Saturday, December 31, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
In his first coming our Lord came in our flesh and in our weakness; in this middle coming he comes in spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and majesty.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Yesterday Single Parent Ministry hosted 140 children for our annual Christmas Mall. If you aren’t sure what that even is, I will tell you. J Each year we set up a “mall” in the Commons for children of single parent families to choose gifts to give their primary care givers. It might be mom and dad, mom and grandma or any other combination you can come up with. We start them off with a hot breakfast prepared by Kelly Haney, Dean Andree and team. From there, they are put into small groups with 2 adult leaders to rotate through other stations.
They choose gifts, wrap gifts, make Christmas Cards, decorate sugar cookies, make a holiday craft and visit with Santa. We also run Christmas movies on the big screens for them to watch while in between stations. What does it take to pull off an event like this you ask? How about 65 volunteers, 30 dozen eggs, 40 lbs of bacon, 20 jars of sprinkles, 200 candy canes, 200 sugar cookies and 2 gallons of icing just to start.
We had many new faces attend this event this year, and two families that came together and wanted to rotate through the stations together. One family had been to IBC twice, heard the announcement last Sunday and thought they would try it out. The children were older then our typical crowd, but they all seemed to enjoy being together and having fun! They really loved how IBC is the hands and feet of Jesus in the community!
On another note…one of our single moms that came through On Track this fall listened to another mom’s struggle through a custody case and really wanted to do something to help with her legal fees. Her 10 year old daughter thought they should hold a garage sale, so they decided to get the word out, named their project “In His Love”, and secured a location…the IBC parking lot. They held it on Saturday, and aside from raising over $1400, they met a man from Jerusalem. He is Muslim and purchased about $400 worth of goods. During his shopping trip they were able to chat with him a bit, and one of the men there was able to witness to him.
I would say that God had his hands ALL over the single parent ministry this weekend, and He provided in many ways to many people. The joy on the faces of children enjoying the holiday season and not having any worries for at least one day makes it all worth it. The parents get a morning off to themselves to refresh, relax or prepare for the holidays. The gratitude I have for each hand that helped make this weekend happen is more than I can express.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
We can never say "thank you" enough.
- We provided every leader with a small gift that was nicely wrapped...
- There was a professional photographer to take pictures of individuals and couples...
- We presented a short video of our students saying "thank you" to leaders...
- I spent a few minutes sharing a story about how life on life investment makes a difference...
- We recognized leaders who have served 3 years or longer...
- We had great food and beverage...
- "Thank you" was said over and over again...
Friday, December 2, 2011
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
This is an amazing prayer I discovered on Christine Sine's website, "Godspace". Enjoy
The coming of our Lord is near,
And we wait in joyful expectation,
Draw close, Lord Jesus Christ,
Shed your light on all that is filled with darkness.
The coming of our Lord is near,
And we wait with hope filled hearts,
Draw close, God’s beloved son,
Teach us the wonder of your all embracing love.
The coming of our Lord is near,
And we wait for God’s redeeming presence,
Draw close, Saviour of all creation,
Our hearts ache for justice, our minds long for holiness, our spirits seek for unity.
The coming of our Lord is near,
And we wait for the fulfillment of God’s promises,
Draw close, reconciler and transformer of all things,
Renew our world, restore your peace, display your righteousness.
The coming of our Lord is near,
And we wait for God’ light to shine over all the earth,
Draw close, pain bearer, life giver, love sharer,
Shine through us, in us, around us, shine for the world to see.
The coming of our Lord is near,
And we wait attentive to the signs of his coming,
Draw close, Lord Jesus Christ,
God beyond imagining, fully God yet truly human, draw close
Friday, November 25, 2011
And then they stand right next to me in line, worried about having enough money to buy a newspaper.
Foolish? Or very wise indeed; since they, too, pragmatically are convinced there is no such God."
Sunday, November 20, 2011
In what places or environments have you seen students connect with the Divine?
It’s a question posed at the theological forum at the National Youth Worker’s Convention. Yes, youth workers thinking about and engaging theology is kind of important. Maybe not expected but very important.
