Author Archives: Shane Stacey
While on sabbatical this past summer I had the opportunity to do some hiking in Colorado. It took us a few hours to ascend to 13,500 feet. The view was absolutely breathtaking. We lingered at the top for about an hour but eventually had to make the long descent back into the valley.
As we entered below the tree line one of the guides pulled me aside and read me this powerful quote:
“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know” –Rene Daumal
Daumal’s words encouraged me about one of the important roles that camps, retreat conferences and mission trips play in the spiritual journey of students. They give a taste of what life with Jesus and his people can be like. Ascending above the trees of everyday life often makes it easier to get a breathtaking glimpse of the greatness and graciousness of God.
True, we can’t stay at the top, but what students experience on the mountaintop can inform how they live in the valley. This is what we’re seeing come out of the Challenge Conference. Take a moment to be moved by Grace’s story.
Do you hear how a mountaintop moment has affected real missional momentum back down in the valley of everyday life?
Join us in Kansas City for Challenge 2014.
What is one of your ministries favorite “mountaintop” environments and how do you see it transforming a way of life back in the valley?
Two of the growing obstacles in reaching students in our culture are time and perception. Students have more options and are involved in more activities than ever. This makes getting to your programs more challenging – especially on a regular basis.
The church also has a perception problem among youth. We hear this often in the discussion about reaching 20-somethings (see You Lost Me by David Kinnaman), but I think this is often true for young ages as well – especially high school students. Many have already created a very opinionated perception of the church in their minds. This too makes it a challenge for your students to get their peers to come to your mid-week meeting or event.
So what do we do?
Greg Breazeale’s post entitled Who is the Hero of Your Sermon? is a good word for any of us who teach.
As one who teaches students, we would be wise to ask ourselves who does this lesson, talk, or sermon point to?
You can point to you!
It is easy to point to yourself as the standard, but it is Christ who is our standard. “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.” (2 Cor. 4:5)
You can point to your listeners!
It is also easy to simply call your listeners to be more, work harder, and behave better.
You can point to your ministry.
In our desire to generate movement in our ministry we can cast vision to our ministry programs as being the answer for our soul’s or the world’s greatest need (i.e. small groups, service project, mission trip, recovery group, etc.)
Check out Greg’s post. Consider creating a dialogue around it with anyone who is regularly opening God’s word with students.
Most of us would say we want to make disciples that make disciples. But our prayers often say something different. Often we are focused on praying for our children, students, and friends right in front of us. We only have the second generation in mind.
Multipliers have the third generation in mind even while they are working and ministering with the second generation. One of the places this shows up is in their prayer lives.
Take a look at Jesus
In Luke 10:1-2, when Jesus is sending out the 72 he gives them one different instruction than he gave to the 12 back in Luke 9. He tells them to pray that the Lord would rise up more workers for the harvest. Read the rest of this entry
Assuming you don’t want to make disciples, but want to make disciples who make disciples, you need to think like a multiplier. When I see a good multiplier I often ask them how they think. How do they view their role? Over and over again, this is what I hear. Read the rest of this entry
Two from our group were getting ready to take the summit. Like the others I had already decided the night before that I wasn’t going. We had hiked quite a distance the few days prior.
But, when 8 a.m. rolled around, I found myself with my day pack on, ascending to the summit. It ended up being my favorite day of our nine-day Pastors on Point trip. I’ll never forget the view from the top. It was breathtaking.
What changed my mind? Read the rest of this entry
Extended adolescence is a symptom of our culture and not a fact we have to live with. Telling young people they have an extra 10 years to float around before they figure out their life is not helping them nor is it helping our country.
In the TED talk below, clinical psychologist Meg Jay has a bold message for 20-somethings: Contrary to popular belief, your 20s are not a throwaway decade. In this provocative talk, Jay says that just because marriage, work and kids are happening later in life, doesn’t mean you can’t start planning now. She gives three pieces of advice for how 20-somethings can re-claim adulthood in the defining decade of their lives.
