Archive for October, 2007

How To Make Youth Group Visitors Feel Welcomed

Over the past few years we have seen over 100 new youth walk through our doors.  We have made plenty of mistakes when it comes to greeting and welcoming them.  We have learned many things over the years…

  • Bringing first timers up onto the stage to introduce them to the group.
  • Having them take part in a “visitor challenge”.
  • Asking them to share something embarrassing about themselves.

These would all go down in the “mistakes” category.

There are around 12 schools that feed into our student ministry.  The chances of a student joining us for the first time and not knowing someone at Impact are small.  As students arrive at Impact we greet them all.  When we meet someone who is new we find out what school they attend.  With that information we connect them with a student that they may know from their school who is a regular at Impact.  The “regular” then will show the new student around the building, sit with them during worship and the message, and bring them to their cell (small) group.

We have an open-door policy for parents so if they come in with the student we get to know them and extend the invitation to hang around that night at Impact.  The bottom line is that parents are trusting us with their kid.  We want to ensure them that we will do what we can to help their kid connect and feel welcomed at Impact.  If the student is dropped off at the door we do what we can at the end of the night to meet their parents (sometimes that means taking a walk out to their car as the student heads out for their ride.)  We are intentional about doing this for a number of reasons.

  • We are a family ministry.
  • We want to know where the kids are coming from.
  • We want to help ease any concerns that parents may have.
  • As we strive to partner with parents we need their feedback on how their kids are doing.

We also try and follow up with each new student a day or two after they have joined us.  That means that when they are in their small group the leader gets their contact info from them.  We will send them a small card thanking them for joining us, send a quick email letting them know that we were glad they checked out Impact, and we’ll have their cell group leader give them a call during that week to answer any questions they may have after attending once.

Many times other students will get their email or IM and connect with them as well.  As we try and involve students in all aspects of leadership at Impact it is their connections with the new students that seem to make the greatest difference on whether or not a student returns for a second time.

I personally try and learn all of the students names and learn something about them so that I can reconnect with them on their 2nd and 3rd times back.  By remembering something about them it makes them feel really accepted and cared for.  However, and I wish I didn’t need to clarify this, it’s not done as a gimmick to win over the students – we do all of this because we care for and are passionate about seeing this generation connect in relationship with Jesus Christ and One Another.

Are we missing the mark in any of these areas?  Sometimes we strike out.  While we are very intentional in our approach to making visitors feel welcome there are times when we miss a student.  When we learn of this happening it just makes us work harder the next time.

thoughts from anyone reading this?  additions that we could implement?  always looking for ways to improve…  let us know.

(This post was inspired by a list from Tim Schmoyer over at the Life in Student Ministry blog)

ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Comes to NH!

unitebuildchange.jpg

At 8 o’clock this morning, with the bus at his back and his trusty megaphone in hand Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s Ty Pennington announced: “Good Morning Voisine Family”. The Voisine’s got a wakeup call that dreams are made of from ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, R.J. Moreau Communities and it’s partners to unite build and change – everything for this deserving family.

Manchester, NH, October 18, 2007

Is 8:00 am too early for a megaphone at your door? It depends on who is shouting on it. When Reynald and Casey Voisine opened the door to their rental apartment who did they see but Ty and the rest of the Extreme Makeover Home Edition team, ready to end what can only be described as a nightmare; a nightmare that started with the
Mothers Day flood in 2006. Reynald and Casey were high school sweethearts. They married, had 4 beautiful children and bought a small but cozy home in Manchester, NH. They had taken the right steps and laid the groundwork for a life to be “lived happily ever after”.

Who would know that what started as a common spring shower would turn their lives upside down. In May 2006, after 4 days of heavy rain it was clear to Reynald and Casey Voisine and their 4 children that the water rising outside their home was far more than a puddle. Their house wasn’t in a flood zone and there was a 4-lane highway between their neighborhood and the river. Yet the water kept rising and had made its way into the house, soaked the carpet and rose to the level of the electrical outlets. Reynald called the fire department for help, but was told they needed to shut the power off before the firemen would attempt a rescue as they feared electrocution. Reynald made his way to the breaker box and left his family shivering in the dark waiting for help to arrive. While firemen were able to get down to the house, they were having trouble getting back out. Reynald’s Dad actually had to drive his 4-wheel drive pick-up truck up to the house and so the family and stranded rescue workers could climb in the back and make their way to safety.

