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Have you noticed? You can't go anywhere without running into a "24" fan. Jack Bauer has truly stood the test of time and, in many ways, can teach us a thing or two. In this hit TV series, we see him continually live out a simple truth that most Christ-followers don't even get. What truth is that? It's the awareness that our daily decisions can derail, detour or drive us toward our destiny. Both Jack's victories and defeats reveal that he "gets it."
In this issue of the Source, you'll get a glimpse into one of our outreach nights. Because "24" is so popular, we wrapped our entire evening around it and the difference a day can really make. Using every art form imaginable - video clips, drama, human video, a poem and a story - we not only captured the attention of the audience, but challenged and encouraged them to take a hard look at their daily decisions, especially in regard to friendships and failure.
So grab a cup of coffee and listen in on this jam packed night. It was one we'll not soon forget.
A few years back, a PBS special was aired about a war hero who was being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery on the battlefield. He was a "conscientious objector," so his role on the front lines was that of being an ambulance driver to get wounded soldiers back for medical treatment. He chose not to kill anyone in war, but risked being killed for the sake of others.
The Old Testament story of Samson, shows us another story of a man with great destiny on his life, who was willing to die for something, and a man who God used even after his past mistakes. In many ways, Samson was an "ambulance driver."
In this month's Source, "A Call For Ambulance Drivers," with the help of Samson, a hilarious skit, and some other must-see creative elements, I'm bringing to life the concept of GIVING YOUR LIFE AWAY for others. With the reminder that failure isn't fatal, to occasionally have holy anger, and to have the guts to pull down the pillars in our own lives, the challenge is sent out to our students. We too, can be ambulance drivers.
The sad tragedy is that no one ever teaches you how to be a parent until it's almost too late and you have kids. No one teaches you how to handle finances until you get in a big mess. Perhaps more importantly, no one ever teaches you how to affair-proof your marriage until long after you've said "I do" and someone has crossed a line. Unfortunately, I think sometimes we plan more carefully for birthday parties and Christmas celebrations than we do our future marriage. Statistics tells us that 2/3 of married men and 1/2 of married women in America will have at least one affair in their marriage. How heart wrenching!
In this Source, "Affair-Proofing Your Future Marriage," we repeatedly remind students that "dating is just dress rehearsal for marriage." And, if we step into infidelity traps while dating, there is a high probability we will in marriage as well. So, using a fun video, a memorable story and God's Word, we take the opportunity on this night to teach students how to "affair-proof" themselves, their lifestyle, and their future spouses. Equipping our kids now has the potential to save a whole lot of dating and marriage heartache later.
This Source was such a key night in our own youth group and it is my gift to you, as we stir up a spirit of expectancy in our youth groups. I've entitled it "An Enemy Called Average." Use this message right before a key event to set the stage for spiritual explosion, as we did right before our Fall Retreat. It is an equally powerful message to stir up the mediocre and routine lulls that we sometimes find our group to be in.
Even we as leaders often face this enemy called average. My friend, let this message minister directly to you. Let expectancy grow in your heart as we explore the ingredients for spiritual explosion!
Still refusing to be average,
This Source, "Attitudes Of Christ's Counterculture," is my attempt to focus on some of Christ's attitude standards given in the "Be-Attitudes." Most of us know that our outward ACTIONS are only the "grandchildren" of our earlier ATTITUDES. So to create lasting outward change, inward attitudes have to be aligned and cultivated.
It's been said that "We'll never change the world as long as we are like it." So as we share this message with our students, may we also take a few minutes to examine our own attitudes as leaders in the light of Christ's directives in this passage. This is one of those messages that is powerfully preached...but even more powerfully lived.
Lovingly yours "With Attitude,"
Ever been discouraged because the teenagers in your youth ministry kept falling back into some of the same temptation areas? I know I sure have been. That's why I shared "Avoiding The Black Hole" with the teenagers in Oxygen.
Join with us as I attempt to drive home the point that "sin has energy." I wanted desperately for my gang to realize that biblically, we handle temptation and evil differently. It also gave me a great excuse to show clips from some old Sci-Fi movies. There's an old expression, "It's better to build a fence at the top of the mountain than to drive an ambulance at the bottom." In short, this Source is focused on "building the fence."
You'll love this Source, "Awkward Worship"! In this message I'm taking a run with my gang to up the ante on worship and remove some of the misconceptions of what worship is and is not.
We all know that worship can be awkward at times, especially if you're not used to it. So this message is a simple reminder that WORSHIP is just LOVE EXPRESSED. Like every person who has ever loved someone else knows: If you really love someone, you will somehow show it. With a simple, thought provoking drama and some key Scriptures, this Source will help turn "Awkward Worship" into a passionate lifestyle that glorifies God.
