Posts Tagged With: church

Year to date: Wrapping up Spring and Heading into Summer

We’re halfway through Revival.  Surprisingly, I have extra free time this week.  We’re not having our Youth’s Wednesday Night service tomorrow, so other than running sound I don’t have much to do.

That seems to be the thing with ministry.  Leading up to Revival I was busy promoting, making posters, etc. (Youth Ministers in small churches are the default IT/Advertising/Promotions guys).  That’s done, so now I wait.  I finally extracted camp forms and releases from my students, and mailed it in.  VBS is coming in August.  We’ve got our materials, set the schedule yesterday, and some new members have stepped up and said they would work!

I’m running sound again with my wife for Revival, so I’m making sure that we have all the tracks, songs lyrics in our presentation software, etc.  We have the same man leading worship this year, I think he read my Tales from the Church Soundbooth post.  This year he’s been much better letting us know what songs he’s doing before worship starts.  [He also has a Corvette that was a blast to drive!]

Basically, in the boom and bust cycle of ministry, I’m about to hit a bust after Wednesday (the last night of Revival).  Yay.  About the middle of June we go to camp #1, then July is camp #2, finally VBS is in August.  Then vacation to the Grand Canyon.

Overall, Spring was better than Fall in attendance.  Many of our kids that were uninvolved have come back, and we’ve added about 4 new regulars.  Our association does what we call “Teen Evangelism Nights” (TEN) where students share there testimonies, or whatever God has led them to say.  These are refreshing events, last time 6 students accepted Christ during a student led invitation.  How awesome is that!?  I didn’t do a Disciple Now this spring, but I think I’m going to plan one next spring.  Now we’re just gearing up for VBS.

We chose to do VBS at the end of Summer this year.  This is mainly to build momentum heading into fall.  If we have the numbers last year we can incorporate this kids and their families into our Fall ministries.  My thought process is that when you do VBS at the beginning of summer you get people into church, but then they go on vacation, they visit relatives, and since they didn’t really have the habit of coming to church they don’t pick it back up in the Fall.  At least that’s my theory.

So now it’s just the calm before the storm of summer.

Thanks for Reading,
Robert

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Categories: General | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Where is God?

 “Since Evil and Suffering exist, a Loving God cannot.”

After watching God’s Not Dead and doing a post about it, I’ve refocused on my personal study of Apologetics.  I recently picked up The Case for Faith by Atheist turned Christian, Lee Strobel.  The subtitle reads “A Journalist Investigates the toughest Objections to Christianity”  The table of contents is lain out with what are considered the eight strongest arguments against God.  The first chapter and the chapter I’m on is “Since Evil and Suffering exist, a Loving God cannot.”

The Problem of Evil

Greek Philosophers debated this thousands of years ago, and is the primary reason Charles Templeton, contemporary of Billy Graham and fellow evangelist, abandoned the Christian faith, and spend the rest of his life writing and speaking against Theism.  Strobel tells his own stories of travelling as a journalist, seeing starving families in his home town of Chicago, while he lived in comfort in is townhouse, and seeing abandoned and diseased boy while travelling in India.  Why? Where is God?  Those are legitimate questions.  When you look at all the pain in this world it’s heartbreaking, but sadly we then go back to cute cat videos on Youtube to ease our empathy, forgetting about those whom God has seemingly forgotten.

Why Doesn’t God do Anything?

Why doesn’t he?  Why don’t we do anything? I’m not writing today about defending God against “the problem of evil” argument.  There are plenty of well written responses; Lee Strobel being one, Ravi Zacharias being another.  You either find the Christian response reasonable or you don’t.  I write today because we, as followers of Jesus Christ, are supposed to be his hands and his feet (1 Corinthians 12), Christ’s ambassadors to this world.

Templeton said that the moment he gave up belief in a loving God, was when he saw a picture of an African woman, holding her dead son in her arms.  The reason was drought.  A drought had devastated that region.  Templeton’s thought was simple, “Rain! All you had to do was send rain!”  I don’t care how strong your faith is, that shakes it.

