I know we’re over a year out, but I want you to know we are well on our way to planning Challenge 2014 – the EFCA’s national student conference.
Here are five things I’m excited about and you may want to know about Challenge 2014:
1. Kansas City
Kansas City has two things I really enjoy: BBQ and Chocolate. The Kansas City Barbecue Society reports that KC has more barbecue restaurants per capita than any other city in the nation. KC is also the home to the largest maker of boxed chocolates in the world. Since 1932 Russell Stover Candies still hand dips more than 25 million pieces of chocolate each year.
But more than that, it’s a great mid-sized city where God is doing some great things, and I’m grateful that we’ll get to be a small part of that.
2. Group’s Big Day of Serving
This year we’ve asked Group Big Day of Serving to partner with us in regards to a good portion of our afternoon ministry in the city. They know how to deploy thousands of people to serve a single city like no one else.
3. A Peek at the Direction
I can’t share the full theme with you yet, but here is a peek into some of the direction of Challenge 2014:
Adolescence is often described as a search for identity–a consistent, durable sense of self that gives youth confidence that they will not disappear—enabling them to live for something worth dying for. Young people are in search of a rendering of reality that defines where they are, who they are, what’s gone wrong and how they can contribute to the solution. Void of a biblical framework that can answer such questions, young people are left to find their identity in the endless stories of brokenness, selfishness, and idolatry that are continually echoed throughout our culture.
Through a tracing of the storyline of the Bible – Genesis to Revelation – Challenge 2014 will help students ground their identity and calling in the context of the story of God and His mission to restore the world through Jesus Christ.
4. Ongoing Stories
Challenge is simply a tool. Like any event, it can’t do everything. But I’m always amazed at what God often begins or builds upon at Challenge. There are some great stories that we’re hearing now a full year after Challenge 2012. You’ll have a chance to hear some of them in depth this fall.
5. Love Moves: Berlin
In 2014, Love Moves will focus students on Berlin. We’re excited to shift our focus from third world countries and give students an opportunity to see the need for gospel workers in complex urban centers in the US and around the world.
If you are in an EFCA church you should have received a brochure about Challenge in the mail. (If you are not a part of the EFCA but are interested in attending CHALLENGE 2014 contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’ve got a story of something God began at Challenge 2012, we’d love to hear it!
In the last month I have been informed of four different young leaders who have been removed from their ministry positions because of some sort of moral failure. There is nothing in my current role that saddens me more.
This is one of the reasons why we host Rebound—a renewal retreat for youth pastors and wives—every year. I want to stay focused on the preventative side of this battle rather than simply on the recovery side of it. Most conferences that youth pastors attend rightfully focus on their “hands” – equipping them with tools for doing more ministry.
Rebound is unique because it focuses on the heart of a youth worker and the relationships that matter most, but are all too often neglected—namely the relationships with God, ourselves, and our spouses (if applicable).
Every year I have a few conversations with youth pastors who tell me their board will not allow them to attend Rebound because they already are given vacation time.
Here are four reasons why Rebound is a renewal retreat and not merely a vacation:
1. Intentional Conversations
Most vacations for younger leaders involve small children. This rarely allows the sort of space needed to get some extended time with Jesus or to engage with a spouse on the condition of your marriage. We bring in speakers who address the heart issues that ministry leaders often overlook and then give intentional time to youth workers to engage with their spouses and others on these issues. It’s easy to leave a vacation without having the critical conversations with God, yourself and your spouse that you need to be having. It’s hard to leave Rebound without doing this.
2. Expanded Ministry Relationships
A vacation is a time to withdraw from ministry relationships. Rebound, on the other hand, provides participants with plenty of time and space to connect with other ministry leaders on the questions they are currently needing some outside input on. You leave Rebound with an expanded network of people you can personally call through the year when you do have a ministry issue you need to wrestle with.
3. Broadened EFCA Understanding (and resources)
At Rebound, youth pastors have the opportunity to hear from and interact with the President of the EFCA and other national leaders. They are introduced to ministry opportunities and resources that will help them in their local ministry that often times they did not know existed.
4. Adequate Inflow for Sustained Overflow
On most vacations you get physical rest and possibly emotional rest. We’ve created an environment that seeks to provide you with emotional, physical AND spiritual renewal. So often the minster needs someone to minister to their heart. Rebound provides adequate inflow for the sustained overflow that ministry requires.
