Friday, April 19, 2013
I am a Pastor to students right now in Jacksonville, Florida. Of all places, I am actually serving in the church I grew up in. Its a total blessing and something my wife and I would not trade for anything. April 1 of this year was my first full year on the job and I have been blown away by so many things. The students are amazing and team of adult volunteers truly are the best people I have ever had the blessing of serving. They are selfless and they are sharing their lives with students. I could not ask for more! Recently there are a few walk aways that I have been challenged with in student ministry and if you don't mind I would like to share them with you.
1. Invest heavy in your Middle School students
I guess there is a statistic out there that says a youth pastor's average time spent at a church is somewhere between 18 - 24 months. So for a solid two years here is a guy who is a leader, mentor, pastor, goofball.....whatever, and then he is gone. I was hit with something this weekend that may have some weight to it.
When a guy steps into a new position, generally he wants to gravitate toward the cooler core of the group. Generally, this lies within the juniors and sophomores. Please don't think this happens in every church setting and with every YP. That's not what I am saying.... but follow me. As you get close to these guys by spending time with them they will get close to you as well. They're your bros... your friends. Is there anything wrong with this? No. Follow me..... After two years your bro's and the kids you got close with graduate.
And then what?
They're gone. And you feel weird. I guess.
Am I saying this is fact. Not for all of us. But maybe for some.
What am I saying? Invest in Middle School. Am I saying that your goal for the length of time you should be at a church should be 6 years? No. But what I am saying is it would be awesome to see a sixth grader work his way through student ministry and grow "to mature manhood (and womanhood), to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Eph. 4:13)
Have I got this plan on lockdown? By no means. But I love Middle School students. They bring so much life to the church. Even if they are annoying and may treat you like a human monkey bar set and try to steal the hat off of your head all the time. They are worth every second of our time. Lately they have been on my mind and heart. In the fall of last year we did a "Middle School Madness" event that was led by our High School leadership team. It was awesome! It was a Warfare theme and the kids loved it. This summer we are doing a Middle School VBX (Xtreme) and I cannot tell you how excited I am about it! I am finding that the growth is not necessarily in the event, but in the time you spend with them. I honestly cannot wait to see where God takes some of these students in their years to come.
2. Press into the ones that press into you.
A mentor in my life told me this. You will have students that want to be around you to hang out and you will have students that want that time to be mentored and go further. Press into them. Mentoring is biblical. It requires time. And honestly, at times, it can become hard to do. If it is boring to you then I can assure you it will be boring to them. But know this, there is nothing better than seeing a student that you have been spending time with and pouring into to turn around and pour into someone else. I guess the biblical word for this would be discipleship.
I have decided to fill my schedule with as many students that I can handle to mentor. Sometimes its lunch. Other students have breakfast with me. This is early! And other times we meet for 30 minutes in my office at the church in the afternoon. Whatever time you can give them, do it. And challenge your adult leaders to do the same. You want students to experience the real deal? The follow the biblical guideline of discipleship.
There are no immediate results. Faith is believing and not seeing. Read Hebrews. Its full of people that believed without seeing. In student ministry, one thing I talk to our leaders about is that you probably will not see a student completely change their spiritual life because of the few months that they spent with you. It may be years later that they come to you and remind you of the impact that you made in their life. To rest in that is to have faith. Let the work that you do reflect the faith that you in Christ. Thanks for reading. I know this probably is not the normal quick blog post under a certain amount of words to catch and keep the attention of a reader. Im really not concerned about all that. But thanks for reading it through. Feel free to comment and discuss, or tell me where I have lost my mind.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Friday, December 31, 2010
Luke 3:23-38. Go ahead.....read it
Today’s quiet time was the genealogy of Jesus from Joseph. Actually it was from Mary. To be honest, when I saw that this was what we were reading I was kind of bummed but God knows whats up. I initially wanted to just write down in the journaling portion of the qt book “Lord, help me to understand why this is beneficial and profitable for me.”....... and after reading the genealogy, I did. But God has His way of speaking to you. I am suppose to listen to Him when I read His Word. I started to read the commentary that came with todays reading. It began to show me the importance and meaning of this portion of scripture. Back in the day, Israel valued the genealogies or the Family Tree’s of people. One of the other gospel writers, Matthew, wrote his much differently. He focuses more on the significance of Jesus being the King of Israel, the Messiah. Luke was more centered on the humanity of Christ. He actually starts his trace from Mary instead of Joseph and goes all the way back to Adam, the son of God. When we read the portion that starts in verse 23 of Luke 3 that says “Joseph the son of Heli” Heli is actually Joseph’s father-in-law, Mary’s father, then in descends from his bloodline. I was pretty pumped to learn something new from the Bible today!
Secondly, some theological importance popped out like a sore thumb. In Genesis 3:15 God was speaking to an audience of three in the Garden: Adam, Eve, and the serpent. He made of reference to someone who will come and strike the head of the serpent and the serpent would bruise the heal of this one. This man would come from the seed of Adam and Eve. That someone was Jesus. Now let me ask a question. How important do you think this genealogy was for someone back in the day when Luke’s gospel was written, who knew these scriptures and knew the promise that God made to Adam and Eve and the serpent in Genesis? I could imagine the excitement of someone who was waiting on this promise and reading the gospel and knowing that Jesus was the one spoken of in Genesis 3. It may have been this genealogy that led some hard jewish leadership, those that knew the Torah in and out, to faith in Jesus Christ. That we will never know but its a cool thought.
