I’ve been following Adam McLane’s blog ever since I’ve been blogging (7 months and 15 days if you’re counting). Adam has great insight in youth ministry, church, family, etc… I’m very impressed with his writing. Anyway…
Yesterday Adam wrote a post titled, “Daddy, if you love me…” and passed on a great learning that was delivered from his son:
[Adam speaking] “Paul, don’t you want to go to the game? It’s sold out. The Aztecs are awesome this year. And I love sharing this with you.” He got up the courage to tell me the truth. “I really like hanging out with you dad. But we always do things that you love, like sports, and it doesn’t count as a dad date unless it’s something I want to do.” [To read the entire post, go here]
Last Friday I wrote a little about how much I like being a dad and how fast time goes by when you’re parenting. Today I was thinking, “If my kids were still little, this is how I’d try to be more intentional.
Daily: Affection & Attention.
Weekly: One on One time.
Monthly: Special, surprise memory-maker.
Yearly: A fully documented (photos/videos) family vacation.
I don’t live with too much regret. Obviously, I could have done things more intentionally (like I just wrote about above), but I did spend a lot of intentional time with my kids.
For example, I made it a goal to coach every sport they ever played—until they got into high school (I accomplished that goal except for volleyball). Coaching was filled with great times of driving to practice, getting a Slurpee afterwards, and just playing together.
I’ve always been overly affectionate with my kids and I think I did a decent job of daily attention. But, as much as I wanted to be a great dad, there are some things I wish I would have done different. As much as possible, don’t allow that to happen to you.
The great news is that even though my kids are older (22,19,16), I can still create new memories, forge deeper relationships, and be the dad that I was created and called to be.
Intentional parenting…Parenting without regrets…Focus on your darn family…I don’t care what you call it, just make it happen.
Your kids will thank you!
Question: What intentional attempts do you try to take as a parent?
Several times over the last seven months I’ve made either Twitter, Facebook or Blog comments about my 19 year old son’s step-away-from-football-and-college to serve orphans and street children in Kitale, Kenya (post one & two).
He came home yesterday! Praise Jesus.
The photo (below) is from our first of many meals where we’re downloading his experience.
My oldest daughter returns home Monday night after being in Africa for 3 months (post college graduation). With two of my three kids gone this summer (and my youngest wishing she was in Africa) I’ve taken some time to do some reflecting on our parenting style as well as raising our kids in a ministry environment.
I’m working on a list of some of the steps that I’m glad Cathy and I made while our kids were growing up in ministry. One of these days I’ll share the list, but here’s what I was thinking about while I was waiting at the airport for Cody to arrive.
1. TIME goes by very fast
When our kids were little, this didn’t seem like a true statement. We were always tired, got little sleep, and felt like we were a high maintenance family. But, now of the verge of being an empty-nester (our youngest is a junior), I’m stunned at how fast time appears to go.
2. Ministry always requires more TIME
When you think about how quickly time goes, this 2nd statement can definitely trigger some family-tension. Since ministry never stops (because people always have needs) we’re constantly making decisions about who is going to win the time battle… the ministry or our family. With Cathy’s tenderness and help, we always tried to make sure that our family won. I realize this can be difficult if “healthy family” is not a high priority within your church setting.
3. Make sure your kids know they don’t have to work for your TIME
When my children were younger, I was haunted by something a youth pastor’s child said, “I’m excited to be in youth ministry because I’ll get to see my dad more.” When I heard that, it broke my heart and I made a commitment that my kids would never say that. At church, I made it very clear that my kids had total access to their dad. They knew that if others were waiting to talk to dad…they didn’t have to wait. Not everyone agrees with our approach, but that’s what we taught our kids.
If you’re a parent, who is serving in ministry, there is great hope for your kids! Cathy and I are convinced that growing up around incredible, fun and godly adults was an incredible blessing for our kids. I realize you’re always being forced to make ministry and time-related decisions, and my prayer is that you’ll make more right decisions than wrong decisions (you’ll make some of those too)… actually, I pray you’ll make a lot more right decisions.
The issue of TIME is definitely a battle, but it’s one worth fighting.
I may soon turn this into a tech blog…although don’t hold your breath!
Clips attracted my attention for two primary reasons:
(1) I love using movie clips when I teach (I co-authored 4 books with my friend Eddie James, called Videos that Teach 1-4. I just wish I would have thought about turning it into an app), and
(2) the guy who created the app (RJ Grunewald) is a youth worker.
In 2008, RJ was a middle school youth pastor (from Detroit suburbs) who started thinking of ways to use his iPhone for ministry. He started creating apps.
