Posts Tagged With: church

Taking Time to Honor

Years ago I had an idea.

I am not sure where it came from, I may have heard of it from another youth minister or I may have just been inspired one day.

But I had this vision of the youth ministry no longer feeling and acting like they were in opposition to other ministries, especially senior adult ministries, in the church.

For many years I watched other youth pastors gripe and moan about how the “old people” were holding the church back and ruining the church for the next generation. And this saddened me for two reasons, first the shortsightedness of the youth pastors that were saying these things and second the fact that there was some truth to what they were saying.

Then the idea.

What if we taught our students that instead of viewing the senior adults as problems we taught them to see them as heroes?

The Honor Banquet was born.

The concept was simple. The student ministry would plan, prepare and host a banquet for the adults in our church who were over the age of 55. The adult leaders would help oversee this event but the students would do all the work. We would roll out the red carpet and go all the way to make the senior adults of our church feel special. Everything, from the decorations to the meal to the clothes that would be worn by the students would reflect how special the occasion was. The students would help cook and plate each course of the meal, wait tables and provide entertainment.

This past week the student ministry at the church I just started serving with in October had the chance to put on their very first Honor Banquet. After all was said and done, I could not have been prouder of our students and adult leaders. The banquet was executed flawlessly and those who attended had nothing but praise for the students who waited patiently and attentively on everyone in attendance, going out of their way to make sure everyone had a great time.

More importantly the students had a chance to express a great and emphatic “Thank You” to all the members of our church who have given so much over the years and acknowledge that without the senior adults’ contributions to the church in years past there would be no church here today.

This has been the seventh year I have been able to lead a ministry in doing an Honor Banquet and it gets better every year. If you are a youth pastor our a student ministry leader let me encourage you to take time to honor those in your congregation that have done more than you can ever know to serve the kingdom.

You won’t regret it

Categories: Life, Ministry, Religion | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Please Don’t Ask What I DO

I’m just putting this out there…..

 

I HATE when people ask what I do.

It might be at a coffee shop, or the hair cut place, or a salesperson, or a parent at my kids school.

 

They always ask!

 

And I HATE answering.

 

It isn’t because I am ashamed of what I do (I’m not proud of it either but that is for another post) because I’m not. It is because of the inevitability of the reaction on the part of the person who asked the question when I answer “I’m a Youth Pastor”.

 

It is always “Oh”

 

Sometimes “Oh” is followed by a smile and a polite gesture of a compliment about my life’s calling and sometime the “Oh” is followed by a subtle (or not so subtle) groan. Sometimes it is the last word that person ever speaks to me….

 

But worse than the verbal reaction is the non verbal reaction and that is why I hate answering the question. In the micro second it takes for the person to process the word pastor (and usually the youth part isn’t even acknowledged) everything about the interaction I am having with that person changes. They become defensive, illusive, private and standoffish.  There is something very unnerving about quietly having my motives for EVERYTHING questioned. Suddenly I am the enemy. Either I am trying to corral them into a gospel presentation or I just want their money or I am looking to condemn them for their sins.

You know what I hate about it most?

 

I lose the chance to know them. Who they really are, what they are really like and what they struggle with. They hide it all.

 

It’s not their fault though….

 

It’s ours….and by ours I mean the Church.

 

Jesus loved people and desired to KNOW people and to lead people to His Father.

 

Sometimes the church treats people like a herd of cattle. We just want to tag them and let the world know they belong to God and move along to the next herd.

 

So please, let’s change this

 

Or at least just stop asking me what I do!

