Archives For May 2013

Read this verse and it got me thinking.

It is broken down in two parts. The first is what I hope people can say about me as I try my best to follow Jesus. The second is what we should be praying over our students.

Ephesians 1:15-17

(Part 1) For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you,remembering you in my prayers.  (Part 2) I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Part one is as I try to live out my calling and try to follow Jesus, I hope I can do that in a way were people see my faith and my love for God and for His people and know God more because of it. Part two is the prayer we should be praying over our ministry and our students as their mentors and encourage them, as Paul is encouraging the people in Ephesus, to seek wisdom and revelation so they know Jesus better.

Let this be our prayer. Take it to heart this week. Pray this about you. Pray this about your ministry.

 

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So this is something I have been thinking about for a while now. I have not fully developed this yet but I am in the process of making this a thing. First off, I’m really excited about it. Second, I did not initially come up with it but I got the idea from the last church I served at but what I am excited about is how to implement it into our small groups when it comes back around in the fall and the potential it has. I’m praying through it and trying to see how it can best be used in our context of ministry.

It’s a new look at evangelism. When students think of evangelism they think of one of two things: What we do at our services and preach or the people who stand on the corners on a soap box yelling at people on a corner as they walk by. We usually think of the masses and the big crowds which is great and important and that way works for some people. But what if you are not that person on the stage or know a ton of people? What happens?

This is a different take on evangelism. What if instead of preaching to the masses, it was something I believe EVERY student can do? Instead of reaching out to the masses, they reached out to one friend they knew did not know Jesus. What if they focused on one person, had a deep and caring friendship with them, talked to them about real things, was there for them, invited that one person to church or to small group. That’s it. Just one. Most of the time students already have a friend in mind as soon as you bring this up.

I tried it out this year with my small group guys and it was incredible! They brought friends who do not go to church to church. They were a friend to them. They had a great relationship to them. They brought them to small group. Why? Because focusing on one person is way easier than thinking you have to evangelize to a bunch of people. Thinking of “your one” person is a reachable and obtainable goal for a student to see and be a part of.

Think about it:

One student in your group has a “one” person they can be there for, with, be in friendship with and have them focus on bringing to the Lord.

One student.

For one year.

To get them to church and share Jesus with.

That’s possible.

It’s a different look on evangelism but for students it’s easier in their minds. I have seen it this year with my group. My guys prayed for their friends who they thought never would step foot inside a church and God opened up opportunities for them to step in, be a friend to them and they took the invite. Some now attend our group regularly.

Like I said, it is still a work in progress as I am trying to see how we can incorporate this into our curriculum, but it is going to be a part of it somehow. It has wheels and I think God will move in a huge way this next small group season! So pumped.

Have you ever been planning something for what seems like such a long time and it does not seem to be working out? All the details, the people, the event, the facilities, etc. does not seem to be working out. Whether it is an event for the church or your group, whether it’s something in your own personal life, you are just in a rut and it seems like you hit a glass ceiling?

It can be so frustrating. We want to bad to move to the next level. We have been planning so far ahead in our ministry or in our lives because we know what we feel God is calling us to do or where to go and it seems like there should not be this much resistance because we KNOW where we feel we are supposed to go.

Maybe we know where we need to be but the time in which are supposed to get there is not the right time. Maybe we are looking too far ahead and God is telling us to look and enjoy and minister in the now. I think some of us, me included, want to be on the fast track but God does not work on our time. I wish. God’s timing is perfect.

If our ministry goals are not happening in the time in which we want them maybe it’s because it’s not in God timing that HE WANTS THEM. Maybe He is telling us to relax, trust Him more, and be in the now. Minister in the NOW.

Don’t miss the opportunities that around around you…..NOW. Enjoy it now.

Ecclesiastes 3:22-

So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work,because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?

I wanted to re-post this one. As this year of small groups is ending while going into the summer, looking back and hearing all of the stories of life change that happened this year just warms my heart. This is why small groups are worth it all:

If you didn’t know yet, I’m making a transition within HSM to take over overseeing al of our high school small groups. The last year I have been focusing on running our weekend services (which I still get to be part of the process, I’m just not the one making it happen now), but now I get to do what I feel my heart is truly passionate about. Small groups.

You’re probably asking, “Really? Small Groups? They are messy. They need way too much care. You need way to many leaders to have it even seem like it somewhat under control. Do small groups work and are they really worth all the effort?”

