Connecting Church and Home

23 08 2010

I plan on writing a more descriptive summary within the next week or so, but for now I just wanted to jot a few thoughts I had about the Connecting Church and Home conference held at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on August, 20-21 2010.

“There’s something of a tragedy in having to have a conference about connecting church and home…”  – Al Mohler

To me, this quote really helped to sum up the conference.  American evangelicalism has lost something in its current paradigms of youth and children’s ministry.  In the process of trying to gain more kids for the cause of Christ we have actually out thought ourselves!  We are in a desperate situation as it seems we are losing younger generations.

As a side note, I want to say, that even if we weren’t losing younger generations, we still must evaluate our current ministry models to make sure that they align with Scripture.

To have a conference about the need for connecting church and home is telling about where we are as churches.  We’ve spent so much time in children’s and youth ministries focusing on “what can attract students” that we have forgotten about “what can build lasting faith.”  And I know there are some solid children and youth ministers out there that are thinking “wait, I am trying to build lasting faith” or “I am discipling my students” etc.  Sorry, that just doesn’t cut it. 1 hr, 2 hrs, 8 hrs, a week is not enough for any youth pastor to make a difference in enough students’ lives to really make a difference!

Where are we missing it? HOME!  God’s design for discipleship of children (and teens) begins in the home.  (cf. Deut. 6, Eph. 6).  We’ve worked ourselves to death trying to come up with new methods and models for doing things when it’s already outlined in God’s Word!

I will write more about this later, but until that time, here are a couple of links that you can go to read notes from the Connecting Church and Home conference or watch video of the plenary sessions…

Video of the 4 Sessions
(the quote from above is in Dr. Mohler’s session at about 40 seconds)

Notes from the Conference

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Family Worship

27 04 2010

A point that we are working on driving home with parents in our youth ministry is the necessity of establishing biblical discipleship in the home.  One thing essential to discipleship in the home is family worship! Now, family worship is not the only thing necessary for well-rounded discipleship in the home but it is vital for cultivating the work of Christ in the hearts of your children.

When children are taught to worship in the home, they can be taught to worship in the church.  When children are discipled in the home they can learn so much more from the preaching and teaching that goes on in the local church.  The importance of the local church cannot be overemphasized! Family worship should never take the place of corporate worship. Nonetheless, 3 hours a week at church must not be all the biblical teaching your students are receiving…

I’ve already wrote one blog about this subject (How we do family worship) but I wanted to share some more insight on this subject… Below is some information you can use to begin family worship in your home:

Three Main Steps to Starting Family Worship 

(found at http://thegospelcoalition.org/)





Parenting and Pornography

27 04 2010

Unfortunately pornography is an issue that many people face at all ages of life.  Although men are more prone to look at pornography, recent studies have shown that women fall prey as well.  Pornography is dangerous for several reasons.  Not only is it a sin against God, but it warps students’ views of manhood/womanhood and can form unreasonable expectations for future spouses. 

Below is a great post on helping students with this issue… Parents, please remember this is not a minor issue, and something that should just be written off as a normal part of being a teenager.  Pornography can be a dangerous trap for a lot of people. I hope you find the article below useful…

http://whyonline.org/parenting-and-pornography/





The Heart of Youth Ministry

23 04 2010

In contemporary youth ministry there are tons of resources and ideas (good, bad, and everywhere in between) for how to effectively reach and minister to students.  Networking with other youth pastors is great, getting ideas from books and websites is awesome, staying up to date with all the latest trends and technology is a must…

But today, I just want to ask you what is the core of your ministry? What is making your youth ministry’s heart beat? I hope that it is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  There are tons ideas out there to incorporate into your youth ministry by pastors and ministers who may or may not understand the Gospel. Sometimes people who don’t properly understand the Gospel do have good ideas that you can adapt for an outreach, program, or event.  Sometimes people who do properly understand the Gospel have bad ideas that you should run from! So this post isn’t about how to properly find and evaluate good and bad resources based on the Gospel, rather it’s about whether or not the Gospel is at the heart of your ministry.  Is everything you do centered around Jesus Christ and Him crucified?

