Not too Late!

Though we’re nearing the middle of March this weekend very much has a “mission” feel to it.

P1030532If you’re at a church still wondering what you want to do this summer, please don’t hesitate to contact me! I’d love to get you going down the right path so that you and your teens can still get involved with something HIGHLY significant this spring and summer! The cool thing, there are mission opportunities for under $200 to as much as you want with ALL of the training, fundraising and even a retreat involved!

Here’s why I feel this weekend has a mission feel…

1. I am speaking at a fundraising banquet for Youthmark’s premier partner Youth Missions International!

2. My friends at Dare 2 Share just posted a video interview I did with another Youthmark partner, Verge ministries. Check out that couple minute video below (and the post here).

photo3. My own church, Faith, is running a student conference for the ConvergeNW network. Many of these students are currently training for their upcoming Mexico trip through Move: Mission Prep Workbook!

Hope you’re thinking about a mission, but not just a mission trip, prepare for Mission51, the 51 weeks beyond a mission trip! We’re called to be missionaries here, there and anywhere!

Grace,
Brian

 

 

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The Blog Post Senior Pastors Won’t Read

65671_sermon_time-1Is it even possible to have an associate pastor in the pulpit on Easter Sunday?

Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day weekend and the Sunday between Christmas and New Year could all be labeled “Associate Pastor Sunday (APS).” As a former associate pastor I very much enjoyed the opportunity to preach. I was blessed to preach throughout the year and not just on those Sundays above (though I did many APS). However, I never had the opportunity on Easter. I’d guess that over 99% of our churches will have their senior pastor in the pulpit that day.

I get it, it’s the SuperBowl of Sundays for the church. Naturally a lead pastor wants the opportunity to deliver the message, but it could prove to be a fantastic opportunity to send a different message. If yours is a church that values mentoring, discipleship and development of gifts and skills then having someone other than the senior pastor preach would send a very clear message that these are in fact your values!

As the title suggests, not many senior pastors will likely read this, but if they did I’d ask:

  • Did these same people hear you preach the same or similar message last year?
  • If the Easter sermon is about a clear presentation of the gospel, is there someone on your staff who would share that same message as clearly as you think you will? Perhaps there is someone on your staff that is quite-active/gifted in evangelism?
  • If you were not the “upfront” person all service would you be freed up to enter relationship with those visiting?

In addition, I think giving up the pulpit on Easter Sunday would send a pretty cool message to those you regularly shepherd the other 51 weeks outside of Easter.

  • You’d model Psalm 78:1-8 (passing the teaching from one generation to the next, so they may pass it on, etc.).
  • You’d clearly state that it’s the message that matters and not the messenger.
  • You’d model to your staff that they too should be looking to shepherd others into using their gifts/skills.

Of course there are many other benefits to think about as well, especially for the visitors that day, but I’ll leave these out there for thought and imagination!

My prayer is that even one senior pastor will read this and instead of dismissing it as a rant of a former associate pastor they’d read this as a call from a congregant saying “I want to see us be more proactive in developing and releasing people for ministry!” Maybe a senior pastor WILL give an associate that Sunday. Perhaps a lead pastor will tag-team the sermon?

Consider the potential cost…

…But then consider the potential ministry windfall!

Grace,
Brian

FREE Youth Activity, Training & Fun

Dare 2 Share Ministries just posted another one of my posts today…

Have you struggled finding some simple everyday activities to help equip your students with the transition from just doing good things to actually engaging in Gospel conversations?  This freebie that you literally can do for free or as much as $5 is a simple way to help students engage in conversation and service!

In addition, it can be done on a regular Youth Group time as well! Check out this Costco, Sam’s Club or even Grocery Store related activity at the Dare 2 Share Blog!

Grace,
Brian

Finishing the Race

Over the last couple years I’ve had the opportunity to partner with Scottsdale Christian Academy in the Phoenix area. The SCA High School shuts down “regular” classes for the week to engage in missions all over the place.

This just happens to be the week that the 14 teams are out!

I’d invite you to take a look at the various places they are serving and perhaps click on one or two that interest you and read a bit about what they’ve done and experienced. It is VERY evident that God is at work and more prayer is needed!

Hope you’re encouraged to read what God is doing and we solicit your prayers as these teams finish the race!

Grace,
Brian

 

Love Freebies!

Every now and then we just need a spark, an idea to get our creative juices flowing. I find this to be true especially when it comes to outreach opportunities for our students. So, today I give you free spark…

If you're fortunate, your host home will bless you with Steak!

