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Transitions

During students’ high school years, they are searching for belonging and community. In their search for belonging, they turn to three places: within themselves, to God, and to others in their world. To some degree, they find community in their youth group among their peers, and, to the degree that their local church congregation has prioritized youth and children’s ministries they may find community and belonging among the adults in the congregation as well. Yet, within eighteen months of graduating high school, 1 in 2 students struggles with their faith and connecting to the faith community. And of the elite students, those who demonstrate ownership of their faith throughout high school and are likely the student leaders within the group, only 1 in 6 feel prepared to move on to the next step. How is this possible? Why do students feel so unprepared to own their next steps? Points of life transition challenge students’ ability to navigate well. Whether they are moving from elementary to middle school, junior high to high school, high school to college, or to the workforce, students need proper preparation and support. While it is primarily the parent’s responsibility to prepare their children for life (Proverbs 22:6), the local church also has a vital role in equipping and supporting parents in fulfilling their God-given mandate. When the two work together, there is a greater chance for success because the capacity of both the parents and the local church increases, and the impact is more than doubled in the student’s life. Students who walk away from the faith do so for all kinds of reasons, but generally speaking: 1. They give in to temptations that they have not encountered before. 2. They didn’t learn to think on their own. 3. They become preoccupied with making a living and achieving success. 4. They become disillusioned by those who profess the faith but do not live the life.ii So, what can the local church to do assist students through their age-stage issues, empower them to own their next steps, and effectively launch them into the next point of life? International Youth Ministries | PO Box 2910 | Cleveland, TN 37320 | 423.559.5303 | www.operationomega.org All rights reserved. 2014. Church of God of Prophecy, Operation Omega Youth Ministries


Intentional Discipleship Local churches must recognize that students are always in transition and therefore, preparation must begin while they are very young. This will require a long-term plan or strategy for discipleship involving intergenerational relationships, intergenerational ministry and intergenerational mentoring. As early as possible, children and youth should have regular contact with adults in the congregation as a way of life. The congregation should be a safe place for them to grow in relationship to others outside of their family and peer group, learn to worship God, grow in their knowledge of God and relationship to Him, and celebrate their growth stages and accomplishments. To be effective, local churches will have to rethink ministry in terms of families rather than just children and youth in order to effect widespread influence in their spiritual development and witness of transformation in their lives. It may mean that churches will have to do fewer programs and put their energy into doing a few things really well. If we consider curriculum, for example, instead of trying to cover the entire Bible in a year, perhaps we zone in on core principles that students will need as they progress through life and return to them year after year, giving a fresh take on them each time around so that students will be able to master the content and make personal applications to their lives. Committing to a long-term discipleship strategy is not without its challenges. It will require vision for what a mature adult looks like in the congregation. It will require prayer and perseverance, because it will take time to change the church culture. When it comes to church culture, it often flows from the top down, so pastoral leadership, buy-in and cheerleading, so to speak, will be critical. And, it will demand a great deal of hard work from a dedicated team. (Note: The team may change several times before the strategy is finally solidified.) Parents, of course, should also be viewed as key players in executing the discipleship strategy.

Engaged Parents Parents will continue to be the primary influence in their children’s lives through adulthood. But as students get older, the parental roles changes from having strong control to more of a coach as students become more distracted and vulnerable to non-family influences. Therefore, we must walk closely with parents, particularly through the teen years. We can equip parents and engage them early in the next steps with their students.

Yes, students are on a faith journey, but they are also on a life journey. During the teen years and especially after high school, parents and students wrestle with major decisions related to college, wor k , relationships, marriage and family. Keeping with the vision of what a mature adult looks like, we can help parents successfully guide their soon to be young adults through the process of high school graduation to college and even through college by providing access to vital information through college prep seminars dealing with financial aid, choosing a Christian vs. secular college, financial independence and responsibility, academic faithfulness, relationships, conflict resolution, moving away from home and letting go (parents). We can also support parents by placing godly people of influence around their children who will reinforce their parental authority. In many cultures or traditions, children are given godparents at birth. These individuals are there to be another voice of influence in the child’s life as they grow. Suppose t he local c hurc h wor ked in conjunction with parents to identity five godly, trustworthy individuals that could share the student’s faith journey with the family, whether it be over a one-year or four-year period. These individuals could expose students to unique life experiences through their work, special outings, or stories; relationally connect with the student in ways that the parent may not be able to; support parents by participating in and celebrating key spiritual and personal milestones in the student’s life; and be constant prayer partners for the family, bringing balance to the student’s age-stage transitions.

