Saturday, September 29, 2012

When Church Kids Go Bad

A number of years ago I was almost ready to throw in the towel on youth ministry. Over the course of a few weeks it seemed like every time I turned around I was having to deal with another student acting up, and I was getting fed up. There were the kids who came from tough family situations that in many ways were expected to act up. There were the kids who were churchy kids who were being knuckle heads and they knew better. And then there were the kids who simply didn't care. They were only there because their parents made them come and they were completely indifferent - absolutely apathetic.

During this time I reached out for help. I purchased Mentor Me - a series of CDs on which Doug Fields interviews several youth workers about various topics. God used one of those CDs to really give me some perspective, and more-than-likely, to help me continue on as a youth pastor. The title said it all: "Off the Wall Kids and Youth Ministry." The person being interviewed was Les Christie. I later picked up Christie's book When Church Kids Go Bad: How to Love and Work with Rude, Obnoxious, and Apathetic Students, from which the content of the interview flowed.

I recently took the time to read through the entire book, and it was such a refreshing reminder about the stage of life our students are in. It gives very practical ideas about how to shepherd and guide them through the turbulent waters of adolescence. Every youth ministry needs to establish healthy boundaries and appropriate discipline to help students. This book is a great tool to assist you in creatively, positively, and biblically establishing a healthy environment in your youth ministry. (Note: It could also easily be utilized and adapted by parents in the home setting.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tonight's Gonna Be A Good Night...Here's Why!

Tonight The Wire Small Groups Kickoff for the school year! We're doing groups by grades in homes! You don't want to miss out! Click here for info. Be sure to watch the video to get yourself pumped up!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Everyone's Called to Youth Ministry ... They Just Don't Know It Yet!

Adult leaders come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve had the privilege of building teams comprised of college students, married couples, divorced people, grandparents, people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and even one wonderful woman in her 90s! That’s right ... 90s! Some of these people have every reason to not be involved in youth ministry. They’re busy with school, work several jobs, have their own families to care for, or have been put on the shelf by society. Nevertheless, they have joined our team and volunteered their time to invest in students.

Here's what I've learned: You can't count anybody out when it comes to working with students. 

Taking this a step further, Darren Sutton, in his brand new book that just came out today, says "Everyone's called to youth ministry ... they just don't know it yet." In fact, he couldn't say it louder than making that statement the title of his book.

In the book Sutton argues his point by suggesting that many people are not aware of their calling to work with students because of unspoken, unrealistic, or unclear expectations. These, he points out, are leadership issues. He identifies different personality types and how those people can get involved in youth ministry in a wide variety of ways when they are intentionally invited, trained, placed, and cared for appropriately. I love his line, "Everyone has a story to share with the next generation." The book includes lots of stories and practical tips, as well as an appendixes full of great resources. Every youth worker needs Everyone's Called to Youth Ministry ... They Just Don't Know It Yet!

Order your copy of the book here.

Darren Sutton has served in youth ministry for over 20 years. He has a passion for students and the adults who influence them. Together with his wife, Katie, he co-founded Millennial Influence and produces a weekly podcast reaching parents of teenagers. Darren and Katie have three teenagers of their own and Darren currently serves a student ministry in Texas.
If you are a youth pastor, pick up a copy for every member of your church. Just charge it to your senior pastor's account. He won't mind. lol!

Great Small Group Promo Video!

Related: Joinin a Small Group Music Video

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Family Waffles and Wiffle Ball Slideshow

Slideshow from our great event Family Waffles and Wiffle Ball on Saturday!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Videos: How Would You Do With This Lady As Your Teacher?

Our youngest daughter used to love playing teacher. We were a rough class! She would imitate her teacher from school - apparently she had a rough class too. lol!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What We Use For Small Group Curriculum

We've been using the LIVE curriculum in our student small groups since 2010 and we love it! Here's are a few reasons why ...
  • It's great for our volunteers (very accessible and user-friendly). 
  • It's customizable.
  • It's biblically-based and covers a wide array of relevant, real-life topics kids are dealing with. Our kids will leave their years in small group having been exposed to what God has to say about issues they face in life.
  • It's loaded with questions, not just information. It's about discussion, not dictation. Questions lead to conversations which foster relationships.
  • It has great features for connecting with parents and students outside of small group.  
Click here for more information, to give it a test run, or to order!

