My 4 goals as a small group leader

As a youth ministry volunteer here’s what I’m not able to do. 

  • I don’t guide the programming or the overall things we do in our ministry.
  • I don’t guide what’s taught.
  • I can’t control the environment, how the room looks or feels.
  • I don’t know every student that comes, I struggle to remember the names of the guys in my group.
  • I can’t be at every youth group event or activity, much less attend sporting events or just randomly show up like I did when I was in full-time church-based ministry.

In truth, just showing up on Wednesday night for a few hours is about all I’ve got to offer the high school ministry. It is important to me. At the same time, just being blunt, helping in the high school ministry is not my number one priority these days… it’s not the trump card it was when I was on staff at a church or even when Kristen and I were volunteers in our mid-20s.

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Assume the Best in Everyone

  • Most people are generally good.
  • Stranger danger doesn’t apply, necessarily, to adults.
  • Crime is way down. You grew up in a more dangerous society than your kids.

In yesterday’s post, Impending Doom, I shared about a segment of our society whose entire  life narrative is built around the hope they find in a world headed to hell in a hand basket, praying for and even seeking to manipulate world events to usher in the imminent return of Jesus.

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Impending Doom

Last month, I drove from Nashville, Tennessee to Starkville, Mississippi for a Sunday afternoon speaking engagement. As I drove across rural Alabama and Mississippi, through small towns, flooded fields, and by countless small farms, I got a glimpse into a religious phenomenon oddly familiar.

On this drive were hundreds of religious signs. Most mentioned the name of a church or the times of a service. But many focused on a central message: Impending Doom.

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A pastor in the hills above Jacmel

Vision Trip Report

The cool moist Pacific air greeted me. I sent a text to Kristen, who was waiting in the cell phone lot. “I’m outside.” Three minutes prior I walked off my Southwest flight from Chicago, the last leg of my return flight from Port au Prince. A few minutes later and I saw her pull up in our white minivan. She slid over to the passenger seat, I tossed my bags into the back, and the trip was officially over.

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Travel as a Political Act

Watch the first 6-7 minutes of this presentation from Rick Steves, I think it’ll challenge your perceptions of what it means…

  1. …to travel. The “why” we need to travel beyond our borders is super important.
  2. …to share what we know to be true. I’ve watched and loved Rick Steves show on PBS for years, I’d heard him do a couple radio interviews where he was a little outspoken on some issues, but my goodness he is unafraid to use his voice in this 80 minute piece.

In both cases, I hope to see more of that. I know for myself, while I certainly don’t land in the same area code as Mr. Steves on a lot of political issues addressed in this speech… I certainly want to continue to embody the two points above. I want to and plan to continue to travel beyond our borders. And I want to and plan to continue to share what I know to be true.

My favorite photos from the Haiti Vision Trip

I’ll be sharing some stories and reflections on the 2014 Haiti Vision Trip with Praying Pelican Missions over the next week or so. But for now I wanted to share some of my favorite pictures. (Hover over the images to see captions, RSS readers, visit the site to see missing captions)