What We Did This Week

Dealing With Sin Social MediaWe had a great nights this week in both our middle school and high school ministries. We changed things up a bit in our high school ministry and had a game night as well as started a new series. We started this same series in our middle school ministry this week. Below is a look at what we did this week.

What We Did at Porch (High School)
Game Night:
We basically set up a bunch of round tables and had various board and table games for students to play. We also had a small Kan Jam tournament that some of the students took part in. We also provided free pizza and drinks. It was a great night of hanging out and building relationships.
Even though it was a game night, we still kicked off a new teaching series called “Dealing with Sin.” In this series we are talking about how Christians can deal with sin in their lives. For this first week we started by talking about confession. We looked at 1 John 1:9 and talked about what confession is and what it is not. We also talked about some other practical things in regards to confessing sin. Click here to listen to the whole talk.
Highlight: Probably seeing students that normally don’t interact sit around a table laughing and having a good time as they played games together. That was the whole reason I wanted to do a game night. I wanted students to get to know each other better, have fun, and build community.

What We Did at Edge (Middle School)
Upfront Game: Tape Face. This has been going around the internet for awhile but the idea is simple, take scotch tape and wrap it around your face. What results is usually a very disturbing and funny looking face. I brought two pairs of students on stage and had them tape their partners face up with the goal of making the ugliest face. We gave them a two minute time limit.
Group Game: Red Light Green Light. Classic game. We had students start on one side of the room and the goal was to touch the wall on the other side of the room and come back. I had a high school student lead this game. When they said “green light” students could run. When they said “red light” they must stop. If a student doesn’t stop or keeps moving when “red light” is called out has to start back over. They could also call “yellow light” which means crawl on hand and knees.
Teaching: Same as our high school night above. Started the new series and talked about confession. Click here to listen to the whole talk from this night with middle school.
Highlight: Seeing one of my high school leaders, Zach Bindus, on stage leading a game. He comes to Edge pretty often and helps out. He wants to be a youth pastor and it’s awesome seeing him already doing “youth ministry” as a high school student.


Sobrr – What Parents Need to Know

Sobrr-Life-in-the-moment-598x326Parents need to know what apps their teens are using on their smartphones. One of the apps that I have been telling parents about is Snapchat. Snapchat is one of the most popular apps out there right now for teens and parents need to know how it works and what some of the dangers are with it (click here to read about Snapchat). By the way, the whole idea behind Snapchat is not good. If you don’t believe me, click here and read this helpful article.

But that’s enough about Snapchat. There is a new app that just came out called Sobrr, which may gain popularity with teens shortly. It’s an interesting app that to teenagers will sound fun and exciting, but in the long run is not very healthy.

Sobrr is an app that is built on the whole idea of “living in the moment.” Sobrr basically does three major things. First, Sobrr users “vibe in the moment.” Vibes are basically things you and others post (what they call “moments”). Then you scroll through the current vibes to see what others are posting and can either “cheer” (same idea as a “like” on Facebook) or “pass.” The catch though is everything expires in 24 hours. So what you post and what others are posting will be gone in 24 hours. Completely gone. Second, Sobrr users can have “24 hour friendships.” Yep, you read it right, temporary friendships that last for 24 hours. However, if both people enjoyed their “24 hour friendship” they can choose to stay friends, but only if they both choose to do so. Third, Sobrr users can have “ephermal conversations.” Sobrr chatting is a one-time chat experience. You must read it before it expires. What’s the point of this? Sobrr says it “keeps the conversations free and in the moment.” You can click here to check out the Sobrr website and read more about it as well as watch a short video about it.

