Thursday, September 11, 2014

I remember...

 It was a warm fall morning. Fall semester had just started on my 2nd year in bible college, and I was already running late for a class. I only had 2 classes that day and because of missed bus , I was not going to make the first one, "Oh, well" I thought as I walked into the library, which in my tiny bible college was more of a common room than the common room. Thats when I saw it for the first time, an image that will be ingrained in my head for years to come. Someone had placed a picture of the first plane striking one of the Twin Towers in New York.

   Being a child of the 80's I thought someone had looked up a picture of the bombing that occurred in the late 80's and placed it as some sort of joke. As I grabbed a seat near some friends someone asked if we had heard the news. Having been on the bus and still living in the technological "dark ages," I was completely unaware. "A Plane crashed into the The Twin Towers!" my class mate mentioned. We had no idea what was going on. I remember saying that it must have been a small private plane that was malfunctioning and crashed then someone came in with a radio and turned it on. It was the only time I can remember when all the radio stations in Edmonton stopped their regular programming and were reporting on this great tragedy.

  But as it happens with people who live through historic events, we didn't think much about it. We headed to our lectures and once they were done, I headed home, still believing it was just some minor accident, tragic, yes, but still just an accident. Once I got in I turned the TV on to see if anyone was reporting on the "accident" and thats when I saw the most horrific images.

   The news stations reported speculations as to what happened and how. By this time the second plane had already hit the other tower and both were billowing smoke. I could not handle watching what I was seeing and turned the TV off. I could not believe that something could have gone so wrong. I could not believe that someone would choose to attack innocent people in such a manner. Fear gripped me and I frantically called my mother at her work to see if she was alright. I'm not sure why I thought she would be in danger, we're nowhere close to New York, but I guess the realization that someone could use a passenger plane as basically a missile made me afraid that it could happen here. Once, I was sure she was fine i headed back to the living room and turned the tv on just in time to see the first tower fall.

  I started to weep. I collapsed on the floor and could not believe what I had just seen. There were people in those buildings! Firemen, Police officers! people with families and homes. People who just that morning had said goodbye to their loved ones who expected them home at the end of the day. There was so much pain. So much!

     As the images of the dust settled I also saw hope. Men, women, rich, poor, black, white, did not exist this day. I saw people who had been strangers help carry the wounded away from the rubble. Officers and Firefighters bravely ran towards the cloud of dust while others were running away. I saw men and women who displayed real courage. That day heroes did not wear masks but were cloaked in a layer of dust and debris. Many lost their lives so that others might live. They left families and friends behind to help people they've never met. I saw hope.

   That day something changed in the world I knew. Gone were the days when you could go on a trip and not worry over someone going nuts. Gone were the days of relative peace, because I knew that there would be great anger and an even greater call for retaliation. Gone were the days when you could look at a person across the aisle on a plane without suspicion. The innocence of the world I knew was gone.
        This great tragedy did not affect me directly but it did get me thinking: "Would it be cowardice or courage that would reveal it self should I have to face such a tragedy?" would I be the one running into the cloud of dust to try and help others out? or would run away and hope the professionals can handle things? One never knows how we'll respond to this kind of trouble, and hopefully we never have to find out. Instead let us always remember the brave souls that did go into the towers. Those brave men and women who fought through falling debris and ash to help someone escape the collapsing buildings. Those whose sacrifice allowed many to see their families again, but would they themselves never see their loved ones again.

  I ask you, dear reader, to not ignore what we remember today. Sometimes we want to avoid pain by forgetting about situations, but to do so would be an insult to the memory of the courageous few. Rather remember and pray. Pray for the families whose pain returns each year. Pray for those who will never feel whole again because of that missing loved one. Pray that if (heaven forbid) you are faced with a tragedy in life that you will stand tall and unmoving against it. That when the time comes to choose to reveal the true nature of our character that we will be able to live out the words written in John 15:13 "Greater love has none than this: that one lays down his life for his friends"

Monday, May 26, 2014

Engage Uncomfortable

  This past weekend, I had the privilege of taking students to our local youth conference (YC Alberta). Its the same conference that I attended as a teenager and it made such an impact in my life that I feel it important to share with my students. I always pray that somehow the Lord will use that event to either introduce himself to them in a deeper way or for them to grow closer to God. Its truly a blessing to have such an event close by! My friend Ron Powell wrote a great piece here where he talks about the benefits of a large gathering, which you should read.

