After taking a week off in student ministry programs due to Spring break, we returned to our nomad schedule this week and had great nights in both our middle school and high school ministries. Below are the details of what we did.
What We Did at Porch (High School)
Upfront Game: Egg Roulette. This is a Jimmy Fallon game that has been around for awhile and if you haven’t done it with your students you need to. It’s always a hit! There are a few different ways you can play this game. This is how we do it. Basically you get a bunch of eggs, boil some of them and leave some of them raw. Figure out how many rounds/students you want to use and boil enough eggs where a few people get out each round. Make sure you have it planned out so the final round has two students and out of the two eggs they must choose from one of them is boiled and the other raw. The student that gets to the end of the game without a raw egg cracked over their head wins. We had students come up in pairs and had them pick an egg to crack over their partners head. Click the link above to download the graphic we used for this game.
Worship Set List: In Tenderness He Sought Me (Citizens & Saints), Great I Am (New Life Worship), Jesus I Come (Elevation Worship), and Unstoppable God (Elevation Worship).
Teaching: We started a new series that we will be in for the next seven weeks called “Acts.” In this series we are looking at seven different passages/events from the book of Acts. Last night we looked at Acts 1:1-11 and talked about the promise of the Spirit and the call to be witnesses for Christ. We are also challenging our students to read through the book of Acts on their own within the next forty days. We gave them a “Acts Reading Challenge” bookmark sized handout that has the book of Acts broken down into forty days of reading. Click here to listen to the message.
Highlight: The highlight of the night came for me after the program was over. I saw a handful of tweets from students that talked about what they learned from the message and how much they love Porch. I love seeing that kind of stuff on their social media accounts.
What We Did at Edge (Middle School)
Upfront Game: Egg Roulette. Same as above except we did more rounds with more students.
Group Game: Birdy on a Perch. Students break up into pairs of two. One student has to be the birdy and the other has to be the perch. Have them start on opposite sides of the room (you can also have them walk in separate circles or do something else) and when you saw “birdy” they must race to find their partner. The student that is the perch must get down on one knee and the student that is the birdy must sit on the other students knee. The pair that is last to do this is out. Continue until there is one pair of students left.
Teaching: Same as above except I shortened the message a bit. Click here to listen to the message from Edge.
Highlight: Having one of our 6th grade students come up to me after to tell me he wants to read through the entire book of Acts before Sunday. We will see if he does it.
7 Men by Eric Metaxas. If you enjoy biographies this book is for you. Metaxas basically packs seven mini biographies into this one book. As the title suggests, Metaxas writes about seven men in this book: George Washingon, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, and Charles Colson. Metaxas attempts to paint a picture of what real manhood is through the lives and accomplishes of these seven men. He says, “The idea of manhood has fallen into some confusion in the last decades. This book hopes to help correct some of that by asking and answering two vitally important questions: First, what is a man? And second, what makes a man great” (page xiii). Metaxas writes from a Christian perspective and realizes real manhood only comes in embracing God’s idea of manhood, which all these men in this book embrace and portray in their lives and accomplishments. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it for everyone, especially men, who want to get a picture of what God can do through people who yield to Him and fight for others.
And So To Bed by Andrian Reynolds. I’ll admit, I don’t embrace rest and sleep the way I should. I struggle to go to bed at night without staying awake worrying about what happened that day and what is on my plate for the next. I tend to stay up too late and struggle to wake up early. I’d rather work than sleep many times. This is an area God has been convicting me about and I am striving to grow in this area of my life. Because of that I wanted to grab a copy of this book and give it a read. As Reynolds explains in the introduction of this book there are really no Christian books on the topic of sleep. It’s an area Christians know is important but many of seem perfectly fine to not get enough sleep and don’t view it as a thing God cares much about. Reynolds says, “Sleep is of greater spiritual importance than you may have imagined, both in terms of what it does for us now, but also in terms of what it teaches us about the future” (page 10). Reynolds writes this short but pointed book with this main idea throughout: “Sleep is part of our created humanity, a good gift from God to be treasured and enjoyed; an earthly picture of a spiritual reality” (page 10). Throughout the book Reynolds makes the point clear that sleep is a something we need as humans and not only something we need, but it is a gift we can enjoy and learn from. I specifically enjoyed chapter 5 of this book where Reynolds gets very practical. He shares about why some people don’t sleep well and how it could be a medical or a spiritual issue. He also shares some practical tips on how to sleep better. Overall I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to get a better understanding of sleep from a Biblical perspective as well as some helpful tips on how to embrace this gift God has given us.
