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youth ministry q&a, part 2..

Again, more questions I answered for a church in Waco, TX. Thoughts welcomed.

Fundraising Events due to lack of money

There were some good ideas mentioned here, but a word to the wise: pick one fundraiser and stick with it. Too many fundraisers over the year can burn out your kids and your congregation. Pick one and do it hard, and do it strong and well. Auctioning off the students to do a task for a member or something works well; it teaches them to serve, and raises the needed money. There are also several books written about doing youth ministry on a small to nonexistent budget. It can be done. It doesn’t hurt to ask the kids to help pay for stuff too; bring $2 for pizza on youth night, etc.

Also, look into partnering with other area churches in doing activities to offset costs. This can be a great tool to encourage unity in the community. Talking to other youth ministers and sharing ideas can be a valuable resource.

Teen Drugs/Alcohol/Sex/Immoral Behaviors

This is a big one. All youth ministries struggle with this, and for parents, this is their reason for sending their kid to a church youth group. They expect the kids to be fixed and good by the time they leave. This is an unreasonable expectation. Why? Because first, it is not the responsibility of the church to ‘fix’ students, nor to make them ‘good people’. It is to make them followers of Christ, which is often a dangerous undertaking.

However. The church can guide and train youth in the way they should go. And this DOES mean that in youth ministry, we can address the above topics. I will include with this the lesson series I did (complete with verses, questions, etc.) on these topics.
The danger with these issues, is that our society today will focus on ‘whats right for me’ or, ‘the bible isn’t against it, so it must be for it/ or it doesn’t matter’. (Just because the Bible doesn’t talk about it doesn’t mean it’s okay to do it!)

Our students have also become desensitized to these things, because they see them everyday. The idea with these things is to teach our kids about the LONG TERM effects/consequences of their actions. Teaching them this principle: The Best Question Ever. What is the wise thing for me to do, in light of my past experiences, current circumstances, and future hopes and dreams? Getting them to see the long term, the road ahead, the future, and encouraging them to THINK before they act. Now, along with asking that question, you will get types of people that were: totally naïve. “We had no idea!” That: knew, but really don’t care. “We understand the risks, but I’m going to keep doing this.” That: scoff and ridicule. “You want me to think about what? Pshaw. As if.” Helping our students understand that we care about their future, and are invested in seeing them attain it with Christ goes a long way in partnering with them.

Growing youth group to size needing youth ministry leader

When it is time, God will let you know.

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idealism in youth

I promised a blog post on church planting questions, but I’ve been answering these for the past few days, in an email to a church in Waco, TX. Let me know your thoughts. The underlined parts are the burden/problems they see in youth of today, and the rest is my response.

Youth is addicted to secular portals via internet.

This is true of youth everywhere, and while the desired impact stated in your action plan is great – (i.e. take their focus off the secular portals) it is not reality. Youth in today’s culture have an ingrained desire to be in community, and these social networking sites allow them to do this with minimal commitment. The best response as a youth ministry is to join with them in it. This sounds like giving in, but it isn’t. It is meeting the kids where they are at, and providing a Christ centered corridor within the already used websites for them to share.

Another way to offset this fear of their (parent’s) kids being on the internet and sharing too much personal information, is to train both parents and students on how to best use these resources, such as Facebook, or myspace. Church ministries can make excellent use of both of these, with their own facebook page or group, or myspace page where the kids can check up on church activities, ask the youth minister/pastor questions, and connect with others in the youth group.

Youth that are lacking leadership and character

I loved the ‘actions needed’** on this point- it is absolutely necessary to give our students leadership in different things, to foster the sense of ownership in their own faith life. One of the reasons that some youth lack these things is that it is not expected of them. If we raise expectations of our students, they can and will rise to the occasion. The best thing we can do for them is give them a task, and let them fail at it, if they must, to learn responsibility and leadership skills.

**actions they wanted to try: place youth in leadership roles with church activities.


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rescue is revealed

Good morning.

I’m sure you’ve heard this story before about the disciples. The camp that I worked at one summer even had a song about it. “Peter was rowing across the lake.. Hey! Peter was rowing across the lake.. Hey!” But this time, I hope you find something different.

One day he [Jesus] got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

Let’s break this down. Normally this passage is preached as Jesus calms the storm, Jesus calms the storm in our lives, blah blah blah.

Different perspective.

I see a few different parts to this story that make it so unique.
First:
Jesus gives a promise. Did you see it? “Let us go to the other side of the lake.” Jesus doesn’t say, “Well, let’s get in the boat and see what happens.” He gives a destination, a purpose for their journey. He makes his intention for their journey known. The other side of the lake. We’re going, and we’re going to make it.

Second:
The disciples forget it. Did you hear them? “Master, master we are perishing!!” We are perishing. We aren’t going to make it. They forgot what they were doing and where Jesus said they were going.

Pause.
Both these points have profound theological impact for the way we live our lives. Jesus makes us a promise. We forget it. Over and over and over and over again. Jesus tells us that he knows where we are going. We forget it. Over and over and over again. But thats not the end of the story! Don’t miss the next half!!

Third:
Jesus rescues them. In this story, the timeline of things happens in this order: Jesus promises, the disciples forget (and give into their fear) and then Jesus wakes up. First thing he does? “He awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm.” He rescues them, removes the reason for their fear. Saves their lives. Rescue comes first.

Fourth:
Jesus rebukes them. Where is your faith? Easy enough, right?

Fifth:
The disciples marveled. Their faith was strengthened. More of who Christ is was revealed to them through the rescue. Let us marvel at what Christ is doing to redeem our lives, our doubts, our disbelief, and our pain.

How often does God promise us something and because we haven’t seen it carried to fruition, we think it won’t? Who is Christ revealing himself to be through your pain? Through your rescue? How is your faith being strengthened because of it?

We can’t see the promise for the pain. It’s not just you. Even the disciples who saw Jesus face to face struggled.
What we miss through the pain, is that our PAIN is God’s agent for change and strength.

My church this year has focused on strengthening families for life. Strengthen your family through the pain, by seeing the promise at the end.

Personally, I’ve seen this happen. Years ago, when I was in high school, I was having a rough time with some close friends. (who didn’t have a rough time in high school?? geez.) Alone in my room one night, I broke down. Cried out to God, because I was so deep in the pain, I couldn’t see the end result.

God speaks through our pain. God revealed his promise for me that night. I heard him say, “Do not be afraid. I have a plan for you. Life is gonna rock.” (yes, God says ‘gonna’ and ‘rock’.)
I haven’t yet reached that point. I haven’t had the total fruition of that promise come to pass. And I admit, sometimes I miss the promise through the salt water in my eyes. (Oh man does it sting!!)

My hope for you is this:

My hope for you in the new year and beyond is that you are faithful to the process through the pain so that the promise is fulfilled. And that you keep your eyes open for what the rescue is revealing, because God is faithful.

Thank you for letting me love your children. And to my youth: thank you for letting me walk beside you. Be faithful. Live so that Christ is revealed.

And
I.
am.
sure.
of this: that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (phil 1:6)

amen.