Ministry

Week-long Mission Trip Opportunity in Boston for only $137

Check out a great mission trip opportunity in Boston. Lead by good friend and great pastor, Jay Ridenour.  Trip costs $137 + transportation.  They need trips this summer to help support local church plants.  Details here: Metro West Missions

They also have a summer internship. Job description here: Communication Internship

Email the church at info@fbcsudbury.org for more information.

Four Moments I’m Preparing Students to Face

There are moments in everyone’s life where they are pushed to stand for what they believe in or are put to the test through adversity. Four moments in particular are:

1. The semester with the persuasive, atheist philosophy professor.
2. The day their best friend dies in a car accident.
3. The year when they don’t feel God’s presence at all.
4. The day when their fiancée breaks off the engagement, even after they have remained abstinent.

In this article the author tackles each of these moments and how we should be preparing our students to face them.

Four Moments I’m Preparing Students to Face

By Cameron Cole

Ministry to children and youth for both parents and church workers focuses on cultivating followers of Christ with sustainable faith. Basically, we want the faith of our young people to stick when they leave our homes and churches to live as independent adults.

As I listen to and observe the faith journeys of former students and young adults, I often see pivotal moments along the way that constitute “make or break” tests of their faith. Discipling my students, I am preparing them for these four moments.

1. The semester with the persuasive, atheist philosophy professor.

Whether in college or in a coffee shop, every young Christian will meet people who do not believe in the truth of Christianity and can argue persuasively against it. Particularly in college, students will encounter professors with an ax to grind against Christianity and with a desire to use their classroom as a platform against the religion. Many times, students without a deep theological base have their faith wrecked by slick arguments.

I want my students to ask hard questions and to have experience logically arguing for their belief in the veracity of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. So we dedicate much time in our youth ministry to working on apologetics. In particular, we focus on the validity of the Bible as God’s Word, the historical facts surrounding the resurrection, and the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the life of Christ. I have found Tim Keller’s video series The Reason for God to be an indispensible tool for giving students both exposure to and practice in engaging arguments against Christianity.

2. The day their best friend dies in a car accident.

KEEP READING…

Confirming Your Calling to Pastoral Ministry

Confirming Your Calling to Pastoral Ministry

By: Dave Bruskas

If you are feeling called to pastoral ministry, the first thing you need to do is confirm your calling.
This is the second installment of an 8-part series Preparing to Lead.

Are you feeling called to pastoral ministry? If so, what should you do next? Where should you start?

I suggest you start by investigating three areas of your life through the lens of Paul’s words to Timothy: “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach” (1 Tim. 3:1–2).

Do you really want to do this?

The biblical word translated “aspires” is a strong word. It connotes both passion and volition. It’s a word of both feeling and action. To aspire is to reach out from a place of strong desire.

This raises the question: Do you really want to do this? And if your answer is yes, you should test your commitment. How badly do you want to do this? Are you willing to work hard and wait patiently for it? Why do you want to do this? Is this about you and your significance? Or is it about the fame of Jesus?

Ask yourself the hard questions. Then invite those who already serve as pastors to do the same.

Do you know what you are getting into?

It stands to reason that you should have a good understanding of the office of overseer before you pursue it. Over the years, I have been surprised by how many young men I have met who want to become pastors without grasping the task at hand.

KEEP READING…

How Do You Know If You’re Called to Pastoral Ministry?

How Do You Know If You’re Called to Pastoral Ministry?

This article is from the Resurgence, a ministry of Mars Hill. It is the first of a great 8-part series called Preparing to Lead.  I will post the first two articles and then trust if you are interested you can find the rest on their site.

By Dave Bruskas

How Do You Know If You’re Called to Pastoral

Ministry?

View the Preparing to Lead series

Many people imagine being called to pastoral ministry is a mystical sense or experience. But the Bible shows us that being called is more objective and measurable than that. This is the first installment of an 8-part series Preparing to Lead.

The Apostle Paul had a direct encounter with Jesus that defined his call to ministry. As far as we can know from the silence of the Bible, Timothy, his protégé, had a different experience. But it’s important to understand that Paul gives Timothy authoritative direction on how to evaluate a call to pastoral ministry. We can see there are at least three critical dimensions to calling from the Bible’s pastoral epistles.

1. Compelled

In the heart of the man being called into pastoral ministry is a desire to serve the church as an overseer. Scripture encourages such an ambition, telling us, “If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task” (1 Tim. 3:1). If this desire can’t be shaken, then it must be taken seriously.

The Apostle Paul had a direct encounter with Jesus that defined his call to ministry. As far as we can know from the Bible, Timothy had a different experience.

