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Have you noticed? You can't go anywhere without running into a "24" fan. Jack Bauer has truly stood the test of time and, in many ways, can teach us a thing or two. In this hit TV series, we see him continually live out a simple truth that most Christ-followers don't even get. What truth is that? It's the awareness that our daily decisions can derail, detour or drive us toward our destiny. Both Jack's victories and defeats reveal that he "gets it."
In this issue of the Source, you'll get a glimpse into one of our outreach nights. Because "24" is so popular, we wrapped our entire evening around it and the difference a day can really make. Using every art form imaginable - video clips, drama, human video, a poem and a story - we not only captured the attention of the audience, but challenged and encouraged them to take a hard look at their daily decisions, especially in regard to friendships and failure.
So grab a cup of coffee and listen in on this jam packed night. It was one we'll not soon forget.
You'll love this Source! It's the first night with my new youth group and my strategic announcement of launching small groups. You'll hear me take a run at what our youth ministry can look like over the next year and how the students can be involved in creating the next 8,760 hours together.
You don't have to be starting with a new ministry like I am to use this Source. It's a great message to use if you just want to "refresh" your youth ministry at any point in the journey. With some thought provoking monologues from both students and leaders, a few key Scriptures and some quotes, we saw the atmosphere of the room change as we built a dream for the future.
You may also want to listen to the Youth Leader's Coach that goes with this message, "Thoughts From The Starting Line."
A few years back, a PBS special was aired about a war hero who was being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery on the battlefield. He was a "conscientious objector," so his role on the front lines was that of being an ambulance driver to get wounded soldiers back for medical treatment. He chose not to kill anyone in war, but risked being killed for the sake of others.
The Old Testament story of Samson, shows us another story of a man with great destiny on his life, who was willing to die for something, and a man who God used even after his past mistakes. In many ways, Samson was an "ambulance driver."
In this month's Source, "A Call For Ambulance Drivers," with the help of Samson, a hilarious skit, and some other must-see creative elements, I'm bringing to life the concept of GIVING YOUR LIFE AWAY for others. With the reminder that failure isn't fatal, to occasionally have holy anger, and to have the guts to pull down the pillars in our own lives, the challenge is sent out to our students. We too, can be ambulance drivers.
You'll enjoy this Source, "A Cause Worth Fighting For." So often we preach messages to our students about keeping the future and their God-given destiny in focus in their lives, or we help them to get free from the past issues in their lives. But tonight's Source asked our students, "What cause are you fighting for...RIGHT NOW?"
Without a sense of cause in our lives, it's all too easy to slip into routine and complacency during the day-in, day-out moments. As youth ministers, let's keep before our student's eyes, these pivotal questions: What is going to be part of my signature? What matters to me that counts for eternity? Remember, youth leaders, it's in the daily decisions that lead to our ultimate destiny. So grab this Source and passionately encourage your students to find their cause worth fighting for.
Still fighting for the cause,
This Source was such a key night in our own youth group and it is my gift to you, as we stir up a spirit of expectancy in our youth groups. I've entitled it "An Enemy Called Average." Use this message right before a key event to set the stage for spiritual explosion, as we did right before our Fall Retreat. It is an equally powerful message to stir up the mediocre and routine lulls that we sometimes find our group to be in.
Even we as leaders often face this enemy called average. My friend, let this message minister directly to you. Let expectancy grow in your heart as we explore the ingredients for spiritual explosion!
Still refusing to be average,
Ever been discouraged because the teenagers in your youth ministry kept falling back into some of the same temptation areas? I know I sure have been. That's why I shared "Avoiding The Black Hole" with the teenagers in Oxygen.
Join with us as I attempt to drive home the point that "sin has energy." I wanted desperately for my gang to realize that biblically, we handle temptation and evil differently. It also gave me a great excuse to show clips from some old Sci-Fi movies. There's an old expression, "It's better to build a fence at the top of the mountain than to drive an ambulance at the bottom." In short, this Source is focused on "building the fence."
You'll love this Source, "Awkward Worship"! In this message I'm taking a run with my gang to up the ante on worship and remove some of the misconceptions of what worship is and is not.
We all know that worship can be awkward at times, especially if you're not used to it. So this message is a simple reminder that WORSHIP is just LOVE EXPRESSED. Like every person who has ever loved someone else knows: If you really love someone, you will somehow show it. With a simple, thought provoking drama and some key Scriptures, this Source will help turn "Awkward Worship" into a passionate lifestyle that glorifies God.
