Christ Church Stellarton

@perrynoble and 10 Convictions on the Church…

Today, Perry Noble posted a list on 10 convictions about the church. Some of them I agree with, some I need to think/pray about before I respond openly. However, there are two things to learn from this list:

1) What are your convictions that you operate under?
Are they fluid, changing with popular opinion?

2) How do they shape how you do ministry? How do you know where you are, if you have no clue where you have been?

Know where you are at. Know your “non-negotiables” and let’s reach people for Christ!Christ Church Stellarton

Healthy

Healthy Youth Leaders Do This: ______….

Since accepting my new position, I have accepted several speaking Healthyand training opportunities that give me a chance to pour into Youth Leaders. Honestly, this is one of my favorite things to do in ministry.

I am doing a training in Illinois for Southern Baptist Youth Leaders at the end of this month called “Healthy Youth Leaders Do This:_____”. I have  decided to start this discussion online early to a wider audience, because this is such a vital issue!

Youth Leader health is so important. I am not just talking about exercise and eating your veggies. If you want to discuss that, my friend Mark at SweatCor does an excellent job with that. I want to take a step in a little different direction and talk Spiritual, Emotional, and Family health as a Youth Leader.

Its way to easy to just look at another youth worker that is doing “the right things” without looking at the basis for why they are doing what they are doing to reach students for the kingdom. We have to be willing to ask the tough questions if we are going to do student ministry from a healthy place. I desire for you to be there, because healthy Youth Workers reach more students for the Kingdom.

I’m going to ask you a question that may hurt a little, especially if you have been in ministry for a long time… Do you know what it is to be a healthy youth worker?

We can operate for years using great programs borrowed from others, slick curriculums printed by some great people, and games that get the students riled up. But have you ever served from a healthy place? 

As a 14-year veteran of student ministry, that question stings me a little. I can quickly look back to times in minstry that I have been chewed up, knocked around, and deeply hurt by things going on in the church or my personal life that affected how I served families. But to look at the inverse of this hurt to healthy times makes me a little angry. Angry that I have been serving of a place as a “wounded soidier” almost as much as showing any sign of real, vital health.

 

Don’t get me wrong, “healthy” in student ministry is not a destination, as much as a level of maintenance. Just like an athelete has to continually train to maintain a level of performance on the field, we have to make sure we are doing what is healthy first for ourselves, then for the families that we serve.

So to continue this discussion, lets be clear that everything we’re going to discuss is something that will require constant attention in our lives and ministries. The work is going to be tough, but the payoff is going to be worth it in our lives, our families, and our ministries.

What benchmarks for Youth Leader Health are you aiming for? Share in the comments area below…

Lets do this. We are better together.

Next up: Healthy Youth Leaders: Learn

 

 

fundraising

A Unique Fundraising Idea

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I have a fundraising idea that’s a bit out of the box.

I’ll warn you that it is not conventional.  It’s not exactly easy either.  But, if done right, it could net your youth group a good amount of money and cost you almost nothing to do it.

Willing to consider something different?  Then read further.

This past year, I published my first novel, Sheep Among Wolves.  It’s a self-published novel that started life first as an e-book, then expanded to an actual paperback book offering.  I’ll spare you all the details of why we chose self-publishing, but one of the big reasons was control over our work and a better profit margin.  You see, we get 70 percent of the sales of our e-book.

I’ll tell you, I did a lot of groundwork myself.  I spent a lot of time researching self-publishing, formatting, editing, and marketing.  The more work I did myself was less work I had to pay someone else to do.  The more I paid out, the less I made.  I found that producing an e-book took only minimal computer skills and was not actually that difficult.

Ok, I hear you, enough of the commercial for your book.  What’s the actual fundraising idea?

Well, that is the idea.  Self-publish a book.  Not just any book, but a cookbook.

This occurred to me the other day after a church fellowship.  So many of our church folks are great cooks.  I know I always look forward to church potlucks because they always have the best food.  I even had a church produce a bound cookbook one year of recipes from within the church.  It was an in-house deal.

But what if it wasn’t?

You see, with an e-book, your only expenses are services you pay others to do.  There is no overhead for books.  You don’t have to order a set amount.  If you can do all or most of the work, there is almost no expense to publishing an e-book.  No expense means more profit.

So what if you procured recipes from the youth group?  If that’s not large enough, target the entire church.  You can have congregation members submit their best potluck or family recipe.  As a fun fellowship, have everyone bring their dish so you can photograph it (for the book, of course) and then eat it afterwards (for the fun, of course.)

Once all the recipes are compiled and photos taken, format it into a cookbook.  Formatting is not as hard as it seems.  For a computer savvy teen or adult, it can be done in a few hours.  It mainly consists of learning some HTML code and placing all your images in the right places.  Find a good editor to edit your work.  When it’s done, you simply publish it on-line and start selling on Amazon, Nook, etc.  Most companies (such as Amazon) give you 70 percent on books $2.99 or higher in price.

Then turn your students and church loose on selling and buying the book.

A little quick math:  Charge $3.99 for the book.  That’s a profit of about $3.00 per book.  Now have each student try to sell 10 books.  That’s $30.  Now multiply that by your number of students.  Say you have 20 students.  You just made $600 and it cost you nothing but time and effort.

There are even better ways to increase profit.  You can sell it on your church website or Facebook page.  That’s 100 percent profit.  You could format it via CreateSpace and sell it as a paperback.  You’d have to charge more, but it’s more accessible to people in your church.  Again, it costs you nothing to do that.

So, there you go.  A different and out of the box fundraiser idea.  I’m not in youth ministry anymore, so I can’t try it.  But I’m curious on how it would go.

If your interested or want to know more or simply want to share results, e-mail me or post below.

 

ChristmasYall

An Early Christmas Gift for SBC Pastors…

Christmas is coming, you are decorating the trees that are in your churches, hanging lights, and putting up the nativity set. We all know that there may be a lot of new faces (or ones we only see a couple times a year) at church on Christmas Sunday.

Many churches go the extra mile with choir productions, childrens programs, dramas, and other special touches for that Sunday. In Southern Baptist Churches, there is one step that many of our churches have forgotten.

On the SBC.Net homepage, there has been a lot of work over the last couple years, mainly toward making it easier to find a local Southern Baptist Church in your area. They have cross referenced addresses they receive from annual reporting with Google Maps data. They have done quite well. However, any map is only as good as the data it uses.

Here is my early Christmas gift to you, SBC pastor. Stop what you giftare doing, go to the Church Search Page (after reading the rest of this post, of course) and make sure it is updated with the latest information on your church. Phone number, address, email addresses, service times, directions, and staff members names can all be part of this page.  Many of the individual church pages will also display the last time you have updated this information. In looking at some of the churches in my part of the country, the last update was 7-9 years ago! This kind of thing would never be allowed in the maintenance of your church building (oh, we’re out of toilet paper,… but we just bought some 8 years ago…). We need to have the mindset of treating the church’s online presence with dignity as well, even if your church search page is the only online presence your church has.

This may be the only way someone can find your church. For example, Church Search is the first result when you Google “southern baptist church near me“. Make it easier, not harder for people to find you. I am not talking rocket science, nuclear chemistry, or reaching 18-35 year olds. Just simple common sense. It’s asking the question, “if this is all someone sees of our church when they move to the community, is it what we want them to see?”

So, my challenge to you is while you are preparing your church building for Christmas, that you prepare your online presence as well.

 

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The Kaskaskia Dragon and Youth Ministry…

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One of the interesting things about my new position with NNYM is that I get to see some really wild things that are off the beaten path. One of these gems is the Kaskaskia Dragon. It is located off US 40 in Vandalia, Illinois.

According to Roadside America, this creation was originally built for parades, but found a permanent home near Highway 40. It is plumbed with propane, for a dollar, breathes fire and is apparently quite the sight after dark.
It is a “people who know, go” attraction.

This speaks much for youth ministry. I am not talking gimmicks. I am posing the question “What does your ministry excel at?”… The Kaskaskia Dragon does not try to be the St Louis Arch (even though there is a replica across town).

Find the thing your ministry does well, and build on it. Then, you have flexibility to partner with other ministries that do well where you need help. This is the picture of a body working together that Paul paints in the New Testament. We would do well to revisit that today.

Don’t try to be a ministry you are not.

We are better Together.

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Is It Too Late?

The church is dclosed-300x223ying. Literally.