Yes, I believe they are. Here is why:

Everyone has a name: On the weekend or midweek programs students can show up, not talk to anyone, listen, leave and never be known. And maybe that is what they want. But in smal groups, it’s impossible. You will be known. You will be loved on by a leader. You will have a name.

Bringing new people easy: Maybe this is just my personal small group, but my guys are bringing their friends who do not know Jesus to small group. Their friends say that is was the closeness and family type atmosphere they always talked about at school that prompted their friends to ask if they can check it out. 2 of the 3 guys who have joined just this year accepted Jesus. Praise God! Sometimes it is the smaller groups that attract some students even though we focus on the big weekend/midweek services.

Students have a place to vent: What I am finding out is there are more and more students who don’t have anyone or anywhere to just let it all out. To be real with. To talk out frustrations, struggles and hang ups. Small groups provide a safe group and a leader to help them through whatever it is they are going trough. Students need a safe place to vent, and small groups can be that place because they will be surrounded by people who will love, care and pray for them.

They will produce (hopefully) authentic followers: I truly believe that true life change comes through small groups. Small groups allows a place for when a student decides to follow Jesus, they can talk about, think about, and learn about what it means to truly follow Jesus. Small groups provides a place to ask questions, to live it out, and to be there with them when they mess up and want to try again. You can see the transformation in front of your eyes and this is my favorite part.

Small groups train leaders: Most of the leaders we have are because they were too once in a small group and they saw what it did in their life. They want to be a part of life change and helping those younger than them grow in the Lord. By doing this, they are too growing closer to God by learning how to lead effectively. Us on staff are there, pouring into them, as they are pouring into our students and it is so fun to see amazing young leaders come out of it.

Small groups are messy but they are so worth it.

Our summer is coming up really quick. There are only a few weeks left of school. During the summer, our small groups take a break. Meaning, our small groups only meet from October to June and then for the summer all of the groups are officially off. Now, not all of them stop meeting. Actually for the most part most of them still meet during the summer just not in a normal HSM small group as we plan for them through the year. My own group will still meet, but most of it is just hanging out and enjoying the summer together. Wednesday nights are still blocked off for all of us, we still meet, but it usually is at the beach or in a pool of some sort. We still DO LIFE together even we are not going through a curriculum.

I think it is really important that we take a break for the summer, and here are a few reasons why:

It gives our leaders a break. We know it is asking a ton for our leaders to give up a night a week during the year and a break for the summer allows our leaders to take a breath, gear up for the next season. We tell all our leaders, they are the pastors to their students and it can take a toll to care for their group and lead a study, so during the summer we don’t make them lead a study. Most of them still are hanging out with students throughout the summer, but it is always fun and activities. I think giving our leaders a break is a huge reason why we have so many serving for multiple years in a row.

Students, sports and vacations. We realized that during the summer, fall sports pick up big time, students are on vacations and families are gone a lot. So we want to help out the group dynamics by allowing times in which students and leaders don’t need to worry about who is coming or not. During the school year students are pretty such locked down because parents don’t want them missing school. We want families to spend time together and we want our leaders to have to worry about who would be there or not.

We have mid-week services. While groups take a break for the summer, we add 7 weeks of mid-week services. Almost all of our groups meet on Tuesday or Wednesday nights, so during the summer we have services on Wednesdays that have a discipleship setting. It is just music, communion, and a message. Very basic and easy service and it is geared to challenge students in their faith throughout the summer.

Taking a break makes it exciting when groups start-up again. When we take a break, students miss meeting consistently every week. When we start-up registration again in August, students sign up and get friends to sign up as well. We make it a huge deal and students make it a big deal. The energy is always high and exciting when it comes to putting groups together in the fall.

I posted that I was speaking a part of a workshop we are doing for all of our life groups about sex and relationships. My section was how to recover all relationships, including with God, and how to seek to go down the God’s way of the pursuit of relationships and reconciliation.

Here is a part of it:

What you did in the past makes you who you are today but does not define your future.

This is something I always try to remember when it comes to my past relationships. I want to give you a few things that I have leaned hard onto when it comes to the place when we know we have messed up in sex and relationships but I know now that I am forgiven by God, he made me new creation, and I can now be with my wife, without any guilt lingering behind me, for the rest of my life.

Seek after God and Pray for Self-Control

Titus 2:11-14

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

The only reason why I was able to turn this around was because I know I wanted to glorify Jesus in my relationship. And because I knew what I wanted to do, I needed to have self-control in order to not fall into what I used to do. So I prayed, a lot. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, which is something as believers God helps us with as we follow him.

