Anticipation Over Production

sat-feb-18-2017-19-48-59-gmt-0500Earlier in February we took our junior high students to the CIY BELIEVE event near Cincinnati. It is an annual trip we take because the programming is excellent, our students love it and it’s a great 30 hours to spend with our junior high students.

One of the main elements at BELIEVE is the singing. There is always a top-notch worship band that does a great job engaging the students and inviting them to sing. At one point during the weekend, nearly all the people in the arena (approx. 3,500) were lifting their hands as we sang Great Are You Lord. It was a cool moment and felt very genuine.

It turned out, without really planning it, a week later we sang the same song in our church service. I referenced our experience at BELIEVE and even showed the picture at the top of this post after we sang the exact same words, Great are You Lord.

A couple of people made a similar comment that went something like this: isn’t it hard to sing here (meaning church) after you have been there (meaning BELIEVE)?

That’s a question that usually surfaces after coming back from a great event. How do you generate that same energy and engagement back at home once you’ve experienced it a camp, conference or convention?

As I mulled that thought over in mind, two words came to mind.

The first is Production. BELIEVE is a production. I don’t mean that in a negative way at all. In fact, it is one reason we continue to attend and BELIEVE continues to grow. It is an excellent program.

But, it is a production. A team works for a number of months to put together a quality event that they duplicate in venues all over the country. They gather the best speakers, the best worship bands, great light rigs and sound systems, cool graphics and videos, along with quality entertainers (artists, comedians) that all work together to engage the hearts and minds of junior high students. While it is genuine and has the purpose of pointing teens to be followers of Jesus, it is a production. And it is done very well.

One reason I love taking students to BELIEVE is that they can do what I cannot do.

There is another word that came to mind as I considered the weekend. That word is Anticipation.

One reason I think students engage so strongly in BELIEVE is that they are excited to be there. For students who have attended in the past, they can’t wait to go back. 6th graders are excited to experience for the first time. When they become 8th graders, they are sad they cannot go to BELIEVE anymore.

There is a strong sense of Anticipation. Students want to be there. They pay to be there (well…their parents pay for them to be there). Youth leaders promote the weekend and there is a strong sense of anticipation.

So, imagine if we had that same anticipation when we arrived on a Sunday morning?

Take away the light show (we don’t have that). Remove the awesome worship band (honestly, we just aren’t as good as what we see on stage). Don’t count on the cool graphics and videos that serve as a backdrop to the sessions.

Do we still have the anticipation of raising our voices (or even our hands) to sing Great are You Lord?

Now, our worship teams are good. And they work hard to lead our church family in singing and worship each week. And we have some pretty talented people. But the more I think about it, Anticipation can be as powerful as Production.

As those who lead, we want to do the best we can to engage people to respond to God (Production).

For those who are coming each week, perhaps we should consider our level of excitement and engagement as we participate on a Sunday (Anticipation).

Anticipation over Production. Something to think about as we look to next Sunday.

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IMPACT to Partner with 1Mission

1mission IMPACTIMPACT Student Ministry is kicking off 2015 with a partnership with an organization called 1MISSION. We learned about 1MISSION through our involvement with Christ In Youth at their junior high BELIEVE Convention and Summer MOVE Conference.

1MISSION is an organization that gives people living in poverty the opportunity to earn a house by serving in their community. The leaders of 1MISSION are Christ followers and their overall vision and mission are driven by a commitment to modeling Jesus’ passion for serving the poor. By partnering with 1MISSION, we have committed to raise $4000 by the end of April to build a home for a family in Mexico. Later this month we will find out the specific family we will be serving.

While 1MISSION works within the communities to help families, our role will be to support them by raising the funds needed. We are encouraging our students, small groups and church family to come up with ways to raise the necessary funds.

One way we will accomplish this is through our Upward Concessions. For a number of years, our church family has organized an Upward basketball program for the kids and families in our church and community.  About three years ago our student ministry began hosting a concession stand during the games. This year’s concessions will support 1MISSION.

We are asking two things of our students and families – to donate items to the concession stand and to volunteer to serve

We are also encouraging our students to come up with creative ways to reach our $4000 goal. Here are a few ideas:

  • Donate Your Birthday. One thing 1MISSION encourages students to do is donate their birthdays. Rather than ask for gifts for a birthday, students can ask friends and family to donate to 1MISSION.
  • Share Our Campaign Site with Others. 1MISSION will provide us with an online campaign page that students can share over social media. When the site goes live in February, people can donate directly toward our $4000 goal. Here’s a sneak peek at our Campaign Page.
  • Be Creative. Perhaps a small group will offer child care to families and donate the money to 1MISSION. Maybe a student will create a hand-made product where the proceeds will benefit 1MISSION. We know our students are creative and want to encourage them to come up with ideas they can run with either with their small group, a few friends, with family or just on their own.

I’m looking forward to see how God will move within our students and church family to provide a home for a family we may never meet face to face.  $4000 seems like a pretty big number to reach in four months, but I’m anticipating some exciting things taking place in the coming days.

