A New Adventure Awaits

The following is a quick update on where I’ve been the last 12 months and what’s coming next; let the Adventure begin.

Just over a year ago, I started a journey that would change my life in more ways than I ever thought possible. In June of 2019, I was let go from my pastoral ministry job and left trying to figure out what would be next. I chased some church jobs and enjoyed a summer of chasing the Twins and having a bit of sabbath rest.

It was a fantastic summer in many ways, but time was running out, and I needed a job fast. That’s when God decided to do something unexpected. I had applied to Apple on a bit of a whim, not convinced that I would get an interview, let alone a job. Still, sure enough, on October 4th, 2019, I started a new role at Apple as a Technical Expert, and for the last year, I’ve been “repairing” relationships and devices at the Genius Bar.

A full year and a bit later, I find myself again about to start a new journey as the Village Kids Director at Village Church in Surrey, BC. I’m beyond excited for this role, and because today is Thanksgiving and I find myself reflecting on the year I have just had and how thankful I am for it.

Twelve months ago, I was not sure “thankfulness” was a word I would have used to describe my situation. I was optimistic and willing to trust how God was leading, but I was also frustrated by the situation. Apple turned out to be a fantastic adventure, but one I never thought I would have to go on. I always assumed I would just find a new church role and move on.

See, the funny thing about hindsight is that I can look back on the last year and laugh now a little. I can see God’s hand in all kinds of things. From something as simple as learning to take apart iPhones to the relationships and conversations had with team members and customers. I will never forget how many conversations I had explained that I used to be a Pastor and how I became a Technical Expert, and yes, I had no clue what I was doing, yet the lessons learned from the past year have changed me forever.

Apple has a credo, a guiding principle for all its Retail stores. It’s profound and full of powerful statements that we strived for every single day. One of the lines of the credo reads, “We find courage. To try and to fail, to learn and to grow, to figure out what’s next, to imagine the unimaginable, to do it all over again tomorrow.”

God used this year to show me the courage already inside of me to go beyond what I thought was possible. In doing so, I’ve come to realize that in Him, there are no limits, boundaries or obstacles that can stop me. The best part of it all is that He will do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next day.

As I begin a new adventure with Village Church, I’m excited, nervous, and sometimes wonder if I’m ready. However, in those moments, I feel the Holy Spirit pull on my heart and saying, “Hey Jesse, don’t forget you have the courage. To try and to fail, to learn and to grow, to figure out what’s next, to imagine the unimaginable, to do it all over again tomorrow.”

Life is full of adventures, and I’m not 100% sure where this one will take me yet. But what I do know is that I’m thankful for this last year because, without it, I wouldn’t be ready for what comes next. I believe God’s timing is everything, so I can’t wait to see what He has planned.

Are You A Digital Citizen?

My question is, what do you know about digital citizenship? Because ministry has changed forever, and it’s time you caught up.

2020 has been a crazy year, and for many church and youth ministries, there was a monumental shift to online programming. You probably had a Facebook or Instagram account going for your students, and maybe you had participated in a Zoom meeting like once in your life. But now you were called to bring everything into the digital age.

When all this started last winter and early spring, people were hopeful that life would return to normal sooner than later. However, as time has moved on, the reality is, things are not going to be changing anytime soon. Ya, maybe you will meet in person with a limited capacity, but now that the lid has blown off of digital youth ministry, we will not be able to go backwards.

So this brings me back to my original question, what do you know about digital citizenship?

This post will not be a place where you will find all the answers; however, I want to take a moment and poke at the question with you. See, I’ve been thinking a lot about this question and the digital realities of ministry these days, and I see an opportunity.

Collectively the Church and Youth Ministry have an opportunity to educate students and families about what it means to be a good digital citizen and, in turn, love like Jesus in a digital space.

You don’t have to look further than most comment sections on any social edit site to realize that we say things to each other in digital spaces that we would NEVER say to someone’s face. We use the barrier of our screens as justification for all kinds of negative barriers, and the disconnect from the physical person lets us feel like “it’s not hurting anyone.”

