Archive for the ‘Foursquare’ Category

Camp Communication Practices

I love when we communicate well in a medium that connects with the youth at our camp.  In years past we have failed miserably in stating our expectations of behavior for the week.  This year I believe we nailed it.  Honestly, I’ve never heard people applaud after hearing a list of rules.

Watch and enjoy…

Off To Camp

NNE4 2009 Youth Camp

So excited for camp!  We are up at the camp now and all the youth will be showing up between 3 and 5 today.  The clouds are parting and we are beginning to see some sunshine!  Pray that the clouds all clear and that we have a great, dry week.  If you are interested in praying for camp specifics you can follow us on twitter this week here.  You can also check in at Impactnh.com for videos of the week and other fun stuff.

Please pray for many lives to be impacted this week and forever.

Integrating The Generations

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Last night Roger Archer and Chad Veach from Puyallap, WA spoke at the 09 Foursquare Connection.  They spoke on the importance of integrating the next generation within the church and leadership.  

Challenged.  Challenged is how I feel right now.  Challenged because, while I believe whole-heartedly and passionately about doing this, I truly feel clueless.  I’ve read the books, I’ve heard the messages, I’ve even had it modeled for me; but I still feel like I miss the mark in doing this time and time again.  

I know I have been called to do this – to reach the next generation, pour into them all that has been poured into me, and release them to go and do the same.  Yet, I feel like I fail miserably at this.  I feel like I choose the wrong people to pour into.  I have been told by many that I have great wisdom and discernment and yet the people I do my best to disciple seem to fall like flies. 

I want to be more effective.  I want to make a true, lasting difference.  I want God’s glory to be expanded through the ministry that many young leaders will step into.  This morning my prayer is that the Lord would equip me and make me more effective for His Kingdom and not mine.

Lord, do it, please.

Mission Accomplished

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Every Summer for the past 6 years now I have been the director of our denominations Youth Camp for the Northern New England District.  Over the years the numbers have grown in attendance and I have greatly enjoyed leading the team that makes this camp happen.  It has been a true blessing to be a part of the leadership of the district and head up the youth camp.  We have had some phenomenal speakers and worship teams come to join us over the years – and we have had some that were not so phenomenal.  One thing that we have experienced throughout all who have come and gone is the simple fact that God works in spite of us.  In spite of our failures, mistakes, and poor planning – God shows up.

This simple fact has relieved much stress on my behalf during the course of our week of camp.  When a speaker makes  statement that goes against what we agree the Bible says, when a possibly intimate service with great life transformation turns into a Q&A session, when the worship team shows up and ends up being a rock band that sings a couple worship songs (Father Abraham is not a worship song!)  God shows up.  God works and brings about the life change that we pray for, fast for, cry out for.

This year I have been facing the challenge of dealing with the fixed costs of the campground that we rent, covering the costs of a camp program that oozes excellence, and shrinking numbers.  The economy is hitting us hard – directly and indirectly.  Our numbers for registration are half of what they have ever been.  I have found myself getting discouraged by this.  I ask myself the questions: 

  • Was last year that bad?
  • Has camp taken a back seat to other events?
  • Have we not promoted enough?

All of these questions seem to be coming back with similar responses.  Our camp is great.  Camp is a priority.  Promotion has been great.  In speaking with families around the district I am learning that many young people are doing many great things this summer in place of camp. 

I spoke with the mother of a 14 year old girl who will be attending a 20 day YWAM experience where she will be equipped and trained to minister in missions settings – she felt called to be a missionary at a previous years camp. 

I spoke with a pastor who is sending a group of 20 people – young and old – to the Philippines to minister to the poor and needy in that country – many of whom have attended camp in the past and heard the message that they need to get active in their service for the “least of these”. 

We have a church in our district that had been sending about 30 teens each year and they are not joining us this year.  This group will be leaving for Guatemala two weeks after our youth camp ends.  They each had to raise over $2000.00 to go on this trip.  Over the years at camp we have encouraged young people to sacrifice their own selfish desires and go where God is calling them. 

We have a few teens who will not be attending camp this year because they have started a band and are doing shows in some very rough environments.  They are going into these places and rocking out hard, gathering a following, and then pointing every person at the show towards Jesus through spoken words during and after the shows.  

