Be Creative with Teaching

Post a Comment » Written on April 9th, 2014     
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Check out this brilliant blog post from Jim Murphy, Youth Pastor at Evangelical Covenant Church of Bemidji.

I love to use mnemonics! 4 words that start with C. The first letter of each word in a sentence or series of points that form an acronym. A 3 line limerick that’s easy to recite. They’re all great. As long as I don’t force the passage out of context or make it too corny, mnemonics are all good. I also love using visual metaphors and being creative with the room or stage design. Even usingiStockPhoto or services like for graphics are helpful. We show a lot of short “mini-movies” on different topics to serve as lesson hooks, discussion starters, illustrations, etc. We find most of ours at Worship House Media. But most recently we’ve really enjoyed using video student stories related to different topics from Bluefish TV through Rightnow Media. I also really like to use lesson re-enforcing hands-on activities in small groups or little games during large group. Unfortunately, these are much more difficult to put together and orchestrate…especially for large numbers of students. That’s probably why you don’t see this kind of thing much in large youth groups.

My favorite use of creativity in teaching isn’t really gimmick or any sort of special tool. It’s actually just telling the biblical story. But not like talking about the story where you say “I want to tell you about a story in the bible.” Or just explaining the story where you just talk about the things that were happening in the background. Rather, you tell the story as if you’re in the story yourself…you’re one of the persons in the story telling the story. Or maybe not as one of the characters but at least telling it in such a way that it feels like you’re right in the middle of the story. Start with the first sentence being one that grabs their attention and then go back and tell the story leading back to that opening statement. Try experimenting with the various modes of narration, you know like 1st person, 2nd person, and 3rd person. I just recently heard Pastor Chris Brown of North Coast Church employ this kind of creativity in his sermon at our denomination’s annual conference called Midwinter. Check out his website called


Jim Murphy
Pastor of Student Life
Covenant Church, Bemidji

Visit Jim’s blog here!

The Power of True Identity

Post a Comment » Written on February 26th, 2014     
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“Who am I?”  How a person answers this question determines what they believe about themselves.  To answer it wrongly leads to a life of misery, regret, and futility.  However if one answers it correctly they could lead a life filled with hope, joy, & sense of calling.

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A feast worth of most

Post a Comment » Written on January 6th, 2014     
Filed under: Reflection

post1In a sermon in 412, Augustine called Epiphany “a feast worth of most devout celebration.” It completes the season of Christmas by inviting us to discern the identity of the Christ child. It means “manifestation” or “showing forth” – Eastern Christians use the term “Theophany” meaning “Manifestation of God”.

For us, it is the commemoration of the first two occasions Jesus’ divinity was manifested:

  • when the magi visited the infant Jesus in Bethlehem and
  • when John baptized him him the Jordan River

As we celebrate these occasions, we are also led to celebrate our coming to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, Redeemer and Friend. You may call it a cop-out, but while searching for images to include I ran across this blog and I think Holly says what I’m getting at quite well! “Come and see”: What Epiphany Shows us about Evangelism.



Want more?! Check out this resource, graciously shared online in the MIX (Ministry Idea Exchange) by Kyle J.A. Small.

Missional Minded Youth Ministry

Post a Comment » Written on December 2nd, 2013     
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“Some people think that students are too young…I disagree.”

John Moores, a youth pastor from Canton, Ohio, shares how God is using missional communities to transform the lives of his students.

Let’s Not Forget About Thanksgiving Season

Post a Comment » Written on November 27th, 2013     
Filed under: Reflection
Our national day of gratitude should be more than just a kickoff to the Christmas season.

When I hear Christmas Carols play the day after Halloween I always roll my eyes. From the moment Halloween ends we are thrust into the Christmas season. We go from “Trick or treat” to “Seasons Greetings” in the blink of an eye.

Wasting no time at all, retail giants in our land roll out their Christmas inventory, and with good reason. Americans spend more than $400 Billion every year on Christmas. As the logic goes, the more time we have to spend money, the more money we will spend.

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Stories permeate student ministry

Post a Comment » Written on November 20th, 2013     
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by Kyle Thomsentho_kyl

“…we are overcomers by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony…”

Stories permeate student ministry. We tell funny stories, Bible stories, and always challenge people to share “their” story. Everyone loves when a student shares their story, but how many times have you heard people say, “I don’t have a testimony.” *every youth pastor cringes*

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How Long Will I Cry?: Voices of Youth Violence

Post a Comment » Written on November 13th, 2013     
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Harvey_How_Long_cover_1I’m also cautious of the dudes who hang on the corner… But I can’t snap on them like that because I don’t know what they got. Plus I get kind of scared when I tell them no because I don’t want them to start looking for me.

This is just a small glimpse into an extraordinary and eye-opening book called How Long Will I Cry?: Voices of Youth Violence.

I loved this book. I don’t know if it helps you or anyone to delay that assessment, so I won’t.

In 2011 and 2012, while more than 900 people were being murdered on the streets of Chicago. Miles Harvey and his students from DePaul University collected oral narratives from people who have experienced the tragic consequences of violence on streets of Chicago. They fanned out all over the city interviewing people whose lives have been changed forever by the bloodshed. Their ability to report on the experiences of Chicago’s youth, offer us vivid portraits that are profoundly humane. That said, the people chosen in this book challenge the mainstream in such a dramatic way. In their own words, the stories inside are at turns harrowing, heartbreaking, and full of hope.

To learn more, click here!


YWU Prayer request

Post a Comment » Written on October 23rd, 2013     
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Please join us in praying for those who faithfully serve the Lord at the Pacific Southwest Conference.

We are thankful for those who give their time and talents to the welfare of young people. May God give them wisdom, understanding, and love for the young people they minister to. Please pray that God gives them strength when they are tired, support when they are weak, and may they see the rewards of completing God’s work each day.

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Ed’s Story – A 7-Film Series about Hope

Post a Comment » Written on October 14th, 2013     
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This is Ed Dobson.

He has an amazing story of hope that has reached around the world. Please take two minutes out of your day to learn about his story.

Ed’s Story is our story. Diagnosed with ALS and given a short time to live, Ed wrestles with issues suffering raises: worry, identity, forgiveness, gratitude, and healing. Emerging from it all is his discovery that there is always hope.

Learn more about this seven-part film series about hope, featuring Ed Dobson. Watch the trailer to get a taste of the journey taken with Ed through these seven films.

Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore

Post a Comment » Written on October 2nd, 2013     
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Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore…

And How 4 Acts of Love Will Make Your Church Irresistible



The book that will forever change the way you think about church.

The statistics are clear: The American church is in decline. People are leaving in astounding numbers, with no sign of a turnaround. And despite church leaders’ best efforts to stem the tide, more than 80 percent of people are finding something better to do on Sunday mornings.

Why? Is there hope for the future of the church?


In this groundbreaking new book, Thom and Joani Schultz expose the church practices that are driving people away and thwarting spiritual growth. Yet they also reveal what can bring them back—the four keys to reaching the “unchurched” and the “dechurched.”

The bad news? Your church is probably missing the mark when it comes to the core of Christianity. The good news? There’s hope. Lots of it. The truth may surprise you…but it can also transform your ministry into something truly irresistible.

Be a catalyst for radical change in the church by bringing this book to your ministry.


Join the conversation & learn more about the 4 Acts of Love.