Almost 50 million people attempt to diet every year—as we all know, most never reach their goal. The reason has less to do with willpower and more to do with our brain’s stubborn dictatorship. Neuroscientist and author Sandra Aamodt says: “Whenever your weight changes too much, your brain will intervene to push it back to what it thinks is the correct weight for you. And you might not prefer the same weight your brain prefers. Many of us don’t.”
We all have something like a “weight thermostat” embedded in our nervous system—it’s called the hypothalamus. Like a thermostat, says Aamodt, “whenever your weight changes too much, your brain will intervene to push it back to what it thinks is the correct weight for you.” Change, whether it’s focused on eating habits or some other rutted pattern in our life, is not only hard, it’s war. This explains why we rarely choose significant change in our life—unless we’re forced into a war, we simply won’t risk our lives to make a needed adjustment, no matter how obvious it is.
In our special edition of GROUP Magazine, now out, we target ideas, insights, and strategies that will help us “reinvent” youth ministry in a world of declining church influence and dwindling attendance at youth group. Reinvention requires changes to our established patterns. That means war—and most of us are pacifists when it comes to altering our ministry patterns. If we’re not forced into a change, then it’s unlikely we’ll do it on our own.
I’d like to propose we’re already at war, so the motivation to fight (and make some needed changes) is already bearing down on us—we’re getting shelled. In the last five years, there’s been a 25 percent drop in teenagers attending church, and the exodus curve is getting steeper. The key to a more permanent change in our eating habits is to shift to healthier patterns that actually feel just as good as your old, unhealthy habits. Neuroscientist Stephan J. Guyenet says dieters would be much better off focusing on foods they’re for, not foods they’re against: “An easier and more sustainable method is to do things that make your brain more comfortable at a lower weight.” Aamodt adds: “We’d all be healthier if we focus our efforts on healthy behaviors rather than weight.”
So, what can we be wholeheartedly for in youth ministry today? In our special edition, you’ll find ideas and ministry strategies that will help you…
- Move from a “performance mindset” in ministry to a “participation mindset,”
- Make kids’ sports participation an ally in your ministry, not an enemy,
- Reclaim the transformational power of listening to your teenagers, making them “co-owners” of the ministry,
- Learn how to reach and care for teenagers with more impact by understanding and embracing their unique generational characteristics,
- Reinvent small groups for a time-poor, digitally rich generation,
- Create a ministry environment that’s attractive for both churched and unchurched kids,
- Embrace the spirit and practice of innovation as a ministry skill, and
- Reach to the core of the epidemic of anxiety, depression, and suicide among young people, and make a difference.
There’s a feast waiting for you, and it’s all healthy food. Let’s dig in… Click here to request your FREE copy.