Tag Archives: youth ministry

That Good thing that’s a God thing

good thing

I’m so happy I have the Holy Spirit within me, else, there is no doubt that the flesh would rise up in me and I’d say and do things that would not glorify Christ and could possibly get me arrested. If you’re a servant of God, you either fully understand, or you’re way better at dealing with the things of life than I, and it’s really not the craziness in the world that can drive me to the point of frustration. I expect them to be crazy. It’s the craziness in the church that can push me over the edge.

So I’ve had this illustration in my mind for a few days, I drew it yesterday, and had intended to blog about it. But alas, the Holy Spirit said “Chill, Shari. You’re going to hurt someone.” And so I put it atop my art box and waited for the Holy Spirit to tell me what to write. And this morning as I prepare for church, the words flow freely and the Spirit has said to me, “Encourage them.” I wanted to hurt them three days ago. Who are them? They who sit in church pews. That’s all they do. They just sit in church pews. At least from my perspective as someone in charge of the Sunday School and Youth program. Because when a teacher is needed, it’s like pulling hens teeth to get people to move. And our church is one that is relatively good at stepping up. When I go into other churches and see the frustration in the leader’s eyes as they beg and plead for help my heart breaks for Jesus. He didn’t die for us to sit in the pew.

He died for us to serve. And so this word this morning is for those serving, not sitting. Please, keep serving!

Apostle Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:13-14

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

Hold Fast

That good thing is a God thing. Those sound words that Paul spoke was the inspired Word of God and he encourages Timothy and us to hold on to them. Keep holding on to the Word of God and using it to inspire others through your service. You are rare. I can’t get Matthew 9:37 out of my head that says the “Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.”  We are a rarity, those who desire to teach and train disciples. We are few, but the field is full of people who need us. And while I get frustrated at those who sit, I’m learning that it will do no good to speak to the masses, I need to encourage the few. Because those are the days that we’re in. So if you’re serving God in any way… “hold on friend.”

Hold Firm

That good thing is a God thing that He’s given to you for safe keeping. Hold firm! Don’t let anyone or anything, including the frustrations of feeling unappreciated, un-noticed, unworthy, or any other “un” words that Satan throws at you to get you distracted from what you’ve been called to do. That little girl in my sketch… she’s no one in particular… she’s one in thousands that I’ve seen in the field and she need Jesus. She or he as the case may be needs you. If we don’t keep on teaching the word of God and telling others about that “good thing” that God has entrusted us with, then who will. There’s nobody beating down the door to get our job. Our job is secure. So please, if you’re in service to the King of kings, keep serving and living as an example to those around you. Tell everyone how awesome it is and encourage others walking in the field beside you. There’s not that many… it won’t take you long. I love you, and so does Jesus… and our reward is on it’s way!

Are you ready for today’s journey?

chick bow

Why is it that in my mind the desires of Christ and the word of God are ever ready to spew forth, but the actions that follow are often bound in fear? Why is it that I fall to temptation and my discipline is lacking? In Matthew 4, Jesus withstood Satan’s temptation 40 days, and yet  I can’t seem to make it 40 minutes. Christ’s actions through and after that period of temptation are a road map for us today…

Matthew 4:8-12

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;  And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.  Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee;

Three things from that scripture that can be applied to life for a successful walk with Christ, and I’m not saying it will be easy, but it’s necessary.

  1. Stand Strong

Again and again Jesus stopped Satan cold with the word of God. If we’re going to fight this battle we’d better have some tools in the arsenal by reading and remembering the words of God. Jesus didn’t say   anything new, He repeated the sentiment of Deuteronomy 8:3 where it was written

 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.

The same holds true for us. Although the tactics Satan uses may appear different they’re the same temptations in a new coat, and although we always think there is a new and improved way of fighting sin there is still only one way… the word of God.

  1. Be ministered to

Following that period of temptation Jesus sat still and was ministered to by the angels of God. Bring on Wednesday Bible Study! Church is crucial to survival. I realize that there are those who cannot get to church because of health or other conditions, and I fully believe that if they desire being ministered to God can make a way. But for those of us with shoes on our feet and a vehicle in the driveway we are without excuse and in a heap of trouble if we choose to stay at the house rather than go to church and be ministered to. It’s where you reload your arsenal for the coming days and it’s where we find encouragement for the battle. Don’t sell yourself short and put yourself at risk by buying Satan’s lies that you don’t need church. You need it! I need it! Thank you Jesus that we have it, there’s plenty of people across the earth that would gladly go in your stead and not run the risk of being killed.

