For Students: Comfortable vs Fulfilled/Francis Chan

I remember before I gave my life completely over to Christ I was a walking a comfortable christian life.  I would say I believed in Jesus and what he did on the cross but in some areas of my life you could argue that I was living just the opposite.  A lot of times we find it hard to surrender to God and be fulfilled in certain areas of our life, because of how comfortable we’ve found it to be to stay where we are.

Well, God’s plan in those areas are more fulfilling than the current person or thing that’s occupying that area of your life right now. You are settling for what’s comfortable and forfeiting God’s best which fulfills.  If you would make the decision to give those areas to him and surrender to his plan you would never regret it.  The bible says in Jeremiah 29:11(NIV) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.  I found this video by Franis Chan that is awesome and it’s only a minute and twenty-six seconds longHe’s talking about surrendering to God.  As you watch this think about the areas in your life that you need to surrender to God, so that you can move from what’s comfortable to what fulfills.

I encourage you to talk with someone about your decision today and share this post!!

hope it helps!!

ac

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Parent Ministry: Are We Ministering Or Just Advertising To Parents?

We had one of our Summer Camp speakers speak recently in our youth group services.  It was awesome!!! He recited the whole sermon on the mount.  Our students heard three chapters of scripture in one service.  I’ve never heard that much scripture preached in one service before and it was GREAT!!  As I was listening to him speak, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that most of the students that were there would not understand most of the stuff he was saying.  I also thought about the fact that Jesus wasn’t concerned with sending the kids off to hearing an age appropriate message on the sermon on the mount.  He said the same exact thing to everyone who was under the sound of his voice.

It really got me thinking about youth ministry, but to be more specific parent ministry within the youth ministry.  Reading through scripture, it clearly points to the parents as the main force in spiritually impacting their children’s lives.  There are a lot of verses that we could look at but I want to focus on Deuteronomy 6:7-9 (NLT) “7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

In this passage God was instructing the Israelites how they should train their children concerning the things of God.  I love how detailed He was in His instructions to parents.  We must remember that the most influential people in a student’s life are their parents.  It is the way God ordained it and we should celebrate, because no matter how crazy culture gets parents will always have more influence.  In light of what I believe God has laid on my heart concerning parents being the primary spiritual leader in our student’s lives, we really should think about parent ministry.  I even believe how we decide to partner with parents could potentially make a difference in the statistics that suggest that a high percentage of students are leaving the faith.  Helping parents fulfill Deuteronomy 6:7-9 is a conversation worth having in youth ministry.  What if we devoted time and effort into actually promoting and helping and even dreaming with parents on ways to do Deuteronomy 6:7-9 better or at all?  We sometimes assume that because parents go to church that they are doing this or know how to do it.

Just to be clear I’m not talking about doing away with youth ministry.  Youth ministry is vital to the church more now than ever before, and my prayer for this post is that we don’t view parent ministry as just another task.  We need to view parent ministry as vital.  Having a strong parent ministry is the difference between doing good youth ministry and great youth ministry.

Parent ministry today consists of youth ministries informing parents on what they are doing. I think that’s a good thing but what if it was more than that?  What if we created a culture that said to parents that this is a partnership and we want to partner with you influencing/guiding your children in their spiritual walk?  Youth ministries are probably the major investors in the student’s life spiritually.  The idea would be for parents to be the majority and for us to reinforce the parents role as the students spiritual leader.

I do understand that we try to do stuff for the parents and they don’t want to be a part of it.  Some of you may say, “They barely show up at the easy stuff, if we start asking for more then we will really be wasting our time or we could become annoying”.  If our goal is to see the child’s faith strong and lasting post academia and we know that parents are vital in this process, we have no choice but to continue figuring things out.  We need to think of the quality of our parent ministry.  We have to ask ourselves a few questions:

  • Are we really doing parent ministry or are we just advertising our ministry to parents?
  • Have we communicated to parents how important they are in the spiritual development of their child or do we just assume they know?
  • If a parent reached out for help in this area would the ministry be ready to help them come up with strategies concerning Deuteronomy 6:7-9?
  • Does our youth ministry function with the mind set as primary or with the mindset of being reinforcement?(a critical look into your parent ministry should render the answer)

