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Appearance Takes Its Toll on Young Girls
David R. Smith

It’s no secret that today’s girls are bombarded with images and messages about their physique and appearance. From TV and movie icons to magazine covers and popular music, our world has a lot to say to girls about how they look.

Without a doubt, our girls are paying close attention...
JONATHAN'S BLOG: Death of the Dining Room
As families and friends gather together for the holidays, the big question I have is… where will they gather?

Their dining room?

The kitchen?

It’s funny how much you can tell about a society’s social norms solely from the changes in its home design. Think about it.

  • Do you have a dining room?

  • Is your kitchen sink near the social center of your house?

  • What year was your home built?

Today’s homes have two glaring changes compared to homes from a few decades past: the disappearance of the dining room, and the open kitchen.

When the American family grew more divided, it didn’t take long before builders began noticing the most “unused” square footage in the home—the dining room. I asked my friend Ron about this, an architect who has been building homes for almost 4 decades.

“It was a no-brainer. When people are on a budget they want to make their square footage count. Many people think, why waste it on a room we only use two or three times a year?”

Sadly, the death of the dining room had its consequences. Families who abandoned the family dinners began noticing problems. Columbia University documented some of these concerns in a report titled The Importance of Family Dinners. In 2012 they published their 8th report on this topic revealing some intriguing results:

Our surveys have consistently found a relationship between children having frequent dinners with their parents and a decreased risk of their smoking, drinking or using other drugs, and that parental engagement fostered around the dinner table is one of the most potent tools to help parents raise healthy, drug-free children. Simply put: frequent family dinners make a big difference.

Obviously the dining room isn’t the only room families can eat in together. I have a dining room, but we probably only use it 5-10 times a year. Instead, we eat around a kitchen table almost every night (depending if we go out as a family—the economy can shift that trend as well). And the kitchen is another room that has experienced some change in American homes in the last few decades.

Last night my wife Lori and I were walking through an older neighborhood near our house. Most the homes on this street were built in the 60’s and 70’s. As we gazed past the flowerbeds and boxwood hedges, something caught my eye: a window to the kitchen sink.

We saw it in countless houses from this era. The kitchen sink faced a window on an external wall of the house. The person doing dishes looked outside, with their back to the rest of the kitchen. And the kitchen was often isolated by a wall or cabinets.

I remember a house where I lived as a young boy in the late 70’s (Yes… I’m that old). The kitchen was a completely separate room just outside the dining room. In fact, my mom complains about that house to this day, “You guys would take off and leave me doing the dishes all alone by myself!” (My brother and I had a lot to learn.)

Today I don’t see too many new houses with secluded kitchens, hidden behind walls or cabinets. In fact, most remodels are opening up kitchens and flowing them into other rooms. Many new sinks are on islands or on a counter more socially centered so the kitchen is connected to the family room.

I asked my friend Ron, “Why has the kitchen sink changed location?”

I’m sure many might speculate it’s to face the TV. Others might argue, to face the rest of the family. Ron couldn’t provide a reasoning, but this fact was clear. People now desired home designs with open kitchens flowing into great rooms.

Call it what you will, but people are social by nature. And even though half of today’s Millennials will never get married, don’t confuse their lack of commitment as a lack of desire to socialize. The new generation, who definitely is redefining “til death do us part,” likes to ‘hang out’ with friends and family.

Consider the doors this opens for ministry.

Food has historically been a great catalyst for conversations. Consider how you, personally, socialize with friends and family in your home.

Has the disappearance of the dining room killed the communication in your home?

Are dishes something you do together as a family or friends?

What could you do to be more proactive about connecting?

What are you waiting for?

Season 5, Episode 6, Consumed
“I’m trying.” It’s the phrase Carol and Daryl kept saying in this episode. And who can blame them. In a world with no rules, no moral code, and at times… no hope… survivors probably wonder, why even try? That’s the

CAMPUS MINISTRY CORNER: The Power of Coming Together
Last weekend I was in a small town outside of Minneapolis where I witnessed something I rarely see in the world of youth ministry. I saw a network of 8 youth workers from different ministries come together to share ideas and do ministry together.

I almost pinched myself. A Lutheran, a Baptist, a Methodist, someone from the Covenant church and a Campus Life leader were drinking coffee together (sounds like a joke, right?) Yes, it’s not the first time I’ve seen it, but let’s just say I don’t see it often.

The youth ministry buzzword at hand here is called Networking. Faith leaders coming together to encourage each other, support one another and talk ministry. It’s something that doesn’t happen as often as it should.

I know, because I fly into about 30 cities a year to speak at conferences and events. In the majority of the cities I’ll sit down at dinner with a youth pastor and begin talking ministry. I always ask, “Do you know the youth pastor at the big white church I passed two blocks South? What about the church two blocks east across the park?”

4 out of 5 times the answer is, “No.”

“I’ve just been really busy. I’ve been trying to get things in motion here first, then I intend to start networking.”

Sadly, it rarely happens.

This small network outside of Minneapolis not only meets regularly, they run a weekly campus ministry together. Eight churches and Campus Life combine efforts to feed 400 to 450 kids weekly at the local high school. One of the churches is strategically located across the street from the school. Every Thursday, students have the option of going “to church” for lunch. They eat, they have fun, and they hear a little truth from God’s word.

The eight churches take turns providing the lunch, and all the churches provide leaders who interact with the kids each week.

None of the churches could do it on their own. But eight churches standing together… stronger than the Ecclesiastes 4 cord of three strands!

What might you accomplish if you came together like this?

What’s stopping you from stopping by that church down the street and inviting the youth worker to lunch this week?


Movie Reviews and Quick Q's:
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The (11/21/2014)

Posted on November 11/25/2014, 2014 at 11:32 AM
Video Game Reviews @
Super Smash Brothers 3DS

Posted on November 11/21/2014, 2014 at 11:50 AM
YouTube Discussion Starters:
AutoCorrect Humanity

Posted on October 10/31/2014, 2014 at 12:00 AM
Music Discussions:
All About That Bass

Posted on October 10/3/2014, 2014 at 12:00 AM
Outreach Resource of the Week RSS Feed
The Lord of the Ring: The Return of the King

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to use this great resource from our MOVIE CLIP DISCUSSION page from The Lord of the Rings. It will show teenagers exactly what greed is…and what it can cause.

The Movie Clip: I Want It 
The Return of the King starts off by giving us the backstory on how the well-known character Smeagol – later known as Gollum – originally got his hands on the all-powerful ring. This scene is an important one to all three movie

Spiritual Growth Resource of the Week RSS Feed
The Celebration of American STUFF

If your kids could use a reminder to be grateful, this awesome resource from our TALKS/SERMONS page will do the trick. Using 2 Chronicles 31, this message helps teens switch their focus from OUR STUFF to THE GOD WHO GAVE US THAT STUFF.

Introduction: I love the story of the farmer who worked hard and had a beautiful farm. A friend said to him, "Wow, 

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