I don’t have a plethora of stats to back this up, at least not on the rural level.  I just use my own two eyes.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or a statistician) to see that rural churches are aging and younger people just aren’t stepping up to lead.

As I look around at small rural churches, I see a lot of older leaders.  Men and women who have been serving for years who are still serving in those positions.  Where are the young leaders?  Sitting in the pews, if they’re coming at all.

Now, before this becomes a bashing session on older members, I don’t think they are completely the problem.  Yes, in some churches, we have older leaders who just don’t want to relinquish power.  I saw, first hand, what can happen when older power brokers refuse to give up power.  It can be ugly, stifling and limit leadership growth in the church.

Yet, I’m now seeing a new trend that bothers me just as much—a reluctance by young people to take leadership positions.  I recently read an article that suggests millennials would rather plant a new church than to fix the current one.  As the article states, “They would rather have babies than raise the dead.”

And so, the church is dying.  I’m not being completely figurative.  I’m being literal.

You see, here are the hard facts.  The baby boomers, those folks who have led the church for years and who are likely in leadership positions now, are dying.  As they begin to retire and face the golden years, churches are going to feel the pain.  In the next 20-30 years, many of them will be passing away.  If you look around and see 2/3 to ¾ of your leadership as 60 or older, then realize that 2/3 to ¾ of your leadership won’t exist in the next 20 years.

That’s scary, and here’s why.

They’re still leading because younger folks, the busters and the millennials, don’t want to lead.

I don’t know if this comes from the “serve me” mentality or the “let the pastor do it” idea, but they have no desire to lead.  But make no mistake, if they don’t lead, the local church will die.

In fact, I saw it happen.  A church had faithful deacons who all died off.  When the last one died, despite having a decent congregation, the church closed the doors.  Why? No one wanted to take over as a deacon.  No one wanted to lead.  Without leadership, the church had no choice but to close.

Something must be done.  What?  I don’t know.

I’m burdened with this problem.  How do you get young people engaged in serving the church?  This transcends youth ministry.  It transcends the pastorate.  It’s a growing problem and one, that if not corrected, will see churches, many of them rural churches, closing their doors.  Not for failure to bring people in, but for failure to find people to lead.

A Youth Ministry Prayer for Today

“Be still and know that I am God – Psalm 46:10″

In our society we have a hard time slowing down, to relax , to wait. We want it our way and right now. STOP IT. Just sit here and rest in the next sentence.

God is.

That’s it.

Not God was or God will be.

God is.

His immediacy is what should give us rest. He is here with you now. It takes slowing down enough to BE STILL and then you will know He is God.

Rest in this. And truly rest.

On Suffering

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.  Philipians 1:29-30

One of the biggest questions in philosophy and Christianity is the question of “how can a good God allow bad things to happen to good people?” . We lack the human understanding to process the full impact of a single decision. There are so many things in our life that are affected by the fallen state of our world. These are all pretty oft-repeated answers. We hear almost trite answers about the effects of sin (which is true), good people being incapable to overcome the effects of the decisions of bad people (but what about God’s role in all this?)

How can we address this as a serious question within the church today? How do we explain the suffering that Christians go through in various areas of the world (and throughout history) simply for how they choose to believe?

How do we explain and share a Christianity that is devoid of suffering, that flees from suffering? I like to be comfortable as much as the next person, but How do I reconcile that with poverty, abuse, human trafficking, lack of basic human needs such as clean water, food, and shelter?

How do we counter a false gospel that states that states “because you had little faith, you suffered. I have comfort because I have faith”.

We live in a messed up world of suffering. How are you going to respond to the need?

wheel

Being a Bystander is Hard…

Last weekend, while we were out of town, my son saw another boy wheelalmost killed on a bicycle. There was nothing my son or the friend he was playing with could do to stop it. A car was driving what looked way too fast, the boy jetted across the street at the wrong time without looking and the boy collided with the car. He broke several bones, collapsed a lung, and last I heard from the people in that area was in critical condition. What they left me with was “if he makes it, he’ll be in the hospital for a while”…

My boy came into the house to get an adult, so we could make sure someone called 911. He did the right thing, but really felt like thats all he could do. It was all any of us could do.  We were just bystanders..