Too often, our conception of a call to ministry takes on a mystical element that the Bible doesn’t require. It is more objective and measurable than that, according to the Scripture. It is a noble desire residing in the heart of a man who loves the church and wants to serve as a leader.

2. Qualified

KEEP READING…

12 Reasons You Should Pray Scripture

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By Andrew David Naselli
Andy Naselli is assistant professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis, research manager for D. A. Carson, and administrator of Themelios.

12 Reasons You Should Pray Scripture

I don’t want to give the impression that I’m a prayer-expert. I’m not. But that’s one reason I find praying Scripture so helpful (more on that later).

My argument is simple: You should pray Scripture.

Three qualifications:

  1. I don’t mean merely that you should pray. That’s a given.
  2. I don’t mean that you should merely pray scripturally informed prayers. That’s also a given. I’m arguing specifically that you should pray Scripture itself.
  3. I’m not arguing that you should pray only Scripture every time you pray. Rather, I’m arguing that you should pray Scripture itself often.

So why should you pray Scripture? For at least twelve reasons:

1. You should pray Scripture because God’s people in the OT and NT did.

It’s not always logical to argue that we should do something merely because the Bible records God’s people doing it. Sometimes OT narratives or the book of Acts describe practices without prescribing them. But I can’t think of a one good reason that we shouldn’t emulate these two examples.

First, an example from the OT: When the Israelites confess their sins in Neh 9, the Levites lead the people in prayer (Neh 9:5–37). The entire prayer is scripturally informed (e.g., 9:11),1 and verse 17 quotes previous Scripture:

They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies . . . . (Neh 9:17–18, emphasis added)

In the middle of their prayer, they quote Exod 34:6. They apply that Scripture to their specific context.

Second, an example from the NT: After the antagonistic Sanhedrin release Peter and John in Acts 4, how does the early church respond?

And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,

and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth set themselves,

and the rulers were gathered together,

against the Lord and against his Anointed’ . . . .” (Acts 4:24–26)

In the middle of their prayer, they quote Ps 2:1–2. They apply that Scripture to their specific context.

2. You should pray Scripture because Jesus did.

I need to develop this further because it’s not always logical to argue that we should do something merely because Jesus did. Jesus did a lot of things that we can’t do—like walk on water and forgive people of their sins. And Jesus did some things that we shouldn’t do—like die on the cross to satisfy God’s righteous wrath against sinners. But Jesus did many things that we should imitate, and praying Scripture is one of them.

Both the Gospel according to Matthew and Mark record that Jesus prayed this to the Father when he was dying on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34). That quotes the first line of Ps 22.

We have to be careful here because Jesus fulfills Scripture in a way that we don’t. Jesus is unique.2 My point is that Jesus prayed Scripture. For him to do that, he had to read Scripture, correctly understand Scripture, meditate on Scripture, and then apply Scripture to his specific situation. We don’t typologically fulfill Scripture in the same way that Jesus does, but we can and should pray Scripture appropriately with reference to our contexts. For example, we can appropriate God-breathed prayers in Scripture as they match our own circumstances. God’s people have been doing that with the Psalms for thousands of years.

3. You should pray Scripture because it glorifies God the Father.

Jesus told his disciples in John 15:7–8, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”3 What is the “fruit” in the context of John 15?

I won’t take the time to demonstrate this here,4 but here’s how I understand John 15:4: “Abide in me, and I in you” essentially means “Obey my words, and let my words remain in you.” Therefore, Jesus abides in us (believers) to the degree that his words abide in us, and we abide in Jesus to the degree that we obey his words. Every believer abides in Jesus to some degree, resulting in different degrees of fruitfulness.

So when we internalize Jesus’ individual utterances (i.e., his words remain in us), we will make scripturally informed requests, and God will answer them. So what is the “fruit”? I think that the fruit in this context is the answers to those prayers. That does not refer exclusively to when we pray Scripture; it refers to scripturally informed prayers. But that certainly includes our praying Scripture. When we pray Scripture, we demonstrate explicitly that Jesus’ words are remaining in us.

And when we are bearing much fruit through our praying Scripture, that is a way that we glorify God the Father: “By this my Father is glorified.”

4. You should pray Scripture because it helps you focus on what is most important.

KEEP READING…

3 Ways to Stop Being an Ineffective Youth Leader

3 Ways to Stop Being an Ineffective Youth Leader

Making disciples is harder than you could ever imagine, but simpler than you would ever think. For those involved in student ministry, discipling young people is not really complicated—it’s just costly. You don’t need a doctorate in theology, but you do need to have died to yourself.

3 Ways to Stop Being an Ineffective Youth Leader

BY: Adam Ramsey

What exactly makes someone an effective youth leader?

