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    Wednesday, January 27, 2010

    Identity Week 1

    We just finished week 1 of the Identity Series! At my church, we have a Student Ministries Staff of 6 people, each of us each week brings our talk outline and we discuss how we can change or make it better. God used this time to have me change some cool things and add some interactive pieces I probably wouldn't have normally bring to the table.

    We started the talk time by having the teens split up into 2 teams and get together to draw two people who they would give and Identity to on giant poster boards. They took 5 minutes to draw and write up an Identity for their characters. At the end of 5 minutes, I re-gathered everyone and had a rep from each team describe their person.

    The students described their persons identity by: hair color, occupation, material possesions, wealth and so on.

    I then jumped in with saying this: "You all became creators just now. You took a blank page and made something out of nothing, where there was no one, you made someone. God has done the same with us! He created us out of nothing and made us something. The Bible talks about this scene in Genesis 1."

    The lead in idea was a group effort. The team I am a part of each week looks at everyones talks for the whole week and adds input and takes stuff out where they feel it is needed. The drawing idea was a group idea that caused us all to think outside of our boxes and come up with something. I love/dislike this because I changed my whole talk (as you will see from the outline) yet came up with something much better.

    Moving on with Identity: I made two points that I wanted to hit home;

    1. Realize we were made by God, for God
    2. God is the supplier of my Identity

    We looked at Genesis 1:27-31 NLT and discussed how God made us male and female and how we are Good to him! He has the blueprints on us and knows us better than we can know ourselves and to Him, we are good!

    Below I have the BlueFishTV video we showed, as well as the talk on mp3 if you're interested in the other stuff I said. Also, I have the links to both the Series outline and the Power Point for week 1.

    Identity Series Outline

    Identity Week 1 Power Point

    Monday, January 18, 2010

    New Series: Identity

    Middle School students (i.e. early adolescence) have three main struggles (these are Mark Oestreichers and Scott Rubin's findings...guys who freaking ROCK at Middle School Ministry! These are listed on page 152 of their book: Middle School Ministry):

    - Identity: "who am I?"

    - Autonomy: "How am I unique?" and "What's the extent of my control?"

    - Affinity: "To whom and where do I belong?"

    God has laid it on my heart to go about working on these specific pieces of their adolescent struggles through my talks/small groups during our weekly meetings as well as during our Sunday school hour. Not only these three specific pieces but also doctrinal pieces such as "Who is Jesus?" "What is the Trinity?" and "Who is God?".

    We've worked through the Affinity (iBelong) piece as well as the "Who is Jesus?" piece so far this year, now it's time to go through the Identity piece getting a close on the question: "Who am I?".

    This has been a fun series to put together, but tough. I first started it as a 4 week series, but felt compelled to add a 5th week (which appears in the packet as week 4). I hope it has the same impact as the "Old Skool Jesus" series has had on our teens. It is a series replete with the Word of God and bases our Identity on who God says we are!

    I have uploaded the whole series as I did the the "Old Skool Jesus" series. I also uploaded the iBelong series, which I neglected to do before. Below are the links to download the talk outlines and I will post the links for the downloads that the series requires. Enjoy!

    Identity download

    Old Skool Jesus download

    For the iBelong series, it was my first time going from pages to PDF so I exported each week...sorry :(

    iBleong #1 download

    iBelong #2 download

    iBelong #3 download (I created this but did not use it, since I used Zacchaeus in the "Old Skool Jesus" series instead...he fits in either really but since I made it, you can download it if you want)

    iBelong #4 download

    Thanks for taking the time to check these out! May God bless us in our efforts to reach teens for the Glory of His name!

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Old Skool Jesus #10 and #11

    We are definitely nearing the end of our Old Skool Jesus series, which makes me a bit sad since we've been having so much fun...but se la vie, no?

    Old Skool Jesus #9 got wrapped into the "Save Christmas, Save the World" theme, so you can re-catch that here: "Save Christmas, Save the World"

    Old Skool Jesus #10- Jesus Style Ministry (Zach) Luke 19:1-9
    We all know the story of Zacchaeus and the song that goes with his short stature, but he was more than just a "wee little man". So many times we get caught up in the fact that we've "heard that story so many times" so we don't look for new angles to teach the "played out stories" from. Jesus made a significant statement as to why He came in this section of Scripture. Zach was a hated guy, considered a traitor, unclean and unwanted. Jesus stepped over cultural boundaries, man-made laws and fopaus in order to reach out to a unloved, rich, short tax collector. Zach had such a strong desire to see Jesus that he was willing to further disgrace himself (and he was probably made fun of) by climbing a tree just to get a GLIMPSE of Jesus. Jesus then did the unthinkable and went to Zach's house and announced it to the public that that's where he was going. This was a BIG deal, in fact it was upwards to being scandelous! Jesus, a learned rabbi was going to spend time with someone his culture considered: unclean, unloveable, a nasty scoundral, a traitor and a thief.

