I’m not DEAD!
In fact, I’M MORE ALIVE THAN I’VE EVER BEEN!!
After almost 14 years planting churches, building friendships, reaching communities, training ministers, loving teenagers and raising leaders in Michigan (11+ years in Detroit and 2+ years in Lansing); God is leading me and my family to Burlington, Vermont! I will be launching a community-based student outreach called Revolution Youth in the most unchurched community in America. Read previous post, Life Update, for details.
When I was young in ministry, I often said “I’m youth ministry for life” and I would quote Psalm 71:18, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” … I believed this and, back then, “old” seemed like forever away! Then, our church planting, being a lead pastor and presbyter and other grown-up stuff happened. Not to mention changes in my family! LIFE happened! So, was I wrong? Did God change His mind? Was it immature or irresponsible to stay in youth ministry? Was I chasing some fictional fountain of youth??
Absolutely not. Even when serving in those roles, my heart, style, approach and passion continued to have a youth edge and emphasis. I believe in the next generation! I love millennials and generation z! They must be the heart of the church today because they are the hope for the church tomorrow — I believe this!
So, here I am, in over-my-head in crazy, faith-required, youth ministry…
God’s timing is perfect. The seasons & roles leading up to this were right (obeying God always is). I wasn’t wrong about the serving the other roles — they were character building and helped me mature in ways I didn’t even know that I needed. And so, Yes, I’m still living THE DREAM (which happens to be satan’s nightmare)!! With this in mind, I thought I might share a few lessons – in no particular order – that I’ve learned through all of this…
- Tell A Vision — don’t be afraid to share the vision God gives you! Share it with your team, staff & supporters. Yeah, I’m sure over the last 14 years some have thought “yeah, right, it’s never gonna happen” — maybe even a few rolled their eyes. But it DID happen! And this teaches us that God’s timing is perfect and that perseverance builds character, trust and loyalty. And, doing your current assignment with all your heart qualifies you for the next assignment. Don’t get ahead of the vision.
- Revel in ANY Win — sometimes the thought of winning Detroit for Christ seemed insurmountable or raising the capital to fund the BIG vision is so daunting. And, now, reaching 1000’s students seems ridiculous!! So, focus on what you can do TODAY, this week, this month… find joy in the little victories (which often are way bigger than your realize)! When you begin to experience win after win after win, you’ll believe for bigger things and you’ll create the momentum & confidence needed to GO FOR IT! Plus, it sets an atmosphere of joy!
- Laugh at Yourself … A LOT — oh wow, I’ve said and done some things that are simply ridiculous! They make for a great story and, hopefully, build camaraderie amongst my team but not every idea works, not every sermon rocks and not every outreach wins. But, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right?! Face it, some things don’t always work or maybe something work only once. Don’t get locked in on methods — ONLY the message is sacred!
- Disciple — be personally involved in making disciples and stick with it until your disciples can make disciples who make disciples! Then make more!! This will produce life, love and purpose inside of you and will bring about cool changes in your own walk with God! You can’t simply delegate this or allow it to become a program. Our Lord’s last few words before ascending told us to do it — He’s going to ask us about it — so, DO IT and do it well. Because of my heart for discipleship, I’m NOT moving to Vermont alone! No way, I have 3 young adults stepping up & stepping out of their comfort zones to join this amazing adventure! Discipling them and seeing them thrive has been and will continue to be one of my greatest joys! And, more are being raised every day!!
- Plant the Flag — In our short-attention culture, it’s hard to find people who stick with anything for very long… I think we must learn to plant the flag. To take our stand and be determined to STAY until the task is complete – no matter who leaves you, no matter how big the other offer is, no matter how frustrated you get, no matter how bad it hurts, no matter what advice you’re given… fight to be faithful and fight to finish! And, by the way, the first and best flag you plant should be ALL white: Surrender! He can take it from there! In fact, our logo for Revolution Youth is based on a white flag…
I may be adding more to this tomorrow but I wanted to just throw down a few things to get you thinking. Feel free to jump on any of these points in the comments. I’d love to hear where you’re at in all of this… please invite others to the conversation too by using one of the social media buttons below this post or top of the site). And, after reading this, IF you feel a tug on your heart be part of our adventure in Vermont (in prayer, with finances or even, in person); I would LOVE to hear from you!! Thanks!
I BELIEVE IN YOU!
Press on my friend, Chilly