Monday, August 29, 2011


For the last little while I have been reading through the first five books of the Bible (insert fancy Jewish name here). A lot of people don't really like most of these books, they are full of lots rules about bacon and sacrifices. But in the midst of them are all these crazy stories.

And I started to notice a pattern. There is always a common denominator, someone whining. We want to go back to Egypt. Moses isn't a good leader. We have nothing to eat. All the stories begin with people complaining. But the similarities end there.

For the first part of the Israelites in the wilderness, every time they complain, God provides. There's no water, water from a rock. There's no food, manna and quail from the sky. God is totally helping these people out.

Then there is a change. The golden calf. Rebellion. The people sin in the most awful way so God tells the people they will wander through the wilderness for 40 years until everyone over 20 has died. And the people, they keep on complaining. But from this point on, the complaints are met with dire consequences. Leprosy, fire from the Tabernacle, snakes, the ground opens and swallows people up, from this point on rebellion and complaining is met by tremendous acts of God, such crazy things that only God could have caused them.

All these stories have gotten me to thinking. We like to wait until things go away. Let's be honest, it's human nature, if we don't have to deal with something, we stall until hopefully the situation resolves itself. But God gives us a different example to follow. Even though He could simply wait for them all to disappear, that was the plan in the wandering, God doesn't. When something needs to be addressed, God addresses it (in a way that can only be attributed to Him).

So the question I've been asking myself is, are there things I need to address? Are there situations in which I'm passively waiting and causing more trouble when I should be actively helping? Good or bad. Maybe it's a good thing, but that takes work, and we all love extra work. But if it needs to be done and done soon to save headaches, why not do it now?


Monday, August 22, 2011


As many of you know, I like math. Simply because you can proven anything with math. Some people thought it was fun last night when we were talking about how Stephen Hawking uses imaginary numbers to prove his findings.

Anyway, last night we laid out our theme and goal of the year: Everyone Involved, Everyone Inviting. That's what we'd hope everyone in FIRE & WATER is doing, being involved in some way be it through serving, Bible Studies, even just taking part in the discussion on Sunday nights, and everyone would be inviting someone they know to be a part of what we do and get to know Jesus for themselves.

In the midst of our discussion I threw out a math fun fact I heard years ago. If a freshman student were to invite just one person to church, but really help them feel involved for the rest of the semester, then the two of them each do the same thing for the spring semester, by the time this student graduated there would be 255 people in a relationship with Jesus because of them. Really only witnessing to one person a semester, but focusing on growth not numbers.

Well, here's some more fun. We at FIRE & WATER have what we call the Insider Club. Basically you sign up and you get text alerts, prizes, permission forms early, etc. But the idea is that these people are the ones who would be more involved. If that's the case:

If each Insider did what was mentioned above, focus on befriending one person a semester and duplicating that relationship, by the end of the school year we would have 93 new people in our ministry learning about Jesus. If seniors invited seniors and they graduated, but all remaining people kept this up, by graduation the next year, we'd have 300 new people learning about Jesus. The class after them, 567 (those keeping a running total, that'd be 960 people who would have been introduced to Jesus). And so on.

It's not about numbers, but it is about something we're all called to do:

Matthew 28:18-20 ~ Jesus told His disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this—that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” (LB)

If we were all focusing not on numbers, but making disciples, the only number we'd have to worry about is the maximum people the fire code allows in the room...

Something to think about.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Keep The Good, Toss The Bad

Yesterday was our annual Youth Sunday at Fishers United Methodist Church. Lots of fun, a few people told me they enjoyed it, we heard from students about their mission trips and experiences in the Fire & Water program and we even handed out a few prizes (that one guy is going to love his Disney princesses Frisbees).

Unfortunately we had one person who was not amused. That's okay, it happens. But this time, instead of just accepting this happens once a year and being happy for our students, she decided to go ahead and tear a strip out of Aaron, our student MC for the morning. Nope, she didn't go after Liz or I, she reamed out a student. How dare he turn the sanctuary into a cinema.

It reminds me of a few years ago when our students went to do some yard work at a local nursing home. We showed up, and there was nothing to do. They had forgotten we were coming. So our group of hard working students ready to get dirty became a choir to sing songs to the elderly (we had a guitar, two students were going to sing originally, the choir suddenly became bigger). They weren't prepared, some didn't know the words, some didn't know the tune, but they sang for these people. And one woman was mad. Again, instead of going to an adult she went to the students and told them off, her mother deserved better than these people who didn't know the songs or have beaming smiles on their faces.

Luckily we had a great leader with us. Rich took the students aside as we were heading into the van to return to the church and explained to them this is part of ministry. Some people won't be happy. The group of students could choose to remember the lady that yelled at them, or they could forget her and focus on the fact they came to a nursing home and sang, even unprepared, to a group of people who don't see many young faces. And most of them enjoyed it, all but this one woman. Don't let her ruin your memory of tonight.

So that's what we need to do whenever we minister. We won't make everyone happy. That's just life. But yesterday, for some people, for the first time, church was fun. We let people know about the mission trips they helped support. We had two sisters talk about how they used to not really come to church and how being involved in this ministry has changed them and their family. We taught the church a new worship song. We worshipped in a different way, and we even gave away a Disney princess Frisbee. That's what I'm going to remember.


Monday, August 08, 2011

How Long Before You Belong?

For some reason the blog has revolved around our discussion at Drink Deep. But it's because our students are so stinking smart!

We were talking about how to be inviting, how to help people get to church, be it at Drink Deep (our Sunday night program) or something else at church. And we came to a realization. We have a lot of people who have invited people to church, and their friends come to our event. Once.

Follow-up really is not high on what we do well as the Church as a whole. We bring someone new to church, then what? They go home, we go home and we for some reason expect them to want to come to church again, by themselves. As if for some reason after being to church once they feel apart.

So we picked on a student last night. She's been coming a year, invited by her now boyfriend. After a little discussion we figured out how long it took for her to feel like this was her church, her ministry, she felt like this was her family. Nine months. It took her coming consistently to Sunday nights, Bible Study, NewSong on Sunday mornings, all this took around nine months

And the kicker, what made her feel really feel like this was home as when she started serving at the food pantry, when she started giving back and serving. So many studies say someone will feel more involved when they are actually being a part, putting their new found feeling of this being home into action.

Just some things to ponder when it comes to having someone feel more at home in whatever setting you're in...


Monday, August 01, 2011

New Eyes On An Old Story

Last night we had our regular Sr. High meeting called Drink Deep, but being summer and still a "free and easy" type night, I simply told a story. It's one most people have heard if they've grown up in church but they've heard the children's version, not the one with sex and killing. The story of Golden Calf (the idol Israel made after God freed them from captivity in Egypt).

Now, I kind of had a thought to this story, I was planning on talking about how quick Israel was to forget what God had done and how we usually are quick to forget too. Instead of remembering the good in our lives we usually remember the bad. So after our wonderful mission trip this applies to our students remembering the good God did and keeping that with us, using it to fuel us to do good things for God in the coming school year.

That's all well and good, but not good enough for our bright minds. During the discussion time a few groups started going down a different trail of thought. Too often stories like this perpetuate the idea of a vengeful God, one that shows no mercy, and how does that relate to our New Testament grace. And they started thinking about how we really don't view sin as bad as God does, it's still as awful and deserving of a horrible punishment, but since we're forgiven we don't see it as that bad, it doesn't really hurt us. I think Pastor Josh's sermon at NewSong got them thinking.

So there's the big question for today, how bad is sin? Is it a slap on the wrist or worthy of boils and death? And does our lives and how we react to sin reflect that reality? Just food for thought I've been chewing on thanks to our amazing students...