What is the Gospel? I hope that you understand the Gospel clearly enough that you can articulate it in 60 seconds or less.  Obviously there are parts of the Gospel we could go into very deeply, studying tons of verses, that might take a long time to discuss.  However, the Gospel is simple enough for children to understand.  Here’s an outline of the Gospel: (the headings are used from Greg Gilbert’s book What is the Gospel?)

God the Righteous Creator: Genesis 1 tells us this story.  God created the heavens and the earth and everything in the universe, including mankind. He is Holy, Righteous, Loving, Just, etc….

Man the Sinner: God gave Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden the command to not eat of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil… They disobeyed.  Since Adam was our representative his curse is our curse.  It’s not that we are born perfect and then mess up, we are born as sinners! (cf. Romans 5).  Romans 3 tells us that “None is Righteous…” and that on our own, none of us seek God.  The Bible is clear that mankind, left to itself, is in a hopeless condition.  Everything we do is sin, and unable to please God.  We overlook our own sin and make ourselves into our own idols.  We worship everything that is not God: money, sex, T.V., power, fame, etc… We are totally depraved, meaning that we are not always as sinful as we could be, but that every single fiber of our being is tainted by sin.

Jesus Christ the Savior:  God is a Holy God, unable to fellowship with Sin.  There did not HAVE to be a Way made for salvation. God, justly so, could have left us in our sin to punish us for all eternity.  Because of our Sin we deserve an eternity of judgement.  However, in His compassion and grace and mercy He decided to make a way by sending His Son to die on the Cross IN OUR PLACE.  Jesus is God the Son and was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus lived the perfect life and then died our death.  He was our substitute! He took the beating, lashes, and crucifixion that we deserved.  He died on the Cross in our place  (Is. 53:5-6).  Because of our Sin there had to be a perfect sacrifice to make atonement.  Jesus was that sacrifice.  Then, to exemplify His power over death, Hell, and the grave Jesus rose from the dead.  After 40 days He ascended to heaven to be with the Father and He is coming again soon in power and glory… (Romans 5 contrasts the first Adam and the second Adam- Christ). 

Our Response Faith and Repentance:  All this being said, what’s left? When God opens our eyes to the Gospel and the wonders of His infinite love, mercy and grace, it is our responsibility to respond with faith and repentance.  Jesus says “repent and believe” (Mark 1:15), and in the book of Acts the Apostles say “repent and believe”. So what must we do? Repent and Believe! (respond in faith and repentance). Faith means that you trust Christ alone for your salvation. It means that you acknowledge you are totally dependant upon Him for your salvation and the final righteous verdict.  It is by His righteousness that you can stand before God completely justified.  Let us not forget that faith is also trusting Christ not only as the King of the Universe, but also King of our lives (Lordship Salvation).  Repentance is where you acknowledge your sin and turn from it!  Repentance is not just acknowledging your “sins”, i.e. “I lie”, “I think bad thoughts”, etc., but acknowledging your Sin! That to the very core you are a sinner in need of a Savior.  “Turning” from our sin implies asking God to forgive our Sin. When God saves the Bible tells us that we are a new creation (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17) and that we will be known by our fruits (cf. Matt. 7:16).  The good fruit that flows out of our Salvation is not what saves us, but what Christ Himself produces in us. Now, as Christians we live for the King, awaiting His triumphant return.

So, there’s the Good News! I know some of that would make a presentation a little longer than 60 seconds, but I felt there were a few things that you might have needed clarified.  For some of you reading this blog you might not be a Christian.  For the first time, God has opened your eyes to His truth.  If that’s you, what you’re left with, is the responsibility to respond to Him in repentance in faith.  It’s not some “magical” prayer or long process of using the right words and rituals.  Trust Christ.  Put your faith in Him as the King of kings (the God-man) who paid for your sin and died in your place.  Turn from your sin and your self in repentance by asking Him for forgiveness (cf. Rom. 10:9). God is merciful and mighty to save by His great Grace, but remember too, that God is just and will punish all sin.  For those who’ve been redeemed our price was paid on the Cross.  But for those with hard hearts who refuse to turn to Christ, God promises an eternity in Hell (the place He will carry out His righteous judgement), a place prepared for the Devil and his angels.

