Archive for May, 2007

There are enough cookies to go around

So, I got up Monday morning and realized my cat’s litter needed changed. I have no idea why that was on my mind, but I jumped into the car and headed to Wal-Mart. As I entered into Wal-Mart’s parking lot, I passed this lady holding a sign that said something like this, “Help, my wallet was stolen, and I can’t pay my rent or feed my animals.” I drove right by her and felt instant guilt or conviction, I’m not sure which. I went in and got my litter and came back out. I sat in my car and watch scores of people do exactly what I did, drive right on by. The story of the Good Samaritan came to mind. It’s one thing to read the story, entirely different to watch it played out before your very eyes.

I decided to go and have her tell me her story. Her name was Sue and I’m not sure if what she said was true, but I’m not sure it mattered. Supposedly, she was a widow and had her Social Security check stolen at Meijers earlier this month. I told her I can’t give her any cash, but wanted to help. So I went in and bought some animal food (and more litter too), loaded it in her car, gave her my cell number and told her to have her landlord contact me. I don’t anticipate a call, but threw it out there if indeed the landlord could confirm her story. I envisioned her trying to pull a fast one and having one of her relatives call, as well as taking the animal food back and pocketing the cash. Both thoughts I pushed out of my mind. This whole scenario felt like it was more about me and how I would respond and less about her. I’m not going to go as far as to say that it was a “test” but sense that my response might help to keep my heart soften to “God ordained” moments and divine appointments. I’m not sure I handled the situation correctly, but know that I tried.

(Don’t get the title to this post, watch Rob’s message from this past weekend at gccwired.com)

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Feelin’ the Love

I wrote an article for my Purpose Driven Youth Ministry pals and they posted it here. Josh Griffin, who is amazing and hilarious, gave me props. What a guy!

If you could see what I see

It’s our annual gathering of middle school youth pastors. We’re at Forest Homes in California. The view, well, it’s breathtaking. Mountains surround us. But there’s not much time for the view, we’re studying the brain. This year’s topic is on the development of the adolescent brain. For the most part, it’s not fully developed until 18, some parts not until 25. So, when you see a pre-teen or teenager doing something impulsive, doesn’t seem to “get it” or has outburst of anger, there is a possibility it’s linked to the fact that their pre-fontal lobe is not fully developed. It doesn’t justify away the behavior, but lends help to understanding. We talked about the need for experiental learning and engaging the senses this morning, which we’ve always tied to different learning styles but I think it could be linked to brain development as well.

I realized we are on the right track with our discussion guides when we provide different questions and activities. The difference between a 6th grade boy and an 8th grade girl have the potential to be HUGE. We need to take that into consideration in our attempts to engage them in spiritual matters and transformation. In many cases, I think we may need to redefine a “win” in student ministry.

This is an amazing group of veterans. They are truly in the trenches.

Orange Conference – Part 3 – General Session with Reggie

Great stuff. You can tell Reggie is very cool, very smart and has a huge heart! Lovin’ it! I had to type fast so there are a few incomplete thoughts and a whole lot of bad grammer.

Orange Conference Session #1 – Reggie

100 years from now the only thing that matters is someone’s relationship with God.

You’re here for one of three reasons.
You know what you are doing is kinda working but you don’t want to miss out on something that’s kinda better.
You know what you are doing is not working.
We think what we’re doing is working, but it’s not and you need someone to come alongside you and tell you.

Reggie saw 11th and 12th graders “checking out,” they heard the same thing the same way for so long that they don’t hear it anymore.

Reggie brings out a sound/beat machine. When we realize no one is listening we have a tendency just to turn up the volume.

We think it’s working because it’s working for “us”. We’ve mastered the art of blending in order to make everyone happy. We think if we can keep people happy then we’re doing well. The problem is that no one really loves it, no passion, no excitement.

Sometimes we can convince ourselves that something is working and the reality is it’s not. Are we making it easier or harder to turn to God in our style of ministry?

