Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Ya gotta love Minnesota!

It's October 11th.

Just 2 days until we leave for our Sr. High Fall Retreat (now renamed "Revolutionary Rabbi Encounter - Fall '06).

Lots of outdoor activities are planned. High ropes activities, bonfires, ultimate, evening worship around a campfire.

Of course it's snowing today with a high temp around 38 degrees.

Ya gotta love Minnesota!

(Or maybe it's God reminding me that He is in control - regardless of MY plan!)

Friday, October 06, 2006

"What you win them with is what you win them to"

The above quote is from Greg Fess on his blog which you can find here. Stop reading this and go there and read his post about youth ministry. Go now....I'll wait.

I stumbled upon Greg's thoughts from Marko's post asking the question - "What will youth ministry look like in 50 years?" (You should also go to Marko's post and follow the links to the other writers. It is some amazing stuff. Convicting and encouraging thoughts. I love that!)

Anyway - I love that quote - "What you win them with is what you win them to!"

It has been especially striking for me this week. I have had some conversations with our students as well as some parents about concerns they have about our Jr. High gathering - various things from not enough game/fun time to not connecting with the leaders and/or not feeling like they are growing. I've also had students and parents share the opposite - excited that their students feel like they can invite friends, excited about what they are experiencing and learning, making it a priority in their week.

As a ministry team we try to make all of our gatherings contain these three characteristic (there are many more but these are our top three right now) - Christ-centered, passionate, relational.

Because there isn't a "typical" teenager I don't imagine we will ever find a mix that engages all the kids every week. That is why our ministry has to look beyond our programs. It isn't about our programs -it is about finding ways to engage kids with maturing adults to help them grow in their relationship with Christ so that when all of the games, messages, worship, small groups, mission trips, lock-ins and their time in our youth ministry is over - they have a faith that will last, persevere, and meet the challenges of their journey ahead. And we need to be a church that will embrace and nurture them - regardless of whether they show up on Wednesday, Sunday, after they graduate, after they have made a huge mistake, after, after, after....again, and again, and again.

As I think about the comments I have heard this week and I ponder our gatherings and the impact I hope they have it makes me wonder......what are we winning our students with...and therefore...what are we winning our students to?

I also remember that God is working through our imperfection. That ultimately His Spirit will be the force behind our student's faith....and we are a leaky, imperfect, dinged up conduit....and what a cool place that is for me to be - and there isn't anywhere else I'd rather be. Praise, God.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Kayaking - the perfect sport for introverts!

A few years ago my wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday. For some reason my mouth said that I wanted a kayak! Of course, you can't really buy a kayak for someone else so I had some fun learning about and eventually buying a kayak.

It has been been way more fun than I ever could have imagined. It is the perfect "sport" for me. You see, I love to fish. I'm also an introvert at heart.

The best part about the kayak - it only has one seat!

Yep, when I'm kayaking I can only take me. Maybe that sounds selfish - but in a family of 6 and all the related schedules - being able to get away in the kayak and fish for a couple of hours is very restorative. Being out on the water, hangin' with God, catching the occasional fish - very nice.

Thanks, Kimpa, for letting me "splurge" on my birthday - and understanding me so well!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Diet Coke, Mentos, the Holy Spirit and kids

Okay, I know I'm behind the "cool" curve - maybe a lot behind. I just found out about the Diet Coke and mentos phenom. That when you drop a few mentos into a 2 liter of Diet Coke a pop geyser ensues. I love that. Of course, I had to work it into our SMYG lesson this Sunday!

I had already planned on taking the gathering outside. There aren't too many 75 degree days this time of year in MN! We are studying the book of Acts and the key verses were:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8

Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." John 3:5-8

As we talked about the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples I made the comparison of the kids being the Diet Coke and the Holy Spirit being the mentos - and when the Holy Spirit (mentos) dwells within them (Diet Coke) transformation and power occurs.

As we further talked about the Holy Spirit we all sat still, closed our eyes and felt for the wind outside. God provided a nice breeze - one that the kids noticed varied in speed, direction, and strength. Some noted that it seemed to surround them. Others noted that it provided comfort on this warm morning. We then talked about how that might relate to our understanding of the Holy Spirit - it was a great conversation.

Then we finished with a time of prayer - of who we are called to witness to in our relational circles - from family/friends, to community, to regionally, to globally. Then we just sat still and let the Holy Spirit "blow" over us.

I don't know what the kids will walk away with from today. I'm sure some will just think it was fun being outside and watching stuff blow up. But my prayer is that others will enter this week with a new/evolving understanding of the Holy Spirit in their lives - and that it is the same spirit that was active in the lives of the apostles.