Tag Archives: Prayer

How To Get Parents on Your Team – Part 2

Last week, I wrote on the importance of being on the same team as the parents in your youth ministry.  I cannot overstate how critical it is to have a parental connection and partnership within your student ministry.  The trust and credibility you build with parents will only bring value and growth.  Parents will provide the support you need in various ways and you will be able to provide valuable insight and encouragement to their parenting journey.

Today, I’d like to share with you one practical method of getting parents on your team.  It’s not a trick or an ulterior motive ploy.  On the contrary, you hopefully have the same heart as the parents, and that is to see their child grow in their relationship with the Lord and reach their full potential of using their God-given abilities and gifts.

One way that happens is through Parent/Pastor Conferences.  You heard me.  Why can’t teachers have all the fun with parent/teacher conferences.  After all, aren’t youth pastors/workers/leaders also teaching their children valuable material (the most valuable actually) and need to give progress updates to the parents and find ways we can work together at church and home to allow the student to achieve continued spiritual growth?  In actuality, this meeting has more significance (no offense teachers, you are most appreciated), but not because of the teacher’s place in the student’s life, but because the church teaches about that which is eternal.Shouldn’t parents and pastors sit down and discuss ways they can partner with each other to allow the teenager to fight temptation, grow in their spiritual disciplines and gifts, and experience spiritual growth.  I can hear you scream YES from here!  So how is this done?  I’m glad you asked.

  1. Pick a date. Provide a date with a wide range of times.  Example – 3-7pm on a weeknight can allow families with different schedules to attend.  Provide alternate dates to parents so they can still have time to meet with you, but encourage the conference date as a primary option.
  2. Sign-up List. During your next parent meeting, explain the parent/pastor conference and pass around a sign-up list.  Follow up with parents that may not sign up, but this provides a good base of meetings right off the bat.
  3. Make it Professional. I had my dear wife make her famous chocolate chip cookies (this puts everyone in a good mood to start the meeting) and some coffee.  I set out two leather chairs in the lobby, coffee & cookies on a table, and a sign saying I would be with them in a moment.  This is not a silly exercise, we are talking about the spiritual condition of a human being.  Take it seriously.
  4. Have a Plan. For me, I kept it very simple.  In order to stay in my 30 minute timeframe, I had 4 categories:  Concerns, Strengths, Weaknesses, & Goals.  The parents talked and I also gave my input as well.  This plan worked well in this context and kept discussion on topic and with a firm direction.  **Make sure to have plans for each grade written down and ready to go.
  5. Make Prayer a Focus. We want God to be the main source and contributor to our discussion.  So we make sure to invite God right off the bat through prayer.  Then, I make it a point to have the dad pray at the end of the meeting if he is able to attend.  This is a subtle encouragement to allow the dad to take charge spiritually within the family.  It’s always a blessing to hear parents pray for the teens you serve and care for.

That’s it.  5 steps to conducting a parent/pastor conference.  Just another way to get parents on your team.  You will be pleasantly surprised at the value this provides in your personal ministry to teens, and in your relationships with parents.  Trust, encouragement, direction, blessing, and counsel all happens in 30 minutes.  Give is a try, and get on the same team with those parents.

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It’s Time to Pray

We need to pray.  We need to pray for revival.  We need to pray our country turns back to God, instead of turning our back on God.  We need to pray for this election that Christianity would have a voice, and God would be glorified.  We must do what the money in our wallets and in our kid’s piggy banks says “In God We Trust”.  Tomorrow is going to take a lot of trust, but we are in God’s capable hands.  We need Him more than ever.  Pray.  Trust.  Hope.  And remember that God is still in control.

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Can I Pray For You?

A Poem by Jeff Beckley to the church…

Can I Pray for Youcan-i-pray-for-you-part-1

Can I pray for you church? Can I pray for you?

