Friday, October 31, 2008

What is your food?

Jesus said, "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work." - John 4:34.

My senior pastor asked me and the rest of our staff this question yesterday and I can't stop thinking about it for my life, for my family and for my ministry.

What's your food?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Networking in youth ministry

I am so pumped to be a part of the youth ministry network in my local area. We met a couple of weeks ago and I sense that God has brought a great group of guys and gals to shepherd the students in this area.

My philosophy of networking in youth ministry is that we are all going to live together forever so we might as well get used to it here on earth! We aren't competing for market share in our churches. Jesus is building the church. If you aren't in a network in your area, get out the phone book and start calling churches and set up a time to get together to share a meal, discuss an important article or passage of scripture and pray! Thank you Southwest Connection for being a vital part of my personal and ministry health while I serve at SGC!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I need a sticker chart

The older my kids get the more God is using them to sanctify me. The other day Josiah has this conversation about me while I was at work.

Josiah: "Mom, I think Daddy needs a sticker chart!"
Julie: "Why?"
Josiah: "Because he needs to start listening."

I'll take that as strong HINT from my five year old that I need to change.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Three gifts from God

Today I am so thankful for these three gifts from God.

I am realizing more and more in ministry that my passion for discipleship must begin in the lives of these three gifts from God.

I can be replaced in the lives of teenagers by another youth pastor.

These kids only get one dad!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sin and the Son

"He who does not believe that God will punish sin, will not believe that he will pardon it through the blood of his Son."- Charles Spurgeon

I am praying that our students will wrestle with this statement on Sunday as we study the book of Nahum.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Formula vs. Formation

After spending the last few days focused on what it takes to create a transformational youth ministry, I am convinced that we must shift our focus from the word formula to formation. It's not about finding the right formula first, rather, it's about student ministry pastors being committed to spiritual formation first. Colossians 1:28 "Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ." (ESV)

If we start with the word formation our formulas might look different. What are you presenting to the world the day the students from your ministry graduate?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I never wanna stop...

LEARNING about student ministry! Over the last five days I've had the privilege of walking through Enroute and Shaping a Missional Community from Sonlife Ministries. These two experiences have taught me a lot and reminded me why I am serving in student ministries.

I love the new direction this ministry is taking and I am so pumped to start implementing what I've learned with my team over the next months and years.

Thank you Matt Wilks!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Open their eyes

"Open my eyes so that I may see wonderful things in your law." - Psalm 119:18 I have been praying this verse every Sunday morning for the last five years for our students before we gather on Sunday mornings. Earlier this week, my good friend Seth Hanson, sent me Dietrich Bonhoeffer's reflection on this verse,

"The one whose eyes have been opened by God looks into a world of wonders. That which previously looked dead to me is full of life, that which was filled with contradictions is resolved in a higher unity, the severe demand becomes a gracious commandment. In the midst of human words I hear God's eternal word, in past history I recognize God who is present and his saving work in me. The tender words of encouragement become a new claim of God upon my life, the unbearable burden becomes the easy yoke (Mt. 11:30), The great miracle in the law of God is the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through him the word comes to life, the contradictions are resolved, the obvious receives an unfathomable depth. O Lord, open my eyes."

Lets be committed to praying this simple prayer before we teach the Word of God, while we teach the Word of God and after we've taught the Word of God to our students. Lets never forget that we aren't the ones to open their eyes.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What my youth ministry needs me to be...

"The brokenness of spirit which makes no resistance to the Father's hand is a main element of fertility in souls wherein He works. It is not power He seeks from us, but weakness; not resistant force, but 'yieldingness' to Him. All power is His: His strength is perfected in weakness." - author unknown.

I am becoming more convinced every week that my youth ministry needs me to be "broken" and "yielding" more than "intact" and "resisting."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

PPT Nirvana in youth ministry

Seth Godin has a great blog post on Nine steps to PowerPoint Magic that I think can help us use PowerPoint more effectively in our teaching and help us reach "PPT Nirvana (this is funny...and no, I am not a Buddhist)" as we communicate to students and parents. Three of his nine points stood out to me on the first read...

First, "Don't use PowerPoint at all. PowerPoint distracts you from what you really need to do... look people in the eye, tell a story, tell the truth. Do it in your own words, without artifice and with clarity. There are times PowerPoint is helpful, but choose them carefully." - What are the helpful ways PPT can be used in our teaching? Should we use it at all? One way I think we can it can be more useful is to put up an image instead of the word(s).

Second, "words belong in memos. PowerPoint is for ideas." - We need to take the time to find the right image to help our students engage with the Word of God.

Third, "Short! Do you really need an hour for the presentation? Twenty minutes? Most of the time, the right answer is, "ten." Ten minutes of breathtaking big ideas with big pictures and big type and few words and scary thoughts and startling insights. And then, and then, spend the rest of your time just talking to me. Interacting. Answering questions. Leading a discussion." - This one has really caused me to stop and think hard about my 30-40 minute teaching times with our students. UGH! For example, this week I am teaching on the minor prophet Jonah. Could I have a 10 minute "presentation" and then a 20 minute "Q&A?"

Monday, October 06, 2008

The aim of our charge in youth ministry - 4

1 Timothy 1:5 "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." – ESV

The aim of our charge is love and Paul encourages Timothy that this love comes from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. As student ministry leaders we must possess a sincere faith, a faith that isn't committed to the religion of Christianity, but to the relationship of Christianity. Our students need to see in us a faith that can move mountains, not one that gives up when things don't go our way. Our students need to see that our faith is driving us to be more and more dependent on Jesus everyday than our paycheck. We must let our students see into our own lives as our faith is built and challenged by the blessings and sin that is in this world. We can't shut them off and present a faith that never questions, rather, we need to let them see that we wrestle with the things they wrestle's just that we're a little farther down the road and the circumstances are different. We must seriously wrestle whether or not our faith is hypocritical as we walk through the halls of our churches and repent if our ministries are lacking love. Our students need to see our faith, not just hear about it. "Our love must not be a thing of words and fine talk. It must be a thing of action and sincerity" - 1 John 3:8

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The aim of our charge in youth ministry - 3

1 Timothy 1:5 "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." – ESV

The aim of our charge is love and Paul encourages Timothy that this love comes from a pure heart and a good conscience. Our students are longing for people to walk alongside them who have a conscience that is free from guilt. We as leaders can't keep willfully sinning and call our students to turn from their own sin. We can't fulfill the aim of our charge when we are willfully living in sin because we are pretending to love. Our students need leaders whose minds are filled with the Word of God and who have the guts to come before God like David in Psalm 19:12-13 "12 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression."

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The aim of our charge in youth ministry - 2

1 Timothy 1:5 "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." – ESV

The aim of our charge is love and Paul encourages Timothy that this love comes from a pure heart. Loving our students comes from a heart that God sees. It comes from a heart where God weighs every motive. We don’t love our students outwardly, while our inner motive is to be like by them. If we are caught in this duality we need to cry out like David for a pure heart (Ps.51:10). We need to deal with our sin, confess it and ask God to renew a right spirit within us. Our students need leaders who possess hearts that have been cleansed from self-centeredness and have nothing but the glory of God as their focus. Our students need leaders who actively practice guarding their hearts to remain pure (Prov. 4:23). Our students need leaders whose hearts are solely devoted to God, committed to telling His story and inviting them into it. Søren Kierkegaard summed it up well when he said, “Purity of heart is to will one thing.”