  As selfishly as it may sound, this post is not about how the conference impacted my students, but really how it impacted me. Its amazing that after 20 years of attending this conference, I still get something out of it! During a break out session presented by Brett Ullman, He said something that caught my attention and really got me thinking. His session dealt mainly with media, faith and culture, and during his talk, he brought up books.

     Now if you've read my blog or know anything about me, I'm a book Junkie. I spend way too much time reading and buying books, so much so, that i've had to force myself not to buy anymore because i've ran out of room on my shelves. Plus, I'm trying to go digital. It saves trees. But I digress.

 When he brought up books, he challenged us to not only read books by everyone's favourite Christian authors. That we should try and read books from authors we didn't like so that perhaps we would have our minds jogged and stretched into writing more original and deeper messages. He said "If I hear another "Crazy Love" sermon, I'm going to lose it!" Not because he dislikes Francis Chan or his books, but because so many people have been reading the same book and basically preaching the same thing.

This got me thinking "When was the last time I read a book from someone I disagreed with or simply didn't like for whatever reason?" all the books I own are from authors I enjoy reading, but predominately, I agree with what they are saying on a certain topic. Its why I bought their books. Reading my favourite authors has yielded great results in the way I follow through in ministry and I always read them expecting to find some nugget of practical truth that I may share with the people under my care.

 I've always thought that reading a book from an author I didn't like or agree with was a waste of time. I had enough or reading books I didn't like back in my college days. When a particular book was assigned reading and I didn't like either the way the author wrote or the position he or she were taking on a topic, I just read enough to get through the assignment and then never read the book again. In fact, I believe they were "donated" to the recycling bin. It seems my young mind missed a key lesson! my professors were trying to teach me that: reading good books is good, but combining a book you agree with with one of the opposite view will sharpen your understanding.

    Even the mere effort that it takes to read a writing style we don't like or a point of view that vehemently contradicts ours,  can have a positive effect. It forces us to use our brains for something other than information sponges. It challenges our views and if they are not solid this will really put them to the test. The biggest benefit is that it forces us to listen to someones opinion. It is way easier to listen to someone we like or agree with than it is to hear the words of someone that rubs us the wrong way or holds an opposite view. Perhaps we've missed a priceless diamond because we decided not to search through the mound of coal, simply because we didn't like who did the digging?

   Perhaps it is merely a kind of fear that keeps us from engaging the uncomfortable. A fear that the opinion of an author with a different point of view may prove that ours was flawed, and thus forcing us to reexamine our belief system for more imperfections and thus opening up the proverbial "Pandora's box" where all sorts of errors come out? Or it could simply be that we've gotten so comfortable in what we read that trying out a new writer or engaging in the writings of a different point of view or belief system will force us to vacate our cliche 'comfort zone'? thats really something each of us need to give some serious thought to, be it one or both or even more than these reasons.

  What to do with this newly learned lesson? Well, I won't presume to tell you what you should do. That's for you to decide. Personally, I need to bite the bullet and get beyond not buying a book because I don't like the author and even pick up a few that disagree with my point of view. There are many writers that I don't know and perhaps I should start giving them a chance. Lack of notoriety should not determine what book is read. Thats unfair to the authors or many works and really limits the rate by which new knowledge is absorbed to the time my favourite writers release a new book. After all, it could take years between books and there is a limit of how many times you can read a book over before it loses its 'flavour,' Like chewing on a piece of gum for too long, eventually it stops producing flavour and its only benefit is giving jaw muscles a work out, and the last thing we need is pastors with stronger jaw muscles! we'll just keep talking for hours! (haha, preaching humour)
     In music, some of the most beautiful pieces written need a little tension caused by some disharmony within the notes or instruments to flavour and colour a piece. Tension helps in taking the music from simple melody and evolves it into a grand symphony! Its all about a good distribution of tension and release, harmony and disharmony, smooth and rough. Perhaps adding a little disharmony to our reading may push our ideas and sermons into a whole new level! A little tension in our learning, now and again, is a healthy thing.

