A Leader Worth Following

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

Hebrews 13:7 New International Version (NIV)

I've been in Youth Ministry in our amazing State of Oregon, and incredible Network family, since October 1986. It was Ormel Chapins final year, in the office of DCAP. Then came Stan Russell, which ushered in the era of "Youth Alive" campus Ministry as a focus of Youth Ministry. Then it was Rich Wood, that invited me to do what I am now doing in ministry today. Then Jay Anderson, who gave us 10 strong years of leadership. I want to take a moment and focus on these past 12 years. First let me say it has been an honor to serve next to such an incredible leader. His heart of passion for all of us and for the kids and students of Oregon, has elevated our Oregon Family to a new level of community and focus. He has been a life learner, that knows how to communicate with the brightest of us, and the simplest of us. When he engaged us in conversation, he NEVER looked to see who else was entering the room, nor did he try to wow us with who he was. His heart for our growth, as men and women, as fathers and mothers, and even for some of us as Grandparents, has been the greatest relational leadership I have ever seen exhibited.

Hebrews 13:7, says three things great leaders should be. First...speak the word of God. Our NextGen pastor has never swayed from the WORD, and speaking it boldly in fact, if you missed FUSION this year, young or old, Youth, Children, Lead, or Associate you need to listen to this sermon. Secondly, Hebrews states "consider the outcome of their way of life", please stop for a moment and reflect upon those thoughts and weigh heavily how his influence has affected your way of life. Lastly, it says "imitate their faith", this is not meant to sound like a memorial, because he is just leaving office and moving to a new position, which means we will still have him around to speak to and to imitate His faith. As for me, I strive to be an imitator of Christ, but I have always wanted to serve and imitate Brian's Faith.

Thanks Brian and Barb Eno for giving Oregon exactly what we needed over the past 12 years. May your days ahead be greater than the days behind. Our Prayers are for you. As to our New NextGen leader, whomever it may be, we are already for you. The shoes you fill are huge, for the past decades. Thanks for submitting to the call of God in your life, but I would then say to you, whomever you are.

Please Live Hebrews 13:7 "SPEAK THE WORD OF GOD.....CONSIDER THAT WE ARE WATCHING AND EMULATING THE WAY YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE..... and BE A LEADER THAT WE SHOULD IMITATE YOUR FAITH.

Scarred Hands

I'm sitting in my office today, writing this article, with so many things going on in the lives around me. It's sunny outside, it's a beautiful day, but so many around me are hurting. My mind goes to the story of Thomas, just after Christ died. In that time, after Christ's death and resurrection, Christ appeared to some disciples and they were so excited to report back to the others. When reported to Thomas, his reply is found in John 20:25 "They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” How often in our moments of despair do we doubt, or received advice from a well meaning friend, that absolutely makes no sense in the moment. How incredible is our Savior as he didn't necessarily have to come back with the scars, but it could be said that He did, and maybe, just for Thomas.

I think about our incredible Oregon Family as ministers, and those that we minister too. What do we need, in this journey of life. We need a Savior, which we have, but we need each other. I love the OMN statement "we are better together". I would ask you today as you read this, who is the Lord putting on your heart to call today? What teenager, needs you to come along side them to show the scars and the wounds in your life? Your story of wounds and Christs healing power, as we all know, is the only answer for a lost and hurting generation. The picture of Christ's wounds are the only thing that will heal the other wounds.

What We Don't Know

Mark 4:22 English Standard Version (ESV)For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.

In the past few years I've been challenged by the thought that the most dangerous word in the Bible, is the word "hid". Original Sin can be seen doing this. In fact, the Bible shares with us in James that the way to overcome the things that we hide is through a simple, but hard action of "Confession". The outcome, according to this scripture is to be whole and healed. I continue to find the greatest distraction to discipleship is this very thing, hid. So I have chosen to live by a statement in my life, "What I don't know, matters." It requires me to slow down my life daily, and to be relentless, to allow my schedule to change, when God brings those moments of revelation, from others, to my life. Yes I get frustrated when my long, To do list, seems just to get longer.
However, when what was hidden is then revealed, I can then pray much more directly. I can speak words that have meaning to the situation. I can help carry the persons burden. My heart is open to loving in a way that might have been tainted by what I saw with my eyes, and heard with my ears, rather than what i knew in my heart.
So today in our busy life, I would challenge you, when you run across a student, a parent, or a person in line at Fred Meyers, ask yourself, "I wonder what is happening in their life that brings that attitude out in such a way?" When you do that, your heart is moved to pray. I am grateful to God for the revelation of this truth. Yes to get there was hard, but the outcome, I would not trade for the world.

Purpose-Born to Be...?