As an "added bonus," I've included the outlines for the other three messages we did in a 4-part series we called AWKWARD: "Awkward Silence," "Awkward Question," and "Awkward Book."
I'm certainly not an MTV watcher; and I hope that most of the students in our youth ministry aren't either (keep hoping, Jeanne), but MTV gives us some great ideas for connecting with today's youth culture. This full-length drama, "Boiling Point," is one of those.
The TV version of this concept is a program that purposefully tries to push people to their boiling point in a certain amount of time. The results are both humorous and painful. So the drama we wrote for this Source builds around this simple, but powerful concept. It's about a young man who slowly reaches his personal boiling point through negative turns in his life. At its conclusion, he attempts to take his own life. (The lights go out and you never know if he succeeds or not.)
The drama was a really powerful night for us, and I'm so thrilled to share it with you. Over 40 teenagers gave their lives to Christ at its conclusion. Best yet, the script is not difficult to pull off.
So enjoy listening and know, that though full-length dramas are obviously extra work, they are always really worth the effort.
Yours for a high "Boiling Point,"
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Anything you do in life HALFWAY always becomes boring, including your Christianity. Isn't that so true? There's a motto that hangs in our home that has really become a mantra for me. It says, "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intentions of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways to heaven, body thoroughly used up, and happily shouting, 'WHAT A RIDE, JESUS! WHAT A RIDE!'"
In this month's Source, "Boring!" I'm developing a mantra with my students for impacting our world. It can be summed up in three words: VISION + ENDURANCE = CONQUEST. With some help from the life of Esther and an incredible true story about Notre Dame, it's my prayer that our students are ignited with fresh passion to go make a difference in their sphere of influence.
Go cut down your nets,
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While strong words, I believe covering this topic, "Breaking Free Of Relational Soul Ties," in our youth ministries can and will save the spiritual lives of some of our students. A "soul tie" is an emotional connection or bond with another person that unites us in a deep, very significant fashion. The relationship can, and usually does, drive what we think, feel, and desire. While not always wrong, negative ones that blur our spiritual vision can destroy us! I would go so far as to say that negative "soul ties" are one of the top reasons many of our teenagers walk away from their faith in Christ.
So, buckle your seat belts and get ready. We pull out all the stops in this Source by explaining multiple ways "soul ties" are formed and seven ways to break free from them. Drawing from my own personal story, a lot of Scripture and two well written monologues, your students are sure to walk away with an expanded arsenal of weapons to guard against and conquer negative "soul ties."
Are you ready to challenge your gang to live a life of committed Christianity and not one of "Cheap Salvation"? This Source, "Cardboard Crosses," is one of my favorite salvation messages. It will challenge the new Christians and unsaved in your group to pick up their cross, or in today's world "their electric chair," and follow Christ with abandonment. In a society that would rather just believe, we want to encourage our students to come under Christ's Lordship, an end of life on our own terms. This message includes some great visual illustrations to help your students understand that without total commitment the cross has no value.
May this Source not only challenge the unsaved, but your entire team to not just "believe" but to "obey." And don't let this message just be for your students alone. We all have to daily "pick up our cross" and follow Christ wholeheartedly!
Refusing to carry a Cardboard Cross,
You are going to love this Source! It's entitled "Changing Seasons Successfully." After four decades of youth ministry I truly know the only thing that doesn't change in the life of a teenager is change itself!
Whether it's ending an athletic season, moving from junior high to high school, graduating high school and starting college, switching from semester to semester or from being in a relationship to the ending of a relationship, a key lifelong gift you can give your youth is to train them how to move from one season to another while remaining solidly planted in their faith.
In this Source I'm joined by Darren Hileman, as we tag team on seven principles of how to spiritually survive during seasons of change. It is a dynamic high impact night that you are going to want to use with your own youth soon!
Your constant coach thru change,
With this edition of the Source, "Christ's Answer To The Fear Factor," we give you a "can't miss" event. This is an outreach-based message that we did for two weeks. While this Source isn't long enough to include the audio from both nights, we've given you both sets of notes to use. We've also loaded up this Source with all the games, tech notes, and more to execute this event flawlessly. So take what you want, adapt it for your gang, and if you only do it for one week or stretch it longer than two, I know this will be a hit with your team!
On a personal note, this message deals with two of the biggest fears that people in our society struggle with: "the fear of rejection" and "the fear of insignificance." Our own students and ourselves, if we're honest, fight these fears daily. As you listen, you'll hear me often speak of my own battle with these fears. Remember, "you will lead people with your strengths, but you will connect to people with your weaknesses."
