2 Years

I’ve said this before on this site: grief overwhelms you at the most random of times.

For example: This past Tuesday I was driving down a road near my house.  I had left my office and was headed home to eat some lunch.  I have no clue why or how it even happened, but my eyes began to fill with tears.  I wasn’t necessarily thinking about my dad at that moment.  It just happened.  Luckily, I was able to bat back the tears, get home, and eat my sandwich.

I’m sure you know what has happened in my life but in case you’re new around here, let me explain.  On October 5, 2016, my dad passed away from ALS.  It’s a neurological disease that essentially slowly shuts down your body via your muscular and nervous system.  Some can live with it for years and years.  My dad wasn’t one of them.

Time seems to be arced for me.  I vividly remember where I was when I received the phone call from my parents letting me know that dad had been diagnosed with ALS.  I was at Orange Leaf in Florence, KY.  My wife and I had a friendly bet on something small, and I had won.  I answered the phone while holding my frozen yogurt.  I don’t remember much of the evening after that.

There’s a line from that moment to seeing my dad in the hospital.  Then there’s a line from that to telling my parents that Amy was pregnant.  Then there’s a line from that moment to seeing my dad essentially helpless in a bed.  Then there’s a line from that to him passing away.

Fast forward two years, and there’s a line from that day to October 5 of last year, to October 5 of this year.  And I’m sure that there will be another line drawn from this October 5 to next year’s October 5.

Due to this upcoming date, I’ve tried to keep myself busy this week.  I’ve worked on the yard for a few evenings after work.  Tonight, I stripped wallpaper from our entry hallway.  Right now, I’m supposed to be finishing up my sermon for this Sunday.  I’ve done all of these things to keep my mind off of the painfully obvious.  But here’s the thing about working: it reminds me of my dad.

When I worked out in the yard, mainly weed-eating, I wore his old work boots.  I pulled up some of the grass in the cracks in our driveway using work gloves that are almost identical to his.  Even while stripping wallpaper, I could easily imagine my dad running a scraper up and down a wall like I was.  I was trying to keep my mind from floundering in grief by doing things, but in the midst of doing these things, I was warmly reminded of my father.

It’s weird how that works.

So on October 5, I may pick up a weed-eater.  Or some trimmers.  Or a scraper.  And remember my dad for all that he was.

Or I’ll pick up my son and play with some blocks with him.  And in the process of doing so, instill in him the same thing my dad instilled in me; the very thing I’m reminded of whenever I weed-eat or strip wallpaper.

Maybe the line drawn from October 5, 2017 to October 5, 2018 won’t be one that is from one grief-filled day to the another.  Sure, grief will be there.  But honor will be, too.  Remembrance.  Maybe even a hint of joy, as I spend time with my son like my dad spent time with me.


1 Year Later

On October 5, 2016, I received news that no one wants.

My father, after a long battle with ALS, went on to receive his eternal reward in heaven.

In the days following October 5, 2016, I went through a whirlwind of emotion as my family and I went through dad’s belongings, attempting to pick out what we’d set out at the funeral.  We also had to plan that service.  Looking back one year later, I don’t remember much about the details.  I just remember specific events and instances.

I vividly remember going through my dad’s truck to find things to put out at the funeral.  I saw his coat embroidered with the logo from the Morehead Utility Plant Board.  I saw socks, hats, and gloves.  Various notes and papers were scattered around.  It was as if dad had driven the truck yesterday.  But the truth was that he hadn’t driven the truck in almost a year.  He was physically unable to.  I just somehow stumbled upon a snapshot of his last drive in December or so of 2015.

In the weeks following October 5, 2016, I tried to get back to normal.  My wife and I came back home to Northern Kentucky, and I went back to the job I had at the time.  As I’ve written about before, grief came at the oddest of times.  I’d be fine but then I’d see a commercial that has nothing to do with fathers or death or sickness, and I’d lose it.  It was strange.  Needless to say, normal for me was never really normal again.  I had to find a new normal.

