Tuesday, February 23, 2016

7 Reasons You Should Bring Yourself & Your Students To Lead THE Cause This Summer

This summer I will be taking students back to Lead The Cause. This will be my fifth LTC, not with the same students, not for the same information, but certainly for the same purpose - Transformation! Why am I going back again? Here are my Top 7 reasons:

1 - To PRAY: If this were my only reason, it would be enough. Me and my students get to beg God for our friends to come to Christ, to ask God to give us a passion for them and then for God to give us HIS plan to see these things get accomplished! AND to pray with hundreds of other students who have the same desire - Priceless!

2 - It’s a MISSIONS Week: This is not a week of just sitting in classes. We’re out sharing our faith, doing ministry, texting friends, beginning Gospel conversations and recruiting other believers to join us in this Cause! And then, when we the week is over and we return, it’s like a year long missions work on our campuses begins!

3 - It Draws Students DEEPER: Every student I’ve take has repeatedly told me that this week drew them closer to the Lord than ever before. The substance of the week causes them to risk and to be taken out of their comfort zones where they HAVE to trust in their Lord! It’s an uncomfortableness that takes us all to places in our soul we might not otherwise go.

4 - It Sends Students WIDER: The training and immediate application helps us all be better inspired & equipped to have Gospel conversations with our friends. Fears are removed and replaced with Faith - faith that we can do this and God can use us!

5 - It’s My DISCIPLE-MAKING Strategy: This week helps me make disciples who make disciples who make disciples, and it can help you do the same. Legacy is not our church’s ministry to students, it’s our students ministry to the world! LTC gives students an opportunity to get involved in this disciple-making process - and we are seeing this happen! Check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UklfJ6Z-CsE

6 - Students OWN IT: Unlike camps & retreats where students usually return and tell people what they missed, LTC students return and recruit their friends to join them in a Cause greater than themselves - THE Cause of sharing the hope of Jesus with everyone! I don’t have to sell an idea to students who weren’t there, instead my students own this movements and THEY inspire & recruit others!

7 - We Return With A STRATEGIC ACTION PLAN: After praying, discussing, praying and strategizing, we come away with a set of 30 day, 3 month and 9 month goals that, by God’s grace & power, will help us reach our area for HIM! We all want to see our friends come to know Jesus, but how many of us actually sit down, pray and set goals to see that happen?! Well, at LTC we do!

In my 31 years of doing student ministry, LTC has produced more “fruit that lasts” (John 15:16) than ANYTHING else I’ve ever done! I’ve literally watched my LTC alumni leave for college, gather other followers, and begin to Lead The Cause on their campuses! If you’re tired of the typical and ready for transformational, get yourself and your students to Lead The Cause this summer!

Monday, November 16, 2015

"Ring The Bell" - The Story of Nick Myer's Spiritual Journey

This past Saturday we held a memorial service for one of our students, Nick Myer, who passed away the week before. During that service I shared Nick's faith in Jesus and have been asked by many to post that story, so here it is:

“Ring the Bell” – The Story of Nick’s Spiritual Journey

I remember the first time Nick came to Legacy. It was about two years ago. He was invited by one of our students Kira. I went to meet him and he said, “Hi I’m Nick, I’m an atheist.” Smiling back at him I said, “Hi I’m Mr Bill, I’m just glad you came! What school do you go to?” But that was Nick, always establishing himself, and a great guy to talk to.
So Nick continued to attend legacy on Wednesdays, hanging with friends, hearing about God’s love for him and investigating this Jesus guy.
Then about a year ago I was talking with my friend Greg Stier about a trip he had made to Germany and a visit he made to a concentration camp there. I got permission to share his story in my next sermon and I want to briefly share it with you because it tells
Nick’s spiritual journey. 

