Support our Mexico Spring Break Trip // Buy a Shirt

Over Spring Break this school year (March 26-30, 2018) we will be taking a group to Rocky Point, Mexico, to build a house with 1MISSION. 1MISSION is a community development organization giving people living in poverty the opportunity to earn a house by serving their community. Individuals serve over 200 hours in their community to earn a home. We took a group over Spring Break in 2016 and look forward to returning in ’18.

The current projected cost for each individual to go on the trip is just over $1,000.  To help underwrite some of the expenses for our group, we are making available shirts designed just for this project.

We have two different shirt designs you can view by clicking here.

One is a Short Sleeve shirt and the color is heather clay.  The cost of the short sleeve shirt is $15

Please note:  the short sleeve shirts are “Soft Shirts.” They are a tad less generous of a fit than a normal t-shirt. They’re a nicer, softer t-shirt… but if you are between two sizes it is suggested you choose the larger size.

Long Sleeve shirt and the color is charcoal black. The cost of the long sleeve shirt is $20.

Both shirts have the same design on the front, which says BUILD HOPE, 1MISSION Mexico 2018

If we sell 25 of each shirt, $6 from each shirt (40%) will go toward our trip to Mexico.  Orders will be taken through the month of December. Shirts will be available mid-January.

If you are a member/attendee of our church in Wilmington or live in the area, we will have hard copies of order forms available at our IMPACT Student Kiosk in our KidCity Lobby.

We do have an online order form where you can place orders for shirts.  We currently do not have a way to pay online.  Payment can be made by cash or check (checks can be made payable to “Ministers Fund.”)

If you live outside of Wilmington, contact me and we can see about shipping a shirt to you.  We will add a few bucks on for shipping.

Shirts were designed by Fund the Nations, a company created in February of 2008 with the desire to help others fulfill the Great Commission (take the Gospel around the world) by providing them with a great fundraiser.  Check out their Instagram account for samples of their other designs.

We are looking forward to our trip to Mexico and serving with a family.  Your purchase of a shirt will help support our adventure!

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Kelly is a Kingdom Worker

Most summers we attend the Christ In Youth MOVE Conference with our high school students. It’s a great environment for our students to be challenged to live as Kingdom Workers. A few months ago I shared about a project our students took on because of the challenge.

Last year one of our former students, Kelly, was able to be a part of the Kingdom Worker Crash and share her story. While in high school, she accepted her Kingdom Worker Challenge and took part in a ministry in our church for ladies with special needs. It was encouraging to see how she was able to serve and then able to share about that experience through the Kingdom Worker Crash. MOVE chooses ten students from across the country to video their stories and then show those at the various MOVE Conferences they host each summer.

We showed Kelly’s video a few weeks ago in our church services and plan to show it in our small groups this Sunday as springboard to our discussion. Kelly does a great job sharing not only her experience, but how God shaped her through it.

The Jesus Gap – What Teens Believe About Jesus

jesus-gapOne of the books I wanted to read as 2017 started was The Jesus Gap. I started reading it months ago, but somewhere along the way got off track. So, I decided to get back on track and set aside some time to really dig into it.

After reading it, I went back through the things I highlighted and marked.  Once I typed it up, it filled almost four pages in a Word doc.  Needless to say, there is a lot of useful information in the book.

Bradbury shares the motivation behind writing the book.  She was taking a class on Christological foundations.  The final project was to conduct a small research study on your own ministry to determine what teens believed about Jesus.  She was surprised by the results from her group.

As she continued to study this topic, she decided to find out if what was true of the teens in her youth ministry was true of others teens.  That brought about her survey and this book, The Jesus Gap.

For those who work with students, the question that will linger in your mind as you read this book is this:  “Is this true of the teens in my church?”  I asked that question a number of times as I read the results of her research.

While there is too much information in the book to boil down to one post, a couple of things kind of rose to the top in my thinking.

One is how students look at Jesus as both God and as being sinless.

According to Bradbury’s research, when students were asked the question, “Is Jesus God?”  44 percent of students answered Yes,” 44 percent said No,” and 12 percent confessed, I don’t know.”

There are a number of conclusions a person could draw, but the numbers are a little startling.  Consider that the teens from the survey had a church background, were active in their congregations, and yet under 50% of them agreed that Jesus is God.

When asked if Jesus was perfect (or sinless), 34 percent of teens affirmed Jesus was perfect. 57 percent said Jesus was not perfect9 percent said, “I don’t know if Jesus was perfect.”

So even a smaller percentage agreed that Jesus was perfect.

Along with sharing the statistics and results of interviews, Bradbury also shared some practical steps youth workers can take to strengthen the Christology of the teens in their churches.

