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D6 Conference: Day 1

September 23, 2011 — Leave a comment

D6

Thursday was actually conference “day 1” at D6 and it opened with a session that included Doug Fields and David Platt—talk about a wake up call!  The rest of the day was FULL of absolutely amazing speakers like Dannah Gresh, Emmerson Eggerichs, Tim Kimmel, John McGee, and probably some others that I missed. But the first two really caught my heart and had me thinking the rest of the day.

Doug Fields’ message challenged us in our frustration and exhaustion of ministry to renew our love for Jesus Christ.  At the end of the day, this is what matters most and ultimately what will fuel our ministry efforts.  Doug challenged us to be leaders who…

  • Can authentically say, “Follow me, as I follow Jesus”—Is Jesus the most famous person in your church? In your ministry?
  • Value a collective vision—Humbly accept that we are better together than we are alone.
  • Are acutely aware of the “twisters” [issues, forces, conflicts] impacting families—Are we adding to the “twisters” that families face? Are we making suggestions from the pulpit that we’re not living out at home?

Next, David Platt spoke from the premise of his book Radical.  He posed the question, “How do we pour the Gospel into the next generation in a way that makes Christ’s glory known in all the world and in all generations?”  David spoke from Luke 9 on the three conversations Jesus had with those that wanted to follow him. He drew these challenging exhortations to parents from this passage of Scripture:

  • Teach children to treasure the person of Christ more than the possessions of this world
  • Tell children that God’s Kingdom is infinitely more important than their family
  • Train children to love the Lord enough to gladly leave their home behind

His talk boiled down to one statement on our purpose as parents.  The goal, as Platt describes it, is:

For our kids to love a Great God in a way that would lead them to abandon the things of this world, their family, and their home in order to follow Him!

This was challenging for me as a pastor, but even more so as a parent.  That’s not to say that I’m doing everything right as a pastor—far from it.  It just means that I’m not nearly the man, husband, or father that God has called me to be. I think I already knew that, but God has really pressed me over the last 24 hours and made me process that fact fully.

After much thought and evaluation, my take-away that I want to share with every other preteen ministry leader is this:

My legacy is not my ministry.  My legacy is my home.

God has called me into ministry, but I have a superseding call to be a man, husband, and father that follows hard after Christ. I know that I forsake my family to do ministry related tasks.  I change or cancel family plans all the time because of a ministry conflict, but I hardly ever put my family obligation before the ministry. This has to change…this will change.

 

Ps. The night was capped off with an acoustic session with Steven Curtis Chapman that was unbelievable.  He told the story of losing his daughter, Maria. The family went through so much pain and struggle, yet you can see them living in the midst of God’s sufficient grace. Everyone saw God’s grace and sovereignty in a new way as he sang, “You give and take away…my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be Your name.”

Wednesday morning, I rose from a deep, deep, deep sleep at 3:30 AM to head to the airport and head to Dallas for D6 Conference. While I would’ve loved to sleep just a little longer, the pre-conference labs were worth the sacrifice.  Here is a little bit about the labs that I attended and the take-aways that I’m processing:

Pre-Con Lab #1 with Dr. Richard Ross
Dr. Ross is an outstanding speaker and mentor on all things Student Ministry.  But what really spoke to me this morning in his session was how he spoke from his heart.  He didn’t share statistics or projections.  He simply shared a prayer that he prayed for his son that morning.  He shared how even those his son was in college, Dr. Ross still sought out moments to make a heart connection with his son.  He spoke on this heart connection and how it is the primary “pipe” for how a parent passes on their spiritual maturity to their son or daughter. Without a heart connection, we are unable to pass along spiritual material to our child.  These heart connections are strengthened by 1) Proper Handling of Discipline, 2) Encouraging Words, and 3) Focused Time & Fixed Attention.

How does this relate to preteens?
Dr. Ross pointed out that the disconnect of this heart connection was a common issue between parents and teenagers.  He mentioned that parents often do not struggle to make heart connections with their younger child.  So, when does the disconnect happen?  I couldn’t help but think of the potential for a disconnect during the preteen years.  I spent much of the day thinking about our Preteen Retreat and how that must be an opportunity for parents and preteens to bond and communicate so that their heart connection will withstand the next 8 to 10 years.