His first app was called “Whoopie Cushion” (perfect for a youth worker). Again, I wish I’d of thought of that one too. “Whoopie Cushion” was downloaded more than a million times.
In 2009, RJ co-developed an app with Youth Specialties called “MyGuitar.” It was even bigger than “Whoopie Cushion” (downloaded 2.1 million times).
RJ (still a middle school pastor) has done it again with Clips. This new app might not be as funny as fart sounds, but it will be a lot more helpful to youth workers.
Here’s the description from iTunes:
Clips is all about helping people engage with the Bible by using scenes from great films. Pastors, small group leaders, and youth ministers can all benefit with the tools provided. Clips tells you exactly what scenes to use, what topics to teach, the verses you could use, and even some possible discussion questions. It gives you everything you need to easily find the scene you are teaching from, even linking to it in iTunes.
I know RJ made this for youth workers, but it’s one of those things that could be useful for all sorts of people in ministry. Volunteer youth workers, student leaders, and even parents. As a parent, I’m always looking for ways to have a Bible-based conversation about something my kids are watching. This is really helpful.
As much as I’d like for people to continue to buy my books (Videos that Teach), I think RJ’s app will be more helpful (and cheaper at only $2.99). In addition to the many on the app, I assume he’ll continue to update the app when new movies come out.
The app comes today (August 9th), I encourage you to get it. It’s great! I’m proud of him for giving youth workers a great and helpful product. I just wish that I would have thought of it.
This is a guest post by David Hertweck who serves the Assemblies of God in the state of NY as their District Youth Director. He is also the 2nd place winner to last week’s creativity challenge (which won him nothing). David can be tracked down at Twitter: @NY_YouthMin or Facebook group: NYDAG Youth Min
Preaching Jesus as…? In his book, Searching For God Knows What, Donald Miller describe a time when he shared a detailed Gospel message with a roomful of seminary students. He purposefully left one key component out of the presentation and asked the class to identify it. They couldn’t.
The missing part? Jesus.
Charles Spurgeon said, “The sermon which does not lead to Christ, or of which Jesus Christ is not the top and the bottom, is a sort of sermon that will make the devils in hell laugh, but make the angels of God weep.”Tim Keller says it less elegantly but more succinctly: “Until you get to Jesus, it’s just a Sunday school lesson.”
I’ve heard many youth messages and I don’t think I’ve heard one that doesn’t mention or reference Jesus at some point. Somehow, somewhere, at some point He gets an obligatory mention… even if it’s just in the closing prayer.
But is that good enough?
I’ve witnessed four ways that Jesus is often preached to teenagers:
1. Jesus as an inspirational example.
The main idea: Jesus did it, you can do it! The problem: This appeals to a student who measures their worth in terms of accomplishment, spiritual or otherwise. It works on the will but not the heart. If Jesus is only an example, then the average teenager is in a lot of trouble because, well… Jesus was perfect. Your teenagers need much more than an example to inspire them (or eventually crush them)… they need a Savior to rescue them. The result: You might get teenagers to change their behavior but it will be in their own strength and with a hint of moralism. This is not the Gospel. Jesus did not die on the cross to give us a second chance to get things right. He did it because He knew we never would.
2. Jesus as a faithful sidekick.
The main idea: Jesus did it and He will help you do it! The problem: This reduces Jesus from the central character of our story of our salvation to the silent partner who simply helps us live right. He is nothing more than the greatest tool in your toolbox. One more metaphor: Jesus gets the assist, but I get the goal. The Gospel is not that He helps us get it right but that He got it right in our place. Big difference. The result: You may get teenagers fired up, but you may also make them self-reliant and filled with unhealthy expectations. If they think that all they need is a boost from their buddy Jesus to be ok, then they may not understand the depth of their own depravity. Grasping, on a profound level, how lost we are is the starting point to encounter Jesus.
3. Jesus as a jilted boyfriend/girlfriend.
The main idea: Jesus did it for you, don’t hurt his feelings and let Him down! The problem: This appeals to the students’ emotions, fears and sense of guilt. Most people don’t want to disappoint or let down anyone, let alone God! But fear and guilt are not Gospel motivations; they are tools of the enemy. The result: You may get emotionally driven responses, especially from students that want to please people. They will make all sorts of radical promises about never ever, ever sinning again. However, teenagers will eventually find someone else (peers, boyfriend, girlfriend…) who they don’t want to disappoint even more. That relationship will easily trump this type of change.
