Weekend Teaching Series: Hollywood Jesus (series finale, week 3 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: Our identity must be in Christ or we will feel alone, fall and believe the lies of the world.
Service Length: 62 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we wrapped up the Hollywood Jesus series – using clips from a movie to help illustrate biblical concepts. This week Travis Prouty spoke in HSM, and chose Muppets in Space as his movie. He used several clips of the movie and weaved a talked about our identity in Christ throughout. My favorite moment was when he talked about how insecure he was growing up as a missionary kid in China and on top of that being home-schooled as a kid. Great vulnerability and helped students easily relate to their own insecurities and identity issues. It was his first time speaking to that many students, and he did a great job.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We played a fun video we made last year called Parker Don’t Shoot and had a great new game using the Nerf Bazooka. Students had to shoot at cup targets around the room and win a gift card. As a surprise bonus, students who sat around the targets (risking getting hit by the bazooka) got to keep the cups at the end of the game and get a free Coke after the service!

Music Playlist: Man ha Man ha Man ha (Muppets cover), The Earth is Yours, Christ in Me, Avalanche, What Would I Have Done

Favorite Moment: For sure this weekend’s highlight (and lowlight, honestly) was saying goodbye to Hope – a bittersweet goodbye to such an incredible part of our team. She served as an intern for the past 2 years and has grown dramatically as a pastor and woman of God. I am SO proud of her – at each service we laid hands on her and prayed for her future as she wraps up her internship.

Up next: Worship Together Weekend #3

I have a problem. Okay, maybe problem is too strong of a word.

Issue. There we go, I have an issue. Although not a detrimental one, but an issue none the less.

I constantly capitalize random letters.

I know you’re thinking to yourself right now “Oh My Word! We need to get that guy an intervention” And while it is not a problem that causes any real issue, it is really really annoying.

The sad part is, I don’t even realize that I do it. I do realize that I intentionally capitalize some words for emphasis, such as God or Youth Worker, but more often than not I find myself capitalizing random words like Outside or Yourself. This may seem like a boring topic to talk about, but I promise it will all make sense in a little bit. In terms of grammar, we are taught that we capitalize proper nouns. David, California, and Chick-fil-a. We capitalize the terms that are not run of the mill terms. We capitalize terms that are big deals.

So in essence, when I capitalize the first letter of a word it is the same as saying “Hey look! This is important! This is a big deal”

I have to be careful that I don’t unintentionally capitalize words and phrases that were never intended to be, thus making them a bigger deal than they are. As a Youth Worker, I have to be careful that I don’t do the same thing in how I lead my local Student Ministry.

There are going to be issues and problems that arise in your Student Ministry regardless of how well or how poorly that it is run. That is a fact. Write it down or tuck it away in the back of your mind, because you WILL encounter issues as a Youth Worker. You will have to make tough decisions. You will have struggles. That is just an occupational hazard.

The question you need to as yourself as you lead your Student Ministry is simply this: What will I capitalize and what will I lower-case? Or better yet “What will I make a big deal out of and what will I let go?”

  • Do you capitalize “Numerical Growth” and minimize “Spiritual Growth”?
  • Do you capitalize “Fun” and minimize “Spirituality”?
  • Do you capitalize “What I don’t have” and minimize “What I do have”?
  • Do you capitalize “What others think” and minimize “What God thinks”?
  • Do you capitalize “Lack of budget” and minimize “God will provide”?
  • Do you capitalize “My Students aren’t getting it” and minimize “It’s sinking in”?

What are you making a bigger deal out of than you should? What are you capitalizing that God is wanting to be lowercase and what are you making lowercase that He wants you to capitalize? I had this teacher in high school named Ms. Holt. I don’t remember much about her, but I do remember that she would always give me a hard time when I would accidentally capitalize words that shouldn’t be. Every time I turned in a paper, I would usually get it back with some red marks from my teacher showing where I had capitalized words that I shouldn’t have. It became almost laughable at the shear volume of red marks that would be on my paper when I got it back after being graded.

I wonder sometimes if God looks at us with a red ink pen in hand. Not to correct us or make us feel like we’re doing wrong, but so that He can look at our lives and mark the places that we allow some things to be bigger deals than they actually are. Where we capitalize things that should be lower case. The truth of the matter is that when God looks at you as a Youth Worker and at what you and your local ministry can accomplish, He sees a capital letter.

You may capitalize Doubt, Fear, Insecurity and Ignorance, but He looks at those as lowercase letters compared to what He can accomplish through you. Your mission, your vision, and the ultimate destination for your Student Ministry is a capital letter in His eyes. That thing that you have been fighting and may still be struggling with that you have capitalized is just a lowercase letter in the eyes of God.

He is able to take those things that are big problems in your local setting and make them not such big problems anymore. Those big issues that you don’t see how they can be fixed He can make smaller. Those big circumstances that you don’t quite know how to navigate, He can lead you through. So what are you facing right now in your Student Ministry that you need Jesus to lowercase? Now, if you will excuse me, it’s time to check this post and see if I randomly capitalized any words again.

Noah Watt serves as the Student Pastor at Lone Star Church in Madisonville, KY. When not hanging out with his wife Bethany, Noah can be found hanging out with the coolest group of Students on the planet, reading or writing on his blog, “The Backstage Project”, at www.whatihavelearnedbackstage.wordpress.com

My friend Matt McGill, podcast co-host and great youth ministry friend, has a great new blog called Love God, Love Students that is going to soon become another youth ministry daily stop for many youth workers. His site’s just coming online now, with some GREAT content, including this post about insecurity in youth ministry. Here’s an excerpt:

Insecurity is inescapable for youth workers.

We’ll never be cool enough. (If you think you are, just wait a few years.) We revisit our leadership decisions. We wonder if people like us. And the deepest bowel-shaking, fear-spawned question: Am I spiritual enough?

Insecurity is debilitating fear and doubt. Some fear and doubt is good (hungry, angry bears will maul you). Too much fear and doubt will ruin a person’s life (for example, believing there is a hungry, angry bear around every corner).

The opposite of insecurity is confidence, which is the attitude that comes from an accurate understanding of what we can control and the faith that God controls everything. “Too much” confidence is pride which says, “I don’t need God.”

Insecurity has a million different shades of meaning. So you and I can be on the same page, I’ve tried to establish a clear definition: insecurity is too much fear and doubt.

Living with deep insecurities isn’t God’s design for our lives. Fear makes it impossible to be experience the joy and significance we can have in Jesus. Also, God is calling us to be more like him, and that often means leaving our comfort zones. We can’t take these risks if we are filled with too much self-doubt. In the tough times and wild seasons of life, we can’t rest in God’s peace if we don’t trust him. We know all this, we teach it to the teenagers in our youth groups.