Thursday, May 26, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011


I was invited to be on a question and answer panel at another local church's youth group gathering this week. I was honored they would ask me. Why me? I have no idea but I accepted.

Students wrote their questions on 3x5 cards and the panel answered their questions.

Of course upon arrival I kicked into evaluation mode. I was watching for a few different things. Mostly looking for students' interaction with each other and the adult volunteers interaction with the kids.

I noticed several different things throughout the evening that I took mental note of. The youth group had a great bunch of students there and all were high schoolers with only a couple of middle school students.

With so many students in attendance I observed several things but will point out three:
1. The students are bringing their friends (obvious by the amount of visitors)
2. Momentum. The excitement of the obvious growth is generating a momentum which is building each week. (obvious by the amount of chairs that had to be added)
3. Small space. The space isn't big enough for the amount of students. The feeling was the room was "full" when half the kids arrived. When they other half poured in at the last minute the room felt jam packed. This too adds to the momentum.

When people see a growing youth group they always want to know "what's the magical formula?"
The obvious key factor with this group was the kids bringing their friends.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Using Apps

I recently became an iPhone user. Not because I just had to have the latest and greatest but because the speaker in my Blackberry blew up. So now I'm more "tech savvy" but I don't have a clue what my phone is capable of. I do love that it syncs automatically with my macbook and so my calendar on my phone is right on with what is on my lap top. Hopefully that alone will make me more efficient and alleviate some headaches.

So last Sunday night at Contagious I used an App I downloaded last week. (are you supposed to capitalize App?) With only an hour to have worship in music, play a game, have our POD discussion times and have our lesson I have about 20 minutes to speak. I often go over that. This week I used my new App and it worked great and I shut down with a few minutes to spare. With pClock you can set up all sorts of timers with changing colors or alarms to let you know you are nearing the end of your time. I set up a 20 minutes clock that changes colors at ten minutes and 5 minutes. I simply set it on the music stand next to my notes and it worked great.

Check it out. It could be helpful to you. You may also wish your pastor would use it. ;)

You can get pClock for your iPhone or iPad at the apps store.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Would You Consider?

One of the things I get to do that I enjoy is serve as the chaplain for the Manteo High School football team. Each fall I get the privilege of going over to MHS on game day and have the pre-game meal with the team, hang out with the coaches and then I share a short pre-game devotional under the goal post for the players and coaches who want to attend. By the end of last season most players would sit in on the devotion and even several of the coaches.

This summer MHS Redskins have the opportunity to attend an FCA football camp. As you know times are tight and so are budgets. I would love to see these players and coaches get to attend the camp. I'm committing, personally, to sponsor a player. I'm also planning on sponsoring a player as a youth group. The cost to sponsor a player or coach is $155.00.

If you would consider sponsoring a player/coach for this fantastic football camp (where the gospel will be shared) please contact me and let me know, . Thanks!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Last Night At Contagious

Hang Time had students and YM team members outside playing ultimate frisbee in the parking lot, others were sitting around chatting together. Some students and YM team members were playing table games inside. The red Kool Aid was especially tasty and gave me a good burst of hyperactivity.

Last night was the second installment in our series, Shallow to Deep. We started off with the Contagious band teaching us a new song, You Beautiful. They did a great job! We are praying for some students with the ability to play the bass or electric guitar to become part of our Contagious band and replace the old guys.

POD time was filled with good discussion about spending time with people you love which shifted gears to spending time with God because you love him. Students were also given the opportunity in their POD time to actually read Psalm 119 and spend some time having their own personal quiet time with God. The whole point was to help students see that this is an easy habit to establish in their lives that won't consume large portions of their time. You can spend time with God for 1 minute, 10 minutes, 60 minutes or for hours on end. The important thing to remember is to spend time with God on a daily basis in his Word and in prayer.

In our lesson I talked about how I spend time with my wife because I love her. When we first met I couldn't spend enough time with her. Why? Because I love her.
A few months ago we did a survey and 75% of our students let us know in their response that they did not spend any time in the Bible at all during the week. The biggest excuse was, "I'm too busy" or "I don't have time." We debunked their reasons as excuses and challenged them, if they truly love God, to spend some time everyday with God taking a look at their schedule and making sure Hang Time wiht God is a priority.