By definition “theology” simply means “God / Word”, the study of God. In many ways those of us who have a passion to see students connect to God and know him passionately are theologians. Whether we know it or not we develop a theology of student ministry hoping to connect students to the Divine.
The panel consisted of people I’ll call “real theologians”. Sure, we are all theologians whether we like it or not, but these men and women actually have credentials.
The panel included Andrew Root, Cheryl Crawford, Jim Hampton, Kenda Creasy Dean, Adam English and Kara Powell. Yes, that’s some serious brainpower.
The room was standing room only as these youth workers really have a desire to learn about “The interaction between human and divine action.” To be honest it just seems like a fancy way to discuss how students connect with God. It was encouraging to see youthworkers who may be perceived as shallow and good at games eager to learn and interact at a little deeper level.
So, back to the question at hand, “In what places or environments have you seen students connect with the divine?”
The panel had some great answers. Here’s what I jotted down.
· In the wilderness where students can interact with creation
· In community as they see God work in and through those around them
· Working with people with disabilities (this surprised me but I loved it)
· Service and working towards battling injustice
· In worship, actually knowing and understanding the words they are singing
· Brokenness and suffering
· In Scripture, seeing themselves in the story and finding what God says to them
It’s a great discussion. Is there any greater calling for a youth worker than to work towards connecting students with God? At the end of the day after all the smoke settles that’s the purest form of student ministry.
How have you seen students connect with the Divine? There are those special times when the space between heaven and earth is a little thinner. What’s your experience?
Saturday, November 19, 2011
“I see a generation,
rising up to take it’s place
with selfless faith.”
Yesterday was an awesome day here at the NYWC. Being able to connect with old friends and meet new ones is always a highlight for me. I learn great stuff from seminars but my greatest encouragement comes from sitting at a table with other youthworkers learning from their heart and experience.
Although going to Lars Rood’s seminar was a close second, I would have to say the most powerful moment for me was singing the lyrics you see above.
Ever since I first heard “Hosanna” I’ve thought, “This is a song about the next generation”. This song reflects my heart and the prayer I’ve prayed for students and myself for almost 25 years.
Something powerful happened in my heart when around 3500 youthworkers sang these lyrics together. I had this moment where I felt as if through the people in this room, fouled up needy youthworkers, where going to be used by God to raise up a generation who selflessly share the gospel in word and deed.
What an exciting privilege to work along side men and women who love kids. As Tic said, we're a family, yes, a dysfunctional family.
So, youthworkers, let’s continue to pray that God will declare his greatness to the next generation. Let’s model a heart that cries out..
“heal my heart and make it clean,
open up my eyes to the things unseen,
show me how to love like you have loved me”
Have a great day 2!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
I wrote this last year before attending the nywc in Nashville. The danger is still very much a reality for me.
Why NYWC is a dangerous place...
...well, at least for me.
In fact any place where there are other youth workers who do what I do can be a struggle. You see, I struggle with all kinds of pride issues. It seems God uses gatherings like these to shed a huge spotlight on the places that may be in the dark.
I love to be noticed.
I am naturally competitive
I play the comparison game
I typically feel I'm a little better than others
I typically feel I'm a little worse than others
I want to be seen as important
And yes, "I" was used with intentionality. Those of you who don't struggle with these same issues please don't judge, you have your own.
My hope and prayer for myself and others who struggle with insecurity and ego is that this weekend will be a time we genuinely walk in humility and "esteem others as better than ourselves". It is true, God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
I can't afford to miss what I can receive from others and the little I can offer.
Now, on to Atlanta
This year as I'm thinking and praying for Atlanta here are some things I'm very excited about.
I'm going to connect with a lot of old friends.
I've been in youth ministry for around 25 years. Yes, I'm ancient. Some of my closest friends are men and women I've worked with over the years. I'm not great at keeping old relationships fresh but I'm trying to learn. These relationships are important to me.
I'm going to learn a lot.