If you work in the ministry I hope that the Gospel is central to all that you do.  Does this mean we can’t ever have “fun” in youth ministry? NO WAY!  As Christians we experience life on this earth as no one else can (cf. John 10:9-10).  My point today, and challenge/encouragement is to make the Gospel central to everything you do.  It is the foundation upon which we build our ministries.  And anything “we build” is not really our doing anyway, but the work of Christ in and through us.

Hope you have some feedback…





Partnering with Parents in Youth Ministry… Ideas for Fall 2010

6 04 2010

I just want to blog about some ideas about how we plan to involve parents more in our youth ministry this Fall. I’ve got a couple other blogs about the importance of parents in youth ministry categorized under ‘youth ministry’ if you’d like to read those…

I know these ideas aren’t new but they are new to our ministry. Maybe they’ll give you some ideas. I’d love some feedback on what others may be doing to help involve parents.

Ok, here we go…

1. Family Night: This is actually something we did last year. We plan to do this 8/25 to kick off our new semester. This is primarily geared for youth and parents but we like to invite the whole family so they can all be together. We do it on a Wednesday night and basically just eat, share stories, play games, and then I’ll share a devotion and a calendar of the events we’ve got coming up. This helps me communicate my vision to parents and helps new families in the youth ministry get to know one another.

2.SuperTraining: This is something new this Fall. Early in the semester we are going to meet for about 4 weeks on Wednesday night an hour before service. I’m going to teach students how to ‘write’ their salvation testimony. I’m inviting parents to just be there with us during this time. Hopefully I can both teach and learn from them during this process.

3. Parent Night: Later in the semester (probably November) we plan to invite parents to the Youth Service. We want them to experience our ‘style’ of ministry. That night we’ll have some great games that parents can play and the lesson will be geared toward parents and youth.

4. PRT: Parent Round Table. I’m really excited about this idea and I may still tweak it a bit before this Fall. What I’m planning on doing is setting aside 1 hour on Monday nights to meet with families. I’ve got 14 different Monday
Nights set aside. I’m going to ask parents to sign up for a night. Then, I’ll go to their home from 6-7 and personally share with them what we’ve
been doing and what we plan to do (lesson wise) in the ministry AND give them some handouts and ideas on how they can build more on what we’ve been teaching, in their own home. Long range I plan on training a volunteer to help me with this so i don’t have to be gone every Wednesday night.

5. Parent Breakfast: We did this once this Spring and it worked out pretty well. We had some volunteers cook breakfast on a Sunday morning and met at 8:45 (30 min befor Sunday School). We invited the whole family. Parents, children, and volunteers all ate together. At 9:15 I dismissed the students and children to their Sunday School and then the parents and me just did a lesson together in place of their Sunday School. I was also able to share more about events we had coming up.  We’ve got this set for 10/3 and plan on doing it once in the Fall and once in the Spring.

6. Parent newsletter and Parent helps: We already do these two things but I thought I’d include them. We send out the ParentLink (group publishing) once a month. This is a newsletter already put together by Group. I just add 1 page about things coming up in our ministry. The other thing I’m still adding to is our Parents Help page on our website. Here I’ve just given parents about 20 different links that they can go to and get help and ideas about parenting teenagers. Feel free to use our links from www.fbcdewitt.com

7. Parent Leadership Team: This idea will probably not be implemented this Fall but I still love it and hope to get it worked in ASAP. This idea is drawn from Steve Wright in his book reThink. Basically the team is just parents (the youth pastor is not on it!). The parents would be committed to meeting periodically throughout the year and discussing the ministry. They would offer insight, encouragement, and ideas from their perspective to the Youth Pastor ever few months or so. This would help me understand better how to minister to our families…

Hope those ideas help. I’d love to know what you’re doing to minister to families or how I can make these ideas better!





Just do ministry like Jesus?

30 03 2010

Saw another article today that said if you want to know how to do ministry, just read the Gospels and do ministry like Jesus.