Acts 15. There is a principle that should challenge us to rethink if we are engaging a generation. Acts 15 – Knock out dragged out business meeting that the Gentiles were not becoming Christians the right way. Brought Paul and Silas in from the mission field. It was all about circumcision. After much discussion, “why put on a yoke that neither me or our fathers can bear.” We believe that it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we are saved just as they are. Therefore we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles to turn to God.

REAL ISSUE: ARE WE MAKING IT EASIER OR HARDER FOR SOMEONE TO COME TO JESUS!

Five different issues to think about.
STRATEGY of the song (drum track). Framework for the rest of the song. A plan of action with the end in mind. Aligned working toward common goal and common end. What would it look like if we were all on the same page – newborns through graduates?
MESSAGE of the son (vocal track). What values, faith and character are they taking with them when they graduate. Leading and teaching with an end in mind. We need to reduce the message down to the most important components. Teach them the most important parts of the Bible, not the whole thing. Recycle it in a way to make sure they didn’t miss it. Synchronize the different age groups. Whatever irreducible core curriculum, teaching the same thing at the same time. If you learn how to play together, you have synergy that you’ve never had before.
COMMUNITY. Supports, gives feel (guitar track). They need a place to belong and people to believe in them. We’re living with a generation that is hurting, need to belong and know we believe in them. We can’t have the kinds of production that compete with society, but the thing we need more than anything else is the idea of community.
FAMILY. Highlights message (backup vocals). When you have a master plan where everyone is on the same page, you’ve enabled the parent to know a way to participate in the plan. Parents are saying, help me with a plan. I don’t know how to do this. Give me a plan. Also, tell me what to say. I want to collaborate with you on what you say. It’s in me as a parent to be a part of the spiritual formation of my child. The greatest gift you can give to a parent is a plan, a specific thing to say. You are putting another person in their lives that is saying the same thing as they are.
INFLUENCE. Passion and energy of song (bass track). There is a missing component. We think the best thing is going to church, maybe we have created the mind of “going and doing something” than “being” something. They have a mission of “being” something, they are called to be the church. When we make the decision that discipleship for a teenager is as much as going and doing, as reading and praying we will have a breakthrough. Watch the 11th and 12th graders, are they checking out because they’ve heard it all. I need to know that I was created for something else.

4 Strategies of Student Ministry
1. Keep them from going to Hell
2. We need to stop them from raising Hell.
3. We can scare the Hell out of them.
4. To somehow give teenagers the kind of weapons they need to engage their communities, to rescue people living in Hell, called to a mission.

If the church doesn’t turn the dials, intentionally and proactively, then who will? The reason you are here and the reason you’re a part of this, if you don’t do this, no one else will.

There is a story in the Old Testament of a man that got extremely burdened for his home town. Nehemiah. A man who had a strategy, a plan of action, took the initiative. The Israelite people were in disgrace, they had lost their meaning, they had lost their purpose. He rallied the families to rebuild the cities. Don’t be afraid of the enemies, remember the Lord, fight for your family. When the wall was rebuilt, it was an amazing thing. When the people of God experienced not just what God did at that moment and God did through them, they were never the same. Once the wall was rebuilt, three things happened.
Those outside the wall changed their opinion of who Israel’s God was. They lost confidence in themselves, because they knew the God of the Israelites helped them build it.
Within the walls, the people listened to their God and listened like never before. Ezra stood in the court and read the word and they listened INTENTLY.
Celebration like never before.

People will criticize from outside, complain on the inside, you need to decide the stakes are too high NOT to make the changes. People may decide to leave, it may be difficult, it may be hard. Can you imagine the children of the people who saw the wall go up, they were never the same. Our prayer is that something happens in your church in such a way that children and teenagers will never be the same. They will point back at the experiences they have had at the church as a reminder of who God is.

