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Monday, December 21, 2009

Video Highlights

Middle School Night @ Chuck E Cheese:



Sr High Christmas Partay:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Eastview PArent Weekly, December 13-19, 2009

Dear Parents,

It’s hard to believe that 2009 is almost over. We’ve had a year filled with activities and growth. We’ve moved to a multi-night youth group, and with all change, there are positives and negatives that come because of it. I’m in the process of completing our portion of Eastview Christian Church’s annual report. I’ll post it here on the parent’s website by Wednesday. I’d love for you to take a few minutes and check it out. Here are the important dates coming up (please note that the high school opening night for youth group has CHANGED to January 10th):

Calendar:
  • December 16th- middle school Christmas party at Eastview during normal youth group time.
    • Students, please bring a white elephant/gag gift for gift exchange.
  • December 19th- middle school party @ Chuck E.Cheese for those who have participated in the Bible/Homework/Scripture memorization “contest”.
  • December 20th- high school Christmas party at Mulholland’s (385 16th St, Marion) during normal youth group time (6-8).
    • Students, please bring a white elephant/gag gift for gift exchange.
    • Boys-please bring your favorite bottle of pop or juice
    • Girls-please bring a healthy snack
  • December 23rd- NO middle school youth group
  • December 27th- NO high school youth group
  • December 30th- NO middle school youth group
  • January 6th- middle school youth group begins
  • January 10th- high school youth group begins

Have a great week!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Youth Group/EKlub Cancelled for tonight

Due to weather, middle school youth group and eklub is cancelled for tonight, December 9, 2009.

Monday, December 7, 2009

High School Youth Group Update

We've been studying the Gospel of John over the past several months. We've had some great conversations in small groups. Beginning in January, we'll be challenging the kids to be in Scripture and talking about topics that are close to their hearts.

At some point, probably in March/April, we'll be using material called "Dateable", which will help our kids look at their desire for relationships in a different way. It is neither an anti- nor pro-dating. It will prove to be some challenging stuff for our kids to work through.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Middle School Youth Group Update

We've had a lot of exciting things take place in our middle school group over the past 3 months. The vast majority of the students have been bringing their Bibles each week, many are completing their "homework" and some are memorizing scripture weekly. It's pretty exciting to see. Over the past 6 weeks, our lessons have been focusing on "Crime Scenes From the Bible", various stories from the Old Testament that keep them interested and teach a truth.

Last night, we talked about Genesis 4:1-16, the story of Cain and Abel. Youth Leader Stave Novak did a great job of talking about anger, sacrifice, jealousy and murder.

With a little bit of focus on their work (they get 1 star each for bringing Bibles, completing their homework and memorizing a verse) most of our middle school students should be able to join us December 19, from 5-7 pm for a party at Chuck E. Cheese.

Beginning January 6th, on Wednesday nights we'll be talking about "Scary, Gross and Weird Stories from the Bible." As we've done up to this point, there will be homework assignments and scripture to memorize.

Check back weekly to see what we've been doing!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

2010 Scholarship Policy

Eastview Student Ministries scholarship policies have change. Click on the link to the right to take a look!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Raking Tonight

It will be cool, windy and a little damp, but if you can come, we'd love to see you here!

I just went out and raked for a bit, was able to move leaves easily.

Come one, come all!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Eastview Parent Weekly, November 22-28, 2009

Dear Parents,

I just got back from the National Missionary convention in Peoria and WOW! What a tremendous weekend. Heard many great messages, attended some wonderful workshops and saw some old friends. We had a few students go with their families, and they also enjoyed the time there. The location next year is Lexington, Kentucky and the dates are November 18-21, 2010. I hope you’ll consider going as a next step.

This Wednesday, November 25: No youth group, but we’ll be raking leaves at the church from 5:30-8pm. Please bring rakes, blowers, etc. A meal will be provided.


Important Dates Coming Up:

December 9: Final Middle School Youth Group for 2009
December 12: Ministry Team Meeting, 8:30-10:30am at Eastview
December 13: Final High School Youth Group for 2009
December 16: Middle School Youth Group Christmas Party at Eastview
December 20: High School youth Group Christmas Party at Mulholland’s house

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 16, 2009

High School Youth group Recap, November 15, 2009

I realized that I've gotten away from posting recaps of our meetings.

Last night, we watched the film, "To End All Wars" during our group time. After, we discussed love, sacrifice and purpose in the big group.

Those present were challenged to really think about loving their enemies and those that persecute them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What are we inviting our youth to?

Wow. From Ministry Questions comes the question that our student ministry has wrestled with for 3 years:

"How do you get youth from Wednesday to come into Sunday?

Our church is looking to get the youth involved in Sunday services. Currently, we're running about 25-30 youth on Wednesday. However, on Sunday our morning and evening service have maybe 5-10 youth on average. We are hoping to see this number grow some but not sure how to encourage them to get more involved than just one night a week. Any suggestions?"

And this PHENOMENAL ANSWER.

"What are you hoping to get the youth involved in on Sunday? If you're trying to get them to just be in the service and be part of the worship and listen to the sermons, there isn't always a lot to do."

Man, oh, man. Why in the world would we bring kids to Sunday mornings to simply consume? What are we expecting? Why would we expect this? What's more...are the adults in our churches doing anything different than consuming?





Monday, November 2, 2009

November 1-7 Eastview Parent Weekly

Dear Parents,

What a great weekend we had on our retreat!
You can check out a TON of pictures over here.

