Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Life Changing Decision

Some folks take months even years to make a decision.  I've been behind a few of them in the buffet line and they drive me nuts. 

There are times in life that we must decide and we must decide here and now without taking weeks, months or years to make our decision.  

I got the call on this day a year ago.  "Would you and Misha be interested in adopting  . . . twins?"  I was in an arena with several thousand students and their leaders getting ready to rock in the new year at Winterfest.

This is why it is important to know God's purpose and will for your life.  We knew that God wants us to be parents.  We knew that part of that plan is to use the miracle of adoption.  Did we know each step of the journey?  No, and we still don't.  This is why a life requires faith. 

It took us only a matter of few hours to make the decision, a life changing decision for us and for our family and for two little tiny lives.  I know people that take a longer amount of time to decide on what type of tires to buy for their car.  What a great decision we made!  Then came the wait and wonder.  

More to come on January 7. . .

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!


Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

This year we didn't go overboard buying presents. We have gone with a much simpler Christmas. You know what? Stress levels are much lower, bank account isn't tapped, credit card isn't maxed. Focus is where it should be. Celebrating the birth of our Savior and looking towards his coming again.

Pour some egg nog, pop Elf in the DVD player, bundle up in your snuggee and enjoy your Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Call 2010

In 2010 The Call is undergoing a "remodel".  February 19-20 youth workers can bring the students who are leaders or have a leadership potential.  This means The Call will be smaller this year and a more intimate setting.  

MP13 Band will be leading us in worship.  Worship times will include music, video, teaching, small group discussion.  All students and leaders will be assigned a round table for discussion and team building exercises.

Another youth event weekend may impact a handful of student's lives.  A weekend where core students are challenged and equipped to be leaders in their youth group, school, home and work has the potential to have a much larger and longer lasting impact.  

For more details check out The Call's web site.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Blessing of an Awesome YM Team

It is a huge blessing to work with a team of adults who love investing into the lives of students.  Only once in recent years have I had to miss a youth group gathering due to illness but there are times that I have scheduled absences.  Last year I was out a couple months on sabbatical and the YM team worked together, as they always do, and the ministry to students kept rolling.  I miss a few each year for vacation time. 

This past Sunday night I missed Hang Time because I had the privilege of praying at the MHS football banquet.  I had a great time this year serving as MHS football's "chaplain".  So when I arrived at the church at 6pm the YM team had assembled the students together into the auditorium and had begun the game of dirty Santa.   Our kitchen queens did a wonderful job of taking care of the food and punch for the party.  Everything flowed during Hang Time as it normally does because our YM team is stinkin awesome.  All I had to do was show up.

Some thoughts for youth pastors:
1.  Don't do ministry alone
2.  Equip the team
3.  Trust the team to do the ministry
4.  Let people serve (you don't have to be the one that does it all)
5.  Be thankful for the team 
6.  Pray for the team

I am not the youth minister at NHC, I am one of the youth ministers at NHC.  I wouldn't want it any other way.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Adoption Decree



Misha and I are stoked! Today we received in the mail the adoption decrees for the twins. It's official, the judge says they are ours now. Praise God for these two little precious gifts. Eli is full of happiness and laughter. Ava gives me little grins that melt my heart. New Year's Eve a year ago we got the call asking if we would be interested in adopting again . . . .twins. We have been blown away how God has orchestrated our lives and the lives of our children. It amazes me how God, in his divine wisdom and sovereignty has put our family together. Our next hurtle is to pay our balance on our adoption fees. We know that God has that all figured out already.

Christmas this year will be extra special. Even as I type I hear the laughter and giggles of my daughter. There is much joy in our home and we thank God for the joy that only He can give.

Carol of the Bells iPhone Style

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What are we teaching?!

What are we teaching our children, our students, about Christmas?   Yes giving and getting gifts is fun but could there be more to it?  Could we be feeding our kids the consumer mentality and creating giant consumers who go through life saying, "Give me.  Give me.  Give me."?  I personally know of parents who will go in debt at Christmas to buy their kids the latest and greatest.  What about teaching our children how to be content with what we have?  To be content with what God has blessed us with.  What about teaching our children that it's not wise to go into debt to buy the Wii, XBox, iPod Touch, 60 inch plasma?  Do you not find great joy in life when you give in such a way that you actually help someone meet a need?

The Advent Conspiracy has recently been brought to my attention.   The more I think about it and the more I look into the more I'm getting sold on the idea that we have it all wrong.  What a great way to teach our children to be compassionate human beings.  


Monday, December 7, 2009

Happy Birthday To Our Twins!


Today the twins are 11 months old!  Happy Birthday "Fred and Wilma".  Eleven months ago today God blessed our family with the addition of these two little bundles of joy.


Last Night At Contagious

Last night we punched through a plateau.  We seem to have been stuck around a certain number at Contagious.  Hopefully we will be able to keep up the momentum through the Christmas holiday and see the group continue to grow as students are reaching out to their friends.

Some of the youth ministry team and students have been playing some sort of whacked out ping pong game and the popularity of this game is growing each week.  Last night it was very entertaining to watch.    Other students played games and hung out during Hang Time.  

Our lesson was centered on the fact that Christ's arrival to earth was all part of God's plan from before time began.  We took a look at Isaiah 7:14-16.  Students wrote the initials of a friend who doesn't know God, or will not experience real joy this Christmas, on a ribbon to hang in their room to remind them to pray for this person during the Christmas season.

In January we are planning a new series about the life God intends for us as believers.  It's a 3 week series and we are going to end with the last night as an outreach night where students will be encouraged to bring their friends who don't attend church or a youth group.  On that night we will share the good news of Jesus Christ and God's love very plainly and simply giving students the opportunity to respond to God's invitation to know Him.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Call To Lead


Early Bird Special!  Register by December 1 and receive $15 off the regular registration fee of $40.
Not So Early Bird Special - $35 per person if you register between December 2nd and January 2nd.
Procrastinator's Special - $40 after January 2nd.

This year The Call has been remodeled and is focusing on students who are leaders or have the potential to be leaders in the youth group.  The Call is not for entire youth groups and is not an outreach event.  So only plan on bringing your handful or so of student leaders.   