I don’t believe our numbers being very low this year is a sign of a bad camp.  On the contrary, I believe we can and will celebrate an accomplished mission.  The message that has been proclaimed for years has been heard and young people are moving to action.  They are living out their faith.  They are going where they are called.  They are serving Christ and many people groups with passion.  Are our numbers a sign of failure?  No.  They are a sign that what we have been striving for is happening. 

And for that I rejoice!

Leaving For Jamaica

After man long months of training, preparation and fund raising we are ready to go.  Tomorrow we will board a plane and head to Jamaica to minister to many children and families.  Please pray for our team as we go to minister to people in schools, villages and churches.

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The blog will be quiet this week unless I can find some wifi near our base camp.  If I do find a hotspot I’ll provide updates here and through twitter.

I Love Prayer

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I get a weekly email from Foursquare that gives a little write up on a devotional thought and then a listing of specific people to pray for in different roles within Foursquare.  I was excited to see this weeks email as I was one of the people listed to be praying for.  I love prayer!  I love the thought that leaders from around the nation are praying for me and my wife this week.

Do you have a group of people that pray for you regularly?  Isn’t it about time you recruit some to do that?

It’s Not Your Baby!

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Last night Pastor Peter shared with us at the Northern New England District Fall Leaders Conference.  He shared a message titled “It’s Not Your Baby” and it really helped me gain more perspective in all that I do.  For the last 10 years I have been serving the youth of Grace Capital Church and I love what I do.  My dream would be to be the Generations Pastor at Grace Capital Church fifty years from now.  This role just fits me well and it is where my passion is.  But it’s not my baby.  At any time things could change.  At any time God could call me elsewhere.  I can not allow myself to hold too tightly to my position here.  It is not what I do that defines who I am.  Who I am draws me to do what I do.

I find this message ringing in my ears as we are entering into a transition within our district structuring.  For the last five years I have served in the role of district youth director.  I have loved serving in this role and have greatly enjoyed the time that Kim and I have been able to lead at the summer camps.  The relationships that I have with so many from around this district are fantastic and I enjoy being able to share my life and experiences with them.  As we are transitioning there are many uncertainties as to what the new district will look like, who will be leading, and what I will be doing.  All of these unanswered questions have brought about a bit of concern as to who will be leading in the future.  Again, not my baby.  I am holding the role that I serve in loosely and know that whoever steps into this role in the future we will continue to have an incredible ministry with youth in this district.

Pastor Peter’s message brought about a new found freedom in my spirit.  I have known these things all along and have never tried to do anything to grasp at my position.  I feel very fortunate to have such a fantastic team around me that has the ability to run the youth ministry without me when I am away.  It is humbling sometimes to think about that.  Even when I am traveling and can not be at Impact – it still goes on.  They don’t need me as much as I sometimes want to be needed…  But that is the true measure of my effectiveness as a leader.  The fact that they can go on without me helps me see that I am doing what I need to be doing in raising up and releasing new leaders.  I would never want to see Impact fade and fizzle away simply because I was not around.  I want what we do to impact the youth of central NH to live far beyond my years at GCC.  I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon but if it ever happens I want to ensure that what the ministry that I am a part of goes on.

What about you?  Do you understand that it’s not your baby?  Are you doing what you need to be doing in order to keep the ministry you serve in going beyond your time?  Are you holding onto something so tight not knowing that you have already lost it?

Youth Camp Revealed…

It’s been a few days and camp is over.  The dust has settled.  Most people have recovered from the loss of sleep.  The “hangover” is subsiding.  I’m left here with a pile of thoughts that I have been chewing on, here they are in no apparent order:

 

