Sunday, December 19, 2010

Flexible During the Holidays

Youth group gatherings around Christmas can be a little frustrating at times. You put in the time and energy to prepare a talk, write out small group discussion questions, prepare your team, planning the game that requires at least a certain number of people, etc. then have less than a third of your students show up for youth group. I don't know about how things work where you live but around here people get really busy around Christmas with all the celebrations, performances, shopping, traveling and on and on.

I gave up. I gave up the frustration and it was a great feeling. What could we do differently? Our Christmas party always had a great turn out of students and then the rest of December and the first Sunday in January went downhill. Bowling was the answer. No preparation other than publicity. The years before we would have 12 to 15 students show up. The first time we put bowling on the calendar we had 40 show up and several were guests.

Why was bowling a success? I think students (and leaders) needed a break to do something that was just fun. Some might say that bowling isn't spiritual enough to replace the weekly scheduled youth group gathering. It is also good to break away from the "usual" from time to time.

The purpose is fellowship. Students building relationships with other students. Adult leaders investing in students. You get to know your kids better when you do the fun stuff like bowling and just hang out together. Your students get to know you and your leadership team better as well.

Our Parent Pod has jumped on board with the bowling as well. They usually meet during youth group so it made sense for them to just hang out together also. Parents building relationships with other parents of teens is a marvelous thing.

Will there be 40 this year? I don't know. I do know that myself and the YM team will get to spend some quality time with students. I also know this will connect us with our SBC roots as we gather to eat at Taco Bell following the bowling.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Critics (Part 5)

I guess what sticks in my craw is the fact that the critics are wasting time and energy. What if all the time they pour into creating their negative blogs and web sites were poured into meeting people's need to open the opportunity to share the saving message of Jesus Christ, what would happen? It's a safe bet that these blogs and web sites are driving more people away from the gospel then pointing them to the gospel. Why be part of a "religion" that is always fighting and attacking itself and can't get along together?

Were Peter and John perfect? No way. They were human just like I'm a human. As a matter of fact who were the ones in this event in their lives that got all upset with them? Not the one whose need was met, not the thousands who became Christ followers. The religious got upset. Translate to today. Satan is out to destroy the church. Satan is not going to attack from outside the church to destroy it he will attack from within. If he can get the church to attack the church his battle is much easier, faster and more efficient than trying to destroy from the outside. (Matthew 7:14-16)

Am I doing the same thing by posting this blog post? No, I didn't name any person's name or list any churches or web sites or blogs. I could have. I could post a hundred links below but the time to google and research and read and allow myself to be consumed with that would rob me of time I could be spending investing in a relationship, meeting a need, reaching out to someone who needs Christ.

I would love to see the church stop the Cyber Gossip. (and I bet Peter and John would like that too)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

1st Annual Winter YM Team Retreat

Next month we will be having our first annual youth ministry team winter retreat. I'm excited about this weekend. I look forward to the training we will have, the discussions that will launch off each session. I hope it sharpens us as a team when it comes to investing into the lives of students. In the past we have gone to one day seminars and training events. I would really love to take the team to a large national youth ministry conference but due to our size and budget we can't do that (yet). So this year we are going to retreat together. (I have no idea why I didn't think of this sooner)

The plan is a simple one, I'm simple so simple plans work great with me. We are going to gather for a weekend next month in a vacation rental house, a really big one. We will eat meals together, hang out together, shoot pool, watch some movies, and play cards together (some Scrabble) and go bowling. Sprinkled through out the weekend we will have 5 training sessions and some time set aside for each of us to get alone and spend time with God in the Bible and in prayer.

So far the sessions we are going to look at are:
  • Developing Healthy Boundaries
  • Leading Small Groups
  • Living Authentically
  • Building Intentional Relationships
  • (the fifth one is still in the works)
We will also have a tutorial session on our new scheduling system.

Most of all I really look forward to hanging out with the best YM team around. I love these folks who spend a couple hours each week with the teens in our church. Youth Ministry at NHC is only possible because of our great team. I pity the youth leader who feels as if he/she can do the youth ministry all alone.

We will finish our retreat together over breakfast on Sunday morning before heading off to church.