  1. Hit the Road

Temptation for me often comes in idle times. I guess that’s why God created me with a mind that runs  24/7 and is continually filled with “I know what I’m going to do today” notions. As soon as Jesus’ church service with the angels ended, He hit the road. He’d heard John was in prison, He knew there were some disciples along the way He’d be needing to add to His team, there was work to do! And so it is for us. I’m excited about my Wednesday night youth group, I have bows and arrows in my arsenal (for real!) and a lesson on friendship using the characters of David and Jonathan. Exciting days are ahead… but I have  to keep with the program.

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I’ve come to appreciate the weird

CHICK WHEAT

How easy it is to fall into the mundaneness of life. We are creatures of habit and routines that become the accepted way of our day and anything outside that realm upsets the apple cart, or the wheat cart as related to today’s scripture. I’m one who’s more apt to be anything but the norm but I too can get into the mundane of life spiritually speaking very quickly. I have to work at keeping my faith on fire because Satan stands ready to quench it at every opportunity and often times with a good dose of normal.

Matthew 3:11-12

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:  Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Fire Starter and Fashion Stopper

John the Baptist fanned the flames of the religious crowd. They thrived on normal, religious practices and ceremonial acts that looked fancy and gave their self-righteous egos a boost. But enter on scene the camel clad, bug and honey eating John, preaching repentance and stirring up the fires of faith and the normal seekers were out of their element and not very happy about it. John had caused quite a stir in the community by preaching of the Messiah that was about to be made known and in the process calling out the Sadducees and Pharisees calling them a “generation of vipers” in verse 7. I would venture a guess that that is the equivalency of our “snake in the grass” sentiment of today. Yes, John had upset the norm.  His taste of style didn’t fit their flair, nor did his taste of locust and honey likely fulfill their dietary delights. To be honest, if John entered my home town I’d think he was a little weird too.

I’ve come to appreciate weird.

I attended for my third year, Winter Jam (a Christian Rock Concert) kicking and screaming all the way. Not really, but it’s not my favorite music; however it is some of my favorite people and friends of the faith, so I go… with a “bless me if you can attitude.” And God said… “Okay I will.” And He did. With the exception of couple of the acts who I considered to be loud and obnoxious, at which time I scoped out the merchandise tables. But my point is this… to the judgmental religious crowd the Winter Jam scene is all locusts. It really bugs them. So much so that they feel compelled to preach and condemn on the banks of the river while the Holy Spirit has arrived in the water.

It’s not their norm. Those weird dressing people with the long hair and strange message in music upsets their wheat cart.

Well, it didn’t upset mine. I felt the fan blowing the chaff (unimportant, useless things) out of my life as the Holy Spirit moved the crowd and moved my heart to do more for the Kingdom of God. It wasn’t my normal, Baptist service. Those bands will likely never don the platform of my home church, and that’s okay, because that’s not how we worship there. Our multigenerational crowd worships in obedience to the Holy Spirit.

And that’s what matters most.

Goal for 2016… Be less normal. Unusual. Some might say I’ve been practicing that for years…

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When Change has gone too far

chick change

Change has gone too far when the gospel no longer looks or sounds like the good news and Jesus no longer looks or sounds like the Jesus found in Scripture. – Outreach Magazine

That was a quote in an article in Outreach Magazine that  I read this morning that caused me to go, yep, that’s what I’ve been thinking, I just hadn’t put it that eloquently. I would say something more along the lines of “That doesn’t work,” or “Show me where Jesus was in that.” Both of which immediately put those on the other side of my argument on the defensive. And this comment might, but I think not. Because this comment puts Jesus right in the front of the conversation; and you have to go around Him to argue it. Once you’ve done that the argument is essentially over because Christ is no longer in the picture.

I’m all about change, I love the latest and the greatest. If there’s a new tech toy trending, I need it. Not, I want it… I need it. No, it’s not a healthy need. But I have a curiosity level that resembles that of a toddler. If you don’t believe me look at the “stack” of techy things in my living room; I’ll go one further and say look at the stack of instruments in my living room. I go from old to new it matters not, because I can make the old new again. But here I am at 52 years of age learning to play the fiddle, mandolin, guitar and upright bass. I figure I don’t have enough years left to try one at a time and that plays well into my Attention Deficit Disordered personality.

The problem lies when we treat church the same. I must reiterate the thought that I’m all about change, until the change has Jesus standing on the outside of the church asking to be allowed back in.