Greg told me about his visit to Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany. Under the reign of Adolph Hitler…… tens of thousands of Jews were housed there & died. They were tortured there, in unimaginable ways..… It was a place of death & hopelessness. But today, if you visit Dachau, at 3:00 you’ll hear a bell. So why the bell? And why 3:00? You see, the Bible records that Jesus died at 3:00, and that bell rings today & every day in Dachau to remind everyone visiting that – in the midst of dark & seemingly hopeless times - Jesus offers hope and life! I shared this message with our church family and our Legacy students. As believers, we too are called to “ring the bell of hope”, not just at 3:00, but all the time. Not just in Dachau, but everywhere. We are to remind everyone, that regardless of what you’re facing, there is hope in Jesus! And I say that to you today, as we gather
After I shared that message, we took this bell and we hung it in our Legacy room as a reminder that we are to share the hope of Jesus with those around us. So each week after we began asking students if they’ve had a chance to share Jesus with anyone, and if so, to come up, ring the bell and share their story. We would then pray for them as well as for their friend It’s become a really neat and special practice. Well, one night this past Spring, I asked again if anyone has had an opportunity share Jesus this week. Well, Nick stands up and starts heading towards the bell  - and I’m watching with anticipation not knowing what to expect – which is pretty much what student ministry is always like anyway – LOL!
Nick rings the bell, looks at the room filled with Legacy students and says, “It’s me!” And we were all like, “what?” Nick says again,
 “It’s me! This week I put my faith in Jesus!!!” And everyone was like
He shared how he had been coming for over a year, listening, checking Jesus out and finally said he believes that Jesus is who He said he is and he’s placing his faith in Him!

Just two months later, Nick shared his growing faith with our entire student ministry thru the letter on the back of this program and I’d like to read it to you:

1.     There will be times when you feel alone. You’re not. God is always with you.
2.    Don’t gossip. Just don’t do it. It’s not cool. If you’re doing it, stop.
3.    Find times in your week, an hour or two, to get away from everything and not worry about the homework, life or drama in your life.
4.    When I was younger, I used to think that I would change the world, then change my country, then change my state, then my town, then my family, then myself. Now that I’m older, I realized that only God can truly change someone.
5.    And as always, trust in the Lord with all your heart, for He has a plan for you.

Truly insightful and transformation words!!!
The measure of a man’s life in not in duration, but in donation –

 And Nick donated so much to our lives! 

Nick put his faith in Jesus and believed Him when He said, "I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6 And if we want to see Nick again someday, we too must put our faith and trust in Jesus just like Nick did. Regardless of where you are in your spiritual journey, if you would like to discuss more - I'd love to! Nick would be thrilled to know that his passing brought about new life in Christ to others!
At Legacy Student Ministry, we like to regularly share God's story, check it out HERE

Thursday, September 10, 2015

LEGACY Has Left The Building

Last night we closed our doors and sent all of our students to other student ministries...

Yes - you heard me! Yes - we told students last week we'd be sending them elsewhere this week and we did. And yes, the questions have come in: What? Why? Don't we pay our own student pastor to have ministries for our students? What if they teach something students don't believe? What if they like another ministry better? Yadda, yadda, yadda....
This idea actually came up last summer and our leadership students loved it! So why have a night like this? I can think of several reasons:

- Students need to see the greater body of Christ in action! It's easy to get caught up in our own "student ministry world" and lose sight that there are other ministries that are not only doing a great job but, like iron sharpens iron, we can learn from and collaborate with. I've worked hard since arriving in Castle Rock to see ministries encourage each other and work together. These ministries care for students and have the Gospel down!

- Students can forget what it is like to be the "visitor." It's easy to get comfortable week after week with the same friends - even ones you bring. But whenever you come into a new place, a new environment, a different structure, it can be awkward and a bit scary. But, since we believe awkward is awesome, I want to put my students in "awkward" situations!  I want students to know how it feels to be the visitor because it can make them more sensitive to students who visit our ministry. Last night, I even invited 2 new students to come with me and be the visitor with me at CRBC and it was AWESOME!~

- It can help students take ownership. Want students more involved in your student ministry? Send 'em elsewhere and have them come back with ideas to make yours better. They can, they do and it works!

- It will help them verbalize their faith. The greatest way to grow in your faith is to share your faith. And yes, this  happens best with students among their peers. As they attended student ministries last night, numerous ones told me they were able to share what they believe  about Jesus with other students - during lesson discussion as well as while just hanging. Gospel conversations - students with students - Awesome!

