encouragement to look into the family life of the Amish and see what values we can take from them and apply to our own families. Fisher says, “There is much we can learn from these gentle people about raising our families well: to help prioritizes what’s truly important, to simplify decision making, to slow down as a family, to safeguard time together, and when age-appropriate, to let go” (page 13). The book covers four broad “values” the Amish have in regard to family: children are love but not adored, great expectations, daily bread, and letting go. Each chapter gives a short story of a family living out one of those values. The section I really enjoyed and learned the most from was “children are loved and not adored.” As a culture parents put their children at the center of their life and their family. Everything seems to revolve around the child. However, this doesn’t always proceeds the best results. In many cases this hurts the family and the child. The Amish have figured out a way to love their children but not revolve their whole life and family around those children. Instead, those children become a vital part of the family and benefit the family. Also, each chapter ends with a short summary of how families can take that story and the value it teaches and apply it to their family. This is a book I would highly recommend to parents of children of any age.

41wF1qfueZL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_Beyond Small Talk by Rachel Blom. This little book contains extremely helpful information on how to have conversations with teenagers. As the title suggests, Blom helps the reader understand how they can move from “small talk,” which is actually important and needed, to more meaningful conversations about God. What I loved about this book is how Blom doesn’t paint “small talk” as a bad thing or something we should look down on because it’s not “spiritual.” Instead, Blom shares how we can actually become better at “small talk,” which will set us up to move into those deeper conversations. This book contains very practical tips on almost everything someone needs to know in order to have good conversations with teenagers. There are chapters on things like building trust, getting small groups talking (which is a must read for anyone who leaders a small group made up of teenagers), and knowing what to say/what not to say. I’d encourage anyone who deals with teenagers often, especially parents and youth workers, to read this book. It’s short and simple, but very helpful. Talking with teenagers is important and those of us who deal closely with them should strive to grow in this area. As Blom says in the introduction of this book, “It’s imperative that we talk with them, that we succeed in opening up a real dialogue.” This book will help you do just that.

Two other books that I also read that I chose not to review were A Christian Manifesto by Francis Schaeffer, which is an older book but is still a great read that I would recommend to all Christians, as well as The Divorce Dilemma by John MacArthur, which is a very helpful book in understanding what the Bible teaches about divorce.

3 Resources Get Students Interacting at Small Group

Two-people-talking-with-BubblesOne of the hardest things about leading student small groups is starting off on the right foot. Usually you have one or two students who are the life of the party. They feel comfortable talking and being the center of conversation. But then you have a few students that are shy or maybe they don’t feel comfortable enough with the group to join in the conversation. So how do you start your student small group off on the right foot in a way that makes all the students comfortable. Also, how do you get them interacting and listening to each other. A great way to do this is ask icebreaker questions. Questions that pull students out of their comfort zones and answering funny (or sometime serious) questions that usually helps the group laugh or interact with each other. I want to share with you three great resources that I have used to get my students interacting, laughing, and listening to each other during small groups.

Icebreaker Questions iPhone App. I ran across this app on the More Than Dodgeball blog. It’s a handy iPhone app that has tons of icebreaker questions for your students. It even has questions to use with kid and adult small groups. All you do is open the app, pick am age group (kids, students, or adults), and start asking the questions. The app cost $0.99 in the app store, but is worth it.

The Complete Book of Questions: 1001 Conversation Starts for Any Occasion. My campus pastor pulled this book out a few months ago before a staff meeting and since then I have used it with my middle school guys small group. This helpful book is packed with tons of questions that help start funny and serious conversations with your students. What I like about this book is it’s split up between starter, funny, serious, and spiritual questions. Out of the three resources in this blog this is the one I would recommend most. It’s a great book to have handy when you want to break the ice with your students at small group.

Throw and Tell Balls from Group. I purchased one of these balls a few years ago at SYMC and didn’t realize how much my students would enjoy it. Basically it’s a blow up, beach ball sized ball that has a ton of questions on it. You throw the ball around the group and make the students answer which ever question one of their fingers lands on (I usually say right pointer finger, but you can do whatever you want). Group has made two versions of this ball: icebreaker and storytellers. The icebreaker ball is covered with simple icebreaker questions and the storytellers ball is covered with questions that make the student answer in story mode.

I hope you find a few of these resources helpful when it comes to leading student small groups. If you have another resource that you find helpful please share it below in the comment section.