Jumping in the pool…why scars arent so bad in ministry!

11539202_677325718132_5953708130056976268_oWe all have scars.  I have a few from ministry.  Some of those scars are seen and others are right in the middle of my face. But scars can be a good thing if they are done for the sake of the Gospel.

This past week we had an amazing VBS.  We had more kids attend VBS this year than any of the past 5.  We capped it off by collecting 545 items for food pantries in our area.  This led to my most recent scar.  I told the kids if they collected 500 canned goods I would jump into a pool of ice.  It was going to be awesome.  The kids were cheering, and excited when we brought them out to watch it. They were cheering me on.  I thought the worst that could happen was get some bumps or bruises jumping into the kiddy pool. I leaped and was in the water.  The pain wasn’t that bad but when I came out of the water I saw blood. My wife gave me the look that said “you did something very wrong to your face.” She grabbed my hat off my head and shoved it into my face so the children wouldn’t be further traumatized.  It was not my best moment in ministry.  Something that seemed so promising had gone so bad in a matter of seconds.

But I wouldn’t change a thing. I did get bandaged up and was able to walk back inside and share with kids I was alright and lead them in a prayer.  One of the themes for the week was Jesus heals us and so I tied it all together. It turned into a good moment to share Jesus. I am someone who will jump in a pool of ice water if I think it will  let me talk about Jesus with a kid. Heck the scar was a great story in the ER when I got my 11 stitches.  I got to share Jesus with a doctor, nurse and three paper work people. I don’t mind the scars in ministry because another family, kid, student, adult or whoever got to hear the good news of Jesus.  They got to see some crazy grown kid stand up and share Jesus. Who knows if they will ever be a believer in Christ. The Holy Spirit does that work anyway.  I never even know if the scar is worth it.

I do know this however, I would take all the scars in the world if it meant one more kid or family might know Jesus. So for all of you in ministry, either volunteer or paid professional lets make more scars so others can know this Jesus who loves and cares for us.  Lets tell the world even if it means some pain and scars.

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Psalm 51:8 ESV

Stop singing in Church…No make a joyful noise

20150612_131958So I cant sing.  I am actually maybe the worst singer ever.  This past Sunday my wife commented to me that I should try not to sing out because I could scare the people around me. (this was in jest)  Once when I was in college at chapel I sat between two choir members and they both asked if I could stop singing for one of the verses because I was so off key it was throwing them off.  I am bad and I know it. On occasion at Church I leave my mic on and others know it, but I still sing.  This blog post has nothing to do with others joking comments. I don’t think anyone of them was seriously asking me to not sing just having some playful banter.

I think everyone should sing in Church.  I think everyone should be an active participant in the worship service.  I sit in the front row of Church and often sit where I can see most of the men and women in my Church skipping the singing part.  This by the way has nothing to do with contemporary or traditional worship services.  Sure sometime the key for the song is unsingable or the hymn uses words no one understands or can sing.  We may have many reasons people don’t sing but if you are not doing it because you are an awful singer please listen up.

The saddest reason I think people don’t sing is because they think they sound terrible.  They are afraid to sing out because they don’t want to be embarrassed.  Well let me tell you something I know as a youth guy.  Your kids are watching.  Your boys sitting in the pew are watching you mom and dad.  They are watching you and thinking Dad thinks this Church thing is dumb, so we think it is dumb.  Mom doesn’t sing so we can check out of this Church thing. Please, please, please sing.  Mom, dad, grandpa, and grandma please sing.  It is better for you to be involved worship, but most important it shows those young people around you that you care about this Jesus.  I know you know and love Jesus. I really want you to show that to others by being involved.  Sing loud and praise the Lord.

In college my favorite line a friend Rev. Dave Herald  and I used to say.  “If you have a good voice sing loud and praise God…If you have a horrible voice sing loud and get back at him!”  Enjoy God’s gift of song, sing to the lord and receive his blessings through the worship services.  Help lead by example to our young people that this Jesus who came and died for us is worth giving praise in response to his good gifts.

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Psalm 95:1 ESV

Stripping paint… How ministry can be tough when you don’t get to see the end of the project.

DSC01756This past weekend I was on a retreat with High school students from Big Rapids, Muskegon, and Grand Rapids. I loved it.  I loved talking about Christ with them and on the first night we spent talking about the term whatever.  We focused on whatever we do, we do it for Jesus.  If we hold the door open we do if for Jesus, If we clean up after dinner we do it for Jesus, If we scrape paint we do it for Jesus.

We scraped a lot of paint.  In fact when we arrived we had thought we would be painting.  We came to finish this great project.  Instead we spent 8 hours scraping one building.  It was hard work.  The building was build in 1957 and had at least 6 coats of paint on it.  The process was spread paint remover goop on building, wait 30 minutes scrape, get off a layer or two,  and repeat.  If you waited too long it got dry and stopped working. At one point someone said “Wow this is hard work.” And I said “Yes and we are paying to do it!” It was hard and to be honest. I am not sure we all had the satisfaction of seeing a completely striped building ready for paint. Being the scraper of paint is tough work and not very satisfying.

So I think scraping paint reminds a lot of being a disciple of Jesus. Sharing Jesus with students, friends, families, enemies and everyone in between is tough work.  Sometimes when we spread the good news you don’t get to see it finished. even after you spend a lot of time on it.  We would love for it to happen so quickly. We would love to be able to pray, talk and conversion happens.  You don’t always get to see the beautiful building God is working them into.  You see siding that looks beat up.  You see the little bits of stubborn paint on a person that just isn’t wiped clean.  Sometimes at the end of your time with the building, you don’t see the finished project just a building you worked on.  I can be so frustrating.

I tried to tell the students this weekend.  This project isn’t complete.  We did what God had planned for us to complete.  We followed Jesus. We served and one day the whole project will be finished.  It wasn’t our job to finish it was are call to start the project.

As you think about that person, or family who needs to hear about Jesus, and are frustrated that the job isn’t done remember we all play a part and sometimes we don’t get to see the finish just are part of the process.

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  1 Corinthians 3:5-7 ESV


Its not about you…why I dont do worship time in Youth group. The Body of Christ needs more!

11133942_465215150311741_663531651424318360_oI am a full time Youth Minister.  I serve a Church in Big Rapids Michigan and  I a believe one of the most important things I can teach my young people whom I serve is Church isn’t all about them.  Church is about the body of Christ coming together.  It is about being one body not just a youth church.  We get in trouble in ministry and a church when we say one group is more important than the other or I only care about one part of the body  who are like me.

I don’t do worship in youth group on purpose. For those who know me, they know I can’t sing.  In fact Sunday I left my mic on for the whole last hymn.  Needless to say their was some crying at the end of the service. I don’t do worship in youth group for a whole different reason. I do not believe youth groups should do worship regularly for Youth group time.  The reason is I don’t want our students thinking that YG is the same as being a part of the whole body of Christ.  I want are students in worship because it is where we see the whole body of Christ gather and share its need for forgiveness in confession and absolution, in the breaking of bread, and fellowship.

Many of my students and even their parents can forget this fact about the body.  We seem to think all to often that Church is about me and my group of peers. I have had parents and students say “They aren’t going to Church but they are going to be at Youth group which I the same thing.” I cry a little when that happens.  Being a part of the body of Christ is all about being with the whole body.  The body needs those who are 95 and crusty, it needs the 5 year old with snot running down his nose, it needs the teenager who is uncomfortable with her body, the single mom, the dad who is struggling with self worth, It needs all of it because it is all the body trying to come together to follow the head who is Jesus. It is these moments when we learn to walk together through our mess and see Jesus clean it up.

The whole body in needed to function properly is doesn’t mean we don’t have groups who meet together who are alike, it just means that shouldn’t be the end goal. Our end goal should be the whole body gathered together. So how are you intentionally gathering together with those in your Church who are not like you? How are you helping grow the whole body of Christ?

 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—  one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Ephesians 4:4-7 ESV

Rinse, Lather, Repeat…Discipleship

20150413_205916My body wash reminded me of something this morning. Every so often in the morning I want to stay in the shower. Sometimes because it is warm, but mostly because it gives men a few minutes to get my head on straight before I have to deal with the world of two young people and a teenager.  Oh my kids aren’t that bad.  They have their cranky moments and they act like all little sinners some times but I wouldn’t expect anything less. Their dad’s theme song is often chief of sinners though I be. Today I was in the shower and happened to be reading the back of my body wash.  I know I am weird but like I said I like to take a few minutes.  I was blown away as I read the bottle.  Rinse lather and repeat as necessary, it says. As a guy I have never really thought about doing it twice.  Most of the time if I have done it twice it is because I got so little sleep the night before that I forgot I did it in the first place.

When we talk about sharing our faith with our kids, families and for me Youth group, I forget that I need to rinse and repeat more often than not.  I sometimes forget the importance of this process in making disciples of Jesus.  I often think of Jesus and how he taught the same thing over and over again just so he could give them the holy spirit and then they would finally understand. We are a stubborn people in need of constant reminder.  We like the Israelites, disciples, and really everyone else in the Bible have seen God work in great and amazing ways yet we constantly have to be reminded of the things God has done in our lives.

So maybe today you are struggling with teaching your family, your youth group, your Church, your friend or yourself.  Remember we need to hear it over and over again.  Like shower time it isn’t is a one time thing.  The really tough stuff might even take multiple times in one attempt to get it clean. So lets all remember to keep bathing in God’s Word! Rinse, lather, repeat.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9