When Sweet Is Also Bitter

Gordy Williams – July 30, 2016 Leave a comment

ReachStudents Blog

Revelation 10:8-11 contains a fascinating scene wherein John is told to take a scroll from the hand of a powerful angel and eat it. That scroll will taste sweet in his mouth, but it will also turn his stomach bitter. God’s good purposes for creation, and particularly for redeeming his people, is a message like honey in our mouths. It is a beautiful communication sweet on our lips as we testify to the truth. However, because our ultimate redemption lies on the other side of terrible conflict and bitter persecution, it turns our stomachs sour to think of it, let alone experience it.

This dynamic, a sweet message resulting in bitterness, is one of the reasons it is difficult for the church to be bold in its proclamation. It isn’t that the message is bad. It’s not. The message of Scripture is wonderful. The problem comes from a large group of people hating the message and its implications. Our lives can become difficult if we proclaim the truth. If we followed our natural desires, we risk the danger of cherishing the sweetness of the gospel among ourselves and never confront the possible bitterness of living as the witnesses for which God has called us.  Continue Reading…

Together 2016 Livestream

Mark O'Brien – July 13, 2016 1 Comment

ReachStudents Blog

Together 2016 will take place on Saturday in Washington, D.C.

If you cannot attend in person, you can still take part through the Together 2016 livestream and join in prayer.

The livestream will be available July 16 from 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. (EST) at reset2016.com.

Join us for a day of prayer with Together 2016!

ReachStudents Blog

If you spend any amount of time with adults talking about teenagers and technology, you will hear someone define teenagers as “self-absorbed.” The prevalence of cell phones, “selfies” and focus on individual appearance are all cited as evidence. This observation is typically followed by the belief that teenagers are more self-absorbed than ever.

As pastors and leaders in the church, we have a unique opportunity to shape the view and understanding of adolescents in the church with the words we use. Lots of the ways we describe adolescents are edifying and uplifting. But a handful of words I, and others, have used in the past to describe adolescents are unhelpful “dirty” words. We think we’re saying one thing, but we’re also implying something else.

“Teenagers are so much more self-absorbed today. It wasn’t like that when I was young.” Continue Reading…

ReachStudents Blog

The dad sitting across the table from me had finished explaining the divorce proceedings he was going through when I asked him how his two daughters were handling it.

He responded, “Oh, you know. I think they’re doing OK. They’re struggling with it, of course, but they’ll be OK. Kids are resilient.”

As my heart broke for his daughters, I wanted to grab him by the collar, shake him, and beg him not to rely on their “resilience” as a way to feel better about his decision.

As pastors and church leaders, we have a unique opportunity to shape the view and understanding of adolescents in the church. Lots of the ways we describe adolescents are edifying and uplifting. But sometimes, we use “dirty words” to describe them. We think we’re saying one thing with these words, but we’re also implying something else. Continue Reading…

ReachStudents Blog

Leadership is about influence. As a Christ-follower, hopefully you are intentional about the kind of influence you have on others. At Trinity, our goal is to train up leaders who have a redemptive and transformative influence on those God places in their midst, to be salt and light as referenced in Matthew 5.

Influential leadership in this day requires high emotional intelligence. My recent dissertation research showed that millennials not only believe team members need high emotional intelligence, team leaders need it as well. As younger generations look more and more for mentors, leaders, and friends who offer authenticity, it would benefit all of us to take a deeper look at how our emotions impact our daily interactions and our ability to offer both grace and truth. Continue Reading…

ReachStudents Blog

Josh loved to invite his friends to youth group. Some of his friends came from broken homes and struggled with some heavy stuff. Josh was a leader. However, Josh also struggled with substance abuse and some heavy stuff. One night after Josh showed up to youth group high (we let him stay thinking it was better to let his high wear off somewhere safe), I remarked to one of our volunteers, “It’s so frustrating, Josh has so much potential.”

