Sitting: At our home computer in my made for me comfortable office chair
Anticipating: Our NYE party with our friends
I must admit that I was pretty bummed when my supervisor told me that because of the shortfalls in giving, every ministry had to cut their budget by 10% for the upcoming year. My immediate thought was, “How can we continue to do all we do with 10% less money”. When the time came to present this to our leadership team at our annual planning retreat, I had no idea how God would use the cuts we were being forced to make in such a powerful way in our ministry.
When we sat down to discuss our new budget, we were all hesitant about where to make such significant decreases. We realized, however, as we began our discussion that in some ways the bad economic picture was a blessing to us. We were forced to do a hard and honest reevaluation of our student ministry. What was really important? How were we spending the money God’s people were faithfully giving to us?
We began to map out what we felt God would want a student from our ministry to look like when they were a sophomore in college. As we listed those characteristics, God also led us to evaluate our calendar from the previous year and highlight the areas where we were doing ministry that would lead students to the point we felt God would want them to be.
The result of that conversation was a much more focused student ministry purpose. We realized we had been cramming our calendar full, while mistakenly thinking we were driven by our purpose. We were able to take a hard look at our crazy, event filled summers and determine that less can be more. We discussed the value of our volunteer hours and how much more important mentoring and investing in a student is than staying up all night supervising them at a lock in.
We began to streamline our ministry into three areas: Connect, Grow and Go. We wanted to only pursue things that would connect our students to God and to each other, help them grow in those relationships and help them go live like Christ in their world. Programs that didn’t fit in those categories were removed (even some that were student ministry “sacred cows”) and we found a new passion for our purpose. Another surprising thing we found was that when we presented what God had shown us to our students, who joined us on the second day of the retreat to aid in planning, they understood it. They knew that our time had been overbooked and were completely on board with narrowing the scope of our ministry to focus on quality rather than quantity.
At the end of the retreat our team was able to bless our congregation by submitting a budget that was 14% lower than the previous year! We are confident that the choices we made will help us to better serve our students, our church and our world. It took a bad economy to help us to see that our ministry had lost its focus and to lead us back to the things that matter most.
We had a great time of fellowship and planning recent;y with the SMT (Student Ministry Team). For a while we have felt that God was calling us to move toward a more intentionally discipleship driven ministry. It has been a burden of our leadership team to create a ministry that helped student live out their faith with more consistency. We felt the need to move toward a clear process of ministry. We want our mission serving Jesus and make quality followers of Christ as He commanded us to do in the Great Commission to be clear.
With that in mind we have narrowed our purpose down to three words:
We know that one purpose of our group is to CONNECT students to God and each other. The open door to our ministry is our Wednesday night REALITY CHECK/REAL TIME event. Here junior and senior high students can come to a night of fellowship, worship and Bible study. We want to make this event one in which current students are challenged in their faith whilst feeling that they can invite their friends to a non-threatening place to hear about the love of Jesus. We also will continue with intentional fellowship events that will lead students to a greater level of accountability and friendship.
Next we want to encourage our students to GROW in their relationship with Jesus. This growth will be greatly fostered by our REAL LIFE SMALL GROUPS. In these groups students will have the chance to study the Bible while building accountability relationships with leaders and other students. We are excited at the many opportunities we have for small groups including: Sunday Morning Bible Study, Trek for junior highers, Journey for senior higher (both offered on Sunday evenings at 5:15PM) Real Time for junior highers on Wednesday nights, and our Senior High Girls Midweek Group meeting at the Ferguson home on Tuesdays at 6:30PM as well as our Senior High Guys Midweek Group meeting at the Behan home on Thursdays 6:30PM. We are praying that these groups will also each embrace a mission endeavor in which they will partner and serve together.
Finally, we want our students to GO. The mission endeavors for the small groups will be the ongoing mission emphasis of our group and we pray that along with full group mission events (like our summer mission trips) students will gain a greater burden to serve the world for Christ. We want, however, for our students to also GO into their own world every day and live for Christ. We want to encourage them to missional living where they are, sharing their love for Christ with those around them every day. We want them to be authentic in their faith and we pray that connecting and growing will lead to a natural going.
There is so much going on in our student ministry and I am excited to see what God has in store for us in the upcoming school year. It is amazing that He uses any of us and it is great to see that there is a simple, easy to understand process in place to help our students grow in their relationship with Christ.
ONE MONTH TO LIVE LIST
Most students entering college for the first time this fall were born in 1991.
1. For these students, Martha Graham, Pan American Airways, Michael Landon, Dr. Seuss, Miles Davis, The Dallas Times Herald, Gene Roddenberry, and Freddie Mercury have always been dead.
2. Dan Rostenkowski, Jack Kevorkian, and Mike Tyson have always been felons.
3. The Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables.
4. They have never used a card catalog to find a book.
5. Margaret Thatcher has always been a former prime minister.
6. Salsa has always outsold ketchup.
7. Earvin "Magic" Johnson has always been HIV-positive.
8. Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible.
9. They have been preparing for the arrival of HDTV all their lives.
10. Rap music has always been main stream.
11. Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream has always been a flavor choice.
