Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

everyone you know

—-this is a reminder—-

everyone you know is broken.

everyone you work with has deep wounds.

every person who annoys you is broken.

—-another reminder—-

you are broken.

love others in their brokenness.

grow a big heart towards those who are limping.

our 100th face

So last night marked the 100th unique face that has come through the doors of the student ministry at sawmill covenant church. pretty cool.

if anyone told me that we’d had that many faces through the doors, i would have though they were lieing or inflating the numbers. It sure feels small. It sure feels like a family of friends.

anyways, number don’t matter. faces do. hearts do. people do. I could care less if it was 100 or 10 or 50 or 500.

numbers are for accountants, not youth pastors……

(in all reality, it is actually probably higher since we just started keeping super accurate records about 4 months ago…)

church staff could learn from Apple Store staff

J.R. Briggs was recently inspired by his trip to an Apple store in New York. One thing he remarked about was his interaction with an employee. Here was his thought (read the whole article here):

The question his boss asks him at the end of the day isn’t “How much product did you sell today?” but instead, “Who did you talk to today and what were their stories?” The question his boss asks him at the end of the day isn’t “How much product did you sell today?” but instead, “Who did you talk to today and what were their stories?”

There is a lot of talk about church metrics and how big our churches are or how many butts fill our seats on Sunday mornings. What if there were more talks about the stories we hear each week?

I’d bet a couple of things would happen:

  1. We’d stop being concerned if attendance went up or down, and we’d start being concerned with whether or not we learned anything new about those in our faith community.
  2. Church staff would have an INCREDIBLY clearer picture of what programs/ministries/sermons/studies/etc. were needed in the life of those in the faith community.
  3. Our ministries would be exponentially better, more effective, more impactful, more meaningful, longer lasting, more fulfilling, etc…..
  4. We’d become the only place in a person’s life that they could show up and feel like someone was trying to get to know them better.
  5. “Being known” would be a tremendous feeling. Probably addicting (if you don’t think so, read anyone’s twitter or facebook page).
  6. They’d tell others about it and probably start to mirror that kind of behavior.
  7. More people would want to be a apart of that faith community.
  8. Attendance would go up as a by-product of all that. But if it didn’t, no one would be too concerned as long as we were learning more and more about the lives of others.

All that WOULD happen merely as a result of changing our metrics.

success in youth ministry

Last week I sat down with some of my volunteers at Starbucks to chat. I’d been serving at Sawmill Covenant Church for almost a year.

I asked them this question: “As we look back at the first year, where have we seen God show up?”

For the next hour, we told stories. Stories of meeting new students. Stories of working with pain. Stories of trying really hard to make small groups work and failing. Lots of stories.

The one thing in common with all those stories. They didn’t involve me teaching. They didn’t involve a game. Almost every single story of God’s hand moving in our ministry was tied directly to a time where we opted for less structure over more.

My goal for the second year: carve out more time to listen to God. I want to carve out more space on Sunday nights for students to meet with God. I want to carve out more time in our volunteer meetings to pray. I want to carve out more time in my own life to slow down, shut up, and listen to God.

church revolves around me

Sometimes I think we miss the point. I think we show up to church because we like it. I think we get together in a building we like to sing songs we like and listen to a sermon we like.

We act like church revolves around us. I act like church revolves around me

Church doesn’t.

It revolves around God.

Act like it.

They never change because it’s easy

I have a personal trainer. He puts me through grueling workouts and – by the end – I pretty much dispise him. He makes me do more when I think I can’t. He pushes me to finish the workout even though my heart near failure and my vision is blurry (i’m not exagerating). At the end of yesterday’s workout I asked him, “Do people ever just get pissed off at you?” He replied, “Yeah, all the time. I have one women who I train who always calls me ‘a&%hole’.”

He went on: “I mean, I know I’m making people work hard. They’re paying me – voluntarily – for results. So that’s what I’m pushing them towards. They can quit whenever they want.”

