Series: "The Truth About God" - Week 1 - The Cop Around the Corner
Series Big Idea: Too many times we try to create God in our own image. We allow our own misconceptions about God to separate us from Him. In this series we will expose common false images that students often have of God, and give them the true picture of who God really is through Jesus Christ.
This Week's Key Scriptures: John 8:2-11
This Week's Key Thought: God is not a cop around the corner.
Understandable Message: This week we kicked off our new series by shreding the misconcepton that God is just a cop around the corner. Sometimes students believe that God is just lurking in the shadows of their lives looking to catch them. We looked at the account in John 8 when the woman who was caught in adultry was brought to Jesus. In this passage, the men took it upon themselves to have a "steak-out" at this woman's house so they would catch her in her sin. They assumed this is the way God was. They illustrate the reality that we will become like what we percieve God to be. They thought God was a cop around the corner, so they took it upon themselves to catch this woman in her sin.
We see the truth about God and his grace through the response of Jesus to this woman who had been caught in her sin. He did not agree with their undercover operation. Did he say that she did nothing wrong? Absolutely not! He acknowledged her sin and admonished her to stop. However, he was not riding shotgun with the self-appointed holiness five-o looking to stone her in her sin. God is not hiding out in the shadows around the corner looking to catch us in our sin. Rather, God is standing in the open where we can see him. He is standing between us and the full weight and consequence of our sins and destructive choices. He is fully able to uphold the law in every way, however, hehe still seeks to make a way for us to be fully free and forgiven of all charges. He has a rap sheet on us that could condemn us for life, and he has every right to do so. However, he chooses to offer us new life through His forgiveness. What is there not to love about a God like this?
Creative Elements: We had a fun video that we used to introduce this series. We also themed our student chapel to match our series video & graphic title. We had shreadded pictures that represented our different misconceptions about God covering the back of the platform. Also, to go with our subject in the classes, we played the theme to COPS "Bad Boys" when students were coming in and leaving the student chapel to go to their classes. Our classes also used this funny video to introduce the topic of the night (http://sermonspice.com/product/20855/obeying-the-law)
Songs: Glory, Everything I Need (Kutless), There is Nothing Like
Next Week: "The Truth About God" Part 2
(Welcome to our youth staff meeting. For more info about the 5 Essentials click here.)
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us layaside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience therace that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for thejoy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the righthand of the throne of God.
I want to start by asking you a question. What is the longest trip that you have ever taken? The longest trip that I have ever taken was to Africa. It was a very long trip. I had to drive to Atlanta. Then I had to fly 19 hours to Johannesburg, South Africa. My trip was absolutely unnerving at times. When we got on the plane they gave us a personal hygiene packet. In the packet was a toothbrush and dental floss, along with mouthwash and blinders for your eyes. I understood all of that. However, in the packet there was also a pair of fluorescent green socks. They were absolutely hideous. Some people chose right from the beginning of the flight to put those socks on. I thought to myself, “I will never put those socks on.” I think the socks were a social experiment, because about 10 hours into the trip I started thinking to myself, “Everyone is wearing those socks. I wonder why everyone is wearing them. I bet those socks are comfortable.” And when I stepped off that plane 19 hours later, I too was wearing the green socks.
That is kind of the way student ministry is. Not the green socks, but the journey. The destination is not reached in a moment. It takes time. Youth ministry is more like a road trip than it is a flight. It would be nice if you could just ease back in your seat and sip on some cran-apple juice, while watching a rerun of the Office and looking at a SkyMall magazine. However, ministry does not run on autopilot. As a matter of fact, ministry is more like a marathon than it is a road trip. There is no cruise control in ministry.
If you are going to be a successful leader of students you must realize that IT’S A JOURNEY. Ministry is not a day-trip. Ministry is not a one mile sprint. Ministry is a marathon. It takes time if we are going to be effective as youth leaders. Sometimes we ask the common question, “Are we there yet?” When it comes to ministry. You deal with that troubled student and you ask, “Are we there yet?”
I want to encourage you to not give up in the middle of the journey. I understand that there are seasons in our life and God directs us to serve in different capacities. I think it is totally fine that some feel a change in ministry. I totally understand that. However, there is a difference between being weary from the journey, and feeling a change in your calling to student ministry.
I want to let you know that the longer you work with students the easier it becomes because you develop deeper influence with them. Students do not need anymore “short-term” adults in their lives. They need people who are committed to them for the long haul.
Through being with students for the long-haul you will have lasting impact on their lives. You will be “that person” to them. All of us have had “that person” in our lives. The one that we get strength from. The one that inspires us. The person that we go to for advice. The person that is our rock. This does not mean that we are perfect. That is actually the point. Students see us in all of our glory, or lack thereof. And through that process they realize that they too can live for God.
