Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Homework" for Small Groups??

Here's a quick question for those of you serving in student ministry.

Do you provide / require curriculum for students to do outside of the group time?

I had a discussion with a student last night who is a great kid but is very busy. He told me he didn't have 5 minutes a day to read a book we're using for curriculum for our small groups. I believe him. He does seek God through the Word consistently.

So, do you have curriculum that is to be done outside group time? How do students respond? Talk to me.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why You Cannot Miss YS Palooza

Next weekend is YSPalooza DFW.

YS Palooza - Dallas / Ft. Worth

Our student ministry staff is attending and we're strongly encouraging all our adult volunteers to join us. If you're a youth pastor or work with students in the DFW area you can not miss this opportunity.

Here's why...

It's Relatively Convenient

Let's face it, our volunteers are incredibly busy, but I can't imagine a better opportunity for our people to be exposed incredible voices sharing their heart about student ministry. It is a couple of days over a weekend but it will be worth the time. Our staff and volunteers will definately walk away knowing it was worth their time.

Reinforcing Voices

It's a huge win when the "experts" reinforce what's being said to volunteer leadership. When Kara, Jim and Doug present I can trust their message is in alignment with how we've been training and enccouraging our leaders for the last couple years. It will make us look a little smarter and trust me, we need all the help we can get.

It's Affordable

YS has priced the event in a way that makes it assessable to everyone. Equipping our adult leaders is a high value in our student ministry, therefore we're paying half their cost out of our budget. We honestly believe it will make that big of a difference in their lives and the life of our student ministry.

The Line Up Is Incredible

Just to name a few, Doug Fields, Jim Burns, Walt Mueller and Kara Powell are going to be speaking. It's unbelievable that our volunteers are going to get to hear the freshest most experienced voices in student ministry today right in their own back yard.

So, I'm excited about how God is going to use this ultimately in the lives of students in our area. As our leaders grow and develop so our ministry grows and develops. If you haven't thought about coming and bringing leaders with you it's not too late.

Be there.

By the way, if you're there please look me up. It would be fun to connect and I'll buy the coffee.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Saint Paddy's Day

This morning I'm watching people begin their St. Patrick's Day celebration. Most people use today as an excuse to drink mass amounts of green beer but I was curious, who was this guy and what's the big deal?

Saint Patrick was a real man who lived around the 4th century and brought gospel transformation to the people of Ireland. As a teenager he was captured as a slave and forced to move to Ireland. After he secured his freedom was called by God to return to Ireland. God used him powerfully to transform the entire Island.

Here's a portion of a prayer he wrote. It's powerful and worth meditation.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation

So, as you're enjoying Guinness today, say a prayer of thanks for this man who was used by God to radically share the gospel.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Accepting Students Where They Are

No 2 students are the same.

Chris shows up just because his girlfriend is there.

Jessica comes just because her parents make her.

Brandon is there just because he wants to study the Bible.

Lisa shows up just because she loves to sing worship music.

Jonathan comes just because he always has.

Peter is there just because he has fun.

Demarland is always around just because he has nowhere else to go.

Christy is there just because she has always felt loved there.

Encouraging students to move towards Jesus or deeper in Jesus is a value of every student ministry. Different students show up at different points in their spiritual journey. That can make it difficult to plan and program.

Maybe you have students who have never heard the clear gospel. There may be students who have been hurt by church and have a deeper cynicism towards faith. Or maybe there are students who are growing and are hungry for the Word. All of us have students who attend church just because their parents make them or they feel it's their religious obligation.

How do we "accept every student where they are and help them move closer to Jesus"?

Of course, the solution is always to connect students in relationship with Godly adults and students but with so much diversity how do we make sure students have the greatest opportunities to move forward in their faith?

Here are 5 thoughts...

Provide Diverse Gathering Opportunities

No 2 pieces of programming should look the same. Most committed students will only give 2 to 3 time slots to your ministry a week. Make sure those gatherings have specific purpose and goals in mind. In other words, avoid having the same programming 2 different times a week.

Know Your Target Audience

Do you have space in your programming for students who have the time and desire to invest in their spiritual life? Do you have a gathering that is designed to engage the friends of your students? Sure, all that we do can impact most of our students, but having a focus will insure we are being sensitive to the issue of spiritual diversity.

Offer Different Size Gatherings

For some students a large group gathering is where they are comfortable "kicking the tires" and testing the waters of church. For others it may be a relaxed small group gathering that allows time to have honest safe discussion about God and faith. Thinking through "large, mid sized, or small" gatherings will insure more students get and stay connected.

Create A Diverse Adult Leadership Team

Some adult leaders are naturally drawn towards the unchurched, others want to take students deep in Bible study. Some adult leaders are athletic while others may love music or technology. Know the hearts of your leaders and place them appropriately. This should also be on your mind when thinking through who to recruit for next fall.

Make "Acceptance" A Core Value

In our church setting we feel the need to serve all our students and their friends. Our desire is to see each student through the eyes of compassion and accept them where they are. This sometimes gets messy but we believe it's the way Jesus sees us. To be honest, sometimes it's easier to love the student far from God than the one who grew up in church, however we're called to accept each of them where they are and point them to Jesus.

May we serve in ministries that recognize the diversity and value of each student. Let's plan and pray that our ministries reflect this desire.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hosea, A Love Story

For the season of Lent our church is teaching through the book of Hosea. Hosea is the story of a husband who pursues his wife even though she is chasing other lovers.

By the way, it's a picture of God pursuing his people. Sometimes his people forsake finding satisfaction in HIM to chase after other lovers. Sometimes it's what I do.

Here are a couple of videos IBC has produced to show the depth and struggle of adultery... spiritual adultery.

May we seek to find our satisfaction and love in and through Jesus. Only he will satisfy.