Showing posts with label Ministry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ministry. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mission Trip Tuesday - #CTCYMphilly #instahunt

As it turns out when it comes to air mattresses, firm is the way to go. My air mattress had a bit of a leak the past two nights and when I woke this morning I was sunken into the middle of the mattress that had become as moveable as a water bed but even less comfortable. So for the sake of being able to move during the day the rest of the week I got a new one.

This morning I was awake a bit before everyone was woken up, and I noticed something odd. Almost every guy in the room was awake minus one row of students and a few others. Every guy from Lake Cities was still asleep.

Yet when it came time to get going they went. The vans rolled out right around 8 again and from what I heard there was great productivity all around.

Today the stories come from our evening activity. It was an Instagram scavenger hunt, and pictures tell a thousand words so instead of telling you about it, get on Instagram and search #ctcymphilly (I would provide a link but Instagram’s online version is a bit too limited to actually do that.)

There was some amazing dessert tonight as well… I am not sure what all was in it but it was great.

Hope you enjoy the pictures on Insta. My work team is on breakfast set up in the morning so I should be asleep now.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wait Was Today Monday? - CTCYM Philly

Something still feels very wrong about this mission trip. Surely it’s not all supposed to go this smoothly.

So today is Monday and usually on mission trips Monday morning is really slow moving and students almost never get loaded in vans until after 9 and by the time you get to the work-site and by the time work gets actually started its 10 then lunch from noon to 1. Then back to work for about 45 minutes before someone needs to potty. You have to load up the van to head to the convenience store to go potty and 30 minutes later you get back to the work-site just in time to do 30 more minutes of work before heading to the showers, because you have to have time to pit-stop at sonic before dinner. Usually that means you get about 3.5 hours worth of work done on a Monday.

That wasn't what happened today… not even close.

When the alarm went off for the guys to wake up at 6:30 most of them were already awake and moving about getting ready for the day. Breakfast was served, lunches were made, tools were sorted, supplies lined up for everyone to take to their different work-sites and the last van, by some miracle, rolled out of the parking lot by 8:15.
8 work teams swarmed Philly Mississippi today and a lot of work got done. Some work teams completely finished their first work project already.
My particular work team has so far been the most efficient work team of any youth trip I have been on. Ryan and Brad worked all day on re-doing some siding with Hardy Board. The students from Cleburne got the rest of the house prepped to be painted by washing and scraping. Autumn folded some tin flashing to match the roof of the house for a repair that we will be doing. The project, which I have seen similar ones take all week and not be finished, is almost halfway done after day 1.

Other teams with Lake Cities Students had similarly productive days.

Patrick, Dylan and Ian’s worksite has been painting a ministry of the local church here called God’s Closet. Almost a thrift store but not quite, that concept seems to be following Patrick a bit. The worst part (sarcasm) of their day was that the UMW would bring them by fresh baked treats nearly every hour.

Matt, James, and Gabe’s work team did some major work setting foundation footings for a wheelchair ramp they are building. Although when I asked the students what their favorite part of the day was, they only mentioned girls and conversations about conspiracy theories. They are certainly having fun while getting some work done.

Laken, and Eli are on a work team together but I didn't get a chance to hear about how their day went.

The evening activity tonight was a game of Kill-ball. Ask one of the students when they get back how to play.

Worship tonight was about how God calls us to do big things that can sometimes give us a bit of anxiety. We think that we can’t do it and God says we can.

Hopefully my air mattress isn't above the basketball goal again when I head in there to sleep.

Mission Trip Road Trip - Lake Dallas to Philadelphia Mississipi Edition

This morning we set off from Lake Cities UMC at 8AM on our way to Senior High Mission Trip to Philadelphia Mississippi. With many thanks of course to the parents who helped get everything loaded down on the trailer and in the vans, this morning went as smoothly as I could have imagined.

couldn't help but to feel like we must have forgotten something significant because surely getting off for a mission trip shouldn’t be that stress free. As of yet, I haven’t figured out what might be missing. I guess checklists really do just make life that much easier.

We stopped for lunch in Shreveport at one of their great cultural restaurants… Whataburger. Then, we didn’t stop for gas until Monroe Louisiana, home of the duck commander headquarters. Which was literally 2 blocks from the gas station so we let some of the students take a picture outside the offices of Phil, Willy, Si, and Jase. Shortly after we got gas we drove through a grass fire that was a really cool experience and one that I am sure the students will remember for a long time. (It was a controlled burn and only smoke was covering the highway, we were 100% safe)

One thing the students in my van did for fun was use a phone to turn our van into a hotspot. They all connected their phones to the hotspot and played a network game of MineCraft. I think at one point I overheard James say to Ian “what are you Ghandi? Hit me!” while in the midst of fighting in the game.

Perhaps the most fun during the road trip came after we got off I-20 here in Mississippi. Our van played a great game of “HEY COW” in which we came up with some pretty awesome rules and decided there should be an app for calculating “HEY COW” points with our new point system. Everyone knows that “HEY COW” is a game where you score points by driving by a pasture, rolling down the window and yelling… you guessed it: HEYY COOWWW, then counting the number of cows who turn their head to look.

After circling the town like buzzards 6 times trying to find a specific place to eat we eventually had dinner and made it to our living center by 7PM. We got unloaded, set up, and oriented all before having a worship service at 9:30. The lights are out now and the students are in bed. I think I will head there myself. 

Be sure to pray that our week is filled with The Holy Spirit. I will try to post a brief update of our trip (late) nightly.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

If You Aren't Doing This, You Are Wasting Your Church's Youth Ministry

***This is an article that is written for Parents/Families of youth to increase the value of your church’s youth ministry to your family. Youth Workers – if you find any truth in what I write here please share with your group.***

As a youth minister it is kind of important for me to constantly be learning about how I can improve things, and I do so on a regular basis. There are often areas of ministry where I feel like (or get told) I need to improve. 

One particular area that I have been seeking to improve is Communication.

If you are looking for advice on Youth Ministry Communication you certainly find a lot of ways to communicate with parents, including some articles written on why you should communicate with youth and their parents in the first place.

However I have noticed that all these articles and ways of improvement are lacking.
Because ALL of them perpetuate a communication model that looks like this picture.

But really we all know on some level that communication is a two way street. For me to get better at communication I have to acknowledge and teach the other side of the coin. So if you are not having a Conversation with your youth director you are wasting your youth ministry.

Some of you may be having a conversation already and that is awesome. You should keep reading.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Top 5 Things from Mid Winter

This weekend around 100 students from North Texas took to Bridgeport Camp and Conference Center. These are my observations of the top 5 things of the weekend.

#5 - Bridgeport Sunset - 
Picture Taken by Hope Rouse
It is no secret that one of the most amazing things about Bridgeport is watching the sunset from the cross. It has become a staple, a standard, and an expectation to see something beautiful. Yet even still each time I am blown away by the beauty that is displayed. Beyond the capture of any picture or painting this is surely one of everyone's favorite things about Bridgeport.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Church or Self Help Organization?

For years now I have been struggling with understanding the balance between spirituality and practical value of ministry.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find much to sort out the matter so I am bring my thoughts to you asking for what you think.

Monday, August 26, 2013

I am a Youth Minister: Not another Parent – Not just another friend

For some reason there is this assumption by certain people that a youth minister should be a parent figure in a student’s life. Still among others there is an assumption that if I succeed at connecting with students that means I become their friend.

I would like to take a quick minute to set to rest those assumptions and offer instead that as a youth worker I have the unique joy that goes along with its own unique relationship.

