Thursday, July 10, 2014

Theological Thursday - #TRENDUP

One of the side effects (perks? consequences?) of being married to a youth minister is that you have to be prepared for many theological discussions. Sermon ideas, Wednesday night series, church newsletter articles, kids struggling with issues... Cody bounces a lot of ideas off of me to help him work through ideas and prep for his talks. Not everything we talk about strikes a major chord with me, but there are a few things that resonate with me that I want to eventually blog about. So welcome to Theological Thursdays, where I'll share some of what we talk about and what I think is important for parents and youth to talk about together. I won't promise that I'll post one every Thursday, but I do hope to make sharing some deeper thoughts a more regular pattern around here.


Our theme for both junior high and high school camp this year was CONNECTED: not only ways we connect with God but also how we are connected to those around us. We spent a great deal of time in our small groups and church groups talking about if we feel connected to God and what that looks like for us an individuals. The thought that kept being vocalized by a lot of our students was: "I'm not as connected as I used to be. My walk with good (fill in the blank for X number of years ago) but it's not now and I don't know how to get it back." Some were even willing to share that they know they're not where they should be with God, but they don't even know where they are supposed to be and certainly don't know how to get to that place, wherever it is. 

These fears and supposed failures lead to a phrase we started using - #TRENDUP (we actually made a hashtag sign with our fingers because we're that cool.) 


The principle behind it is the same as watching gas prices.  Gas prices may rise and drop (black line) but the overall end result is that prices end up higher than they were, (green line) despite the drops back down. In the same manner, our walks with Christ will have ups and downs, our black lines, but we're aiming for the green line. So you may not be where you were with Christ last month, but the hope is that in 6 months from now, you'll still see how you were able to #TRENDUP. (I know. The annoying hashtag is also what makes it endearing to our students.) 

Telling students to #TRENDUP has to also come with the practical side to it.  At camp we spent roughly 5 full hours a day in praise and worship, bible reading and teaching. As great as that is, that's not really practical for real life! Instead of setting big, lofty goals for waking up at 6 a.m. every day to have a quiet time, we talked about setting a weekly goal and working in baby steps: 30 minutes overall this week. One day may only be 5 minutes. Another may be 15. The point is that for this week, you #TRENDUP and spend more time with God than you were before. 

Finally, the last practical thing I want to share is an idea to share with your students about getting in touch with Scripture. Our speaker encouraged students who weren't sure what to read in the Bible or how to have a quiet time to take the scripture that your youth minister spoke about on Wednesday night and focus on it for the week. This includes reading it, praying over it and journaling any observations that you see in the verses (along the who/what/where/when questions.) I would also add on for students to try and "draw" the verse out as a different way to connect with it.  This is something I picked up while we were in Nashville at the National Youth Worker's Convention. 

Here are some examples of the verses I've read and the pictures that came from them:

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives. Psalm 37:23

He Delights

Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it?  It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches. Luke 13:18

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”  And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left. Matthew 19:14-15

As you can see, it's not necessarily about being the most artistic! Ha! My brother would probably cringe at my little children. It's a way to help yourself look differently at a verse and see  how you would translate that into an image. I realize this way won't connect with everyone, but I do find something therapeutic about it. It's also an easy concept to share with a wide age group.

(I felt obnoxious doing it, but I did watermark the #trendup slide in case you want to pin it. I know I have a ministry page where I like to pin good talks or ideas I come up with and wanted  you to have it just in case you do the same thing!)

How do you help students make sure they #TRENDUP? And any ideas you'd like to see me cover here on Theological Thursdays? 


  1. I think the TrendUp thing is an awesome concept-- it'll definitely be stuck in my head today!! Thank you for sharing!!

  2. Love this concept!!! It amazes me each summer seeing the students grow and mature over a week at camp.... and it never fails, they want to continue to meet with God JUST LIKE THAT every day. Except they go back to their homes and jobs and schools where nobody makes them get up at 7 to do a quiet time... or spend an hour in worship after breakfast... or [insert youth camp activity here]. Then, when they don't continue the mountain top experience, they feel like failures and sometimes abandon ship altogether. So frustrating. I think I'll share this TrendUp concept this weekend and keep encouraging my girls with it! Thanks!!!


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