I will never eat meat again!

I will never eat meat again!

ENCOUNTER:  Read 1 Corinthians 8

Ok, the title is a little misleading.  I love meat and will eat it forever!!  That is, unless, eating meat causes spiritual problems with those in whom I am in community.  For, in that case, I the spiritual health of those I live with in community is infinitely worth more than my freedom to eat as much meat as I want.  

Thankfully, we live in a context where meat isn't a spiritual issue, or one that divides us.  But this passage in 1 Corinthians isn't about meat.  This passage is about how we live in community when we have different understandings of the law, of freedom, and even of righteousness.  

The assumption is that we are all leaning into Jesus and long to love Him, honor Him, and serve him with all our hearts.  This is an important assumption.  For many of us in our context, we see our walk with Jesus in terms of regulations and question, "How much can I get away with?"  But the maturing life in Christ is not about regulation, but about union.  It is about a growing intimacy with Jesus and with His people.  

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Want to grow some good will at your church?

Want to grow some good will at your church?

This last week I was with some fellow youth workers and we started sharing stories about times we should have, or at least could have been fired.  In fact at every youth worker gathering I have been to, this has been our go to ice breaker question.  "When was a time you should have been fired."

But what was interesting about this conversation was not the silly stories about all the dumb things we have done throughout our ministry careers, but the reasons why we dodged the bullet, avoided the ax.  And the common denominator was simply the amount of good will you have built up with parents or with your boss.  

So, if you don't want to be fired anytime soon for some dumb thing in your future, then now is the time to put some money in the bank and start building up your cash reserves of good will.  Here are three really easy ways:

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Pot, Prostitution, and Porn: Developing a theology of morality in an amoral context.

Pot, Prostitution, and Porn:  Developing a theology of morality in an amoral context.

As the context in which we do ministry gets exponentially more complex, the foundational truths that we have based many arguments are becoming less and less helpful.  For me, growing up in a suburban context with majority culture being mostly "Judeo-Christian," the youth workers in my world helped us navigate theology and morality with a very light reading of Romans 13.

"Obey the laws of the land."

Is it ok to drink? Is it ok to use drugs? How fast can I drive?  Can I shoplift? Fill in the blank.  For a teenager who wanted maximum freedom and wanted to experiment with any and everything dangerous, this theological foundation sort of worked.  It, at its very least, provided a theological foundation for right and wrong.  

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What will it take to live in community? (Sermon and Devo)

What will it take to live in community? (Sermon and Devo)

I have come to an awful conclusion lately, I AM ALWAYS RIGHT.  It turns out that almost everything I do and everything I  believe, I have landed on because I think it is right.  In fact, the only times I intentionally did the wrong thing was because I was feeling rebellious or wanted to cut a corner.  

As quickly as I had come to this conclusion about always being right, I came across another awful conclusion, millions, if not billions of people do not agree.  

You see, we all have a unique perspective, and this is because our histories, families, culture, finances, ethnicity, and about a gazillion other factors have shaped how we see the world.  And for as uniquely as I understand the world, the same is true for every single person I come in contact with.  

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Fall Kickoff Letter to Parents

Fall Kickoff Letter to Parents

Dear Parents,

Here we go, the start of a brand new year.  For all of us parents our kids have gotten their schedule, met their teachers, and have even begun homework.  Some of those teachers your kids will love, and some they will loathe.  But no matter what, you as parents are committed to helping them thrive at their school this year.  In fact you as parents will do just about any and all things to make it work for your kids.  You will talk to principals, to teachers, you will help your kids learn how to navigate the teaches they don't like, and give them a bigger picture of their education than just this one class, this one year.

In the same way, what if you approached your kids spiritual development with the same sort of conviction?  Every student I know goes through seasons where they love our student ministry and loathe our student ministry.  Sometimes all their best friends are here and they are thriving spiritual, and sometimes they feel all alone and are board.  

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Gearing up for our Fall Lanch

Gearing up for our Fall Lanch

Gearing up is not about planning (That should have been done already), but rather about filling the tank and preparing your heart, mind, and soul for ministry.

For our student ministry rhythm we intentionally take a couple of weeks off between the end of summer programming and our fall launch. I have found that this is a vital two weeks for our students and for me.  As we wrap up summer, and we have solidified our 16-17 calendar complete with curriculum, fun activities, service and mission trips, it is time to take the foot off the gas, get my own house in order and prepare for another full year of student ministry.  

For the next two weeks, here are my goals and my plan to achieve them.  

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Leaning into hope when tragedy strikes

Leaning into hope when tragedy strikes

This summer has been one of the most difficult and trying summers I have ever had in ministry and in life.  At the front end of summer I got word that Alex Robbins, one of my dear students, who just recently graduated from college, died in a freak boating accident, and then a little over a month later, two more students who had been deeply rooted in our church and ministry died in a freak car accident.  

