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Kissing Christianity Goodbye

Many of us in the ministry world heard of another influential church leader (Joshua Harris) declaring to the world that he was “Kissing Christianity Goodbye”.

by Jonathan Kornelsen

Many of us in the ministry world heard of another influential church leader (Joshua Harris) declaring to the world that he was “Kissing Christianity Goodbye”, and in the process was also permanently separating from his wife.  Many of us in the Youth Ministry world were shocked, saddened, and disheartened. Some of us related to his struggles, and sadly some of us were quick to cast judgment towards him by making unnecessary comments online such as: “I saw this coming” or “I’m not surprised”. As I reflected on the many articles and comments that I read I kept thinking “This could be you Jon…you need to check your heart! ”. You see, what you and I always need to remember is that not even the best pastors of North America are immune to sinfulness, burnout, and brokenness in relationships, don’t believe me? Look at King David himself, a man after God’s own heart, who fell into his own temptation. David’s pride, lust, and ego got the best of him and the price of his sin was huge. Everything from his family to his leadership was affected ( 2 Samuel 11- 1 Kings 2) by the consequences of his sin. 

You see folks, we are all sinners in need of God’s grace daily in our lives, and the consequences for our unchecked, unrepented sin in death (Ezekiel 33:18). As we learn from David’s story and from Joshua Harris’s story is our sinfulness also has the potential to affect so much more; everything from our leadership, churches, and most importantly our marriages, and families will be impacted. The cost is too high. 

So, the question I want to ask you today is: are you faced with the reality of your own sinfulness and pride today? If not you should check your heart, and submit everything to Jesus. Are your priorities in check? Do you find yourself slipping into sin? If so you should check your heart,  repent, and submit your life to Jesus. 

None of us will ever know exactly why Joshua Harris “Kissed Christianity Goodbye”, except for Joshua Harris, but what we can do in light of yet another Pastor falling away is to ensure we do everything we can to not compromise our faith, family, or the bride of Christ.

Jonathan Email
You can contact Jonathan and see more about his church and ministry HERE 

Catching Up — Good, Bad and Ugly

“Catching Up” – Good, Bad and Ugly” a realtime journey in the middle of transition.

Week: July 28-Aug 10

What was GOOD this week? Last weekend was the “wedding weekend of power”. Two former students got married on the same day in two locations. I officiated the first wedding in the morning and attended the second. It’s so fun to see students I’ve known for almost 8 years growing up and start a whole new chapter. It was a day of memories, friends and good food.

What was BAD this week? It’s been a hard few weeks on the job front. I had my name into two places and they both chose to take a pass. I know God is working but rejection has a sting especially when you’re excited about the opportunities. This will be a bog post in the future but right now I kinda just want this week to be over.

What was UGLY this week? See above 😛

How’s your HEART doing? Overall if I had to give it a rating out of 10 I would give it a 5. Some of this has to do with the rejections and some of this has to do with not currently being in Cuba on a missions trip with my most recent group. It’s been a tough week for things of the heart.

What’s making me happy this week? Amazing friends coming over for food to talk about life, love, and faith. They have made an extremely difficult few weeks a better. Their love and support have gone a long way to ease a hurting heart.

Jesse Email Tag
If you would like to know more about this topic or learn how to implement this in your youth program feel free to contact me.

Empowering Student Worship Leaders

There are two things to keep in mind before a student (or anyone, for that matter) is ready to lead worship. Read the post to find out more.

by CJ Limvalencia

Before we begin: I always stress to students that worship isn’t exclusive to music; rather, it’s any act done to honour and lift high the name of the Lord! However, the term worship leader in this day and age refers to individuals who the congregation looks to in facilitating a time of worship through music and song. So, this post will focus on empowering students to become and live out the role of such a leader. 

There are two things to keep in mind before a student (or anyone, for that matter) is ready to lead worship: foundation and attitude.

  • FOUNDATION: By foundation, I mean the student evidently understands and strives to live a life of worship that follows after Christ, has a desire to serve the church body, and has music abilities. If these items are unmet, he or she won’t even know where to begin to point others to the throne room of God! 
  • ATTITUDE: A certain attitude toward worship leading is needed. Worship leading isn’t so much about singing the lead part of a song, but about shepherding the congregation into a time of exaltation, celebration, remembrance, surrender, and so on through music.  