Middle School Youth Group Update:
Last week, we gave all of our middle school students a FREE Bible. The translation is called the NIrV (New International reader’s Version) and is more easily understood. What’s the NIrV? Some of the Christianese is removed and elaborated on, and the language is a bit more modern. It should be easier to understand. It also helps us teach, because we can ask the kids to go to a specific page number and from there go to chapter and verse. We understand that some students have bibles of their own, but we’d really like all of our students to be reading from the same text. Please encourage your kids to bring these Bibles. This week, we’re starting a new message series called, “Crime Scenes of the Bible.” As part of this study, each week the kids will be given something to take home with them and do some Bible reading at home. We’re also encouraging them to memorize a scripture verse per week. To encourage them, we’re also having a contest. Over the next 5 weeks, they will have an opportunity to earn 15 stars (3 stars/week x 5 weeks = 15). They can earn one star for a) bringing their bibles to youth group, b) completing their “homework”, and c) by memorizing one of the verses from that week. At the end of this contest in December, for students that have more than 10 stars, we’ll have a party at Chuck E. Cheeses for them. Students were given an assignment for this week, so the stars go on the board starting THIS WEEK!

High School Youth Group Update
On Sunday nights, we’ve been talking about the life of Jesus as described in the Gospel of John. In a few weeks, on Sunday, November 15, we’re scheduled to talk about the sacrifice of Jesus for our sin. We are planning on showing the film “To End All Wars” on this night. The film is set in a Japanese POW camp during WW2, where the internees are building the Burma Railway. It is probably the most explicitly “Christian” film that I’ve ever seen, and does a great job of putting Christ’s sacrifice front and center. To be clear, this film is rated R, it is a war film. There is violence and war brutality. There is also some language, and brief non-sexual male nudity. It is for teens that are mature. The gospel is clearly communicated in a compelling manner, and such ultimate questions raised in this film include “Is there any higher reason to live?” “Do I have a purpose in life?” “How can I forgive those who have wronged me?” and “What would make a man once so selfish sacrifice himself for others?” As you discern what’s best for your student, I urge you to visit the following websites and read what others have written about this powerful movie:

Christianity Today
Christian Answers
Hollywood Jesus


You can watch 7 powerful clips from this movie here.

The “Human Beings” clip is amazing.

Finally, I would like to arrange a showing of this movie for you, so you can see what your kids are going to see and ask questions. We’ll also walk you through our discussion questions for the following Sunday Please join us on Thursday, November 12, at 7pm. The movie is a bit longer than 2 hours, and will be well-worth your time.

As always, I welcome questions and thoughts!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What is success in parenting teens?

Originally posted here. An interview with Dr. Paul Tripp.

What sort of goals should a parent have as their children reach the teenage years?

Unfortunately, western culture has had a terribly cynical view of the teen years. It’s a view that is largely biologically based. People tend to see teenagers as a collection of raging, rebel hormones encased in skin. Of course, the idea is that you can’t talk to a hormone. I read someone who put it very well. He said that if you add the word “teenage” to any other word, it becomes a negative. Take “teenage driver.” That’s a simple instance of how this particular age group attracts cynicism.

The problem with this way of looking at teens is that it’s a subtle denial of the Gospel. Actually, what we’re really saying is that there’s a class of people for whom the Gospel won’t work. That’s a devastating theology. My experience is that when parents buy into that view of the Gospel for their teenagers, it begins to bleed over into other relationships. They begin to have doubts about whether Christ can reach all sorts of people.

That means that simply surviving your teens is not enough of a goal. In a sense, having survival as a goal is selfish because it’s focused simply on getting yourself through a difficult time. The other problem with having survival as a goal is that, as parents, we tend to settle for external, behaviorist sorts of goals.

We try to deal with our kids according to the Nike way—“Just do it!” Children who have only had parents who want to regulate and control their behaviour don’t have much when they leave the home.

In America, for example, we have had a huge number of kids from Christian homes who go off to college and forsake the faith. Actually, I suspect that they never had it in the first place. In fact, what they had was the faith of their parents. It’s just that they never internalized it for themselves. All that the college situation does is reveal the true heart of the teenager that had been masked by parental control and regulations.

Naturally, all parents need to have regulations that control the behavior of their children, but it’s not enough of a goal. The sort of rule-keeping that we describe as behaviorism, which is disconnected from the heart, is repudiated throughout the Bible and was the peculiar sin of the Pharisees. Christ roundly condemned it. And yet Christian parents can be very successful at creating a new generation of young Pharisees who live with no sense of need for the Gospel at all, because they’re quite good at keeping external rules. That’s pretty scary to me.

We need to see that the final years of a child’s life at home are a time of unprecedented opportunity. As a child’s world unfolds before him and he experiences greater freedom, his heart gets revealed. This means that we have to take every opportunity to be part of the final stage of preparation. Being involved with our teenagers at a deep level is something we mustn’t avoid.

What’s the real problem that teenagers face? Is it their hormones or is it their hearts?

The world says it’s their hormones; but the Bible says, in literally hundreds of ways, that human beings live out of their hearts. We like to think that it’s other people and circumstances that cause us to do what we do. However, this little bit of blame-shifting comes straight out of the garden of Eden. The Bible says that our situations and relationships are merely the occasions in which our hearts express themselves. I really live out of my heart. The heart is the directional system for each one of us.

What do you mean when you use the word ‘heart?’

The Bible has a very simple anthropology. It says that people consist of two parts: the outer man—which is your earth suit, and the inner man—which is your spiritual self. The Bible uses a number of words—mind, emotion, will, spirit—to describe the heart. In a sense, “the heart” is one, big basket term; it’s really biblical shorthand for the inner man and all its functions.

The Bible attributes many important functions to the heart. It tells us that we feel, think, purpose, desire, believe with our hearts. We also receive or reject God’s new covenant with them, too. This means that if the heart is the steering wheel of the human being, if it’s the thing that causes us to do what we do, then it’s quite obvious that the focus of parenting has to be the heart.

Christ, as you know, uses the example of the tree to explain the function of the heart. You look at the tree and its fruit and you say: “That’s an apple tree, because it has apples.” Now we know that the reason it has apples is because it is apple-istic right down to its roots. If it wasn’t an apple tree by nature, it wouldn’t produce apples. In Christ’s example, the tree equals the heart, and the fruit equals behavior and its consequences.

I often use this example. Imagine that you have an apple tree in the backyard. Now this particular tree produces horrible apples year after year. So I say to my wife, “I think I can fix our apple tree.” So I go out with a big ladder and cut off all the old apples. Then I nail delicious red apples all over the tree. I stand back, and from 50 feet it now looks like a good apple tree. But we all know what’s going to happen, don’t we? Those apples are going to rot, too, because if the tree is consistently producing bad apples, then there’s something wrong with the system, right down to its roots. We all realize that we won’t solve the problem by nailing apples onto the tree. But this is the problem with much of modern child-rearing, even in Christian circles. A lot of what we call biblical parenting is nothing more than apple-nailing. And what happens is that six weeks later, or perhaps six months or six years, the child or youth is right back to where they were before.

So you’re saying that many Christian parents are behaviorists?

Yes, that’s right. But the problem is that they don’t realize they are. And much of the time it’s because they’re untaught.

If you go to the average Christian bookstore, unless it carries Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp or my book, Age of Opportunity, you won’t even hear the word “heart” mentioned in books on parenting. They are all about techniques and strategies for controlling behaviour. They are behaviorist, even though they appear in Christian guise.

The scary thing about these books is that they often have a temporary effectiveness. It’s true— I can control a child’s behavior through a variety of means. If I lay enough guilt on my child, it will move him. Or if I manipulate him with something he wants—a new car or a new bike—that will be temporarily effective. Or I can threaten him. That may be of limited effectiveness, too. However, the problem is that none of these things last. The minute the threat’s gone, the inner man hasn’t changed. And the child goes right back to where he was. And that’s what’s happening all over the place, not just in the culture, but in the church as well.

Why do parents usually find the teenage years of their children the most demanding and threatening of all?

I would like to be able to say, as the father of four children, all of them now grown up (although one is still a teen), that the only time I got angry was when one of them broke God’s law. However, what is in fact true, and I think it’s true of all of us, is that often I wasn’t angry because they had sinned, but because their sin had gotten in the way of something that I wanted. And what often gets in the way of parenting teenagers is the idolatry of their mother and father.

As a father, I, too, live for comfort, appreciation, success, respect and control. Now none of those things, in and of themselves, is wrong. But they must not rule my heart. If they do rule my heart, then in a moment of teen trouble, I will be likely to personalize what is not personal and be adversarial in my approach to you. I’ll turn a moment of God-given ministry opportunity into a moment of anger, rather than going after your heart. I’ll settle for quick situational solutions because I just want to get in and out of the room and get it over with. At that moment, I will be enraged with you because you have stopped me from realizing what is really important to me.

That’s why the key to being used by God with your children is to start with your own heart. Try this as an experiment. Imagine someone shooting a video of every waking moment of your life over the last six weeks. What would it reveal about the things you are serving? What would you say is really important to you?

You hear parents confess their idolatry in roundabout ways all the time: “I do all this for you and this is the thanks I get?” Or a father says “How dare you do this to me!” as if the child has plotted against him. I guess it feels personal to a parent because the child has prevented him from serving the idol that’s ruling his life. It can be a huge struggle for the parents at times. But the teenage years are a time of unprecedented opportunity. I’ve found that the most important thing I can do to help parents is to get them to begin the search for idolatry in their lives. Then, when they find it, to confess it and forsake it.

If parents do not deal with their personal idolatry first, then all the strategies I give you are not going to help. In fact, goal setting won’t help either. Why? Because, you always end up serving what rules your heart. It’s like the law of gravity: it’s always operating. That’s why I love reformed theology because it gets to the heart of the problem through its radical view of human nature. Reformed theology declares that worship isn’t first an activity for human beings; worship is first an identity. We are worshippers; you can’t not worship. We are always in the service of something. And if I’m not serving God in the life of my teenager, then I’m serving other things. It’s just an inescapable principle.

What are the most important opportunities in which parents play a strategic role in their teenage children’s lives?

Let me begin by saying that I am always struck by how transcultural and transgenerational the Bible really is. We tend to divide human beings into all these subcultures, believing that we are very different from one another. In some ways we might be, but I should add that the Bible is able to cast its net in a way that catches everyone.

This means that the Bible speaks to the typical struggles of young people in every culture. It works in a situation when a son says to his dad, “Father, I need to bed down the camel,” and it works when a son says, “Dad, I forgot to put gas in the car.” It spans those generations. So it’s not hard to look at Scripture and realize that the Bible is right when it defines the typical struggles of a young person. Those struggles are the opportunity for discerning parents.

For instance, the book of Proverbs is very clear in reminding us that teenagers don’t usually hunger for wisdom and correction. I’ve never had one of my kids say to me, “As I was riding the bus home from school I was thinking, ‘Dad, you’re a really wise man. I’d just love to sit at your feet and drink in some more of your wisdom,’ or ‘Dad, I realize that when you correct me you are showing me your love. Would you like to correct me some more?’ ” So what should be my goal here? As a parent I realize that wisdom is crucial to pleasing God, and yet it’s not the thing for which my teenager tends to hunger. So now I’ve got my job description. It’s to sell my teenager something that he is not seeking. And so I decide that I’ll model being a wise man. I want to show him that wisdom is a beautiful and wonderful thing. And I want to sell wisdom to him so that he becomes a really keen consumer. The point I’m making is that in each area of teenage struggle there’s wonderful parental opportunity.

