Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My Mission Trip Experience

I just returned last week from the island of Eleuthera.  On the island there is a Christian sports camp, Camp Bahamas.  Camp Bahamas is reaching Bahamian youth with the love of Jesus Christ and the gospel.  The nation of the Bahamas is in what I would call a dangerous position.  Last year seventy-five percent of all child-births were to singe moms.  75%!!  Sixty-five percent of the nation is under the age of 25.  I look at those two stats and see a nation’s strong need for Christ, young men need to know what it is to be a father, and as the pastor in the Bahamian church we attended said, not the “village ram”.  



Our student ministry now has three trips under our belt to this little island of rock and coral.  I witnessed our students’ lives impacted once again by witnessing children living in poverty.   Our team worked hard at the camp helping the staff get ready for their camp that starts next week.  In the afternoon our students led an outreach in the local settlement park, like a mini vbs.  Great experience for our team and I’m praying they bring that heart for serving back home and think of ways they can do similar things in our own community.

Each evening we had our team meeting and devotion/worship time.  I asked the students on the last night to share some things they learned about themselves, spiritually, impactful, etc.  This of course caused me to think about myself and what I learned.



I had a few days on the trip where I didn’t feel well at all.  I couldn't do much of anything for a few days of the trip.  For me, personally, this was very hard.  I didn’t want to sit and watch our team working and do nothing myself.  When you are on an island with no hospital or doctor you really have to listen to the advice of the camp nurse.  So sitting in the shade and “supervising” is what I was told to do.  When this was going on I was frustrated and disappointed.

On the last day I was thinking about the trip and evaluating the week.  I came to three realizations:



1.  I’m dependent on God.  I was in a position where the only thing I could do was to depend on Him.  I was out of control of what was going on in my body.  I couldn’t run up the road to the doctor’s office.  I was, as I always am, totally in His hands and dependent on Him.



2.  When we build ministry teams on our own personality rather than build a team of leaders we set ourselves up for crisis.  Our team had several team meetings over several months.  We covered: unity, flexibility, focus, discovering how God has wired us to serve and lead.  The result of these meetings and training was a team that jumped in and did what needed to be done without being under someone’s thumb or waiting for me, as their leader, to call all the shots.  Our team was a team of leaders and our students excelled in doing what needed to be done.


3.  Team chemistry is vital to success.  For the most part our team functioned in unity and worked together.  On every mission trip by Wednesday (mid-trip) everyone is tired, exhausted and this can play into how we respond and react to each other.  We had a short team meeting after lunch on Wednesday to remind everyone to respect each other and be aware of our own emotions and how we respond to others on the team.  When on the mission field in another country or even here at home, those we are serving and working with are watching how we interact and treat each other.  It’s important they see Christ in all we say and do.


Monday, June 26, 2017

Your Summer Ministry Checklist

Welcome to summer, everyone! For most of us, summer is a super busy season filled with camps, mission trips, amusement park days, retreats, service projects….the list goes on. We love these events, but they require a huge time investment on top of our normal planning and weekly programming. With all the busyness that comes with this wonderful season of sunshine and pool parties, let’s make sure we don’t forget what’s most important.

Read more of my recent blog post for LeaderTreks


Thursday, June 1, 2017

What's in it for the church?

Keanae Congregational Church, Keanae, Maui, Hi.

Whenever someone is trying to sell me one something I naturally ask “what’s in it for me?”.  Same goes with your church.  You may be in a church culture that has been solidly rooted in the idea that the staff does the ministry.  “I drop my money in the plate each week so we can pay you to be the one that stays up all night with the middle schoolers at a lock in.” 



I had the great blessing of living on Maui for several years.  A person may not understand  the attraction of going to Maui but if I pull out the photo album and start showing pictures of Maui the person will go “oooohhhhhh.  I want to go there.”  There is an attraction to the tropical especially when we start showing pictures of palm trees and crystal blue water and drinks inside of a hollowed out pineapple.  

Same thing can happen with student ministry once we start painting a picture of what student ministry is about.  People often think of us like cruise directors, we plan all the fun.  We need to share the stories of life change so the church can buy into more than just financing our position but invest time and talent/giftedness into students’ lives.



Active volunteers on a student ministry benefits the church.  Our church is healthier when we are serving.  We are taught in the Bible that we are expected to serve one another and we can’t be healthy as a body if we aren’t following God’s command to serve.  So the church will experience spiritual growth as our members roll up their sleeves and dive into ministry and that’s huge!

It will benefit our church by improving our reputation in the community.  When your town hears about, sees, and finds out that you have a group of adults who are investing each week into the lives of teens your church will be viewed differently by those you are hopefully attempting to reach.  When parents, not connected to a church, hear that your church is heavily invested in making a difference in teenager’s lives this will make your church more attractive to those parents.  Your church will benefit by growing.

