The Trap

Dear Parents:

Today, middle school and high school students hear numerous messages regarding sex and dating, most of which are false. Our culture is fascinated with sex, from TV to the Internet to the halls of school, and often promotes a distorted view of sex.  The reality is that God created sex and He has a perfect plan for it, a plan that our students need to hear.   Much more so, God has a plan for your student’s life in particular, including their future spouse.  We want students to understand the truth about sex and dating, not be caught in the trap of false promises.

On September 25, October 2, October 16, and October 30 at The Link we’ll be discussing the topics of sex and dating in a series called “The Trap.” Our goal is to help students see that many of the promises our culture makes regarding sex and dating are actually traps that ensnare. We’ll also emphasize that Jesus can graciously rescue us from those traps and restore us.

Additionally, on Sunday mornings from October 6th-27th your student’s small group will be doing a study called “Live Different,” which encourages and equips students to walk in purity. If you would like an advance copy of any of these lessons, please let me know and I will be more than happy to provide them for you.

I want to make you aware of these upcoming series because I understand that some of you might want to talk with your child about sex in a different way or forum.  If you are uncomfortable with the direction or content of this series please feel free to contact me, 478-953-9319.  I assure you that we will present all of this material in a tasteful and God-honoring way. I hope that you will pray for our students and leaders as we discuss this difficult, but timely subject.

Brandon

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Parent Update on The Link

Parents,

I hope you are surviving the new school year. If you’re anything like me, it takes a few weeks to get back into the routine of ‘normal life’ after summer ends. Part of me always holds out hope that my beach vacation will become my new ‘normal,’ but that never works out. Shrimp, sun, sleeping in… that is the life. Anyway, I hope you’re in your routine and aren’t too overwhelmed. 

I want to take a second to update you on what is going on Wednesday nights at the Link. Next Wednesday we’re beginning a new series, “Origins,” designed to help our students understand the basics of a biblical worldview. I’m pretty pumped about it. Here are the topics we’ll cover each night:

“How Did the World Begin?” -August 28th
We’ll discuss the origins of our world and the implications it has on our lives. Another way to ask this question would be, who is right: my biology teacher or the Bible?

“Does My Life Have Meaning?”-September 4th
We’ll examine the origins of morality and meaning. Is there an absolute standard for truth and how can we know what it is?

“What is Wrong with Our World?”-September 11th
We don’t have to look very hard to determine that there is something wrong with our world. What is the origin of evil, pain, suffering, and death?

“Where Can I Find Hope?”-September 18th
There is definitely something wrong with our world, but if we’re honest, we would admit that there is something wrong with us, as well. Is there hope for us in this life and the next? If so, what is the origin of that hope?

That’s the game plan. I would love to see your student at the Link on Wednesday nights. This is also an awesome series for them to invite friends. Doors open at 6. We play games from 615-630. Then the worship service is 630-730.

I’d love to see you there, as well. Parents are always invited to drop in and check out what we’re doing. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to invest in your student.


Brandon

Why I Am Not The Best Youth Pastor For Your Teen

I’d like to confess something to you. It’s a dangerous confession, but one I think you need to hear.  I’m not the best youth pastor for your teenager. That’s right, there is someone much more qualified, better equipped, and who has exceedingly more influence over your teen than me. At this point, some of you are thinking, “Duh, Brandon, I’ve seen you at work and figured that out a long time ago.” First, thanks for the encouragement. Second, let me be clear, I’m not talking about making an upgrade at my position. So who is the mystery person I’m talking about?

Big reveal: you. You are the best youth pastor your kid will ever have. Let me explain by breaking it down numerically. I get your kid for about 48 hours a year, for some of them it will be a little more, some will be alittle less.  Parents, on the other hand, spend thousands of hours a year with their children. Your student will be in our ministry for 6 years, he or she will be in your house for 18.  Your son is not coming back to my house for Thanksgiving after graduation. Your daughter is not calling me for more money. You and your kids are tied together for a lifetime. You, as a parent, have enormous long-term impact on the direction of your kid’s life, much more than any pastor.

Its not just the numbers, either, The Bible actually places the responsibility of discipling the next generation, not on the church (or any religious instituion), but on the family. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Wow! The most influential person in your child’s life is you. Maybe you’ve never thought of yourself as a spiritual leader to your family. Maybe you are more of the ‘drop them off at church and hope something good rubs off on them’ kinda guy. My prayer is that you will embrace your position as your kid’s best youth pastor and lead them well. The good news is that it is never too late to begin spiritually investing in your family.

for His fame,
brandon

Speaking to People Who Aren’t There

One key step to great preaching is knowing your audience. I can’t tell you how many times my Bieber jokes have fallen flat or my application steps were off base, simply because I didn’t think through who my audience was. A few months ago, I filled in on a Sunday morning for our senior pastor. One of our morning services is predominently older church members. My Lord of the Rings illustration, predictably, bombed. Bad idea.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to speak not just to my audience, but to the audience I want to have. In other words, speak to people who aren’t actually present in the room. I know, weird, right? But here is why, as a student pastor, I think this is extremely important.
I want to set an environment that is conducive to my students bringing friends. I want my students to leave thinking, “I need to get my lost friend here, because that message would have been perfect for him.” But if my students don’t think that my messages will apply to their friends who don’t know Jesus, then they won’t have much incentive to bring them. They’ll leave thinking, “My friend wouldn’t get this at all… it must not be for her.”
Here is the thing, often the environment will trump the message. I could speak every week about my students bringing other students, but if my students think their friend will be embarrassed by what I talk about then they aren’t going to bring them.  If they think that their friend won’t connect with the message, they won’t bring them. Or worse, they might never even think about bringing their friends simply because the environment doesn’t facilitate it. Think about taking a vegetarian on a date to Outback. Who would bring a vegetarian to Outback? Exactly, why? Because the those two things don’t fit together.
Listen, I’m not saying drop the Jesus message and talk about One Direction for 25 minutes. I am saying that we need to think through who could be in the room and make sure our messages connect with them. We need to make sure we clearly present the Gospel and not assume people know it. We need to address real problems that real students have.
So I have to preach to people that aren’t in the room yet. The last thing I want is for my students to leave thinking, “Boy, am I glad I didn’t bring my friend who needed to hear about Jesus today.” I want them to trust that when they take a risk to invite their friends, that I will do my very best to make sure I teach the Bible so that their friend can connect with it.

Monk Chat II

The Wednesday night monk chat was incredible. A team from Truett McConnell College is also here in Chiang Mai. The monks invited them to come and share about Jesus. When our students got to monk chat the monks had already heard about Jesus from the other team. The monks were very curious about Christ and had many questions. So, our students had some unbelievable opportunities.

One monk walked into the room with some of our students and said, “please tell me more about Christ.” They spent monk chat with their bibles open explaining the gospel to him. Incredible! Pray that God will continue to work in the hearts of the monks here. Pray we will have more opportunities to share the gospel with them when we return on Friday.

Monk Chat

Monday night a group of our students went to the local wat (Buddhist temple) for Monk Chat. Monk Chat is a time when monks are available to, well, chat. People can ask the monks about anything. Our group talked with two monks, Kavu, who is a professor of Buddhism, and Vara. Needless to say, it was an interesting conversation. The monks really challenged our students, but our team used the opportunity to share the gospel. Our students said the experience confirmed their faith in God because they saw how hopeless and dark the monk’s worldview was.

Pray for our teams as they go back to Monk Chat Wednesday night and Friday night.

From Chiang Mai

Our team has been in Chiang Mai, Thailand since July 13. I have done a terrible job of blogging about our trip so far, but over the next few days I’m going to try to update more frequently. Honestly, when we first arrived I was so tired from 36 hours of travel that I neglected blogging. Then, for the past two days we’ve all been incredibly busy, often doing ministry until 8 or 9 in the evening.

We have three teams working at three different sites. My team is teaching English at a school in a nearby village. Kristen’s team is working at a refuge camp, teaching English, prayer walking, and doing evangelistic gatherings in the evenings. The third team, led by Matt, a youth pastor from Alabama, is working at a local orphanage. Two of our girls are teaching English to the orphanage workers and spending time with orphans. The guys on that team are doing hard labor; yard work, painting, and even laying some sod.

Things are going well at each site and all of our students are doing great. Continue to pray for us please.

Brandon