I liken the role of a worship leader to that of a small group leader. Small group leaders are responsible for preparing a discussion or lesson on a certain topic, right? They’re to come ready to facilitate discussion, guide conversation, listen to and encourage others, be ready to explain Biblical truths and share what God has placed on their heart, create a safe environment for openness, honesty, and vulnerability… 

Isn’t worship leading the same thing? Aren’t worship leaders responsible for preparing songs and set lists, coming to rehearsal ready to facilitate discussion about the song structure and themes, guide conversation, listen to and encourage teammates, to… you get the point! 

Without this kind of attitude, students (and adults!) are just musicians. Now, serving as a musician on a worship team is a wonderful thing; however, it’s not to be confused with worship leading!  

  • SO… if you have a student that has a good foundation and understands the attitude that worship leaders must have, how can you empower him or her to be a worship leader?  Here are some ideas:
  • Provide opportunity! Students need a place to exercise, practice, and grow. Schedule worship music times at midweek youth gatherings, on Sunday mornings, in small group settings, and so on. 
  • Give feedback! Provide encouragement and constructive criticism. The goal is for him or her to grow! Maybe this student is awesome at leading others in prayer but needs to work on communicating with the drummer. Don’t withhold any feedback that would help this student improve (even if musicians and other artists are be known for being sensitive… believe me, I’m one of them!). 
  • Fuel their interest! Send them worship songs to listen to, show them worship music videos of live performances… moreover, what are his or her options to continue serving after graduation? Is there an internship or Bible college program he or she could apply for? Can you get this student involved in empowering younger students? 

Hope you’ve found this helpful!  

CJ Email Tag
If you would like to know more about this topic or learn how to implement this in your youth program feel free to contact me.

How is your heart doing?

“How’s your heart?” is the very first question I was when I recently lost my job. But my answer is rooted in a journey that was years in the making.

By Jesse Criss edited by Sophia Savalli

For the last four years, my good friend and mentor Randy Carter has, on a fairly regular basis, asked me the following question every time we talk.

“How’s your heart?”

This is the very first question he asked me when I recently lost my job and started this season of transition. He is also not the only one to have asked me that question in the last 30 days and every time I have been asked, I always respond with around the same answer: 

“Though I don’t like the situation or agree with it, my heart has been at peace”

This response has caught many people off guard because the reality is that the world expects me to be angry, frustrated and frankly pissed off. The world thinks that I should have every right to be negative and kick up a fuss on my way out the door. But that’s not how I have felt and it’s not where my heart is right now. Are there bad days? Of course, there are but they haven’t changed how my heart has felt. 

My heart didn’t just arrive at a place of peace all at once, God’s been teaching me something for over a year now but it’s only been in the last 30 days that I have put it all together. The peace I feel is rooted in three journeys I have been on over the last few years.

  1. The Twins – I was a person (and sometimes still am) who likes to be in control. I am not a control freak but when you are in Youth Ministry this long you need to learn how to control the chaos or it will overwhelm you. The challenge is that when things are outside of your control it can drive you mad. My twins were born at 26 weeks and everything about those early days was 100% outside of my control. There was absolutely nothing I could do to help them, all I could do was surrender my control to God. Only He could be their provider. When the girls were finally brought home and relatively free from medical drama, I realized God had solved my control problem by giving me two amazing daughters who were a constant reminder that God is our provider.
  1. Family First – Over the last few years, God has been realigning my priorities to the new realities of my world. I’ve been a husband for sixteen years now and my wife and I have a pretty solid rhythm and understanding. Then these two little people entered our world and everything changed. It wasn’t enough to be home more, I had to be “present”. Not just a passive member of my house but actually present in my world. This meant I had to say no to things, good things, Godly ministry things because my first calling is not ministry its family. 
  1. I’m a Christian – A year ago I asked myself “Am I just a professional Christian?”. I’ve been in paid ministry since I was eighteen years old and only became a Christian at fourteen. This has been all I have ever known and over this last year as I wrestled with work, life and ministry I ended up asking myself the question: “If I wasn’t a Pastor would I still be a Christian?”. The immediate answer was YES… but it took several months to work out in my heart. Would just attending church and serving to be enough for me? What’s my calling? What’s my ministry? What defines? The answer was point #2 – Family First.

