Archive for the ‘Youth Ministry’ Category

Here are some things that caught my attention from around the world wide web.

Trevin Wax over at the Gospel Coalition had a great post about the value of stay at home moms. Great encouragement for those who are able.

Gospel Centered Discipleship had a great series of posts on “Kids in the Family of God” by Ben Connelly. Here parts 1, 2, and 3.

Matthew Molesky reminds us all how to fight fear. A needed read and reminder for me.

CJ Mahaney had a great post on the Grace of the Lord Jesus. While I’m still digesting this, it’s good (… and obviously too deep for me).

 

After a week of vacation, I’m back … and so here is this week’s blog posts that caught my eye (the week before I left).

Greg Baird over on kidmin360 had a post on how to evaluate ministry.

Sally Lloyd Jones had a post at Desiring God about the importance of teaching children the Bible is not about them.

Sam Luce had a post on his blog asking the question “Are youth and kids ministry unbiblical?

Matt Guevara over on truministry answers the question, “What is family ministry?

Jeff Medders pointed me to a post at Desiring God about weapons in the fight for holiness.

Over on youth ministry a post was written to remind pastors about the priority of family over ministry.

Youth Worker Movement had a post about avoiding ministry burnout.

My hope in sharing these is that they help, inspire, motivate, challenge you as they did me.

I literally just got done reading Dreaming of More for the Next Generation by Michelle Anthony. I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Matt Guevara, a local pastor and friend.  When asked to read and review it I was honored.

What I liked

I believe this book comes at a critical time (at least for me) in family ministries.  I also believe the author is asking all the right questions.  Questions that I need to be reminded of as I continue down the family ministry road. The questions the author asks are the same one I wrestle with as a Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries.  It all starts with Anthony’s “7 Pillars” (beginning in chapter 2)

1. Family is primary

2. Spiritual formation is goal.

3. The Holy Spirit is the Teacher.

4. Scripture is the authority.

5. The big God story.

6. God is Central.

7. Ministry Support.

Anthony spends the rest of the book developing these pillars.  She shares both successes and failures without telling readers “the right way” to do.  By laying it out this way, she forces the reading to apply the answers to their specific ministries. This is refreshing (as I look around my office and see family ministry books that I’ve read that claiming if you follow these steps you will be “successful”).

Quotes

“Parents and ministry leaders can so quickly succumb to manipulating kids into good behavior and forgetting what really fosters faith: a relationship with God.” pg. 23

“Spiritual formation is more that just information …” pg. 29

“Spiritual parenting is not perfect parenting … but rather imperfect parenting from a spiritual perspective.” pg. 37

“We need to resist getting distracted by doing things about Him and instead create an environment where children encounter Him.” pg. 65

“Spiritual formation is not just when somebody tells us something, but when God tells it to us or we feel His conviction.” pg. 67

“The children and families in our ministries are looking to us to proclaim the truth of Scripture and the reality of God’s power within us.” pg. 87

“…faith muscles get flabby when they’re not used, but they grow strong when they are flexed. … For most Christians in the Western world today, our relatively comfortable way of life has eradicated our need to walk by faith and depend on God.” pg. 104

“The faith stories of the kids in our ministry are not ones of us simply telling them what to do; rather it’s giving them the opportunity to do it.” pg. 109

“In order for them to navigate the oppression of the world and the tactics of the Enemy, the need to know truth.” pg. 109

“People don’t walk away from the truth; they walk away in search of truth. When you know truth – really know it – it transforms you!” pg. 110

“You see, when you teach the Bible as one story and not a collection of stories, there is a natural cliff-hanger moment every week.  It’s a continuing storyline, and the idea of coming back next week to hear what happens next is naturally woven into the text.” pg. 124

“Once a child grasps the bigger storyline, it’s important to captivate that child into the part that God wants him or her to play in it.” pg. 134

“The biblical model of pausing reveals how the faith community intentionally stopped and gathered together, both at home and communally, to remember specific things God has done.” pg. 142

“God designed us to live within a faith community that remembers and celebrates in order to experience Him in ways that can only happen while we are in close proximity to one another.” pg. 146

“Worship is our response to God’s power and glory. It’s our response to who He is.” pg. 154

“In order to seize the hearts of the young, we need to be diligent to create space for them to encounter Jesus. … We need to provide time, energy, and devotions to exercise their prayer muscles and faith muscles in acts of authentic and vulnerable worship.” pg. 155

“We want worship as a response to God to be the posture of their hearts in every situation, every day.” pg. 161

“… change is an external force, while transition is an internal wrestling.” pg. 174

There is importance and value to team building:  ” … giving ministry away – and not just the parts I don’t like.” pg. 189

Conclusion

While more can always be said, I think its safe to say that this is a necessary read for anyone who looking to take their children’s ministry to the next level. The “pillars” (and following explainations) are needed in every biblical, gospel-centered, children’s ministry. I look forward to sharing what I have learned with my leaders and volunteers.

Children’s, Youth, Family Pastor, get this book, read this book, pray and think through these issues for the health and impact of your ministry.

It’s been  more than a week since I did an edition of “Web Slinging”, sorry last week got away from me with meetings.

Brian Croft over at Practical Shepherding had a post on 10 ways husbands can serve their wives.

Chris Sprad over at Epic Parent has a list that helps parents point their kids towards joy.

Greg Baird blogging at kidmin360.com compiled the newest list of helpful resources for Children’s and Family ministries.

Tim Elmore over one Growing Leaders gives a preview of his new book by asking the question, “Are you seeing artificial maturity?”

Here are parts 1 and 2 of this series to catch you up.

So I ran too hard, for too long, without really resting and last February ended up in the hospital with what ended up being panic/anxiety attack.  I was more focused on my  ever increasing “to-do list” (which I was falling farther and farther behind on).

Part 1 of this series taught me that I can be more productive by using schedules and being willing to delegate. Part 2 continues to remind the “doer” in me to rest in the completed work of Christ on the cross for results.

Now on to the hard part, at least for me …

Avoiding Burnout

As I’ve said, I’m a doer. I am wired to do, do, do, until I can’t do anymore. Over the past 2 years of working 60+ hours a week, I’ve done a lot of doing.  Feburary taught me that all I was doing, by my doing, was burning myself out. While I have the passion and desire to do great things for God, I lack the will and the strength.  I was trying to do it on my own.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
(Ephesians 6:10-20 ESV)

 What I wasn’t doing

1`. I wasn’t “… being strong in the Lord and the strength of His might.”  I was constantly trying to get things done in my own weak and pathetic strength. As I child of God I have access to this strength but rarely used it. My pride kept telling me, “I got this.” While I was spending time in the Word and in prayer, looking back, it wasn’t enough. Both need to be increasing, especially prayer (which is a weak point for my undiagonsed ADD).

2. I wasn’t armored up. (See what I did there, that’s an Iron Man reference … comic book geekery still representing). My focus was on tasks and the problems people were bringing to me, not on the enemy. Not on the one who whispered lies to me about how important these tasks are and ultimately the author of people’s problems. Because I wasn’t protecting myself from these assaults, I became vulnerable to trying to use my own strength and wisdom to get things done.

3. I wasn’t standing … I was running. I wasn’t standing in the midst of battle with the only weapons I had (Word and prayer) I was running to “do” and to “fix”.  This running is much like spinning our wheels; it may look and sound good, but ultimately gets us no where.

What I am doing now

1. I am praying more. I am spending much more time in prayer throughout the day. Even with my ADD I can still shoot up 1 or 2 sentence prayers as the Holy Spirit brings them to mind. I have to remind myself that prayer isn’t an event to participate in, but a lifestyle to embrace.  These prayers are focused on expanding God’s glory and victory over sin. I’m praying for all types of situations, not just those that effect me or my church directly.

2. I am looking to God for strength. Some of those prayers are asking for both God’s strength and wisdom. I know I’m weak. I know I need help.

3. Standing – I standing in the midst of the battles God has placed me in, waiting on Him to give me what I need to be successful for His glory (not mine).

I know this has been a lot about me. My prayer is that by sharing it, God can help others avoid my mistakes.

Here is the newest list of items I’ve seen on the web that have made me stop and think.

Paul Martin over at the Gospel Coalition wrote a piece on “Why We Need Youth Ministry“.

Wayne Stocks wrote on “13 Dad’s Provoke Their Children“.

Ben Trueblood had a great post on “Fighting Christian Boredom“.

Andy Johnson had a post about “3 Stats We Probably Have Wrong“.

And finally …

(via Scotty Smith on Twitter) a blog post on “5 Tips For Praying With Your Children“.

The first post in this series was started a while ago. Things happen, some out of my control, some due to my own laziness and/or lack of discipline (as far as blogging goes). But I need to get this out, if not for me, then for you. Avoid what I did.

So, here we go …

My over night hospital stay back in February, made me re-think the way I was handling my schedule. I was running too hard for too long and my body simply shut down due to fatigue. This forced me to re-evaluate.

Step #1 – stop running. So far, I can honestly say it’s working. Through delegation and a revised schedule, I’m getting the things I have to do done (and doing them better). Now, on to step #2 …

Resting

In Matthew 11:28 – 30, Jesus reminds us:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (ESV)

I had been running … hard, but not really resting … at all. I felt like I was always “on the clock”. I felt like I couldn’t say, “No.” to tasks or people. This constant running finally caught up to me. I needed to not just read Jesus’ words, but apply them.

“… and learn from me …”

I got very good at going to Jesus when I was in “crisis mode”. I was up against the wall of a self-imposed deadline or an ever growing mountain of tasks and just despair. I would cry (… actually whine) out to Jesus, “Help me!”

I wanted the rest, but I was way too busy to “learn from Him.” What does that even mean anyways? I had to learn (again) that I don’t have the strength in and of myself to accomplish what God has called me to. I needed to learn (again) that I need to rely on God to give me His strength and allow Him the freedom to set my priorities. I needed to learn (again) that my rest is found in Jesus’ finished work, not in my skills or abilities to “get things done”.

Jesus was re-teaching me, rest is found in following His example. Jesus was often up early, alone with God in prayer. He relied on His heavenly Father to provide Him everything He needed to be successful that day. My personal time with God is critical to the success of me as a husband, father, pastor, and person. For a while it became something I did just to check off my list of things to do. I wasn’t resting in His presence, I was rushing to get it done and move on to more important things. In essence I was trying to earn my salvation.

“… my yoke is easy …”

Jesus’ way of doing things is always easier than my way. As I over-think, over/double book myself, I ended up just burning myself out. I needed rest. The kind of rest that only Jesus’ finished work on the cross can provide. The kind of rest that provides for all that I need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). The kind of rest that declares, “It is finished!” (John 19:30).

So, am I doing less? Yes and no. Yes, in the sense of less time running from item to item on my “to-do-list”. No, in the sense that my responsibilities haven’t changed. The difference? I am resting in the hands of my Savior and God, allowing Him to show me what needs to get done and what can wait until later. This yoke is indeed easy and light. Much more easy and much lighter than the one of my own making. Rest where it can truly be found, in Jesus.

To be honest, I’m still working on this one. It resurfaced again at the Together for the Gospel conference as Matt Chandler was speaking. I realized I was more focused on my despair over the item that weren’t getting done on my “to-do” list, and not on the hope that is in the finished work of Christ. The doer in me, still thinks it’s about what I do, and not about what Christ has done. Still learning …