Archives For January 2013

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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. They are already there for you to talk to! 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 great relational session. 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.
  • After service you can all meet up at Chick-Fil-A or In-N-Out (Those are my two favorites at least). I invite everyone who can hear me say it. Great time to just simply be with students.

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.

How good of a listener are you? What? How god of a listener are you? One of the things that help students trust you with what they want/need to talk about is they know you are a good listener. What students need in their life is a leader, an adult, who can and will be a good listener to them. It is when we as leaders fully listen to our students, that trust will be had and the word spreads among them, you are a good person to go to because you listen well. When we as leaders listen well, students who we have helped will let their friends know, “You should go talk to them. They will listen. They care.”

How do you show this? I’m sure there are a ton of different ways, but this is what I try to do every single time when a student comes to me:

No judgment or advice at first– The student already has been judging themselves enough already. They came to you to talk. It’s okay just to sit there an listen. I think it is in our nature to want to say, “I know what you need to do.” Don’t. There is something powerful in just sitting back and letting them vent it out to a listening ear. Sometimes they will even figure it out themselves just by talking through it.

Do what you suggest– If there is something or someone that needs to come in from the outside, like a parent, or another pastor who has more knowledge in that area, dont just tell them, “You should go talk to them.” You dont want to just pass them off. Go help them get in contact, be there with them when they come. You are their pastor, be there with them. It means more to them.

Speak truth and encouragement– When a student comes to you, this is a great opportunity to speak to them in truth and love. Share Scripture with them. Encourage them. Tell them how you appreciate them coming to you and sharing this. What a better way to be there for our students when we can walk them through what Scripture says and encourage them for the steps they took or the steps they have just made by coming to you to talk.

Follow up and… oh ya, FOLLOW UP!– It’s not a one time thing. I feel our goal as pastors to students is to not just help in the time of a “crisis” but to follow up with them and walk with them continually, when everything has gotten better. They will trust you more than ever now because you were there for them and now relationships and conversations will be more genuine than ever before. Follow up always.

When we listen well, students will know and see you knowing and seeing them.

Small groups are the back bone to any ministry. I truly believe that real life change happens in small groups. The weekends are sexy, small groups are messy. Real life, real faith, real change gets taked about in small groups. At HSM, each staff member is a coach of volunteers who are small group leaders. I have a coaching group of 13 different leaders. The job of a coach is to be a resource, a pastor, friend to your group of leaders who are leading the students in your group.

We proudly, and freely, give away the name “pastor”. Our small group leaders are the pastors to their students. They are the ones on the front lines with them on a weekly, and daily basis. As their coach, I want to make sure that they are doing okay, in teaching their group and on a personal level. I try take make sure I meet with each leader for coffee once every 6 weeks, just to get some face time with them and hang out with them a little bit. We talk about life and ministry. It is a great time.

There are a few questions I will ask my coaching group every single time we meet to get a feel of how everything is going for them. Doing this, I feel gives them a sense of what they are doing is great by pouring into the lives of these teens, makes them feel like the staff in which they serve under cares for them and supports them, and develops our relationship as people who are on the front lines of ministry together.

Here are some questions I always ask:

How are you doing?– I always start personal. I want to know how they are doing with life and volunteer ministry. Sometimes this question is the only one I get to because there is something going on that they want to talk about. And I am okay with that. I would rather talk personal stuff and make sure they are okay before anything else.

How is your group going?– It’s a simple question, but with a variety of answers. It is just an opportunity for them to be honest with how their group is going. What they are feeling about it, going about it, and how they think their students are responding to it. Sometimes it is just a great way for them to debrief whatever is going on because they have been thinking it for so long, it feels good to actually talk about it.

Are you doing anything in your group that is working that you would want other groups to know and try?– Not all of them have “something” but there have been a few times in which they would share something that is so simple or so fun, or so different, that I want to let other groups know and try to see maybe if it would work for them. I love when I get ideas from other leaders to try. And, it gives them a sense of ownership and encouragement because what they are doing can help other groups. I recommend this question.

Is there anything I can do to help make your group better?- This question can come with a whole bunch of different answers as well. Sometimes the answer is a critique on you because you were not doing something or it can be an honest answer of how you can be a better coach to make the small group of your team member and their students the best experience for their small groups. I am always wanting to know how I can support my team of leaders who minister to our students.

