*Extended* GIVEAWAY: Barefoot Online Subscription

Happy Thanksgiving! To celebrate, we’re giving you a special, extended-length contest this week. Up for grabs is the one-year Barefoot Online standard subscription. You can cancel or upgrade at any time, or renew to keep the same service when your year is up.

Click the Enter button below to participate. Contest runs through Monday, December 2. A winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 3.

Enjoy your feasting and celebration this week, and don’t forget to be thankful.


GIVEAWAY: A World Unbroken: The Art of Mercy

Take your youth group through this six-week DVD lesson series that builds on the philosophy laid out in the original World Unbroken project (although stands alone as its own product).

A World Unbroken: The Art of Mercy is perfect for whole-group or small-group settings, whatever fits your context best. Use the Enter button below to register to win. Contest runs through Monday, November 25. A winner will be announced Tuesday, November 26.


It’s Not Really about Swearing

Teenagers tend to feel disconnected from the Ten Commandments. And why shouldn’t they? They were written for a wholly different people—an adult people, no less—in a wholly different context. We do our best as youth ministers to help bring contextual relevance to some of the more obscure commands, and to help our teens understand the spirit of the law behind each one.

For instance, we know they aren’t melting down their purity rings in their backyards and making literal idols to worship, so instead we talk to them about how their smartphones and laptops and other gadgets can become idols, along with their pursuits of popularity or perfect grades. But even our best attempts to cast the Ten Commandments in culturally relevant light can fall short, especially when the language in which we learn and memorize them remains archaic. What, for instance, does it mean when God says, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain”?

Many, many, many elementary Sunday school teachers and youth ministers say, “Easy. Don’t say the G-D word or J-C when you’re angry. Instead, say pure words like dadgum, gosh-darnit, or geez. Next?”

Of course, none of you have ever made that mistake. Nuh-uh. We know that the youth ministers and leaders and volunteers and parents who read this blog never take the easy way out when discussing matters of faith with their students. This post isn’t for you. It’s for that youth leader of that other church down the street. (Print this off and slide it under his or her door.)

So what does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain, if it’s not—and we’re pretty sure it’s not—merely avoiding using the name of Christ as an expletive when we stub a toe, or asking God to condemn that huge pothole in the road that just reminded us how bad the shocks are in our car?

Let’s think about the context of the people for whom the commandment was originally written. Yes, the new covenant and Jesus’s sacrifice and his blood ensure that all that exclusive, for-God’s-people-only stuff can now be applied to anyone. But when the Ten Commandments were given to Moses on the mountain, they were specifically for God’s people, who—at that time—were only the Israelites. God repeats over and over throughout the first several books of the Old Testament that the Israelites are to be a holy nation and a priestly kingdom; that they are to be his representatives; that they are his, and that the world will know it by the way they live.

So, armed with that information, the phrase taking the Lord’s name in vain begins to feel a little different. Doesn’t it start to feel like a situation where behavior should be considered? If the Israelites are supposed to be God’s people, then the world is going to watch them. And if you bestowed your seal upon someone else and vouched for that person and said that anything that person said or did was a direct representation of who you are… Well, you’d want that person to be well behaved and articulate and honest, wouldn’t you? You’d want to be represented as educated, kind, courteous, thoughtful, insightful. And anything that person did that misrepresented you… Well, wouldn’t you take offense to that? Wouldn’t you be indignant, and perhaps even hurt?

GIVEAWAY: Reverb Book Shorts (Choice of 2)

Today’s giveaway – should you choose to enter, and subsequently be lucky enough to win – is your choice of two from our selection of Reverb Book Shorts. Check out the options, and hit the Enter button below to enter!

Contest runs through Monday, November 18. A winner will be announced on Tuesday, November 19.


VIDEO: Grant Wood Talks Depressed Teens [7 of 7]

Join Grant Wood today as he concludes his video series on ministering to depressed teens.

We really appreciate the time Grant spent with us to impart this valuable and helpful information, and we hope you’ve been along for the whole ride, and have gleaned some great tips for yourself!

If you haven’t, use these links to catch up on anything you may have missed:

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6


Behind the Scenes with Credo Journal

Have you ever wondered what goes into the making of Credo Journal? Have you ever wondered what philosophies and thought processes and care and preparation went into the writing and design?

Today is your lucky day! The writer and designer of Credo have teamed up to bring you this video that explains just exactly what they do to make Credo what it is, and why they do it.



GUEST POST: Jason Frizzell | Leadership Culture

*Editor’s Note: Jason Frizzell joins the Barefoot blog today to discuss leadership culture. You can engage him here in the comments, or find more from him on his website.

Over the last fifteen years I’ve had thousands of conversations with people about serving in youth ministry in some form or other, with only hundreds ending up buying into what I was selling. Does this make me a failure?

I don’t believe so. I wonder if the challenge we have in recruiting and retaining leaders is more of a question about the culture of leadership we’ve created than it is about our ability to lead, cast vision, or position people to succeed.

I’m experimenting with three ideas on how to grow a leadership culture in my community.

1. Believe in God’s sovereignty. If I truly believe that God designed all of life to function together for a reason and a purpose, I need to trust that God stitches teams, communities, and contexts together for a purpose as well. The Bible teaches that every part of the body of Christ has a unique function and role to play for the overall well being of the entire organism. We need to believe this truth as leaders. God will provide what we need. Perhaps a shortage of leaders is an invitation to rethink the way we’ve been ministering to people rather than a sign that the community is apathetic toward youth ministry.

2. Reject your personal need for affirmation. Leadership is not about a leader. Leadership is about serving the community to usher people into the presence of their Creator. It’s nice to be told that you bring value to a community or a ministry, but this can’t be our primary emphasis in recruiting people to serve with us. Our need for affirmation cannot be humanly directed. What would it look like for us to rest in knowing that God delights in who God has created us to be?

3. Pray like you’ve never prayed before. Jesus challenged his team of disciples to pray for workers for the plentiful harvest fields. We need to do the same. When was the last time we were driven by desperation to cry out to the Father, asking for what only he can give? Do you have space in your calendar to saturate your community in prayer and ask for others to respond to God’s invitation for their lives?

What would you add to the experiment in creating a culture of leadership?