Monday, August 31, 2009

We Are All Hindus... Say What?

The August 24 & 31, 2009 issue of Newsweek published a short article that caught my attention and has reignited a passion within me to help students and adults understand what it means to be an authentic follower of Jesus Christ and to worship God alone.

The article by Lisa Miller, which and be found on page 70, titled We Are All Hindus Now claims that "we are slowly becoming more like Hindus and less like traditional Christians in the ways we think about God, our selves, each other, and eternity."

A Hindu believes there are many paths to God, Jesus just being one of the ways.  Miller goes on to state that according to a 2008 Pew Forum survey, 65 percent of us believe that "many religions can lead to eternal life" - including 37 percent of white evangelicals, the group most likely to believe that salvation is theirs alone.  Near the end of the article she records 24 percent of Americans believe in reincarnation, according to a 2008 Harris poll.

My initial response was to question the statistics and to research "where" the surveys were given and how they were worded.  Then it hit me, I have witnessed this change of total acceptance and a fear of "judging" others and their beliefs for more than 17 years in youth ministry.  There was a day I was praised for teaching Josh McDowell's material Don't Check Your Brains at the Door by parents and students. However, I recently had a family meet with me to express their concern about how that could potentially make someone feel like they might not make it to Heaven if they don't believe Jesus is the Son of God. We are seeing a “Hindu style” religion right now in our schools, homes, teams, and even evangelical churches.  

I don't believe it's to late... I don't think it's ever to late.  We must begin to teach and explain not only what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and how to worship through great music, but also the apologetics behind act of worship… why we as Christians believe what we believe.  

John 14:6 leave's no doubt in my mind that Jesus is the only way to God.  This needs to be our starting point, not our only point.  We, as Christians, believe it and therefore it's enough to read it and point to it in scripture.  We share our faith and now the rest is... well, up to the person to accept it and Holy Spirit to lead or not to lead.  If we are to share with people who believe that many paths lead to God and don’t judge how you believe or worship, I don't know how effective we will ever be unless we teach our students how to share their position on faith, not just their faith.  

Years ago I was somewhat fearful of teaching Christian apologetics, the sole reason was that I would have to know what I was talking about and have to "defend" it to those that would oppose it.  I have learned over the years that it's not a defense of one's belief that makes others want to follow; it's the practice of those beliefs.  If I believe Jesus is the Son of God and He came to love, and demonstrated this by His death on the cross, I must ask myself: "how do I sacrificially love?"  If I believe that I can look at a person's spiritual fruit and see how they are living, I need to ask others what kind of crop do I produce?  If I believe He came for the sick, how do I love those who are lost, broken, naked, hungry and empty? Sharing my life should in essence be sharing my faith.  The relationship I have with others should reflect my relationship with Christ.  My actions should help defend, define and what I believe and develop a curiosity for what I represent.  The smallest spark can ignite a fire.  

I would encourage you to check out materials from Group Publishing ( and Josh McDowell ( to help in teaching your students how to better explain what it means to follow Jesus.

This is a "base-camp" post, there is a mountain of work and preparation to do, but the steaks and rewards will never be higher.  I am praying for you as you begin to lead and live what the Christian life is all about.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Basic Student Ministry Tip 22

LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE!  A simple reminder of a simple truth that makes the most profound impact on your life and the lives of those you come in contact with.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Effective Meetings

Meetings are important and necessary in building an effective ministry.  However, many of us waste valuable time of our leaders and volunteers though ineffective and poorly planned meetings.  I hope some of the tips listed will help you plan and facilitate meetings that matter.

1. Meeting preparation:
  • Should a team help plan and give direction to the meeting or is it one that you plan alone
  • What do you want to accomplish through the meeting?  What is the purpose?
  • Establish doable goals.
  • Is this meeting necessary or can you have three conversations to accomplish the goal?
2. Participation:
  • Check to make sure all "necessary" people can attend the meeting.
  • Postpone the meeting if key participants are unable to attend.
  • Give at least two weeks notice of meetings so participants will have time to schedule and RSVP.
3. Distribution of all material:
  • Mail/email all meeting material out at least 48 hours in advance allowing participants time to read through them.
  • Contact each participate to make sure they received the materials, don't assume they received them.
4. During the meeting:
  • Set a positive tone.
  • Help the group stay focused.
  • Refer to the material that was distributed before hand.
  • Involve everyone, don't allow the dominant personalities to control the meeting.
  • Create specific follow-up actions with deadlines.
5. Post meeting
  • Email meeting minutes within 24 hours.
  • Follow-up individually with each member who has ownership of a follow-up us action to offer encouragement, support and accountability.
  • Debrief the meeting to ensure that you are continuously improving and building successful teams and leadership.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Top Pick for Music Of The Month

Every month we will be featuring an up-and-coming Christian band to promote and check out. This month we are proud to introduce to you Bellarive from Orlando, FL.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Best In Youth Ministry!

Basic Student Ministry Tip 21

Do EVERYTHING in your ministry with quality.  Give attention to detail and find people who will help you project, set and met deadlines.  If you stay on top of your ministry it can't weigh you down!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Just A Thought

Look for the beauty in all of God's creation. Sometimes our standards for beauty cause us to overlook some of the most amazing things in life!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Just A Thought

When my thoughts are deep my recognition of people's needs tends to become shallow.

Basic Student Ministry Tip 20

Take advantage of facebook, twitter and other means of social networking to communicate, pray and encourage the students and parents in your ministry.  Nothing new here, these are tools many of us forget or refuse to use.  Try one for three months; it works!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fill Er' Up

When I accepted my first "full-time" ministry position I was very excited and very nervous.  I lacked many skills and abilities that come only from experience, but the one thing I had was energy... and a great deal of it.

I was a young full time college student working part-time and now serving as a youth pastor in a small church where "youth pastor" really equated to anything needing to be done.  It was during this time period I began to develop poor habits that would eventually lead to my ministry of "self" and not Jesus.  Instead of prioritizing my responsibilities, I found that working and studying twenty hours a day would allow me to accomplish all that I felt I needed to do.  My priorities were simple; school, job, ministry, friends, church and bringing up the rear was a personal investment in my relationship with Jesus Christ. 

More than seventeen years later I still have a list of responsibilities, in fact it’s larger, and I am tempted to go back to those twenty hour days and have.  However, I am a little smarter and realize that my first priority must always be the personal investment in my relationship with Jesus Christ.

When I am tired and spent and try to continue to minister, I do so out of the resources and strength of me. I don't have the patience, discernment, grace, love... okay, I lack most of the attributes of Christ.  It is only when I take time to retreat, refresh and renew regularly that I am most effective in my ministry and honoring to God.

Take time to "fill er' up" and watch the amazing things God will do through you, not because of you.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Basic Student Ministry Tip 19

I have been speaking at a great camp, with eight more days to go, and was once again witnessed the amazing ways in which God works.  I and so thankful that God allows me to be a part of His ministry, He doesn't need me... He doesn't need you.  We are privileged and blessed to be a part of Kingdom building and need to continually thank God that we are!  This is as basic and profound as I get.  Be thankful you are a part of God's ministry plan.