Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful for my amazing wife!

With it being the week of Thanksgiving this week I'm going to blog about things I'm thankful for in ministry.

The first thing I'm thankful for is my amazing wife Jamie.  Here's why:

1.  I'm thankful that she supports me and is my biggest cheerleader!  I look for her affirmation more then anyone and her support means the world to me.

2.  I'm thankful she does the ministry with me and loves it.  Jamie is not sitting on the sidelines of ministry, she is in the game!  Not only is she the worship director of People's Church but she is also involved in Epic!  I'm super thankful for her involvement and that she loves ministry because it is such a major part of our life.  I'm thankful for every student's event she has gone to me with, supporting me on Wed, attending leaders meetings and listening to all my thoughts, dreams, struggles and victories in youth ministry!

3.  I'm thankful for her love of God.  My wife is super sexy (probably not the next words you were expecting to read, lol) but the most attractive thing about her is her love for God.  Take notes fellas, beauty with no love for God is ugly!  Her love for God, for me and ministry is an example for our students and she has impacted many lives with her love for God.

4.  I'm thankful for her love for our kids.  She's a amazing wife, worship leader and mom.  It's not easy to be amazing at all 3 and she does a terrific job!

5.  I'm thankful for her feedback, both the compliments and critiques.  Jamie has always given great insight in my ministry and I appreciate her taking the time and loving me enough to do so.  She will tell me when something stinks and even though it may be hard to hear I appreciate her honesty and I know she does it to be helpful and out of love.

A big part of my success in ministry is due to my wife!  Unfortunately I have seen guys step down, walk away, not get hired or even get fired from ministry because of their wife, I'm so thankful that is not the case with Jamie.  She is a total blessing to my ministry and I'm so thankful God sent me the perfect wife to do ministry with.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Better Safe Then Sorry May Have Saved My Life

On Wed of last week as our vacation was wrapping up in Indianapolis my stomach started hurting real bad to the point it woke me up at 2 am and I couldn't go back to sleep.  My entire stomach hurt with sharp gas like pains so I thought I had a virus or a stomach ache from all the junk I had been eating on vacation, lol.

Thursday morning I went to the doctor and he thought it might be an appendicitis but wasn't sure because I had a stomach virus in the past that felt like the one I was having at that moment and I didn't think I had an appendicitis.  So we decided to wait and see how I felt after a day of meds and rest.  The meds cleared up my stomach and helped a ton but I still had some discomfort on the right lower side of my stomach but the pain had gone down a ton.  My thought was I was paying the price for eating junk and would be a cleared up in a couple days.

Friday morning we were packing up to drive back to OKC from vacation, when the doctor's office called and told me my white blood cell count was up and he wanted me to get a cat scan to see if I had an appendicitis.  Again I told him I don't think it was an appendicitis because my pain decreased, he then told me to come in so he could check a couple things and I agreed.  I went and after talking with him he convinced me to get the cat scan because it was better to be safe then sorry since I was leaving on a 12 hour trip.  I went for the cat scan thinking the whole time there is no way I have an appendicitis but I'd like to have peace of mind and would rather be safe then sorry.

A few minutes after the cat scan was done I got a call from the doctor and he told me I had an appendicitis, that my appendix was swollen to double it's size, inflamed and filled with infection and that I was within the 36-48 hour time slot when the appendix would rupture.  Not the news I was looking for, 2 hours later I was in surgery having my appendix removed.  As I reflect I'm very thankful for a few things:

1.  I'm thankful I had to drive back for vacation, if I was in OKC I probably would have said I'm fine I don't want a cat scan and I'll get back with you if the pain gets worse which would have happened when my appendix ruptured and I would have then been in the hospital for two weeks with them treating the infection that was now spread all over my body.

2.  I'm thankful I finally gave into the thought of I'd rather be safe then sorry.  If I would have gotten on the road who knows how bad of shape I would be in right now with my appendix rupturing somewhere on the road, it could have been very bad even fatal.  Even now I'm blown away about how everything went down.

3.  I'm thankful God gave me a doctor who was a believer that encouraged me to be faith based not fear based as I was dealing with the anxiety of the surgery.  The doc was preaching to the preacher and God used him to give me great peace.  Thank you Lord.

Lastly I am so thankful for God's grace, provision, for the doctors, technology to detect and remove my appendix, for a successful surgery and recovery.  I'm also thankful for my wife and family who helped take care of me, a church that cares and supports me and a son who has been praying for me with great faith.  This has truly been a humbling experience.

I hope sharing this helps someone else who may go through something similar to what I did.  It is always better to be safe then sorry!  God gave us doctors and technology for a reason and I was healed by Him through them.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Things I found to be most effective as a youth leader

Alright I shared my blunders yesterday and today I want to share things I did that were effective when I was a youth leader.  Let me say that by no means was I the perfect youth leader and if you read my last blog you can clearly see that, but in my desire to impact the lives of students I did found some success.  Here is what I found to be effective:

1.  I went to a ton of students events.  I went to games, concerts, award ceremonies and visited them at lunch.  I remember that it not only meant a huge deal to our students but it also meant a lot to their parents, especially as a volunteer youth leader.

2.  I gave students rides to church.  I drove all over the city to help students get to our youth group.  As I mentioned yesterday I gave rides to female students without anybody with me, when I was corrected on this I did whatever I had to do to get another person to ride with me so I could keep giving rides to students that needed it.