Since my dad passed away, I became a father myself.  My son has the same middle name as my father had.  I switched jobs and moved to a new city.  I’ve dreaded this day for a few months, knowing that it was upcoming and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  I didn’t know how I’d react today or what I’d feel.

I wanted to honor dad today, somehow.  As I thought over things, I figured the best way I could honor him was pretty simple.

I’d go to work.

I’d come home and play with my son.

I’d love my family as he did.

My wife and I even read a book about fish tonight to our son at bedtime.  He seemed to enjoy it.  It was fitting, given my dad’s love for fishing.

I’ll never talk to my dad again this side of heaven.  I’ll never be able to ask him how to fix something on my car or in my house.  Those things are hard to live with, but I know what I can do.

I can take my son fishing when he’s old enough (and tell others how the fish just weren’t biting due to factors beyond my control like the weather).

I can talk to any person like I’ve known them for years, instantly putting them at ease and letting them know that they’re valued.

I can share stories (even when my wife and son rolls their eyes).

I can have a natural love for Scripture and a desire to grow as a follower of Jesus.

These things that my dad did are traditions, in a sense, that I’ll continue.

And I know that I’ll see him again.  On the other side of heaven.  I’m thankful for that.

All day today, I’ve been reminded of this passage in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14: Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

So, I don’t grieve like those who have no hope.  Dad didn’t while he was alive, either.


The Best and Worst Father’s Day

A little over 2 months ago, I was sitting on my couch holding my 3 week old son watching TV.  This was one of those times where the baby isn’t sleeping, so I’m sitting in my rocking recliner trying to get him to start catching some Zs.  Usually I watched Netflix or something, but this particular night I was watching The Tonight Show.  Jimmy Fallon and his friends were entertaining me while my son started to slip off to dreamland.  Then, at the end of the show, the Zac Brown Band comes on and starts singing “My Old Man.”  I like country music, I like the Zac Brown Band, and I hadn’t heard of this song before, so I waited for it to start.

Halfway through the song, I’m in tears.  Here I am, holding my newborn son, watching the Zac Brown Band in teary awe.  The heavy-handedness of the song was real.  I lost my father on October 5, 2016, due to ALS.  My son was born just 5 months after he passed away.  Zac Brown was crooning about the influence of his father, while hoping for the best for his influence on his own son.  I could relate in a very real sense, so I sat in the dark, holding my son, watching and crying during The Tonight Show.

Life is strange.

Today was bittersweet for me.  As I’m typing this, it’s closing in on midnight on Father’s Day night 2017.  Today was my first Father’s Day as a father.  It was also my first Father’s Day without my dad.  I gave the message at a church this morning and told stories about my son.  I also told stories about my dad.  When I think of one, I think of the other.

I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to Father’s Day.  I knew it’d be tough, but good at the same time.  I thought the day would come in waves–waves of joy and happiness with my son and then waves of grief and sadness because of my dad’s passing.  But, strangely enough, it didn’t happen that way.

When someone wished me happy Father’s Day, I was made aware of both facts.  I cherished my son and mourned the loss of my dad.  Not one emotion at a time, though.  It’s almost like it happened simultaneously.  I thought of both people–my son and my dad.  Maybe it equaled out the grief.  Maybe it made the joy hit my soul that much deeper.  I’m not sure, but it happened that way.

Grief hits you at the strangest of times.  Just a few weeks ago, I was watching a replay of a country music awards show (what is it about country music!?) and they were doing a 50 year tribute to the greatest country songs.  At the very end, a feeble Randy Travis walked out and belted out the last couple of notes of “Forever and Ever, Amen.”  It was a special moment because he had suffered a stroke that really did a number on him.  But here he was, celebrating country music with all of his friends on one of the biggest stages in Nashville.  I don’t know why this reminded me of my dad, but it did.  Looking back, I think it may have been the joy on Randy Travis’ face.  It reminded me of my dad’s joy, even when ALS had taken away his ability to move and speak.  Maybe it was the resilience, too.  I’m not sure, but I just know it reminded me of dad and I couldn’t continue watching it.

