You don’t have to be the most organized person on the planet, but I think it’s high time we stop hiding behind a youth ministry stereotype. It’s a terrible stereotype that we love to buy into. I am just as guilty as anyone else with this. If there were details that didn’t get covered I would hear, “Classic youth pastor move.” This allowed me to be even more disorganized. It’s a terrible cycle.

So, I have taken steps to improve in this area of my life. I want to share with you 5 relatively simple steps to move you towards being a bit more organized: 

1) At the end of each day, take 5 minutes to think through what you need to get done tomorrow and write it down.You would be amazed at how that really helps you be more productive the next day. You have somewhat of a plan set before you.

2) Make your list attainable. No one likes to fail. If you make a list of things that is so large you will get mad at yourself and you will actually accomplish less.Try to keep your list to 5 things.

3) If there are more things than you know you can accomplish, see if there is anything you can delegate. Whether you have assistant or not, likely there are people in your church who love to do detail work. Ask around and see if someone could help you with some of your details to the project you are working on.

4) Start your day off with the toughest project on your list. Brian Tracy wrote a book called Eat That Frog.The title comes from the idea that if the hardest thing you have to do today is a eat a frog, eat it first. If you have to eat 2 frogs, eat the ugliest one first.

5) Find a few apps to help you along the way. I use an app called “Things” as a to-do list. You can make different projects that have lists under each of them. I have a “project” for each day of the week. At the end of each day, I open up “Things” and plug in my list I want to accomplish for the next day. I also use a Pomodoro app which is basically a countdown clock. It counts down 25 minutes. At the end of the 25 minutes it gives you 5 minutes to take a break. Get up and walk around. Fire off a text. Call someone. Get a drink of water. Whatever. This is actually really helpful for your productivity.

The key to making these changes is this…do it.

Choose all 5 or 1, but do something, anything that takes a step toward being more organized. It will certainly pay off for you, your family, and your ministry.

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Communion Alternatives

Tony Myles —  April 14, 2014 — 15 Comments

I could use your input. Maybe someone else can, too.

Got 60 seconds?

Communion FullA typical communion service focuses on the death/crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

This weekend on Easter Sunday I’m hoping to present it in a way that doesn’t just reflect the cross of Christ but also the Resurrection.

Normally we use a cup of juice and broken bread or crackers. One thought I have is to vary our elements -

  • Instead of juice, we’ll use grapes
  • Instead of crackers, we’ll use freshly baked bread.

So what do you think of this?

  • Is it appropriately creative or too creative?
  • Can you think of any other ideas that could also work?

At minimum, I’d appreciate your feedback. At maximum, how can we take appropriate risks in telling the Story of the Resurrection?

Thanks!



FearThe one thing we all fear is not the devil. It’s change.Throughout history change has never been easy. The Pharisee’s didn’t hate Jesus because He was doing good things.They hated him because of the fact that He came to change things.They were so set in their ways of thinking that they missed the Messiah even though they knew He was coming the way that He did.The pain endured during the civil rights movement was all about certain people fearing change.

I remember when Blockbuster was the largest video rental store in America doing around 6 billion in sales year.Then came Netflix who said “Subscribe to us and don’t leave your home. We’ll send your movie rental to you.” Well, in the beginning Blockbuster could of taken Netflix out by turning millions of their customers into subscribers. But no, blockbuster who was comfortable with their 6 billion cushion, thought Netflix was a fad, and that they would eventually go away. Well, they were definitely wrong, and in 2010 Blockbuster was 900 million dollars in debt and had to file chapter 11 (bankruptcy).

We as human beings don’t like change. I would even go as far as to say we as the church don’t like it either. And if we are not careful we could end up like the Pharisees’ missing out on a great opportunity in advancing God’s kingdom…all because we allow change to scare us instead of motive us. We let our comfort with the way things are dictate how we react to change.

We have to understand change happens all the time. The world we live in now is completely different then the world our parents grew up in. My kids will grow up in a world different then the one I grew up in. Change is inevitable.

I love how Jesus adapted to change in His ministry. He used relevance to be relatable. He related to people where they were. He never told people you must conform to me first, then I will do for you or give to you. He just meets people where they are, and you never see them go back to the way they were before. I have to assume based on Jesus’s ministry 2000 years ago here on earth, that if He would have lived today, His messages would reflect the things of today. I have to assume that His parables could include the iPhone, TV’s, Ford Fusion hybrid, and yes, even Chick-fil-a. Jesus’s ministry was relevant.