Self-control naturally leads to perseverance (2 Peter 1:6) as we value the long-term good instead of the instant gratification of the world. Self-control is a gift that frees us. It frees us to enjoy the benefits of a healthy body. It frees us to rest in the security of good stewardship. It frees us from a guilty conscience. Self-control restricts the indulgence of our foolish desires, and we find the liberty to love and live as we were meant to.

A big help on the self-control in the relationship is finding someone who wants the same thing as you. I really do believe that is the reason Kristin and I were able to wait to have sex and do things the way it was supposed to go is because we both wanted to glorify Jesus. Were there times in which I wanted to do more. Heck yes! But because we both prayed for self-control and were able to keep it up through the whole relationship.

Let me tell you this, on both parts, guys and girls, if you have your standards and lines, and the person you are dating does not, 99% of the time you will sacrifice your boundaries and go with them. It’s way easier to pull someone down than it is to pull someone up.

Get people around you who you can be real with.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

For me, my downward spiral in the relationship department was cut in half the moment I joined a small group. A group of guys who I confided in, who were there for me every time I messed up. A group of guys who called me out on how stupid I was. And most importantly a group of guys who did not judge me because I messed up but instead lifted me up in prayer.

I’m telling you right now, if you are not being real in your small group, and you are holding things back, and the secrets inside are eating you from the inside out, you are missing out in a huge way. You would be surprised how much your small group leader cares for you. How much your group will come around you and be there for you. You do not have to hold it in any longer because that is a safe place for you to talk and confess. I do not know where I would be if it was not for my small group.

We can let go because God has a hold.

We sin. We mess up. We are to bring it to God. We bring it to him because the Bible says he forgives us because he is faithful and purify us from all of our sin.

1 John 1:9-10

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

I have heard about a born again Christian, can we be a born again virgin? A student asked me this one time. It got me thinking. But it’s not, no where in the Bible does it say this.

Believing wholeheartedly in God’s total forgiveness and making the choice to live righteously and in ways that are pleasing to Him—that is biblical.

You may not physically be a virgin anymore, but when we confess and ask for forgiveness from God, because of his amazing grace, we are then spiritually pure in the eyes of God. Holding onto this thought will ease so much guilt and shame and any guilt and shame you feel after you have done this is not from God from the enemy who does nothing but only want to bring you down with him. Remember you God forgives ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS when we come to Him making us pure because of what Jesus did on the cross.

I’ll pray for you.

I think these are some of the most powerful words we can say to anyone. For me, when someone I know and look up to says those words, it comforts me. Not once have I walked away thinking anything but how awesome it is they would do that on my behalf. Not once have a ever thought they did not do it.

Until I got into ministry.

I’ll pray for you is something I always say. It’s not bad because I really do want to! But then I forget. Am I the only one? I doubt it. The students walk away feeling so much better because their pastor is going to be praying for them, but then what do we do when we forget? I feel bad thinking back at how many times I probably forgot to actually pray like I told them I would. Does make me a bad pastor? I hope not, just a forgetful one. I know my heart is right when I say it because I do want to.

Let me ask this…

What were to happen if we to just stop saying, “I’ll pray for you” and just right then and there pray for our students? I’m sure some do this, and I want to get there. I think actually praying for our students right then and there will do a few things:

  • It will show them you mean what you say.
  • It will show them you actually do want to pray for them and with them.
  • It makes them feel loved by their pastor or leader.
  • It helps them know you believe in the power of prayer.
  • They will do it more and more.
  • The other students who see you do this will know this is a safe place to be able to go to a leader and be prayed for.
  • And…. you will not forget to do it because you just did it.

This is one thing I feel I personally NEED to get better at. So while I am with students on the weekend or in my small group, you will see me praying with them right then and there when something comes up. I want them to know that that is okay.

I want your students to know that that is okay as well!

James 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

I love to be with and hang out with students. I love to spend time with them in our group in that setting. I love to hang out with them outside of the group in life as well. When I first got into ministry, it seems like I was always around and in their lives. All of that was happening and it was amazing but then it has cut back a bit.

What I have noticed it had been cut down ever since this one huge thing happened to me… I got married. Now before you get all crazy, I love my wife.

She is the best thing on this planet. I seem to have noticed that some of the younger, single, people on our team have all this free time that it feels like I used to, But I don’t anymore. I noticed that it’s mostly because I want to hang out and be with my wife and before we got married I would be out with students almost every night of the week it seems like. I asked myself whether or not if I was losing my youth ministry touch or even if I was caring as much as I used to. But then I realize that there’s different seasons in ministry and life circumstances that causes us to read evaluate how much time is spent where. Even though I’m not out as much as I used to be before I was married there are still areas in my life in which my schedule now shows them even more love, but I different type of love, than before.