Here are a few ideas I came up with in terms of parent ministry just to get the ball rolling:

  • A parent focus group – layout your vision for a parent ministry that includes helping parents to be more intentional in practicing Deuteronomy 6:7-9 and how can the ministry come along side them in doing so.  Allow the parents to help you shape what it will look like.  Remember we should not assume parents are not doing it or even know how.
  • Small group leaders meeting with parents as partners.
  • Workshops for parents- few suggestions:
  • –“Help! My children want to know about sex”
  • –“Help! Porn is taking over”
  • –“Help! My child is out of control”
  • –“The Blended Family”
  • An invitation for your staff to meet with parents who’s kids are not in a small group.

I hope this encourages you to look different at how you do parent ministry.  Would love to hear how your ministry is doing parent ministry already.

hope it helps

ac

Part 2 of Don’t Graduate!! – Share on your fb wall or twitter if you know friends that need to read this.

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When it comes to building a lasting relationship it all comes down to the foundation. There is a story in the bible that Jesus told,(Matthew 7:24-27) it was about two men. The first man was building a home and decided to build it on sand.  When the rain came, the streams rose and the wind begin to beat up against the house and it was destroyed and washed away.  The other man was also building a home but he built it on a rock.  The rain came, the streams rose and the wind blew.  His home withstood all that had tried to destroy it.

If you build your relationship with Christ on the truth of what the bible has to say about him.  Then you are just like the man who built his home on a rock.  It will be able to withstand the craziness of life. If you…

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I will repost part two tomorrow!!! Share this post!!

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Heard a story the other night that motivated this post.  A student sent their leader a text full of concern and uneasiness.  This student was accepted into the college that they’ve always wanted to go to.  The issue comes with it being out of state. The students concerns are:

  • They are a new Christian and won’t have the support of their life group who has been like family to them.
  • They might stray away from Christ because they don’t feel strong enough to be on their own.

Statistics came out that if you filled 100 students in a room 65 of them would leave the faith after high school.  This has literally set off a student ministry wide search to come up with answers.  People are writing books, workshops and even doing podcast about it. Some are doing the blame game and others are pushing that they have the solution. …

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For Youth Workers: God Changes the Heart!!!

I think sometime this concept can easily be forgotten.  A lot of times we know the answers to a student’s problems before we know the whole story or the cause of the problems.  So we stop listening and we start focusing on our response.  We start trying to lay out our response so that it touches the very core of the issue.  Meaning we are trying to recall every sound bite that has had a high impact in our lives.  We want what we say to touch the students so much that they start to cry and scream out “ I’VE HEARD THE VOICE OF THE LORD AND I AM FINALLY ON THE RIGHT PATH”. Haha….

So what’s the issue with that?, you might ask.  Well, one point I made earlier is that you stopped listening.  The very thing that the student needed you to do, you stopped doing.  When we intentionally sit and listen to students, we say to them that they are more than just someone broken in and needing to be fixed. Listening intentionally to a student says to them:

  1. Someone cares about me.
  2. Someone thinks I’m important.
  3. Someone thinks I’m worth their time.
  4. Someone cares about my feelings.

Listening intentionally will earn you the right to speak the truth of God’s word into their life.  I advise when meeting a student for the first time that you are going to give guidance to, that you don’t even give any guidance on the first meeting.  Allow the first meeting to set the tone for the rest of the meetings.  Here is how you listen intentionally:

  1. Listen with great eye contact and body language. It makes a difference.
  2. Ask questions about the things they really care about in the situation. Even if you think it’s silly or  shouldn’t matter as much as it does.
  3. Affirm when you can. You never know how many people have already made them feel stupid, crazy or ashamed before they spoke to you.  Affirming them doesn’t mean you have to agree with them.  It just means you validate the fact that the issue they are going through is something that should be dealt with.
  4. Start and End with prayer. Let them know that you are working on behalf of the only one who can actually help them.  God changes the heart.Ezekiel 36:26-27

The bible talks about how we can do nothing without Christ.John 20:15:5  If you really think about it that should take a lot of pressure off of us, knowing that we have to rely on Christ to power and orchestrate the life changing work we get to be apart of.   We are just vessels being used by God to spread his love, mercy, kindness and grace to students.  I’ve learned that when I don’t remember this I screw things up.  Because my focus is not on doing my job as the vessel, it’s on being the power source.  The vessel’s job is to house the power and give it something to do.   So when we try and be the power that changes people lives we frustrate ourselves when things don’t work out the way we think it should.