As always I welcome your thoughts.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The world will always need heroes...

Hi readers!

I haven't had an opportunity to send out a blog in a while. This new job has had me super busy and with all the excitement i hardly have had a spare second to write a decent blog. Today I will write a nice quick one because of the happenings in San Francisco

This morning as I checked my twitter feed between answering emails I ran across the story of Batkid (#SFBatkid or #Batkid on twitter) the story of little Leukemia survivor Miles who was surprised with the gift of being Batman for the day. His wish drove volunteers to mass 12000 strong to turn a part of San Fransisco into his own pint sized Gotham City, complete with Riddler and Penguin villains. You can read all about this story here (Batkid Story

  In the midst of world wide problems I am glad that there are stories like this to remind us that there is still good in this world. Perhaps it won't make much difference in dropping the crime rate or even fixing all that is wrong with the world, but for one brief moment the world smiled. For one day, to that little boy, the realm of the imagination has leaked into the real world and he was given an opportunity to live out his dream. for one whisper of time the world made sense.

   Batman, is a hero to millions of fans world wide, but today's real heroes where the 12 000+ volunteers who went out of their way, taking time off work to make the dreams of a little boy real. I can't help but wonder what would happen if we tried to make each other's dreams a reality? would the world notice because we dress up in costumes or will the notice because we are doing an act of God in a public way? Too often we are bogged down with our own problems, with our own issue and trials that we forget to take time and look for the good in everything.

There is still good in this world, and today one little boy has a stronger faith in the good of humanity. In fact, if you were to tell him that Batman was not real, I'm willing to bet that he would say "yes, he is! I AM Batman!" If only we were so expressive with our faith in Christ. That we would do so much good to others making their dreams reality so that social media would explode with the news that Christians are doing good, just because we can. I think that those people we would touch with our good deeds would have a hard time doubting the existence of Christ. Like little Miles they would stand up and say "There is a God! I've seen his kids work!"

The world still needs Heroes! go out and makes someones dream come true!

Friday, August 30, 2013


    One of the questions all Youth pastors or leaders in general have to ask is "How do I maintain the energy level of my team?" Lets be open for a bit, we've all experienced that lull during the ministry year  where it feels like you're wading through waist deep molasses in the middle of winter. Events become a blur, and you're just glad when you can go home and rest. Energy gets spent in more ways than one than one as the year progresses, so its important, and dare I say imperative for a leader to be aware of his teams energy level. Lets take a look at this thing we call energy so we can understand it better and hopefully we can begin to think of ways to better spend and recharge our team members.

   What is energy?
 Humans have two kinds of energy (there may be more, but we're going to focus on 2 for times sake): Physical energy and emotional energy. Both of these is what fuels every person to do their work or to create something and even to develop deep relationships. Some people have an instinctual skill to know when they need to recharge their energy and how to reload it themselves. Others have to learn how to develop disciplines to keep their energy levels at optimum.  Some choose physical activity, music, making or looking at art spending time in nature or even engaging
Energy Subtractors

For the benefit of newer leaders, energy subtractors are any event, situation or relationship that leaves you drained and unable to work at an optimal level. For some its spending too much time away from people, others spending too much time with people, stress, arguments, even daily day to day tasks can be energy subtractors. each will drain away a small or large portion of your daily energy reserves. lets take a quick glance at a few major ones:

a weak spiritual life- This will erode what little energy you're able to muster, because we rob ourselves of a vast source of energy that comes from God. Most of us do our best to make it through on instinct and skill alone, but this is a dangerous habit to forms as it not only weakens us, but makes us vulnerable to mistakes and attacks. If we are to counter act the drain effect of the many subtractors out there, then this is where we begin.

