I’m looking for ways to increase sales for our Scrip program, one of three ways we pay for Short-Term Missions around these parts. I’m starting to work on two publicity pieces for people:
- A new “What is Scrip and Why Should I Care?” type of brochure. There are still lots of people who don’t know much about the program I imagine.
- A Christmas Scrip flier.
So I’m looking for some help:
- What are questions you have about Scrip?
- What are things people who’ve never heard about it would like to know?
- What gift cards are especially important to have in stock at Christmas?
- What would make cards sell better at Christmas?
Really, any ideas you have for raising awareness and/or sales, I’d love to hear them, so post them in the comments, please!
Last night, we celebrated our 8th Graders who are getting ready to make their Confirmation this Sunday. It’s a special day in the lives of our students, so we celebrate them at a special banquet every year. Everyone gets dressed up and we put on an amazing spread of food for families.
Each year, we get comments about how great the event is, but especially about the food. That’s all thanks to Mike Hangen and his crew of helpers. This year, that was Anne Miller and Kathy Figini. (Kathy #1 of Kathy, Cathy, Kathy, Cathi, Kathy fame.) The team outdid themselves again this year!
Another special piece of the banquet is that our High School students serve the meal to the 8th Graders. Megan, Shannon, Hope, Kelsey and Anna were our serving crew this year. It’s fun to see them serve, but especially fun for this event as they wait on the “Rising Freshman” as they are starting to be called.
The best part, however, is this is an opportunity for students to get some one-on-one focused time with their parents. Just like with Everyday Faith: My Bible and the Senior Blessing Event, we want to provide opportunities for families to have special moments with their children. For many of the kids, this is probably one of the few times when they’re able to be the sole point of attention for their parents.
We wrapped up the Apostle’s Creed this evening. Here’s the audio file in case you want to tune in:
I’ve been delinquent getting some Confirmation Audio online. Here’s the last several in case you were eagerly awaiting them!
Confession and Absolution:
Apostle’s Creed 1:
Apostle’s Creed 2:
Jesus Video for Apostle’s Creed 2:
Apostle’s Creed 3:
Jesus Video for Apostle’s Creed 3:
The videos come from Vintage 21. We use them as a starting point for talking about Jesus under the guise of “This is what Jesus isn’t like.”
Tomorrow afternoon we begin our annual trek to Huron, Ohio for the Sawmill Creek Retreat. This year, the theme is “Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Christian’s Life For Me!” A fun tradition that we started the first year at Darcy’s suggestion is giving out awards to the kids in the evening for various things. Here’s the “picture” side award this year:
I’m looking forward to our trip this year!
By an almost 5:1 margin, Birthday Wishes is my most popular post. In fact, it currently makes up 11.7% of all hits to my blog. I can only assume it’s because of the file name (birthday-postcard) that shows up frequently in Google Image Search.
We’ve just about run out of the postcards from the previous post, so it’s time to order more. Here’s the new design:
The hand shot, Love and Care, was purchased through StockXpert. Because of copyright issues (I think there are issues… They won’t answer my question.), I’ve added the watermark to the image here. The back is an updated version of our current postcard design to include the address for the church and the FTSM text on the Compass as a watermark in the background.
Eventually, we’ll have 3-4 different designs that we’ll use so we can rotate through them each year to avoid sending the same postcard every year to students.
Wonderful wonderful evening at the Spaghetti Dinner/Talent Show this evening. We’ll end up with less money this year than last because we didn’t have any silent auction items, but we sold about 20 tickets more than last year based on early estimates. More importantly, that’s even more people who got to experience our awesomely talented youth.
The acts included:
- Laura – Stand-up Bass
- Jen – Read a poem she wrote
- Shannon – Clarinet
- Kelsey – Singing
- Luke – Electric Guitar
- Sarah – Viola
- Jennie – Tap Dancing
- Kay – Guitar/Singing
- Jake/Anna – Cello/Violin
It was a wide variety of acts and all were just a joy to behold. I don’t have any video of the event this year, but I think I saw Sue out in the crowd with her fancy new flip video thing. Maybe she’ll post some for us to enjoy.
For two years now, we’ve made a master calendar for all youth events. I like the idea because it helps parents plan ahead. The down side is that when you forget to include something on the master master calendar (the one that includes all my personal and non-youth related church stuff), conflicts arise.
One such conflict is happening next week. I forgot to include my National Youth Gathering planning meeting in the master master calendar. So it means I won’t be at the Baptismal Remembrance event for our Cornerstone Youth, nor will we be doing a winter camping trip with the High School. The Crossroads youth probably are ok with that since we’re doing Lasertron instead.
