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Friday, June 29, 2012

Youth Ministry Lessons in Church Planting

Last week we attended a conference in Minneapolis that focused on planting churches cross-culturally. Though this is is not what we'll be doing in Costa Rica, there were still several concepts that are applicable to our ministry to the students.

First off, the idea of multiplication. In church planting, there are 3 different kinds of churches. One is where a pastor stays at the church and is eventually replaced when he retires. The second kind is where the church plants another church. The third kind is where the church plants a church, and then the church plants another church that plants another church. See this diagram to get the idea...

For the youth group, the idea of multiplication is in discipleship. If we equip the students to disciple others, and then have the discipled student disciple another student and the discipler another; an unstoppable force is created where students are maturing in Christ!

The second application from the conference was the "3 Greats": The Great Mission (glorifying God); The Great Commandment (love God and love others); and The Great Commission (make disciples of all nations). While these were given in the context of the purpose of church, this is true for all believers. We were created to glorify God, love Him and others, and make disciples. This creates an outline for discipling.

The third application from the conference was in equipping. If you want the above diagram to happen, then it is extremely important that the green oval is ready to pour into the red and then later the yellow. For the youth group, this means that the students who are discipled need to learn how to disciple others instead of just being discipled. This is where the whole "give a man a fish vs. teach a man to fish" comes into play. Obviously teaching a man to fish yield the best long term results! We not only need to equip, but we need to teach how to teach how to equip. We need to teach students how to study God's Word, so that they can dig into it without only gleaning from what parents, Jonathan, or I say. They can study God's Word for themselves and teach others to as well. 

Finally, the importance of prayer. Obviously this is important in youth ministry! It is essential that Jonathan, I, the parents, and those who are partners with us in ministry pray for the students. We must pray that they love God, want to glorify Him with their lives, love others, stay true to the Word, and desire to see their peers walk with Christ. We need to pray that they would mature in Christ.

Please, please, please be praying for the students!

The ideas in this post are from Craig Ott and Gene Wilson's book, Global Church Planting: Biblical Principles and Best Practices for Multiplication

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pressure

I recently heard about the discovery of the largest diamond in the world. It was discovered by the inspector towards the front of the mine. The workers had walked past this 3016K diamond everyday!

Diamonds are made when pure carbon is put under extreme pressure. Diamonds aren't found in a form that you would want to wear on your finger or propose with. It takes a skilled cutter to get the diamond just right.

We'll I'm not here to teach you about diamond, but I am here to tell you about our happenings. We're under a great deal of pressure to have 50% of our monthly funds pledged by the end of the month. Achieving this goal would allow us to be in Costa Rica by the end of the year. Not reaching 50% means we wouldn't be able to be with the students until late next spring. We feel this pressure because we love the students, and we want to be with them ASAP. We also feel the pressure because our lives seem to be on hold as we wait for this next phase. We've seen to be in transition ever since we joined ReachGlobal back in October. 

I relayed this story because I know that somewhere in the pursuit of reaching our goal, we've walked across the biggest diamond hundred of times, hundreds of emails, and hundreds of phone calls. In the process of raising support the greatest gem is that we're constantly developing relationships with people who want to partner with us in ministry. We have a giant (maybe even 3016K) opportunity to invest in people, to love people, and to educate people about missions. It's just easy when the going back and forth of numbers and deadlines prevents you from seeing the biggest part of the purpose.

Please join me in prayer and partnership so that we can hopefully make this deadline, but also hold us accountable for learning from God in this process.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Playing In The Fountain


Chasing Bubbles

First Contact






At the end, he kept trying to bath himself with a clean wipe.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Return

On Monday I had the chance to speak at a camp that I first attended 20 summers ago (wow, I feel old)! I started out as a day camper, worked as a counselor, and eventually was over all the program directors. I dedicated every summer either learning the person and character of Jesus Christ or teaching others about Him. It was a blessing to be able to return to a place that holds so many memories.

I spoke on John 15:4-8 where Jesus gives the analogy of the vine and branches. I focused on verse 8: "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples" (NASB). Three points stick out: we can glorify God; we glorify God by bearing much fruit; our fruit proves that we are His disciples. I was able to give a very clear gospel presentation with 1 John 4:13-14 which describes how we know we abide in Christ (what it takes to bear fruit): "By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world."


It had been a while since I last spoke in front of so many people (around 300) and had spent the time and energy focused on just one passage. I find it's really easy to read the Bible because it is so good and necessary for our lives, but I rarely take the time to study just one section and it's supporting verses that bring a fuller meaning of the text. This was a great reminder for the depth of God's Word! So I challenge you and myself... study God's Word, know it well; It's not just a good read, it's God's very Word to us!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Georgia On My Mind

Life has been pretty crazy around here recently. Final shifts at work, final meetings with Oxford friends, family, and partners, and our final night's sleep in our incredibly lovely bed for the next month.

Tomorrow morning we take off to Georgia in a final push to raise our support percentage to 50% by the end of the month. We'll drive down for a two week sprint of meetings and visits before flying up to Minneapolis for about a week. There we'll take a class given by ReachGlobal: Multiplying Churches Globally. We're reading the book for it now (as time permits, and other interests don't interfere), "Global Church Planting" by Gene Wilson. The first chapters were a little dull and filled with 'Christianese' (made up words and terms relevant to the select few who knew what was meant by them to begin with, because their usual definition is not usually what was originally meant anyways), and some of the scripture references were textbook eisegesis, both of which drives me crazy, but after the third chapter it's gotten better.

After our days of church planting training (which I really am looking forward to) we head back to Georgia for one more week. We'll return to Oxford for a week or two, and then it's back to Georgia to live full time. For the first time in almost 20 years, I will no longer be a legal resident of Ohio (no feelings either way; just an interesting fact). I'll be looking for part time work, and hoping to get involved in ministering to this hurting world in a tangible way as we continue to develop ministry partners for our soon to be new life in Costa Rica.

But I can't leave you tonight without the briefest of comments of what the Lord has me thinking on which is summed up in these two verses:

1 Peter 4:10-11: As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus ChristTo him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.


and 



Colossians 1:28-29: Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

ESV


Goodnight readers, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.