The reality is that cyberbullying is on the rise; our world is more divided than ever before that rhetoric seems to have been turning up 1000%. Now is the time to teach our students what it means to be digital citizens, and you have the perfect platform to do it… because your ministry is online already.

My challenge for you is to consider teaching digital citizenship this fall or at least apply the principles to how your Small Groups and Ministry navigates the fall digital programs.

As I said, I’m not an expert in the field, but I can point you in the right direction. Use the following links as a place to start. The podcast is a great primer and Common Sense Education is a fantastic place to get more information and a ton of free resources. 

Sundays are for Football

Sunday are about Football and don’t fool yourself into thinking that it’s not, because it’s 100% about anything but Church.

The following is a walkthrough of “Zombies, Football and the Gospel” by Reggie Joiner If you want to know more about why I’m writing this series or a quick place to check for the previous chapter posts click here.


Ch 3 Sundays are for Football – “Re-imagine ways church can influence active communities.” 

In this chapter, Reggie connects two primary ideas tether in a powerful and extremely relevant way. The first is that Sunday are for Football, that most people would rather not attend Church on Sunday mornings. Reggie states, “At some point on the sacred day, there will be playing, napping, drinking, golfing, hanging, reading, sunning, swimming, Web-surfing, or watching Football… it’s not that they hate Church. They just don’t think about it. (pg 41)

The second is that “Statistically, 25 percent of Americans treat Sunday like a Holy day. Everybody else treats Sunday like a holiday (pg41)”. Mainly 75% of Americans just don’t think about Sunday because Sundays are or Football. Reggie adds that 35% of people are also working on Sunday mornings and will never be able to come to a service at 9:00 am because they are at work.

“I’m going to oversimplify and say I think it’d because 75 percent of the population has decided Sunday is for football, or fun, or family or friends (pg43)”

In the middle of the chapter, Reggie shares a story about a girl names Jen and the reasons why Jen won’t go to Church. Here are a few of the highlights…

  • I feel like they are judging me
  • my questions aren’t answered
  • it doesn’t feel worth my time
  • No one invites me to go with them

Despite the last comment, however, Jen does mention that “If a friend invited me, I’d go (pg44)”. It is here where the “Game-Changer” comes into play. “Communities have shifted away from a Sunday’ s-are-for-church mindset (pg44)”

See Jen’s of the world will not natural just wander into church o a Sunday morning, but the Church is also not doing anything to attract the Jen’s of the world either. Reggie asks the question, “What if you started counting the people who come on Sunday and started cutting the people in tour community who don’t? (pg45)”.

This question is powerful and almost mind breaking. It almost seems like an impossible task, but don’t we follow a God who specializes in the impossible. This chapter is profound because it asked us to examine our motives as a church. Do we exist for the 25 or the 75 percent? Or both?

The chapter ends with two statements that summarize both the power of the chapter and the potential of the future if we are brave enough to think outside of a Sunday box.

“If Jesus said leave the 99 to go find the one, maybe we can stop thinking about the 25 long enough to brainstorm, ideas to reach the 75 (pg46)”

“To reach people no one else is reaching we must do things no one else is doing Craig Groeschel (pg 46)

My Original Notes and Insights

Q – How are you going to connect with the people in your community who will never step inside your building?

  • I don’t know, but I need to figure something out. It needs to involve students reaching students. But also adult leaders empowering, equipping and modelling what it looks like to be the Church the other six days a week.

Looking Back: When I look back, This chapter changed me personally, not programmatically. I don’t think anything about my program was affected by this chapter, which might be a sad fact. I remember having a goal of having 10% of every high school in the city have representation in our youth group in some capacity. But as I re-read this chapter, I’m reminded that they probably would never have crossed our doors, because I was expecting them to come to us. The change for me happened in my heart. It created a burden for students. Yes, I wanted to see kids come to know Jesus, but the difference was the realization that “I could not meet that goal”… it was too big for me. But as a collective “we,” the goal was possible. I remember this chapter setting me/us free to try, fail, succeed and repeat.