I’m really frustrated with myself for the scheduling conflict, and not looking forward to the trip. In addition to missing a cool youth event, I’ll also be missing 4 days of Addison’s young life. My first (of many, I’m sure!) time away from Addison will undoubtedly be difficult. Please pray that I’ll have a better attitude about going on this trip!
As part of the Children’s message, last Sunday, I talked about how God tells us there’s a right order for things in our life. It was all part of Putting God First. And it’s true. God wants to be first in our lives.
I like things in the right order (and centered/level on the wall, but that’s another topic!). It bothers me when they aren’t. A lot.
This year I’ve been working on updating our Cornerstone Curriculum. As part of our confirmation classes, each week the students receive a business card with the scriptures for the day printed on them. Here’s this evening’s:
Well, it’s what this evening’s should have looked like. It actually lists Romans 5:8 second to last. In an attempt to be “on the ball” and “helpful”, I printed the cards before I was finished with the lesson so they could be cut this morning. Then I came in and finished the lesson and decided a different order would be best. So now the verses are in the wrong order.
This isn’t the first time it happened. It’s not really a big deal I suppose. Of course, it ends up being a little game because a number of our youth like the card in order as well. Maybe I should always make one verse out of order on the card.
Every year we go to Sawmill Creek for the Ohio District’s Junior High Youth Gathering. We usually win the “traveled the farthest” award, which is fun. It’s a great time for youth to get away and experience some great speakers and musicians with 700_ other middle school students. This year, I’m especially excited about going because it’s going to have two of the best in the business.
Bob Lenz will be speaking. He’s really funny. He’s great at sharing the Gospel with teens in humorous yet impacting ways. And the band this year will be Lost and Found. Here are two short videos from them:
I always enjoy the Cornerstone Remix Christmas party. We generally do a gift exchange and play some games and do a quick devo. We had about 30 youth and friends at the event this year. We played a name game where youth had to give their name along with a motion (Mine was throwing both hands up in the air and kicking one leg out in front while standing on the other leg). We went around the circle and each time someone gave their name, we all repeated the motion and their name, plus the names/motions for all previous youth. Funny stuff!
After the gift exchange, we did a short quiz from eBibleTeacher.com. The quiz asks questions about the Christmas story and makes you figure out what’s actually in the Bible and what isn’t. The best youth score was 16. Darcy got 19 correct to be the top overall scorer. Afterwards, we talked about the importance of going back to the Bible as our only source of truth, not just accepting what the world tells us to be true.
We’re now on to the Baptism. Here is the summary of our time together yesterday evening:
- What is a Sacrament?
- Instituted by God
- Pairs God’s Word with a visible, physical element
- Brings forgiveness of sins
- Is Baptism a Sacrament?
- Matthew 28:18-20 | Jesus instituted Baptism when he charged His disciples to baptize “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” These words from God plus the water show Baptism meets two of the requirements above.
- Acts 2:38 | Baptism brings forgiveness of sins to people. Looks like it’s a sacrament!
- Who should be baptized?
- Matthew 28:19 | Jesus tells us that all nations should be baptized, which we take to mean all people of all ages, not just people old enough to make a decision to follow Jesus.
- Luke 18:15-17 | Jesus had a love for babies and little children, and invited them to come to Him.
- Genesis 17:3-14 | God made a covenant with His people. He would be their God for all time. To participate in the covenant, all the males had to be circumcised. For babies, it was done on the 8th day. This was how you enjoyed the benefits of the Old Covenant.
- Colossians 2:11-14 | Paul relates the circumcision of the Old Covenant with Baptism in the New. Baptism is greater than circumcision because all people were to be baptized, not just the Israelites and not just men. Just as babies participated in the first covenant through circumcision, so too babies participate in this New Covenant through Baptism.
Here’s the audio from Baptism 1:
We wrapped up the Lord’s Prayer this evening with the final petitions (6th: “Lead us not into temptation” and 7th: “Deliver us from evil”) for the Lord’s Prayer. Here’s the summary of what we talked about:
- Lead us not into temptation
- James 1:13-14 | God does not tempt us. Temptation comes from within us, from our own evil desires, and from the devil, but never from God.
- 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 | God allows us to be tempted, but also provides the way out for us. The temptation is not the sin.
- 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 | It feels like we are being assaulted from all sides, but even in the midst of it, God is with us.