Needless to say, it has been a summer of grief, pain, and sorrow.  It has proven to be more difficult than I realized to be be both pastor and friend to these young men and to their friends who I am still in close contact with.  I am gratefull for our church community and for the love and grace of our Savior.  And as I close up this awful summer and lean head long into another year of student ministry, please pray for me, for our church, and for these families.  

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How is the good news actually good news to this next generation? A Post Christian Gospel

How is the good news actually good news to this next generation? A Post Christian Gospel

With all of my heart, I think that the gospel of Jesus Christ is always good news. I also believe with all my heart that at different times and in different cultures what is seen as good news is much different than what the generation or people before them saw. And it just so happens that we are living right in the middle of this cultural change.

Thinking back to how my parents’ generation would answer this question, the good news of the gospel was that Jesus Christ died for their sin. Sin meant missing the mark, and they had done just that. Growing up in a firmly Judeo-Christian context, they pushed back and rebelled. There was an expectation of how to behave, and they failed. This failure resulted in consequences and someone had to pay. In a spiritual sense, Jesus died for their sin, and for those who recognized their own rebellion, turned to Jesus, and asked for forgiveness, Jesus would pay the price of their sin and make them right with God.

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Helping seniors develop a faith that is ready for college

Helping seniors develop a faith that is ready for college

Our Seniors Aren't Ready! It doesn't matter where you find yourself on the theological spectrum, there is huge concern regarding the complete abandonment of the Christian faith by our youth group students when they leave for college. There are movies like Divided, which see youth ministry as the main culprit for this loss of faith. And there are books like Sticky Faith, which want to reshape and redirect youth ministries to work more closely within the churches that fund them and alongside the parents of their community.

For as long as I can remember, there have always been an enormous exodus of students from the church the second they leave the comfort and confines of home and experience a world where there are no more boundaries, no more rules, and no more accountability to their former way of life. I find the statistics overwhelming and the actual students who choose to walk away heartbreaking. While I can not solve all the cultural or ecclesiological problems that contribute, I can be more proactive and intentional in the way I do student ministry so that my students have a fighting chance when they head off into the big, bad world.

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Free Weekly Devotionals for Students (Colossians 3:18-4:1)

Free Weekly Devotionals for Students (Colossians 3:18-4:1)

The lost art of a daily quiet time.

It is getting harder and harder to find ways to help our students grow in their walk with God outside of our student ministry context.  I have found that few students spend regular time in God's word.  Most of our kids don't have journals, devotional books, or any sort of structured way to engage in God's word throughout the week.

In an effort to help our kids connect with Jesus and because I am cheap, I have decided to write daily devotionals for my students each week.  A 5 day daily devotional to be done over the next 7 days.  

I long for my students to know Jesus and to be molded and shaped by him.

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Free Weekly Devotionals for Student Ministry (Colossians 3:12-17)

Free Weekly Devotionals for Student Ministry (Colossians 3:12-17)

The lost art of a daily quiet time.

It is getting harder and harder to find ways to help our students grow in their walk with God outside of our student ministry context.  I have found that few students spend regular time in God's word.  Most of our kids don't have journals, devotional books, or any sort of structured way to engage in God's word throughout the week.

In an effort to help our kids connect with Jesus and because I am cheap, I have decided to write daily devotionals for my students each week.  A 5 day daily devotional to be done over the next 7 days.  

I long for my students to know Jesus and to be molded and shaped by him.  

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Free Weekly Devotionals for Student Ministry (Colossians 3:1-11)

Free Weekly Devotionals for Student Ministry  (Colossians 3:1-11)

The lost art of a daily quiet time.

It is getting harder and harder to find ways to help our students grow in their walk with God outside of our student ministry context.  I have found that few students spend regular time in God's word.  Most of our kids don't have journals, devotional books, or any sort of structured way to engage in God's word throughout the week.

In an effort to help our kids connect with Jesus and because I am cheap, I have decided to write daily devotionals for my students each week.  A 5 day daily devotional to be done over the next 7 days.  

I long for my students to know Jesus and to be molded and shaped by him.  

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The 4 key tasks of student ministry

The 4 key tasks of student ministry

As we gear up for a new year and new semester of ministry, it is easy to get caught up in urgent tasks and miss the mark on what we are actually called to do as youth workers.  Now, don't get me wrong, tasks like the details that go into a successful and engaging youth group, planning events, buying supplies and setting up fun games, the study and preparation for your talks, receipts, and contact work, are all important, but these tasks are only the action steps that must be informed by the four key tasks of student ministry.  If you do these four tasks well then you will be a rock star for the kingdom of God and for your church!

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Free Weekly Devotionals for Youth Ministry (Colossians 2:16-23)

Free Weekly Devotionals for Youth Ministry (Colossians 2:16-23)

The lost art of a daily quiet time.

It is getting harder and harder to find ways to help our students grow in their walk with God outside of our student ministry context.  I have found that few students spend regular time in God's word.  Most of our kids don't have journals, devotional books, or any sort of structured way to engage in God's word throughout the week.

In an effort to help our kids connect with Jesus and because I am cheap, I have decided to write daily devotionals for my students each week.  A 5 day daily devotional to be done over the next 7 days.  

I long for my students to know Jesus and to be molded and shaped by him.  

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Retelling a lost story

Retelling a lost story

Remember This Movie: Lions and tigers and bears, ___________! If you could immediately fill in the blank, then, whether you realize it or not, you have been impacted by culture. If upon further thought, you could fill in the blank and your mind went to Dorothy and her companions walking along a yellow brick road towards Oz, then you have some context for that cultural expression. And if the conclusion of that statement causes you begin to think about your favorite scenes, smile at the munchkins, hum a song, and even have fond memories of seasons of life when you enjoyed watching the film, then you are part of the generation that has been impacted by the movie, The Wizard of Oz.

Many of us have grown up with this movie. We know the songs, we know the stories, and we know the characters. We have seen poor high school versions of this movie, and even a brave interpretation of the story by Micahel Jackson. And because this story is so ingrained in our current pop culture, there was a place for someone to come along and use that story to tell a fuller story. And that is exactly what happened in the production of Wicked.

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Free Weekly Devotionals for Student Ministry (Colossians 2:6-15)

Free Weekly Devotionals for Student Ministry (Colossians 2:6-15)

The lost art of a daily quiet time.

It is getting harder and harder to find ways to help our students grow in their walk with God outside of our student ministry context.  I have found that few students spend regular time in God's word.  Most of our kids don't have journals, devotional books, or any sort of structured way to engage in God's word throughout the week.

In an effort to help our kids connect with Jesus and because I am cheap, I have decided to write daily devotionals for my students each week.  A 5 day daily devotional to be done over the next 7 days.  

I long for my students to know Jesus and to be molded and shaped by him.  

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Who is holding up your hands?

Who is holding up your hands?

I love, love, love student ministry.  But if I am honest, it has got to be the hardest and most difficult thing I have ever done.  Not the tasks, not the actual job that I get evaluated for, but that subjective, spiritual, unspoken work of pouring your entire being into the life of students.  

Most people love to "invest" in the lives of students.  

But to be honest, most of this investment seems like the Farmer who is not only scattering seeds, but wasting good seed on miles of path.

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Free Weekly Devotionals for Youth Ministry (Colossians 1:15-23)

Free Weekly Devotionals for Youth Ministry (Colossians 1:15-23)

The lost art of a daily quiet time.

It is getting harder and harder to find ways to help our students grow in their walk with God outside of our student ministry context.  I have found that few students spend regular time in God's word.  Most of our kids don't have journals, devotional books, or any sort of structured way to engage in God's word throughout the week.

In an effort to help our kids connect with Jesus and because I am cheap, I have decided to write daily devotionals for my students each week.  A 5 day daily devotional to be done over the next 7 days.  

I long for my students to know Jesus and to be molded and shaped by him.  

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Human Connections vs. Social Media

Human Connections vs. Social Media

A few weeks ago I was talking with a former youth group student who is now in his late 20s.  He was sharing with me how it is really difficult trying to find a quality woman who loves God now that he is out of college, and in a community with few peers.  For the New Year he has decided to take the plunge and take his chances with a dating website. As culture continues to change and as media becomes more and more personal, it seems that the trend is for people to hunker down and live out their lives online.  Gone are the days where people actually go outside, meet up with friends, and do something together.  Everything has become centered on the individual.

Individualism is king!

This trend is great when I think of the shows, movies, music, blogs, and news that I like to consume.  I don’t have to bother people around me who would be annoyed with my passion for old skool Amy Grant.  But for building community, for making new friends, and for finding a potential spouse (for my friend) this trend is making these things increasingly difficult.

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Free Weekly Devotionals for Student Ministry (Colossians 1:1-14)

Free Weekly Devotionals for Student Ministry (Colossians 1:1-14)

The lost art of a daily quiet time.

It is getting harder and harder to find ways to help our students grow in their walk with God outside of our student ministry context.  I have found that few students spend regular time in God's word.  Most of our kids don't have journals, devotional books, or any sort of structured way to engage in God's word throughout the week.

In an effort to help our kids connect with Jesus and because I am cheap, I have decided to write daily devotionals for my students each week.  A 5 day daily devotional to be done over the next 7 days.  

Read More