these are absolutely my opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Still Water Community Church.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Calling my Job or Jobbing my Calling

Student Pastor is one of the hats that I wear here at Still Water. It is part of my job description, and one of the ministries I am expected to oversee as an employee of Still Water Community Church. But even more than is a calling that God gave me many years ago. And one I've followed for 20+ years.

There are certain duties (I said duty) that come along with the "job" of student pastor. And to be honest, if this was just a job, some things would be no more than just a pain in the butt. For me, those things look like administrative tasks. I am a relational person that needs human interaction and thrives in social environments. Other guys I know are the exact opposite of that. The point is...there are things about the "job" of student pastor that are not my strong points, but still have to be done. There are things about the "job" that are right in my sweet spot and do not even feel like work.

But the fact that God called me to this ministry changes the whole scope of things. It is imperative that all parts of the job be done in order for me to fully answer the calling God has placed on my heart to minister to students. Whether or not it's what I'm "good at" or what I "want to do" makes no difference. I must continue to grow and mature in Christ, and allow Him to lead me in ministry.

Truthfully...there is a lot of laziness in student ministry today. And sadly enough...I'm not talking about the kids, I'm talking about student pastors. It seems that more and more, guys are using student ministry to get where they really want to go. I know guys that barely even teach the kids they've been called to lead. Plugging in a video or pushing the majority of teaching responsibilities onto volunteers is not's laziness. Sure there are volunteers that are great teachers...even better than the youth pastor...I have some here....and they should be empowered and given the opportunity to exercise that gift. But don't use that as an excuse to not teach the students in whom God has entrusted you.

As with any ministry, there are students who are still craving and needing spiritual milk, but there are also those who are ready for more solid food. It is our calling that directs us to help them grow and mature. It is our calling that says....lead. And when we reject that calling by devising the plan of least resistance, or least discomfort, we risk stunting the spiritual growth of those we've been entrusted to lead.

And those that are seeking will either find another place to eat, or walk away from the table. When either happens, it's very easy to blame someone else or accuse the student and/or family of church hopping, being non-committed, etc....but where does the blame actually fall?

There are many methods, schedules, and approaches to student ministry, but laziness cannot be a part of our approach. We must teach and empower students for the years ahead. That cannot be done in 15 minutes a week and a couple of videos. It cannot be done by simply looking for the latest, greatest fad and force feeding it to your group. It takes prayer, relationships, communication, and work. Student pastors.....God has gifted each of you with unique gifts and abilities. We are to use them and continue to get better at teaching and mentoring students. Our relationships with students should go well beyond the years they are in our buildings. Our words and actions should stick and the relationships continue well beyond their student ministry years, and into adulthood.

The person who signs your paycheck hired you to do what God called you to do. Thank God for calling you and actually giving you the opportunity to do it for a living, and then work daily to answer the call. Do not get lazy in your teaching, preparation, and relationships and then look to blame someone else, or God himself for those issues.

It is a privilege serving God and actually getting to do it as a vocation. God has afforded me the opportunity to make a lot of friends over the years through His calling on my life. To cut off relationships based on geographic location would be asinine, and not in keeping with a kingdom minded, Christ centered way of doing ministry. My prayer for student ministries and student pastors around the globe is that we would stop looking for the easy way, and start looking for the right way. The fact is...the more people speaking truth into our student's lives; the more effective we become in our calling to reach kids. As a parent...I need as many adults as I can get speaking into my kid's lives. As a student pastor.....I refuse to compete with other ministries, and/or feel guilty for loving kids and ministering to families that may not be coming to my building on Sundays. That's my calling, not my job.

I'll save the competition for Monday night softball games and fantasy football.

I'm out....

Saturday, July 23, 2011

NWLC '11 Recap

Well...The National Worship Leaders Conference 2011 is done. We got back in town yesterday after a great week in Kansas City (Leawood, KS) at The Church of the Resurrection. As is the case with most conferences, there is so much that I still need to wrap my head around. Great general session speakers, incredible music, outstanding workshops, etc...there is just so much information that is given out. I have to sit down and look back through my notes and start putting things together.

Off the top of my are some takeaways:

1. I need to pick up some more of Leonard Sweet's books. He was good!
2. I am a big fan of Casting Crowns now. I've always liked them, but after hearing that Mark
Hall (the lead singer/songwriter) share that he is in the office Sunday-Wed. as the Youth Pastor at his church, and the balance he strikes between that and being a top-selling artist was impressive.
4. At some point I probably need to work on a british accent....apparently it makes your songwriting much, much better (Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Brenton Brown, Reuben Morgan, Ben Fielding....UNBELIEVABLE!).
5. I am PUMPED to back with my church next weekend!

Awkward moment of the Week:
I go to the restroom in the main lobby, which is ginormous, of the church. This is the first thing Thursday morning. I walk in and there is an older man in the stall absolutely destroying the bathroom. When he is done he steps out of the stall with his pants down to his knees, shuffling across the floor to the sink. He stands in front of the mirror, tucking his undershirt into his draws as his pants slowly fall down around his ankles. Me and the other two guys in the restroom walked out laughing. I saw the old guy a few more times and could not even look at him without laughing.

For now...that's all I've got. I will share a little more as I process the things that I saw and heard. I'm encouraged and excited about where God has me and where He has Still Water right now. We have a great team and I am excited to share some things from the NWLC with them as we move forward.

I'm out....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

National Worship Leaders Conference '11 that I've somewhat figured out this mess Google put us in with their new is the update for Day 2 of NWLC.

Started out this morning with music led by Reuben Morgan and Ben Fielding of Hillsong United, and Kari Jobe. It was the coolest acoustic worship set I have ever been a part of in my life! Crazy good!

Miles McPherson was the speaker for this morning's session. I had never heard him before, but will listen to him on a regular basis now. I only knew him as a former NFL player back when I was a kid. He played DB for the San Diego Chargers back in the '80's. He was great!! He had a great message for walking with Christ based on 5 principles:

1. Preparation...God has prepared you to do everything you are called to do
2. obey the Father
3. Pain....sometimes we have to go through pain
4. Power....power that overcomes earthly power
5. cannot quit!

The first of my workshops today was a New Song Cafe hosted by Reuben Morgan, Ben Fielding, and Kari Jobe shared with the group. New Song Cafe is a regular video series (you can search them on youtube...there are quite a few). The artists shared some brand new songs with us, including a couple that have yet to be released. It was awesome!!

Stan Endicott had some good words and direction for mentoring and empowering the next generation of leaders. And last, but not least, John Chisum spoke on creative settings, staging, etc...for smaller churches with smaller budgets. I've got some ideas....

Got to hear some new artists today....Sons and Daughters. Very good songwriters! I always love hearing new music!

The day was not without it's humorous parts though....

1. The three teenagers standing in line for the New Song Cafe playing the ukelele, harmonica, and singing. 3 kids, 3 instruments, 3 different keys....drove everyone nuts!!

2. The unknown class member in my second workshop that ripped one just after the speaker said of himself, sometimes things happen unexpectedly. I don't care how old you are....there is nothing like a fart to break the tension.

3. And then there was the two young adults tonight in Red Robin dressed in the Harry Potter best, including wands. I understand why they may want to wear it to the movies, but into Red Robin...really?!

Well....since I didn't get to this blog till pretty late, I'm gonna shut down for now. Up early tomorrow to start Day 3. Casting Crowns and Leeland tomorrow night! Micah Stampley leading tomorrow morning. Should be a good wrap up to the conference. I'm hoping to win one of those IPads I registered to win at a few of the exhibitor booths......fingers crossed.

I'm out...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

National Worship Leaders Conference '11

Well....finished with Day 1 of the National Worship Leaders Conference '11. This is my first time to attend this conference and so far, so good. It is held at The Church of the Resurrection in Overland Park, Kansas. This has got to be the largest Methodist church I have ever seen! It is a very cool facility, and their volunteers are doing a great job of serving.

The day started with a general session taught by Dr. Leonard Sweet. I had seen some of his stuff before, but had never read any of his books or heard him speak. I'll say this....I'll be coming home with a couple of his books and adding him to my podcasts and blog list. He was awesome!! Highlights of his session:

*Why is Jesus' mission statement for all of us not enough. Do we form our own mission statements because His is just not good enough?
*We must speak in the language of the culture we exist in so that the people hear us.
*People understand narrative and metaphor, not words.

He proceeded to tell the story of the birth of Jesus by using the historical narrative of some of the things surrounding the birth. Not that scripture is not important, but when told through narrative and metaphor, it comes alive.....and so do the people.

Tim Hughes led worship and made me want to have a British accent. I don't know...there's something about the worship leaders with British accents that make me feel like I need to repent or something.

The conference is full of your typical conference stuff. The exhibit hall is full of companies who have lots of fun stuff for your building, ministry, etc....This one has lots of fun stuff because it is centered around the creative and worship arts.

This is the first conference I've gone to by myself. I don't have a problem with meeting or talking to new people, so I've had fun meeting worship leaders from around the country and talking strategies, styles, etc.. I must say though, it's not as much fun playing some of my favorite conference games like, "You Might Be Trying to Hard If....." or "Church Titles You May Have Never Heard Of" without a friend to play with like my buddy Robert. I thought of him today when I was standing in the bookstore of the church, Casting Crowns song "If We are the Body" came on, and the guy next to me started singing at the top of his lungs, raising his hands, and practicing his leading skills for all of us in the immediate vicinity. I don't know if he was applying for a job somewhere or just overcome by the sheer excitement of hearing Casting Crowns, but he was definitely trying to hard.

Attended a couple of workshops today, the best of which was a songwriting workshop with Matt Redman. Awesome! That guy can write a song, and he has some incredible wisdom when it comes to leading, writing, and just being a worshipper. I thoroughly enjoyed his workshop.

After dinner at a great pizza place, D' Bronx, we went to the night of worship which is part of each night here at the conference. Tonight's service was led by Brenton Brown and Matt Redman. It was great! Got some great new music to take back home to Still Water and put into our repertoire.

Gonna turn in and get ready for Day 2 tomorrow. General session tomorrow morning led by Pastor Miles McPherson, Reuben Morgan and Ben Fielding (Hillsong United). Tomorrow's Night of Worship.....Gungor, Rebecca St. James, and Kari Jobe. Gonna be good!

I'm out....