Then my son was born.  One of my favorite things to do with my now-3-month-old son is make him smile.  I do that by painting a big goofy smile on my face.  He responds with a face of pure joy.  That, too, reminds me of my dad.

I was able to go back and finish watching the country music awards.  I even re-watched the opening with Randy Travis.  I held my son while I did it, because I knew the joy was a familiar thing with Randy, my dad, and my son.  It gave me joy, even in the midst of grief and sadness.

Life really is strange.  Even in sadness, joy is there.  Sometimes the two are experienced simultaneously.

Happy father’s day to you.


Where Are We Going?

I’ve always enjoyed traveling.  It didn’t really happen that much until I went to college, but then it hit me: I have friends from all over the nation.  What if I went where they lived?  I could experience and see different areas of the USA.  So I did just that.  As a result, I often asked where we were going.

It’s fitting I’m in ministry now, I guess.  That question should be a headlining question for those in ministry.  It’s a question I love to answer, and it’s one that I’ve asked every step of the way in my experience.  When I was a fresh new student pastor at a church in Norfolk, VA, I asked it.  When I was a church planter in southeastern Kentucky, I asked it even more.  As a semi-experienced student pastor in northern Kentucky now, I ask it often.

I suppose this is the reason for this blog post.  I realized that I haven’t put the answer to this question out to the public at large.  I’ve shared it with parents and student leaders, but not with everyone.  Now’s the time.

So.  Where are we going?

I’m glad you asked.

Before we jump in, let me give some background info: I started serving at The Mount in Williamstown, KY, about a year and a half ago.  We’ve had some success and failure, but that’s ministry.  I’m of the mindset that churches and ministries should dream big and take risks.  Honestly, I’m not interested in being in a ministry that doesn’t do that.  So here I am.  Even better, here we are.

The student ministry at Mount Olivet Christian Church is one that takes Ephesians 3:20-21 seriously: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  The question that I’ve wrestled with is, “What does ‘immeasurably more’ look like for Students at The Mount?”  I’ve also wrestled with the question, “What can we do now to set up for ‘immeasurably more’ in the future?”  This all stems from the statistic that 70% of 6th-12th graders in Grant County, Kentucky, are not involved with any church or student ministry.  To me, this means that 70% of our 6th-12th grade students don’t have a relationship with Jesus.  30% do, and that’s great, but our work has been defined.

The mission of Students at The Mount (the name of the student ministry at Mount Olivet) is simple and identifies with the whole mission of the church: To lead students into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.  There are two key words here.  First is lead.  We can’t spoon-feed or drag students into a relationship with Jesus.  We can lead them, though.  Even further, students can lead other students into a relationship with Jesus Christ.  This is where the 30% comes in.  The second word is growing.  8 out of 10 students leave the church and faith altogether after high school graduation.  Our traditional youth ministry methods and efforts obviously haven’t worked.  So our youth ministry now must look and be different.  This is where “growing” comes in.  Let’s equip 6th through 12th graders now with the knowledge, skills, and passion to continue their relationship with Jesus through their 18-22 years, into middle and late adulthood.  We are intentional about our mission.

A mission is great to have, but if it isn’t placed into the context of a vision, then it isn’t that useful.  So our vision (what we want to see happen within the next 5-10 years) is simple: To create a different student ministry that students want to belong to.  Our mission will remain unchanged.  Our vision is time specific, though.  In 10 years, we will see where God is leading us at that point and probably shape another vision statement.  There is something important about putting this down where you can see it.  The reason behind this vision is shared in the previous paragraph; our student ministry must be different to achieve different results than the status quo.  The student ministry of the 80s, 90s, or 2000s simply will not work today.  If you don’t believe me, walk into any church with a fledgling youth ministry.  They can do a lot of events and have fun, but the students continue to leave Christianity because their faith just doesn’t work anymore.  My biggest prayer for Students at The Mount is that we don’t become a youth ministry that just has some fun and throws a little Bible in from time to time.  My second prayer is that I don’t mess up what God is doing.  Both will lead students into a diminishing relationship with Jesus, and that isn’t our mission!

