#OC17 Rundown 17.2

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

 

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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.

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.

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.

Misfits

#misfits, adolescent, community, Ministry, organizational strategy, Student Ministry, Uncategorized

misfit-bw

Jesus is a Misfit. He took the expectations of religion and society and turned them upside down. He spent time with the least of these. The sick, the marginalized, the oppressed, the prostitutes, the widows and the orphans. He took, and continues to take, a bunch of ragamuffins and turns them into world-shakers. He breathes life into dead things. Jesus continually challenged the status quo of our society and engaged people where they were. Jesus met sinful people, in the midst of their sin, and showed up for them. He never asked for them to clean up first, to get it right first, and only then He would help. He rubbed shoulders with those society had forgotten and demonstrated genuine, authentic, love. Jesus challenged how we viewed God and how our beliefs shape us. He challenges us still.

How are we engaging the forgotten, the downtrodden and the lost in our lives? Do we interact only with people so that we could gain something? How does your proximity to people demonstrate authentic love and care? Do you stand for justice and seek to find solutions to the problems in our world? How is your life pointing others to Jesus?

A Misfit looks at the world differently. We stand boldly in our faith in Jesus to evaluate the world around us. We step in relationally to meet people where they are, in the midst of their hurts and struggles, to give support, pray and sometimes to just sit in silence. We are not afraid to challenge the way things have always been done in the hopes of something better. To be a Misfit is to step into the challenges that our world faces and point it all to Jesus.

Through this endeavor we hope to lead leaders, generate empathy, teach influencers and participate in engaging the lost, forgotten, hurting, oppressed and the outsiders. Let us be challenged to be more like Jesus; to meet people where they are, to grow relationally, to empathize with one another and influence the world.

Join us on Instagram and Twitter at Misfit_Min to learn with us and engage the world together.

Orange is Coming

adolescent, Ministry, Student Ministry, students, Uncategorized

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Orange Tour is underway and you have to get your tickets. Every year Orange takes the information, speakers and resources from the Orange Conference and brings them to you. It is a great time to learn, laugh, and create a dialogue around your ministry.

Last year, I had the chance to have Orange Tour come to the church I was the student minister at. The people on the tour are amazing. Even Reggie got into the hustle of the day as we set everything up. Orange leaders make themselves available for attendees to chat with, ask questions and better themselves. Not everyone is able to go to Orange Conference, that is why they bring the fun to you.

Monday is coming and Orange Tour is bringing it. Here you will discover the best ways to connect kids and their families to Jesus throughout the week, not just on Sunday. Monday is coming is a great idea to test your ministry against. How are students and their families acting on their faith throughout the week? How is your ministry helping them to do just that?

Through the speakers, workshops and conversations at Orange Tour you will be challenged. Challenged to re-evaluate your environments, your programs, and even your mission. We all want students and their families to live out their faith. To have an autonomous faith that can change the world. Monday is coming will challenge our current practices and provide practical steps to see success.

Check out Orange Tour this year. It will be a great way to invest in your leaders and your ministry. Create space to have conversations about your ministry with your leaders, students, parents and your lead pastors. Sometimes, for success to happen we change what our success looks like. Monday is Coming will help you connect Jesus to the everyday lives of people and to the moments that mean most to them.

For more information check out http://orangetour.org/. Can’t wait to see you there.

Be ready for Orange Conference 2017! Registration opens up on October 13th

 

Storytellers

church, Family Ministry, life, Ministry, stories, Uncategorized

storytime

 

Stories are powerful. They have the ability to transform our hearts and transport our souls to far away places. Stories can breathe life into us as they inspire us to greatness. A good story pulls on our hearts and forces us think beyond ourselves to the world at large. You can tell a lot about a person through the stories they tell about themselves. If you listen closely you hear the values that define their lives and peer into their souls. A person’s story is who they are, it is continuously being written and it can change directions at any moment.

When we influence the lives of others we must be aware of their stories, and our own. We must look for ways to connect our stories to one another and to the grander narrative of God’s story. Let us listen intently to the stories we hear, have courage to share our own and learn to look for the greatest story of them all in the midst of it all.

We must become the greatest of listeners. I have been working a lot on being an empathetic listener. For a long time I was just listening for my turn to talk. While people would talk I would barely be listening because I was forming my own replay or wait for a pause for me to jump in. I have tried to be better. Listening just to hear the other person. To reply back with words that affirm what they are saying and show that I care about them. I listen to the stories people tell and I ask questions. How do these stories impact them? What emotions are they feeling as they tell the story? What can I do to help? I sit with them, sometimes just being silent for a long time, just so they can share. Look to understand them, their hurts and struggles, their excitements and joys and share in their experience. In understanding the stories of people we can begin to understand who they truly are.

The ability to tell a story is powerful. To engage the hearts and minds of people is a rare gift. We can influence the world around us with a simply story. You know who the great storytellers are. They are usually the one at a party surrounded by people listening intently or making others laugh in a classroom. When we can learn to share our stories transformation happens. We can relate to other people better. We, and they, don’t feel so alone. You can often hear a “me too!” during a good story. We need to practice sharing our stories. Take courage that God has given us our own stories for a purpose. That He has given us the hurts and experiences of our past so that we can learn from them and help others learn from them. The stories we share transcend our own personal experiences and allow us to see a deeper meaning in them.