Here’s an example. Melisa is a youth leader who has been leading a group of junior girls at Mars Hill Bellevue. Each week she opens up her Bible with these ladies, listens to their struggles and questions, and points them to Jesus. She also opens up her life by pursuing their hearts relationally outside of a program or event. And when she was away on a family vacation for a couple of weeks, two of her girls stepped up and led their peers the same way Melisa has been leading them.

Melisa is just one of many examples of a godly and effective youth leader. By the grace of God she is making disciples who make disciples, by sharing the gospel, sharing her life, and empowering young people to do likewise.

KEEP READING…

5 Tips For Communicating With Your Students’ Parents

Another great article from the guys at YM360.  A site full of great resources and articles.  In our ministry we are constantly trying to figure out how to “get the word out” to students and parents.  Here are 5 good ideas to use.

5 Tips For Communicating With Your Students’ Parents

Communicating with your students’ parents is a vital part of any youth ministry. We know this.

And so, here are five suggestions for being awesome at communication.

Use MailChimp

I say use MailChimp because I think it is hands down the best email client out there. I also love their corporate culture. (But you could certainly use Constant Contact or ay of the other email campaign providers.) It will take a little playing around with to get used to but it’s actually very easy to figure out. And the benefits are tremendous. Not only do they offer some really cool template building tools that will save you time (once you get your template “set”) and add an air of professionalism to your communication, but MailChimp will allow you to track exactly who is opening your emails and who isn’t. Which is huge.

Be Consistent

You need good habits in your communication. Send an email twice a month (or weekly if you’re feeling super awesome) no matter what. This creates a habit of expectation in your students’ parents. They will begin to look for (even subconsciously) your timely updates in their Inboxes. You’ll be surprised how consistency leads to higher open rates.

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3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church

leave

This is one of parents and youth pastors greatest fears, that their students would walk away from their faith after graduation.  The author of this article gives three common traits of youth who don’t leave the church.  This is well worth the read if you are a leader in student ministry or a parent of a teen.

3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the

Church

By: Jon Nielson
Jon is the college pastor at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He blogs at Something More Sure.

 “What do we do about our kids?” The group of parents sat together in my office, wiping their eyes. I’m a high school pastor, but for once, they weren’t talking about 16-year-olds drinking and partying. Each had a story to tell about a “good Christian” child, raised in their home and in our church, who had walked away from the faith during the college years. These children had come through our church’s youth program, gone on short-term mission trips, and served in several different ministries during their teenage years. Now they didn’t want anything to do with it anymore. And, somehow, these mothers’ ideas for our church to send college students “care packages” during their freshman year to help them feel connected to the church didn’t strike me as a solution with quite enough depth.

The daunting statistics about church-going youth keep rolling in. Panic ensues. What are we doing wrong in our churches? In our youth ministries?

It’s hard to sort through the various reports and find the real story. And there is no one easy solution for bringing all of those “lost” kids back into the church, other than continuing to pray for them and speaking the gospel into their lives. However, we can all look at the 20-somethings in our churches who are engaged and involved in ministry. What is it that sets apart the kids who stay in the church? Here are just a few observations I have made about such kids, with a few applications for those of us serving in youth ministry.

1. They are converted.

The Apostle Paul, interestingly enough, doesn’t use phrases like “nominal Christian” or “pretty good kid.” The Bible doesn’t seem to mess around with platitudes like: “Yeah, it’s a shame he did that, but he’s got a good heart.” When we listen to the witness of Scripture, particularly on the topic of conversion, we find that there is very little wiggle room.

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Ice Bucket Challenge viewed through James 1:19-27

The Ice Bucket challenge is a national phenomenon.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, that was the IBC. The Ice Bucket Challenge is a campaign started by the ALS Association to raise awareness and donations for ALS. The challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness. According to the ALS Association, people can either accept the challenge or make a donation to an ALS charity of their choice, or do both.

ALS is the initialism for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease or classical motor neuron disease. ALS is a neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. Unable to function, the muscles gradually weaken, waste away, and twitch. The disease become progressively worse the ability of the brain to start and control voluntary movement is lost, eventually resulting in death. The cause of ALS is not known, and scientists do not yet know why ALS strikes some people and not others. About 30,000 Americans now have ALS.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has led millions to:

  • Hear about it.
  • Know about it.
  • Care about it.
  • Do something about it.

As we have been studying the book of James, this is the exact message we see in Chapter 1:19-27.  James wants us to:

  • Hear the Word
  • Know the Word
  • Care about the Word
  • Do the Word.

James

Just as importantly he wants us to do all of this with wisdom.  In verses 19 -21, James gives us 5 wise ways to be “Knowers of the Word.

