Archives For July 2012

For both students and for leaders, there is always a camp high when we come back from a camp. It is during those times in which we feel so much closer to who God is, what He is doing in our lives and it always seems to be a rekindling  of a relationship between us and God. So how do you keep that? How do you not lose that when you come home and have it fade away?

If you really think about it, there are 5 major things we do at a camp or retreat everyday that we tend to not do when we get back. 5 things in which we are supposed to do on a daily basis which we tend not to do at camp or retreat. It is these 5 things that give us that spiritual “high”, but if we were to do these everyday we would be able to have that feeling everyday.

  • Pray- We pray everyday at a camp or retreat. that communication between us and God is key to our closeness with God. If we are having a struggle on determining where God is wanting you to go, what better way than to have a conversation with the One who made you.
  • Quiet Time- At a camp or retreat you have a quiet time with God every single day. You study the Bible for at least 30 minutes everyday you are there. This is something I myself struggle with on a daily basis and I know it is a reason in which the “camp high” fades when I come back.
  • Community- You are in a great community of people everyday. You are around people who you are comfortable talking to and opening up to and being able to talk openly about struggles that you are having and being able to pray with them right then and there.
  • Worship- There is worship session every single day (usually in the form of music). But its time where you and God connect and you can just worship Him for who He is.
  • Laugh- We let loose at a camp or retreat because we are not worrying about anything besides just being there with God. Jesus says why worry about tomorrow, today has enough worry for its self. When we are at camp or retreat we can just have fun and laugh with everyone around us and not worry about anything.

All of these things happen at retreats and that’s why we get that extra close feeling to God. Because these are the things that we are called to do on a daily basis, so that “camp high” doesn’t need to go away…ever! We have to stop doing these things just at camps and retreats and not on a everyday basis. No wonder we don’t have that feeling when we come back because we forget to do this when we are back.

That’s my goal as we just got back from camp, to continue to do these things to keep that “camp high”.

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Intentional, relational, authentic ministry. I would like to think this is the goal for everyone and anyone in youth ministry. Students are the most accurate “B.S. Detectors” and can sniff out a fake from a mile away. One thing that has been on my heart lately is being real, genuine and intentional about relationships with students that I know well and students I just met. Whether is was the sleep over I had at my apartment for some of my small group guys who I know really well and love or the students I met for the first time at our 80’s Ice Skating Event, being intentional about the relationship I start and develop with them is key. What does it say?

  • I Care About You– In any case with a student, whether how well you know them, any step you take into getting to know them a little better than you already do, shows them that you care. It is really easy just to say hi during the service, but to ask them about themselves, how their relationship is with God and simply just have fun, shows how much they mean to you and that you care for them.
  • I’m Not Just Another Face– I am really bad with names. I mean, I’m awful with names. It’s embarrassing. Being intentional about remembering a new persons name will go further than you can even think of. Just the other day, another leader told me that a student who I met once before, who has not been to church in a month, said I remembered her name and it made her feel so welcome and loved that she had to tell a leader and was glad she was back. It then sparked a great conversation. Make their face known.
  • You’re Proud of Me? – I have been making a point to tell the students who are serving in our ministry to help me pull off our weekends that I am so thankful for what they do and that they contribute so much to the weekend and that I am proud. Never have I ever said that and have someone be upset or angry. Their face lights up. These can be a game changer knowing that you, their leader, are proud of what they are doing.
  • You’re a Nerd. Me Too. Let’s Be Friends– Sometimes to break the ice, you have to look stupid and make them laugh. Since laughing is one of my favorite things, I like to assume everyone else likes to as well. Sometimes you have to look dumb and not care what others think. This works for me at least. For example, I met a ton of new students at our last event. I showed all of them a new dance move I made up called “The Knowles” (a video will be made someday with this, I promise). I looked dumb, but I got the whole group of new students to do it as well and spread the word. 2 days later I got a Facebook message about how excited they were that they made a new friend by doing the dance move to a student, and a friendship started.