I am not another parent for students
Parents are wonderful they are by far the biggest influence in a student’s life even if the student or the parent does not realize it. I am a parent of my own child and it has a great deal of responsibilities and challenges to help my child grow. I do my best to provide for him and to keep him safe from harm. My wife and I control his schedule and contribute daily to his understanding of the way the world works. It is our responsibility to set our expectations of behavior and respect for our son and that starts even before he can walk.

As a youth director I get to have the blessing of being an adult example for a student. I get to share with them some of my wisdom of how the world works and I absolutely want to protect students from harm in every way that I can. However by not being in charge of a student’s daily discipline and schedule management that opens doors of relationship that are not possible for parents. My time with students each week is limited. In fact unless there is a special event, students spend significantly more time with a teacher at school than a youth director. I cannot directly control how students allocate their time in a week, no matter how much I would like that to happen. I can only indirectly teach about priorities and living a balanced life. I cannot nor would I want to have a say in a student having a smart phone or what apps are or are not allowed throughout the week. I cannot make a student put their phone down and go to bed when I see them tweeting at 2AM.

I am not just a friend for students
Friends are great; they walk through life with us. Friends are a whole lot of fun. Friends back us up when we are trying to make points. Friends hang out at school dances. Friends hang out together. Friends discuss things that are appropriate, and things that are not. Friends look out for each other’s needs and wants. There are a lot of similarities between youth directors and Friends, but there are a few differences.

As a youth director I will not be sharing a limo with any of you on your way to prom. I will almost always stick out like a sore thumb if I find myself in the student section at a football game. As a youth director you can share your life with me and I can keep a lot of things in confidence. However, students cannot tell me of a situation where they are about to break the law, and expect me not to tell anyone. I cannot keep confidence if you are about to harm yourself or someone else, I am obligated to call 911. There are certain subjects that I can’t participate in discussion with a student. There are times when I know what is going on in your life and times when I do not. There are times when I have to make a decision for the sake of another student or the group as a whole instead of backing you up or taking your side.

The biggest complements I can get come in wonderful ways. The first is when a parent of a student approaches me randomly and says something along the lines of “I just want to let you know how much we appreciate you, since Michael started going to youth we have noticed a huge difference in his life” and the second (not by order of importance) is seeing students become amazing Christian adults where their faith is a noticeable part of the way they live their lives.

Though I am neither another parent nor another friend, I am so glad because I get to be a unique blend of the two that comes with being a Youth Minister.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fear - Trust - & Starting Seminary

So Today was "New Student Orientation" at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. I had to wake up bright and early, or rather dark and early because it was definitely before sun up, to journey south to Dallas. I was prepared to learn about how things were going to work with my schedule and classes as well as learning all about campus resources to make sure that I can get the most out of my seminary experience.

I learned a bit about all of those things, and especially about the "The Call" from Herbert Coleman specifically. I learned that I need to make sure I have a light breakfast on days when I have the opportunity to eat lunch at Perkins because the chef is amazing! We had a great lunch of wild rice and chicken breast in a rosemary sauce that quickly revealed my gluttonous side.

But for me today was more about fear and trust.

Understand that the process for me ending up in seminary is quite a long one. I have had an inkling that I was supposed to attend Perkins as early in my life as my freshman year of college. At one point the thought was to go immediately after undergrad, at another it was to not go at all, and at another point this was exactly the plan to start in the fall of 13. I then distracted myself and again tried to ignore that for me to fulfill my calling Perkins was in my future.

October of 2012 I officially declared as a candidate for ministry in the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. The call became overwhelming and the tugging on my heart to pursue that call was saying "Go Now!" There was an urgency behind it and I am still not sure why. So I hit the ground running and even in the midst of becoming a new dad and working full time, I managed to go from my pastors office that day in October all the way to a Certified Candidate by the District Committee on Ministry and admitted as a student to Perkins to start this fall. Certainly The Holy Spirit has had a hand in this, I on my own strength have been nothing but overwhelmed.

