Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lesson Learned

Some days do you feel like the whole world or "the powers that be" are against you having you youth event be all that you know it can be?
I ran into those hurdles last week. We were kicking off a brand new series. I had a great idea for a game to illustrate the point. the band was going to rock! But as we got closer and closer to laugh day, it seemed like one break-down after another! Sound system issues, computer problems, slides not working properly, were all coming up right up to 10 minutes before show time! I commented to a leader that I was sure there was some big lesson God wanted me to learn. But the problem was I thought now was NOT THE TIME to be learning one of those "patience under fire" or " perseverance under adversity" type lessons! But then again, is there ever a "good time" to learn something like that? It seems like we get so caught up in what to TEACH as pastors that we forget that our own relationship with God is still growing. That we still need to learn some things. Becoming a teacher doesn't graduate you from being a learner. So I've resolved to learn again. To learn how to depend on God. How to persevere. How to fight apathy. And how to always be ready to learn something.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Spiritual Disciplines

     This one is often difficult. Nobody wants to here that they need to become disciplined... in anything, from eating right, to exercise, to learning; but for a growing, healthy believer it is so incredibly important! Regular quiet time, Bible reading, and prayer are like the eating right of the spiritual life. If those disciplines are not tended to regularly, it would be like the seeds planted in rocky soil, which have shallow roots; Once life really starts beating down, while they are in college or starting their career, their life will burn up. One great way to help besides spending some time talking about it, is to have a Quiet Time Journal Challenge. A way you could do this is at the end of a message about Bible reading or quiet time you let your teens know that if they wish to accept a journal challenge to let you know via text, or on a communication card if you use one. Once they do that you can have a custom designed journal made for them that has a spot for the days date, the scripture they read that day and a few lines for journaling their thoughts. make it relatively short like 30-35 pages so they can complete it in a month or two, regardless of how long it takes, when they have read enough and journalized it full. They bring it you and you guys celebrate it! give them something as a gift or just give them praise and encouragement, and give them another journal to fill-up. While doing this some of your students will stop and never pick it back up, but some will develop life-long habits because you took time time give them a quiet time journal, and show them how to use it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Stuck in a Rut?

Let's face it we sometimes get into spots where the clear-thinking, focus, and creativity just won't budge an inch. We stare at our Bible, or computer with a completely blank Word Document and for some reason Cannot get the ball rolling in regards to message prep. Here are a couple things I've noticed help me get out of that block, Hope they are of help:

1. Pray
     I know, I know, Duh, right? It seems obvious but sometimes we jumpstart our day thinking we have to get this, and this, and this done; and it's all good, ministry stuff we need to do so we'd rather not "waste" time and get started. But it follows that we wonder what God would have us tell our group, yet have we actually sat down and asked Him?

2. Change the scenery
     This almost works like a charm for me. I know it's weird but I can be at my desk with no distraction around in my "zone" and still be incapably of forming those first few vital points of my sermon. yet If I take the Bible and macbook outside, somewhere new, to a coffee shop or even home, or on a curb beside the road; the ball gets rolling! I don't know why but it helps, really.

3. Change your input method
      By this I mean, If you typically type your message up, pull out a pen and paper. if you usually write out an outline, try using a dry-erase board. The last time I was having a block in my prep, and could not get going, I closed my computer (which is my usual method), took it off my desk (blasphemy, I know!), and  pulled out a stack of post-it notes. I jotted every idea, analogy, story and question, I could think of about the text and topic, onto Post-its! then arranged them around on the surface of my desk and eventually... PRESTO! a message was in front of me!

I hope some of these help. Be sure to check back here in a few days as I work though more of the 7 checkpoints.

Grace and Peace,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Authentic Faith

Hey, If you typically come by this blog you’ll notice I haven’t updated in a while. I’m sorry about that. Big things have been under way at my church, so it has been difficult to schedule time out to blog. 
     But as for now, let’s pick up where we left off: talking about 7 important concept every teen NEEDS to know. there called the 7 checkpoints:
Authentic Faith
Spiritual Disciplines
Moral Boundaries
Wise Choices
Positive Relationships
Ultimate Authority
Others First
First I want to explain Authentic Faith. and what that is.
     When many we come up into our teens, we, for the most part, have the faith of our parents. What are told what opinion to have and that’s what we have. As we get further into our teens, we see how the world works, we meet who (much to our surprise) don’t have the same beliefs that we do! This is when it is helpful to understand not only WHAT we believe, but WHY we believe it. We begin to move to the next phase of questions about life from “Why does Jesus love me? ..the Bible tells me so.” to “Why should I believe what the Bible says anyway?” 
     When we get older stuff that we encounter like Death, Loss, Break-ups, Divorces, Suffering can cause us to wonder about what we thought God was “supposed” to be like. Many after getting confused by this, choose to drop belief altogether, as opposed to  entertaining the thought that God may be more than the box we thought he lived in when we were younger. 
    Either way, a teen ends up going on this belief one this is certain a lot rests on the issue. So the question is "why?"
I love the way CS Lewis put it in His book on his arriving at faith "Mere Christianity"

"My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?"

