Posted by: Scott Rubin

Like most of you, I really love middle school ministry. Like some of you, I have a couple middle schoolers living in my own house, which makes life even more fun. In anticipation of today (April Fool’s Day) my 6th grade son carefully placed spreadable-cheese over the top of both of his 2 older brother’s deodorant sticks. He leaped out of bed this morning to see how things would play out, gleefully imagining cheez whiz applied to his siblings armpits. The funniest part was that neither brother made deodorant part of their morning routine today, much to the dismay of my 6th grader. (But it may explain the odd smell that often permeates my house.) April Fools Fail!

Do you ever feel like a Fool for serving middle school students? I do sometimes. When some are wildly unfocused, or even innocently distracted. When some seem unteachable, and others seem downright mean. When they’re frequently unappreciative, and often so self-focused. More than once I’ve walked to my car after being around middle schoolers and wondered if I was just being foolish.

But… Paul said “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” !

And sometimes God reminds me that my work is not in vain. (at least some of it!) Like the 7th grade boy I met with last month who was dabbling in illegal activity, but confessed it to me, decided to put it behind him. Like the mom of the disabled 6th grade girl who emailed me this week to tell me that my words to her daughter really made a difference. And maybe even like the other students I’ve invested in recently, but who haven’t given me any indication that God is doing much with it! Foolishness? Or the power of God!



to summarize

Neely McQueen —  April 1, 2011 — 1 Comment

It’s been spring break here this week. I took a little trip to the coast with my family. No TV, no computers…a pretty reflective time for me.

Allof this free time had me thinking about why I do youth ministry…specifically why I care about girl’s ministry. It was a sweet reminder and I came home encouraged.

Why I care?

Jesus. When I think about why I want to care or why I want to do anything…at the very heart of it is Jesus. If he’s not there, than I don’t want to do it anymore. (that part is a confession). I believe in Him and I want to follow Him. I believe that he is a lover of people. He’s loved me and called me to love. It’s safe to say that he has rocked my world. And I believe that he calls…me (us). So, I care about girl’s ministry because of him.

My Story. I was a struggling 14 year old girl once. I was insecure, afraid and alone. Junior high was really rough for me…my mother was confused about her own life which left me trying to figure out puberty and becoming a woman to my own demise. It was rough. But the summer after my freshman year, I was forced (by my dad) to go on a church mission trip. And my life was never the same. I care because I remember the pain of being a young girl in a world filled with jacked up messages about who I was and whatI needed to do to matter. I care because I remember the joy in discovering that I was loved and that I was called…that I was loved and called uniquely as a girl. My story propels me to care.

Girls (aka. World Changers). I know a few world changers…they may not know it yet but God does. I can’t help but care when I spend a little time with these potential world changers. I can see it in them even when they can’t. When I think about what I want my life to be about…it can be summarized in being about bringing God’s kingdom here to earth. And I believe that God will sometimes use the most unlikely candidates to make it happen…like a 15 year old girl who struggles with identity until she discovers the love of her Creator. Watching that tranformation is maybe one of the greatest highlights of ministry.

Jesus. In the end…as in the beginning…it’s all about Him.

What about you? Why do you do girl’s ministry?

I really liked Toby Rowe’s new book The Volunteer’s Back Pocket Guide to Youth Mission Trips ($4.99, Group Publishing). It is a simple guide to helping volunteers begin to understand what they’re about to get into when they said yes to going on the trip. Toby is a veteran youth worker with tons of experience through Group Workcamps and Group’s Week of Hope. He brings that wisdom and experience to the table and helps volunteers to understand what it means to be a good leader, how to have great conversations with students and where to look for God-moments along the trip. He also shows them how to be supportive of the leadership on the trip and how to bring back the stories of what you experienced to the church body and supportive families. All in all, a surprisingly strong resource in a little package.

My only complaint … is that there’s no way the book will fit into your back pocket! Not even close! I’m sure the function won here (better to write in notes or reflection) and it works better as an idea to keep these principles in your back pocket – but what a missed opportunity! Hahahah … still a great book. Pick one up and check it out, if you like it, maybe grab one for each of the leaders on your next mission trip.

JG



You are? right, there are far more dangerous jobs than youth ministry. I am extremely thankful that my husband does not stare down the barrel of a gun. I cannot imagine the kind of strength a wife would need for that. No matter what the job each one of us, including myself, has and will face great tragedies. Just in each day there are so many ups and downs. Our lives are sprinkled with many different feelings and emotions from happiness to thankfulness, to frustration to sorrow. My hope is that not one of us would deny ourselves the right to feel validated in each and every feeling that we have that gets mixed up inside of us. I hope that in some small way this blog may be a place for someone in ministry to feel heard, connected, and uplifted through a comment, a funny story, or a serious post. And what I love so much about this community of women is the honesty shared about their lives, and the tone that we all take loving God and our husbands seriously but don’t take ourselves too seriously.

