Farewell, Summer 2012

I just realized it has been over a month since my last post. But in good news the prospectus draft has been turned in, we have figured out some of my health issues, and Sam is continuing to grow too fast.

 This summer has been one of the more interesting ones for me. The biggest thing was I took off the entire summer from teaching. That’s right, for almost 3 months on Wednesday nights I sat in the back running Keynote slides. Last night was the final night I had a student fill in for me. I’m very proud of them, about a dozen through the summer took the challenge. This is definitely something we’ll look at doing again next summer. In case you think I was being lazy (which some people no doubt did), here’s what the process looked like:

  1. Meet with me to discuss passage. This would usually take an hour and a half and we would barely get the outline sketched out. And for me most of my time was spent as the “spotter” to keep them from dropping the weight on their head. Students did most of the leg work, I would come in with suggestions or feedback to help their thinking.
  2. The first part, after reading and re-reading the passage several times, was to come up with a “Message in a sentence” that would serve as a thesis statement. In other words, when they got done teaching, what is the ONE thing they wanted the rest of the group to walk away with?
  3. Then we’d figure out how to outline and organize the passage. Sometimes this was easy, other times it was not. We would labor over the text to try to figure out not only what it was saying but also how and why
  4. Finally we would begin the process of setting up the “teaching outline.” This would be the information they would take up with them and place on the podium to teach with. Often this was different from the text outline because it needed to be concise, clear, and organized. Exposition people, don’t freak out, the one thing I kept reinforcing was “let the text do the talking, don’t add something it doesn’t say.”
  5. From this point their homework was to take their teaching outline and come up with their T-I-A. Truth, Illustration, Application. Each point had a statement, a claim, a proposition. This was the fact, the truth to convey. But each truth needed to be supplemented with an illustration, a story, a meaningful way of capturing the truth. And then it had to have an application, answer the “so what?” In light of the truth, what should students do?

This was an incredible exercise to watch as shy and timid students would put in their time to come up with an outline, and then present it very maturely. Carrie and I were impressed at how seriously the students took this task. It was an encouragement to me while helping them prepare to see them ask hard questions of the text and try to wrap around not only what their passage said but how it related to the whole of Scripture. Dr. Goldsworthy, you would be proud!

But this exercise also opened up some great opportunities for me to be able to prioritize my time in other ways this summer. These are some of the things I was able to do by not having to prepare a message every week:

  1. Simplify – Instead of spinning our wheels trying to do everything, I took a lot of time this summer to really think about what matters most to fulfill our mission of raising up godly and mature adults from our student ministry. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that those three things are: Comprehensive Bible Teaching, Leadership Development, and Missions Engagement. Also, instead of trying to compete with our students’ busy schedules, we’ve scaled back on what we do in order to maximize not only participation but excitement about those activities.
  2. Read – Leaders are readers, so I set out this summer to digest as much as I could on leadership, youth ministry, and engaging the Millennial culture. It was a huge investment but on the tail end of it the result was a deeper heart for seeing this generation of young people recognize their providential circumstances and take advantage of them for the fame of Christ
  3. Networking – I’ve been able to build strong bonds with a couple other student pastors in the area. So much so that we’ve decided to partner together to engage our community through a gathering of students on See You At The Pole day in September. We’ve also been able to encourage and build up one another through our trials, victories, and the labor of ministry.
  4. Connecting – We took several days this summer and did some low-key events, which provided an awesome opportunity to connect with our students. It’s really special what can come from sharing a milkshake with a student and getting to talk to them about their life, faith, and dreams.
  5. Rest – This summer I’ve also had mounting health concerns with what we called “The Mystery Illness” that really hampered my ability to be productive. Since we moved here I would be laid up periodically with a really high fever, bed-rest, and exhaustion for a few days. And in between those it felt like chronic fatigue. So this summer I tried to rest a little more, to not push so hard that I was worthless when I crashed.
  6. Vision Cast – Where are we going? How do we get there? What is the point? These are all questions I’ve brainstormed, sketched, and prayed through. This fall I’ll work with my student leaders and my adult volunteer team (who are an absolute God-send!) to formulate our vision for student ministry.
  7. Writing – I started blogging a bit more, I put together a journal article that’s awaiting publication, and I’ve gotten connected with a student ministry blog where I’ve gotten to guest post. I have little to offer in light of eternity and experience, but it has been a nice outlet to spend some more time putting thoughts down on paper. 

So now that this summer has come to an end, I’m excited to return to regular teaching, to developing not only our student leaders but the two college students who have a desire for ministry, and to lead students to engage in missions to both the nations and their neighbors.

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