Also, many times Jesus did things before He was supposed to. That’s why you see Him many times telling people not to say anything. He knew it wasn’t His time yet. So I can just imagine Jesus saying two things to us that He modeled, “Let’s stay relevant so people will have a interest in listening to us and let’s not fear doing things differently just because tradition says you can’t.” It seems like change gave Jesus a creative license to reach everyone. Now, Jesus didn’t change His message. He just changed the presentation so that He could reach everyone.

We must do the same. We must be willing to change with the times. I was listening to the radio and heard this song from the 90′s and they mentioned Myspace. (HA!) If you mentioned Myspace today, kids would laugh at you or look at you as if you are crazy, because times have changed. Myspace is no longer a cultural norm.

My prayer is that we don’t become like the Pharisees when it comes to change. Where we become so comfortable with the way we do things that we see change as a threat. And we do whatever it takes to stay the way we are, even at the cost of reaching more for Christ. I also pray we don’t become like Blockbuster doing ministry with our heads underground not paying attention to growing trends and innovation, thinking the way we’ve done things for 50 years is the way we can do things forever.

So the question is “Does change move you towards fear or innovation?”

hope it helps

ac

Do miracles happen?

If so, how often?

If not, why not?

I came across this quote that I think sums up the tension quite well:

meatballs“Miracles are like meatballs, because nobody can exactly agree on what they are made of, where they come from, or how often they should appear.

Some people say that a sunrise is a miracle, because it is somewhat mysterious and often very beautiful, but other people say it is simply a fact of life, because it happens every day and far too early in the morning. Some people say that a telephone is a miracle, because it sometimes seems wondrous that you can talk with somebody who is thousands of miles away, and other people say it is merely a manufactured device fashioned out of metal parts, electronic circuitry, and wires that are very easily cut.

And some people say that sneaking out of a hotel is a miracle, particularly if the lobby is swarming with policemen, and other people say it is simply a fact of life, because it happens every day and far too early in the morning.

So you might think that there are so many miracles in the world that you can scarcely count them, or that there are so few that they are scarcely worth mentioning, depending on whether you spend your mornings gazing at a beautiful sunset or lowering yourself into a back alley with a rope made of matching towels.”
― Lemony Snicket, The Carnivorous Carnival

miraclesThe ministry of Jesus is filled with miracles that stand out like extraordinary wrinkles in an otherwise flat world. Each occurrence announces that God’s reality can break into our broken existence, from those who receive sight after being somehow blind to the oppressed who are freed from their particular captivity. Such wonderful transformations are not only good news, but also make known the Good News.

So… do miracles happen?

If so, how often?

If not, why not?



Everyday Jesus

Tony Myles —  April 11, 2014 — Leave a comment

God is a part of our everyday lives more than we realize.

And when I say “everyday lives,” I mean that in its simplest, most plainest terms.

What makes God great isn’t just that he cares enough about great things to enter into them… but that he cares enough about small things to enter into them, too.

cell-phoneAuthor and teacher Dallas Willard wrote about this aspect of Jesus in his book The Divine Conspiracy:

“If he were to come today as he did then, he could carry out his mission through most any decent and useful occupation. He could be a clerk or accountant in a hardware store, a computer repairman, a banker, an editor, doctor, waiter, teacher, farmhand, lab technician, or construction worker. He could have run a housecleaning service or repair automobiles.

In other words, if he were to come today he could very well do what you do.

He could very well live in your apartment or house, hold down your job, have your education and life prospects, and live within your family surroundings and time. None of this would be the least hindrance to the eternal kind of life that was his by nature and becomes available to us through him.”

How about it?

  • In what ways is God a part of the most dirt-level, common part of your life, right now?
  • In what ways might you need to pause and thank Him for that?

 

imagesI firmly believe that ultimately as leaders we lead by what we do whether we want to or not. We can be leading and speaking in one lane and living in another. And little do we know our that students over time do more of what we do and less of what we say. So it’s important we continue to grow spiritually, following Christ as we lead others. It’s important that we are investing in areas of leadership that we would love to transfer on to our students and allowing those things to live out in our own lives first. Then as we lead, teach and mentor, we will see those things lived out in the lives of our students. So here are a few things I want lived out in my life so they can be lived out in the lives of the students that God has trusted me with:

  1. Perseverance - A lot of times God calls us to do things that challenge us to trust Him. He challenges us to say I can, when we think we can’t. So, we need to model perseverance in trusting God’s timing and calling instead of our own.
  2. Humility - We need to remember that James 4:10 says if we humble ourselves then God will exalt us. We also need to remember that Luke 14:11 says if we try and exalt ourselves we will be humbled. Being humble is a state of being and not a position. Humility is not selling everything you own and living as a poor person. That is actually pride, because you are trying to buy humility by doing something. We need to model humility, which is simply knowing that God’s grace has you where you are and nothing else. We must live that out.
  3. Character – Your character shapes the leader you become, so they need to know that building Godly character is mission critical. You lead out the character you’ve developed or the lack there of. We need to model Godly character.
  4. Patience – They need to understand that patience is more then just waiting. Having patience helps you lead and make decisions with balance. Patience is really a lost art in our culture today. Amazon is the perfect example: They have a button called “Buy Now With One Click.” Just click it right there on the same page and buy it. They want to make sure you don’t have time to think if this a smart choice. They want to help you buy on impulse verses your purchase being wisely thought out. The faster we can have it, do it, use it, own it, see it, take it and eat it, the better. Patience helps you lead and make decisions apart from your impulses. We need to model patience.
  5. Compassion – One reason why compassion is important in leadership is because Jesus modeled it. Matt 14:14 says, “When Jesus saw the crowd He was moved with compassion and healed those who were sick.” There are so many takeaways from this verse, but the one that sticks out the most is that compassion has the ability to move you into doing the unthinkable. It takes a courageous, bold person to be compassionate. I can just imagine Jesus freaking people out completely as He walks through just healing people left and right. We need to model compassion.

We can teach these things a million different ways with great conviction, but the real question is…can we live these things out? It’s not enough to just teach. So what am I missing on this list? Which one is the hardest for you to live out?

Hope it helps

ac



If a picture is worth a thousand words… how many characters is it worth?

Please tell me you see the irony in this photo.

texting

The fastest way to become a Pharisee… is to hate Pharisees.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

 

i-struggleI had a lot of great conversations around my last post. If you didn’t get to read it, here it is. I had a few conversations about the fact that a lot of the struggle is at the one-on-one level. And the question “What should I do if a student comes and says they are struggling with same sex attraction?” So I thought I’d share a few thoughts in this area. Definitely can’t share everything in one post, but here are some of the main points.

There is no quick fix to their struggle and so we need to be ready to walk with them for the long haul–especially in this area. Secondly, I believe lasting change is from the inside out and not the other way around. I believe God wants us concerned with the condition of the heart. So no matter what they struggle with Proverbs 4:23 gives me a good reason to start with the condition of the heart.

I will also say no matter what the struggle is, this is my approach. So here are a few things I do intentionally in a one-on-one situation:

  1. I listen – I’ve learned meeting with hundreds of students that when I shut up and genuinely listen they speak from the heart. Meaning, you do not need to impress them with your words or what you know, the only thing I want them to know in that instant is that they are being genuinely heard. I need to set my mind to absorb and not fix. The fixer will draw conclusions with bits and pieces of information with the intent to fix. The absorber is just taking in the information. Drawing a conclusion based on part of the story is dangerous, because you could be completely wrong on the cause and the solution. So listen and absorb. You need to hear their story completely, and they need to share it with you.
  2. I ask questions – You can’t rely on the students to have all of their thoughts together and share everything in one sitting. They will share with you, but it may not all connect or make sense. Ask questions on incomplete thoughts or to go deeper on a subject or area they have opened up about. Don’t just let it slide. Ask the tough questions. Example: if a student opens up about their relationship with their parents, go deeper in that area by asking more questions.
  3. I’m careful with my language – If the student comes in saying they have been struggling, you can assume that they already beat themselves down and thought of every negative thing you can think of. So I want to be careful that my words are seasoned with grace and love. The last thing I want is for them to leave feeling worse then when they showed up. Sometimes we justify our negativity with not watering down the truth. Well, take a beat from the Bible, because it guides us in how we should deliver the truth. (Proverbs 25:11, Proverbs 15:23, Ephesians 4:15)
  4. Focus on their relationship with Christ - A lot times we think that we need to focus on the problem or the struggle, and that’s just not true. The only cure to our brokenness in any way is through an authentic relationship with Christ. Asking the question “How is your relationship with Christ?” is where we find the problem and the solution. Not the solution to how we stop them from doing what they are doing, but the solution to an even bigger problem that plagues all of us. That is not growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, nor allowing the power of what He did on the cross to overtake our lives. Again, our job isn’t to change people…because we can’t. Our job is to point them to the one who can. Our job is not to focus on the problem or struggle, but to focus on the one and only solution Jesus Christ.

I’ve learned that at times, when I’m walking with a student through a struggle, I find myself thinking about how I can get this student out of the mess and hurt they find themselves in. Sometimes I wish I could just snap my finger and everything becomes all better. And I often hear God reminding me that He loves them more then I will ever be able to. There is not a solution that I have that will come close to what He’s able to do for them. So point them to Him.

Hope it helps,

ac