Our mission and vision have to be accomplished through various strategies.  To that end, I know that laser-sharp focus is necessary for effective ministry.  Again, if you don’t believe me, walk into any church that starts groups/ministries/programs for every niche.  They’re a sinking ship.  So, we will focus on the following strategies to accomplish our mission and vision.

1. Irresistible environments.  This might not seem like much, but it is.  If a student walks into a dingy and dirty room that could double as a storage closet, they probably won’t be back.  But if a student walks into an inviting environment where they are welcomed by friends and sense something going on, they will probably want to come back (and hopefully will bring a friend with them).  This doesn’t just fall under room engineering, though.  This is the responsibility of everyone involved with the student ministry.  Smiles and positive attitudes go a long way.  For Mount Olivet, it can be difficult.  We eat dinner in a lobby and share space with every other ministry in the church.  But we are slowly engineering every environment we are in to be one that is unique to students, whether it be through music, games that they can play upon arrival, and our leaders smiling and welcoming students as they arrive.  It will only improve from here, too.  This feeds into our mission and vision by giving students a different place (than typical youth ministry environments) to connect.

2. Small groups.  Great things happen within the context of community.  Students connect with each other and with leaders that want to see them grow in their relationships with Jesus.  Even better than that, these groups create their own unique type of culture.  Students might not want to share what they’re struggling with with their parents, but they can share it with their small group leader.  They also get to put handles on what was just talked about in youth group.  They can apply it to their own lives, process what it means, and hold each other accountable in the context of a small group.  Those types of things typically don’t happen in a large group setting.  So we love small groups!  This feeds into our mission and vision quite obviously: it allows students to grow in their relationship with Jesus with others.

3. Middle school and high school retreats.  I wanted to line this item out specifically.  We pour a lot of emphasis on these retreats for a couple of reasons.  First, students need an opportunity to disconnect from life as usual to focus on something spiritually.  There’s more growth that can happen within a weekend at a retreat than can happen in a month’s worth of youth group meetings.  Secondly, it allows students to connect with others that aren’t in their clicks and circles.  In other words, it broadens their horizons.  This is a good thing that can happen within an environment like a retreat.  This is why we partner with churches like Williamstown Christian for events like this.  It lets students see that they aren’t the only ones living out their faith at school, work, and home!  Our mission and vision is accomplished when students can grow exponentially at retreats.

4. Connection events.  Sometimes students that have never been to E4 (our Sunday night student gathering) don’t want to come because they’re intimidated.  I completely understand as I am an introverted person.  So we offer connection events that are completely fun and meant to help students connect with one another, building community.  Things like game nights, bowling, baseball games, concerts, etc. all feed into this, as well as our mission and vision.  The only fear I want to mention here is that we don’t want to become a youth group that is all about these types of events.  We already know that a busy youth group isn’t necessarily a sign of a healthy youth group.

5. Partner with parents.  We (SATM) have students for 2-3 hours a week, on average.  The rest of the time is spent between work, school, and home.  The bulk of that time, however, is spent at home.  This is why we want to partner with parents and equip them to lead their students into a growing relationship with Jesus (see what I did there?).  We know that what happens at home is more important and impactful than what happens at church, so let’s partner up.

Those strategies, obviously, help us accomplish our mission and vision.  But how do we know if we are actually hitting the mark?  Again, I’m glad you asked.  We want to measure the wins, because we know that “wins” determine how we are doing.  So the primary win is that a student is led to take ownership of their faith.  This means that they are doing things that are also wins for us: reading their Bible daily, regularly attending church/E4, take the next steps in their faith (baptism, serving, etc.), investing into and inviting their friends, and showing excitement for what the student ministry does.  If we can do these things, then I think we will be on the right track.

