Dating isn’t for the faint of heart.  It’s difficult and usually ends badly.  Recently, I did a teaching on how to win at dating. I hope you find it helpful.

Two quick things:

1. We break halfway through the video and have students read Scriptures together…in case you were wondering why it’s sort of Scripture empty.

2. The best line in this video was stolen from Andy Stanley.

Awkward Series: Gauges from Lifeline Student Ministries on Vimeo.

Just a Little Sex Talk

February 25, 2015 — 1 Comment

A few weeks ago, we launched our Awkward series.  This is a 4 week teaching series on sexuality.  We call it Awkward because talking with students about sex is, well, awkward.

Our kickoff teaching was one of my favorites of the year.  We focused on the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife  the truth is that sometimes when we follow God’s design we get punished, at least for the short term.

I thought I would share my notes.  I’m also willing to share the entire 4 week series for an outlandish sum of money.  OK, actually, you can just have it.  Just email me.  Enjoy…

Awkward 1. Normal

Awkward_LOGO

 

We’re Hiring!

February 23, 2015 — Leave a comment

Hey Friends!

Ada Bible, the church were I work, is hiring!  We’re looking for a someone to lead worship at our Kentwood Campus and develop and oversee worship in our student ministry.  Yes indeed, this person would join our student ministry team, which, if I may be so bold, is probably the coolest and best looking student ministry team in the universe.  I mean, who doesn’t want to work in Lifeline?!?! Side note: Our worship arts team is actually pretty cool too.

Anyway, we are in the market for a talented musician and worship leader who wants to grow a worship culture and develop worship leaders.  If that’s you or you know of that person…you should probably apply.  Here’s a link to the job application and a basic description of what the job is:

This is a great opportunity to be part of the worship experience at Ada Bible Church for both weekend services and student ministries.

A person in this position will lead worship during weekend services while leading and developing teams to carry out the work of the worship arts ministry at the Kentwood Campus.

The role will also include collaborating with the Student Ministries team to design worship elements for Student Ministries programs and events. This will include recruiting, leading, and developing volunteer worship leaders for student ministries at all campuses.

 

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of reThink and the Orange Conference.  I think it’s the best conference out there for family ministry and student ministry.  I’m particularly excited about this year because of the focus of the conference.  The theme is “It’s Just a Phase.”  I’m talking about matching our content, environments and practices to the developmental stages our kids and students are experiencing.  These are strategies that my student ministry mentor, Brian has been instrumental in pioneering.  I’m pumped to see and hear how Orange expands and develops these ideas.

The thing is, many of us in the student ministry world are considered experts in our field and we love students but let’s be real, many of us are, well…old.  At the very least, we are a lot older than the students we lead and serve.  I don’t know about you, but these days I feel like I’m engaging in cross-cultural ministry.

In addition, so much research has come out in the last few years that enlightens us to the developmental process of children and teenagers.  I know the Orangesperts have been working hard, mining the best of this research.  I feel like this year’s conference is going to be a fire hose of important and incredibly relevant information.

I have it on good authority that the crew at reThink wanted OC14 to be all about contextualizing ministry to the developmental stages of children and students but they didn’t quite feel ready, which means that the content for this year’s conference is a couple years in the making.  In other words, it’s going to be awesome!

Just a heads up, if you register by February 19, you can score a $40 price break and receive a $50 credit at the Orange Store.  Hopefully I’ll see you there!

 

 

We place a big value on fun and laughter at Lifeline.  We spend time and resources doing our best to make these things happen.  We’ve made a bazillion videos, some hilarious and some, well…not.  You can make your own judgement here.  This year, we made a video for our snow camp that is just plain gross.  I mean it freaks me right out, but at the same time, it’s hilarious!  I can’t stop watching it but when I do it sort of makes me gag.  Well, at this point you might as well watch it…

Making A Meal from Lifeline Student Ministries on Vimeo.

Last night we kicked off a teaching series on sexuality.  We’re calling it, “The Awkward” series because talking about sex with students is, well, awkward.

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While I was landing my teaching last night, I experienced one of the highlights of my ministry year.  I began bringing my talk to a close by encouraging our students to think about their boundaries.  Specifically, I challenged them to verbalize their boundaries.  “Look, if you don’t tell him what your boundaries are, don’t blame him for crossing them!”