A couple days later, I saw a church that is in nearly the same condition. It is a church full of people “disenfranchised” from a church that “went young”.  So they went and started their own new/old church. They determined that the way to reach their growing college -town community was to have a set of old fashioned revival services (nothing wrong with revival, i just question putting it on the calendar sometimes..) with a grey-haired evangelist from the south. He had a “hellfire and brimstone-lite” message delivered the way I remember in the early 1980’s. The guest music leader (from another church in town) was reprimanded by the pastor for singing songs that were too new (it was stuff from the early/mid 1990’s). So the night I was there, we had hymns, and more hymns. I was one of about 5 people there under the age of 55 (Including a staff member in her 30’s, who was required to be there). This church started as a hurting church, and they are slowly dying out as the congregation does. There are no real plans in place to reach young families. They are just doing it they way they have always done it, and if someone wants to come join, so be it.

I left that service very sad for the church. But it’s tough to be a bystander sometimes.

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Staging…

A couple weeks ago, I announced that I was embarking on a new ministry adventure. There has been much preparation in the transition (and not all is complete, but we’re getting close).

In all the preparation and training, I feel like the driver sitting behind the wheel of a top-fuel dragster, waiting for that little green light on the “Christmas Tree” to light up. It’s because I know that when it is “go time”, things are going to move fast and furious for a very short time at the beginning of this new adventure. Making contacts, securing pledges for support, building relationships with prayer partners, and so many other things that have to happen at just the right moment. God is with us in this wild ride. We are following the path He has laid before us.  We are trusting Him to put the right people in our paths that we can connect with His ministry opportunities.

I would love if you joined us to pray for this new season of ministry and for all the students and youth workers this ministry impacts.

bsr005

What’s the Point of Arguing?

bsr005Recently, I read this article about Bart Campolo.  He’s the son of author and preacher Tony Campolo.

Bart, who originally followed in his father’s footsteps, now serves as the Secular Humanist chaplain at the University of Southern California.  He does a lot of the pastoral care pastors do for churches, but he does it for the Secular Humanist movement.

I watched his video.  In it, he addresses a secular humanism audience and details his initial conversion to Christianity.  He talks about the need for community.  To paraphrase, the community of Christianity brought him in and welcomed him.  He wanted and needed that, so he joined, even though he didn’t have their faith in Christ.  He implored his secular human audience to create a similar type of community to attract others to the secular humanist way of thinking.

First off, it reminds me how important our Christian community and environment is. Scripture is not always easy to understand, particularly to a non-believing audience.  But love is.  If we love others—as Jesus said we should—we can share with them the truth of the Gospel.  Love builds bridges.  We must take our Christian community seriously. Souls depend on it.

Secondly, I noticed an interesting divide.  Apparently, others are not taking Campolo’s advice.  In the video, he mentions that secular humanists won’t win in an argument.  In fact, I found this true of Christianity too.  Very rarely is someone persuaded to Christianity or anything through a debate.

Yet, in a response to the Christianity Today article, Frank Schaeffer, wrote a scathing piece refuting much of Ed Stetzer’s article.  In the piece, he makes some broad generalities and uses some particularly inflammatory language.  He paints Christians with a broad brush, and attacks Billy Graham, Christianity Today and a host of others.

Here’s my question:  Why?

Why does Frank Shaeffer and others feel the need to prove Christianity wrong?  If they hold the superior view (and I disagree with that), then what’s the need to tear down those of us foolish enough to believe in Christ?

To assume that Christians are weak-minded, brainwashed or just stupid is an insult.  Most of my Christian friends have, at minimum, a college degree.  These are not dumb folks.  I know believers who are doctors, scientists, teachers, principals, administrators, CEOs, entertainers and executives.  My parents have only a high school diploma, but both are very smart people.  They believe in Jesus.

So I reject that simpletons alone believe in Jesus.

But if that’s your belief, why are you arguing?  Why try to convince us foolish people that you’re right?  And why try to vilify us?

I just don’t get it.

And perhaps, as Campolo suggests, that’s why Christianity has more of a following.  We create communities based on love, not engage in endless debates that resort to name-calling.

Maybe Schaeffer should pay more attention to Campolo.

But what do I know?  I’m just a brainwashed, mindless, dumb Christian.

#RuralMinistry and More.

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