Now I get to spend time with my wife and I get to be with her. My guys get to see me with her. I now have the responsibility to show them how to love and care for a wife. That’s something I never got to do before. By me not hanging out every night with them I’m showing them how tomake her a priority.Me showing them how to be a great husband is now one of the most important things I do and that’s something me being not married couldn’t do.

Even if my time is not as much as it was it does not mean the quality goes down. Now we are more intentional with our time together. Our small group mean more because that is a scheduled time where we both know that each one of us will be there and that time has gained way more depth within our group.

I have to remember I still can hang out with them outside group midweek and weekends. My wife is awesome and she knows and understands if their is an emergency with a student I have to go. If there is an event I can go and she will even come with, which is even better. Point is, I just communicate more. There is not more random nights (sometimes there are still, which are so fun) but I just need to be smarter with my time. Doing that I get to be with her and be with my guys.

At first I would get jealous of the younger dudes who get to hang out all the time. And part of me misses that. But I wouldn’t trade my wife in for it. Now I get to be with my students and show them love in different, more meaningful ways when we are together and this time in my life is a different sort of ministry that is not lesser of importance, but different. I can’t wait for the next one.

When you are working with students, you will get the parents. Fortunately and unfortunately this is going to happen. Sometimes you are blessed with parents who are on your side and they will bend over backwards to help you and your group and then you have the parents who seem they have been sent from Satan himself to test your patience. Either way, you are going to get some form, hopefully more of the fans, of parents. When working with students I want to be able to partner up with the parents because they get to see their student way more than you do for the most part.

Something I realized this last week, I have not been the best at this. I had the realization that there are students in my own small group where I have not met their parents at all this year. They come to small group which is awesome. They drive themselves, thank the Lord because I don’t have to worry about them not coming because of a ride situation. But this is not okay.

When I have a student in my group I should be looking at it as I’m also taking in that family. I’m a pastor to that student and that family because we both have a huge common interest: their child. I realized this when one of my students parents and sibling were in a huge accident and I have not met them. Thankfully they are alive, but it was awful and it was a big wake up call for me as a student pastor is that in order for me to minister better to my student in this awful situation is to know their family so you know how to respond in times of crisis. I can be a better pastor when I know the family. I need to be a better pastor and know the family.

So when are investing time in our students in our groups, are we going out of our way to get to know and meet the parents of those who are coming to our group and also pouring into? Can we really be the best pastor to our student we can be if we don’t really know the family and background in which they come from? Is it good enough just to minister to that student who comes in the time they come or does it need to be more than that and partner up and fully be in the lives of our students?

These are some questions I am wrestling with and hoping I am able to re-look at some ways I look to partner with parents and get all the way in.

Doubt is good. You read that right. Doses of doubt is healthy. Students doubt all of the time. Do you let them? Or do you try to shove things down their throat with the “right” answer. So what do you do when students are asking some tough questions and are going through a time where their faith is being rocked? This just happened in my small group and we had a pretty sweet discussions all year long.

Here are some things I constantly need to keep in mind when dealing with students and doubt.

It’s going to happen. Student doubt. I bet at some point in your faith you have doubted or questioned what exactly it is you believe. If we know that it is going to happen at some point in our relationship with the students, we should not be shocked or surprised a=or taken back when they do. Our reaction to them doubting is really important.

Students need to feel there is a safe place to do so. when we provide a safe place for student to ask questions of faith it can actually lead to a stronger faith. When they can talk about it they can flesh out a lot of the questions themselves with a leader guiding them, not dictating their beliefs, but helping them talk it out. You would be surprised how much they know already and it is awesome to see the dots connect.

Doubts do not mean they do not believe anymore. It certainly can lead to that, but when my guys comes to me with doubt I always try to be loving and help them walk through it. What I do know that a majority fo the time those students who have a leader that they can go to, and the leader can go find answers together and are able to talk to them in a way that is loving and caring, realizing they are in a vulnerable position, the end result can be the student will walk away with a greater understanding of what they believe.

I point to Psalms. This book is full of people asking tough questions, being frustrating and doubting. I show my students they are not the only ones who do this and can be healthy as long as we are still trying to seek who God is. It is fun to walk through it with them

What else would you add? Is there anything you think would be good to think about when dealing with doubt? I would love to hear.