I write this in no way with a defensive voice, but with so much concern that many pastor’s wives are told that their feelings are silly or not important. Whether from someone at church or their own inner dialogue. Our “perspective” should be to accept and embrace our feelings whatever they may be and then with God and community we get to figure it out. :) ? I believe we serve a magnificent God who knows each feeling and thought that we have. He laughs with us, comforts us when we hurt, and will carry us through those treacherous times.

We all will have battles to face and our journeys may look very different, but my prayer is that you hear, We are never alone.

Amanda

I just started reading Dave Livermore’s book “Cultural Intelligence” (well… ok, I just read the introduction so far) and I’ll post a review of the whole book here later. But in the introduction one of the footnotes directs you to an article about Bruce Wilkinson’s failed work in Swaziland about 6 or 7 years ago. So I went to the article and then found a commentary on the situation from a South African professor (wow, that sounds more involved that it really was). It was in that commentary that I found the following quote:

In terms of the Great Commission, evangelistic work and discipleship must always take precedence over humanitarian aid and social welfare….”

I immediately felt uncomfortable. I read it again. Just to make sure I understood. And sure enough… I did. This statement means that if we’re not trying to save people’s souls or help them grow in their relationship with Jesus – we probably shouldn’t serve them. Really? Can that possibly be true? I don’t agree with that. I just don”t…

If we take this literally, we shouldn’t be lending aid or even going to help the people of Japan in this incredible time of need. Because if we can’t share the message of Jesus, why should we go. The needs in Sudan, Rwanda, the gulf after Katrina and Rita, southeast Asia after the tsunami. Because responding and serving in those situations, to those needs, aren’t nearly as important as making sure people in those areas hear that they need Jesus. Really?

What if we fed and clothed and cared for and built relationships with the people in those areas? And as part of that process we get to share why we’re there. Who it is that we serve. Who it is that drives and motivates us. That feels more natural. More caring.

Understand, I work for a ministry whose mission it is to see people grow in their relationship with Jesus. We fulfill that mission by organizing mission trips for youth groups. So I believe in evangelism and discipleship. I believe that people growing in their relationship with God is of utmost importance. But I also know that there are needs that need to be met. And we can meet them. Whether or not we ever get to share the message of Jesus with them.

And that is still Christians missions.



This came out of my lunch yesterday with my long-time youth ministry friend, Molly Carr. Such a fabulous idea!

“Burying the Alleluia” is a long time tradition found in more liturgically-focused churches. Its a great idea that any small youth ministry? could use for the amazing symbolism of what it means. For the season of Lent, churches put aside the? singing of? the word “Alleluia” as part of their remembrance of the journey of Jesus to a solemn Cross. The Alleluia is resurrected and sung at either the Easter morning service or at those churches who observe The Great Vigil (At sunset on Easter Saturday).

So at Molly’s church, the children actually participate in the burying of “Alleluia” banners in a garden area outside at the church for the season of Lent . Flowers are planted on top and grow up beautifully. Then on Easter Saturday or Sunday, the flowers are taken up and? placed on an Easter Flower Cross. The banners are unburied and placed in the garden for all to see as they come into worship.

Isn’t that a great idea? L.o.v.e.d. it so wanted to share. I think its not too late to try it.

Stephanie

Next weekend we finish up a series we’ve done 3 years running called You Own the Weekend. In fact, we added a 6th week by popular demand – that’s how exciting this series has been. It is one of the biggest series we do every year (beaten only by our kickoff weekend and the sex series) and has become a staple in HSM’s culture.

The idea is that each high school gets their own weekend to run from start to finish – they do everything from the message to the videos, testimonies and bits. Each school starts a Facebook group and has an adult mentor, but no adults take the stage at any time for the entire month. How crazy is that?

Here’s why it totally works:

Students get involved in ministry
More students get a taste of ministry during this month than any other time of the year. Students step up and there’s a positive peer pressure on them to be a part of what is going on. There’s something for everyone – from greeting, decorating, videos – even speaking!

Students bring their friends
Without a doubt this is the most evangelistic series we have – teenagers bring their friends to something they are a part of. You Own the Weekend captures school spirit and gives students an easier opportunity than normal to bring their friends. Every student from every school gets an invitation to church.

Parents show up
I’m amazed at the number of parents who attend a weekend service during You Own the Weekend. They love seeing their kids doing ministry, not just watching it. Parents leave with a better idea of what the high school ministry is about and infectious in spreading a positive word to others when they leave.

One fun byproduct of the series is that it allows students to see just how challenging it is to create a youth group every week. They appreciate sermon prep, great videos, awesome stories or a funny bit way more in the future.

JG