Monthly Archives: April 2014

10 Quick Tips: How to Officiate a Wedding

This past weekend, I had the privilege of officiating/performing/conducting (what is the right word here?) my sister-in-law’s wedding.  The wedding was absolutely beautiful (and not just because it was on a golf course), but had a unique, rustic look.  But you’re not reading this for decoration tips, so I’ll get right to your wedding ceremony advice…wedding

  1. Pre-Marital Pre-vention.  Pre-marital counseling is a must for many reasons, but concerning the ceremony it does these 3 things: builds trust, allows you and the couple to become more familiar, & gives time to discuss the ceremony at your own pace.
  2. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel. When preparing your wedding template, save yourself some time and email every pastor you know that has done a wedding. Get their templates as a wedding ceremony smorgasbord, without the soft serve ice cream. Mmmmmm, soft serve…sprinkles…what was I talking about again?
  3. Research & Read. Start reading marriage books. Seriously, whether it is “Sacred Marriage”, “Real Marriage”, or “The Meaning of Marriage”…start reading and getting concepts and ideas you would like to have in the ceremony.
  4. In the multitude of counselors, there is safety. GET ADVICE! Make it simple.  What is one thing you wished you knew about doing weddings? What do I make sure to do, and what do I make sure I don’t do?
  5. Prayer. Make prayer an important part of the wedding day. Pray with the groomsmen, pray during the ceremony, and pray throughout that God would be glorified!
  6. Practice Makes Perfect. More on this next week, but the rehearsal is more than just a formality, it will eliminate a great deal of problems. Rehearsal practice is more important than you think.
  7. Don’t be Funny. OK, there may be some weddings that are less rigid and a laugh or two can happen. But whenever you’re tempted to say something funny, don’t! Stick to the script. When writing the script, if you think a joke would be good there, YOU ARE WRONG!
  8. Remember, no one will remember you (and that’s OK!). In talking to other pastors, this was a very common sentiment. What you say is important, but no one is there to listen to you and they won’t remember what you said. But that’s OK, it’s all about the celebration of two lives God has brought together, and the representation it is of Christ and His Bride! Let them remember Jesus.
  9. 3 Ring Binders are Your Friend (Especially Outdoors). I’ll make this quick. 3-ring, 5×8 binder, clear binder pockets, cut script paper into sleeves, place card stock paper in sleeves for easy turning of pages. This set up eliminates problems such as: rain, wind, and flipping of pages.
  10. Short & Sweet. The nice thing about doing weddings is everyone expects the pastor to read from a script. So do that, but time it and make sure it is not too long. Better to be a little short than a little long. Make sure to include the meaning of marriage, the Gospel, challenge to the couple…and then head straight to vows-town.

 

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Parenting Lesson

Teaching Your Kids to Read the Bible.

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What is Technology Doing to Us?

OK, I can hear you from here. You’re thinking: “this is another guilt-me-into-putting-my-cell-phone-down blog. I’ve seen these a million times, and I feel guilty for a day and go without my cell phone. Then, the next day a new version of Candy Crush comes available for free, and I go bananas (pardon the pun)”

Bear with me, let’s start with an experiment. Next time you drive on the highway, take a look around. Count how many people are on their cell phones while driving. Maybe your highways are safer than mine, so take this experiment to the next restaurant you have dinner, and look to see who is actually having conversations with a non-electronic device. Take a stroll to the park, and watch parents push their kids on swings with one hand, and check their social media on their smartphone with the other.  Even when teenagers hang out, it’s commonplace for phones to be out and communication to be non-existent.social_media-Technology-Wallpapers

What’s my point?  Is the iPocolypse upon us.  Should we all try to build a Delorean with a flux capacitor to get us back 15 years.  Doc, slow down.  Before we get to some answers, let’s start with the bad news:

  1. Danger, Danger! You’ve all seen articles like this or this. There’s no doubt about it, with the overuse of technology, there comes developmental and social ramifications. Don’t ignore the warning signs of technology addiction. It’s real, and must be monitored in the future.
  2. FOMS. Anxiety is a growing problem for this generation. In fact, there is a term for the anxiety that occurs with a smartphone, it called Fear of Missing Something or FOMS. It may seem silly, but the statistics of this are staggering. Read here.
  3. So Much for Honor RollAnxiety is also growing inside the classroom.  While there are benefits of technology in the classroom, there are also some drawbacks. Not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, just presenting facts to consider.

