Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
When I was a kid, I used to spend time in the summer at my aunt's house with my cousins who were a few years older than me and who happened to be female. So, you can imagine the things I "learned" hanging around them. One thing I was introduced to, though, was soap operas. I don't remember much about them, but I do remember a few things about the plots that seemed pretty odd to me. Fast forward about 25 years and as my wife is now a stay-at-home mom, I've come home for lunch at times and found myself watching one of a couple different daytime dramas. So, I thought to myself, "What is it that makes a soap, a soap?" So here are a few character traits of a soap opera.
1. An evil twin with an eye patch
2. Someone everyone thinks is dead but is really alive
3. A rich person who always tries to buy everyone's affections
4. Someone with severe amnesia
5. Someone who is in, about to go in, or has recently been in a mental institution
6. Someone or someones who are still in love with someone who is deceased
7. A money-grubbing floosy who just wants some guy for his money
8. A young person dying
This is by no means an extensive list, but these items, I think, pretty well run true in daytime detergent dramas. As I thought about this, I asked myself, what are the staples of a spiritual life? There was a time when I would have made a list to include the following items and possibly a few others.
1. Regular prayer
2. Regular personal Bible study
3. Regular church attendance
4. Regular group Bible study
5. Regular tithing
But, as I looked back at my own life, I realized, the times where I had the most spiritual growth were times when many items on this list took a backseat to a lot of other pressures, stresses, and issues in my life (maybe during a time of divorce, losing a job, having financial woes). The late Youth Specialties president and founder Mike Yaconelli adresses this in his book, Messy Spirituality. This book breaks down the difference in being religious and being spiritual and looks at several biblical examples. Don't misunderstand me. All 5 items on my previous list are VERY important, however, sometimes we get so caught up in the disciplines of Christianity that we miss the rhuah of God moving in us. The book is a pretty quick read. Check it out! If you feel like you don't pray enough or read the bible enough or don't "have it all together" there is hope for you yet!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
1. Get excited about your facilities and your kids will follow suit. Whether you're meeting in the Taj Mahal or a converted broom closet, try to unlock the hidden potential of your meeting space and do what you can to make it a cool place. Our building before. Our building after some TLC.
2. Go to bat for your program with your trustees or other decision-making people in the church. Many youth programs are treated like red-headed step-children because either people assume youth enjoy things like ugly, worn-out sofas; they assume the youth will just tear up anything new; or they never go to the youth building/room to see what needs to be done. This doesn't just apply to facilities but all aspects of the program.
3. Find the right people in your congregation to help make things happen. No youth worker can do it alone, so find the right people to help you accomplish certain goals. This year, I had help from a church member who was a contractor, as well as our trustees chairman who were able to do some things for us, and parents who were constantly bringing food on a rotating basis.
4. Advertise your program to the congregation. This sounds egotistical, but the more the church knows what you and the youth group are doing that is positive, and spiritually enriching, the more they will support you and the program. Use your newsletters, websites, and if you know how to edit short videos you can run them during the services showing people in about 90 seconds what you and the kids did at your event last week.
5. Stay busy and be visible. It sounds like a political statement, but there is some truth to being visible in the congregation. If you can work from your office, do that, rather than "working at home". For me, this is more productive anyway. If your congregation sees how hard you work, they will support you.
6. Enlist and utilize your volunteers. This one has been beaten to death, but we all know the value of good youth workers.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Anyway, I went to my supply closet and got out a set of congas that haven't been used in at least 3 years. Our guitar player (I play drums) is very reluctant to play without a bass player, so he opted out for our Sunday night worship time. What happened was just an amazing, acoustic, unplugged type feel with me on acoustic and our bassist doing a pretty good job considering she'd never played a pair of congas before. Then by Wednesday night, our guitar player decided he wanted to join in the fun and he was playing a tambourine and a rainstick.
The change was nice, even though we didn't have a chance to rehearse the new format. I hope we can do it more in the future except under different circumstances. How has adversity, or unexpected change, forced you to be more flexible as a worship leader/band and what were the results?
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