The trials you face, the struggles you are going through

Can I pray for my teens, who battle pressures from every direction

That Satan wouldn’t add you to his church dropout collection

Can I pray for you Moms, who feel the weight of the world

That child’s crying, that child’s angry, that child just hurled

This last week seemed like a hill impossible to climb, 100 miles high

Can I pray for you moms, so God can hear an extra listen of your cry

Can I pray for you Dads, who may feel like you’re losing your grip

If there was a game between struggle and frustration, you’d win the championship

Work is piling up, you just spilled ketchup on your new shirt, and the house is falling apart

You want to just go for a drive, but your car won’t start

Can I pray for you husbands and wives, who feel like something is missing

Having trouble remembering the days of love notes, fancy dates, and kissing

The sparks are flying alright, but not like from your early days

These are more like sparks from a grinder cutting a fender off an old Chevrolet

Can I pray for you children, whose hold on your innocence seems to be fading

With all that’s on the news, movies, and songs…praying you won’t be imitating

Can I pray for those that are hurting and can’t see the light at the end

Today’s prayer will give you a reason to be on the mend

Can I pray for you church?  Can I pray for you all today?

Because we all need strength, so let’s see what God’s Word has to say.

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Book Review: Churches Partnering Together

Book Review:  Churches Partnering Together by Chris Bruno & Matt Dirks81g57-vr2ol

The Good:

Where Do I Sign?  This book is not short on inspiration.  I loved reading the real life examples of churches partnering together, and the amazing accomplishments for the kingdom of God.  If you are not excited to at least explore a possibility of partnering, then maybe you should take a vitamin or something, because it is definitely inspirational.

Emphasis on Prayer.  This was probably what I most appreciated about this book.  This wasn’t just a “How-To” book on church partnerships.  The authors were careful that these partnerships were bathed in prayer and were God-directed.  Very wise move by the authors and should be appreciated by the reader.

The Bad:

Watered-down.  Due to the wide range of denominations that might pick this book up, there were some aspects that required watering down, or at least vagueness.  For example, one part of the book spoke of the essentials of the faith, but failed to go into detail.  This had to be a discussion the authors had while writing, and I’m sure proved to be a difficult task.

The Grade:  B+.  I wouldn’t call this book earth-shattering, but it is high on practicality and helps the reader fulfill the goal of the title.  If you are looking for ways to partner with other churches, this book will provide valuable insight on how to accomplish your pursuit.  Along with valuable examples, the reader will allow other experiences to vault them into a successful partnership.  This book holds hope for churches to reach their greatest potential together for the glory of God.  I’d say that’s a pretty good review.

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Lessons Learned From Tragedy

Recently, tragedy struck our church. A young man died serving our country, and protecting our freedom. His parents lead music at our church, and are the kindest and most giving people. But my goal in writing today is not another rendition of “when bad things happen to good people”.  These are lessons I’ve learned specifically this week when life gets hard.wrongful-death-lawfuel

Importance of Church Family. This cannot be stressed enough. Honestly, I have no idea how people get through hard times without a loving and caring church community. Our church has acted like a family through this. While the immediately family is suffering, so is the church family, but it is the church family that can provide unlimited support through cards, calls, meals, prayers, and encouragement.

New Understanding of Grace. While God’s mercies are certainly new every morning, His grace is sufficient. These two phrases have come to mind on numerous occasions this week. These truths need to be held dear during hard times. Lean on God’s grace and mercy, and know that even in the tears of the night, you will wake up to theses blessed promises in the morning.

Power of Prayer. If you have ever experienced a tragedy like this in your personal life, you may have experienced the power of prayer. You can actually feel the prayers being lifted on your behalf. The burden is lighter because it is being carried by loving brothers and sisters of Christ.

Renewed Appreciation of Salvation. I John 5:13 says we can know for sure we have eternal life. In these times when a believer is taken from us tragically, your appreciation for salvation goes through the roof. Knowing for sure that someone trusted in Jesus Christ provides eternal comfort.

God’s Sovereignty. Even though you can never fully explain these events, tragedies, and trials, you can trust in God’s sovereignty. God has a plan, and there will be evidence in the events that follow. God often uses tragedy to build His kingdom, to change lives, to bring us closer, and to provide change. Look no further than when He sent His Son Jesus Christ to the cross…to build His Kingdom, to change lives eternally, to bring us to a saving relationship with the Father, and to provide not just a change in our lives, but a transformation.