Orange – Part 2 – Partnering with Parents

This session was INCREDIBLE…

PARTNERING WITH PARENTS
Parents want someone to come alongside them and help equip them. They have this overwhelming responsibility to raise their kids morally and spiritually, but they don’t know how to do it.

I. Problem:
1. We have come to believe that faith and character can be outsourced. It’s not serving us well. Average church has 40 hours with a kid each year, an average working parent has 3,000 hours.

2. In the past 50 years, even churched families have come to believe that dropping off kids is enough to guarantee the spiritual and character formation of their children.

3. As a result, we have raised several underequipped generations of Christian parents and grandparents who do not know how to equip their children in faith and character. They can’t teach them what they do not know (ex. A father with math)

II. The Growing Gap Between Church Leaders and Parents:
1. 85% of parents with children under age 13 believe they have the primary responsibility for teaching their children about religious beliefs and spiritual matters while 11% said their church is primarily responsible.

2. 96% of parents with children under the age of 13 say they have the primary responsibility for teaching their children values.

3. Only 19% of parents with children under 13 have ever been personally contacted or spoken to by a church leader to discuss the parents’ involvement in the spiritual life and development of their children.

III. The Opportunity:
The church may be sitting on the greatest evangelism opportunity in decades. Every parent has at least given thought to, if not spent time lying awake at night, is my child going to be alright.

IV. The Temptation
1. The number one temptation among church leaders is to view family ministry as simply another program that the church runs or a staff member the church needs to deploy

2. Family ministry synchronizes church leaders and parents around a master plan to build faith and character into their sons and daughters.

The master plan is focused on the five principles of Orange.
Integrate strategy – Is what we are doing transferable, easily accessible and irresistible?
Refine message – Teach less for more
Elevate community
Reactive the family
Leverage influence

3. We want to help you think through one aspect of that master plan that will help you move from information based ministry to influence based ministry as church leaders and parents partner together.

V. Moving from Information to Influence
1. Approximately 80% of children walk away from the church/faith when they walk away from their parents.

a. Our assumption: If children have the right information, their faith and character will be appropriately shaped before they leave home. Information alone is not enough (ex. Coke vs. water – go for Coke even though you know water is better, cigarette package warnings don’t keep people from smoking, etc.)
b. Reality: Our attempts at information may not be addressing the life issues of children or their parents.
c. Reality: Information alone does not lead to transformation.
What happen to cast in Eight is Enough? How many elephants are in a heard? Who cares
Teaching the whole Bible to children may not be the best approach.
Moral failure prevention may not be our first and best strategy.

2. If an approach focused on information would give way to a strategy that engages the critical influences that shapes every child’s future, we believe our success will increase significantly.

3. (THIS IS REALLY GOOD) The six influences answer, or better yet, resolve six life six life questions that every child asks at some page of his or her development. By focusing on these six influences, six life changes, and developing a matter plan to deal with them, church leaders and parents are better positioned to shape and influence, the heart, mind, soul and future of a child.

Six influences that shape every child’s future, six life questions every child asks, default influences, Orange principles(s) and strategy.

1. Six Influences That Shape Every Child’s Future: A really big God I can trust no matter what.
Six Life Questions Every Child Asks: Who am I?
Default Influences: It must be about me. It must be about me.
Orange Principle(s) and Strategy: Refine Your Message. Elevate Community. First Look.
1. God made me. 2. God loves me. 3. Jesus wants to be my friend.

2. Six Influences That Shape Every Child’s Future: A burning light that leads to truth.
Six Life Questions Every Child Asks: What’s true?
Default Influences: Whatever
Orange Principle(s) and Strategy: Refine Your Message. Elevate Community. 252 Basics.
1. I can trust God (a really big God). 2. I need to make the wise choices (a burning light). 3. I should treat others the way I want to be treated (a compelling mission).