- James 1:2-3 | The process of being tempted makes our faith stronger.
- Deliver us from evil
- Proverbs 18:10 | God is our protector. His name is a strong tower for us.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:3 | God is faithful to protect us from the devil.
- John 17:14-15 | We will be attacked in this world by evil. Jesus prayed not that we would be removed from it, but that the Father would protect us through it.
Here’s the audio from Lord’s Prayer 4:
I’m one day ahead of last week’s schedule in posting this summary a day before the next class. Go me! Here’s what we talked about in Lord’s Prayer 3:
- Give us this day our daily bread
- Exodus 16:4-5 | God’s Kingdom is marked by the presence of the Spirit.
- Psalm 145:15-16 | The Spirit is a witness to others as we live our lives in God-pleasing ways.
- Matthew 5:45 | God’s Kingdom comes no matter what, because His Word accomplishes the purpose for which it was sent.
- 1 John 3:17-18 | God uses us to provide for others. We Love Out Loud.
- Forgive us our sins
We ended up going way long on the lesson because there were so many questions. I hate missing small group time (which happens when this happens), but I love that students are wrestling with this and asking the questions.
Here’s the audio from Lord’s Prayer 3, then:
Kathy Figini asked me to come up with a flier to send to people who ask for more information about Student Ministries here at First Trinity. Here’s the first draft:
If you have any suggestions, let me know. They would get this with a copy of our current ministry schedule and possibly a cover letter.
Update: Based on discussion in the comments, here’s a 2nd version with Cornerstone sub-theming that keeps the same basic design.
The challenge with this one is the lines of the Cornerstone Emblem don’t match the curves of the “&” sign. It’s also not immediately recognizable for anything, unlike the Compass in the first design that people would recognize as a circle with a cross in the middle, despite not being able to see the full image.
There are some things in Student Ministry that I find hard to keep doing. Number one on my list is the infamous “Lock-in”. Students love them. Adults don’t. I’ve changed my practices with Lock-ins to make them more palatable to the adults, like adding mandatory “quiet” (AKA “sleep”) time.
Recently, I’ve wondered about the wisdom of the Corn Maize. It always seems to be cold, wet and muddy when we go. Kids don’t wear warm enough clothes and tend to get a little chilly. This year, Jaime’s car got stuck in the mud pretty bad. I’m thankful for all those who helped:
- Jeff, Susan and Marsha: offering to call AAA (which didn’t work).
- Tim and Marsha: Hanging out in the center of the maze, watching the kids while Jeff and I helped Jaime with the car.
- Joe and Donna: Walking the maze with Becky, Gina and other youth.
- The owner and his boys, who pulled the car out with a tractor.
It’s not a recipe for a good night of ministry. But here’s the amazing thing: The next morning, Brenda thanks me for doing the maze. She’s been praying that her daughter Emily would get to know the other girls at church better and she came home with so many stories about the event, mostly because of the relationships that were formed. She was running with those same girls at church Sunday morning.
We start part 3 of the Lord’s Prayer tonight at Cornerstone. Which means I should probably post the recap from part 2 before this evening! The key points from the lesson:
- Your Kingdom Come
- Your Will Be Done
- John 6:40 | God acts out of love for us, desiring to save people.
- 1 Timothy 2:4 | God wants to save all people, not just the good ones. This means God loves/loved Osama Bin Laden, Hitler, Saddam Hussein and more.
- Romans 16:20 | God’s Will frustrates Satan, ultimately triumphing over the plans of the devil.
And here’s the audio from Lord’s Prayer 2:
Tonight at Cornerstone we continue the Lord’s Prayer, looking at “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Our game this evening is Long Live The KING. Let me know your score if you end up playing along!
Two guest small group leaders this evening. My Jaime will be filling in for Sue, who’s at the KINDLE training event in Mundelein, IL. Michelle will be filling in for Darcy. Excited to have them both with us this evening.
I think part of discipling youth is teaching them how to use their gifts at church in meaningful ways. We’ve had youth acolytes forever, but there’s so much more out there. Here are some of the exciting things youth are doing (or will be doing soon!) at First Trinity:
- Jon W., Abby, Anna and Joe regularly provide the tech services at our 7 p.m. Saturday worship service. Joe is also helping on Sundays.
- Jon W. is one of the prayer partners at Sunday worship.
- Jon B., Annie, and Jake M. all play/sing in worship bands on a regular basis.
- Megan and Laura have played/sung in the past.
