Saturday, December 19, 2009

Engagement


On the night of December 17, 2009, I asked Angela Marie Robinett to marry me!

She loves Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO... therefore I took her to the gigantic Christmas tree in the center of Silver Dollar City. There, I gave her an "early" Christmas present, which was a new Bible with the name, Angela Marie Smith engraved. As she read the name on the Bible, I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me!

There's the story.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Staff Ping Pong

This is what happens when the staff need a break from their work. Ping Pong on the office conference table breaks out!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Angry Americans

Found this last weekend and though it was interesting. I have nothing to really say about it but thought it was worth noting.

This MSNBC article claims that:

“Anger is more likely among the young, those with children at home, and the less educated…

The results of the survey, conducted in 2005 and to be published next year, showed several key connections to anger.

For one, people under 30 experienced anger of all forms or intensities more frequently than did older adults. This was mainly due to the fact that young people are more likely to be affected by three core stressors that can trigger angry feelings, Schieman said:

  • Time pressures

  • Economic hardship

  • Interpersonal conflict at the workplace

Time pressures had the strongest link to anger, especially low-grade versions termed “feelings of annoyance,” the study found.

Those who were under financial strain tended to report higher levels of anger, a connection that could be particularly important in today’s flagging economy, Schieman noted. The financial influence tended to be stronger among women and younger adults.

Having children was also associated with angry feelings and behaviors, such as yelling, particularly in women, the survey found.”

To read the rest go HERE.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Communication Advice



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ten Commandments Re-written

I was doing some catch up reading and saw this over on Ypulse and it caught my eye.

I instantly wondered how our American Youth would answer on this exercise done by YOUTHTOPIA.

Ypulse wrote:

Below, with their permission, I share one interesting exercise that asked 100 European youths to “challenge, criticise and collectively re-write ‘The 10 Commandments’” as a way of illustrating generational shifts in values. The results paint more than a flattering self-portrait of this generation as an aspirational model for society — one that tellingly promotes accountability, positivity and passion above all else. Here’s what I mean ….

The Ten Commandments of Youth

1. Have faith in yourself.

2. Respect your parents.

3. Be honest.

4. Take responsibility for your own life.

5. Live life to the fullest and be passionate.

6. Keep your promises.

7. Work hard to succeed but not to the detriment of others.

8. Be tolerant of others’ differences.

9. Be happy and optimistic, even in adversity.

10. Create, don’t destroy.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

I'm Stuck


Recently, I complete a personal evaluation exercise in my journal. I wanted to uncover the 3 main factors that keep me from moving forward and embracing new ideas in my life an leadership. In other words: why do I stay stuck?

From my journal to your computer screen, here's my short list. Hope it helps you town your truck out of the mud.

1. Complacency
Change is hard. Positive change is just as hard as negative change. Sometimes it is easier to stay stuck than to move forward. It is more comfortable to stick with something that's tolerable and familiar than to embrace something that's preferable and unknown.

2. Regret
I really don't know how to explain this, except to say that my regrets often overpower my ambitions, causing me to remain in a state of paralysis.

3. Distraction
It's hard to tell how many major adjustments i've avoided making because I was busy tending to insignificant side items. It's tempting to divert attention from the big thing that God wants me to change by slam dunking something that ultimately doesn't matter at all.

I don't want to stay stuck. I don't want the storyline of my faith to be eclipsed by a shift I was unwilling to make.

If you're feeling stuck, as I so often do, here's a prayer to pray... if you dare:

God, help me move forward at the speed of your direction and intention, no matter how painful the transition may be.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fail

Monday, October 26, 2009

It's Your Fault

I need to prescribe a little leadership pill that is pretty hard to swallow... but oh so good for you... and everyone you lead.

When you come into conflict with someone you lead, mark this:
All of it is never your fault.
Some of it is always your fault.

If you assume all of the responsibility for the conflict, you'll end up owning issues that are not yours to own. Soon you'll be overcompensating for someone else's dysfunction. You'll aggravate the injury because you're treating the wrong symptoms.

If you assume too little of the responsibility, you're passing up a jackpot of learning experiences and opportunity for improvement. Plus, you're the kind of jerk that no one wants to work for because you're never wrong.