I have a fear. As I get older I'm afraid I will stop learning. I'm afraid I'll be that old fart that knows everything and can learn nothing. With that in mind I'm going to seek to learn everything I can this weekend. I'm going to learn in seminars and through conversations. I'll be coming home better equipped to serve and lead the next generation.
God is going to speak to me.
When I get away and focus on my soul God always speaks to me. I need to hear from HIM.
So yes, nywc is still a dangerous place for me but the gospel is good enough to break through my crusty heart and move me closer to the heart of God. Please say a little prayer for me and all the youth workers who will be in Atlanta.
May youth workers be better equipped, more connected to Jesus and more passionate as a result of what Jesus is going to do.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
I love what our middle school ministry is doing. In conjunction with their teaching series on Sunday mornings they have challenged families to "sleep with the poor" for one night. Our hope is that middle school students would feel what the poor feel in some small way.
Here's a story from one of our super star parents, Kristi Herring.
So as I mentioned in my status update last night, we are joining Carter (and the IBC Middle School Ministry) on a Journey of Awareness Challenge over the next 5 weeks, fasting from everyday things to experience what living in poverty is all about.
Our first challenge: to sleep on the floor.
In the world today, there are around 2.2 billion kids. Sadly, over 640 million of them live without adequate shelter. 640 million of the 2.2 billion. 640 million children will go to bed tonight, but it won't be in a bed. The majority of these kids end up on the streets at night, sleeping on the hard ground, no pillow or blanket to cushion their heads.
This week you get to choose a day where you will experience the realism of living in poverty by sleeping on the floor. If you want to add more challenge to the expereicn, take with you no pillow, no blanket, and no additional padding. Sounds tough right? It is tough, and that's the point. You will experience what 640 million children experience on a nightly basis. So as you lie on the floor tonight, tossing and turning, trying to stay warm, pray for the millions of kids throughout the world who are also sleeping on the ground tonight.
So last night was our night. One night on the floor.
Paige made it through her bedtime story lying on the floor, but opted for her bed to sleep. She is 5. We gave her a pass. But it caused me to wonder, how many of those 640 million bedless children are 5 and under. I probably don't want to know. Paige said "mommy, they could sleep in the grass. it's soft". I said yes, but it can be wet, and cold, and there are ants, and bugs. She prayed for the children without beds, and then added her routine nighttime prayer of "help me to not think about bad things, or have bad dreams, help me to think about happy things and have happy dreams." And went to sleep in her cozy bed. Her biggest worry at age 5 is bad dreams.
Audrey took the challenge fully. When I went upstairs to go "to bed", I found her asleep, face down, on her floor, with no blanket, no pillow, nothing under her, or over her. Of course, she was wearing her warmest fuzzy, fleece pajamas. 640 million children don't have fuzzy warm pajamas. And, this morning I found her in her bed. She said she woke up at midnight, her back hurt, and she got in her bed. I am proud of her for trying.
Scott has been feeling under the weather, and decided to postpone his challenge night. I don't blame him. But it did make me think...I wonder how many of those in poverty, without beds, or even without homes are feeling under the weather. The can't postpone their night on the ground, and probably don't have a Dr. appt for the next day either. We are priveleged indeed.
Carter made it all night on his floor (once he cleared it of the dirty clothes). He did take with him a pillow and comforter for cover. I asked him if she slept, or if he woke up during the night. He slept. Of course he did. He has always been a good sleeper. He could sleep on a rock, like a rock. I did catch him getting about 30 minutes of comfort in his bed after he woke up at 7am this morning though. He has seen poverty first hand in New Orleans, and San Antonio. And this will be just another reminder to him to not take our priveleged life for granted.
I did not sleep as well as Carter. But actually, better than I expected. I took the "easy way out" and brought my pillow and fuzzy brown blanket for cover. I did sleep directly on the carpet which was rough and scratchy, but I was thankful it was not the hard wood floor that has been on my wish list.
