Last week’s poll was interesting and made me want to do a follow-up on the same subject. Spending time with Jesus every day is certainly a discipline, one that apparently many of us are faking or failing at. Vote today and help share some insight into why!

JG


Would love to get your response in this week’s poll – when is the best time for your as a youth worker to spend time with God yourself? Lots of different options for you to choose from – vote now!

JG



A practice I have recently begun is writing letters to Jesus. If you’re anything like me, taking a time of silent prayer can be tough. It’s quite strange because, well, I like to talk. I think the trouble comes because sometimes prayer feels like I’m talking to myself. I’m probably doing that most of the time anyway, so it should feel normal. For some reason it can be hard to articulate thoughts and prayers to God. Though He already knows what I want to say, what I am going to say, and what I truly mean with what I’m saying. He knows more about what I am going to say than I could ever imagine. Therein lies the problem: all these thoughts run through my head and distract me from the purpose behind what I am doing.

This is where the letters come in. I write letters to Jesus to keep me focused in my time of prayer. I thank Him for things He has done in my life. I ask Him for things I want, or write questions I have for Him. I not only get to think about what I am writing, but the process of writing itself is enough to quiet my mind and allow for open communication with my creator. The purpose behind the writing is to be able to spend a significant amount of time with Jesus. Whatever it is that gets written down doesn’t really matter. It’s about spending time with Jesus in a way that allows for intimacy with Him.

There are a few huge benefits from writing a letter to God. First, it allows for reflection. You can look back on the letters of prayer that have been written and see to which ones God replied with a yes, and which ones He replied with a no. You can see how certain prayers affected your everyday living, or how the effect of a certain situation turned out. You can look back and see growth through the letters you’ve written. Another great benefit is that there is no grade. You can write whatever style, grammatical structure (or lack thereof) that you see fit. If you want to write 1000 words in one sentence or paragraph, do it! If you’re more comfortable writing in a specific style such as MLA, APA or Turabian it is entirely up to you. This is helpful because it takes away the need for perfectionism. It’s a letter to a God who created all styles, fonts, colors, types, words or anything else you could come up with; He gets it.

I chose letter format to help personalize my interaction with God. This is an excerpt from a letter I wrote, “Search my heart Lord and bring out Yourself in me. I am not, but I know I AM. Words that until recently never really sunk in. I know that I have issues with pride… This is my biggest downfall. Fortunately, you redeem, restore and renew. This means that I still must work at it, but ultimately your strength is what changes those things in me.” Being raw and genuine with the Lord has made me feel completely new, but that’s not to say writing a letter to God doesn’t come with a few challenges also.

The one challenge in my letters so far has been, “How does God respond?” Where is there room for Him to speak into it? I haven’t found the answer to that yet but, it is entirely up to Jesus. Whether He chooses to inspire you to write a specific prayer down, give you an audible answer, or miraculously type something out for you, I can’t say for sure. I can say, however, that God is in the business of answering prayers. If this can be a way for you to connect with Jesus in an intimate way as it has been for me, then that in itself is a reward worth having.

Travis Lodes is the Student Ministries Intern at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church in Englewood, CO. Feel free to leave comments or email him at tlodes@gmail.com.

We just restocked our “grow booth” with a ton of resources – the most popular and one of the best we’ve ever used is Doug Fields’ 1-Minute Bible for Students. It gets students in the Word everyday and is a great tool to help teach them the disciplines of a daily quiet time. It is $14.99 … scratch that … $6.99 for a limited time (I have no idea how long, I just saw it on the site).

JG



I love it when churches give their staff a spiritual retreat day to focus and center on God. Quite honestly, I like the idea more than I have been able to actually do it! I read this blog post a month ago from NRSM Online that has stuck with me for the past 30 days. So today … (assuming I made it back safely fro Rwanda – doh!) I’m on a spiritual retreat day! Here’s a clip of the blog post I think is worth checking out and implementing soon in your context:

Move slower all day. Seriously, everything you do during the entire day…do it slower. We do everything so freaking fast these days. Take time on this particular day to walk slower, eat slower, talk slower, drive slower (maybe go the speed limit instead of 5 over), read slower, pray slower. Everything.

Location. Your location is key to this whole deal. You need someplace quiet (this is a non-negotiable). You also need an environment that is somewhat new or unknown to you. For me, the more familiar a place is, the more likely I am to fall into whatever routine I’m used to following in that spot. New place…new routine. Finally, you need to be alone. That doesn’t necessarily mean there can’t be other people in the same building or room (although you might need that), but it needs to be a place where no one knows you and no one will be bothering or distracting you.

No retreat agenda. Agendas & task lists are the enemies of your Spiritual Retreat Day.

