Thursday, December 27, 2007

A sense of mission

When I first began at Word of Peace I had one goal, well I had many goals, but I really had one overarching goal for the ministry I was planning on doing in Rogers, MN, and that was creating a sense of service and mission. I have now been here for 4 and a half years and I think I am finally getting to the point where I can feel a little satisfied that I have accomplished my goal.

Last year we sent 51 youth and 9 adults on the first ever Word of Peace Student Ministries mission trip week. It was amazing and truly life changing for most of the youth that went. This next summer we are planning on going again, and I have already reserved the spots and are anxiously waiting the registrations to come in.

But for some reason this year seems a little strange, last year we accomplished so much and were focused solely on mission trips for what seemed like the entire year. This year we postponed the mission trip registration and chose our location and opened the registration a full 3 months later this year so as to not loose focus on the service we can do here, at home.

The question is...did it work? Have the youth of this congregation taken the experiences they had last summer and put them into practice in their daily lives? I'm not totally convinced yet?

I'm not entirely sure that youth know how to take what they have learned and put it into practice without a little bit of help. As a matter of fact I'm not sure how to give them the tools to do just that. How do you ingrain the the heads of youth today the idea of helping and serving wherever and whenever you can?

The idea of summer mission trips is awesome and I will continue to do them as long as there is a need for it, but I didn't set out to have one week out of the year devoted to service and the other 51 a wash! If I could turn that around and have 51 of the 52 weeks devoted to service with a week to recoup....that would be something!

But we must not forget that we have to start some where. For me it took almost four years of preparation and struggle to help youth understand that there is more out there than just doing things that benefit only number one. The idea of serving people you don't know is a noble cause and is something we should all do, but serving those you neglect every day, people like your friends and family, is even closer to what my goal for service is.

I am NOT going to plan 51 weeks of mission trips a year! I will however continue to encourage and diligently work towards having an equal understanding that we are called to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and one of the best ways to show that is by serving those around us, whenever and wherever we are. That way we can see that loving and serving our neighbor doesn't take vans, chaperons, thousands of dollars, and some far of location. We leave so we can come back and do likewise.



Thursday, December 13, 2007

Being Found in the Moment

What is worship?

Is it work?


Then what is the opposite of work? Play?

Is worship play?

No? Then what is it if it isn't work or play?

I would have to submit that if you were to take a poll of people at church you would find that worship and church would fall more under work than play. Think about it...getting up in the morning on a weekend, getting the kids ready, battling the elements to arrive on time and putting off whatever fun you had planned until the afternoon. That's a lot of work!

Face it, we view worship as a task we have to get done, and once we are done we can continue on with life and the fun things we have planned.

Be honest, when was then last time you went to worship and came out saying "I had a really great time in worship today" to your family? I suppose that all depends on what you consider a good time.

If a good time is playing video games, being pulled behind a boat, relaxing in your weekend home, being out in your deer stand, shopping with your friends, or throwing back a couple of drinks while sitting in a hut on a frozen lake....then worship is probably not fun at all.

All of these fun activities have something in common though. They all are places and activities that we get lost in. We can completely be our self and enjoy our time not working! People truly have fun when they can completely submerse themselves in an enjoyable activity. Work is never like this unless you really love what you are doing. But if you really love your job then you don't call it work anymore do you? I am truly lucky enough to be paid to hang out with young people, talk about life and God, play music, name it! The part that becomes work is the stuff I don't enjoy doing as much....the administrative side of things.

But back to worship. If we don't consider worship work, then it must be play. But if we don't get lost in worship then it can't really be play either. It just becomes a mindless task we do every other week at best. We sit through an hour or so of church time thinking about all the fun we hare going to have when we are done. Or you are focusing on all the work we have to get done in order to have our fun. We have a hard time being lost in worship.

The real catch comes when we realize we are already lost. Not in the mind sense, but our being. We are lost people. We are sinners who have fallen and are imperfect. We are wandering looking for purpose and a leader who will save us.

I don't know if you know this song, it's called Amazing Grace. It goes like this...

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me.

Here's the real kicker!!

I once was lost, but now am found

was blind but now I see!

Did you hear it? God's grace has found us! We are not actually lost at all! Jesus Christ has saved us and therefore we REJOICE!

Worship is a place we can come no matter what is going on in our life. 9 times out of 10 there is someone else out there who has got is worse than you; and God has forgiven them too!

Every week people gather in churches around the country and passively worship something worth rejoicing about. That is an injustice to God. If we believe that our problems, our work, and even our play is greater than the joy and freedom we have received through Christ's blood then we are limiting the greatness of God.