I know there are more questions I ask, but these are the ones I always want to try and get in to get a feel of how they are doing. What would you ask?

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Self-control is a tricky thing. For me, I have a hard time with self-control when it comes to Taco Bell. I can’t help it. It tastes so good but it’s so bad for you. Self-control when it comes to our lives is something in which we need to keep in mind if we want our Christian walk to be stronger.

Self-control is the ability to control oneself. It has to do with moderation, constraint, and the ability to say “no” to our fleshly desires. I believe that one of the proofs that God is working in our lives is the ability to control our own thoughts, words, and actions. It is not that we are weak that we need to be aware of this, but it is because we are the under the influence of sin. One definition of sin is “filling a legitimate need through illegitimate means.” With out the Holy Spirit we wont be able to determine and choose the best way to meet our needs. Even if we know what is best, and we know what we need to do, without self-control we can fall into that sin more and more. If we don’t show self-control in our actions, we will continually, on a daily basis, fall back into the things that pull us further and further away from God.

The great thing is, self-control naturally leads to perseverance and the ability to abstain from instant gratification of the world. Self-control is a gift that frees us. It frees us to have a healthy body, in the security of good stewardship, from a guilty conscience and it restricts us to fall into our foolish desires. If we were to have self-control we will be able to love and live as we were meant to.

Philippians 2:13- For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Romans 6:6- We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

Galatians 5:1- For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Romans 7:21–25- So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

2 Peter 1:6- and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness.

Pray:

  • That God shows you where in your life do you need more self-control.
  • That you can take hold of your desires, and learn to take control of it.
  • That God helps you live and love the way that we were meant to from the beginning.
  • God fills you with His Holy Spirit because without it, you wont be able to determine what to withhold from.
  • God gives you the ultimate self-control so you can beat whatever it is that has a hold on you.

Our second edition of the HSM Magazine just came out. We are so excited because it came out awesome. I was so blessed to be able to write an article for the magazine for our students to read. If you want to check out he whole magazine, click HERE. If you want one, let me know and I’ll see if I can send you one. Here is the article I wrote:

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the word “evangelism” I think about the people who stand out on the street corner on a box yelling at people about Jesus and hell as they walk by. Thank you but no thank you. That’s not my style, and probably not yours either. When we think of us going to evangelize to our friends, people at our school, or even our families in some cases, we automatically get sweaty palms just thinking about it. Why? Lets just be honest, we feel weird talking to them about our faith. Why? Because talking about our faith is deemed as “weird” to people who do not know about Christianity. So how do we evangelize to our friends without being “that weird kid”? Hopefully we can help unpack how to do this and you can share the Gospel with the people you are around on a daily basis.

First off, as followers of Christ, we are expected to share the news about Jesus life and resurrection. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Now, this doesn’t mean as soon as you meet someone new you start to just blurt out facts about Jesus and ask if they were ready to be Christian now, unless you love the sight of people running away from you, I wouldn’t do that. As Christians, we are responsible to share with others about Jesus, eventually, in our relationship with them. There are some great ways in which we can “explain Jesus” to others without just blurting it out like a freshmen asking a girl to a dance. but rather living in a way that will eventually end up with you explaining who Jesus is and the good news that He brings.

Pray for them- The most important thing we can do is pray for them. Pray that God would change their hearts and open their eyes (2 Corinthians 4:4) to the truth of the gospel. Pray that God would convince them of His love for them and their need for salvation through Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Pray for wisdom as to how you can minister to them (James 1:5). In addition to praying, we must also live godly Christian lives in front of them, so they can see the change God has made in our own lives (1 Peter 3:1-2). As Saint Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

Live it first- If we are studying the Bible, we know that living a Christ-like life looks different compared to how the rest of the world lives. The next time you study the Bible, try to see how you can apply what you are reading to your life first. Not only will your own life be changed as a result of studying scripture, when it comes time to share what you have learned to others, it will mean way more to you and how it applies to your life and people will see your passion. When your friends see how the Bible has changed your life they will be more inclined to change their life based on the life style you live.