As pastors and leaders in the church, we have a unique opportunity to shape the view and understanding of adolescents in the church. With the words we use, we describe adolescents in edifying and uplifting ways. But there are a handful of words I have used in the past to describe adolescents which I think are “dirty words.” We think we’re saying one thing with these words, but we’re also implying something else.

Unintended meaning

“It’s so frustrating, Josh has so much potential.” 

The word “potential” is one of those words. What we’re intending to say is, “God is going to use him (in the future).” But what we’re also implying is that right here and right now they don’t bring much to the table. When we say an adolescent has potential we’re saying their real value is in the future, when they grow up and become an adult.

As youth pastors, we must fight the temptation to describe teenagers this way. We must see the value they bring the church today and how much the church needs them right now. “…the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor…” (1 Cor. 12:22, 23)

This is why I think intergenerational relationships are so important. When people of all ages get to know each other, when those who are older spend time with those who are younger, they get the opportunity to intimately experience the goodness of the “other.” They bless each other’s lives. Intergenerational relationships aren’t hierarchical in nature, they are mutually beneficial relationships. In light of what Christ has done on the cross for all of us, “we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”

Yes, teenagers have potential, but as fellow heirs with Christ, they have immense value right here, right now.

How does your church need adolescents today?

ReachStudents Blog

Are you unable to make it to Challenge Conference 2016? That’s OK, Challenge is simply a tool. However, when several hundred churches and thousands of students from your denomination come together, it’s a good idea to stay dialed into what God is saying and doing, and the initiatives He’s mobilizing people around.

With that in mind, here are five ways you can connect without attending Challenge:

Continue Reading…

ReachStudents Blog

Is your student ministry making groupies, fans, church attenders or disciples who make disciples? Jesus made it clear that our mission is to make disciples. No matter how creatively we say it, that’s the mission of the church. Yet, how it looks often gets foggy.

I’ve crafted a simple tool to help leaders bring some clarity to their disciplemaking endgame. Take some time this summer, either alone or better yet with a few from your team, to craft and clarify your endgame.

Craft a definition

It’s hard to make something you can’t define. In 15 words or less, craft a simple definition of a disciple. I’ll even give you five free words: “A disciple is one who…” Now add your 15 or less. Continue Reading…

Jesus, RESET Our Church

Reid Kapple – May 9, 2016 Leave a comment

ReachStudents Blog

Father in heaven, I praise you for the gift of the church where we are received as your children into your glorious family (1 Jn. 3:1). How beautiful it is that you sent your Son to not only make us new individuals, but a new people (Titus 2:14). While it is beyond comprehension to consider that you have rescued us from sin and death (Rom. 6:23), it is an even greater mystery that you would call us sons and daughters (Gal. 4:6). Oh, may I never take for granted or lose sight of the rich blessing that is mine in Christ. A blessing which allows me to call the creator of the universe, Father (Rom. 8:15). And it is magnified when I see that it is a shared blessing with all those who trust and treasure Jesus as Lord (1 Pet. 2:9).

But God, I know that I have lived in a way by which I dishonored you by dishonoring your bride, the Church (Eph. 5:25-27). At times, I have seen little value in gathering with fellow believers to worship you and celebrate the goodness of life in Christ together (Heb. 3:13). I have arrogantly assumed that I don’t need Christian community to grow in my faith, love, and devotion to you (Gal. 6:1-2). And I must confess I have not only neglected the church, but I have despised it and even found myself belittling it. Forgive me for doubting that the church is your chosen instrument to bring the hope of the gospel to a broken world (Matt. 16:18, Acts 1:8). Continue Reading…

ReachStudents Blog

I had a conversation with a youth pastor the other day about Challenge Conference. He’s new to the EFCA and new to his church. He wanted to know how to make the most out of a conference like Challenge. I explained several unique things about Challenge—like the missional theme, customizable afternoons, Love Moves, Prayer Moves and the Sending Huddle.

But, I found myself responding with more questions about his ministry and direction then I did about the conference. It doesn’t matter if you go to Challenge, a camp, or a missions trip like BUMP, if you look at it as a destination rather than a disciplemaking tool, you will miss the real potential of the experience. Continue Reading…