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Change.

Posted by chadharvey on December 6th, 2011 under Family, Life, Ministry

As of January 1st, Jess and I will be partnering with a group of great friends to begin a movement of Missional Communities in the Salem area. I won’t go into a ton of detail in this blog. You can read Jess’ post about it and check out the new website for more details.

I guess the point of this post is simply to make it “blog official”. I know I don’t have many readers
here anymore… That’s what happens when you only post 4 times per year.

We are extremely excited about this calling and are looking forward to how God will show his glory as we’re faithful to it. While we are not immune to fears of the unknown (Are we strong enough for this? Will our vision even work? Did God screw up when He convicted us of this? Is our family ready for such radical change? Are we prepared for the inevitable hurt that will come our way? How will we pay our basic bills?), we are confident that God has surrounded us with an incredible community to serve with and will provide for us as He always has.

Most of my blogging will be taking place over here, but I plan to use this as a place to share insights into our lives as we learn and grow as a family through this process.

I am extremely thankful for the leadership of New Harvest Church, specifically Barry Braun. Barry and the elders have been beyond generous and supportive and there is no way we would be ready for January if it wasn’t for them.

So, like I said, if you want more details check out my wife’s blog or head on over to the PAX website.


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Missional Experience vs. Missional Living Pt. 1

Posted by chadharvey on August 15th, 2011 under Uncategorized

A week ago today the Mexico Mission team of New Harvest returned home. We had an incredible time. We were able to provide a home for a family and a church building for a community. The team was challenged, found joy, and even had a little fear (heavily armed Federali wearing ski masks). We’d work hard all day and play hard in the evenings. We formed relationships with each other and the families in the neighborhood we worked. We spent time in the Bible and worshipped God in different languages. It was an awesomeexperience.

Just like in previous years, the drive home consisted of many comments similar to, “I can’t wait to do this again next year.” As the organizer of this trip, I am glad students were impacted so much that they are willing to raise money, give a week, and spend countless hours in a vehicle just to experience it again. At the same time, I sort of cringe when I hear this.

As we returned to the US and filed into the church we would be sleeping at that night, I gathered the students and shared my heart with them. This Sunday I’ll be doing the same with you. We’ll have student testimony, a great slideshow, and some awesome stories. In the end I will be asking you the same question I asked them,

Does God call us to a variety of missional experiences or to missional living? 

I look forward to being with you this Sunday at New Harvest. See ya then.

(If you aren’t able to attend this Sunday, I’ll be posting part 2 on Monday.)


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Spiritual Disciplines (Week 6)

Posted by chadharvey on March 30th, 2011 under Spiritual Disciplines Series, Youth Group Question, Youth Ministry

We are currently in a series discussing 11 essential spiritual disciplines. Check out this post for an introduction to the series.

Fasting

Last night we continued our series on Spiritual Disciplines at Broadway Coffeehouse. We talked about a spiritual discipline that has basically been disregarded by the current and upcoming generations of believers: Fasting.

During our discussion we answered the following 6 questions:

1. What is fasting?

Traditionally, fasting is the practice of abstaining from food for a set period of time for the purpose of seeking God. Throughout the Old Testament we see two types of fasts: Public (II Chronicles 20:3; Ezra 8:21-23) and Private (II Samuel 12:15-23; I Kings 21:27; Psalm 69:1-15). Public fasts were generally directed to the whole nation of Israel and designed to refocus God’s people on His plan and provision in their life. They were usually initiated by one of God’s Prophets. Private fasts are done by individuals and generally have an emphasis on confession of sin and recognizing one’s complete and utter dependence on God. They’re also common before an individual makes a critical decision.

2. Should I only fast from food?

While the word “fast” in this context is almost always connected directly to food in Scripture, our culture has created a number of “fast” worthy activities and items. Many of us would find incredible value in setting aside time normally spent on our phone, social media sites, listening to music, playing video games, golfing, or _______________ for the purpose of communicating with our Savior. Ultimately, anything that takes time away from your relationship with God or distracts you from His plans and purpose in your life, is eligible for fasting.

3. What did Jesus have to say about it?

When discussing/learning about any topic, it is always a great idea to see what the most important man in history and King of kings had to say about it. Two of Jesus’ conversations about fasting seem rise to the surface when asking this question. The first is in a conversation with the expert fault-finding Pharisees,

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. (Mark 2:18-19 ESV)

We know from other passages that Jesus is the “bridegroom”. The church (all of us Christians) is His bride. He is our head, our protector, our savior, our king. So, when Jesus says that the “bridegroom” is with them so they don’t need to fast he talking about Himself. Why would the disciples run off to some quiet place when they have God standing right with them? In essence, the first thing Jesus says about fasting is that it is all about Him. Like everything else in all of creation, fasting is all about Jesus. It isn’t about you, your weight, your health, your priorities, your future, or anything else. It is simply about Jesus. It is about focusing on Him, conversing with Him, committing to Him, and realigning with Him. Exchanging your plans for the furthering of Christ’s Kingdom.

The second important conversation Jesus has regarding fasting is with His disciples,

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18 ESV)

Here, Jesus stresses the importance of fasting in order to seek the purposes of God, not the praises of man. It is amazing how many of us still try to impress those around us with our “super spirituality”. All spiritual disciplines are supposed to be indicative of what is really happening within our souls. If we are trying to impress people with our spirituality, there is something deeply disconnected  in our hearts. Fasting is to be done in private as a way to honor and pursue God, not on the street corners as a way to draw honor and attention to ourselves.

4. Did Jesus fast?

Yes. In Matthew 4 we see Jesus fasting for 40 days. If fasting is all about Jesus, why would Jesus fast? There are 2 primary answers. First, Jesus was submitting to the will of the the Father. Jesus was certainly God, but during His time on earth, He was also fully human. He was tempted in the same way you and I are, so He found strength from the same source we do, God. Second, Jesus was setting an example for you and I. Now, I do not recommend that you go and fast for 40 days. The example was less about length of time and more about the significance of fasting. Jesus participated in this fast just before He began His public ministry. Jesus knew that things were about to get real. He chose to seek God with no distractions in order to prepare for an intense season in His life.

5. Did the early church fast?

Yes. In Acts 13, 14, and 27 we see examples of early Christians fasting. After Jesus ascended to heaven, His people found value and significance in seeking Him undistracted.

6.  Should I fast?

Yes. Jesus follows His words in the Mark passage above with these:

The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. (Mark 2:20 ESV)

Jesus fully intended for you and I to fast. His disciples didn’t need to fast when He was with them, but after He ascends to heaven, they are some of the first people to take part in the practice of fasting.

7. What is the deeper truth of fasting?

Spiritual Disciplines are incredibly important in the believer’s life and should be practiced regularly. However, it is important to remember that they are not a substitute for righteousness and always point to a deeper reality. In Matthew 16 Jesus says,

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25 ESV)

And, in Isaiah 58 we read,

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (Isaiah 58:6-7 ESV)

The truth is, fasting is a small glimpse of what Jesus desires from His followers. Where fasting is momentary commitment and devotion to God’s purpose, Jesus demands a life of commitment and devotion. Please understand, this demand is not a requirement for initial salvation. You and I are made right with God and placed in His family forever, simply by believing in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. This demand is about discipleship. About following Jesus wherever He leads. About bringing glimpses of His kingdom to this earth. About seeing lost people saved and slaves set free. About loving people radically and unconditionally. It is about living a life that reflects what has taken place in your soul. It is about Transformation.

I wholeheartedly encourage each one of you take a look at what should be removed from your life for a short-season so you can seek God more fully. Personally, I could stand to drink less coffee. Each time I think about having a coffee, I could replace the time it takes to brew it, buy it, or drink it; with time connecting with God. However, the deeper reality is this:

Jesus doesn’t want your coffee (or you lunch, or your video games, etc…), He wants your life.

My prayer for each of you is that you begin to develop a regular time of fasting in your life… but even more, that you see God’s call on your whole life.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV)

 


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Talent vs. Character

Posted by chadharvey on March 23rd, 2011 under Life, Ministry

Over the past few months I have been working through some church planting ideas with the Emerging Leadership Initiative. I have been taking part in their online training, Cultivate. If any of you are interested in church planting, I would highly recommend connecting with this group and going through this program.

Throughout the process I have been challenged repeatedly. My call to church planting has been confirmed, but my method has been flipped upside down (in a good way). I could go on and on about how God has used this process in my life, but that would take forever and I don’t feel like typing very much. So, I’ll cut to the chase. During a Webinar this afternoon, the presenter, Eric Bryant, said the following phrase:

“Never choose talent over character.”

This phrase was in response to a participant’s question regarding releasing people into ministry roles. Obviously, I completely agree with this statement, in theory. However, I am still processing it. Writing this brief blog is part of my processing… err… process.

How does this phrase stir you when it comes to ministry and church leadership? I know this blog is primarily for high school students (who are totally welcome to respond), but for any of you previously or currently involved in ministry folks, I’d love to hear from you. At what point is “good character” not quite enough and some talent is needed? Is there a point where the talent is so great that serious character flaws are viewed as areas of possible growth, rather than disqualifying factors?

I’d love to know your thoughts.


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Spiritual Disciplines (Week 3)

Posted by chadharvey on March 7th, 2011 under Uncategorized

We are currently in a series discussing 11 essential spiritual disciplines. Check out this post for an introduction to the series.

Prayer

Two Sundays ago (I know this post is late… back off!) we discussed the discipline of prayer. Prayer is an opportunity for us to step into conversation with our Savior and King. It is a valuable discipline for each of us to practice, yet most of us don’t consistently communicate with God. We decided that one of the main reasons is that we don’t know how to pray. There are certainly other things that keep us from praying on a regular basis (i.e. it takes too long, not sure if it works, etc…), but this seemed to be the primary reason within our group. So, I shared the 3 primary ways that I personally talk with God.

1. Conversation — This is how most of us view prayer. Simply stopping what we are doing and spending time just sharing with God about our life. Basically, you simply carve out time to be alone with God and talk to him. In Matthew 6, Jesus gives an example of how to pray in this way in what is known as the Lord’s Prayer. As I sit down to pray in this way, I try to remember and acknowledge who God is and how high above me He his. This helps me remember to pray for what he wants to have happen, instead of only focusing on what I want to happen. My favorite part about the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6 is the fact that Jesus prays for His “daily bread”. In essence, he was praying to have his basic needs met. God cares deeply about the little things in your life and he wants to hear about every detail.

2. Meditation — While conversational prayer is both biblical and important, I often find myself doing all the talking in my time with God. I will just sit there and talk and talk and talk, but never really listen. Its funny, because I have a tendency to do this in all of my relationships. God has used a passage in Ecclesiastes 5 to greatly shape how I approach Him. In verses 1 & 2 of that chapter Solomon writes this,

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.”

I have learned that sometimes the best way for me pray is to shut up and listen to for God. Sometimes that means that I read a passage of Scripture and just meditate on it in a way that allows the Holy Spirit to speak. Other times, I simply begin with a statement like, “God, I’m listening” and then leave the rest of the time to Him. Whatever method you use, it is important to remember that God is not impressed with our big words or perfectly articulated prayers. Sometimes, often actually, a few words are best.

3. Ceaseless — This idea, as with both of the above, comes directly out of scripture. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul challenges us to “pray without ceasing”. These words used to really confuse me. I remember thinking “how is it possible to constantly be praying?” Seriously, are we supposed to walk around constantly talking to God and not really pay attention to what is happening around us? However, as I read scripture I began to understand the importance of day by day, hour by hour, and moment by moment dependence on the Holy Spirit. Throughout the New Testament we are reminded that we are not able to produce anything of eternal significance apart from the Holy Spirit’s work in us. As a Christian, the Holy Spirit (God) dwells inside of me. The idea of ceaseless prayer is really an ongoing connection and conversation with the Holy Spirit. Asking Him to guide your words and thoughts throughout the day. Asking Him to direct your response to both good and difficult situations. The hope is that at some point it becomes natural for you and me to confer with the Holy Spirit before making any decision or choice.

My prayer for each of the students within our ministry is that you will learn to enjoy your time with God. That you will want to carve out time in your day to talk to Him. That you will understand the value of just being quiet and listening sometimes. And that you will learn the art of day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment connection with the Living God.

See you Sunday.


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Spiritual Disciplines (Week 2)

Posted by chadharvey on February 21st, 2011 under Spiritual Disciplines Series, Youth Ministry

We are currently in a series discussing 11 essential spiritual disciplines. Check out this post for an introduction to the series.

Scripture

Last week we discussed the importance of being in community as a Spiritual Discipline. This week, we turned our attention to getting to know the One who understands perfect community. We ended our last conversation with this passage out of Ephesians 2:

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…

Paul’s statement provided the perfect closing words on community. Reminding us that we are no longer individuals with no belonging or purpose in this world. Rather, we are citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. The key for this week is the second part of his statement:

… Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the cornerstone.

Christian community is not just about being together and enjoying food. We don’t just gather around similar interestes such as sports or hobbies (even though these are great ways to connect with those outside the household of God), instead our foundation is the truth that God has revealed through the apostles and prophets. That truth is Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world. We gather around Him. Our goal in being together is to know Him deeper and represent Him to those around us more effectively. So the question is, how do we get to know Him?

In Psalm 119:9, we see this question asked another way:

How can a young man keep his way pure?

The Psalmist is asking how can one’s life represent God well? How can one pursue God moment by moment, rather than falling into the habitual sins that stain and scar our existence? In essence, he is asking how can I know God deeply and allow Him to daily transform me into the person He has created me to be? The writer then answers his own question:

By guarding it according to your word.

Your word is a reference to Scripture, the Bible. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, containing 176 verses. Of those 176 verses, only 5 do not contain a direct reference to God’s Word, the Bible. The author is hammering home the point that if we want to know God, we must dive into His Word.

Last night students shared honestly their reasons for neglecting time in the Bible. Some said they were too lazy, others admitted to not understanding most of what they read, a few talked about how boring it can be, and a few didn’t think it was relevant to their life anymore. I can identify with every one of these reasons. Rather than conclude our conversation last night, we chose to leave it open-ended. I issued the following challenge to each of the students. If you are a student, but weren’t able to make last night, the challenge/opportunity is available to you as well.

  • If you don’t own a Bible, let me know and we’ll get you one
  • Read the book of John (at your own pace)
  • Read with the intention of knowing God rather than knowing about God
  • Try to pursue God in the same way John 1 presents God’s pursuit of you and I (leaving heaven for earth)
  • While reading it, use the S.O.A.P method (students last night had an opportunity to practice this, feel free to ask me about it if you have never heard of it)
  • Along with the S.O.A.P method, write down every question you have each day you read
  • When you finish the book of John, I will take you out to lunch and we will go through all your questions
  • If you are connected to one of the Missional Communities, challenge everyone in your group to do this and discuss some of what you are reading when you get together

Last night we tackled one of the heavier passages of the Bible in about 15 minutes using the S.O.A.P method. Just like with most things in life, quality of time is often more important than quantity of time.

Next week we will be looking at prayer as a spiritual discipline. What is prayer? Does it really do anything? How often am I supposed to pray? How do I pray?

It should be a cool night. Have a great week!



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Spiritual Disciplines (Week 1)

Posted by chadharvey on February 16th, 2011 under Spiritual Disciplines Series, Youth Ministry

We are currently in a series discussing 11 essential spiritual disciplines. Check out this post for an introduction to the series.

Community

When we think of spiritual disciplines, most of us jump straight to practices such as prayer, bible reading, and corporate worship. These are definitely spiritual disciplines and we will discuss them in the coming weeks. However, ultimately this study must start with a brief examination of community as a discipline.

At the beginning of youth group we showed this video that we put together earlier in the week. You are welcome to watch it, but to save you the time, it was basically a comical depiction of a dating game show. Each one of the contestants talked about hoping to find love on the show. Your parents are probably old enough to remember the original Dating Game. A more modern approach are the extremely popular shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Honestly, I can’t stand the shows. No I am not taking some moral stand against the series, nor do I think if you watch them that you are in some way less of a human than myself. I just don’t like them. Most of America, however, disagrees with my taste. Each season has captivated audiences and taken over the social media world.

Why do these shows demand the attention of so many people? Why does every great movie, regardless of genre, have some sort of love story? Why is nearly every song written centering around relationships? Why…  because we were designed for love and relationship. Our Creator created us to love and receive love and we will do whatever it takes to experience that. The problem is, love and relationships in this world have been tainted by sin. Love, in our world, is simply a feeling. It is something that you can fall “in” and “out” of. Relationships are viewed as being there for our own benefit. We hangout with people who make us feel good or offer something we want. This perspective on love and relationships is what has lead to a society that is extremely lonely. We are able to connect with people instantly and at all times of the day/night (facebook, cell phones, twitter), yet most people would consider themselves lonely. Our relationships are shallow and short-lived. Where did we go wrong?

In 1 John 4, we read two extremely profound truths:

“God is love… We love because He first loved us.”

Most of us get our picture of what love is and what healthy relationships look like based on pop culture, our family, or our friends. The problem, for the most part, pop culture, our families, and our friends have no idea what either of these crucial elements of human existence are. God not only understands love and relationship, He is love. What does this mean? It means that his love is not based on an emotional feeling or what he is getting out of the relationship. God’s love is not on again, off again… it is a fact. God loves you because that is what He does and who He is. As I said Sunday night, if you do something that is against what God wants for you, He doesn’t go to his room, slam the door, and fall out of love with you. The fact is, he never fell in love with you in the first place. He just loves you. His love is an unconditional love. He just loves you. Period.

Once you understand this first statement, that “God is love”, the idea of us loving “because He first loved us” makes sense. The love that we have to offer on our own will always be selfish, empty, and short-lived. However, as we daily receive the love he has offered to us through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ, we are enabled to love people in a way that is self-less, full, and eternal.

When talking to his disciples shortly before his betrayal and death, Jesus said these words:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Reflecting on this verse, Francis Schaeffer penned these words:

“Our relationship with each other is the criteria the world uses to judge whether our message is truthful—-Christian community is always the final apologetic.”

What Jesus was telling his followers, and what Schaeffer was attempting to expand on, is the reality that in the end perfectly articulated arguments, wonderfully polished defenses, and the most righteous of political stands will never soften a person’s heart toward Jesus as effectively as them witnessing authentic, genuine, loving Christian community.

The world is looking for something real. At epic youth ministries we exist to invite students and families out of the status quo into relationship and mission with Jesus and one another. Our newly adopted tagline is “Be a part of something real.” This starts with being in a community of people who love Jesus, love each other, and love the lost.

The spiritual discipline of community is vital to your growth as a follower of Christ. If you hope to sustain the fire we discussed in the last post, you must be around other believers. When starting a fire, you don’t throw one log out there and try to light it up. It requires other wood, kindling, to help start the flame and sustain it. The truth is, a lone log loses its flame. We must intentionally choose to live in community with other believers for the sake of our own growth and our effectiveness in reaching those outside the kingdom of God.

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the cornerstone.”  – Ephesians 2:19, 20

Next week we will be discussing the spiritual discipline of spending time in the Bible. Between now and then I would encourage you to read John 13 – 17 and consider joining one of our missional communities if you have yet to do so.

Regardless of where you are at this week, know this, the leaders of this ministry love you unconditionally, because God first loved us.



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Introduction to Spiritual Disciplines

Posted by chadharvey on February 15th, 2011 under Youth Ministry

We kicked off Sunday night youth group this past Sunday. It was a cool time of laughing, eating, being together, worshipping Jesus, and beginning the first discussion in a series on Spiritual Disciplines.

Most people, including myself, do not like the word “discipline”. It often comes across as a negative term. However, the opposite is actually true. Disciplines are simply the practices that train a person for a purpose (my definition). If you are football player, you will spend time in the gym, on the field, and around your teammates. When I discipline my daughter, I am not doing it to be mean, but rather to help her learn what is safe and polite behavior. In the same way, Spiritual Disciplines are intentionally developed habits that refocus us on Jesus, connect us with the Holy Spirit, and remind us of the Father’s mission in this world. Jesus refers to these habits as “abiding” in John 15:5 when He says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

If you have been a Christian for 6 months or more you have experienced the “spiritual high” that often occurs after we are involved in an event with a great a speaker, or service project helping others, or even a great time of worship. What happens with these “spiritual highs” (or as Trevor likes to call it, “Jesus weed”), is that we are stoked to live for Jesus and His kingdom for about a week… then real life hits and we fall right back into our normal routine. People who are experiencing these times are often referred to as being “on fire for God”. The goal of spiritual disciplines is to help you and I sustain that fire for Jesus and His kingdom.

Over the next few months we will exploring eleven spiritual disciplines. My prayer is not that these will become new categories on your check list of to do’s, but rather they will become natural pieces of your everyday life. My prayer is that you will grow in Jesus like never before and minister to those around you in fruitful ways.

See ya Sunday.


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Youth Pastors, Is it Worth it?

Posted by chadharvey on November 8th, 2010 under Family, Life, Ministry, Youth Ministry

I’ve been a youth pastor for 5 years. There has rarely been a week that has gone by without me thinking what it would be like to go back to my old job as a financial advisor. Seriously, ask my wife. She has heard me ask the question, “Is it worth it” more times than she could probably count… and she can count high, she’s a teacher. She has become the ultimate sounding board for my bipolar approach to God’s call on my life. The it, who’s worth I question, manifests itself in a multitude of ways.

I remember when I first realized the Holy Spirit was leading me into youth ministry. Jess and I would discuss what it would be like for me to be in full-time ministry (occupational). We’d talk about the time commitment and the financial sacrifice. We’d discuss the importance of keeping our family ahead of the ministry. We even talked about Jess’ role within the ministry. We felt we were prepared for whatever could come our way.

However, we never discussed what it would be like to get a phone call at one o’clock in the morning because a student had been kicked out of their house and had nowhere to go. We never prepared ourselves for the stories of abuse we would hear, regularly. I never considered the first time I’d have to tell a student that her dad had passed away (and follow that up with three more similar conversations over the next six months). It never occurred to me that parents would look to me for guidance as their kids spiraled into dangerous rebellion. I never thought that I’d be the one providing comfort as a mother sat next to her son’s hospital bed. It never crossed my mind that even though I would pour my life into these students in an effort to help them see God’s incredible love for them, many would choose to walk away and reject the Gospel. The idea that a student would steadily grow in their faith throughout their years in high school only to compromise everything they believe after graduating, was foreign to me. And the reality that many parents in the church are actually poor examples to their children and fail to raise them in light of the Gospel, seemed crazy.

I guess, when I’m really honest, I wasn’t prepared for the pain. I wasn’t prepared to struggle with sleep for days and weeks, because of what was happening in student’s lives. I didn’t think about how hard it would be to come home to my daughter and play with her as if everything was okay, while families were being destroyed and kids were hurting. I underestimated the effect this calling would have on my marriage.

I know that I am not the only youth pastor that has been forced to confront these realities. I also know that many have dealt with them to a much a greater degree than myself.

So, is it worth it?

As I reflect on this question, I wonder if I had known everything I know now, would I have chose this? If I knew it would be hard and painful and not all about games and baptisms… would I have still said yes to God’s call? Honestly, I don’t know.

In Matthew 9 we see Jesus traveling throughout cities and villages, teaching and healing people. As He was walking with His disciples, His eyes became fixed on the crowds of people and verse 36 offers this insight:

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

This is a very familiar verse. We love it because it speaks of Jesus’ compassion towards people. However, we often overlook the irony in this passage. Jesus saw a crowd and felt compassion, later a crowd would see Jesus and shout, “crucify him!” (Matthew 27:22, 23). Jesus knew what His future held. He knew that these people, and all people, would cause Him great pain. Yet He had compassion on them, He would go to the cross for them, He loved them… because to Jesus, it was worth it.

This passage has always been both a great challenge and encouragement to me. It is a challenge to follow in the footsteps of my Savior as someone who has compassion on a broken and hurting crowd regardless of its effect on me. It is also encouraging to know that I don’t have to follow Him up the cross. He went there for me, because I too am a member of that crowd. No matter how heavy or painful things can get, He can handle it and has told me to put it on Him. My job is simply to follow Him to the foot of the cross… and then to the empty grave.

Ultimately, yeah, it is worth it. If you are a youth pastor (and you are doing your job) it will be difficult. You can choose to be like the majority and walk away. You can choose to try to carry it all yourself and end up bitter and tired. Or, you can recognize the honor it is to have this call on your life, rest in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, embrace the power and strength found in His resurrection, and preach the Gospel boldly.

You see, before I said yes to God I didn’t necessarily count the cost. However, every time I consider walking away I am not accurately viewing the reward. I have had the privilege of watching families reconciled, people healed, students’ saved, and much more – I’ve had a front row seat to God’s miracles.

If you are a youth pastor, know this: it is absolutely worth it.


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Trinity Message Intro

Posted by chadharvey on September 13th, 2010 under Ministry, Youth Ministry


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