Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shallow to Deep

This Sunday night we start a new series, Shallow to Deep, the habits you need to impact your life and the life of others.

A couple of months ago our youth group filled out a survey. I sort of had a hunch about where we are at as a youth group. While we have a few students who are striving to go deep in their faith we are mostly a shallow group when it comes to matters of our faith walk. Sixty five percent of students live in homes (keep in mind the majority of students are “church kids” from “church families”) where the Bible is not read together as a family. Seventy five percent of our students do not read the Bible on their own during the week. We have a small percentage have prayer together as a family.

We are experiencing spiritual anemia. The only time kids are feeding is at youth group or Sunday morning.

For the next several weeks we are going to look at the HABITS it takes for believers to establish in their life that will help them move from the shallows to the deep in their faith.

This Sunday night we have a conversation about this fact: “You are responsible for your spiritual growth.”

What we offer as a youth ministry:
Encouragement for parents to disciple their teens and links to some great resources.

Weekly worship with the church.
Opportunities for ministry and mission involvement.
Weekly youth worship that includes small group discussion and fellowship.
Events and activities with purpose.

So Sunday night we are saying, “Here is the buffet. It’s up to you whether or not you are going to eat. You have the tools and opportunities but the choice is yours.” More about Sunday night next Monday.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Preventative Maintenance or Crisis Management

Over the years I have witnessed two types of parenting styles among parents of students.

Preventative Maintenance Parenting
>Parents begin preparing their child for the teen years at an early age
>Parents engaging in discussion with their child about expectations
>Parents who clearly define expectations
>Parents who clearly define consequences
>Parents who work together with their child on a contract
>Parents who have a plan and their child knows the plan
>Parents who attend parenting seminars and small group studies on parenting

Example: At a young age the parent sets out the guidelines as to if and when their child will be allowed to date or have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Clearly communicating to their child what to expect when it comes to having an exclusive relationship with someone of the opposite sex. Discussing this plan with their child and making sure everyone is clear on what to expect. Little Johnny knows he's not allowed to initiate a dating, exclusive relationship, until he is ____ yrs. old. Which frees him up to enjoy his early teen years and removes the pressure from him. Everyone is on the same page.

Crisis Management Parenting
>Parents who don't plan or even think about their sweet little child becoming a teen
>Parents who don't communicate clear expectations with their child
>Parents who make up consequences on the fly and often in a moment of anger resulting in unrealistic discipline that they don't stick to
>Parents who have no plan, fly by the seat of their pants
>Parents who have children who have no clue what mom and dad expect from them in life.
>Parents who run to the youth pastor to "fix my kid" or "When is the next parenting seminar?"
>Parents who don't seize the opportunities to take parenting classes or participate in parenting small group Bible studies.

Example: Susan, who we used to call little Suzie (fictional character), is allowed to go out with John, who we used to call little Johnny (also a fictional character). "They are just going out to have some fun, nothing serious." Soon Susan is constantly texting with John, on FB with John, all her spare moments are spent with John. Susan's grades are dropping. Susan's best friends no longer are coming around the home because she has pushed them to the curb and replaced them with the "love of her life". What! I thought it was just for fun?!! Mom and Dad now panic, "What do we do?" After allowing this relationship to grow and build over 5 months their they tell their 13 year old daughter that she can no longer see her 16 year old boyfriend, this marks the beginning of the war at home. Now they are reaching out for help in dealing with their "rebellious" daughter.

Which type of parenting looks better to you? As a youth pastor I love to see and hear about parents who are doing preventative maintenance.

Disclaimer: Preventative Maintenance doesn't mean you will have a perfect child or be a perfect parent, but chances for open communication and understanding will be better

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Our 7 Month 7 Strategies Focus

It has been a long time since I have seen a group of students who are passionate about their relationship with Jesus Christ. I have seen individuals with that passion spattered here and there but not a group movement in that direction. Over the next several months I would like to see us move in a direction to accomplish the 7 strategies below.