 

 

Categories: Humor, Life, Ministry, Philosophy, Religion | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Starting a New Chapter

One of the hardest things I have found in ministry is the knowing of when you have finished a  chapter and it is time to move on to the next. There was a point and time this year that I felt like I may be at that point but I could not bring myself to simply walk away with no other ministry to go to.  My wife and I talked at great length and I decided to steal a page from Gideon and ask for a sign. In my prayers I was very specific and asked God to show me exactly what He wanted and He has graciously answered my prayer.  It wasn’t necessarily pleasant or an exciting moment when I got that answer but it was undeniable. And so last week I submitted my letter of resignation to Reedy Fork Baptist Church where I have served the last 5 almost 6 years. It has been a wild ride along with plenty of ups and downs but I can conclusively say that this chapter is over.

So what is next?

I don’t know.

As of right now I have no job to go to , no church to attend, no house to live in. I have some time to figure all that out and have some options available to me. What I do have is peace and clarity. There is something very exciting about knowing that God gave you the exact thing you asked for even if it was the last thing you really wanted and knowing that this is exactly what He wanted.

It hurts.

It hurts to say goodbye. It hurts to walk away from something I built up from near nothing. It hurts to know that so many that counted on me for things in the community will have to find someone else.

But I have no worries for myself. No worries for my family. And I look forward to the day when God reveals more about the next chapter of this thing I refer to as my calling.

Oh and if you happen to know of a church looking for a really great guy to be their youth minister….

Tell them I am available anyway

Categories: Everyday Thoughts, Life, Ministry, Religion | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

HELP!! I WANT MY KIDS IN CHURCH!!

I get asked this a lot and was telling someone just today what my standard answer to that question would be. So I thought it would make a good blog post. So here it is

How does a parent get their child involved in church?

First and foremost the parent has to model the behavior that they want their child to adopt. If you want her in church consistently then you have to be in church consistently. This will show them that it is serious to the parent and that it is more than an extra activity but a part of the way of life.

 

Secondly, you must be find a church that is supportive of the values and goals that you want for your child to absorb and commit yourself to that church and that church alone for a substantial duration of time, in your specific case I would say the remainder of her High School career. Children of all ages need consistency and in this world it seems that everything in their life changes so fast they can’t count on anything. When the church becomes a constant they are more likely to latch to it.

 

Thirdly a teen is going to be drawn where their friends are. If the youth group does not have anyone in it that the teen can or will connect with then they will feel isolated and alone and not want to go.

 

Fourth, it is important for any parent to realize that the principle influence in a child’s life will always be the parent. In turn that means that the one who must be discipling the child in Christ is the parent as well and that the youth minister and youth group are only there to support and enhance what the parent is already doing, which is why number one is so important.

 

Finally there as to be some lines drawn. If the previous four statements are applied first then this is an easier task. Not to say that it is at all easy but if placed first in the list it is almost impossible. The parent is the parent and makes the decisions if the parent decides that the family is going to start attending and participating in church then that is the rule and is enforced. Many times parents will tell me they don’t want to force their kids to come to church because they are afraid it will turn them off to religion. But the fact is that we force our children to do many other things and yet never consider to apply that principle. They go to school, eat their supper, go to the doctor, go to bed, have a curfew, etc etc etc. Again when the previous four are applied this becomes easier.

 

Categories: Everyday Thoughts, family, Life, Ministry, parenting, Philosophy, Religion | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Traders

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It is NOT about Relationships

At least not just ANY relationship.  We can develop relationships all day long but if as Christians we are not modeling our relationship building after Christ then we ARE going to FAIL!

We see in Matt 9, Mark 2, Luke 5 and 19 the types of relationships Jesus invested in, relationships with people who were hurting, broken and condemned by society.  We spend WAY too much time developing the wrong relationships with the wrong people for the wrong motives. Here are some examples.

1. Developing a relationship to gain financial support

2. Developing a relationship to gain power and control

3. Developing a relationship for personal glory and praise

4. Developing a relationship simply for personal friendship

While these types of relationships are not “evil” they are not what we are given by Christ as a model.