How do you make sure that you don’t “Burn out” in student ministry? I think the answer is in our "Pace." Pace is vitally important in any race. I can run fast, but not for very long. If I am going to cross the finish line on the “Marathon of Ministry” then I have to make sure I have the right pace. What is the right pace?
Pacesetter 1: Time with God
There is no way around this one. You must spend intimate time with God if you’re going to last in ministry. Ministering to students can be overwhelming at times and you must expend a lot of energy and effort to work with them. You must spend time with God alone by yourself. You must develop an intimacy with God that is not dependent on him using you in ministry. This means that you must take time to pray and read God’s word when you are not preparing to teach. You must have worship times in your life when you are not responsible for others.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Runin such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Pacesetter 2: Manage your Commitments
This may seem strange to hear, but you are not called or expected to give 100% to working with students all the time. There are times when you have commitments that you must tend to. Do not sacrifice your family on the altar of ministry! Everyone has seasons of life when things are stressful and problems arise. If you are going to survive ministry for the long haul you must be honest about your commitments. I understand that there will be times when you can’t be at everything. I only ask that you are upfront and communicate. If you can’t be at youth service or a meeting, please be up front and let me know about it. I want each of you to be in ministry for the long haul. I want to partner with you and with your family.
Pacesetter 3: Don’t take it Personal
1 Samuel 8:5-8
5 They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have." 6 But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you.
If you are going to survive for the journey you have to learn to not take everything personal. This is much easier said than done. For you WILL be hurt. There WILL be times when people offend you. But understand this, it is not about you! Do not take your work in ministry so personal. We are working at the request of Jesus Christ. This would be like the mailman quitting his job because someone got mad at him for delivering a bill to their house. He is just delivering the mail. It is the same for us. You will have to forgive students. You will have to forgive parents. You will have to forgive other youth staff members. You will have to forgive me.
This also comes down to a principle I call, BELIEVE THE BEST. If you are going to survive in ministry you must be willing to believe the best in people, instead of consistently assuming the worst. With life it is easy to assume the worst about people and situations. However, if you are going to last then you must be willing to believe the best in others.
Effective ministry is a marathon, not a spint. It is a journey, but it is not a journey we must travel alone. I am thankful that we have each other to work with and walk alongside on this journey. I am thankful for each of you and am excited about taking this trip together. I believe that together God will use us to be part of impacting this generation for his glory!
Let us not forget that "It's a Journey."
When I was a Senior in High School I had the opportunity to begin training to get my private pilot's license. It was a dream come true. I had always wanted to fly. I found this place out in the country where the lessons were half the price from the airport in the town that I lived in. The airport had a grass landing strip. You could only land and take off one way. You also had to beware of the cows that would cross the runway at times. Fun times.
I had invisioned what it would be like to fly. I just thought I would step into the airplane, turn on the engine, and then get flying. Boy was I wrong. There was this thing in the cockpit that had to be checked before we would ever take off in the plane. It was our checklist. The checklist included checking the alerons and the elevators. We made sure our instruments were working properly and that the engine had the proper amount of oil. We used this checklist EVERYTIME.
My instructor also used this checklist everytime he would fly. Eventhough he had been flying for over 40 years and had been a fighter pilot in Vietnam and flew commercial jets. He would say that you must never take off without first going over the checklist. Every time we landed we would go through the checklist again before we flew again. The checklist was vital because it helped us to remember fundamental elements of the task ahead.
I want to share with you our youth staff's pre-flight checklist. Every time our youth staff gets together for a meeting we go over this checklist to ensure that we do not forget the fundamentals of the task ahead of us. We call them our "5 Essentials." They were adopted from the student ministry of Northpoint Church. We have made them our own and seek, as a youth staff, to infuse these 5 Essentials into the culture of our studennt ministry.
Our 5 Essentials are:
4. Keep it Real
5. Partner with Parents
Each youth staff meeting we go over one of these principles in depth. For the next couple posts I invite you to step into one of our youth staff meetings as we go through the different elements of our checklist together.
I was reminded yesterday about an interesting statement found in the book of John. When John writes his book he takes the liberty to keep inserting the line, "The disciple whom Jesus loved." He uses this to describe one of the many disciples following the Master.
Which one you may ask? Himself.
He calls himself, "The disciple whom Jesus loved." (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2)
What a statement.
I find it interesting because God also used John's hands to pen the passage that speaks to God's great love for all, "For God so loved the world..." (3:16)
So John was not unaware of the love of Christ toward all others. However, at the same time, John lived his life feeling the love of Jesus toward him personally. To John, God was more than just universal; he was personal.
I grew up across the road from my Grandparents. And as a kid I would go over to their house nearly everyday. When I would go over my Grandparents house they always had a unique ability to make me feel as if I was everything to them, even though I knew that I wasn't their only grandchild.