In a Covid-19 World

I continue to find this book almost prophetic in this season of life. Again this chapter is speaking directly at the heart of the current issue the universal Church is facing. We can no longer go to a physical building on a Sunday morning, and since this book, The number of people attending a church was also declining. I think 75 percent of people not thinking about the Church at all is now a low number, and I guess that it’s much higher.

Yet Covid-19 has forced the Church to stop and ponder some of what Reggie mentions in this chapter, “If Jesus said leave the 99 to go find the one, maybe we can stop thinking about the 25 long enough to brainstorm, ideas to reach the 75 (pg46)”.

See Sunday are about Football and don’t fool yourself into thinking that it’s not, because it’s 100% about anything but Church. For the first time in maybe a long time, the Church has an opportunity to make the other 6 days a week about Church. But it will require somethings of the Church…

  • We need to consider new ideas
  • We need to be willing to try, fail, succeed and repeat
  • We need to be ready to ask for help
  • We need to seek out the needs of our community first
  • We need to invite others to journey with us in community

In my personal opinion, let Sundays be for Football because the “Church” wasn’t built just for Sundays.

Jesse Title Grey Background
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.

The Gospel is Messy

When Jesus stepped into the world, things got messy. He has a way of shaking things up, and in many ways, that’s what the Gospel is all about.

The following is a walkthrough of “Zombies, Football and the Gospel” by Reggie Joiner If you want to know more about why I’m writing this series or a quick place to check for the previous chapter posts click here.


Ch 1 – The Gospel is Messy – “Never settle for a version of faith that doesn’t take risks.

When Jesus stepped into the world, things got messy. He has a way of shaking things up, and in many ways, that’s what the Gospel is all about. In this chapter, Reggie comments that “this generation believes the Gospel is not messy enough. Today, people want to trade in their carpeted, air-conditioned, Sunday school version of the Gospel for something that compels them to make a risky collision with a hurting work. (p16)”

He goes on to connect the fact that leaders are worried that this generation will “abandon the true meaning of the gospel for something to social.” This generation wants to get into the messiness and play around, and that is scary for leadership.

It is here that the “Game-Changer” comes in, “There’s a growing frustration with churches who do not respond passionately to a broken world. (p17)” Millennials view the church as a “business” and not as a Body of Christ caring for the world around them. The church is has a reputation of being too busy taking care of itself that it misses the needs of the world around them.

“This generation is not walking away from the church because they haven’t heard the story of the Gospel. They’re existing because they were never invited into the mission of the Gospel. (p18)

Reggie spends the rest of the chapter connecting the mission of Jesus and the messiness of the Gospel that it’s not about a theology debate or fancy blog post. The foundation of the Gospel is that Jesus came to save us from our Sin; he came for the hurting and the lost. This generation wants to let a messy gospel compel them to action, and it’s going to get messy.

“This generation just seems ready to embrace a version of faith that is willing to care and love the people around them, regardless of the risks (p22)


My Original Notes and Insights 

Q – “What is one thing you can change in your life or ministry for the sake of the Gospel – even if it gets messy?”

  • Engage students with the conversation. Not just teach them but teach with them. Invite students into their journey in the Gospel.
  • Involve myself and students in the community where we have the most connections.
    • prayer walk
    • youth get outside
    • be willing to adapt and change what we do
  • students programming for students

Looking Back: When I look back, this chapter inspired me to think about life outside of the church walls. How was I going to take the Gospel into our community? Or better yet, how were my students? This chapter (and book) were the start of the belief that student can and should reach students for Jesus. I always knew that to be true, but it was here that some fo that language formed for the first time. But I had to invite them into the mission. I had to learn how to cast a vision that said the Gospel didn’t just exist on Tuesday nights; rather, the Gospel was where ever you were.


In a Covid-19 World

When I think about the world we are living in right now, I realize that this chapter may be more relevant than ever before because what we know as “church” has been stripped away. In some ways, all we have left is just the Gospel. That is 100%, okay, but the process has been messy and continues to create a mess.

However, we still are not inviting the current generation into the process, and I think we’ve been playing it safe. We have allowed programs to trump the Gospel and left the ministry to the professionals. Both the Millennials and Gen Z want and need to get involved because frankly, they know where we are going better than any generation before.