If you’re fortunate, your host home will bless you with Steak!

One of my favorite events I ever organized as a Youth Pastor was an outing I called “The Dinner Scramble.” I wrote about this event for one of my Dare 2 Share blog posts. It can be found here.

If you’re looking for an opportunity that can bring your church together while motivating your students to reach out relationally to their unchurched peers then this is an easy even to try! Read it, plan it, tweak it and see what happens!

Grace,
Brian

 

Don’t Miss This!

I had the opportunity in Iowa this week to talk with a number of teens who were pretty excited about Jesus, pumped about some potential changes coming to their youth group and TERRIFIED about anyone ever asking them about their faith.

This should not be.

Unfortunately this is pretty common, not just among teens, but all Christians.

I am pretty passionate about this area and I simply want to see those who know Jesus equipped to have REAL LIFE conversations about him with those who do not yet know Jesus. I understand those fears, but I’ve also seen many people get past that and actually, like me, get to the point where we’re craving those asks!

Please consider joining us though a Youthmark Mission51 Retreat. Check out the 90 second video explaining this year’s REAL LIFE theme.

This is the link to all the retreats! Can’t wait to get real!

Grace,
Brian

Youth Leader: Four To Do’s For Today

Over the last few weeks I’ve been in some circles where I’ve been able to solicit some “student ministry feedback” from pastors, parents, lay leaders and students. Throwing out the comments that were just mean (and likely the issues ran far deeper than the presenting problem), here are three tame ones that I believe youth leaders (specifically those serving in the lead student ministry role) need to hear.

  • Our Youth Pastor’s talks aren’t good–they’re always about deep theology stuff and never about the real stuff us teens need to hear.
  • 1226123_piano_hands_3My daughter decided long ago that youth group wasn’t for her, the leaders show up at sporting events for other kids, but have never once come to one of her piano recitals or even expressed interest in the stuff she’s passionate about.
  • Greg (name changed) is a good guy, but I can’t remember a time he ever asked us, his volunteers, for any ideas or input. I don’t want to just be a chaperone.

If you’re a youth pastor/director, I believe all three of the above issues come back to one thing: relationship.

Those under our care want to be known.

I know it is impossible to know everyone well. I know you have ALL of the other things in your life you are trying to balance and do, but don’t let your natural desire to defend get in the way of hearing this simple point. Sheep are looking for their shepherd. They know your voice and want to be individually known.

This is not a guilt trip, and like I challenged ANY and ALL who issued their “feedback” to be part of the solution, I want to be part of the solution as well. I give all of us in the youth ministry field a “to do today” challenge that I believe will help you in your relationships.

  • Tweet (or Facebook): Send a shout-out for all to hear/read about one of your students. (i.e. “was stoked to see @MirandaRocks at youth group last night, her smile always encourages me!”)
  • Text: Shoot a group text message out to all your youth leaders praising them and asking for tangible youth ministry input. (i.e. “So thankful for our team. Quick question, shoot me a ministry high & and/or a ministry low for you over the last month”)
  • 748351_aged_french_rotary_telephone_setTelephone: Take 5-10 minutes to call a parent you haven’t connected with in awhile and simply ask how you can pray for the family.
  • Tell: Share a story in your next talk that is about a student or volunteer team member. The cool thing, this may motivate you to get out and see a recital, play or sporting event!

In all four of these “T’s” you’re simply letting your group and individuals in your group that you want to know, love and listen to them!

Grace,
Brian

Social Media Reality Check- Are You Consumed?

1280072_keyboardThe month started with 34 items on the “to do” list. Each task varied in size & time needed to complete. Slightly overwhelmed, I took a deep breath and dove in… a few minutes later temptation crept in…

… “hey man, quick question” a ministry friend of mine, Brian Ford, was Instant Messaging me through Facebook. “What would you say about your Facebook use? You don’t really use it, you use it a lot, you tend to think everyone is going away from it… something else?”

Facebooking with Brian Ford was not one of the 34 listed items on the to do list. But somehow it became priority #1. If it weren’t Brian on Facebook it could easily be an alert on TweetDeck or an iChat notification. I do NOT consider myself nor have I been diagnosed ADD, however I am discovering how easily the notifications distract and consume.

I was honest with Mr. Ford and told him that I likely am on it too much. We ended up talking about this off and on the next few days and today we both have gone live with blog posts (his is here). Brian spends some time talking about some of the struggles it has caused in his heart, mind and relationships. My post tackles the moderation issue.

How Can I Stay Social & Networked But Not Consumed?

1030887_tweet_tweet___I enjoy Twitter, Skype, iChat, and Facebook and I easily justify the need to stay connected on them. Much of my livelihood has to do with staying connected, available and aware of what’s going on in the ministry world and with the ministers in that world. But the reality is, those I need to stay the most connected with have access to me via text, email or a call. I need to remind myself if I am needed, they can find me.

I do not want Social Media to become a hindrance to my family, faith and/or ability to get work done. So, I am experimenting with something I’m calling First 5, Last 5.

What is First/Last 5?

I am going to challenge myself for a season (a few weeks) to take the first 5 and/or last 5 minutes before or after major breaking times during my day to engage in social media. These natural breaks include breakfast, lunch, end of regular work day and before bed. Other than those times the apps will be off and the sites off my desktop.

I’m not going to be legalistic, but my general guide will be:

  • First five minutes as I begin my workday
  • Last five before lunch
  • First five after lunch
  • Last five at end of workday

My goal at home is to be to keep them off until the kids are in bed and Elisabeth and I are both at the point where we feel the freedom to relax (TV, web, Netflix, etc.)

I have found that I can too easily get sucked into my newsfeed and too quickly link to a blog, news site or become consumed thinking about a witty response to a persons tweet. Therefore, in order to protect my family, my ministry and my workload I’m going to give this First/Last 5 a whirl! Any other takers?

Grace,
Brian

Are you Focused?

IMG_5101This last weekend I was privileged to partner with two of my good friends in ministry. Rob Townshend and I tag-teamed a Jesus Focused Youth Ministry (JFYM) Forum in Rutland, VT! We “partnered” in a sense with another great friends of ours, Barry St. Clair (though Barry was hanging out in Georgia)! Barry was supposed to be in Connecticut leading another JFYM forum simultaneously… that got a little disrupted!

By now, we have ALL heard about the NE Storm! It was quite the doozy, but fortunately for me, I was smack-dab in the center of the donut hole that didn’t get hit hard. In Rutland we had about 6-8 inches of snow, whereas 15 miles in any direction received anywhere from 1 to 3 feet of snow! AMAZING!

IMG_5118Storms disrupt in many ways, don’t they? There were 63 people from a couple different states and several different cities/counties that were signed up with their leadership teams from a variety of churches. Well, given that the storm hit on Friday and Saturday we were blown away that 36 people were able to make it to the all-day Saturday event!

IMG_5114Of course storms are not always physical. The very nature of this JFYM Forum is to call those in ministry back to a calling that is storm-resistant (I can’t say storm-proof, because I believe we are supposed to be effected by the storms of life). The JFYM Forums focus on 6 main areas of our ministry life, they look at ministry from an inside out approach. The six core principles we facilitated wonderful discussions on:

  1. Growing deep with Jesus
  2. Passionate prayer
  3. Building leaders
  4. Discipling those in our care
  5. Knowing, growing and reaching our culture
  6. Creating opportunities to reach the lost

IMG_5093I thoroughly loved the unity in the room from the 5 different churches and people groups represented. There were a few high school students and several approaching their 70’s. We had some who would consider themselves ultra-conservatives and others who called themselves charismatics! But all of us agreed on the one name that brought us together and the one focus we wanted to have as we scattered: Jesus!

IMG_5177Are you Jesus focused in your ministry? Start with praying for the desire for personal growth, let that extend in and through every aspect of your personal and ministry life! It will lead to ministry fruit if you take an inside out approach!

Grace,
Brian

 

Yes, I found them, have you ever found them?

I’m pretty pumped about my latest at the Dare 2 Share blog.

Hosting Everfound for a backyard BBQ

Hosting Everfound for a backyard BBQ

For those of you in the great NW we will have the opportunity to spend a weekend with several friends of mine. Not only are Greg and his D2S crew going to be here for the Follow Tour, but they are bringing four of my good friends as the worship team!

Everfound played for our "LIFT" events in Seattle and Portland

Everfound played for our “LIFT” events in Seattle and Portland

I’ve had the privilege of partnering with Everfound for 6 different venues (four of them week-long camps) in the past and I think that D2S struck gold by inviting them to be the band for the tour.

Check out my unique introduction to this band and what stood out about 4 Russian brothers!

Grace,
Brian