Team Effort

He is the most fascinating person in the world. Everything he says is golden. Every phrase he utters is either the most hilarious thing your son has ever heard, or the most profound.
She seems to have the coolest clothes. She seems to know everything about the latest bands or movies. She knows just the right words to post on your daughter’s Facebook page.
They are the most interesting people in the world. And they seem to be anyone but you.

It’s not that you don’t know the shows your kids are obsessed with or can’t post encouraging things on Facebook. It’s not that you’re never funny or even profound. In fact, a lot of what that guy or girl to your son or daughter is saying are things you’ve been saying for years. But for some reason, your son or your daughter doesn’t hear it when you say it. For some reason, when uttered by him or her, those words pierce your child’s heart.

Sound familiar? Then you are definitely parenting a teenager. The teen years and a few years beyond are a time of life and development when your child begins to put a lot of stock in the voices outside your house. The voices of their friends, coaches and even small group leaders.

And while personally you can feel a little slighted that the child who once thought you hung the moon acts like you no longer have anything valuable to say, the truth is, this stage is natural—even if it is a little painful at times. So when the inevitable shift happens, and your voice seems to become less and less important, the big questions are, “Who are the people speaking into my kid’s life? Do they believe the same things I do?”

It’s not that your role isn’t important or that your words don’t have value—there are still some things that only you can say and do for your child. It’s just that the other voices have been elevated to a high level.

So the challenge is to widen the circle. To make sure there are other trusted adults investing in your son or daughter. In our student ministry, we believe those people are your child’s small group leaders. That is why we are intentional about making sure your student has a consistent leader in their lives every week, guiding them towards truth and connecting with them relationally.

But did you know there are ways you can connect with those leaders as well? Here are some ideas on how you can partner with your child’s small group leader:

Acknowledge the importance of the small group’s leader role. If your child won’t talk with you about something going on, you at least want him or her to have someone in their lives they can talk with, someone you trust and your child trusts, right? So make sure you let that small group leader how much you appreciate him or her making themselves available and investing in your child.

Encourage the small group leader. If your child has a great compliment about his or her leader, or you notice something he or she did well, let that person know. Working with students can be challenging. Sometimes they are quick to offer a compliment and sometimes it’s painfully silent.

Provide your contact information. Give the leaders your contact info and let him or her know your preferred way to get in touch with you. Let them know you would love to hear from them about the ways they see your teenager maturing and growing—insights you may not necessarily have from what you see at home.

Offer to help. How can you help that small group leader out? Maybe you could host an event at your home or provide food. Maybe you could even babysit that leader’s child or help him or her with a specific need in their lives.

• Get to know them. If the leader is young and/or single, invite him or her over for dinner. Get to know the leader as a person. Don’t use it as an opportunity to interrogate the leader to find out information about your child. But enjoy getting to know this other adult in your child’s life.

The primary goal is to make a connection and make yourself available. You are the parent, but you also need other people in your child’s life. People you can trust and people you know your child trusts. We believe your child’s small group leader can be one of those voices.

And when your home partners with this ministry, we believe the impact can be huge.

Thoughts on Community in the Body of Christ

Tomorrow night will  wrap-up  a series on community for our student ministry. We have looked at how we were created by God with a need for community with others. We have also seen that, while community can get messy, the rewards of community far out weigh the risks. Tomorrow night we will discover that by pursuing community with other followers of Christ we get a better picture of God’s nature.

As I have journeyed once again through these ideas that are so familiar to me, I realized something had changed. I read the Scriptures about community with a new perspective. I taught these truths about community with a deeper conviction.  My passion to see other believers embrace authentic Christian community was stronger than ever. As I wondered why this series was impacting me more than I had honestly expected it to, God reminded me of the reason why. He (God) had used the  Christian community I had already been developing over the past few years to bring me through the hardest season of my life. I shutter to think of what things would have looked like had I not had my brothers and sisters in Christ.  As I walked with my dad down the road of cancer returning in his body in mid April to his home-going in mid August, everything else in those 4 months became a blur. I would love to say during that difficult time I turned to God’s Word more than ever, and I prayed constantly for the strength to walk that road, because after all isn’t that what a pastor does? Isn’t that what spiritual people do? Maybe they do, but it’s not what I did. At the risk of being completely transparent, I will tell you that I am not sure that I opened my Bible more than a handful of times during those four months other than to read it aloud to my dad by his hospital bed or to prepare for a message I was giving. (Trust me I know better…)  As far as my prayer life goes, well….let’s just say I accumulated plenty of “roll over minutes” with the Lord during that time. Basically, it was a challenge to breathe most days. I took care of dad, made sure my responsibilities at the office were covered, tried to see my family for a few minutes a day, talked to doctors, got a couple hours of sleep and did it all over again while trying to keep a brave face. I didn’t feel like opening my Bible. I didn’t want to pray. I just wanted to hide, but unfortunately that wasn’t one of the options.