These are my own personal intentional relational goals that I am working on. If you have any personal goals as well, please share! We are all in this together.

Blotted Mercy

July 24, 2012 — 2 Comments

When you look at the ink blot above, what do you see? What do you focus on? The blot? The space around it? What?

In prayer I think we sometimes focus on all of our problems and not the widespread mercy of God. For example, if there was a blank white page and there was an ink blot right in the middle of it, because the page was blank, the ink blot will stand out to us and that will be the thing that we focus on. But the ink blot doesn’t take over the whole page, its just a small section compared to the rest of the page. There is still a lot of white on the page. The ink blot is our sin, and the rest of the page is God’s mercy. In prayer we only focus on the ink blot, our sin, and that’s the one thing we focus on. The rest of paper, which is far bigger than the ink blot, is God’s mercy, and that is what we should be focusing on. We always pray for and focus on our sins, which is only tiny compared to the rest of the page of God’s mercy. THAT’S WHAT OUR PRAYER SHOULD BE FOCUSED ON, THE VAST MERCY THAT SURROUNDS OUR SIN.

Proverbs 28:13

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

I know one thing that kills a service is too many announcements. You can have a great service planned, but have too much time standing in front of the students will destroy the momentum you just built.

That is why if you can use video announcements, it can help out in ways that you would never really think of.

  • They actually pay attention- Because our (I say our because I would say I’m included in it, I’m 25) is obsessed with media. The first announcement video I ever did was a friend and I just sitting in front of the camera, saying everything we would have said on stage, but just on video. The difference? The room was so quiet and every student’s eyes were glued to the screen.
  • It can add a great element to your service- As time went on, I got more and more creative with the videos. Some were informational, some were funny, some were stupid. But it can be a great way to get information you need to have but in a fun way that they will remember and make your service look awesome.
  • It can get more people involved in the service- Video allows more people to be involved in the service. Whether they are in the video, shooting or editing the video, they are now involved in the service. I would have leaders, students, staff all be a part certain videos. Lt’s be honest, who doesn’t like to see their face on screen?

Here are some videos I have done in the past with announcements from my previous church. Feel feel to steal any ideas. I’ll post more later as well, I have a whole arsenal of them.

We all know the story of Jesus walking on water. Jesus meets his disciples in the middle of the lake and Peter calls out to Jesus asking him to come out on the water as well. Peter steps out of the boat and begins to walk on water but then gets scared and sinks and has to be saved by Jesus. Fail.

In the Gospels, Peter seems to be better known for his failures. But if you compare his actions to the rest of the disciples in the walking on water scene, he is the only one who actually steps out of the boat. He stepped out of the boat when Jesus called when it made no sense.

We always forget about the disciples in this story. Where were they? In the boat, not doing a thing. Just watching Peter step out and do an amazing feat. Doesn’t mater what happened with Peter because Peter still gets to say he walked on water. No one else but Jesus can say that. Because the other disciples stayed in the boat, maybe that is why we forget about them in the story. They were spectators.

Sometimes following God, He bids us to take a risk and step out of the boat. I would rather sink than stay on the boat. But in the end, these risks reap the greatest reward. If it weren’t for the risks that Peter took he wouldn’t have experienced the incredible things that he did.

I want to have an experience like Peter, not the other disciples. With my life and my ministry, I want to try to not get into the same routine and play things safe when it comes to my relationship with God and my ministry for Him. I am trying to constantly step out for Him and try new things knowing that if I am doing them faithfully, God will pull me up out of the deep water just like He did with Peter.

Let that be a challenge to us all.