Poor Diet: Its long been a running joke that the diet of a typical youth pastor consists of Pizza, Soda Pop, Nachos and Wings. Some of us don't even eat a vegetable that has not been either deep fried or if it doesn't come from a chip bag. Its amazing how much having an unbalanced and unhealthy diet will affect the way your energy reserves work. Junk food is dangerous because it gives us the illusion of being fed, while in truth there is so little nutrition in it that our body can use to give us a decent level of energy. Most of that stuff is processed as waste and nothing is drawn into the system to help it maintain health.

Lack of Physical activity: This goes hand in hand with poor diet as your physical self needs exercise to maintain peak performance energy levels. No, eating junk food and "working it off" at tonights event is not exercise! This is where most of us tend to gravitate, but the problem with this is that even though we may run around with our students, we train our selves to only do it when they're around. In fact, we are indirectly teaching them bad habits that contribute to the rise of obesity.

For our teams:

Over taxing their time: no ministry would be successful without the help of all these brave volunteers who many times are the first to arrive, help clean up, take kids home, skip meals and holidays to help impact the lives of students. They are our most important resource so we must treat them as such. As pastors we can be the biggest drain on their energy simply because we need ministry to keep functioning. Making sure we're not being unreasonable with the use of their time is important, which means that its important to start and end events ON TIME. we're good at getting them involved with the students, but sometimes we forget that they are people with lives and stresses too.

Energy Rechargers:

These are activities that leave you charged up and feeling like you could take on the world. Its amazing how good you feel after you spend time doing some of these activities. They're fun, they're interesting and sometimes a bit odd. The main idea here is to do something that gives energy rather than subtract it.  As seen above, lets take a glance at what can we do to counteract the aforementioned subtractors to help our team maintain energy.

Pray & Read: we cannot ask our teams to grow in their faith walks if we are neglecting ours. Thats just, plain and simple, hypocritical. Therefore, we must strive to set the standard that our team sees. More importantly, pray whenever you are together with them, pray for them, have them pray for you, and pray for your students. Reading the bible goes with out saying, I know that some of us are not huge readers (I love reading for the record!), but there is such a hoard of great writing out there loaded with tools and suggestions we can use to be even better leaders. If we become better leaders, then our team will become better, and really there is no limit where the Lord can take you after that.

Healthy Alternatives: At my previous ministry opportunity, my team and I made a decision to ban energy drinks from all events. We did for two reasons: 1) have you ever seen a hyper Jr Higher loaded up on red bull?! they're bound to become radioactive or spontaneously combust and then we'd get blamed for burning down the church! 2) <seriously> There is nothing healthy or good about energy drinks. we felt that allowing them to put that junk into their system and condoning it would be enabling the formation of bad eating habits and we cared about our students too much to let them ingest that stuff.
   we started to add healthy alternatives to our snack times and we minimized the use of pizza and chips at our events. We asked parents to provide healthy baked goods when snacks were needed and lowered our sugar intake. Will those kids eat healthier at home? maybe not, but as stewards of their time and lives we were going to be examples to them. btw I lost 35 lbs in 2 months (I also exercised regularly) also and it showed the kids that you could have better health.

Physical Activity: Yeah, youth events can be high energy and very active but there is a need for us to invest in regular exercise outside of youth events. When we exercise our bodies, our minds become shaper, we think quicker and have more energy. You'll notice that ideas for sermons, events and bible studies just keep pouring out of your head. Also you'll sleep better and then have more energy to invest into your team and students. You don't have to go and sign up for a fancy gym membership, but you can go out for a walk after supper (take your kids if you have some) or get a group of area pastors and play some pickup basketball a couple of times a week, or simply go jogging. Do it until it becomes a habit and yes the first few times you'll be tired, but if you stick to it you'll see results. Show your people that the Lord not only cares for your soul but your physical self too.

