What about the 99?

What about the 99?

What I am having trouble with right now is how do you neglect the 99 while you go and look for the 1. What about the 99 who also need to be fed and protected and watched? 

I know that Jesus teaches that it is important to leave the 99 and go looking for the 1 lost sheep. I get that we need to remember not to just minister to our own flock, but we must break free and go and searching for those who are on the outside, those who are not like us,

Do I just cater everything in our lesson to these disruptive students or do I expect them to toe the line or leave? I am sure that the balance is somewhere in the middle, but right now I am having a hard time finding it. 

So right now in our ministry there are some kids who are coming that are being super disruptive. With how little the pay attention you would question why they are even there, except that I can tell that they are desperate for positive adult interaction and they really need a place to belong, even though they show this by acting out and making the lessons unbearable for everyone. 

So what I am trying to figure out is where is the line between reaching these kids who are desperate for the gospel and love, but who make it impossible for everyone else in the room to learn and those people who are there to learn and worship? 

The Summer Keeps Rolling Along

The Summer Keeps Rolling Along

…but it is almost over.

We have finished VBS, finished our last kid late night event, and just have a family mission trip to go before we are done with all of the summer events. Our youth are full steam ahead with band and sports so their lives are ramping up, but as a youth pastor mine is slowing down a bit. Which is a good thing.

About this time every year I start to reevaluate my life. As I get older the hectic schedule of summer gets harder and harder. One of the big helps now is that one son is in the youth group and one is in the kid’s ministry so I get to see them both a bunch, but honestly the pace of summer is daunting. I’m glad it is almost coming to a close.

Youth VBS

Youth VBS

We are one of the few churches that does Vacation Bible School from kids all the way up to Seniors. It makes for an interesting week, where I as the children’s pastor don’t really get near the kid VBS because I am spending all of my time in the Youth VBS. We sort of run them as two separate events that just happen to be going on at once, but it is neat to have a place for older siblings when the young ones are coming to VBS.

Anyway, a week with students is both really fun and also really tiring. The keep spending time together and as such get more and more annoyed at each other and I keep teaching, but after 5 nights it is easy to tune me out. I think a 4 night youth version would actually work out better, but it is what it is.

I said all of that to say how much I love my job. I love getting a chance to interact with students and teach them, and share the truth of God’s word with them. Tonight I even got to wash a few of their feet as we talked about John 13 and Jesus proving his love for us. On a week to week basis we normally have smaller groups and I do more teaching that preaching. During VBS our group size nearly doubles and I spend more time preaching which is always fun. We also get out of the building and go and do other fun things (tonight we went to a Ninja Warrior style gym) so I get to see students in new ways.

All in all it is just an amazing thing that God would let me lead and teach students. I have felt his strength, his words, his presence, and his amazing blessings this week. I am blessed beyond what I deserve to be able to do what I do for a living.

I Want Them All

I Want Them All

Luke 14:23 (NIV)

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.

An evangelist who came to our church when I was a youth would read this verse before he sent us out in cars to bring people to church. He would add a little to the end each time he would say “till my house is full and sloshing over.” It was a long time before I realized that wasn’t part of the actual verse, but the idea has stuck with me.

We are getting ready for Youth VBS. It starts on Sunday and runs through Thursday and it is a whirlwind of activity, singing, and Bible study. There are always a smattering of new people involved and every now and again someone shows up who hasn’t been around before and sticks around for the long haul.

This year I am praying for that and more. I don’t normally put my prayers out into the world. I don’t want to have to explain God if He doesn’t answer, but today I am praying for all of them. I am praying for every last student in our community who is lost. There are a whole bunch of them. If we bring in just a small portion of the people that don’t have a church home we will have to go outside and have our lesson, but I am still praying for all of them. I want the gospel to be presented to lost people. I believe that the gospel, the promise of Jesus, the love of God for us, all of us, is what people need to thrive in this world and to be with God in eternity, so why should I pray for anything less.

Lord, I want all of them.

That is my prayer today, so I am going to head out and get our portable sound system ready so we can move outside if we need to.

Youth Group Fun Trips

Youth Group Fun Trips

Today was one of those staple youth group events, the trip to the amusement park. This is something I have been doing for pretty much all 20 years of ministry, and really don’t quite understand how it fits in with the overall vision, but it is fun.

In many ways the amusement park trip is a leftover from the days when parents expected the church to entertain their kids and come up with activities and such, sort of like a social club. But in some ways it is a unique opportunity for kids to invite their friends, and for me as a youth minister to get to see new people.

The problem is there is very little chance for interaction and there is an almost 0 chance that the gospel will be shared. Maybe that is my fault. Maybe while we are all standing around praying for the trip I should throw in a testimony and the Roman Road. But that ain’t how I have been doing things, so in the end it becomes a fun trip with a few brief chances to interact with students.

So what do you think? Is the Youth Group Amusement Park Trip still a viable part of ministry? Do you have any ideas on how to make it something that is more effective in fulfilling our mission?