Month: November 2014

Students Follow People, Not Programs

Some good thoughts for me and my fellow Youth Pastors…

In The huddle

“Follow me as I follow Christ”  is what Paul encouraged to the Corinthian church. Jesus said it to his disciples as well “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” in the gospel of Mark. The commonality in both of those statements? People are encouraged to follow, as long as it’s pointing to Christ.

Students are attracted to your programs, but it’s not what will make them stick. What makes a student stick? Relationships. People connecting with other people as they follow Christ together in community. Today I propose a few ways to connect your students to people, not just your programs:

  1. Campus Ministry: One of the greatest ways to connect students with people and not just programs is to connect with them outside of the programmed time…on their turf. Being on a local middle/high school does just that. You can’t take your Wednesday Night worship service to…

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Gulf Restaurant Confessions

I’ve been to the Gulf of Mexico beaches during peak summer months and attempted to eat at a restaurant like many other Southerners. I’ve endured the chaos, mind-numbing wait times in small confined places or outdoors in the humid, scorching heat. This is my confession as aggregated and exaggerated from many failed and successive dining experiences there…

I confess…

I’ve waited 3 hours for a table.

I’ve heard the dreaded words as I gave the hostess my name:  “It’s going to be a.. (long, dramatic pause)..3 hour wait.” Heart drops. Brow sweat ensues. “But I’m hungry, like, now.” echoes in my head.

I’ve dredged through the sea of hungry humanity as I found a place to stand or sit or squat or lie down and die because I’m so hangry. And wait.

I’ve seen the looks of hopelessness on the disparaged faces of other sun-burned Southerners. I feel like I can read their minds…

“How much longer?”

“Surely, any time now we’ll get called.”

“Is my shoe leather edible?”

“My toddler is a tiny, ferocious velociraptor right now due to lack of nourishment! Where’s the Goldfish?” (the cracker not sea creature)

I’ve identified with those self-imagined thoughts that I think others are having in their own heads…or whatever.

I’ve been at the end of the list. The last person on the clipboard that is filled with others who are tasked with waiting.

I’ve seen the pleasant, contented faces of those leaving the restaurant.

Their belly’s full, laughing heartily with their loved ones. Life is good. They are quite literally full of happiness from a  hot, delicious meal and probably about to go putt-putt, go-kart or buy salt-water taffy from a massive souvenir/air-brush t-shirt store the size of an airplane hangar without a single care in the world.

I’ve smelled the fresh, hot bread sitting on the tables from the parking lot while I wrangle my rowdy kids, feebly biding time by counting the cars and cigarette butts for a change of scenery.

I’ve seen the looks. The evil eyes glancing my way as my electronic coaster vibrates and lights up like a flashing neon sign saying “The wait is over! You’re so special! You’re overpriced seafood dinner awaits you!”

I’ve rejoiced and celebrated all the way to the hostess desk! Moonwalking, ska-dancing and jazz-running all the way there!

I’ve been full. And it’s been worth it.

I’ve left the restaurant, passing by the others waiting in a silent, morbid type of restaurant purgatory.

I’ve seen other tiny, ferocious velociraptor-hangry toddlers throwing rocks at their parents and other patrons to pass the time during the wait.

It’s over. We came. We saw. We ate.

Autumn’s Gospel

Rich, vibrant hues overtake the sky and landscape during autumn. The muggy thickness of a sweltering summer sweeps away for an atmosphere of crisp, cool vibrance. There is finally relief from the taxing heat that beats down for so long. Just in time.

Then there is a burst, a celebration, of life and color. Trees go from something common to something breathtaking. The leaves foreshadow the beauty and freshness of spring with every burnt orange, bright yellow and blazing red imaginable. Even their crunch beneath a foot tells a story. The sky is on fire each evening as the sun dismisses itself from its low course. An entire spectrum is revealed. A gorgeous gift. It is all something of a grand finale for a time of year. And it’s beautiful.

Even after autumn has fell, while the world around us goes dormant, there is a promise.  One of new life and color coming in the months ahead. Hope in the midst of gray. The joy and freshness of this promise is sometimes obscured, forgotten in the depths of winter. Yet even during the depressing depths of the harshest cold, roots still run deep. Life is gathering beneath the surface, waiting for the right time. Shape and form remain, giving a glimpse of what’s to come. At the proper time the renaissance of spring commences, bursting forth the same color and life that bade our fall farewell.

There is a designed beauty in nature’s way of change this time of year. There is a kind of death for it, but only a brief one. Soon comes a glorious rebirth marking new purpose, a resurrection of beauty. And that is autumn’s gospel.


*photo courtesy of Jim Spann