This coming Sunday we have Contagious at Rec Park during the end of our church picnic. Should be fun getting students together at the park for some fun and Bible study. We are taking a look at the benefits of spending time with God.

Establishing spiritual disciplines, HABITS, moves us from shallow faith to deep faith.
Did you spend time with God today?

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Reward

The Disappointments

Youth Ministry often has many disappointments and most of those disappointments come in the form of watching a student throw their life away or watching families break apart at the scenes. Being a minister comes in #10 in most stressful jobs and I know why.

I’ve watched kids with incredible leadership potential toss it all out the window for something that think is going to be “fun”. I’ve watched students who were once on fire in their relationship with the Lord have their fire quenched by a bad relationship that brings them down.

I’ve seen parents try to be “the best friend” when what their child needed was the parent to be the parent and to call the shots and stand their ground.

I’ve seen youth leaders choose to follow something or someone else rather than follow God and leave students disillusioned after years of investing into them.

Some say it’s the “pay level” that causes the stress in ministry. While I’ll admit I’m not getting rich I am having my needs met and that’s all that matters, it’s not the pay that brings me stress, it’s the people. Anytime you invest in someone’s life you risk the pain of disappointment.

The Fruit of Your Labor

I learned long ago that often it takes time to see the fruit of your labor. I have seen kids blow it in high school then graduate and their life seems to be spinning out of control and that within a matter of a few years they have gotten life together and are living sold out for their Lord and Savior.

Often it is a wait and see situation.

The Reward

Our goal in youth ministry at NHC is that when a student graduates from high school they don’t graduate from their faith. We hope to instill in them the habits to live a successful Christian life.

A couple of weeks ago I got a FB message from a student who has been away to college.

He went off to school and got plugged into a church. He didn’t go a whole school year waiting to get back home to “his church”. In the message he asked me what he could do this summer in ministry at NHC on Sunday mornings. He gets it! He is looking for opportunities to serve and minister. Not only that he let me know that when he returns to school in the fall he is going to take the members class at his new church and get involved in serving there each week as well.

There is the reward! A combination of all a student is taught about the Lord at home, in church, in his own personal quiet time, all that discipleship working together is a beautiful thing. This is what makes paragraph #1 worth it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thanks Teachers!

Apparently this is teacher appreciation day or week or something like that. I was never a good student. I attended school for the social aspects and not for the education. BUT I would like to take some time to thank my teachers and I'm going all the way back to Kindergarten. Some will be omitted because I can see their face but can't remember their names. Some will be omitted because they didn't understand me as a child ;).

So here we go:

Mrs. Rakes - Thanks for helping me through my second year of kindergarten, I don't know why my first year of kindergarten teachers couldn't teach me my ABC's and how to color in the lines but you pulled it off. Success!

Mrs. Raines - Thanks for a great 1st grade. All I remember is the smell of the blue memiograph (sp?) paper.

Ms. Alford - My first year at LCA. Thanks for making me feel welcome and introducing me to friends that I still have today.

Miss Pearson - Thanks for a great 3rd grade year. I think I connected with you because my Mee Ma lived in Front Royal.

Mr. Welling - One of the best. I remember getting a swat in front of the whole class for not having my mom sign my homework assignment notebook. I didn't forget again after that. See spankings work!!

Miss Claiborne - You showed up the second half of fourth grade after Christmas break and we had now clue where our teach Mr. Welling went. You stepped in and took things over and I'm sure we didn't like you at first because we loved Mr. Welling.

Mrs. McKinney - just the school year before you were Miss Claiborne so thank you for bearing with us as we learned your new last name. I think a few boys in the class were mad that you got married.

Mrs. Matheny - You were stinkin awesome. You made us Peruvian food one day. Anyone who feeds me becomes my instant friend.

Mrs. Owen - You too changed your name on us during the school year but that was OK because you married our pastor so it was a smooth transition. You were fun and I will always remember you as a teacher who actually laughed and smiled in class.

