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?

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