The New Ministry Leaders

This past Monday was our first leadership team meeting of the summer. We have a lot of great plans for the summer, but this week we just sat together at a Starbucks and talked about the many things that are going on in our lives as well as some of what we’ll be doing at camp next week as well as during our leadership meetings later this summer.

One of the topics we talked about was what spiritual leadership is going to look like in the future. When I was a kid, if you wanted to make an impact for the Kingdom of God, it was expected that you would be a missionary or a pastor. You would go to Seminary and study, look for a “full time ministry position,” and boom, you’d be a spiritual leader.

While those are still viable options, it’s pretty obvious that not all people who feel God calling them to impact the world can or should follow that path. In fact, some schools like Liberty University are cutting divinity school faculty due to lack of enrollment. I think every student ought to consider and be open to “full time Christian ministry,” but the Church should face the reality that not every committed student is going to be a pastor or missionary.

That’s where the new ministry leaders come in. I often dream about this.

What if Ninja used his influence for the Kingdom of God? He’s a streamer on Twitch who, as of May 2019, averaged 40,000 viewers per week.

What if Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon) openly talked about Jesus? (To be clear, I’m not saying he is not a Christian. I do not know him or his religious beliefs).

What I’m saying is that the next generation of ministry leaders just might be the kind of people who live out their faith and use their cultural influence to share the gospel in ways that are not what we have traditionally thought of as “ministry.”

There are many examples of people who are doing that, both on a large and small scale.

If we look to sports, we find people like Tim Tebow, Tony Dungy, Dikembe Mutombo, and Steph Curry.

The Dude Perfect guys who have over 42 million subscribers on YouTube, state that they do what they do to “glorify Jesus Christ in all that we do.”

I also personally know lawyers, doctors, school teachers, coffee shop owners, and others who are using their gifts and talents for the Kingdom of God. They are the new ministry leaders.

I don’t know what the future holds for the student leaders in our ministry, but my prayer is that, no matter what career path they choose, they will use it to influence the culture and those around them with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What it Takes for a Movement

I had two meetings last Thursday, and in both of them, we were talking about how to move things forward in our ministry. One of our great desires is that the student ministry can become a movement…something that really makes a difference in our city.

That got me thinking about how we talk all the time about great movements and the way they change things. Something that came up in my meetings was that there is at least one thing that has to happen in order for a movement to take place.


Five Things I Ask Our Small Group Leaders To Do

At the beginning of each week I send an email to our small group leaders to encourage them as well as let them in on what the lesson will be about on Sunday and give them the questions for their small groups to discuss.

This week I included a list of things that I’d love for each small group leader to do each week. The things small group leaders do outside of their group time will be as valuable as the time they spend with their students each week, and these five tasks are mostly done outside of group time.

Five Retreat Reminders

I have taught many courses about planning retreats and camps, and I’ve participated in a ton of them, but there’s always something I can learn from any experiences. This weekend we had our “Fall Retreat” with our students, and I was reminded of some things that I probably have taught multiple times but may have forgotten over the years.

Here they are:

  1. Small groups is where it’s at: As much as we plan the large group experiences and try to get the worship and main speaker to mesh with our students, the small group times is always where much of the real life conversations take place. Small group leaders are crucial. In fact, this year, my student leadership team saw the preliminary schedule and asked me to include more small group time.
  2. Students will worship if you lead them and let them: I’m always worried about the “worship” time with students. Quite often, I feel like it has potential for falling through and having little impact. This weekend, however, I saw many of our students worshipping freely. One of the band members even commented that they were singing louder than the sound system.
  3. The Group that Plays Together… We intentionally built in time for leaders and students to play together. Too often I have gotten caught up in the need to teach something or make everything purposeful in the sense of having “a point” or being a “teachable moment.” The reality is that sometimes we need some time to let down our hair and just play. They also need to see their leaders being real.
  4. Make it Fun for the Leaders, too: Leadership can be difficult. Leading a retreat often means no sleep and (sometimes) cold showers. We ask leaders to do a lot. So building in some time for them to have fun as well with the students is an important aspect of retreats and camps. Don’t make them be the police all the time.
  5. Don’t Go Alone: One of our rules for the retreat was “Don’t go anywhere alone.” That works for physically safety for the students, and it also works for mental stability of the person leading the retreat. One thing I wish I did better was delegate things to my leaders. I need to learn to ask others to take specific parts of different events and then rest in their ability to do it. It’s important to not try to do everything in a camp or retreat. That’s something I need to work on.

These are things that I have been reminded of this week. I sure learned a lot from this weekend, both from the teaching times as well as from the entire planning and executing process.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need some sleep.

Is the Bible True?

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to share with the students at our church about the question, “Is the Bible true?”

I’m sharing my outline here as well as my slide deck in case it might be useful.

Download it here:
Outline (PDF)
Slides (Keynote, Powerpoint, PDF)

Some of the questions at the end are important:

Have you ever really thought about this?
Where does faith come in?
What role does the Holy Spirit play in showing us the truth?

Why We Serve

This weekend our student ministry spent a few hours serving a local ministry partner called the Apple Patch. We did yard work at one of their houses, getting our hands dirty by pulling weeds and trimming hedges. I spent some time thinking about why we serve in the first place.

Often, we just assume that students (and adults) know why we set up service projects, but most of the time our answer is, “Because it’s the right thing to do” or “Because we love Jesus.”

Have you ever thought about why we serve from a Biblical perspective? I thought of a few reasons, and I wanted to share them.

Four Reasons We Serve Others

  1. Be Christlike (humility/love) – In one of the greatest descriptions of Christ, the letter to the Philippians explains to us that we ought to have the same mind as Christ, counting others as more significant than ourselves. Jesus did this by taking on the form of a servant. If we are to be like Christ, we will serve others.
  2. Be Obedient – 1 Peter 4:10 tells to use our gifts to serve one another. As God has graciously given us different types of gifts, we are to take what He has given to us and obediently use that to serve those around us.
  3. Be a Witness – As others see our good works (works of service), they will give glory to God who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16). Our acts of service are to give glory to God in the world. As we serve, we are being light to those around us.
  4. Be Spirit-Dependent – It is not a natural thing to desire to serve others. We are naturally inclined to want to do things for ourselves without thinking of others. When we walk in the Spirit, we demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23). Service embodies many of these characteristics, and it requires us to be dependent on the Spirit in order to put the needs of others in front of our own.

I’m sure there are other Biblical reasons to serve others, but these are a few that I think can be helpful as we seek to become people who are known for following Jesus.

(Photo by: Gabriel Jimenez)