This is where we are going.  This is the type of student ministry that I feel like God is engineering here at The Mount.  Do you want to get involved?  Awesome.  Let me know.  If not, please at least pray for us.  This will be big, risky, and slightly crazy, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.


Enjoy Your Iced Coffee

I went to Starbucks the other day.  I pulled into the parking lot, pulled up the app on my phone, and I looked to order my usual: a grande cold brew with a couple of pumps of classic syrup.  This is a pretty quick process; much quicker than standing in line, ordering, and then waiting.  I walked in, stood at the counter, and waited a couple of minutes for my mobile order to magically appear on the waist-high counter in front of me.  Eventually, a barista with an empty cup looked at me and said, “Sean?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

“I’m sorry, Sean, but we have run out of cold brew and won’t have any until tomorrow morning.”

“Oh…OK.  Well…uh…”

At this point, I was faced with a choice (or a dilemma, depending on how you are dealing with it).  I could angrily storm out, accusing them of negligence because the app didn’t alert me that they were out of cold brew, threatening to go to the Starbucks in Crestview Hills because they can probably accommodate my desire for cold brew.  In this choice, I would likely offend the barista, but she deserves it, right!?

Or I could just get an iced coffee is an appropriate replacement.  My barista was thinking the same thing.

“We can make an iced coffee for you, or maybe an iced Americano.”

“An iced coffee is fine.”

Within 30 seconds, I had an iced coffee in my hands.  If I had chosen the former option during my choice/dilemma, I would have been driving through construction to another Starbucks without the guarantee of cold brew, leaving the barista in bewilderment (and maybe hurt over something she can’t control).  But now I was sitting in an air conditioned cafe, sipping a delicious caffeinated beverage on ice.  Plus, I am a gold card member.  I get free refills.  What a deal.

I work in the world of full-time ministry.  Often, my person is not just associated with me or my family.  It’s associated with an entire church.  This is probably why people like to tell me what’s right or wrong with my church.

That’s fine.  It really is.  I’m more than willing to listen and talk about the heart behind many of our strategies and methods of ministry.  I enjoy it, actually.  But I occasionally run into something that cuts me to the core.

Sometimes people decide to rid themselves of the association with a particular church because of one method of ministry or strategy.  It almost always results in hurt feelings, lost friends, and bitterness.

You’ve seen it be done.  If you’ve spent any time in church at all, you’ve heard jokes about churches splitting because of a disagreement of the color of the new carpet.  We laugh at it, but we laugh nervously, because we know it’s about 10 seconds from happening in most churches.  Maybe even the church we are plugged into.

I think this happens because we begin to hold the ministry methods we are most familiar with in a sacred spot.  As in: If we don’t do this, then we aren’t doing anything right.

But in reality, our ministry methods and strategies aren’t sacred.  In fact, very little is sacred within the church (gasp!).  The only sacred thing in the church is God and his spirit living within his followers.  Everything else (including you, me, and our methods) are not sacred.  They may be God-inspired, and hopefully they are, but they are not sacred.  They will change.  They will probably change way sooner than you think.

Plus, when Christians assume that certain ministry methods and strategies are implemented haphazardly, they completely and totally disregard the countless hours in prayer and study that the church leaders have committed to this decision.  Maybe the leaders are doing this thing because God has given them the ability to lead this church in the way that he wants them to.

Remember my fun time at Starbucks?  If I were to yell at the barista and storm out, what would it accomplish?  The cold brew would still be out, and I would be completely disregarding the barista’s attention to detail and her kind demeanor when telling me that there is no more cold brew for the day.

If we decide, as followers of Jesus, to storm out of a church because we think that a certain ministry method is wrong, then maybe we should pray that God would lead us into full-time pastoral ministry.  Obviously, we think we have the market cornered.

