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Archive for the ‘Youth Ministry’ Category

Family Time

Tomorrow is ski day with the youth. We are heading to Hidden Valley Ski Resort for the day and it should be alot of fun. 30 youth with many first-time skiers + my camcorder = hilarious footage. I hope more funny than tragic.

I’m really just looking forward to spending the day with them having some fun. We get so busy it is hard to spend time together just enjoying each others company. I miss them.

It’s just like the need for biological families to spend time together to keep relationships real and growing. It’s just like the need for the created to spend time with the Creator to keep the relationship intimate and growing. There are no short-cuts. There are no ways around it. Quality time together is a necessity for the health of relationships.

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The youth are currently in my living room starting their Bible study. The lesson is on taking care of our bodies. As they are discussing the issue, they are eating puppy chow and brownies and drinking Fanta Grape and Mountain Dew soda. Notice any irony? 🙂 They are so funny to listen to sometimes. Right now they are reading Scripture and they take turns. The group is a mix of Christians as well as youth that have not set foot in a church. One of the latter was reading a verse and starting laughing. She was confused because there is a random “j” at the end of the verse. Her friend looks at it and starts laughing saying, “That’s a reference “j”.” It is so nice to have fresh eyes and ears around to help you see and hear things in a fresh way.

I spent the day preparing for a presentation tonight at a monthly meeting at the church. I was asked to share about the younger generation and today’s church. I prepared a handout that discussed four key words that described what many young adults and youth are searching for in a community of faith. I suggested that we are seeking a community that is relational, experiential, authentic and spiritual. It led to a very interesting hour-long discussion among the group. Understand that my church is a very large, down-town church that has existed for over 150 years. We have several members that seem to have been part of the founding charter group. 🙂 We also have many new faces as well. Yet we struggle, as do many, to be the community that younger generations are searching for.

To me, however, the most moving part of the dialogue was the admission from two of the older men in the group that they are hungry for these very same things. For just a few moments, we had want in that room what people are seeking – we were real with one another, vulnerable, seeking, and reaching out. It was the very essence of what we were talking about. So many individuals are truly hungry for authenticity. For a safe place to be real and to know they are safe. A place where we can open a vein.

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Puppy Ownership

In a very ironic turn of events, I own a puppy.  (Don’t freak out, Mom and Dad.) I technically own the puppy but I don’t possess the puppy.  Long story….. ready?

Monday one of my youth boys calls me and tells me he and some friends are at the local animal shelter.  He is adopting a puppy for his girlfriend but he is only 16 so he can’t legally adopt an animal.  He needs someone 18 or older.  So he calls me….  I ask a few questions.  You know … things like…. does she know?  Do her parents know?  Do your parents know?  Etc.  I got satsifactory answers so I drove down to the shelter to meet him, two friends and his girlfriend’s sister.  We explain to the staff who I am and that I’m legal and what they are doing and proceed to the kennel area where the dogs are kept. 

Now its been a good four years since I was last here.  The last time I entered the shelter was the time that I adopted a dog in very poor judgment. I left with a beagle named Muffin and had my dad return her four days later.  I was not ready for that level of commitment.  It really wasn’t fair to her…. I was never home and she was lonely.  I just didn’t think it through well enough.

So, now, I’m back with four eager teenagers and stuck between trying to not rain on their parade and be the lone, rational adult that speaks reason to those who don’t understand reason.  Lots of questions later, a few phone calls to assure parents are okay and aware of what is happening, I’m filling out paperwork to adopt the dog in my name for the moment and then I can give the dog away as a gift and the name can be changed to the "receiver" after the dog is fixed.  It wasn’t until after the signing, the money exchange and some other clarifications that it was mentioned that the puppy could not be fixed until after April due to her young age.  So . . . in legalese, I own a 8-week black labrador retriever until April.  As we left the shelter, I felt a strange sense of abandonment as "Belle" went with her new family.  I hope she understands one day that it was for her own good.  That the family she was going to would be better for her. They had a farm, two other dogs, children that loved dogs, a basic IQ in doggie-care . . . all things I did not have to offer her.

It has been two days now and I’ve not received angry calls from any parents and no calls from the police about animal neglect.  Youth ministry can be a very risky job sometimes…

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San Antonio Report

Sunday morning I give a report to our church about our Mission Trip this summer to San Antonio, Texas.  I only have eight minutes and it is definitely a challenge to convey in 8 minutes an infinite amount of emotions and thoughts.  But I nor anyone else desires to be at the church for an infinite amount of time so I follow the guidelines.   Below is the text of my report followed by the video that I put together for it.  I hope you will be encouraged by these things and will offer up a special prayer for the children of San Antonio and all over the world that are the victims of our many frailities and failures as adults.

San Antonio Trip Report

I wish this morning that I could give each one of you a special pill that would allow you to experience with all your senses what we experienced on our youth mission trip to San Antonio.  I wish you could hear the screams of delight and the words of anger from the children we worked with there.  I wish you could smell the humanity at the Mission Oaks Center for Adults with Mental Disabilities.  I wish you could taste the satisfaction of a hard-earned evening meal prepared by Fred McKay, Carl and Karen Morris and Sondra Allen.  I wish you could see the beautiful brown eyes on the faces of the children and the uncomfortable, itching white of the lice in their hair.  I wish you could feel the weight of a child on your back who refuses to get off because he just wants to feel a loving and appropriate touch from another human.  I wish you could hear the silence of our bus as we drove away from these children on the last day of that week – a silence broken only by the weeping youth and adults who were leaving some of their heart in San Antonio.  As one youth said, “We knew it would be hard to leave, but we never expected it to break our hearts.”