For our teams:

Long weekends off: "What?!?! shut down youth for a long weekend?! are you crazy!!!" this may be your reaction, but let me explain before you stop reading. I think that as youth pastors we are not only called to serve the youth but the families as well. I know that most long weekends we see a slight increase in attendance to our events because students finally have time to come out. This is great, but have you thought about your team? do they have families that they'd like to spend a long weekend with? perhaps they'd like to go and visit a friend? or just simply stay in. I think we've done a great disservice to our teams in youth ministry by asking them to work when everyone has the weekend off.
   When I started to think about this,, I realized that i was being unfair to my team and unfair to my family. I spoke to my SP at the time and told him that I was going to shut down youth every long weekend and he reacted much like I noted above but I told him that these volunteers take time after working 8 hours every friday, who sacrifice weekends to spend it in a cabin with a bunch of stinky Jr. High boys, who are there every-time we need them and ask for nothing in return. It was in our best interest to make sure that they got a gift for their service and a $10 coffee gift card was not going to cut it. We needed to give them the gift of time off.
    He raised a concern regarding the students not coming to other events or going elsewhere because we were not open. I told him that at the parents meeting I challenged the parents to take the long weekends and plan outings with their students, to intentionally take interest in what their teen was into and to not fear having to compete with a youth event. Reluctantly he agreed to let me try it for the year, and what I discovered was this: Students kept coming (we actually grew), and my team was even more energized! the winter energy lull was greatly minimized which translated into them having more energy to spend on the students which then made our events, and services better and took us into a whole new gear of momentum. My team then worked harder because they did not feel guilty about missing an event scheduled on a long weekend due to family events. They came back energized, happy and ready to take on the world and we succeeded.

Final thoughts

What I'nm trying to suggest is that we need to be intentional in ensuring that our energy levels and the energy levels of our teams are at an optimum because we'll be able to fight the good fight longer and with excellence. I don't know about you, but I rather go to battle with happy, rested people than a bunch of weary, grouchy people.

with blessings!

Sunday, August 4, 2013



   This word has been the bane of many ministries. It has burned out so many good leaders, destroyed marriages, strained faith walks and damaged students. All youth pastors want their groups to be perfect, and I don't believe there's ever been one who just wanted to run the worst youth group in town. We've all tried to achieve "perfection" but alas, it is unattainable. It's a mirage, a puff of smoke, an impossible dream. At least here on earth it is. Most of us who seek to go beyond doing our best in our groups will tend to fall into two extremes whilst pursuing perfection. 1)we're never satisfied, and 2) We refuse to budge.

Never satisfied

  On the one hand, we constantly are seeking for the next best thing, program, curriculum, model, media, etc that will take our group "to the next level." We work hard to provide the best teaching, events and volunteers, but more out of a mindset based on the idea that the results they yield will take us closer to that "perfection" we are reaching for. Sometimes, it may even lead us to leave a perfectly healthy and growing ministry for an even bigger opportunity and sometimes it will cause us all sorts of frustrations when we can't mould our people into the picture we have in our heads. This is quite possibly the reason why criticisms hurt us so much. yea, I know that constructive criticism is always good to receive, but there's always a tiny portion of us who feels slighted by someone saying that we could have done better. We lose sight of the very reason we became youth pastors in the first place, not to chase after the spectre of perfection, but to point people to the one who truly is perfect: God.

   We do great harm to our students, because we tend to (perhaps indadvertedly) show them how to pursue "perfect" rather than how to pursue God. They watch us and hear about how we work, pray, but I fear they see that our hearts are not fully focused on seeking God, but in creating perfection so that God will seek us. Perhaps this is the reason why many students feel that they are not good enough christians, that every time they try to do something and it doesn't produce fruit effortlessly that they need to work harder at being a better Christian. We may even teach them to not enjoy the "now" therefore, they go through life seeking the next big thing, never stopping to see the good they've built.


The pendulum swing to the other extreme isn't any better as we may be resistant of changes that would expand the effectiveness of our ministry. We become so stuck in a rut that we forget there are many ways to enhance what we do, to keep it fresh and relevant or, most importantly, accessible to everyone. We may even become critics (or trolls) of others who are seeing increased success. We start making excuses as to why that wouldn't work in our area, or we blame the lack of money, people, volunteers, building capacity, equipment, or even blame senior church leadership for their "lack of vision." It all becomes an insatiable whining or a discourse on "why that's not going to work" or "If I had a chance..." yet, we do nothing but hope that somehow one day we wake up and everything will magically have reached perfection.

