Thursday, April 10, 2014

Where Commitment Collides...With Reality

I absolutely love this time of year in our fair part of the world - pleasant evenings on the porch, more daylight after work, and spending time outdoors with Kim and the kids.  It truly is the best time of the year.  

I've noticed over my tenure in ministry (about 18 years total now) a weird little thing that has always amazed and perplexed me when this time of year rolls around - it's like clockwork.  About this time of year in student ministry, the spring sports schedules fire up with baseball, softball, soccer, and a plethora of other after school activities.  When those schedules begin to fire off, you'll notice the attendance at church begins to wane.  You can watch the trend as it slowly begins around March when practices begin to get into (pardon the pun) full swing.  One Wednesday night is missed because you have baseball practice the other four nights of the school week and just need a night “to yourself.” Another Wednesday night is missed because you have to make up the rained out softball game from the week before and Wednesday is the "only" day that it could be scheduled.  From missing Wednesday nights, it will typically then rock on into the month of April when the Sunday missteps begin to take shape.  First a Sunday will be missed because Mom and Dad are tired from having three games last week and practice the other two nights. Everybody just wants to take a break...to catch a breath of fresh air.  A few weeks later, another Sunday is missed because you are part of the "traveling" soccer team that has a tournament to play in Saginaw, Michigan.  Look, I'm not new in ministry - you can count on this happening and it's not something new.  

Now before everybody gets the bills in their baseball caps in a wad, let me explain to you why this is a very dangerous line to walk.  In life, there will be many things that will vie for your attention as you grow older - sports now, girls and guys in a few years, trips as you age into adulthood, along with many other things.  You ask me today why is it dangerous for me to miss out on an opportunity to be around like minded believers on a weekly basis and I will simply say one word, a name really - Jason.  

Jason was a young man by name and an excellent baseball player by trade.  He was a 16-year-old Sophomore in high school who was a wide receiver on the football team, pitcher on the baseball team, ran track, and was the point guard on the basketball team.  This young man was 6 foot 4 and weighed 215 - from daylight to dark all he dreamed of was being in the "big show" after high school and play college ball.  Jason was active in his youth group...when sports weren't taking up all of his time.  Jason comes from a "church" family.  His Dad was a deacon and Mom was a Sunday school teacher.  Jason would miss Sundays and Wednesdays when his "lifting" schedule or practice was taking place at the same time.  Jason was a smart young man - made A's, active in several service groups through his school, and was well liked by most everyone.  Jason really had the potential to go very far in life with sports and likely would have gotten the scholarship from the school that had been scouting him since his eighth grade year.  Jason considered himself a member of his youth group..., which is to say he attended when it didn't conflict with his seasonal sports.  One Friday night, following a big win versus a cross town rival in football, Jason and several other young men and women were out to celebrate the victory.  Unfortunately, the four guys and two girls riding in the SUV along with Jason had the radio too loud and did not hear or see the train coming towards the crossing.  At the moment of impact, a bystander later told the police that the young boy who was driving never slowed down before speeding through the crossing.  Seven lives of young men and women were immediately snuffed out.  Parents were left to ask questions like - What could we do differently? How did this happen? Why is God punishing us?  Jason, along with his six friends, was killed instantly the autopsy later revealed - in an instant...no time for goodbyes, no time for prayers, no time for pleas for mercy.  Jason had never made any sort of public profession of faith. He often attended church with his parents, but he never took that step of faith.  A joint funeral was held for all the students and was led by the pastor and youth pastor from Jason's church. At that service, the youth pastor said, "Seven lives were taken from us recently who had hopes, dreams, and aspirations for a very bright future. Each one was gifted with academic and athletic prowess.  Each would have likely signed Division One scholarships. But unfortunately, we will never know what could have been.  You see, each one of these students were expecting a bright happy future....they thought they had all the time in the world.  A few were believers in Christ - which is to say they had made professions of faith in Him as Lord.  Others of them didn't. Am I to give the families of these other students false hope in that they will one day see these children again - I can't. What I can say is that some of these students stored for themselves their treasure in heaven...not just in a high school trophy case. Further, I would say to each of you gathered here today that we who remain are to make the most of every day and opportunity you have to learn more about Christ because He is the one award that will never fade, never tarnish, and never grow old." While the pastor and the youth pastor could not definitively say Jason and some of the others were not believers in Christ (because ultimately that is between an individual and God), they could see the spiritual fruit in their lives...or the lack thereof. While this story was not from this particular time in our ministry....it very easily could be...in just a matter of seconds. 

So what does all this mean? Does this mean that if I am active in sports and participate in every one of them I am not a Christian? No.  Does this mean that if I play in sports and participate in every one of them that I will die early? No.  What this means is that each and every one of us will be called into account for and give a reckoning of what our relationship and commitment was like in regards to Christ.  One of you reading this could very well be the next Joe Montana or Serena Williams and go on to make millions of dollars playing a sport.  But, each and every one of us are one heartbeat away from being the Jason in our area. Christ has called us to a level of expectation and participation – a level of commitment.  To grow in your spiritual walk requires participation....participation requires devotion....and devotion requires choices - sometimes tough ones about what is truly important in this life and the next.  

Please understand, I write this blog post with no one particular student, sport, family, or person in mind. I am simply speaking from experience...life and ministry experience.  I hope you all take it in the manner it was written - with Ephesians 4:29 in my heart and edification for us all in my spirit. One thing I have learned in all my years of ministry service is that life is short - sometimes very short.  I’ve had to be the youth pastor to deliver the news to a parent that their child is never coming home. I have had to be the youth pastor who has been called on to speak at a funeral for a teen.  I have been that youth pastor who had to tell “Jason’s” parents there would be no wedding in his future.