Herb - You taught me how to put on a tie. A skill I use about once every two years now. You also taught me much about the Bible.

Mrs. _____________ - I'm leaving you out on purpose. You were the meanest teacher I have ever known in my existence and on this playground we call earth. I don't know why you were mean but our other two 6th grade teachers understood us and loved us.

Miss Elwell - You were my study hall teacher. You were the first teacher in my school career to send me to the principal. Not bad for a 7th grader considering my cutting up in school.

Mr. Tschetter - You taught me some math. You made me nervous because you were bigger than me. Of course at that age most everyone, including the girls were bigger than me.

Droopy - I can't remember your real name. But I enjoyed your history class.

Coach ? - I can't remember your name but you scared us into doing your English assignments. The only teacher I've seen make students do push ups in class for forgetting homework, including girls. You also tossed around the word, "whimps", which caused great respect from me. I still owe you a week in the weight room during lunch because I didn't do that book report but I was too scared of you to show up at the weight room.

Miss ? - I remember you had blonde hair and were fresh out of LU as an English teacher. You had me memorize The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe. I thank you for this. It is great to quote around the campfire and scare children with.

Mrs. Roberts - We had a love hate relationship. I loved to get you off track telling stories and you hated my shirt to be untucked and not wearing a belt and my hair touching my collar.

Mr. Klamm - You had some great stories for health and PE. Thanks for your patience in my area of throwing free throw shots. Thanks for getting to school early in the winter for indoor baseball practice. It was my advantage having two older brothers who also had you as a teacher/coach. They would tell me your stories and I would ask a leading question so you could tell us the story. I remember one where you and a friend strung up your own telephone line across the street....

Mr. Heinlein - Thanks for making economics interesting. Great class, all guys, fun times. Thanks for letting me live with you guys the last few weeks of school before heading back to Maui. Because of you I passed Mrs. Roberts final exam. You made me study and you checked the TV for warmth to make sure I had been studying and not watching TV.

Miss Newell - You played cassette tapes in class of Keith Green. I was diggin it! Thanks for being a cool English teacher. Sorry I wasn't a good student but I enjoyed your class.

Miss Reiderer - Thanks for teaching me science. If I remember correctly you had ukulele skills. Impressive. The view from your classroom of the pacific ocean was awesome which probably factored into me not doing so well in your class.

Mr. Tobita - Thanks for teaching us PE and Bible. I certainly enjoyed flag football and I'd have to say your outdoor classroom on Maui had the best views of any classroom I have ever been in. I loved Grandma Tobita!

Mr. Diment - Thanks for teaching Bible. Pilgrim's Progress, see I still remember.

Miss Carlson - for teaching me to type on antique WWII typewriters. I have mad typing skills because of you.

Debbie Clowser (sp?) - Happy times in your class our senior year at MCA. I think I'm getting your name right. I remember having to wash your car inside and out because we threw in lilikoi as we flew past you on the Hana Hwy. I also remember not going on the sr. trip because the last place I wanted to be was in NY or DC during January. Maui no ka oi.

I'm sure I'm leaving someone out but that's how it is with the memory when you get old. Speaking of which I'm now 44. How old does that make you feel?

Is there a point to all of this? Yes. When an adult invests into the life of a kid or teenager they are making an impact that can last a lifetime and possibly even eternity. Thanks teachers!

PS. I received good grades in college and grad school. I do much better doing school online. :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

When a Plan Doesn’t Come Together

I hate it when plan doesn’t come together. How about you?

This month the plan was to launch a series on moving from shallow faith to deep faith. The whole idea is that I’m responsible for my spiritual growth. We want to give students the tools necessary to grow in their faith, the spiritual habits they need to form in their lives today.

Great series. Great plan. I failed!

I failed to look at the calendar.
Here is what I am in the middle of now at the very beginning and it didn’t hit me until Sunday night:

Sunday, May 1 – The end of our students’ spring break. So we had the break to compete with and some incredibly awesome beach weather.

Sunday, May 8 – Mother’s Day. We always give our team “off” that day to celebrate Mother’s Day with their family. We can’t change Mother’s Day now can we?

