#OC17 Rundown 17.2

#misfits, adolescent, church, community, Family Ministry, Ministry, misfits, stories, Student Ministry, students, systems, Uncategorized, volunteer

 

OC17_20170426_GL1_6000

First things first. YOU HAVE TO HEAD TO ORANGE STORE!!!

https://secure.orangestore.org/

It is packed with some awesome resources, curriculum, strategy and advice. Take a few minutes to look through everything, make a wish list, ask for it, and then ask Orange Specialists for advice. They are great at helping ministry flourish in communities and wrestling with the difficulties alongside you.

Main Session 2

The main session this morning was awesome. Orange introduced us to some new friends and some familiar faces.

This morning we were introduced to Lucas Leys, founder of e625. He is influencer and change maker for people working alongside and in the hispanic culture. He had some points to share about the current state of the hispanic culture in the U.S. A huge thing that got to me was that the hispanic culture is fearful, but eager to engage with the Gospel around them. Then an old friend of Orange, Andy Stanley, then came out and dropped some knowledge. He talked about the Old Testatment, Vertical Morality, versus what Jesus brought to the table, a Horizontal Morality. The Horizontal Morality simply asks the question, “What does love require of me.” This question, though simple, is more demanding of our faith. It forces us to engage the people around us in new ways that demonstrate the love of Jesus in our communities and to our neighbors.

Moving High Schoolers to Be Neighbor Minded

Doug Fields @DougFields

Doug Field is a wealth of knowledge on everything Student Ministry. This session Doug talked about how we as churches need to change our measuring stick of success. We have to move from a numbers based approach and look at how our students are serving and ministering to the communities they are a part of. Doug highlight his SHAPE strategy to help students discover their gifts and where to put them for their own success. When our goal is to create students who have a passion for seeing a need and meeting it with love, they become more neighborly, more like Jesus.

At Risk Teens

David Tieche @DaveTieche

It was great connecting with David for a few minutes before his session.  He blew this session out of the water has he talked about best practices for dealing with teens labeled ‘at-risk.’ Dave talked about how a teens external and internal assets impact their choices in life. The more assets a teen has the less likely they are to engage in risk-taking behavior. Where do teens get these assets from? Caring adults. Dave gave out some great tips for working with teens, best practices and simple questions to start the conversation.

Partnering with Schools in the Intercity Untitled 4

Nicole Baker Fulgham @nicolebfulgham

Being an educator I have always looked for ways to partner with schools in the community. There is a need for time, people, and skills. When churches can connect with schools in a way that respects the mission of the school great things happen. Nicole Baker Fulgham shared strategies for working with intercity schools. Something that I am personally taking away is to get informed about the city, the community, you are a part of, especially when it relates to multi-cultural issues.

OC#17 Rundown 17.1

#misfits, church, community, Family Ministry, Ministry, stories, Student Ministry, Uncategorized

Orange Conference hasn’t even started yet but I am already feeling excited and pumped for the next few days. Today, the YouLead Breakouts gave us just a taste of what’s to come. The first session was called “Understanding Social Justice in the City” from Sean Watkins. Then, I went to see Jon Acuff give some tips and advice in order to “Talk Better Now.” The mxain session was awesome as always with a lot of great speakers bring out the best of the theme For Our Neighbors. Here are some of the BIG ideas from both Sean Watkins and Jon Acuff and the rundown on the Opening Session.

Social Justice in City

Sean came out right and said that, “our calling as parents, our vocation as youth ministry leaders, is incomplete if we do not address social justice issues.”

