This installment of Faith Lab is coming out a little bit late because I have been dragging this week. When the seasons change and the pressure shifts I feel like garbage. It seems like everything has taken 3 times as long.
But, as I was reading in bed last night with rolled up tissues stuck in my nostrils, I thought about how ridiculous I looked. Along those same lines I thought about the way that I would never go out in public with Kleenex shoved in my nose. We take great care to look put together and in good spirits.
But in ministry, especially in student ministry, we need to allow our young people to catch glimpse of us (the real us). To build relational bonds we have to be willing to risk and show our soft spots to our students.
Last week we talked about mission and vision. If we are truly going to journey together toward deeper discipleship we, youth workers, must not just journey through tough times with our students. We have to be willing to take them on the journey through the valleys that we go through at times too.
This doesn’t mean we don’t filter what we share at times, but it does mean that we allow our students to see us when we are not all that put together. And more than that, we have to be willing to tell them that we are not 100%. The truth is they will most likely know anyway, and we get a lot of credibility by naming it to them.
When you share some time with students next, be willing to take a small risk and be a little vulnerable.
One of the most exciting things in ministry is seeing the seed that have been planted grow and bear fruit. At times seed have been planted for a long time before they begin to sprout and other times they seem to shoot up with a passion that cannot be stopped. But there is always a great deal of time and care that needs to take place to cultivate a dream and make it reality. The same is true with ministry. We need to have a focus and a vision for where God is calling us to be. For each ministry there is a different call and a variety of ways to get there, but it is all for the glory of God.
At MUMC we have come to understand that our student ministry (Life Force Youth) is called to “Journey with one another toward deeper discipleship.”
In this we know that we are all on a spiritual journey (like it or not). This is what john Wesley would have referred to as prevenient grace. We are all seeking to be closer to God in all that we do and at times the road is easy and at other times the road is hard. We also know that we meet others on our journey. some are just beginning and others have been Christ Followers for a long time. Regardless of where you are in your walk, we are in this together. We understand that god has called us to serve one another and be in fellowship with our community.
In all that we as a ministry do we should ask ourselves how is this accomplishing our mission. Are we truly journeying with one another or are we just faking it? Are we a real community and a place where we can all live into the people that God had called us to be or do folks feel like they have to wear a mask when they are hear? Are we making deeply committed disciples? Is everyone journeying down the path to deep discipleship or are we stuck or back tracking?
We have to ask these questions to become the ministry that God wants us to be. We have to remain focused on this even when it is hard and we are tires and we would rather “phone in” a lesson, small group, or time with the students.
How are we living into our mission?
Where do we need to spend some time working on it?
Congratulations, You are gifted. There are things that you do better, faster and with more passion than anyone else in your ministry. There is something that gets your blood pumping and you feel like you are in your element, and you need to know what that is. For some people that is being in the kitchen making the dinner or snack for youth group, others like to build relationships through small group, while others would be happiest pelting kids with water cannons as they are going down a slip and slide in the church parking lot.
Part of being the body of Christ is participating in the life of the church, both in the congregation and the community. As a leader in the church I want everyone to serve, and serve in a place where they can pour out their gifts and be filled by the Spirit as they serve.
One of the things that we are going to be asking our students to do this year is to take a good hard look at where they feel like they can serve. We are going to be asking them to fill out and talk with someone about the places where they feel like they are able to let their gifts shine.
We are also asking our youth workers to do the same. To be able to articulate where they love to serve and why. With this we would like you to take some time and look at our SHAPE inventory to see where you best fit. This inventory is just a tool so the results are not definitive. I took a vocational inventory in Middle School and it said I was going to be a trash collector, and now I am a pastor. But the good news is that it gets us to have conversation about what we feel God is calling us to.
Are you in service to your church? Why or why not? What are some of the things that keep you from serving in the areas you feel God is calling you to? Take some time and fill out our SHAPE tool.
During our last youth retreat we asked the students (and leaders) to graph their spiritual journey. We gave them graph paper and some markers and told them that we all have spiritual mountain tops and valleys. Playing some music we set them off to the task of self examination.
When I was getting this exercise set up for them I thought that I would try it out and I got a lot out of the exercise. As I went through it I found that I remembered things that I had taken for granted or forgotten. I had many eraser marks on my paper and my journey was filled with a ton of ups and downs. I was surprised where some of the dry times came and where I drew on God the most.
Take some time in the next little while and try this out. Find some paper and sketch out your spiritual journey. Then perhaps map out where you would like to be in a little while.
What are some ways that you could begin attaining your goal?
As I have struggled with trying to be more organized throughout the years and a better project planner, the one thing that I have come away with is that you need to know the next step. It is easy to know what outcome you want to see. It might even be easy to back down and break apart big goals. But what is your next step (that you could do today) to meeting the goals you have set for yourself?
today is Eden’s 3rd birthday and I can’t believe it. I was looking through some pictures the other day from when she was born, through today and I can’t help but think what a wonderful adventure it has been. I have been so blessed to be a part of her growing up. What a gift she is. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the Bishop Family.
The other day I had the opportunity share some devotional time with our preschool teachers for the beginning of the school year. We talked about the wonderful gift of teaching young people. We talked about the wonder that is so clear when they encounter and experience something for the very first time.
We reflected on the scripture Deuteronomy 6:4-9: 4 "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. 5 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again. 8 Tie them to your hands as a reminder, and wear them on your forehead. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
We have a responsibility to pass on the history, tradition and story of our faith (corporate and our personal journey). There are a number of different ways that we are able to do this. This past weekend I witnessed some of our youth leaders leading small groups on our retreat. They were sharing their stories in ways that intersected with our student’s stories and there was a wonderful exchange that happened.
One of the primary ways that we are able to share this story is through our knowledge of scripture. I know that being in God’s word as much as I can allows me to witness more faithfully to what god is currently doing in my life. It allows me to connect my story with the larger story of God’s people.
But the kicker here is that you have to be in God’s word to know God’s word. You have to read, wrestle and grapple with it on your own. you cant just read about reading the Bible or take someone else’s word for it. You need to be in it so that you can lead others to know what God has in store for them.
I would suggest you get a Bible reading plan and go at your own pace. Don’t worry about getting behind in your reading, just be concerned that it is quality time with God. Pray that God may illuminate the verses so that the Spirit may work in you. Write notes, prayers, your own translation of what you are reading. You can find great reading plans all over. Just Google it or go to Zondervan.com for some good places to start.
Let me know what is working for you. What are you reading? What guides your time with God? How do you most connect?
Somewhere along the way ministry became a desk jockey job.
When I read the book of Acts and even the pastoral epistles I get the idea that being a pastor was action packed.
* John didn’t kick it in staff meeting for 2-3 hours per week.
* Peter didn’t make edits to the bulletin.
* Matthew didn’t work late to attend the facilities team meeting.
* Phillip didn’t put on a collared shirt and sit in a swivel chair from 8-4.
Even if you go back 50 years the pastoral staff wasn’t all about programs and project managing. They were out in the commnity visiting elderly, the sick, and doing house calls. If the staff had an office it was for study. If the staff met it was for prayer. There was an administrative staff that did admin work and project management. Not pastors. Pastors were out doing, not sitting behind a desk.
But somewhere between there and here all ministry jobs became something else. If we’re honest the ministry job became 75% administrative and 25% ministry on a good day. New people in a church always say the same thing… this isn’t what I thought it would be.