A couple of weeks ago, we met to lay out our Fall series schedule for Saddleback High School Ministry. What came to the table was amazing. Here are just a few that we considered. Hope these help in any way or spark some ideas for some amazing series. Our fall series is still being worked on, so I’m sure we will get them up soon:

  • Do Something
  • Taboo: What Church Isn’t Talking About
  • Things Jesus Didn’t Say
  • Grace Mob
  • Brotherly Love (cross out love, over it “wars”)
  • How To Survive High School Guide
  • Identity Theft
  • YOLO
  • Irrestistible Revolution
  • Life Apps (going off the iPhone. Could be fruits fo the Spirit or the Bible is the first and best app)
  • I Want Your…
  • Poser
  • Can You Hear Me?
  • Rewind
  • WWID? – What Would I Do?
  • I am _______________
  • Jesus: Liar, Lunatic or Lord
  • I Am Legend
  • Abandon Ship! – abandon sin, self
  • Wasted – Growth, Heaven, Hypocrisy, Possessions
  • Forever Alone
  • God is…
  • Eyes Wide Shut
  • He > I
  • > Greater Than
  • Booty. God. Booty (From a blog post of Jon Acuff)
  • Nothing – God makes something out of nothing. If you are nothing, God can make something out of you
  • AWE/SOME – God is awe/all, we are some
  • Get Dirty
  • IDK (I Don’t Know)
  • Things Jesus Did Say

If something sparks you that creates another amazing series, let me know! I would love to hear what you came up with as well!

Tattooed Blessings

July 10, 2012 — 2 Comments

If you read my post yesterday, I just got done reading a book called “The Tangible Kingdom” (you can go check it out HERE). The book is about getting out of the church and being with people through relationaships and through that, by your life style, they will inquire about what you believe and why your life style seems to have something that they do not… Jesus. It is an incredible book with a really interesting/practical concept. After reading it, prayed to God saying, “God, let me be more like this. Help me be a light everywhere I go and shine Your love by my words and actions.” God answered big time.

I got a call two days ago from my tattoo artist. Usually the only time we talk on the phone is to schedule my next appointment, but this time was different. He asked me for a favor.

Now to give some back ground, Mike (my tattoo artist) and I have been friends for 6 years. I got my first tattoo from him and I have been going to him ever sense. He is not Christian, actually, he is probably one of the furthest guys from being any form of religion I know. He is all tatted up, a super tough, ruggid, crude guy I have ever met, but he has a heart of gold. And we have developed this unique friendship. We have hung out many times outside of me getting tattooed and he has even attended some church services with me. Most of our late night tattoo sessions turn into theological talks. It is pretty sweet. I have been praying for this guy since the day I met him.

Back to his favor. He called me up to tell me that him and a few other guys are starting their very own tattoo shop. It is a huge risk for them and they are telling their current boss this week that they are quitting to start this new place. They have put everything they have into the place. And he called me and asked if I would be willing to come and I quote, “Pray a prayer of blessing over the new or some  **** and pray for us telling our current boss. We need all the help we can get and I thought you would be the right person to do so.” I was floored. How awesome is that? Have I ever done something like that before? Nope. But what a great opportunity to hang out and minister with 3 guys who are open to having a pastor come and check out and pray over their new shop. I have been praying for an opportunity to talk to these guys about God, and here it is placed right in front of me, 3 days after I pray for the opportunity.

That is just the thing. We usually pray for God to make us bolder, patient, to have opportunities to talk to people about Jesus, or fill in the blank with whatever you want. But does God automatically make you any of those things? When you pray for boldness does he right then and there make you bold? No! Rather he gives you the opportunity to be bold, and it is up to us to take the opportunity. Same thing with anything, when we pray for something for us to be more __________ (whatever you want to be more of), He will not make you that thing, yet He will give you more opportunities to be it.

It is up to us whether we are going to open our eyes and take the opportunity and use it to glorify God.

I prayed for this to happen and God answered with an opportunity and I am going to take it. That should be everyone’s daily challenge. What opportunities are you missing because you’re not taking them.