Going through Nehemiah as a guide to leadership, character and how to do social justice reform in our communities Sean broke down how leaders can engage the communities around them. The issues in our cities, in our communities, that are evident to people around us should break your heart, should make you angry as it breaks Gods own heart and angers Him. We begin to engage the communities around use first by becoming more aware. We must lament and grieve to the injustices in the cities and communities we are a part of. That we should engage the least of these in a way that honors the fact that God is so portrayed as a stranger needing hospitality. Ask yourself questions that raise your own awareness about social justice issues and those around you. Who is missing from your programs? Who has come and not returned? Why? What are the social justice issues in the city? Once we are aware, we know, and knowing is half the battle. We must continue to strive to understand the context of social justice issues through the historical lens of our cities, understand the biblical mandate to engage in these issues and to look for ways to meet a need. From awareness, to action to advocacy. We must advocate for these issues that impact the lives of people we encounter. We cannot afford to simply not be racist but we must be anti-racism by advocating for those impacted by racism in our communities. Bring people along with you in this journey, be honest with where you are in it yourself. Find organizations that are combating these issues and work hand-in-hand with them.

Sean did a great job of clarify issues, giving us a biblical understanding of social justice and equipping us to take the next steps. Check out his, and others, podcast at Voices from the Margins. Sean works for Intervarsity and can be reached at sean.watkins@intervarsity.org or followed on twitter @seanisfearless

Talk Better Now

Most people get excited to hear Jon Acuff speak. I am no different. I walk away with something new to motivate me, a new technique to try at work or that little nudge to push me past my comfort zone. Jon gave a quick and dirty rundown on simple ways he prepares to give speeches and tips for listeners to be more successful.

Jon gave the audience some points on being a better speaker. His first point was to simply know your audience. This helps you to connect with someone through a message. Ask the host questions like what should you avoid in the speech, what is the audience going through, what are they excited about. These questions help formulate a better understanding of the audience, develops empathy with them and allows the audience to connect in a deeper way. His next tip was to play to your strengths. Simply write out your speech, then edit later. They are two different things and shouldn’t be done in unison. Using that template create main islands and bridges that connect those main ideas. Predict where there will be pushback from your audience on ideas and explain them in a way that they acknowledges their pushback but also challenges them. Be authentic in your talk. People, especially teenagers, can smell dishonest a mile aware and can be pretty unforgiving. When speaking, read the room and use tension through changing rhythms to tailor your talk to the audience. Practice until it is almost perfect and then make sure you enjoy the process, or the audience won’t either. A huge idea that Jon talked about was the speaking is a form of serving. That it is his goal to communicate an idea in such a way that it equips the leaders with something they can take way with them. That peoples response should be, “it was like you were reading my diary, you understood what I was going through.”

Jon has so much to give about being an effective communicator. He has a tone of great books out and is always on twitter @JonAcuff.

MainSession

Opening session saw some awesome speakers light up our world and get ready to start a party. Jon Acuff, Carlos Whittaker, Gerald Fadayomi, Danielle Strickland and Reggie Joiner all brought their voices. Ways to see our neighbors, to help parents, listen to students, see people in a fresh way and how to start a party. We are FOR OUR NEIGHBORS

Click the section headings for Notes on sessions and connect with Orange using the hashtag #OC17

Books!

#misfits, church, community, Family Ministry, life, purpose, stories, Student Ministry, team building, Uncategorized

books

 

I love reading. Every time I do I learn something new, take a adventure, get some crazy ideas and grow in confidence in a new area. Over the past few years there are a few different books that I wanted to share with you all that have helped me grow as a leader, teacher, mentor, and husband. They have helped me to influence other people and challenged me to grow closer to God. Here are a few essentials to add to your reading list.

My Utmost, His Highest – Oswald Chambers

https://www.amazon.com/My-Utmost-His-Highest-Paperback/dp/1572937718/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_14_t_0?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=HW3E38186B4CMJVQJEG5

I have loved this devotional since college. My friend Louie put it in my hands and he always referred to Oswald Chambers as Ozzy. I have probably read this book through and through seven or eight times and it never gets old. It is like a spiritual kick to the face and helps me to navigate life. It is a great addition to your daily readings and you can download it as an app. It has challenged me to grow in my faith and become closer with God. 

