Archive for February, 2013

Witnessing – When it doesn’t go so well

This past weekend, our youth ministry traveled to the Dare 2 Share conference.  We were challenged to share our faith in Jesus Christ with our families, friends, and even complete strangers.  The conference did a great job of energizing, equipping, and mobilizing the teenagers to evangelize!  On Saturday afternoon, we were charged with creating our own outreach experience in the Columbus area.  We traveled with several other youth groups to a local mall where our students broke up into pairs to talk to people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Truth be told, it didn’t go so well. 

Our teens tried on many occasions to strike up conversations with mall shoppers about God, and person after person turned them down on the offer.  Some politely refused, while others were pretty hostile.  One man said frankly, “You better just keep on walking”. 

At the end of the experience, one of our teens said, “That was the worst thing I’ve ever done.”

So how do we process through witnessing opportunities when they don’t go so well?

1) People will reject God.  Over and over in scripture we see this truth.  Bottom line is that there will be people whose hearts are cold towards God.  That is not to say that seeds can’t be planted, but when we share the Gospel, we need to know that there will be people who will reject God (not us).  It is our job to proclaim, and His job to provide salvation.

2) Witnessing develops boldness.  Although there were no known conversions as a result of our outreach experience, I was so proud of my teenagers.  They went WAY outside of their comfort zones and were challenged in their courage and boldness.  When we place ourselves into challenging (and even disappointing) circumstances, our character can be strongly developed.

3) Street evangelism is just hard.  It just is.  Some people have a gift for it.  Yes, the Holy Spirit can work in mighty ways through street evangelism, and yet there are non-believers that we already have relationships with!  This experience was not a complete loss, as we talked about how much easier it is to start conversations with our friends and family than it is with strangers.  Have we shared the gospel with those that we already know? 

4) We learned a lot about our culture.  One of our teens and a couple of our youth leaders did street ministry in Haiti last year, and we compared that experience to our experience in Columbus.  The American and Haitian cultures are vastly different.  Every Haitian (this is not an exaggeration) we talked to was more than willing to have a spiritual conversation.  Needless to say, this was not the case during our experience.  When debriefing our experience, we were able to expose several challenges in our culture including materialism, individualism, and the increasing hostility toward the things of God.  In many ways our country is blessed, but in other ways we are desperately broken.

I hope that as you seek to live out the call to make disciples, you will be challenged and encouraged by our experience.  May you grow in your ability to witness to those that God places in your path – even when it doesn’t go so well.

Blessings,

Josh

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2-24-13 Mark 13:14-27 NIV

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It’s crunch time

In 2 days, we will be taking a group of students to the Dare 2 Share conference.  It is a Goss Youth Ministry goal to provide at least one weekend special event opportunity per month.  Some special events take more preparation than others, but there are always details the week of to tie up.  I thought it would be fun to share with you what is on my list of things to do as we finalize our plans for this weekend.

Finalize transportation.  I mean, I’ve got options, so I’m not completely behind in the game.  Just a couple of unknowns with potential vans.  I’ve got a fall back option which is always crucial.  We will get there – just trust me.

Get permission slips turned in.  Right now I have commitments, but not all the permission slips and medical release forms are turned in.  I’m hoping my stack grows tonight!

Make arrangements to pick up a student from school.  Sometimes you do what you can to ease the burden on the family and make sure the teen can make the trip.  In this case, we have to leave right after school to make it on time.

Communicate with the host church. We are fortunate enough to have a connection with a church in the area of the conference where we (and 2 other Akron area churches) will be staying for free.  They are providing a place for us to sleep and breakfast, so I want to see if there is anything else I can do to help.  p.s. In-laws are the best!

Decide the Saturday afternoon’s outreach experience.  For this particular event, each youth group decides how to use 3-4 hours to evangelize.  The conference is leaving it up to the Youth Leaders to decide the structure for this time.  I have a good idea what we are going to do, but will be deciding once I talk to other Youth Pastors from the Akron area.

Pack.  I still need to pack everything I need to take.  This will definitely happen no earlier than Friday afternoon.