  1. More Bible digging during POD’s where students read the scripture from an actual Bible. This will help them to get the feel of having a Bible in hand and reading it.
  2. Challenging students to bring their Bibles to Contagious (except when at the beach)
  3. A run through the HABITS series.
  4. A 30-day challenge. Students will sign up for a 30-day challenge to read the Bible daily. We will read through Proverbs and they will journal about one verse per chapter that really means something to them and “why?” This will happen in an online forum on our group's Facebook page.
  5. Invest in student leaders. Good article here
  1. Provide materials for students to study the Bible on their own and memorize scripture.
  2. Teach them how to share their faith with friends.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Last Night At Contagious

Wow! The weather was awesome last night. The majority of students were out in the front yard playing Polish and Cornhole. Inside I saw a mean game of skip bo happening (they seemed to be making up their own rules) and also bananagrams. Some simply sat on the sidewalk and chatted during hang time. It's great to see students and their youth leaders playing games together and engaging in conversation.

Last week we went and watched Soul Surfer. NHC youth and parents were the large majority of the crowd at the viewing. I would suggest youth ministers and parents take their kids to see this film.

We followed up Soul Surfer last night with Heart of a Soul Surfer a video made by Bethany and her family and friends several years ago. I like this video because students get to hear straight from Bethany about how God is using her life. One thing that stands out to me is that before the shark attack Bethany was asking God to use her life. An amazing perspective from a 13 year old girl.

After the video the students went to their new PODs (now age divided. Seniors should be thrilled to have their own POD) . In the PODs they discussed Bethany's life and the scriptures in she used in the video. I ended the evening by telling students that a shark doesn't have to take your arm in order to be used by God. God has placed you where you are and around who you are around to have an impact on their lives.

This coming Sunday Contagious takes a break so students and the YM team can spend Easter Sunday with their families. We come back together the following week to spend a few weeks hitting hard the habits we need as believers in our lives to grow spiritually. We can provide the resources and the encouragement to the students but ultimately it is their passion and desire to grow in Christ. It is a choice they must make.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Last Night At Contagious

We had a great time last night at Contagious. We read our latest letter from Remilda, our Compassion International child, she is doing great and is excited to be sponsored by our youth group. Remilda is 13 and we chose her because we thought it would be cool for the students to sponsor a kid in their age range. I was dreaming last week: How cool would it be to take a group of students in 5 years to the Philippines to meet Remilda?

We continued our "Letters from the Mailbox" last night. "I have screwed up. How do I learn to forgive myself?" We took a look at the life of David in our POD time. We learned from Nathan's confrontation with King David. 2 Samuel 11,12 and Psalm 51 were our texts.

We were challenged to face our guilt and own up to what we have done wrong. The next step is to have a real gut check, many people say "sorry" very flippantly without meaning it and we have to get a real understand of our sin. Next we must make ammends with God through confession and with others who we may have also impacted in our sin. After making amends we must turn away from our sin (repent) and head the other direction. Finally since Jesus died on the cross for all our sins we must accept God's forgiveness and embrace his grace. Since God has forgiven us and views us as "spotless" we should rest in that fact and forgive ourselves without digging up our sins that were buried at the foot of the cross.

This past weekend I was able to attend the After Prom party our community hosts at the YMCA. It was fun to hang with the students for a couple of hours. As I get older I'm quickly realizing my days of late nights and all nighters at student events are over. I was tired all day yesterday, a sign of old age.

Today is Monday and I'm tired. I usually work on Mondays but I know that to do so today would be a big mistake. I need to re-energize spiritually, emotionally and physically. I hear stories of guys in ministry burning out because they don't take time to re-energize. I don't want to be "that guy". My day started off with some time in the Bible, breakfast with my kids and a Bill's Pastry glazed donut, a great start to my day.

New Site is up and Running

My new web site which now hosts my blog posts is up and fully functional. You can check it out at . There is also a ...