If someone told me I had only $40 to invest into our youth ministry what would I do with that $40?

Would I buy $40 in tracts?  No.
Would I buy a couple of youth ministry books?  No
Would I have lunch with a team member?  Tempting, but no.

I would invest that $40 into a student in the youth group who is showing leadership potential.  
This would be the biggest pay off from the investment.  This student would be sharpened as a leader and
then in turn invest back into the youth ministry through serving, outreach, setting the example, leading peers.  

Are you raising up leaders in your church’s youth group?  Are you equipping them, teaching them, training them to use their influence with their peers?  The result of doing so is growth, personal growth for the student, growth in the youth group, growth from outreach.

Every youth group has at least one student with the potential to be a leader or a student who is already leading but could use some equipping to lead even better.
I would encourage you to take advantage of the savings and register at least two or three today.

Some ideas on covering the cost for these leaders:
  • They pay themselves (not the best but a possibility)
  • Recruit adult Sunday School Classes to sponsor students.  Sell the idea that investing in leaders will have the biggest return in the youth ministry and church.
  • Chili Dinner
  • Love Offering
  • Approach some of the “movers and shakers” in your church and ask them to personally invest into the church’s youth ministry by investing into a student’s life.
Register at www.thecallobx.com

Registration covers:
Friday night supper
Saturday lunch
and a copy of: Help!  I'm a Student Leader - Doug Fields

For more details and info check out www.thecallobx.com or call Andy at 252-441-7548
 

Monday, November 30, 2009

Last Night at Contagious

Great turn out of students last night!  

We had CHIP EXTRAVAGANZA!  I had boxes of chips I needed to get rid of so we put out 300 bags of chips and about 200 were consumed!!  Crazy!

The students enjoyed their time hanging out together with their leaders during Hang Time.  Some great ping pong games were played, students were out on the lot throwing the football, many just sitting around talking.  I look forward to the day that our youth room is complete so we can all hang in the same room during Hang Time.

Our lesson was compliments of Student Life.  We took a look in Genesis 1 at how God has provided for us.  He's given us this amazing planet to sustain our life.  He also gave us life and eternal life.  For what he has given us we should live a life of thankfulness and praise to him.
Cool thing about this lesson is that on the other side of the wall the Parent Pod were doing the exact same lesson together.  Hopefully this will spark some discussion time about thankfulness at home this week.

December will be a fun month for Contagious Youth.  This Sunday we have a Christmas Bible study.  The 13th is our annual Contagious Christmas Party, students will bring a cheap wrapped gift and their favorite Christmas party food.  The 20th is our annual Christmas Bowl (bowling, our biggest attended event last year).  The 27th is Holiday @ the Hut, students meet with me and some of their leaders at Pizza Hut for supper together.  All that followed by Winterfest.  

Monday, November 23, 2009

Last Night at Contagious

Last night our students delivered food boxes to 8 families who are in need.  These families received everything they need to cook a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner.  Students brought in the potatoes, corn, green beans, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce.  Folks in the church donated the turkeys.  We delivered meals to one homeless family living in a hotel, several single moms, families with just a couple of family members all the way to families with 7 to 9 to feed.

After loading the boxes the students signed cards for the families and then spent time praying for the family before they left to deliver the box.  NHC also included some Food Lion gift cards in each box.

Students then returned to the building and talked about their mission outreach experience.  Then we had Hang Time together.  It was a great night teaching missions with a hands on experience.

Tomorrow I'll deliver two more meal boxes due to some confusion.  This was our first year to do this so we have learned a few things to make next year's Operation Turkey a smoother one.
Some things we picked up from last night's event:
  • Have a form for folks to submit families and then have one person responsible for processing those forms and organizing the info.
  • Have another person to call and let the family know that they will be receiving the groceries and ask for permission to drop the box by their home.
  • Assign two families per POD
  • Have directions for the drivers printed up on the back of the families info card.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Teaching Missions


We listen to the pastor say the word "missions" and we hear "grass hut, jungle, wicked snakes".
As parents part of our responsibility in discipling our kid is to teach them what missions really is all about.  As youth pastors we need to give students and parents the opportunity to experience missions first hand (together when possible).  There is no better teacher than experience.  

After we had a week long local missions project last summer I received an e-mail from a student who chose not to participate.  The student asked this question, "When are we going to go on a mission trip?"  Evidence that this student and many others aren't quite ready for a "missions trip" because they don't see reaching those around them as missions or as important.  Why?  Because they haven't learned.  Either the youth ministry isn't doing a good enough job communicating missions or parents aren't teaching their kids about missions or students are hearing but not listening.

I'm stoked about Sunday's Contagious.  Students have gathered all the food needed to deliver complete Turkey dinners to families who are in need.  Each POD is going to go with their leader, and a few spare parents, to a family's home and deliver the box.  Simply to say, "Happy Thanksgiving.  NHC youth cares about you and God loves you."

After delivery we will gather back at the building and the PODs will discuss their missions experience together.  Should be a great youth group gathering.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Brother's Story

I went to my brother's baptism yesterday at Blue Ridge Community Church.  Here is my brother Scott's story.  It was a blessing to get to be there.


A Church Making an Impact

I have been attending church my entire life (43 short years) and in all those years the churches I attended had baptism services seemed like an afterthought or something to tag on right before the offering.  

The very 1st step in obedience as a believer, a follower of Christ, is to be baptized.  Christ set the example for us.  When we read about the birth of the church in the book of Acts we find that the early Christians believed and were baptized.

Since baptism is such a major moment in the life of a believer, the opportunity to make your followship a public declaration, how come it becomes an afterthought or a "tag on"?

Yesterday I once again attended Blue Ridge Community Church in Lynchburg, Va.  This church has exploded in the past several years in growth.  BRCC is making an impact in their community.  They are reaching the lost, they are meeting needs in their community.  Blue Ridge is far from traditional.  The moment you pull onto their campus you can see that they are intentional in what they do and they know why they exist as a church.

This is the first church I've attended that take baptism to a different level, not just incorporating it into the service they build the entire worship experience around baptism.  Both times I have attended a baptism service they have had a couple folks share their story.  The impact is more powerful than a sermon preached by a pastor following a baptism because real people sharing their real story, their encounter with Christ, is powerful.  You can check out BRCC's baptism service here, I'm sure they will have it posted and available on video on their podcast page soon.  Yesterday over 40 new believers were baptized!  BRCC has baptism services like this several times a year.  (BRCC's team of volunteers have a system down to a science, something to behold)

Yesterday's baptism worship experience for me and my family was extra special because we got to hear my brother's story and watch him be baptized.  An awesome time for our family.

One of the coolest things they do is baptize in a tank that is placed near the front of the stage and then family and friends can gather around the tank on the stage to be a part of the moment in the life of this new believer.  The baptizee is baptized by a friend or family member or pastor who has played a role in their faith walk.  Again a powerful witness to show the church that it is our responsibility to share our faith and the love of Christ with those we come in contact with.

How does your church "do" baptism?  
Is it time to perhaps re-think, evaluate and change so this important step in the life of a believer can have an impact on those who perhaps are on the edge of taking a huge step of faith by trusting in Christ as their Savior?

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Everybody Needs a Little Time Away"

I'm on vacation!  Taking an extra long weekend.  I needed it.  I'm not a work-a-holic and I can sure tell when I need to vacate for a while, rest, relax, reenergize.   I'm sitting here about to sip some hot apple cider with whip cream.  I watched a doe and her two fawns graze just a little bit ago.  I'm in no hurry, got nowhere to go (except the Texas Inn).

I drove white knuckled most of the day yesterday in the storm.  It was much worse inland that it was on the OBX.  It was a little unnerving for the first 3 hours.

Last night as I wound down I realized my throat was pretty sore, then the chills set in, fever.  No fun!  Rough night of sleep and I probably kept Misha up as well.  So I spent the first hour of my first vacation day at a doctors office.  Great doctor, asked about our church and the OBX.  Prescribed me some drugs and after the drugs and a Goody powder I'm feeling much better.  I'm glad it's just a sinus infection and not H1N1.

So plans are just to do some chillaxin.  


Monday, November 9, 2009

Last Night at Contagious

Last night we had a great group of students hanging out during Hang Time.  I went up and chilled on the balcony with some of the students, including a guest who is checking things out.  

The Contagious Band kicked off Contagious with the song, We Shine.  It was rockin and a great song.  It's interesting to watch and see if the students are going to engage in worshipping in music or not.  We are new to having a band so some of the students are just getting the hang of it.

I taught the second lesson in the Thirsty series.  We looked at David, Moses, the nation of Israel, and Jesus.  One thing they all had in common was the fact that they had some wilderness experiences in their lives.  It seems that God often uses the wilderness times to teach us to thirst after Him and to strengthen us.  When in the wilderness we need to:
Stop - Students lives are busier than ever
Go to the Bible - we learned this from Jesus' wilderness experience
Pay Attention - Like Moses, God is trying to get a point across and prepare us for His use.
This coming Sunday I have reworked my lesson notes into a small group experience and the students will do the entire lesson in their PODs.

I hear stories from other youth pastors who serve in churches who don't get it.  They want youth group to be all about fun and games.  I love the fact that at Contagious we are able to accomplish both.  We have fun and we learn from God's Word, sometimes we do both at the same time ;).

I like doing lessons in a series because an important topic or subject can be picked apart and unpacked over several weeks.  The bummer is when a student misses a week they miss out on a key puzzle piece to the overarching theme and lesson.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wingin It in Youth Ministry


Our Youth Ministry Team is wingin' it! Not wingin' youth ministry but we are going tonight to eat some wings! At this dinner meeting (over $.25 wings) I'm going to remind us about what we do and why we do it. There is a reason and a purpose behind all we do in youth ministry.

Here is a glimpse of what we are going to take a look-see at as we "wing" it:
>You are a youth minister (a shepherd).
>Your involvement in students' lives has an impact on them spiritually.
>You are part of God's plan for students' lives. That's huge!
>You are part of a team. Youth Ministry is a team effort.
>We aren't just wingin' it.
>Youth ministry can be messy (just like eating wings can be messy).

On a side note I hope to share with the team the proper way to eat wings.  Oh, yes, it's an art!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Winterfest



As a reminder to our parents and students - Winterfest balance is due on Sunday, December 13.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Trunk or Treat Update

Saturday night our church hosted a Trunk or Treat, we have been doing this for about 7 years now. NHC used to have a "Fall Festival" on Halloween night and children would come to the church in their costumes, play some games, eat some cupcakes and hear a Bible story. It was a good event for our church kids but was in no way reaching our community and wasn't growing. Our purpose as a church is to reach our community. So "Fall Festival" was scrapped and replaced with Trunk or Treat. The first year we had several cars set up with decorated trunks and had less than a hundred kids come through and each child received a gospel tract in their candy bag.

Trunk or Treat has grown from a dozen or so church partners involved in this out reach to around 100 partners participating on the trunk, traffic, food, set up, clean up and game teams. We went from just having a dozen trunks to 25 trunks, 4 big inflatable games, carnival type games, hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn and drinks. The community can attend and there is no charge, not even for the food. Each child still receives a gospel tract in their candy bag.

This year we gave out about 1200 pounds of candy! We had around 2000 people from our community attend. Trunk or Treat is a way our church tells our community that we care for them. This is a great and fun event that NHC partners look forward to working together on each year.

Now it's time to evaluate and plan for TOT 2010!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's not a popularity contest

As a parent we often have to make hard decisions.  These decisions, the tough ones, can have an impact on our child's life not just in the here and now but in the future and also eternity. Because of the tough decisions we must make we don't always win the popularity contest.

One of the biggest dangers I see in parenting is when mom or dad or both view their role to be their child's friend, you know, their buddy. While we should be our child's friend to an extent more importantly we are to be their parent which is basically shepherding their life. Pointing them in the right direction, leading them in a way that pleases the Lord, protecting them. Again this shepherding approach won't always win us the popularity trophy.

So when making the tough decisions what steps do you take?