You may consider this a “cop-out” answer but I believe that God created this world to run like a clock.  Sin fundamentally broke this clock.  This is where, hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts, and all types of disasters come from.  It’s not necessarily God’s wrath smiting a godless New Orleans (As some have said about Katrina), but rather God’s continued judgement against a world full of sin.  You see, in scripture you have almost a paradox between God’s grace and God’s wrath.  In God’s love and grace, Jesus Christ absorbed God’s wrath on the cross.  So when you hear people say “God is Love” you must also remember “God is Wrath.”   An uncomfortable and unpopular concept, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Human Responsibility

Now, it’s easy for me to sit in my nice office in front of a laptop and say this, but I’m going to do it anyway.  Why didn’t Templeton with all of his influence that he had as one of the leading evangelicals in the world, use his influence to bring relief to those suffering in Africa?  Isn’t that the Christian thing to Do?  The Bible says from the beginning Mankind was given primary authority and responsibility to govern this world. Think about it, how is the Gospel spread?  Through people sharing?  Why didn’t Jesus just appear to everyone after his resurrection?  Because this is our world, God expects us to play a part in fixing it.  If we are “God’s Children” and he is our father it makes since.  You can pick up your child’s room for them, fix their mistakes while they play video games, or you can teach them how to do these things and help them.  I think this is part of why God doesn’t just automatically fix every evil, how else would we learn?

So next time you or I are presented with the evil of human suffering, instead of “asking where is God?” Why don’t we ask ourselves “How should I as a follower of Jesus bring about healing?”  Didn’t Jesus come to save, heal, and restore?  If he is our example shouldn’t we do the same?  Maybe God wants to use us to fix the evil in the this world.

Personally, I’m selfish.  I lack compassion.  Our recent Sunday School lesson was over generosity.  To begin this lesson everyone was given a piece of paper and told “You’ve just been given 1 Million dollars, what would you do?”  I listed several things, nothing frivolous (Pay off debt, buy a car with less than 150,000 miles on it, etc). Nowhere on my list was giving money away to help people.  The truth is if most of us were given 1 Million dollars we could give every dime of it away to those in real need, and never miss a meal, never lack shelter, never lack clothing, never lack anything.

So in the light of human suffering
Where is God?
Where are you?
Where am I?
Categories: Apologetics, Theology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Imitate Christ – My Sermon from Last Sunday

It’s rare that I get to preach on Sunday morning, but I had the opportunity last Sunday.  It was Spring Break and our pastor went to see his parents and grandchildren that live in Oklahoma.  This gives me the opportunity to preach to the entire congregation, and have access to recording software.  My parents always like to hear my sermons, they’re proud.  I honestly can’t stand listening to myself.  I make no claims to be a great preacher, and this probably isn’t the greatest sermon ever.  But nonetheless here it.

The scope of this message is based on Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (ESV).  From this verse I do a type of overview of Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.

Categories: Sermons | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to Maintain Discipline with Youth

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Giving youth a ride home is just part of the job.  My wife and I are constantly taking youth to and from church. It is a good thing we have an explorer that seats seven.

The car and/or church van is no place for horse play.  Today I ended up taking three young men home after church.  They fought over who got the front seat, so I told them to play Rock, Paper, Scissors.  One of my youth feels a sense of entitlement (we will call him “Shortround,” or at least I do) and refused to play and insisted that he deserved the front seat.  I was honestly getting a little annoyed so I unlocked the back doors and told them to get in.  The Ginger got in the back seat and we waited while the other two fought.  He then asked, “So do you care if I just crawl over into the front.”  “Not at all,” I replied.  Oh the joy of natural lessons! By the time they realized what The Ginger was doing it was to late, so they begrudgingly got in the back seat.

Shortround was still being..well..himself.  So I redirected him to quit playing around.  He did not.  I redirected him a second time, his behavior continued.  The third time I had to redirected him I told him that if he continued horseplaying I would throw my cup of ice water on him (it was 40 degrees tonight).  He didn’t believe me, because, “Your wife would be so mad if you did that.” He was ok until our first stop.  He then continued his folly.  He then got very wet.

I firmly believe that follow through is the key to discipline 😀

Also, turning on the rear a/c and rolling the windows down helped drive home an important life lesson.

PS: My wife thought it was hilarious.

