I really like writing, I promise. Life just sort of starts rolling and continues to pick up momentum.

Here are a couple of personal updates:

1. I really enjoy my job as an elementary music teacher. I never would’ve suspected that. I’m still torn, though, as to how I should use my time best (music teacher or youth pastor). Right now I’m doing both. I don’t know how long that can last.

2. I still have the headaches. We’re still trying to figure out what the root cause is. I have made some headway (no pun intended) but the headaches are still consistent (24/7). I can guarantee you that my life has been forever changed by the things we’ve learned.

There are so many thoughts running around in my head right now. I’m reading books and web sites on youth ministry, on music education, and on health. The more I learn the more questions I have. I’ll save the health and music stuff for another time but here are a few youth ministry and church questions I’ve been pondering…

These are from my journal a few days ago:

1. A youth pastor can’t make mature disciples.

2. Neither can a parent.

3. A person must cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives before any growth in discipleship can be made.

4. This does not diminish the role of the youth pastor or the parents (foremost) to commit to the responsibilities God has given them.

5. Does a youth ministry need consistency to achieve its purpose? If it does, how do we function in a society where everything competes for the attention of our youth?

6. How do you develop relationships and discipleship without consistency?

7. Schools demand consistency with attendance, grades, practices, rehearsals, etc. What does/can the church do?

I’m wrestling a lot with these questions. I’d love to hear your feedback.

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What are you all about?

In my last post I shared about four words that I recently used to encourage the youth group I serve with. They were people, prayer, preaching and purity.

I thought I would follow that up with a summary of a message I gave last summer during our annual “Youth Sunday.”

I preached primarily from Acts 2:42-47. As I’ve become acquainted with that passage four things stood out to me. Just as that passage was the heartbeat of the church’s beginning it is also the heartbeat for what I am committed to.

My personal passion for ministry could be summed up with four broad statements taken from this passage, Acts 2:42-47. The four statements may overlap some but each one has a distinct idea that I believe is addressed in the passage.

42And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

First, we must have a passion that God’s Word be taught accurately.

Second, we must have a passion for authentic loving relationships.

Third, we must have a passion to see the lost and the found drawn to and transformed by Jesus.

Fourth, we must have a passion to reach out and impact our community and world.

These are the things I’m committed to in ministry.

Jim Martin, over at his blog recently wrote a post on vocation. He raised some really good questions and I decided to go on and leave a comment there. After thinking about it further I decided that it was worthy of its own post. Here are some of my thoughts about this.

For the believer, there tends to be a disconnect between vocation as ministry and church as ministry. I would even go as far to include “life” as ministry. When people ask me, I respond that I am in ministry full-time. I am married with a family and I teach full-time in a public middle school. In addition to that I am a youth director at a church.

Admittedly, I get some weird looks when I say that but I can’t help but understand life that way when I look at 1 Corinthians 3:16 and see that we are God’s temple. Then I look at Colossians 3:17 & 3:23 and see that we are representing Jesus in all we say and do.

And for the ones who wonder what vocational ministers do all day I have them look at Ephesians 4:11, 12. Our role is to equip people to live life as ministry. Maybe it’s simplistic but I show them the Bible (youth and adults alike) and I ask if they will allow themselves to be transformed by God’s Word.

How do you look at life? Do you see it as ministry? Would life look differently if we viewed every action, every meeting, every conversation, or every person as an opportunity to minister?

Do you ever wonder if you miss out on what God wants because you are too busy with life? This just might help. I often challenge the youth I work with at church and school to view everything through this same lens.

I ask them questions like:

How does your music reflect who you serve (in other words, it might not be all about you)?

Or, how do you choose your relationships?

How do you spend your free time (or your money)?

What do you watch or read? Why does it matter?

How are you preparing for the future?

When we consider all areas of our life as ministry I believe we come closer to what God intends for us in service to Him. Then we don’t have to worry about what we’re going to do for a living or what our “calling” is. On the other hand, we do have to be concerned that every area of life reflect our love for the God we serve. That is a monumental responsibility and privilege.

Are you up to it?

Recently I’ve been struggling with being “content.” I’ve been trying to decide if that is a good thing or not.

Is it a good thing to want something different? I believe we were created for something great. To what extent should we pursue that?

When do we stop and allow ourselves to rest?

What does it look like to pursue what we were created for?

If you know me, it will probably come as no surprise to you that I love what I do. I love being a teacher and a coach. I enjoy my subject material (music) and I absolutely love teaching, hanging out with, talking to, and even disciplining the students. I value and respect them. I have an opportunity, like few others do, to shape and mold hearts. However, like tennis, the sport I coach, it only lasts for a short season. Then they move on. That’s when I wonder how much lasting influence I really have.

Of course, there’s my position as youth director at Grace Evangelical Church. I’ve been there for almost 8 years serving with primarily the youth and some with the music. We’ve seen both the church and the youth grow. We’ve seen some of our youth head off into ministry (and some the other direction). I love being at GEC. I wouldn’t trade my time there for much of anything else.

These are the things I am wired for. I have no doubt about that. I see both of these positions as something God has created me to do. I realize they both have their ups and downs but what job doesn’t? In spite of that I love what I do!!!

Here’s the rub… if you know me you’ll know that I often feel a little overwhelmed with the responsibilities of both positions and my family. My family will remain first so that leaves me to ask how long I can sustain both jobs.

I do not feel led to leave what I’m doing currently but I do have lots of questions. Would I have more influence in a full-time youth position? Would my family benefit from me being in one job? Am I wired to function in a full-time youth ministry setting? Is there something else out there that will better suit me? Should I be proactive or am I supposed to just be content and allow things to happen?

Is my pursuit of contentment selfish? Could I be pursuing a bad contentment? Is it even right to be pursuing this kind of contentment in the midst of war? According to the Bible we know that we are in a battle:

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8 ESV).”

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12 ESV).”

Is this something that is given to me as a distraction? To tell the truth, I don’t know. I do know, though, that I need to be watchful and sober-minded. The mind can be quite a battle ground. My mind reflects my heart. The best way to protect the mind and the heart is through the Word of God, guided by the Holy Spirit.

Let me say again, with joy, I love what I do! That’s what makes these kinds of questions so difficult to answer.

What struggles have you had with questions like that? What conclusions have you come to?

Through great thing through all of this is that God remains faithful. Will you?