dragstrip

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.

budget

A New Perspective on Budgets

So, I’ve been budgetaway from MinistryPlace.net for a while.

It was sort of by choice.  You see, I’ve had a lot of changes in the past few months.  We had a new baby.  I moved six hours away.  I started my senior pastor position in Illinois.  I began my work towards my second master’s degree.  I was also working on my second novel.

That doesn’t leave a lot of time for blogging.  So I took a self-imposed sabbath from the site.  I love this place to write and express, so it was never meant to be a permanent departure.  Just a small break to recharge, re-prioritize and reorganize.

Now that things have settled down, I want to get back to blogging here.  Since I’m no longer in youth ministry officially (though I’m not sure anyone ever leaves youth ministry totally), I want to change the focus and voice of my blogs here.

I plan to write things to evoke thought.  It might be a theological issue.  It might be a response to something I’ve read.  (Check back next time for my thoughts on Secular Humanism’s response to Christianity.)  It could be something I’ve learned in my brief time as the senior pastor of a church.

But rest assured, I still come from a small, rural church perspective.

So what’s my first nugget in this new foray.  Just this:  spend your budget.

I had my first budget meeting a few days ago.  We poured over the current budget, expenditures and anticipated budget needs for next year.  As we looked over the budget, we made notations of money not spent that could be allocated elsewhere.

I quickly learned this:  Those that spent their money are likely to receive the same amount or a slight increase next year.  Those that didn’t would likely see a decrease.

That blew my mind.  I had always been taught to stay under budget and run a tight ship.  I did.  In all my years of youth ministry, I can only think of one year we ran over budget, and that was due to an increase of students attending the mission trip.  I thought staying within budget and not spending all your money insured a budget increase down the road.

What I’ve learned, from a strict numbers standpoint is, if you don’t spend your money it might be better allocated to other areas.  The church budget has to cover a lot of ground.  If you’re not using all your money, another ministry that needs money is going to get what you didn’t spend.

So heed this warning:  you have a budget for a reason.  Estimate it as accurately as possible.  Then spend as much of it as you can without going over.  I believe a budget is meant for you to stay within.  I just now believe you should spend right up to the limit.

If you do, you will get that same money.  If not, it may get redirected somewhere else.

NNYM-Avatar

A New Adventure…

NNYM-AvatarI have exciting news. I have taken a position with National Network of Youth Ministries in the Great Lakes region. I will be serving as a Rural Ministry Specialist working with youth worker networks in Illinois and Western Indiana.

This position involves resourcing and encouraging youth workers in both paid and volunteer roles. I will be seeking out a team of people willing to champion the cause of equipping students for sharing their faith in the Rural Midwest.

I have posted more information on what I will be doing with NNYM on my personal website (BrentLacy.com). I would love for you to become part of my prayer and support teams. There is also a chance to take part in the Ministry Launch Fund.  This is Kingdom work. This is to enable more people to join in the work that God is doing among us. I pray that you will join in the work.

We are Better Together.

A Simple Approach to Youth Ministry Budgets…

Its that time of the year again!! Time to start looking at next year’s budget. I know some of you are asking “what’s a budget?”, I will get into that in a future post. Preparing a budget seems to be a necessary evil of Youth Ministry, but here are a few things I did several years ago to help make things a lot simpler to prepare and administrate.

1) Pray.  Ask God how He would want to use the resources you are given for His Glory and Kingdom growth.

2) Start with the end in mind. What is the total amount that the Church/Board will allow on Youth Ministry. Start here, and begin to plug in your planned events and resources

3) Use simple containers. For 5 years, I have  used three containers/categories in my budget. Everything we do fits in one of those three categories, and I can explain the why and how in less than 30 seconds. Here they are:

Inside Ministry – Happens inside the church building. (lock-ins , movie nights, Turkey bowling, etc…)

Outside Ministry – Happens outside the church. ( retreats, conferences, camps, block parties, outreaches, etc…)

-Administrative - Stuff that has to happen for ministry to go on. ( Subscriptions, event scholarships, office supplies, etc…)

I hope this helps you tame the Youth Ministry Budget this year. It doesn’t have to be hard. Share your budget tips in the comments area below.

stop

Just Stop It Already!…

“Why do we do this ministry every year?”

“Well…kinda because we’ve always been the ones to do It?….”