With a lighter blanked than my usual weighty comforter (I need it, I know some of you have this same quirk), and tossing and turning to find a comfortable position without one of my limbs falling asleep while I was still awake, I prayed and eventually found sleep. But I continued to wake up off and on during the night. Tossing. Turning.
Often my first thoughts were selfish "oh man, my arm is asleep again", "my back hurts", "I wonder what time it is...HOW MUCH LONGER TIL MORNING" (I was not where I could see my clock, which was another adjustment). But I would then remind myself to PRAY.
Tossing. Turning. Praying.
Praying for the people do this every night. Without a pillow. Without a blanket. Without a shelter.
I don't know how many times I woke up, but it was often. In fact I was READY when my alarm went off. Sleeping on the floor certainly kept me from hitting the snooze button. I was up with my alram. Glad the night was over. My ONE night on the floor.
I came downstairs, brewed my coffee, and sat down for my daily Bible reading. I'm a few days behind in my One Year Bible, which is obvioulsy no accident on God's part. I was reading the October 29th reading today, starting a new book, the book of Lamentations. A time of misery and desolation for Jerusalem. Yet as I read these words, I was not thinking about Jerusalem, but of how they could be true of someone RIGHT NOW, TODAY, in our WORLD, even in our COUNTRY, even in our LOCAL AREA.
These are all from the first two chapters of Lamentations...just the phrases that jumped off the pages at me as I read.
"she sobs through the night, tears stream down her cheeks"
"she has no place of rest"
"now she lies in the gutter with no one to lift her out"
"little children and tiny babies are fainting and dying in the streets. 'mama we want food' they cry, and collapse in their mothers' arms"
I read these verses. And I wept. For all those in poverty today I wept. For the mothers who cannot feed their children. The babies that don't have beds. I sat in my beautiful lovely home, drinking a warm cup of coffee, in my warm robe and slippers and I just wept.
One night on the floor is not enough. We need to do more.
Want less. Give more. Pray more.
I've been kind of stressed out lately. Still adjusting to working part time and trying to balance that with being a mom and wife. Suddently, this morning, I realized 99% of my daily stress comes from the priveleges millions of people would be grateful to have.
Three kids. Sometimes I need a break from them. I have three amazing kids. They are all healthy.
Ugh, the house is a mess. I have a house. A considerably nice house.
What's for dinner? Who knows. There is plenty of food in my pantry. Even if I didn't make it to the store this week, or next, my kids would not go hungry.
The laundry never ends. My kids are clothed. I could not do laundry for a couple weeks, and they would not go dirty or naked.
Pick up your shoes! Why do you have to kick them off right here in the way? My kids have shoes. Plenty of shoes.
Will my husband be home at a reasonable dinner time? He has a job. A good one.
Have you finished your homework? How much homework do you have? My kids are getting a GREAT education and amazing schools.
Choir. Dance. Football. Dance. Piano. I LIVE in my minivan, driving kids around. I have a car to get us where we need to go.
Paperwork. Desk work. Entering receipts, balancing to the bank. So BEHIND on managing all these pesky things. We have money to manage, money to buy eveyrthing we need, and even what we WANT.
And the list could go on.
For every stress I have, there is a blessing that I tend to take for granted. Yet these are my biggest worries and stresses. Not if I can feed my kids. What I will feed my kids (and will my picky eaters eat it) Not where will my kids sleep. But WHEN will they go to sleep so I can have a break. Suddenly after a night on the floor, all this seems a little silly to even be stressed about. In fact, I'm embarrassed and ashamed that I let these things stress me as much as I do.
Yes, I got all this from spending one night on the floor. And this is just the beginning of our 5 week Journey to Awareness. Wow. I'm expectiong God to speak in big ways to our family...and look forward to what we learn, and what actions we take.
Want less. Give more. Don't take things for granted. Don't let my "stuff" stress me out. Pray more.
"Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer. Plead for the children as they faint with hunger in the streets."
Try a night on the floor. I recommend it.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
I'm in season 2 and being reminded of many issues. Friday Night Lights isn't a "Christian" show and there are themes that should concern those of us who care about students. It does a descent job depicting the highs and lows of high school culture. The series explores deep issues on parenting, marriage, friendships and integrity. It also gives great reminders for those of us who care about high school students.