It has been said that you trials are always a part of your. You are either leaving a trial, in a trial, or about to enter a trial. God has warned us this life would be full of trouble, but he does not leave us empty-handed. Our Heavenly Father will get us through, and this week was a reminder of the capable hands of the Lord.gods-hands

 

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Wedding Rehearsal Tips

  1. Let’s get this party started. Gather entire wedding party together at front. If outdoors, possibly meet in the tent or in small room for instructions.
  1. My name is…Introduce yourself. Explain you are the pastor of the wedding. Give the impression you are happy to be there.
  1. Meet & Greet. Before you pray, start off by having Bride introduce her family and bridesmaids.  Next, have the Groom introduce his family & groomsmen.
  1. Prayer. God should be at the center of the marriage and wedding ceremony, and the wedding rehearsal should be no different.
  1. Twice is Nice. This is how this will work. 1st run through will be a “rough draft”. Get all the kinks out, and it typically ends up being gigglefest 1995. Then run it through a 2nd time as the “REAL DEAL”. Exactly like you would have it on the wedding day.
  1. Introduce the Enforcer. Introduce the Wedding Coordinator. The wedding coordinator will get everyone in their places and get started. Also be sure to explain if you have ANY questions/concerns on wedding day, see the wedding coordinator, not the bride or groom.
  1. Leave some Space. Make sure to leave a place in your notebook to jot down some notes for tomorrow’s wedding.rehearsal

 

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Book Review: Prayer Coach

The Good:  I’ll get straight to the point, the two things l liked best about this book:  practicality & the golden nuggets.  I’ll start with the golden nuggets, because you are probably wondering if that is a new type of cereal or candy bar that comes with the book.  What I mean is some of the phrases and thoughts in this book are simply pure gold.  Can I share a few?  “If something is big enough to worry about, it’s big enough to pray about”.  “Prayer is helplessness plus faith”.  “Sin is like earwax that must be removed in order for God’s voice to come through loud and clear.”prayer coach

On the practicality meter, it would be a 5.0 for sure (that is high for a practicality meter reading, if you didn’t know and if there was such a thing in real life).  Written by a pastor, you can tell he has spent a great deal of time applying his principles to his church and family life, because there are examples of how to implement more prayer everywhere you turn in this book.  It is fantastic.  Let me give you a personal example.  He suggested offering to pray for the teacher in parent/teacher conferences.  May seem simple to you, but I tried that (my daughter is in Kindergarten, so we had our FIRST conference this past month).  And man, the teacher’s face just lit up and she almost screamed yes!  She was thrilled with our offer, and we were able to share God’s love in a special way.  That’s just one example!

The Bad:  Very rarely, but the author takes things a little too far, whether in sarcasm or in practice.  On page 218, I didn’t appreciate his permissiveness in allowing foul language while using accountability (although it was “bleeped” out).  In my mind, you can still be stern and serious with someone in your accountability without using coarse language.  Frankly, I felt like that part of the chapter was not needed, and the liberty given was not warranted.

The Grade:  B+.  You know, maybe you have a prayer life like Bubba Watson’s golf swing,  self-taught, never needing a coach,  But I sure could use a prayer coach.  This book provides the coaching, training, and ideas to improve a prayer life that can always use some improvement.  So, if your prayer life needs no motivation, never needs a halftime speech, and rarely needs any fine-tuning, than this book isn’t for you.  But, if your prayer life is not perfect, gets stuck in ruts, and could use some energy, give this book a try.

