Sunday, July 31, 2011

Trust - Discipleship 145

I've been writing thoughts about discipleship for the last few months. I'm passionate about this subject matter because I simply believe it is the key to parenting, leading, mentoring and befriending others. Discipleship is all about building relationships with others. We either push or pull others in their journey of life. My hope and prayer is that my life will push others to be who they were created to be.

This week I'm learning about the role of trust in discipleship. My daughter recently got a sliver in her hand. She was complaining about it hurting, so being a good dad I was trying to help her out by removing the sliver. As we were collaborating about how to best approach its' removal I asked Saydie if she trusted me...she said no, she was nervous that it was going to hurt. Normally a statement like that would have shattered me emotionally, but this time it didn't. In that moment I caught a glimpse of my personal response to God. Sometimes I simply don't trust Him with what is happening in my life.

The thing about trust is that its' built upon the principle of 'what have you done for me lately?' Don't believe me? Ask a child who's dad missed catching him after tossing him into the air. It doesn't matter that this child's father caught him a thousand times before dropping him...the fact is that he dropped him and he got trust needs to be rebuilt.

Discipling people comes with great joy but also great pain. If those you love don't trust you, they won't allow you to help shape who they are becoming. My suggestion and reminder to us all is to work on building trust each and every day. It's going to take a lot of time and a lot of effort. It's not about proving yourself, it's about building, establishing and maintaining trust...and trust can only be earned by demonstrating love for others.

Think about that the next time you are advocating for change...are you a leader, a parent or a friend that can be trusted?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Inspiration - Discipleship 144

I'm working on a project with a good friend of mine entitle Prayer Inspired Parenting. Over the last number of years I've been captivated by the word inspiration. As I've built (with the help of my wife & kids) family values and crafted a family mission statement, I've been drawn to consider how my life will serve as a source of inspiration for my children and those around me.

There is a particular story from scripture that has consumed my imagination lately. In Genesis we read through the story of Abraham's intercession on behalf of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. In this story Abraham pleads with God to relent from pouring out His judgement upon these two cities. Through his intercession, Abraham barters with God asking Him to refrain from sending calamity based upon a dwindling number of righteous people found within the confines of these two great cities. In the end, even the small agreed upon number wasn't sufficient to save Sodom and Gomorrah from being destroyed.

What has made me think differently about this somewhat familiar portion of scripture is the theme of inspiration. In these particular cities, the community inspired each other in a negative fashion. How often have we heard that a bad apple spoils the lot? As Christians, leaders, parents and plain old people we need to think differently about how we choose to live. Through each of our choices we are making statements of inspiration; some of these statements are inspiring others in a positive way, while others are inspiring others in a more negative way. While I'm not suggesting we have the power to control how others choose to live, we do have the ability to inspire people. Think through your favorite movie, book or short-story. Why are you so captivated by these tales? It's simple...they inspire you in some way.

Imagine if a generation of people would rise up to inspire their communities towards positive, God-honoring action? How would our world change and be different?

In my role as a youth pastor I just so happen to work with these kinds of people...the emerging generation of world changers who's lives inspire communities to become advocates for change and agents of love. The revolution has begun: are you being inspired?

Consider how you can inspire others each day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Manager or Mentor - Discipleship 143

Leadership provides a person with the opportunity to both manage people and mentor people. If you're like me, you might get a little squeamish when you hear the manager label tossed around. Many of us have endured seasons in life where we have felt micro-managed, leading us to perhaps reject the idea of managing altogether. Mentoring, on the other hand, may seem more appealing to those who wish to pursue a relational connection with their leaders.

When we look at the life of Jesus, and specifically the interaction He had with His team of disciples, we can see Jesus utilizing both a manager and mentor strategy for the growth and development of His team.

Jesus was a manager when He asked His disciples to complete tasks, give reports and grow in their personal understanding of who He is and what He was sent to do. Jesus was a mentor when He allowed His team to ask questions, make suggestions, try things and learn from failures.

In terms of discipleship, the manager/mentor dichotomy is a critical understanding. There are times when we need to challenge and hold one another accountable. There are also times when we need to empower and release others to grow in the process of discipleship. The mark of a great disciple-maker is someone who is able to identify and adjust his or her style of leadership based upon the unique needs of the ministry context, scenario or individual disciple. This doesn't mean selling out to the demands of your surroundings. It does mean being willing to serve and lead in the process of discipleship by both managing and mentoring when the season calls for it.