Recently we had to make a big decision and here are some of the questions I used:

>Will this decision protect his mind and body?
>Will this decision protect his future?
>Will this decision provide a sense of safety and security?
>Will this decision point him in the right way?
>Will this decision push him closer to Christ?
>Will this decision pull him away from Christ?

What I didn't concern myself with was the question of "will this decision be popular?" When it comes to shepherding my child's life I don't much care about popularity. I'm not concerned with what others think. I'm not concerned with what my child may think (I do try to help him understand). I'm concerned with what God thinks.

Train a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6

Monday, October 26, 2009

8 Years and Counting

Yesterday marked 8 years at NHC for me. I was surprised by the recognition of my 8 years in the first worship gathering. I'm glad I have been here this long. I guess my time here at NHC and the other youth pastors that stick around a while helps keep the average a little above two years. Pastor Steve has been here 15 years as a volunteer. Incredible!

The past 8 years have been a tremendous time of growth for me. I have learned so much about the church and ministry, much more than I have learned in school.

A few things that stand out to me over the past 8 years:

>The growth of NHC
>Moving into our new building
>Watching students learn to own their faith
>Parents grasping that discipleship of their teen is their responsibility
>The growth of our youth ministry team
>The change and growth of our children's ministry and the CM team
>The growth of Trunk or Treat
> The Call's birth, growth and now remodeling
>High percentage of NHC partners involved in ministry (over 90%)
>Changing music styles without a church split (SBC Church Planting) ;)

A few lessons learned:

>Ministry should never be done alone. Always bring someone along in ministry
>Leaders build leaders
>Ministry Teams are the way to go
>The best way to recruit for your team is to have team members "tap" others to join the team
>Evaluate
>Don't do events and activities just to do events and activities
>Focus on purpose
>Nip it in the bud, church discipline is vital to church health

I have been blessed to serve with 4 elders in the church who have vision, who want to do God's will at NHC.
I have been blessed to serve with 4 great ministry teams.

I'm also blessed to be married to a wife who is very supportive of my "job" and what I do. It has been a blessing to watch our family grow over the past 8 years. I am a blessed man.

I think the key to longevity at a church, from what I have learned from watching others who have served for a long time at the same church, is to find the church that is a "fit". The "fit" includes finding God's will, knowing the church's "personality" and "traits and trends". A church that goes through pastors like a kids goes through candy in a Pez dispenser would not be a "fit" for me. :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Last Night at Contagious

Last night's lesson tied in perfectly with yesterday morning's messages from Glen Sartain and our ministry fair.

Elijah served to the very end.  What does it take to be a servant, a minister, all the way to the end?
  • Listen to God
  • Have godly friends
  • Be ready for the unconventional
  • Never give up
We had a great turn out of students.  Huge amounts of chips and cookies were consumed.  Students hung out together, some were out in the cold tossing the football.  I watched students who are new to the youth group making connections with other students.  I saw our adult youth leaders engaging in conversation with the students.  Our youth band did a great job leading us in worship in music.

In the room behind us our Parent Pod was meeting.  I "snuck" in at the end to take a peek at Pastor Tom and his group of parents who gather each week during Contagious youth and are currently doing a study on parenting teens.  I look forward to what will come out of this group.  They seemed excited to meet again together next week.  You rock parents!!

Next Sunday is a "community" night.  We are having Nachooooo night.  Nachos and Nacho Libre on the big screen and tables set up with games.  This hould be a fun night of students and leaders building relationships.  Some schools of youth ministry thought would say, "What no Bible study?  No worship?"  Next week students and leaders will live out their Bible study as they apply connecting like the early church did.  Isn't connecting with other believers to be an act of worship?   Students have also been challenged to bring their unchurched friends, this will be a great night to introduce their friends to the youth group.   Remember there is a purpose to this night.  I explained this to the students last night.  I'm working on helping them to understand why we do what we do.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Taking Up Space? Part 2

What are you passing on to your children when it comes to ministry?  (read part 1)

How are you teaching your children/teens about ministry?  What an amazing opportunity we have as parents to teach our kids how God has SHAPED them!  It is our responsibility, moms and dads, to teach our kids their SHAPE.  

  • God gives us a Spiritual gift when we put our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.  Look for that gift in your child.  Point out the gift when you see them using it.
  • God gives us a Heart, a passion, in life.  Look for opportunities to point your teen in a direction where they could use their passion in ministry.
  • God gives us Abilities.  Everyone is able to do something.  Spot your teen's abilities and point them in a direction of using those for Christ.
  • God gives us Personality.  God has created us in a way that even our personality can be used in ministry.  Shy?  Outgoing? Enjoy the tedious?  When your teen's personality shines point out to them how God could use them in serving others.
  • God uses our Experiences.  Good or bad experiences, God never wastes and experience.  Think of your experiences like an art museum.  Hang the good on the left side of the room and the bad on the right.  Study your experiences and see how God has used them and can use them to minister to others.
Want to know more about SHAPE?  If you are a partner at NHC then you can take Discovering My Ministry with Pastor Tom the next time the class is offered.  There is also a good book that anyone can get, S.H.A.P.E., by Erik Rees, published by Zondervan.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Call Me Crazy!

There is a "dirty" word among youth leaders.  The word is "Lock In".  I have only done a few lock ins in my youth ministry years.  I have come to the conclusion that locking your youth group in the church and planning on watching movies and eating sandwiches all night is not the most intelligent youth ministry move.  Once I was even stupid enough to do this by myself. 

The Lock Ins that I appreciate, and even almost enjoy, are the lock ins outside the church.   Friday night I will, along with several adults, be joining our youth group at a laser tag lock in. Laser tag, 3D golf, arcade games, billiards enough stuff to keep us busy to pass the time and have fun.  

As I looked through the online registrations today I noticed that we will have about 13 guests. I'm excited about our students reaching out and look forward to sharing the gospel with them.
Some youth ministries only allow students who attend their youth group to go on events and activities.  I wonder where is the outreach in that approach?  What an excellent opportunity to introduce students to the youth group, church and most importantly the Lord!