Why do parents need to be aware of Sobrr? It seems fun and not harmful. However, when you really step back and think about what this app is all about it’s not really that healthy for teenagers. A few things stand out to me about this app parents need to think about. First, Sobrr (much like Snaptchat) opens the door for teens to get involved in sexting. Sexting has gained a lot of popularity among teens because of apps like Snapchat (and of course because of texting) and Sobrr will do the same thing in making sexting easier and more accessible for teens. Because of the one-time chat feature and the fact things you say will expire, teens will be more likely to say things they wouldn’t in person or even in a normal online chatting session. Second, Sobrr cheapens real community. We are designed to be in relationships with other people. Community is necessary for us in how we have been designed. Sobrr redefines what friendships look like by making them just a 24 hour experience. Third, Sobrr will give teens a false sense of no accountability. In their minds, things they say and do on Sobrr will disappear in 24 hours so why would they think about using discernment or even hold back in what they do. However, parents, especially Christian parents, should realize this is not true. Even though what they do may disappear in 24 hours they will still give an account for it before God one day. In Romans 14:12, Paul reminds us, “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (ESV).

Parents, check out Sobrr. Don’t just take my word for it. Research the app yourself and talk to your teen about it if it comes up. Don’t just let your teen use apps like Sobrr without knowing about it first or having a conversation with them. You may even decide to not let them use this app at all.

How to Have an Effective Leader’s Meeting

00016683_bI believe one of the most important things a student pastor can do is build and equip a team of adult leaders. Once you have this team built, you will need to have regular meetings with them for the purpose of building community, training, and discussing what’s happening in the life’s of the students they work with. You don’t want these meetings to be a waste of time or boring. You want them to be something your leader’s look forward to and something they leave with a renewed excitement to work with students. I honestly love doing leader meetings with my leaders. I’m still not a pro at them, but I have discovered a few things that make for an effective leader’s meeting. Here are a few things I always try and do that may be a help to you as you do meetings with your leaders.

Schedule far in advance. Your leaders are busy. Unlike you, they are not getting paid to do student ministry. They do it as a volunteer. On top of volunteering in your ministry, they most likely have full-time jobs, families, children, and a ton of other things going on. That’s why it’s important to schedule your leader meetings as far out in advance as possible. I would recommend scheduling them a year out. For example, I have leader meetings with my leaders every three months. I have these on the calendar before the year even starts. This way my leaders know that every three months we will have a meeting and they know the dates of those meetings. If you do this, you have far better chance of getting them all there.

Provide food. A great way to build community among your leaders is to share a meal together at your meetings. Spend the first part of your meeting just hanging out and eating together. We always do our meetings on Sunday afternoon following our church services. Our budget usually covers a main dish and then we ask the leaders to bring side dishes to share with everyone. It’s always cool to watch your leaders build community with each other as you have a meal. It’s usually during this “eating time” that I have some of the best conversations with my leaders. Also, it’s usually when they also have the best conversations with each other.

Let them talk. It’s easy for leader meetings to become a time when the student pastor just pours a ton of information into the hands of the leaders. Part of the reason we have leader meetings is to give the leaders a time to talk and share what’s going on with them as it pertains to the student ministry. I do this two ways. First, we always have a time to share “wins.” This is a chance for the leaders to brag about what God is doing in their small group or about something they have seen happen in a students life. Second, we discuss ideas for our ministry. For example, next year we are thinking about changing our small group set up. Instead of making this discussion on my own I wanted to discuss it with my leaders. As a team, we discussed the idea and if it’s a good or bad thing for our ministry. This helps them feel like they are a vital part of the ministry, which they are.

Have a time of training. One of the main reasons you should meet with your leader’s in to train and equip them to do ministry. This is the main objective when I meet with my leaders. The community building is good, the food is great, but the real reason we are there is for me to train and equip them as a team to do effective student ministry. Every time you meet, have some training prepared for them. Don’t throw this together last minute, spend some time preparing training material that will help your leaders minister to your students well. Also, use this time to share with them resources that may help them minister to students.