Sunday, May 15 – We have youth group

Sunday, May 22 – Church Picnic! We also take off from youth group for the church picnic. In the past the picnic has been on Memorial Day weekend. I assumed (you know what happens) that this year it would be the same. We may punt and do youth group at the park at the end of the picnic.

Sunday, May 29 – Memorial Day weekend. You know that will take a bite out of attendance.

It’s hard to do a series with a bunch of breaks or obstacles in the middle of it. The moral of the story is to look at the calendar and not just the dates but the activities and events going on and around those dates. Been doing this a long time and should have known better. Sometimes driving in cruise control is dangerous isn’t it?

So we will make the best of it. I’m planning on (if this plan comes together):

  1. Utilizing Facebook to send students their daily scripture readings for each week whether we meet or not.
  2. Hopefully doing youth group at the picnic. Could be lots of fun.
  3. Doing something special on Memorial Day weekend as an added “draw”.
  4. Updating Parents as usual in our weekly e-mail update with some added info from our lessons so perhaps they can work some of the verses into their daily Bible reading with their kids.

What do you do when a plan doesn’t come together?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nice Mug!

I love coffee! I've always been a bit particular about my drinking vessels. (vessels. is that the right word I'm looking for?)

I like iced tea in a glass, not plastic or paper cups. I think glass enhances the iced tea flavor by not polluting it with plastic, foam or paper contaminants.

I like my coffee in a mug. A big mug! Why? Cause I'm a man.

My friend Whitney brought me this mug. Whitney has a business named :the mud room. In :the mud room Whitney creates pottery masterpieces and she created this mug just for me complete with a personalized message on the bottom of the mug. I love the mug! I gave it a test run as soon as I got home from the office last night. It's big and holds a lot of coffee and keeps it warm for a long time.

What's even better is the mug was a gift from Whitney. Whitney made this mug for me to thank me for ministering to students. Here is the kicker! Whitney is not a mom of any of our students, nor does she attend our church. Whitney simply wanted to be a blessing to me with the skills God has given her.

When I drink coffee from my mug, on a daily basis, I will be reminded:
1. :the mud room is awesome
2. It is great to receive encouragement from others (and Biblical)
3. I need to constantly look for opportunities to thank and encourage those who give of their time in ministry.

Thanks :the mud room!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Last Night At Contagious

We had a great time together last night at Contagious.

Students and leaders played some Polish out on the front lawn. Others were sitting and hanging out together and talking our on the sidewalk. The weather was incredible and we all agree that Contagious at the Beach can't come soon enough (June 5, we move Contagious to Bonnet St. access, mp 11)

We took a look at our new series we began last night, Shallow to Deep. We are encouraging students to make the habits that will help their faith and relationship with God to grow part of their daily lives.

Moving from the shallow to the deep doesn't happen from Bible knowledge, the growth comes from applying the knowledge. Our big idea last night was: You are responsible for your spiritual growth.

Students were challenged to take the 5/5 commitment for this series:
  1. Make a commitment to be hear each Sunday night.
  2. Bring your Bibles with you to Contagious.
  3. Read your Bible during the week at home.
  4. Pray daily
  5. Choose 5 friends you know who are not Christians and pray for them daily during the next 5 weeks, share your faith with them, invite them to Contagious.

In the PODs students and their leaders took a look at the 4 types of soil in Matthew 13. Soil #1 needs a relationship with Christ. Soils #2,#3, #4 could all benefit from the habits it takes to grow in your faith.

Students were given the following for daily reading this week:

Monday - Matthew 12:46-50

Tuesday - Matthew 13:1-23

Wednesday – Matthew 13:24-30

Thursday – Matthew 13:31-35

Friday – Matthew 13:36-43

Saturday - Matthew 13:44-58

This coming Sunday night there is no Contagious so students can treat their moms to some special time together for Mother's Day and so our volunteers can enjoy the special day with their families.

Sunday, May 15, we come back together and spend some time unpacking our response of being in a relationship with Jesus Christ. What do you do when you love someone?

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...