There is the benefit to the church that involvement brings.  When a team serves together there are relationships built and fellowship happens.  Involvement is like a glue when it comes to keeping people from sliding out the back door of the church.  The tighter the team is, the stronger those relationships grow then the stronger the church will be.  Better involvement is what every pastor wants to see in the church body.  As you build your team other ministries in the church will take notice of what is going on and it can become infectious.  Soon the other ministries want the same type of fellowship that is built among the student ministry team.



Team building benefits the church because it boosts spiritual growth.  As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (Proverbs 27:17)
As team members discover the joy of using their spiritual gift in the church the team members grow stronger in their relationship with God.
As team members realize their passion and see their passion expressed and involved in changing lives they grow stronger in their relationship with God.
As team members realize that the abilities they have acquired through life can be used to impact a teenager’s life they grow stronger in their relationship with God.
As a team members personality starts to shine through and be used to influence students for Christ the team members relationship with God grows stronger.
A team member, who as a child experienced the heartbreak of watching their parents split up, sits down and cries with and prays with a student who is experiencing the same grief in their life and the team member realizes that God can use them to help bring healing to a student that team members relationship with God grows.
As individuals in the church grow spiritually the local church grows stronger. 

The student ministry team can influence the impact and spiritual health of the entire church body.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Distractions


I find it so easy to get sidetracked.  I sit down to the computer to do write a message for student church then I find myself ten minutes later reading an article about manatees and the Florida Everglades.  How does this happen?  It is so easy to lose focus in life.  We are being bombarded with distractions.



I have found, in my past 25 years of church leadership, that Christians (self included) can get sidetracked and lose focus of what truly matters.  It’s easy to get in debates about things that in the end won’t change eternity.  It’s easy to allow emotions and feelings to move the focus from our purpose of sharing Christ to a self pity-party. 

Christians get side tracked by what this author says or did, by the color of the church’s new carpet, chairs vs. pews, small groups vs. Sunday school, music styles, and the list could go on and on. 

I get quickly sidetracked by complaints that have absolutely no impact on eternity. 

How do we keep from getting sidetracked?




Remember your purpose.  Why am I here?  What has God called me to do?  How have I been uniquely created and equipped by God to do what He wants me to do?  



Regain focus.  Quit looking over there when you should be looking towards Christ.  Satan is going to throw distractions at us left and right because he doesn’t want Christ followers to be successful in reaching others with the life changing good news of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s love.  Quit focusing on self and focus on the Savior.

Remind others.  Remind those around you and who you serve with that if something doesn’t impact eternity you are not going to waste your time with it.  Arguments, debates, styles of worship, the temperature of the fellowship hall.  Life is too short and our task at hand is huge.




Robing.  (sorry I wanted to write “suit up” but just had to use another “R”)  

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Ephesians 6:11
The best way to take out the enemy is to infiltrate and attack from within.  The devil is no dummy and he uses this technique to his advantage.  Often I find myself getting sidetracked by other believers, usually it is due to unchecked feelings and emotions.  It’s by not living under the control of the Holy Spirit and the result is living lives that don’t display the fruits of the spirit.  We have to be ready for attack and remember that the attack isn’t on us personally, the attack is for who we stand for and for focusing on our purpose.






Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Life is Hard



Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
Romans 12:12


Romans 12 is a great chapter full of what I would call a "to do" list. You should read it.

Life is not easy. It doesn't take long living this life to realize we will have times that hard. Sometimes it is our own fault and the result of decisions we have made. There are consequences to our actions and choices. Sometimes life is hard and we go through a tough time and it's no fault of our own. There are times that our struggle comes from the outside and we have no control over it.

This verse tells us what to do in those times. Here is the recipe:
1. Rejoice. Not put on a fake happy face and pretend everything is okay. Rejoice in our confident hope. We can, as Christ followers, rejoice because one day we will spend eternity with God the Father. When that day comes there will be no more struggles or trials of life. We can be confident in this because of the work Christ did on the cross.

2. Be patient. I'm the worst at patience. I can't stand waiting things out. I'm so bad that when I'm in the McDonald's drive thru I time them because I know it's "fast food" and they could certainly improve on how long it takes to get our order. As a society we are growing more impatient. We live in an instant gratification world. We must be patient during the tough times and understand that the One who we have confident hope in loves us and is in control.
God doesn't magically come along and pop us out of the trial.  We know that in the valley, the tough time, God is with us each step of the way and provides us His comfort and protection.  Realize He is right there with you.  Read through Psalm 23.

