Saturday, June 27, 2009

SHAPEd to Surf

Today we will teach 20 something middle and high school students how to surf.  Most of these students will actually surf before the camp is done today.  Some won't surf but will have a better understanding of how to surf and they will be able to continue to practice on their own.  It's awesome to watch a student catch their first wave and pop up and ride the wave.

A little over ten years ago Steve Wise, one of NHC's pastors, decided to do something with what he is passionate about.  The H of his shape is his heart, surfing is what Steve is passionate about.  Steve loves to surf so he took this passion for surfing and combined it with his desire to reach people to discover life in Christ and Hukilau was born.   This summer is Hukilau's tenth summer of teaching students to surf and sharing the gospel.

So in about a half hour from now I'll be loading up in the car to head to surf camp.  I'm excited to see these kids learn to surf but I'm most excited that we are going to share the love of Jesus Christ with them today.  Another awesome part of surf camp for me is watching a whole bunch of NHC partners serving in missions by serving at surf camp.  It's rough but someone has to do missions on the beach.

What are you passionate about and how could that be used to reach people to discover life in Christ?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Camp Thoughts

Just finished sending parents the important camp paperwork and information.  We are closing in on camp, just a few weeks away.   We do Student Life Camp.  For several years now we have been attending SL and have had nothing but great experiences.  The SL staff is always so helpful and supportive.  

My thoughts on summer camp:
1.  We don't plan our own camp for a several reasons:
a.  We don't have enough staff
b.  We don't have enough cash
c.  We couldn't pull off a camp that is higher quality than SL
d.  Someone else is much better at camp planning than I am.
e.  There is no way we could have a camp pastor like David Nasser at our little camp if we did our own.
f.  Planning our own camp would eat up a major chunk of time in my calendar and pull me    away from the things I'm better at.
g.  At SL our students get to build relationships with other students from other youth groups and be teamed up with total strangers to do recreation and small group       Bible study during the week.

2.  Choose a camp ministry that is solid doctrinally and has a fantastic track record.  SL staff       will literally pray for your students by name during the week of camp as you share prayer           request with them.

3.  Choose a camp location that is different than the location where your students live. 
a.  Line up transportation.  We take our church van and rent a second van.
b.  Line up drivers.
c.  Line up other adults you will need to go along with you to camp.  (I'm amazed when I hear a pastor share at camp that he alone brought a bunch of students with no other adults along to help) 

4.  Figure in the expense of camp as you plan out your yearly calendar of events to help ease the pocketbook pain of parents.  SL's prices depend on where you are going and if you are doing       the mission or recreation track.  We charge the students $280.00.  Much of this expense is         offset if the students help with fundraising.  We also have individuals who give to the                   scholarship fund.

5.  Announce the date as soon as you know the date.  We have known for a year when we would be at camp.  That date has been publicized many times during the last year.  I will be                   deciding the camp dates for next year today.

6.  Set the date for camp registration months before the actual camp date.  Designate a cut off     date and stick with it.  We have a non-refundable deposit to secure a student's spot for                 camp.

7.  Get your paperwork such as medical releases, wavers, etc. from parents in advance of             departure date.  This guarantees you will have those necessary forms in hand before leaving       on your trip.  We've had a few trips delayed because, "I forgot my release form" and I like          leaving on time. (and returning on time)

8.  Have a pre-camp meeting that is required for campers and one parent.  
a.  Parents turn in releases at this meeting.  
b.  Have a notary on hand if possible to notarize forms
c.  Go over rules and expectations.  Let parents know that if a camper is a disciplinary         problem that can't be handled at camp that they will have to come immediately to the                 camp and pick up their kid or pay the bus fare for a greyhound trip home.
d.  Make sure everyone has the "what to pack" list
e.  Answer questions

9.  Don't forget the first aid kit and have another adult responsible for taking care of any             prescription drugs a students might need. 

10.  Know the location of the local hospital and how to get there.

11.  Get your church to pray for your group as you are gone.  We have our church partners send   e-mails to the campers while they are at camp.  We also set up a blog so parents and the               church can follow us while we are at camp.

I love summer camp because it is an opportunity to pull students out of their everyday life and their usual routine and place them in an atmosphere that is geared to influence students to draw closer to Jesus Christ.

If your group is going to camp this summer I hope you have a fantastic experience and that your student's lives are changed.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Happy Father's Day

Several years ago I never would have imagined that I would be a dad.  God's knows what he is doing.  (Jeremiah 29:11)  Tonight I heard my oldest son giggling as his mommy tucked him into bed, there was a point in my life I thought I would never hear the giggling of a child in my house.  Tonight I bathed two babies at one time, there was a time I would have never thought I would have had even one baby to bathe.  Tonight I saw the cute grin of my daughter and the huge open mouth smile of her twin brother.

Today is Father's Day.  I'm truly a blessed man.  I got to celebrate 20 years of marriage with my lovely wife this past week and now I get to celebrate the blessing of being a dad.  I thank God for the miracle of adoption.

For all you dads out there I hope you have a happy Father's Day.  We have a huge responsibility to disciple our kids:

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (Andy paraphrase)

Define and Communicate God’s Word to your kids.  Tell them often, over and over, repeat it because we all know it takes a while for something to sink into a kid’s head and then make it to his or her heart.  God’s Word should be part of who we are and we should talk about Him when we sit around the house, when we ride in the mini-van (captive audience), when we tuck them in at night and when we wake them up in the morning.   Hang it on the fridge, post it on the mirror.   Make God’s word the fabric of your home, the joists, studs and rafters of your family, build your family on God’s Word.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Tale of Two Teams

On our anniversary trip to Williamsburg we experienced two restaurants.  One experience was bad and one was great.

Upon arriving to Williamsburg we drove down to the Merchant's Square to look for a place to have dessert and coffee.  We walked into The Seasons, an Italian restaurant, and we were promptly seated.  The hostess placed us in a room with several tables and there were waiters working the room.  We sat there for 15 minutes and not one of the waiters came to our table to take our order.  They all made eye contact.  They all cleaned tables, collected money, took orders from other tables but not one came to our table and we had obviously not been waited on.  It was obvious they weren't concerned.  

You see at The Seasons the approach of their staff is "every man for himself".  The goal is to get your tips and move on.  The goal was not to please the guests in hopes to help the restaurant to be more successful.  After we got up and I had a talk with the manager we moved on to a coffee shop down the street for dessert and coffee.

The second restaurant was The Trellis.  We were quickly seated.  The manager came to our table for our drink order, he also took our food order.  Another wait staff brought us our bread.  A different waitress brought us our salad.  Another waiter brought our meal.  The waitress returned to get our dessert order. 

 The Trellis wait staff had a different approach than the Seasons.  The Trellis functioned as a team.  Their goal was to make our dining experience the best, even if it meant waiting on or serving another waiter's table.  The Trellis wants diners to return.  The staff at the Trellis wants their restaurant to be a success.

What type of teamwork is taking place in your church?  Is it every man for himself, looking out for "my needs" or is it a true team?  Is it the goal of the partners of the church to do what is necessary to make sure that guests have a great experience and desire to return?  Do the partners at your church see how they play a part in the big picture?

Do you pick up the piece of trash on the lobby floor even though that's not your ministry?  Are you willing to give directions to a guest even thought you aren't a greeter?  What are you willing to do to make the team a success?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Our 20th Anniversary

Twenty years ago, today, Misha said "I do", then I said, "I do".   The smartest decision I have ever made!!

We met at Liberty U.   When I saw Misha for the first time I said, "I'm going to marry that woman", and I did.  I pursued Misha with a passion.  No, I wasn't a stalker.  I was persistent.  I remember when I saw her in her wedding dress, I was blown away by her beauty.  The fact that Misha married me is evidence of miracles.  Don't most youth pastors "marry up", above what we deserve?

We were both totally clueless when we got married.  I look back and chuckle at how clueless we really were.  Now we have aged and we aren't quite as clueless as we were in 1989.

The past twenty years haven't been perfect but they have been fantastic.  Misha is my best friend.  Misha helps keep me straight, a full time job.  Misha is an incredible mommy to our three children.  Misha is really smart (insert joke about marrying me here).  Misha has always been supportive.  Misha is beautiful, a hottie.  Misha is a godly woman and I'm incredibly blessed.

I would not trade the past twenty years for anything and I'm glad that we are growing old together and am thankful to God that our marriage has lasted.  I look forward to the next twenty years.  What is in store for us? 

We are ducking away for a couple of days.  Thanks to our family and friends for taking care of our children for us.  I'm not even taking my computer!  My cell phone will be off!  I won't twitter!  For the next few days my time is 100% for Misha.  See you in a few days!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Outrigger Kayak Camp

 NHC partner Pam L. has a passion for using her skills and equipment for ministry and mission.  Next Saturday we will host another Outrigger Kayak Camp.  Space is very limited (due to the number of kayaks).  We will meet at 8:30 and give instruction on kayaking then load up and paddle a few hours.  We stop in the middle of the morning and hook all our kayaks together and Andy  shares a devotion out there floating on the water.   Outrigger is an outreach of NHC's youth ministry for students in grades 6 thru 12.  Kayak Camp is from 8:30 to 12:30.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I wish I had a camera

There was a guy in a giant hamburger suit at the restaurant across from the church.  He was running up and down the side of the road, dancing, jumping, waving, drawing attention to his hamburgerness.  I was in the lobby for a half hour and hundreds of cars drove by but not one turned in.  I'm thinking the dancing burger really isn't a draw.  Sure people see him.  How can you not see a giant hamburger dancing on the side of the road.  But apparently the attention he was drawing really wasn't having an impact.  (except for the occasional passer by honking at him or giving him the "international hand gesture of displeasure")

I think many times we are like that as Christians.  We strive to be so different and stand out from the crowd that instead of drawing attention to Christ we draw attention to ourselves.  The result? Same as the hamburger, no impact.

Perhaps he should have been wearing a giant crab cake suit?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cool Idea from NYWC

Watched Mark Matlock on Ustream talking about the next NYWC.  Great idea about open spaces.
Makes the conference in Atlanta a bit tempting to me.

Worship or Boxing Match?

I read the following verses this morning and thought is sounded like a descriptions of many churches today:
17  Your worship services do you more harm than good. I am certainly not going to praise you for this. 18 I am told that you can’t get along with each other when you worship, and I am sure that some of what I have heard is true. 19 You are bound to argue with each other, but it is easy to see which of you have God’s approval.  1 Corinthians 11:17-19

Your worship services do you more harm than good.  Ouch!  You can't get along with each other when you worship.  Apparently some of these church members could have used 2 years in Mrs. Tillet's pre-school to learn how to get along with others and play nicely.  You are bound to argue with each other.  Ever been around those people that argue everything?  I like to argue but often I just keep my mouth shut (not always successful at that either).

Since I'm a part of the SBC, what I know is SBC, I know that this description sadly fits a large portion of SBC churches.  Church split in SBC = Church plant.  This happens all too often and usually not because of doctrinal issues but because someone didn't like what the preacher said or the color of the new carpet isn't to their liking, etc.

Here's a novel idea!  Don't let the church choose the color of the carpet.  Just lay the carpet and say, "Look at our beautiful new carpet!"  Business meetings are nothing more than a set up for a church split.  At a business meeting, as a member,  you are forced to take sides.  Why do that in a church?  Why set up for division?  Makes no sense but somewhere along the way many churches and denominations have decided that they like the idea of "majority rules".  What if the majority hasn't spent a minute in God's word that week?  Month?  Year?  Years?  How can someone out of sync with the Father make a godly decision?
Makes no sense.

I'm glad has placed me at NHC.  I have four pastors who I trust.  God put them in leadership positions to lead.  At NHC we don't vote on much of anything.  We built an entire building without voting on the design, interior decor, color of the carpet.  We had to demolish the old building, didn't vote on that either.  We didn't lose any members in that process, but I know of churches who have lost members during a building program.  Plus process was faster because we didn't have to wait on a committee to bring it before the church, we trusted our building team and turned them loose to get the job done.

The only time I find a vote in the Bible is when Moses sent out the spies.  Ten (the majority) said "No way!".  Two (the minority) said, "Let's take the land!".  There were giants in the land!  What were they thinking?  They weren't thinking, they were trusting.  This is where the heart of most issues in churches today.  People don't trust.  They don't trust God.  They don't trust leadership (sometimes for a good reason).  They don't trust each other.

I pray it can never be said of our worship services, "they do more harm than good".

Monday, June 8, 2009

Last NIght at Contagious

Each summer we move our weekly youth group meeting to the beach.  Last night was our first youth group on the beach for this year.  We had a whole bunch of students come to Contagious on the beach last night.  We turned Seth, the master griller, loose on the new grill last night.  We consumed 60 hot dogs and chef Seth says we will need more than 60 dogs next week.  

Students spent Hang Time playing volleyball, tossing a football and swimming in the ocean.  A few went surfing with Mike, one of our family group leaders.  Waves were good, ocean temp was in the low 70's.  

We wrapped up our study on stress.  For the past several weeks we have been studying the life of Abraham and how he handled stressful events in his life.  Last night we looked at the stress that comes from loss as we studied how Abraham handled the loss of his wife, Sarah, his companion for a long time, his friend, in a land where he had no home but lived in a tent and had no property to give Sarah a proper burial.  You can read more about this in Genesis 23

The Parent Pod had several parents hanging out together.  Over the summer the Parent Pod will be visited by each of our pastors and our worship leader, Nate, as they share how parents can help students learn the purpose God has for us as followers of Christ.

It was a beautiful evening on the beach.  I'm already looking forward to next week as we reach even more students to discover life in Christ!  Maybe we will get some pics to post next week.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Party With Your Team

Let me tell you a little bit about our team.  We have 15 partners serving on our team.  All are volunteers, I'm the only paid guy.  Our team serves every Sunday night.  Most of the team are our "family group" leaders and then we have a few kitchen queens.  Kitchen queens are the ladies responsible for keeping us fed, they also clean the place up while the Bible study is going on.  They love serving and encouraging students.  Our family group leaders basically are our youth ministers.  There is no way I could do effective youth ministry without the team.  I love our team, they rock!

Saturday evening our youth ministry team got together as a team and hung out around a fire pit.  We ate some great food and enjoyed sitting around the fire and talking and hanging out together.  It was fun to do something as a team without the students there.  A few things come to mind as I think about our team getting together.

  • Minister with a team.  If you aren't doing youth ministry in a team setting you are hurting yourself, your family, your church, your students.  Ministry is more fun and effective when accomplished with other believers.
  • Express to your team how much you value them and how vital they are to the ministry.
  • Offer training to your team.  Utilize e-mail, web sites, podcasts, seminars and books.  
  • Encourage your team.  Look for opportunities to encourage them as they encourage students.
  • Party with your team.  Look for opportunities to have fun together without any "meeting" involved in the party.
  • Pray for your team.  This should be a no brainer.  I pray for our team but I'm thinking it would be good to let them know individually that they are being prayed for.  I know I feel good when someone tells me that they are praying for me or ask for prayer requests.

Made the Top 40 Youth Ministry Blogs

My blog made #30 out of the top 40 youth ministry blogs according to I don't know what that means but "thanks!&quo...