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Mission Trip Training – 10 Steps to Prevent Disaster

What is the best way to prepare for a mission trip?  In a word…TRAINING.  You want to avoid the Romeo who tries to ask out the missionary’s daughter or the insurance deductible for what is left of the new orphanage wing…Well, here are 10 steps that will help prevent disaster and set the table for God to work.  (Disclaimer:  Accidents, Trials, and Difficulty can/will occur during mission trips, but there are some difficulty that can be avoided)MissionTrainingPortfolio

1.      Application Process

Mission Trips are serious business.  They must be handled differently than a trip to an amusement park.  You don’t just put a sign-up list on your bulletin board with cool font and clip-art graphics.  No, most of the trips are designed for those students serious about serving God and getting their hands dirty for Jesus Christ.   So what do you do?  You have an application process.  Have each student fill out an application, get references from their parents/guardians and another adult, and must be turned in by the deadline.  Following the application, have them interview with yourself (include parents & other leaders in the interview).  Lay out the expectations of the trip, the assignments, the attendance policy, and the behavior expected in each participant.  If the student cannot meet the expectations, it is in your and their best interest they are not part of the team.

2.      Here’s Your Notebook

Make it look official.  Give each student a notebook with the assignments, place for notes, support letter samples, contact information, prayer requests, release forms, etc.  Students will be able to keep their program assignments and other materials in one spot, and will be advised to take their folders on the trip.  Although it takes some work to put these notebooks together, it is well worth the effort.

Lessons for the notebook notes include Evangelism training, Bible studies on Missions, and assigned reading review.  Guest speakers from the church provide a great way to connect the generations in this effort.  I’ve had elementary teachers and children workers come speak on child evangelism, working professionals speak on leadership or give a “How to Paint” tutorial, and Spanish teachers teach us about Latin culture.

3.      Strict Attendance & Expectations

When I say strict, I mean it.  I give the students one excused absence from training which would include vacation, sickness, etc.  If they miss more than one, they will receive an extra assignment.  Two absences will result in a meeting with the parents.  Why so strict?  I want these students to take this trip seriously.  They will be representing Christ and our church in another state/country, and skipping training shows they don’t see the trip as important.

Also, as part of their attendance each time we meet, I ask each student about the following:  Devotions, Church Attendance, Book Reading, and other assignments.  If there is consistent neglect of these things, additional assignments, and/or meeting with the parents will occur.  If the negligence continues, the student may be dismissed from the team.

4.      Get Your Church On Board

Each year, we prepare a short 15 minute presentation to the church about the trip.  The students present the trip by preparing a PowerPoint, explaining the training, preparation, funds needed, and trip tasks.  A student also will pray for the trip following the presentation.  This shows ownership of the trip and the church will most likely get on board when they hear about the trip from the teenagers themselves.  (And when you get back, makes sure to organize a testimony service)

5.      Unwrap Gifts

unwrapThe last few years I have required that each incoming/new student fill out a Spiritual Gift Inventory.  Using the results of the inventory, I place each student in the groups that best suit their gifts and abilities.  Why would I place a shy introvert whose gift is serving in the lead teaching role?  Similarly, why would a type-A, brilliant communicator with a teaching gift be put in a primarily behind the scenes role?  Sure, there will be times when you go out of your comfort zone, but the primary role should be one that reflects their gifts and abilities, which will in turn allow them to reach their greatest potential for God’s glory.

Tasks and responsibilities could include/but not limited to:  Communicator, Work Coordinators, Team Encourager, Communication Assistants, Ministry Coordinators, Photographers, Prayer Coordinators, Public Relations, Praise Band Member, Teaching Team, Hospitality Team, Cleaning Crew, & Supply Team (Stay Tuned for Task & Responsibility explanation list later in the blog this month)

6.      Unity Doesn’t Just Happen

Unity takes so much work.  This past year we did a unity game and it was complete silence, frustration was high, and people were getting offended by their misuse.  But, we kept at it, continued to do unity games periodically in training, and the final unity activity gave me goosebumps…communication, laughter, leadership, encouragement…that was worth the effort.

7.      Provide Leadership Opportunities

Stretch your students to reach their potential in leadership.  Give them responsibility.  Allow failure, but be there to pick them up when they fail at times.  If the teens aren’t pushed and are not taken out of their comfort zone, your spiritual growth opportunity will decrease significantly.  Allow them to lead music, teach lessons, take the pictures, share the Gospel, lead the devotions…You let them lead, and it may be more work in the outset, but the blessings will be so much more than you ever expected.