   This also hurts our students because they copy what we do or how we talk/think because we are an important figure in their lives. By dwelling in this extreme we teach them that working towards excellence is a fools errand and that keeping things status quo is best. Thus they grow up to be people who wallow in mediocrity or below, never wanting to move beyond their limits because we taught them to never endeavour to be better. We taught them to become immovable.

So what now?

  I'm not entirely sure that there is a clear cut remedy to this issue. Personally, I believe that we must do everything in our physical power to be the best we can be as followers of Christ. Our example speaks louder than a thousand sermons, but we cannot allow ourselves to be so consumed with reaching perfection, when we know it is impossible. I believe that part of (if not the whole) answer comes from shifting our focus away from a perfection based on our achievement and centre it on a perfection based on God. What I mean by this is: that we do everything in our power accomplish every task in the best way we can. We must push ourselves to our limits, we seek ways to improve (within reason), and we let God deal with making things perfect. We focus on our best and do what is pleasing to God, what will bring him the greatest amount of Honour. I believe that even though it may not look "perfect" in our eyes, in His it more than does. No matter how simple, limited, or small, when we do things to bring God glory, with pure and humble motives, He deems it perfect.

Until next time!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


   I recently had the opportunity to meet one of my personal heroes, Author and speaker Francis Chan. I was so excited to meet him (albeit briefly) after he finished speaking at his session at a convention in my area, that I bolted from my seat, and I must admit rather rudely made my way to the front area where he was meeting a few people, I left my backpack and all my valuables and the friends I was sitting with behind. I knew that this may be my one and only chance to shake his hand and say a few words of encouragement to him. I was determined not to miss this opportunity and would let nothing or no one, stop me. Once I was face to face with him, I thanked him for what he had spoken, and for the books he had written and how they've impacted my life as a Christian and pastor. Then I asked for a picture. That was it. the whole thing probably took no more than 3 minutes. I'm happy to say that He's as genuine and humble as he portrays.

  Have you ever stopped to think about what it is about our heroes that make us go to personal extremes just to shake their hand or even get an autograph? What makes them a hero? is it writing a book, having their own podcast or a large ministry? Is it someone who travels to multiple conventions to speak, has their own DVD series or webcast? or is a hero someone who just does the duty that God gave them faithfully and their faithfulness attracts the attention of everyone around them? There is nothing wrong with having people you admire, but we must teach our students and ourselves that they are just people.

To build or destroy...

Heroes can be a positive and a negative source of influence in our lives. Positively, they can help us to improve our skills, become closer to God or inspire us to greatness. Negatively, heroes can rob us of our sense of self by our constant attempt to imitate them, they can disappoint with their words or actions, they can shift our focus off God and unto them, making them our idols. In reality, our heroes are just people. regular, people who have a God given gift and insight that help the rest of us when we face an issue or need some growth.

We all have people in our lives that we admire, that have helped to shape us into the people we are today. It is necessary for human development, and as youth pastors, we must do a better job at helping our students pick and discern between heroes who will build them up into greatness and heroes who will destroy their lives. Popular culture has a warped view of heroes, they say that to be a hero you must either do something impossible, help during a disaster or tragedy or have some sort of talent that will reach millions. (i.e. music, acting, etc) but what about those heroes that live their lives plainly?
I speak of the Pastor who has shepherded a single flock in a small community in the middle of nowhere? what about the military chaplains who minister to the soldiers in the theatre of war and has the unfortunate task of performing one too many funerals for fallen soldiers? or the single mom who works 2-3 jobs and still takes time to spend with her kids and make lives as special as possible? we could go on and on about people who are heroes that go unnoticed, but the point is that we need to ensure that our students seek to pattern their lives, not after some pop culture icon or simply imitate they way they dress or act.