We have all had that conversation in our churches. There seems to be that one ministry in every church that is a sacred cow that happens every year only because it happened the year before. Many times, the people who originally started the ministry are long gone by the point that the church experiences the “critical mass necessary to kill it”.  The transition process in our church has led to the leadership team looking at most all of the ministry opportunities in our church and asking “why do we still do this?”.

At the end of the day, we were a church trying to do far more than it should. We had to let some things go, and be ok with it. One of the things that was let go was a back to school cookout that our church sponsored for a local collegiate ministry. One of the other churches in our fellowship of churches locally picked it up with fresh people and vision. They had a blast with it. Last night at a meeting of the local churches, the report thanked our church for allowing the new church to get the blessing of taking on this new ministry opportunity.

There are two things we can learn form this:

1) Ask why we do what we do. Is it for God’s Kingdom growth, or because you did it last year?

2) Killing a ministry doesn’t always mean its dead. Maybe its that God wants to carry it on through someone else as He leads you in another direction.

Who can you bless by killing a ministry? God knows.

What is a ministry your church “killed for the glory of God?” Share in the comments below.

MCHS June 2013

Campus Ministry

As schools across the country have started back and fall is in the air, youth ministers around the country are shifting their thinking to campus ministry. If you are a youth minister and you do not have a presence on your local school campus you are missing out on a large ministry opportunity. Now some schools are closed, youth ministers are not allowed to come eat lunch or be on campus during school hours. There are ways to still have a presence on campus and we are going to look at ways for open and closed campuses.

Lunch:
The old tried and true stand by for youth ministers. If you campus does allow you on to eat lunch it is a tremendous opportunity to connect with your students and it puts your face in front of the other teens.

Games, Arts, and Competitions:
Even if you have a closed school on your hands they cannot keep you from attending games, chorus recitals, band competitions, or tournaments. I just attended a middle school softball game the other day and four of our middle school girls were shouting, “That’s my youth pastor!” Imagine this in your head. Your students are telling their friends who you are, their friends see them hanging out with you having fun, and maybe you even get your students who are on the team together for a quick prayer and have one of your students lead it. What a great witness!

FCA:
I love FCA. I used to be a FCA Endurance Adult huddle leader. I have multiple schools represented in my ministry, (Two High Schools, Three Middle Schools, one private Christian School, and home school students). First thing I did at the start of the school year? Find out who the local FCA sponsors at each school are. I contacted them and asked if there was any way our student ministry could help support them. I’ve been invited to help with every single FCA group and I know the bridges I build through helping with FCA will impact students that may never grace my ministry but its about the bigger game plan not just my ministry.

Sports Teams:
We get the opportunity to feed our high school football teams prior to a game every year. Not only do we get to be the hands and feet of Christ by allowing students to see us serving them, but with both teams I get a short time to have a devotional and prayer with them before they leave. Awesome sauce!

Team Chaplain:
Some schools allow teams to have a volunteer team chaplain. How awesome would it be to have students who may not be in your student ministry asking you for spiritual advice? What an awesome way to expand your ministry influence!

Just a few campus ministry ideas we had this year? What are some of yours? We’d love to hear them in the comments!

facebook

Lets Start a Facebook Prayer Meeting…

I received an interesting Facbook notification first thing this morning. Late last night Kevin Patterson tagged me and 9 other people, stating that he was challenged by a friend to choose 10 people publicly on social media to pray for in the coming week. Kevin added the ministries those people represented as well as their spouse/significant other.

I am going to up the ante a little more and hopefully make this a great, positive, far-reaching thing for all that are involved.

1) Create your post with the ten people that you are praying for (I recommend that you choose 5 in your church, 5 that are not.

2) This week, pray for that person daily, including their family and ministry

3) Tag each person, including the person who challenged you.

4) Now The Hard Part… Actually pray for those people this week.

Feel free to add a link to this article as part of of your challenge post.

Let’s do this, expecting to see God do great things for His kingdom as we pray for others both inside and outside our churches/ministries.

When the week is over, come back and share the great things God has done!!

did god say

Teen Devotion Ideas

One of the largest challenges in youth ministry is keeping students growing in their faith. One of the tools we have available to help in this area are daily devotions to help students think through having a daily time focused on prayer and God’s word. Here are some great resources available to help your students.

Online Devotions:

Dare2Share Soul Fuel

A weekly teen devotional that you can use with your students as a small group curriculum, Bible study, Sunday School lesson, or to help them in their personal quiet time. Topically driven, these devotions help your students keep the gospel central in their lives and provide practical ways to bring their faith up with their friends.