FEMA declared their house a total loss and advised that they should demolish it and apply for a loan. Thinking that FEMA knew best, Reynald had a family member in construction demolish it for free. Then the Voisines used the money in FEMA relief to haul the remains of their home to the dump.

The Voisine figured things would get better once they received the loan. But then the
unimaginable happened: they were denied for the loan due to their credit not being up to par due to Reynald’s outstanding medical bill from a misdiagnosed bout with appendicitis. On top of not having a place to live the Voisine’s are still paying their monthly mortgage on the property plus rent as they are now living in an apartment next door to their now vacant lot. Down, but not broken, Reynald and Casey are struggling and working hard to keep their family together. FEMA provided some rental assistance but it’s about to run out.

To help rescue this family, the Team at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition called on Builders Reggie Moreau and Jon Lariviere of R.J. Moreau Communities to perform a miracle: organize and bring together people from the community to build a new home for the Voisines, make it meet the standards and quality demanded by the Extreme design team and build it in less than seven days.

Reggie and Jon’s response? Bring it on! “ We had no fear in accepting this challenge because we knew how the people in our community have always responded to those in need. We knew that we could count on the help of thousands and as everyone will see over the coming week we were not wrong!”.

While hundreds have already stepped forward there is still a need for both skilled and unskilled volunteers as well as for funds. Please visit the project website at www.unitebuildchange.com for information on the project, to learn about when volunteers are needed and to see progress as the home comes together. New Hampshire is helping and the world is watching!

Unite. Build. Change. Everything.

Become part of the miracle.

New Small Group Begins at Our House!

We begin a new cell group at our house this week.  Kim & I are excited.  It has been about 3 years since we last hosted a cell at our place.  We love to have people over and sharing our lives with other people is just a natural thing that we do.

xmas06_1.JPG

Mike & Holly Tutko will be leading the cell.  It’s funny because things have come full circle.  Before Mike got married he had led at our place before.  Can’t wait for Tuesday night as we begin the process of getting to know a whole new group of people.  As GCC has grown over the past 10 years to almost 1000 people it is still the cell groups that serve to connect people in deeper relationships with Jesus Christ and One Another.  If you live in the Penacook area and would like to join us leave a comment and I’ll get you directions.

Jello Sux!

 2006-05-10.gif

Three wisdom teeth are now gone from my mouth.  Not too bad…  They let me keep one so I won’t be accused of “lacking wisdom”.

I had a great steak over at Tom & Rachel Staples house yesterday.  There were about 10 of us there watching the Patriots spank Dallas.  Great game, great friends, awesome food!  Now I just have the memory of that steak in my head as I let orange jello drip down my throat.

Character Counts

billygrahambirthday4.jpg

I have been intrigued by the life of Billy Graham for years.  The strength of his character is something that I strive for.  I read a while back that he maintains a level of accountability in his life and in his leadership that keeps them all above reproach.  There are many things in my life that I model after what I have read or heard about his leadership.  Billy will go to the extent of leaving an elevator and walking down flights of stairs if he finds himself alone with a woman.  He always wants to keep even the appearance of evil at bay.  Rather than an accusation of misgivings he will take the long way down.

In my own life I always want to do the right things rather than the easy things.  Billy has been quoted as saying, “The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’”  It is freeing to read these words.  I try and have it all together in my life but there are times when I do need to run to God and cry out for His help.  I was reminded of this today during our baptism service.  As people gave testimony of God actively working in their life I was brought to tears as I recalled how I was rescued by His love, grace, and mercy.

In my life character means I have never “arrived”.  There is always more that God can do in my life as I strive to grow closer and closer to Him.  When I do mess up I am so glad that He is always ready to rescue me from myself.  I am thankful for the reminder that God gave me today of this.

Youth Leader Network

Over the past 8 years now we have had a Youth Pastor Network here in Concord, NH.  To be honest it is less of a network and more like a gathering of three people.  We are working hard at breathing new life into the group and are trying to reach out to other youth pastors and leaders in this region so that we can work together to build the Kingdom of God.

