Thursday, February 28, 2008
Father, I abandon myselfinto your hands;do with me what you will.Whatever you may do,I thank you.I am ready for all,I accept all.Let only your will be done in meand in all your creatures.I wish no more than this, O Lord.Into your handsI commend my soul;I offer it to you,with all the love of my heart,for I love you, Lord,and so need to give myself,to surrender myself into your hands,without reserve, and with boundless
confidence,for you are my Father.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Ban Personal Electronics - The two major factors of most every retreat are building community and getting away from the hustle and bustle of life. Anything that requires headphones will automatically cut a person off from the group, and cell phones, PDA’s, etc. being present are not getting people away from life’s bustle. Do not allow students to bring anything that falls under this category, or you will be fighting an uphill battle the entire trip.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Did you hear about this? Probably not:
"Two days before a shotgun-wielding Steven Kazmierczak shot 21 students inside a lecture hall on the campus of Northern Illinois University, taking the lives of five people as well as his own, 15-year-old Lawrence "Larry" King was shot in the head at the E.O. Green School in Oxnard, California, reportedly for being gay. He was in the eighth grade.
Three days after the shooting, on February 15, King was taken off life support and pronounced dead. King's killer, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney, apparently targeted the student because he was openly gay and sometimes dressed in women's clothes. King also wore makeup and jewelry to class on occasion. It's possible that McInerney, who has been charged with murder and the commission of a hate crime, will be tried as an adult, which means he could face 50 years to life in prison if convicted.
King's death came 10 years after the brutal murder of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was also killed because of his sexual orientation. But for some reason, King's murder generated just a fraction of the media coverage that follows most school-shooting incidents. In fact, most of the initial reports about the killing were turned out by local news agencies, and the national media didn't catch up until several days later. "
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
It was April 22nd, 2002 and I just perfectly landed and parked the Cessna 152 ( a small single prop engine plane). I got in my car and was driving home. I was about half way from my place and I just started bawling. I did not know why, but I felt this sense of relief. Right then and there I had this thought/vision/idea of me being a youth pastor. I was like "no………. I used to make fun of those guys and gals! I am not wired to do that. Me a pastor….look at me?" Meanwhile, I was working with the High School ministry at my church because I just love working with students so me being a “Youth Pastor” was not such a foreign idea. So that night I went home and stayed up all night and just prayed. I was like: Lord, is this me or is this you? I knew the hardest part about accepting this call was communicating with my dad. My dad was a pilot and was a mechanic at Northwest Airlines. My first word was "airplane.
Well five years later here I am. I am at a great church in Laguna Beach. My life call is to students. My call is to be an influencing agent to the youth culture in Southern California. I want mid-to-late adolescents to know, trust, love, and experience Jesus and His Kingdom values. Sometimes I leave youth group banging my head against my steering wheel yelling: why am I doing this? But, I always need to remember this is what God has called me to do and this is why I am wired the way I am---crazy, wild, random, weird, passionate, determined, even more weird and random, and all over the place.
By the time adolescents enter high school, nearly everyone has been subjected to a decade or more of adult-driven and adult-controlled programs, systems, and institutions that are primarily concerned with adults' agendas, needs, and dreams(46).
Even the church tries to bring young people from a wide variety of schools and clusters into what they call fellowship. These and countless other programmatic assumptions may have a noble intent, and in some cases may even appear to the adults in charge to be somewhat workable, but they do not take the changing youth culture and relational shift seriously. As a result, young people are once again offered up on the altar of an adult agenda at the cost of their personal sense of safety (86).
I would love to see a youth ministry that is both missionally and family-driven. A missional youth ministry is outward and others-focused, with the goal of expressing and sharing the love of Jesus. Students realize that they are missionaries’ everyday of their life. God is working in all of their life, and because of that they seek to work in all of life with Him. Youth group is so much more than games, Bible studies, pizza, and twister. A youth ministry that is missionally driven takes Church outside of the walls of church. The missional focus reduces programs and elevates deep relationships with people of all generations.
A youth ministry that is "family friendly" means that the youth ministry department is parenting with the parents. A family-based youth ministry recognizes the great reality of the parental influence. Kids need to be close to their family and are in need of familial relationships. Parents must see the youth ministry as [in] partnership with themselves, not replacements or superheros!
What advice would you offer to those who are just starting their careers in youth ministry?
Expect failure—problems and conflict are going to happen. You will fail. But when you fail, fall forward. Youth ministry is a road of success and failures. Do not get discouraged by failure, but be encouraged. Every youth talk or every youth group [gathering] is not going to be smooth and perfect. Simply prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Trust the Holy Spirit—Doing youth ministry essentially means you will be in the fast lane—24/7. Take some intentional time for you to be with God in prayer. Take silent retreats. Pray for and with your leaders. Let the Holy Spirit lead your ministry. Such a easy thing to do, but a hard thing to remember—let the Holy Spirit be your guide.
Listen—Listen to everyone and anyone-especially the parents who you do not like and the parents who do not like you. Listen to your students. And when you are listening do not state your opinion until you have earned their trust. It is amazing how far listening will take you. Simply shut your mouth and listen!
Learn—be a student. Read anything and everything. Read things that will stretch you, but yet comfort you. Take some seminary classes. Watch and observe your senior pastor. Create a youth pastor’s network in your area so you can learn from other youth pastors in the same geographical region. Learning is exciting. Consider learning a new adventure. A leader is a learner.