Wild at Heart – John Eldridge

https://www.amazon.com/Wild-Heart-Revised-Updated-Discovering/dp/1400200393/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492469417&sr=1-1&keywords=wild+at+heart

I read this book yearly. Again, Louie gave me my first copy and it has helped me to understand faith, my part in Gods bigger story and how to find an authentic manhood. It is one of the few books I have multiple copies of simply to give away to people (seriously, you want one let me know it’s yours). Reading this book has helped to understand my personal struggles, my role as a man in this world and helped me to see who God has created me to be. 

7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey

https://www.amazon.com/Habits-Highly-Effective-People-Powerful/dp/1451639619/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492469433&sr=1-1&keywords=7+Habits+of+Highly+Effective+People

The first time I read this was with a bunch of youth pastors looking for ways to step up our game. It was impactful in ways that I cannot describe. Even today when I am feeling overwhelmed I think about the four quadrants and where I am currently in (if you don’t know what I am talking about you should pick this book up!). It helps me to be a more strategic person, a better decision maker, become more mindful about my work and has allowed me to stay organize and focused. I am not perfect and don’t have all 7 down to a science, but I try and find that they help me out a lot. 

Love Does – Bob Goff

https://www.amazon.com/Love-Does-Discover-Secretly-Incredible/dp/1400203759/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492469466&sr=1-1&keywords=Love+Does

Through reading ‘Love Does’ I was inspired to step out of my comfort zone and love other people in a more impactful way. Bob shares a vignette every chapter that helps me to see God in a better way, connects my personal story to Gods narrative, and allows me to dream up new ways to simply love people. It helped me to see that loving people is easier than we think, we just have to have the courage to do it. Bob is funny, loves people and is always up for an adventure. 

Lead Small – Reggie Joiner

https://www.amazon.com/Lead-Small-Ideas-Every-Leader/dp/0985411627/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492469482&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=LeadSmall

I felt like Lead Small was the last kick in the butt I needed to finally realize it is ALL about relationships. Life, ministry, you name it, it is about connecting with people in order to have a greater impact than you can imagine. Lead Small is a cornerstone idea from Orange that helps to inform  leaders on how to think small in their areas of life.   Instead of trying to influence hundreds of people, Lead Small helps us to think strategically on how we can influence a few. Whether it is ministry, in schools, or at work when you think small you discover a big impact. Lead Small has helped put relationships on the forefront of my mind, helped me discover new ways to connect with people and figure out how to walk alongside my few through life. 

What are some of your favorite books? What are owns that have change you and made you better. Comment and let me know.

Connection

church, community, empathy, life, Ministry, misfits, purpose, stories, Uncategorized

fuse

 

     I sat listening to a speaker, with my wife, the other night talk about the need for connection, a need for relationships, with people in order to change the world. At the end there was time for Q&A. Many people understood the need for connecting with people who are hurting, lost or in the midst of struggle. However, many questions were geared to how to engage and connect with the people the see everyday.

     Many people felt unqualified to help others. The presenter said that someone asked him once what made him qualified to help others and he responded, “because I have a pulse.” We often underestimate our ability to simply be with people. You are qualified, you have a passion, you have talents and you are surrounded by people all the time. Sometimes, all we need to do is be vulnerable enough to invite someone else into our lives. Through this invitation we can connect with people. 

     Having a hard time figuring out how? Start small. Learn a persons name. There is power in a name, the feeling of being known by someone. Ask questions to get to know them. Go do something with them; share a meal, or go volunteer together, anything to allow proximity. Then, be vulnerable to share about yourself first.

     Impacting the lives of others impacts our own lives too. We are able to grow and learn along with the people that we interact with. Maybe you’re a mentor, a teacher, a volunteer or an advocate, your proximity to other people rubs off on you. It is meant to. Rubbing shoulders with people can be messy, don’t be afraid. When you walk with people through life the learning is reciprocal. 

     Don’t go into a relationship hoping to fix someone, go in just to be with them. When we go in with our own expectations and our own agendas we miss the opportunity to simply be with someone else. There may be frustration when they make a decision we don’t agree with or relapse into an old habit. If we have our own agendas we will be tempted to simply walk away. When we walk away from another we lose the opportunity to share life together. 

