What We Did This Week (Student Ministry Sunday Edition)

Student Ministry Sunday Social MediaIt’s been a busy past few weeks in our student ministry. We are in the middle of a massive three week (first three Friday nights of this month) event for middle school students called Edge Games, interviewing students for our two summer mission trips, and coming off of Student Ministry Sunday this past Sunday. Before I tell you what we did this week in our high school ministry called Porch, let me tell you what we did Sunday for Student Ministry Sunday.

What We Did at Student Ministry Sunday
Student Ministry Sunday is basically a Sunday where our students take over and lead our Sunday worship services. Our high school ministries worship band made up of students does the worship, students host and pray during the services, students greet and welcome people at the doors, and I get the privilege to preach.
Worship Set List: In Tenderness He Sought Me (Citizens & Saints), The Ascension (Phil Wickham), Oceans [Where Feet May Fail] (Hillsong United), and Man of Sorrows (Hillsong).
Upfront Game: Donuts on a String. Yes, we played a game. It was a blast and the congregation loved it. Contestants have to eat a donut off a string without using their hands. If the donut falls off the string they must eat it off the ground still using no hands.
Preaching: I continued the series we have been in for a few weeks now called “Story Teller God.” In this series we are looking at some of the parables Jesus told. I preached on the two debtors from Luke 7:36-50. Click here to listen to the audio or watch the video of to the sermon.
Highlight: It was a blast watching our students greet and welcome people at the doors. For the past few years we have kind of made it a tradition that on Student Ministry Sunday our students go crazy when people walk through the doors. They high five people, make tunnels over people, and scream and clap for them. It’s awesome!

What We Did at Porch (High School)
Upfront Game: Face the Clothespins. One of my favorite upfront games. Bring up a few pairs of contestants and have one of them see how many clothespins they can put on the face of their partner in two minutes. Click the link above to download a free graphic and countdown for this game.
Worship Set List: Psalm 18 (Citizens & Saints), All I Have is Christ (Sovereign Grace Music), Jesus I Come (Elevation Worship), and Sweetness of Freedom (Citizens & Saints).
Teaching: Last week we started a series called “What’s Your Story?” I taught last week on what the Bible says about sharing the Gospel and also how to share your own personal faith story. This week instead of me teaching our student leaders shared their faith stories. It was great seeing each of them stand upfront and share their stories of how they came to know Jesus and how He has changed their lives. Click here to listen to these stories.
Highlight: Getting to sit back and listen to students share their faith stories. Nothing beats hearing students lift up the name of Jesus and share how He has radically changed their lives.

This was is our last week of not having Edge (our middle school ministry). Next week we pick things back up with Edge and I will share what we did there as well as at Porch.

Books I’ve Read Recently

gospelGospel by JD Greear. This book has been on my reading list for a while. I decided to go ahead and read it in preparation for a teaching series I was doing with my students on the gospel. What I found was not only a helpful book for shaping and writing that series, but a book that challenged me personally and helped me go deeper in my love and understanding of the gospel. Greear says, “The gospel is the announcement that God has reconciled us to Himself by sending His Son Jesus to die as a substitute for our sins, and that all who repent and believe have eternal life in Him. I want you to see the gospel not only as a means by which you get into heaven, but as the driving force behind every single moment of your life” (page 5). This books helps Christians understand that the gospel is everything. “The gospel is not merely the diving board off which you jumped into the pool of Christianity,” says Greear, “the gospel is the pool itself” (page 248). The book is centered around what Geear calls “The Gospel Prayer.” It’s a tool Geear says helps him saturate himself in the gospel. He spends the majority of the book walking the reader through that prayer and helping them understand the implications of the gospel on their life. I really enjoyed chapter 8, which was on generosity. Geear does an excellent job at explaining what the relationship should be like between a gospel-centered believer and money. It was both a challenging and refreshing chapter to read. I’ve always enjoyed Greear books and would recommend this one to everyone who wants to go deeper in their love and understanding of the gospel.

HoleInHolinessBookCoverThe Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung. I read my first book by DeYoung not long ago so I was excited to grab a copy of this book and give it a read. I also really enjoy reading, discussing, and studying the topic of personal holiness in the Christian life, which is what this book is about.  DeYoung spends the first chapter of this book surveying the landscape of holiness within Christianity today. He states there is a “gap between our love for the gospel and our love for godliness” (page 21). At first, I wasn’t sure if I agreed with DeYoung or not. But the deeper I got into this book the more I saw what he was pointing to. An intentional, disciplined pursuit of holiness is not a major theme in Christianity today. I have even seen this tread in my own Christian life at times. In this book, DeYoung urges the Christian to pursue holiness and make it a priority in their life. DeYoung keeps the gospel and Biblical teaching at the center of this encouragement. This was a short, easy to read book and God used it to help give me a better understanding of my relationship with holiness as a Christian.