As an "added bonus," I've included the outlines for the other three messages we did in a 4-part series we called AWKWARD: "Awkward Silence," "Awkward Question," and "Awkward Book."
I'm sharing on one of the most important topics in the whole Bible. When I tell you my topic, it will be easy for you to blow it off. But Taylor Swift didn't blow it off. As a matter of fact, she recorded a song about it that soared to the top of the Billboard Charts in just 5 weeks. That’s the quickest climb to #1 in more than 10 years and it won 5 awards.
So in this Source, "Bad Blood," taken from Taylor Swift's hit song, I'm talking about RELATIONSHIP PAIN and having the guts to make things right between you and another person. Why do you think the song is so popular? I think it's because we all understand the ripping of relational hurt, pain, and unforgiveness...whether in a romance or just a normal friendship. I can't remember ever building a message around a pop song before. But this one deserves a listen.
Amazing is not how most teenagers will describe church speakers, youth communicators and teachers. The word they would use most to describe them is..."boring." One of the most significant things that you can ever learn to do as a youth communicator, if you want the Word of God to be given powerfully so it's remembered, is to find strong stories and establish a simple filing system where you keep them.
The truth is, lots of people will forget your message, but they will remember key stories. In this Youth Leader's Coach, I share ten places where you can find some great stories. I also share a few important pointers that will help you tell the stories so they will be more compelling and memorable…and some important filing tips so you can easily find the stories when you need them!
I like baseball! But there's one position that especially intrigues me...it's the CATCHER! Why? I sometimes wonder what's going on...in his head BEHIND THE MASK. But I often wonder the same thing in church...what's going on behind everybody's "mask"? You know...the one we easily throw on to cover up the reality of REAL LIFE for us."
In this Source I talk about the key to getting behind each other's masks...even our own. How do we do that? Through real, authentic community. Through allowing a select few to do life up-close to us through LIVING small groups, just as Jesus did in the New Testament.
Anything you do in life HALFWAY always becomes boring, including your Christianity. Isn't that so true? There's a motto that hangs in our home that has really become a mantra for me. It says, "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intentions of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways to heaven, body thoroughly used up, and happily shouting, 'WHAT A RIDE, JESUS! WHAT A RIDE!'"
In this month's Source, "Boring!" I'm developing a mantra with my students for impacting our world. It can be summed up in three words: VISION + ENDURANCE = CONQUEST. With some help from the life of Esther and an incredible true story about Notre Dame, it's my prayer that our students are ignited with fresh passion to go make a difference in their sphere of influence.
Go cut down your nets,
Have you ever tried to carry something that weighed a ton a long way? It can be brutal and significantly impact the direction and distance you travel. It's no different when it comes to carrying the invisible weight of failure. It can be debilitating for our students...but it doesn't have to be!
As youth leaders, I think one of the most important things we could ever coach a student on is how to make a strategic comeback after an epic failure (or any failure for that matter). Helping students realize that "at the very moment they are most tempted to run away from the Lord is the time to run to Him" is crucial for their spiritual lives.
In this message, we look at the lives of three of the biggest failures in the Bible...Moses, the "Murderer," David, the "Adulterer," and Jacob, the "Deceiver." Even though they failed in big ways, they learned to break the "Failure Phobia," repent, and keep going. Using their stories, a video, an object lesson and an Indian boy, in this Source we teach our students some simple steps to help them overcome the "Failure Phobia" too.
Are you ready to challenge your gang to live a life of committed Christianity and not one of "Cheap Salvation"? This Source, "Cardboard Crosses," is one of my favorite salvation messages. It will challenge the new Christians and unsaved in your group to pick up their cross, or in today's world "their electric chair," and follow Christ with abandonment. In a society that would rather just believe, we want to encourage our students to come under Christ's Lordship, an end of life on our own terms. This message includes some great visual illustrations to help your students understand that without total commitment the cross has no value.
May this Source not only challenge the unsaved, but your entire team to not just "believe" but to "obey." And don't let this message just be for your students alone. We all have to daily "pick up our cross" and follow Christ wholeheartedly!
Refusing to carry a Cardboard Cross,
The reality is, how each of us choose to spend our time, will ultimately create how each of us choose to spend our life. However, it's all too easy to let our primary focus be inward, thinking of our own personal rights, to ever truly seize the day. But to be able to truly change my behavior, I must first change my perspective.
In this month's Source, "Carpe Diem," I'm challenging our students to seize the day on making some Christ-honoring choices that can set them up with a lifetime of success and happiness. Listen in, as you hear me illustrate the importance of how we spend our lives with some help from a powerful tape measure illustration, four lepers, and a clock ticking away in the background. It's my hope that we all say to the Lord, "Give me your kind of spiritual leprosy...so I don't waste my life spiritually having too much to lose."