3. Pray. Not just once. Keep on praying. At the end of the day in our home I'm pretty tired, I'm the age of a grandad but I have 8 year old twins! Parents understand what I'm saying. At the end of each day our family sits down and we read a Bible story together and we pray together. I love hearing my children pray. My youngest is a praying dude. There are two kids he prays for each and every night, one is our compassion international child that we support and the other is a little girl who has cancer. Every night these two girls are in his prayer. He keeps on praying and as his father I love to hear him do this.
Same thing with our heavenly Father. He loves to hear you pray because when we pray we are talking to Him. It's conversation and what parent doesn't love having conversation with their kid?
This persistence in prayer shows God you need him and are trusting him.

Have you ever run out of gas on the road? I have once or twice. But there have been many times I've been running on fumes. Prayer can be the fumes that keep you going when you have run out of gas in life.
Life is hard and that is just a plain fact. There is no avoiding trouble and trials in this life. If you are in one of those life storms right now I pray you will put Romans 12:12 to practice. If you aren't in one of those storms keep this verse in mind because we all know the storm is coming.

 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

When tragedy strengthens your team

We are so focused on ministering to students we can tend to forget to minister to our awesome volunteers on our team.

Here are some suggestions when you have a team member experience tragedy or loss, hard times.

Pray.  Don’t make prayer the last resort but make prayer your first priority.  Pray and ask God to give strength, peace, healing to the one who is suffering.  Don’t just say, “I’ll pray for you.” but pray with the person.  Great encouragement can come when you hear someone pray for you.  It’s nice to hear “I’ll pray for you” but praying then and there takes that encouragement to a whole new level.

Don’t worry about what to say.  My wife and I have experienced some tragedies in our life together.  As I think back what spoke the most to me was not words but the hug.  The expressions of love and caring.  Our words can’t fix the issue and there is always that danger of saying the wrong thing.  A good hug and “I love you” can go a lot further than well intentioned cliche’s and words.

Give.  Give time to help.  Maybe offer to clean the house, run the kids around, babysit for an extended period.  When someone is hit with a health issue that takes them out of work this often means they are making no money so now on top of the stress of the illness is the financial stress.  What can be done?  Cook meals, get your team together and cook meals and deliver them.   Meals they can heat up.  Go grocery shopping together as a team and stock their pantry and fridge.  I don’t know what you spend each week on groceries but I know at my house it is one of the biggest expenses (12 to 15 gallons of milk a month is about fifty bucks or more).

Don’t just offer to help.  Show up and help.  People often say “let me know if I can do anything for you.”  But when we are on the other end we sometimes don’t know what to ask help with or what to do.  So show up with a plan and do it.

We hate tragedy.  Tragedy can be a time that draws individuals closer to their Lord, tragedy can also be at time for your team to really step up and be the body of Christ.  Tragedy can strengthen your team.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Holidays. What do you do with them?

We are heading into the holiday season.  I know, not Christmas, but April, May and June bring a few special Sundays.  We have Easter this weekend.  Mother’s Day is on May 14.  Memorial Day weekend Sunday, May 28.  Father’s Day is June 18.


Our approach to these holidays shows that we value family.

Students are busier now than they ever have been. 

Families are constantly on the go.  While I don’t think this busyness is healthy I realize that we as student pastors need to look for ways to minister and help families who are running in multiple directions at one time.  Canceling student ministry on those holiday weekends allows families to have some down time together, to actually rest and experience a sabbath together.



The volunteers in our student ministry serve every Sunday night, many of them also do some sort of ministry on Sunday morning as well.  We ask that their Sunday morning ministry is their secondary ministry that doesn’t require them to spend hours at the church on Sunday morning because they need to be back on Sunday evening for two and a half hours.  The holiday Sunday off for them allow them time as well to spend with their families.  This also shows our volunteers how much we value them and appreciate all they do in student ministry.

Honestly there are parents and volunteers in our church who wouldn’t miss if we still met on the holiday because some people feel such an obligation to be present even though in their heart they would rather be at home with their family on the holiday.



Ideas for these holidays:


  • Encourage families to get together with other families for lunch or picnic, some fellowship time together.


  • Meet at a park, very relaxed, no real plan and program, play some games together, picnic.


  • Create a family worship pdf for families to do together on that holiday.


  • Invite volunteers and their families over for a cookout at your home.


  • Focus on your own family and relax.  Something we don’t normally get to do on a Sunday.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Mission Trip Evening Devotions

This summer I will be taking our students to the island of Eleuthera on a mission trip.  The majority of the fifteen member team have been on the trip, only four newbies.  For most of the team this will be their third trip to Eleuthera.  Like camps and retreats even a mission trip can become a routine. 



