How To Stay A Christian While Doing Ministry
Exodus 33:7-11 tells us how Moses used to pitch the "Tent of Meeting" outside the camp. It was the place where the Lord would speak to him, face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.
Don't you long to create your own Tent of Meeting, a place where you can spend some face time with the Lord? I know I do, but I also know I'm going to have to fight for it on a daily basis. For I know, no one will create a Tent of Meeting for me, but me. And, no windows of opportunity will ever magically appear. My Tent of Meeting will only come through sheer determination, a refusal to let anything else encroach upon my time with Him. Without it, ministry will inevitably get messy.
I'm up for the challenge, the fight and the relentless pursuit! Are you? Draw near my friends! For He promises that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.
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If I could do just one single thing for youth pastors today, I would try to fan their spiritual passion.
In my journey, I have found that there is really very little correlation between spiritual success and ministry success. Too often, talent becomes a remarkable substitute for character and spiritual passion. In ministry it is too easy to know "things" and not know "God." With ease, we can bluff our way through and, unfortunately, more than likely nobody will catch us.
I am determined not to be a "poser." In this Youth Leader's Coach, I will give you tips I've learned along the way that might prevent you from becoming one as well.
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,
While we say we hunger to know Christ more intimately, sometimes we get lazy. Other times, our world comes crashing in on us when things don't go as anticipated. In both situations, all too often we want to spiritually sit down on the inside. Rather than chasing after the things of God, we choose, instead, to coast. The Enemy would love for us to believe that coasting will not cost us anything; however, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Proverbs 1:32 tells us that kind of complacency will spiritually destroy us.
In this Source, we'll look at Jacob's wrestling match and Elisha's journey. They both had every opportunity to sit down on the inside, but chose not to. There was a price to be paid in their pursuit, and they were willing to pay it. My question is...are you? This Source isn't just for your students, but for you too. When everything on the inside of you says "sit right down and coast here," may you stand up on the inside! The price tags you pay to live a life fully committed are worth "playing to the whistle."
Refusing to coast,
Ever need a jump-start in your relationship with Christ? I know that sometimes I do. This Source, "Jump-Starting Your Walk With Christ," is one that works for any youth ministry at any time, simply because in every audience there are people who need a jump-start in their walk with Christ.
This is also a message that you can apply to your own life. All of us who are trying to do this "youth ministry thing" right are going to encounter points in our own walks where we need a simple jump-start. Take a few minutes and prayerfully apply the six points to your own relationship with Christ.
So enjoy as you listen to me help my students get a jump-start. I hope it will also be a great night for you to jump-start your gang.
Lovingly your cheerleader,
This Source, "The Golden Calf Of Our Affections," once again focuses on an important theme of youth ministry: relationships. Helping your students manage the confusing world of relationships can be one of the most challenging aspects of your ministry.
This Source comes from a Scripture that I find myself so often repeating, "Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life." (Proverbs 4:23, TLB) This Source can focus on either the "romantic" side of relationships, or just as important, the friendship side. So no matter how you decide to focus this message, may the Lord bless as you communicate with your gang on this critical subject!
Lovingly your cheerleader,
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,
Have you ever tried to make huge biblical concepts come alive in your students' lives? Biblical concepts like the one found in Hebrews 11:6 where it says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." I don't know if you've ever stopped to think about that verse, but that's a big, big deal! So big, that fully digesting those eight simple words can be frustrating if we don't give our students some "doable" specifics on how to live them out.
In this Youth Leader's Coach, using an old school paddleball, powerful Scripture ammo, some fun videos, wadded up paper, and a revised rendition of the "stop, drop and roll" chant we learned as kids, I give my students some "doable" specifics on how to exercise their faith muscle when it comes to difficult situations they are currently facing. Reminding them along the way, the Lord's arms are more than strong enough to carry the weight of our problems that, left to us, are unbearable. Psalm 37:5 sums it all up so well, if we "commit our ways to the Lord; trust in Him...He will act."
In the church world, I think we "motivate" well toward growing closer to Christ, but sometimes don't "lead" well when we fail to give students pragmatic steps for success. Our continual "10 & 10" (10 minutes in the Word and 10 minutes in prayer) challenge is one of our attempts to do just that, but in this Youth Leader's Coach, "Stood Up Again," we take it a step further.
Through a simple but powerful drama, the reading of David's heart cry found in Psalm 42 and the sharing of a transferable illustration involving deer, we try to help students become more aware of and responsive to the Lord's constant presence. Specifically, drawing upon the wisdom of Brother Lawrence, we encourage them to transform their prayer lives by "Practicing The Presence Of God." And finally, in the giving of a 30-day challenge to have a secret, silent, running conversation with the Lord, our hearts' desire is to stir up a deep longing in them to be in His presence and submerged in Him daily, not just in times of trouble.
This message, however, is not just for students...it's for us too! In the chaos of life, I know too many leaders who are better at being youth pastors than they are at being Christ-followers. May this message serve as a reminder to be "Practicing The Presence" ourselves.
"Perhaps the Lord will help us..." were the words of Jonathan as he and his armor bearer, out-manned, ascended the cliff toward the Philistine outpost. Meanwhile down below, the Israelites, without sword or spear, were clueless the two had even left.
That scene alone has the makings of a box office hit - outnumbered, nearly weaponless and, with the help of a well-timed earthquake, ridiculously victorious. You weigh that kind of faith and courage against the apathy and fear many of us have today simply inviting people to church and it doesn't add up. Especially taking into consideration that a high percentage of the people who have never attended church say it's simply because they've never been invited.
Drawing from the dramatic scene of Jonathan and his armor bearer, a hilarious video clip and a heart-felt story of an art collector, in this Source we challenge our students to an adventurous, breath-taking and evangelistic faith. Without it, they run the risk of buying into the false notion that Christianity can be boring...when lived out well, it is anything but!
Remembering "whoever gets the Son, gets it all,"
Harold Camping said that the world would end on May 21, 2011. He also predicted that the world would end on May 21, 1988 and September 7, 1994. Harold Camping was wrong. Harold Camping does not know when the world will end, neither does anyone else for that matter. The Bible tells us not even Jesus knows the exact date and time, but only our Heavenly Father knows. Regardless, our kids are curious...and so are we. Our media-driven society stirs that curiosity and creates fear through their imagined disasters. Earthquakes, tidal waves, invasions of super villains and aliens are all box office hits.
This Source, "Preparing For God's Final Exam," is not focused on living in fear of the final "epic" disaster, but to use the "end times" buzz and curiosity to provoke thought and transform lives. Specifically, using Scripture, video and an inexpensive token, our goal is to encourage our students to live wholeheartedly for Christ by eliminating the "straw in their lives." Prayerfully, they will never hear the words "it could have been so much more."