“This generation is not walking away from the church because they haven’t heard the Gospel. They’re existing because they were never invited into the mission of the Gospel.”

We need the emerging generations now more than ever because they are in the best position to help the church navigate what’s to come. The challenge is still the same; however, will leadership get out of the way and help position this generation to become part of the mission of the Gospel.

Jesse Title Grey Background
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.

Zombies, Football and the Gospel

Zombies, Football and the Gospel” is a book about looking back at “Game-Changes” in culture and how they can speak into our world today.

Several years ago now (around 2012), I had an opportunity to attend my first Orange Tour just outside of Seattle. I had heard about Orange for a few years and knew a few people using their curriculum material. But I hadn’t had much experience with them. However, I was excited to learn more but had no idea how much my world was going to change because of that one day conference.

That particular Orange Tour was split into two parts. One part talked about a new resource for Small Groups called Lead Small (which was also mind-blowing). The second half of the day jumped into a book called “Zombies, Football and the Gospel” by Reggie Joiner. It was a conversation about culture and the changes that were coming from the emerging Millennial Generation.

I was fascinated all day and knew I had found something that was going to change everything. So I bought the books and began an adventure that would change my life and ministry, and that journey started with this book.

At its core, this “Zombies, Football and the Gospel” is a book about looking back at “Game-Changes” in culture. These moments gave us a look at the past but also a glimpse in the future. Reggie identifies 10 game-changing moments and invites the reader to jump into the journey and wrestle with the outcomes. This is not a book full of answers; instead, it’s a book full of questions, and the reader is invited into the discussion.

I’ve been thinking a lot about ministry, my journey and this book because I believe Covid-19 is a new “Game-Changer.” Reggie himself recognizes that the work he has done is this book is not 100% complete.

So over the next number of weeks, I’m going to read and write my way through “Zombies, Football and the Gospel.” I’m going to talk about my original discoveries, the ideas they sparked and what these game-changers can tell us about how to live in a Covid-19 world.

So join me in the ride, grab a book or just follow along. My hope and prayer is that you will be inspired, challenged and forced to get out of the weeds of ministry and think about the bigger things.

CHAPTER POSTS

BOOK LINKS

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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.

 

For a Time Such as This

You have been called for a time such as this and if you need a reminder keep reading.

It has become our morning routine in our house to wake-up, eat breakfast, have coffee/tea time while my Twins play and eventually, the girls will watch a movie. At the same time, I get ready, and my wife starts working from home. Each day they pick a movie, and today it was the “Prince of Egypt.”

Usually an hour into the movie someone comes a find me asking for a snack and so today like every day I obliged and went to make the snack. However, I stopped in the living room to catch my favourite scene of the “Prince of Egypt.” It’s the scene where God calls Moses to go to Egypt.

As I watched this moment unfold for probably the hundredth time (I love this movie), tears rolled down my face. The moment when God declares “who made man’s mouth…” always stirs something up in my soul.

It’s a powerful moment where God declares to Moses… I am with you because I created you. I will give you everything you need because I know you more intimately than anyone else in all of creation. I am the great I AM

I find myself thinking about all the pastors, leaders/volunteers, church staff, elders, deacons etc. in churches across the globe. They are each trying to figure out what Church looks like in these unprecedented days, especially with Easter just around the corner. I know some have expressed what Moses express in this video and the bible story… I can’t do this, please send someone else.

Exodus 4:10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” (ESV)

Maybe you don’t know how to do it, or the technology overwhelms you or you’re sick or caring for people who are ill and have nothing left to give. Maybe the presser of Easter has overwhelmed you.

Hear the words of God to Moses and take heart as these words are for you today as well.

Exodus 4:11-12 “Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” (ESV)

As you go into your weekend and the passion week next week, trust and believe that God has called you to be right where you are for a time such as this. You are not here by accident; instead, it’s by design because you can something no one else can do because no one else is you. So take heart, trust and believe that God is you’re great, I AM.

Jesse Title Grey Background
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.