We often talk on this blog about the fine line between being genuine on social media and faking a perfect life. Way across this line and almost into science fiction exists virtual influencers. Essentially, virtual influencers are computer-animated people (although some of them are drawn to look like animals or robots) that have accounts as if they were real people. One of the most well-known of these virtual influencers is the "virtual robot model" Lil Miquela with over three million followers on Instagram. She has worked with top brands like Prada and even released a song a couple of years back. A virtual influencer you might be surprised falls into this category is Barbie! The animated entities are very diverse, making it harder to tell how healthy this trend is or not. The important part to remember when approaching this is, just like any social media influencer, teaching students the importance of knowing who to trust on social media.
Shane and Shane are releasing their The Worship Initiative series with their 29th volume. This newest installment is a compilation of some of the latest worship hits from a variety of different artists. A couple of the songs include Falling in Love by Phil Wickham and Drenched in Love by Daniel Bashta and Bethel Music. According to Shane and Shane, The Worship Initiative project's goal is to "encourage and equip worship leaders and their teams through an online resource". Clearly, it's been a success as evidenced by the fact that this is the 29th volume of this project. Admittedly, I'm biased, but I hope the project continues for many more years because their covers are incredible!
For a good icebreaker, "Birthday Line Up" is an easy game that requires students to work together and get creative in communicating with each other. I have played this game with small groups of five and with groups of up to 30, any bigger and you might need to split them into teams. Students have to line themselves up in order of some criteria you decide on without talking at all. For example, have them start by lining up in order of their birthdays. You can also have them line up by height, number of siblings they have, times they've come to youth group, etc. After they've lined up, the person running the game will walk through the line asking people their answers and seeing if the line is in the right order. The game can be played in multiple rounds and is more fun the more creative you get!
Have you ever had a friend or potential romantic partner that you cared deeply about that didn't care? You poured your heart and soul into your relationship with them. No matter what you tried, though, it never felt like they were fighting for the relationship. They're not reciprocating all of the effort that you're putting in. Having someone indirectly tell you that they don't care about your relationship hurts a lot because you care for them so deeply.
Imagine how God feels when we don't put any effort into our relationship with Him. He longs to spend time with us, give us good gifts, and share special moments with us. However, we seem more interested in our job, friends, school, video games, or whatever else may be taking up all of our time. Thankfully, God doesn't give up on that relationship like most humans would. No matter how long you've blown Him off or harbored anger at Him, He's still there desiring an intimate relationship with you.
It's easy to beat down on yourself when you are mentoring others, preparing a lesson, or just talking about your faith. Maybe, you feel like you've messed up. There are times when I give a devotional and look back and think "if only I had said this differently or talked about this for longer". Something that has helped me through these situations is a verse from 1 Corinthians where Paul talks about how God uses people who are not wise or eloquent for the kingdom. God can use you no matter how much or how little you feel that you have to offer Him.
1 Corinthians 1:26-27 "Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong."