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
>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
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

Made the Top 40 Youth Ministry Blogs

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