When we walk through the doors of our church we find ourselves in an environment like none other in our lives. It is a place we can lose all our inhibitions. Concern yourself with matters having to do with Christ in church, not your home improvement, or destination after worship. Get rid of them, give them up to God and let Him worry about it for an hour, while we worship Christ with all our heart, soul, body and mind! Worship is a place where we can go each week for an hour and forget about everything concerning mortal life, while focusing on the joy we will have in eternity with Christ.

We gather together not to lament, but to rejoice. And if you are a person that doesn't have time the rest of the week to rejoice, first off shame on you because the Bible says "Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS!" Phil 4:4 (emphasis is my own). But you should take this opportunity to pack in as much joyful rejoicing as you can for the week. And it doesn't matter how you do it! If you are concerned about what others think, or how others worship...don't. Worship Christ how you feel comfortable. Let the music move you, sing from the top of your lungs, stare at the cross for an hour, close your eyes and pray, listen to the message picking out helpful points, or take the time to just be in the God's presence. But what ever you do, rejoice because God's love covers us.

Life is to short to be serious all the time. "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!" - Paul



Thursday, December 6, 2007

The importance of women in ministry

Comments after reading "3 messages the girls in your ministry can't hear enough" - Neely McQueen

For years there has been a debate over whether or not women should be in the ministry. I would like to submit that this argument is not about ministry, it is about authority. But that's not what I want to talk about.

A quote Neely had impressed me as to the importance of women doing ministry. Here's what she said:

"Whenever we do a series in our youth ministry about people in the Bible, we make a special effort to include a female. You can imagine how confusing it is to a young girl to hear that God wants to use her, but every example she hears from the Bible is a guy. Sure there are transferable principles from every life in the Bible, but it is tremendously meaningful for a teenage girl to hear about Jael, Esther, Deborah, Lydia, Hannah, Ruth, Mary, the bleeding woman, Rizpah, etc… Women who made themselves available to be used in a powerful way to change the course of history."

The reason this thought impressed me so much was because for one, I am a guy, and secondly, we all have a wonderful role model to look up to in Jesus. But he was still a guy, so for girls he is sometimes glossed over as someone teenage girls can look up. Don't get me wrong, we should all strive to be like Jesus, but think about who you look up to as role model. They are the people in your life, people older than you, people in leadership positions that have influence in your life.

At Word of Peace we are lead by a wonderful staff. We have two wonderful women, Kristin and Lisa that lead the education program! Their influence eventually fades away and is handed over to myself, Derek and Pastor Rick for confirmation and Senior High Youth group. Granted, we have women volunteers who help lead and teach the small groups (their help is invaluable), but there is no longer any women who are consistently up front speaking the language of teen girls.

As much as I have tried to do so...I can't speak the language of teen girls. It is cryptic and confusing because what they say and how they say it confuse me to no end. How on earth do you speak to the multitude of internal and external emotions, feelings and desires of teen girls unless you have been through them yourself?

This is why it is important for women to be in ministry. Without them I would be running a boys club because that's what I know.

But what I also know, thanks to Neely for reminding me, is that teen girls need constant encouragement and that is something I must remember. We need to constantly tell girls that they are created in God's image, they are valued and have value to God, and God will use them because He values them so much.

The strange part of this is knowing that when teen girls hear that from women is one thing and carries some weight, but to hear it from a guy....that means a lot. This means these messages must come from every direction, not just guys or girls, because then they have a better chance of sticking.

I pray that we as a community lift up the teen girls of this congregation. I pray we will encourage them to no end and drill into their confused heads that God loves them as they are and values His creation above all else.



To much stuff in my head

Something that I have realized lately is the importance of picking other people's brains. In other words....continuing education or more simply, reading.

In my trip to Atlanta for a youth workers conference, I found that my knowledge of most subjects, especially the one that I have my profession in, is limited. Now for someone my age I hardly believe that this was a great dose of medicine. I tend to be a typical 20 something and believe that I am an expert in everything I dabble. This truth turned out to be the opposite of what I believed. So, here I am sucking up my pride and reading more and more about Youth ministry over lunch, when something strikes me as profound. What good is it for me to read this stuff and then sit and mull over it, when I could, in turn, impart my thoughts to those in my community?

So, this Blog is a fruit of my idea and desire to continually learn more about what I do. And considering the world and culture in which I work is forever and constantly changing...I have a long way to go.

I hope you enjoy. God Bless