To be a manager or a leader, you need to be a mentor. To be a mentor, you need to understand how to lead.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day 8 - Jr Hi MTO Update continued

We made it.

We rolled into West Campus just before 4:00pm today with vans full of people, memories, laughter and community.

It was incredible to see families welcome us home with open arms. It was even more incredible to see community amongst our youth continue to grow as we celebrated our week together in a parking lot.

My hope for this group is that they would continue to place Jesus at the center of all they do. In doing so, they will achieve the individual and collective potential they possess. God is on the move. Our challenge is to Rise Up and partner with what He is doing in and through us. I hope to witness an ongoing resurgence of passion and faith in action in this generation.

The wave is coming...the question is will we Rise Up to catch it?

Day 8 - Jr. Hi MTO Update

Today marks the final leg of this portion of our adventure. Last night during our community debrief time we asked each other two questions:

1. How did you experience Jesus in a fresh way this week?
2. What are you bringing home with you?

For you as parents, friends and loved ones, using these questions to help these students and adults share their experience with you will provide both parties with an insight into how God is at work in the lives of His people. We must continue to get better in sharing the story of God at work in our lives and our world so that we always remember the goodness, mercy and love of God is meaningful ways (among other character qualities).

Our goal is to arrive home in Calgary to the West Campus facility location by 4:00pm Mountain Standard Time. Lord willing we will be on schedule. Continue to pray for a safe journey and "grippy tires" (as my daughter prays) for the rest of our journey home. We are looking forward to seeing you all. We will need showers, food & a good night's sleep...but those three things were worth trading to gain an incredible Spirit-filled experience over this past week!!

See you all soon!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Day 7 - Jr. High MTO Update

The adventure continues. We left Vancouver for Salmon Arm with a pocket full of joy, hope, new experiences and a fresh perspective in our own personal relationships with Jesus. The journey on the road was full of laughter, conversation and some brief napping!! During our lunch stop we found out that one of our youth had received permission from her parents (who are currently in South Africa) to be baptized, so we began planning our second baptismal service of the week. But the adventure didn't come without its' challenges.

Our MTO funds were running short, so we needed to reallocate how we were going to provide for meal compensation and what not as a team. We reached Salmon Arm in the early afternoon and broke the news to our youth about this emerging reality. Students began to dream about how to solve our issue. Offers for lending money and ideas for how to stretch dollars were provided...collaboration was in the air. A second student asked if he could be baptized along with his peer. This student's parents just so happened to be camping in the area, and we were able to get ahold of them to be a part of this experience.

As we continue to celebrate God's provision for our community, we received were a large blessing...our supper meal was provided for by a couple of passionate followers of Jesus who simply wanted to bless our team with a pizza dinner, which means we are able to stretch our reserve funds a little further!

Here are two more baptism videos. They represent a small fragment of what God has done, is doing and continues to do in the lives if His children in the portion of His family we refer to as Centre Street Church Youth Ministries.

Janette Flaaten

Joel Yepiz

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 6 - Jr. High MTO Update

I'm so very proud of our students. They have tackled every challenge that has come their way on this adventure. The close quarters have taken their toll on some of our gals...a few of them are battling sickness (colds) which isn't the best way for them to finish off their MTO, but they aren't letting this latest challenge dampen their spirits.

Today will be filled with many good-byes. Our youth have grown attached to their new surroundings, and for some of them it will be very difficult to accept the idea that they need to transition to life at home. We continue to talk about the challenge to bring the experience home and continue to forge ahead in community collectively. Pray that youth would recognize the lessons, intimacy with Jesus and closeness of community they have experienced here in Vancouver can and will translate back into life in Calgary if we are willing to let it become a part of our daily rhythm at home.

Tonight we cap off our MTO experience in VanCity with a foot-washing experience. It's a time of great healing and spiritual intimacy. Pray for our youth as they grapple with the emotion and the power of this experience. God isn't finished speaking to them yet, and I believe clarity will be provided to those who are seeking to experience Jesus in a fresh way.

Our journey home begins tomorrow with our drive to Salmon Arm. Pray for a good night's rest and alertness on the road for our team. See you all soon!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 5 - Jr. Hi MTO Update

Today marked the beginning of the downward slope towards the end of our ministry experience here in Vancouver. Our youth have definitely been bombarded this week, while being exposed to God’s present and the harsh reality of living in a broken world.