3. Six Influences That Shape Every Child’s Future: Nosey parents who make it their job to know where their kids are.
Six Life Questions Every Child Asks: Who really cares?
Default Influences: Nobody, really, nobody
Orange Principle(s) and Strategy: Reactive the Family

4. Six Influences That Shape Every Child’s Future: Another voice that sayds the same thing my parents say.
Six Life Questions Every Child Asks: Who else believe in me?
Default Influences: Whoever can use me.
Orange Principle(s) and Strategy: Elevate Community

5. Six Influences That Shape Every Child’s Future: Someone else who is going in the right direction.
Six Life Questions Every Child Asks: Where do I fit in?
Default Influences: With the people I get to like me.
Orange Principle(s) and Strategy: Elevate Community

6. Six Influences That Shape Every Child’s Future: A compelling mission that lasts a lifetime
Six Life Questions Every Child Asks: Why am I here?
Default Influences: To get what I want? (Reality, when I get it I don’t want it anymore)
Orange Principle(s) and Strategy: Refine Your Message. Leverage influence. XP3.
1. Inviting wonder (a really big God) 2. Provoking discovery (burning light) 3. Fueling passion (a compelling mission)

VI. Maximizing Influence
1. At every level of your family ministry, think about how you can leverage all six influence that shape the life of every child for maximum impact at church and at home.

2. One example would be to rethink our Family Experience at a new level. Our strategy is:
a) Once a month
b) Off Sunday
c) Separate the parents and the kids (for a few minutes)
d) Talk directly with the parents (parents lounge)
e) Focus on one of the six influences

3. Parent lounge sample discussion. Ex. Favorite Five on cell phone. Who does your child have on their Favorite Five that would say the same thing you do? Rite of Passage. Spend one day with each mentor. At then end of the time, gathered together for a feast, kid wrote a card telling each one what they meant, prayed for son, gave each mentor a Bible.

VII. Your Challenge
1. Rethink family ministry strategy at a master level to move church leaders and parents onto the same page.
2. Rethink how the six life influences can be leveraged at every level both in content and strategy to prepare children for the life God has called them to.

Orange Conference – Part 1 – Unlocking the XP3 Strategy

Began the Orange Conference by learning how not to do registration. I truly felt for them. I would not have wanted to start a first time conference off this way. However things kept getting better as the day went on. This conference has already challenged me on a few things.

The first workshop was unlocking the XP3 Strategy. In my opinion, they should of kepted it locked until next year. According to the amazing Mark Waltz, you can’t get a First Impression back. My guess is that this is GOING to be GREAT, GREAT stuff. However, I think they jumped the gun on the release. They had great presenters, but the material is just not complete or tested enough yet.

Here are my unedited notes…
Unpacking XP3 Strategy
XP3 – The Big Three
Incite Wonder
Provoke Discovery
Fuel Passion

The Heart Behind XP3
Move from information to experience. We need to move past the spectator sport mentality and approach, and let students feel like they have a chance to get the ball. They won’t remember what you say, but they will remember an experience.

Create a real sense of community. Let the small group be a place where students can ask real, tough questions. They can experience real dialog and receive authentic answers. We offer what culture can’t. MySpace is a false sense of community.

Give them responsibility. Knowing who you are unlocks passion. Don’t just tell them to be the church, but teach them to be the church.

Leave behind the “don’t” mentality. Instead of telling them what they can’t do, tell them what they can do. Write from filter of grace.

Work together with parents to create dialog and a connection at home. Instead of creating a culture that excludes parents, find ways to help parents and students “win” in their desire to connect with one another.

XP3
Small Group Dialog.
Your job is to set up discussion and create meaningful conversations.
Begin with “What did the speaker say tonight?” “What did you think about…”
It’s ok to create tension.
What’s the landing point? Give them a closing challenge.
XP = Experience
Home XP = Experience at home. Communicate, challenge and encourage parents.
Teaching Script
Video Elements
Creating the Experience
Middle School Adaptation

Life change happens best in circles, not rows.