I am already excited for next school year. The last several weeks I have had several meetings about a ministry called Launch Pad. It is a Christian nondenominational religious release class for public high schools. Check out this video, it explains it better than I can…
A new launch pad is starting at Mountain View High next year, and I am going to be on the teaching team for it. Each site has a team of teachers, mostly area youth pastors and a few parents/former teachers, that rotate to cover the instruction time. They have a set rotating curriculum so a student could take launch pad all four years of high school and learn new things every semester.
Here are a few reasons I am really excited about this opportunity:
1. It gets me into their world
If I am not careful, I can find myself spending all of my time on the church property, running church programs, and inviting (sometimes more like begging) students to come into my world. By going to campus on a regular basis and interacting with launch pad students, from my church and other churches, it puts me more in their world. More of a presence in the community outside the church walls is always a good thing.
2. It promotes unity and networking in our community
There are a lot of good youth workers in my area. From full time youth pastors to parent volunteers and everything in between, there are a lot of good youth workers. It takes a team of these people, in every school launch pad is in to make this ministry happen. All of these teams gather twice a year in one room for training, what an amazing encouragement to see so many people that love God and love teenagers come together.
3. Teenagers gain a strong foundational Biblical understanding
It is not always easy or possible to incorporate Bible classes into your church youth ministry picture. Yes, we do teach the Bible to students through our programming, but not in a classroom setting, for a grade, with tests and homework. It is being worked out right now between launch pad and a local Christian college to give college Bible credits to launch pad students. I needed those credits for my college degree, and I wish I would have had access to classes like that in high school. Not just for the credit, but for the depth of knowledge and understanding it brought to my faith.
I encourage you to visit their website and learn more about this unique ministry at http://www.launchexperience.org
Here we are, Saturday of holy week. Have you ever wondered why Saturday is a part of holy week? I really haven’t ever thought about it until today; but I think God must have had a reason for waiting 3 days.
Obviously we know the significance of Friday. Christ died on Friday, everything came to a head, it all hit the fan. Jesus said he was going away and it happened. Everyone that wanted Jesus out of their life and off the religious scene finally got their way. God turned is back to sin and Jesus finished it.
And we have Sunday, the resurrection. Time to celebrate that God solved the equation, God is still a righteous judge, the wages of sin is still death, and yet I can be forgiven by grace. The cross is empty, Jesus is alive, and suddenly everything makes sense. Sunday is the year of jubilee, life is good, and I know the truth and it has set me free.
But what about Saturday? Think about the disciples on Saturday. Just a few days ago they were still kicking it with Jesus and all was fine. Now Jesus is dead and they are left to pick up the pieces. Imagine mentally going over everything Jesus said and did, wondering what exactly everything meant, and wondering what might happen next. Everything changed in the matter of a few hours and here they are, alone. Imagine Peter on Saturday, that had to have been the longest 3 days of his life. I can imagine the one word that would define Saturday is silent. Silent Saturday.
As I think about this, I realize there have been several times in my life and in my faith that it has been Saturday. I have hit rock bottom and I know what I hope for, but all I find is silence.
Perhaps you look around and it is Saturday in your life. Maybe it is Saturday in your ministry. We all have Saturdays. But you know what? Sunday will come. God will show up. It might be only a day away, or perhaps it might be longer, but no matter what know that Sunday is coming!
I have been thinking a lot about spiritual transformation and how that really happens lately, especially with how that effects youth ministry. This past weekend I lead our senior high students through a weekend retreat, and I felt led to do something different this year. Before I get into what we did and how it worked, let me first give you the scriptural basis.
Romans 12:2 (NIV) 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Transform, don’t conform. This verse talks about not conforming to the world, which obviously we don’t want students to do. But I also think that a lot of Christians, teenagers or not, are still just conforming; the only difference is what they are conforming to. The Christian RELIGION is about conforming your life to a new set of rules or list of do’s and don’ts. But CHRISTIANITY is supposed to be about transforming, which is rooted in relationship with Christ. Look back over the messages/teaching/Bible studies you have done in the past few months. Have you talked about relationship as much as you have talked about modifying behavior? I have challenged myself to constantly ask that question because I want to point these students toward transformation, not just conforming to a different standard. Everyone’s transformation journey starts with changing the standard we conform to, I am not saying that we don’t need religion. In fact it plays a very important part in our transformation journey, but we can’t be content with stopping there.
Colossians 2:19 (NIV) 19 He has lost connection with the Head [Christ], from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
Only God can transform someone. Only God can make the body grow. As a youth worker and a Spiritual leader, I must realize this. It is a lot easier to program someone toward conforming than toward transforming. I must seek God on when is the right time for me to get in front and teach and when I need to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit do the teaching.
These are the thoughts and verses that dictated our retreat this last weekend. I looked at the students that were going and where I thought they were Spiritually, and realized I needed to change my plan of attack. The weekend was awesome…and I will tell you about it in the next post!
Until then I challenge you to look at yourself and your own teaching and ask the question: Am I facilitating transformation or just conforming to a different standard?