So here I am, enrolled in 2 classes, a total of 6 hours ready to get started on my Masters of Divinity understanding that seminary costs a lot of money, yet not wanting to take on any additional student loans. My wife and I have a combined income just high enough for there to not really be any "need based" financial aid. They seem to be overlooking what we still owe in student loans from my time at McMurry, and that we still owe around 5 grand for having a baby (we even had insurance). Speaking of insurance, those rates went through the roof to cover both George and Kim, and doesn't have much impact on the $72 charge for "weight checks" George has needed nearly every 2 weeks since he was born because he is only in the 1% for height and weight.

Could you read the anxiety about finances written between the lines in my last paragraph? Well it is there, not because we can't survive, but because my calling requires some really expensive school. $5,066 bucks for 6 credit hours to be exact, and that is not counting parking passes, gas for commuting, or books. In the past if we got tight on money I would just pick up extra work, but at the moment I am pretty pressed for time as it is wondering if we can handle both Kim and I working full time, me going to school, and us doing our best to raise George.

Today my anxiety went all the way to full blown fear. The fear has some to do with the money and some to do with time. However, behind the money and the time lies the reality that it is time to do the heavy lifting. It is time to actually take the classes, work the job, and raise the kid all at the same time. So the question that I fear is not can I afford it, or do I have the time, but rather "Am I good enough?" That question is persuaded and influenced by time, money, my past, and other people who will from time to time make unknowing comments of judgement and condemnation.

I keep telling myself that God will provide and focusing in conversation about my fears on the financial side of things. I KNOW that to be true with the experiences of my life so far, when you live as if life is not about money God takes care of it in one way or another. Heck, I took an 18% pay cut from one job in ministry to another by following where God was leading me, and it has turned out to be an amazing experience that has enriched my life in so many ways. So knowing that God will provide is not an issue, but in times like today, when I can't see how God is going to pull off yet another miracle I have trouble trusting that he can do it.

Trusting that God can do something. Now that is crazy. God only made the world in 7 days and still had time to take a day off! Christ conquered even death.

If God can do anything, if God can provide, if God can have enough time, if God has called me to this, It is time for me to live out the Trust part. Because in my weakness God's glory is displayed. Because trusting God can, trusting that God is good, trusting that God has a plan... That is what the Kingdom of God looks like.

All we have to do is faithfully put one foot in front of the other, walking by faith and not by sight. One step at a time, one day at a time.

I have to let God fill in the gaps where I have and will continue to fall short.

I was faced today with a number that brought me to tears. $891.55 the amount of money I will need to pay each month for 4 months to pay for this semester after Financial Aid from the North Texas Conference is applied.

I trust that praying is more fruitful than worrying.

SMU has this link I am going to put here that allows people to make contributions directly towards a students bill anonymously. Click Here if your feeling compelled to help out.

"God being with us isn't just an existential saying, we can see that he is with us through the lives of those around us" - Tom (the president of PSA... I can't remember his last name)

As Always thanks for your time and giving this a read. If you enjoyed it share it with friends, you can do so easily with one of the buttons below. I pray that you will embrace life in the Love and Grace offered to you through Jesus Christ, and that you will always remember Jeremiah 29:11.  – For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, Plans to Proper You and not for harm, Plans with Hope for the Future.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Social Media as a tool in Ministry - Facebook "pages"

So the concept of using a social media platform to distribute information to people is not a new concept. However people are discovering new and better ways to use the tools that are currently available. 

Most Recently I have personally started what Facebook calls a "public figure" page. The effort is to maximize utility of Facebook as a communication tool, specifically for me in ministry. Not many church workers are doing this yet but I think it is something that we all should do. So I want to discuss the reasons behind using Social Media as a tool and how that can impact both good and bad in our lives and ministry.

Why a "public figure" page?

quite simply here because there is not specification for Church Worker, Pastor, or any other religiously affiliated title that is specific. Other professionals get to use pages specifically titled for their line of work like "politician" "teacher" "artist" "writer" and many others, the title that most appropriately fits a person in local church ministry is "public figure." We have chosen to live our lives as an example to others and therefore become a figure for the public to look to, we should hide nothing of ourselves it is our witness. If we are afraid for others to see an aspect of our lives then we should rethink our position or involvement in those activities.