We are changing up our morning quiet time journals and evening team meeting this year.  The past two trips we used two great mission trip journals from LeaderTreks.  In the mornings our students would do the morning devotion in the journal as well as the prayer journal.  At night the journal walks you through an evaluation of the day.



This year I ordered a different journal from LeaderTreks, Flipping Missions.  In this journal is a six week devotional journal that leads up to the trip, the six day journal for during the trip, then a six week journal for after the trip when we return home.

  Part of the goal in our trip is to help students establish the habit of having a quiet time.

My plan this year is to do more in the evening than just evaluate the day.  We are going to do a little Bible study/group devotion time based off the morning devotion and the evening reflection.  After that devotion time we will have some prayer time together.  Following prayer we will evaluate our day and our working together as a team.


We evaluate by asking:

What three things did we do well today?

What three things do we need to improve on?

What three steps will we take starting now to make those improvements?

Our first trip we just sort of showed up and went for it.  Our second year we tweaked some things to make improvements.  Now this will be our third year and we will make a few more adjustments to improve what we do and to help us work well together as a team.


What do you do for quiet time journals and devotions on your mission trips?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Getting in the way of ministry

“What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?”


Jethro gave his son-in-law Moses some great advice.  Jethro arrives on the scene and find Moses sitting and listening to disputes among the people.  From morning till night he was a judge, a mediator, and not getting much done because he was only focused on that task. (Deut 18)  Moses was meant to be a leader, not sit and listen to complaints all day.  So Jethro tells Moses to get out there and find some men to help him with this task.



We block the funnel of ministry at the top sometimes.  We get in the way of others getting in there and rolling up their sleeves and serving.   How do we block the funnel?



We think we know the best way to do it.   Maybe you do.  Maybe someone has a better way and more efficient and it would allow them to express their gift and allow you to focus on what God has created you to do.  Maybe they won’t do it just like you but in the end they get it done.



We think we work best alone.  No! Ministry is always better together.  Never serve alone, always serve with others.  People want to serve they just need to be given the opportunity.

We think that only we can do the task.
   Really?  You don’t think there is someone else in the body of Christ who can come up with new decorations for the stage?  You don’t think there is someone else that could write the small group discussion questions?  You don’t think there is someone else that can go grocery store and then prepare the food for youth group?  I love that phrase, “Do what you do best and delegate the rest.”

We think we have to come up with all the ideas
.   I sat last night with ministry leaders from our church and listened to their dreams for Nags Head Church.  They had some great ideas!  Let others dream, let others come up with ideas.  Eventually our brains get stale and new ideas from others can spark great ministry ideas.

We micro manage.  Turn the church loose to serve and don’t constantly tell them how to do their ministry.  Yes, train and equip them.  Yes, give input when asked.  Please step in if something they are doing will cause physical spiritual injury.  Other than that step back and enjoy watching people use their gifts.




Do you see the pattern.  As leaders we sometimes block the funnel of ministry and then wonder why people aren’t serving.  We can have control or growth but can’t have both.  I want to see growth more than I want to control everything.  Growth comes when the church gets to serve and do the ministry.



What are we really accomplishing here?  Why are we trying to do all this alone while the church stands around morning to evening waiting for an opportunity to experience the joy of serving?

Let’s agree to not block the funnel and get in the way of people serving.


Friday, March 3, 2017

Leadership Labratories


Maximizing Your Summer Mission Trip as a Leadership Lab

By Andy Lawrenson February 28, 2017

In 2015, we took our first overseas mission trip to the island of Eleuthera. Our students willingly did everything that we asked them to do, and we considered the trip to be a great success. Soon afterward, I picked up the idea of leadership laboratories at a LeaderTreks Refuel Retreat. I learned that our mission trip could be more than an opportunity for students to serve; it could become a greenhouse of student leadership development.

Read More HERE

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Busy Busy Busy

Busy, I get it.

Conversations with parents and students keep pointing and taking us to the conclusion that students and families are super busy and perhaps even operating on an overload.  So as student ministries we see this affect and impact our momentum.  It’s hard to grow a church when the members show up once a month for worship.  It’s hard to grow a student ministry when students show up once a month.  Attendance has such a big influence on momentum, excitement is generated when students look around and see many more students at worship with them. 

The reverse is true too.  When students show up and many of the “regulars” are missing it deflates the energy and momentum.  If a youth group goes three weeks in a row with 30 students the momentum gets going and then they hit the fourth week and have 17 its like letting the helium out of  a balloon.  Then you are back at square one.

