Recently, I was honored to join with a couple hundred other pastors from Iowa for our denominational District Council.  We had the joy of listening to a speaker, James Bradford, as he talked about a bright future and a need to crush idols.  He also mentioned something that God has been speaking to me personally lately; that one of the greatest struggles for those under 40 is cynicism.

Sarcasm, Anyone?
I have a tendency to be more than a little sarcastic.  In fact, my wife absolutely abhorred me when we first met.  Somehow she got this crazy notion that I was egotistical and selfish.  It wasn’t until she realized that I really had all those qualities that I bragged about that she started to like me.  Unfortunately for her, God had to break her finger for her to see how wonderful I am (true story, but too long to divulge here)…guess she should have listened harder (just kidding, Dear, if you read this).

I also know that I’m not alone in this.  It seems like humor is shifting to more cynical humor.  As I work with middle school students, I notice it in even more profound ways.  I understand that middle schoolers can often be mean.  However, I can hear some elements of things I have said in some of their cynicism sometimes and that hurts.

God’s Plan
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ouch.  It seems that God knew people would struggle to build others up and chose to put this command in scripture.

I would challenge you to look at your own words and use of humor and see if it is really building others up.  I think often times, I try so hard to be funny or liked that I sometimes end up sounding stupid or being hurtful.

What about you?  Do you see this as a growing problem?  Is this something you struggle with?  Have you found anything that helps?  Feel free to comment below to help us all build each other up.

Chad Feight is  youth worker at 1st Assembly, Cedar Rapids.

I recognize that by addressing zombies in a youth ministry blog, it’s like pouring honey on my head and using a short stick to poke a bear.  However, on Oct. 14th, the Walking Dead had its season 3 premier with 11 million viewers.  Never before has a basic cable channel seen these types of numbers.  In addition, the Fall Harvest Season is upon us.  In our area there are billboards for haunted houses, zombie mazes, and all sort of stuff to scare you.  This might be a good opportunity to talk with our students.  They are watching it and many of them love to be scared.

The premise of the show is not that unlike other zombie apocalyptic stories.  Some disease/illness has broken out and caused a flu-like virus to travel quickly through people.  It takes their life, and when they come back from the dead, they look like a dead version of human being, however walking around.  I know, Walking Dead…who would have thought.  They then have the ability to infect others with the same disease that took their life.  They are not only dead, but reproducing death.

As absurd as that may sound, are any of us any different sometimes?  Every day we get out of bed, get ready for our day, interact with our family and people in our lives (maybe), do our daily jobs (occupation or school), come home, shove another meal into our face, watch a little TV, complete our obligations, maybe pray (if we are super spiritual), and then go to bed.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  The next day comes and we do it all over again.  That isn’t living.  We too, are walking dead.

If left unchecked, I can go through an entire day, or sadly an entire week, and not have much to show for it.  I haven’t taken myself out of my comfort zone or done anything new.  My relationship with my God, my family, and my friends are all totally stagnant.  These were all by my choice.  I am recognizing that if something is not done about it, I am going to slowly slip from life to death.  I will never even get a proper funeral for people to mourn the loss of my life, because it looks like I am still alive and kicking.

Eph. 4:1 says, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,”(ESV)

I am not suggesting we start a “Walking Worthy” campaign.  (However, if anyone does, and they make Christian t-shrits and sell a lot of stuff I have © on “Walking Worthy”.  I think I get a nickel every time someone uses it.)

Let us never forget the calling that God has placed on our lives.  As I speak to other youth pastors, it is good to remind each other that we have a high calling.  One that not many should aspire to, as it says in James 3:1, because it is such a high calling.  A calling where God, in His mercy, sees fit to use me to help change the spiritual trajectory of a child of God.  That is a high calling.  I forget that when I have to return too many emails.  I forget that when I am told I am not doing my job well.  I forget that, though I am fortunately paid for what I do, my church and elder board is ultimately not my boss.  I answer to a Holy God who I will have to stand before some day.   I desperately pray, He will tell me “well done good and faithful servant.”  (Matt 25:23)

So then, if we are actually living worthy, we need to instill that into our students as well.  To help them see past SAT testing, school sports, family troubles, church troubles, friend troubles, work, social calendar, and then find time for a church event or two.  It’s almost enough to kill us, or at least take away a desire to walk worthy of our calling.

