This week we have students and kids serving both stateside and international. This is so cool to see 3rd graders all the way up through graduated seniors taking the love of Jesus to many around the world, it’s one of my favorite seasons of the year. I’ll be going to Haiti, leaving here in a few hours. A really neat last minute surprise, my dad will be going on the trip with me! Stay updated on all our trips by following our picture blog HERE!
Explore God – Making History in God’s Kingdom
Driving up and down the highways of my city over the past two months I have been amazed at how many billboards look the same. The white, black and blue palates of color make up different questions, statements and a website link. Rumor has it, that this is the biggest billboard campaign the city of Austin, Texas has ever seen. With 1,834,303 people, the city of Austin and its surrounding suburbs, I believe God and His Church are on the brink of something BIG, making history for His Kingdom!
Explore God was an idea, a thought, a dream that became reality. Check this out, over 330 churches in the city are doing the same series, exploring the same questions, at the same time! “Explore God” Today marks the launch for 6 weeks worth of what can be life altering or discovering faith kinds of questions for those that might be far from God. The goal is that 100,000 spiritual conversations would evolve as a result of this series and church partnership to engage the city.
Each church has trained discussion facilitators to host small group discussion in their home, work place, or even a local pub. The point is not to convert or even argue about God, but to merely allow a safe place for questions and discussion.
My leaders and students are joining the movement. We kicked it off this morning with 160 middle school students, I’m excited to see what happens tonight with our high school students.
Would you take a moment to pray for the city of Austin? Pray those that are leading this movement but also those that might be intrigued by a billboard or conversation, that they would seek out the website and perhaps a church in their neighborhood.
Today’s Question: Does life have a purpose? Here was a quick intro video.
Many more questions, videos and materials for your church can be found on their website. www.exploreGod.com
Giving Up! Time. Talent. Treasure.
I did a series at my last church called “Giving Up”. We spent three weeks discussing what it means to give up the things in your life to God that He has blessed you with…your time, your talents, your treasures. As we head into a season where we are calling our leaders, volunteers and families to be all in at Gateway, I know this mindset will need to come across clearly to my students. I don’t want this to be a one time push in asking my students to GIVE UP their time, talents and treasures. I want this to be a consistent lifestyle that is adopted by many in the student ministry. What are some ways that we can really make it stick?
We have all seen GIVING UP in action. Students playing in the band, running the sound board, greeting visitors, serving at a local soup kitchen or nursing home, going on a summer mission trip, possibly even starting to develop healthy tithing habits. The list goes on and on for things students do and opportunities the church will offer them. What have you offered in your ministry or seen in the lives of students that fit into one of these three categories?
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Got Curriculum? Customization.
Customization. This is what I love doing…it might be the artist in me or perhaps I’m just picky when it comes to things I really care about. One of those things is curriculum. Catch up with postings #1 and #2 if your just now joining me about curriculum. The clock is ticking for some of you and may need curriculum for your students and leaders in the school year ahead!
I used LIVE curriculum last year, and my current middle school guy at Gateway is using XP3 from the folks that help put together the Orange conference and tour each year. I remember this stuff from when I first attended the Orange conference in Atlanta some years back. Now that I have my hands on it, I gotta say, not too shabby! Like I said, I love to customize things and XP3 does give you the ability to do that. I’m teaching from their curriculum this upcoming Sunday…a lesson on God dwelling with us. Though I like the meat of the message there are some things I could do without and some of my own life story I’d like to add. Well, it comes in a word document and you can move around as much as you want!
The LIVE curriculum is very similar in giving you a PDF and Word document for both your message and your small group questions. You can also have many topics and series to pick from – plenty to customize your own school year, even for each specific grade!
If you are thinking about writing your own curriculum…I’d advise against it, my team tried this a few years back. Unless you have tons of extra time to devote, it becomes a black hole of pages, fonts, and writing. Plus, there are people already giving every day to this stuff – LIVE, Xp3, others you may add to the list. In my book, leave it to the professionals and find one that fits my ministry best.
Happy curriculum shopping!
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Celestial City Lights…
These are the city lights of Chicago…you can see a sprawling metropolis that goes on for miles. As my plane was doing a loop waiting for landing space at O’hare I was able to take in the city, pick out the skyline, particular buildings that were familiar to me and even cars on Lakeshore Dr. This plane ride was very different than many before. I have made this flight at least 20 times since going to school at Moody Bible Institute and then living in Wheaton, IL. This flight was different knowing that it would be one of my last times for a while flying into Chicago, Austin will be our new place of residency. My stomach was in knots knowing that I am leaving a youth ministry I love, people I have relationships with over 6 years now, and just the thought of boxing up our life and moving south some 1,000 miles was becoming more and more of a reality. Though I am incredibly excited about this transition and the team I will be doing life with in Texas, it’s still something hard to swallow. As I sat in my seat gazing out the window over Chicago city lights, I simply prayed, “God, give me peace…reveal yourself to me.” I’m not exaggerating when I say, not even a second later I followed out a well lit highway to see this sitting right below me….
I know it’s hard to make out but this is Wheaton Bible Church….just below the really bright light (that’s a new ballpark the city just put in). Out of all the lights that make up Chicago, God allowed my eyes to see this tiny spec on the map. Though a tiny spec on the map, Wheaton Bible Church along with Gateway Church in Austin are only two of thousands upon millions of shimmering lights that make up the celestial lights in the city of God! God brought abundant peace to my soul and amazing understanding to see how He works through his church body among the nations to build up His eternal kingdom. I cannot wait to get the bird’s eye view from heaven one day to see how the global church of history past has partnered together in building up the kingdom of God…one light at a time.
Paul’s words come to mind when he is encouraging the church at Philippi …
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
It has become more apparent to me than ever before due to my time of transition, we all have our separate church buildings, neighborhoods, and communities that we would consider our “church” home, but let us not forget the kingdom that we all share in building together. We are all batting for the same team. Hopefully one day you can share in the bird’s eye view, today you can only live intentionally in light of that day.