While we each have our own work and our own churches to continue at there is a common value and understanding that we have.  Together we can do so much more.  We are committed to reach the youth throughout this region.

Here are some basics that we all commit to as a group:

  • My way of doing ministry is not the only way, nor is it the best way.
  • My gifts, passions, talents, anointing, calling, context, and call are unique. (So are yours.)
  • If everyone did ministry the way I do, we would never reach the whole world.
  • I can learn from those who are different from me.

By remaining steadfast to these values we can look beyond our differences and reach out for Kingdom growth.  Too many people these days are all about building their little kingdom and it gets them nowhere.

Pray for us as we strive to impact Central NH with the Father’s Love.  If you are a youth pastor/leader in the Central NH area we would love to have you join us.  Drop me a comment and we’ll get you connected!

10 Year Anniversary Video

As promised, here is the 10 year anniversary video.  Great job Jorgen!  It’s fun to see our small beginnings…

Confronting Students

Tim Schmoyer over at Life in Student Ministry gives some good guidance on confronting students.  I’ll let you go to his blog to read it.  The only other thing that I would add would be to give the student some options in talking with their parents.  Realizing that not all families are from Mayberry and that some students legitimately fear for their safety when it comes to being found out by their parents I like to give three options.

  1. The student goes to their parents and talks to them by their self.  (I follow up with parents after to ensure the student had the conversation and give any additional insight/advice.)
  2. I go with the student as they share with their parents what has been going on.  (more for moral support but also in case the situation gets out of hand.)
  3. I go with the student and speak directly to the parents about the situation and facilitate conversation between student and parents.

One way or the other the situation is communicated to the parents and I speak with them directly.  By giving the students these options it reinforces the student feeling cared for and loved through the situation.  It also allows for more open dialogue with the parents before, during, and after the situation.  As we strive to partner with parents this helps send the message that we are for them – and their student.

Starting at One All Over Again

79767ac42eebcc8881afd691890222e7.jpg

Pastor Jack Hayford shared with us yesterday during our morning services.  It was quite a weekend overall and he had a timely message for us all as we celebrated our ten year anniversary.

He spoke about starting at year one all over again.  The things that were important to us as we began Grace Capital Church are what brought us to the point that we are at now.  We should not become distracted by more programs or rest on our laurels.  What God has done at GCC over the past ten years has been amazing.  As we watched the video montage (link to video will be coming soon) that spanned the past ten years it was encouraging to see how many lives have been affected by what God is doing in and through us.  But this is just another beginning for us.  It is by remembering what we did to get to this point and continuing to hold faithful to those things that we will see even more growth and effectiveness in this region.

“What brings future growth is remembering your beginnings.  You can’t forget where you started.  Revisit your beginning.  Celebrate your 10 but don’t forget to start at 1 all over again.”  Thank you Pastor Jack for this encouragement to move forward by looking back.  If I can jump into a football analogy for a moment.  The New England Patriots won their third Super Bowl in 4 years in 2004.  The day after that occurred Coach Bill Belichick had t-shirts printed up to remind everyone that their victories were in the past.  The shirts simply said, “Patriots 0-0”.  A constant reminder that they had to start all over again.  The wins in the past were in the past.  Every victory going forward would not be based on past victories, but in the effort that they put forward to win again.

Small groups are our “1” thing.  While we encourage 5 things at GCC – Celebration, Cell, Journal, Mentor, Serve – it all begins in the small(cell) groups.  My prayer is that a renewed push for getting people at GCC connected into cells begins now.  If you attend GCC and are not part of a small group yet, let this serve as an encouragement to you – “GO!”  The best way to connect relationally with people in GCC is through a cell group.  Sunday mornings are just too busy and there are far too many people to connect on deeper levels with people.  Cell groups are the life blood of GCC.

For other church leaders out there, What are your “start at 1” things?  Is it time to regroup and redirect?  Minimize your efforts to maximize your reach.

Awesome Team!

We have been very blessed this week to have some amazing students helping us get ready for our Fall Leadership Conference.  If you are here this weekend and see any of them be sure to say “thanks” to them.

1484437589_1425696e95.jpg

The building looks fantastic as all the colors of Fall are on display right outside our front doors.  We have an amazing Grounds Crew.  I love Fall!

1485294274_b9e0b41747.jpg