LIVE Promo 2012 from Digital Stache on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Baptism Video 9.16.12

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Glam Girls' Tea Party

On Wednesday we had our Glam Girls' Tea Party for middle school girls and their moms (or grandmas, aunts, mentors). It was a fantastic night of seeing girls connect with their moms and challenged to be the women God has created them to be.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Pastor by Eugene Peterson

Today I finished reading Eugene Peterson's memoir, The Pastor. It was a wonderful read, and a look into how a young man with absolutely no desire at all to be a pastor ended up being exactly that. Peterson, most widely known for his modern translation of the Bible, The Message, takes readers back to his roots as a young boy growing up in the mountains of Montana; along his journey of exploring different career options; into the moment of discovering, much to his surprise, that his vocation was indeed to be a pastor; through the excitement of beginning a new church in Maryland; through his disillusionment with pastoral ministry; into the personal struggles and challenges of embracing and fully living out his calling; all the way up to his present situation. A great story-teller, he draws readers into his life and the exploration of the heart of a pastor. 

As a pastor who contends with many of the same issues, the book was one that caused me to pause and reflect on my vocation, and encouraged my heart deeply. I highly recommend this book to anyone, especially for anyone working in the local church or who has ambitions to do so. It would be terrific mandatory reading for those studying for ministry in Bible colleges or seminaries.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

See Ya At The Pole 2012

Each year in September, more than 3 million students from all the world participate in See You At The Pole™. Students in more than 20 countries take part. In places like Canada, Korea, Japan, Turkey, and the Ivory Coast, students are responding to God and taking seriously the challenge to pray.

This year, See You At The Pole is happening on Wednesday, September 26th 30-minutes before school begins. Find resources for leading and/or participating at Spread the word!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Israel Houghton "Te Amo" Featuring T-Bone

T-Bone ... my favorite Christian rapper of all time! Been following him since before Redeemed Hoodlum dropped in 1991. Love this video with Israel! Enjoy!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Acts ... Not a Blueprint to Follow, But a Story to Enter

"There is this about story: when we get caught up in a story, we don't know how it is going to end. Nor do we know who else is going to be part of the story .... Nothing in a skillfully told story is predictable. But also, nothing is without meaning - every detail, every word, every name, every action is part of the story.

"... If we get acquainted with church in language that comes to us in the form of story, we don't know exactly what is going to take place or who will be in it or how it will end. We can only trust or not trust the storyteller to be honest in the story he or she tells. If the story of the first church is told in the form of story, we are given encouragement to understand our new church also in the form of story. That means we can't know every detail of how it will look, who will be in it, or how it will end. The only thing we know for sure is that it is the story of Jesus being retold with us being the ones listening, responding, following, believing, obeying - or not.

"Knowing that helps enormously in reading Acts....

"Acts is not a manual with blueprints and a set of instructions on how to be a church. Acts is not a utopian fantasy on what a perfect church would look like. Acts is a detailed story of the ways in which the first church became a church. A story is not a script to be copied. A story develops a narrative sense in us so that we, alert to the story of Jesus, will be present and obedient and believing as we participate in the ways that he Holy Spirit is forming the Jesus life in us. The plot (Jesus) is the same. But the actual places and circumstances and names will be different and form a narrative that is unique to our time and place, circumstances and people.

"Churches are not franchises to be reproduced as exactly as possible wherever and whenever - in Rome and Moscow and London and Baltimore - the only thing changed being the translation of the menu.

"But if we don't acquire a narrative sense, a story sense, with the expectation that we are each one of us uniquely ourselves - participants in the unique place and time and whether of where we live and worship - we will always be looking somewhere else or to a different century for a model by which we can be an authentic biblical church. The usefulness of Acts as a story, and not a prescription or admonition, is that it keeps us faithful to the plot, Jesus, and at the same time free to respond out of our own circumstances and obedience."