The greatest challenge we now face as a team is to develop a vocabulary that will allow us to communicate with our friends and family at home about our experience. It’s difficult to put images, sounds and smells into words. Inside jokes aren’t as easily translated, thoughts sometimes don’t carry the same weight when re-communicated outside of their original experience, and well sometimes it’s just plain hard to come home after meeting God is a fresh way. My hope and prayer is that our youth would see that God is the same in Vancouver and Calgary (not to mention the rest of the known & unknown universe)…He doesn’t change, and although we may have, His love is consistent and will carry us through the emerging challenges of being back in familiar territory.

Highlights from day included watching our youth actively seek out opportunities to minister to others without having to be prompted to do so, and also seeing how their friendships with one another continue to blossom.

May God grant us the continued grace to represent Him to our broken world; and may He use us to extend His kingdom here on earth as He sees fit!

See you all soon!!

Day 4 - Jr High MTO Update

Our third day of ministry was filled with a ton of highlights, culminating with some of our youth choosing to be baptized in the ocean (which we captured on film). Perhaps the most significant part of our journey thus far is wrestling with the questions that flood our hearts and minds as we process what we've seen, heard and experienced while on MTO.

Often times when you are exposed to visible needs, you can either become inspired to work towards meeting needs or desensitized to your surroundings. This week our youth are engaging the needs they see, but what will next week hold? As we've begun to discuss as a team, this MTO experience doesn't end during a 1 week journey. Living and loving like Jesus demands that we intentionally invest our whole person into His partnership we call mission. Pray that our youth would continue to process what they are seeing, hearing and experiencing together in community with Jesus as the head of this community.

As one of the people whom we've had the privilege to serve said: "You young people make the best missionaries." We all carry forward the mission of God. As we engage our world in the embodiment of love, grace and mercy in action, we represent our King in an authentic capacity.

Enjoy the show:

Noah Tainsh

Gabby Walthers

Braden Vandale

Erin Johnston

Leslie Ahenda

Miranda Jardine

Monday, July 4, 2011

Day 3 - Jr. High MTO Highlights

Today marked the first day of full ministry engagement on our team. We sent groups of students & volunteer leaders to work with impoverished kids, shut-in seniors, and a variety of social justice oriented ministries throughout Vancouver's famous East Hastings area.

Our team was bombarded with images, emotions, smells and questions as they processed everything they saw, heard and experienced. One of our youth summarized his experience with this statement: "Today was life changing; I'm not sure how yet, but I know after seeing and experiencing life in this setting I will be different."

This quote sums up a lot of what our youth and adults are experiencing on this year's MTO. We hope to continue to hear more stories of life change as the days continue on. One thing is certain: our team has encountered and experienced God in new ways in just a few short days. My prayer for them is that they would continue to wrestle with the question 'Now what?' The answer to this will not only change their lives, but I truly believe will shape and change our world for the better in and through Jesus both now and in the future.

Tomorrow we head out to our ministry sites again, but will also pause to celebrate the baptism of 5 students in the Pacific ocean in the evening. Pray that God's voice would be the most dominant voice in the lives of our team in the coming days, months and years ahead. The entire purpose of this MTO is to expose people to God's presence in a fresh way. The challenge is helping our youth and adults create a vocabulary and a lifestyle based on their God encounter.

I can't wait for what tomorrow will bring!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day 2 - Jr. High MTO

Our second day of travel went by fast...which we were grateful for! We saw where we are staying for the week, and our accommodations have presented us with a set of additional challenges that we didn't plan on, but are learning to be flexible with!

Tomorrow we have the chance to experience our ministry sites. We are hoping and pray that our youth will see, hear and experience God in fresh ways. We will be serving at Urban Gospel Mission, Shining Stars (day-camp for impoverished kids), old folks homes and a variety of social justice ministry organizations. Pray that we will continue to bond and see all challenges as opportunities to grow and mature in our faith relationship with Jesus.

We are hoping for a decent night's rest this evening!! God is up to something...we are pumped to be a part of it!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Vancouver MTO - Day 1

Today started with a full day of travelling. We are grateful that we didn’t encounter much road construction, making our commute time seem much shorter. We arrived in Salmon Arm around 4:15pm (local time).

Some of the highlights include highly energetic van conversation, great scenery and a sense of anticipation as to what God is going to do in and through us on this journey.

We ask for continued prayer for travelling safety, community building amongst our group and a hunger to be the hands of feet of Jesus as we embark on the next phase of our adventure tomorrow. We can’t wait to experience what God has in store for us!