     Life change is not a sprint it is a marathon. Love over time. Sometimes a very long time. Connecting with people, especially those who society has pushed to the margins, is what life is about. Go after authentic relationships, have great conversations, get messy and laugh. You are qualified, you have a pulse.

Dreamers

#misfits, community, life, Ministry, misfits, purpose, stories, Student Ministry, Uncategorized

dreams

 

When I close my eyes and think what God wants me to do I always get the same image in my brain. The same ideas, the same processes, and the same passion. It’s a dream that He’s given me. To be honest, I get scared that my dream will simply be a dream. There are things I am doing right now thought to make it happen.

I talk about my dream a lot. Honestly, I do this just to simply keep me accountable. I don’t want the dream to die so I figure if I talk about it then there is still hope for it to be. People have started to ask me questions about it in conversation and I love processing new ideas with people. A friend randomly gave me a tool I needed to start on one aspect of it. It was probably the coolest thing ever. 

I am doing a lot to learn. I am basing my research papers for grad school on issues regarding my dream. I email random experts in different fields asking them questions just trying to just learn things. I always just have this thought that if they don’t respond or if I get shut down then I am exactly where I am currently. Nothing to lose, everything to gain.

I take small steps. I look at what other people are doing in their businesses, or in chasing their own dreams, and I do what I can. I start with social media, or blogging. I try to network with other people and get ideas from them. I plan a lot, write curriculum or fill out forms (in a lot of dreams you end up filling out some sort of form). It keeps me hungry and I know it may not be today or tomorrow but it is going to happen.

Fear ultimately is my biggest enemy. Fear leading to doubt which leads to inaction. That it is a dumb idea, how can I support a family on a dream or that voice that says I am too messed up to even think about something good for myself. I like to tell that voice to shut up (and a few other choice words).

What is your dream? What do you think your purpose is in life? Maybe it is a new career path. Maybe it is to travel more, or to learn a new skill. What are the little things you can do to take steps to seeing it become real. I may not happen in a day, but keep chipping away at it. The biggest advice I got was to do a few small things every day towards your goals, your dream.  These are called low cost probes. Little steps that give you a lot of reward. Experience, knowledge, insight, just about anything that will get you closer to your end goal. Then, go for it.

I would love to hear about your dream. Love for you to hear about mine. Share ideas, help one another and encourage one another to allow dreams to be reality. Comment here or text me 585-441-4610, can’t wait to here what dreams you’re chasing. 

Risk

#misfits, adolescent, church, community, Family Ministry, life, purpose, stories, students, team building, Uncategorized

risk

 

Chances are you’ve taken a few risks in your life. Heck, simply asking my wife on our first date was a risk. I took a risk this weekend with the cheese in the fridge. Everyday life throws us opportunities and chances to play it safe or take a risk. Sure there are somethings that you don’t want to risk (like your marriage, or safety of your kids) and there are smarter ways to take a risk than others (like don’t quit your job until you have a lead on another). Yet, I am always amazed at how often those around me, and myself, simply choose the safe route. I may talk a big game, or prove my risk taking initiative by doing something just slightly more risky than usual, yet I am still where I am. And often I can feel stuck there. 

The courage to take a risk produces some of life’s best moments. Sure, there is never 100% chance of success, but that is why it is a risk. Think about it, that moment where you think of what you want to do, you visualize all the outcomes and failures and then say, “I’m in.” That moment, even with failure, brings out a sense of freedom and confidence in us as people. 

Working with youth, many of them face a lot of decisions. Some of these choices are small, but some are huge. What college to go to? Should I ask that girl out? Should I really eat 25 packets of Diablo sauce at Taco Bell on a bet? I remember one student being a romantic and really wanted to ask this girl out. He was super awkward, typical 15 year old. I just said, “do it, the worst that will happen is she says no, and you’ll be in the same situation you are right now, but at least you’ll know.”

That’s mostly what taking a risk is about, discovery. There is adventure and joy in that moment when you step out in order to take a risk you didn’t think you could.