Never take for granted an opportunity to spend time with a group of God-fearing, Jesus believing, Christ loving friends and adult leaders.  You never know from where your life "train" may come...or at what time it will arrive.         


Saturday, March 1, 2014

The FHSM Report March 1, 2014

Hey there FHSM'ers....

The coca cola fundraiser begins today, March 1st, and will last all month. To get started, you need to go to here and download the order form and get to selling those drinks!! This will be a great fundraiser for us to raise funds and continue the remodel of the youth room. It is SO great to see such excitement around this remodel! It is awesome to see everything coming together and how God has worked out so many of our needs even before we realized we needed help. Please be sure and thank the Construction team of W and W remodelers (if you don't know who they are, ask somebody...it's sort of an inside joke).  These two men have worked tirelessly over the last few weeks to get everything in order and begin this remodeling effort. I know it would mean a TON to them if you'd just say thanks. They are donating their time to do this for you...the Youth.  I've updated the Flickr feed with pictures of the updates that took place this week. You can check them out by going here. There will be plenty of opportunities for each of you to be involved as we go forward with this endeavor. I hope you each are as excited as the Youth Council and I are about these new modifications to make this space more conducive to student ministry and also putting our own stamp on it as the new home to Firehouse Student Ministries.

We also will be running an additional fundraiser at the same time as the Coca Cola fundraiser but will not take any effort on your parts.  Beginning tomorrow, there will be 144 envelopes in the community connections area of the church (AKA the welcome center). Envelopes will be numbered 1 through 144. People will have an opportunity to select one of the envelopes and place the corresponding amount of money into it to be earmarked for the youth ministry remodel.  This will be an ongoing fundraiser.  It is also important we communicate to everyone these envelopes are for giving above and beyond the normal giving a person might do.  We do not want to take away anything from the general fund budget - cause we like being about to have church with the lights and heat working!  This is a very easy fundraiser to do and it really can bring in a big total donation.  Do you realize that if we have individuals fill up every envelope, the youth ministry would receive $10,296!?!?!? It is a very exciting time in the life of our church and I hope each of you take time to pray about the things that are happening in all facets of the church - not just student ministry.

In Christ Alone,

Josh





Tuesday, February 18, 2014

DNOW Agenda

Wondering what you'll be doing this weekend at DNow and when?!??! Click this link to find out. Don't forget, if you've not signed up for DNow yet, today is the last day to sign up - no exceptions. Take responsibility and get this done - you'd hate to miss out on it!

His,

J.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Coca Cola Fundraiser Begins March 1, 2014

The student ministry will begin selling cases of coca cola products March 1 - March 31.  Each case features twenty-four 20 oz drinks for $25.00!! That's only a little more than $1.00 per drink. You can't go to the local convenience store and get it for that price! There will be more information coming soon. I just wanted to start promoting it now to start getting the word out.  There will be more information once we get through Disciple Now Weekend! Thank you all for what you do for His students!

In Christ,

J.




DNow Bullet Points



Okay ladies and gents, here is the latest update on Disciple Now Weekend coming to New Faith Community Church on February 21-23:



  • If you have not paid yet and ordered a t-shirt, your $20 is due no later than Wednesday at church. I'll have them with me at every service between now and then. You pay, you get your shirt. If paying by check, make it payable to NFCC and on the memo line, put D-Now.
  • If you did not order a t-shirt or study guide and are planning on coming, there is no cost to you except for a fast food lunch that you and your team will get out on your own on Saturday during the QR Scavenger Hunt.
  • If you have not signed up yet, please go to http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20F0B45A9A928A02-disciple and sign up today. Even if you have told me you are coming, we still need to get a head count in one location for food and drinks. If you do not sign up, I cannot guarantee that you will be able to eat on Friday night at church. WE MUST HAVE A HEADCOUNT FOR FOOD.
  • Plan on being at the church on the evening of February 21st at 6:30. We will kick things off at 7:00 with the NFCC Praise Team leading worship, a few fun interactive games, and Danny Christopher, youth pastor at Union #3, will be speaking on this night.
  • I will be putting you all into home cell groups for the weekend. So if you are coming to be part of things, you have to be assigned to a cell group. You cannot just plan on coming and going at your pleasure. We have to have accountability for everyone when we put on events this large.
  • If you have not downloaded a QR reader to your phone, do so now. You will have to have one to participate in the Scavenger Hunt on Saturday.
  • Please take time this week to invite 5 friends to come with you. The person who brings the most friends will get a surprise (I've been told it might be a gift card!)
  •  The Scavenger Hunt will be on Saturday and will take several hours to complete. It will involve driving. For those students who cannot drive yet, we will have adults assigned to you so you will have transportation for your team.
  • Please keep in mind when packing for the weekend to use common sense. Leave the speedos and thongs at home. You will be a guest in someone's home, respect it and them. If there is a problem, the host homes do have permission to send you home and you won't be able to participate in the event. 
  • Saturday night Union #3's praise team will lead us in worship and I will be speaking. There also will be several interactive games to do during worship as well.  I'll post the agenda for the weekend later this week once everything is finalized. 
  • You still have not elected a student representative to the Youth Council. Please get together and do this soon. The youth council meets tomorrow and it would be good for you to have representation in the meeting.
  • Most importantly, please be praying about the event. I've been doing D-Now weekends for almost 18 years and they ALWAYS bring about some really awesome decisions and choices by students. D-Now is about taking your faith to the next level...for some of you that might be step number 24, for others it might be step 1. The thing to remember here is that the weekend is about fun AND growing in your relationship with Christ.  
As always, if you have any questions, gripes, complaints, or concerns give me a call. Kim and I here for each of you and just a phone call away. I'm looking forward to an absolutely awesome weekend with each of you!!

In Christ,

J.