 In the olden days (7 to15 years ago) it wasn’t like this, at least not in our neck of the woods.  I know youth pastors in the Midwest and west coast have shared with me that they have experienced the same issue.

I don’t think it is because Christian students, as a whole, have lost interest in their church’s youth group.  I don’t believe that it is because they have all become apathetic, sure there are a few just like in big church.  Gone are the days of Wednesday evenings and Sundays being protected for worship and church involvement, even in the Bible belt.

Simply from observations, no scientific data to back this up, I think the root cause of this is busyness.  It seems to me that students today are busier than ever.  This translates that parents are busier today as well.

I know, speaking as a parent, we often have something almost every night of the week.  This winter we juggled wrestling practice and matches, ballet/dance class, gymnastics, homework, small group, youth group.  It can be hectic.  As a parent I’ll say that this is the choice we have made.  My kids don’t have to do all those extra curricular events.  We want them to do those things to help them be more rounded.   But at what cost?  



It boils down to prioritizing.  What are we going to cut out of our lives or sacrifice?  Meals together, family time, the ability to just relax those are just some of the few, that’s my perspective as a parent.



From a youth pastor's perspective I have  noticed parents cutting out corporate worship, youth group, small group, family worship, personal quiet times, serving in church.  When we start making the cuts why does it seem we cut the things that will help us and our children grow stronger and more mature spiritually?
What is most important?  What are the goals for my children?  These are the questions I have to ask myself as dad and as the spiritual leader and the one who disciples my children.

In our staff meeting the other day one of our elders made this statement which has been rolling through my mind and this statement was made after I started to write this post:

“God gives you all the time you need.  It is up to you to manage the time He has given you.”

That’s what it boils down to.  How will I steward the time God has given me and my family as a parent? 

Some things to think about as you try to figure out how you are going to get the kids from school to ball practice and find time to cook supper.

What are my goals for my children?

What do I have to do vs. what do I want to do?

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Secret to Recruiting Volunteers

My latest blog post for LeaderTreks

The struggle is real when it comes to recruiting youth ministry volunteers. At some point, most of us have felt like we’ve tried everything only to have nothing work.
Our list of frustrations looks something like this:
  • I’ve asked, and no one has expressed interest.
  • Everyone is too busy to volunteer their time to work with students.
  • Our church just isn’t excited about what’s happening in the youth ministry.
  • We don’t have any young people in our congregation who can handle our energetic students.
  • With all that’s on my plate, I don’t have time to recruit volunteers.
In spite of what these frustrations would lead us to believe, “solo youth ministry” is not the only option. Here are five suggestions to help grow your volunteer team and further your ministry’s impact:

Read More Here

https://www.leadertreks.org/secret-recruiting-volunteers/

Monday, February 20, 2017

Our Team Values

Last Saturday our student ministry volunteer team gathered together for several hours with two goals in mind:

1.  Have fun together

2.  Come up with our team values

We met early afternoon in a vacation rental that had a movie theater room and game room in the house.  We spent the majority of our time together in the game room having fun together.  After we ate supper we moved up to the living room by the fireplace and took some time to work together to come up a with a list of values.

Our values are broken down into two areas:

Team’s Spiritual Values:


1.    Spending time studying the Bible
2.    Fellowship with other believers
3.    A consistent prayer life
4.    Actively involved in Discipleship/growing
5.    Accountability
6.    Serving Christ and the Church
7.    Sharing our faith
8.    Encouraging others
9.    Obedience to God
10.  Corporate Worship

Ministry Team Values:


1.    Dependability
2.    Investment in student’s lives
3.    Praying for our students
4.    Worship with our students
5.    Be an example
6.    Unity/on the same page as a team
7.    Friendly
8.    Build em up!  Encourage students.
9.    Strategic in helping them grow spiritually
10.  Minister to parents

We spent hours playing games and having fun together and spent about an hour working on our values.  Great way to spend and afternoon and evening with those I serve along side with.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The "Catch All". Learning to say "No"

Every home has a “catch all” place.  It may be a desk, table, top of a dresser, a drawer, a place where stuff gets dropped.  Some of those things have a place they should go but the person doing the placing is too lazy to take the extra moment to put the item in its proper place.  Some items we just aren’t sure where to put it so we put it in the “catch all” place.  If you don’t have one of these places in your home I applaud your OCDness.



In many churches the youth pastor can become the “catch all”.  Often youth pastors find themselves doing many things outside the realm of student ministry.  “Oh, you know how to operate a Mac!  Great!  Can you set up the Pro Presenter in the auditorium?”  The guitar in your office gets noticed and next thing you know you are on the platform in big church leading worship and you only know three chords.  You become 411 for the church.  Remember 411?  That was the number you would call to get a phone number of an individual.  So you get texts, emails, phone calls from church members who are looking for another member’s phone number even though all members have access to the church’s online directory.  Why?  You know how to work a computer and you work for the church.

