Monday, July 15, 2013

Don't Baptize Students at Camp!

With summer in full swing and thousands of churches heading off to camp lives are going to be changed.  Students are signing up for camp the first day of registration, they are inviting their friends to come to a life changing experience and they are excited for what God is going to do.  Leaders are taking time off of work to pack a bag, sleep in an uncomfortable bed, eat some decent food and expecting God to move in students lives.  Parents have saved all year, they are writing checks, signing paperwork and doing late night trips to Target to make sure their child has everything they need for camp.  Youth pastors have worked hard, created videos to promo camp, invited students who are far from Jesus and are praying for God to move this summer.

It happens all too often.  Camp is going great.  The message from the speaker hits home in a students life.  There is a lake and someone just read Matthew 28:19-20.  Unfortunately, this summer, a youth pastor will take an unforgettable moment away from a parent.  A well intentioned leader will thoughtlessly tell a student they should be baptized.  A student will beg their pastor to baptize them in the location where they re-dedicated their life to Christ.  

In my almost decade of student ministries I never once baptized students at summer camp!

You may think this is a crazy statement to make but I think its a compassionate reality.  Here's why:

Involve Parents in Spiritual Moments
When baptizing students at camp we alienate their parents from being involved in spiritual moments of their life affirming the misconception their student(s) don't need them.  When Rachel calls her mom on the way home from camp and tells her she was baptized mom has her smile on but her heart drops.  Rachel's mom wants to be there with her baby for these spiritual milestones.

Invite Non-Christian Friends
When you wait till your home to baptize students you get an exponential increase for your student ministry.  See when you baptize Rachel at camp she doesn't get an opportunity to invite her 5 non-Christian friends to celebrate with her.  Now multiply that by the 12 students you just baptized and 60 students in your community are now at your church hearing stories of changed lives. BOOM!

Plan a Baptism Ahead
(Students we baptized after our last summer camp)
The best way to solve this problem (my words) is to plan ahead.  Before you leave for camp work with your lead pastor and plan a baptism.  While you're at camp tell your leaders about this upcoming baptism.  After your students give their life to Christ for the first time or decide to re-up their relationship encourage them to get baptized when they get home.  Now you get to have your church involved in their lives, their parents there and they get to invite their friends you may have never met!  

Look at all these wins you get by planning ahead.  The win you may not have seen is people in your church are going to hear the stories of life change and want to be involved with what God is doing in your student ministry.  If you already baptized students at camp this year don't worry, there's always next year.

What do you think? 

Monday, July 08, 2013

CPC Foster City /// Staff Fun

Since arriving at Central Peninsula Church I've made it my mission to help our Foster City staff feel like a team.  There are a few ways I've done this but one main way has been by getting our team doing team things.

Within my first month we did an off-site lunch; something like this hadn't been done in a while.  We loaded up the church vans (yep, I put a bunch of adults in church vans) and headed to a classy restaurant by the name of IN-N-OUT.  This was a great time for everyone to have lunch, laugh and we kept it cheap.

The first time doing something like this can be the easiest, it takes time to make the next ones worth the team's while.  I pulled a page from the playbook of my mentor and our next few team lunches were brown bag in our JH room.  My mentor has shared this idea with me while I was in Vegas as a way to help leaders connect and gain team mindset.

After winter had passed it was time to get the team out for lunch and doing something fun.  Thankfully our Lead Pastor is fiercely competitive and has been bragging about his bocce ball skills!  In early June we headed over to the Foster City bocce ball courts for a bocce lunch.

We slotted a Thursday, a day everyone is in the office, and took our lunch hour.  We meet in the church lobby 15 minutes before lunch to make sure we were all there.  After everyone's accounted for we packed in four cars and drove over to the courts.  Charity, my wife, brought the girls over so they would have some time with our staff also.  This was a huge win having our family there to spend time with our team and it gives our team some time to see I interact with my family.  

The competition was pretty fierce!  We had some good throws and with our Lead Pastor being undefeated it increased the competition level.  Since this was my first time playing bocce ball I wasn't the best person to have on your team.  I did love watching our team bring out the rope to measure and see who was the closest to the ball!

Obviously it isn't about the competition or bocce ball or what we brought in our lunch bag.  The goal is to unite as a team.  I want to work with a group of people who are radically committed to Christ and each other. We have some very capable, qualified, people on this team and our Elders have called me to lead this team.

The reason we have brown bag lunches and play bocce ball is because I believe: the team that plays together stays together 

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

CPC Houseboats /// Fishing

Last weekend I was blessed to spend the weekend on Lake Shasta with my family.  We had a blast (even though it felt like being back in Vegas it was so hot).

Over the weekend we participated in one of my favorite things to do as a kid: fishing!  I brought the girls barbie poles and we were ready to land the big one.  Each morning one of our adult leaders took my family out, on his boat, to go bass fishing.  I'm pretty stoked my little girls enjoy fishing with me.

The big question always comes up when you go fishing: did you catch anything?  I can confess I didn't catch anything.... but Sophie and Leah each landed two fish (i may have helped them).

Each morning I put on my sunscreen and the girls put on their life vests to head out on the lake.  To make the trip even better Charity came out with us (she caught a tan).  Leah was a great help the whole trip.  She quickly found out how fun it was to net the fish (I was a little scared she may fall in but she never did).

After Sophie saw how fun it was to net the fish she wanted in on the action.  They would take turns reeling in the fish and netting them; it was too cute.

I'm always going to look back on this fishing experience with our girls as so much fun.  I'm thankful they want to hang out with me.  I'm thankful they enjoy fishing!  I'm thankful we only went out for about 30-60 minutes each of the two mornings; any longer and my girls may hate fishing.  I'm most thankful for Jon taking us out and letting us use his equipment; we had a great time fishing on the houseboat adventure.

* We released all of the fish the girls caught; we even kissed some to say we're sorry

Monday, July 01, 2013

CPC Houseboats /// Fun

Last weekend I was invited to speak at our church's houseboat summer camp for high school students.  Honestly I've spoken at a few camps but this was a treat to speak for my own church!  I also was able to bring my family with me so this post is dedicated to some of the fun we had on the first day of our houseboat adventure.

We arrived at the dock around 2:30pm and headed to find our boat.  As we walked the line of boats Sophie didn't pick a boat out quickly; she actually saw a huge boat at the end of the dock and decided she wanted to drive the biggest one.  Unfortunately we didn't rent the big boat so I convinced her we needed to find our own boat.

We headed back down the dock and chose boat #91.  After exploring around the boat Sophie and I decided we needed to explore the roof.  The boat was pretty much like an RV on the water with a ladder to the roof.  Since it was a chilly 90+ degrees we obviously didn't stay up top too long.  I love this picture Charity took of us!  I love seeing Sophie smile this big and pose for a picture with me.  I really needed time with my family and the houseboat adventure was the perfect way to get it!

After all the students arrived, the boat drivers were prepped and we were sweaty we headed off!  I'm going to guess it took us a good 2 hours to arrive at the cove we stayed in.  I think it would have taken us less time to arrive there if one of our boats didn't die in the middle of the lake!

Before the boat dying I taught the girls how to drive the boat; by that I mean I told them you don't just turn the wheel in any direction you like.

Leah hung out on my lap and drove the boat for about 2 minutes; I'm guessing Sophie lasted a little longer.  I really enjoyed spending these fun little moments with my kids.  I love getting a chance to minister while hanging out with my family.  I enjoy being able to teach my girls little life lessons while we smile and enjoy the heat!