12. Someone has always been building something taller than the Willis (née Sears) Tower in
13. The KGB has never officially existed.
14. Text has always been hyper.
15. They never saw the "Scud Stud" (but there have always been electromagnetic stud finders.)
16. Babies have always had a Social Security Number.
17. They have never had to "shake down" an oral thermometer.
18. Bungee jumping has always been socially acceptable.
19. They have never understood the meaning of R.S.V.P.
20. American students have always lived anxiously with high-stakes educational testing.
21. Except for the present incumbent, the President has never inhaled.
22. State abbreviations in addresses have never had periods.
23. The European Union has always existed.
24. McDonald's has always been serving Happy Meals in
25. Condoms have always been advertised on television.
26. Cable television systems have always offered telephone service and vice versa.
27. Christopher Columbus has always been getting a bad rap.
28. The American health care system has always been in critical condition.
29. Bobby Cox has always managed the Atlanta Braves.
30. Desperate smokers have always been able to turn to Nicoderm skin patches.
31. There has always been a Cartoon Network.
32. The nation's key economic indicator has always been the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
33. Their folks could always reach for a Zoloft.
34. They have always been able to read books on an electronic screen.
35. Women have always outnumbered men in college.
36. We have always watched wars, coups, and police arrests unfold on television in real time.
37. Amateur radio operators have never needed to know Morse code.
39. It's always been official: President Zachary Taylor did not die of arsenic poisoning.
40. Madonna's perspective on Sex has always been well documented.
41. Phil Jackson has always been coaching championship basketball.
42. Ozzy Osbourne has always been coming back.
43. Kevin Costner has always been Dancing with Wolves, especially on cable.
44. There have always been flat screen televisions.
45. They have always eaten Berry Berry Kix.
46. Disney's Fantasia has always been available on video, and It's a Wonderful Life has always been on
47. Smokers have never been promoted as an economic force that deserves respect.
48. Elite American colleges have never been able to fix the price of tuition.
49. Nobody has been able to make a deposit in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).
50. Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on.
51. Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations.
52. They have never been Saved by the
53. Someone has always been asking: "Was
54. Most communities have always had a mega-church.
55. Natalie Cole has always been singing with her father.
56. The status of gays in the military has always been a topic of political debate.
57. Elizabeth Taylor has always reeked of White Diamonds.
58. There has always been a Planet Hollywood.
59. For one reason or another,
60. Agent Starling has always feared the Silence of the Lambs.
61. "Womyn" and "waitperson" have always been in the dictionary.
62. Members of Congress have always had to keep their checkbooks balanced since the closing of the House Bank.
63. There has always been a computer in the Oval Office.
64. CDs have never been sold in cardboard packaging.
66. NATO has always been looking for a role.
68. Official racial classifications in
69. The NBC Today Show has always been seen on weekends.
70. Vice presidents of the
71. Conflict in
72. Migration of once independent media like radio, TV, videos and compact discs to the computer has never amazed them.
73. Nobody has ever responded to "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up."
74. Congress could never give itself a mid-term raise.
75. There has always been blue Jell-O.
On the other hand, today is my 10th wedding anniversary. That kind of blows my mind. I don't feel old enough to have been married ten years. Still, I look at all we have weathered and how much we have grown and I am amazed at God's wisdom. There is no doubt that Kendra is the woman God created for me. I grabbed her up at the age of 21 and took her away to Maine at 22. When I think about how young that is now, it blows my mind. She was beautiful on the day I married her and has only gotten more beautiful every day. My mom used to say that Kendra got prettier every time she saw her. I agree.
I trust her with my life and love. She is an amazing mommy. She has made great sacrifices for the well being of our family. She has taught me so much about life and relationships. I am a better man because of her encouragement (and yes) sometimes even her prodding. I never understood the two becoming one concept until I married this incredible woman. Now I know that we are one person. God made us to live this life together. I am exceedingly blessed that such a beautiful, kind, stable woman was made for me.
Ten years have flown by. I love being married. I love spending my life with someone. I love coming home to her every day. Sure marriage is hard but God has resided in the center of ours and I don't look back at these ten years as all that difficult. I love her and cherish her. I could never really deserve her. But that is the great thing about God's grace, all too often we get what we don't deserve. In this case I get to keep it for the rest of my life. I am so undeserving of her love. And His.
THREE LITTLE LETTERS --- ONE BIG PLAN!
Week 1 – Tough Questions --- God’s Answers
During this series, we’d love for you to . . .
1. Realize the power of GOD’S LOVE
Long before he laid down earth's foundations, God had us in mind and settled on us as the focus of his love (Ephesians 1:4).
2. Make a commitment to CARE AND TO THINK
. . . our bodies were not made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:13).
God’s Word on Homosexuality
That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved (Romans 1:26-27).
Homosexuality is SIN.
All sin SEPARATES us from God.
But there is a problem—your sins have cut you off from God . . . (Isaiah 59:2).
Our world has made RIGHT what God says is WRONG.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:21-25)
You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we're in— first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn't sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it. (Romans 5: 12-14)
What Do I Do?
Aim to be a person of CONVICTION, COURAGE and COMPASSION.
Parent Box: Take it Home:
Parents: I realize it’s very tough to sit down with your son/daughter and talk about sex. Feel free to yes these questions, skip to #, or read through their worship guide and come up with your own questions to facilitate an open discussion with your child.. Don’t be too discouraged if your child doesn’t want to talk—they may not, but don’t interpret their lack of interest as not having questions—there’s great confusion out there. I hope this helps…from week 1: