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Monday, September 26, 2011

Lies, Lies, Lies




We are surrounded by lies and deceit.  At least that's what the Bible tells us:

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places"-Ephesians 6:12.

We are taking our entire year's worth of youth group in both middle school and high school to talk about the lies and deceits that we hear, accept and then make decisions based on.  All of these lies are ruinous to us, and we need to do two things: 1-recognize them as lies, and 2-make decision to seek the truth.

Here is the list of lies that we'll be covering in one way or another this year:

1. God is not enough
2. God is not really involved in my life
3. God should fix my problems
4. God is just like my father
5. Everything that happens is spiritual warfare
6. Iʼve never been exposed to Satanic activities
7. Beautiful people are worth more
8. I have to perform to be loved
9. I need a boyfriend/girlfriend
10.Itʼs ok to go out with a non-Christian
11.Itʼs not really sex
12.I canʼt handle the loneliness of being alone
13.Itʼs ok to be one person at home and a different person with others, especially online
14.If I just had friends, I wouldnʼt be lonely
15.Iʼm my own authority
16.My youth pastor is my connection with God
17.Everyone at church is judging me
18.Of course Iʼm a Christian, I...
19.I canʼt overcome sin
20.In certain situations itʼs ok to break the law or rules if Iʼm not hurting myself or others
21.The benefits of constant media usage outweigh the harms
22.Itʼs not a waste of time, even if it is, itʼs ok...
23.Having a successful career is more important that just being a mother or father
24.What I do now doesnʼt affect the future

Please let us know how we might come alongside and encourage you!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On Mexico




Over the past 5+ years, we've given our high school students the opportunity to join us in San Luis Potosi, Mexico for 2 weeks every other Summer.  The purpose of this trip is to work with a church there for their annual Summer Vacation Bible School.  Each Summer, they outreach into the neighborhood around the church and 300+ show up.  Since 1998, I've been there 9 times, and their ministry has grown.  They now have 3 additional VBS locations in and around San Luis Potosi, and probably minister to close to 450 people over a several week period.  We are blessed to go and be a part of what they do.

We are in the earliest of preparation for next years' trip.  Over the next few weeks, I will be meeting with some of our ministry team members to begin the conversation about the trip.  Here is what we'll be talking about:
  • Why should they go?  
    • they will grow deeply in their walk with God as the serve Him and other people
    • they will see that we are surrounded by a culture of materialism and selfishness
    • they will grow close to one another and the leaders as they serve together
    • they will have the opportunity to put their faith into action in a real, tangible way
  • Who can go?  This trip is for high school students and up.  As in the past, there will be an expectation set for those that are going.  This trip is about service to God and service to other people.  There are times on this trip where those going are outside of their comfort zones.  there will be times when each person on the trip will not get what they want.  They will experience these things when it comes to:
    • the food they eat
    • the cold shower they take
    • the floor that they sleep on
    • the language that they cannot understand
    • the poverty that they will see
    • the closeness of the group
    • the lack of privacy and "down-time"
  • When is the trip?  At this point, their Summer VBS is being scheduled in early-July of 2012.
  • What kind of expectations will we have?  It's important to understand up front that this trip is a privilege.  While any of our high school students may desire to join this trip, it may not be for all of them.  One of the things that we try to do before the trip is prepare those going for the stretching of comfort zones.  We schedule pre-trip meetings to put our students and adults into situations that will be similar to the trip so we can see how we respond and react to one another under stress.  It's our goal to become a bonded group BEFORE the trip so that we can focus our energies on serving others and God.  Students and adults that are not interested in being prepared for the trip will not be allowed to participate.  
  • What will the trip cost?  Our 2010 trip was around $1000 per person.  This included meals, lodging, transportation, everything but spending money.   In 2010, we offered a scholarship of $175, students had to write a book report and write fundraising letters.  Our Spaghetti Dinner/Dessert Auction is an easy way to raise funds for this trip.  
  • What about safety?  This topic is one among many that we cover in our pre-trip sessions.  Safety is why:
    • we tell our students to stay in groups
    • we tell our students to stay where they are if they get separated
    • we tell our students not to draw attention to themselves
    • we tell our students to be aware of their surroundings
    • we tell our students not to buy illegal items 
    • we stay in a secure facility, with locked doors
  • Safety, part 2.  We do our very best to take no unnecessary risks. An unnecessary risk would be allowing students to wander the market alone.  An unnecessary risk would be allowing our students to walk to the corner store without someone from the youth home with them. 
    • On our 2008 trip, we had a student get separated from the rest of the group.  Instead of following instructions and remaining where she was, she went out in search for the group.  This was the worst 45 minutes of both of our lives as we frantically looked for this student.  Thankfully, she was found by another one of our groups.
    • It's why we spend time with those that express interest in going on the trip and reserve the right to deny anyone (whether student, parent or adult) the privilege of attending this trip.  
    • If someone has trouble listening to instructions on a Sunday night, then they will most likely have trouble following instructions in Mexico. 
  • Safety, part 3.  The Mexican government is at war with the drug cartels.  The drug cartels are at war with one another.  Innocent bystanders and civilians have been caught up in this violence.  I neither can, nor will, say with 100% certainty that nothing will happen while we are in Mexico.  As the leaders of the trip, it is important that we share the reality of this trip and we want to partner with you as we plan.  As a parent, it is important that you understand what we are doing and why we are going, as well as have some honest conversation with your students about this trip.  
What's next?
  • In the coming weeks, I will meet with our student ministry team and we will start some long-term planning.  If you would like to be a part of that, please let me know.
  • By mid-November, we will schedule two initial meetings (only attendance at one is necessary) with parents and students to discuss the trip and the process for application.  These meetings will be a great place and time for questions, comments and concerns to be addressed.
In the meantime, please join us in praying for this trip, and the impact on lives that it will have!

Friday, September 2, 2011

A little about us, part 3- Youth Group

Sunday School

D-Group

And now...Youth Group.  What is it?  Why have it?

For the last 40 years or so, Youth Groups have been a huge part of churches and their programming geared toward kids.  When I was growing up back in the 80's (Dated?), each Sunday night you;d find me hanging out with the youth group of First Presbyterian Church in Peachtree City, Georgia.  We met each week in the homes of other kids; each week was in a different place.  We'd gather for some food, some fun, and a youth group lesson, usually 15-20 minutes in length.  The favorite topic?  Sex, of course.  I remember that the week before "sex night" (that just doesn't sound right!!) we were handed small pieces of paper, a pen, and encouraged to write down our questions, ANY questions that we had and the following week, our poor youth minister got up in from of the group and answered them. 

Guys like Steve Rembert, Thom McArthur, Martin Huggins were awesome; they loved us, put up with our antics, and taught us what it was like to follow Jesus each Sunday night and on trips all over the place.

Our "youth group" has two parts:
  • Our middle school youth group meets on Wednesday nights from 6-8pm.  We have a meal, do a group activity, have a group lesson, and then split into small groups for some deeper discussion.  It takes a special kind of adult to work with middle school kids; they have high energy, lots of questions, and are really coming into their own, developing their identity.  We love middle school kids at Eastview.
  • Our high school youth group meets on Sunday nights from 5:45-8pm.  We have a meal, do a group activity, have a group lesson, and then split into small groups for some deeper discussion.  High school kids are at the point in their lives where they are asking big questions and dealing with big issues; they are wrestling with who they are.  I love the depth of our high school kids at Eastview.
This year, in both middle school and high school youth groups, we'll be talking about the lies that surround them, are told to and about them, are told by them, that they fall for and believe, and then act on.  Lies like:
  • God could never love me.
  • I need a boyfriend/girlfriend.
  • The music I listen to, and the movies I watch don't affect me.
  • It's not really sex.
Each day, kids in our youth group struggle with and fall for these lies.  Satan is the great deceiver, we actually believe that and this year, we will be confronting our students with the truth of the gospel, and most importantly, with the Truth that is Jesus Christ.

Our youth group is designed to be a great place where kids can feel welcome to bring friends and have some good honest conversation about the God that loves them.  This is called "community" and we see in the Bible that Christians are called to it.  We want to talk about with them what Christianity looks like and what it means to be a follower and disciple of Christ.  We are looking forward to starting up next Wednesday (for middle school) and Sunday the 18th for high school!!