- It creates faith-building teaching opportunities. What if they attend another ministry where they heard false teaching? Great! I'm not sending them elsewhere every week. The weeks they are in our ministry I guarantee they get Bible truth and that will help them discern truth from error. And even if this happens, you do what every parent does when their son or daughter asks a question. You discuss it together and it provides a teachable moment. Doing this helps students take ownership of their own faith which is a must, in my mind, before they leave high school. Side-note: The ministries I sent them to last night - I would trust those guys with my life!

- Students usually come back with a greater appreciation of their own student ministry. I heard this from most all of the students after last night. Now - our students know I have no desire for our ministry to become any type of "club", but I do want them to have a place in the body of Christ where they feel safe, loved and a sense of belonging, because, sadly, for some, student ministry may be the only place where they feel that.

So to wrap up, I don't feel threatened a bit by sending my students to visit some of the other great ministries in our town - aren't we all on the same team? As a called minister of God, I want to give my students the best and I work hard to do so. And if our ministries aren't the best (and you have to define best) - then shame on us, let's get them there! But if for whatever reason, a student (and/or their family) finds a better fit where they can worship, love & serve Jesus - I am totally cool with that!
Ok, I said a lot. And for now, I still have a job :)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

25 Things I've Learned in My First 25 Years in Student Ministry

25 years ago today – 1990 in Katy, Texas, and on my birthday - I began full time student ministry.
It’s flown by pretty fast and it’s been a ride I wouldn’t trade for all the money in the world!
In honor of my Lord giving me these years, I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned during this time – the good, the bad, and the exciting!