8.      Practice Makes…It’s Never Gonna Be Perfect

This is a no-brainer.  You have to schedule time to practice.  Whether it is puppets, music, teaching lessons…give them time to practice during training.  Allow students to be leaders during these practices, particularly the upperclassmen running these practices of their particular part in the program.

9.      Don’t Forget About the Gospelmission-trip-checklist

Speaking of practice, give the students opportunity to practice sharing the Gospel, both real and imaginary.   Here’s what I mean.  Each year, I set up the gym like wherever we are going.  I typically ask 2 or 3 small groups to come and participate in a mock evangelism event acting like different kinds of people.  One year was a park in inner-city Chicago or New York, and other year we were at a camp with a whole bunch of adults acting like elementary kids.  It gives the teens opportunity to practice in a less-pressure filled environment.  As the teens mature and gain more experience, take them door-to-door or to local parks to talk to people about Jesus.

10.  Prayer

Last, but certainly NOT least, is prayer.  Inside the notebooks should be a list of prayer requests that you have for the trip.  Encourage students to pray for these regularly.  Design a prayer card with the team’s picture on it and send those out in your support letters.  Have those cards available in the lobby of the church for people to grab and put on their refrigerators.  Also, as seen in the responsibility list, designate 1 or 2 students to be prayer leaders.  Have these leaders design a prayer book for the trip, and during training have them lead the prayer time and also keep track of individual prayer requests along the way.

See 10 Keys to a Successful Student Mission Trip for more trip information and resources.

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Book Review: O Me of Little Faith

The Book:  “O Me of Little Faith” by Jason Boyett

O Me of Little FaithThe Good:  Perfect introduction to the subject at hand.  Doubt and weak faith is a difficult subject, but the author drew me into it like a pro in the first couple chapters.  You have to read the story about the bench-press.  It had me rolling.  But the “best good” of this book is the honesty.  Without honesty, this book would fall apart.  The author was willing to be transparent in a subject that is not often talked about, doubt.  According to Sticky Faith curriculum, research shows that in high school, 70% of students doubt their faith, but fewer than half actually talk about those doubts with a pastor, other adult, or other students in their youth ministry.  There is a disconnect of those that have doubts, insecurity, or loss of faith and the discussion that happen as a result of those things.  This book helps bring those issues to the surface.  Other things worth the price of admission:  Chapter 8 baptism story is absolutely precious (don’t use the word precious often, but it applies and is a must read.  Also, a must read, ALL of chapter 9.

The Bad:  The author has a weak view on prayer and it shows throughout.  While I appreciate the honesty, I’m not on the same page.  Also, liturgy in chapter 5 was a little over emphasized for my liking.  This is a dangerous book for those new in their faith.  I would recommend this book for those that are weak in their faith after a substantial time in the faith.  I would hate for this book to be given to a new believer only to have their faith crushed before it could bloom.  Finally, the sarcasm can get to be too much where the book is almost trying to convince the reader to have doubt in a certain area.

The Grade:  B-

I absolutely loved the author’s style, approach, and honesty.  However, it offers little closure to the reader and often chooses sarcasm over solution.  There are portions of this book that are a must read (like chapter 9), but there are reasons for a B grade.

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Louisville Player’s Gruesome Injury…God was there

Where were you when you saw Kevin Ware jump 3 feet into the air to defend a 3 point shot? louisville0410

It was Easter afternoon when one of the most publicized injury in sports history occurred.  It was gruesome.  When the replay was shown, our whole house groaned, and couldn’t look away soon enough.

It was rare when I had to shade my kids eyes from a basketball game.  Players were nauseous, crying, lying on the floor.  Coaches could barely look…and if you look closely, a player on the bench passes out!

But where was God?  He was listening to the prayer of Luke Hancock, who would later single-handedly bring his team back in the championship game.  God was there to comfort Kevin…and this is the story that many are missing…the courage that he gained from a simple prayer.

Read the rest of the story here.

 

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