Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Disconnect (part 2)

(read part 1 here)

Why is it we feel disconnected when regular church attendance slips away?

Jesus gave us a great tip on connection:

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit;  apart from me you can do nothing.  6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  7 If you remain in me  and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  8 This is to my Father’s glory,  that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 
John 15

The phrase in verse, “if anyone does not remain in me, his like a branch that is thrown away and withers;”, has a key to spiritual health.  When we don’t remain in Christ we wither spiritually.  I believe that part of the “disconnect” when we drop out of faithful church attendance comes from a withering.  “Andy, Jesus is talking about remaining in him, not the church.”  True. 

BUT consider this verse:
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.  So it is with Christ.  1 Corinthians 12
We are the body of Christ.  Are we remaining in him when we remove ourselves from the body by cutting off fellowship and worship and ministry with the church?  No.  Then we wither.  We are more than a family of believers, we are the body of Christ.

There are many things I can do to “wither” spiritually.  This doesn’t mean I lose my salvation, relationship with God through Jesus.  It does mean that I will cease to produce fruit for Christ.
Withering can come from: (not a comprehensive list)
lack of time spend in Bible study
failing to have an active prayer life
failing to seize opportunities to share my faith
direct disobedience to God and His Word
slacking off in my connection and commitment to the body of Christ, the church and other believers.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Last Night at Contagious


Last night we gathered around the fire pit.  We roasted marshmallows, made smores and drank hot chocolate.  As we sat around the fire we talked about 1 Chronicles 16:34, "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good."  Then we went around the circle and each student and each adult volunteer shared what they were thankful for.  It was a good time of thanksgiving.

Before the evening ended the boys were playing football in the parking lot and the rest of us were sitting around the fire telling stories and attempting to sing opera Christmas songs.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful

I have so much in life to be thankful for.  God has blessed me:
  • Grew up in a Christian home
  • Parents who love God
  • A big family
  • My beautiful wife who is an incredible mom and a great friend
  • My three kids.  Each one is incredible and a gift.
  • The miracle of Adoption
  • A great church family
  • Health
  • Each breath
  • A home
  • I get to do what I love and enjoy as a "job"
  • I live in America
Happy Thanksgiving Day!  Someone please pass the taters. . . . . 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Great Resource

While we write a lot of what we teach here at Contagious Youth there are times we go to outside resources for ideas and for great outlines.  Why reinvent the wheel?  We take a resource and make it ours.  This site is a great place to find those resources:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Man Weekend

 Myself and three of our awesome youth ministry volunteers loaded up the camping gear and took several middle school boys camping.  We had a great time together rouging it in the woods.  (well actually we were at a park that had running water and hot showers but we had to walk 100 yards to the bathhouse and that was rough)

I was joined by Mike early in the day and we drove up to the park as the advance party.  We worked with the help of our two sons at setting up the camp.  Which included 4 big tents and our camp kitchen.

The boys arrive later with Rich and Ramon.  Rich came full circle on this trip.  There was  a time when I was hauling his middle school self in a church van.  Now he was hauling middle school boys who, well, were middle school boys for the 1.5 hour drive.  This brought joy to my heart for Rich to experience what he put me through when he was a kid.

The boys were challenged to walk in faith like Abraham and they were challenged to stick with it.  They were told that half of them would not be here by the time they were in 10th or 11th grade because of distraction by either the old driver's license or some "sweet" girl.

The menu:
Friday night - Hobo Dinners - meat and veggies cooked on the fire in a foil pouch.  SMORES
Saturday Breakfast - Mountain Man Breakfast.  It's fantastic!
Lunch - Moe's.
Supper - various sausages and hot dogs cooked on the fire with beans and chili.
Possum Tails for dessert.
Sunday Breakfast - donuts and breakfast sausage links.

After breakfast Sunday we broke camp and packed up and made it back to NHC for the 11AM worship gathering and the boys all sat on the front row, smelling like campfire smoke and sleepy.

A great weekend and the boys had a blast.  I had a great time (even though it was a little chilly in the tent at night)

Monday, November 19, 2012

LAST NIGHT AT CONTAGIOUS

Last night we had another great night in The Loft.  Students gathered and hung out for a few minutes at the beginning.  It's always cool for me to watch students and our adult team sitting and talking and hanging out.  That's youth ministry!
We then gathered everyone around for a fun game of Worm Crawl.  Students got in sleeping bags head first and had to crawl like a worm to the finish line.  The first one to cross the finish line won.  We gave away some Burger King gift cards and the grand champion received a gift bag which contained: Sugar Babies, Whoppers, Huge Twizzlers, Beef Jerky, Sour Cream and Garlic potato chips and a 2 liter of Mtn. Dew.

We then had our Bible Study.  Last night was week #2 in our series "How to Pray".  Last week we talked about approaching God as our Dad, our Abba Father.  This week we took a look at giving God glory and expressing to Him what he means to us, "hallowed by thy name".  Jesus started off this prayer all about God and not about self.  Too often we get wrapped up in prayer being all about us.  My favorite statement in the lesson was this:
God’s Plan: for Him to be glorified, but for us to be satisfied
Jesus said, "Thy will be done" and he also said, "Give us this day our daily bread."  While prayer should focus on God our Father, He also wants to meet our needs.  

Our Pods got in their groups and spent some time putting the lesson into practice by praying and praising God for who he is.
We then had an hour of Hang Time which included the usual snacks and fun games and hanging out and talking.

This Sunday we will take a break from How to Pray and spend some time sitting around a firepit making SMORES and sharing what we are thankful for in life.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Disconnect

I can see how the disconnect can easily happen.  A few weeks ago I was sick, the sickest I have been in my 46 years of living.  I had some sort of infection in my chest that pretty much made my entire body ache, even my eyeballs.  Due to the illness I missed church on Sunday. 

In the last 20 years I can probably count on four fingers how many times I’ve missed church due to illness.  Even when we go on vacation we usually find a church to attend on Sunday morning.  Why?  Because corporate worship, getting together with other believers and worshipping God is a priority in our lives because of what we learn from scripture.  Do we attend out of a legalistic view?  No.  We attend because we love being around other believers with a focus on praising God.

So one Sunday I’m sick.  The next Sunday we had a visit from hurricane Sandy.  Due to the tropical storm force winds and keeping safety in mind we did not have our worship gatherings.  I can only remember twice in my life where I didn’t go to church because of weather. 

This past Sunday was back to normal.  We woke up, got ready and went to church to worship with our church family (remember that word cause I’ll talk about this later).  I felt like had not been to church in months.  I clicked in my head that this is where the disconnect with many believers happens.  Honestly I didn’t like the feeling.  I know it was only two Sundays but what if this past Sunday we woke up and all three kids were throwing up?

In my years of serving as a pastor and on church staff I have witnessed many church members who miss a Sunday here and there, then miss a few Sundays in a row, then it dawns on me that I don’t know where they are and I haven’t seen them in months.

The disconnect starts when there are multiple weeks in a row where a believer hasn’t gathered with their church family (there is the word again).

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 andylawrenson.com . There is also a mon...