Maybe it is a job change you’re thinking about. Or you have a new business idea. You want to ask that person out. You want to do something but are too nervous about the odds and the outcomes. You have had a dream in your mind for years, but have always thought it wouldn’t work out. 

If you’re like me you argue with yourself a lot. If you’re like me you try to wait for a “sign” from God. If you’re reading this, this is that sign. You’ll be surprised what God is capable off when you step into that risk that He has been nudging you towards.

Here are some things I do when I approach a big risk I am deciding on:

1.) Think it through and weigh the cost/benefits

2.) Ask people their thoughts, especially people who can ask you really tough questions

3.) Small cost probes, little things that give you a taste and experience with that new risk

4.) Close your eyes and jump

I would love to hear about some risks you dreaming about and think of ways to take that risk boldy. Follow us on twitter or Instagram at misfit_min, or leave a comment on here.

Come to Me

#misfits, #politics, church, community, empathy, Family Ministry, life, Ministry, misfits, stories, students, Uncategorized

immigrant

Jesus invites people into a relationship with Him. He invites them in close. Jesus could smell the disease on the lepers and  was close enough to get spit at from possessed man. He wasn’t afraid to share an intimate space with those that the society of His time viewed as outcasts, villains, sinners and those who people forgot about.

We are coming to this point here in our world today. Where we can choose to bring people in, care for them, love them and point them towards Jesus; or we can choose to turn people away, shun them, treat them as villains and abandon them.

Matthew 11:28 came to mind as I reflected on the last few days. I have heard a man, speaking on behalf of a faith, alienating another group of people. Matthew 11:28 says “Come to Me, ALL who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Over and over again Jesus invites all people in. The Good Samaritan would’ve been despised by the man he saved, yet he had compassion. Romans, a people group not too friendly with the Jews, would come to Jesus. In fact, Jesus commends a centurion for his faith.

We are blurring the lines of faith and politics. Faith always trumps politics. They are not the same. Sometimes, they agree and sometimes they disagree, but they are not the same. We contradict our faith and our beliefs with how we act. Our actions then are what seems best to us at the time, not led by our relationship with Jesus. I think it fitting that a plaque on the Statue of Liberty, a sight millions of immigrants would see coming to America, says this “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Jesus would say the same thing. 

My wife said something the other day and I loved it. She said “I don’t want someone in the name of my Savior, of my faith, to give me favor, or blessing, and take  away freedom, opportunity, safety, compassion from someone else. That is not what a christian does. It’s not how Jesus would have it.”

Remember, Jesus invited everyone to come to Him. He invites us still. As Misfits we see this. We see that the lines are blurred and many are asking questions. In these moment, push into Jesus. Ask for understanding and for words in the midst of heated discussion. Use your influence and your talents to point all people towards Jesus. Demonstrate care, compassion and   humility. Open the doors for the weary, the oppressed, the burdened, the refugees and point them to Jesus.

Here is a link to some thoughts on how to treat refugees and immigrants from Relevant Magazine. 

Empathy

#misfits, adolescent, church, community, empathy, life, Ministry, organizational strategy, stories, students, Uncategorized

1163143_orig

We will only go as far in bringing justice, peace and hope to our world as our ability to empathize with one another will carry us.

I don’t see unity. Even conversations about fast food restaurants are fueled by hate, fear and anger. I believe that we are a divided people. This division from where I sit comes from our inability to simply feel how someone else feels and see a situation from another persons perspective. From there, we fall short of standing up for someone once we have begun to empathize. We fall short of building connections and building bridges between people. We let our differences divide us.

Those differences come in many forms. We fall prey to the separation caused by political parties, race, religion, culture, upbringing, and who’s turn it is to do the dishes. When the spotlight is on the differences we often turn to anger and hatred towards that person which then leads us to dehumanize them. When this happens we are not able to empathize, we don’t even care. In the midst of the arguing we focus on our differences and not on those things that we all share.