These are just a few ways I believe you can have an effective leaders meeting. They have worked for us and I think these ideas will help you have a good leader meetings with your team. If you have any additional thoughts about having effective leader meetings feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

Two Lessons and a Blessing

My grandfather is a retired pastor and every month he holds a service at a nursing home here in Winston-Salem. While I was doing my devotions this morning he called me and ask if I would preach tonight at the nursing home. I quickly told him no because I would only have a few hours to prepare and my girlfriend, Crystal, is in town so was not sure what I was going to be doing tonight. As I hung up the phone my mind instantly starting to race about a passage or verse I could preach from if I did preach. Yes, that is the preacher coming out in me. My devotions this morning was from Isaiah 12:1-6 and verse 2 really stuck out to me as I starting thinking about what I could preach. The verse says, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.” As I thought about that verse God reminded me of four important truths found within it: God is our salvation, we can trust in God and not be afraid, God is our strength, and God has become our salvation meaning as we go through life our salvation and God means more and more to us. Since God showed me those four things I figured I would call my grandfather and told him I would preach. Plus, one of my professors at Piedmont, Dr. White,  told us to preach in nursing home because it is good experience. Since God gave me something to preach and had this opportunity to get another preaching opportunity under my belt I went to preach at the nursing home tonight. The service and the message went great, but I got more out of it than I planned. By the end of the night I learned two lessons and God gave me a huge blessing. I will give the two lessons first than the blessing last.

We all no matter the age need Biblical truth and teaching from the Word of God. Even though there were only a handful of older folks that showed up, it was neat to see that some still came. This service is not a required thing these people have to come to, but they come on their own. Now I know that many of them probably come because they have nothing else to do, but some did show a eagerness to learn and my grandfather told me that many of them have been coming faithfully for awhile. This just reminded me that we all, not what the age or place we are in, need Biblical truth taught to us. It might be the congregation on Sundays, or the prisoners in the local prison, or even the older people at the nursery home, we all need truth, God’s truth taught to us.

There is a need for community for every age and in every place. It was encouraging to see the small community that was within the walls of this nursing home. I noticed it as the old people in the service shared prayer requests and were praying for one another. They also where talking about others that where not there that they missed. It was evident they cared and was in community together. We often think of community as something that happens within a local church body. That is true, we should be in community with everyone in our local church as well as believers in other areas of our life. I believe a lack of true, Biblical community is what causes many Christians to not grow or ever increase in love for God and others around them. In his book Vintage Church, Mark Driscoll talks about the idea that there needs to be relational unity within the church. He says relational unity means “that people love one another and demonstrate it by being cordial, respectful, friendly, and kind in their interpersonal interactions.” I saw this perfectly when one lady got up multiple times to help others ladies find the page number of the hymn we were singing. When I saw this, it was encouraging as well as convicting that I need to show this type of love for others in my life.

Now to the blessing. The lady that was helping other ladies find the page numbers of the hymns was the person God used to give me a blessing. I noticed that she never talked and even when helping others she never spoke a word. While I was preaching she never really showed any signs that she was even listening to me and seemed zoned out. Now most of the people there was not giving me any signs they were listening so it did not phase me. When I got done preaching I noticed she was typing on a keyboard that had a small screen at the top. I thought it was just a “toy” that kept her busy, but soon found out it was much more than a “toy.” She came up to me after the service and handed me the “toy” and on the screen it said, “I appreciated what you said. Thank you for what you said. I was listening to you.” When I read that my heart sake. When I though she was not listening to, she was clearly listening and was such an encouragement for just typing that out and showing it to me. Many of us who can speak fine will not speak a word of encouragement to others, but this lady who could not speak typed out an encouragement and showed it to me. She walk me, my family, and my girlfriend out to the front door and gave us all hugs and kissed us on check and shoulder. Her act of kindness, her warmth of love, and friendliness was such a huge blessing to me. As I was walking out of that nursing home I felt the Lord was reminding me that He will use whomever and whatever He wishes to encourage and bless us. Tonight was a great experience. I would encourage all young preachers or men in Bible college as I am preparing to preach to preach a few times in a nursing home. And for all of us, when we are lest expecting it, God can encourage us in ways we never thought.