The next question that comes naturally is:

If you say you should hide nothing of yourself then why should you have a separate "public figure" page instead of doing all your communication through your personal profile?

Here the reasoning gets a little more logistical. The algorithms that Facebook uses to decide who sees what posts are very specific, they have to do with the number of "friends" you have, how many of them are online, who have you "recently" interacted with via Facebook. Is is a picture? is it a link? or is it just words? Is it a poll question? if so who has responded to it? The developers at Facebook know that we all get online to see something, however if they showed us everything then we would see less of what we "like" so their algorithm factors all these things in with all your friends and then decides when and where it should show up on people's news feed. So consequently the time of day that you post something could be the difference between it being seen by 3 people or 300 people. (if you have enough friends that it could be seen by 3,000 people then Facebook has likely already talked to you about changing your page format because posts are rarely seen by more than 2/3rds of your friends and there is a 5,000 friend limit)  When you use Facebook as a ministry tool, you should make sure you are maximizing its utility. A "page" that someone has to actively click like for the item to show up in their news feed, is more likely to be content that the algorithm will push to the people connected to your page. Additionally, it allows you to view insights into who sees which posts. Allowing you even further to make the most out of the ministry tool, in this case a Facebook "public figure" page.

The point is not to hide posts from people, and it is not to hijack people's news-feed but instead to get messages of value to the people who find value in what you have to say. 

Who decides what message is valuable, significant, or relevant, to the people on Facebook? 

In a personal profile, you do. In a "page" they do. They have to click the like button on the page to even begin seeing posts from it in their news feed. Where as through the personal profile algorithm it factors in interactions that you have made and your posts could start showing up on the news-feed of someone whose photos you browsed but otherwise have little or no interaction aside from sitting next to each other in the 6th grade and not wanting to hurt the other persons feelings when a friend request showed up in your inbox.

What this does not mean is that you should show less about your faith or make less ministry related posts on a personal page because we are not hiding ourselves from people in our past nor should we be. However, we should be paying attention to see if someone has clicked a link to an important article we posted. When we have a word we hope will inspire a specific group of people we should be intentional enough to let them hear it.

We should make the most out of the Social Media Tools that we have before us doing everything we can to communicate with people whose lives our touched by our ministry.

As Always thanks for your time and giving this a read. If you enjoyed it share it with friends, you can do so easily with one of the buttons below. I pray that you will embrace life in the Love and Grace offered to you through Jesus Christ, and that you will always remember Jeremiah 29:11.  – For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, Plans to Proper You and not for harm, Plans with Hope for the Future.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Pardon the crass expression but it is true.

Do you feel like young people are just impossible to connect with these days? Maybe you are a parent or a teacher who just feels like teenagers wont listen to you. Maybe you are involved with young people in another way and it seems like the generation that was born after AOL became popular is the most disrespectful people you have ever met. Maybe you are great at connecting with young people and think they are fantastic. Maybe This generation gives you hope for a better world in the future. I have no idea where in the spectrum you may find yourself. But I can offer a bit of wisdom on the subject. Hopefully you will find it useful in understanding your interactions with people under 20. Most importantly I hope it helps you evaluate yourself in a way that leads to personal growth.

To me what I am about to share is what I consider to be a leading factor in why young people are moving away from previously well established places like church.

Here it is.

Young people have been increasingly exposed to modern technology that exposes them to exponentially growing communication and information. Because sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and whatever other communication or social network you can think of expose us to so many people, it is now a matter of social survival to notice pattern in order to discern between what is authentic and what is fake or sarcastic.

Basically what I'm saying is - Young people are getting better and better at smelling b.s.

Pardon the crass expression but it is true.