God has that kind of ability.
In ministry, we live our lives showing others the great love of Jesus toward them. But let us never forget the greatest expression of his love was shown to us personally!
When I look around I see God's love for others, however, the most powerful expression I have of God's love is not found in the life of anyone else. It is what he has done in my life that is most powerful to me.
I am "The disciple whom Jesus Loved."
And so are you.
So, as we put the pen to our page of life today, may we join John and see ourselves as the one who is most loved by the master.
"The disciple whom Jesus Loved."
Series: a stand-alone message: "The Road trip Essential"
Key Scripture: Exodus 33:12-18
Key Thought: God wants to be more than just your trip advisor. He wants to be your travel companion.
Understandable Message: We looked at Moses in Exodus 33 and how he confessed to God that he could not fulfill his purpose alone. He needed God to go with him. In real-life road trips if we forget an "Essential" then we can simply go to the store and pick up a replacement. However, on our spiritual journey there is no replacement for the abiding presence of God. Too many times we allow our luggage to be so full of other things that we do not have room for the presence of God in our lives. However, if we will clean out our hearts and make room for His presence in our lives, we will experience the glory of God like never before. For after Moses established his desire for God's presence in his journey, he was able to ask for God to show him his glory. Too many times we want God's glory, without his presence. We want his presants (gifts) without his presence abiding in our journey. Students were challenged to: 1. Ask for his presence 2. Make room for his presence through repentance, and 3. Receive His presence into their lives.
Creative Elements: Last night the youth band did an acoustic worship set. I love it when they switch it up like this. Great job. Also, during the message I used the simple illustration of a suitcase filled with things representing our lives being too full to fit God's presence. We also had a big push to get our new Reverb Invite Cards into the hands of students.
Songs: Open up the heavens, More than life, Hosanna
Next Week: Beginning a new series.
I am so excited about an upcoming event that we are going to be doing. We are having a special youth service that will coincide with See You At The Pole! A team of students in every school is leading the charge to get as many as they can to go to See You At The Pole that morning and then come to The After Event that night!
"In a couple hours I will be standing before a group of students." That's the first thing that went through my head this morning after I silenced my alarm (which sounds like it could be on a nucular reactor somewhere warning the townspeople of an imminent meltdown).
Wednesday is here. For most of us in a couple hours we will be participating in our various youth ministry programs. For a moment students will come to our churches, far from their schools, and far from what happens in their world. They are seeking affirmation. They are trying to fit in. They are searching. Some are excited to be there. Some of them were made to come by their parents. There will be some students that we will meet for the first time tonight. There are some that are asking real questions about faith. There are others that you think may not be interested at all, but on the inside they are really looking for answers. Some will go back home to parents that are fighting. Some have been invited to a party on Friday by some friends....and the list goes on and on.
It's Wednesday again. And I am faced with the reality that I do not have what it takes to be able to reach all of the students that I will stand in front of. And the reality is that you do not have it either. We all need the help of God tonight as we seek to share the love of Christ with students. And the awesome reality is that "God loves the students that we will stand before more than we could ever imagine."
Luke 6:19 says ... the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.
That is what I pray we youth workers experience tonight. That we see students, with a diversity of needs, come to a place where the virtue of Jesus is present. In that place of His presence, ALL of them can be touched and changed!
God is with us!
We were created for this!
It's Wednesday again!
Here are the notes/resources that were given out during my session at NAYC this year. I know everyone was not able to get a physical copy of the handout that attended the session so I wanted to provide it for those who were interested. It was such an honor to be able to meet and to speak with so many amazing youth workers this year at NAYC. I am so thankfkul for the GYD, and the great job they did this year with Youth Congress.
Series: "We Are..."
Key Thought: God defines who we are.
Understandable Message: The "We are..." theme is from what happened at NAYC this year on Thursday night. We wanted to take the opportunity to carry-over the message that affected the students who attended NAYC this year. This week we looked at how the King of Babylon had the plan to define Daniel through removing him from Jerusalem and teaching him the ways of the Babylonians (Daniel 1:3-4). However, Daniel decided that he was going to allow God to define who he was going to be in his generation. Therefore, he chose to take some things off his plate that others were enjoying. Students were challenged to take compromise and silence off their plates as they step on their school campuses this year. Daniel was not changed by his culture, but rather, he changed his culture! Students do not have to back up or back down. They are filled with the Spirit of God and are called to be giants in their generation!
Creative Elements: We used the website www.yearbookyourself.com to make some hillarous photos of our youth staff and teachers. It was a great way to talk about school starting back and leaving a legacy beyond the yearbook.
Songs: We are the free, Desert Song, You hold me now
Next week: "We Are..." part 2