Now, I think I understand where the person is coming from, and on the surface that seems like such a Gospel centered statement. However, I want to quote a few lines from the book Preaching with Bold Assurance by Hershael York and Bert Decker…

Frankly, we are never told to preach like Jesus and probably shouldn’t try.  While that sentence may shock and make you wonder why we would make such a strange statement, allow me to explain.  Certainly we should emulate many elements of Jesus’ preaching: His passion, his high view of Scripture, his confrontation and application, and his tendency to force a decision of acceptance or rejection.  But on the other hand, we must admit that Jesus, as the sovereign Creator of the universe, had intents, information, and abilities that we do not have.” (pg. 15)

So, my point here is that I think we should use the ministry of Jesus to set our foundation for ministry…BUT, we can’t be Jesus because we are fallen.

York and Decker go on to say (concerning the woman at the well) “Now, first of all, none of us can know such intimate details about the sins of people we just met, and even if we could, it probably would not be best to use such knowledge! After all, we are sinners just like they. Should we witness to others because Jesus witnessed? Absolutely! Should we follow his methodology? No! We can find certain elements in his witness that must be in ours, but we can also find elements that are the sole province of the Son of God and cannot be emulated.” (pg. 16)

The point is, we are called to be like Christ, not be Christ. There are two dangers in wanting to be Christ.  1st is even if you have the right motivations, you are setting yourself up for failure.  2nd You are setting yourself for a huge temptation to be like God, which just so happens to be the reason mankind fell (Gen. 3:5).

So where do we get our models for ministry? The Bible! I’m not saying we don’t use Scripture. Not only can we use the Bible, but we MUST use the Bible! My point is just to caution you to not fall prey to a works based mentality for ministry. In other words, “if i just do ministry just like Jesus, i’ll succeed.”  Trust Christ for direction, but don’t crucify yourself for your disciples…Your blood can’t save them.





How serious is God about sin in our lives?

17 12 2009

Last night I had one of those nights in Youth Ministry where you just want to give up! And it was my fault.  First of all I failed to set up my media presentations until after service had started (while the students where eating)! Secondly, and most important, I totally neglected to pray for and give credible attention to studying my message.  Needless to say it all felt like a train wreck.

When I woke up this morning I begin to think about Joshua and the Israelites.  After the fall of Jericho Joshua had his sights set on the city of Ai, a smaller and weaker city than Jericho.  The men of Israel told Joshua they would only need a small force to defeat the men of Ai, but instead the Isrealites were embarrassed and their hearts were like water as they fled Ai defeated. When Joshua sought God’s face it was revelaed to him that there was sin in the camp as Achan had disobeyed God’s command and took some spoil from the fall of Jericho.

How serious is God about sin? Look at Joshua 7:24-25

24And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. 25And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones.

I needed to be reminded last night about how foolish it is for a child of God to do something apart from God’s will.  How could I think that my words alone had enough power to make a difference in my students’ lives?  In all facets of ministry and life for that matter, there is temptation to take the reings from God and think that we can keep things under control… How quickly that plan unravels for us! Thankfully this morning I am also reminded of 1 John 1:9:

9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Because of God’s grace we don’t have to be stoned to death and burned for our sin! But, we don’t need to think that God is less serious about sin than He was in the days of Joshua.  He is still the same God, yesterday, today, and forever…

How serious is God about sin? Isaiah 53:5-6

5But he was wounded for our transgressions;
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
   and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
   we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
   the iniquity of us all.

God is still serious about sin in our lives, but today, if you are a Christian, you have an advocate before the Father.  God’s wrath was poured out on Jesus for your sins, all of them.

There’s a twofold application to get out of this.  First, we do not need to neglect the seriousness of sin in our lives and how it effects everything that we do.  If you’ve been living a double life then you must understand your sin will catch up to you. Secondly, we need to know and be reminded that God laid our sin on His Son.  We don’t have to carry around our guilt and shame because it’s already been paid for! For the Christian this means: LIVE IN VICTORY! This means confess your sins before God and repent. Don’t keep returning to your former self! And if you are not a Christian there is time for you today, right now, to come to the Cross.  Ask the Lord for forgiveness of your failures and sins and to be the God of your heart.

I hear so many times how God is a loving and forgiving God.  Amen! BUT, this cannot be separated from His other attributes of Holiness, Righteousness, and Justice…. Let us not forget this Christmas the payment made on our behalf for our rebellion.  Let us not answer lightly the question, “How Serious is God about sin in our lives?”