The Good News:computer-kid

  1. Techie Faith. Teens are using their tablets for devotions and iPods for Bible reading. While I’m a big fan of feeling the Scripture pages with my fingers, technology can provide an avenue for Spiritual growth and discovery. (See Barna’s article)
  2. Millennials, Robots in Disguise? Can you say multitasking while chewing gum, patting your head, listening to your iPod, and skating…a typical Millennial can. The ability of this generation to process information quickly, multitask, and decipher technology is astounding (I caught my one year old texting the other day, not joking). This ability can be a huge advantage in their education, breadth of learning, and advancing our technology even further in the future.
  3. World-View. Whether it is learning of an earthquake in Central America within minutes of it happening, or finding out about persecution in the Far East…the worldview expansion of this generation has potential to be world-changing. Possibly by prayer, financial support, or leading causes, we are seeing more teenagers taking strides in making a difference in the world.

When it comes down to it, the key word here is BALANCE. When it comes to technology, don’t throw the cell phone out with the bath water. Technology provides educational tools, instant access to information, and globalization of communication. However, the overuse has seen the rise in anxiety amongst teens, increase in auto accidents, slow erosion of academic performance and decrease of quality family time. family-and-technologyWhere is the balance? Here’s some action points to help:

  1. Be Smart with your SmartPhone. Put the thing away when you are driving, riding a bike, or walking on a bridge.
  2. Set Limits. These could include, but not limited to: no cell phones at dinner, limit yourself to 1-2 games on your phone/tablet, must be put away when entering the house from work, and at a distance when on a date or playing with the kids. For kids & teens especially – no cell phones during homework/study and after designated bed time.
  3. Charging Station. Especially for teens that are suffering from sleep deprivation and sleep texting, take the temptation away. Design a charging station away from the bedrooms, and check the phones before your shower, not between 1am-5am.
  4. Security. Set up security and restrictions on devices. With teens averaging 6 devices, it’s no longer just computers that provide temptations. Parents, keep an eye on this, and set up software to protect. BUT DON’T STOP THERE! Have regular conversations about purity vs. pornography, online bullying, and proper technology behavior (i.e. sexting).
  5. Superheroes of Technology. In virtually every superhero movie, there’s a quote that or scene that depicts the phrase “use your powers for good not evil”. Encourage yourself and students to use this power of technology for good.   Help them find and pray for global causes, teach them to witness on social media, and show them Bible study tools online. The list is endless for positive things too.
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Mocking Evangelism

What’s wrong with me, I’m currently reading a book called “Questioning Evangelism”, and I’m about to blog about Mocking Evangelism. Before you start throwing stones at your computer, let me straighten things out here. Questioning Evangelism is a book about using questions in evangelism. And I’m not encouraging mocking evangelism, but the use of Mock Evangelism events.
Mock Evangelism events are a staged event where students can practice sharing the Gospel with those they know and trust. How is it done? Well, let me help you explain by answering 3 Questions: Why, Where, & Who?evangelism4

Why? Maybe your youth ministry is different, but I’m entering my 3rd year in my current ministry, and when I polled the high schoolers, very few have ever led anyone to the Gospel. So I wanted them to learn how to do it in a “safe environment”. So the Mock Event allows the students to practice their gospel presentations with familiar faces before they go out and share with strangers.
Where? My goal is to make it real as possible. One time I set the gym up like a lunchroom, another was a park, and last year was the streets of Chicago. Also sounds are effective. So, in that lunchroom setting, I was the principal and would give announcements from the sound system. Or for a mission trip to Chicago, I showed slides with sights and sounds of downtown Chicago.
Who? In the past, I’ve mentioned the importance of intergenerational ministry.  Well, here is one way to accomplish bridging the generations together. Each time, I invite several adult small groups to come and participate. For the student lunch room, I had adults dress up like cheerleaders, athletes, or in goth costumes. For the park, one guy was passed out on a bench, another was painting portraits, and another was playing catch with his kids. BEST PART: Gave permission to adults to “step out” of character when needed and instruct or encourage the teen. Say things like “Here’s what you can say here” when they get stuck or “that was really good, keep going”. This is a real opportunity for natural discipleship/mentoring to take place.

Extra: Be Creative. Use sounds, people of your church, PowerPoint, decorations. Make it real, so when you do take your students out, they will be as ready as they can be. Cater to your Trip. For example: I knew part of the Chicago trip would be to invite people from their homes. So I had “actors” in side rooms ready to answer the door. The teens had no idea who they would meet on the other side. Hilarious! But it gave them experience of what they would face on the trip, and in real life.

Hopefully you can see the value of Mock Evangelism Events, particularly in the mission trip training process. However, I’ve used these events concluding series on the importance of sharing the Gospel. Please, don’t allow this event to be a replacement for the real thing, but as a training ground for your students to be sent out as missionaries in their homes, neighborhoods, schools, communities, and around the world.

 

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