Sure, there are times when a ministry method might be wrong scripturally.  But that will be painfully evident to everyone around, not just 5 or 1o of your buddies that sit beside you in the pew.

Maybe we should recognize that the church is a living movement organized by Jesus himself, so when we don’t know the reasoning behind something, we should search for it by searching Scripture.  Take into mind the heart of the leaders.  If we really think that the leaders are maliciously leading the church astray in terms of methods and strategies, we have a bigger problem.

Maybe, instead of being angry, we should be happy with the iced coffee in lieu of the cold brew.  Who knows…maybe we will enjoy it and be on board with it.


Coffee Cup Theology

I sat in Starbucks the other day.  It was packed.  To be fair, this particular Starbucks location had just undergone a renovation.  I’m sure some of the people there were there to check out the new bricks and mortar.  But it seemed like everyone else there had a different agenda.

For some, the agenda was enjoyment.

For others, the agenda was spending time with friends.

Even for others, the agenda was a place to catch up on some emails while enjoying their delicious cold brew.

I was there with my wife.  Our agenda was to spend time together, doing something that we both enjoy.  Eventually, one of our friends walked in.  We welcomed him, got caught up on life, and enjoyed each other’s company.

It’s funny how coffee shops work.  There’s a collection of people from all walks of life, coming together for a brief time to congregate around a cup of liquid (and maybe even a doughnut or a cookie).  Some arrived with friends, some arrived with family, and some arrived alone.  Some of them even wandered in off of the street, seeing the people inside and smelling the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.  They all have a common purpose: to enjoy this experience.  Sure, some people are hitting a drive-through or grabbing a coffee to go.  But for a short few minutes, they get to participate in the experience that most coffee shops have.

For many people, a coffee cup isn’t just a container that holds hot liquid.  It’s a symbol of friendship and community.  People willingly leave their homes to go to a place to sit over a cup of coffee and talk to someone else.  What happens over a cup of coffee is a sacred thing, and I think it has been engineered in us by the Creator.

Jesus sat around a table with his followers and broke some bread and shared a cup to explain what was about to happen to him.  Out of all the symbols, materials, and things to use in this world, he used what is found on a table.

What was found on that table can be found on a table now at a coffee shop.  Not just material things like food and a cup, but non-material things.  Like friendship.  Service.  Love.

Maybe what happens over a cup of coffee is bigger than what we realize.  Maybe people congregate over a cup of coffee because it is a desire set within them by their Creator, and was played out by Jesus himself.

Maybe we would be wise to acknowledge that within our churches.

Just think of all the times Jesus sat with his followers around a cup.  Just think about all the times that Jesus sat around a cup with tax collectors, sinners, and people like you and me.  Jesus was on to something.  The Son of God had it figured out.

Once again, maybe we would be wise to acknowledge that within our churches.

People who are coming to our churches for the first time (or second or third) are coming to see and hear about Jesus.  They might not know it yet, but they are also coming to connect with you and me.  Do you know what would really enhance that and encourage that connection?

You guessed it.  A cup of coffee.

It’s something that we can grab hold of while we worship the One who created us.  It can give us a sense of comfort during a particularly uncomfortable time (like visiting a new church).  The aroma and taste helps us connect with our memory, making us realize that everyone here is in the same boat (sinners in need of grace).

Then we read about and hear about Jesus, who obviously put great emphasis on what happens around a cup.  We’re connecting with him, and with the other people around us.

Before you know it, we have a church that’s moving, living, and active.

So maybe the best thing we can do this Sunday is to brew a pot of coffee, pour a couple of cups, and hand it to someone who walks in.  Maybe that’s what Jesus would do.


Orange at The Mount

I should have two high school diplomas.