If the issue is theirs, forgive, coach, and appropriately reposition them. If the issue is yours, own it, and convert it into wisdom. Either way, you get better with every failure. And that's a success.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

John Miller

This testimony is one that will grip your heart. It will make you think more about the people in your life that deserve your forgiveness. Watch and learn from John Miller's own life changing story.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Prioritize the Presence

Your best innovation flows from revelation. You must prioritize the presence of God in your life.

More can be accomplished in a nanosecond of prayer, worship, and listening to the voice of God than in a month's worth of strategy meetings.

Many leaders have created virtually no margin to make room for the kind of divine encounters that birth true vision and revolutionary concept. I can trace the start of many of the most important ideas in the history of the church to a specific moment in the presence of God. I can trace my most frustrating seasons to a deficiency of time allocated to my most important task: seeking the wisdom of the Lord.

What would Moses have missed had he never turned aside to see the burning bush?
If the leaders of the church in the book of Acts had neglected prayer and the Word to serve tables, how might the influence of the Gospel been impeded worldwide?

What revelation, inspiration, imagination and innovation is left undiscovered in your life because you're failing to prioritize the presence of God?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Promise


Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance."
- Deuteronomy 31:7 -

Maybe as leaders, we spend too much time trying to employ people to make our dreams come true. God gives vision to visionaries, and assigns others to do their part in bringing it to pass. If the vision doesn't have its origin in the mind of God and its nexus in Jesus, it's worthless at best and potentially destructive.

But then Moses charged Joshua to lead the people out of the wilderness into the Promised Land, he approached it from an interesting angle:

The fulfillment of this promise wasn't just for Joshua. God promised the last to them. To the people. Joshua was leading them into their inheritance.

As a leader, remember you're not the only one God has made promises to. The people you lead have dreams. They dream of impact. They dream of influence. They dream of maximized creativity and realized potential.

Lead them into their land. Develop them to be their best. Help them to establish ownership of their own ideas. When you focus on calling out the potential of those you lead, you'll usually find that your standard will become their standard. And your vision will come to pass as a byproduct.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mantreat 09'

The high school guys recently went down to Compton, AR on our first, Mantreat. Watch the video to see what we did!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pardon Me, Please

On Sunday nights, I am starting a sermon series called, Hootie Hoo. The first sermon topic is about asking for forgiveness, and that being the end of it. Here is a video to start off the sermon series on Sunday nights at Schweitzer for our high school youth.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pre-Game Prep



Our youth team has been getting ready for the fall semester at Schweitzer over the last 3 weeks or so, while sprinting as hard as we possibly can with summer camps, mission trips, and activities. I don't, by any means, feel burnt out or anything like that. I actually am really comfortable at 'break-neck' speeds. It's the story of my life from the time I can remember and I thrive in it.

I read a quote from Heisman Trophy winner and NFL Hall of Fame member Roger Staubach and it reminded me why I love the pre-game prep so much.

"Spectacular achievements are always preceded by unspectacular preparation."
- Roger Staubach -

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Leadership

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday Nights at SUMC

Check out what is to come at Schweitzer on Wednesday nights!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Getting in Shape



















Angela and I have decided to get into shape; both physically and spiritually.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
This morning, we decided to start running every morning @ 6am together. We ran a mile for starters this morning, and would like to be able to Run to the Lights, which is a 5K at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO.

Colossians 3:5-10
Although being physically fit is important, it can not take premise over being spiritually alive. Angela and I have recently found a devotional for couples, The One Year Devotions for Couples by David & Teresa Ferguson. We will run in the morning, and when we're done cooling off, we will do a devotional every morning together in order to grow in our faith together.

We all want to be spiritually healthy. It would be nice if there was a pill you could take or a book you could read that would produce spiritual vitality and health. It would be nice if you could do that for your physical health as well. But there isn't any such things. We become healthy physically and spiritually the same way: you have to eliminate what is harmful and cultivate what is helpful. It's not easy... but it is the only way.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lord of the Flies


I sat in a small community church a last week back here in Estes Park. CO. It was an architecturally beautiful & aesthetically pleasing structure, with wood beams, sterling silver, and large windows. Honestly, it felt more like a loft than a church. I wanted to live in it, not practice my faith there.

