Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Youth Ministry Questions

Questions from my window to Youth Ministry:

How has this become more about getting a book deal and speaking gigs than working the very students we got into this for?

Is this more about me? Or is more about them?

Why does it seem that there are so many tense relationships between Senior Pastors and their youth workers?

Why is it so easy to talk like we are know what we are doing when it comes to our Christian living, but struggle so much to actually live it out?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Longmont has God's fingerprints all over it...

I am officially in Colorado as the Director of Youth and Young Adults at Central Presbyterian Church. I am glad to say that I feel that I am exactly where I need to be. I want to share two great things that have happened in the two weeks that I have been here.

The first: We have had a large number of new students at both Jr. High Wednesday Youth Groups (which we call Search and Rescue). A good number of these students are male and unchurched, but they have demonstrated that they are hungry for relationship and God's Word. Last night several of them came and talked to me about some of the choices that they have been making lately, mostly smoking a lot of weed. I had a total of 8 boys (most of whom had just met me) share this information with me and then proceed to discuss how this was a bad choice, wondered what the Bible had to say about it and then how they wanted to be a part of our group. That is wild stuff!

The second: I met a fantastic Youth Worker here in Longmont this morning. She is a quarter time youth worker who has an absolutely AMAZING story of God's love and redemption and how she ended up working with the students at her church. I was so inspired by hearing her story that I had to share my excitement with her. Hearing her story reminds me of how God is good and he loves us no matter what! It also reminds me why I love to network with other Youth Workers and get to hear their stories. We are truly better together.

Filled with joy, peace and the Holy Spirit, we continue to live out the ministry that we have been given here in Colorado.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Job

It was decided last night by the Session at Central Presbyterian Church of Longmont that I will be there next Youth Director. I am pretty excited about it! There is going to be a lot to learn and a large work load getting to know new faces, families and processes, but that is the kind of stuff that energizes me. Hope to keep you posted on the transition from Escondido to Colorado.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Balancing Act

Do you ever feel like when do you are doing the thing you love, you go all in, never looking back to see the wake that you are creating? Well, that is kind of how I have felt in ministry lately. Lots of looking forward and pushing to get better and learning how to be the best Youth Pastor me that I can. But, recently I have noticed how this pushing act can wear you out.

As a part of the Youth Ministry Coaching Program that I am currently a part of, I have been searching for answers on how to be a better balanced person. A Better balanced husband, youth pastor, son, friend and so on. I am searching for opportunities that allow me to disconnect from the ministry world and go do something completely different. Yesterday I got my first taste of what this is like when I had the opportunity to go quail hunting for the first time. It was an afternoon filled with gun fire, dog barking, "Bird Up" and Thanksgiving leftovers. But no ministry talk. And it was glorious.

It is this type of balance that I truly will set me up for longevity in the profession and calling that I love. The trick now is finding more opportunities for this freedom, the kind of freedom that makes even better at what I do. So, what else should I consider in my search for balance?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Yesterday was Columbus day, which in itself could probably be a post of its own. But to public school students across Escondido, this meant a day off of school. I am not always the greatest at remembering the days that students have off school and I am also not the greatest at taking advantage of the hang out space that is possible on such days. However, yesterday I was ahead of the curve and got to spend time with 3 of my high school guys.

Now, if you have hung out with High School guys in the last ten years, or really at all, you will know the kind of joking and language that is commonplace. I have preached the message for the last 2 years with my students that I want them to be who they are, everywhere, and not just curbing actions to fit certain situations or expectations. The example is usually regarding language. Now, I admit that I am not someone who is pure in his speech. Curse words come off my lips every now and then, but with my high school students, I notice that this type of language seems to have replaced EVERYTHING they have learned in their English classes. It is everywhere. And it was present yesterday too. And these are my guys who have grown up in the church.

When those words were spoken, I noticed it but didn't react and just kind of let it fly. I don't want to be known as the guy who majors on the minors, and in the grand scheme of things, I think language is pretty minor. And here is why:

Thirty minutes into our time together, the boys wanted to go to In N Out for round two of carboloading. As we were pulling into the parking lot we passed a man who had a cardboard sign, looked rather dirty and had a huge beard. His sign said "Anything Helps". I drove right by, and we entered into the restaurant. The boys ordered and I found a seat as I didn't need more food on top of my already hearty helping of Yogurtland. Eventually the boy's food came. We were sitting enjoying conversation when another number was called. One of my guys got up and I said to myself, "More food? You have already eaten so much!" But he didn't bring that food back to the table, but instead took that double-double and fries out to the man with the sign.

I tried to hide my excitement. I was so proud of this young man for making such a huge, unsolicited choice to help some one who needed it. But this was the same kid who was using the poor language earlier on in the afternoon. But he was demonstrating his grasp of one the majors! He was thinking outside himself! It was an intriguing juxtaposition and demonstrated the tension that parents, teachers and youth workers have when it comes to the kinds of choices our students make.

Should we continue to harp and try to control every little thing or pray and hope for the major choices to be right? I for one will stand for those major choices to be right and pray that our actions will always speak louder than our words. That our actions will shout that we intend to have a positive impact on this world and that we are doing so in the name of Christ.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Is that a bad thing...?

I came out of my office today just as our church secretary got the mail. In that pile of mail was the new Worship Facilities magazine. On the front was one of most beautiful modern buildings that I had seen in a long time. Then I realized that it was a church building and that beauty turned into disgust and frustration.

This was a massive building. Like huge. It happens to be in Texas, which I guess means that it is taking the motto of Texas seriously. This was a huge, brand new, sterile, yet charming place of worship. It looked more like a hunting lodge to me than a church.

My mind started to spin with reactions. Is this wasteful? Is this really important? How has our culture in America influenced the church enough that we feel that this is important and necessary? The more I started to ask those questions, the more upset I was getting.

And then came the question of the day: Does God get angry with this type of building?

I think we have seen through history that God has blessed some large buildings, but he has also reacted terribly to others (i.e. Tower of Babel). But I think that those reactions were not based on the buildings themselves, but rather the intentions behind the building.

But the sheer amount of money that went into that building is flabbergasting. I don't know what it cost, but it could not have been cheap, and there seem to be some bigger issues out there than building a brand new, amazing, awe inspiring building that this type of money could have been poured into.

I share my reaction because I am not really sure what to think about it. I had my gut reaction, but at the same time, the argument could be made why this is a good thing. It will continue to be something to think about.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Let's Worship Together!

I grew up in very evangelical, pretty much Baptist style churches. My work experience has been for a non denominational camp and a Baptist church. I have a pretty good handle on what the mainstream church culture looks and feels like, especially from the point of view as a youth worker. So, when I hear the current conversation circulating about how we as youth workers need to be directing and training our families to worship together, I get the context in which the question is being asked. There are some many churches that have separated all of their programming, and as a result have created competing entities under one roof.

When I got to my current church I expected a similar mindset. However, I quickly realized that I was wrong. My Presbyterian church didn't have this mindset. In fact, they not only encouraged family worship, but expected it. Every service has an announcement along the lines of "your kids are welcome here, we want families to worship together". I have learned a whole new perspective. It is a perspective that is often oblivious to the trends and shifts of popular church culture, but in this particular area, it seems that we are actually ahead of the curve.

I also lead a local network of youth workers, and as I have had conversations with many of our "mainline" youth workers, I would even say that those that specifically come from a more Reformed tradition, I have found that many of them already hold this ideal in high regard. So, my question would be, if this is the "future" of youth ministry as it is being described by the experts, then shouldn't we be utilizing this resource? There are ministries that are already practicing this as a regular part of their programming and don't have to make a major shift in thinking, planning or communication... do we have these people at the table?