shift

Jennifer and I started serving in Youth Ministry way back in 1996. We’ve talked about the many changes in society and in ministry over the last seventeen years, and I wanted to share some of the lessons we have learned. Quite frankly, the way we do ministry must change if we want to be effective. The methods can and should be adapted to the youth we are trying to reach, while the message must stay the same. I see many churches that are still trying to use methods that were effective in the 80’s and the 90’s (and some even from the 50’s)  and they don’t understand why they are struggling reaching the youth of today.

Many of the changes can be traced to the shift in the millennial generation towards postmodernism. We have witnessed the changing attitudes of teenagers, and there is a difference in how they think. The internet has given today’s youth a gateway to the rest of the world. No longer are teens in rural areas sheltered from the influence of society and culture. Some of the changes are good, and some concern me. Teens are no longer content to be entertained. They want to make a difference. But they are also not as concerned with truth as found in the Bible. What I want to see is a return to a youth ministry model that teaches, equips, and empowers students to have a solid Gospel-centered worldview. We have been blessed at Cornerstone to see a majority of our youth stand firm in their faith after high school. Here are some of the reasons why.


Here are Five Shifts That Need to Take Place in Youth Ministry


Shift from an Event to a Movement

We used to have the mentality that if you plan it, they will come. We had great evangelistic events with free prizes, crazy games, and fun activities, and the youth would show up and bring their friends. Over the years, the youth were not as excited when we planned events. What we quickly learned is that youth want to be empowered, not entertained. When you give them permission to do great things for God, they do it! Today’s youth want to make a difference, but it is our job to point them in the right direction, help them discover their gifts, and model for them how to serve, teach, and reach their friends. When a movement starts, youth will be drawn to your ministry and the events become secondary. You can still have events, but they aren’t your primary source of outreach and evangelism. I think one of the reasons so many youth leave the church after graduation is they were simply attending a youth group, instead of being part of a movement of teenagers serving Christ.

Shift from Inviting to Sending

The goal of youth ministry is not how many people you can get to attend your meeting. This is a difficult truth for many churches to understand. Your success is simply not based on the number in attendance. We must learn to change the scorecard of success. What if our success as a youth ministry was based on how many students we send out as missionaries to their schools and community? What if our success was based on the number of students who learn how to reach their friends and then disciple them? Instead of a ministry built around the personality of the youth pastor, we need a ministry based around the power of Christ.

Shift from Separate to Integrated

I’m tired of seeing a church within a church. For many churches, it is easier to create a separate church within their church just for youth. They have separate Sunday morning services, they have separate opportunities to serve, and even separate mission trips. In essence, the youth are told they can only be part of the larger church when they grow up. I see this as a huge problem with why youth leave the church. Don’t create a consumer mentality within youth ministry where everything is centered around catering to their comfort. I believe that the youth are not the church of tomorrow, they are the church of today! Let’s give them opportunity to serve and make a difference now. At Cornerstone, we don’t have a separate service because our teens are serving with the adults. They are teaching in children’s ministry, they are playing in the worship band, and they are helping with technology.They are part of a larger church, so that when they graduate, nothing really changes. They are already integrated within the church.

Shift from Reaching to Making

We all want to see students saved, so the importance of evangelism cannot be diminished. But our goal should be far more than just to get a student to repeat a prayer and join the church. If that is the end goal, you will just move on to the next student as soon as they accept Christ. It is great to see a renewed focus on making disciples within the church in America. Discipleship is investing, mentoring, and spending time with them, helping them learn and grow, so the focus is not just on the activity, it’s on the relationship. Our students will be challenged by a culture that is becoming more hostile to Christianity, and the only way they will stand firm, is if they have been given a solid foundation. The Great Commission calls us to make disciples, not converts, so let’s emphasize the importance of discipleship, and not just evangelism. This is the hardest step, but it’s also where leaders are formed.