Daily Devotion from Josh McDowell

Josh McDowell has been an apologetics voice in youth ministry for over 30 years.

Offline Devotions

The Simple Truth Bible

The Simple Truth Bible features 366 daily devotionals—each one a tasty, bite-size morsel that powerfully reveals what it means to deeply love and trust God, to lead a Jesus-centered life, and to lean on Scripture for guidance and wisdom.

Teenagers will discover how to experience hope in the middle of tough times, how God deeply and passionately loves them, how to build an authentic friendship with Jesus, and how they were created to lead a life of impact in this world and for eternity.

Stripped Clean

This is a unique devotional geared toward those with an “artistic/creative” bent.

My Life, His Mission

Get inspired to look beyond yourself and see a world that desperately needs Christ through this six-week study. You’ll learn about following the call of God and experience firsthand accounts from other teens who have joined God in his worldwide work. Biblical principles on the Great Commission and how God uses ordinary people to carry His message to the lost will motivate you and spiritually prepare you for a mission adventure. Topics include: Hearing God’s call, trusting God, praying for world missions, sharing the faith, being flexible, and taking risks. With amazing stories and Scripture, you’ll be challenged as you work on this study alone or with a group.

 

What devotions do you recommend to your students? Please Share in the comments area below…

trends

A Rural Church Millenial Story…

There was much to do over the release of the 2012 SBC Annual Church Profile statistics a few weeks ago. One of the most staggering stats was the fact that the SBC churches baptized very few or no Millennials or Youth in 2012 (the latest year we have statistics for…).

I was unsure just exactly how to process the numbers, aside from sharing an experience in our local church. I am not an expert on Millenials (Thom Rainer has some great insight in that area). I can share a couple things that I have observed in our local church.

1) The desire to serve and be part of something bigger than themselves.

2) The desire for older adults to come beside them and show them how to handle finances, parent, etc…

3) The desire to “take ownership” of some area their ministry service.

4) The desire for older adults to ask the tough questions.

This story from our church shares about how a young lady had a few people from our church come alongside her with the love and care to ask where her relationship with Christ stood. Be that person that shows up with a bucket of ice cream that is willing to ask if they can come in and talk.

 

 

 

bible

Bible Study Tools I Use…

If you are just starting out in ministry, you have a few great advantages that those before you have not enjoyed. One of those advantages is the Bible study tools available to you. When I started in Youth Ministry 14 years ago, we were just starting to drift out of the age of dial-up internet access, so the tools were limited at best. Tablets and smartphones were not yet in the marketplace either.

Fast Forward to today and here are  a few tools that I use in ministry and personal study:

1) Logos.com – Logos has an extensive Bible study library that you can purchase, but they also give away the base engine and a few books for free. You also can get a free resource each month for joining their mailing list. They also have apps for mobile devices that you can sync notes and highlights with.

2) YouVersion.com – In the iOS store, this is called the Bible App. It is an excellent tool for free that has some great mobile apps with the Bible available in many languages and versions. If you have several students in your ministry with web connected devices, check into the Live Event backend for the app that allows you to put teaching notes, prayer requests, teaching videos and more at their fingertips.

3) BibleGateway.com – This was one of my first “go-to” tools, and still one that I use often. It is web-based with many languages and translations. They also have access to some great commentary resources as well.

4) Kindle App – Not specifically a Bible study resource, but the Amazon Kindle store often has great new and classic Bible studies and resources on sale or free during certain promotional periods. I have saved a lot of money just by watching for deals.

There you have it. It is a pretty simple list.

What Bible Study Tools are you using in your ministry? Share them in the comments area below!

10

10 Blogs to Watch If You’re a Youth Worker…

I have been blessed to be around some folks that are smarter and more experienced than I am in the 10last several years. That can cause you to learn and can keep you humble. Some of them regularly blog. Here are 10 blogs that you can glean some great things from, especially if you are new to Youth Ministry (in no particular order):

1). Greg Stier

2). YouthMinistry360

3). YouthMinistry.com (aka MoreThanDodgeball.com)

4). DownloadYouthMinistry

5). 100 Posts I hope You Write @ Studentministry.org

6). YouthSpecialties Blog

7). Adam McLane

8). Mark Oestericher (whyismarko)

9). Christian Web Trends

10). EdStetzer.com (Not specifically Youth Ministry, but some great research and trends information)

 

#RuralMinistry and More.

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