So Saturday don't call me, don't call my house, my cell or my office.  I'll be sleeping most of the day away (which should be interesting with twin 9 month olds in the house).  Sunday ignore my bloodshot eyes.  Wednesday don't ask me about my continual yawning.  The older I get the longer it takes to bounce back from these things.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Taking Up Space? Part 1

We weren't created to simply take up space on this planet.  Likewise we weren't created to simply take up space in a church auditorium.  You and I were SHAPED to be a minister.  When we study the early church we see that ministry was done by the church, believers serving one another.  Over time the church has drifted from this model.  

Ask someone what he or she thinks of when they hear the word "minister"?  Many think of good old pastor so-and-so, he was a good minister.  Somewhere along the line the church (believers in Christ) moved from being the ministers to labeling one man as the "minister".  

 At NHC every partner is a minister.  Ministry at NHC would not be accomplished if it were left to the "paid professionals".  Who would change the messy diaper on Sunday morning?  Who would teach the children something they did not know about God?  Who would greet folks in the parking lot, at the door, in the lobby?  Who would pour the coffee?  Who would clean the building?  Who would play the music?  Who would minister to the hurting in the church?  Who would meet the needs?

So how about you?  Are you simply taking up space or are you serving?  Are you a minister?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Last Night at Contagious

Attendance was up last night from last week.  Apparently the aliens returned a few or our students.  There were actually some students and leaders playing Scrabble together.  I didn't know that AA was a word?

We started off the evening with a YM team staff meeting.  It was our first annual fudge fest.  All the youth leaders stood around the bar in the kitchen and consumed large amounts of fudge.  I'm thinking this may become an annual event.  The fudge fest had a purpose!  As we sugared up we went over our game plan for the evening.

Last night we took a look at Battling Loneliness.   Often a student is lonely because they put themselves in isolation from other believers, friends, and even God.  Elijah fled to save his life and found himself alone in a cave.  God reminded him that we are never alone, God is always there.  He also let Elijah, who thought he was out there on his own, that there were 7000 other faithful followers of God out there.

After Contagious Youth Band kicked us off with Let God Arise we kicked off our lesson with this video:

 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Biblical View of Youth Ministry

“and they went forth to eat pizza and play putt putt, and all were of the same mind and love and had lots of event tshirts….” 

We don’t find youth group in the Bible.  So what would a Biblical view of youth ministry be?  As I thought about this I had a few thoughts:

·      Starts With Dad and Mom

The Biblical Model is found in Deut 6:1-7

Parents passing on the Word of God to their children.  That’s God’s plan. 

·      The Example of Christ.

Luke 2:52
52
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.

Our goal should be to help students to grow in their relationship with God and become more like Christ.  True Christ followers, disciples.  

·      Equip

Ephesians 4:11-12 (New International Version)

11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

It's our role as youth leaders to equip students to minister, to use their SHAPE.  

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tonight at Contagious

As I type this students are sitting with their "pod" and discussing  fear with their Pod leader.  We took a look at Elijah tonight from I Kings 19 and how he handled fear in his life.  Last week we looked at a huge moment in his life where Elijah took on 450 prophets of Baal.  God showed himself powerful.  Elijah defeated the prophets and then broke bad with the sword.  Then immediately he was on the run in fear of Jezebel.

We all have fears?  What are yours and how do you deal with them?  With confidence in God?

Last week we surpassed our attendance goal.  This week we are missing a chunk of students.  It's like a mass alien abduction.  Other youth pastors out there:  Ever notice how weird it is that a chunk of students miss one night?  Ever notice how that puts a hurting on growth momentum.  It just feels strange.  Hopefully our Pods do their jobs and contact their friends to let them know they were missed this week.

Tonight our youth band, the Contagious Band, premiered.  They did a fantastic job leading worship in music.  They played Everlasting God and All Because of Jesus.  They were great.  They have practiced all summer and the practice payed off.  I look forward to their continued ministry on Sunday nights.  I think they may even be ready for "Big Church" at some point soon.  Great job band!

Now I need to make some closing announcements with the students and send them home as soon as they are done with their prayer time.  I'm stoked to see what next week will bring!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Don't Make Assumptions


I was in a text conversation with a student the other day.  The question asked of me by the students was,  "How come people at church are mean?"  First of all that should be a wake up call for us, the church, when we are perceived as mean.  

My answer was simply, "Don't assume that everyone in church is a Christian.  The Bible teaches that we are to love one another.  If we don't have love we don't know God."  I went on to explain that we want mean people at church because they need a heart change and only God can pull that one off.   The student liked the answer given and thought is made sense.  

This morning I spoke at FCA at FFMS.  I thought last night as I was getting ready to go to sleep that in a room with seventy-some students I should not assume I am addressing all as followers of Christ.  I shared a story from my life and the good old saying, "It's not what you know but Who you know."    I have a relationship with my brother Scott.  When Scott was a trainer in the MLB that relationship with him got me into games I would have never seen otherwise.  More important than knowing facts about Scott is knowing Scott, a relationship with him.  

Lots of people know facts about God but they don't know God.  Why?  Because they have not put their faith in Jesus Christ.  If you want to know God then you have to do so through a relationship with Jesus.Facts and head knowledge isn't what saves.  It's all about a relationship. 

 At the end of the talk several students indicated they were putting their faith in Jesus as their Savior today.   Pray for these kids to get plugged into a local church, to connect with Christian friends, to spend time learning and growing as a believer, and to introduce their friends to Christ.

Fellowship of Christian Athletes is an awesome para church ministry that does a lot in our schools.  If you like to know more about them check out their web site.

Financial Seminar at NHC

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Article on Age Segmentation in the Church

Nate, our worship and arts dude, sent me a link to a great article.  Here it is.  A good read for church leaders and parents of teens.  Don't think you are interested in reading the article?  Read some of the things the article shares below:

"The statistics are grim. Rainer Research estimates that 70 percent of young people leave the church by age 22."

"If adults in a church caught a vision that every kid needs to have their name known by five adults in the church, then an adult who's interested in computers can connect with a teen who is interested in computers. And it's through things like service that we get to know each other and can follow up later to deepen the relationship."