After this section, I turned my attention toward those in the room, students and small group leaders alike, who had boundaries.  Sadly, I think that is most of us.  The sexual tension created by our over-sexualized culture along with the extension of adolescence that most emerging adults experience, the task of perfect purity before marriage is practically impossible.  At the very least, I am realizing, we need to adjust our language.  We are often guilty of creating an unrealistic expectation for our students–an expectation, that when broken leads to unspeakable shame.

And so, I said to our students, “Many of you here tonight had boundaries.  At some point, maybe a few years ago, maybe last week, you found yourself in a situation and, well, you crossed some lines.  What do you do now?  Do you just throw in the towel?  ‘Well, I guess it’s too late for me.  I guess it doesn’t matter what I do.’  Is it too late for you?  Are you ruined?  I want to remind you that in the Gospel stories, every time Jesus encountered a person who had failed morally He responded with love and grace.  I’m not talking about little mistakes either.  He responded with kindness and grace to prostitutes and other people who had made a complete mess of their lives.  He never responded with guilt or anger.  Please understand that God loves you deeply.  He’s not angry.  He’s calling you back to Him and back to boundaries.  It is never to late to begin again.  It’s never too late to begin following God’s design again.”

As I spoke these words, I saw one of our girls in the audience burst into tears.  They weren’t tears of shame, they were tears of gratitude.  It was almost as if she had been waiting for someone to tell her that she was still OK, that she wasn’t ruined and that she had a future–that there was hope.  How long had she been carrying that weight of shame?  In that moment, I almost couldn’t continue.  I recognized the power of God’s grace intersecting with human brokenness.  It was a beautiful moment and I realized again, how important student ministry is.

Here’s my question:  How many of our students are waiting for someone to tell them that God still loves them, that they still have a future, that there is grace?  When we talk to student about sexuality, let’s balance expectations with grace.  Too often we talk about boundaries like they are a cliff.  If you cross them, well, then it’s all over.  You’ve lost everything.  I understand the deep consequences that come with sexual sin but we have to understand our audience.  Because of the prevalence of pornography and the intense pressure placed on our students, they will make mistakes.  We must realize that many of our students have already made mistakes and are already living with profound shame.  Let’s change our language and let’s walk with them through their mistakes and missteps.  Let’s speak the powerful words of God’s grace.

 

 

 

Words Power The Future

February 6, 2015 — Leave a comment

Words are incredibly powerful.  As I look back on my life, particular conversations, positive and negative, propelled me toward who I am today–the good parts and the bad.  No one has had a more powerful voice in my life than my parents–particularly my dad.  If you are a parent, this is a sobering and exhilarating thought.  Your words literally shape the future of your child.  The words you use help form their identity and self-concept.  Like the book of Proverbs says, words carry “the power of life and death.

Many of us, because of busyness, laziness, or fear, leave unsaid the most important words.  We say all the mundane things and the negative things (when I haven’t had enough coffee yet) but we don’t speak the words of blessing.  Recently, I was challenged to put these words of blessing in written form for each of my kids.  Here’s what I came up with for my firstborn son:

Dear Keegan,

We’ll never forget the day you came into our lives. You were so sweet and little…and we didn’t sleep for 2 years. Despite that, you brought us so much joy. We loved watching your wonder filled face as you explored and discovered the world of our apartment. You have always been inquisitive and full of wonder.

Watching you grow has been amazing. Your faith in Jesus has been growing steadily since you were very little. You care deeply about doing what is right and following Jesus. You want to honor Him with your life. We pray that your faith will continue to grow and that you will continue obeying God. We believe He has a plan for your life and that He wants to use you to do something special.

God has very clearly gifted you with creative talent. You are a budding artist. You notice the details and create amazing pictures and stories. You are great at imagining something and bringing it to life with your Legos or in Minecraft. Not every kid has the ability to draw, design and build like you do. God has given you a gift. Please continue to develop it. Our suspicion is that God has gifted you in these ways because they are part of His plan for your life.

If there’s two things we would wish for your life, the first would be that you’d never lose your sense of wonder. Wonder is what you feel when you realize how big and incredible God is. You feel wonder when you are overwhelmed by how amazing something is that God made—for example, when you stand before a mountain or swim in a vast ocean and think to yourself, “This is so huge! God must be so big and powerful!”