 

Pre-Con Lab #2 with Mark Matlock
I love hearing Mark speak on student ministry.  He has a way of relaying mounds of information in a manageable format. The session was all about developing real world parents.  Mark quoted research that showed on all questions pertaining to spiritual development, parents were the top-rated influence. There is no greater influence than that of mom and dad. So, how do we equip parents to capitalize on that influence? Mark spent some explaining what it meant to raise ambassadors for Christ.  This means that the home is the embassy where those ambassadors are raised, encouraged, and unleashed. Mark shared about living within God’s bigger story and the 3 responses that parents can take to this life: Isolation from the World, Agreement with the World, or Transformation of the World. We pray that families choose the latter.  This is truly living inside God’s bigger story.

What does this mean for preteens?
I’m really trying to process what it means for families of preteens to embrace living in God’s bigger story.  What am I calling families to rise up and be a part of that is bigger than them? How are we empowering parents and/or preteens to practice their faith? Are we teaching parents to simply correct behaviors or are we teaching them to instill a worldview that includes God’s bigger story?

Looking forward to the main session tomorrow.  Go to d6conference.com to listen to session live.

 

 

D6 Conference & Preteens!

September 20, 2011 — Leave a comment

I’m heading to the airport at 4:30 AM–yes, that’s AM–tomorrow morning so that I can be at the precon labs for D6 conference.  I’m excited about this conference and seeing what others are doing in the workings of Family Ministry.

I’m looking for big takeaways from each session, and I’ll be blogging about those from the conference.  I’ll share all that I can over the next few days–especially that which pertains to the world of preteens!  Keep checking back because there may be multiple posts per day.

If you’re going to D6, I’d love to connect with you–especially those who are working with preteens.  Send me a tweet or leave a comment to let me know you’re going, and we’ll plan a meet and greet. (The official D6 hashtag is #D62011)

If you’re unable to catch the D6 conference in person, you can see the sessions streaming live HERE.

If you didn’t already know, I’m a nerd. When something catches my interest, I really want to study it and research it to learn more. In college, I did research for my final thesis on the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Here is a little background…

In 1983, Howard Gardner put forth the idea of Multiple Intelligences. The theory of Multiple Intelligences is met with skepticism due to lack of research, but many educational systems still use components of his theory. Gardner suggests that intelligence goes beyond simply reading and writing.  Gardner’s theory proposed 8 abilities in which “intelligence” could be measured.  They are:

  • Logical-Mathematical—learns through the use of reasoning, patterns, and numbers (computer programmer, detective) 
  • Spatial—learns through use of visualizing and designing with the mind’s eye (architect) 
  • Linguistic—learns through use of words, written and/or spoken (author)
  •  Bodily-Kinesthetic—learns through the use of movement, motions, and activity (athlete)
  •  Musical—learns through the use of music, rhythm, and music theory (musician)
  • Interpersonal—learns through the interaction with others (sales person)
  • Intrapersonal—learns through the act of self-reflection (psychologists, lawyers)
  • Naturalistic—learns through relating information to natural surroundings (farmer, agriculturist)

That’s a really brief and insufficient explanation of the theory, but you can read tons more about it—the good and the bad—by googling it. It will have to do for this blog. My research into this theory was how it could be implemented in ministry curriculum to help kids better understand God’s Truth.  I think it has great potential to be used in churches and to better the learning experience of all age groups, but ESPECIALLY PRETEENS!

Sunday, we put it into practice.  We were wrapping up a unit with 5th graders on spiritual warfare.  As a review, we set up 5 stations and allowed students to choose their activity for the day. The stations were: Music, Body, Numbers, Words, and Pictures.  If a student chose Music, then they were given a passage of scripture relating to spiritual warfare and asked to create a song or rap that shared what they had learned from the passage.  Each station did similar activities relating to that form of “intelligence,” or as we called it “learning style.” 

As a Preteen Pastor, I know the struggle it is to get this age group to participate and really engage in a project. We often force them to all do the same things and the results are horrendous.  By allowing them to choose the activity, we saw what their natural preferences or learning styles were.  And since they chose the station, we had no problem getting them to actively participate.  The result…AMAZING!  There were incredible stories written, very talented rappers showed their rhyming skills, beautiful artwork, awesome skits, and really cool puzzles/riddles—all of which showed that the students understood what we had been teaching. And even better, it showed that they were able to share that knowledge with other students through their chosen learning style.

I’m excited to keep researching and integrating this into our curriculum.  There’s not enough space here to share all that we did or all that we’re planning, but I’d love share more or answer questions. If you’d like to know more, send me a tweet or leave a comment below.