You basically share Jesus through your lifestyle. This form of evangelism focuses on building relationships with one person at a time. Through friendship, opportunities arise to share the gospel.

Be real- One of the most effective ways to minister to people around you is just to be real. One of the top reasons why people are so turned off to Christianity is because people are fake. It is really hard to fake yourself with people who see your ups and downs, successes and failures, people who hear how you talk in your best and worst times, by people you see every single day for 8 hours at school. Be authentic in the way to talk and you live, not just at church or at school. When you mess up and use bad language, call yourself out on it in front of everyone. That will do more ministering to the people around you because they will wonder why you don’t want to speak like that. Saying, “Just be like Jesus” is not realistic. Jesus was perfect. Us following Jesus are not perfect, at all. When non-believers see that you are just like them and mess up, but they see how you handle the mess up physically, verbally, and mentally. They will take note of that far more than anything else you can do.

So long as lifestyle evangelism does not replace the verbal sharing of the gospel, it is a legitimate ministry tool. Lifestyle evangelism can be a wonderful way to show faith in action in a world that needs to see what true Christianity looks like.

Speak it- Now, like I said in the beginning, the end all in evangelizing to the people around you is eventually speaking to them about the Good News of Jesus. You have prayed for them, you live out what you learn from reading the Bible, and are being real, there will be opportunities which come up to speak to them about Jesus, it is just up to you to take them. If you ask God to make you bolder, does He automatically make you bold? Or does He give you opportunities to be bolder? When you ask God to give you more patience, doe He automatically give you patience? Or does He give you opportunities to be more patient. You have to pray for the opportunities which come up while living your life in a real and authentic way, God will arise opportunities for you to speak to those around you to share your faith in a real, authentic, natural way.

I can tell you many stories of me actually taking these steps to explain the Gospel to my friends and family around me, and I would be happy to tell them and help you walk through what this looks like in your life. Let me know your stories!

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I went in to get more tattoo work done last week, and I was talking with Mike my tattoo artist (to read more about Mike and my relationship click HERE) about how youth today are so much different and deal with things that we would never have thought of only 5 years ago. It got me thinking about what our youth need from their leaders. Here is what immediately come to mind:

Your time- Ultimately, students are not going to remember the sermons you preached or the lessons you taught, they are mostly going to remember the time you spent with them. Doing life with them. Being there for them.

Your authenticity- They need someone who can be real with them. If they can see how their leader handles life and hard situations, how they handle a social life, how they handle social media, someone who is going to be real with them and genuinely care for them with no walls up.

Your ear- They need someone to be able to go to and talk in a real, authentic way. For some reason they might not be able to do that with their friends and with their family and they need to know that there is at least one person who would be able to listen to them. It’s huge.

Your compassion- When they have your ear, some it it might just be a fun conversation about life while others might be super serious and need your counsel and prayer. Knowing that you care for them as Jesus cared for the people means a ton. even more important, showing them in tangible ways that you do. A text when they missed group or a service, a mid-week call, a note. Knowing that when they do come to you in times of need, they have a leader that show compassion for them.

Someone who can call them out- Whether they believe you or not, they will thank you later for being the one to call them out, in love, when they are doing wrong or going down a way that is not right. Having a leader that cares enough to have that tough conversation is huge.

Someone they can follow- The best leaders model a life in which they want their students to follow. That what a disciple is. Students need leaders who can show them how to live a life for Christ. Someone who will be able to show them what Jesus looks like, to the best of their ability, in real life.

Anything else you would add to this list?

There have been days, even weeks where I have felt ineffective. My group is not listening to a word I say. They same to be making bone head mistakes, all of the time. It seems as if ministry is just something I am trying to get through.

I have a pretty big small group of guys. The keep on bringing their friends who do not go to church, so obviously I’m not going to turn them away. they know they are welcomed here and won’t be judged. Most of my guys have grown up in the church. They know their stuff, it’s now the living it out that they are trying to learn how to do. The guys who are coming who are not Christians take it even to the next step of immediately Instgramming pictures of themselves drinking wine when they get home. Not trying to hide it, but bragging about smoking weed. So I have the Christian kids trying to figure it out, the non-Christian kids being themselves because they don’t know how to do anything else yet. Talks will need to take place when the timing is right, but it is part of the game.