  1. First Things First - Student ministry wouldn’t exist without God, and neither would I. I am so grateful that God sought me out even though I wanted nothing to do with Him (Isaiah 65:1a). AND that He loves me, forgives me, gave me faith to believe and daily gives me a purpose to live for. The main thing is to keep the Main Thing the main thing. I owe God everything. And I’m sooooo grateful for friends like Scott Kaczinski and Mary Scull who persistently invited me and prayed for me when I didn’t care!
  2. Know Jesus – Second only to my faith in Jesus, is the privilege of getting to know Him more & more. He IS my strength (Psalm 46:1) and spending regular time with Him is crucial. There is no way I could love, counsel, encourage, serve, challenge, support, train & equip my family and our students in their relationship with Jesus if I wasn’t doing the same. My daily time in the mornings alone with Jesus (and yes I miss days) is a priority & habit that strengthens me, grows me and sustains me. I love Jesus, I need Him and I don’t stand a chance without Him. (John 15:5)
  3. WWJD – What Would JEAN Do? Seriously – I can’t say enough about my wife. When we married, we became a team of ministers who really had no idea what we we’re getting ourselves into. We just loved Jesus, each other & students and went for it. Apart from Christ, her love and her ministry to me is the greatest love & ministry I’ve ever known. She’s my partner, my best friend, my lover, my fellow minister and the best mom Drew & Jessica could ever have! Together we’ve been privileged to pour our lives into students & families, grow with them, struggle with them, celebrate with them, laugh with them and cry with them. No one will ever understand the sacrifices, the 2am phone calls, the attacks from church members or the financial strains better than a spouse. So if you’re gonna’ be in ministry for the long haul, you better have a good one or you’ll never make it. I’ve seen numerous youth leader friends quit ministry because their spouse had enough. Thanks Babe for your amazing support and for being the most awesomest wife ever!!! (Proverbs 31:10)
  4. Make Jesus Known – The best way to grow in your faith is to share your faith. As a new believer I told everyone and I didn’t know much more that Jesus loved me and He forgave me. Why is it that for many believers that stops?!~ Point people to HIM. HE is the one who is great, not you or me. We like students to like us, but that can come with the danger of pointing at ourselves. Talk about Jesus, bleed Jesus, point to Jesus – cause He’ll be there when we’re not. And as you do, people will believe! And new believers stoke the fire under older believers and are vital to the church. (Philemon 6)
  5. Be a Bible Thumper – While I was at CCU I got called a “Bible Thumper” by some friends. So I asked them why and they said, “because you always go to the Bible for all your answers.” What was meant as a joke, I took as a compliment, I mean, shouldn’t all believers do this? But here’s the reality – it means WE need to be in our Bible a lot if we’re gonna point others there! I was a fairly new believer at CCU and the reason I kept going to the Bible is I didn’t know much, but I knew God did! I still feel that way. And if we expect our students to find help from God, we need to model it. Read it, study it, pray thru it, memorize it and teach it. (2 Timothy 2:15)
  6. Remember Who We Are NOT – As youth leaders, we are not the parents – they are the #1 influence, not us. So the more we help them be involved in discipling their students, the greater potential for disciple-makers (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). We are also not sitters, nor entertainers, nor sports directors. Will students sometimes be dropped off for us to “watch?” Yes. Will students sometimes come just for the fun? Yes. But if these consume the bulk of how we do ministry together, we will not fulfill our call to make disciples.
  7. Remember Who We ARE - Village People – We are “significant others.” Others, because we are not the parents, significant because we can reinforce and reconcile both love & truth in their lives. If they are getting Jesus at home, what we do should compliment that. If they are not getting Jesus at home, then we get to be Jesus to them. Everyone needs “others” – coaches, mentors, bosses, etc.. pouring into their lives. I am grateful for those who have poured into me and into my son & daughter over the years. (1 Thessalonians 1:4-20) It takes a village and I love these “village people” God places in our lives!~ And now you can’t get the song out of your head…
  8. K.I.S.S. – No, not the band, but an acronym I go back to often: Keep It Simple Stupid! I remember reading a book that said we should come up with 7 point purpose statements for our ministry. There was nothing inherently wrong with this, except for the fact that only me, Jean and maybe one other person could ever remember what it was!~ Don’t make the GOSPEL complicated and don’t make student ministry complicated. Jesus Himself boiled it down to two things: Love God, Love People (Matthew 22:34-40). What is the purpose of LEGACY Student Ministry? Knowing Jesus & Making Him Known. Simple. And every student in Legacy can know it and own it.
