Friday, October 15, 2010

Toys & Heaven

Last night, my wife had planned a Girls Night Out at our house.

Now, if you are like me, when you hear the words "Girls Night Out," images come flying to mind of women chatting a hundred miles an hour, watching cry-your-eyes-out-movies, discussing the latest good read, and eating piles of chocolate. Well, this girls night out was no different.

Of course, that is no safe plae for a husband - of his three kiddos.

So I did what any good dad would do - I took them to parooze the aisle of Target.

Now, I hope you aren't like my wife and are distracted by the children standing in the cart that you miss the cuteness of this photo.

I love this photo for so many reasons.

First of all, I love that it provides me with a visual memory of a great evening. I love when I get to spend time with my family. Besides my relationship with Jesus, they are the most important things on the list. Hanging out with my three children is one of the most rewaring responsibilities I have ever been given. I am thankful everyday for God giving me the divine priviledge of being their daddy.

Secondly, I love the awe-struck looks upon all of their faces. They stand in wonder and amazement as their eyes take in all the colors and beauty of the new toys just within an arm's reach.

I couldn't help but imagine what my face might look like someday, as I embrace Heaven and an eternity with my heavenly Father. I imagine it might look much like my kids faces tonight. Standing, quietly, soaking it all in. Wanting to scream and yell at the top of my lungs and shout for joy at the beauty of it all.

My kids had seen commercials for these very toys. They have flipped through Toys'R'Us catalogs, and made their Christmas wishlists. But there is nothing like seeing them, upclose, to truly appreciate how wonderful those toys really are.

I have read descriptions of Heaven in the Bible, and imagined what it might look like. I have seen paintings from world-renowned artists depicting their prognosis of Heaven. And yet, until we reach it, we will never full know. Never fully comprehend. Never fully understand what God has so perfectly prepared for us.

All I do know, is my heart aches for the day when I will meet my Maker face to face and truly understand His great love for me. In the meantime, though, I will keep enjoying nights like tonight and doing my best to raise three children that will change this world for Christ.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Q & A

Because one of the reasons for starting this blog was to give prospective churches a better understanding of who I am and my heart for ministry, I, from time to time, like to post applicable questions and my answers to those questions, to help achieve that goal.

So here are a few. Feel free to leave feedback on your own ideas and answers.

(*Disclaimer - all these questions have been asked of me in the interview process, I can't take credit for the questions!)

How would you “in a nutshell” describe what a “successful” student ministry looks like?

Youth groups are often measured by the number of people in attendance; however, I feel it should be measured by the number and depth of changed lives. Youth ministry is an on-going process where the goals and tasks are constantly changing and there isn’t a finish line on this side of Heaven. However, there are key things, as a student minister, that I am always striving to see amidst my students and amidst my ministry.

First and foremost, I long to reach students and bring them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I pray that the student ministry is equipping disciples to further the Gospel and reach their schools and communities for Christ. A God-centered student ministry should be reproducing itself, not by my works, but by the passion of excited and energized students, on fire for Christ. A thriving ministry has students who pray, speak truth, ask tough questions, show love, desire life-change, and are reaching and making a true impact on a community.

I personally believe a successful student ministry should be reaching not only the student, but the entire family as well. It is my job, as well as the other adult volunteers, to walk alongside the family amidst this daunting task of raising teenagers. I want to see life changes in students, but also see families being strengthened in Christ.

How are you growing personally as a leader?

Of course, within my ministry, I am always striving to grow and mature as a leader. I meet with fellow student ministers, gather new ideas, attend enrichment conferences, and submit myself to the accountability of a mentor. I am always striving to better myself in every area of ministry from administration to sermon writing.

In my personal life, I am listening to pod casts (Matt Chandler, Francis Chan, David Platt, etc) keeping a journal, reading books, and getting involved in ministries away from my own church ministry. I strive to be a godly husband and father as I lead my home to be one that is centered upon Jesus Christ. It is my goal to never be satisfied with performance, and I long to constantly better myself in every area of leadership – both personally and professionally.

What is your process for recruiting/developing adult volunteer leaders?

Proverbs 11:14 says, “Without wise leadership, a nation falls; with many counselors, there is safety.” I cannot imagine a student ministry without adult volunteer leaders. Each one plays such a key role in helping make decisions and in making an impact in the lives of students. It is impossible for me to have deep relationships with every student, so I rely heavily on my adult volunteers to help in any and all areas of ministry.

I once heard a wise youth communicator give a model for adult volunteer leadership. The leadership cycle: find them, train them, empower them, challenge them, and find more. It is my desire to perfectly emulate this cycle.

For recruiting volunteers, I begin to look for people who are called to minister to students. I extend a personal invitation, cast a vision for where I see the student ministry going, and invite them to join us. I have developed a checklist of Biblical requirements that each volunteer must adhere to and standards by which they must abide. Examples of requirements are having a personal relationship with Jesus, being able to share with others the plan of salvation, attend church regularly, thoroughly prepare for each lesson, be in good standings with the church, and submitting to volunteer development. Once a covenant, agreeing upon those terms, has been signed, I would immediately begin putting their talents into action.

After an initial group is formed, I begin asking my already-established volunteers for recommendations and suggestions. I want all who are willing, able, and meet the requirements to find a place to serve within the student ministry.

Developing volunteers is most effectively achieved with constant, ongoing communication. I like to hold monthly meetings to make sure we are all on the same page. I like to meet one-on-one (or with my wife when meeting with female leaders), so that I can have a better understanding as to the heart of each volunteer and the progress each one is making. I believe it is also important to hold a biannual evaluation of adult volunteers. It is a time for me to evaluate them, as well as a time for them to cast light onto my weaknesses and to expose areas of growth and potential.

*This an area I am striving to improve on, and I hope with each experience, that I am becoming more efficient in this area.

What is your process for developing student leaders?

Matthew 20:26 says, “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” This is often a very difficult principle for Christians to understand. Most students want to become leaders because they want to be in the limelight or the center of attention. However, this is not Christ’s example. If you want to be a leader, not just a student leader, but a Christian leader, you must learn to lead like Jesus and serve others.

Therefore, I strive to develop student leaders through discipleship and accountability followed by finding a place to serve. Whether it be outside the walls of the church - through service projects and mission trips - to right in our own ministry by running the sound booth or stacking chairs – finding a place to serve is essential. Those who are doing the work of the ministry by serving others – that is a true leader.

As always, feel free to contact me or leave some feedback! Hope you found this helpful.