Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Remembering Columbine - 10 Years Later

Yesterday was the 10 Year Anniversary of the Columbine shootings. I'd like to quote from the blog of my friend Nick Poole - Nick was a high school student (Derry Sr. High)I was working with at the time of the shootings:

"This event was formational in my life and it greatly impacted my future involvement in high school Bible Clubs both as a student and later a youth pastor. As a teenager and young adult, it was a reminder that life is short, we need to live it to the full! Ten years later, the world has continued to change. We are now living in a post-911 world. One of suspicion, uncertainty and violence. We don’t know what terror lies around the next turn. In the midst of all of this, I know I can have the same peace I had 10 years ago sitting in class. Regardless of what’s down the hall or down the street, I know that my God is on the throne. I can experience the peace that passes all understanding, not because of my power, ability, 0r insight, but because I serve a God who is greater and in the end has already conquered sin, death and the grave! Regardless of what terror or uncertainty you are facing today, remember God will see you through."

Here's a video that Nick shared on his blog as well. This is great.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Westmoreland County Youth Network is turning 10 Years Old this summer!

10 years ago I got a phone call from a guy in Latrobe, Pennyslvania telling me that there was going to be a Billy Graham Crusade in Latrobe (Celebration '99) and he asked if I could serve as the student ministry chairman. I had been with Teens For Christ full time for 3 years by that time and Pete Malik and I were busy helping churches in Fayette County work together to reach teenagers for Christ. Working with the great Celebration '99 people in Westmoreland County turned out to be very similar to what I was already doing - working with youth pastors and Christian Clubs in local high schools - but on a much larger scale! The first Celebration '99 meeting I attended was at Cornerstone Ministries. The first three youth pastors I met were Dan Knight (Latrobe First Church of God), Todd Nevue (Calvary Assembly Ministries), and Paul Peternel (Jeannette Assembly). Months of planning went by and in May we had David Nasser and Al Densen (yeah, remember him?) come to do school assemblies to help build up excitement. On April 20th, all of us were shocked at the news of the Columbine shootings and given a powerful reminder of why we were doing all of this. The actual outreach event, with Billy Graham associate Ralph Bell, took place in June of '99. The student day outreach featured a concert by Third Day, inflatable games, and thousands of pizzas! 300+ students came forward at the invitation and were followed up on by local youth pastors. Later that summer all the youth pastors who were involved in Celebration '99 got together and decided that they wanted to keep on working together. And so, the Westmoreland County Youth Network was born. For the past 10 years, we have continued helping youth pastors get to know each other, build friendships, and work together on all kinds of youth ministry events and outreaches. We've worked with hundreds of students in local schools helping them reach their friends for Christ (some of those students, like Dave Grimm and Tom Shrum, are youth pastors now!). So many students, and even many youth pastors have come and gone since that time, but working in Westmoreland County has been a great privilege and a lot of fun. I've met so many of my best friends over this past ten years and I met my wife there too (which made Sharon Poole very happy!). She was working at Majesty Christian store in the fall of 2001 and I walked in one day looking for a book and I found her. Over and over again, I have become more and more convinced that God does great and mighty things when His people work together. My thanks to all of those I've had the privilege of serving and serving with these past ten years.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

"10 Days to inTENtionally help your friends experience Jesus" begins today!

One of our goals as a youth network is to invite Christian students to connect with the bigger picture, with larger things, so that they have a sense of belonging to something much bigger than themselves. Hopefully, they get that at church, but it's one thing to say, I'm part of my church - it's a whole other thing to say, I'm part of something that MANY churches are doing. Our local network has been working with Youth Alive to challenge thousands of Christian students around Pennsylvania to participate in "10 Days" an intentional, near-the-end-of-the-school-year, Easter-based outreach which takes place at their schools. Students are challenged to do something different each of the 10 days to help their friends at school experience who Jesus is and what He is like. This year's "10 Days" ideas are based on Matthew 25:31-46 where Jesus talks about the sheep and the goats and reaching out to the least of these.

10 Days began 15 or so years ago as a youth pastor's idea - since students have Spirit Weeks at school (usually in the fall), the idea was to do a "Jesus Week" as an outreach. Local youth pastors and high school Bible clubs in our networks have kept the idea going ever since.

Please pray with us that God will use many students in our region, our state, and beyond to share Jesus' truth and love with their friends. Students can see ideas and share their testimonies at www.teensforchrist.org/10Days.aspx.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Skillet comes to Greensburg, Pa.

Crowd Cam-Greensburg, PA 4.5.09

The Westmoreland County Youth Network partnered with Generation Exodus, a new and local concert production company, to bring the Comatose Tour with Skillet, Disciple and Decypher Down to the Palace Theatre in Greensburg, Pa. This was another successful example of the great things that can happen when Christians work together. The show was SOLD OUT! 1400 people packed the place out. And it was one AMAZING concert! We want to congratulate Jj Marconi, from Greensburg Alliance Church, for winning the electric guitar signed by Skillet. John Cooper took this video at the Skillet concert on Sunday night. God was good to us all that night.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Youth Pastors bring 3V school assemblies to their community - Part 2

Last night was the culmination of the 3V Tour which youth pastors in Fayette County brought to their area this week. 1000 students crowded into Uniontown High School gymnasium for 2 hours of dramas, a concert, and bmx stunt riding (and jumping). Paul May (from Clearer Vision Drama Company and coordinator of the 3V Tour) gave a challenging presentation of the Gospel and invited students to give their lives to Jesus Christ. 165 students responded! Now we begin the process of having youth leaders follow up on these students. Please pray with us and for us that we'll be able to get many, if not all, of these students connected with local churches.