A true hero

  The one marker of a true hero is that they make us believe that we can be better than we are. They inspire us to pursue greatness, not for our selves but for others. We in the Christian world have the greatest hero of all, but sometimes we forget that. No, this will not turn into the sunday school version of what a Hero is. (its Jesus if you didn't know) The great draw back from students patterning their lives after a person is that they're patterning their lives after a human being. a person with flaws and weaknesses that may or may not be visible.

   Nothing hurts our hearts more than when our heroes fall. It can be so disheartening for a "fan" to see the person they admire be dragged through the mire of sin. This is why it is important for us youth pastors to remind our students constantly that even thought these people are great, and may be incredibly wise, that they are flawed beings just like us and that we must hold on to the good things that they are teaching or modelling.

   This is a very valuable lesson for us youth pastors as well, since to some teens eyes, we are the closest thing to a hero they may every have. We must be diligent in showing them the true hero (Jesus) while at the same time keeping our spirits nourished and strong. This can be difficult as we continue to fight the never ending battle versus the enemy for the souls of our teens. Yet, it is imperative to keep our relationship with God strong. It is He who makes true heroes.

   In my younger days, I loved reading super-hero comic books. (I still, like to read comic books) one of the most interesting heroes is the Green Lantern. For those of you who were deprived of this childhood rite, the Green Lantern draws his superpower from a ring that lets him create energy constructs of whatever he can imagine. The only drawback to this power was that the ring had a limited supply of energy and needed to be recharged with the help of a green lantern battery. This is a very interesting metaphor for life in ministry, for as long as we have our spirits charged with the power of that comes from God, we can be true heroes to our teens. we have the power to do more than we could ever imagine and it is not only limited to us, but we can show our students that they can also build such a relationship with the Lord that they can also do great and marvellous things for the glory of God.

The dream of every youth pastor is to see our students become greater "heroes" than we can ever be.

Monday, April 15, 2013


   Today I, like the rest of the world was shocked to hear about the horrific tragedy that occurred in Boston. One can only imagine the fear and confusion that the people who endured this tragedy must have felt or gone through. There are no words that I could write to express what the range of emotions that I felt when I heard the news. Shock, anger, fear, they all washed through me today. I do not know a single person that ran the marathon today, but tragedies such as these always hit me very hard.

As I took some time to pray for the victims and the first responders who stepped in immediately to help strangers affected by this most heinous act of violence, I started to think about how difficult it is to explain tragedies like these to students. How do you show them that an all loving, all powerful God would allow evil people to hurt the innocent, many of which were waiting for the race participants?

I would like to suggest for your thinking, somethings we can do for our students.

1) Don't try to gloss over the tragedy with christian babble.

There is already much confusion in the students hearts and there is no need to add to it. Rather keep things as simple and as short as possible. Also, do not minimize the gravity of the occurrence, these are sad times we are living in, a lot of tragedy and pain seems to rise up almost daily. They need to hear words of comfort and peace. They need to see your faith in God.

2) Let them ask questions.

undoubtedly, they will be questions. Many of them will be difficult to answer, and many darn near impossible, but the best thing we can do is to let the questions be spoken and to help students process what is going on inside their heads.

3) Draw their focus to God.

Rather than focus on the tragedy, help them see that even amongst the chaos of this world, God is always in control. Even though many people may not want him and some may even hate God, He always sends angels in the form of the first responders, paramedics, police officers, firemen, volunteers and random individuals who step up to help with any need. It is an opportunity to draw their attention to the fact that all life on earth is fleeting and uncertain. In reality, none of us know when or even how we will end our time on earth, but as believers it is important to remember that our faith in Jesus Christ guarantees us eternal life. Death is not to be feared, but rather, we must be consciously preparing our hearts for the time when the Lord calls us home. In all tragedies, God is in control.

4) Find a way to let the students help the victims

Perhaps having some cards you can mail (its not hard to find the address) to the place where the tragedy occurred, this time being the Boston Marathon. Let them write short messages for the first responders, the doctors, the volunteers, police officers etc. If you also have Young Adults, then perhaps having a blood drive or taking them to donate blood as one event can do wonders to help them feel like they are helping people in some way.

Remember the words Jesus said:

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
May the Peace of God be with you all
pray for Boston.