Colossians 4:5

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. (NIV)

I just spent the last week in Palm Springs. It was amazing and refreshing. One of my favorite things that I get to do on trips like this is golf, sit by the pool, take a nap (remember those?) and my favorite…READ. It was a personal goal of mine to read two books during the 7 days I was here, and I did it. It feels awesome.

One of the books is called “The Tangible Kingdom: Creating Incarnational Community” by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay (you can find the book on Amazon HERE).

This book was challenging for me based on the churches I have grown up in and the church I work at now. It is challenging in the fact that they are writing from a church in which is focused on only the “serious people” stay at the church and they have a “talk” with the not so serious and they suggest that the church is not for them. I know, it rubs me the wrong way at first but understanding their context is important. They do not focus on programs or really cater to the “seeker”, but they simply follow the way Jesus did ministry, and that is to be apart, among, and with the people in the community.

“Their goal isn’t to attract people to worship services, but to BE the faithful church in small pockets throughout their city. They meet in coffee shops, homes, anywhere in public, and when people would ask what they were doing, they simply would invite them to join and “Come and see”, like Jesus said to His disciples. They challenge churches and leaders to take a leap from their safe environments of their buildings and truly enter the real world- God’s reality.”

I like it. Even though I do not agree with everything, I feel that I am able to take many things from what they were saying and apply it into our ministry at Saddleback HSM. Some things they suggested that I want to apply that I got from reading this book. These are just some examples of the incarnational ministry they talk about in the book:

  • Don’t just live in my apartment community, but REALLY live in the community. Get to know neighbors, staff, etc and just be a real person and have genuine relationships with people. Know about their lives.
  • Instead of being in the office all of the day, spend part of the day at your second office in public. For me, that would be Starbucks. Usually the same people are there at the same times always. And conversations usually happen when you see the same people, the same staff.
  • Have meetings with volunteers or students at Starbucks instead of the offices.
  • Instead of having our Bible study at the church, do it at a coffee shop or shopping center plaza. Get in the community and start the natural conversations that will happen.

These are just  a few things I can personally do in my ministry. Even though I sort of do this already, it is more about being intentional while doing it. This I will do and pray for the future relationships that can come out of it.

I really recommend this book if you are a leader of any sort of ministry or in any church context. It is a great reminder of how we can get caught up in ministry and loose the relationship aspect of the people who come looking for the only thing Jesus can give them.

READ THIS BOOK!

Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

When God takes away something good in your life, it’s not just to take it way. It’s because He is making room for something better.

We HAVE to recognize our calling. The question is: are you willing to allow God take away something you want now in order to make room for something in your life you ULTIMATELY want?

Following God’s will for your life takes sacrifice, trimming your selfish desires and replace them with Godly desires.

Having a service to help students experience Jesus is only half the equation. As some would believe they would think the most important part of our weekend services would be the services because they are the main reason why students come. The most important part, the most crucial part of our weekend services are the 15 minutes before and after each of the services. This is where the real ministry happens.

Here is why I think they are so important:

  • 15 minutes before and after the service is prime hang out relational time. This is where all leaders should be out and about talking and meeting people left and right. This time is the time where students are there waiting for service to start or they are hanging out after the service just ended.
  • 15 minutes before service is a prime time to meet new students because they are just there. They are not going anywhere, only inside service. If you meet a new student, you can offer to sit with them and talk more.
  • 15 minutes after service everyone just hangs out and talks. You can mingle and talk about the service and what it meant to them.
  • 15 minutes after the service is where real conversation and prayer takes place. It is where a student it touched by something in the service and you are able to talk and pray with them.
  • 15 minutes before and after service is just a nig hang out sesh. This is the time to joke and play and really get a chance to know how students are outside of church and it allows them to see who you are as well. Conversation is the first step to connection.

15 minutes before and after service is where the real ministry happens. Services expose students to Jesus, the relationships before and after services literally show Jesus’ love to the students through conversation and relationship. To not jump on this time would be wasteful.