Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bread vs Bread

I love to eat. If you have seen me, you can tell. I wouldn't starve to death if I skipped a few meals. I normally have no trouble finding something to eat or a time to eat it. Physically eating for me is no problem. It comes naturally, almost like I have to...

Over my Christian life I have struggled to spend quiet time with God. From college, to kids, to job, to my wife and any other excuse I have come up with to not have time with God. This has been the cloud over my entire Christian life. I know I need to, I know it is good for me and I know that it will help me be a better youth pastor. When you lead people, whether it be in business or in the church, you have to always be ahead of them. I can only lead my students into places that I have been. I cannot lead students into an exciting life with God, if I have never experienced it. If I don't have my own quiet time, how can I challenge them to give up their personal time, to spend with Him. If I don't know the Bible, how can I teach it to my students.

Like eating food, our quiet time with God is something that nourishes us and keeps our engine running. I had to skip lunch today because I was busy, and it began to kill me as the day wore on. My time with God is just as important, if not more so, because if I become weak in faith then I can fail my students.

I learn each new day that I am not adequate to be a youth pastor. I see failures in what I should be doing. I learn each new day that I must continue to lean on God and rely on His strength to get me through the day. That it is because of Him that I can be a youth pastor at all, much less a good one. I thank Him each day for the opportunity to do what I love doing.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shift Conference 2008

I am spending this week in Chicago, IL at a conference called Shift 2008. This is funny considering my retreat next weekend is called Sh!ft and basically has the same meaning. Anyways, my coming to this retreat was a last minute deal. The tickets came available and I figured it would be cool. Jim Nelson and I are here to try to learn more about doing our ministry and about ourselves. My expectations for this conference was just to learn some deeper theologies behind doing youth ministry. Man, was I wrong. It seems that God had (once again) purposefully put something in my life because He knew I needed it.

I have been carrying a bunch of junk around. From dealing with being a first time youth pastor to issues at home with family to feelings of inadequacy in my youth ministry. I felt that what I wasn't doing were things that were holding me back and my ministry back. I was bogged down in my own crap and not able to move myself ahead. Yeah, my ministry looks good on the outside but it isn't all it should be on the inside. We can be so much more than what we are, but I haven't been able to move us forward because of all the junk in my life.

Well, the first day at Shift we had some great speakers and awesome worship by Charlie Hall. His music sounds a bunch like David Crowder and he did a great job at leading worship.

The first speaker was Brian McClaren who talked about stuff within his book called "Everything Must Change". His talk centered on the fact that we need to look beyond the issues that the church is having and look to the issues the world is having. He told a story about being a speaker at a camp in the 70's and having the student make two lists of issues. One list dealt with issues in the church and had things like: wearing jeans, playing guitar or drums in church, etc. The second list were issues that the student (world) was dealing with and talk about things like: communism, nuclear war, etc. Brian talked about how most of us in ministry and youth groups, tend to deal with the first list and leave the second list to others. He talked about how we need to move from the first list to the second list. The church isn't fulfilling the calling of Jesus to take care of the children and widows in the world. I began to think about how our ministry worked and what are lists would look like.

The second speaker was Mark Yaconelli. He talked more specifically to youth pastors and how we deal with the life we have. I don't remember all the talk but something he said really touch my heart. It was amazing how God moved in my life and really brought me closer to Him. It was something I can say I rarely feel, but it changed the entire week for me.

The rest of the speakers were great also, really opening my eyes to things beyond my youth group. There's so much that I could write about and will as time goes on. I can't wait for next year, so we can go back.