This is essential to pastors and ministers to understand and even more essential for the laity to understand and support their pastors in through allowing them to exercise their calling but also in rolling up their sleeves and joining in reaching out to those broken people Adam Mclane posted on His blog today that he was “not satisfied with reaching 5-10% of the population” and I agree. For far to long we have allowed churches to be community/family clubhouses and have forgotten the world outside.

Tomorrow I will talk about the types of relationships I am building in Youth Ministry and how I believe they are foundational in any youth ministry trying to reach hurting teens in their community.

Categories: Everyday Thoughts, Ministry, Religion | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Book Is Not Closed!!!

I have always had an eclectic taste in music the only genre I didn’t take too was country but even some of those songs appealed to me.  When it comes to worship music I lean heavily towards new modern music but there are hymns that are very special to my heart.  What has always bothered me though was the debate between the two. I know where I stand, firmly on the side of modern music, but I could never put my finger on why that was or what about modern music was so appealing to me. It wasn’t until I heard of a conversation that took place in my church and then seeing a video a friend of mine posted that the wheels began to turn in my head.

The conversation  went like this, the church wanted to buy the new Baptist hymnal and the music minister was campaigning to raise money for the purchase when a man came to him and explained that we already had plenty of hymnals in the church with over five hundred songs in them and that was as much music as we would ever need. The video was of a village in Africa and the villagers were singing “Jesus Loves Me”. Now the man had a point we do have a lot of hymnals and we have never sung all the songs in the hymnal I am sure. And do not get me wrong I love the song “Jesus Loves Me” BUT there is a problem that I see that is occurring. We as the people of God have mistakenly assumed that all the songs that were meant to be written have already been written and that god has closed the book ! When the truth is that God has just begun to write music through us! I believe Psalms 40:3 is true for every Christian and that in each culture God is raising up those with the gift of music to write beautiful music to Him but unfortunately we are not doing that. The case of the villagers is most disturbing to me. There they were with a native man trained to preach and singing a song written by an American women almost 150 years ago.  Did any one think to teach the villagers to express their praise to God through songs that came from their own hearts? Surely they are not reading prayers and sermons of other people publicly. There is no doubt that they are encouraged to be open and true with God in those areas….but music is another story   While God has obviously used this music and I will not deny that how much more impact would be felt if the words were from the hearts of their fellow villagers?

The reason I am a modern music guy is because it takes restriction out of the equation and I think you will see if you are watching that some of the most modern churches throw in a hymn and a choir every once and a while because they can not because they have to. There is a place for all of it. What we cannot do is attempt to silence the Spirit of God speaking through us or others in any form whether that be prayer, preaching, or song writing. Too many churches have left this out and I believe it has left a void in the souls of many musicians within the church.

We must remember the book is not closed!!! Keep writing keep praising keep showing God you affection!

Categories: music, Religion | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Opened with Expectation and Closed in Profit

That is a good book which is opened with
expectation and closed in profit.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott ~

To  really get your leaders on board with the vision that God has given you you are going to have to shape not only their thoughts but how they form them. Through the years countless books have been written on the church and what is going on inside and out. Most ministers/pastors  devote a great deal of time to reading these books along with their normal Bible Study routine.  Through these avenues we find inspiration and God begins birthing visions based on what hHe is revealing to us through these combinations of Scripture and teachings.

Here is the problem

Most church lay leaders are not deep in their Word much less reading other books about the church and culture so when we go to those leaders with a completed vision it is like we are talking an alien language.  So in the process once the vision is developed we will go back from the beginning

1. Take your leadership into a deep study of the Scriptural foundations of what the church is and what the church should be doing.   It has to all start in Scripture. As your leaderships sees you delving into Scripture and see the fundamental components of what you are leading them into their minds, eyes and hearts will be opened and they will be ready for the next step

2. Assign your leadership to read what you have read. As they read what inspired you they will start to glean terminology and methodology and see what roads you are going down this will prepare them to go even farther.

3. Discuss the readings with your team.  These discussions will help you direct the ideas that are forming in your team’s minds and it will plant concepts that God has already birthed in you but in smaller form than the completed vision.