There has been times when I have forgotten that God changes the heart, and I feel the burden to be perfect in that moment so that students are changing.  I must rest in the fact that God wants to use me to do one thing and that is to spread the gospel (God’s message of love) to students.  He did not call me to do his job (which I can’t even do in the first place).  So I would encourage anyone in ministry to be at peace knowing that changing the hearts of students is not your job.  God commissioned you with sharing his gospel (God’s message of love).

Any thought?

hope this helps!

ac

For Students: How Far Is too Far?!?

Well, I’ve been asked this question a few times and so I thought I’d post about it.  It’s really tough to talk about this question with out first examining what this question is really implying.  You are basically asking, “how much can you get away with before you’ve reached the line of no return?”.  So while I applaud anyone who asks this question with the intent of glorifying God in your relationship, I must say that you have asked the wrong question.  This is one of the areas where we, without consciously knowing it, follow culture blindly.  Now, I know there are some people who ask this question who feel like they are sincere.  I definitely understand that and hopefully by the end of this post you will understand my point.

From the music that’s played repeatedly to TV and movies there is a consistent message that says explore your sexuality and that in relationships you must make sure the two of you are compatible in every area.  So it says it’s OK if you explore and be intimate, that is what we are suppose to do.  We are fed from every avenue of media that sex outside of marriage is OK and if you haven’t done it yet you are the weird one.  Without even trying, you feel like you are suppose to be OK and free with exploring sexual acts in and out of relationships.

Now, you are probably thinking I’m not talking about sex at all.  I’m talking about doing the “other stuff”.  You are probably thinking I just want to express myself in a way that is natural because we all have these feelings.  You are also probably thinking it’s human nature to want to act out this way so help me know where the line is.  My favorite is that God knows what we go through. He created us and he understands.  The big issue with this question is found in:

Romans 7:11 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. – This verse is saying that sin will use the commandment “no sex before marriage” to deceive us.  You might say “how AC”? Glad you asked.  Because it knows the body wants to go where it has been forbidden.  It also know that apart from Christ we are weak and can’t stand against sin; we lose 100% of the time.  So deception is the weapon of choice.  Sin deceives us into believing that it’s OK to do all the other stuff as long as we don’t have sex.  We are deceived into thinking that we can play with fire and not be burned.  We are deceived into thinking that we can overcome the temptation of going all the way even though we are playing at the edge.

Here is a scripture verse that I think pretty much sums up my point:

1 Corinthians 7:1-2(NLT) 1 Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to abstain from sexual relations. 2 But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. – Paul is clarifying information they already know.  Paul did not hint to the fact that there is anything in-between.  Paul understands that there is only “too far”.  So he prescribes marriage because that’s where it is made right before God.  The question how far is too far suggests that there is an area where you can play around with no consequences.  That is not the case.  Sexual immorality is still destroying lives, families and churches.  As innocent as the question sounds, there are a lot of Christian’s who are reaping the consequences of thinking they could answer this question.

God was not trying to stop you from having fun when he set sex in the bounds of marriage between a man and a woman.  He’s was saving us from the harm it does outside of marriage between a man and a woman.  Just like the end of Romans 7:11 says and through deception of the commandment I was put to death, that is exactly what it wants to do to you.  So what’s a better question?

  1. The better question is always motivated by the fact that you don’t have any faith in the fleshes ability to do anything right.  So what steps can we take to make sure we don’t fall into temptation?
  2. The better question will be about a shared responsibility. How can we motivate each other into keeping our personal convictions to stay pure?
  3. The better question will be motivated by the fact that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.1 Corinthians 20:19-20  How do I gain and keep a high level of respect for my body?

These questions say that you want to follow God’s plan for sex and intimacy and not cultures plan.

hope it helps!! Repost

ac