Shift from Informing to Equipping

As a teacher, I like to share information. I like to read and I like to pass on lessons that I learn. While that can be a good thing, the goal in youth ministry is not just the transfer of information. Gaining knowledge is important, but what are your students going to do with what they learn. We want to give students the tools and opportunities they need to change the world. So in addition to teaching, we give them opportunities to serve. We provide real life opportunities to engage their community and share the Gospel and the love of Christ. Currently, our youth meet for four to six weeks working through a teaching series. After that, they spend a week doing some type of service within our community or church. And they finish with a night of worship to process what they are learning. It’s not a perfect system, but we are seeing our youth grow and continue to serve after they graduate high school.

What would you add to the list? What are you seeing in Youth Ministry Today?

libreoffice

How did I miss this? Back in February, LibreOffice 4 added the ability to import Microsoft Publisher files, even on a Mac. This is huge for me. I have years and years of youth ministry and church resources created in Publisher that I haven’t been able to access on my Mac. If you haven’t heard of LibreOffice, it spun off from OpenOffice and is a great free Office Suite.

LibreOffice is a comprehensive, professional-quality productivity suite that you can download and install for free. There is a large base of satisfied LibreOffice users worldwide, and it is available in more than 30 languages and for all major operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and GNU/Linux (Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, Suse, …).

Check out http://www.libreoffice.org/features/ for a full listing of features.

 

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For the last few years, I have taken part in the Chick-fil-A Leadercast. A unique group of leaders have come together to host this simulcast in our own community. We have a great cross-section of church leaders, educational leaders, and business leaders coming together to learn leadership lessons. This year, it’s on May 10th and will be held at the Crossroads Institute in Galax. For more information and to buy tickets, please visit the Crossroads website. This is a great event, and we have a great time together. Check out the video below for a sample of what you will see.

Changing My Webhost

April 15, 2013 — 2 Comments

hosting-new-97037_335x220I am in the process of moving all the websites I manage over to a new web host. Over the last few years, I have learned a lot and I wanted to share with you what I have learned. Hopefully, this will be helpful to some of you as you decide how to host your websites.

First Step

Starting out, I created my blog on blogger.com. It was free and it introduced me to the world of blogging. It worked great, but I quickly outgrew it and decided to switch to WordPress. If you are starting out and only want to blog, I would now recommend you go with the free WordPress.com. If you decide to go with a self-hosted WordPress.org account, you will need your own hosting account. That leads me to the second step.

Second Step

I setup a Bluehost account for my blog and several other websites I managed. I paid around $4.95 per month at the time for a shared hosting account, and it worked fine for over a year for me. But I started noticing my websites were loading slowly, and I encountered CPU throttling for using too many resources from Bluehost, so I realized I needed to take the next step.

Third Step

After much research, I decided to open a reseller account at Site5. I decided on going with their Cloud Reseller Hosting for $50 per month due to their high reviews and reputation for good customer support and uptime. I’ve been with Site5 for over a year and have used their customer support several times. I have been impressed with their company and would highly recommend them. I’m now up to hosting around 15 WordPress sites, and I have been reaching my resource limits for my hosting account. So I decided to take the next step. I wasn’t impressed by the VPS (Virtual Private Server) accounts that Site5 offered, so I started my research again for a new host.

Fourth Step

Last week, I created a new account with Knownhost.com. They offer a high degree of customization. I went with a Managed VPS account. VPS accounts allow you to easily upgrade or downgrade the resources for your site. So as I add more sites, or if my sites start receiving more traffic, I can add memory or disk space to my account as needed. VPS really allows you to grow and expand. I customized my account with the WHM/Cpanel and a Litespeed webserver with APC Opcode caching and I couldn’t be happier. My sites are loading much faster and I still have room to add additional sites. I have much more control of my hosting now and I’m not paying much more than I did with reseller hosting from Site5. VPS hosting can be a little overwhelming if you don’t have experience in linux or website configuration, but Knownhost does a great job of managing the complicated parts for you.

Conclusion

The four steps listed took place over seven years, so this has not been a speedy process. I don’t know what my next step is, but with VPS hosting, I should have a lot of room to grow.

What do you use to host your sites? Feel free to add any comments or suggestions.

Update: Check out this link for a great infographic about the different types of hosting.

note: All links in this post are advertiser free. No affiliate links will be permitted in the comments.