3.  I attended all youth events outside of church, these were great times to connect even more with our students.  My favorites were camps, missions trips and retreats where I got to pray and do ministry with students.  Some of my greatest memories with students were times outside of the church.

4.  I personally planned events for our students and even planned a camp one year.  This freed up my youth pastor from doing these things and it was an amazing experience for me.  The stuff I learned from planning these things are priceless.

5.  I volunteered in the office during the week.  Whether setting up chairs, doing paperwork or making phone calls I wanted to help in every way in the youth ministry.  Again this freed up my youth pastor to focus on his message and other things but also gave me time to connect with him, help us reach more students or even something as simple as the opportunity to pray over every chair that I set up.  Being in the office also gave me random opportunities like going on a hospital visit with my youth pastor.  If I wasn't in the office I would not have gotten this opportunity.

6.  I was at youth every Wed and I came early.  There is always stuff that pops up in youth ministry and I was able to help with that by coming early, I also gave my youth pastor the peace of mind of knowing I was going to be there every week.  He never had to wonder, "Is Chris gonna make it this week?"  This also helped me build greater relationships with our students, if you miss one week that is 14 days before you see them again, basically half a month, that's a long time.

7.  If I noticed a student had missed a week or two I would call them, let them know we missed them and hope to see them next week!  If my youth pastor didn't notice or make a call I had it covered, if he did then a student got two calls, either way that student knew they were missed.

These are some things that I found to be effective but I need to point out that the greatest part is that my life was changed.  With every opportunity to serve I was stretched, grew and my life was impacted.  That's the greatest part about serving, we not only impact the lives of others but our lives are also impacted.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Major blunders I made as a youth leader

I first started serving in youth ministry when I was 18 years old a few months after I had gotten saved.  Here are some major blunders I made for your enjoyment:

1.  I pelted a new student with ice over and over again because she was throwing ice at people.  I thought I was teaching her a lesson with tough love, needless to say she never got plugged into our ministry.  I had to apologize 3 weeks in a row in front of the entire youth ministry for my actions.

2.  When I was the youth worship leader I got so frustrated at practice that I punched the wall and put a dent in it.  Not good!

3.  I got into a huge argument in my youth pastor's office with another youth leader.  We were yelling so loud students could here us in the next room.  I even more embarrassed to say the argument was over a girl we both liked who was a senior in the youth ministry.  I was highly embarassed and ashamed when my youth pastor walked in.

4.  I gave rides to female students without another student or adult in the car.  I was naive and just thought I was being helpful.  When i was first corrected I was upset, thinking no one else is bringing them to church, then I saw the perception of it so I got a student or leader to go with me and I still helped provide rides.

5.  I was way too competitive and lost my cool way too many times in bball games or any other sport.  Notice the trend of anger issues.  I've grown a ton in this area.

6.  I tried to fight a guy who was the boyfriend of my ex-girlfriend at a major youth outreach.  I just lost my cool, it was not a good moment.

Needless to say I gave my youth pastor a few headaches, lol.  However I'm very thankful for his grace, mercy, patience and correction.  You may think why didn't your youth pastor kick you out?  If you asked him I think he would say I would always repent and correct my mistakes.  My heart was in the right place I just had some issues and I learned from my mistakes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Youth Leaders/Pastors: Our students deserve the best and nothing less

Jesus gave us his best and nothing less and I believe every youth leader/youth pastor should also give their best and nothing less for our students.  Every Wed in our experience we strive to give our students the best and nothing less and because of this...

1.  We expect our leaders to serve every week.  Every Wed matters and every leader matters and when a leader is missing we aren't giving our best.  I understand people have to miss for vacation, sickness, work, family emergency and similar things but other then that we need all hands on deck every week!

2.  We expect leaders to be on time every week and if they aren't to notify their team leader.  Every minute counts and we need every leader in place before our students arrive so we give them the best experience.  If leaders are late that means some area of ministry is short handed for that amount of time and we are not giving our students the best.  We will do whatever it takes to get it covered but it's still not better then that leader being on time and ready to roll.

3.  We expect our leaders to be on point in their area of service.  Sloppiness, being unprepared or carelessness leaves an impression, a negative impression and we want to give the best impression every week.  In order for this to happen we train our leaders in their area of ministry and if anything is off point we correct it, learn from it and make it better.  Our goal in this is not to nit pick or single someone out but it's to give our students the best.

4.  We expect all of our transitions and media to be flawless.  Again we want to give our students the best experience possible not average or just above average.  In order for that to happen we must do a run though, cover every detail and be very focused for the entire experience so everything runs smoothly.  With that we also strive to start and end on time every week.

5.  We plan our messages and series 3-4 months in advance so we aren't whipping something out last minute for our students.  The deserve the best so we plan and pray well in advance on what we are teaching.

6.  We are constantly recruiting and training new leaders.  In order for us to grow and give our students the best we must have plenty of adult leaders to run these experiences and love on our students.  

7.  If something is not the best we don't turn a blind eye to it, we address it, tweak it and do whatever we can to make it the best.  Every week we critique our experience to make sure we are giving our students the very best and nothing less!

Disclaimer: Hear my heart we are by no means perfect in these areas but this is what we strive for every week.

Now you may be thinking "Man that's a lot" and to that I say our students deserve the best and nothing less.  Give me your thoughts!