The peace in my heart has come about slowly through this journey. It has come about by asking some tough questions about life, love, and faith. I know who I am, what I believe, what my calling is and where my priorities are. For me, all of this means I have a healthy heart and it’s a heart that trusts God to not only see us through this transition but to lead us to a place that will love and support the journey I have been on. This is my story, but what about you? How is your heart doing? 

Consider following these steps to help you begin to answer the question: “How is your heart doing?”.

  1. Find/create some space to be still.
  2. Pray about the question.
  3. Write down all your priorities. The things that make you tick and get up in the morning.
  4. Number them based on what you/others think are the most important ones. Start with #1 as the MOST IMPORTANT and then go until everything has a number.
  5. Pause and pray about the question.
  6. Now circle five priorities that you think should be the most important things in your world.
  7. Pause and pray about the question.
  8. Now check off what you think God would say are the five most important things in your world. 
  9. Now sit on the discovery for a few days. Pray about it when it comes to mind and consider asking someone you trust to pray with you. After a few days take some time to ask and answer the question… How is my heart doing?
Jesse Email Tag
If you would like to know more about this topic or learn how to implement this in your youth program feel free to contact me.

Week #4 – Good, Bad and Ugly

“Week #3 – Good, Bad and Ugly” a realtime journey in the middle of transition.

Week: July 14-20

What was GOOD this week? We had so many people come over to the house and visit this week. There were unexpected dinners, family, chicken & waffles, and late-night conversations. I think more people visited this week than in the last six months but that’s okay it’s exactly what I needed this week.

What was BAD this week? In honesty, it was a good week. The only thing really bad in our house right now is that Twyla continues to be sick, which sucks for her and everyone else. We really need her to be 100% because she makes the world function around here 😛

What was UGLY this week? It was a week of waiting to hear from prospects. It’s part of what it means to be in transition, and it’s not good or bad it’s just… waiting. 

How’s your HEART doing? Over all, if I had to give it a rating out of 10 I would give it an 8/9. This was a good week full of adventure, friends, and community. I was reminded a few times this week of the journey God’s been taking me on. I still miss where we were but I wait in expectation for what’s coming. 

What’s making me happy this week? This week I took my girls on an adventure to a local lake. We ended up hiking for like 4km and we had a blast. There was parks, picnics, pinecones and pooped 4 year old girls at the end. Which if I was being honest was 100% the goal, the car ride back was blissful silence. 

Jesse Signiture
If you would like to know more about this topic or learn how to implement this in your youth program feel free to contact me.

Week #3 – Good, Bad and Ugly

“Week #3 – Good, Bad and Ugly” a realtime journey in the middle of transition.

Week: July 7-13

What was GOOD this week? Last week someone BIG happened. I had a fantastic conversation with Leadertreks about the possibility of doing some blog and contract writing with them. It was a 100% out of no where conversation that I’m convinced God set up. Fresh Ministry Consulting continues to grow not when I force it but when I let God worry about the details. This was the highlight of not only my week but maybe the highlight of the year so far. 

What was BAD this week? Sunday night was rough, it was the day that everything that’s happened hit me and hit me hard. There were tears, frustration, anger and crying out to God. I discovered a long time ago that God was big enough to take on all my feelings, so that night I gave it to him. Transitioning is not easy and there are levels… last Sunday was the bottom. 

What was UGLY this week? THE WEATHER… was horrible this week. The twins and I were going to go camping and I needed to cancel it because of weather. We rebounded on the weekend by tenting in our yard, but it wasn’t the same. 

How’s your HEART doing? Over all if I had to give it a rating out of 10 I would give it a 2 that God transformed into an 8 as the week progressed. I think he showed up exactly where I needed him to be. 

NEW: What’s making me happy this week? I got a recipe this weekend from a friend that I’ve been trying to track down for like a decade. My Mom used to make these Peanut Butter Bars that I loved but I have never been able to reproduce since she left all those years ago. When she died I though the recipe was gone… but maybe just maybe I found it. Stay tuned to FATJESSE for an update this week. 

Jesse Signiture
If you would like to know more about this topic or learn how to implement this in your youth program feel free to contact me.