In this way once you have laid the groundwork then the vision casting will unfold with more acceptance and excitement. As you talk they will understand and identify and they will feel connected enough to support the vision. Ultimately setting up a more successful task and satisfied leadership.

Tomorrow I will identify another way we can build our leadership.

Categories: Everyday Thoughts, Ministry | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

They Don’t Think Like You

One of the biggest mistakes that I have seen church leaders make is to walk into a situation and assume that the people who they are leading are on the same page.  This tends to lead to conflict and confusion down the road when the leader starts moving in a direction that no one understands at best and no one supports at worst.  The resulting domino effect is both heart wrenching and head pounding.  This can be avoided, to some extent, with the proper preparation and cultivation.  I want to cover some principles in the next couple of posts.

1. Understand that while you may be God’s called leader don’t assume that everyone will follow you solely or recognize your leadership.  The church is complex and while you may be in a leadership position it takes many people leading to get a congregation moving in the same direction.  Your church may be elder led or deacon led or staff led but the key is that whoever is in your circle is leading other people. If they support you they will lead others to support you. But to be able to support you they must understand and buy into what you are doing.  Remember they do not think like you. They are not inside your head.  You bear the responsibility of communicating not only your vision but the building blocks of your vision.

It is awesome to have a idea burdening your heart develop the vision and then cast it. It is quite discouraging, however, to see a bunch of blank faces staring back at you after you are finished. What is possibly a more effective approach is to take the idea develop it and then go back to what sparked the idea. And walk your leaders through it slowly.  If they can see each step along the way they will not feel lost, in fact they will feel included and invested int he idea and they will in turn sell it to the people that look to them for leadership.

Tomorrow I will discuss some ways that you can cultivate the thoughts in your leadership.

Categories: Everyday Thoughts, Ministry | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Nails

We studied Isaiah 53:1-5 this week in Collide, our Wednesday youth service. It was a powerful time and God really spoke through me and I was wiped afterwards.

Week in and week out we see people come in to the church and leave completely unchanged. They profess Christianity but they wallow in their sins daily with no evidence of remorse. It is time that we start calling sin what it is…..SIN!!

We have got to start taking our sin seriously- It is not okay that everyone is doing it. It is not okay if you are getting away with it sin is sin period and it separates us from God and deters people from Christianity when we allow it into our life without repentance.

We have got to STOP trying to legitimize our sin- I don’t care that you are a  country boy/girl that does not make it right to cuss, drink,smoke,  chew, dip, party on Saturday and go to church on Sunday and call yourself a Christian. That isn’t the Christianity I read about in the Bible!  I don’t care if you are in the backseat of the car and you haven’t crossed the line with your boyfriend/girlfriend yet, your mind is FULL of sin and you need to repent

We have got to remember the consequences of our sin- Not the consequences that might happen, but the consequences that already happened. Your little white lie killed someone. That someone was innocent and you killed Him. He took on your sin and mine as well as the entire world no matter how small or how big it is. We forget the cost.

When I was 16 I totaled my car. I had only had it a week. I remember sitting at the light and turning left the next thing I remember is being pulled out of the twisted smoking wreckage. I remember the taste of blood and the searing pain on bits of glass all over my body. I remember the look on my mother’s face when she got to the hospital and saw me for the first time, covered in blood. There was a song years ago called “Feel the Nails” It posed the question “Does He still feel the nails when I fail”.  My tragedy has stayed with me and I still get nervous about left turns and it has been 12 yrs.  I wonder if every sin that I commit makes Jesus cringe from the reminder of the punishment He endured. If so we have a lot of explaining to do don’t we?

“He was pierced for our transgressions, and crushed for our sin ……and by His wounds we are healed”

Our sins nailed Him to the cross and we are still driving them in everyday moment by moment….do we care?

Categories: Ministry, Religion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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