September 21, 2009

Sermon Planning II

Filed under: Uncategorized — Neil @ 6:00 am

I plan out our youth worship sermons months in advance.  Typically, we’ll plan our fall semester worship services during the late spring/early summer.

Why plan months in advance?

  • It allows for creativity.  I’ve learned that the biggest key in developing creative worship experiences is advanced planning.  Having a message/series planned out for months allows time for brainstorming w/ others & developing resources (videos, skits, stage props, etc.).
  • Sermon development – having the major theme & objectives developed in advance allows for plenty of time to study the topic, word studies, study commentaries, & praying through a topic.
  • It helps to prevent being in the weekly cycle of always being in a rush to prepare a message.  Ministry can become a weekly grind of Sundays & Wednesdays.  Planning in advance helps to solve that problem for me.

What do I plan months in advance?

  • Major themes – We’ll develop a list of themes/series that we would like to teach during the semester
  • Timeline – When we’ll teach it theme.  We’ll take into consideration holidays, start of the school year, church-wide events, breaks in the schedule.  We typically limit each series to no more than 4 weeks.
  • Once we developed/selected the themes/series that we’ll teach & the lenght of each we’ll go through & select a Wednesday to teach each sermon & assign who is teaching each week/topic.

September 20, 2009

The Weekend

Filed under: Uncategorized — Neil @ 7:58 pm

I apologize.  I promised that I’d be posting a series of posts on sermon planning last week.  We had plans to leave Thursday afternoon for the gulf coast.  We ended up getting to leave early & in the rush to get away I forgot to schedule the rest of the posts in the series.  So, they’ll be coming this week.

We had a great time  in Gulf Shores.  Lots of relaxing on the beach, sleep, good food (we somehow avoided fried food in Gulf Shores which is a quite a feat) & football.  We discovered a new place to eat, Cafe Grazie.  If you are ever in the neighborhood you should give them a visit.

September 16, 2009

Planning Ahead: Sermon Planning

Filed under: Youth Ministry — Neil @ 6:00 am

Staying ahead in my sermon planning is a top priority.  It has many benefits.  I’ll cover this topic over several posts because I hate reading long blog post & I thought you might as well.

Today, let’s talk about developing sermon ideas.  Not actual sermons, but rather just a message’s framework.

I’m always keeping a list of sermon (& sermon series) ideas.  Some I use in the next few weeks/months.  Others have been stored for a year or more.  I just like having a list of ideas that God has given me to teach.

I’ve found that God triggers my mind through the following:

  • reading Scripture (this is far & away #1 on this list)
  • listening to sermons (podcasts are so beneficial)
  • listening to the hearts of teenagers (when I really listen to them I’ll hear them tell me what they long to know)
  • keeping my pulse on youth culture
  • getting away from the day to day work of youth ministry; it’s often right after a few days off that God begins to stir ideas in my heart & mind

I’ve learned that when God begins speaking to me that I must stop & write down my ideas @ that moment.  I use the notepad on my phone to store my ideas.  It syncs to my computer so I have the list there as well.

I’ll list the main theme, scripture references, illustration ideas, creative elements.  Sometimes it’s just a passage of Scripture w/ a simple, undeveloped idea.  Other times it’s much more in depth.  The important thing for me is writing down the ideas as God provides.

Then, when I sit down to plan out worship services & the topics/sermon series that we’ll cover for each semester I have a list of ideas.

September 15, 2009

Video Announcements

Filed under: Videos,Youth Ministry — Neil @ 7:52 pm

I’m always looking for new ways to do the welcome/announcement portion of our student worship service.  This may be such a combination of bad, weird, creative, & simple that it may just work.  Josh posted it @

Not working week to week

Filed under: Youth Ministry — Neil @ 6:30 am

When I recently changed jobs 1 of the toughest things for me was going from having our weekly youth ministry stuff planned out for the next few months & the big stuff done for the next year.  The new setting was anything but that.  Until now.

For my 1st 5 months (can’t believe I’ve been here that long) it was day to day survival.  Now the pace has slowed down for us.

We planned this past summers calendar in early May.  We finished next summer’s calendar last week.  Big difference.

1 of the keys to me being effective is learning not to work day to day or even week to week. Being months ahead allows for margin in my life.

Over the next few days I’ll be highlighting a few ways that I plan in order to stay ahead.

September 14, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — Neil @ 7:02 pm

If you read multiple blogs I HIGHLY recommend using a rss reader.  My personal favorite is Google Reader.  Most all browsers have 1 built in if you are looking for other options.

Using an rss reader makes following a blog really easy.  You subscribe to the blogs you follow & they automatically appear in your reader.  It’s easy.  It stops you from having to visit this blog or any other to see if it’s been updated.

Read more on rss readers @ wikipedia.

Depends on how you look at it

Filed under: Uncategorized — Neil @ 10:01 am

This weekend we hosted a group of college girls at our home as a part of girls retreat for our college ministry.  Friday night around 10:30 we had 7 girls arrive @ our home.  2 juniors & 5 freshman.  They are all students @ M.C., same school that Amanda & I both graduated from.

As we were getting to know them & where they were from we started talking about their experiences @ M.C. (classes, tribes, professors, cafeteria, etc.)  One of the girls was talking about one of her classes & I asked which professor is teaching the class.  She responded w/ HE’S REALLY OLD SO YOU MAY HAVE HAD HIM.

She didn’t say it in all caps.  But I clearly heard it that way.  It’s been 12 years since I was in her shoes as a college freshman.  Seems like yesterday to me.  It seems like an eternity to her.

September 8, 2009

The 9s

Filed under: leadership,Videos — Neil @ 5:01 pm

Tomorrow, I’ll be “attending” The Nines.  Register here.

September 7, 2009

Catalyst Countdown

Filed under: Videos — Neil @ 9:00 am

1 month from today I’ll be @ Catalyst.

September 6, 2009

Could We Lose the Doctrine of God?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Neil @ 7:00 am

Russell D. Moore writes these thought provoking words in How to Teach Open Theism at Vacation Bible School: Three Ways the Evangelical Church Could Lose the Doctrine of God:

Today’s Sunday School and Bible study lessons, for adults as well as for children, often seem to use
God as a prop for what is seen as the higher pursuit of “Christian values.” The story of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and fishes is taught not primarily as highlighting the identity of Jesus, but as a lesson on sharing. The calling of the twelve apostles is not communicated as Christ sending forth His appointed messengers to the ends of the earth with the gospel of grace. Rather it is reduced to a moral example, “Jesus had friends.”

There is much in Scripture about Christian morality and life in the Spirit. But this behavior is
contingent upon the people of God knowing the attributes of their God. Solomon understood that God’s
command for Israel to reflect righteousness and justice was “so all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God: there is none else” (I Kin 8:60). Likewise, the New Testament asserts that the makeup of the church dramatically pictures to the watching world the moral attributes of the God who called the assembly together by His Spirit (I Pet 2:9-12).

Too often in our preaching and teaching, we fail to communicate to our people the preciousness of
knowing the God who has redeemed us in Christ. Instead, we seem to refer to Him in order to move on to
the “more important” priorities of seeing our children share their Play-Doh, our teenagers sign their “True Love Waits” cards, and our adults support the building fund.

If we reduce God to a means to these ends, then His sovereignty and wisdom are negotiable after
all. If we market the biblical God merely as the answer to life’s questions, then the day may come when the “open god” answers a few questions of his own. The open view might seem psychologically beneficial to the grieving divorcee. “Free will theism” might seem to answer the questions the visiting college student keeps asking. We might move on to build the new “Family Life Center” and start the new divorce recovery workshop, but we will no longer believe in God.

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