Choosing to seize the day,
You are going to love this Source! It's entitled "Changing Seasons Successfully." After four decades of youth ministry I truly know the only thing that doesn't change in the life of a teenager is change itself!
Whether it's ending an athletic season, moving from junior high to high school, graduating high school and starting college, switching from semester to semester or from being in a relationship to the ending of a relationship, a key lifelong gift you can give your youth is to train them how to move from one season to another while remaining solidly planted in their faith.
In this Source I'm joined by Darren Hileman, as we tag team on seven principles of how to spiritually survive during seasons of change. It is a dynamic high impact night that you are going to want to use with your own youth soon!
Your constant coach thru change,
With this edition of the Source, "Christ's Answer To The Fear Factor," we give you a "can't miss" event. This is an outreach-based message that we did for two weeks. While this Source isn't long enough to include the audio from both nights, we've given you both sets of notes to use. We've also loaded up this Source with all the games, tech notes, and more to execute this event flawlessly. So take what you want, adapt it for your gang, and if you only do it for one week or stretch it longer than two, I know this will be a hit with your team!
On a personal note, this message deals with two of the biggest fears that people in our society struggle with: "the fear of rejection" and "the fear of insignificance." Our own students and ourselves, if we're honest, fight these fears daily. As you listen, you'll hear me often speak of my own battle with these fears. Remember, "you will lead people with your strengths, but you will connect to people with your weaknesses."
So sit back, relax, and give me a few minutes to be you "long distance cheerleader."
Lovingly your "Big Sis,"
Romance can be a TRICKY thing! As Christians, it's sometimes painfully easy to "play both sides" spiritually (kind of like flirting with two loves at the same time). In blunt terms, because of our half-heartedness, it's kind of like being "torn between two lovers." So let me ask this one important question: "Are you COMMITTED...or are you really in more of a SPIRITUAL AFFAIR?"
In a "do now, pay later" generation, today's students want the best of both worlds without having to live with the consequences. In this month's Source, I bring up the "red flags" of living a double life. While students may not feel the immediate effects in the moment, eventually, the PRICES will COST them. This is a challenging Source that could help your students CHOOSE which side of the line they will walk on.
A headline appeared on the front page of the USA Today newspaper. It read, "Ever since 9-11, a rash of violence in our world which is highly difficult to contain has continued to mount through the means of young adult suicide bombers. We wonder why the Palestinian and Islamic movements are gaining such momentum worldwide. Perhaps these zealous young people are the answer. These young men and women don't want to SEND a bomb. They want to BE THE BOMB."
Then listen to these haunting words from more of that newspaper article: "There is little likelihood of permanently stopping any of these young suicide bombers who are so fiercely CONSUMED by their cause that they are literally willing for THEIR CAUSE TO CONSUME THEM."
In this month's Youth Leader's Coach, "Consumed," I'm sharing three things we need to remember if we want to be consumed for Kingdom purposes. The world is full of stories of people who give their lives for a lesser cause than the cause of Christ. And though few of us are called to give our lives PHYSICALLY, we are all called to give ourselves whole-hearted SPIRITUALLY.
Have you started a fire recently in your youth service? I mean a real fire. If not, this Source will give license to the "closet pyromaniac" hiding inside most of us. My title for the evening was "Consuming Fire," and in all honesty, it will be a night that your teenagers will probably remember for a long time.
The message focuses on God's positive and life-changing process of purification in our lives. It ends with a brief visualization focused around something we don't mention much in youth ministry these days...Hell. So as you share with your students about the "fiery times" we all experience, it will be your honor to give those times some meaning and purpose.
Aren't we really lucky to get to do what we do? We get to partner with Jesus to change teenagers' lives before they reach that nasty, temperamental, hard-to-change status called "adulthood"!
Lovingly still playing with fire,
For everything good Jesus gives us there's a Counterfeit… a fraudulent imitation that seeks to deceive, devalue and destroy. We all internally crave... affirmation, acceptance, and attention. And if we don’t allow Christ’s CRAZY LOVE to be at the center of those needs, we open ourselves up to COUNTERFEIT FORMS OF LOVE... that will always disappoint us, wound us, and ultimately put us in bondage.
In this Source I call, "Counterfeit Love," I shed some light on two of these Counterfeits. My own personal struggle I call, "The Disease To Please," and the one that is almost everywhere we turn now... the counterfeits of "Pornography, Self-Gratification, and Sexting." Tough topics, and ones that the church will often avoid talking about. But in today's youth culture, ones we can't afford to ignore.