As the service went on I noticed something peculiar. Basically everyone that went to church there looked like they were from California or NYC... basically 'hipsters'. Not that I have anything against that at all, but after I looked around I saw that there was not one old person in the building, then I realized that there was not even one older person there, then I realized that there was not one person over 40 years old!

In the book 'Lord of the Flies' a group of boys get stranded on an island and end up having to fend for themselves, Before long one by one a group of the boys began to kill the other. It is a great read, and short, and is one of my favorite books because it shows the barbaric state we digress to when not held accountable.

In this country, because this is not a global phenomenon, we value youth or the appearance of such. I am not sure why or how we 'digressed' to this state but I feel we are doing ourselves and our communities a disservice by alienating those who have more wisdom, knowledge, and years to share.

Have we so segregated ourselves from those who have time on their side, therefore limiting our knowledge of things to come? In essence, if there is 'nothing new under the sun', then aren't people older than us basically time travelers, how much can we learn from those who can see into our future?

We may all go through different experiences, travel to different locations, have different friends; but in this life there are much more that we share in common than we have different. In the same way I feel that our grandparents, people we may work with that are older, our elders, etc. may have an insight into our lives that the people closest to us our age may not have.

What happen to the word 'mentor'? I feel that it is a lost art and life left to the past. I admit that besides one friend a little older than myself that I do not have one. Its not that I am not open to it, I just feel that this current culture does not extend its hand to such. My challenge is to somehow come up with ideas on how to incorporate people 20 years older than you, or more, into your life.

Now I digress... are we not slowly creating an island of age in our little world? Are we not simply the shipwrecked boys on an island slowly eliminating each other due to our lack of wisdom, knowledge, foresight, and accountability?

To progress we must incorporate all to learn, we must learn so that one day we might teach.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

K.C. Missions: Day 3


Today was a day full of learning experiences.  We started off the day at Grand Avenue Temple in downtown K.C.  The staff there at the church wanted our group to realize that they were inclusive of all people, languages, and cultures.  The pastor took us on a walk around downtown, which he has dubbed, "The Trail of Tears."  This took us on a loop where most of the homeless around K.C. walk.  We were also told about the different ministries this church has to offer, which they dub, "The Lazarus Ministries."  
          - The Sojourner's Health Clinic
          - The Lazarus Table (free meals
          - The Lazarus Boutique
          - The Women's Shelter
          - The Lazarus Library

After we ate lunch at Grand Avenue Temple, we drove across town to Harvester's.  This is Kansas City's food bank.  We took a tour of their entire 200,000 square foot facility.  They deliver food to 20+ counties in K.C., as well as church's and other food banks around the area.  Our students worked for about an hour here, and managed to bag 900+ pounds of granola for the less fortunate.  Once we arrived back at the church after our work day, we had a good meal, a talent show, and a youth group devotional.  All in all, today was yet another success.  

Tomorrow we're off to World's of Fun for the day, and we'll be back sometime tomorrow night!

Goodnight!

Monday, August 3, 2009

K.C. Missions: Day 2


Day 2 was hot, but full of eager students wanting to help others in the Kansas City community.  We worked at Fox Hill Elementary school at an outdoor classroom.  The students spent their day weed eating, spreading mulch, picking weeds, and clearing brush from the outdoor classroom.  The day felt like 100 degrees, so there were plenty of breaks, and no one had to visit the hospital due to heat exhaustion.  So the day must have been a success right?

We then headed to a water park in Lee's Summit, MO.  The students rode on water slides, played in the pool, and relaxed in the lazy river for a couple hours after our work day.  From there, we went back to the church, ate some dinner, and went into youth group devotions.  Tonight, our devotion was over Romans 12, and how we each have a different role in the body of Christ.  Please be praying that each of our students find their role within the group, and within their every day lives after this trip is over!

Goodnight!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

K.C. Missions: Day 1

Today was a success!  A group of middle school youth from Schweitzer UMC left Springfield today at 11am to head up to Kansas City, MO to help the community.  We stopped by an incredibly busy McDonald's for some lunch in Clinton, MO, and then on to Red Ridge United Methodist Church, where we will be staying for the next couple of days.

The boys are staying in a sunday school room with another group of youth from Ozark, MO.  The girls are staying in the fellowship center of the church on a tile floor.  I hope everyone brought their sleeping pads or blow up mattresses!