#1-Agendas prevent you from moving slower. If you have some items to cross off a list, your tendency is to dive in full steam ahead. Unacceptable. What if you get 45 minutes into your time alone and don’t feel like you’ve accomplished anything yet? Oh well!

#2-Agendas lead to a defined “win,” and a defined “win” creates the possibility that you might “lose.” There is no failure on this day. There are no unfulfilled expectations on this day. There are no unfinished tasks on this day. If your Spiritual Retreat Day exists, you win. Besides, you can always go back to being a loser tomorrow.

JG

As leaders, I am specifically speaking to church leaders in this post, we are called to be good stewards of the integrity of our church and the Gospel. This is why moral failure, which happens too often today in our churches among leaders, is such a devastating thing. It not only hurts the leader who has failed, but causes damage to the church involved and the message of the Gospel. Recently, Crawford Lorritts, said this in the Elephant Room about leaders and moral failure: “What you do when a leader fails morally happens before the fall.” Too often we wait until a leader has fallen to deal with the issues. Unfortunately, leaders tend to wait until they fail morally to deal with the issue. I believe church leaders today need to take whatever steps necessary to prevent moral failure before it happens. Here are three practical things a leader can do to prevent moral failure before it happens:

1. Have a consistent time with the Lord each day. I cannot stress the importance of having a personal devotional time with the Lord each day! A leader who is not having a daily devotional time with God each day is asking to be taken down by a moral sin. The battle with our flesh and the Devil is too real to not spend time with God each day for the strength we need! Crawford Lorritts also said this: “I have never talked to someone who has failed morally that was not consistent in his time with the Lord.” Consistency with the Lord is they way we grow spiritually and a strong, growing spiritual walk with the Lord is the only thing that will prevent us from moral failure (read Greg Stier’s post called “Lust Will Pick the Lock”). The first thing a leader can do to prevent moral failure is having a consistent time with God each day.

2. Have a strong relationship with your spouse or significant other. Usually before a leader experiences moral failure, his marriage or relationship with his significant other will start to struggle first. Not only should leaders have a consistent time with God each day, they must also have a growing relationship with their spouse. Leaders, stop coming home after work and spending more time on the computer, or Twitter, or checking e-mails. Turn that stuff off and spend time with your spouse! You need it, they need it, your ministry will be more protected when you spend the right amount of time with your spouse! This is so simple, but leaders fail to do it too often. Have a date night each week and never let the love between you and your spouse go downhill.

3. Always have accountability in your life. Leaders, don’t wait until your mess up to get an accountability partner. Seek out accountability relationships even when things are going well. If your married, I believe your number one accountability should be your wife. Then you should have Godly men, or women if you’re a woman, to keep your accountable and ask you the “tough questions.” In a recent post called “3 Ways to Handle Personal Sin as a Leader” I said, “The leader who does not have accountability in their life are asking for the enemy and their flesh to destroy their leadership position.” Don’t be an open target for your flesh, have accountability in your life!

These are just a few ways to prevent moral failure in leadership before it happens. Pray and ask the Lord to help you protect yourself before it happens and costs your leadership position.

Austin is currently a pastoral intern at Weymouth Community Church in Medina, OH. He just finished his Bachelors degree from Piedmont International University in Christian Ministries with a student ministries and pastoral studies minors. He is now working on his Master’s degree, got engaged, and is looking for his first-full time ministry position in the area of student ministry. You can find his blog online at www.austinmccann.com.



Our friends at youthministry360 and I wanted to do something special for all of the More Than Dodgeball Community. So, ym360 has created these awesome Christmas Devotions For Youth Workers, and wanted to release them here first!

The best part? They’re totally FREE! These devotions feature 7 days worth of daily content. Each day focuses on one of the main characters from the Christmas Story. Each character has a key attribute or characteristic that comes from the text. And each day, you’ll be challenged to consider how you might apply this characteristic in you life, and in the lives of your students as you lead them closer to Christ.

It’s just a simple way for youthministry360 and us to say, “Thanks”! We’re in awe of the amazing work you do in teenagers’ lives.

To download your FREE Christmas Devotions, click on this link.

(If you have any trouble at all with your download, the folks over at youthministry360 are available to help, anytime. Simply email them at info@youthministry360.com and they’ll be more than happy to help out.)

JG


This year instead of featuring a growth/discipleship booth with a ton of different options, we’re going to feature just one resource and hope to push most all of our students that way. This fall we started (just this past weekend) promoting the One Minute Bible by Doug Fields. We gave a TON of them away and think it has the potential to be a game-changer in helping students grow on their own. We even had a student come on stage and try to beat a 1-minute timer by reading a day’s devotion out loud. He was always close … I guess 1-Minute Bible was a better title than “53-second Bible”. Anyhow, thought one of these ideas might trigger a discipleship idea that would work in your context, too!

JG