I can't get away from the thought....what if I've been doing things well, all my life, but there has always been a better way. What if I even, quite by accident, every once in a while did the correct thing, but seemed to always revert back to what was comfortable.
I can't seem to move away from these thoughts. It doesn't haunt me, but it is always on my mind. If I am doing things wrong who's to blame? I love this quote from Theodore Roosevelt "If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month."
Ephesians 4:12 "to equip his people for works of service"
“The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

I recently heard that youth ministry must become, nothing less than a "Trade School for future Ministers". Those in the vocation, and those in the real world, of which, we shouldn't see as different. In essence what is my job, to teach and walk beside a student to teach them how to read a compass.
To provide Love, to give Value, and to help discover Purpose, and NEVER underestimate what they can accomplish. Does this not equal HOPE?
Books to read: Be With Factor By Bo Bosher, The Boy Crisis By Warren Farrell and John Gray

Why

I'm in my office this morning, 3 days before Thanksgiving, giving thought to what I should share. Not wanting to write another article that will in some way make me look wise, powerful, and transformational. I'm listening to some worship music and reading Jeff Deyo's new book "Awakening True Worship". What I have read to this point is ringing so true with where the Lord has me, presently on my life journey. Next month, a four year long endeavor, on a Masters Degree. Why? Tom's old, why is he getting a Masters, for the same reason, I want to grow in my relationship with Jesus. I am once again, asking myself, "Tom, why are you doing what you do?" I have not contrived long answers, I just have one... I was moving towards a degree in Aero Space Engineering, when God stopped me cold on a Sunday Morning, at Bend Faith Christian Center, seated, in the balcony, between my best friend Mike and my girlfriend, and soon wife, Dalleen. It wasn't the message being preached, it wasn't the worship being sung, it was God from heaven, entering into my physical world, and making his presence made known, He asked me stop doing what I was doing, and come follow Him into Pastoral Ministry.
You see 9 years before, God called me as a 10 year old to follow Him and live out my life for Him in salvation, 2 years later He once again, made Himself very real on a Sunday Morning, where He showed me what true worship, was like, again, no one else was apparently experiencing what I was. It was that same year, the Holy Spirit came and filled me. Never would I be the same again. Now here 43 years later, those decisions were incredible, my life has grown, but the reason has never changed. "That None Perish". Yes, I've been in valleys that slowed down the journey. Yes, life has not always been great. My decisions have not always been driven by His voice. I can say this I would not go back and change one bit of the journey. I would prefer that my daughter didn't do what she did at 16, I would prefer that my son wasn't abused, but I am who I am because of living through those incredibly difficult journeys.
Just a month ago I stood at Youth Convention, after our Network Lead Pastor, Bill Wilson, shared a message that stirred the hearts of our Oregon students, to respond to a call to ministry. Many responded because there was a stirring/calling in their heart and they moved towards God and God moved towards them. Others responded because God was calling them to something more. Like He did for me that Sunday morning. God was so good to me in my journey, he provided incredible leadership to help me on that journey, one of their names was Jon Davis, He's been an Oregon missionary to China for around 30 years. Then his brother-in-law came, and Verlon continued my journey, all the while God gave me Bill Galaher, my Lead Pastor to stretch me. There were so many others they are too many to count, God had a plan, and He never thought about making me walk this journey alone. In fact, Jon was so instrumental in my life change that I named my son after him.
As I worship today, as I talk to Jesus in my quiet time, I have just one question to wrap up this testimony... Reminding you of Youth Convention and the 200-400 that responded to the "Call of God". It's been a month, what are you doing to help your students be obedient to the "Call". Not all to vocational ministry, I know that, that's not the point. Are your raising up your replacement? Are you raising up Peers in Vocation? How? Bring them into your inner circle (Peter, James and John), Encourage them in the good and hard days? Remind them often of what God has asked of them. We can together see Oregon know Christ.

Two things to do:

Join me at 9:38 am. every morning, put a timer on your phone. Matthew 9:38 New International Version (NIV) 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Live this out. Matthew 28:19-20 New International Version (NIV)

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I Got You

A few years ago, I was asked to do a Family Camp, it was truly a blast. One of the members, was a young man that had recently resigned from the Navy. I asked him "What is the biggest thing you miss about being in the military?" Without reservation he immediately said, "The knowing that someone has my back." He went on to say, without reservation, “I knew, that those around me had my back.... ALWAYS.“

Philippians 2:1-4 "If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand."

This is Christs message of loving others, His intent was that we the body of Christ, would be that not only for ourselves but for those around us. We live in an era of students and adults, with no hope, high anxiety, and deepest pits of depression. One of the things missing is the deepest sense of community and brotherhood/sisterhood. We must foster this in our days. Bring value to all and live out the Blessed Hope that is afforded to us. Now to you the youth/kids leader... are you lonely, do you feel like an island, that you are without someone watching your back. Maybe you’re the opposite, and you feel very loved, and very valued, and safe. You feel this way because of how your church, or your team, or even your mate foster this. Whether you are on one side of this or the other, truth be told we NEED each other. If you are blessed then it’s time to be a blessing if you are alone, it’s time you ask and look for help.

Some easy ways to make this happen:

  1. Call 3 youth/kids leaders every Monday, even if you are feeling alone, be the agent of change yourself

  2. Come to the Oregon Coast Forum, on Sept 16-18, in Waldport, its FREE, you could and should find people here, that you can have their back and they will have yours. Call me for details, 503-510-2834.

