How old are you?
I hope it has occurred to you that it doesn't matter your age, but what you do with the minutes that add up to the sum of who you are.
There's a book I read recently called "Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally In A Chaotic World" by Tsh Oxenreider. I honestly didn't want it to end. I purposefully spent hours alone laughing and crying and reading (sometimes two or three times) the pages. It's only been a week and I'm ready to read it again. *First for me. Second for we.
One thing is certain. I'm not going to be able to digest this book in one blog post. So I'll just stick with the forward for tonight and try to share as many thoughts as I can as I have time.
I agree with Ann Voskamp (author of One Thousand Gifts) that this book oozes with
Whether your 13.
Wherever we are, our minds can be renewed. Our reality transformed to match the vision of God.
There's no other way but with God's help, but I'm certain we have to wake up to the idea of it before we can even move in that direction. Saying out loud that a revision is needed is a good place to start, saying it's important to live on purpose, for a purpose, and free of shame.
King Solomon, who wrote in the book of Proverbs, once said "without vision, the people perish."
He was revered as wise for a reason.
Tsh points us to find or recover our vision in every area of our lives.
As I read I imagined teenagers deciding to live and be different because they have a new heart, a new courage, a new purpose. I see moms and dads not surrendering to the status quo because they have decided to take time to shape their children's hearts. I see adults in frenetic places, quieting and knowing in the stillness before God that there's a better more peaceful and more purposeful way. I see all of these people, including myself, saying yes to leaving the other option (chaos) behind to explore the goodness of God found in every waking moment--even if that waking moment be chaotic--there is stillness to be found at the center of it.
Ann, in the forward of the book, describes the dares she finds in it's pages:
-a dare to live fully right where they are--right where they are called to be
-a dare to live their dreams instead of living their default
-a dare to do more than make a living someday--a dare to make a life
-a dare to intentionally live the life they intended to live
There's a journey for you, a road sign with your name on it.
Have you found some space this week to ask yourself who you are?
Whose you are?
Why you live?
What you are living for?
Are you actually living?
As I read the forward to the book and smelled the meal my husband and I had prepared together in the kitchen, I could see it. I could see a glimpse of this intentional life. Balanced by more than my yes and my no. Balanced by a contentment and a wakefulness in the moment that we have before us.
And the phone rings.
And she needs to talk to someone.
I am here in that moment.
Silencing my thoughts to listen.
Friends meet up at the lake for a run with the setting sun.
We breath in humidity and exhale laughter and relief.
Blood flows. Lungs expand.
I tuck them in. I kiss their foreheads.
I tell them they are loved with a beautiful without end love.
I am here in that moment, receiving their joy and innocence.
Giving them my presence and my love.
I reach out my ice cold toes toward that warm body laying on the couch next to me.
Relaxing and saying with no words at all--I'm so glad you are here with me.
So, there's this dare---Tsh and Jesus are calling us to it--to live as if this whole heaven thing were real (and it absolutely is) to live as if it could be real here and now (because it can and will be if we wake up to it).
It may be surprising to some. But us youth leaders, we pretty much don't do anything.
Many thanks to Carol, one of our volunteer leaders, for seeing the best in us and suggesting that we tell the world the truth about what we do all day.
Video props to gunnizle. Who else? He's the only one who actually works a few hours a week.
Oh, and we're having a prom again. But we felt like something was missing.
Pirates were definitely missing.
This is us.
Four people who represent the age ministries of Highland Park Church. (0-5) (6-11) (11-13) (14-18 ish) Combined our team has hundreds of leaders and volunteers who fuel the ministries that we lead.
For the last 6+ years, we’ve had a growing desire that we would begin to align our ministries better. We are a church is a community simply seeking to lead others to love God and to love others. And how we do that for our children and youth is important to us--it's important to begin aligning our strategy in order to live on mission.
We are at a point in our growth that we see the value of layers of ministry echoing the same heart. Not just lip service, but for real on the same page plans and actions service.
Some of it boils down to shared leadership, genuine partnership, and a willingness to listen to each other. And some of it boils down to nailing down a strategy—and defining our target.
This fall, the four of us and a dozen of our leaders attended a ministry training weekend together—called Orange Tour.
At the end of the weekend, we were all thinking Orange could be the thing that helps us with our goal to be a family ministry to children and youth but also a ministry for and with parents (since parents are where it’s at when it comes to who has the most chips in a child’s experiences).
|Image source: ReThink Group|
There are other organizations out there and resources as well for youth ministries to move in this direction, to value the significance and influence of the family as well as teach us how to take steps toward a more intergenerational approach to ministry, I feel like these things have primed the pump so to speak, for a shift in our thinking.