When listening to the stories of other people and sharing our own we need to be able to find the link to the grander narrative that God is writing. I love that God has given us all our own stories. That He reveals Himself to us in such beautiful and unique ways; yet He reveals Himself to all through His Son. God is the master storyteller. Just read the Bible. What a grand story, what grand truth. In the midst of our own stories we need to look for the connection to His story. There is always something. Connections of grace, redemption, or forgiveness; connections of adventure, romance and faith. When we see the intersection of God’s story and our own He becomes more personal and real to us. If we want to know God in a deeper way, look for how your story mirrors His deeper narrative in the world.

When we engage students we need to listen to their stories. They reveal where they are at right now. Love them in that moment; empathize with them. Find the connection to a story of your own. Break down the walls that can often divide us and find a way to simply say, I know how you feel. Empathize with students and reveal a piece of your story to them. They will be able to latch on and build a bond through these shared experiences. These stories point us to Jesus, find that point and run towards Him.

 

 

Changes

life, Ministry, Uncategorized

Black-White-Highways-Criss-Cross

The past few weeks have been nuts. I haven’t blogged in a few weeks and really just needed time to process life and all the changes that have been going on. I recently made the decision to move on from my role as a student pastor at the church I worked with. I took a position at a charter school back in my hometown of Rochester, NY and am super excited for this next stage of my life. I hope to use the talents, wisdom and passion that God has given me to impact my hometown and the lives of the students that I encounter. I plan to continue to blog on best ways to impact the lives of students, the community at large and how to lead the charge as a champion of students. Throughout this transition my fiancé and I have really been able to press into our faith in God, learning a few things along the way. The relationships we have made with people matter. We must trust the Planner, more than the plans we think we need. The best is yet to come.

The relationships you have matter. During the past month it has been these relationships that have helped me to navigate the major life changes I have been experiencing. People who have the ability to speak truth into my life helping me to weight the pros and cons of decisions and help cast a vision for my life. Making time to get coffee with a friend, people to help me move my furniture, and seeing people that I love help fill relational gaps that I’ve left behind. I got to sit with kids that I’ve grown to love and tell them the news. I’ve seen kids handle it with amazing maturity and seeing it as an opportunity to grow the Kingdom of God. There were tears of joy mixed with tears of sadness. Through all of this I saw the value of relationships. Relationships that help you make big choices, relationships that help us speak life into one another, relationships that encourage us to be the best that God has designed us to be.

In this process, more often than not things didn’t seem to work out the way I thought they would. There were hang ups, slow downs, chaos and bumps in the road. I realized I had these expectations of the situation, that I wanted things on my terms and my way. I think God laughs at that. I really began to learn this lesson yet again. To trust God, not the plans we think we need. We have expectations of the way things should go. Yet, God doesn’t need us to know His plans. He doesn’t have to show us how our lives will play out. We just need to trust Him, completely.

This mantra has come up a few times and I believe it. The best is yet to come. It helps me to stay positive in the moments of frustration. God isn’t upset or mad but simply wants me to be faithful to Him wherever I am. When we can look at our lives and see that the best is yet to come we can fully engage in our surroundings now. The best years of our lives of not some bygone age but we are currently in them. If the best is yet to come, then God isn’t done with us yet. Whatever season of life you’re in you can fully participate in the story of God because He still has plans and a purpose for you.

There are ways that God has shown up for me during this transition that have helped me to see His blessing in it. From the support of family and friends and even things coming up that show that this is where God is calling me to now. The people we do life with matter, respect and honor them, even in the midst of life changes. Look for ways to be part of Gods grand story wherever you are in life, knowing that the best is yet to come. Trust God, not the plans you think you need, just God.

Manage the Chaos

Family Ministry, Student Ministry, Uncategorized

discipline

 

I love our home groups. We meet weekly with students and leaders in homes in our area. We laugh, have a good time, talk about life and point students towards Jesus. There is a certain craziness that comes from home groups. We have all experienced that talkative group and could all probably name those few students that just don’t seem to settle themselves. It can be frustrating, disheartening, disrespectful and we can even just dread it. I hope the last one isn’t the case. Here are a few of my ideas that seem to work for me when leading a group.

  1. Go over guidelines before group, reminders during group – I set up a few simple guidelines to help manage these group times. Safety, we want this to be a safe place for all kids to come and for them to share their thoughts without others using it against them. The other, respect, helps students not to chat with one another, listen to the speakers and share one a time. Every group, my leaders or myself, go over these guidelines. This gives kids consistency every week and something to point them back to during group when issues arise.
  1. Seating arrangements – Ask some students to move seats if need before group starts. I really haven’t used this too much but if I look through a room and see the issue before it starts, l will ask someone to just move their seat. I would do this quietly and in a non-confrontational way.
  1. Non-verbal queues – or as I like to call it “the look.” I just make eye contact with a kid that is go nuts and just make a handle gesture to have them settle down.
  1. Silence – with a whole group, this is great. Use the awkward silence to your advantage. Kids usually become self aware of what is happening and it is a great way to refocus everyone.
  1. Redirect – this is when someone may be going on a tangent or being to lose the group. Just say something like “what does this have to do with (topic).” When redirecting the conversation to get back on task questions work great. “Hey, you said this, but how does it apply to what we are talking about” etc.
  1. One-on-one reminders before group/text message/after group – This goes back to need for relationships with students. If I am in a group and it is getting out of hand, I will text that student, or one near them to help give them a reminder. If there is a pattern of talkative students I will pull them aside just us before group and just go over the expectation of group, why we are there and really express that I’m excited for group and hope they get a lot from it. If it is someone we have been talking about this issue with, text or talk to them after to see how they think it went and praise them if they did a really good job. Even if they did a terrible job I use the 2-1 rule. 2 positive things to 1 negative thing. “Hey you did a great job coming to group tonight and I am glad you said that one comment, however remember next time to…..”

A lot of this stuff has come from my teaching background and experience with groups. The main idea is to keep your management consistent, over time and with all the students, and be relational. When you have a relational ministry, this is your biggest strength in helping run your group time effectively.

 

 

God/Science

Family Ministry, Ministry, science, Student Ministry, Uncategorized

 

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Recently, I opened up one of our home groups to high school students to just ask questions. To help make it a safe place I passed out paper and pencils and had them think and write at least one question each. We spent the rest of group answering them together. I simply facilitated the conversation, listened to students thoughts, let them wrestle together in the messiness and then would chime in some final thoughts. At the end of the night I thought this was such a great night. They wrote amazing questions and I really saw, in a more intimate way, what exactly my students are wrestling with. I hope to write a few blogs on some of their questions and hope then can help you in your own conversations with your students.

Question:

Can you believe in both science and God? Do you have to pick one?

The short answer: Yes!

Science and God can exist together. God created this idea of science. I love that as we discover more in the fields of science, from medicine to geology to astronomy we can see the creativity, the power and the evidence of God. I have had many friends in the sciences. Many Christian and some not Christian. What is amazing about them all is the wonder that they see through science. From stars and galaxies, discovery of new species and the study of the Earth the creativity of God is constantly being rediscovered. Scientists still struggle with coming up with an answer to a lot of questions we have in faith. I believe it takes more faith to believe in some scientific theories than to believe that God was the one behind it all. These questions are where science, God, and faith unite.

Many people say that science and God are opposed to one another. I believe that science produces evidence of God, is created by God for us to see Him, and helps develop faith in the things not seen. Churches should not limit talking about science. They should use the sciences to demonstrate the power of God. When churches stay silent about the sciences it speaks volumes of our ignorance and misunderstanding on how to see God through them.

When talking with students about science ask them questions about how they are able to see God in it. Talk to them about nature, about the expanse and creativity of God. Share with them the experience of not having all the answers but being able to trust in God. Use a common interest in science with students to build a positive relationship with them. Let us be leaders that can use science to demonstrate the power of God.

 

A Christmas Connection

Family Ministry, Ministry, Student Ministry, Uncategorized

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The Christmas season is officially upon us. I love seeing all the Christmas decorations and the cookies that are everywhere. People saying ‘Merry Christmas’ and everyone just seems more joyful. This is also a rough time for student ministry. Families are out of town, students have Christmas plays to attend, they have other commitments and it is common to not see a few students for this entire month. Yet, we can still discover new ways to connect with our students over this hectic time of the year. It is a great time to be creative and think outside the box to grow your students in their faith and develop relationally in your ministry.

USE SOCIAL MEDIA

Press into your social media plan to stay connected with students. Show them a few pictures of what you’re doing this season. Post some devotionals along with some questions to help them process something in the craziness of the month. I’ve had many students say that these are the only time they are able to read some Scripture and connect with God. Do a few social media games to get students to post about their favorite cookies or Christmas traditions with their families. Create a video devotional for your students. Especially during the week leading up to Christmas and the week after. Something short that they can watch on Christmas morning or stretch their thought process past just the receiving of gifts. Shoot them a text message asking how their day is or ask them what they’ve been up to for Christmas. When you can’t be present with students, connecting with social media is clutch.

CONTACT

The Christmas season gives us a unique opportunity to have contact with students. Invite them into some of your Christmas traditions or start some new one withs students. Bake Christmas cookies, go Christmas Caroling, or just shopping for presents together. Recruit a couple students to help you decorate your house. Have a White Elephant Christmas party or Secret Santa amongst your students. Chances are you will watch ‘A Christmas Story’ or ‘Elf’ fifteen times over the next few weeks so have a few students over to watch with you. Go attend a students play, recital or concert and bring some other students with you. Think about what you would normally do and invite a student into that.

SERVE

Serving with students is a great time to connect with them. Your church is probably doing extra events this upcoming month. Challenge your students to show up with you and volunteer along side you. Find an outreach opportunity in your community. Better yet, join your students in an outreach opportunity that they are passionate about.

In the busyness of this upcoming month we can still connect with students. We may have to think outside the box but students matter. They matter enough to go the extra mile this Christmas to connect with them.