Let me rephrase that: I should have a high school diploma and a Sunday School diploma.  I went through my county’s educational system, K-12, and walked across a stage in 2006 to shake the superintendent’s hand and receive my piece of paper.  It was a great time, as many friends and family members were there to celebrate with me.  13 years of schooling finally equaled into an achievement, and I was headed off to college to get another diploma.  I’m very thankful for that.

Sunday School was a little different.  I started when I was probably 5 or 6 years old.  There was a little country church across the road from my home, and I would go to Sunday School there with my aunt as my teacher. She did a fantastic job (which is great, seeing as how she was also my kindergarten/1st grade teacher at my elementary school).  I learned all kinds of things: Abraham moving, Isaac, Noah and the ark, David and Goliath, Jesus walking on water, the resurrection, and the missionary journeys of Paul.  I even learned Paul’s first name, Saul.  For a young elementary kid, I felt like I was a walking biblical encyclopedia.

Fast forward to high school, when I was attempting to live out my faith in a public high school.  I did a terrible job of it.  Actually, I did very little to live out the knowledge I had of the Bible.  I was still learning about the Bible in Sunday School, but that knowledge usually stayed in the room, where I could pick it back up the following Sunday.  After all, I had to go to school and go to work, right?  There was no time to think about the Bible between Sundays.

Fast forward even more to the end of my senior year of high school.  I had just declared that I was going to Kentucky Christian University.  A lot of my classmates questioned my decision.  They wanted to know how a guy like me could go to a place like that.  I didn’t seem to know much about the Bible.  Sometimes it seemed like I didn’t even know Jesus.  But I had gone to Sunday School nearly all of my life and was active in the church.  I should have had a Sunday School diploma at that point.

Do you see the problem I had?  I knew all kinds of stuff about the Bible, and I could even rattle off some verses from memory.  But I wasn’t living it out at all.  That led me to this question: What good is the knowledge if it isn’t applied?

I think that still happens in the church today.  Actually, I know it still happens.  You’ve heard the statistic: 70-80% of teenagers leave the church whenever they get to college.  Why?  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it’s because they have no clue how to live out what they have learned.  Their biblical knowledge affects the brain, but not the heart.  And if it doesn’t affect the heart, then we might have wasted our time.

In recent weeks at The Mount, we have been rolling out a strategy to fix this.  It’s called the Orange strategy.  Why that name?  It’s because it combines two critical influences: the church and the home.  A kid will spend about 40 hours this year at church.  They’ll spend 3000 hours at home doing next to nothing.  Why not combine these hours and influences so their lives will be changed?

What a kid will learn on Sunday can be applied on Monday-Saturday with this strategy.  They’ll be taught how to do it, and parents will be equipped to encourage and help their kids live out their faith day-to-day.  The result will be stronger followers of Jesus, better families, and a faith that will grow beyond their 18-22 years at home.

We’ll do this with our kids ministry on Sunday mornings.  We’ll do it with our student ministry on Sunday nights.  Even our adults will be doing this with our worship services and home groups.  This is a comprehensive strategy that will help grow all people in our church.

As a matter of fact, we already employ this strategy in our student and adult ministries.  But we will get better, because this is too important to slack on.

In order to make this happen, though, we need as much help as possible.  You can volunteer to help with our children’s ministry and never see a kid.  We have positions open like designers, security team members, registration team members, and hosts.  If you want to be more hands-on with kids, then sign up to be a storyteller or a small group leader.  We also need substitute small group leaders if you want to help but have a crazy schedule.  Stop by the Orange table on Sunday and sign up.

Trust me on this.  You do NOT want to miss out on what is about to happen in our children’s ministry!  You have the opportunity right now to get in on the ground floor and help us do something revolutionary.  We’re going to grow like crazy, and we need your help to make this happen!

If you have any questions at all, just let me know.  You can email me at sean@mountolivetchristian.org.  You can also stop by and see me on Sunday.  I look forward to you helping out!

Thank you all for your support in this and for helping us make a difference.  Let’s advance the Kingdom of God!