Archive for May, 2012

One of the great joys of my last 18 years of ministry has been working with interns. My own experience of spending my first youth ministry position flailing wildly as I spun my wheels in sand with little observable lasting impact….and then spending my next six ministry years as a sponge, being mentored by a gifted and godly shepherd…..was my motivation for beginning an internship program. Maybe I could help others start strong, avoid pitfalls, and go the distance.

I am excited every season with the opportunity to pour into younger men and women who are exploring youth ministry as a calling. I am sharpened as a person and as a minister as I pour into them and learn from them. And there is almost nothing that brings as much life to me or our ministry as a group of young men and women passionate about Jesus, passionate about life, and eager to grow in their experience and understanding.

We have an outstanding class of interns again this year. Zack and Ethan are focusing on college, Eric on high school, Christina on junior high, Charideth on high school and college women, and Ike on media. It is a privilege to be iron sharpening iron together.

I wish you could have been there….. One of my favorite moments in our training/orientation time was after we had studied the tightrope of adolescence (thank you, Chap Clark) stopping to proclaim and remember together who Jesus is. We stood and agreed under a May Tulsa sun. Jesus Christ is who this world needs. He is Father, Comforter, Healer, Redeemer, Identity, Hound of Heaven, Faithful One, Mighty Warrior, Victor……

Wednesday is our next time to all be together in one place. Staff and interns will be talking about “theological antecendents” for youth and college-age ministry around a good cup of Joe. In other words, why do we do this? Is it more than pragmatism or a middle class cultural phenomenon?

Adolescence is a new invention of a modernized world. So where do we look for Biblical guidance for direction, vision, methodology, praxis etc?

Want to start the conversation here? I’d love to hear your thoughts…. In what Biblical principles and stories do you find theological grounding for youth and college ministry?

My 30s were an incredible decade for me, bursting with fruit and influence and opportunity. The ripples of that decade continue to bring me joy almost daily.

If I look back to my 20s, they were hard but rich as I sank my roots deep in the Lord and in understanding a relational, discipleship approach to youth ministry. Fruit from that decade continues to encourage my heart as well.

My 40s have brought opportunity and fruit, but they have been really hard years, punctuated by pain. Some of the pain has been needed pruning. Some has been my own failures and disappointment. Some has been disillusionment. Some has come from standing up, sometimes alone, to wickedness. Some has been the violent storms of others lashing out as they worked through their own issues and damage. And some has been the dismissive indifference of those who think that going gray means becoming irrelevant.

This morning I was thinking all these things and asking the Lord if I could just skip the rest of the 40s and begin my 50s early. And He seemed to say, “Read Psalm 92.”

Before I quote from Psalm 92, let me say that I have asked the Lord in recent weeks to give me an image for this season of our youth ministry. I have received the word “Refresh” and the picture from Psalm 1 of the tree planted by streams of living water that brings forth fruit in its season. That is my context for reading Psalm 92 this morning.

Psalm 92:12-15. “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.'”

Staying fresh and green with God as my Rock…