So sit back, relax, and give me a few minutes to be you "long distance cheerleader."
Lovingly your "Big Sis,"
Romance can be a TRICKY thing! As Christians, it's sometimes painfully easy to "play both sides" spiritually (kind of like flirting with two loves at the same time). In blunt terms, because of our half-heartedness, it's kind of like being "torn between two lovers." So let me ask this one important question: "Are you COMMITTED...or are you really in more of a SPIRITUAL AFFAIR?"
In a "do now, pay later" generation, today's students want the best of both worlds without having to live with the consequences. In this month's Source, I bring up the "red flags" of living a double life. While students may not feel the immediate effects in the moment, eventually, the PRICES will COST them. This is a challenging Source that could help your students CHOOSE which side of the line they will walk on.
Have you started a fire recently in your youth service? I mean a real fire. If not, this Source will give license to the "closet pyromaniac" hiding inside most of us. My title for the evening was "Consuming Fire," and in all honesty, it will be a night that your teenagers will probably remember for a long time.
The message focuses on God's positive and life-changing process of purification in our lives. It ends with a brief visualization focused around something we don't mention much in youth ministry these days...Hell. So as you share with your students about the "fiery times" we all experience, it will be your honor to give those times some meaning and purpose.
Aren't we really lucky to get to do what we do? We get to partner with Jesus to change teenagers' lives before they reach that nasty, temperamental, hard-to-change status called "adulthood"!
Lovingly still playing with fire,
It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and instead of working our schedules; our schedules begin to work us. Between family, work, problems with money and problems with colleagues, it seems so easy to forget what we are fighting for. Dreams seem to be a dime a dozen these days, but a dream that is truly fought for, a dream that is made into a reality, is a rare breed.
This message is a parallel between our lives and the dream cycle we see modeled by the ultimate biblical example of a dreamer, Joseph. Listen in on a night of fun and a lot of laughter as we at Oxygen, "Dare To Dream."
Still fighting for my dreams,
All of us come to crossroads in our lives where we face into the question, "What is God's will for me?" We begin the search to find the difference between what's "good" and what God's will is. However, in those moments, we often find ourselves complicating what God has for us. We think too much and pray too little, or we look to the advice of our friends more than God.
In this Source, "De-Mystifying God's Will For Your Life," we show students that the will of God doesn't need to be complicated. With some amusing skits, three "guidance keys," and a few simple principles that we like to call the "harbor lights," we help to remove some of the mysticism of discovering God's will. This Source is a way to help your students choose not to just accept every "good" opportunity that is placed in front of them, but instead, step into God's best for them!
This Source, "Dear Jeanne...," is a little different than some of our other nights. We structured this night to have a closer, more intimate feel. Instead of fill-in notes, I wrote six monologues based on some of the real concerns that a large group of students struggle with.
Even though the messages and events can be incredible, often when students show up at a youth service, they can feel like no one's talking about the stuff that's going on "inside their head." So for "Dear Jeanne...," I let the monologues express honest, and often hidden, thoughts and mind games that our students think.
You'll feel the distinction almost immediately. In a room of several hundred, I felt as though I was able to have a heart-to-heart talk with many of them. This night will quickly become a very memorable one.
We've included everything you need to make this night work for you. Change it, adapt it, and have a memorable night with your gang!
Lovingly your biggest fan,
It is EASY to question what is real and what may not be. This is especially true when it comes to the topic of our faith. There are a MULTITUDE of ideologies and beliefs out there, and many times it is difficult to navigate between what is TRUE and what isn't.
In this month's source, "Doubters Welcome," I embrace the topic that is often ignored...the topic of DOUBT. I believe this is a good resource for helping students and even leaders help navigate some of the things they may question, which can ultimately help strengthen their faith as opposed to losing it. I think you'll enjoy this one.
Fighting for this generation,
Even though statistics show that depression is a huge issue in today's youth culture, I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone talk about it in the church world. Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide in our country and the third leading cause of death among teenagers. In fact, 20% of our kids will experience some level of serious depression before they reach adulthood. Those statistics are alarming to say the least...too alarming not to address the topic in our youth services.
This message, "The Dungeon of Depression," is part of our "Dirty Little Secrets Series" covering topics the church world often find difficult to address. It's jam packed with statistics, solutions, stories and skits that will help illustrate the message for your students in a very real way. So, lean in and listen deeply as I touch on a subject that hits closer to home for more of the teenagers and young adults in your youth ministry than you probably realize.
In the trenches with you,