Tonight, in our youth group devotion, we discussed why the student's came on the mission trip. Why are they here?  What's the purpose of them on this trip?  We read Ephesians 2:8-10, where it says, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  So we asked our students, what is holding you back this week from letting God work in your life?  We got some good answers!  We prayed over these things and now I can only wait to see what God has in store for us in Kansas City!

Goodnight!


Friday, July 31, 2009

Follow the Leader



Ask yourself this question... if you lost your title, position, and power tomorrow, would others still support you and want to work with you?

I believe the answer to this question is one of the most telling measurements of your effectiveness and ability to lead.

People will go to the ends of the earth for authentic character, passion, and a compelling vision but only to the end of the road for a position. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Violent Basketball



Jeff Houghton, a Springfield talent, was in the right place at the wrong time last night.  At Tuesday night basketball held at Schweitzer UMC, Jeff was going for a rebound, and caught an elbow to face.  A trip to the ER, and a couple stitches later, Jeff was back on his feet.  Thanks for adding some excitement to the night Jeff!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

First Time Around

I noticed a fascinating detail recently in my read through Exodus.

When Moses brought the first draft of the Ten Commandments down from the mountain, God did all the work.  Exodus 32:16 says that both the inscription and the actual tablets were the work of God.  Apparently, God Himself cut the stones out of the rock and personally hand designed the original tablets.  All Moses had to do was deliver them once he got down the mountain.

Unfortunately, when Moses made it back to the camp, he found the people of God indulging in idolatry.  In his frustration and disbelief, he slammed the stones to the ground.  They shattered on impact.

God summoned Moses back to the mountain for a do-over in Exodus 34:1.  In His mercy and patience, He provided Moses with a Revised Edition of the Ten Commandments.  Only this time, Moses had to chisel the two stone tablets himself.  God would provide the inscription, but this time, Moses would have to do the arduous work of carving the stones.  After all, Moses was responsible for destroying the first set of tablets.  Now he would have to take responsibility for the construction of the new ones.  You break it, you buy it.  Or something like that.

God has a gracious exchange policy.  But sin comes with a steep restocking fee.

When we break the laws of God, He graciously gives second chances. But it's so much easier to do it right the first time around.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

2009 SUMC H.S. Mission Trip

The youth recently traveled to Somerville, TN for their 2009 Mission Trip.  Watch the video to see what the students were involved with while there.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blind Trials Rider

Anything is possible.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Day 6: GWC

Today was our last day and what a day it was.  By the way, this is Julianne guest blogging for Tim.  The youth started out bright and early to finish their worksites.  After the workday a fire truck came to the school and the youth got to play under the hoses.  During the evening programs the youth were joined by the residents from the homes they were working on.  After a sad time of goodbyes with work crews we went to youth group devotions where we sang and danced for the last time here at camp.   It's been a great time and we are sad to leave but the youth have made a huge impact on the people in Somerville and the other youth at camp.  It's been a blast!

Now get ready cuz we're comin' home!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Day 5: GWC

video
(Video: Worship/Dancing at Evening Program)

Day 5 turned out to be a great day of work and fellowship for many students.  We arrived at our work sites around 9am and got back to the school we are staying at around 4pm.  A long, hot, humid day of work, that payed off in the long run.

At my particular work site, our resident's name is Marie.  She is an 86 year old widow.  We have grown to love her humor, grace, and loving nature through out the week.  Today was different though.  Marie likes to sleep a lot during the day.  So, we were taking a break from work, and wanting to talk to Marie, but of course she was asleep.  So, behind her home, in a white shack with blue shutters, a 91 year old man, Mr. Jackson was sitting on his porch watching us work all day.  We decided to walk over and talk to him.  He had a lot to say, even though we could barely understand his words since he had no teeth and talked unbearably fast.  One thing I caught him saying is that:

"Prayer is the key, but faith is what unlocks the door."

After we were done talking with Mr. Jackson and finishing up our day at Marie's home, we went back home to the school we're staying at.  Once we got done with dinner, we had a pretty intense night of worship and program stuff.  The students and chaperones alike were asking for God to free them of items in their life that are holding them back from their relationship with God and blocking their view of the cross.  2 Corinthians 3:17 says, "For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

Please be in prayer for the students that are asking God for freedom from certain sins and choices within their lives.  

