Focus!

Finding a clear path through life seems to be rarity these days.  We pride ourselves in having 40 different kinds of tooth paste to choose from at any given time.  While variety is the spice of life, do we really need the choice of spearmint, peppermint, fresh mint, berry mint, cool mint, or cinimint being one that takes up a great deal of time?  It would seem that we have been cursed with the cloudiness of too many choices.

The church is no exception.  It seems like the path of discipleship in many cases is more like a choose your own adventure book where we blindly try to find our own way rather than a place where intentional discipleship is laid out in a focused and purposeful plan.

For the past couple of weeks I have been reading, searching and trying to develop a discipleship pathway for my congregation.  While this is a very daunting task for someone who has trouble focusing on even the largest details, I can see where this will become a very valuable tool.

For new folks coming through the door I can’t help but think that the pathway will give guidance and a framework that can be followed so that new members can become part of the faith community in a way that best feeds their soul.  The intent of the pathway for the new member is one that will give guidance to spiritual growth, but had enough flexibility that it can be taylored to each individual rather than teathering everyone to the same set of expectations.

For leadership talking about the pathway in a way that it becomes part of the DNA of the church is helpful in terms of keeping focused on the mission of the organization.  Keeping the pathway in sight and on the lips of conversation, the color of carpet becomes a minor issue and deepening the faith of yourself and others becomes the prime motivation.

I am excited to see where our pathway takes us as we develop it in a way that will shape things to come.

Do you have a pathway at your church or in your ministry?  I would love to hear about it.  What works and what doesn’t?

New Kind of Christianity

I recently picked up Brian McLaren’s newest book again.  I had started reading it a couple of weeks ago at night and now it has made its way to the daytime reading list (more or less because I have a really bad book that the conference is requiring us to read and I am putting it off).

I have always thought that McLaren’s books are accessible to someone who is not a churchgoer, and at times they would favor some one who is not steeped in the language of the church.

This book is no exception.  As you read through the pages (I am only 100 pages or so into it right now) one can see Brian’s heart for reform in the church.  I love they way that he seems to address issues from an angel that I have not thought about before.

McLaren seeks out to answer 10 questions that are transforming faith.  Some of these questions address how we read and understand the Bible, is God violent, how we can address human sexuality in a real way, how Christians can relate to other people, and so on.

I have been looking at doing a Bible study on one of McLaren’s books and this might just be the one.

If you have read this or have thoughts on Brian’s work let me know I would love your feedback.

How do Ministy priorities and reported needs stack up?

Here is a story from the guys over at Group publishing about the things youth report needing in their lives.  I thought that it was in interesting result.  Also I think that it shows the importance of faith relationships, and puts the pressure of Christian educators to have some clear and drawn out plan of spiritual growth for youth and adults.
Take a look and let me know your thoughts.

Exclusive Survey Report: Teenagers’ Top Needs | youthministry.com

Teenagers’ Top Needs
We asked Christian teenagers to scan a list of 20 “needs” in their life, then rank them from one to seven according to how strongly they’d like that need to be met. The lower the number, the higher the desire for the need to be met. We wanted them to differentiate between “dying” needs and “nice to have but not that important” needs. Here’s how the numbers added up….
Top Needs (Description) Teenagers (Average)
1. I need help building a positive relationship with God
2. I need help building a positive relationship with my parents
3. I need help managing or dealing with the stresses in my life
4. I need someone to help me answer some of my big doubts
about the Christian faith
5. I need help understanding the Christian faith better
6. I need help in knowing how to share my faith with friends and others
7. I need help with my academics
8. I need help figuring out my future choices (college, job, career, marriage, etc)
9. I need help dealing with depression
10. I need help with my overwhelming commitments
11. I need help dealing with the pain I feel in life
12. I need help developing more and better friendships
13. I need help ending my dependence on drugs or alcohol or tobacco
14. I need help with making better moral choices in my life
15. I need help in receiving forgiveness for things I’ve done
16. I need help with living a healthier lifestyle—eating better and exercising
17. I need help with time management and discipline in my life
18. I need help resolving conflicts
19. I need help sorting out sexual issues (sexual activity, gender issues, homosexuality, etc.)
20. I need help with girlfriend/boyfriend issues

In general, the way kids ranked these needs primes the pump for cynicism among youth workers who see a big disconnect between the “God stuff” teenagers elevated to the top of the list and the topical stuff that settled out on the bottom. Typical is this assessment of the survey by Andrea Vincent of Michigan, who’s a volunteer youth worker by night and an assistant research professor by day:

Volunteers vs. Unpaid Servants

I was at a worship conference that week that was amazing.  One of the things that Mike Slaughter, Lead Pastor at Ginghamsburg UMC, talked about was creating a culture where there are no Volunteers.  Rather at GUMC they have teams of unpaid Servants.

The difference he explained is that people who volunteer do it on their time when that have it to spare.  Where as unpaid servants are poeple who are serving with their whole selves and doing it the best that they can.  This kind of service demands commitment and a mentality to serve the church.
I think this is a wonderful way of looking at the people who give of their time and gifts to ministry.  It raises the bar and the expectation level to a place that would then “demand” excellence out of those who serve the church rather than just giving the church your leftovers.  I really thought that this was a great perspective and term for those who give to the church.

YM Game Gold Mine

I can only imagine how this show came to be be.  I would like to think that some guy was sitting around his mother’s basement thinking about all of the dumb games that he played in youth group when he was a middle/high school student and said, “People would watch this.”

I have seen video clips from the show online, but I have it set to record on our DVR so I can take it in with all of its glory.  If you don’t know what the show is about, essentially contestants have to complete a number of tasks within 60seconds with the change to win a whole lot of money.

Perhaps the most valuable part of the show is that the website for the show has all of the games, videos and the blueprints of how to recreate each game.  I am so excited to get some of these for our meetings and try them out.

Check it out here: http://www.nbc.com/minute-to-win-it/how-to/