Wise Ways to be Knowers of the Word

  1. Be quick to hear.
  2. Slow to speak.
  3. Slow to anger.
  4. Get rid of sin
  5. Accept the Word with Humility.

Later in the book, James calls faith without works…DEAD.  Knowing the Word is only half of the equation.  In the Ice Bucket Challenge, if no one ever gave money to help find a cure, it would be pointless.  We are called not only to Know the Word but Do the Word.  In verses 22 – 27, James gives us 4 ways to be wise “Doers of the Word.”

Wise Ways to be Doers of the Word

  1. Don’t Forget what the Word says.
  2. Persevere.
  3. Control your Tongue
  4. Care for the vulnerable

The reason I use the Ice Bucket Challenge as an example is because I recently learned that a portion of the funds raised through ALS Association goes to embryonic stem cell research.

Embryonic stem cell research is speculative medical research (it has never resulted in clinical treatments) that is predicated on the destruction of embryonic human life. The process uses stem cells harvested from embryos conceived through vitro fertilization (IVF) that have been donated for research purposes rather than being implanted into a woman’s uterus. The embryos are killed during the process of harvesting their cells and then are discarded afterwards. In 1999, the Southern Baptist Convention issued a resolution expressing opposition to the destruction of innocent human life, including the destruction of human embryos for research purposes.

If you have given money to ALS association, unless you designated specifically that you didn’t want funds to go to this research, a portion of your funds did. I’m not trying to shame you or embarrass you. The reality is that we do this every day.

We make seemingly insignificant decisions that speak to what we believe and support unintentionally that may or may not be true about us. When we don’t use wisdom we say, do, and support things unintentionally that we may not have chosen to if we did use wisdom.

This is a point James is making in this section of Scripture.

So what do we do?

Linked are two great articles on how to approach this movement with wisdom. Included are alternative charities that help support finding a cure to ALS without funding embryonic stem cell research. Much of my research and content came from these two sources.

The FAQs: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
http://erlc.com/article/the-faqs-the-als-ice-bucket-challenge

Why I Cannot Accept the Ice-Bucket Challenge by Nathaniel King
http://www.nathanaelk.com/2014/08/why-i-cannot-accept-ice-bucket-challenge.html?spref=fb&m=1

Just so you know I do not think it is wrong to participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge.  I think it is a great opportunity to help find a cure to a horrific disease and an opportunity to highlight research that is not destroying human life.  Please give through one of the links at the bottom of this page.

Please help find a cure to ALS by donating to one of the links below.

The Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center (MSCTC) at the University of Kansas Medical Center
http://www.kumc.edu/msctc.html

Dr. Anthony Windebank and his team
http://www.mayo.edu/research/labs/regenerative-neurobiology/projects/therapy-amyotrophic-lateral-sclerosis-als

The Adult Stem Cell Technology Center, LLC
https://sites.google.com/site/adultstemcelltechnologycenter/

John Paul II Medical Research Institute
http://www.jp2mri.org/capital-campaign.htm.

10 Overlooked Truths About Taking Action

spartan-warriors-2

Action is essential in ministry and life.  Action is essential in success.  Action will sometimes end in failure.

Inaction always ends in failure.

The Art of Manliness outline 10 Truths about Taking Action.  These are not spiritual in nature but applicable in our relationship with Christ.  As Kevin DeYoung puts it in his book, Just Do Something: How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc., God has already revealed his plan for Christians’ lives: to love Him and to obey His Word.  Now we just need to TAKE ACTION.

10 Overlooked Truths About Taking Action

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Kyle Eschenroeder.

“This is a holy moment. A sacramental moment. A moment in which a man feels the gods as close as his own breath.

What unknowable mercy has spared us this day? What clemency of the divine has turned the enemy’s spear one handbreadth from our throat and driven it fatally into the breast of the beloved comrade at our side? Why are we still here above the earth, we who are no better, no braver, who reverenced heaven no more than these our brothers whom the gods have dispatched to hell?

In this speech from Steven Pressfield’s gripping, well-researched re-telling of the Battle of Thermopylae (Gates of Fire), the Spartan King Leonidas addresses his troops after a victory. He is reflecting on the fact that when you do battle in chaos, Lady Fortuna and skill have an equal say in the outcome. Pressfield explains this dynamic in his equally worthwhile non-fiction work, The Warrior Ethos:

“In the era before gunpowder, all killing was of necessity done hand to hand. For a Greek or Roman warrior to slay his enemy, he had to get so close that there was an equal chance that the enemy’s sword or spear would kill him. This produced an ideal of manly virtue – andreia, in Greek – that prized valor and honor as highly as victory.

Andreia meant that judgment was based on actions taken — not outcomes. Society understood that the outcome was, at least in part, in the hands of the gods. What was in a man’s control was how he acted.

KEEP READING…