Here are a couple that have struck me.
1. There is always more going on underneath the surface.
When a student "acts out" and displays bad behavior they're probably doing what makes sense.
Matt Seracen is the senior QB 1 of the Dillon Panthers and a very responsible kid. Out of the blue he begins to drink heavily and become irresponsible. In an effort to "sober" him up and get his attention Coach Taylor gets in his face and chews him a new rear end.
As Matt breaks, it becomes obvious there is a lot going on underneath the surface. Matt's dad is in Iraq and has left Matt with the responsibility of his grandmother struggling with dementia. At least 4 people important in his life have left him. The scene ends in a climax of Matt saying,
"everybody leaves me, what's wrong with me"?
If I were 17 and dealing with the pressure Matt was dealing with I'd probably act out the same way and worse. It makes sense that he is angry, hurt and stressed. Why wouldn't he want to medicate that kind of pain?
When dealing with struggling students we must always be willing to take the time and energy to "drill down" and find out what's going on. When confronting students let's do it with a heart of compassion and a desire to understand issues of the heart driving behavior or attitude. Then and only then can we apply the truth and love of the gospel to the heart.
2. Sometimes you have to pursue the individual
I'm very impressed and challenged by the Dillon Panthers head coach Eric Taylor. Sure he's rough around the edges but he often takes time from his ridiculous schedule to support and help his players.
Brian "Smash" Williams was a highly recruited star tailback. After injuring his knee in the playoffs it seemed his football career and chance to go to college was over. Coach Taylor met with Smash one on one to help him get in shape. He called college coaches and finally got Smash a try out at Texas Tech. He went way above the call of duty. He cared.
I love one scene in particular when Coach Taylor drives to Smash's house late at night to tell him he got the tryout. Sometimes a phone call or facebook message isn't sufficient. Presence is important.
What amazes me is his interest in the individual and the desire to sacrifice time and energy to be there.
Student ministry is a ministry of presence. No, he's not a youth pastor but Coach Taylor understands the power of relating one on one with high school students. He is able to see potential they can't see and cast vision for what they can become.
I want to be more like that.
By the way, it seems the only way we can see what's happening beneath the surface is to pursue the individual. It's very difficult to know what's going on in a students life if we're not taking the time time to invest.
So for all of us who lead some kind of student ministry, is our focus and attention on getting as many students as possible in one place at one time? OR do we work, plan and pray in such a way that gives loving adults an opportunity to invest life on life? Depth and life change happens more often from across a table than from a stage.
Something to think about
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
We desperately want to create and nurture an environment where students can freely ask questions. And yes, even students who have been in our churches for years have questions. So our first series is called "Questions Christians don't want to be asked?"
So with that background I would love for YOU to help me think about heaven and hell. Yes, this is the topic I'm speaking about on Wednesday, October 12.
How would you handle the question?
What resources would you recommend?
Have you ever had conversations with high school students about this topic.
I thought it would be fun to have a conversation. Thanks in advance for engageing.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Merge AM is our new Sunday morning worship experience for middle school students. With a lot of prayer, vision and work, Trey and Shea have done a wonderful job developing, communicating and implementing great programming on Sunday morning.
Our hope has always been we would meet new middle school students on Sunday morning and connect them to lifegroups on Sunday night. Yes, “life on life” small groups have been and will continue to be the foundation of our programming.
It’s happening! And not only are we meeting new students but Trey, Shea and our volunteer leaders are creating amazing environment for growing in Christ and connecting in community.
Please continue to pray for our middle school ministry staff and volunteers at IBC. They’re intimately involved in the lives of young people and families at an exciting yet challenging stage of life.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Get out the marrow and fatness which this portion yields thee.
Live up to thy privileges, and rejoice with unspeakable joy."
Monday, August 1, 2011
It's a question of why not what which leads me to believe it's more of a philosophical / religious question rather than a scientific question.
