That’s Going to Leave a Mark – Speaking Spiritual Lineage

This afternoon I was hanging out with some of our middle school students at a local fast food joint. This is a group of guys that I spend an hour with after school each week. In between gulps of tea and bites of chicken strips I caught a glimpse of a familiar face. It was my college pastor from 15 years ago. This was an unlikely occurrence since he currently lives in Arkansas (I’m in Texas) and I’ve only seen him a handful of times since I left the college ministry.

After giving him a big hug I introduced him to all of my middle school guys. I said, “This guy poured into me when I was younger, now I’m pouring into you. It’s like he’s your spiritual grandfather.” It donned on me right then how significant this “chance” meeting really was. I could tell that it made a significant impact on my middle schoolers as well. They now knew the name and face of a person who is previously unknown existence impacted their own spiritual journey.

In my evangelical background, we’ve done a poor job of remembering those who’ve gone before us. We’re future oriented, focused on yet-to-be-attained goals and initiatives. We’re not interested in listening to wisdom from Christian leaders that don’t currently have a blog or podcast. Continue reading

Speed Mentoring

This past weekend, our church held its third annual all-church retreat at a conference center in the mountains near San Diego. CABC@PineValley, as the retreat is known, is designed to bring all ages of the church together for a weekend immersion experience in community-building. About half of our church attended this year and by all accounts, everybody had a blast.cabc_pv_15-image

Along with several large group meetings, there were numerous optional activities that people could sign up for. On Saturday afternoon, I led one of them called “Cross-Generational Connect,” an opportunity for young people and older people to intentionally connect with each other. About 20 people showed up between the ages of 17 and 75—a good turnout considering that there were plenty of other fun things to do at the same time.

Essentially, what we did was a modified version of speed dating. I began by asking everyone to line up by age—from youngest to oldest. I gave the older folks permission to lie about their age if they considered themselves younger than they actually were. After they were lined up, I divided the group in half so that we had two groups: the youngsters and the oldsters. We then formed two concentric circles in chairs facing each other, with the youngsters on the inside circle and the oldsters on the outside circle. Continue reading

Happy New Year! Taking Time to Remember and Reflect

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Ferris BuellerFerris

Happy New Year!

Around the New Year is wonderful time to meditate and reflect on life. 2014 has brought blessing, struggle, disappointment and joy.

That’s life isn’t it?

There’s something important about remembering. Did you experience great victories in 2014? Where did you see the hand of God clearly in your life? Were there times of great struggle and failure?

For me, the answer is a resounding YES!

Take some significant time to push the pause button and reflect. Here are some ideas.

1. Look through your calendar or journal

There’s no way I can remember last week much less the 3rd week of January. If you journal this is a great wonderful time to skim through your thoughts from last year. Your calendar is another way to stop and remember. Whatever you use, work though 2014 slowly and think about how you spent your time and energy.

As you look over last year some events will jump out at you. As these special events jump off the page, slow down and reflect. Continue reading

Dare To Be Anonymous

The word legacy gets thrown around a lot these days. We’re very concerned with leaving our mark on history. Even in ministry we want to make sure that we will be remembered for what we’ve done for the kingdom. whats_your_legacy

I think we’ve confused legacy with fame. Our digital world means that we can quantify our social impact by literally counting our friends, those who like us, and the reach of our writing through tweets and blogs. I fear that we have become obsessed with making a greater name for ourselves. We think that because we CAN be known by everyone, we SHOULD be known by everyone.

Do a thought experiment for me: how many youth ministry people can you name? Is it 20, 30, 50, 100? According to an informal twitter poll, the estimates are between 30,000 and 40,000. So out of that many you can only name 50. Now, how many youth pastors from the ’90’s can you name? I can name like 10. The further back you go, the less we remember. Out of every century there are only a handful of Christian leaders’ who’s names will live beyond their lifetimes. Continue reading

An Intergenerational Christmas Celebration

Over the past several years, my wife and I have been invited to attend dozens of Christmas parties that are held at our church by various groups. Word got around that I was good for some cheap (free) entertainment, and it’s true: I knochristmas_extravaganza_12_12_14w how to play Jingle Bells on the banjo. I’m happy to share this incredible gift with anyone offering a free meal or a little egg nog.

However, after attending several of these parties and doing the same schtick at each one of them (and wearing the same ugly Christmas sweater) I thought to myself, “Wait a minute. Why don’t all these groups from our church just get together and have one big Christmas party instead of a whole bunch of little ones. After all, I’m Pastor to Generations at this church and one of my goals is to bring the various age groups together … so why not at Christmas? Why does everybody have to have their own Christmas party?” Continue reading

Broadening Our View of Christmas

advent-wreath-1Believe it or not, my family believes I’m a Scrooge.  To be honest so much of the materialistic focus of Christmas makes me irritable BUT I love the mystery of the Advent Season.  It seems the layer between heaven and earth becomes a little thinner during the Christmas season.

Every year I learn more and more about the richness of the Christmas season. Last year I worked through Shawn Small’s book “Via Advent” which added so much depth to my Advent meditation.  I’m pondering visiting Shawn’s book again this Christmas season.

This Advent season has also been full of new learnings. A few weeks ago I was chatting with a Catholic youth director friend. I was curious about some of his church’s advent traditions. We began to discuss how Advent is a celebration of the “3 comings of Christ”. Continue reading

3 Reasons High School Students Should Serve Middle Schoolers

Aaron, Tess, Marissa, and Emma are faithful servants who show up every week to pour into middle schoolers.

They are energetic, love to lead Bible studies and are servant minded. They also happen to be high schoolers.

Do you allow high schoolers to serve in middle school? If not, I think you should seriously consider it. Although high schoolers can seem flaky and immature, many of them are quite able to lead with maturity and competence. Here are some reasons why high school leaders are a big win for your ministry.

You get to see former students grow and mature.

One of the hardest parts of middle school ministry is not getting to see the fruit of your ministry. Selfishly, this is why I love having old students serve with us. Having former middle schoolers come back and serve gives you the benefit of watching them mature, which increases the odds that you’ll stay in middle school ministry for the long haul. Continue reading