4. Jesus as a divine loophole.
The main idea: Jesus did it and you should too, but if you don’t He will forgive you! The problem: This approach can be combined with any of the previous three. This weakens the message of the Gospel and the power of grace. C.S. Lewis said that grace is the distinctive term of the Christian faith. Either the grace of God is the most powerful change force for mankind, or we’re hopeless. The “get-out-of-jail-free card” approach to grace doesn’t communicate that. The result: Some teenagers will come to see Jesus as nothing more than the great eraser. They do whatever they want and come to Him hoping He can hit the reset button for them. It makes them feel better, but it doesn’t invite them into the story of the Gospel. Eventually they won’t believe it; they’ll believe they’ve fallen too far. Or they just won’t be drawn to a grace that is strong enough to forgive them when their hearts wander, but too weak to truly win their affections.
So how do we preach Jesus as the center? As the beginning and the end? How do we preach the Gospel as the good news it is? How do we show that all of the Scriptures and all of history exist to reveal Jesus?
I’ve heard Tim Keller reveal his answers to these important questions:
1) Preach the principles in the text. Go ahead, point out how we should live, what type of character we should have and use the stories or the teachings to strengthen your points. (This is where most messages end!)
2) Explain why they’ll never do it. Don’t just go after the behavior but go after the root: the lack of belief or the lie behind the behavior. This is also your chance to critique both irreligion AND religion. Show how even the religious can be wrong in their hearts despite being right in their behavior.
3) Preach the One who did it! Show Jesus to be the one who kept the law and preach his supremacy over every issue. Make him beautiful to the listener so that the very affections of their hearts can be realigned.
4) Teach students how to rest in the truth of the Gospel. Teach them how to rejoice in the truth that Jesus both lived perfect for them and died shamed for them. Pray that the Holy Spirit will melt and move their hearts with the power of the Gospel. Trust in the truth that Jonah learned in the belly of the big fish: salvation is of God.
Question: What are the primary questions you use to evaluate your messages?
As always, we had a blast! I love this day of training because it’s so easy to spot the youth workers who are hungry to learn. There’s a lot of content in this seminar that’s peppered with a ton of laughter. It’s really difficult for me to describe the joy I have for this event.
I met a bunch of incredible youth workers! One youth worker’s story grabbed my heart, and I left thinking, “He’s a good picture of the face of youth ministry.” His name is Jared Beard and he retired (after 20 years) of working in the Customs Department (both domestically and oversees). He felt God’s call to retire and pursue youth ministry. Since he retired, he’s been in full-time ministry for 4 years (I’m guessing he’s in the neighborhood of late 40′s…early 50′s) and he’s doing a GREAT job! He came to our seminar with some of his team (pictured above).
I think a lot of people have an image of youth ministry being a “young person’s game” and it’s not an accurate image. Sure, there are a lot of 20-somethings that are doing great ministry, but there are also a lot of 50-somethings that are clearly following the call of Jesus and loving teenagers and their families and trying to help them grow spiritually. I’m grateful for people like Jared…who heard God’s call (later in life) and obeyed.
It doesn’t take intelligence to be be critical. Criticism is low-hanging fruit–it’s such an easy and attractive tactic for an unhappy person. A critical spirit easily morphs into resentment. Resentment can destroy the soul of a leader.
1. Do you pray that resentment will keep its distant from your leadership?
2. Can you relate to this prayer (written by Scotty Smith/Christ Community Church)?
Lord Jesus, it’s been entirely too hot in our city this summer, and I’ve registered that protest entirely too many times—so often, I can now see that my complaining has been morphing into resenting. It came to a head yesterday when I walked out my front door for a jog, only to find myself cursing the humidity, the temperature, even the sun. That led to a thirty-minute pout and deep conviction by your Holy Spirit. You made it clear the weather isn’t the only thing I’ve been resenting lately. Have mercy on me, the sinner, have mercy on me, gracious Savior.
I resent crazy-making in the Body of Christ—obnoxious pettiness and drive-by-shooting criticisms. I resent roads that are always being repaired; drivers that delay moving four seconds after the red light turns green; birds that do their business on my windshield right after I exit the car wash.
I resent resentful people. Why can’t they stop their whining and be more content with what they have? I resent good grass dying and crabgrass thriving. I resent the recent political madness of our government. I especially resent inequitable suffering. People I love suffer too much, too soon, too often in life. It just doesn’t seem right or fair, Jesus.
I resent having to explain and repeat myself. Why can’t everybody instantly intuit what I’m thinking? I resent grocery stores running out of my favorite cereal. Who does their stocking, anyway? I resent gossips, so much that I gossip to others about their gossip. I resent change and transition. Why can’t everything stay the same, or at least disrupt my plans minimally?
Jesus, my resentment will either kill me as a fool or drive me to you for life. Today, I choose the second option.
[to read the rest of this prayer and the need for forgiveness, go here
Question: What is the common subject of prayer as it relates to your life? Pride? Insecurity? Faith? Share it here.