I am glad I took some time this morning to read the Word. Even if it was a genealogy. God will teach you something if you are willing to stop, focus on Him, and open yourself to what it is He wants to tell you. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.” Today, it most certainly was for me as I sat and read.
God is good. All the time.
....now back to packing.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Acts 10: 34-48
The Expansion of His Church
This could be the most gracious moment in church history. The disciples and other certain countrymen understood what it meant to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit but here you see that totally change. The change that took place would forever change the church of Jesus Christ. If you read prior to the passage listed above you can see the set-up. How God did this was through Peter and a man named Cornelius. They both had these visions that would bring them to each other and each man had something the other needed. Its pretty much something you could see in a modern television series. Pretty cool. They come together and explained to one another what was up It was like they already knew each other. Have you ever experienced that? When you get to meet other believers in Christ that you have never met before and its like there is an immediate connection. Like you already knew each other. Thats the power of God. Thats the Holy Spirit making that connection between yourself and the other believers that you meet that have that same Jesus dwelling inside of them. When Peter met Cornelius there was a connection. When Peter began to put all of this together with all of those surrounding Cornelius he began to tell the story of Christ. That changed everything.
The name of Jesus Christ has power. I hope you know and understand that. More so, I hope you will believe that today. When Peter started talking about Jesus as the righteous judge over all that God the Father had sent to us, and that men had killed him and three days later he rose from the dead and was seen by Peter and several other hundred people, the Holy Spirit of God fell on those Gentile men just as it did all the Jewish men on the day of Pentecost. It was their gift. It was their gospel. We are those people! It wasn’t held within a people group! It was made available to all people! That common food that Peter saw in his vision that God told him to partake in was the rest of the world. The Lord’s response to Peter in Acts 10:15 as he refused to eat the common food was “ do not call common what I have made clean.” Awesome!
Now we see starting point of the expansion of the church. It was something magnificent. Something I wish I could have been a part of. From verse 45 until the end of the chapter is one of my favorite parts. You know the part in a movie where something crazy is happening around one guy or a small group of guys and all they do is just stand there looking at it either in awe or in fear or in confusion? Recently I watched the Book of Eli, twice. Its an awesome movie. However, I do not recommend it for younger viewers. In the end of the movie there is a scene where there are a bunch of men tearing up and bar. I mean just ransacking the place. But in the midst of it all there is this one guy just standing there looking around in awe of what is happening. I think in these verses, as Peter and his men sees what is going on, there is a similar effect. The Holy Spirit has been dropped on the Gentiles right in front of their eyes and they cannot believe it. All he says, either to himself or to the crowd (i like to think to himself), “What can stop these men from being baptized who all have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” Then he commanded them all to be baptized in the name of Jesus.
The application and challenge today is not difficult. Its worship. Call on Jesus where you are and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Live your life with the abundance of joy and obedience that you have been given as a believer in Christ. Walk with God as Noah and Moses and Peter and other followers did. Let their stories teach you what you will learn. Lastly, seek to know Him more.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Read: Ephesians 2
Have you ever felt like the odd one out? Or were you ever the kid on the playground that never got picked to play in any of the games? I have been that kid. I can remember growing up and feeling left out in many areas. I can remember this one instance in particular growing up. We were on a family vacation in North Carolina. I loved going up there. Mountains are some of God’s greatest creation to look at. Anyways, I remember playing basketball with my cousin that we vacationed with. Let me be honest, basketball is not my sport. I enjoy shooting the basketball, but playing competitively was never my specialty. But I was playing basketball with my cousin and we joined a pick up game with some kids that were in the park where we were. My cousin was awesome at the sport, he actually scored every point. Me on the other hand, I was a joke. I would get the ball and either hand it right back or, wherever I was, I was the kid that took the ridiculous shot that was impossible to make. I was horrible. After the game was over the kids that were playing with us told my cousin he was awesome, were giving him high fives, bowing and worshipping, you get the picture. They then looked at me. No high fives. No “good game.” They basically told me I was a funny looking loser. I remember going to where my dad was sitting and feeling so bad. I wanted to strangle those kids. I told my dad what had happened and I cried like a little girl. I felt like I had no part in the friendship that my cousin and those kids had formed. I was an outsider.
Did you know that at a time, we were outsiders to the heirs of God? We had no part in His Kingdom. You see, the Jews were God’s chosen people that He had selected from the earth. Abraham found favor in God’s eyes and from that favor the Jewish nation was born. I was left out. But God, being full of grace, through His Son Jesus Christ, made a way for all of us! This brings joy to my heart like none other! Think about that for a minute! We are those Gentiles mentioned. By the blood of Jesus Christ we were bought into the family of God! This is why we worship and live for Him! I know that this goes far beyond the illustration mentioned above, but centering in on verse 19 really brings the thought home. “We are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, the members of God’s household.” We belong to our God! We fit in, perfectly! We don’t have to feel bad and cry to our dad’s for being left out! Be encouraged today by this thought and live like you have been given a seat at the table of the King.