In a world where Facebook notifies you of each of your "friends" birthdays what significance is it when you write happy birthday on their wall? Often the only time a person communicates directly with us in a given year through Facebook is when we see this reminder. Is there really a connection through that? Most young people will acknowledge that they appreciate the gesture, but it caries little weight in knowing how that person does or doesn't value them.

Someone with the pattern of being rude, selfish, and full of pride, who has only said hello to you in the hallway at school or shared a third grade classroom with you might shoot you a message or "like" a post, or "favorite" a tweet. In that moment young people wonder what is the motive, is it to be seen as the nice person who wishes you a happy birthday? is the motive to make you think about them? is the motive selfish, or selfless. Is it an authentic connection or is it fake?

Even more confusing is the person who we know even less about or are less connected to sends us a message asking how things are going.

So when it comes to connecting with young people (especially those who cant remember the world before AOL instant messenger or cant even remember that far back) there is a constant evaluation of authenticity. There is a constant guard against the fake, phony, sarcastic, and selfish pride.

It is not until you can show them a level of consistency in who you are, and that you value who they are and not just what they can bring to you, that you will be able to connect with them on a level that serves to  impact their lives.

When you as a parent or teacher or youth worker try to have a serious conversation about God, morality, or simply respect and responsibility think first about what you have invested in connecting with them. They already have and will at best invest in what your telling them to the degree that they perceive you have invested in them.

With regard to why I think this contributes to young people leaving established churches, denominations, or religion is because there is often a disconnect between what we believe and how we live. This is inconsistency is the main red flag of something that is fake. So they begin to trust less of what/who they hear and then loose respect before disconnecting completely.

Are we ever going to be able to live 100% consistent lives probably not but I hope that this article would help to move you on toward perfection. Let us seek to live authentically and genuinely value the lives of the people we interact with if not all people. Hopefully the ever increasing ability to distinguish authenticity and depth from that which is shallow and fake will serve to move the world in a positive direction forcing us to love our neighbors just that much more.

As Always thanks for your time and giving this a read. If you enjoyed it share it with friends, you can do so easily with one of the buttons below. I pray that you will embrace life in the Love and Grace offered to you through Jesus Christ, and that you will always remember Jeremiah 29:11.  – For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, Plans to Proper You and not for harm, Plans with Hope for the Future.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Top 10 Things High School Graduates Need to Know

Top 10 Things High School Graduates Need To know
10. Get connected with a local Church in your College Town
    -This not only will help with extra free meals and people who will let you do laundry at their place it will help keep you connected in Christian community to help you survive and thrive.
9.   Do not make important decisions after 1AM or before 9AM
     -If you notice it or not your level of fatigue affects your ability to think clearly and rationally.
8.   Don’t Think Life will be Easy Majoring in something that won’t get you a Job and Graduating with 50k+ in Debt
7.   You are only as independent as the bills you can afford to pay yourself
    -Keep this in mind any time you and the parents can’t seem to agree on things
6.    Accept Life isn’t fair. People Cheat. People Lie. Some people in Authority positions are Corrupt Get over it and Take the High Road
5.    Understand the Difference between Want and Need
    -“I WANT the new Macbook Pro, or the new droid”
    -“I need scan-trons and food”
 4.    Learn to Say No, Even to Good things
     -Time is your most precious commodity think about how your using it and prioritize
3.    How smart you are is less important Than How Diligently you work and how knowledge and skills are applied in your daily life
2.   Freshman Year of College Can be both the Most Exciting and also the Hardest Year of Your Life
     -Change is hard and you will be going through a lot of it in a very short period of time
1.   You can’t go back to the way things were before; you can only go forward to what is possible.

As Always thanks for your time and giving this a read. If you enjoyed it share it with friends, you can do so easily with one of the buttons below. I pray that you will embrace life in the Love and Grace offered to you through Jesus Christ, and that you will always remember Jeremiah 29:11.  – For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, Plans to Proper You and not for harm, Plans with Hope for the Future.