Category Archives: Church

For the summer our youth group is meeting at a community park. It’s a great opportunity for our students to get outside and enjoy the amazing creation of our maker. What makes this more amazing than just getting outside the walls of our local church is the excitement I can see in our students. There’s this smile they give when about to play potato, or that distinct high-five they give each other that really reminds me what I love about my job. I love hanging with my students…period!

They are incredibly challenging, smart and talented. Even more so they are working out their salvation with fear and trembling as the Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Philippians. There’s this movement that’s happening in which our students are really searching for Jesus. They want an authentic relationship with him, and when I say authentic what I really mean is life transformation. That’s where the money is.

When we really think about our relationship with Jesus Christ was are some things that come to mind? What identifiers emerge from your analysis? Is Jesus the absolute center of your world? I believe that is the question many of my students are asking, but not asking. They want authenticity but often times don’t know how or where to begin looking for such a thing. That’s where I come in.

My mission for our students is pretty simple: I want them to love God, love others, and change the world. To love something or someone is to know them. I want our students to know God. Not just in a sunday school sort of way, but in a all life changing sort of way. Where all you want is Jesus. Through that encounter, we begin to learn how to love others, and from that love of others, we can change the world.

Who are we changing the world for?

It’s all about Jesus. When we remove everything that we hold dear to, all the convictions we constantly argue over, and the petty agendas, Jesus still remains. Because we have nothing without him. Youth group, the local church, it’s all for nothing if it doses’t have Jesus.

There’s a movement happening in my group. They want Jesus. They want to go deeper. They want meat instead of milk. They want life transformation, and I sit here in complete awe of the working of the Holy Spirit in our youth group. It’s all about Jesus!!!

A Liturgical Experiment…Sodalitas

It’s a new year and I’ve been spending much time thinking about community, or more specifically spiritual community. What does is mean? What does it look like? How is it formed? These questions keep me up at night and the answer that I found is really not an answer but in fact an idea; a concept. It’s liturgy.

Since I was a boy, I’ve always been fascinated by old things, especially medieval things. There’s something whimsical and wondrous about the simplicity of the middle ages. This is where I’ve found the concept of liturgy. Although liturgy is not specifically a product of the middle ages, it it was practiced and experimented with during that time. Your probably asking “what does liturgy mean?” Good question.

Liturgy comes from the Greek word leitourgia meaning “public worship.” As I study more and more about community this concept of liturgy seems to surface. Not to mention as I remember the things that made me smile as I studied medieval history as a boy, it was the liturgical elements of the medieval church that fascinated me. Nonetheless, it was community that brought this concept to whole new level.

People gather to worship God in public places. The structure of how this is done varies from denomination to denomination. Some see the concept of liturgy to be a terrible thing, but I ask the question; why? Why is worshiping Jesus with kneeling and meditative prayers a horrible thing? Is it because Catholics do it? Why is doing the sign of the Cross a terrible thing? Does it not remind you of what Christ did on the cross? Why is responsive readings rendered obsolete, yet we still sings songs written from the 1990’s, even 1800’s?

Where am I going with this?

I’m proposing an experiment. I want to create a small community of Christ followers that would want to meet once a week and worship using the old ways. The more I study the early church the more excited I get about the local church, even more so this experiment.  I got this book Common Prayer: A liturgy for ordinary radicals and it’s intriguing and inspiring. This is not to replace the local church, it’s sort of a creative bible study if you will, some would even go as far as to call it a “bible study for hipsters.” We will meet to sing songs, recite responsive readings, take part in morning/midday/evening prayers and meditate over God’s word. The goal of this experiment is grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus Christ and create community, nothing else. Again, this is a bible study, not a new church! We are not trying to be Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, or even Protestant. We just trying to be authentic followers of Jesus Christ while using the imagination and creativity that He (Jesus) gave us. If you are wanting to participate in this experiment please fill out the form and I’ll contact you.

{Please note: this experiment is intended for those living in or around Yucaipa, Ca.}

Soli Deo Gloria!

What I Learned from TRON frisbee

Last night instead of having a typical youth group night we planned an event, TRON ultimate frisbee. In a few words it was absolutely awesome! Imagine glow sticks, a glow in the dark frisbee, music from TRON: legacy, and whole bunch of students running around like crazies; sounds like fun huh? However, there were some things that I learned from this event and hopefully this will continue to be a regular part of our student ministry.