up quitting the faith through sheer disappointment over the lack of proof in the “theology” that they may have been indoctrinated in. Many also succumb to temptations that they have not faced before and walk away from the faith. The local church can empower students, supplementing what is already being given in the home, by helping them build inner authority through encouragement, coaching, and entrusting with responsibility. We can c hallenge students to live missionally empowered lives through experiential based learning (e.g. mission trips, service projects, hands on ministry experience); assessing their life skills readiness and equipping them in areas of deficiency through curriculum and practical skill building (e.g. financial management, decision-making); regularly exposing them to healthy relationships; and providing social support. Finally, our touch should not end when they leave youth ministries. We should make every effort to maintain contact while they are in college (whether away or at home), working, or started a family right after high school through regular communication from not only the leader, but also from the youth group, as well as from adults in the congregation. i Tim Clydesdale. The First Year Out: Understanding American Teens After High School. 2007. The University of Chicago Press. ii  Derek Melleby, “Why Students Abandon their Faith: Lessons from William Wilberforce.

Empowered Students

2008, CPYU (http://www.cpyu.org/

Students need life-long connection to the local church and help in processing their agestage issues. Many churches, however, miss the mark when it comes to the in-between stage of adolescence and adulthood. We may be strong in youth ministries, but then when students graduate, there is limited or no focus at all on their stage as singles, collegiates and young professionals. After youth ministries, we tend to skip to married couples and parents.

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Students need help processing the changes, challenges and confusion of their lives related to identity, intimacy, pleasure and truth. When they go to college, they are thought how to think, merely rather than just what to think. Their faith is challenged and often shredded. They are forced to unpack it, repack it, and own (or disown) it. Some end

Aileen Reid Co-Director International Youth Ministries

International Youth Ministries | PO Box 2910 | Cleveland, TN 37320 | 423.559.5303 | www.operationomega.org All rights reserved. 2014. Church of God of Prophecy, Operation Omega Youth Ministries


Omega Connect

February 2014

SETTING MINISTRY GOALS by: William Lamb | Director of Leonard Center, Lee University

How to Set Ministry Goals The very idea that we, humanity, will set our own goals for ministry is liberating. In fact it is rather encouraging - if you want to fail. Okay, that may have sounded a bit harsh so let me explain. Youth ministry effectiveness is often measured on the pendulum swing of the next and best ideas or in some cases the boldest and the brightest décor. Although understandable, since young people reflect the sensory generation, this is far from the right approach. We should not measure our success on décor or even being trendy. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not suggesting that we embrace mediocrity or disregard the need for being culturally relevant. In fact, I will boldly proclaim that, at times, the church has settled for less when we could have done more. Too often, we have allowed a few to set the tone for the majority—on both sides of the spectrum. We must pursue excellence. God gave His best and we need to operate in the same way by giving our best.

Youth ministry needs to be relevant, engaging, technologically savvy, and most of all biblically based. Know God’s word and be able to support the vision with Scripture; otherwise it is just a good idea. Be prepared for a high-wire balancing act when positing vision and goals for your next phase of ministry. With God’s favor and your diligence, you can declare the vision and meet the goals—resulting in an effective ministry. Remember God’s vision to us is to evangelize and make disciples. Our response to Him is to do so with excellence and fervor. Here are several key points to keep in mind when preparing to cast vision and goals:

!Vision and goals are different. Vision is where you are

headed. Goals are the steps or process to attain the vision. God inspired vs. culturally deficient. I am an idea generator and a fixer. It is in my nature to dream and I am driven to fix problems. As youth leaders, you should be aware of the deficiencies of your youth and their culture. You know what their needs are. You know what your opposition is. Caring for youth can be overwhelming and if not careful, you can easily be pulled into the “fix it” mentality when you should be seeking God’s wisdom and favor. Find out what God is saying about the deficiency, listen as He gives you ideas, then set your goals accordingly. !

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All rights reserved. 2013. Church of God of Prophecy, Operation Omega Youth Ministries

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Omega Connect

February 2014

Friend or Foe? Be aware, not everyone will support you. The phrase, I am for you, is a common term that I use when talking to the team I serve on. It is my desire to let them know that I am supporting them with all my resources. !

When preparing ministry vision and goals, here are some key steps to help you align with friends and avoid creating foes:

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Pray. Prayer is most important when preparing vision and goals. For centuries, ministries have fallen short of God’s provision and favor because dreamers and fixers have failed to align their vision with God’s way.! ! Let your ideas gestate. In addition to being a fixer and dreamer, I am a now person. I generally lack patience but have learned how important it is to let my ideas gestate or mature before sharing them. Just as the baby continues to mature in the mother’s womb before delivery, allow your ideas to gestate in the womb of prayer so they will carry God’s favor and blessing. !

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Communicate with clarity and frequently. When you have the vision and you are listing your goals, be clear. People want to follow leaders who know where they are going. Even if you don’t know how you will get there be sure you know where God has called you to go. Cast a vision worth pursuing. !

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Identify your key stakeholders. These are the people who believe in you. They support you. They follow you. You will need these people when it is time to launch your vision and goals. These key stakeholders are the supporters that help you be effective and not a mere commodity for transactions. Listen to them. Consider their advice. !

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No regrets! My wife (of 25 years) has told me on many occasions “Live your life with no regrets.” She is not talking about living carelessly or without regard for others. In fact, she has high regard for what others think. She is simply giving a challenge to be contemplative and intentional about our responses to the call of God. !

!So with regard to vision and goals, live with no regrets. Consider the commands of God. Respond willingly to the call of God. Ground your vision in Scripture. Align with strategic ministry partners. Most of all—pray! Then, using the steps above, dream well and cast vision with confidence! “And the LORD answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it”” (Habakkuk 2:2 ESV). !

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William Lamb" Director of the Leonard Center @ Lee University" Follow William on twitter at wlamb88

All rights reserved. 2013. Church of God of Prophecy, Operation Omega Youth Ministries

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Omega Connect

February 2014

CÓMO ESTABLECER METAS MINISTERIALES by: William Lamb | Director of Leonard Center, Lee University

Cómo Establecer Metas Ministeriales La idea misma de que nosotros, los seres humanos, habremos de establecer nuestras propias metas ministeriales es un hecho liberador. De hecho, es alentador —si usted quiere fracasar—. Permítame explicar lo que quiero decir con esto. La eficacia del ministerio de jóvenes es medida a menudo por el vaivén de la próxima o mejor idea o, en algunos casos, la decoración más valiente o brillante. Aunque esto sea comprensible, por cuanto los jóvenes de hoy reflejan la generación sensorial, esto dista mucho de ser el enfoque correcto. No debemos medir nuestro éxito por la decoración que tengamos o por estar en la vanguardia de las tendencias. No me malentienda. No estoy diciendo que debamos acogernos a la mediocridad o hacer caso omiso a la necesidad de ser culturalmente relevante. De hecho, el proclamado que, en ocasiones, la Iglesia se ha conformado con menos cuando hemos podido hacer más. Muy a menudo, hemos permitido que unos pocos dicten las pautas para la mayoría —en ambos extremos —. Debemos ir en pos de la excelencia. Dios nos dio lo mejor de Sí, y nosotros tenemos que funcionar de la misma manera: dar lo mejor de nosotros mismos.

El ministerio de jóvenes tiene que ser relevante, participativo, conocedores de la tecnología, y, sobre todo, basado en la Biblia. Conozca a la Palabra de Dios, y sea capaz de apoyar la visión con la Escritura. De lo contrario, será solamente una buena idea. Prepárese para un trabajo difícil cuando esté declarando la visión y las metas de su próxima fase de ministerio. Con el favor de Dios, y con la diligencia de usted, usted puede declarar la visión y cumplir las metas, lo cual resulta en un ministerio eficaz. Recuerde que la visión de Dios es que evangelicemos y hagamos discípulos. Nuestra respuesta para con Él es que lo hagamos con excelencia y fervor. A continuación varios puntos clave que debe tener en cuenta cuando se prepare para impartir la visión y las metas:

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La visión y las metas son dos cosas distintas. La visión es a dónde usted se dirige. Las metas son los pasos o el proceso para hacer realidad la visión.!

Inspiradas por Dios vs. culturalmente deficientes. Soy un generador de ideas y un reparador. Está en mi naturaleza soñar, y me encanta resolver problemas. Como líderes de jóvenes, usted debe estar consciente de las deficiencias de su j u v e n t u d y d e s u c u l t u r a . Us te d y a s a b e c u á l e s s o n s u s necesidades. Usted ya sabe cuál es la oposición suya. Cuidar de los jóvenes puede ser abrumador y, de no tener cuidado, puede caer fácilmente en la mentalidad de “arreglarlo todo”, cuando debiera estar buscando la sabiduría y el favor de Dios. Descubra lo que Dios está diciendo sobre la deficiencia; y escuche las ideas que Dios le dé, y entonces establezca sus metas de manera correspondiente.!

All rights reserved. 2013. Church of God of Prophecy, Operation Omega Youth Ministries

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Omega Connect

February 2014

¿Amigo o enemigo? Sepa que no todos le darán apoyo. Cuando estoy conversando con los miembros de mi equipo, siempre les digo: “Estoy aquí para servirles”. Esa es mi manera de hacerles saber que estaré apoyándolos con todos mis recursos. !

Cuando esté preparando la visión y las metas ministeriales, hay algunos pasos claves para ayudarle a aliarse con sus amigos y evitar hacer enemigos: Ore. La oración es muy importante a la hora de preparar la visión y las metas. Por siglos, los ministerios se han quedado cortos de la provisión y el favor de Dios porque los soñadores y los reparadores no se han alineado su visión con la voluntad de Dios.! ! Deje que sus ideas maduren. En adición a ser reparador y soñador, soy una persona enfocada en el tiempo presente. Por lo general carezco de paciencia, pero he aprendido cuán importante es dejar madurar mis ideas antes de compartirlas. Así como el feto que madura en el vientre de su madre antes de nacer, permita que sus ideas maduren en el vientre de la oración para que puedan tener el favor y la bendición de Dios.!

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Comuníquese clara y frecuentemente. Cuando usted tiene la visión y esté enumerando sus metas, hágalo con claridad. La gente quiere seguir a líderes que sepan a dónde se están dirigiendo. Aun si usted no supiera cómo va a llegar, asegúrese de saber a dónde Dios le ha dicho que vaya. Imparta una visión que valga la pena seguir.!

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Identifique a sus personas clave. Estas son las personas que creen en usted. Ellos habrán de apoyarle y seguirle. Usted necesitará a estas personas cuando llegue la hora de lanzar su visión y sus metas. Estas personas clave son los partidarios que le ayudan a ser un ministro eficaz, y no tan sólo un producto o materia prima para hacer transacciones.!

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Viva sin pesares! Mi esposa (llevamos 25 años de casados) me ha dicho en muchas ocasiones: “Vive la vida sin pesares”. Con esto, ella no está diciendo que viva descuidadamente y sin tener en cuenta a los demás. De hecho, ella es muy concienzuda de lo que piensan los demás. Más bien, ella está lanzando un reto a ser contemplativos e intencionales sobre nuestras respuestas al llamado de Dios.!

!Así que, en lo que respecta a la visión y las metas, viva sin pesares. Considere los mandamientos de Dios. Responda gustosamente al llamado de Dios. Use las Escrituras para dar fundamento a su visión. Alíese con compañeros estratégicos para el ministerio. Y lo más importante de todo: ¡Ore! Luego, al emplear los pasos descritos anteriormente, sueñe en grande e imparta la visión con confianza. “Y Jehová me respondió, y dijo: Escribe la visión, y declárala en tablas, para que corra el que leyere en ella.” (Habacuc 2:2, versión Reina-Valera 1909).!

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William Lamb" Director of the Leonard Center @ Lee University" Follow William on twitter at wlamb88

All rights reserved. 2013. Church of God of Prophecy, Operation Omega Youth Ministries

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February 2014

WORTH BELIEVING Reaching the Middle School Child

“Open your Bibles,” the Sunday school teacher says, and the response is a collective groan. This groan is the same response in the school classroom when an adult says, “Turn to page 100.” There is some inner pain or turmoil that seems to be tied to the practice of reading for some kids—Scripture or otherwise. Reaching a middle school child with an important message of faith and ethics is a difficult task. Based on the middle school kids I have known and with whom I have spent time, there a few guidelines I use for myself.

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Show Christ’s Actions

by Jason DeHart!

When an adult who claims to be a Christian says something ugly and terrible about one of my students, the only response is to cringe. When a teacher who stands at the front of classroom, fully expecting all the students to behave as responsible people of faith, later acts in a rude, selfish, and abrasive manner, there is an obvious disconnect. It is a tragedy for a middle school kid, or an adult for that matter, to see a Christian acting outside of their religious character. I try to maintain the person I am in front of the classroom no matter where I am—home alone or among other adults, for example. Anyone who has spent some time around middle school students knows that they are able to detect a fraud easily.

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Share the Truth

If an idea is worth believing and instilling in others, that idea should be shared. If, on the other hand, the content of our message is an issue of debate or a vague doctrinal notion, perhaps there are bigger problems to tackle. I remember fellow youth pastors in training who vowed that they would teach children that Christ had a sin nature, simply because one of their professors shared that view. I also remember one of the first youth pastor interviews I went on in which I discovered that the previous youth pastor was in a theological debate with another pastor down the road concerning a doctrinal matter—both individuals claimed to be Christians, but the two could not find common ground. What kind of message does that kind of divisiveness send to kids about unity in Christ?

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Show the Worth

Finally, our children need to know that they have value. They also need to see leaders who have a worthwhile sense of hope and faith. In short, middle school kids will only buy into an idea if it worth the buy-in. If it sounds fishy, they will not bite. If students can sense that we are genuine, that we care about them, and that we have really thought about what we believe, my experience has been that they are much more likely to be curious about the Holy One who has called us to His service.

Lead By Example International Youth Ministries | PO Box 2910 | Cleveland, TN 37320 | 423.559.5303 | www.operationomega.org All rights reserved. 2014. Church of God of Prophecy, Operation Omega Youth Ministries


Febrero 2014

VALE LA PENA CREER: Alcanzar a los Estudiantes de Escuela Intermedia

“Abran sus Biblias”, dice el maestro de Escuela Dominical, y la clase responde con un quejido colectivo. Es la misma respuesta que dan en el aula de la escuela cuando un adulto dice: “Pasen a la página 100”. Para algunos adolescentes, hay cierto dolor interior o agitación que parece estar vinculado a la práctica de leer, sea que se trate de la Biblia o no. Alcanzar al estudiante de escuela intermedia con un mensaje importante de fe y ética es una tarea difícil. En lo personal, yo sigo unas pocas pautas las cuales aprendí de los chicos de escuela intermedia a quienes he conocido y con quienes he pasado tiempo. Espero que les sean de bendición.

Actúe como Cristo Lo Haría

Jason DeHart!

Cuando un adulto cristiano dice algo feo y terrible sobre uno de mis estudiantes, la única respuesta posible es sentir vergüenza. Cuando un maestro enseña y espera que sus estudiantes se comporten como personas responsables en la fe, y luego él mismo se comporta de manera irrespetuosa, egoísta y desagradable, está demostrando que no hay armonía entre sus dichos y sus hechos. Es triste para un chico de escuela intermedia, e incluso para un adulto, ver a un cristiano que no actúa en armonía con su carácter religioso. Yo trato de ser en todo lugar la misma persona que soy en el salón de clases — sea que me encuentre solo en el hogar, o con otros adultos, por ejemplo—. Toda persona que haya pasado tiempo con estudiantes de escuela intermedia sabe que los tales pueden detectar fácilmente si una persona no está viviendo lo que predica.

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Comparta la Verdad

Si hay una idea que valga la pena creer y compartir con otros, tal idea debe ser compartida. Por el otro lado, si el contenido de nuestra idea es un asunto de debate o una noción doctrinal vaga, no lo comparta. Quizás haya algún otro asunto más importante al que se deba dedicar. Recuerdo a ciertos compañeros que se preparaban para ser pastores de jóvenes; recuerdo que prometieron que enseñarían a los niños que Cristo tenía una naturaleza pecaminosa, y la única razón por la cual hicieron tal promesa fue porque uno de sus profesores compartía la misma opinión. También me acuerdo de una de mis primeras entrevistas para un cargo de pastor de jóvenes: descubrí que el pastor de jóvenes anterior estuvo envuelto en un debate teológico con otro pastor tocante a un asunto doctrinal. Ambos individuos alegaban ser cristianos, pero ninguno de los dos pudo encontrar cosas que tuvieran en común con el otro. ¿Qué clase de mensaje damos a los jóvenes sobre la unidad en Cristo con este tipo de disensiones?

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Demuestre Cuánto Valen

Por último, nuestros jóvenes necesitan saber que tienen valor. También necesitan ver que sus líderes tengan un sentido de fe y esperanza que puedan imitar. En otras palabras, los jóvenes de escuela intermedia solamente aceptan una idea si vale la pena aceptarla. Si en esa idea hay algo que parezca ser falso, no habrán de aceptarla. Mi experiencia ha sido que cuando los estudiantes perciben que somos genuinos, que nos interesa su bienestar, y que verdaderamente hemos reflexionado sobre lo que creemos, hay más probabilidades de que quieran conocer al Dios Santo que nos llamó a servir.

Dirige con el ejemplo

International Youth Ministries | PO Box 2910 | Cleveland, TN 37320 | 423.559.5303 | www.operationomega.org All rights reserved. 2014. Church of God of Prophecy, Operation Omega Youth Ministries


OMEGA CONNECT/FEBRUARY 2014