Goodnight!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 4: GWC



Hey everyone this is Angela and I am guest blogging tonight!  Today was Day 4 of our mission trip and the theme for the day was  revealing "Sight to the Blind".  The students talked about things they are blind to in their lives and back home.  At our youth group devotion we talked about what we want to see happen within our youth group when we return.  We are seeing a lot of spiritual growth within the students and it is awesome! 

We only worked half a day today but most groups were still productive.  After the work day we came back and headed to Beale St in Memphis.  The students got to experience some live music and entertainment while visiting shops.  We then ate at the Hard Rock Cafe where the students were invited to do the YMCA on stage.  We have some talented dancers in our group!  

Thank you so much for your prayers.  The youth are really bonding with each other and the other youth here.  The lives of the youth and the residents of Somerville are being changed and we are having a blast.  


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Day 3: GWC



Day 3 is coming to an end.  And I am already exhausted for some reason.

Today, we focused on, "Release for the Captives."  Our work crews read over Acts 8:23 through out the day, and tonight during our nightly program.  At the program, we had an opportunity to release ourselves from what is keeping us captive.  They had all of the students and chaperones at the camp tie our hands together with Zip Ties.  Once we did, there were stations set up around the gymnasium for us to pray at.  There were stations such as Relationships, Technology, Drugs/Alcohol, Sports, Money, Food, and Self Image.  The students were asked to go around to the stations they felt were holding them captive (while their hands were still tied together) and pray for release from their captives.

Once this was finished, we went into our youth group devotional time.  Denny and Zach led us in some worship, and then we discussed our days and the program we had previously. 
It seems as if most of the Schweitzer youth are exhausted already.  Luckily, tomorrow is our "half day" of work, and the second half of tomorrow we will be heading to Beale Street in Memphis, TN for some dinner.

Please be in prayer for the students and the things in their lives that are holding them captive this week.  Please pray for their release while they are here in Somerville, as well as when they arrive back in Springfield to their every day life.

Nighty poo, don't poo in your nighty.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Day 2: GWC


Day 2 is about to be over.  We have 10 minutes before lights out.  And when I say lights out, I mean it.  Our students are so tired after their long days of work, that once their heads hit the pillow, they are out.  Which is nice.

Today was the first day the students headed to their work sites with their crews.  After talking to most of the students, it seems as if most are painting and repairing the outsides of homes.  We have had only good things said about camp so far by the SUMC Youth.  No injuries to report just yet.

Tonight, we ended with the story of the Rich Young Ruler (Luke 18:18-29).  We discussed what it looks like to reveal HOPE for the poor.  The students discussed it in our youth group devotion, as well as discussed what God has revealed to them through their first day on the job.  Zach and Denny did a wonderful job again during our Youth Group Devotion by leading us in worship.  

Overall, Day 2 was a success.  Please keep praying for good health, good weather, good sleep, and positive attitudes as our youth are beginning new friendships.

Goodnight!

Day 1: GWC


Day 1 has been complete, and I tried posting this last night, and when I looked today, it wasn't there. So here we go again!

We finished Day 1, and it was a blast. We started the night by having some dinner with our youth groups. The camp made us burgers, fries, salad, hot dogs, etc. for dinner. After dinner, we went strait to our nightly program. This is where we met our teams we will be working with all week. None of our youth are with each other at their sites. Therefore, all of our youth are working with complete strangers. They are making friends, and loving it so far.

We ended our night with a youth group devo. Our group started with a ice breaker, and then a name game since we all didn't know each other coming into this trip. After that, we had some great worship led by Zach and Denny Reeves, and then discussion about the night we were having. So far, this has been a great trip.

Make sure you keep in prayer our youth, their personal energy and emotions through out this week, the residents we are serving, the weather, the safety of our crews, etc.!


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mission Trip: Trip To Somerville


It is official, we have made it to Somerville, TN!  It is a very rural town.  Mostly farms.  We arrived at Fayette High School around 1:30pm, and unloaded into our rooms.  We are all staying in classrooms within the high school.  Boys are upstairs, and girls are in the basement.  The school is air conditioned which is nice, because it is very very humid outside.  

As you can tell, there is WiFi set up here in the school, so I will be updating you every night from Somerville, with pictures and/or video.  Check back tonight, and there might be some more pictures to let you know how the rest of the night went.

See you soon Springfield!

Saturday, July 4, 2009



Tomorrow morning, at 6am, the Schweitzer High School youth will be leaving Springfield to tend to people's needs and spread the Gospel in Somerville, TN.  We are going through Group Work Camps.  

As long as there is WiFi in or around the area we are staying in Somerville, I will be updating the blog with pictures and/or video.  Check back to see what is new in Somerville.

Be in PRAYER for the students as we travel, work, share the gospel, and make new friends this next week!

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Truth

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Life Without Limbs


This is a video of a man named Nick Vujicic.  Check out what he has to say in this video.  Also, you can check out his website, Life Without Limbs.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hungry


When selecting people to join your team, one of the primary characteristics you should look for is hunger. More specifically: a hunger to see God do the extraordinary as demonstrated by humility, sacrifice, and perseverance.  Sometimes an ounce of hunger is better than a pound of experience. Because a truly hungry leader will hunt for wisdom and experience until they find it.  And they’ll learn it by living it out rather than philosophizing and theorizing about it.

On the flipside, I’ve found that experience minus hunger equals arrogance and cynicism. Statements like: 
“But we’ve always…” 
“But we’ve never…” and 
“Why should we bother to…” are a sure sign that the hunger isn’t there anymore. You can’t stay hungry when you’re full of yourself.

Jesus seemed to use this idea in his team selection process. Peter wasn’t diplomatic…but he was hungry. (A little too hungry?) Matthew’s profession wasn’t popular with the people, but he was hungry to make a difference. Thomas wasn’t always sure…but he was hungry to search for truth.

Check the references.  Value the experience.  And certainly validate the character. But don’t forget about the secret ingredient called hunger. It covers a multitude of incompetency.


Monday, June 22, 2009

I Think I'm Gay



In his book, Love is an Orientation, Andrew Marin wrote that nearly 86 percent of gays and lesbians state that they were raised in a denominationally based Christian church from ages zero to 18.  Marin also shows that 73 percent of homosexuals leave church once they “come out”.  

When asked what would influence them to return to the church, respondents indicated the following:

  • 62% - Nothing
  • 18% - Patience and time
  • 7% - Religious community showing a “non-judgmental environment”
  • 2% - Support of family/friends
  • 2% - Feeling “God’s love”
  • 1% - If they were able to understand the teachings
Additional research has shown that the average age for experiences initial feelings of same-sex attraction is around 13.  What can we do with the knowledge that some of our students are discovering these feelings while they’re in our middle and high school ministries?

1. Be Okay With Tension.  Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “I must confess that I am not afraid of the word tension. I have earnestly opposed violent tension my whole life, but there is a type of constructive, non-violent tension which is necessary for growth.”  Such tension could be something that we’re not used to dealing with in our ministries, especially when it comes to the subject of someone struggling with being gay. But we have Jesus to look toward as our greatest example of one who dealt with tension with both love and conviction. Jesus always reached out with compassion to the sinning person without validating (and sometimes not even mentioning) the sinful action. We see evidence of this in accounts such as the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11), the woman who was married to five men (John 4:7-30), and the tax collector who wished to get a closer look at Jesus (Luke 19:1-10). Jesus showed these people unconditional, non-condemning love in a way that made them desire know him more.

2. Authentically Listen.  The most essential part of a two-way conversation is listening — which is a problem for us youth workers, as we often tend to talk too much.  Over time I’ve learned that transformation didn’t happen in those kids regurgitating the correct responses but rather in the ones to whom I truly listened about what was going on in their lives. When we listen, we help prevent our students from hiding their problems, doubts, struggles, and questions.

3. Ask The Right Questions.  When we look at how Jesus communicated throughout the Gospels, we see that many times he was asked close-ended questions but gave open-ended responses.  In fact, he only responded to closed questions three times with straightforward answers to Pontius Pilate at the end of his ministry.  Rather, when asked for his opinion, he usually refrained from giving a direct here’s-what-my-teaching-is-and-what-you-should-be-thinking answer. He often changed the conversation by reframing the question and asking his conversation partner a question in return. In this way, Jesus walked people through the process so that there was ownership in their following because he elevated the conversation.  When it comes to talking with kids about being gay, we should have the same goal.