This is important because there are currently 50 million 20-somethings today – that’s 15 percent of the US population. Ages 18-28 are a 10-year critical window in a young person’s life. Eighty percent of life’s most defining moments happen by 35 (i.e. picking a college, partner career, city, etc.) Jay states that she’s hearing from more and more people in their early 30s realizing they had a better resume when they graduated from college than they did at 30.
Three Things Every Twenty Something Needs to Hear
1. Build identity capital! Do something that is an investment in who you might want to be (internship). Exploration that doesn’t count for your future is merely procrastination.
2. The urban tribe is overrated! Who you know, what you know, how you speak, and where you are going will be shaped by who you surround yourself with. Get out of the inner circle of your generation and surround yourself with those who are more than an echo of yourself.
3. Start picking your family NOW! The best time to work on your marriage is before you have one.
What I’d add to Jay’s list is that each of these issues is directly connected to a young person’s Ephesians 2:10 purpose. What is so empowering about this truth is that it means a young person is not left alone to figure out who they are, why they are here, and who they should be partnered with. That not only the support but the intention of the Designer is also available to them. Each of these issues is directly connected and supported by a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In fact, for a generation who often says I’ll take Jesus but I don’t need His church, they may find in the church the very sort of mentors they need as they engage Jay’s advice.
Consider viewing and discussing this video to your high school students and the implications it has for them.
What one piece of advice would you add to Jay’s advice for your current 20-somethings?
One of the primary roles youth workers find themselves in is that of a teacher. We have a message that every student needs to hear – namely the gospel. The question is what means should we use to communicate that message to this generation?
Leonard Sweet is known for creating the acronym E.P.I.C to describe how to communicate with this generation. Tim Elmore has also picked this up in his book entitled Generation IY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future to describe students preferred way of engaging with content in a learning environment.
In communicating to this generation we need to draw them into an E.P.I.C. learning environment:
E – Experiential: Students want to see something, or do something, not just hear something. Consider how to connect your message to an experience. When students connect truth with an experience they are far more likely to remember. I met a youth pastor last year who tried to have one week of every series be more of an experience than just another lecture.
P – Participatory: The young people you and I minister to today have been encouraged to upload every thought. They are used to expressing themselves and their thoughts about a subject. What they often find in the church is a one-way learning environment. Most students will check out after about 6-8 minutes, but if they can participate in the direction the program is going and add their thoughts, they will be more likely to stay engaged. Whenever possible consider how you can introduce dialogue whether in twos, threes or as a large group into your teaching environments. Dialogue increases engagement.
I – Image-Rich: All you have to do is look at the rise in Instagram followers. Students would rather post an image than write a post. This should tell us something about how to engage students. An image tells a story. It sticks in the minds of people. In the words of Socrates, “The soul does not think without a picture.” In our media-rich society an image may be a great way to help students both engage and remember the message you’re trying to get across. The fun part is that you can ask students to help you find the image to best communicate what you want to communicate.
C – Connected: Students want to do things together. Coaches have reported that it’s hard to get their athletes to do their workouts unless they do them with a friend or, at the least, with a cell phone. Learning together is a value for students. Let’s be honest, they’re not coming to your youth group for you, no matter how great of a teacher you are. They come because their friends are there. Consider, both inside and outside the teaching environment, how you can help students engage the message in relationships with others.
What is one of your favorite ways of adding experiences, participation, images, and/or conversation in order to create an E.P.I.C. teaching environment?
Skillful Hands AND an Upright Heart
In church leadership, too often we think that what we need most is a training environment that leads to better ministry and we attend a conference in order to get equipped for that ministry.
Now, I appreciate many things that conferences provide: training, networking, innovative ideas, etc., but effective and fruitful ministry does not come only from the work of our hands; it flows from the faithfulness of our hearts.
Equipping our hands for better ministry is good but it is not always the wisest approach. At times, one of the best things to do is to place ourselves in an environment that seeks to encourage our hearts.
In Psalm 78:72, King David shepherded God’s people with an upright heart and a skillful hand. Effective leadership skills are important but so is the sincerity of a leader’s heart.
Both are needed.
Do you remember the 1983 song by The Police called “Every Breath You Take”?
“Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you.
Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I’ll be watching you.”
Thanks to smart phones, these words by the old rock legend, Sting, may be a little truer and easier than ever.