Here is a brief video that gives an overview of 1MISSION and the work they are doing.  Please feel free to join us as we embark on this adventure.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/37929298″>More Than A House</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/1mission”>1MISSION</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Middle School Football Amazing Play

This past weekend our junior high students attended the Christ In Youth BELIEVE Convention at Northern Kentucky University.  We joined with about 6,000 other junior high students and adults to sing, laugh, listen, learn and grow.  (We might have eaten some pizza, too!)

In the final session, the speaker was encouraging us to use the gifts and abilities and influence God has given us for others.  He said that means having an influence on whomever God may put in our path.

He shared a few examples of students he knew that invested their time and energy to impact others.  He then showed a video clip about a middle school football team who went out of their way to make a difference in the life of one of their teammates. It’s not only a good story, but a great example for all of us.

Belong – Believe – Behave

Apple_Podcast_logo-642x642I was listening to the Catalyst podcast yesterday as I was driving between the house and praise team practice. As always I’m a few weeks behind on my podcast listening, but I enjoy the interviews Catalyst presents.

This particular podcast was from sometime in July and one of the interviews was with Jud Wilhite who is a pastor in Las Vegas. There were two things they talked about that I thought were especially valuable.

The first was about volunteers.  Due to the economic situation in Las Vegas, the church can’t afford to hire all the staff they would like to bring into a paid situation. So, they depend heavily on volunteers.  Jud Wilhite shared how they treat their volunteers and seek to honor them. Some of their volunteers are treated just as if they were paid staff.  He said they couldn’t do what they do without their volunteers. It was a good reminder of the importance and value of volunteers.  I am fortunate to have some great volunteers and need to make sure they are cared for and honored.

He also talked about their approach, highlighting the Belong – Believe – Behave model they seek to follow. Many times in churches, we communicate that the first thing that needs to change is how we behave.  Once we behave, then we can belong.  In Las Vegas they seek to keep the order of belong – believe – behave.  A person doesn’t have to it all together before they are welcome at church.  People are invited to have their questions answered and experience the love of God.  This leads to belief and then the change in how they behave comes as God works.  It was another reminder of how the church should operate and welcome those far from God.  It caused me to consider how we do as a church in this area and how I personally look at and treat those whose behavior is not like mine.  Sometimes I need help to keep things in order.

BELIEVE 2013

the presenceLast weekend we took 19 of our Junior High students and 5 brave adults to the Christ In Youth BELIEVE Conference held at Northern Kentucky University. I say “brave adults” because we joined with 6,00 other people . . . and the vast majority were sixth, seventh and eighth graders. There was a lot of junior high energy in the room.

We’ve attended this event for the last several years. The program is always top-notch and this year’s followed suit. The theme for the weekend was “The Presence.” The focus was on the Holy Spirit. When I first heard that theme, I wondered how they were going to take a sometimes confusing topic for adults and present it in a way that young teens would understand. They did an excellent job.

Weaving together the music sets, clear teaching and well-done video stories, three clear messages about The Presence came through the weekend:

The Presence gives life where there was no life.
The Presence creates community where there was no community.
The Presence gives courage where there was no courage.

Through the events of the weekend, we were challenged to accept the life the Spirit gives, engage in community and rely of the courage The Presence gives to live for God.

The program was great and we had a lot of fun through the weekend.  We enjoyed participating in BELIEVE, eating sardines in the hallway of the hotel, cruising around Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky in a church van and bus and killing some time at the mall.

Here are a few pics from the weekend:

Music & energy

stage 2

Sardines!

sardines

Sweet stage and lights!

stage shot

BELIEVE Recap

We took a group of 31 from our church to BELIEVE Junior High Conference this past weekend.  If you are unfamiliar with this program, you must check it out at the Christ In Youth website.  They do a great job creating experiences for junior high students. The adults even get something out of the weekend.

This year was no exception and was, in my opinion, one of the best overall weekends I have attended.  The speaking was excellent, the message was clear, the music was rocking and the it all pointed back to the theme.  It was called “The Word Tour” and it challenged students to appreciate, read and live God’s Word.

As I was summarizing the weekend in my mind, I came away with these three take-a-ways:

  1. Love God, Love People – on Friday night, we were reminded that the two most important things we can do is love God and love others.  The challenge was pretty simple – which of those do we as individuals need to address?  Is it our love for God or love for people?
  2. Hide God’s Word in your heart – we hide God’s Word not that no one can see it, but so that no one can take it from us.  We need to spend time in His Word and hide it in our hearts so it is always with us.
  3. Inhale, Exhale – we can’t keep God’s Word to ourselves; we need to speak it and share it.  We inhale when we study together, but then we need to exhale it by sharing it with others.  Thought that was a great analogy.

It was a great weekend and I am grateful for the opportunity to share it together with our students and adults. Those types of experiences are great in the context of community as we come home, share memories and help each other do something with what we heard.