    Two things we notice in this story besides the scandal of it all however is that 1. The mere presence of Jesus changed Zach and 2. Jesus describes he came to "Seek and save that which was lost" (Luke 19:9). He shares with us that His style of ministry is to reach the unlovely, love them enough to be with them and then watch how the Presence of God transforms them!

    I challenged my teens in how they can seek the unlovely in their schools, I gave an example of a kid that was hated in my school and how a friend of my challenged he and I to hang out with this guy. In the end he came to church, he didn't accept Christ, but at least the Lord planted a seed in his life.

    Old Skool Jesus #11- Jesus Style Ministry (Samaritan Woman) John 4:1-28
    I didn't teach this one to the teens, because I gave the floor over to my collegue in ministry: The High School Pastor. He broke them into groups that they wouldn't normally be in. He said: get into a group with people not from your own: race, background, school or someone you comepletely just don't know.

    He then asked them to share something small they can remember being guilty about. They ended up talking about some things and after about 4 minutes, he brought them back to the front. He then told a time where he remembers feeling extremely guilty (and it was quite funny). He then talking about the Samaritan Woman and how she too felt guilty about her past. After his little intro, he showed a clip from the movie "the Gospel of John" that had the whole story of the Samaritan woman.

    The thing to notice about the Samaritan woman is that she was even more hated than Zach. was. She was #1 a hated Samaritan of whom never talked to Jews and visa versa; she was #2 a Woman and #3 a notoriously dirty woman to the people she lived near. She went out to get water at noon, which is the hottest time of day because she was guilty, ashamed and didn't want to deal with people because of her lifestyle.

    This is not a person a Jewish rabbi would even encounter, much less talk to! Here again, Jesus goes across several boundaries to reach out to someone who is unlovable, or even hated. The message Corey gave was that because of this encounter, the Samaritan womans life changed! After she hung out with Jesus, she began to talk to people, and share that he had told her everything about herself. This womans wittness changed because she encountered the real Christ! It was a cool point to make.

    Next week is "He-Man Jesus" and the close of our 12 week series on "The Old Skool Jesus". After that we begin our study on Identity, which is deeply rooted in the Word and I will make available the whole series here, as I did with the Old Skool Jesus series. Here again is the downloadable packet for this series: "Old Skool Jesus PDF"

    Below is the video I shared with the teens for the Zacchaeus lesson.

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    Deep Teaching

    My last post on my Thoughts on Deep Teaching to Middle School got my mind thinking about how I teach and the level I go to when I teach.

    If you know anything about me, I love to preach, teach and communicate. It's the thing that gets me up in the morning, the thing that excites me most about how do I teach to youth?

    As I fought for significantly in my previous post, I am a proponent of deep teaching, even to Middle Schoolers. I was reading Total Church the other day and came across this quote that resonated with my heart for deep teaching:

    "It's easy to suppose that attractive activities are the key to successful youth work. It is easy to suppose that the corresponding measure of success is weekly attendance. But God does his work through his Word. The Key to successful youth work is the Bible. This is how God does his work in young people. And the measure of success is not attendance but gospel fruit in their lives" (Total Church pg. 184)

    This is a rough quote, because its true. Our teaching must be rooted in the Word of God in order to meet the needs of our teens! So many times we simply try to make topics of teaching and sadly instead of going deep in the Word to do so, we end up spouting feel-good platitudes and statements like: "don't have sex" without any real Biblical emphasis behind it.

    There are plenty of Scriptures about abstinence, teach from them.

    The Bible has a Word for every situation! I love youth ministry and I love teenagers so we must give them the richest meat possible. I'm not saying I do this all the time, I fall short too, I'm not trying to be a judgemental legalist, I'm simply saying what I've been convicted of myself and sharing that I think its not just me, but everyone that needs to hear this message.

    Our Teens are craving deep truth from deep teaching, by the Power of the Holy Spirit, let's give it to em!