Another characteristic of teenagers is that they tend to be very legalistic. They don’t particularly love God’s law, they frequently debate the boundaries and they’re very boundary oriented. I tell people that if God’s law is like a fence, then my kids grew up with fence marks on their faces. As teens they were always pressing against the fence. Now you don’t solve the problem of teenage legalism by debating where the boundary is. Why? Because a child who is pressing his face against the fence is believing a very significant lie. The lie is that the good stuff is out there and God is keeping him from it.

What I need to do is turn his body to the inside of the yard and show him the glory of what God has called us to. Can you imagine living in a town where everybody was gentle and kind, no one ever stole, there was no such things as envy, murder or adultery, no one coveted, everyone was always patient? That’s God’s world! So in each one of those areas of teen struggle there are wonderful opportunities for parents.

You’ve said that if parents don’t regard the teen years as a time of unprecedented opportunity, it’s because they’ve got something wrong with their own hearts. What’s the problem with adult hearts when they begin to resent their teenage children?

What happens in the teen years is that a dynamic relational change takes place. When my child is young, he is pretty much a slave to whatever my agenda is. I am totally in control. He goes wherever I tell him; the only friends he has in the house are the ones that I approve. However, the more my teenager’s world widens, the less that’s true. And what happens is that this adolescent sinner has a remarkable ability to mess up my world.

He can’t help himself. Every one of his choices collides with mine. I tell parents it’s like this: you can’t stand next to a puddle for too long without being splashed by its mud. The fact is that every parent of a teen is dealing with a person who is struggling to come to terms with life. We also must realize that every teenager is a sinner and is trying to learn how to live in God’s world, learning what it means to be godly and learning the dangers of sin. There’s no possible way that that won’t have a huge impact on my life. And that’s why people don’t like their teenagers.

Teenagers are completely different from the babies that we held in our arms. We loved to hear them coo and they smelt so fresh. It seems so ironic that the tiny person who brought us so much joy is the same young man I now resent. In fact, I’m so mad with him, I don’t even want to sit down and have a meal with him. Why? Because he’s made my world uncomfortable. That’s it. And I don’t like my world being turned upside down. I like a world that’s predictable and controlled. And I deeply resent the fact that I have lost that level of comfort and control that I previously had.

Actually, what my teenager reveals in me when I get angry and frustrated with him is a depth and consistency of self-love that is one of the horrible effects of sin. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:15 that Jesus came that those “who live, should no longer live unto themselves but for him who for their sakes died and was raised.” Jesus is saying that selfishness is the endemic result of sin. It makes you totally self-absorbed.

And so what do I want? I want pre-sanctified, self-parenting children. I want children that I can always take to a restaurant without being embarrassed. I want kids who will do their homework without me being on their backs. I want an easy life for myself. And frankly, I never expected that becoming a parent meant that I would have to lay my life down for my kids. But that’s exactly what God calls me to do. My redemption cost Christ not only His glory; it also cost Him His life. That’s the model.

What sort of attitudes and approach should parents have with the family if they are to be in the right frame of mind to deal with their teens?

First, we need to understand how the modern workplace has devalued the importance of family relationships. This trend began with the modern industrial revolution. Two hundred years ago, when industry was cottage-based, if the family was in crisis the shop shut down to settle the problem because the family ran the business. But if you remove men from the home and relocate the place of work, all of a sudden industry begins to dictate lifestyle. What man today would call his boss and say, “I’m going to be two hours late because I’m sorting out a difficult problem in our home and it needs to be dealt with now.” What you do is say to your wife, “I can’t talk about that now because I have to be at work.”

As work and family life became separate, men began increasingly to define success in terms of their performance on the job rather than on their success in the home. Then along came the further problem of women leaving the home to travel to their work. Now women are also defining their personal success in terms of job performance. Today we are generations down the road from our Christian forbears on thinking about the family. Sadly, we don’t think nearly as much of the place of family relationships when we think of the definition of a successful life. But we need to. We must come to a position where we say: “There is nothing that I will ever be that will rival the importance of God’s work in the formation of my children’s souls.” There is nothing more important than that. And that demands some hard choices.

When I go out to speak, I’ll make that challenge to men in the congregation. I’ll point my finger and say: “There are some of you who are so busy in your careers that you’re seldom home, and when you are, you are so physically exhausted that you have nothing to offer your children. There are men here who actually don’t even know their own kids. And I want to offer a radical challenge to you. Go to your boss and ask for a demotion. Take less pay. Move out of that dream house and into a smaller one. Sell your brand new car and be willing to drive an older one. And be willing to do what God has called you to do in the life of your children.”

What are the most helpful ways to understand teenagers if we are to play a vital role in their spiritual development?

I think the most helpful thing to remember is that your teenager is more like you than unlike you. Unfortunately, we have this view that teenagers are in a separate class as though they’re aliens who’ve dropped from the sky.

One humbling thing that I’ve realized is that there are few struggles in the life of my teenager that I don’t recognize in my own heart as well. For instance, imagine my child has gotten into trouble because he’s procrastinated on a school assignment until the night before and he can’t possibly get it done. But haven’t I done the same? Of course I have. And when I realize that, I don’t come to him and say, “How dare you! How could you? In my day I would have never thought of doing this!” Instead, I come as a fellow sinner.

It’s at this point that my dealings with him are based on the gospel rather than law. Here’s my opportunity to point him to Christ. So I say: “Son, there’s a rescue provided for us in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. There’s hope for both of us. I need it every bit as much as you do. And I stand with you. However, don’t expect me to write a note to the teacher to get you out of the assignment.”

So you see, it’s a whole different approach. I actually think that the self-righteous—“I’m more righteous than you”—approach closes down teenagers; it doesn’t open them up at all. That’s why Christian parents shouldn’t use it.

Is the wisdom literature of the Bible, especially the Proverbs, helpful in preparing us to meet the challenge of the teenage years? How does it help parents get ready for their responsibilities?

Yes, it’s vital for dealing with teens. As I have read the first few chapters of Proverbs it’s often hit me that what we have here is a father giving advice to his son. “Son, pay attention to my wisdom.” “Son, give heed to my instruction.” So I decided that I would keep reading the first eight chapters over and over again. I literally read them hundreds of times. Interestingly, what happened was that a number of themes started rising to the surface—a theme being something that’s repeated over and over again.

Now, I know enough as a parent that if I have to repeat something several times to my children, it means I’ve identified a struggle within them. So the themes that are in Proverbs give us a wonderful picture of what are the typical temptations or struggles of a young person. And they give me a nice template for thinking about the kinds of things I am going to encounter as I go through the teen years with my children.

What should be the basic spiritual goals for parents in dealing with their teens? Should I simply be trying to regulate their behavior? Is that a worthy aim, or should I be trying to achieve a lot more? My problem with a lot of parenting is that it is reactive; it’s not goal-driven. Something comes up and I react to it. However, Scripture expects us to move well beyond reactive parenting. It sets us heart goals. And so when I am helping my teens deal with issues of dating, or use of the car, or behavior at school, their individual situation gives me a God-given opportunity to help them advance in one of these areas of heart goals. So, for each of my children, I have tried to look through the individual situation to the goal for their hearts that I’m seeking to achieve.

One of these goals is to teach my child to understand and participate in the spiritual struggle. The Bible tells us that the most important things to happen in life are unseen. It also tells us that there’s a real enemy who wants control of my heart. And that war goes on in every situation of life. I want my teenager to get beyond clothes and sports and see the significance of sin and temptation which is there in every situation of life.

The issue of what rules the heart involves the issue of idolatry. Teenagers need to be challenged about what is governing them. Here are three idols of the teen years: appearance, possessions and acceptance. And so I want to take them to the level of the heart so that they can understand what is really going on in their lives.

Why is it that Christian parents are often frustrated in their efforts to cultivate a heart for God in their teenagers?

Because it’s the hardest work a human being could ever do. We have to get to the point where we realize that there is no hope apart from Christ. If I could turn the human heart by the force of my voice, or the strength of my personality, or the logic of my argument, or the wisdom of my parenting strategies, then Jesus would never have needed to come. So, as a parent, I’ve hit something that I can’t do by myself. And it makes me angry. It frustrates me. It discourages me. You see, what I want is some “instant fix.” Give me the three steps to producing godliness in kids. The Bible doesn’t do that. It doesn’t give us a system of redemption; it gives us a Redeemer. And here’s the really scary news. No matter how righteously I act with my teenager, he must deal with God or there won’t be any hope for him. And I can’t do that. So what I do, in my frustration, is try to do God’s job on my kids.

Many teens leave home because their relationship with their parents is so bad. What can parents do that will ensure that when they leave home they’ll be grateful for the life preparation that they’ve received?

Parents should remember that the best climate for a relationship is a climate of honesty and humility. I have watched restoration take place when parents are willing to begin to be honest about their own struggle. One of the things that drives teenagers crazy is parents who are all talk but no action. They hold up standards but never keep them themselves. I mean, how can you talk about grace but be bitter and angry? After a while, the child just can’t wait for that first moment to make his exit.

One of the ways I preach the Gospel is declaring my own need for it. And that can be done casually. I was talking to my 17-year-old son recently. I felt I’d been impatient with him. And I said: “It’s not going to be any surprise to you that I’m going to say I’m a sinner.” Well, he laughed at that, because I also said: “You have a robust experience of the same.” Then I said, “You know there are times when I think of myself more than you, and last night was one of those times.” And he said, “I do the same thing with you Dad, and I forgive you.” After that exchange there was a warmth between us. However, there would have been a very different outcome if I had said: “You know, you really ought to be glad that you have a dad like me. I’m always going out of my way for you. Why do you mess up all the time after all I’ve done for you?” You see, it would’ve been a whole different ball game.

The point is this: if I’m willing to admit my need of Christ, then I come before my child with the evidence of what he also should do. He has not only seen his need, but he has seen the changes Christ is able to do in me. I’m preaching the gospel just by living my life. I think that’s a very powerful thing. And I think it’s an opportunity that we miss, because we believe that if we admit sin, then we compromise our authority. My authority is representative anyway, it’s not based on my righteousness, it’s based on Christ. And I think that’s the way that I can be an instrument in Christ’s hands.

Friday, October 2, 2009

SHIFT author responds

Check it out...

here.

SHIFT

Over the next several weeks, I'm going to be commenting on a book that I picked up last week, SHIFT: What it takes to finally reach families today, by Brian Haynes, a pastor in Texas.

In the preface, he details part of a deathbed conversation with his mother. She asked him a powerful question, "What was the last scripture you taught your kids?"

With that question as his catalyst, chapter 1 tackles the "Cultural Shift" that many of us are up to our elbows in. He ends it with the thought, "What would it be like if the church of Jesus Christ actually influenced the culture in a biblical way?" Great question; last week for my church newsletter article I was going to simply make a list of questions, that one would have made it.

Chapter 2, or, "God's Original Blueprint" is a walk through the Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."

Brian then writes, "God asks people to first have these commands on their hearts before they ever try to pass them down to their children...To equip generations effectively, we must reach and equip parents."

What if:
  • parents are unaware of their own spiritual need?
  • parents are unaware of their need to be equipped?
  • parents are unaware of their own need to be reached?
A little later, in a section entitled, "Where We Walked Off the Path", Brian writes that, "The church growth movement redefined success". He talks about the role of the pastor(s) changing from shepherd to strategist. It became a numbers game. And then, in one sentence, Brian describes both children's and youth ministry at our church to a "t".

"We developed children's ministries and youth ministries and gave hired professionals the responsibility for mentoring too many children.

Question: How do we get away from this?

He then has a lengthy section on the need for me, as a minister, to have an authentic, spiritually mentoring relationship with my own family. It was quite convicting.

Here's the cool thing, I found the church where Brian ministers online, and emailed him some questions. He graciously responded. I would love to hear your and his thoughts on the reading.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Eastview Parent Weekly, September 28-October 3

Dear Parents,

October is right around the corner and it’s going to be a busy one...

  • October 10, 9-11am, Student Ministry Team Meeting @ Eastview.
    • If you’d like to be part of the conversation, please let me know.
  • October 14, @ middle school youth group
    • We’ll be taking our middle school youth group down to Aid To Women for our meeting time. Because of travel time, please have all middle school students at Eastview by 6pm. We’ll eat and have our group time there at Aid to Women.
  • October 17, 10-11:30am (at the latest)
    • Informational meeting for all students in grades 8-12 interested in our 2010 Mexico Mission Trip. If your student is in grades 8-12, and they are remotely interested in this trip, this meeting is mandatory.
  • October 18- Permission/Registration Slips for high school students going to Ozark Christian College in November
    • Permission slips and $30 deposit due
    • Trip dates are November 5-8
    • Total trip cost is $75/student.
    • Visit parent website to download permission slip
  • October 30-31, Lock-in UPDATE
    • This originally was a lock-in, but is in the process of being changed to an off-site retreat. We’re planning on going to North East Iowa Christian Service Camp, located in Bristow, IA. This retreat will be for both middle school and high school students. Cost will simply be $10/student to help with food. There will be more details coming on Wednesday.
  • November 6-8, Trip to Ozark Christian College for high school students
  • November 8, NO high school youth group that evening

As always, please let me know if you have any questions!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

ESM recap

We've had a great week of events here at Eastview. All three weeks now we've had a few new faces at both our Sunday and Wednesday night programs. I think the kids love the fact that we have enough adults to actually minister to and spend time with them. We've seen a lot less fighting between the kids for the attention of the small group leaders. There is also a ton less chaos. Each of the leaders has opportunity to intentionally spend time with the kids in their groups. The discussion and lesson times have seemed more meaningful and there is more discussion.

In preparation for our October ministry team meeting (October 10, 9-11am), I'll begin to examine these weekly meetings in light of last week's "Environmental Architecture" post. Question 5 is "Who is responsible for quality control?" . Also to be addressed at that meeting will be, "Where do we see ESM one year from now? Five years from now? Where Does God want us to be?"

Have some answers to those questions? I'd love to hear them! Drop an email to jmulholland@eastview.net or simply respond to this post.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Environmental Achitecture

Over the past month or so, Bill Holley (our preaching minister) and I have been reading the book Lasting Impressions: From Visiting to Belonging by Mark Waltz. We read a chapter, and then meet weekly to discuss its implications for ministry here at Eastview. The chapter we'll be discussing tomorrow morning is chapter 5, "Be an Environmental Architect". In it, Mark has 5 questions to ask when creating an environment. I thought I'd use the space here this week to answer those 5 questions about our 2 weekly gatherings...Sunday School and Youth Group.

Question 1- What's the Purpose of This Environment?
  • The purpose of Sunday School (Sunday mornings 8:45-945) is to teach the Bible in an engaging way. The material used is FaithWeaver which is a comprehensive 3-year curriculum. In those 3 years, we'll review the major stories of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.
  • The purpose of Youth Group (Sunday nights for high school and Wednesday nights for middle school) is to discuss topics of immediate relevance to our students, to communicate that God loves them and want to be in a relationship with them, and to meet our students where they are. We want to provide a "safe" place for them to bring their questions and their friends.
Question 2: Who Will Use This Environment?
  • The spaces used are for our students. We'll use sofas, couches, journaling (writing, coloring, drawing), media, whatever we can to hit the purposes above.
  • Not everyone present is at the same place in a "spiritually mature" sense, in fact, many of those who come are not Christians.
Question 3: What Do We Want People to Experience?
  • The physical space is there to communicate "home" (sofas, chairs). The journals are meant to communicate "privacy". The small groups are meant to communicate intimacy and honesty.
  • Youth group nights are there to encourage conversation, story-telling, questions and dialogue. We meet to learn from scripture and our collective experience.
  • In Sunday school, while there is time for dialogue, primarily our students are there to hear and listen. This is a teaching time.
Question 4: What Do We Want People to Leave With?
  • Sunday School: An understanding of Scripture, what it says, what it means and how they can apply it.
  • Youth Group: Students are loved by God and adults. They've been heard, encouraged and challenged. They've heard a spiritual truth, and possibly, they'll leave with a question to ponder all week long.
Question 5: Who's Responsible for Quality Control?
  • Our ministry team meets monthly (most of the time) to discuss where things are at.
Beginning in October, all of our event planning will walk through this process...lock-ins, retreats, trips, etc. The first 4 questions, with answers, will appear on the registration forms for our events.

Monday, August 31, 2009

First Senior High Youth Group...

Last night was awesome! We had 16 high school students here for our first ever Sunday night youth group. We had a great time eating some pizza and just chilling out as a group. The environment was much more relaxed and we had some great conversation. We split into our new small groups, and continued the discussion there. We also introduced journaling into our group.

8pm came awfully fast.

Activity:
Discussions about favorite youth group activities, rules and expectations.

Teaching Series
:
God's Status

Topic:
Talked about the 4 soils that Jesus explains in Matthew 13.

Key Verses:
Matthew 13:1-10, 18-23

Attendance:
16 students, 6 adults

Main Group Testimony:
Talked about the status of our hearts toward receiving direction from God.

Small Group Time:
Talked about our favorite parts of the past summer, and journaled about the current status of out hearts toward God.


Coming up next:
Middle School Youth Group (September 3)-Youth Group 101
Sunday School (September 6)-FaithWeaver
Senior High Youth Group (Sunday 6th, pm)- "God is out changing people's names"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Death of Youth Ministry

From Seth Barnes, over at Adventures in Missions:

"1. Program vs. relationship tension. Youth ministers can't win. Most are wired and motivated to do relationship. Yet to satisfy their various constituencies, they have to spend a majority of their time feeding the beast that is their program. Many, having studied scripture, understand Jesus' model of discipling, but are handcuffed to a job description with a deep conflict of interest at its heart.

2. Many are too young. They're still in their twenties and haven't answered many of the basic questions that students are asking themselves. Yet they get thrown to the lions with little backup...It's unfair to ask youth ministers to take responsibility that properly belongs to parents. They can be a friend and even a teacher, but few can be the father figure that students need.
3. Misplaced accountability. Parents, perhaps feeling ill-equipped to fulfill the job of discipling that God has given them, shovel pass the job onto someone who has signed a W-2 and can be dismissed on a whim.
4. Parental abdication. The very role of a youth minister enables parents in their dysfunction. Rather than being forced to see and wrestle with the bankruptcy of their own discipleship efforts, their responsibility gets lost in a broken system.
5. Stuck in the culture. Even the best-equipped youth ministers are stuck on a playing field tilted against them. American culture is a spiritual meat grinder set up to undermine a young person's spiritual foundation. It's cynical and media-driven and it creates an environment that is to the life of faith youth ministers are charged with creating. What's more, because of misplaced priorities, youth ministers have to fight for the time they need to detox the students in their charge."

Follow the link for the rest of the article.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Kernels Game is ON!

Meet at Eastview by 9pm, or at the Stadium by 9:30pm.

See you tonight!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ministry Team Retreat Notes

Student Ministry Retreat

August 21 and 22, 2009

Sunday Nights – High School – Begins Sunday, August 30

Schedule

5:00pm Leaders/Teachers arrive

5:10pm Big Purple leaves John’s Neighborhood

5:30pm to 6:00pm Meal

6:00pm to 6:30pm Activity

6:30pm to 6:45pm Group Lesson

6:45pm to 8:00pm Small Groups

8:00pm 8:10pm Check out – Big Purple leaves

At least one leader stays until all students are gone

Curriculum

August – December - God’s Status

January – March – Life Hurts – God Heals

March – May – The New Sexuality

Journaling – Students will journal during small group time. Journals will be kept in a safe place – remain private to be seen by the student only.

Teacher/Leaders John Mulholland, Betty Dickerson, Megan Clark and Monna Kreher.


Cooks – Dan and Tracy Woodell

Table Parents – Gregg Lunde and all teachers.


Wednesday Nights - Middle School – Begins September 2

Schedule

5:30pm Leaders/Teachers arrive

5:40pm Big Purple leaves John’s neighborhood

6:00pm to 6:20pm Meal

6:20pm to 6:45pm Activity

6:45pm to 7:00pm Group Lesson

7:00pm to 8:00pm Small Groups

8:00pm to 8:00pm Check out and Big Purple leaves

At least one leader stays until all students are gone


Curriculum

Weeks one through six – Surviving Middle School

Weeks seven through eleven – Interlinc – The Middle School DVD

January forward – Scary, Gross and Weird Stories from the Bible


Teacher/Leaders - John Mulholland, Steve Novak, Rob Frederick, Monna Kreher and Kathy Thomas

Cook – Anne Mulholland

Table Parents – Gregg Lunde and all teachers.


Wednesday and Sunday


Registration Table

Location – Inside Fellowship Hall by back entrance

Students will check in on arrival

Students will be encouraged to enter through the Fellowship Hall entrance to the

building.

Students will check out as they leave – Once they are checked out - they must leave the

building.

We’ll collect cellphones and iPods at registration table.

2009-2010 Proposed Calendar

August 28 and 29 – Kernals Clean-up 9:30pm

October 30 – Lock-in – Guys at church – Girls at Kathy’s

November 6 and 7 – Ambassadors’ Rally for H.S. at Ozark Christian College

November 19-21 – National Missionary Convention (Family Event – Not a Youth Event)

Youth wanting to go but family not going - possibly be adopted by another family

going.

February 13 – SDDA – Spaghetti Dinner, Talent Show and Dessert Auction

February 26-March 1 National Youth Minister’s Conference in Chicago

March 5-6 – CIY Believe for Middle School in St. Louis

April ? Urban Plunge in Omaha

Summer 2010

Middle School Mission Trip to Kansas

High School Mission Trip to Mexico


Next Ministry Meeting October 10, 2009 9:00am to 11:00am

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fall 2009 Senior High lesson planning

Sunday, August 2, 2009

We're Back!!

CIY was amazing! I'll post an extended recap tomorrow!

Friday, July 24, 2009

CIY 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

CIY Updates:




    follow me on Twitter


    Monday, July 20, 2009

    Recap Videos!

    Middle School Camp at NEICSC from John Mulholland on Vimeo.



    Mission Kansas 2009 from John Mulholland on Vimeo.

    Eastview Parent Weekly, July 19-25

    It's that time of year...our summer break is half over. 3 out of 4 summer trips and events are past. Our final trip, CIY's summer conference is right around the corners, just 6 short days away, and then...September. The weeks of August will go extremely fast. Our ministry team met on Saturday to talk about Jesus, to talk about youth ministry, to talk about Eastview and how those three things should be aligned. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. At this point, I want to get through the next 6 weeks and start.

    While the notes from our ministry team meetings are available for all to read (at right), here are some highlights from this past Saturday:
    • It was officially decided that beginning this Fall, our youth group will be "split", with grades 9-12 meeting on Sunday nights and grades 6-8 meeting on Wednesday nights. Specific times and more details will be out in mid-August.
    • Small Group Leaders for 2009-2010 school year:
      • Middle School-
      • John Mulholland
      • Rob Frederick
      • Steve Novak
      • Monna Kreher
      • High School-
      • John Mulholland
      • Megan Clark
      • Betty Dickerson
    • Curriculum Plan for Fall/Winter
      • Middle School
      • “Scary, Gross and Weird Stories from the Bible”
      • High School
      • Gospel of Mark-The Person of Jesus
      • What it means to follow Him
    In the meantime, I hope that you'll be praying for those going to Carbondale next week. I'm anticipating God working in a big way (which He does here) in the lives of those going. Pray from open hearts and minds, for sleep and rest and patience and encouragement.

    As with our recent Kansas trip, you'll be able to follow along using the Twitter feed to the right starting next Sunday, at Noon.

    Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    Some thoughts from the past week

    We've had a busy two weeks here at Eastview Student Ministry.

    I spent June 29-July 3 with 6 middle school students and 2 adults in Florence, Kansas at Morning Star Ranch. It was a great time for work, fun and fellowship with those students. We met daily and talked about the 10 Commandments and their application for today. I was blown away by the questions these 11-14 year old students asked. There was an incredible amount of depth and spiritual hunger behind them.

    I spent last week, July 5-11 with 86 high school students in Bristow (Big Enough to Accomodate, Small Enough to Appreciate!) Iowa at North East Iowa Christian Service Camp. In addition to co-deaning (which means that Hannah did all the work), I taught a class on media discernment using Britney Spears' "If You Seek Amy" as our media to review, and was a Family leader with a student from Ozark Christian College. We played a lot of dodgeball, ate some great food courtesy of the Huskey's, got eaten by mosquitos, heard some challenging messages and did some service projects. I got an inside view into the lives of 10 high school students. While there were moments of great discussion, the vast majority of the spiritual discussions that we had were shallow.

    I learned a few things over the past few weeks:
    1. Most of the high school students in my group had no idea about why they were baptized. There was no ability to articulate their faith or to integrate it into their lives. Additionally, they had no idea how to study, much less read or apply, God's Word into their daily lives.
    2. Students are hungry for God's Word. They are spiritually dry and will turn to anything that provides them the slightest bit of satisfaction, no matter how temporary or fulfilling.
    3. My guess would be that the parents of these students are completely un-engaged in both the lives of their children and their own relationship with God.
    4. Our churches are doing a lousy job at discipleship, both to adults and students. On the final day of camp, I visited with some girls from another church. While they could not agree on the specifics, they guessed that their church was made of of 25-40 people. But, their high school youth group would be about 8 in numbers. Last year, this church cancelled their Wednesday night youth program because they were "too small". FAIL! 8 high school students is WAY above the 10% rule (if your high school group size is 10% of your congregationsize, your youth group size is average). Here is what this church has communicated to their high school students: "You are unimportant. We don't care". No doubt this church will lament the loss of these students over the next few years as the walk away from both the church and Jesus. They will likely point to culture, temptation, all the usual suspects, but they will never, never, look to themselves.
    It would be so easy to leave it there, but it's not that simple.

    A few weeks ago, we graduated 4 students from our program who have remained engaged throughout high school, and while it's WAY too early to tell, I think they'll be sticking around. We celebrated this. It is right to.

    Remember January-April of 2002? The Taliban were defeated in Afghanistan. With a few dozen Green Berets and the Northern Alliance we toppled a government.

    How about May-December of 2003? Iraq was invaded, Saddam Hussein was captured and we had relatively few casualties.

    2004-2008 were grim years in Iraq. IED's wounded, maimed, and killed thousands of American soldiers. Innocent civillians were killed by the thousands. It took 4 years to create a strategy that is only now bearing any fruit.

    In case you missed it, we're in the process of sending at least 30,000 soldiers to Afghanistan, and they aren't cooks and PR people. These are battle-hardened troops, taking with them what they learned in places like Fallujah and Anbar.

    These 4 students are an anomaly. They are not the norm. When I go through the names of the graduates next year, and the year after, and so on...I'm not so sure of what I see.

    I fear that the battle has yet to begin.
    • I see an insurgency being created and strategies being formed. I see students who were baptized years ago not equipped for battle because other things have gotten their attention.
    • I see little compromises in their lives, and frankly, I see parents doing nothing about it. Students who have no business dating, are. (Reminder: dating leads to one of two things...break up or marriage. At 14, do you really think your daughter is going to marry her current boyfriend?) Students are downloading music and movies illegally online on their computers. Students clothing is getting tighter on the girls, necklines are falling and shorts are rising. The excuse "I can't find anything else" is both lame and a lie.
    • Students who are interested spiritually are squashed because their parents do nothing to encourage it. There is no scripture reading in the home, either private or corporately.
    • Students are left home, for hours at a time by themselves. So there they sit, ears consuming all the best Beyonce and Nelly have to offer, eyes taking in all the internet has for them. No filters, no guidelines, no guardrails. Why? "Because we listened to bad music when we were kids and we turned out ok."
    • We are "cultural christians". We speak of faith and Jesus, but we just talk about them. We say that Jesus meets all of our needs, but we'll work like He has no clue what we need.
    • We have a "culturally christian youth ministry". As long as our kids leave our youth group with the intent of being good citizens who can take care of themselves, raise a family, will not get into "too much" trouble, and attend a church maybe even a Christian college, we're ok. After all, we just graduated 4 of them. And look how good we feel about ourselves.
    Hmm. As we plan for the Fall, with all of it's challenges with a split youth group and a facility situation, we're going to war. I'll let you in on a little secret. Jesus already won it.