When change works:

Jesus was a culturally adept Savior. The culture was the people He met on the street, the hard working blue collar workers as well as the prostitutes and politicians. It was not the people at the church who were trying to fit the world into their building. Jesus said they were stinky, empty tombs.

Matthew 23:27

27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

And while that is certainly an excellent description of the religious crowd it could just as well be said to those who are shouting loud how “culturally correct” they are and yet I don’t see Jesus. Jesus met in the middle with the commoner on a level ground where everyone could love on Him. Yes, He was extreme, but He spoke clearly. Yes, He offended…those whose hearts were not right with the Lord, He did not offend His own people.

As a youth leader I want to keep it hip and fresh. Yes, I am aware “hip” is an old word, I am an old woman, but I still like youthful things. That is why I attended Winter Jam with a few of our youth back in the winter. It wasn’t my genre of music, I’m a bluegrasser, but I enjoyed parts of it. It was the parts that I didn’t enjoy that I still have an issue with and are always in the forefront of my mind when I’m pondering the direction of our youth ministry.

  1. When the music level of a few of the bands got to the point where babies cried and my ears physically hurt I didn’t see nor hear Jesus. And I don’t really think He would approve of them causing hearing loss in His creation. Just sayin’.
  2. When a few of the groups screamed into a mike and called it music, and said they were proclaiming the gospel, yet I didn’t understand a word they said, I disagree that they are proclaiming the gospel. Jesus may have hung out with rockers, but He spoke clearly.
  3. When one group of guys “pranced” across the stage and sang a song about a chainsaw I thought… I don’t see Jesus.

Now for the flip side of that coin. If we expect youth to sit in a church that makes no attempt to keep it relevant to their world they’re not going to see Jesus either. I’m not talking about the preaching time. That time is between God and the man of God. And if He is preaching the Word… leave Him be. Kids need to be in a preaching service, whether that is one of their own or the regular worship hour. They need to see the gospel preached. But when it comes to the Sunday School hour and the youth ministries, that time should be their time, exclusively.

  1. Keeping it culturally correct doesn’t mean doing everything they like.
  2. Whatever it is that you do, when you’re done they better have seen Jesus, or you were just entertaining.
  3. Only infants like to be read to. If they are above the age of two, stop it.
  4. Invest in them both financially and on the clock.
  5. Find out what’s trending in their world, good or bad and then talk about it.
  6. Make sure it’s a two way conversation.
  7. All of these rules apply to adults as well!

 

Why I have no desire to grow up

chick grownup

As a youth leader there has to be at least a level of immaturity about you, or so I believe. You’re entitled to your own opinion if you disagree, but just so you know, I just rolled my eyes at you. I   highly doubt that anyone in my teen class is any more excited to get to Wednesday night class than I am, unless it’s one of the three other teen leaders who would also roll their eyes at you if you told them to grow up. It’s a fun time. We love the youth of Victory Baptist Church and try our very best to teach relative, culturally aware lessons to the teens that will help them in their growth as a Christian and leave them with bible knowledge, not just a feel good lesson.

Whenever possible I treat them as equals. Let’s face reality… if you have a room full of teens there is at some point the necessity of saying “If you two don’t knock it off I’m sending you up stairs.” I could probably count on one hand the times I have to say that, for the most part they’re a respectful group of people. They’re also a hoot to hang around. That’s why I have no desire to grow up. Teens keep me in touch with reality. While I’m trying to stay culturally tuned in to what they’re tuning into, I’m also staying culturally aware of what’s dragging them away from the gospel.

Here’s a few misnomers of youth ministry…

Youth don’t want to learn about Jesus

Wrong. Adults don’t want to tell them about Jesus, because most adults are not prepared to answer the questions that might derive from talking about Jesus. Teens are eager to learn about Jesus and are concerned about their future. They’ve heard just enough about end times to make it a very scary issue and one that’s easier to ignore than face the reality of an unsaved existence during those times. What peace they’re afforded when they’re brought up in a church that teaches end time events and the reality of how God takes care of His people.

Youth are too involved in other activities to take the time for church:

Wrong. Parents are too apt to encourage youth to place other activities over church. It also allows them to lay out of church to “support” their children. Yes… I’m a tad bitter.

But I watch as parents will pump thousands of dollars into extracurricular activities in hopes of giving their kids an edge and yet will scoff at a request for a few extra dollars for a youth event at church. Please tell me the percentage of kids who actually use their extracurricular skills post-graduation and I’ll counter that statistic with my own which is – 100% of them will face God in eternity. I win.