If my wishes were granted, your life would be changed just as our lives were changed by what God taught us.

Forty-eight youth (grades 7 – 12) and 15 adults went to San Antoniowith the purpose of being the presence of Christ.  Our theme verse came from Paul’s letter to the believers of Philippi in which he instructed them to “Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.”

Our youth and leaders did just that because of God at work in them and through them. 

·        They were a breath of fresh air to the children of the San Antonio Housing Projects of Villa Veremendi, Cassiano and Wheatly and the Sunrise Learning Center where we played games, taught songs, shared Bible stories, made crafts and simply loved on the kids from 9 am until 3 pm each day.  Our kids were tired.  It was hot.  One of my girls at the end of the first day said, “That was the longest day of my life.” But they didn’t give up.  They worked hard knowing that their time was short to teach these children a message they don’t often hear – the message that they are beautiful and special and loved by God.

·        They were a breath of fresh air to the adults of the Mission Oaks Disabilities Center whose world is so small and scary and alone.  Our youth brought the gift of music and the gift of youth to these special children of God and we were all blessed by what took place there.

·        They were a breath of fresh air to over 100 youth of the Bexar County Juvenile Detention Center.  Youth ranging in age from 9 to 17 who have followed a path that led them to incarceration. Our youth stood in front of them and sang words about freedom in Christ that is offered to all.  Cori Jenkins, one of our seniors last year, brought a message of grace and love to a group of peers that have a much different story than her own.

·        They were a breath of fresh air to the members of the Crestview Baptist Church in San Antonio and the Gaston Oaks Baptist Church in Plano where they were able to preach through the gift of music that God has given them and that they have committed to give back.

I wish I could give you such a pill that would share all these things with you but I can’t.  The most I can do is to thank you on behalf of the youth and adults that gave a week of their summer and the children of San Antonio who shared that week with us. Thank you for giving money to help make this trip possible; thanks for praying for us while we were away.  But most importantly, thank you for continuing to give and for continuing to pray so that First Baptist Church can continue to be a breath of fresh air in our community and around the world.

Enjoy these snapshots from our trip this summer.

** Video was deleted by author because it took too freaking long to load.  However, if you really, really want to see it you may go here.

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Rock the Wallet

I took several of my youth this weekend to an outdoor Christian concert event called Rock the Light in Kansas City. This is our fifth year attending and it is very popular with my youth for many reasons.  One is indeed because they speak the language of music and there is good music.  Red, Kutless, Thousand Foot Krutch, Audio A. They love it because they have a whole Saturday where they can run around without major supervision or expectations.  They get to just be for 10 hours with rocking music pounding all around them.  It is a highlight trip for all of us.  Except for one aspect.  The Christian merchandise.  Every year I get nauseated at the newest products available for purchase to these young consumers. Here are a few from this year:

College_campout_012

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Nice shirts, huh?  I mean, "Liars go to Hell" in big letters.  That is just beautiful, isn’t it?  Exactly the type of shirt the Jesus would wear to communicate his love to a world in need.  "I am . . .  Satan’s Worst Nightmare".   Are you serious?  Yes, "Satan" or the evil of the world cowers in fear of us.  Reminds me of the old saying, "Grabbing a tiger by the tail."

And my favorite . . 

College_campout_013_1 I’m speechless on this product.  Any comment from readers?  "Born Again" shoes??? I think that perhaps they misunderstood the "sole" care.

These type of things provide a good opportunity to talk with my youth about critical thinking. Similar to a time four years ago when we were on a mission trip with an organization and they gathered us in the mornings to teach us songs to share with local children at the afternoon.  One of the songs they taught our youth was a song about "blowing up the devil".  That evening at our youth group devotional I talked with them about how the words we sing can convey a message we don’t want to – which is violence.  I don’t care that we are talking about fighting evil – I don’t propose we bomb anything or anyone.  To kids in a neighborhood where violence is all they have witnessed, let’s make the radical claim of Jesus Christ which is the way of peace.

We need to think about what we buy and what we sing and what it says to the world around us about the nature of God.  Believe me . . . they do.

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One Life. Do Something.

I wanted to share this video with you from World Vision.  This past weekend at our youth Back to School Retreat we spent most of the time talking about God’s call to us from Micah 6:8 – "Do justice.  Love mercy.  Walk Humbly with our God."  We watched a video titled "Invisible Children" and we discussed ways that we can make a difference. We’ve each been given one life by God.  Do something with that one life.

The video is a 2 minute poem that will touch your heart and give you a glimpse of what God sees everyday in parts of the world.  What God sees that breaks God’s heart.  What God calls us to do something about.

Get this video and more at MySpace.com

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We believe in you.
We dream for you
to know the God who loves you so.
He’ll never ever let you go.

We hope for you.
We pray for you
to find a way through the night.
God will be your guiding light.

Children of Villa Vermendi – we love you.

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