41N8edp473L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Other Preacher in Lynchburg by John KillingerI have always been fascinated with reading and researching the life and ministry of Jerry Falwell Sr. Even though I don’t agree with all the things he did, I have great respect for his love for God and his boldness to do great things for God while he was on this earth. His legacy can been clearly seen in Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church, both located in Lynchburg, VA. I ran across this book a few years ago on amazon and just now got around to reading it. I was excited to read a book about Falwell and his endeavors in Lynchburg through the eyes of another pastor that was in town during Fallwell’s prime. If you do any research on Killinger, you will quickly find him and Falwell were on very different sides of major issues regarding Christianity. However, this book isn’t necessarily focused on the theological differences of Killinger and Falwell, even though that obviously came up a few times, but more on what it was like for Killinger as a pastor doing ministry in the same town as Falwell. The book covers Killinger’s time both in Lynchburg and his time after moving away from Lynchburg to take another ministry position in Los Angles. This was very interesting book that made me appreciate Falwell even more, but at the same time scratch my head and wonder why he did some of the things he did.

Books I’ve Read Recently

416dXgd3D-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_A Call to Resurgence by Mark DriscollMark Driscoll is one of my favorite writers. I usually try and read his books when they come out so when I heard about this one awhile back I knew I needed to grab a copy. I’m very glad I did. A Call to Resurgence is an interesting book in that Driscoll covers a lot of ground. Everything from surveying modern culture, tribalism, sexuality, the Holy Spirit, and more. Much of what Driscoll writes is nothing new. It’s stuff he has been saying via speaking and writing for years. However, the timing of this book is perfect. Our culture is rapidly changing and become more and more anti-Christian. With that wave coming and coming fast, we as Christians need not to run in fear, but hold tight to what we believe and move forward with the life-changing truth of the Gospel. That is what Driscoll calls for in this book. He reminds us of where we have been as a culture and where we are going, but more importantly reminds Christians what we believe and what God calls us to be and do. In Driscoll words the book is “for those ready to dig in and hang on…this book is an unflinching look at what we’re up against and what it will take to not just survive but to thrive and accomplish the mission God has given us to extend a hand of rescue to those drowning all around us. It is a call not of retreat but to resurgence” (page 29).

51x7FWCw3GL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Judgment Seat of Christ by Samuel HoytOne of my favorite topics to study when it comes to eschatology (the study of end times) is the judgment seat of Christ. However, not many books have been written specifically on the judgment seat of Christ. Most of the time it is simply just given a section within a systematic theology book. Hoyt even points out that “the doctrine of the judgment seat of Christ often has been denied or relegated to minimal consideration under the subject of a general judgment” (page 13). He furthers explain this idea of a general judgment in chapter 2 of this book where he explains the proponents of this theory “believe that there will be one final judgement at the consummation of the world. At this time all people of all ages, both believers and unbelievers, will be simultaneously resurrected and judged. At this event the righteous will receive reward and the unrighteous will be condemned to eternal punishment” (page 17). However, the Bible speaks much about different future judgments and is clear that believers will one day stand at the judgment seat of Christ. Hoyt writes this book to support the judgment seat of Christ and give the reader a thorough understanding of what the Bible says about it. He does everything from explain the historical background of what was going on when Biblical writers like Paul mentioned the judgment seat of Christ. He also explains the nature, purpose, extent, and rewards of the judgment seat of Christ. The thesis that Hoyt sticks to throughout this book is “the judgment seat of Christ is a most solemn evaluation at which there will be no judicial condemnation, nor will there be any judicial punishment for the believer’s sins, whether confessed or unconfessed, but rather commendation according to the faithfulness of the Christian’s life” (page 15). Throughout this book Hoyt supports that thesis with solid Biblical research and exegesis. If you want to learn more about the judgment seat of Christ than I recommend this book.

51fCiUYnbiL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Disciples Are Made Not Born by Walter HenrichsenThis is a book that was originally published in 1974, but is still a very good read for Christians today. The whole idea of this book is discipleship. Henrichsen spends the first part of this book talking about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. In the second part of the book Henrichsen talks about how Christians should share the Gospel and disciple others. He explains how Christians should practice evangelism and then help those they reach with the Gospel start to grow in their faith. Chapter by chapter, he goes through certain topics and things Christians needs to communicate to newer Christians in order to help them grow. This part of the book is extremely practical and contains a ton of great points on discipling new Christians. This is a short book that I recommend to anyone who is interested in becoming a more fully devoted follower of Jesus and want to help others follow Him as well.

Up next on my reading list is Gospel by J.D. Greear and Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God by Gordon Fee.

Guest Post: Reflecting on 10 Years in Youth Ministry

1937455_10152259120917467_914258351961040144_nIt’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years already doing ministry with students. It does not really feel like it’s been that long, but certain things remind me that it’s been a while. I never would have dreamed that I would be hiring staff on my team that I had as a student in 7th grade (especially one I didn’t think would live to see 8th grade). There is also noticeably less hair on my head than 10 years ago (probably caused by that same 7th grade punk/now colleague).

I am still learning, but one thing I do know is that youth ministry is hard so I can understand why so many youth workers just do not last. To be honest, there are days I have wanted to quit…but that’s usually when I am focused on the wrong things. But I do know that when I focus on the right things, God has done inconceivably more than I could ask or imagine. Here are 3!