But here is the thing. They come every single group. Almost the entire group, unless they have a game, is there. They come with their Bible and a pen and take notes. When we are going through our study, I look up and they are into it. Underlining. Taking notes. Circling. I can see it, in the guys who have grown up in the church and the guys who don’t believe yet, their wheels are turning in their minds. There is something working in them. God is working in them, and that gets me excited.

I just got a text from one of the guys who is just checking out this whole Jesus thing (his words) that said, “Ever since we analyzed the Bible on 1 John 1, I have been reading the Bible a lot more. Just want to give you thanks for helping me out! God and I are pretty much the closest we have ever been. My faith has been growing slowly more and more since I joined this group.”

THIS IS WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO!

Let me encourage you today:

  • Today we expect to see immediate results. That’s just our culture. God is working on them way harder, and more effectively than you are. Be confident He is working.
  • They are listening even when they do not seem like it.
  • Be patient. They are watching and listening to us. When they hear the Gospel and how it calls them to live, they see the difference it makes and most of the time they look at you on how to live that out.
  • The best thing in ministry (in my opinion) is to see a student finally get it. Something clicks and they are on fire for the Lord. It’s the best feeling to see how God is working in them.
  • Be encouraged that God is working in their lives and being faithful in their lives because you are being faithful to them by teaching them, being their for them, and doing life together with them.

It’s the text we get when the light bulb goes off and they finally let down their walls to allow God to start working fully in their lives, a reminder of why we do what we do.

Keep this in mind. It’s the best.

Overcoming Fear

January 21, 2013 — Leave a comment

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There are two types of fear. One is good and is encouraged and the other is a fear that is to be overcome. The first one is the fear of the Lord. This doesn’t mean to be afraid of God; rather it is being in awe of God realizing all of His power and glory. It is having respect for His wrath and anger. This type of fear is total acknowledgment of all that God is, which comes through knowing and studying Him and His attributes.

This is not the fear I want to talk about. The other type of fear is “the spirit of fear”.  This type of fear is mentioned in 2 Timothy 1:7 which says, ““For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”. A spirit of fearfulness and timidity does not come from God.

I’m not going to lie. There are times when I’m afraid. I don’t care how old you are, when you are by yourself you hear weird noises at home and you freak out a little bit. There are things in our lives that scare us, whether it’s a conversation we have to have, something we need to overcome, or a sin we need to deal with and confess. The “spirit of fear” takes us over and it’s in this time we need to trust God completely. No one is perfect, and God knows this. I believe this is why He intentionally put verses about overcoming fear, encouraging verses, throughout the entire Bible. From Geneses to Revelation, God tell us to “fear not”.

God tells us not to be afraid of being too weak. God tells us not to be afraid of being alone. God tells us not to be afraid of not being heard by Him. God tells us not to be afraid of lacking physical necessities. We all do at times if we are honest about it. Trusting in God is refusal to give into fear. It is us turning to God in the darkest of times and trusting Him to make things right.

Once we have learned put our trust in God we will be able to overcome anything that stands in our way that we once were fearful of.

1 John 4:18– There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Isaiah 41:10– Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Psalm 56:11– In God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?

Psalm 5:11– But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.

Romans 8:31-32– What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Pray:

  • For God to give you a healthy fear of Him acknowledging all His power.
  • Because you acknowledge His power, that he will take away that “spirit of fear” inside you.
  • For what ever you are afraid of, to be given to God to place all your trust in Him.
  • Pray that God’s spirit come near you and over take any fear of what you need to do or what you are facing.

Ministry Jealousy

January 17, 2013 — 2 Comments

This is continuing my top 3 blog posts of the last year. This was posted on August 6th, 2012:

I’ll be the first one to admit it. I get jealous of other pastors or ministries. I’m human. There are other people who are just better at speaking than me, who are more creative than me, and you see it by how many people follow them, listen to them, show up to their events or services. But pastors cant get jealous of each other right? How does one combat not getting jealous of other ministries? Here are some things that I have to check myself on.