We hope and pray that you would always find God and the world He created for us to be amazing. We hope that who God is and what He has made would always blow your mind—that you would always say, “Wow!” when you think about God. We believe that living with wonder is one of the secrets to strong faith and a happy life.

The second thing we wish for your life is that you would always follow Jesus. Jesus is your creator and Savior. He made you and he loves you. Following Jesus is the path to life. The older you get, the harder it will be to follow Jesus. Other people in your life will stop following Jesus and some kids might even make fun of you because you are a Christian, but our hope is that you would find friends who follow Jesus and help each other.

Jesus is working to restore this world and we believe He wants to use you to do something special to help fix it. As you grow older, we will help you discover what it is that God wants you to do with your life. We commit to teaching you about God, helping you understand the Bible and living our lives for Jesus so that you can watch us and learn how to do it. We know that God has amazing things in store for you. We love you very much Keegan and are so happy and proud to call you our son.

Love,

Mom and Dad

 

My encouragement to you would be to write something like this for your kids.  Don’t even wait for a special occasion.  Just do it.  I don’t think it’s possible to over-bless your kids.  As a parent, I don’t want to have any regrets about leaving my love and dreams for my kids unsaid.

 

image credited to Fredrik Rubensson via Flickr

Blessing Your Kids

February 5, 2015 — Leave a comment

I promised to post all of the letters of blessing that I wrote for my kids last week but a vicious flu bug hit my family and stifled my blogging.  It was really fun…

Anyway, we are healthy again and disinfected.  I promise you will not contract any diseases from visiting my blog.  So, here’s the blessing I wrote for Liliana, my oldest daughter:

 

Dear Liliana,

Before you were born, I was sure that you would be a boy. For some reason, I thought we would have all boys and life would be all football, grass stains, wrestling and mud. When you popped out, I was shocked to discover that you were, in fact, a girl. But now, I can’t imagine life without all your dresses, princesses, gymnastics and snuggling. We’re so glad to have you as a daughter.

One of the things I remember about you as a baby is that before you even knew 10 words you were taking care of your baby. You would stumble and waddle around the house with your little baby doll held tightly in your arms, saying over and over, “Oh, Baby! Oh, Baby!”

God has put something special in you. You love to serve people and take care of them. As you grew older, this desire to serve and take care of people turned into making breakfast for mommy and taking it up to her room before she woke up, cleaning up the house all on your own, or taking care of little Piper so Mommy could have a break. You write notes of encouragement and draw pictures simply to make people happy.

You are also very funny. You are great at being silly and making people laugh. You like to do funny voices and impressions and you love to tease. You have the ability to brighten someone’s day through laughter. This is a special gift that is unique to you.

You love to serve, help make people laugh and we believe this is from God. God put this desire in your heart because He has a special plan for your life. We believe that you will be happiest when you are helping people because that’s the way God made you.

Another thing that we see in you is that you are a hard worker. You always do your best in school and you work very hard to do well on your spelling tests and other assignments. Working hard and doing your best are very important things—they will serve you very well in life.

As you grow up, our hope for you, more than anything else is that you would give your heart completely to Jesus—that you would follow Him completely and build your life around Him. He made you and loves you. He has a special plan for your life. He has something important for you to do and we believe it will be something that involves serving and helping people. Maybe you’ll be a great mother. Maybe you’ll help children who are sick. Maybe you’ll help people in other parts of the world who need Jesus. We don’t know but if you continue to follow Jesus, He will help you understand what to do with your life.

Our commitment to you is that we will love you, support you and teach you to follow Jesus. We will do our best to follow Jesus ourselves so that you can see what it looks like. As you grow up, we’ll help you discover all God has made you to be. We love you very much and can’t wait to see who you grow up to be.

Love,

 

Mom and Dad

A Letter of Blessing

January 28, 2015 — Leave a comment

This week, I’m blogging about our family’s child dedication last weekend.  As part of the process, we wrote a letter of blessing to each of our kids.  Here’s the letter we wrote to our youngest and below is the letter I wrote for our youngest boy…

Dear Jackson,

 

You like to take your sweet time. You do things in your own timing. You’ve always been that way. We thought you would be born a full two weeks before you actually came out. You took so long that you were huge—over 9 pounds! And yet, you were just the sweetest little baby—our first blond. We were so surprised to see your blue eyes and blond hair after 2 brown haired, brown eyed kids.