Not all students are athletes

There are two kinds of students at an event like this: 1) an athlete and 2) the non-athletic. Neither student is better than the other, though the athletic minded will take anything that has a hint of competition and run with it (pun intended), while the others will adapt to the event and make it something they can connect to.

Students will find ways to have fun

This event was no doubt super fun. I mean seriously, who doesn’t like glow sticks? What was more awesome was to see students interact with other students that they normally wouldn’t interact with on any given day. One of the reasons we plan corporate games like these is to get everyone on the field to socialize. This brings conversations, laughter, and fun. Students who normally see students in a specific way could often walk away thinking “wow, I never knew that Josh was so good at frisbee!” 

Everybody loves Electronica

I don’t care what you say, you drop a beat on the iPod and your foot is going to move. You can’t help it, it’s the way God designed us to be. We are moved by music. Period! The music couldn’t have been more appropriate for TRON frisbee.

 

Advent Conspiracy 2011

Worship Fully // Spend Less //  Give More //  Love All

The question is what will you do?

What I Learned This Sunday

This past sunday I was given the wonderful opportunity to preach in both services at the church I serve at. Although this was a privilege and an honor, I have never been so nervous in my life. For years I have preached to hundreds of junior high and high school students, however, bringing the Word to adults is another story.

As I spent two weeks prepping for this sermon, I continually learned many things about the passage I was going to examine and ultimately myself. The Lord has shown me golden nuggets of wisdom in every turn of study. Below is a quick list of the things I learn from preaching on Sunday.

Know Your Audience- In the context of preach or preparing a speech this is a no brainer. For years my target audience has been teenagers, and from that I’ve become accustom to prepping sermons and lessons that are taylor-made to strike at the heart of youth culture. However, in this case, since the target audience was primarily adults with vast variety backgrounds I was to use methods that seemed strange and unfamiliar. I used a “Mac vs. PC” illustration that seemed to bomb in the first service and was well received  in the second service. From talking with some close colleagues and friends this was a simple mistake, and one that can be remedied with hast.

Topical vs Exposition- Typically I craft topical messages for our teenagers. I know that some have a huge problem with this, but please allow me to explain. Our wednesday nights are an open door program for our ministry, meaning that we have students with little or no biblical background walking through the door. Because of this I keep my messages on wednesdays topical in nature (i.e. what does God say about friends, love, faith, anger, etc. etc.) in that those students can walk aways some some sort of truth gleaned from the Word of God. I will throw in some tasty nuggets of “deeper-faith” insights that our students with relationships with Jesus Christ can walk away. I would also like to add that I try to always try to preach some element of Christ Crucified in that students would hear the awesome name of Jesus Christ.

For my sermon on sunday I decided to go with a hybrid approach, in that I took Philippians 4:10-13 and dissected it all the while pulling incredible principals that were applicable. I mean there’s not point of reading scripture if we’re not going to do something with it…right? So I took the opportunity to teach on being content in life in all circumstances. I broke the passage down verse by verse and gleaned amazing insights from Paul’s letter to the church of Philippi. Basically I challenged the congregation to examine their needs vs. wants all the while understanding that our strength is temporary but Christ’s is eternal and never ending (Gk. Dynamo).

Stage Presence- I like the thin that I have good stage presence, key word there…”think.” I realized that what I think is dynamic speaking is not necessarily  the truth. Although I wasn’t a complete dud on stage, there where some things I needed to do better, specifically more facial expressions. For those that know, I’m a laid back guy and often with show some fantastic facial expressions but for the most part it’s just sarcastic comments with a smile. I need to work on talking with my face not just words.

Overall, I was pleased to have the honor of speaking in our main church service. I hope in the future I’ll be able to have some more opportunities to speak and harness this craft.

Five Keys to Successful Change

A few years ago I had the opportunity to attend the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, it was an amazing conference. Not only did I get to hear from some of the most brilliant minds in church leadership, I walked away with a ton of books. And most of you know that I love my books, and free ones at that.

For the last couple years this one book has been sharing me in the face as it quietly sits on my bookshelf, the Catalyst groupzine volume 1. Today I walked over and pulled it off the shelf and read the first chapter and I immediately knew that I hit gold. Andy Stanley had written an article on how to “challenge the process.” I was intrigued by how I naturally tender most of his five points in my leadership style. As I think about how I function within the chain of command, I look at  it like this “I’m on a ship, I have a place withing the leadership, and the senior pastor is the captain of this ship.” I know what you’re thinking right now…”you’re just romanticizing the idea of church leadership,” perhaps I am. But for me it works, and I expand my influence by being respectful and subordinate, not to mention the fantastic relationships I made through the process.

let’s take a quick gander at what Andy Stanley says about this….

1. When an instruction if given, follow through; debrief later.

Basically, don’t challenge right away. It’s always going to be a “Yes, Captain” and perhaps a “can we meet privately?” I guess this is something I ultimately learned from my father. He would always give me opportunities to harness leaderships skills, I called them chores. At the end of the day, just obeying commands and asking “why” later always tendered better results.

2. Never verbalize your frustration with the process in front of other team members.

This should be a given; never, never, never do this! You’ll lose more than your bargained for. Respect from your supervisor.

3. Don’t confuse your insights with moral imperatives.

Basically don’t disagree for argue sake. Just because you think you have all the answers doesn’t mean that you do. Key word there is think. Think about what your opinion really is and worth rocking the boat?

4. If don’t learn to lead under, you probably won’t have as many opportunities to lead over.

Simple case of preform well with what little you have, think parable of the talents. You need to recognize authority and remain accountable to it.  You’re not better than the chain of command, it will always exist, even when you’re gone. Respect!

5. When you can’t follow, then it’s time to get off the team.

I’ve had my fair share of leading those who can’t follow, and honestly this is the hardest leadership challenge I’ve come across. What would happen if the captain of a ship gave and order and the executive officer said “no, I have a better way, stand aside.” That would be a fast trip to the brig (jail). You would be dismissed, quickly at that. Same in the context of church leadership, people need to respect the chain of command. To reach the goal it requires team unity and a focused effort. Learn.

You can learn a ton by instituting respect among your peers and supervisors. If you truly want to succeed your roll in leadership you would look at these five points and commit them to memory. Perhaps one day when you’re the captain of a ship you will recognize the five points of “challenging change” within your impact zone.

Sticky Teams…

A pastor friend of mine briefly talked about Sticky Teams with me a few days ago, I honestly had no idea what that was. I’ve heard the term used, but didn’t have a clue what it entailed. So I decided to do a little research and lo and behold I found a jackpot of cool concepts and leadership systems. I’m looking forward to learning more about these concepts on leadership.

3 Books I’m Going to Read this Fall

It’s no secret that I have an unusual obsession with books, especially books pertaining to church, church culture and student ministry. Being a loyal reader to Relevant Magazine I come across a multitude of books that I want to read, never really investing the time and effort into finding and reading those books.

However, as I think, pray and dream about the future of the local church I couldn’t help but make the attempt at securing three books I feel could be extremely interesting within the context of church culture. It’s possible that these books could could be a waste of time by regurgitating the same old trendy sort of  information. Just from reading the dust jacket I have a feeling that the guys that wrote these books are on to something. More so, they place the on the table the question of “as a church…where are we and we are we going?”

It would be hard to answer these questions thoroughly in one book, so I appreciate the effort of dividing up this concept into three books. Relevant Magazine advertises this idea with the clever word of “inspire” while linking each book to a social element often times missing from the church mix; Holistically, Relationally, and Missionally.

I know what you’re thinking…what are the names of these books?

HOLISTICALLY…

RELATIONALLY…

MISSIONALLY…

As I progress through each book, I’ll tender my thoughts and keep you updated. I would love for you to join me as I dissect the idea of the local church becoming more holistically, relationally, and missional in it’s approach to the Kingdom. Let me know if you’re reading these books and perhaps we can start a “trendy” online book club of sorts.

Student Ministry Website Survey

I’m doing some research on how important student ministry websites are to students, parents, and anyone else that stumbles across them. The survey takes all of 2 minutes to complete (if that). In addition to taking the survey, I would love your feedback on the subject. As it is, I’m still gathering preliminary data to make my decision whether or not to go with the current website options (which are functional but extremely limited) or with a paid online deal that is pricey but robust. It’s hard to not to think “relevant” when deciding to construct a website targeting youth, however, I’m thinking that perhaps that concept isn’t as transparent as we think in terms of students and the access of information. Bottom line: do websites make maximum impact in promoting, communication, and community?

Click here to take survey

Simple Ministry…Simply Stated

This a great article for those who want to be radical in their faith, whereas living missionally is part of one’s DNA.