We have a lot of things in common. We obviously feel that our view, our side, our team is the best and if we are the best then others are of lesser value, we are all people who are passionate about something. I often find that the emotions that spurn on peoples passions and views are often the same. We speak from experiences, hurts, doubts, and worries. The things that drive us are often times the things we hope to fix most. We experience things in life that have shaped our views. People have similar emotions even in the midst of the tension we share. Fear, confusion, anger, these things are shared by us in that moment. We also share the hope for something better than our current situation.We must use these similarities, however small, to help drive our ability to empathize with one another.

So how do you build or even find empathy? You fight for it. You look for the humanity in people. That little something that says, I know how you feel. We’ve all suffered loss, hurts, pains, we have all faced some tough stuff in our lives. We have all also seen great joy and triumph. We must listen to the stories of one another. Let those stories sink it and resonate with us. Discover the connections between one another, don’t just blow them off because it is different from you.

You should have people in your life that are different from you. They should look different, work in different industries, believe differently and even vote differently. Then take all those differences and share life together. Eat a meal, laugh, share life stories and love people for who they are, and not who you wish they would be.

Create safe space. Sometimes, we need to talk through our differences. We need to be humble enough to admit when we are wrong, vulnerable enough to admit our flaws and caring enough to not let these differences separate us. Listen to one another. Truly listen. Hear their hearts and their fears and not just wait for your turn to talk.

Our ability to empathize with one another is what will save the day. 

A Nearness

#misfits, adolescent, Ministry, stories, Student Ministry, Uncategorized, volunteer

connected

 

Our proximity to people helps us to see the struggles they go through and the hurts they carry. Working with youth for a number of years has allowed me to walk with them through a world of hurt, questions and frustrations. Many times they don’t have answers or the words to explain what they are going through and feeling. Part of being a Misfit is to step into the gap for the hurting, to draw closer in to another person in a bad spot,  to create empathy and simply show up for someone else.

This takes time. There is an ebb and flow to dealing with people who have seen trauma and experienced deep hurts. There are relapses and backward steps. There are good days and bad days. Yet, our consistent presence in the lives of others, simply showing up for someone we care about, helps.

In the midst of the relapses and backwards steps you are going to want to give up. You will want to give up on yourself or the people you are walking alongside. It is important to give yourself and one another grace. To celebrate the smallest victories and find encouragement in the moments of defeat. We are called to help, aide and point people back to Jesus, back to sanity, and not hold another grudge when we feel slighted. 

Be energized to go into the fray once more. You are meant to be near the hurting, marginalized and the those trying to find their way. You are a Misfit.

Rough

adolescent, Family Ministry, Ministry, stories, Student Ministry, students, Uncategorized

kids

Some kids are tougher to reach than others. My proximity to kids helps me to realize some of the severe trauma that some may experience. Dropping kids off at their homes that have no furniture, no electricity, and no food you begin to realize the lives they live after 4pm. You may be the only consistent person in their life, they may not know how to respond and act around you, they may fear abandonment and have seen so much loss they don’t even want to try.

The toughest kids are the most rewarding kids when you give them love over time consistently, show up for them and speak life into them.

Dealing with kids that have dealt with extreme trauma in their lives is tough. They can be more argumentative, angry, defiant and lack the desire for social connections. Don’t take it personally. You did not cause their trauma, and you are not the sole person reasonably to fix it. It takes time and will be rough at times. Things will be said and done that seem like a personal attack. Sometimes, students who have faced trauma ‘test’ your willingness to stick around. Show up. Some great advice I received once was to “let all the badness roll off you like water off a ducks back.” Remember to not take the rough moments personally.

Despite the frustrations you get from dealing with students who have faced trauma in their lives, you are called to love them anyway. Know them, ask them questions, treat them fairly, be clear with expectations of behavior and be fair. Invite them to have lunch with you. Treat them as they are, kids. Build a relationship that is founded on trust, respect and consistency. You may be the first time they have seen this type of relationship.

You will get tired. Tired of the struggle and tired of the slow process in building relationships. Keep at it. It is worth it, they are worth it. These students will come around, it may take longer, but they will open up. When they do listen to their stories, help them to see that their stories do not define them and speak life into them. Help them discover their passions and strengths in life.