That was one of the thoughts that captivated me at the end of my youth.

    Sometimes, Our faith gets shaken not by tragedy, but simply by a feeling in our gut of discontent. We look around at the pleasures offered us by this fading world and wonder if perhaps our feelings could be righted by getting out from under Christ's wing and exploring what the other side offers. This can be tempting, but remember as my dad warned me and as, again, Lewis put it, those feelings may be a sign of something greater than any of that.
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world"
"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

Anyway, we could ramble on about the thoughts associated with this but the bottom line is this. Our teens NEED to build a real, living, authentic Faith of their own.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Irreducible Minimum.

A great book, I recommend by Stuart Hall and Andy Stanley called "The 7 checkpoints" talks about these principles that, if nothing else, your teens need to know to equip them for life after high school. These principles are foundational to developing a healthy Christian walk for any teen, or adult that matter. They are

  • Authentic Faith
  • Spiritual Disciplines
  • Moral Boundaries
  • Healthy Friendships
  • Wise Choices
  • Ultimate Authority
  • Others First

     I'll be posting (among the usual games and what-not) 7 posts, highlighting each one of these principles. bottom line- These are hugely important and if you are wondering what to teach your teens for the rest of this year, Then, by all means, teach them what you want but at least make sure they get taught these concepts somewhere along the way. These specific posts are not necessarily about context but content. How these are taught in whatever creative ways you can think of is up to you, but these are about the content of those messages. What eternal truths are being instilled through your teaching? If you are scratching your head about what important truths your teens need, then these are a great launching point! Stay Tuned.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Game: String Assassin

pretty simple. but fun!
Take two or three of your folks. and give them cans of silly string. while having another group put on garbage bags. (cut holes for the arms and head first) then put them on opposite sides of the youth room, with one specific Bag Person associated to a specific Can Person, You should have 3 or so "one vs. one" setups (hopefully, with lots of innocent bystanders in the middle, watching) then they say "go!" the goal for the ones with the cans try to cover their corresponding bag person with silly string. the bag person just tries not to get sprayed.

There are two winners: the one who sprayed the most string onto there target Bag person: the other winner is the bag person with the least amount of string on them. A lot of the fun of this game isn't just the spraying that hits the right people. but the frantic off target shot of string that hit everyone watching as the ones wearing bags are running around. the only thing to remember is there will be some cleanup afterwards. and you have to be willing to speak to a group of teens in a room covered in strings. but you knew that you would have to do that ever now and then when you signed up for youth ministry anyway right? right.

But remember Mr. Youth Pastor, in some places possession of Silly String is prohibited because it is, of course a very dangerous weapon in the wrong hands. please consult your local ordinances and respond accordingly.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Meet Tim

Meet Tim.

Gets up on Wednesday morning. For him it’s pretty typical. half-awake,he fights with his sister for the bathroom mirror. Tries to clean the toothpaste off his favorite Tee. “Thanks sis”. Sees the time and runs out the door to catch the bus. 
 Rides with mom to school. Late-ish. not good. especially since he knows He’s gonna get crap for not finishing his report entitled  "The life-cycle of the sea anenome." Tells mom to drives faster. “Why are you in such a hurry, son?”
School is fun. hides from bullies. and ex-girlfriend. hangs out at lunch. has to bum a buck off a kid for a soda. gotta remember to par him back.... somehow. A friend invites him to youth at church.       again.
 After school he still hasn’t told anyone that for not turning the paper his grade in that class is... low. at home he ignores the sound of arguing parents with the sounds of MTV. Sister comes in yelling at him about her missing ipod headphones. Doesn’t know what she is talking about. kicks her out of his room. Thinks “maybe I should go. There’s nothing else to do in this stupid town. I guess I’ll check it out. at least after that, Matt would leave me alone about going for  a while”
Jumps through all kinds of hoops and explanations, finally securing permission to leave the house. gets a ride.
6:50 he walks into church. 

What will his experience at your youth group be?