  9. Be a Cheerleader for the Outcasts – Billy Graham once said, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, my job is to love.” God is constantly reaching out to the unlovely and unlovable: the woman at the well, lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes, poor, etc… and we should too. Switchfoot sings, “we are a beautiful letdown, painfully uncool, dropouts, losers, sinners, failures & fools.” We live in a “high performance” culture where athletics, academics & affluence gain you acceptance. The same should not be true of God’s church. Widows, single moms, students being made fun of, the LGBT community , Democrats, Republicans, Baptists - the list goes on. Whether I agree with their behavior or not, my role is to love them and show them the love of Jesus! HE is the one who grabs hearts and transforms! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  10. Take This Drug Often – Proverbs 17:22 says “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Laughter is good for the soul and we need it a lot! Life has a way of getting serious and without laughter things can become heavy and depressing. So watch comedy shows, play games with your family, have friends over, tell stories and LAUGH, LAUGH, LAUGH!!!!
  11. Students Will Forget Our Talks – Yep it’s true. But they remember character. Don’t stop giving them scriptures and Jesus, just realize it’s your life that says the most. Think I’m crazy? Take a moment and write down the top five messages that have impacted your life. After you come up with them (or if), take a moment and write down the names of five people who have impacted your life for Jesus the most. If you’re like me, it was easy to come up with the people. Why? Because they taught great lessons? Maybe, but mostly because THEY were the lesson! (Luke 6:40)
  12. Forgive – Often & Always. Keep short accounts. Will people do stupid things? Yes. Will church people say & do hurtful things? Yes. Why do I know that? Because I’ve been that hurtful one – both to others and certainly to God. I’ve been forgiven SO MUCH and when I don’t forgive and become bitter, I’m the one who loses. Students today need to know they can be forgiven of ANYTHING and how can they feel that from me if I am not forgiving others. I’m not denying the pain, I’m not denying injustices that have occurred, I’m just clinging to the promise of forgiveness. (Ephesians 4:32, Matthew 6:14-15)
  13. If You Don’t Know, Don’t Snow – This was the advice my youth professor, RJ Koerper gave me when I headed for my first interview and I’ve never forgotten it. Trust me, students have a natural baloney meter and can tell when your making something up – so don’t. Being real & genuine with students is a must if you want to grow in Christ together. Allowing them to see my struggles, my failures, my bonehead choices frees them from the pressure to perform and allows them to fail. And contrary to the famous film line, when it comes to student ministry, Failure MUST BE an option!
  14. Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid – Take this one to the bank: If the strongest man (Sampson), the wisest man (Solomon) and a man after God’s own heart (David) all blew it sexually, how the heaven am I gonna make it?!~ I ask Jean constantly to pray with me about this and against this – and make sure your spouse does too! The enemy would love to have me blow it sexually, kill our marriage and damage our testimony for Jesus – and this scares the crap out of me! Set parameters. I am not alone with students of the opposite sex, and rarely alone with those of the same sex. I meet in public with students and when I counsel peeps, I leave doors open and/or ask Jean or our secretary to sit in. I also make sure there is always another adult female leader who stays to the end until all students are picked up. You have to do this because even a false accusation can end your ministry. (Proverbs 7:6-9)
  15. Be a Good Steward – From day one, Jean & I have always wanted to be a blessing and not a burden to our church family (No one wants to always be bailing out the youth pastor). That means being intentional with finances: not going in debt, not taking lots of loans, and at times, doing with less or without. When we’ve used our credit cards, we’ve always paid the bill in full each month. This has been a huge blessing to both us and to our church. How can we do this on a ministry salary? Our motto: Never pay full price! Look for deals, use coupons, borrow some things instead of buy AND be married to the Deals Queen! Seriously, Jean could write a book on how to save and cut spending! Have we ever had financial need? Of course. But when those moments occurred and we had expended our resources, the Lord always provided, still does and can do the same for you!
  16. Don’t Be a Lone Ranger – Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. Ministry can be lonely enough at times, don’t add to it by doing everything yourself! Surround yourselves with others who love Jesus and love students. Especially those who are not like you so that the potential for students to connect with a caring adult is at it’s highest. Jean & I have been privileged to work with some of the greatest servant leaders at each of our churches this side of eternity! The impact these leaders have had in the lives of students continues to this day. They’ve been 20 year olds, 70 year olds and everything in between – all with youthful hearts. THANKS TONS to each of you who have been part of our teams – y’all are GOLD!
  17. Network – Next to not doing ministry alone in your church, don’t do it alone in your community either! If we’re going to reach a community for Jesus, it’s going to take more than just your church and your student ministry. And this can totally be done – read Acts 19:10! Find other youth workers in your area and get to know them. Eat with them, pray with them, share resources and do ministry together with them! We spent 22+ years in Katy, TX and left one of the most amazing networks of youth peeps I’ve ever known. Since arriving in Castle Rock, it’s been cool to get to know the youth workers here and begin to network with them for the Cause of Christ. If you’re not networking, your missing out.