  3. I love what Philippians says... AGREE WITH EACH OTHER, LOVE EACH OTHER, BE DEEP-SPIRITED FRIENDS.

  4. You may say, I don't need this, I've got those people in my life, then let me say this to you, you are blessed, and there are others that NEED YOU.

Looking Back to go Forward

Looking back at 34 years of youth ministry, it’s amazing how many things I’ve been able to learn. It’s good to sometimes look back and see how the Lord has directed our path. In the beginning of my ministry career, I based my success on things like how many students showed up, did they engage, did they come back, was my message articulated clearly? These weren’t necessarily bad, but momentary success didn’t always result in a transformed life.
I wish I could say that ministry was fully intentional, but many of the things happened quite by accident, at least in my mind. In my first ministry position, if 2-4 students showed up, we’d go to Dairy Queen. If 5 or more showed up, we’d have a service. The small groups at Dairy Queen were actually more effective than the services! That’s where our relationships developed, and I earned the right to speak into their lives.
One of the rewarding parts of ministry has been to see young people discover their gifts and use them for the Lord. I always encouraged students not only to dream big, but to live out those dreams. Many started Bible groups at their school where they learned to preach and were able to own their faith and ministry; others started getting involved on the worship team and leading worship.
Throughout the years of youth ministry, I’ve noticed that those still serving the Lord today are the same ones who actively used their giftings and took ownership of ministry back then. They’re also the ones whom I and other youth leaders spent much time with apart from youth nights – which gave us opportunity for deeper mentoring and relationship growth. I noticed they also tended to take advantage of alter times and really purposed to BE WITH JESUS daily. Most entered into ministry after starting those Bible Groups at school.
Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:12
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13

The questions I leave with you today are

How do we give ownership of our youth/kids ministries back to the students?
Are your students able to learn from you as you follow Christ when you’re away from the pulpit?

Here are some great resources I recommend regarding this topic:

4 Ways to Empower Your Kids To Live Out Their Faith, an article by Candi Cushman
Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderselt and Jackie Hill Perry, recommended by the National Youth Department. REALLY good and worth the read.

I pray that our years of ministry ahead are even greater than our previous years. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you. Oregon students are weighing in the balance.

Iron on Iron

"Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another."Proverbs 27:17

When I was 17 years old, my Youth Pastor, Jon Davis, would preach on having good Biblical relationships with the opposite sex. I heard those messages over and over, and they helped form a Biblical view of how I should live out my life. However, when I turned 18, I started dating. I'd never had a girlfriend before, so this "relationship" was stretching me, and I felt like I had no one I could talk to.
One day, Jon Davis, Jeff Winters and I were chatting, when Jeff asked, "Pastor Jon, what do you think of Carla? Do you think she might be the one for me?"
Pastor Jon said something like, "NO, NO, NO, RUN! She is NOT THE ONE!"
I was struck by the directness of his answer. Before even thinking, I jumped right into the question, "Pastor Jon, what do you think about Dalleen? Do you think she could be the one?"
He answered, "If it were me, I would marry that girl."
Thirty-five years have gone by, and I'm still married to Dalleen.

“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us."1 Thessalonians 2:8

I say all that to ask, "Whom are you mentoring and who is mentoring you? Who is in your life that you are giving advice to because they know you will be honest with them? Not just preaching a message of how a Christian should live, but having moments like Christ had with Peter when He asked him one-on-one, "Peter, do you love me?"
Whom are you mentoring and who is mentoring you?
Not only are you to have those mentoring times, but are you raising up others to do the same? I ask myself those questions a lot now, knowing that my future days of ministry are less than my former. Who can I raise up to do what I'm doing?
One thing I've learned in the last two years of traveling our state is that I know nothing about reaching a campus for Christ, but God does, and He shows us how to do it. When He does, and we are obedient, lives are changed. God’s grace is moving in communities across Oregon, and the stories must be told. A pastor should be able to tell another pastor about what God is doing in his town with a sense of encouragement instead of competition. The more I listen and allow others to mentor me, the more I grow, and the message of Christ becomes more vibrant in and through my life, and the more valuable I become to the Kingdom.
He shows us how to do it, and when we are obedient, lives are changed.
My son asked me a question a while back, "Dad, did you ever wonder why I threw the bat when I struck out playing baseball in my younger years?"
In that moment, floods of anger and frustration hit me as my mind raced back to a very aggravating time of my life. Of course I did, he was such a cry baby!
He went on to say, "The reason I'd get frustrated and cry or throw my bat or glove was because I felt like I failed my team."
I felt like I failed my team.
That statement was like iron to my head; I'm still processing it months later.
Is it possible that the key to ministry in our generation is to realize we know nothing and can learn from others every day? Can we look for opportunities to mentor, but also be mentored? Pastor Jon was an obvious mentor to me at 18 years old, but Jon Bachman was also a mentor to me when he was 26 and I was 53.
Whom are you mentoring, and who is mentoring you?