"But one of our more interesting findings is that it's also very important for parents to share about their own spiritual journeys with kids. Teenagers don't know how their parents came to know Jesus."

"The pastor is crucial. I'm a big believer in the priesthood of all believers. Yet the reality is that the behavior and attitudes of the pastor ultimately set the course for the church."

"Technology today is a lot like a driver's license was for the previous generation. When I got my driver's license, all of a sudden I could do things with my friends and have relationships that I couldn't without my driver's license. And cell phones do that for kids today."

Now are you interested?  Read the article here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Last Night at Contagious

Fantastic turn out of students last night!  Several guests and we exceeded our goal for the week.  It was "build your own pizza" night, which is always a favorite among the students and YM team alike.  Students enjoyed hanging out with each other and with the team during Hang Time.  I watched some of the pizza building.  Some students were all about creating a "work of art" others were just about the business of slapping the toppings on so they could consume their pizza as quick as possible.

We have been building up some momentum.  We started a few weeks ago with Galaxy Golf, the next week we returned to the church building and created our new Pods for the school year, last night we did the pizza thing.  Next week we introduce the new Contagious Youth Band as they lead us in some worship in music.  I'm really excited about the band, they sounded great last night at practice.

We tackled our first message in the Elijah series, I Kings 18:16-39.  We looked at Elijah's confidence in God when he took on the prophets of Baal.  We saw that Confidence in God brings:
Courageous Attitudes
Bold Actions
Useful Service
The student then broke up into their Pods and discussed and applied the lesson from Elijah's life as well as took a peek at Stephen in the book of Acts 7:54-60.

Next Sunday we look at tackling fear.  I'll be honest, I'm afraid of roller coasters and have absolutely zero desire to ride them, and yes I have been on a coaster before.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Parent Pod


During the summer our youth group has our weekly get together at the beach.  A couple years ago we started the "Parent Pod".  The parents would bring their beach chairs and gather together and hang out together while the students played in the water and had their Bible study.

I'm excited to announce that now the Parent Pod will be carried into the school year.  Several parents have expressed interest in getting together to do a parenting teen study together on Sunday evenings while their kids are at Contagious.    Pastor Tom, currently the parent of a teen and he has also raised three older daughters, will be leading the study.  What a great opportunity to get together with others who are traveling the same road and share thoughts, prayer requests, and do life together.

If you are a parent of a teen at NHC I would encourage you to plug into the Parent Pod connection group.  Contact youth@nagsheadchurch.org if you would like to get involved.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Last Night at Contagious

Last night we had each student fill out an info sheet so we could update all our contact info and find out which grade they are in this year as well as what sports or extracurricular activities they are involved in.  This info is helpful to their Pod Leader to keep tabs as well as attend games, etc.

We gathered their info during Hang Time and then by the time we moved into the auditorium for our Bible study we had placed each student in their new Pod for the school year.  The Pods shaped up nicely and students were challenged to grow their Pod by bringing their friends to Contagious.

Hang Time continues to be a favorite time for our students.  Next week is "build your own pizza" night during Hang Time.  

Next week we begin a three week series looking at Elijah.  We check out being confident in God.

Last night we looked at Daniel 6 and checked out Daniel's commitment.  We were challenged to:
Be Committed to other Believers 
Be Committed to Grow
Be Committed to Worship 
Be Committed to your Mission

Monday, September 14, 2009

Prayer Request

I don't usually post prayer requests on my blog but I now have a special place in my heart for twins, and premie twins.  

There are twins in Va.  (I'm holding back their names) who are 5 weeks and have a virus.   Please lift them up in your prayers.  God knows who they are.

Thanks

All Part of the Plan


It is easy to get in the routine and then get stuck in a rut.  This summer we met each Sunday night at the beach for our youth gathering.  Now that school has started we will be moving back to the church building.  I noticed this summer several of our students who didn't attend even one youth group gathering at the beach, I also noted that we need to see some new faces at youth group.
So what do we do?

I thought that between the transition from the beach to the church building it would be good to do something just for fun.   The idea was that for the student who has faded out it would be an easy and fun way to fade back in.  The other thought was that it would be a good non-threatning way for students to bring a friend.  So we went to Galaxy Golf.  The fine folks at Galaxy Golf there were closed but opened just for us.

I totally whooped the 3 middle school boys I was competing against, so I feel like a bigger man today. :)  (Just a side note)  It was cool how our YM team played with groups of students rather than with other YM team members.  The great part is I didn't have to tell them to do that, they are just that good at what they do and know their purpose to their ministry.

The plan worked.  We had the best turn out of students we have had since last school year's end.  We saw a few of the faded out students fade back, we got to meet several new students who were brought by their friends.  A few parents even hung out and played with us, which is cool.

At the end all the students were reminded of our Movie Night on Saturday night.  We will be showing the film, Walking on Water, outside in the parking lot.  Students are to bring a chair and a friend to enjoy this great film.  My hope is that the Galaxy Golf would be a great way to springboard into Saturday night's event which will be a great way to ease some new guests into Sunday night's youth gathering.  It's all part of the plan.

So when planning events and activities ask yourself, "Why are we doing this?"  If there is no purpose or ultimate reason don't plan the event or activity.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Day to Remember


On this day in 2001 Mish and I were sitting in the living room of "Weekend at Burnie's" beach house.  We had traveled to the OBX for my interview for the staff position of youth and children's pastor at NHC.  

I will never forget the images that I saw as we were watching the Good Morning America and the 2nd jet struck the tower.  9/11 is a day I will never forget.  That day thousands of innocent Americans lost their lives due to the act of some religious fanatics who had no regard for life because that is what their religion taught them.  

I pray that we as a nation will never forget that day.  Our churches were flooded with people wanting to pray.  Our nation turned to God during that time.  From looking at what is going on in our country I think we have forgotten or perhaps we are a "nation under God" when we are at our rope's end and in trouble.

Sometimes when I hear the politicians bantering it seems that they and the ACLU have forgotten what happened to America on that day.  When I see on the news people, Americans, defending terrorist my blood starts to boil.  Why would an American do that?  Because they have forgotten the lives lost on 9/11, they have forgotten all the fallen heroes who went into burning buildings to rescue Americans knowing that their lives were at risk, they have forgotten the folks on the flight who battled to save their own lives.  It's a safe bet that they probably didn't know anyone who died that day personally.

