Monday, September 1, 2014

Teaching in Youth Ministry Part 1

Best time of the year….It’s Kick Off!  Individuals are about to do battle in arenas all over the world where the decibel level reaches unprecedented levels.  You guessed it, youth group kicks off another year!
What, you thought I meant football?!?!  Have you heard the screams of youth during games, especially the junior high boys, Oh my...  J  
August is typically the time where we plan all the crazy events, lessons, and programs for the year and each year I am utterly lost (moooo, okay bad joke).   Every year I spend a week or more thinking about what is it that these youth need to know.  My usual approach has been to search t internet and see what other youth leaders are doing to get a starting point.  I then look at holidays, trends, popular topics, gather ideas from parents and youth (asking youth what their needs are usually produces the best results), and gather as much info as I can before planning for the year. There is so much to cover in one year that it is overwhelming at best and I have to concede that I can not do it all.  Hey this is why you have a 3 year plan! If you don’t have one then sketch one out this year, allowing room for the Holy Spirit to move.  However, there are some key things I should cover every year and a few events that I incorporate into my calendar every year.  Here are just a few notes. 

Begin with the End
As each year begins I imagine what is it that I want my students to know when they leave my ministry. This is a short term and a long term thought. Let's begin with the Long Term. If I have a student go through my ministry from start to finish what is it that they should know before entering college or the adult world persay.   Here are a couple (you will probably add more based on your ministry)
> To know that their Identity lies in Christ and not in Grades, or Sports, or other Activities. (Galatians 2:20)
> God's Grace- That when they screw up, yup when cause they will, that God still loves them no matter what they do.  (Hebrews 4:16)
> Home away from Home- The church is not about a building, but the people who partake in body.  This community will always be a place for them to return, no matter where they are on their journey, and that no matter where they are God is with them.  (Acts 2:25, Psalm 46)

Several Key Topics to Cover
The Gospel-  Well this seems obvious being that it is at the center of what we do.  I tend to forget sometimes that not everyone is a Christian in our youth group (like our newcomers, friends of youth) and not all Christians have a solid understanding of who Jesus is.  I believe it’s important to remind our youth about who Jesus is, what he did, and why that’s important. 

Relationships- Students need to be reminded of the importance of being among fellow believers.  We aren’t on this journey alone and we need people to lean on, oh and keep us accountable.  Like the scripture says where two or more are gathered, I am there.  Let us build God’s kingdom together! 

Choices/Decisions- The Bible teaches what?!? Yes, what we do matters and if we don’t prepare them for it, the world certainly will.  Personally I’m not a fan of the world’s teaching: it’s all about you, women are second, ignore the poor, money is all that matters, and drugs are good.  God instructs us to teach the youth in the ways of the Lord. 

Sharing their faith- Can someone tell me why the church has been on decline for longer than I have been alive?  One of the reasons may be we forgot to teach our youth simple ways of sharing the Gospel with their friends and why it is important.  One of my students has 2,000 followers on Instagram, she posts about food and friends.  Our youth have such huge opportunities to share their faith and empowering them to do so could help shift the direction of the church. 

Respect to Adults/Parents- Your parents will love you for this.  Parents are lost in this world and need help in raising their kid, after all it takes a community to raise one child.  We have in a unique position to encourage healthy faith development.   

Sex/Dating/Purity- Boundaries and Sexuality are super important especially with what the world is communicating to about sexuality to our teens.  Recently I was at the grocery store and as I glanced over the magazine rack every magazine on the rack was talking about sex.  The church should be a place where all aspects of life are discussed especially, as important as body image or sex, with such huge consequences.   

Communication- Recently I was at a coffee shop and I saw a group of teenagers sitting across from each other texting their friends while engaging in minimal conversation with each other.  Our kids are more connected than ever but less socially engaged than ever before.  Communication is falling by the way side and becoming ever more important to talk about. 

And There’s More…..
But that’s for another time.  Happy Planning and hope this helps. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Fragile Heart

I recently stopped by one of my relatives houses to pick up a few things, when they opened the door they were holding their chest and complaining that it hurt.  Immediately my mind began thinking heart attack or stroke and I attempted to get them in the car.  They resisted and thought it was just heart burn or something.  Even after asking several more times they persisted to stay at home and assured me that they would be okay.  Later that day I get a text from them asking me to take them to the hospital as their doctor suggested it.  Upon examination it was determined that their heart was not pumping correctly.  They could have had a major stroke or heart attack had we not caught it in time.  Their body took a while to heal from the incident, but their life, my life, your life is so fragile and in a blink it could disappear.

The following day we had dropped the kids off with a friend so that we could see my relative.  Upon picking them up, we noticed our sons binky was missing.  We frantically searched the whole campus, digging through trash cans (yes, they were covered in food gunk), looking around the play structure, looking through bags, and trying to look anywhere we could.  My wife began getting frustrated at the situation and annoyed that we lost the binky.  The "precious" binky is worth more than gold as most parents know.  You lose the binky, you lose your sanity.  It was unusual that I was so calm in this case, particularly cause I love my sleep and there is no sleep without the binky.  :) Life is way more than the "precious" binky and having a relative in the hospital made me appreciate that.

Life is way more than my laptop, which holds most of my life on it; more than my car; more than my house; more than school.  Life is more valuable and precious than anything we can list.  Life is short, its unexpected, its turbulent, its fragile, its scary, and it's a gift from God.  We hold very little power when it comes to maintaining life on this planet, but we do hold a tremendous amount of power in what will happen after this life.  God has given us an incredible gift through his son and provided us with an outline of what we are suppose to do to inherit the kingdom, through the scriptures.  When it comes to sharing the Gospel with others why are we (yes I'm including myself in this one) so hesitant in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ? Don't we realize that life is fragile and tomorrow it could end? Absolutely, but for some reason we hold back, hoping that we will have tomorrow or the next day to share the Gospel with them.  What happens if there is no next day?!?

My heart aches for those who have not come to know the Joy of the Lord and yet I'm not giving God my all.  My hope is that the way I live my life today affects what happens tomorrow.  I'm hoping that when the opportunity arises that I will have the courage to share the Gospel with my friends, my family, and those that I have just come in contact with cause life is more than a "precious" binky and everything else can wait.