Playbook Unlimited // The Source
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.
In this life, whether we admit it or not, we all want to be KNOWN for something. When we're gone one day, what will people remember about us? What will they say about our character, our family life, our walk with Jesus, how we treated people in our ministry...? I had these same thoughts swarming my head many years ago when my family and ministry was just beginning. I sat down and journaled 7 simple things that I wanted to define Jeanne Mayo and I have spent my life doing my best to live them out.
In this Source, I talk about 8 "Unpleasant Observations" I so often see in our youth and young adult culture today. And then I challenged my students to consider the ultimate question in life...NOT, WHAT do you want to DO? But rather, WHO you want to BE? And then, choose their own "7 Words" that will someday define them...because...NOT to decide...is to decide.
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.
Recent data tells us that most of today's youth culture doesn't have anyone they would consider to be a "living hero." How tragic. So this Source, "A Call For Some New Heroes," attempts to call the hero out of some of your students.
It also reminds them that most true heroes have to "make their own mantle" rather than hang around to inherit someone else's. Deceased Christopher Reeves (former Superman) who lived his final years in a wheelchair, said it well: "A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles." So in case no one has told you recently, thanks for staying in the youth ministry trenches and being a TRUE HERO.
Determined to pay the price for my own mantle,
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,
The sad tragedy is that no one ever teaches you how to be a parent until it's almost too late and you have kids. No one teaches you how to handle finances until you get in a big mess. Perhaps more importantly, no one ever teaches you how to affair-proof your marriage until long after you've said "I do" and someone has crossed a line. Unfortunately, I think sometimes we plan more carefully for birthday parties and Christmas celebrations than we do our future marriage. Statistics tells us that 2/3 of married men and 1/2 of married women in America will have at least one affair in their marriage. How heart wrenching!
In this Source, "Affair-Proofing Your Future Marriage," we repeatedly remind students that "dating is just dress rehearsal for marriage." And, if we step into infidelity traps while dating, there is a high probability we will in marriage as well. So, using a fun video, a memorable story and God's Word, we take the opportunity on this night to teach students how to "affair-proof" themselves, their lifestyle, and their future spouses. Equipping our kids now has the potential to save a whole lot of dating and marriage heartache later.
Whenever life's "train wrecks" occur, we talk about the OUTCOMES. But a far more important discussion is pin-pointing the specific ON-RAMPS that led to these moments. I shared this message with the Atlanta Leadership College gang before we let out for the summer and it's a great message for your graduating students, young adults, your leaders, and you!
It's so important as the early church fathers said, "to know thyself." As I did my own evaluation, it is a continuing reminder that, as we as Christians are being used by God, there will be a "bullseye" on our spiritual chests put there by the Enemy and we need to be proactive to dodge his bullets. So, let’s unpack some of the REPEATED OBSERVATIONS I’ve made from these crash sites. Remember, “Those who do not LEARN FROM HISTORY are invariably DOOMED TO REPEAT IT.”
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,
This Source, "Attitudes Of Christ's Counterculture," is my attempt to focus on some of Christ's attitude standards given in the "Be-Attitudes." Most of us know that our outward ACTIONS are only the "grandchildren" of our earlier ATTITUDES. So to create lasting outward change, inward attitudes have to be aligned and cultivated.
It's been said that "We'll never change the world as long as we are like it." So as we share this message with our students, may we also take a few minutes to examine our own attitudes as leaders in the light of Christ's directives in this passage. This is one of those messages that is powerfully preached...but even more powerfully lived.
Lovingly yours "With Attitude,"
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 sharing on one of the most important topics in the whole Bible. When I tell you my topic, it will be easy for you to blow it off. But Taylor Swift didn't blow it off. As a matter of fact, she recorded a song about it that soared to the top of the Billboard Charts in just 5 weeks. That’s the quickest climb to #1 in more than 10 years and it won 5 awards.
So in this Source, "Bad Blood," taken from Taylor Swift's hit song, I'm talking about RELATIONSHIP PAIN and having the guts to make things right between you and another person. Why do you think the song is so popular? I think it's because we all understand the ripping of relational hurt, pain, and unforgiveness...whether in a romance or just a normal friendship. I can't remember ever building a message around a pop song before. But this one deserves a listen.
I like baseball! But there's one position that especially intrigues me...it's the CATCHER! Why? I sometimes wonder what's going on...in his head BEHIND THE MASK. But I often wonder the same thing in church...what's going on behind everybody's "mask"? You know...the one we easily throw on to cover up the reality of REAL LIFE for us."
In this Source I talk about the key to getting behind each other's masks...even our own. How do we do that? Through real, authentic community. Through allowing a select few to do life up-close to us through LIVING small groups, just as Jesus did in the New Testament.
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,"
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,
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."
Have you ever tried to carry something that weighed a ton a long way? It can be brutal and significantly impact the direction and distance you travel. It's no different when it comes to carrying the invisible weight of failure. It can be debilitating for our students...but it doesn't have to be!
As youth leaders, I think one of the most important things we could ever coach a student on is how to make a strategic comeback after an epic failure (or any failure for that matter). Helping students realize that "at the very moment they are most tempted to run away from the Lord is the time to run to Him" is crucial for their spiritual lives.
In this message, we look at the lives of three of the biggest failures in the Bible...Moses, the "Murderer," David, the "Adulterer," and Jacob, the "Deceiver." Even though they failed in big ways, they learned to break the "Failure Phobia," repent, and keep going. Using their stories, a video, an object lesson and an Indian boy, in this Source we teach our students some simple steps to help them overcome the "Failure Phobia" too.
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,
The reality is, how each of us choose to spend our time, will ultimately create how each of us choose to spend our life. However, it's all too easy to let our primary focus be inward, thinking of our own personal rights, to ever truly seize the day. But to be able to truly change my behavior, I must first change my perspective.
In this month's Source, "Carpe Diem," I'm challenging our students to seize the day on making some Christ-honoring choices that can set them up with a lifetime of success and happiness. Listen in, as you hear me illustrate the importance of how we spend our lives with some help from a powerful tape measure illustration, four lepers, and a clock ticking away in the background. It's my hope that we all say to the Lord, "Give me your kind of spiritual leprosy...so I don't waste my life spiritually having too much to lose."
Choosing to seize the day,