So today I will remember, I will pray for those who are still struggling with the loss of their loved ones.  I will gather at lunch time with the fine folks of our local emergency services and pray for them and their safety and thank them for the job that they do.  What will you do today as you remember?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Youth Pastor's Work Schedule

Yesterday evening I was at a soccer game and football practice and I started thinking . . .

How flexible is your church with you?  It seems when I talk to other youth ministers who serve full time, and crazily enough even part time, that their church expects the youth minister to be incredibly flexible with his time but it doesn't always seem to work both ways.  Some have shared with me how they are expected to put in 40 hours in the office on top of events, attending games, Sunday worship as well as a mid-week youth service.  If you add up the hours that's probably close to a 70 hour work week.

Churches who expect their youth pastor to put in those kind of hours are asking for a burnt out, ready to quit, willing to move on, type of guy.   Churches who expect this of their youth pastor are, knowingly or unknowingly, hurting his family.  If his family and marriage isn't healthy there is no way he can be an effective minister.  

Thankfully NHC has priorities not focused on "office hours" but on ministry.  Our church loves to serve and minister.   From my experience here I will share a good approach to a youth pastor's work-week schedule:

  • 4 office days a week when possible
  • flexible hours with consideration of time out to games, events, activities (yesterday I knew I wouldn't get home till close to 8pm so I came in to work later in the day)
  • at least one day off a week (and someone needs to hold staff accountable to take their day off.  I'm not a work-a-holic so I usually don't have a problem taking my day off and most weeks two days.  I know my limitations and "stress" points)
  • minimum two weeks vacation from the get go and if a youth pastor is moving in from another church vacation time should move with him, he may be changing locations but is still working for the same God.  I can tell when it is time for vacation because I start to get a little mean and cranky.
  • Comp time after big youth events like summer camp, mission trips, retreats, etc.,  anything that pulls a YP from his family.  (after camp I usually work Sunday and one to two office days the following week)
  • Sabbaticals with pay.  At NHC staff can either take 5 weeks after each 5 years or 7 weeks after each 7 years.   This could be the secret to keeping church staff longer than a couple of years.  Rick has been here like forever.
Keep in mind that if you are a "part time" YP you can easily use up those hours on Sunday and Wednesday.  That's why it is always good to clarify expectations before coming on staff at a church.

So if you are the overworked youth pastor feel free to forward the link to this post to your senior pastor, personnel committee, or "accidentally e-mail it to the entire church ;).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Team Contagious Youth

This Saturday our youth group has a team formed for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Great Strides walk.   A great way to teach students about getting involved in their community and helping those in need.

My personal goal is $500.00 and our team goal is $1000.00
If you would like to help us reach our goal or join the team please go to 

Thanks!

Monday, September 7, 2009

The President's School Speech

I read the speech and could not find anything offensive or wrong in it.  I don't know what all the hoop-di-stink is all about other than the people who are raising the stink just don't like President Obama at all.  Our schools even sent home a permission slip so parents could opt their children out of listening to the speech.  I can't see my 5 year old sitting still long to listen unless it is on in his room and he has some crayons and paper to mess with while listening.

The speech is  challenging students to apply themselves and do their best and be responsible.  Nothing offensive there.  I even appreciate several of his remarks that he will be making to students.  Perhaps the president's speech connect with some students and those students accept his challenge and do their best. 

In his speech our President will be bringing God into the public schools.  I find this interesting that our President can do this but I can't.  Maybe I should run for President . . . .
President Obama ends his speech with "God bless you, and God bless America."

I'm glad the White House posted the speech.  Read it yourself here

Labor Day

To all of you who serve in youth ministry, youth pastors, full-time, part-time, bi-vocational, and most importantly, Volunteers (let's hear it for the volunteers!):

1 Corinthians 15:58 

 58Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

"Stand firm" - God has place you where you are to minister to the students who cross your path.  Don't let the trials of life blow you over.  Don't let the negative folks in the church defeat you.  Stand firm in the Lord.  Know that He is the one who can give you the strength to stand.  

"Let nothing move you"nothing |ˈnəθi ng |pronoun - not anything; no single thing.  

"Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord" - Guard yourselves against the half baked, half hearted approach to youth ministry.  Protect yourself from burn out.

Why?  "Because you know your labor is not in vain." - You can't always see the fruits of your efforts but you are impacting lives.  You may never know how a conversation with a student may be just the thing they needed to get life back on track.  You may not realize that sitting week after week with students play Farkle makes a difference in their lives.  You may never know how important it is in that kid's life when you sit down at Taco Bell and have a taco with him.

Happy Labor Day!  Your labor is not in vain!  Keep ministering to students!


Monday, August 31, 2009

No More Orphans

If just 6% of the church would adopt a child from an orphanage there would be no more orphans in the world in two years.

Interested?  If you are contact Christian Adoption Services.  There are some Filipino children ready for immediate adoption.  One is a sibling group of 5 who have been waiting for 2 years for their forever home.  Don't let the language barrier make you nervous.  I went to the Philippines several years ago and spoke in the public schools and used no interpreter because the children learn English.

Just 6% of the church.  I seem to recall Jesus saying that true religion is taking care of widows and orphans.  What if we, as churches, quit wasting money on pipe organs and stained glass windows and ornate buildings and then invested that money into families who desired to adopt?  


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Contagious Tonight

Youth group was big fun tonight.  We started out at Bonnet St. but the storm chased us back to NHC.  We quickly set up tables, pulled out the big tub of table games, set up the ping pong table and bam!  We had us a par tay.  

Great Boars Head hot dogs tonight.  Thanks to the Meyers for the dog sponsorship this summer and all the parents that pitched in on the bun rotation.

Great bunch of students tonight, I think it was our biggest attendance all summer.   I enjoyed looking around and seeing adult leaders at tables with students playing table games and ping pong.  That is where youth ministry begins as adults invest into the lives of students by building relationships.  Adults who stand around at youth group or sit together away from the students are not ministers, they are chaperons.  Students need ministers more than they need chaperons.  I'm glad our YM team "gets it".