    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    Thoughts on Depth of Teaching to Middle Schoolers

    Middle School ministry as a whole gets a pretty bum wrap. Most youth pastors I know with an exception of a few prefer High School ministry over Middle School. In fact, most churches are set up where the High School pastor is the head of the Youth Min. department and the Middle School pastor is waiting to “climb the ladder”. The belief is that the hierarchy is normative and that most people want to move out of Middle School ministry.

    When I asked myself why this could be and asked others why they thought this could be, one resounding answer came coming to the forefront: depth of content. I myself said when I moved to my position as Middle School pastor at ACAC: “I’m a bit sad that I won’t be able to go as deep with them as I could my High Schoolers in Nyack”.

    The reality is that with most topics this is true; however, we can go deeper with Middle School students than most people think.

    Middle School students now a days are dealing with things only adults dealt with approx. 50 years ago. They are faced with: gangs, sex, drugs, violence, broken homes, dead-beat dads, awful school expectations, horrible living conditions and that’s just the beginning of the list. These issues can run deep and they cause the Middle School students to grow up faster than before.

    If we skirt issues with Middle School students like sex, sin and fatherless-ness with pithy, easy to understand topical talks we can seriously miss our window of opportunity with these students. We can teach: real, honest truth to these teens without watering it down like we so often do.
    When I got older and learned more about the Bible I was hurt that when I was a young kid, my Sunday school teachers missed huge pieces of teaching. I found many things different than what I was taught and false…all because they wanted to water stuff down and make it “easier” to understand.

    Middle School students are hungry for depth, hungry for knowledge, hungry for acceptance, hungry for discussion yet we aren’t giving them the strong food they need because we fear they won’t get it…or much worse…we can’t teach what we don’t know.

    Sadly, I have noticed many a youth pastor being complacent with their studies, neglecting their Bibles and neglecting to read any other books. I am not saying I am much different but I am convinced we must all read more, study more and go deeper ourselves.

    Off of that soap box…Middle Schoolers deserve deeper teaching than we’ve previously given them. I know you may scoff at this but we can teach them doctrine, we can indeed teach them the deeper truths of the Bible and…they will get it! I am convinced we as youth pastors have shortchanged Middle School ministry for too long. They are not the annoying, painful, low level group of kids so many people box them into being. They are deep, vastly intuitive teenagers who need to be challenged. As I’ve prayed about what God desires for me to do with the Middle Schoolers he has entrusted to me, this truth has hit me over and over again: going deep with them is what they need!

    After all, the gods they worship can’t compare to Christ! He is the only God who can save them from their junky lives and make them new creations!

    Sunday, January 3, 2010

    Christmas Ideas for Youth Ministry Pt. 3

    I know this is EXTREMELY late, but I was given a weeks vacation for Christmas and decided to not be distracted by trying to have an "online" presence.

    The Night went amazing on December 23rd! We had over 150 people there and 11 youth raised their hands to recieve Christ for the first time!

    We played several fun games and had some great activities.

    The Games:

    a. Human Present Relay (2 ppl from each section will be wrapped up like a present)
    b. Santa Pants Relay (progressive relay with 5 people from each section)
    c. Tree Decorating (each table has a chance to win a prize…best dressed tree in 5 min. wins) d. Total Recall (video with 4 segments, memory questions after each segment…team that wins each wins a bag of snickers!)

    Then we headed upstairs for the talk. Here is my (small version) talk outline:


    Intro with a story about an old lady who never used her electricity except to light her candles

    -We do the same silly thing with Christmas, we neglect to turn on the lights to it’s true meaning, getting more excited about how it serves US rather than what it even stands for

    - Read Philippians 2:5-11

    - When Christ came that Christmas morning, he gave up heaven for a smelly animal stall. He gave up a throne for a manger. He didn’t come so we could get all excited about a fictitious fat guy who gives presents to good little boys and girls, he came for something much more important than that

    - When Christ humbled himself to be born next to stinky smelly animals, he was choosing a lesser life than any normal king. His whole life was one not to be desired. He was poor, teased, his momma was talked about and he came to serve you and me to death.

    - Christmas is about the best idea, the most meaningful birth in all of history, it’s so important that our calendar is dictated by the event!

    - Christ was born so that he could humble himself to death, even death on a cross. It is the greatest gift in all of history, will you accept it?

    Give a time for response

    To open the night, we decorated cookies, had some good hot food and hot coco! Right before the games we opened up with our: "Save Christmas, Save The World" Part 3 Video! Below is that video!