  • Camp isn’t for everyone.  Some of the youth that attended camp this year just did not enjoy it.  I’m understanding more and more that camp is not for everyone.  This gets me thinking more creatively on how we can create experiences for everyone in our ministry that help them connect with God on deeper levels.  No matter how nice it would be to have a one-size-fits-all ministry event I know that will never happen (I’m smarter than I look…)  More to come on this in the next few weeks, hands on experiences!
  • Camp is intense.  I was speaking with Foursquare’s Next Gen Director, James Craft, last night and he listed a statistic that one week of camp is the equivalent of one full year of student ministry services in the local church.  While I do acknowledge that our time at camp can be very directed and intense in ministry I also know that it can not replace the fifty-one other weeks in the calendar year.  Camp should compliment what we do throughout the year.  
  • Camp needs to be a tool for evangelism and for discipleship.  Each year we see many of the same kids attending.  Many of them have had a salvation experience early on in their camping years.  I know that there is a value in youth rededicating their lives to the Lord – I heard Gordon MacDonald one time say that he gets saved every morning in the shower – we are called to die daily to our fleshly desires and offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord.  With that in mind the kids that come forward and recommit their lives to the Lord are doing a good thing.  This year we had many first time salvations (15).  I praise God for those lives that were transformed and reconciled in relationship with Jesus!  But I also have to look to the other 135 students who were in attendance at the camp.  How can we better equip them to live out the daily life of following Jesus?  
  • Journaling is huge!  We create custom journals each year for camp and we incorporate the Scriptures from the morning speakers into the journals in order to give the Holy Spirit a chance to massage into the lives of the youth and leaders what He wants to say to them before ever hearing a word from our morning speakers.  After journaling for 6 years now myself I fully understand the value of this daily habit and know that if each of the youth who attend camp and are journaling would continue this practice they would grow tremendously year after year.
  • Camp creates community.  Relationships happen at camp because you can not escape them.  When you want to be by yourself it is next to impossible.  Each cabin holds 6 – 8 people.  The bath houses are shared.  You can not isolate yourself at camp.  Where ever you turn you see people and they are usually jacked up on some form of sugary, caffeinated drink that gives them the ability to speak at a pace that is barely understandable.  This all sounds like a recipe for brawls and massive arguments.  Not so, year after year I have seen kids learn how to handle conflict with others, I have witnessed relationships grow and people regard others above themselves.  Each year I get to view kids growing in relationship with God and others at camp – each year I get to grow in my relationship with God and others!  Many days I don’t have the time to sit and talk with small groups of youth.  Camp creates an atmosphere where I can sit in a rocking chair on the farmers porch with a small group of kids and laugh with them, cry with them, pray with them.  Relationships grow at camp.
  • Camp brings freedom.  Many youth find freedom at camp.  They pull away from the distractions that they face in their homes and they are able to deal with some of the struggles that they have.  Camp pulls them away from the hurdles that they have to jump over in their everyday lives and gives them a chance to strengthen their walk with Jesus.  This year I was very clear in the fact that they would all be going back home to these struggles and distractions and gave them some simple ways to build quiet into their everyday lives.  We will all have tough times.  Knowing where to run during these times is too important to miss.  Again, that is why the community we surround ourselves with is so valuable.  We need each other in our lives to encourage, support, and carry us through.
  • Communication and Good Training for leaders in advance of camp is vital.  We did this very poorly this year.  We had quite a few first time leaders this year and the first night of camp when we do leader orientation is not enough time to adequately communicate the importance of the role that each leader as at camp.  We are tweaking this and making changes for the future years.  We need to do more to communicate the expectations for each leader and we can’t be afraid to turn away those who are not willing to fulfill this role.  Each year we say, “Camp is for the campers”.  If we have a leader that is attending camp with the mindset that this will be a relaxing week away from the office – we have the wrong person.  My desire for each of our leaders is that they would be connecting with the campers on deeper levels and helping them to connect with God on deeper levels.  Patience and stamina are two characteristics that are needed for each leader – the foundation of a leader must be their love for God and their passion for young people.  Warm bodies only need not apply…

 

Here’s the bottom line figures of this years camp:

 

Campers – 150
Leaders –  27
Staff – 14
Participating Churches – 12
Salvation – 15
Recommitments – 16
Baptism of the Holy Spirit – 32
Call to Full Time Ministry – 17
Commitment to seek Water Baptism in their local church – 14
I love camp and will continue leading as long as the Lord allows me to.  Each year I grow in my leadership and am so thankful for the prayers of each person who lift up the camp to God.  I am also thankful that He gives us the security in our calling to have a critical eye for everything that we do so that we can continue to improve all that we do.

Youth Camp Video Day 3

Youth Camp Video Day 2