As I look back on the last 4 months, I see how God used the community that I had been been building over the last several years as HIS mechanism to minister to me! I am as certain that God sustained me through this time through the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ as I am that I am typing these words now. I never felt like I had the strength to even get up in the morning, let alone get through an entire day. When peace would overwhelm me as we received bad medical report after bad medical report, the thought would occur to me that I hadn’t asked God for that peace, or even talked to Him about it much at all.  Rather than feelings of anger as it became apparent that we were losing my dad, I instead had an acute awareness of the love of God for me and my family. I promise you that my own quiet times and relationship with my heavenly Father  during this period would not have produced what I experienced. What happened instead is the miracle of Christian community. My community would not let me be alone. Calls, texts, visits, emails, hugs, lots of Starbucks, and countless other expressions let me know that I was not alone in this journey. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people were praying for me and my family. What was happening in the spiritual realm on my behalf was what God used to sustain me in every way. This taught me in a powerful way that the rewards from the messiness of community far out weigh the sacrifice it takes to experience it. At a time when I desperately needed to sense the closeness of my heavenly Father, He revealed Himself to me through my community. They were His mechanism to provide encouragement. They carried me to the very throne of God in prayer when I couldn’t find the strength on my own. I felt the Father’s love through the love and support of my community. God revealed Himself to me in a deeper and more intimate way by using the community of believers with which I had surrounded myself.

Long and short of this…. I needed community before my dad got sick, I couldn’t have survived through this season of loss without community, and I will need community now as begin to regroup and for the rest of my life. Where does community fall on your list of priorities? I have learned anew that there will be seasons in my life where I will need to lean on my community of believers, and that there will be seasons where they need to lean on me. There are other seasons where everyday successes, failures, joys, and sorrows just need to be shared as you do life within community. God made us for life within community, it’s going to be a beautiful mess that is worth the sacrifice to maintain, and we will come out of community knowing our heavenly Father more intimately as a result of sharing life with each other. Pursue community. Share your stories of community with your family and friends. As we show the world true Christian community we show them a beautiful picture of the nature of God.

Win the new needtobreathe in Quake!

So you wanna win the new album? Well, I am giving a copy of Needtobreathe’s brand new album away tomorrow evening in Quake! All you have to do is be the student who brings the most first time guests with you to Quake tomorrow night (9/21) and the CD is your’s!! So get on the phone, facebook, or whatever and start inviting everyone you know to be in the epiCenter tomorrow night! Even if you don’t win the tunes, you and your friends will have an amazing time in Quake!! See ya at 6:30 tomorrow!!

Blessings or Distractions

Blessings or Distractions?

I have to share a thought with you. I wish it were my thought. I would love to take credit for it, but alas I cannot. While on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic and Haiti with 22 amazing people from our church we had the opportunity to discuss some of the things that we witnessed while serving together. On one such occasion, after working in some of the poorest conditions I had ever seen firsthand, the discussion among our team revolved around “blessings.” After seeing children with no clothing, the majority of people without shoes, the absence of plumbing and electricity, and homes made of mud and sticks, we reflected on all of the “blessings” that we have here in the United States. Closets full of clothes, more shoes than we could ever wear, and enough electricity to power all of our computers, flat screens, idpods, ipads, and iphones in our brick homes with extra bathrooms, bedrooms and closets to store all of our “blessings.” One wise lady from our team made this statement, “I don’t know if we are more blessed than the people we served today or if we are more distracted.” Chew on that one for a minute! As I continue to think about the things that I call blessings and evaluate whether they are in fact distracting me from experiencing the true blessings that God has for me, I wanted to invite you to join me on this journey. Are you blessing or distracting yourself  by the stuff you fill your life with?

A Beautiful Collision-a note to parents of teenagers

It’s time for a new school year. Fresh starts. New opportunities. Fresh challenges.  New experiences.  The possibilities are endless. Excitement and anticipation mixed with some apprehension and fear. Can you feel it? In the spirit of what this time of year brings for students (and parents) I want to pose a question, and offer a solution.

First the question… What would it mean in the life of your student (and your family) if two of the most powerful influences in their life (their family and their church) linked arms, joined forces, got on the same page… COLLIDED?  Think about that for a minute. Would the things that you hope and pray for your teenager be more likely to become reality?  Would your student have a much better foundation on which God could build the man or woman He created them to be if this COLLISION took place?

Now for a solution… On the campus of “knoxcalvary”… in our student center auditorium… on AUGUST 25 from 6:30-7:30pm (doors open at 6:15)… we are going to COLLIDE!!! It is going to be a great night!! As the student ministry of Calvary Baptist Church, we want to COLLIDE with you as parents for one goal… to help you guide your student on their journey with Christ. On Wednesday, August 25th we want to commit to join forces with you as parents throughout the coming year and invite you to use every resource that is available to you from this student ministry to help you raise your teenager. On the 25th we are going to give you the opportunity to let our leadership team know how we can best partner with you and your family.

Parents (and students!!) PLEASE don’t miss COLLIDE!! This is going to be an awesome way for us to start out the new school year as ONE powerful force in the lives of your students that will change them from the inside out!!

See you and your students at COLLIDE!!

Daniel

Let the blogging begin… again

In the transition of consolidating the information about KnoxCalvary’s Student Ministry from 2 sites, down to 1, I forgot to transfer all of my old blog posts to a new blog that wasn’t attached to the old site. Whoops!!! Guess its a good thing that the things I say are not earth shatteringly important… or are they??? Hmmmm…

Well with a new blog comes a new commitment to updating it on a much more consistent basis.  So as you read my ramblings… I hope you will be entertained, inspired, challenged, encouraged, or at least not bored to tears!!

Be back again soon!!