After we attended the tour together, we began integrating Orange strategy into our ministries-part of this strategy is how we lead in small groups.
Before I explain what I feel is the most exciting part of our learning—I should probably tell you what Orange is.
I like how they say it on their website,
“As children we were in constant wonder—the dazzle of life provoking us toward discovery. And as we turned over rocks and stared at the stars, we found something surprising. We found a light glimmering in our hearts. The light of passion.
Orange is a path, a strategy with the intent to return to that glimmering, that passion, and to rouse it in the next generation. You can find the Orange Strategy in the color: combining the strength of two—red and yellow—for the brilliance of another, Orange.
So, an Orange thinker asks, “What if church leaders and parents synchronized their efforts to fuel wonder, discovery and passion in the next generation?” By combining the critical influences of the light of the church (yellow) and the love of the family (red) the Orange Strategy shows a generation who God is more effectively than either could alone.”
I love being on the same page. And in this case, a literal page. I read a book that I picked up on tour called Lead Small. And we are excited to begin to work with our leaders on this next step in their ministry development. My friend Elle Campbell has some incredible experience leading her small group leaders around Lead Small ideas and I can't wait to use some of the things she offers to other ministries like mine. (Check out this awesome parent | leader breakfast she did! We're currently working on this.)
We are just getting our feet wet but one of the big wins for us has been a rethinking of the role of the small group leader.
Here's a little outline of some priorities that were expressed in the book (that we'd like to adopt at HP Youth) and also a few ideas about how we're going to get started in each area. We currently have hundreds of children and youth gathering in circles with fun and loving adults. I can only imagine how we will grow as we become even more intentional about what happens in those circles.
- We want to adopt five priorities for building faith in the next generation (source: Lead Small)—because we are learning that,
a. Every generation needs a bigger story
i. Psalm 78:4-7 “We will tell the next generation of the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord”
b. There is POTENTIAL in the family to influence their own kids
c. Families can believe in the POTENTIAL of the church to influence their sons & daughters
d. A combined strategy (family with faith community) demonstrates the message of God’s story, and influences another generation.
e. Synchronizing with others leaders ALIGNs leaders and parents to lead with the same end in mind
“The essence of strategy is in choosing what not to do.”(LS)
We’re going to pick five things that are taking energy away from strategies and stop doing them in our ministry areas.
“Just because we’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean that it’s not incredibly stupid.” (LS).
What does saying no to 1000’s of programs and projects give us an ability to do?
1) Partner with Parents
2) Integrate Strategy (leaders/ parents/ church staff)
3) Enhance Student Worship (Come)
4) Multiply Small Groups (Grow/ Relationships)
5) Offer Student Experiences (Serve/ Significance)
f. What does refining the message look like for us this year?
i. focus on using fun as a means
ii. using understandable language (work on this…being crystal clear..make the complicated awesomely simple…say less…more often…intentional layering of who says it…creativity)
iii. take responsibility for whether or not it connects (make changes)
g. What does reactivating our ministry with parents as partners look like?
i. demolish the 1/5 ratio (1/5 parents nationally say that they have never been contacted by their church
ii. apply strategy: connect with PARENTS TO DISCUSS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO INFLUENCE THEIR CHILD SPIRITUALLY
1) Give them a plan.
2) Show them how it works
3) Tell them what to do today (specific instructions)
iii. Define spiritual leadership for them.
h. What will it look like to elevate community?
i. life groups invest strategically
1) Leaders are present
2) Leaders create a safe place
3) Leaders Partner with Parents
4) Leaders make it personal
i. What it will look like to leverage our influence of Life Groups/ Leaders
i. plan 3 adventures/ experiences/ points of significance each year
1) Cause Event & Outreaches
3) Mission Experience (Camp/ Trip/ Local/ Abroad)
And there's a critical question:
What makes us think that children/students will do ministry when they leave Highland Park if they never do ministry while they are with us?
Lastly, how will we evolve our communication style to connect?
ii. evolve style (creative efforts increase, hands on learning trumps old school rules)
iii. maintain value for the truth (we continue to hold up the truth of God's Word even when our teaching styles and methods change)
I loved this book and think every person who has ever sat in a circle with children or youth should pick it up and remember why we do what we do. It’s important not to miss the potential that sits in that circle and the possibility of future faith that increases when we become even more intentional about the things we say and do with a few.