  • Jealousy will make a person lose focus. When you are jealous, you are focusing on someone’s else’s God-movement and not focusing on the one that God has given you. It causes us to loose sight of the responsibility that God has given us when we focus on someone else’s. I know for me, if I were to focus on what my ministry as much as I spent watching someone do theirs, I probably would do better myself. When you get jealous, your path is set by THEM rather than the Lord.
  • Admit it. There is no use of hiding it. Why? Because we know we’re in it for God’s Kingdom, not for ours. Does it matter if the church down the road is bigger, better, more influential if God’s Kingdom is advancing? Let’s just call it like it is, it is sinful and worldly. It is usually out of our own spirit of jealousy and it will cause us to say things and think things that are not kingdom building. Suddenly they’re not our brother/sister any more, they’re ‘competition’.
  • Turn it into inspiration. Obviously you think that person is successful, otherwise you wouldn’t have jealous feelings about what they are doing. Instead of sitting back and letting it happen, turn it into a learning experience. They are obviously doing something right in a way that you want to see your ministry succeed in as well. Seek them out and and take them out. Pick their brain. You never know what you can learn and maybe you will see what ever results you saw from their event at yours. If not, you have a new ministry friend and contact.
  • This might not be what you need. When people are jealous, it causes you to see things that your ministry may not need, but because you see “them” have it, you want it. But the thing is, a ministry might not have a strong fellowship aspect, so they try a dance party and it was a huge success for them. So you see it and you want it. But your group already has a great fellowship aspect but it really needs more people in small groups, but you dont see it because you’re so focused on their needs and not your ministry’s need.

When we are jealous it usually means that we are are not satisfied with what God has given us. Because when you look at what you have, you are blessed. If we are teaching the what the Bible says we need to believe that God will not forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), and we need to be content with what we have. In order to combat jealousy we need to be more like Jesus and less like ourselves. If we find ourselves to be jealous we need to in prayer and work on changing our hearts to those we are jealous of. Jealousy is such a human thing to be involved in and it has no place is Godly work.

Continuing my top 3 posts of 2012. This was posted December 5th, 2012

Couple days ago I got together with a few of my good friends in youth ministry and were talking about when we first got into it and how little we knew. I admit, I still know very little but I’m in progress. It got me thinking about if there is anyone you know, on staff or volunteer, just jumping into ministry, what would be good to know. So I thought of 5 quick tid bits of advice for anyone new and diving in to ministering to teenagers.

The 5 things you need to know to start in youth ministry well:

Be all in– Go all in. Get involved. Break the awkwardness of you being one of the only adults in the room. You know, the students know it, just jump in and break that awkward wall down. Greet them, get involved in the games, the worship, the message. They are watching you whether they know you or not and will determine if you are the real deal or not within two seconds. Is it going to be weird? Probably at first, but once they see you go all in, they will be right behind you.

Be real- Students are the best B.S. detectors I know. They can easily sniff out someone who is not genuine from the start. Don’t try to be the “cool” person because they are not interested. What I have found in doing ministry is that student respond best to any adult leader when they are open, honest, and real. You will not have every kid there liking you, but there is at least one kid that needs to hear your story and how you handled it that will help shape their spiritual life. Students will come to you once they know you are a “real” person.

Be consistent– Nothing kills a student more than opening up to a leader and then that leader just all of the sudden stops showing up for no reason. It will make that student not open up to another leader because they think that they will just stop coming. Sometimes being there is all they need. They see you every single week, being involved, being real, and it makes a difference. There is no way anyone can effectively minister to a student if they are not there constantly pouring into them. Be there and be there regularly.

Be caring– People are broken. Obviously. Students are broken with huge emotions and need some guidance in areas of their life in which they will come to you for advice. Even if the “problem” does not seem like a big deal, to them at that time it is a huge deal, so showing compassion and that you care means everything to them. Sometimes just being there is enough for them to show that you care for them. Be genuine in how you are for them. Take a second and pray for them, right then and there. It shows that you care for them.

Have fun– Plain and simple. Youth ministry is so much fun, it can be very tiring, but it is so fun. If you don’t think so, then you probably should go to another ministry. Students love to have fun and they want leaders to have fun with. I love my students and we can be serious and talk life, but we can also be stupid and just laugh our faces off at stupid things. It’s okay, I promise.

If anyone new to youth ministry were to take these to heart and be all in with these items, they will do some amazing things in the lives of students for the Kingdom.