There is a danger when youth pastors don’t learn to say “No”.  The danger is they soon find themselves inundated with tasks that have nothing to do with their position.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t all pitch in and help and think about the team.  What I am saying is when you find yourself so busy doing tasks that are unrelated to student ministry that you don’t have time to actually do student ministry you have become the “catch all” of the church.  It’s no one else’s fault but my own when I end up as the “catch all”. 



Find freedom from the "catch all":

1..Remember your calling.  God has called you to minister to students and their parents.  This is your number one priority at work.  If you become the “catch all” you cannot put in the time and energy necessary to do quality student ministry.  Your position is motivated by your passion.  When you find yourself pulled from student ministry you find yourself no longer serving in the zone of your passion and then you become a miserable.



2.  Say “No”.  Remember your purpose.  Does the request fit the purpose of your church’s student ministry?  If not the answer is “No.”  Learn to say “no” in a kind way.  “As much as I would love to play my guitar on Sunday morning it will pull me away from doing what I need to do to minister to students this week.”



3.  The ministry idea.  When you get approached about a ministry idea you need to have your response planned and practiced in advance.  “That’s an awesome ministry idea, “That’s an awesome ministry idea.I think you would be the perfect leader for that ministry.”



4.  The closed door.  I practiced this yesterday afternoon.  I was working on the message and small group discussion for Sunday night so I closed my door.  I let our volunteer in the office know that I wan’t being rude but needed to work on my message and Sunday night’s youth worship service.  Creating this habit creates a “do not disturb” signal to the staff and members who might just pop in.  When we are planning and working on our student worship service we need to give that planning time our full attention.



5.  Keep office hours.  Make sure there are times set aside that you are in the office and that members are welcome to drop in and see you during those times.  Post it on your door.



6.  Texts don’t have to be answered immediately.  If you are home with your family or during your “off” time you don’t have to reply to the text or email immediately, if it’s an emergency that’s different.   Just because texting exists doesn’t mean that immediate response is required.  Let your voice mail catch the call, listen to the message, if it’s an emergency call back, if not call the member back tomorrow when you are in the office.

7.  Do what you do best and delegate the rest.  I don’t have to be the one that fixes the bathroom stall door, honestly I would probably mess it up more.  There are people in your church who have that talent.  God has equipped your church with all types of gifts and talents, tap into the members and let them experience the joy of serving.


Take some time and evaluate if you are a “catch all” in your church.  What steps can you take to be free from the “catch all”? 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Pursuit

Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.
Proverbs 21:21

We all, except the laziest of humans, pursue something in life. The wisdom found in Proverbs tells us what to pursue. When we pursue something, that pursuit is in hopes of a certain result. I pursued Misha in college with hopes of a date. I pursued education in hopes of a graduate degree. I pursued the ice cream truck, you get the picture.

Whoever means anyone who wants to pursue righteousness and unfailing love can pursue those things. This pursuit is not reserved for a special group of people. God accepts anyone, the "whoevers", who pursues Him, not pursues religion, not pursues an ideology but pursues the real deal relationship with the creator, the Father.

In all our pursuits in life their is a goal, a result in mind. This verse tells us that if we pursue righteousness, a right relationship with God, we will find righteousness. Some of life's pursuits are a gamble in hopes for a desired result. Proverbs tells us this pursuit's result is a guarantee. 
Pursuit of unfailing love brings life. There is only one unfailing love and that is the love that God the Father has for us. He loves us so much He sent His one and only Son to die for us on the cross in payment for our sins. Something we could not accomplish on our own, none of us, this is for "Whoever". This life is eternal life (John 3:16). This life is overflowing, abundant, beyond satisfying life (John 10:10)

The pursuit of being right with God and experiencing His unfailing love also brings honor. When we truly live out our faith and live in such a way that others notice the difference that come from this life of relationship with God honor will be the natural outcome. Think of the person that you would label the "Godliest person I know" and how much honor you, and others, has for that person.

We don't pursue righteousness and unfailing love because we desire honor. Honor is the bonus in life that comes from a right relationship with our loving God.

What will you pursue today?

(the above was taken from my FB page.  Most, not all, mornings I take Biblegateway verse of the day and type out my thoughts as my morning quiet time.  Below I'm applying it to us in student ministry)

In student ministry, as leaders, our pursuit should not be:
  • Numbers
  • Popularity
  • Notarity
  • Pleasing everyone
  • Greatest Bible Teacher Ever

    Our pursuit needs to be a right relationship with the one who loves us with his unfailing love.  When He is our pursuit there will be a difference in how we minister to students.  We won't be focused on what the elders, deacons, parents, community think about us.  Perhaps the key to success in student ministry is that we first as leaders pursue this righteousness.  When he is our pursuit we won't be led by emotion but led by the Spirit.