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Leading My First VBS

2013_club_vbs_logo_4cVacation Bible School.  The event almost every single church (in Texas at least) has every summer.  Vacation Bible School (VBS) is for children in 6th grade and under.  It is a week long 2-3hr a day outreach for children in the community where we teach them about the love of Jesus.  This is usually done based on a them.  This year my churches theme was Lifeway’s Jungle Jaunt.  Many different Christian publishers put out VBS material to use.  This is important in a town with 3 Baptist Churches because we all do VBS and many children attend more than one.  We also try to make sure we don’t overlap dates.

This year we broke our attendance records with 58 children (give or take) each day.  This is a big deal for a church that normally runs 10 kids or less on Sunday Mornings.  Needless to say we were a little overwhelmed, we were planning for about 30 which is our average.  I must brag on my youth, they have been phenomenal this week.  They are on time, do their job assignments well, and are loving on these little kids.  They are also sacrificing their first week of summer by waking up and coming up to church at 8:30, some even walking to church.

Like everything in life, it’s always a learning experience so I’m going to share some frustrations and lessons learned with my plethora (sarcasm) of readers.  To be honest things are going better than I thought.  The weeks leading up to VBS had my wife and I in a panic.  It didn’t seem like we were going to have enough teachers, I made a big miscommunication on the way we were breaking up the classes and we just went with it rather than trying to fix it.  We had teachers quit, not show up to the training meetings, and we honestly don’t have all the material we need, due to an itty-bitty budget.  My wife and I took the lead for organizing and planning VBS because we believe VBS is an amazing outreach opportunity to families in the community and I didn’t see anyone else taking the lead.  It would be better not to do VBS at all than do it poorly.  Most VBS curriculum, planning seminars, etc say you should plan VBS six months in advance.  We didn’t even start unless after our DNOW in March.  The church we came from normally has everything planned for next year planned by the start of the school year.

First thing for next year.  Plan ahead.  I’m going to get together all the money we spent, all the materials we used to decorate, and all the things we should have had but didn’t like name tags.  This way next year I can have a legitimate budget.  I’ll know what supplies we will need to have on hand.  Little things like having lamination film, butcher paper for decorating.  Also nail down the order of service in advance and make sure that the pastor knows about it, or he will disrupt the closing rally every day!  I was unaware of little sacred VBS cows that were apparently part of VBS that I was unaware of.  Things were a treasure chest for those who brought friends on the 2nd and third day, prizes for those who came everyday, and a random group picture that was announced as we were trying to conclude on Friday.  None of that was bad, I would have just liked to have known and planned it within the schedule, we’ve only got 2-3hrs with these kids.

Overall this was a stressful VBS, but it was completely worth it.

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Tales from the Church Soundbooth

OK, right off the bat I am not a sound guy.  But my wife is a Sound girl.  She has a wonderful ear for music and can make a church sound system work.  I’m a tech guy.  I can get computers to do what I want them to do, unless it’s a compaq then I just want to pull my 1911 pistol and shoot it eight times.

Working in the soundbooth is fun.  It gives me something to do while the preacher is preaching.  I run his powerpoint, and advance the slides for the worship service.  I’m a man and men don’t sit still well, society labels this as ADHD but I am reading a great book about how I’m a man and society tries to force men into a girly little box (rabbit trail: when I finish I’ll do a full review of the book).  The wife and I make a great team in the soundbooth, as long as I do exactly what she says…

We are doing Revival this week at church.  It has been great.  Allen Speed from Calvary Baptist, Jal NM is doing a great job preaching…for someone not from Texas.  He used to be a Texan but he betrayed the Great Republic and went to New Mexico.  Yeah, its only 18 miles due north of us, but still.  Our worship leader is a guy named Ryan Dennis he is a bi-vocational pastor at West of the Pecos Cowboy Church, Pecos, Texas.  He is a phenomenal music guy.  He has a great voice, and can play a piano wonderfully.  Both are great guys, we really like them, but Branalyn (my wife) wants to kill them… just a little bit.  She has detailed her reasons here (http://www.branalyn.blogspot.com/)

It boils down to this.  Most preachers/worship leaders have no idea how the soundbooth is ran.  They think they do, but really they think it’s a magical place that makes the speakers work, and when they don’t obviously we are idiots who have no clue what we are doing.  And them giving us a powerpoint, 2 specials on 2 separate cds and a video, and “by the way we’re using two mics because this one is a duo” at 6:55pm when we start at 7:00pm has nothing to do with our inability to preform these simple tasks.  Not to mention we are stuck with a Compaq that proceeds to crash at 6:57pm when we test the video. (We tested the video because last time we tried a video it crashed during the middle of the service).

