Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Where to begin

Hello everyone out there in blogville. It has been quite a while, but there is lots to talk about so. . . here goes. I finished school a couple of months ago and then dove headfirst into work at the church. For those who do not know, Julie had been the youth pastor at our church for about a year and a half until Lucy was born. I was involved with several ministries at the church, but unofficially. When Julie was gearing up to have Lucy and I was trying feverishly to finish school, we decided to switch our roles at the church. I would take over the vision and direct of the youth ministry along with other ministry opportunities and get paid and she would stay at home with Lucy and serve in various areas as time allowed. Well that has happened, what was unexpected was that she was placed on 'bed rest' for the last two months of being pregnant. That is the preface for the last two months of mad scrambling to put together some youth trips and summer plans and really dive into the youth ministry for me.

So, we started our summer youth group stuff. I couldn't think of anything awesome, so I call it 'Super Thursday'. I may have stole that name from a furniture sale, but nonetheless, it has gone pretty well thus far. We have been averaging about 25 students that are coming and getting into the word and learning what it means to be the church. We spend time together with some worship and intro stuff (games and videos and whatnot) and then split into small groups. I am hoping and praying that it will grow and more importantly that the kids will 'get it'. If anyone has any awesome youth group games or ideas feel free to share them. We have yet to unleash the gross games, I have a ton in the arsenal, but am always looking for more.

Then three weeks ago we took 12 senior high students to CIY Move conference. This was a great trip. They do their conferences very, very well. And it exposed our kids to a week of awesome worship, fellowship with other students trying to follow God, and terrific Biblical challenge. I recommend it. Our trip was interesting to say the least we had about as random a group of kids as possible, from a few who were entirely new to the church, to a few sold out students ready to follow wherever God leads, to a few lifelong luke-warmers, all of whom had great experiences along with some serious challenges. I won't go into detail, but if you can dream it, it probably happened. But I think it will be a great building block.

Last week, we took 6 junior high students to a mission trip. This was also a great experience for the kids, though not for Sean. We had several kids cancel at the last minute and the organization we went through really dropped the ball in several areas. That being said, I know the kids learned a lot and had an awesome experience hanging out with the other church groups that were there.

Mixed in with getting those trips to go, my grandfather passed away. That was definitely a stressful week, with all of the family stuff to sift through, however it was awesome to come together and celebrate his life and see family and whatnot. It was awesome to see the impact that he had made for so many people and how his love for Jesus bled over so much.

Not directly related, I have been thinking lately, more like burdened with the idea of the church doing all it can to impact as opposed to just doing churchy stuff. The difference in the two trips were perfect examples of this idea. The one was not a mission trip but rather a 'retreat of sorts', but at no point during that trip did it feel like any part of it was simple there to give kids something to do. Every part was about challenge spiritually and challenge to go make an impact. The mission trip on the other hand was the opposite and felt like they were doing things just to fill a week. The biggest sign of this was this girl from another church, who I talked to. She was getting ready to go to college and she was sort of coerced into the trip. She had grown up in church, but was far from God. She has embraced postmodern ideology to the full, talking about 'I believe in a higher power but it isn't the same for everyone.' This was at the end of a trip, where the kids should have been shown how to love people, because Christ who call them to one faith in one Spirit loves them and wants everyone to have life. But never once on that trip did we ever talk as a community about why we were serving people, we just did it because it was a mission trip, something to do with friends from church. My biggest prayer is that the youth ministry at our church would not be a 'safe hang out', but rather would equip students to step up and play the role they are ordained for in the church as fellow ministers of the gospel. I love that our church has been so good at moving, but I see all over how easy it is to get caught up in the ideas of denomination, or doctrine, or tradition, or whatever and forget to move and follow Christ. I guess one of the things that also has come up is my wife's alma mater. The school has come under attack because it is teaching through issues of postmodernity in the church and homosexuality. There is more to that, but the thing is, that university is not condoning universalism or any other sort of huge liberal agenda, but rather trying to develop Christian leaders who can interact in the real world and love people to Christ. They are equipping the church to grow and shift and continue to be grounded in scripture as opposed to tradition. While traditions have place and are rooted often times in great things, when people fall more in love with the methodology of their particular church or denomination, or their traditions, or their original group of church friends than Christ, they lose the desire to go. What is left is a complacency that leaves the church going through motions. That's all I'll say about that.

If you are still here, the moment you have all been waiting for I'm sure. . .
Lucy is now just over three months old. She is getting real big. She started smiling consistently a few weeks ago. My mom insists that she would smile at her when she was like three weeks old. (clearly gas) But now she is smiling for real. And responding to people. She can almost totally hold her head up, although sometimes she forgets to hold it up and it flops around. She makes lots of noises and is learning to grab things. The best is when she tries to suck her thumb. She is all about it, but not totally coordinated enough to get it. She is about 36% effective at thumb into mouth. Most of the rest of the time she either has her thumb tucked behind her index finger, or even better when her mouth does the sucking motion, but her hand is like 6 inches away because she can't get her elbow to move on command yet. Julie is doing awesome at the mom role. She is really shining at being a mom to Lucy, she is always playing with her and teaching her and stuff. That has been cool to see. I love them both a lot. Well, here are some pictures. My goal is to get a few more up there soon.

Yeah lips

Me and my dad. . . don't look at the camera!

This is my hoodie, it's comfy

This is me pulling a Babs

This is cousin Ethan ( who I am taller than) yeah baby.