We limit Rebound to 50 couples to keep the environment intimate enough that the four priorities above can all take place effectively. It’s not just for vocational youth workers. We hold it over a weekend in hopes that it makes it more possible for key point volunteer youth workers to join us as well. Your church may not be able to afford a youth pastor but a great way to say thank you to that super-volunteer who leads the ministry may be gifting them with an extended weekend at Rebound. You can find more details and register for Rebound 2013 here.
Today’s social media world has turned everyone into a storyteller. Each post points to a different main character. Each new entry clamors for attention and recognition. Every photo depicts another snapshot from a different competing storyline.
Immersed in this social media, which is often devoid of a biblical framework, young people are left to find their identity in what can be endless, echoing stories of brokenness, selfishness and idolatry.
As pastors, parents and adults, we need to help students understand the storyline of the Bible, awakening wonder in who God is and what He’s up to in the world.
Read the entire article here in EFCA Today.
Have you ever had one of those weeks (or months) where you got in your car after some church function or a tough meeting and you felt like you could just drive right out of town, leaving it all in your rearview mirror without a second thought?
As ministry leaders we can often think that if we are “in Christ” and “ in shape”, we’ll be “invincible”. But something I’ve discovered over the years is that it is not just our physical health and our spiritual health we need to be intentional about. We also need to look at what drains and fills us emotionally.
Running on Empty
I’ve recently been re-reading Mark Buchanan’s book The Rest of God. Mark gives us some indicators I think we can all relate to that are clear signs that we’re emotionally worn out:
One measure for whether we are rested enough–besides falling asleep in meetings–is to ask yourself: How much do I care about the things I care about? When we lose concern for people, both the lost and the found, for the bride of Christ, for friendship, for truth and beauty and goodness; when we cease to laugh when our children laugh (and instead yell at them to quiet down) or weep when our spouses weep (and instead wish they didn’t get so emotional); when we hear news of trouble among our neighbors and our first thought is that we hope it isn’t going to involve us–when we stop caring about the things we care about–that’s a signal we’re too busy. ”
What drains you?
Most of us haven’t given much thought to this so we’re not totally self-aware of what it is that drains us emotionally, and to what degree. A helpful exercise is to literally make a list of the things that drain your emotional tank—the things that make you want to drive out of town or apply to be a Walmart greeter.
What replenishes you?
Then make a second list of things that replenish you. Wayne Cordeiro asks the question this way: “What are you doing…who are you with…where are you….when you feel most alive?”
For me, getting out and riding my bike, rock climbing with my friend Carl, getting near a body of water (the beach, a lake or a river), taking a walk with my wife, or learning something new are all things that replenish me emotionally.
Develop a Replenishment Plan
The reality is that I cannot remove all the things that emotionally deplete me from my life. But, what I can do is build some replenishers into my life.
I find it helpful to think of it in terms of a daily, weekly, monthly and annual strategy.
For instance, when I look at my annual calendar and see a weekend speaking engagement, I have learned that I will return from those few days oftentimes spiritually on top of the world but emotionally pretty drained.
So, I build into my calendar two extra days. The first is a day to replenish and the second is a day for follow up from the event. This turns a three-day retreat into a five-day block in my calendar. But, it’s important.
This of course means I can’t put as many things into my calendar. But, I like the person I am becoming more when I give time to some self-leadership.
In different seasons of our lives we have to adjust the strategy to fit our current stage in life.
Physical health is important. Spiritual disciplines are critical. But don’t neglect your emotional health. Develop a replenishment plan and begin making the needed adjustments.
Rebound is an annual retreat designed youth workers and their spouses specifically for rest and renewal. You can read more details and register here.
Life is throwing a lot at our children, our teens, our young adults, and it’s all too easy to succumb to the temptations, the pressures, the bad examples. But when adults model a contagious passion for Jesus, young people are often motivated to stand up to cultural pressure and walk with Jesus too. Come explore this reality in this issue of EFCA Today.
The Barna Group has done a helpful study on what Americans think about the Bible. Below is an infographic that summarizes the results. It is interesting to see that Mosaics (18-28) are more likely to see the Bible as an important source of “wisdom” in many life areas.
This is especially noteworthy for those ministering to collegians and teens. I often call the ages 12-22 the “Ten Year Critical Window” as so many life-shaping decisions are made during this brief point of person’s life while at the same time are walking through major developmental changes. Read the rest of this entry