Support IJM and the IMPACT Kingdom Worker Challenge

Just about every summer our high school students attend the Christ In Youth MOVE Summer Conference. It’s a week designed specifically for high school students and the goal is to move students to become Kingdom Workers.

For the past few years, that challenge to Kingdom Work was an individual one where students would commit to open a card and fulfill the challenge they were given.  We’ve had students in the past serve with special needs kids, go through their clothes and sell what they didn’t wear to raise money for a ministry, and commit to putting others first by allowing others to go in line first.  The challenges were varied, but always pointed students to Kingdom Work.

This year the challenge was a group challenge.  So a few months after MOVE our group received our Kingdom Worker Challenge:  social justice.  We spent some time talking about what social justice is.  One definition we read was this:  “…to love and defend those with the least economic and social power.”

Our group then did some brainstorming about what it looked like to love and defend those with the least power.  We talked about local and global organizations that do that.  We landed on International Justice Mission (IJM) and decided to raise funds to support the work they are doing.  The vision of IJM is to “Rescue thousands. Protect millions. Prove that justice for the poor is possible.”

Our Kingdom Worker Challenge is to raise $800 which will help provide after-care and training for those rescued from human trafficking and fund a weeks worth of investigation to continue rescuing people.

We have a Kingdom Worker Campaign Page where people can see more information about the project and also donate toward our goal. The page will be active until May 23.  Click on the image below to be a part of our campaign.

 

Great Week at MOVE #kingdomworker

IMG_0001Last week we took some of our high school students to the MOVE Conference held on Cedarville University’s campus. Christ In Youth has been producing weeks of conference for nearly 50 years and it seems like they just keep growing in number and getting better in quality.

This year’s theme was “You Are Here” and was based on the first six chapters of the Old Testament book of Daniel. Kind of a funny thing about the theme – anytime I saw the theme “You Are Here” I assumed it was about those of us who were going to be at MOVE. Once we got rolling in the week, it was obvious that the “You” was not a reference to “me” or to “us,” but to God. God was present with Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and He is present with us. That thread ran throughout the week of conference – You (God) Are Here!

Over the past few years, there has been an intentional move on the part of the coordinators of the week to challenge students to take what they experience at conference and live it out at home. They use the phrase #kingdomworker. All of us, no matter our age or location, can be kingdom workers. Several of our students accepted specific challenges to be kingdom workers at home. I’m excited to see how they work out those specific tasks in the coming weeks and months.

One of the benefits of MOVE (or any summer camp or conference) is time spent with students. We had two times each day that was focused on talking about and applying what was happening during the week. We also had free times and meals together, which provided times for conversation and getting to know each other.

On one particular day, the students had a chance to write encouraging words to each other. It was cool to sit back and watch them think through what they could write to encourage others in the group.
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There were several fun elements included throughout the week. In the book of Daniel, there is a unique event that involves King Nebuchadnezzar. The king has become quite arrogant, so God warms him that if he doesn’t change, God would humble him. Nebuchadnezzar ignores the warning so God caused him to live as an animal, complete with long nails that look like claws and long hair that grows to resemble feathers. You can read the entire story in Daniel 4. To highlight that event, students were encouraged to come to morning session in animal outfits. Here’s some of our group:
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It was a good week to see God move in the lives of students and adults and send us out to be kingdom workers. I’m looking forward to see the commitments made this week become a reality.

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>

10,000 Reasons & Psalm 103

10,000 Reasons is a pretty well-known worship song and has been used in a variety of venues.  Just this summer I’ve sung it with our congregation, with about 900 high school students at a CIY MOVE Conference and with about 100 junior students at our week of summer camp.  We used it as part of our song set yesterday in our morning service and it seems to really connect with groups of all ages.

Before we sang it yesterday, we played about the first two minutes of this video where Matt Redman (who helped write the song) talks about the story behind the song.  Since I’m not a song writer, I find it interesting to hear about the process writers go through.  I like what he shares as it gives the back-story to the song we love to sing and points to Psalm 103 and what it says about worship.

Redman also gives a good reminder that God is always giving us reasons to worship Him.  Whether we are young or old, on the mountaintop or in a valley, loving life or struggling to get through the week, God provides numerous reasons to worship him.  A good reminder not only for our Sunday worship sets, but for how we live Monday through Friday.

Kingdom Worker Card Challenge

Lightstock-Stock-Photo-Pearl-Smart-Phone-AddictionBack in June, we took some of our high school students to the CIY MOVE Conference at Cedarville University. I shared a little bit about our experience in a previous post.

The challenge of any retreat, conference or camp experience is making it stick once you get home. One of the things MOVE offers is the Kingdom Worker Card challenge. Each person at conference is giving a business card size envelope that has a specific challenge. The twist is that each person has to commit to complete the task on the card prior to opening the envelope. I was proud of our students who opened their cards and, in doing so, committed to complete what was on the card.

My card was interesting. It read as follows: For the next year, make a serious effort to not pull our your phone in any social situation. Talk to people, ask questions and tell some jokes.

At first I thought, “No big deal.” But in the 20 days (and counting) since we’ve been home, I’ve found it to be somewhat challenging. It immediately made me aware of how often I pull out my phone to check email, notifications, etc. It has also underscored that I am not a good multi-tasker and usually defer to my phone than engage in a conversation.

While I will look for ways to encourage our students to fulfill what was on their cards, I will need to do the same with mine. Here’s to less screen time and to more face time with those around me.

Summer Conference Memories

CIYI just got home from a week of Christ In Youth Summer Conference. The event is called MOVE and it is a great environment for students to learn, engage in worship, participate in discussions and be challenged to be involved in God’s kingdom once the event is concluded.

Our group had a good week and came away with some specific steps for individuals to take now that we’ve come home. CIY consistently presents a great week of conference.

It had been a few years since we attended MOVE and I was looking forward to our group experiencing it. What I wasn’t prepared for was the flood of memories that came back my first day at Conference. I had the opportunity to attend Conference while I was in high school and have taken groups of students multiple times.

As the week began I thought back to the conferences I experienced. Memories came of the places I had been: Adrian College, Hope College, Anderson University, Milligan College, Southern Illinois State.

I recalled Encounter times sitting on the grass and reflecting on the theme for the day and what God’s Word had to say.

Past groups and individuals came to mind. I thought of decisions that were made and conversations that were held. During the week I received a text from a former student who knew we were at conference. It brought to mind the relationships that were built at Conference and how they continue to this day.

Summer Conference has remained a strong program throughout the past few decades, yet has grown and changed. While certain elements stay the same, variations to the program have occurred which have added to its growth.

I’m grateful for the ministry of CIY, the impact it has had in my life and the countless students who have benefited from the programs offered.

The Church and Spiritual Formation

churchOur current sermon series this month is titled Roots: Maturity and it is focusing on spiritual formation. This morning I saw a link on Tony Morgan’s blog to an article called “12 Reasons Why Your Church Doesn’t Produce Spiritual.

Mr. Morgan had read the book Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal about Spiritual Growth by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson. I had not heard of the book, but I thought the highlights Mr. Morgan shared were interesting and gave some food for thought for those who work in the church. I shared it with our Senior Minister to see how some of these might apply to us.

Here are Tony Morgan’s highlights from Move.

1. You focus more on Bible teaching than Bible engagement. – “We learned that the most effective strategy for moving people forward in their journey of faith is biblical engagement. Not just getting people into the Bible when they’re in church—which we do quite well—but helping them engage the Bible on their own outside of church.”

2. You haven’t developed a pathway of focused first steps. – “Instead of offering up a wide-ranging menu of ministry opportunities to newcomers, best-practice churches promote and provide a high-impact, nonnegotiable pathway of focused first steps—a pathway designed specifically to jumpstart a spiritual experience that gets people moving toward a Christ-centered life.”

3. You’re more concerned about activity than growth. – “Increased church activity does not lead to spiritual growth.”

4. You haven’t clarified the church’s role. – “Because—whether inadvertently or intentionally—these churches have communicated to their people that, no matter where they are on their spiritual journey, the role of the church is to be their central source of spiritual expertise and experience. As a result, even as people mature in their beliefs and embrace personal spiritual practices as part of their daily routines, their expectation is that it will be the church, not their own initiative, that will feed their spiritual hunger.”

5. You’re focused more on small groups than serving. – “Serving experiences appear to be even more significant to spiritual development than organized small groups.”

6. You’re not challenging people to reflect on Scripture – “If they could do only one thing to help people at all levels of spiritual maturity grow in their relationship with Christ, their choice would be equally clear. They would inspire, encourage, and equip their people to read the Bible—specifically, to reflect on Scripture for meaning in their lives.”

7. You’re unwilling to admit that more is not better. – “Based on findings from the most effective churches, however, this ‘more is better’ way of thinking is not the best route for people who are new to a church, and it is particularly unsuitable for people who are taking their first steps to explore the Christian faith… Instead of offering a ministry buffet with multiple tempting choices of activities and studies, these churches make one singular pathway a virtual prerequisite for membership and full engagement with the church.”

8. You haven’t raised the bar. – “Too many churches are satisfied to have congregations filled with people who say they ‘belong’ to their church—who attend faithfully and are willing to serve or make a donation now and then. But that belonging bar is not high enough; simply belonging doesn’t get the job done for Jesus.”

9. You’ve created a church staff dependency. – “Taking too much responsibility for others’ spiritual growth fostered an unhealthy dependence of congregants on the church staff.”

10. You believe that small groups are the solution to spiritual formation. – “Based on the churches we have studied, including our own, there is no evidence that getting 100 percent of a congregation into small groups is an effective spiritual formation strategy.”

11. You focus on what people should do rather than who people should become. – “Unfortunately, churches often make things harder still by obscuring the goal—to become more like Christ—with a complicated assortment of activities. For instance, encouraging people to: Attend teaching and worship services every week. Meet frequently with small community and Bible study groups (often requiring follow-up communications and homework). Serve the church a couple times a month. Serve those who are underresourced on a regular basis. Invite friends, coworkers, and family to church, special events, support groups, etc. When the church incessantly promotes all the things people should do, it’s very easy for them to lose sight of the real goal—which is who they should become.”

12. You aren’t helping people surrender their lives to Jesus. – “Spiritual growth is not driven or determined by activities; it is defined by a growing relationship with Christ. So the goal is not to launch people into an assortment of ministry activities; it is to launch them on a quest to embrace and surrender their lives to Jesus.”