Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Unlikely Heroes...

No one ever said that leading family devotions would be easy. Whether you have little ones like us or older children, leading a family Bible study time is difficult. Picture this: As you are trying to explain the truths of the Bible, your 1 year old is wrestling on the ground with your 2 year old. As you teach, you hear loud laughter, but you keep pushing and try your best. On a positive note, our children love to sing. Joshua's latest fav is "Your Grace is Enough." He loves singing that song as loud as he can. It's so awesome.
On another note, I have realized that I have several friends that are leading their families in discipleship. Josh and Tasha Via lead their children every night! Jason and Shanna Hand lead their daughter at least 3 nights per week! We stand amazed at you guys, and we're trying to develop consistency in our family. You guys are encouraging friends to our growing family!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lasting Divergence...

It is a great pleasure to be included on Steve Wright's blog called Lasting Divergence. Steve is becoming somewhat of a champion for family centered youth ministry. You can check out his blog for the full interview. Thanks, Steve, for all your support. I hope we have a chance to meet soon. If you are in the ministry and haven't read ReThink yet, you must read this great work. You can find more info on Wright's blog. There is also a great challenge called the John Newton Challenge on the blog.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thoughts on Blogging...

As the summer months roll in, I find it increasingly difficult to post new messages on the blog. Please bear with me. Most student pastors realize that these months can be rather exhausting. During the past three weeks, we've had summer camp and VBS. Still, I'll try my best to continue to share news with you.
Recently, I've began kneeling with Joshua for bedtime prayers. He loves to kneel and pray with me. Usually, I'll begin the prayer and then I'll ask Joshua what he would like to pray for. Don't worry, McDonald's, know that my son prays vigorously for you. Of course, he prays for other family members and friends. Can I just tell you that when my son prays for others, I am greatly encouraged to do the same. I guess what I'm trying to do is teach him about the Lord "when I lie down..." (Deut. 6:8).
When it comes to parenting, I am no superman. I haven't gotten it all figured out yet. I do have friends who've encouraged me along the way. Let me tell you about some of them. One of my very best friends, Jason Hand, leads a family devotional time at least 3 times a week. Jason, I admire you and hope to get there myself soon. Jason has a four year old daughter who is amazing. Dr. Rob Rienow has encouraged me greatly in his book, God's Grand Vision for the Home. I've also been greatly encouraged by Steve Wright in ReThink. I hope that I can encourage others as I have been encouraged.

Monday, June 16, 2008

reTHiNK: Is Student Ministry Working?

I have recently finished ReThink, by Steve Wright of Providence Baptist in Raleigh, NC. Of all the books I've read about student ministry thus far, ReThink is one of the best. Wright challenges the current model of student ministry, and argues that student ministry is largely not accomplishing its goal. He begins the book by providing empirical data to support such a claim.

Steve calls youth pastors to return to the Biblical model found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. This text beseeches parents to shepherd their children and to bring them up in the Lord. Youth Ministry, then, is not to take the place of Mom and Dad in the spiritual formation of the student. Rather, we are to be a support system and encouragers to those families.

I agree with Steve Wright's assessment. In my own life, I have been reminded again and again that raising my children in the Lord is my God-given responsibility. I understand that along the way, my children will have pastors who will also point them to Christ. Still, I am challenged to lead my family in the pursuit of God.

As a student pastor, I have a burden to come alongside the families of Ingleside Baptist. I pray that God will give me the passion and the tools to support them as they live out Deuteronomy 6. Our high school pastor shares the same burden for our families.

What would happen if all the student ministers began to see their calling as one of equipping families? What would happen if we put as much time into parents as we did in series planning, or weekend retreats, or (Lord, help us) lock-ins? What would the world be like for our students? I agree with Wright; "it is time to value student development over traditional, event-driven student ministry."

Monday, June 9, 2008

FUGE 2008...

Our student ministry enjoyed an incredible summer camp last week in Mississippi. The Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers from Ingleside participated in Centrifuge and Missionfuge camps at Mississippi College.
As with every camp, there were some hilarious moments. I performed in Dance Dance Revolution on stage at the morning show - and won. Admittingly, I had no idea what I was doing. Our high school pastor rapped about the sheep and the goats...pretty awesome!
God worked in amazing ways at Fuge. We had students accept Christ, and others declare a desire to be baptized.
Outside of these decisions, perhaps the highlight of the week was Wednesday night. Our students were challenged to share with the group those things that are standing between them and God. Our middle schoolers began sharing with one another deep struggles and sins that are effecting their spiritual lives. After a time of sharing, they began to pray for one another. What an amazing night! For the first time since we've been here (about 8 months), our students weren't divided by age, grade, gender, or school. They weren't divided by popularity or status. They finally realized that they are the body of Christ collectively. They became a youth Ministry. What I witnessed in our church group time was the work of God on the lives of those who are willing to obey the Scripture and to confess sin, pray together, and encourage one another.
Unfortunately in the church today, not many moments like these occur. We'd rather paint on a happy face and build walls of defense around our hurts and pain. If we'd only obey passages like James 5:16, the modern church would be different. Thank you students for obeying the Word and for being willing to let God mold you and knit you together. Thank you, God, for demonstrating great patience with Your people.