    He must be our pursuit then everything else will fall in place.

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Three Step Discipleship Roadmap

At some point this month, you likely found yourself evaluating the old year and planning for the year ahead. And like me, you probably pondered, “Where are we at, and where are we headed?”

For my part, I’m somewhat frustrated that we have fewer students than in past seasons, but I’m excited that we do have a great student to leader ratio. And rather than enter the New Year with complaints, I’m headed into 2017 saying, “These are the students Jesus has given us, and these are the students we need to be investing in.”

I want discipleship to be the focus of our 2017 ministry year, and here’s my roadmap to get us there:

Read More HERE


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Monday, January 30, 2017

No Retreat!

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 
 Ephesians 6:12

We cannot back down.
We are in a battle for the  souls and lives of these students God has given to us to serve. 
They aren't perfect, they struggle, they can be apathetic, they can be on fire for God, they can be a baby believer. It's not easy to serve such a broad spectrum but it's what we have been called to do.

If I'm to do battle I must first make sure I'm suited up in the armor of God.  
I must find strength in Him.  
I must allow his Spirit to work through me.

The next time you feel like throwing in the towel remember the battle is not with the apathetic student, it's not with the disinterested parent. 
It's a spiritual battle and you are on the front line. 
No retreat. 
Dig in and stand firm.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Planning a Mission Trip?

We will be returning to the island of Eleuthera in June for our third mission trip with our student ministry.  The majority of our mission team are veterans to the Eleuthera trip but we have a sprinkling of newbies.  To find out more about this great mission trip check out their site at Camp Bahamas Missions.

When I started out planning our first foreign mission trip I wasn't sure exactly how to go about planning and organizing.  I received some guidance from CB Missions but also found some valuable tools here at DYM. 
This kit, Mission Trip Nuts and Bolts had some great resources for planning and organizing.  It only cost $10 and is fully customizable.








I created excel spreadsheets to form the mission trip budget then I created a sheet for each participant to track the funds they turned in for the trip.  I also used a spreadsheet to check off for their passport turned in and each medical release, both our ministries release and Camp Bahamas release.

While on the trip we use devotional journals from LeaderTreks.  You can find the journals here.

We have used these journals which are great because they provide each participant with a morning quiet time and teaches students how to study the Bible at the same time.   There is also room in each journal for reflecting and evaluating each day.

It's vital to used the opportunity of pulling students away from their culture and normal everyday life to get them to go deeper into God's Word on their own and to think about their participation on the mission trip each day.

I make sure we schedule into our day of doing missions time for students to spend in the Bible and prayer.  Yes we are there to serve and do missions but we must also take time to refuel spiritually and possibly help some of our students start a daily discipline that could shape and impact their life.

We have had two great trips to Eleuthera and had little to no drama or problems among our team.  We have meetings several times before leaving for the trip.  In these meetings we cover details, culture, expectations, servant's attitude.  This extra effort before the trip can really help the trip flow smoothly and promotes unity in the team.  Prep before hitting the mission field is a key element to success.

Flexibility!   We can go with out plan and schedule but find out upon arrival that all that is out the window.  Flexibility on the mission field is a must.  Make sure your students understand this.  The two things that are must haves are an ability to be flexible and a servant's heart, willing to do what needs to be done.

Parent's want to know what is happening with the mission trip and mission team.  I include them in all emails to the team.  I also created a free one page web site using Wix and there I have the meeting schedule, the release forms, travel itinerary, supply and packing lists.  While on the mission field when possible and if possible I try to post a pic each day and let the parents and church know how we are doing.

Communication after the trip can boost your support for your next trip.  Create a slideshow or video and post it online, show it church, show it at youth group.  We have made, in the past a short version and a long version.  The church wants to know about the success of their investment.

I don't do this alone.  I've been blessed each trip to have a few adults come along on the adventure with me.  We take adults from our student ministry team.  That's just our preference because the adults and students already have a relationship.  We have also taken an adult or two who weren't on the team.  Our adults are there as advisors and we let the students lead on the field.  Not every adult has that ability so it is good to have conversations with potential leaders and explain expectations and details in advance.  They also participate in all the pre trip meetings.

I'm currently planning my first adult/family trip to take adults and families from our church.  This will be a first for me.  I took our family last August to get an idea of how it might work out.  My plan is to use some of what we use for our student trips with our adult/family team.

Where are you going on mission this year?







Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Project Care4Kids

I'm so stoked about a new outreach we are starting here at Nags Head Church!  I know that many of us who serve on staff in churches sort of have an entrepreneurial spirit.  So when there is something new I get to be involved in I get excited.

In 2015 there were 670,000 children in foster care in the United States.  Unfortunately this number is growing each year.  We aren't, as a nation, making headway in helping parents to be better parents.  What is the church doing about it?  In our church we have some who are foster parents and some who have been in the past.  We are encouraging more to get involved.

But what can we do as the church to help meet immediate needs in foster care?  Our church is launching a new outreach to the community, Project Care4Kids. 
Project Care4Kids has four areas of focus:
  1. Encouraging people to be foster parents
  2. Meeting temporary needs of foster children and their foster parents
  3. Supporting our local crisis pregnancy center
  4. 
Supporting and promoting adoption
This past Sunday I was able to bring the message in "big church" and our focus was on sanctity of life.  At the end of the message I called the church to action and had an overwhelming response.  We asked them to respond on a communication card.  I have a big stack of these cards on my desk  right now.  We asked people to commit to prayer, giving financially, meeting practical needs, going on mission trips, adopting and foster parenting.  Many indicated they would pray and most committed to other areas as well, even adoption and foster parenting!  The response is overwhelming.

One element of this new outreach/ministry is really going to make in impact in our community.  We formed a team of volunteers from our church (over 30 committed to this on Sunday) who will put together backpacks for foster kids.  These backpacks will be packed according to different age ranges.  In the pack will be age appropriate toys, stuffed animal, school supplies, toothbrush, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, etc.   Local foster parents will be able to call a "hotline" number, set it up on google voice, when they get the call that they will be receiving a child in their home.  So when they get the call that at 7pm social service will be bringing them an 8 year old foster child they can then turn and call us and someone from our team will drop the back pack to their house.  We will also drop a duffle bag because many of these kids show up with all their belongings in a trash bag.  A trash bag!  What message does this send to the child?  We will also let the foster parent know we are available to help with other needs if they let us know, clothes, shoes, coats, etc.

We will be having in March a Project Care4Kids launch party.  We will gather together on a Saturday morning and divide up supplies, organize and pack backpacks and duffle bags.  We will be also making a "no sew" fleece blanket for each child and teen.  It's going to be a fun time of serving together, building relationships and meeting needs.

We are getting going on this new outreach.  We aren't sure how it will all work out, we don't have all the answers but we are willing to dive in and do something, to put feet to our prayers.
If you would like to know more about this outreach project please feel free to contact me.



Thursday, January 19, 2017

Focusing in on One on One Discipleship

This year our volunteer team if going to focus on one on one discipleship.  We have taken our group of students and divided them up among our leaders, including myself.  The goal is to take advantage of the moments at Student Church to ask questions, encourage, pray with the students.

My brain thinks in pictures, I learn and process better with pictures and flow charts.  I have taken what we are going to do and created a graphic using MindNode.  MindNode allows me to map out what is going on in my noggin, which can be a scary place at times.

I hope this will get you to thinking about how your student ministry team can best invest and disciple students.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Setting Goals

New year and fresh start.  It’s the time of the year we make unrealistic resolutions that we don’t carry through and then feel defeated then we give up.  I stopped doing this a long time ago.



In student ministry this is a great time to think about where the ministry is heading over the next year and then set goals.



Are your ministry goals in line with your church’s vision and purpose?

I’m waiting to set my goals because we have an elders retreat coming up and I want to set goals that line up with the direction the church is heading in the new year.  Some student ministries have goals that don’t line up with the church’s direction.  Student ministry is a part of the church and not a separate entity so it should be in sync with the direction of the church.

Several years ago I learned about SMART goals.  I love this concept!

SMART Goals

Specific.  A goal that is well defined and clear to anyone that may read the goal.

Measurable
Make sure the steps of the goal are clear and the progress can be seen.

Agreed Upon
Do you serve with a team?  Are your volunteers in agreement with the goals for the student ministry?  If possible make them part of the process, if that’s not possible make sure they are well informed of the goals and their role in achieving the end results.

R
ealistic
Will you have the resources, knowledge and ability to achieve the goal?  Make sure the goal is realistic.  A goal that is not realistic will leave you feeling like you failed.

Time-Based
Allow yourself enough time to achieve the goal.  Make sure the goal has an end date.   A goal that is not time-based will not receive the attention it needs to be accomplished.

What are your goals for 2017?

My Mission Trip Experience

I just returned last week from the island of Eleuthera.  On the island there is a Christian sports camp, Camp Bahamas.  Camp Bahamas is re...