A Fresh Look at the Book of Jonah by Greg Laurie. I decided to read this book in preparation for our Jonah series we are doing in our student ministries this month. I wanted to read a book on Jonah that was practical and insightful, but not very technical and academic heavy. I knew I would use plenty of commentaries and Bible study tools so I wanted to read something pretty simple. I found this book to not only be simple and insightful but very practical. Laurie shares, in great detail, about the story of Jonah and explains there is much more to Jonah’s story than a giant fish. Laurie helps the reader understand more about Jonah and the city of Nineveh and how God worked throughout the book of Jonah. I really enjoyed this book and it helped me get a better understanding of the story of Jonah and what I can learn from God’s working throughout the story. I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to understanding the book of Jonah better and is looking for a simple yet refreshing read of how our God works in the lives of people.
Up next on my reading list is Finding Common Ground by Tim Downs and Jesus Continued by J.D. Greear. I also plan to finish The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer in the next few weeks.
The Wonder Working God by Jared Wilson. I’ve always enjoyed Wilson’s books so I was excited to read this one. In this book Wilson dives into the subject of miracles and helps the reader understand what miracles are all about. Wilson says, “Miracles do not serve so much to prove that there is a God but that the Lord is God and we are not” (page 13). Throughout this book Wilson discusses various miracles Jesus performed and helps us understand what they reveal about Him. Many of the miracles that are discussed in this book are ones I have heard, read, and even studied many times, but I seemed to learn something new about each one of them from this book. I look forward to hopefully reading Wilson’s book The Storytelling God soon, in which Wilson talks about the parables of Jesus.
The 7 Best Practices for Teaching Teenagers the Bible by Andy Blanks. This is a book that has been on my shelve for a while. I try and read as many books on teaching and preaching as possible. Before taking this book off my shelve it had been awhile since I read a book on specifically teaching the Bible to teenagers. Since I do that on a weekly basis I’m always willing to learn more and sharpen my skills. In this book Blanks shares (you probably already guessed it from the title) seven best practices to help you become a better teacher of the Bible to teenagers. Teaching the Bible to teenagers is not an easy task and to do it well is even harder. In this book Blanks shares tons of practical advice and insights to help you become a better teacher. I’d encourage anyone who teaches the Bible to teenagers, whether that’s a full-time student pastor or a volunteer leader, to do yourself a favor and read this book. It’s a good, simple read that will help you tremendously.
Better Safe Than Sued by Jack Crabtree. Student pastors and youth workers don’t always like the word “safety.” It’s an area that is often times overlooked for the sake of a crazy game or thrilling activity. Crabtree says, “Safety is one of the last concerns discussed as youth activities are planned and implemented” (page 13). However, one of our top priorities in student ministry should be the safety of the students God has placed under our care. We know the top priority is helping students come to know Jesus and grow in a relationship with Him, but another serious priority is keeping those students we are trying to reach safe. Crabtree says, “In addition to the important job of communicating the Christian message to young people, a youth ministry leader must also provide a safe, responsible environment” (page 20). In this book Crabtree helps student pastors understand the importance of safety and helping them stay away from any form of lawsuit or negative experience because safety was not a concern. I liked the wide range of topics regarding safety Crabtree covers in this book. Everything from driving and using vans and buses to sexual misconduct is discussed in this book. Also, there are some great chapters on safety regarding mission trips, retreats, and seasonal sports. There is also a very helpful chapter on bullying. This is one of those student ministry books that I believe every student pastor should read. It will make you a better student pastor and will help you create a ministry that is not only fun (which we all want), but also safe.
Up next on my reading list is Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels and A Fresh Look at the Book of Jonah by Greg Laurie. I also plan to finish Seven Men by Eric Metaxas and The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer soon.
Gospel 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.
The 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.
The Other Preacher in Lynchburg by John Killinger. I 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.
A Call to Resurgence by Mark Driscoll. Mark 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).
The Judgment Seat of Christ by Samuel Hoyt. One 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.
Disciples Are Made Not Born by Walter Henrichsen. This 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.