Just thinking through some final thoughts for tonight. One of our core values at Wind and Water is that ‘students matter to God’. I think to most of the world the young are a source of cheap labor and expendable income. Students are often pushed to the edges of society. Unfortunately, many churches reflect our culture in this area. “Keep them out of our hair… keep them so busy they don’t have time to get in trouble… keep their messes out of sight… can’t they find something used that someone wants to give away…” Doesn’t sound very much like Jesus’ “let the children come…”
So I’m talking to the students about how they matter to God, even if they aren’t valued by our culture. I keep coming to how I imagine God values the creativity and passion and energy that are so obvious in youth and the fact that we all are made in God’s image (a creative, passionate, and energetic God). When we sin, we mar and scar His image within us.
When we push youth to the fringes of the church, are we missing a glimpse at the image of God? Could it be that the image of God can be seen more clearly in their passion/energy/creativity because they’ve had less time to stamp it out? When I find myself without energy and passion and creativity… what does that say about my spiritual health and vitality?
God, may our students live lives that remind us what you look like!
Next month’s newsletter article…
Wind and Water Student Ministries is more than just a name for our youth ministry here at WestWay. It’s also a developing strategy for how we do ministry with students. Those two elements (wind and water) capture the essence of what we’re all about: Bringing Students to Life… and Taking Life to Students.
Jesus didn’t just come into this world to teach people how to behave. I remember as a kid being told to ‘mind my manners’. While that is important (and often lacking in the world today), that’s not what Jesus came for. He came to bring life to people who were dying. He came to restore us to the life giving relationship with His Father that we were made for.
Over and over again in Scripture, there is a connection between the breath of God and life. (Genesis 2:7, Ezekiel 37, John 20:22) Without His Spirit, there is no life. Make no mistake, most people aren’t really living, they’re dieing. We want our student ministries to be driven by God’s Spirit to bring students to life. In everything we do, we are striving to be a ministry that is breathing life into the student body of our valley.
But we are not content to stand on the sidelines of the world and shout about life, we actually have to go into the shadows and take life to students. Expect to see an even stronger emphasis in our youth ministry on serving our community. Our students are developing a heartbeat that is in tune with God’s heart as it relates to serving those in need. They are coming to understand that “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27) Jesus talked about offering water to the thirsty. He offered a water that quenches thirst. We are here to do the same.
This is what the church should be doing more of. It’s exciting to read about this kind of passion for service.
Now, I’ll admit, I don’t know these people and I’ve never been to their town, but I’ve got to imagine that a church serving its community this way is making an impact. As much as I don’t like how “externally focused” is becoming another buzzword bandwagon model for churches to jump on, I love the heart that this church has been planted with to observe, serve, and be in community with… its community. We in God’s Kingdom should all be so externally focused.
I was just reading the Ethur blog and came across a post that included this quote:
“The future is here. It is just not widely distributed yet.”I think it is important to take a look at our efforts and evaluate whether we are distributing the future or the past. Some organizations/individuals clearly do one or the other. When looking at what you pour your time, energy, ideas and resources into, which one do you think you’re helping to distribute?
This made me think of Jesus’ words, “the kingdom of God is at hand…” in Mark 1. Jesus was the very presence of God, Himself, here on Earth. God’s kingdom isn’t just some far off, mystical, “somewhere up yonder” place – it’s His people here and now, living in His presence, as His body. We should be Kingdom distributors.
Think about your “time, energy, ideas and resources”… Where are they going? What are you pouring your self and your life into? Preserving what you’ve had… or distributing what is to come?
“Father…Your kingdom come, Your will be done – on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
We have a large room in our church facilities. It used to be the worship center, but when the new auditorium was finished a few years ago, this room became known as the chapel. It’s used for weddings and funerals on occasion and for 1st – 6th Grade Children’s Church on Sundays and our Jr. High and High School worship on Wednesday nights. For the next 12 weeks it will also be used for a special class one of our elders is leading called The Truth Project.
We’ve been talking about how we could use the space more effectively. See, the problem is that the rooom is pretty much a blank/empty room with a cross on the wall and padded pink chairs. Our discussion has basically come to the point of deciding just what the best use of the room will be. It’s blandness makes it usable for all the above mentioned things, but ideal for none. We want to use it to the best of our/its capacity.
One of the options is to turn the room into more of a youth & children’s ministry friendly place. As the youth minister, this idea has some appeal, but when it comes to specifics, I’m not sure how things will play out. When someone says to me, “Here’s a big empty room. What would it look like to make it more ideal for youth ministry?” my mind starts running with ideas that, frankly, scare people.
I don’t want to spruce it up with a new coat of paint – I want to tear out a third of the stage and rebuild a different one in one corner. I don’t want to trade in the pink church chairs for a more youthful color – I want to replace them with living room sets and lounge chairs. (Not mouse infested throw-aways either, btw.) I want to create with our students, a home away from school.
I want to redisign the room to reflect the values and mission of our student ministry. One of our catchphrases that we’ve been floating around the past month or so is “Bringing Students to Life… and Taking Life to Students”. We could make this room a life-giving space. A homey, holy refuge not just for “our kids”, but the students of our community. (Here’s a link to an article I found talking about the theology of this kind of space design… interesting reading if you have a few more minutes.)
I’d appreciate your prayers as we discuss further just what we’re going to do with this room. Whatever we do, may we honor God.
Well, racing’s over for the season. I think I ended up 4th, maybe 5th, in points – which isn’t bad considering I missed so many weeks. The racing was a blast and it was great to meet some new people and spend some good time with the students that helped me out most weeks. The sad part of it is that my timing belt broke about two laps from the finish of the last race. If you don’t know… that’s really bad. Most engines will basically tear themselves apart if the belt breaks… I haven’t dug into it yet to see if that’s the case.
Dakota started preschool this week. He doesn’t always respond too well to being told he has to do what everyone else is doing, so this should be an interesting experience. When we pulled up to the Y (where the preschool is), he wanted to go in the main doors and around to the back of the preschool “so we don’t have to go through all that crowded part.” (which was where everyone was lined up waiting to take their kids in). He doesn’t like groups, but there’s one little boy from our small group at church who is in his class, so he followed him around all day yesterday.
We also got started back into our regular schedule in our student ministry yesterday. I’m still wondering what adjustments we can make to be more effective, but right now I’m at a loss. A lot of the students just seem to be coming with no expectation of God having anything to say to them. Almost like it’s just such a part of their routine that they’re sleepwalking through it. Time to wake up…