It’s About a Calling. Ministry is too hard to just see it as a job. It’s a calling from God. I sensed God’s call to youth ministry in high school, but that may have had more to do with how cool it sounded to get paid eat pizza, play dodge ball, and go on ski trips. The call became more clear about 2 years into actually doing the ministry. Someone in our church approached me and said, “It feels good, doesn’t it?” I said, “What feels good?” He said, “Doing exactly what God made you to do.” That was true. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t always feel warm and fuzzy. There are trouble kids that make you crazy, disappointed parents, all-nighters (not a fan), hurting families, dirty jobs, and so many reasons why youth pastors leave early. You know you are called when you face those challenging times and get up the next day wanting to keep going. God has put the gifts, passions, and personality in me to use me in this ministry. It’s not just a job, it’s a calling from God.

It’s About the Gospel. If it were not for my utter dependence on the truth of Jesus Christ found in the storyline of the Bible, I would never last. As a matter of fact, I would have never started. I was not evening looking for Jesus, but He was looking for me. You see, I understand that the debt I owe because of my sin is too great for me to possibly pay back on my own, but God loved me so much that He gave me Jesus, to pay the debt of my sin so that I could be in the relationship with God that He created me for. Believing that truth takes me from death to life. As a youth pastor, I need Jesus more than the air I breathe, and so I preach it to students like there is no tomorrow. The Gospel keeps me going. Without it, I am just a glorified church babysitter to keep students busy and entertained.

It’s About the Students. Since it’s all about the gospel, then it’s also about students knowing the gospel. To last, you need to love students. Students aren’t always likeable, but they can always be lovable. I have always tried to remember that Jesus thought each student was worth dying for. That’s love. Because I know the gospel, I try to see students not just for the mess that they are, but for who they can become in Christ. In 10 years, I have seen some pretty broken students do some amazing things for God because they grasped His love for them. It’s those stories that keep me going.

There are probably other little secrets and practical tips, but so far it boils down to those 3 things. My ministry has really just begun. I am only scratching the surface of what God can do, and I hope that I always feel that way.   God’s grace on my life is abundant to save me and even consider using me in ministry!

Todd Iannetta is the student ministries pastor at Christ Community Chapel, a multi-site church in Northeast Ohio. Todd oversees the student ministry and staff across all four campuses. Visit his blog or follow him on twitter.

Book Review: Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry

71gwlJNkHoLA few days ago my pastor gave me a copy of Is God-Anti Gay? by Sam Allberry. It’s a little book that tackles a big issue. Homosexuality is big issue both in our culture and in the church. It’s not only a big issue, but a complex issue. In this book, Allberry tackles this big and complex issue of homosexuality with a good balance between grace and truth.

Allberry tells a little bit of his story in the introduction of the book. I appreciated his authenticity as he shared his own personal struggles with homosexuality and same-sex attraction. Not only that, but he shares how he met Jesus and how the Gospel has transformed his life. By sharing some of his story in the introduction, he gains (or at least he should) instant credibility on this subject. He speaks from the stand point of a person who loves Jesus, the Bible, and the church, but also has a real struggle with this issue.

From that point forward, Allberry covers a lot of ground in this little book on the issue of homosexuality. He spends a chapter (chapter 1) laying the Biblical foundation for marriage and sex. Then from chapters 2-5 he dives into homosexuality in regards to the Bible, the Christian, the church, and the world. Within those chapters, Allberry tackles many tough Scripture passages and questions that often come up when talking about homsexuality. To each of them, he answers with a faithfulness to God’s Word, but also with commitment to the grace that comes through Jesus. I would love to share more about what Allberry says in the book, but I’d rather you grab a copy for yourself and read it. It’s worth it!

Two things I really liked about this book was Allberry’s Gospel-centeredness and his practicality. Throughout the book, Allberry makes a point to not make homosexuality a sin that is “worse” than other sins. He doesn’t put homosexuality on it’s own shelve. He treats homosexuality the way it should be treated-sin that stems from our brokenness and separation from God. He says, “Homosexual sin is not unique…Homosexual sin is incredibly serious, but it is not alone in being so. It is wicked, but so is greed. God will judge those who indulge in it. But He will also judge thieves” (page 36). He makes a point to always go back to the Gospel being our only hope and that the Gospel is the answer to all sin. He doesn’t make homosexuality into an issue that needs to be treated different, but a sin that separates us from God and our only hope in having that fixed is through the Gospel. Too many times we don’t treat homosexuality the same as other sins and we forget the answer to homosexuality is the Gospel. I’m glad Allberry doesn’t do that in this book. I also really like how practical this book was. Throughout the book, Allberry gives practical advice on what to do if you are a Christian and you struggle with same-sex attraction. He also gives practical advice on how the church can respond to homosexuality and how we can minister to friends and people we may come into contact with you struggle with homosexuality.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who may be struggling with homosexuality or just wants to learn more about what God says about this subject.