I’m not sure there has ever been a sweeter little man than you. You are so sensitive, thoughtful, snuggly and kind. Our hope is that you’ll always stay this way.

You love to do fun things with the people you care about. You’re always talking about your friends, McKenzie, Delaney and Parker. Our suspicion is that relationships will always be very important to you. Friends will always be a big part of your life. May you choose good ones that will be as devoted and kind as you are. We believe that anyone who is lucky enough to have you as a friend will be a better person for it.

One of the things we love about you is that you are so funny. You are a little comedian. We believe that making people laugh will be an important part of your life for years to come. You have a gift. The ability to make people smile—to brighten a sad day is no small thing. God can do amazing things with a gift like this. You’ve already been in one Lifeline video. Who knows what God has in store for you in this area of your life?

Another fun thing about you is that you love Discovery Village. Well, maybe drop off isn’t always super fun, but you always love your time in DV and you talk about what you learned all week long. Our hope for you is that you will always want to learn more about Jesus and always want to grow deeper in your relationship with him.

There is nothing more important in this life than Jesus. We hope and pray that you fall in love with Jesus and live your life for him. Jesus is where we find meaning and purpose. We believe that God has wonderful plans for your life. He wants to partner with you to restore this broken world. We don’t know exactly what your role will be in this but we know it will be exciting and meaningful. We’ll help you figure that part out.

Jack, you love friends, and we want you to know that you’ll never find a better friend than Jesus. There’s no one in this world who loves you like He does. He gave His life for you. Building your life around your friendship with Jesus is the best way to live. As your parents, we want to help you learn to walk with Jesus. We commit to following Jesus ourselves so that you can see what it looks like. We’ll do our best to love and support you always as you grow in your faith and discover who God made you to be.

 

Love,

 

Mom and Dad

Blessing Kids

January 27, 2015 — 1 Comment

This past weekend, my wife and I finally dedicated our children.  That is to say, we dedicated ourselves, before a bunch of friends and family, to teaching our kids to follow Jesus.  It was a great experience, and as part of the process, I wrote a blessing to each kid.  I thought I would share what I wrote.  Here’s the blessing I wrote for my youngest daughter…

 

Dear Piper,

You are going to change the world. We’re sure of it. You’re full of energy and life. You’re little miss adventure. You’re brave, a little brash and slightly reckless but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Your favorite phrase is, “NO, I DO’D IT!” You believe you can do everything your older siblings can do and you don’t want any help doing it either.

You’re our most independent child, that’s for sure! We love the way you tackle life. God has put all of this in you. We just hope you don’t grow up to be a third world dictator.

Honestly, we don’t know what your adventurous nature will turn into. Maybe you will be a strong leader? Maybe your adventurous side will lead you to take the Gospel where it isn’t welcomed. Perhaps you’ll be a girl who says what needs to be said regardless of the consequences.

Or, maybe your nurturing side will grow stronger as you get older. We love to watch you taking care of your baby dolls. You love to put them to “nappers” or change their “stinkies.” It’s pretty cute watching you mother dolls that are practically as big as you are.

You also love to help take care of your little cousins. You’re always popping fallen binkies back into unsuspecting mouths or planting kisses on baby foreheads. You definitely have a nurturing side. We believe God has placed this within you as well. Perhaps your future involves loving and serving the unloved or raising a beautiful family of your own.

Maybe we’re completely wrong in all of this but it doesn’t really matter because God knows who He has created you to be and He has a plan for you. He wants to partner with you in restoring this broken planet and we’re confident that He has important work for you to do.

As your parents, we promise to guide you in what’s most important in this life: following Jesus and partnering with Him in what He is doing in this world. We promise to teach you all we know about Jesus, the Bible and what it looks like to follow Jesus. We will also do our best to follow Him ourselves so that you can see how it works.

We are so excited to watch you grow up and become the woman God has made you to be. We could not be more proud to be your parents.

Love,

 

Mom and Dad