Nevertheless, Stephen Hawking (famous scientist) is tackling the question on the Discovery Channel this Sunday night.
How would you answer the question?
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Last night Jha’Kyric Nixon drowned while at a birthday party for one of our students. He was around most Wednesday nights, he was one of us.
I spent a couple hours with students and parents at my house last night praying and remembering. They’re confused, sad, shocked, feel guilty and angry. They also have hope he is with Jesus.
Pray for comfort for his family.
Pray that students might see God clearly through the fog of loss.
Pray that God would take tragedy and turn it for his glory and our good. That’s what he does.
And really, please pray, even if just for a minute. There is so much at stake at times like this. The wall between the physical and spiritual feels paper thin.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Yes, we're starting a new gathering for high school students. And yes it's called SWAG. No, it may not be the name you or I would have chosen but the students chose it and seem to love it.
There will be a teaching team involved so I decided to gather some thoughts and values to get our speakers on the same page. Here's what I sent them.
Hey SWAG speakers! Thanks for using your giftedness to present truth to high school students. Here are a few thoughts to consider as you begin your prep.
1. We want to encourage and challenge the hearts of our students who follow Jesus, but also communicate as if there are many students in the room who don’t understand and embrace the gospel. We can’t assume they know anything about the Bible or the gospel. As believing students walk away our desire is that they would want to expose their searching friends to SWAG.
2. Our hope is that the communication will be interactive. We’re setting up ways for the students to text questions. Normally we hope to have a short question and answer time following each talk. Don’t worry, we’ll filter the questions but be ready to answer and be willing to say, “that’s a great question, I have no idea”. We’re not there to “know it all”.
3. We want to be creative. Creativity usually takes time to develop and pull together. As speakers let’s try to get way ahead of the game so those juices can flow! You don’t have to be creative alone, our producer, Joel Gwartney is going to be a great asset to the creativity.
4. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but vulnerability is so crucial. As speakers we’re not up with all the answers, we’re on a journey seeking to understand and embrace what it means to follow Jesus. When appropriate jump at the opportunity to share personal struggle and doubt. As you do, students will see you as a real person not just an old person.
5. Let’s use our Bibles. Although there will be many students who don’t believe the Bible, it’s still true that God’s Word is powerful. We’re not avoiding truth, simply presenting it in a humble / whimsical fashion.
6. Let’s be gospel centered. I know, that can mean so many things. Here’s the deal, students don’t need more rules and encouragement to simply be better. What they need is the life transforming work of Jesus. If there is practical application in your talk make sure you focus on the example and power of Jesus doing it in and through students, not simply asking them to “try harder”. It’s the gospel that changes lives, not pure effort.
7. Have fun! Speaking at SWAG should be a blast, but let’s keep it to less than 25 minutes. So don’t’ have too much fun!
Again, thanks so much for being a part. We are eagerly expecting that God is going to use you to impact the hearts of high school students.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Our purpose? Beach Camp 2011!
For some reason God seems to work in special ways at camp. A good friend of mine once said that camp is “life the way God intended”. It has consistent time alone with Him, time in community, fun, worship and great teaching. (and again this year, Bob Downy’s Brisket)
This year we’re focusing on the idea of “mission”. We hope students will understand that mission isn’t simply something you do, it’s more who you are. It’s about loving, serving and bringing the presence of Christ to whomever God puts you in your path. Whether it’s Honduras, downtown Dallas or your Algebra 2 class, people need to experience the love and grace of Jesus.
Please be in prayer for us. Our hope is that students experience deep and authentic change that will also impact our area campuses.
And really, we need prayer.
Monday, July 11, 2011
I’m struggling with something. It’s a good struggle I would like to explore and discuss with others smarter than me. We are called to serve those who are hurting which I desperately want to do. It’s also a great thing to take students with us to serve. But what if in our attempt to serve we simply serve ourselves without helping those who are hurting?
As I write I'm in Camoyagua, Honduras on the last day of a short-term mission trip. I'm with a team of 14 students and 5 adults serving in an orphanage as well as other places. Our goal is simple, be the hands and feet of Jesus by “visiting the orphans in their affliction”.
There's no doubt the love of Jesus has been shown to a group of children who need it desperately. They are hungry for love and affection but also food. Yes, they’re literally hungry. There’s no doubt our being here has encouraged and helped others with basic needs. I’m so proud of our team. They have made a profound impact on these people, but even coming off this great experience I’m still processing short-term trips and their effectiveness.
First of all let me say this; I wholeheartedly reject the philosophy that says trips should be planned primarily for the students who are traveling and not really for the people they are serving. If that is the case it seems we're being very foolish with a lot of time, energy and money. If our primary goal and strategy is set on the hearts of our students we cease to have an authentic mission. There are less expensive ways to challenge the hearts of our kids.
Being purposeful is essential if ministry effectiveness somewhat matches the time, energy and money spent. I know the issues are complex and you can’t simply quantify results but we can work hard to make the experience as beneficial as possible. Beneficial for those we are serving which will result in growth for our students.
As I’m living in the tension allow me to share some thoughts…
1. The experience must be utterly authentic
Students want to make a lasting impact. If they’re on a trip that is primarily designed to serve them instead of giving them authentic opportunities to serve, they will know the difference and be frustrated. Also, if all our thinking and planning is about serving the needs of our students we will miss great opportunity to impact the world.
The last thing I want to do is take students on an expensive sight seeing trip and call it missions. There is enough need in our neighborhoods and world that can be met with passionate students. Let’s be careful to find those needs.
2. We should think long and hard before doing construction
The orphanage we are serving needs some buildings finished so more children can be housed and enjoy better facilities. We could get a team here to “knock it out” in a week or two. That would be awesome, or would it?
To bring a team here might cost $20,000 plus materials. For locals to do the work it would cost less than $10,000 and they would do a better job. There is 35% unemployment in Honduras. If we came and did the work it would be stealing needed work for those who are here. Is that really serving the people of Honduras well?
Of course there are exceptions, but if the purpose of mission is to glorify God by serving the needs of people we have to make sure what we’re doing serves them…not just us. So, if the only way to get something done is for us to do it, let’s go. If we can serve better in different ways, let’s stay out of the way.
3. Our students will naturally be impacted as they serve
Of course there is a great possibility our students will get receive far more than they give, but that shouldn’t dominate our planning and purpose.
This afternoon I'm meeting with Holly and her husband Alex. Holly first visited Honduras in 1996 on a youth mission trip. God used that trip to draw her heart to Central America. I’m thankful for that trip 15 years ago.
As I sat around the circle with my students last night I couldn't help but wonder how God might use this trip to create greater compassion in their hearts. Compassion and calling that may be used to impact the world with the gospel. It's not the number one goal but it inevitably happens when we obey Jesus' command to serve the "least of these".
It’s exciting to hear our students share what God has done in their heart on this trip. I’m thankful for his work in their lives and look forward to how that carries over into their everyday life.
It’s ok to expect our students to get more than they receive, in my opinion however that should not be the main goal.
4. Consider using a mission organization
Wonder Voyage is supporting my team, which is a ministry that creates custom opportunities for student groups. They do an incredible job working with the youth pastor to create an experience, which meets the unique needs and desires of a particular group. They also provide a person on the ground to help with logistical and spiritual needs. They’ll help as much or as little as you want.
For years I planned and carried out trips by myself but after going on my first trip led by Wonder Voyage not only did I save a tremendous amount of time, it freed me to be relational with the students on the trip. So whether it’s YWAM, Youthworks or Wonder Voyage, consider using someone to help you with your mission experience.
After thinking about the way our students served Honduras I’m more convinced than ever that we must unleash students to serve the world. It’s part of my responsibility as a pastor to help them leverage their gifts and passions to reach the world with the gospel knowing it will change them as well.
Each of us is leaving Honduras changed, that’s great. My greater hope is that children and others have experienced the hands and feet of Jesus in a way leads to his fame and worship.
I’m all ears, what do you think?