I could argue this till the cows come home, but those who need the message are not likely to tune in to www.theJesusChick.com. So why bother right? Because I know there are other youth workers out there who understand when they hear the scripture in Matthew 19:14 ~ But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

The disciples were viewing children as a distraction to the ministry… they are the ministry! Sometimes as a youth worker when you’re begging for teachers and ministry help, it almost feels like they look at you as a distraction. Heaven forbid we should disrupt the regularly scheduled service for a good time, and in so doing lead a child to Christ.

This message is for my comrades in the ministry, to help you understand the importance of immature people like me who enjoy telling young people about Jesus. Jesus is still the “funnest” Guy I know. And the opportunity to work with youth who are not jaded by life is one of the greatest experiences and learning opportunities a grown up can have; b

ecause for those few hours we spend in the presence of young people we remember what it was like to love Jesus as He intended.

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Organic Christianity… keeping it real in the youth ministry

Organic Christianity…Something the Pastor said in passing yesterday that has been stuck in my mind and obviously needs to go from pen to paper. Pricey organic foods are all the rage in healthy eating, although for the most part I have to wonder if it’s merely a difference in labeling than foods, and no different than the others on the shelf. I’m not real trusting of marketers. I’m even less trusting of many who share the gospel; one of the many reasons I’m a KJV (King James Version) girl. Just give me the basics. Is that not what organic is… just the basics. No additives or preservatives, its good just like it’s grown!

At a youth leadership meeting yesterday our discussion was around ways to improve the youth ministry, it’s always a subject of debate on ways to engage youth in the service. I was engaged with youth yesterday in the service, my three grandchildren. Curtain climbers that they are… I however was not engaged in the Pastor’s message for the distractions and concerns about the babies distracting others. Children are not born with social graces… it comes in time. I’m not so sure I’ll live that long. Insert grin here.

But the debate is, how do we change how we’re serving the Lord and keep the basics?

Luke 9:34-35; a portion of the scripture of the transfiguration of Christ says “While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.”

According to commentary the appearance of Moses and Elijah symbolically represented the law and the prophets. But God’s voice from heaven – “Listen to Him!” – clearly showed that the law and the prophets must give way to Jesus. The One who is the new and living way is replacing the old – He is the fulfillment of the Law and the countless prophecies in the Old Testament. Also, in His glorified form they saw a preview of His coming glorification and enthronement as King of kings and Lord of lords.

The disciples never forgot what happened that day on the mountain when they saw the new Jesus, yet He was still the basic. He was still the same, yet visibly different; God doesn’t change. That’s what I want to see happen in our youth ministry. I want it the same, yet visibly different. I don’t want to get away from the King James Bible, or reverence of God’s house; after all a youth program should be a training ground for servants, not an entertaining ground ~ but there’s nothing wrong with something new! The problem with new is it pushes us out of our comfort zone, but I’m not really the expert on that because I have the personality that embraces “new.” I do however understand that everyone does not, and as a leader I have to be considerate of that and make “new” softer and flexible if I want an excellence in the ministry for which I’ve been called to serve in. Because it’s not about me, it’s about everyone.

Shane Duffy’s definition of excellence in the ministry is found in John 12:24

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Excellence is giving up something good for yourself to provide something great for someone else. Youth ministry is not for everyone, but it’s for someone. It’s a sacrificial ministry. And there have been times that I have felt as if I was sacrificed on the altar of insanity. It’s those times when people who have not been called to the ministry look at you like your crazy and say… “you want to do what with the kids?” Let me rephrase my statement about the youth ministry not being for everyone. It is for everyone, but in different capacities. If it’s your church you’re either a part of it, a supporter of it, lest you be a hindrance to it. It’s important that there are multiple people with multiple ideas involved else you get someone like me that goes to the extreme.

Perry Noble in a recent leadership podcast said this about extravagance….

Excellence is the overflow of attention and hard work where Extravagance is something you buy so it looks like there was hard work involved. If the average person doesn’t notice the difference, what we’re using becomes a toy, not a tool. We need to makes sure that what we’re using is a tool to reach people for Christ, not a toy to entertain. Spend money on what matters, otherwise it’s extravagance.

I love that! I needed that!

Because I love toys in the ministry. I like shiny things and far too often they’re just attention getters and take my eyes off Christ. If we want something new, it needs to be for the basic concept of drawing young people into a relationship with Christ, and families into to the church. Just the basics… organic, grounded in the gospel Christianity…. With perhaps a side of bling…

Hope this helped you… it sure helped me today!