Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm at the National Youth Workers Convention

A few thousand youth pastors/youth leaders are descending upon Pittsburgh this weekend for the National Youth Workers Convention sponsored by Youth Specialties. I'm on the volunteer registration team so I'm excited about maybe seeing a lot of my youth pastor friends this weekend. I'm praying that God will encourage, strengthen, and provide all that youth workers coming here need to go back and keep working with kids. NYWC is a great place for networking (hobnobbing as my wife likes to call it!). I'm expecting to see friends from all over the country. It's gonna be fun!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why we do this

The Murrysville Youth Network met last Thursday and what struck me was our brief discussion about why we network together. Jon Price who has been with us three years now said that for him, it wasn't about events, although he loves the Ignition event we do, but he just likes being together with the group. Lu, the veteran of group appreciates the fact that we don't talk about how many students we have in our groups - in fact, there's no comparison's at all, except for how we're all jealous of Brent Squires' new student facility. :) Anyway, the point is, we gain strength and encouragement from being together - plus it's so dang fun! We welcomed a "new" youth pastor to the group that day. Tom Shrum who is the new guy at First Presbyterian in Murrysville. Tom was part of our Greensburg Youth Network for a few years. There's nothing as much fun as hanging out with youth pastors!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Frustrations with the church

Among many frustrations that one could mention about churches, the one that gets me the most is that nearly all churches/denominations function as if they are the only church that God is using or cares about. I know most churches wouldn't say they feel that way, but I noticed it again today. A church I work with is making plans as if there are no other churches in their community and I have to say, that is frustrating. Of course, I have not walked in those people's shoes, and I believe that God does bless some churches and not others in ways that that I don't understand. I'm just weary of the idea that what our church is doing is all that matters. There is a great big body of Christ out there and we should all care about what is good for the entire body, not just our little chunk of it. I apologize for the rant, but I believe God has great blessings in store for churches who want to be a blessing to the other churches around them.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

youth pastors begin working on school assembly outreach

A couple Tuesdays ago, Judy and I met with youth leaders from a church in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. They had a vision of bringing Bob Lenz (Life Promotions, WI) to do school assemblies and an outreach event in our area, but they wanted to work together with other churches to make it happen (it will take $9000 to pull this off and many students will need to be followed up on at the conclusion of this thing). The very next day, by God's providence, it worked out that I was meeting with three other youth pastors in the Latrobe/Derry area who all said they were on board with making this happen. Incredibly, one of those youth leaders, a school teacher, has already gotten the assemblies booked at Latrobe and Derry middle and senior high schools - amazing! And $2000 has already come in from local businesses to support these assemblies. IT IS AMAZING TO WATCH GOD WORK! So today, we had a our first "team" meeting today to strategize. We'll be meeting the 2nd Monday of each month to and we'll keep you posted on how this "experiment in the body of Christ working together" goes.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Doing together what we couldn't do alone.

Last March, a group of youth pastors who barely knew each other met together at Applebees for lunch. After a couple monthly lunch meetings, we sensed that this was a group of believers who wanted to work together and do some big things for the Kingdom. So we asked them in May to consider doing a school year kick off event. We had an idea for a band. That idea didn't work out - but something better did. One of our youth pastors, Larry Georgiana from New Life Covenant Church of God in Markleysburg, had seen a band at Acquire The Fire and had contacted them about coming to his church. However, his church was too small and the price tag too large. So he brought the idea to the next youth network meeting (June). We agreed that this was the band we needed to pursue (Michael Gungor Band) and found out later that they were actually the opening band for Downhere and that our event would be the first stop on their tour. Another youth pastor used his connections to get us a great venue at a fraction of the cost and that fraction was covered by someone he knew. Then we needed a little more help - a downpayment of $1750 was needed to secure the bands. That was half the total fee. So we asked churches to pre-buy 10 tickets at $10 per ticket. Around 10 churches did so with some of those purchasing more than 10. That enabled us to pay the deposit - praise God! After this, we divided up the work (many volunteers were needed) among our churches and that night 350 students came (exactly what we needed to pay for the bands. A local Christian University, Waynesburg University, co-sponsored the event with a generous grant that covered the lodging and meals. At least 20 youth groups brought students who were challenged to participate in See You At The Pole (we had some of our highest numbers ever this year) and to pray/reach out to their friends at school who don't know Christ. No one church could've pulled all of this off, but God blessed the efforts of His people working together!

This same basic thing has been done by a group of four youth pastors in the Murrysville area for the past three years now. That event is called IGNITION and we had 700 students from 30+ youth groups at the one this past September. These guys have proven that working together over the long haul is even more effective. This has become a $6000 budget event - and we've made a profit the past couple years! Together, these two events impacted 1000 students - our vision is to see that thousand take the gospel to school with them everyday this school year and to impact thousands more.