Ephesians goes on to say that we do this by living in humility, gentleness, patience, supporting one another in love, and in unity with the Spirit.  So again, it all comes back to our own spiritual health and the relationship that we have with the Creator of the Universe dwelling richly in us.

I pray for us, that we don’t become infected with this disease called day-to-day living.  There is more for us, but if we become infected with the “daily grind”, our spiritual deadness and apathy will only reproduce spiritual deadness and apathy.  Don’t allow your life to take away your desire to live as God has called us.

Jeff Bachman is a husband for the past 11 years and a father of three amazing kids.  He is the High School Pastor at ROCKHARBOR Church just up the road in Costa Mesa, CA.   He loves emails at jbachman@rockharbor.org, twitter interaction, and of course subscribe to his blog The Until Matters.




One of our incredible Life Group Leaders put together a final few week of small group with his guys that was truly incredible. First, he wrote 24 Thoughts for Graduating Seniors – a final hit list of things he wanted them to know as a man and as someone who was finished with High School.

Beyond that, he planned a parent beach bonfire night where dads wrote letters to their sons that was incredible powerful as well. Terry is a great leader and after seeing his notes I asked if I could share them here on the blog – felt like it would be a win for others to read and maybe something other small group leaders could rip-off or adapt for their guys as well:

13) Be Yourself

It is so easy to leave home, be in a new place and you try to be someone you are not.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.  15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.  16 You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out  before a single day had passed. -Psalm 139:13-16

14) Be Humble – Put others first

He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way. -Psalm 25:9

The LORD supports the humble, but he brings the wicked down into the dust. -Psalm 147:6

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. -Ephesians 4:2

15) Be Truthful & Stay Close to Truth Tellers

Integrity is noticed by everyone – it will set you apart

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. -John 8:32

Truth provides freedom, Lies keep you from being free. Make sure you find one or two Friends who will be honest with you.  Find a small group or some way to stay connected to God.  You need to have truth put into your life on a regular basis or you will forget about it.  You need someone to help you stay accountable.

16) Stay Positive/Find something good in ALL situations

Only YOU control your Reactions! What’s your Attitude?

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts…. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.

17) Rest – Take care of yourself

What fills your tanks?  Make time for that activity

The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. 2 He lets me rest in green meadows;  he leads me beside peaceful streams. 3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths,  bringing honor to his name.  4 Even when I walk  through the darkest valley,  I will not be afraid,  for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff  protect and comfort me. 5 You prepare a feast for me   in the presence of my enemies.  You honor me by anointing my head with oil.  My cup overflows with blessings.  6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me  all the days of my life,   and I will live in the house of the LORD  forever. -Psalm 23

18) Don’t let ANGER destroy you – Replace it with Laughter.

Control your temper

And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil. -Ephesians 4:26-27

When Abraham Lincoln had to write a letter to someone who had irritated him, he would often write two letters. The first letter was deliberately insulting. Then, having gotten those feelings out of his system, he would tear it up and write a second letter, this one tactful and discreet.

Don’t send the first TEXT MESSAGE when you are angry – DELETE IT and then write a second one to send!!!

Don’t forget about LAUGHTER!!!  It will do very positive things it your life!

JG

7 Small Group “Be”s

Josh Griffin —  October 11, 2011 — 1 Comment

Our small groups are kicking off this week – the leaders are trained and we had a fun Meet-N-Greet night so everyone could connect with their new leader and begin to settle in for the school year of groups. We walked students through HSM’s Life Group Covenant and challenged groups to commit to these things:

  • I commit to Honesty – BE REAL (Ephesians 4:15)
  • I commit to Humility – BE 2ND (1 Peter 5:5)
  • I commit to Courtesy – BE THOUGHTFUL (Titus 3:2)
  • I commit to Confidentiality – BE QUIET (Proverbs 16:28)
  • I commit to Consistency – BE ON TIME (Hebrews 10:25)
  • I commit to Bringing My Bible – BE INTENTIONAL (Joshua 1:8)
  • I commit to Accountability – BE ON GUARD (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

Feel free to use them in your ministry if it is helpful, too!