- Eugene Peterson, The Pastor: A Memoir (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2011), pp. 118-119.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Eugene Peterson on The Americanization of Church

"Later on in my young adulthood .... Fresh imagery [of the church] was now provided by American business. While I was growing up in my out-of-the-way small town, a new generation of pastors had reimagined church ... [as] an ecclesiastical business with a mission to market spirituality to consumers and make them happy.

"... The church was [now conceived of] as a business opportunity that would cater to the consumer tastes of spiritually minded sinners both within and without congregations. It didn't take long for American pastors to find that this worked a lot more effectively as a strategy .... Here were tried-and-true methods developed in the American business world that had an impressive track record of success.

"As I was preparing myself to begin the work of developing a new congregation, I observed that pastors no longer preached fancy sermons on what the church should be. They could actually do something about the shabby image the church had of itself. They could use advertising techniques to create an image of church as a place where Christians and their friends could mix with successful and glamourous people. Simple: remove pictures of ... God ... from the walls of the churches and shift things around a bit to make the meeting places more consumer friendly. With God depersonalized and then repackaged as a principle or formula, people could shop at their convenience for whatever sounded or looked as if it would make their lives more interesting and satisfying on their terms. Marketing research quickly developed to show just what people wanted in terms of God and religion. As soon as pastors knew what it was, they could give it to them.

"... I was watching both the church and my vocation as a pastor in it being relentlessly diminished and corrupted by being redefined in terms of running an ecclesiastical business. The ink on my ordination papers wasn't even dry before I was being told by experts, so-called, in the field of church that my main task was to run a church after the manner of my brother and sister Christians who run service stations, grocery stores, corporations, banks, hospitals, and financial services. Many of them wrote books and gave lectures on how to do it. I was astonished to learn in one of these best-selling books that the size of my church parking lot had far more to do with how things fared in my congregation than my choice of texts in preaching. I was being lied to and I knew it.

"This is the Americanization of congregation. It means turning each congregation into a market for religious consumers, an ecclesiastical business ran along the lines of advertising techniques, organizational flow charts, and energized by impressive motivational rhetoric. But this was worse. This pragmatic vocational embrace of American technology and consumerism that promised to rescue congregations from ineffective obscurity violated everything - scriptural, theological, experiential - that had formed my identity as a follower of Jesus and as a pastor. It struck me as far worse than the earlier ... crusader illusions of church. It was a blasphemous desecration of the way of life to which the church had ordained me ...."

- Eugene Peterson, The Pastor: A Memoir (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2011), pp. 111-113.

Questions for Reflection:

  • What do you understand as the church's mission in the world? 
  • How have you seen the Americanization of the church in your context as Peterson described?
  • How has this impacted the way the church views itself and how it interacts with people both within and without?
  • Is there a place for business principles and practices in the church? Explain.
  • Is there a line that needs to be drawn between church and business practices? If so, what is it, how should it be determined, and how should it look in practice?
  • What struck you the most in Peterson's critique?
  • Is there anything you need to pray about or anything you need to/can change in your context?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What is the Church?

"The church is the single, multiethnic family promised by the creator God to Abraham. It was brought into being through Israel’s Messiah, Jesus; it was energized by God’s Spirit; and it was called to bring the transformative news of God’s rescuing justice to the whole creation." - N.T. Wright

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Video: Live Worship from SCC Spanish Church

I was blessed this past Sunday to have my daughter Claudia leading worship in the Middle School service, and my wife Adriana leading across the hall in the Spanish service. Here's some video of one of the songs from Spanish church. Sorry it's a little shaky. Enjoy anyways!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"My Father's World"

This is my Father's world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father's world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker's praise.
This is my Father's world:
he shines in all that's fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world; O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world; the battle is not done;
Jesus, who died, shall be satisfied,
and earth and heaven be one.

- Hymn by Maltbie Babcock

Monday, September 3, 2012