Our lesson was from Mark 2.  Four friends took a paralyzed friend to Jesus to be healed.  When they arrived there was the obstacle of the crowd so they ripped open the roof and lowered the man to Jesus.   Jesus saw their faith and healed the man.
  • What obstacles do students face in sharing their faith with friends?
  • Do you have faith that God can change your friends' lives?
Students were challenged to reach their friends at school this semester.  Have faith that God can radically change their life as He did the life of the paralyzed man.

This next Sunday night the youth leaders have the night off as we go to the church picnic.  Looking forward to some kickball and good grub (onolicious grinds for my friends in Hi.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Contagious Lesson

Last Sunday I did part one of a two part series.  The focus is preparing students to go back to school.
Here is the outline:

My Circle of Influence
Daniel 1 and 3

To be a good influencer:

  • Make the best of your situation

It is in the tough times of your life that your circle of influence will really see the difference that a relationship with Jesus Christ makes in your life.

  • Let your commitment to God make the difference

Daniel resolved – 1: 8

  • Don’t allow the culture you are in to influence you - influence your culture

Daniel 3

Group Discussion

  1. Who is in your circle of influence?
  2. What are you actively doing to influence them towards Christ?
  3. Do you have friends in your circle that you could bring to youth group with you?
  1. Do you think you will encounter opposition if you live life at school this year as an influencer?  Why?  Who from?
How will you respond to opposition or persecution? 

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Look Ma, I'm a Guest Blogger

Ministry is a joy but . . .

Sometimes ministry can be frustrating.  Sometimes ministry can be hard.  Sometimes ministry can be exhausting.  We can’t escape these aspects of ministry.  The reason ministry can be hard is because ministry involves people and people come with baggage, hurt, pain, anger, bitterness, laziness, etc.   (Read More)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who has your back?

Any time you pull a bunch of teens together you are at risk of something happening.  Something good, that’s what we all hope will happen, something bad, we don’t want that to happen but it does and sometimes it is our own fault as leaders. 

Who has your back should something go wrong on a youth event or activity?  Preparation and planning can be your best friend. 

  1. Insurance – unless your church is stuck in 1850 you should have a liability policy that covers injuries and protects you and your church.
  2. Medical releases and permission forms.  Ever take a kid out of town and his parents didn’t know he was gone?  Can you say, “kidnap”? Ever show up to a hospital without “proper paperwork” including insurance numbers?  I try to put them in a folder alphabetically so you can find a form quickly if needed.
  3. Staffing – When going on a trip or having an activity it is important to have more than enough adults on hand.  I personally like the ratio of 1 adult to 8 students.  Don’t have enough staff?  Don’t have the event.  It’s a safety issue. 
  4. Understandings – Make sure the staff understands, up front, what is expected from them.  The last thing I need on a trip is a 35 year old who thinks he is 16.  What I need are caring adults who are wanting to impact student’s lives.
  5. Understandings #2 – Make sure students and their parents understand what is expected of them.
  6. Driving – Don’t drive like a goob.  Be responsible.  “Hey, I saw this in a cartoon once and I think I can do it.”
  7. Policies are our friends - Have some clearly defined policies in advance that cover any situation you can think of.  When a situation arises that you haven’t thought about add it to your list. (I’m working on this)
  8. The Big “No No” – Never be alone with a student of the same or opposite sex.  If it is in a counseling session leave the door cracked or be in eyeshot of another adult leader.
  9. Home Alone – Never leave students alone and unsupervised.  Example: "You kids stay here by the tents while I run up the road to the grocery store with the other adult leaders."
  10. First Aid – it helps to have someone along with some first aid training.
You might think these are "no brainers" but I have heard interesting stories over the years.

 

 

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Reconstruction of Contagious Youth #1

February through April I was on sabbatical, during this time I started to think about and evaluate our youth ministry.  While we are doing some things good there are some areas that need improvement or strengthening.

This fall our goal is to have in place a "Coach" to lead out in different areas of our youth ministry to help organize and keep us on track and to help us produce spiritually healthy, growing and balanced students.  These coaches will pull together students and adults together to organize events, emphasis, focus us in the right direction.  This won't be an overnight process.  We hope to have the coaches in place by Christmas.  The process of planning and organizing and ultimately functioning in this new structure could take up to two years.  Better to take your time and do it right then to run into something willy nilly.

Missions Coach - to help us grow in local and foreign missions
Connection Coach - to help students discover the importance of being connected in a local church and strengthen students' relationships with each other
Magnification Coach - to help students discover and implement worship in their daily lives
Growth Coach - to help students move towards being a fully devoted, mature, believer
Ministry Coach - to help students discover their spiritual gifts and help them use their gifts and SHAPE in serving at NHC and Contagious Youth

So let the building begin!  I'll update as we reconstruct.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Principles for Parents

This is from the Principles for Parents seminar we hosted in the spring and it was led by Herb Owen:

"We put our children in great danger when we allow them to operate under authority that is weak or distant or does not follow biblical principles.  The danger becomes far greater when we allow our children to be in a situation whre they are under the authority of no one at all.  We have then allowed them to be in a place of rebellion."

Something for us parents to think about as we draw close to the weekend and our kids start asking to go do this or that or stay at _____'s house.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Join The Contagious Team!

Contagious Youth will have a team for the Great Strides walk on September 12.  The walk is fun.  I don't get into walking but this walk is short and then ends with a party atmosphere, fun, food and games.  The best part is we are raising money and awareness to help with Cystic Fibrosis research.

If you are on the OBX and would like to join our team you are more than welcome.  The Contagious Youth team isn't just for students but also for parents, siblings, adults, friends, whoever wants to join in and help.

Those who know our family know that Great Strides is important to us.  So get off your seat and on the street and join the Contagious Team.  If you can't be here for the walk you are certainly more than welcome to help us reach our team's financial goal.

To join or to give go here.  Thanks!

My Mission Trip Experience

I just returned last week from the island of Eleuthera.  On the island there is a Christian sports camp, Camp Bahamas.  Camp Bahamas is re...