They he said something that struck me so deeply: “I come in here everyday and see people jogging or doing the eliptical and you know what…they never change. You know why they never change? Because it’s easy.

How many times, do those of us who are part of a church body – slink back from really challenging people?

Think about this you paid church staff: People are vountarily paying you. Just like my personal trainer, they’re paying you (and me) for results. They want a pastor. They want to be lead like sheep. Yes, sometimes they’ll complain. Heck, they’ll even refuse to do the workout you’re giving them. But ultimately, no one is forcing them to be a part of your church.

So the challege is to push. Push harder. Push deeper. Push them to the extrememes. Ask them to do hard things. They may complain, but that’s what they really want.

A Book You Must Read

I was given Mike Yaconelli’s Getting Fired for the Glory of God by a pastor who used to work in youth ministry. I’m reading it. Blowing me away. You should read it to. Or maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe it is just awesome because God is using it to speak to me right now. Either way, I’ll recommend it.d_1200

What Acts 2:42-47 means today

Acts 2:42-47:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Here is what I think this passage means for me/the Church today:

We ought to be “devoted to the apostles‘ teaching and to fellowship and to breaking of bread and to prayer.” I don’t think we ought to do this simply because it’s in the Bible, but I think, when looking at how we ought to follow Christ, we ought to observe those who literally “followed” christ. They probalby had a pretty accurate view on how to apply Christ’s teachings. So, does that mean that we need a church service with communion every day? I don’t think so. I do however, think we would do well to move in this direction.

We ought to be “filled with awe and wonder.” In our western culture, beauty is a bit lost. Miracles are less evident and much less publicized. Amazing transformations are happening in our midst. I know high school students who have seen there situations dramatically change. There aren’t too many times when a church will stop and simply marvel at God’s creation (unless you count using a nature scene as the backdrop of a powerpoint slide). Does this mean that if we’re not performing miracles on a regular basis, we ought to give up? Nope. But the Western church would do good to move in this direction.

We ought to be united as believers and have everything in common. Does this mean that we all live in a commune and share are produce, cars, and clothes? It doesn’t have to, but I think churches definitely need to move in this direction. We (me included) are doing a freaking horrible job at this in America (though there are some who aren’t doing such a horrible job).

We ought to sell our possessions and goods and provide for those in need. Does that mean that we have to be homeless? Nope. I do think we’d do well tois at a  sell things that we have and give the money to those in need. I write this thinking of two friends. One friend has a summer car (an expensive car that they joy ride around in the summer) and the other friend doesn’t have a job. So, if we apply this passage (or – frankly – many many other passages) what would the result be? You decide….

We ought to meet regularly. We do this in church services, however, many of our church serves aren’t condusive to community (if they were, why would we sit in rows?).

We ought to “eat together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God.” I think this one is obvious.

I think the last part of the passage – “enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” – is more descriptive of the results of this Jesus community.

Stop Not Being the Church

Churches are a million different things these days. They’re can be online, big, emergent, multi-site, small, liberal, urban, political, country clubs, tech savy, old fashioned, ethnically diverse, wealthy, conservative, or broke. A church can have a multitude of descriptors.

All those things are fine.

But the church has got to quite defining itself using minor issues and start focusing on major issues. Sections of scripture give super clear-cut examples of what it means to be a community of Christ-followers. Sometimes I think these passages are so easy to understand that we miss them. They’re so obvious that we lose interest. They’re not sexy. They’re not the secret to success. They are the meat and potatoes of what a church ought to be. Those passages – Acts 2:42-47 comes to mind – should be pretty obviously central to our church practices.

And youth ministry should be all about helping young people connect to Christ and His body. Sure, there are millions of resources out there that are good and helpful and useful and valuable. But if you’re youth ministry doesn’t look anything like Acts 2:42-47, you’ve got to ask yourself if you’re being effective in the right direction.