  18. Get Out Of Town – Seriously, never forget that your own spouse and family are your first ministry. And because of that, they need to be priority. We all MAKE time for what we want to do. If we are not MAKING time for our own, that says a lot – none of which is good. We’ll spend hours of prayer and planning putting together student ministry schedules, but do we do the same for our family? Ouch. I feel like I am constantly having to come back to this one, call time out and re-prioritize. One thing that has helped us over the years is to pick weekends and times off and put them on the ministry calendar before we ever publish it. That way we know we get our time and we know when we have breaks coming up. Make time. Do it.
  19. Get Outta The Country – And take students with you. We need to have a global perspective. Just like not doing ministry alone and networking, we need to get a glimpse of what God is doing all over the world. AND that everything does not operate everywhere else the same as it does in America. We American Christians are spoiled. Take students on missions trips. Sure, start locally, but I believe every student should serve the Lord outside the USA in some way. I’ve been privileged to serve throughout the US, in Zimbabwe, in Australia and multiple times in Mexico. Each one of these opportunities humbled me and changed me forever.
  20. Seek Out Paul, Timothy & Barnabas – We need these three dudes in our lives. Not the actual Bible guys, but these three types of people. PAUL: Someone who is a mentor to you, leads you, teaches you and who will lovingly tell you the hard stuff. TIMOTHY: Someone whom you are mentoring, who you get to lead, be a role model to and pour Jesus into. BARNABAS: An encourager. Someone who you can dump life’s crap on and they will just listen and still love ya’! I’m so thankful for these people in my life.
  21. Have a Thankful Heart – The most grateful people in the world ought to be believers! We’ve been unconditionally loved, forgiven, saved from hell & given heaven, adopted into God’s family, given daily food, water, shelter, and the list could go on & on!!! We have “hakuna matata” – no worries – because our eternity is secure. For years, as people have asked me how I’m doing, my reply has always been, “better than I deserve.” Why? Because I deserve punishment for my sin but because of Jesus I get love, forgiveness and heaven instead – it’s a good day and I am soooo THANKFUL!~
  22. Be a Victor not a Victim – Life is vigilant and sometimes as we go thru difficulties, losses, pain and hurt, we can begin to feel like God abandoned us. As a result, we can get a victim mentality. We need to remember that God promised He would never leave us (Hebrews 13:5), life is about seasons (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) and God is not a bully looking for people to pick on. Perseverance is something we can ask God for and a trait He desires us to have. Growing up I was often told “suck it up.” As much as I still don’t like the phrase, the idea of trusting the Lord and plowing thru some things is good advice.
  23. Love Hopes All Things – (1 Corinthians 13:7) I want to think & hope the best for people. Why? Because that is what love does! We need to see the best in students, envision their potential, encourage them tons, be on their team, etc… Be Joe Encourager!~ Never, Never Never give up on people because by God’s grace, people can and do change!~ I am living proof of what God can do with not much. I’m forever grateful for Scott Kaczinski for believing in me when I didn’t.  For Dale Arentsen meeting with me every week for 2 years to help me know Jesus. And for tons of others who hoped all things with me.
  24. Spend TIME with Students – Quality time can’t be planned. It just happens in the midst of Quantity time. And there are no shortcuts to this. If you want to make disciples who make disciples (Which is every believer’s calling Matthew 28:18-20) you have to spend TINE with those students. Jesus poured His life into a FEW to reach the MANY and we should do the same. Student ministry is less about the messages, the retreats, the conferences and bump soccer and more about doing life with Jesus together. Showing up at athletic events, choir concerts, award ceremonies, etc… takes time – but that IS what families do! We’re the King’s kids, we’re royalty and we’re privileged with time, but time is winding down. Only two things last forever: The Word of God and souls of people – let’s spend our time with these two!  I thank God for EVERY STUDENT I’ve had the privilege to spend time with these past 25 years – IT’S BEEN AMAZING!!!! 
  25. It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time – Yes I have a t-shirt that says this, but I don’t want this to be my theme for life. As a student pastor we need to do things that draw people to Jesus, not turn them away. It breaks my heart each time I hear someone tell me they’ve been hurt by a believer or a church and it’s turned them away from Jesus. The most loving, helpful and accepting place in the world ought to be God’s church and His people AND YOU & I either make or break that. Let’s make it happen! Join me in being and creating a safe place of love & acceptance for every student and family in our communities! And if your spouse says they are concerned about playing a game that puts fire too close to peoples hair, listen to her………hypothetically speaking J

There is soooo much more God has taught me, but for now, let me conclude with my top 7 Bible passages:
a.     My solid ground: John 3:16-17
b.     My mission: Matthew 28:19-20
c.      How I feel: 1 Timothy 1:12-17
d.     So true of me: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
e.     My life verse: Acts 20:24
f.      My anchor: 2 Timothy 3:16-17
g.     Because I still feel like a kid: 1 Timothy 4:12

View 25 years of group photos here: