Camp

Through the Lens of Love…

Take a moment.

Think about a person that you love, that you adore, that you think you would do anything for.

Can you picture them?

Can you see the details of their face?

Notice their mannerisms? Remember all of their favorite things?

With the people that you love, you pay attention with great detail. You listen to how they are doing, you observe what makes them excited and disappointed and everything in-between. You fight hard for them and offer forgiveness even when it’s difficult. You filter them through a lens of love.

Can you imagine that there is a God who loves you like that?

He loves you more…

 

Can you imagine that there is a God who desires constant communication with you?

He’s not intimidated by your junk, your questions, your hurt.

He wants relationship with you so badly.

He wants you and all that comes with you.

 

Can you believe that there is a God who is pining for your affection?

Not because He needs your affection, but because His affection runs deep for you.

 

Can you believe that there is a God who thought of you?

He thought of you when He sent down His Son, when He let Him be the perfect sacrifice for all that we could do wrong, when He sent Him through torture, when He didn’t take the cup from Him but let His own will come to competition for you to be complete, forever.

 

Can you believe that He filters you through a lens of love, sacrifice, and grace?

 

Can you believe that He calls you…

Loved.

But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8

Chosen.

You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. John 15:16

Rescued.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. Psalm 40:2

Adored.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love- not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.

1 John 4:9-11

Spotless.

Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. Colossians 1:22

Free.

Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ when He freed us from the penalty of our sins. Romans 3:24

Righteous.

…for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. Romans 4:24

New.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Child.

For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. Thessalonians 5:5

 

As you get ready for this summer it’s important for us to think about how we see people and how we see God. It is also important for us to know how God sees us.

He sees you as worthy of His love, and He wants you to believe it too.

He’s not filtering you through any set of expectations, rules or regulations. He took care of all of that so that He could have your heart and so that His love could reach you, and keep you, without condition.

Take a moment today, think about the people you love, but then let it overwhelm you with just how much more your Heavenly Father loves YOU.

 

Resources

Three Things to Avoid When Hosting in Student Ministry

We all know a great host when we see one. But on the other end of the spectrum, we all know when your hosting time doesn’t go as planned! We want to help you avoid falling into that category by giving you some tricks of the trade for student ministry hosting. Take a look at these three things to keep in mind when it comes to student ministry hosting straight from our friend and expert, Britt Kitchen.

1 – Don’t feel the pressure to be funny.
Some people are funny and some people aren’t. That’s okay! Hosts don’t have to be funny to be good at what they do. There are plenty of super successful hosts who aren’t high on the humor scale (hello Ryan Seacrest). Instead of trying to be funny, focus on what your job is: welcoming everyone, knowing the flow of the day, and handling the transitions. Do those to the best of your ability. And with confidence! Once you get more comfortable as a host you can start trying to find your funny on stage, but don’t feel the pressure to always be a stand-up comic. It’s only one of the many tools in your hosting toolbox.

2 – Don’t use a timer.
Most of the time, games are written with a time constraint in the instructions. Stage hosts assume that those timers should be placed on the screen for everyone to see. After all, won’t that crank up the suspense and drama of a game? Maybe, but placing a clock on the screen for all to see automatically locks you into a timeframe and restricts the freedom you have to navigate the time. Rather than using a visible timer, announce to your students that someone is keeping time but just use a mental clock in your head. That frees you up to feel the moment. If a game is going well, you can keep it moving a little longer. But if it’s not working the way you planned, you can wrap it up faster. This lets you as the host keep control of the energy in the room and guide the experience for your students.

3 – Don’t rely on video transitions.
A huge responsibility for a host is to handle transitions throughout the program. Whether it’s the initial transition from hangout time to the formal start of the program, or the more difficult one from hosting to the next element of the program (typically worship), it’s your job to make things move seamlessly. When hosts aren’t sure what to do, they seem to default to incorporating video in to their transitions. And while I love a good YouTube clip as much as the next guy, I think video transitions on their own can actually diminish the vibe you’ve worked hard to set up during your program. If you play a funny video and then move right into worship, the job of refocusing your students falls on the worship leader rather than the host. Or if you share a camp promo video and move right in to music, there’s no one there to give the details about camp while it’s fresh on your students’ minds. I’m all for a great promo video or a goofy clip, but be sure as a host to stick around and make the transition yourself, rather than treat the video as the transition itself.

Resources

Three Ways to Enhance Your Hosting In Student Ministry

A great host can make all the difference in your student ministry.

They can make a room come alive with energy, get everyone excited about what’s about to happen, and lead the way to good conversations in small groups. For the time they’re on stage, your host has the reigns of your student ministry, and a great host can turn it into an incredible experience for your kids.

How do they do it? How do great hosts turn a room around just like that? Well, while some people are born to be great hosts, most of us have to learn how to be great. And our friend and student ministry expert Britt Kitchen has some tips to help you get started on the path to becoming a great host. Take a look at his three ways to enhance your hosting time in student ministry.

  1. Make students the stars.
    At its core, hosting for students is a servant role. We are serving them by welcoming them, giving them information they need, and creating a fun environment. Remember, the host isn’t the attraction; the students are. You’re there to serve them! Keep that in mind as you choose your games or stage interactions with students. A great host knows how to celebrate students, make them feel cool, and avoid embarrassing them (even when they’re asked to do something silly). The goal is to highlight your students and have a little fun with them while they’re on stage.

  2. Incorporate their group.
    This is huge for a small group driven student ministry. It’s important to always find ways to point your students back to their groups. The sooner you can get students interacting with their groups, the better their conversations will be. As the host, introduce opportunities for that interaction at the top of the program. Choose games where students have to work together as a group or encourage them to stand with their group before the music starts. Guiding them towards connection during hosting will help students feel more connected to each other once small groups actually begin.

  3. Pick the right song.
    Part of your job as a host is to bring energy to the room and focus your students’ attention for the rest of the program. A key ingredient to accomplishing that is playing the right music. You should constantly be searching for songs with great walk up intros for your host to take the stage. You also need to think about the right songs to play under a game. Are students shooting nerf guns? Then crank up “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” Are they eating something gross? We should be hearing something like “Eat It.” Adding the right music to your hosting will help the top of the day go from just a bland announcement time to a memorable experience for everyone.
Stories

Sunday is Coming…

They knew what it meant,

for their Jesus to be handed over into the hands of Pilate.

The one who could crucify, the one who could kill.

Did they even have hope that Sunday is Coming?

We read words like “flogged”, “crown of thorns” and “cross”, but do we really know what it means?

We can’t even relate to the One who took our place.

He was betrayed with a kiss and arrested without validity.

but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss? Luke 22:48

 The Messiah, the saving One, the grace that we didn’t deserve…

He was mocked, but He was also being beaten over the head with a reed while insults were hurled at Him.

He was flogged, where whips with sharp shards were forcefully thrown into His body as those torturing Him laughed, mocked.

 

But after having Jesus flogged, he (Pilate) handed Him over to be crucifiedMatthew 27:25

 

A crown of thorns was pressed into His head as His raw body was draped in scarlet.

He was dragged to the place where criminals die.

 

When they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the robe, put His clothes on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. Matthew 27:31

 

His hands and feet were pierced and He body was lifted up.

Maybe He already knew, Sunday Is Coming…

 

Maybe He already knew when He was weeping in the garden,

when He was washing His friends feet,

when He was illustrating His broken body and shed blood,

when He was hanging in darkness feeling forsaken by His father,

when he breathed His very last with a loud cry.

 

It Is Finished… John 19:30

 

The temple curtain tore in two from top to bottom, the earth shook, hope was lost and buried in darkness

But what now? Would the darkness stay? Was He really the one who came to save if He was gone?

 

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Luke 23:44-45 

But it’s only Friday…Sunday is Coming…

A week prior, Jesus overturned the temple, where I imagine He flipped tables if He ever did.

He set a challenge…destroy this temple and it will be built up again in three days.

But He wasn’t speaking of a building. No, He was speaking of Himself.

He was going away, it was necessary, but He would prevail. He would return.

 

The Jews responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all of this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. John 2:18-21

 

In three days, we will experience the grace we never deserved.

In three days, we will understand that He took our place.

In three days, there will be no more sacrifices to be holy or rituals to undo what we’ve done.

In three days, the gap is bridged, heaven is real, and death has no sting no more.

Hold onto hope because Sunday Is Coming…

 

He is not here, He has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee. The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised againLuke 24: 6-7

 

Today, the next three days, think about what is must have felt like to put your hope and faith into Someone who was, all at once, gone.

And prepare your heart for the day that is coming, the Sunday that is coming,

the day that changed everything.

Camp

New Music for BigStuf 2017!

One of the most exciting parts of BigStuf is our main sessions and worship. Every morning and evening during camp, all 1,500 students gather together in the big room for engaging and inspiring worship to deepen their relationships with Christ and connect them to Him in new and exciting ways.

As we approach the summer, our team is creating the perfect worship set list for BigStuf 2017! And if you’re joining us this summer, you’re probably wondering what songs your students and leaders will be singing this summer! North Point InsideOut Band has released their new Nothing Ordinary EP, which includes some of the songs that you’ll be hearing this summer! Whether you’re joining us for BigStuf 2017, or keeping up on all things BigStuf from afar, we encourage you to check out this awesome EP! You’ll hear familiar songs from North Point Community Church including “Death was Arrested” and “Love Come Down”, and even a few new songs too! The Nothing Ordinary EP is now available on iTunes! We hope you find these songs encouraging and inspiring as you lead in your ministry!

 

Resources

5 Ways To Find & Keep More Small Group Leaders

We all know the real secret to success for any student pastor is the ability to recruit incredible adult volunteers and small group leaders. While you as a student leader do an incredible amount of work to make your ministry a great place for your students, we all know that none of it would be possible without a team of small group leaders and volunteers dedicated to pouring into your students on a regular basis. But sometimes finding those people can be difficult. You don’t just want anyone leading your students so how knowing how to find, recruit, and keep awesome small group leaders and volunteers is essential. Check out some tips from our friend Joseph Sojourner on how to bring in more amazing small group leaders to your student ministry.

  • Ask your current leaders.
    If you have incredible leaders already serving, chances are they have incredible friends. Look to your current leaders for recommendations for new leaders. Ask your great leaders to give you the name and number of a friend they think would be a great addition to your student ministry.
  • Ration your requests.
    One of the biggest hesitations people have about signing up to volunteer is time. In other words, they’re worried you’re going to ask too much of them. Keep this in mind when recruiting small group leaders and ration out the requests you make of them. Let them know up front what’s expected of them as a small group leader—weekly obligations, meetings, major events, outside commitments—and then limit your additional requests to be aware of the time and sacrifices they’re making.
  • Don’t make them go it alone.
    One of the best ways to set your leaders up for success is to partner them together to lead. Pairing up your leaders to co-lead with one another allows them to share the load and support each other along the way. It also allows the leaders to form a bond with one another, growing together spiritually as they walk through life with their students.
  • Make it easy.
    This is key to keeping your small group leaders a part of your student ministry for years to come. And this one falls solely on your team! Make it easy for your small group leaders to lead by doing what you can do ahead of time to set them up for success. Prepare early, do the work, give them the materials, and over communicate. Your leaders are there to lead so don’t let them get bogged down in the details. Do what you can to communicate and give them what they need so they can simply focus on their relationships with the students.
  • Give them encouragement.
    Your leaders are the hands and feet of your student ministry. Sometimes that means doing the fun stuff like showing up at a football game or taking a group to the movies. And other times that means doing the hard stuff like walking with a student through the death of a family member or having hard conversations about bad choices. That’s why the best thing you can do is provide a constant source of support and encouragement to them as they serve. Choose the best encouragers on your team to meet regularly with your small group leaders. Cheer them on and let them know you see and value what they do. Happy leaders are not only more likely to stay, but they’re more likely to invite others to lead, too!
Stories

The “Yes” of Easter

He said “yes” to sending His Son…

Bold and brave and entirely human,

to live among us.

Us, being the ones who were lowly and small. Self seeking and fixed on the offerings of the world instead of the One who met us here.

He said “yes”…

to coming down from heaven,

to feel what we feel,

to hurt where we hurt,

to be tempted amongst the people He would soon sacrifice to love in entirety, for eternity.

 

He said “yes”…

to bearing our faults, mess ups, accusations, brokenness and sinful nature.

 

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyoneHebrews 2:9

 

As we prepare to remember and rejoice in just a couple of weeks, what do you really believe?

Are you believing that this is true? That heaven really bent low to lower our Savior?

A Savior that was fully human and Who walked among the people He so desperately loved.

A Savior that cares for your every need, thought, action, and prayer. He sings with you when your days are good and light. He is also the comfort of a friend. One that mourns with you and breaks with you.

 

Sunday is coming…the day that changed everything.

The day where death was defeated.

The day victory tore a veil of separation and replaced it with an un-expiring invitation.

 

…and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished- he did it to demonstrate righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:24-26

In these next couple weeks, I would challenge you to do these couple things…

 

1) Spend time reading about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

And then spend some time with Him. Tell Him your every need. Ask Him for the advice you can’t seem to get. Thank Him for what He gave on your behalf.

Trust that He is bigger than what stands in front of you taunting you, questioning you, intimidating you.

 

2) Say “Yes” this Easter.

If you aren’t already, find a way to serve at your church this Easter.

You have the Hope of the world stored away in your heart, and other people need to hear about Him.

You can be a part of that! I’m sure your youth pastor can find you a place to serve that day.

 

…they paid me for that shameless plug. Just kidding!

It’s honestly one of the most amazing things to be loving others while celebrating the days God showed us the depth of His love.

 

I would love to hear from you! What do you want to focus on this Easter?

Production

Tips for Stage Design On A Budget

One of our favorite things about the first night of camp at BigStuf each week is the big reveal of our set and stage design for the summer. Our team works incredibly hard to create a new and unique environment each year that both reflects the theme of camp and engages students with excitement. We want to help you do the same right where you are!

No matter the size of the stage or the scope of your budget, we think you can create an incredible design for your student ministry. Read on for tips from our technical director Jonathan Amacher on how to make the most of your design on a budget.

6 Tips for Stage Design On A Budget

1 – Dream first, implement second.
Often times when I’m designing a stage, I don’t try to design with the constraints of what we have available in mind. Dream up an idea first—think big! Then see if and how you are able to accomplish it. Don’t be disheartened if the first or second idea doesn’t work. It’s a chance to not only exercise your creativity in design, but in problem solving as well!

2 – Collaborate.
Don’t be afraid to invite others in to the design process. You never know where you’ll find a new idea or who will have an awesome perspective to add. Bounce ideas for your design off your lead pastor, friends, church staff, interns… even my mom has had some great ideas along the way!

3 – Shop test.
Try your ideas out on a small scale before you commit to buying the bulk of your supplies. Things don’t always work out as intended, and it’s better to discover what will and won’t work before you blow your budget on it.

4 – Do the homework.
Put in a little research to find out what your gear is capable of and make sure you’re getting the best out of what you have. Often times I find that I’m only getting half the potential of out of the gear I use. As boring as it may sound, a quick Google search and scan of a product manual can give you loads of insight.

5 – Appreciate, but don’t imitate. It’s very easy to implement someone else’s design in to your own set. Sometimes this can work out great if you’re in a bind or time crunch, but try not to fully depend on imitating someone else’s plan. You won’t get the biggest impact out of implementing a design that wasn’t created for your specific program. Look at the individual aspects of a cool design you like and figure out how to implement those things in to your venue or design.

6 – Design with intention.
Before I even start a design, I like to talk with the people creating and executing the content of the program (worship leaders, hosts, speakers, video editors). I try to find out if there’s anything I can do to help them get where they need to go design wise. These conversations often serve as a springboard for my creativity and help me kick off the design process heading in the right direction.

Resources

5 Things to Think About Before You Step On Stage

As student leaders, sometimes we get so bogged down in the details of what we have to do to make Sundays successful that by the time we actually get to Sunday, we’ve forgotten to take the time to think about what we’re going to do when we actually step on to the stage. Whether you’re giving a talk or giving an introduction, your presence on the stage is important, and you want to make sure you’re making the most of it each and every time.

When it comes to stage presence, we consider our friend Joseph Sojourner the expert in the field! Whether he’s sharing a message, closing out a session, or just gearing everyone up for a good time (Piñata Party, anyone?), he does a great job of being prepared to take the stage to lead students. So we asked him to give you just five things he keeps in mind before stepping on stage in student ministry. Check them out below!

  1. Cast the vision.
    Every time you step on stage, remind yourself and your students of the vision of your ministry. That’s the heart of your ministry, and it’s important to keep that in the forefront of your mind. Instead of giving announcements or reminders, give vision. Remind students what your ministry is about and how all the things you have going on fit into that vision.
  2. Stay humble.
    The opportunity to stand in front of students in any capacity is a privilege, and that’s something I think about each time I step on stage. It’s a humbling feeling to know that God has given me the chance to speak to students about Him, and I don’t want to forget that. Remember to be humble enough to know that you don’t deserve the stage, but confident in knowing that God chose you to do it.
  3. Know where you’re going.
    There should be a goal—an ultimate destination—every time you step on stage. Where are you trying to go? What do you want students to get from the night? What’s the ultimate win? Know where you’re going each time you step on stage and keep that goal in mind.
  4. Remember to relax.
    While your words hold the most weight, believe it or not even your movements matter on stage. Think about your body language and remember to relax a little bit! If you’re stiff and uncomfortable on stage, your students will know. And they’ll instantly disconnect. Remind yourself to stay loose, relaxed, and just be who you are!
  5. What am I made to say?
    Remember that you have a message to deliver to students, and that message is the amazing, unconditional love of God. Always remember that no matter what other things you might have to say on stage, that saying what you’re made to say is the most important thing you can do for you students.
Stories

Between Your Own Two Feet

I feel your pain. Midterms, spring sports, cravings for that spring break that has either come and gone or seems too far away.

The weather is teasing you and making you dream of our days on the beach, sharing a hotel room at the Boardwalk, in just a few months!

But you’re not there yet. You’ve still got a few weeks. Maybe you’re already feeling checked out, done. With everything. People, homework, sports…

Maybe the reason you’re feeling that 3rd quarter slump is because you’re in this season where it feels like there’s little excitement. Your flame might be dwindling since camp, since the beginning of the new school year, since Christmas break.

Your flame might also be dwindling in your spiritual life, the life we live with Jesus.

Your flame might be dwindling because you have a lot of questions and few answers.

I’m right there with you.

 

I heard something amazing this last weekend, and especially in this season I think it can relate to all of us.

You go where you’re sent, and you stay where you’re put, and you give what you’ve got until you’re done.

– Jill Briscoe

 

Jaw drop, heart slump, wide eyed emoji.

 

It might be heard to hear, hard to accept, but sometimes our 3rd quarter slump can mean that we have forgotten to give it all we’ve got until we are done.

Especially when it comes to our mission field. Not our mission field that is the week long trip in the summer, the mission trip overseas. No, I am talking about a different mission field. The one that may have been forgotten or glazed over while watching Stranger Things for the 7th time.

 

There’s a mission field that lies in the space between our own two feet.

 

What are you doing about it?

How are you loving your friends? How are you loving your sibling(s)?

How are you respecting your parents? Your coaches? Your teachers?

How are you filling yourself up to the brim so that love overflows into the lives of those around you?

You are planted where you are for a reason.

That reason might not be pretty, easy, or Instagram worthy, but it’s really important.

 

Paul writes to the city of Corinth, in the book we know as 1 Corinthians, encouraging them to keep pressing on for the work they are doing won’t be in vain.

What I love about this book in the Bible is that Paul was writing answers back to the Corinthians for all of their questions. He answers their questions, encourages them and leaves them with what I am going to share with you.

I think it’s something that we can hold onto today, even when that 3rd quarter slump has us feeling drained and lacking in motivation.

 

Therefore, by dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let NOTHING move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58

 

As you pray this week, show up to practice, sit in class…think about the place God has planted you. The place He knew and believed and trusted you to influence.

He made no mistake in landing you where you are.

He knows there are people around you desperately needing the same hope and love that you have stored deep.

He’s asking you take that space between your own two feet and love it with all you’ve got.

What are we going to do about it?

 

Share in the comments below with questions or comments about your personal mission field!