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Think Before You Speak

September 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

Scrabble-words
In our Back 2 School series, we talked with preteens about the power of their words. Words have the power to be destructive, or they can be an encouraging witness of our faith. We asked leaders and preteens to consider 3 questions before they speak. Here are the three questions:

true wordsLuke 16:10 says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Our words need to be true so that they can build others up and strengthen our relationships.

encouraging wordsEphesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Even when there is not much to be positive about, find something uplifting to say that will encourage the person to keep growing.

Witness WordsColossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” God desires for you to use your words to build up others not tear them down. The main reason for this is so that they will see Jesus in your speech and want to know more about Him.

Words are powerful. How can we encourage preteens to think before they speak?

applyIn writing our curriculum for Fifty6, we really wanted to make every lesson connect with preteens and their daily lives. We wanted to draw lines between what the Bible says and how it can be put into practice. We want them to walk away from every lesson with an idea that will challenge them to live differently based on what they’ve learned from God’s Word.

Here’s how we’re encouraging preteens to apply the Bible to their lives:

1. Make space in the lesson for action steps

At the end of every small group session, we have a segment called React. We do a quick review of the lesson and ask preteens to consider how it will make a difference in their lives. We challenge them by asking this question, In light of all we learned, what will we do differently this week? Here is an example of the React portion of Small Group:
React

2. Give suggestions, but let preteens make decisions

We’ve decided that we will always provide some suggested action steps for preteens, but we ultimately want them to decide how they will apply the lesson to their lives. We don’t want to tell them how to react because we don’t want to limit the way Scripture is working in their life. We want them to make decisions and take this step in owning their faith.

3. Provide Accountability in the Small Group

Accountability is always important in life-change. To make sure that preteens have accountability, we ask small group leaders to follow-up each week on the previous week’s React segment. Preteens are free to share how they applied the Bible to their lives and what God is doing through that.

How do you help preteens apply the Bible to their life?

This video was released about 8 months ago as a part of a training initiative from CCB (Church Community Builder). I have always appreciated the humility and passion of Francis Chan, and you can see his heartfelt concern in this video.

There is truth in his message. As a young pastor, I know that I struggle with wanting popularity and success. I want people to be impressed by my teaching. God has taught me a valuable lesson over the last year, and that is this: My teaching should not impress people, it should connect them with the power of God and urge them to move in action!

This means I must spend more time thinking through a strategy of calling people out and allowing room for the Holy Spirit to move in them. I’m not all the way there yet, but I’m thankful for what God is teaching me. And I’m thankful for pastors like Francis Chan that take time to speak truth to young pastors like myself.

A Plea to Pastors

April 4, 2012 — Leave a comment

A plea to those who will stand before an audience this weekend:

Please let the Gospel have the spotlight.

Your task is not to wow an audience with your skills or research. Your task is to relay the Good News, and get out of the way. Don’t use gimmicks. Don’t use current events. Don’t use smoke and mirrors. Use the powerful story of redemption that is given to us in Scripture.

Review the example of John the Baptist in John 3:22-36. The words of John the Baptist make clear what our role should be in evangelism.

28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”                                                                                John 3:28-30

The Good News has advanced around the world for thousands of years simply by the tools God has provided: Scripture, prayer, testimony, and the sacraments. These tools give the spotlight to the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. This is where the spotlight belongs.

Please put down the remote to the laser show. Cancel the stuntman dressed like an angel swinging from the rafters in your sanctuary. Stop. Really, just stop.

This is my plea:

Please let the Gospel have the spotlight.