 

 

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The Sermon on the Mount is probably the best-known, but least understood and least followed, of all the teachings of Jesus. It is challenging and yet refreshing. We all are called to live differently from the world around us. As citizens of the Kingdom, we represent the King. That means our conduct, our character, and our heart should be different. This week at Cornerstone, I will be starting a 12-week series on The Sermon on the Mount.

I tried to find good graphics for the series, but I couldn’t find what I wanted. I finally decided to make my own. I got design inspiration from a church in Winston-Salem, and then came up with a title and video opener for our series. I’m calling the series Flipped, because Jesus uses this sermon to turn everything upside down. Here’s our opening video.

If you want to find out how I created the video, keep reading.

Continue Reading…

Along with many other bloggers, I was disappointed when Google announced the end of their Google Reader service. I have used Google Reader for years to keep up with church and technology news from around the internet. So, I decided to check out Google Reader alternatives. Almost every article I read pointed me to a service called Feedly. I’ve been using it for the past week and I love it, so I wanted to share about how you can make the switch.

First, read their blog post about how to migrate to Feedly. Second, sign up for their service. It will automatically import your Google Reader Subscriptions.  And finally, you can switch to the Titles View if you want it to appear more like Google Reader. Feedly also has great mobile apps for your phone or iPad. The best part is that Feedly will continue working after Google shuts down Google Reader.

After a week of using it, I can honestly say that I like it better than Google Reader. Sometimes, it takes a surprise to move us out of a rut and try something new. That’s true in technology and in faith. Feedly is fast, and their iPhone and iPad apps work great. The ability to quickly swipe through posts is a real time saver. Their user-interface is also clean, sleek, and contemporary.

If you want to stay connected to FaithEngineer and you aren’t currently using Google Reader, you can subscribe to my RSS Feed using Feedly or you can even subscribe to my posts by Email

feedly

Water Sunday 2013

March 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

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For the last two years, our church has partnered with Water Missions International to participate in Water Sunday. It has been a great opportunity to bring awareness to a global crisis. Throughout this past year I have been inspired by one of our Cornerstone Kids. Mia was troubled last year as she heard about the lack of clean water. So she decided to do something about it. Here is a video of her story.

Water Missions International is doing a great job around the world. They understand the roots of poverty and they use community development and involvement to solve the problem. If you are a pastor, I would encourage you to consider holding a Water Sunday at your church.

 “What if the American Church came together and said ‘We want to end this crisis?’” Water Sunday is an initiative of Water Missions International, inspiring a movement within The Church to respond to the global water crisis. Together, we can be the solution. Water Sunday is the start.

Every day is a disaster, as nearly 884 million people lack access to safe water, and nearly 2.6 billion people do not have adequate sanitation.Since 2001, Water Missions International has responded to the world’s largest natural disasters and daily tackles the world’s single biggest cause of illness – lack of safe water and adequate sanitation (U.N. Report, 2005) by providing safe water to more than two million people in 49 countries.

Continue Reading…

I’m excited about a new miniseries premiering on the History Channel this weekend. Christians have long complained about the content of movies and tv, and we now have the opportunity to show our support to a series based on the Bible.

The Bible is a ten-hour, five-week, miniseries created and produced by husband and wife team, Roma Downey (Touched By an Angel) and Mark Burnett (The Voice, Survivor, Shark Tank, Celebrity Apprentice). Beginning on March 3, 2013, for two hours each Sunday night, viewers will see some of the best-known stories from the Bible, from Noah’s Ark and the Exodus to Jesus’ birth & the disciples. The final episode of The Bible TV miniseries will air on Easter Sunday and will feature the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

Visit http://thebibleminiseries.com for more information

I have watched several movie clips, and read multiple reviews from pastors. My hope and prayer is that this series will bring the Bible to life in a new and exciting way, and that it will encourage people to open up God’s Word. The producers have stated “As with any dramatization, some stories and timelines were altered to create a moving story that fit the 10 hour time frame.” However, they have also consulted numerous pastors and Christian leaders to ensure that the message of the Bible remains intact. I plan on setting my DVR since I am typically busy on Sunday nights, but I’m really looking forward to this movie event. Help spread the word, and use this as a discussion starter with your friends and colleagues.

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