- 19 youth have signed up to work with our new youth band that is starting up. Many of those were complete surprises to me.
- 2 youth each Sunday from the 7th-8th grade Sunday School class will be helping to teach younger kids (Kindergarten and under-2’s). 20 in all have signed up so far.
- Anna and Kelsey (plus Samuel, who isn’t a youth yet but will be one day) are on my PIT crew.
Additionally, we want students to be in the Word on a regular basis. Some fun things going on there:
- 6 youth have signed up to be in rooted this year so far.
- Sue’s small group at Cornerstone has committed to interacting with each other about the One Minute Bible for Students on a daily basis through text messages and instant message. Loved hearing how she is connecting with her students!
- A parent recently liked the One Minute Bible their student received so much that she asked to get a copy for herself. They were working through it together at home, which turned her on to the resource.
- We have a lab-based Sunday School series coming up in the winter that helps students learn how to be in the Word, pray, give and worship.
It’s exciting to see what God is doing in the midst of our young people. What a joy!
We spent last night orienting to a new year of Cornerstone. Last year we had a full class period with no lesson to get acclimated. It seemed to long. This year we tried to just fit it in to the normal class time with a few modifications. There wasn’t enough time. I think next year we’ll try doing a 2-hour first class. We’ll see.
Introduced the topic of prayer before getting into the Lord’s Prayer specifically. The key points from the lesson:
- Revelation 22:8-9 | The angel tells John to Worship God alone. It’s a good reminder that we should also pray to God alone. Not to the saints, not to angels, but only God because He’s the only one that can hear and answer our prayers.
- Romans 8:26 | The Holy Spirit prays with us. Great news for when we don’t know what to pray.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 | Pray a lot. Find opportunities to pray throughout the day. Maybe it’s between classes, whenever you look outside, before meals, whatever. Look for those opportunities to pray to God.
- Matthew 6:5-8 | It’s what on the inside that matters. We don’t pray to be noticed by others. It’s ok to pray in public, but we need to do it from a pure heart.
- Matthew 6:9-13 | Here’s where we get the Lord’s Prayer from. Don’t know what to pray? Pray this!
- Luke 11:11-13 | Just as earthly fathers know how to give good things to their children, so our Heavenly Father does the same. God gives good. He’s unlike our earthly fathers in that He never fails, forgets or hurts us. God gives good. Jaclyn had a great question on this point. She was reading a book in English class and the boy in the story was being abused by his mother. For six years he prayed to God for help and for six years saw nothing. If God gives good, where was He for this boy? Great question! I love when students make connections to real life from what we discuss at Cornerstone. It’s part of being relevant to today. I told her that sometimes God lets bad things happen to us to prepare us for ministry and to draw us closer to Him. Sometimes we don’t see what the good in this situation is until much later in life. Sometimes, we never understand the good because God is something completely and utterly different. His ways are not our ways.
- Jeremiah 23:28 | One of the ways that we “hallow” God’s name is speaking His Word faithfully. We don’t ignore parts or change it.
- Matthew 5:16 | Another way we “hallow” God’s name is when we serve and care for others, pointing them back to the Father.
- Romans 3:23-24 | We “hollow” God’s name when our actions don’t match our words regarding what God says about how we should live.
Overall, a fun night. Here’s the audio file from the evening:
This evening we start on the Lord’s Prayer. An interesting discussion occurred here around the theme of “fathers” in the media. We like to start each night with a game themed around the lesson. This evening, we’re playing “Father and Kid Duos”. I needed fathers that Middle-School students would be able to recognize on sight.
In the end, we had a hard time coming up with a lot of options, and those that we did find weren’t very good role models. What a sad statement on our world today. This is why we need Godly men to step up and be Godly fathers to their children or role models to other students!
If you’re interested, you can play along with us this evening (or whenever you happen to read this post). The first half of the file contains the instructions and the images of the fathers. The second half has all the acceptable answers. Enjoy!
I’m looking forward to the start of Cornerstone tomorrow night. Some of my prayers for the youth this year:
- That they would walk closer and closer with Jesus
- That they would grow closer to one another
- That they would form a personal relationship with their small group leader (Heide, Paul, Pat, Darcy, Sue).
- That they would connect ancient truth with modern living
- That they would feel comfortable inviting their friends to Cornerstone
- That they would know their church family loves them
- That they would “plug in” to the church body by serving in some way
If you wouldn’t mind lifting our students, small group leaders and the entire Cornerstone ministry up in your prayers, I’d appreciate it!
Also, check out the front of the binders this year: