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saying good buy to my first blog

January 20, 2011

this was a place where i first started to collect my writing and learn how to blog.  but i am in the process of transferring these articles to my regurlar blog.  thanks for being part of the experiment.

http://averageyouthminstry.com

write away!

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swimming: equipping adolescents for a lifetime of personal records

December 14, 2010

http://www.distanceswimming.com/featured/swimming-equipping-adolescents-for-a-lifetime-of-personal-records/

As someone who has worked with adolescents for the past 15 years, I am impressed with the consistency of character that comes for the students who participate in competitive, year round swimming. I am a student ministry pastor at a local church and have had students from just about every walk of life come through our program at one time or another. And as these different sub groups of youth culture come and go, I have noticed a unique difference in the character of the students who are competitive swimmers.

Extra curricular activities provide many benefits. Whether it is being in the top five percent academically, band, the arts or team sports, students learn many valuable lessons. But swimming has a unique culture that is not found in these other activities and provides something more significant than just lessons. The culture of a competitive swim team offers four things that are vital to the emotional well being and character development of adolescents that are difficult to facilitate in any other venue. Swimming provides family, discipline, forced quiet and an environment for self improvement.

Swimming creates family: Just about every competitive swimmer I have talked to and know sees their swim team as their second family. It doesn’t seem to matter the geography, the economics or even the coaching. Something within the very DNA of the sport creates a sense of family. The amount of time together combined with the mutual encouragement as swimmers develop and compete allows students to feel like they are a part of something bigger then themselves and have a place to belong. And when the coach expands their view and facilitates a healthy and caring environment, this sense of family and commitment multiplies.

Swimming develops discipline: Nothing about swimming is natural. We are land animals, designed to live and thrive above the water. Swimming takes a set of skills that have to be learned and perfected. Then these skills need to be practiced and made into second nature if there is any chance of swimming on a competitive level. The rigorous schedule weeds out the faint of heart, and those who remain develop the mental and physical discipline needed to participate in this sport. And because this is a year round endeavor, most swimmers have developed the discipline needed to master their personal schedule and the emotional discipline of self-motivation.

Swimming forces quiet: Where in the life of a student is there quiet? From the time they wake up until they fall asleep, they are bombarded with noise and distraction. Some of this is important and needed like school, and much of it is created by the students themselves. It is rare to come across a student who is not plugged in to their iPod. For the duration of swim practice, students are forced to live with just their thoughts and nothing else. This forced quiet allows students to discipline their thinking, to reflect on their lives and to quiet their hearts. Students need to be alone with their thoughts for proper development and lap after lap provides just that.
Swimming teaches students to strive to beat their personal record: Just about every swimmer knows that they are not competing for a shot at the Olympics or for a trophy or a ribbon. Swimmers don’t even really compete to be the best team in their area. Although competitive swimming has all of these elements, what makes this sport unique is that most swimmers are constantly swimming to beat their PR, personal record. Every part of the practice and the competitions themselves center around swimmers striving for this personal goal. And when these personal records are broken, the swim team family celebrates. Swimming offers a place for everyone on the team to compete and have their effort matter. It is not just the top swimmers that are important and need to push themselves; every swimmer is important and every swimmer’s race matters, because every race is a chance to prove that all that hard work is paying off when they crush their personal record.

The very nature of the adolescent world is chaotic and unsafe. Competitive swimming offers a gift in the unique benefits it brings to the lives of students who participate. Their team is their family, they develop a disciplined life, they are forced to live with their thoughts and they are continually striving to be their best, not the best. And the combination of all of this develops strong character and confidence in the lives of students.

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Advent: What Are We Really Getting Ready For?

November 29, 2010

http://www.youthworker.com/youth-lessons-bible-study/youth-bible-study/11642062/

There is something magical about the Christmas season. From Thanksgiving on, people spend a significant amount of their free time and extra money preparing for one day. There are cookies to bake, cards to send, music to listen to, houses to decorate, and gifts to buy. After a month of build up, Christmas finally comes. After a month of building expectations, it is next to impossible to have them met. If you are like me, I have grown tired of not having them met, so I have mastered the art of managing expectations. Don’t get wrong, I love Christmas and I love the cookies, but I am very careful to let my heart get all in, because having your expectations crushed can be one of the most painful things in the world.

It is so easy to be jaded when our expectations are dashed, that most of us don’t even realize that it has happened. Every year that goes buy you find your self saying more and more often that it just doesn’t seem to feel like the holidays. However, ever now and then you bump into someone, usually a kid, who could not be more excited for Christmas, or their birthday, or Disneyland, or summer, or whatever. It is usually through the eyes of kids that we get a picture of a life that is really great and worth living.

What has happened over the course of the years to make our heats numb? I think the answer has something to do with self preservation, with protecting our hearts at all cost, and in the process our hearts get even more damaged. I know I am not alone in experiences pain and heartbreak. I am not the first person to have their hopes built up high only to have them crushed. Because it is so painful to have our expectations not met, we gradually lower them until we expect very little if anything from anyone anymore, including God.

But this is not the way we were designed to live. It is our expectations that allow us to live life to the fullest. This Christmas season I highly recommend that you watch Christmas vacation starring Chevy Chase. The entire movie is a about a man who never lets go of his expectations. Every event, every moment is a high light and needs to be shared. Even the arrival of his brother in law adds to the narrative of hosting the best family Christmas ever. There is something naive about his character and it is easy to mock him for these expectations, but at the same time we are drawn to him as a person and impressed with his love towards his family. Even his apathetic teenaged kids know their dad loves them.

When we have expectations our hearts are quickened and we are on alert for things to happen, for things to be special. And the same is true in our walk with Jesus. Isn’t it amazing that kids always come back from camps and mission trips profoundly impacted by the Holy Spirit. Part of it is the trip, but the truth is our camps and trips are pretty average. But what isn’t average is that for the month or two leading up to these trips, we have special meetings, special fund raising, and special lessons all preparing for an amazing trip. And after several months of preparing for an amazing trip what happens, we have an amazing trip. Even the kids who threw up the entire week all talk about what an amazing trip it was.

It is one thing to be jaded by the Christmas season. But it is devastating when we become jaded in our faith. This last month I had the pleasure of being in a meeting with several youth pastors to plan our winter camp. For me, this is old hat. I was mostly enjoying an excuse to have coffee with friends. But a brand new youth worker at the table could not contain her excitement about winter camp. She shared stories from last year where kids gave their hearts to Jesus and how excited she was to be on the planning team for such an important event. On my drive home I came to a scary reality, I had become jaded. But thankfully, God used our time together to refresh my soul, and to build a new sense of expectation.

Expectations are not an accidental thing. God as an integral part of our faith development gives them to us. Expectations are what open our eyes and ears to the movement of God. The entire redemptive history found in scripture is filled with people expectant for God to provide children, free them, save them, bless them. And the culmination is the expectant coming of the messiah, and his return.

Advent is not really about preparing our houses for the Christmas season. Advent is about raising our expectations for the messiah to come. I think it is true that Jesus not only loves the world, but also loves you and me on an intimate level and desires to impact our lives. (At least this is what I teach our students) a jaded heart can never hear the still and small voice of God or see the subtle ways in which he seems to often move. An expectant heart is continually straining its eyes and ears for the movement of God, and even the slightest movement increases our faith and causes us to strain even more.

I am pretty tired of having such low expectations of Jesus. So, this advent I am going to add a rule of life to this season. It is pretty simple, but I am expectant for it to rock my world.

1) In the morning ask God to show up, and expect that he will.
2) And in the evening, reflect on the day and the places he did.

A poet in the 1850’s named Alfred Lord Tennyson penned the famous line, “it is better to have loved and lost, then to never have loved at all.” Tennyson got that life happens in the living of it, and this advent I want this to be true for me also. I so want God to show up and have at it with me, and I am going to expect that he will. For, I would rather expect that he would show up and wrestle with the awkwardness and disappointment of when it looks differently, then to be numb and jaded to working of the Holy Spirit and miss out on the coming of Jesus!

Advent: be expectant, because Jesus is coming!

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student minstry is a stepping-stone!

November 13, 2010

Don’t you just hate it when people look at student ministry as a stepping-stone? How dare someone take our calling and belittle it to a mere hoop to jump through. I have had heated and passionate conversations with many colleagues around this topic, and as I write this today, most of those people have done just that. They used to be in student ministry and have stepped into another calling. The problem is, at the core of our being, we fear that it might actually be true, student ministry really is a stepping-stone.

For many young people who sense a call into ministry, student ministry is the only real place for someone to work out their call. As a recent college graduate there is only one option to explore vocational ministry, and it is with students. I have yet to see a church hire a 22 year old pastor of spiritual formation, or teaching pastor, or small groups pastor. But many churches would love to hire a 22 year old to work with their students.

And the truth is that student ministry is a great place to explore a calling into ministry. In this job you realize that ministry is complex and challenging. You begin to understand the emotional and spiritual weight of walking through life and working out issues of faith with people. You also begin to realize that a call into ministry involves paperwork, politics, budgets, and bosses. And through the graciousness of God, if you can make it through the church’s version of hell week, then you might be called into vocational ministry.

The greatest gift about vocational ministry is that whatever your unique passion is, whatever context gets you the most excited, and whatever unique gifts and talents you bring to the table, there is a place for you to serve in the Church. Student ministry is only one, very small slice of what this call to vocational ministry could look like.

It makes sense that so many people view student ministry as a stepping stone, because that is what is happening. Many people are using student ministry as a place to being exploring this call. And as God clarifies their call, many people move on to be faithful to the new place where God leads. Many of my colleagues have left student ministry to be church planters, associate pastors, heads of non prophets, teachers, and even a mailman.

For me, it wasn’t until I had turned 30 and completed my M.Div. that I actually felt called to student ministry. It was the first time in my life that I had many doors open to me in the ministry world, and of all the options, student ministry was the place where God wanted me to stay. But for me, and I would guess even for you, student ministry still is just a stepping-stone. Will I be doing this when I am 40, 50, 60? Only Steve Pace can say yes to this, and I bet that even Steve would see his role in student ministry dramatically different than he did in his 30’s and even his 40’s.

The fundamental issues is not whether or not student ministry is a stepping-stone, but it is rather, are we being faithful to listen to God and obey his calling. The psalmist says that God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. I am pretty sure that we are only supposed to see one or two stones at a time and we walk along this path of calling. If we get too hung up on this stepping-stone business then we will miss out on opportunities that God might have for us, and worse, crush the calling God may have on our colleagues.

May we fully live out our calling to students while we are on this stone. And when the voice of God calls us, or our fellow youth workers, into an another area of service, we will gladly and faithfully go wherever that is. For the glory and honor of Jesus Christ. (Today, I am glad that it is still on the student ministry stone!)

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your students are not developmentally ready to live missionaly.

November 9, 2010

I think baseball is an amazing sport. On the surface, it is a simple game, hitting and fielding. But the more you dive into the game, the more you see the deep strategy, pitch selection, and the never ending statistics. Since my dream of becoming a professional baseball player didn’t pan out, I am now putting that pressure on my son. So, this last spring we signed him up for his first season of T-ball. It is quite an entertaining sight to watch a group of 5 year olds learning the game of baseball. The first season of T-ball is just that, learning the very basics. By the end of the season, this kids mostly know their positions, the direction to run around the bases, how to hit a ball off a T, and that is about it. But the foundation has been laid and a trajectory set for these kids to become legitimate baseball players and for my son to fulfill my dream of playing in the Bigs!

But, even more than my son playing professional baseball, my dream for him is to be a godly man who loves Jesus. And as he loves Jesus, to live a life that reflects that love in his personal life. As his personal life reflects his love for Jesus to live “within the culture as a missionary who is as faithful to the Father an his gospel as Jesus was in his own time and place.”

My dream is that my son would mature in his faith and live a life that is missional.

Missional Living is truly advanced Christianity. It is advanced because it assumes the foundations of the faith are firmly established. It assumes that we have our identity firmly set in Christ. It assumes a biblical world view, which means that we have a base understanding of scripture. It assumes that our lives reflect the hope and transformation that happens when we grow in Christ. With this foundation of faith firmly set, we can then differentiate ourselves from our culture, we can think abstractly and wrestle with issues of contextualization so we can be faithful to the gospel message in our time and place, just like Jesus was in his time and place. With this abstract thinking we are ready to take our personal faith and our cultural understanding and live as missionaries to our context where we can communicate the good news of Jesus with both our words and deeds.

This advanced form of Christianity is a needed direction for the Church to go. I have been so encouraged by the books and blogs that I have read, the conversations I have had with my colleagues, and even by the conversations among our church’s leadership. Living a missional life, getting outside ourselves and the walls of the church, is exactly what we need to be doing to reach our communities for Christ. While I agree with that this is the trajectory of the church, and the needed direction for our churches, the issue is how much of this our students can digest.

Everyone from Chap Clark to Time Magazine has been saying with a unified voice that adolescents is taking decades longer then the generations that preceded them. What is taking so long is the ability to answer three significant questions regarding their identity. In the book Starting Right, the author says that these key questions are; Who am I? Do I matter? How do I relate to others?

At the very same time that it is taking longer and longer for students to mature, many youth workers are wrestling with how to give this advanced form of Christianity to people who can’t even answer with any certainty question one about who they are, let alone even begin to answer the final question about how they relate to others. While the church needs to have these conversations, it is vital that those of us who work with students don’t put our spiritual journey onto our students. What we are learning and they ways we are working out our faith has to be different than that of the 15 year old boy in our student ministry.

In the student ministry world “milk” has gotten a bad rap. It is true that in Hebrews the author lays into the congregation for still drinking milk. But for real babies, that is what they need to drink. The rub comes when they should be eating solid food and are still drinking milk. I think high school, and certainly middle school students, are not at all ready for steak. This isn’t a put down. If we are honest and take a look at our average student in our ministry we would also agree that our students are not ready for this advanced form of Christianity. They have no idea who they are, or if they matter, or even how to relate to others because of their identity.

Our students are fragmented in their thinking and in their living. At church and with their church friends they live one way, and at school with their school friends they live another. And for some of our students who are blessed to have overlap with these worlds, it appears that they are ready for more, but really they just have a great community while they continue to work out their identity. Working out their identity is the key. And their identity has to be differentiated from their parents’ identity, their peers’ identity, and even their youth group’s identity. This means that who they are and the faith they have and are going to live out is all formed and worked out during this middle season of adolescents.

This brings us back to the original point that students, mid-adolescents, are not ready to live missionaly. They need to work out the fundamentals of their identity and faith by differentiating it from others. It is only after this is done that they are ready to engage their culture in any sort of meaningfully missional way.

My son’s T-ball season is more similar to student ministry then I thought. You see, T-ball is teaching the fundamentals, it is painting the picture of what real baseball will be like. His coaches don’t just give them the age appropriate version of baseball mechanics, they give them age appropriate version of baseball. And this is the delicate balance we need to give our students. We don’t make them have a faith they aren’t ready for, and we don’t baby them with giving them a faith for just where they are at. We give them an age appropriate faith that points to what a mature faith should look like.

Here are a couple of thoughts as we move forward to allowing space for our students to be where they are developmentally, while painting a picture of what healthy mature faith looks like:

  1. We model steak eating Christianity in our own lives. This means that, as adult leaders, we live lives of purpose. Lives where we have a personal and social righteousness, lives where we love mercy, do justly, and walk humbly with our God. And these lives are lived out missionaly, firmly planted in our cultural context.
  2. We communicate a Christianity that is missional in our words and deeds. This means that even though our students aren’t developmentally ready to do this, we help them develop the habits of missional living. Just like my son practicing running bases and throwing the ball to first base doesn’t fully matter in T-ball, but it is vital in baseball. In the same way we do these fundamentals with our students. We take them on mission trips, we do acts of service and compassion, and we partner with organizations who work for justice.
  3. We do this in an age appropriate manner. And for this age, our focus should be on identity formation, not identity application. We have to help students figure out who they are and how they matter before we put them to work. If they are just doing the motions without a clear identity, they will struggle with how their faith is any different than the Lions Club or Rotary or Habitat for Humanity. We live missionaly because we have been redeemed and transformed by the power of Jesus Christ, and this is the hope that is the foundation for any sort of missional living.

Let us not put our developmental issues on our students. We need to be missional, we need to push our churches to be missional, but our students need to understand who they are and who they are in Christ before we push them to be missinal. May Jesus, who is so faithful and uses all our feeble attempts, continue to woo, redeem and transform our students so that He may use them to missionaries in their context.

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If your student likes nelly, then she will like . . .

October 29, 2010

http://www.youthworker.com/youth-ministry-resources-ideas/youth-ministry/11640567/

For the longest time, I have tried really hard to relate to students. I have known that music was a very powerful gateway, and if I just had a little guidance then I would be able to relate to them, to understand them, and be able speak their language. But even more than relating, I would be able to influence their musical diet and help them transition into artists that would help them develop spiritually as well. Year after year I would buy curriculum that would help me “understand” my students and would be able to point them to “appropriate” choices. And as I did this, year after year, I realized that this attempt to understand youth culture actually did a disservice to me, my students, and my calling as a youth worker.

When we look to some outside person, group, curriculum, author to tell us about our culture, we are actually embracing a false reality. There might have been a time when there was a youth culture. But that time is no more. Even in our small youth group we have students from different versions of youth culture together in one room creating our own unique culture. Because there is no one, two, or even three versions of youth culture, we can not rely totally on outside voices to speak into our lives and equip us to do the heavy lifting in our context. It might be time to put that resource back on the shelf and do some hard work.

We need to first swallow the tough medicine that there is not one unified culture, one way to meet kids’ needs, one model of student ministry that will work for us. We live in a fractured culture where there are millions of options to define us, and every option defines us in different ways. In order to understand how to meet the specific needs of the students we work with, we have to figure out the specific context we find ourselves in.

What is the context we find our selves:
Where do we live? Urban, suburban, rural?
What are the economic conditions? Rich, poor, depressed, generous, stingy?
What is the spiritual climate? Are people churched or unchurched? Pro, Neutral, Anti Christian?
What kind of church do you work in? Evangelical, Mainline, Catholic, Pentecostal?
Who is your church in your community? The leader, the follower, the biggest, the smallest?

By just figuring out our location, we see that there are already a variety of issues and needs that will need to be addressed and will need to be addressed differently depending on where we live. But these questions only get us part of the way. This just gives us a broad picture of where we find ourselves. Within this unique context we have our fractured youth culture with an entirely new set of questions.

Who are the student in our ministry and in our community:
What is their family background? Strong family, broken family, really broken family?
What kind of resources do they have? Huge allowances, part time jobs?
What activities are they involved in? Sports, band, art, service, video games?
What is their spiritual background? Churched families or unchurched families?
What are your specific students main needs? Felt, unfelt, spiritual?

With just a cursory look at the actual place you are called to do ministry and the specific students to whom you are called, you can see that there is no way a boxed curriculum or author or speaker can tell you what your students needs are or how best to meet them. But we do have an example from scripture of someone who understood their unique context and unique sets of people within that context. The apostle Paul was a master at this.

In In Acts 13, Paul finds himself in a synagogue in Pisidian Antioch. In this Jewish community Paul easily retells the story of God’s faithfulness to his people; God rescuing the people of Israel from Egypt, giving them the law of Moses, conquering Canaan, and establishing a king, King David. And although David died, Jesus, his decedent, rose from the dead and conquered sin and death, and offers the forgiveness and justification the law of Moses was unable to do.

In Acts 17, Paul finds himself in a completely different context. Now he is in the middle of a Gentile city, surrounded by pagan idols. The story of the people of Israel have no touch points in this context. Paul’s personal testimony of persecuting the Jews, or the heartbreak of his ministry doesn’t matter to the people of Athens. And instead of Paul relying on his own history, his own experiences, or his own expression of faith, Paul taps into a larger gospel story, one that will be received in this unique context.

During his time in Athens, Paul notices the religiosity of the people and uses their idol worship as a thin place to share Jesus. He capitalizes on one of the temples and uses a known poet as a hook and then shares how this mysterious and unknown God has been made known by Jesus his son whom he rose from the dead. And although a revival didn’t break out in this city, Paul did manage to capture their attention and opened the door for further conversation.

The apostle Paul understood that his location impacted his message. Paul understood that even in s similar location, the specific backgrounds of the people he was sharing with impacted his message. Paul had a deep faith in Jesus Christ and had an amazing combination of passion and wisdom. This is the combination that we are going to need to move forward in ministering to needs of the specific students in our specific context

So, even though we are colleagues in ministry. And even though we share a passion to walk with students along this journey toward Christ. And even though we may do student ministry in the exact same context and in the exact same town, God has given each of us totally unique and special people with very complex needs and issues. We may be able to share ideas and resources, but God has given you the call to ministry to the specific students in your ministry.

Let us give up trying to be someone we are not. You see, I don’t even like Nelly. And the truth is I couldn’t tell you one of Nelly’s songs. All I know is that Nelly has a song that is in the top ten downloads this week. I will never know “youth culture.” But I do know my students. And It has been a pure joy to walk with them, as they work out their issues of life and faith. And because I am working with my particular students in my particular context, I get to spend time getting to know them, praying for them, speaking truth into their lives, and showering them with grace and mercy. It is actually easier not knowing anything about “their” culture. We are already outsiders, With this reality, may we now have the freedom to ask questions and be invited into their world.

As we go, may be be true missionaries to our unique context with the passion and wisdom of Christ as we proclaim the good news to our students. Amen, and amen!

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king sized snickers for everyone

October 7, 2010

It is impossible to walk through Target these days and not be overwhelmed with Halloween. Since the beginning of September, aisles of orange and black decorations, bags of candy, and costumes have been calling out to my children, building excitement and expectation for their dream holiday. For my kids, Halloween is that holiday. For them it is a simple holiday that involves their two favorite things, candy and dress up. For Christians, Halloween seems to be a bit more complicated.

No matter how you slice it, Halloween has a dark and seedy past. It’s history can be traced to a roman festival that involves worshiping the goddess of fruits and seeds, or a pagan festival of the dead, or a Celtic festival celebrating the end of summer. This part isn’t that bad, just the part of the festival that celebrates the spirit world coming close to the living world. And, it is also a holiday that has many touch points with the occult.

This is not good. How in the world can Christians get behind a holiday that, at best . . . Ok, there isn’t anything we can get behind in the history of Halloween.

As bad as it seems, I think there might be another way we can look at Halloween. And I don’t mean to pretend we are against it publicly, and quietly celebrate it with our friends and family (like a good wine). I think there is a way we can actually celebrate and even promote Halloween in a way that honors God and might even bring the Kingdom of God closer to your neighborhood.

Before you call my pastor and get me fired, humor me for one minute. How many of us Christians have Christmas trees as part of our family tradition and home decoration? If you google, “Christmas Tree Pagan” you will find there are over 3,000,000 sites. A quick view of these sites and you will find many stories and traditions where evergreens were used in worship and celebration as a symbol of life in the midst of death. In ancient Rome and Egypt there are traditions of tree worship, burning sacred logs. The most worrisome history is that of Odin, a German god who would require sacrifices to a sacred Oak tree

. Even though the history of the Christmas tree is shady at best, it has been recast in a Christian light. and by the 18th and 19th century, the Christmas tree became a full blown part of the celebration of Christmas.

Christians transitioned the Tree of Odin to a tree with some vague inferences to Christianity and now all is well with Christmas Tree. The goal was to take a cultural norm with pagan symbols and use it to tell the Christian Story. In a similar way, that is what we need to do with Halloween. But simply transitioning Halloween to a Harvest Festival to make it more tolerable might be a missed opportunity.

If our cultural context had many touch points to spirit and ancestor worship, goddess worship, or occult practices then celebrating Halloween might be a tough sell. However, in my context, suburban America, Halloween has nothing to do with anything except candy and make believe. The only people who are even remotely aware of these darker issues are Christians. Because pagan worship has nothing to do with the world I live in, and Halloween is actually a totally secular holiday with zero spiritual overtones, maybe we could actually embrace it and use it as a place for Christians to impact their communities.

Halloween gets to be our holiday, a holiday of hospitality. With hospitality being one of the Christian virtues that is being thrown away, Halloween gets to be the holiday where we embrace our neighbors. We get to break down some of the barriers that have built up among those people who live on our street and be a blessing to them. In a time when you are less likely to be known by people in your neighborhood and they are less likely to be known by you, Halloween gets to be the perfect holiday to rebuild that bridge. Halloween is our holiday. It is the holiday for Christians to ooze the love and grace of God to their entire neighborhood. If you haven’t celebrated Halloween in a while, here are a couple of ideas to make this our holiday:

  1. On a normal day, no one from your street comes to your house. Halloween is the one day where the entire neighborhood comes to your door. The one day where all your neighbors mill around your street is the one day that your lights are off and door is locked. That doesn’t seem quite right. Step 1: be home, turn your lights on, and answer the door.
  1. If everyone is coming to your house, why not be the house that gets the reputation for best house to trick-or-treat at. Instead of the house that gives away raisins or toothbrushes, or even tracts, your house can be known as the house that gives away full-sized Snickers Bars. 30 years later, I can still remember the stingy houses and the very generous houses.
  1. As a youth worker, this holiday can even be a blessing for your students. Get your kids off the streets and put them to work by helping you make your house amazing. Have a party for them at your house. While they are there, have them decorate, pass out candy, do card tricks, whatever. By just being there, your house transitions into a place of life.

Halloween is the one holiday where your neighborhood actually comes to your house. Instead of running away from this holiday, maybe we should embrace it, redeem it, and make it our own. What story are you telling to your neighbors when they knock on your door? What are the values you are sharing with them? Jesus came to give us life, and life abundantly, and Halloween is the perfect time to share this abundant life. How great would it be if your house is the house that celebrates life; if your house was the house the neighbors couldn’t wait to get to. Let us recapture the value of hospitality and let’s show off this abundant life we have in Christ! KING SIZED SNICKERS FOR EVERYONE!