Critics (Part 4)

So Andy, you don't think that we should confront the wrongs? Yes I do think we should. But I think we should confront the wrongs the way our Savior and Lord says we should.

Matthew 18
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Jesus tells me that I must go to the brother or sister who sins and point out their sin to them. If I'm unable to do this because I can't approach them then I need to trust that God, who is in control, will place someone in their path to confront them, someone in their circle of influence, congregation of friend relationship. Jesus' verses above show, I believe, that this confrontation is to take place among believers who have a relationship with each other.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Critics (Part 3)

Here is the deal, the truth. Websites and blogs, authored by "Christians", that attack other believers and churches is essentially the body of Christ turning on itself, the church attacking the church. When the body attacks itself it is essentially a form of spiritual cancer. This is why I call it Cyber Gossip. Gossip, whether true or false or disguised as a prayer request, is talking or writing or blogging about someone else without them present. Gossip is a sin. I learned a song when I was a kid in Sunday School, "Oh be careful little eyes what you see..."

Come to me to talk about someone behind his or her back, especially in a negative, critical spirit and I would tell you to your face, "Don't gossip. Go talk to this person face to face". These critics today would write negatively about Peter and John without ever speaking to them in person. Their response would probably be, "I can't get a meeting with Peter and John." Exactly the point!

Your job, my job, as believers is not to run around playing the role of deputy Holy Spirit. I'm not the one who will judge. God is the almighty God and the church, the Body of Christ, belongs to him so let Him do the judging. Let God fix the "problem". There are churches in our community that I disagree with in some areas and would even think they are wrong doctrinally but it's not my place to post a blog or web site devoted to tearing their church down. Peter and John were appointed by God to be apostles and if someone has been put in a place of leadership in the church I better not be attacking them. (2 Kings2:23-25)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Critics (Part 2)

It's a shame but in this age we live in with the technology we have the Internet has become an avenue for what I call, "Cyber Gossip". It is super easy to find hundreds if not thousands of web sites and blogs that are dedicated to pointing out the wrongs (or what is perceived as wrong by the authors) of other believers and churches. Websites and blogs litter the WWW and all they are known for is what they are "against" and not known for what they are "for".

Peter and John would be plastered on those sites today. Why? First of all they met a man's need but without first telling him he was a sinner in need of repentance. There are many believers out there today that are all about the "preaching" but want to do nothing about meeting the physical need first. Meeting the need opens the door to the gospel and a simple study in the life of Christ proves this point. Second, thousands became Christ followers after hearing their message so there must be something wrong with that. Thousands don't come to Christ at one time. What was really going on? I don't know if you want to call it a distrust or jealousy/envy but some believers just can't handle it when a church or pastor is being obedient to Christ and the church is growing and maturing and healthy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Critics (Part 1)

I've recently started reading in Acts for my daily quiet time. In chapter 3 Peter and John encounter the man who had been crippled for forty years. The cripple man was begging for money, this is how he survived. Peter and John have no money to give him but they meet his greatest need, they bring healing from God to this man's life.

Next we find them preaching about Jesus Christ. As the result of the people witnessing this need being met in this man's life and through hearing about Jesus Christ 5,000 men become Christ followers and that's not including the women and children saved that day.

As I thought about this event in the life of a crippled beggar and thousands who came to know Christ I wondered what would be the response from the church today if this happened, December 9, 2010?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Organizing Takes Time

Organizing takes time but it takes even longer if you don't keep things organized. I'm not a neat freak and this is evidenced in my office. I have always filed away documents on my computer with no rhyme or reason. The result is a constant searching for documents and graphics, etc.

Today I finally came to the point that I realized that as our church grows so does "my documents". So I spent the better part of the afternoon creating nice and neat little blue folders and started moving documents around to their proper folder. Now instead of a jumbled mess there are nice neat rows of folders in my finder. Now when someone says, "I'm interested in joining the youth ministry team I don't have to spend 10 minutes looking for that team handbook and application to e-mail to them, I simply open my finder and click on Team Applications and then send them the proper document.

If I had taken the half a minute to set these folders up as I went along I would not have spent the 3 hours today organizing. My desktop? Glad you asked. It is totally clear and clean.

I feel I can function better now. Okay, next week I'll tackle the office!
What do you do to stay organized?

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