Think Big—Dream and envision big for your student ministry. The sky is not the limit, heaven is. If there is a will, there is a win. Think positively. Have courage. Construct and develop a step-by-step action [plan] on how your vision can be achieved. When dreaming, think of the needs (both real and felt) of the students and the resources your church offers. Ministering for the Kingdom is a privilege, so maximize and capitalize on every opportunity.
Friday, February 15, 2008
- Something with teeth, but not a person (e.g. a comb)
- A facsimile of someone in your group (e.g. a photo from a wallet)
- A dead president (e.g. coin or bill)
- An electronic image (e.g. a photo on a cellphone)
- Magnifiers (e.g. glasses)
- Something sticky or chewy
- Something striped
- Something with a hole in it
- An item that gives you permission to do something. (e.g. driver's license)
- The voice of a friend or loved one not in this room (e.g. recorded message on a cellphone)
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Monday, February 11, 2008
- Where did you go to high school?
- What was the first car you ever owned?
- Name one TV show that was popular when you were young.
- Name one of your favorite foods.
- If you were alone on a desert island, what kind of reading material would you want to have with you?
- What is one of your favorite movies?
- Name a musical group/singer you really like?
- What is your favorite/worst subject in school?
- Who is your favorite teacher?
- What is your favorite place to get fast food?
Friday, February 08, 2008
Focus: Lent is a time to look inward to seek how we might more fully accept God’s love and peace and grace in our lives.
- Youth will take part in a game to review basic facts about the season of Lent.
- Youth will create masks as a way to reflect on our inward sin.
- Youth will discuss the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.
- Youth will participate in a worship experience to consider their own journey of Lent.
- The official (liturgical) color of Lent is red. True of False? (False. It’s purple – representing royalty and repentance.)
- Lent lasts for 40 days, not counting Sundays. True or False? (True.)
- The word Lent comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning “midwinter.” (False. It translates “springtime” since that is the time of year the season generally falls.)
- The 40 days of Lent are a reminder of the Bible story in which Jesus spends 40 days alone in the wilderness and is tempted by the Devil. True or False? (True. It also recalls the 40 years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness.)
- Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, when people often have the sign of the cross made of ashes placed on their foreheads. Most often, these ashes are made by burning palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service. True or False? (True.)
- The ash is supposed to represent the story in which Jesus places dirt or ash on a blind man’s eyes to make him see again. True or False? (False. The ashes represent humility and our own mortality – from dust we came and to dust we shall return.)
- Many people give up something during Lent. The point of this practice is to show your willpower. True or False? (False. It is a practice of self-denial that allows room in your life for God to do something new.)
- Fasting is a common practice in Lent but the one day people don’t fast during Lent is Sundays. True or False? (True. People traditionally do not fast on Sundays as Sundays are to be reminders or a foretaste of the coming resurrection.)
- The phrase “Glory to God” is traditionally never spoken during Lent and does not make its return until Easter morning. True or False. (False. “Alleluia” is the what many churches abstain from saying in worship during Lent.)
- The last week of Lent is known as “Holy Week.” True or False? (True.)
- On Maundy Thursday, the last Thursday in Lent, we recall the last night and meal that Jesus shares with his disciples. True or False? (True.)
3) Going Deeper: (20 minutes) Invite youth to read the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4: 1-11). Ask one or more persons to read the narration, another to read the words of Jesus, and one or more to read the words of the Tempter. Help the group to explore this story where Jesus goes off on his own to do some soul-searching and , in a sense, confront his own demons. The journey Jesus takes into the desert -- the journey to be alone with God and to seek God’s guidance about our true identity -- is the journey we are all invited to focus on during Lent.
- What do you think Jesus might have had to give up to go out in the wilderness by himself?
- The things the Tempter offers him are not intrinsically bad: food in a time of hunger, political power in a time of Roman oppression, a leap of faith. So why do you think Jesus resists these temptations?
- What memories do you have of times you faced choices that at the time seemed like good ideas but were ultimately led you in an unhealthy or unfaithful direction?
- Share what you do when you want time alone to think/pray/reflect. Where do you go? What do you do?
- What might be the benefit of spending time in Lent examining your life, considering your sins, thinking about what God wants for you?
Ask youth to reflect on how Jesus gives up much to go out in the wilderness to move closer to the heart of God. What do they make of the artist's interpretation of the Tempter? Distribute note cards and ask participants to draw a line down the center. Invite them to echo Jesus’ journey by writing on one side of the card something they will consider "giving up" during Lent (food, TV, internet, etc.) and on the other side something new they would like to take on during Lent that might help them connect more deeply with the experience of God in their daily lives (prayer, random acts of kindness, helping their parents, going to worship, reading the Bible, exercise, etc). Encourage youth to keep these note cards and place them somewhere that they will see them daily in the coming weeks of Lent.
Finally, invite the group to gather in a circle and place their completed masks in the center as an offering to God of both their inner and outer selves. Conclude together with a prayer of confession and assurance of pardon.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Friday, February 01, 2008
Fun & GAMES: The Reaching New Heights blog initiates us into the future of youth ministry games with two hilarious videos from Japanese TV.
What Do We Do Now? Tim links to a free full-year curriculum put out by World Vision that focuses on student advocacy in the area of AIDS, poverty and justice.
The Marriage Problem: With all the talk on our blog recently about sexuality, it seems an equally important topic is marriage -- something most adults don't understand, let alone our youth. UCC seminarian Tom offers up some thoughtful comments on the wild and wacky history of marriage.