JG



Read Part 1 of this 2-part series right here

Anyone who ministers in a city with more than five non-Christians needs to be able to do apologetics and they need to do it well.

The truth is that everyone is an apologist at some point– some are good ones and some are rather poor at it. Many of us in youth ministry are great at loving students, leading leaders, planning events and preaching but we make lousy apologists. I was never offered one apologetics, logic or biology class in Bible School. Despite a lack of training and value in it, I believe that everyone (pastors included) is an apologist because everyone will eventually ask themselves the difficult questions of faith and life such as, “How can I be sure there is a God who created the Earth?”, “How could God allow so much suffering in the world?”, “How do we know the Bible can be trusted?”, “Is it good if my vacuum sucks?” et al. How will we answer these questions when we either ask them or they are asked of us?

Our ignorance in such matters is very costly to your students and the many who struggle with the tough questions being raised today.

In his book, The Weight Of Glory [1], C.S. Lewis gives a prophetic call to all of us, in this case those of us who are interested in reaching and keeping our students in the faith. Lewis calls us to answer the call to engage in the intellectual battle going on in our world,

To be ignorant and simple now — not to be able to meet the enemies on their ground — would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.

The role of apologetics can change someone’s life. Jesus tells us, “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). Truth has a very freeing and empowering element to it. When the disciple Thomas understood the truth of the resurrected Jesus, he believed fully that Jesus was the Messiah (John 20:28) and, according to early Christian tradition, was killed in India for proclaiming Jesus as Lord.

Apologetics can be intimidating, especially for those in ministry who “just love people.” “Save apologetics for the stuffy intellectuals,” they may say. “We just specialize in loving kids.” That’s great, we must love people but doing good apologetics as a form of what love necessitates. In Jude 22, Paul exhorts, “Have mercy on some, who are doubting.” Apologetics, then, is a form of showing compassion to people. This can be an expression of the loving priestly role of a ministry leader.

Ephesians 4:12 calls the work of pastor to love his people and “equip the saints for works of service.” To Pastor Tim Keller, equipping people in a secular world must not just include training them in the traditional spiritual disciplines. These days, to engage the post-Christian world for the purpose of making disciples, we must teach them apologetics as well. Keller writes,

In ‘Christendom’ you can afford to train people just in prayer, Bible study, evangelism– private world skills–because they are not facing radically non-Christian values in their public life–where they work, in their neighborhood, etc… the laity needs theological education to ‘think Christianly’ about everything and work with Christian distinctiveness. [2]

Ways we train our people to “think Christian” in a secular world is:

1. By not assuming that they already think “Christianly”.

2. Taking opportunities to show how biblical truth applies to various modern day events and circumstances in their world.

3. Helping our people think critically about the media they consume.

4. Learning from and providing online resources to quality apologists like William Lane Craig (reasonablefaith.org), Tim Keller, Ravi Zacharias (rzim.com), Greg Koukl (str.org), C.S. Lewis, etc. This act of pointing to others is a very helpful way for any leader to draw from the abundant resources that are available to us today.

It is important to note that not every pastor has to understand how the elements of mitochondria point to intelligent design and be able to teach it to a third year university class. They should, however, be able to point their people to someone who can do that. Apologetics does not have to be intimidating in today’s information age. The rational defense is out there somewhere, you just have to learn how and who to point your people to.

That is our job as Ephesians 4:12 youth pastors.


[1] Lewis, C.S. The Weight Of Glory. (Harper Collins, New York, 1949). Page 50.

[2] Tim Keller. “The Missional Church” June 2001. http://www.redeemer2.com/resources/papers/missional.pdf

For the past four years, Jon has served at Coquitlam Alliance Church just outside of beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. Jon is the young adults pastor in a ministry called Ethos. Check out his blog at http://jonmorrison.ca