i am…

15 06 2011

I am passionate. I am proud. I am arrogant. I am blessed. I am impatient. I am hurtful. I am married. I am broken. I am a pastor. I am a brother. I am a liar. I am joyful. I am a son. I am a friend. I am a sinner.

We can be defined by a lot of different words. We are complex individuals and most people don’t know how complex we actually are. Our stories are but a sentence, or maybe even a word, or letter, in the story of God. From that perspective  the stories our lives tell really don’t have too big of an impact in the long run. But that doesn’t mean they won’t leave an impression. I actually think our stories are pretty important.

I believe our stories can and do point to the “I AM”  (Exodus 3:14). However, we are often afraid to tell or share our stories with those around us. It takes too much vulnerability, too much honesty, and there are too many reminders of pain and struggle. We forget how powerful our stories can be. Stories of transformation, growth, triumph and victory. Examples of the ability to overcome. Evidence of what Christ has done and is continuing to do in our lives.

This month in our High School Ministry we are telling stories. I shared who I am last week and over the next few weeks our volunteer staff and students will be opening up as well. Our hope and prayer is to connect to one another in community, to grow and transform through vulnerability, to create the space for students to be honest with someone they can relate to, and to experience first hand what God is doing in and through the individuals in our ministry.

I can’t wait to see what comes of this series!! I am excited. I am hopeful. I am ready…

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Why Life Groups for High School students??

2 06 2011

I believe in Life Groups. The crazy, exciting, off the wall mid week that we all remember from growing up in Student Ministries is a thing of the past. Here’s a few reasons why:

1) Life Groups create community. Students are able to connect with a few other students and at least one adult leader in their Life Groups. As they grow together and learn with one another they begin to develop extremely trusting relationships with peers that care for them and an adult who truly wants to invest in them.

2) Life Groups encourage depth. Every once in a while a parent will explain to us that our program needs to have “more Bible”. These are usually parents who refuse to drive their student to Life Groups on Wednesday nights. Life Groups are a Bible study. Students can ask questions and learn in ways they never could during a large group gathering. I firmly believe that our Life Groups are the catalyst for creating depth in our ministry.

3) Life Groups do everything Sunday mornings do not. We get “small” through Life Groups. If you walk in to our HSM on a Sunday morning we will do the best we can to connect with you, but it can be a little overwhelming. You will definitely meet a student leader and an adult staff but I’m not sure if you’ll have the time to make a true connection. On the other hand, when you attend a Life Group you WILL absolutely connect to a leader and a group of students, and you will get to know them well during the small group time. We are VERY intentional about this part of the evening. A couple quick side notes on Sunday mornings:

a) Sundays are the entry point. We have created Sunday morning to be a safe place for students to bring their friends and for parents to drop their student off. It’s fun, exciting, and welcoming. We want to get students in the door for Sunday mornings, help them feel like they are part of the large group, and then get them connected in a Life Group.

b) We get more out of a Sunday morning than we ever could during any other event. Students are already coming! We don’t have to do additional promoting or planning. We just want to make Sunday mornings the best they can possibly be!! If we create a place where students want to come back after their first visit, there is hope to get them plugged in to the life of the church. They hear biblical truth, have fun, meet some people their age and we don’t have to spend an extra $1,000 doing it. Our team focuses on doing Sunday mornings and Life Groups EXTREMELY well. To be honest, we try not to spend too much time on much else.

We still do an “event” on the first Wednesday of every month to give the group the opportunity to have fun together or worship as a large community. 4 times a year we do a worship night together, 1 month we don’t meet because we are on a mission trip, 1 month is a Life Group kickoff party, and the rest of the year we host events. These are the wild and crazy outreach nights (i.e. Turkey Trifecta, HSM VMA’s, Ugly Sweater Christmas Party) we all know and love to have other people plan for us. Our life groups don’t meet during the summer in order to give our staff and host homes a break, so we up the events from June-August.

That being said, until we find something that works better during the school year for our group than Life Groups, we’re sticking with them…