Monday, May 29, 2006


Over the past few months I have been pondering what Family Based Youth Ministry is and is it something to pursue in our student ministry. Book after book that I have read, blogs I have visited, and conversations that have occurred have demonstrated a cool "convergence" of themes. Here are some of the highlights......

"But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Luke 18:16 (NIV)

"Do you as members of the church of Jesus Christ promise to guide and nurture these children by word and deed, with love and prayer encouraging them to know and follow Christ and to be faithful members of Christ’s church?" Baptismal question of the congregation of EPPC

"Family based youth ministry is accessing and incorporating the incomparable power of the nuclear family and connecting students to an extended family of Christian adults to the end that those students grow toward maturity in Christ." Family Based Youth Ministry – Mark DeVries (pg 176)

“No matter how earnest our desire is to pray and be present to youth, our ministries will be short-lived if they aren’t grounded in relationships with other Christians. It takes a greenhouse to nurture the souls of young people – a greenhouse formed by adults who want to know God. A young person’s faith is best tended by a variety of relationships within a Christian community. Yet sadly, youth ministry is one of the most isolated ministries in the church. If we seek to form a contemplative youth ministry, the participation of the wider church community is essential.” Contemplative Youth Ministry - Mark Yaconelli, pg 141

"Don't forget anything of what you've seen. Don't let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you've seen and heard to your children and grandchildren." Deut 4:9 (Msg)

"But young people, like young birds, require wise adults who can show them the way and teach them the practices Jesus uses to draw their passions into his. Without memories of those who have traveled before them, the migratory route is lost, and young people journey aimlessly, mired in self-fulfilling passions that obscure the steadfastness, ecstasy, and intimacy of God.” Practicing Passion, Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church - Kenda Creasy Dean, pg. 175

“If we take the yearnings of young people seriously, then we can admit to ourselves that youth aren’t interested in our answers (often given in response to questions they’re not asking). They’re not looking for safe activities. What they’re seeking is the companionship of adults who embody a different way of being……who can guide them toward a different way of being, of living in the world. They are looking for adults who know how to live lives of love.” Contemplative Youth Ministry - Mark Yaconelli, pg 68

“What became clearer as I grew older was not the strength of my commitment to the church, but the strength and identity I had received because of the church’s commitment to me. I stayed in the church not because of my resolve and commitment, but because adults in the church continued to claim me even when I was an embarrassment to them.” FBYM – Mark DeVries (pg 166)

"Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that's in you, love him with all you've got! Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates." Duet 6:5-9 (Msg)

Young people are not looking for adults who have more poetic or more reasoned beliefs than they have. They’re looking for adults who have experienced something, who trust something larger than themselves.” Contemplative Youth Ministry - Mark Yaconelli, pg 92

“Because the adult guarantor plays such a critical role in fostering a Christian identity, it is easy to assign the task of “being there” to a few “designated hitters” in the congregation, an assignment doomed to disappoint everyone involved……The mandate to “be there” for young people belongs to the Christian community, not to any individual or group of individuals.” Practicing Passion, Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church - Kenda Creasy Dean, pg. 91

I guess now all that is left is figuring out how God wants us to join him in this pursuit of His children! I'll just keep reading, experimenting, failing, succeeding, and trusting.....

Friday, May 26, 2006

Puzzling the Pieces - Part 2

Here is the follow up to part 1 (duh!)...written for our church newsletter

I love God. I love the mystery of God. I love how he revealed himself through Jesus and continues to do so through the Holy Spirit. It is so cool to know that He indeed has a plan for us – individually as well as communally.

Back in February, I shared with you that the Youth Ministry Team was reading through the book “Family Based Youth Ministry” by Mark DeVries. We asked for prayers from the EPPC family – for guidance, clarity, and perseverance – as we pondered how God wants us to better minister to the students he has entrusted to us. Around that same time a youth intern search team was formed and began the process of searching for a part-time youth ministry intern – to work with our youth beginning in June and continuing through the end of the year. Two separate teams – faithfully persevering through their missions– entering in without expectations and trusting God with the outcome.

As a result of the work of both of these teams, I am pleased to announce that we won’t be hiring a youth ministry intern at this time! That might sound like a strange announcement. But let me share with you a little bit of the path both teams have been on……

The youth intern search team, after prayerfully considering how best to incorporate a youth intern into our ministry and developing a job description, posted ads at various colleges, churches, and on our church website in early April. To date we have had zero response. The team believes God is revealing to us that this is not the time for the addition of a youth intern.

The conversations we had as a Youth Ministry Team lead us to the following question: How can we best allow God to work through us to transform students into Christ-centered, relational, passionate disciples that will succeed in making the transition from maturing Christian student to maturing Christian adult? In looking at this question we have discovered that at least part of the answer is in surrounding our students with maturing Christian adults that can be on the journey with them for the long haul as much as possible. The position of a part-time, short term youth ministry intern does not seem in line with this vision.

So with both teams arriving at the same place – through different processes- I truly am pleased to announce we won’t be hiring a part-time youth ministry intern. What does that mean for the future? Honestly, I don’t know. But our team will continue to ponder, persevere, and pray – entering in without expectations – and watch expectantly as God moves so that we remain in Him, as He reveals His plans, in His time, and in His mysterious ways. Praise God!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Just show up....

If you ever doubt that just showing up for some kid's event has an impact - you should have seen the face of my son, Alexey, when his first grade teacher made it to his soccer game last night. (See "24" post!) I have no doubt that Jr/Sr high kids are impacted the same way....they are just trying to be too cool to let their face show what their heart is experiencing when we share our gift of presence. I'm so glad 7 y.o.'s are so transparent......wish we all were.....

P.S. Thanks Mr. T for taking the time to be more than just a teacher......but truly investing in my son.


Okay, I admit it. I've never seen 24. But I'd like to see Jack Bauer get through all of this in the last 24 hours!

- 7 y.o. son's soccer game with the teacher present.
- 16 y.o. daughter's H.S. Lacrosse State Championship game (and they win!)
- arranging transportation for 14 y.o. son to youth group
- 14 y.o. son's "Awards Breakfast" (very cool!)
- Helping in 7 y.o. son's classroom - 24 kids putting their handprint on 24 pillow cases!
- Lunch with a friend
- Pick up cookie dough fund raiser stuff
- Watch 16 y.o. daughter's soccer game.
- Watch 14 y.o. son's band concert

Can't wait for the next 24......

Proud Dad!

WooHoo! I'm the proud father of a member of the winning State Championhip Girl's LaCrosse Team!

Okay - I just have to say - my daughter rocks! She is passionate, energetic, and demonstrates a love of life and adventure that is so cool.

It is such a joy to be her Dad! (And in case any of my other kids are reading this - yes, it is a joy to be YOUR Dad also!)

Congrats Kels, well done!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

New vocabulary words....

Alexey's vocab is growing. After asking his Mom how babies get out of a mommy's tummy he got to learn the words "womb" and "birth canal".

Too bad I wasn't home for THAT conversation......

(I'm sure he is teaching his friends these new words now as well!)

BBQ with the Tribe

I absolutely love our tribe of students at church.

We had an end of the year BBQ last Sunday evening. Invited the kids, parents, volunteers, session - and had about 80 people show up. (The amazing thing is that they almost ALL RSVP'd - that NEVER happens for a youth event!)

Three grills going, volleyball, frisbee, great conversations.....close to perfect weather. (My wife says it could have been 10 degrees warmer)

Then ended with a time of worship - 4 different leaders involved in praying (Lois/Dave), sharing a message (Anne rocked!), reflections on the year (Go Steve!), and singing together (who says you can't worship with congas!). To see the kids and parents and others all praising God, reflecting on His blessings this past year, and knowing He has our future planned.....very cool!

An awesome way to close the chapter on the past year and open the door to what He will reveal in the next....

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sunday Download - Remain in Him

Last Sunday was just way cool. I had actually read the lesson ahead of time *sigh* so it had been simmering for awhile in my head. The lesson was on John 15 - The Vine and the Branches. I was looking for ways to make it "experiential" and thought of turning the youth room into a vineyard. So I ran yarn all around and across the ceiling to represent the vine and then hung clumps of grapes from them. Very fun. I also copied devotionals out of a book and "hung" them from the vine as well.

We had a great discussion about the verse. Talked about where it might be taking place - inside or out. What was going on - eating around a table, walking along a vineyard, etc. Where the disciples were - sitting/standing, walking ahead/behind, etc. Just a great conversation and the kids were engaged.

Then we had an object lesson about what it looks like to have Christ in us vs. remaining in Christ and being filled to overflowing. Cups, water, sponges, spraying kids with water.....woohoo!

Then we decided to have the kids "remain in Him" instead of just talking about it. We had the leaders take a sponge and squeeze out water over the kids head and pray that they would remain in Christ - then they all "picked" a devotion from the vine and spent time reading a verse and thinking about what God might be saying to them.

Afterwards I asked them if anyone wanted to share - not really expecting anyone to say anything. But, one young lady said "I just have to share this - it is such a God thing!" She had been having trouble with some friends. They had been telling her that she was changing and not as much fun as she used to be. The verse she had gotten was about God being the potter and us being the clay - and spoke about how as Christians we WILL change. She found this to be very affirming in her decisions and felt that God was speaking to her thru this time.

What a great "seal" to the lesson.......Remain in Him.......and He will remain in you.

I am so thankful how God spoke to this young lady....and thru all of us.

Yea, God!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Puzzling the pieces of Youth Ministry

Here is part of an article I wrote for our church newsletter - just thought I'd share.....

“I can’t do it.” “It’s so big.” “There are so many white flowers.” “I finished a butterfly!” These were the thoughts my 7 y.o. son, Alexey, shared with me this morning as he started working on a new puzzle. Each sentence reminded me of thoughts that I have had this year as our youth ministry team has puzzled over the pieces needed to better minister to students.

“I can’t do it; It’s so big.” Weekly messages, lock-ins, retreats, calendar planning, finding volunteers, communicating with parents, casting a vision…..and then there are all those students! How do we set our priorities and what resources do we need to minister to students and their families?

“There are so many white flowers.” We have over 60 students – each a precious piece of our church family puzzle that we have been entrusted to nurture and love. Some regularly attend our programming, some don’t. How do we allow God to work through us to reach each student where they are – so that our picture is complete?

“I finished a butterfly.” Watching God transform lives, students claiming their faith in Jesus, sharing their hurts, reaching out to others, worshipping, praying …..Halleluiah! How do we create an even better environment for God to work through relationships that transform lives and then invite others into community with them?

Good questions and no simple answers.