One area where I think The Jesus Gap is helpful is that it removes the blinders from our eyes.  We have to assume that what is true of Bradbury’s original research study in her group and then the following larger study she did, is also true on some level for the students in our sphere of influence.  One of the take-a-ways I have from this book is to find out where our students are and what particular truths about Jesus we might need to address in the future.

Another interesting thing Bradbury brought out is why students question that Jesus was perfect.  Early in the book she referenced some research done by Scott McKnight in Christianity Today where he concluded this:  “We all think Jesus is like us.  Introverts think Jesus is introverted, for example, and extroverts think Jesus is extroverted.  To one degree or another, we all conform Jesus to our own image.”

Students seemed to carry this idea when they viewed Jesus.  Here are a couple of quotes from students in Bradbury’s book talking about why Jesus wasn’t sinless:

“Jesus was God’s Son, after all He was human.  It’s really hard to know.  You’d think he would be perfect.  But humans – it’s impossible to be perfect.”

“Jesus sinned because he was a human being like the rest of us.
Even the best people in the world sin.”

One challenge to students seeing Jesus as perfect is wrestling with His divine nature.  If He was human like us, the conclusion many of them draw is that He sinned, because all people sin.

Bradbury also revealed a distrust for Scripture.  She shared responses from students that shared the opinion that the Biblical writers left our Jesus’ sin intentionally, in an effort to make Him appear more godly.

After sharing results of her research, she offered this conclusion:  Don’t assume teenagers view Scripture the same way you do.  Perhaps we operate under the assumption that because we have talked about the Bible and have a certain set of beliefs, our students hold those as well.  The Jesus Gap reveals that for a large number of teens, it’s not true.

The challenge is to not only read the results of Bradbury’s research, but then apply it to your particular context.  This is a good read for those who work with students and could create some good discussion.

Youth Ministry Black Friday Deal

ministry-downloadsIt’s no surprise that Black Friday is almost here. There’s always a sense of anticipation as people look for the great deal. This Black Friday, youth pastors can score a great deal of youth ministry resources.

On Black Friday an End of the Year Resource Bundle will be available at Ministry Downloads for youth pastors.  There will be over $500 worth of ministry resources for only $49!  Plus, there bonuses & prizes for the FIRST 10 to purchase!  You can head to the site, sign up to be notified when it goes live and get your hands on some resources for your ministry including teaching series, Bible studies, games and more.

Check out Ministry Downloads for a Black Friday youth ministry deal…and you don’t have to fight the crowds!

 

Parent/Student Progressive Dinner

When our IMPACT Leadership Team met in the summer to look at our school year calendar and plan various events, activities and service projects, we also talked about how we could do specific events for the family. We wanted to have something on our calendar that brought the family together. One event happened this past weekend – our Parent/Student Progressive Dinner.

We have done progressive food events in the past and thought it would be a fun event for families. Who doesn’t like to eat? We decided to host it in the church building and incorporate some interactive elements. We made it a football theme, gathered food you might eat while tailgating and included some football trivia activities. We also had a photo booth. It’s always fun to capture pictures of each event and the photo booth was a way to do that and let the personalities of our families come out.

A brief video containing some of the photo booth pictures is below. We look forward to doing more events that bring students and parents together!

Conforming Jesus to our Own Image, Part 2

facesofjesusEarlier today I posted some thoughts on how some recent surveys indicate that students (and adults, too) conform Jesus to our own image. The prompting came from a book I started reading called The Jesus Gap. The book takes a look at what teens believe about Jesus.

A few hours after writing it, a Facebook friend shared a link to an article that was written somewhat in response to a video posted by BuzzFeed called “I’m a Christian, but I’m not.” I had not yet seen the video (I have watched it since) and there was a link in that article to another blog post talking directly about the video. One particular point in the article echos what was shared in The Jesus Gap.

Mollie Hemingway shared five observations regarding the BuzzFeed video, but her first one was dead on. While the BuzzFeed video may have had some good intentions and helped communicate a message to a particular group of people, it left out one thing – Jesus.

Here’s what Mollie Hemingway wrote:

When you build your faith around what type of Christian you’re not, your faith is not built around Christ. Below is the text and transcription of the viral video. Note the absence of any mention of Jesus.

Text: “BuzzFeed presents, I’m Christian but I’m not…”

I’m Christian but I’m not homophobic;
I’m Christian and I’m definitely not perfect;
I’m Christian but I’m not close-minded;
but I’m not unaccepting;
but I’m not uneducated;
but I am not judgmental;
but I’m not conservative;
I’m not ignorant;
but I don’t place myself on a pedestal;
I’m Christian but I don’t have all the answers.

Text: “What are you?”

but I am accepting;
but I am queer;
I am gay;
but I am a feminist;
I’m a feminist;
definitely am a feminist;
but I do believe in science, in fact I think science makes God look really cool;
I’m not afraid to talk about sex;
I love me some Beyonce;
but I love wine;
I do believe in monogamy before sex but I will give you sex advice if you need it;
but I do go to church on Sundays;
I was a YoungLife camp counselor;
I do listen to Christian music, Christian rock, Christian rap, T-Mac, all the cool kids;
I have friends from all walks of life and different religions, and I love them all.

Text: What do you want people to know about Christianity?

I guess what I’d like people to know about Christianity today is that we’re all kind of not crazy;
We shouldn’t be judged on just the people that you see in the media, or just the people that you’ve met in everyday life. every Christian is different, and we deserve a chance to explain ourselves;
A lot of people think Christianity ruins people, but to me I think it’s people that are ruining Christianity, you never really see the good that happens, you only see the hypocrites, and the people who put themselves on a higher pedestal;
But at its core it’s really about love and acceptance and being a good neighbor;
Just because we prescribe [sic] to a faith that has some really terrible people in it doesn’t make all of us terrible;
I don’t think that Christians should judge people for who they are or what they do, I think everybody is in different part of life on their own path to wherever they’re trying to go. we’re all people and love is the most important thing.
Not a single mention of Jesus, the author and finisher of the Christian faith. In fact, you could easily switch out all references to “Christian” with any other religion or belief system and it would have the same amount of meaning.

I don’t question the intent of the people making the video or their desire to communicate what Christianity is to people, but it is somewhat disturbing that within all of what was said, there was no reference to Jesus. I think this is one example of many that seems to indicate that we can be guilty of conforming Jesus to our own image. Jesus is this or isn’t that based on the fact that I am (or am not) certain things.

In the opening pages of The Jesus Gap, Jen Bradbury shares a story told by Donald Miller in his book, Searching for God Knows What. Miller is teaching a class at a Bible College. He shares the Gospel with his class, but leaves out one element. The class has to determine what he leaves out. He talks for quite a while about sin, repentance, the promise of forgiveness and heaven. After a rather lengthy explanation, he asks the class what was missing. They have no response. The missing element: Jesus.

Miller doesn’t berate the class, but makes the observation that sometimes we get caught up in our own approach to Christianity, that we miss Jesus.

I found it interesting that this the video and subsequent articles came across my news feed on the same day I started to digest the information in The Jesus Gap. Perhaps God is gently nudging me (and obviously others) to make sure Jesus is the center of my faith, life and teaching.

Conforming Jesus to our Own Image

facesofjesusDuring the summer months, as I was ordering some small group curriculum from The Youth Cartel, I picked up a copy of Jen Bradbury’s book The Jesus Gap. I just started digging into it this week and am intrigued to move farther through the chapters.

The book takes a look at what teens believe about Jesus and it is based on both research and the author’s experience in working with students. In the opening chapters, Bradbury references a 2010 article from Christianity Today written by Scot McKnight. He writes about how people view Jesus and His conclusion is that we as people conform Jesus to our own image.

“Instead, if given to enough people, the test will reveal that we all think Jesus is like us. Introverts think Jesus is introverted, for example, and, on the basis of the same questions, extroverts think Jesus is extroverted. Spiritual formation experts would love to hear that students in my Jesus class are becoming like Jesus, but the test actually reveals the reverse: Students are fashioning Jesus to be more like themselves. If the test were given to a random sample of adults, the results would be measurably similar. To one degree or another, we all conform Jesus to our own image.”

In the first chapter Bradbury shares some of the views that students have of Jesus – from Jesus as a Superhero to an Average Joe Jesus – and whether they see Jesus as being either obedient or rebellious or quiet or talkative.  The responses are so varied that she feels her investigation supports what McKnight wrote about in 2010.

For church workers, it does raise the question of how students (and adults) in our congregations view Jesus.  I have to assume that the views we would discover are as varied as the research Bradbury shares.

For followers of Jesus – and for me – I have to wonder whether I have conformed Jesus to my own image.  Is my view of Jesus based on what is revealed in Scripture or do I view Jesus more in line what I think He is?

I’m curious to not only read the rest of the research in the book, but also to learn how to apply that in our specific context. The point (I think) is not just to learn about how people – how our students – view Jesus, but how that impacts our relationship with Him. Bradbury quotes Carl Braaten in her introduction pointing to why our view of Jesus is important: “…faith stands or falls with what it knows about Jesus of Nazareth.”