Promote the next event.  Tonight I am really pushing our NEXT event with our teens.  I’ve found that I always need to be looking 2-3 events down the road as things need to happen in order for those events to happen.  T-shirt sizes are due for our next event in a week, so I need to get those permission slips in! 

There are 48 1/2 hours until departure.  It’s crunch time.

Blessings,

Josh

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My Reflections: Kenmore Community Stop the Violence Event

Last Saturday (2/16) the Kenmore Community came together for a Stop the Violence event.  This event was community driven, with well rounded local support.  Please take the time to watch the Fox 8 piece that can be found here.

http://fox8.com/2013/02/16/akron-community-stands-up-against-crime/

Here are a few reflections:

1. There was no doubt this event pointed people to belief in God.

I am not sure it was scripted this way, but several people who shared Saturday night talked about how their lives had been changed because of meeting God.  Out of a harsh and violent lifestyle and into a more peaceful one.  This was very exciting to hear about as it strikes at the heart of what we believe about Jesus.  He truly CAN change lives, bringing about great fruit where once things looked hopeless.

2. Forgiveness was present.

It was very neat to hear several people affected by violence talk about forgiving those who had attacked them.  The spirit in the room truly was peaceful and echoes of Romans 12:21 were everywhere to be found: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

This gathering truly wanted to replace broken values and a culture of violence with something better.  Forgiveness was a part of that theme and it was very encouraging.

3. The Kenmore Community wants to change.

Yes, you heard it.  This event was not started by a church, but by concerned individuals from the community who wanted to help people heal and who wanted to, as one of the organizers put it, make history.  “This is Kenmore history!” was one of the cries heard at the outdoor portion.  Indeed, I hope it is.  People who have grown up in this community (and perhaps have contributed to the negative culture) stood together in rejection of the current culture and stated their desire for a different, better, place to live.

4. I encourage you to change your thinking and talking about Kenmore.

Our church and many other organizations and churches can be a significant part of change for this community. But, we must have a good mindset.  If we talk poorly about this community, I think it reflects an attitude that we think the place is hopeless.  If that is your attitude, please commit today to changing that attitude!  Say good things.  Encourage people in the city that you talk to that good things are happening in Kenmore.  Tell people you’re glad you live in Kenmore or you’re glad to be a part of a church that ministers in Kenmore.

And, honestly, if you don’t believe that and you have no desire to say those things, I’m going to challenge you to think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. The negativity is not needed!

The bottom line is that lives are changing, desires are changing, and God is moving.  Please be excited about that and be praying for the Church in Kenmore and the community as a whole.

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

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How We Think About God – A.W. Tozer

I copied this quote from a website full of quotes:

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” 
― A.W. Tozer

So, how do we think about God?  

What is the first thing that comes into our mind about Him?  Is He a mean, vengeful, hating being? Does He look to jump on every mistake and make you riddled with guilt?

Or, is He so loving that there is never need for forgiveness? Is God so nice in your mind that you don’t really have to overcome any of your problems, maybe it’s just His job to put up with you?

Both views I’ve mentioned are a bit too extreme.  

Our first thoughts of God should involve both an amazement of His love for us for sacrificing HIs Son Jesus on our behalf, and a healthy fear that draws us closer in repentance and obedience.  We should imagine a being forceful enough to cast us into hell (He is) but yet loving enough to save us from that and help us overcome our sins and failures (He does!).

How did you answer the question?

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

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Radical by David Platt

Radical

Soon, a group of us will be going through the book Radical by David Platt together.  I read Radical a few years ago and it really reinforced a lot of my thoughts and feelings about what it truly means to follow Christ, and how that looks in the American culture (and how it should look in American Christianity).

Here are two videos showing the theme of the book.

 

If you are interested in joining our small group study, I would encourage you to do so.  I am hopeful this opportunity will encourage us to walk closer to Christ and challenge us to give our whole lives to Him.

If you are unable to join our group, I would still encourage any American Christian believer who may feel stagnant to read this book.  May we learn to take the words of Christ seriously and joyfully abandon everything to follow Him.

Blessings,

Josh

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2-10-13 Mark 12:41-44 NIV

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