It is not that hard to get everything going but like anything it takes time to get everything set up correctly.  So here are some simple rules that will make youe worship service go smoothly and your so your soundbooth people wont be plotting your doom.

  1. Have a plan.  Know what you are doing before you start.  Nothing is worse than starting one song that we though was first, then hear “That one comes last”  Also if you are singing certain songs we can even put the words on screen.
  2. Share your plan with the Soundbooth.  A well written order of service is a wonderful thing; it is the Gospel to the Soundbooth.
  3. Share this plan AT LEAST 45 minutes before the start of the service.  This allows everything to get cued up and ready to go with time to work out any bugs.  Also people are not there yet so your video isn’t spoiled when we make sure it’s running right.
  4. Do a sound check.  This makes sure that you actually turned your wireless mic on and we don’t have to interrupt you.  And inevitably the speaker always asks the soundbooth guys if he is on, because it’s always our fault that you never turned the mic on.
  5. If you aren’t an expert keep the advice to yourself, nothing is worse than trying to resolve an issue and 15 people are offering advice such as “Is it plugged in?” ” Is the volume up?”
  6. Never tap or blow on a mic, this can damage them and is just tacky.  Say something, if you have your mic turned on we can fix it.
  7. We are only as good as the equipment you give us.  We have spent hours redoing the entire sound system at our church, called people, read the instructions.  It’s as good as it gets with what we have to work with.
  8. We are only human, and are volunteers; and can only do so many things at once, give us a second to get things going before you say something.
  9. Branalyn feels that it should be a requirement for anyone on stage to spend time in the sound booth to gain a little perspective.
  10. Technology is always changing and improving.  The way we did things 10years ago is much different than today.  Send your sound guys to a training every now and again so they know how to use new technologies.

I don’t say any of this to be rude, Branalyn and I enjoy the soundbooth its a way we get to serve our church.  This is just to let everyone else know what it is like to do this job.  And maybe get a few less dirty looks.

Categories: General | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Toilet Paper Dodge Ball

Enough Said.

We played this at our DNOW at the First of March.  It was the most fun game of Dodge Ball in the history of Man throwing things at other peoples faces.  I’m honestly not a big game guy, and I’m not the inventor of any great games.  When I do come across a good game I do take note. It is played just like normal dodge ball.  Line up TP in the center, and then blow a whistle.  We mixed it up a little by leaving a 12 pack or two on the line.  The rule was you can not take the whole package, it must be opened at the line and you can only take as many rolls as you can carry.  This leaves you as an easy target.  As always head shots are not permitted, but if you are hit in the head it doesn’t clause bleeding.

Don’t forget to clean up the gym afterwards.

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My First Disciple Now

Terminal FaithI just completed my first DNOW.  Not the first DNOW I’ve ever attended but the first one I’ve ever been in charge of.  It went really well!  Mainly because God gave me some amazing help.  Daniel, the youth minister at a sister church, and his wife Carleigh helped immensely.  AL and Millie, along with Mary, Linda, and Jeanie handled all the food, like pros.  Furthermore, a local restaurant provided our meals at no charge.  Basically the planning went like this; I was freaking out, I prayed, and God took care of everything.  Thank you God.

Our theme was Terminal Faith, with Romans 6:10-11 as our T-Shirt verse.  Our speaker was a friend of mine, Ryan Nelson and he did an excellent job of communicating the Word to our youth.  Our worship leaders were Craig and Rachael Denison, college friends of Daniel’s.  They too were perfect for our group, and are a duo that leads worship not a performance.   So if for some reason a youth minister somehow finds this blog, I can totally recommend these guys for your event.

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