Friday, November 6, 2009
9:00 PM - 1:00 AM
1:00 AM - 5:00 AM
5:00 AM - 9:00 AM (or earlier, depending on if all the youth are with their parents)
Of course, I'll accept any adult who wants to join me for the entire 11 hours too (Those who do so win all my adoration and support).
What we need? Food...a bunch of food (chips, brownies, cookies, cakes, pies, finger foods, dip (as in chip dip), sweet tea, coke/pepsi products, etc.
What to bring? a friend, a smile, a sleeping bag (if you think you're gonna want to sleep), board games, cards, clean movie DVDs, kickballs, etc.
What will happen? plenty of free time, 3-on-3 basketball tournament, ping-pong tournament, crazy relays, food, friends, more friends, memories to create and remember.
Why? That's a question I've been asking myself!! Just kidding! The real reason is to have a fun night together, fellowship, play, smile, laugh, enjoy Christian company, beat Bro. Tommy in ping-pong (I dare you!).
Parents, I really need your support AND presence. I cannot do a lockin without at least a 1 to 8 adult to student ratio. Choose a time slot, email it to me at Tommy@cvbchurch.org, promote this with your kids, tell them to invite friends, bring friends with you when you come, pray for us. And pray for us! Lockins are very hard on adults, but the relationships we build with the kids are great. Pray for our stamina to complete the task and our ability to build relationships with the kids as we point them to a life-long relationship with Jesus (This is the real "Why" for the lockin).
Monday, August 24, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Youth Camp was more than expected. We knew it was going to be good, but we were happy to see it go so well. The first time of a new camp usually is filled with issues needing adjustment, but this year was wonderful. I am especially indebted to the amazing youth chaperones, Camp Pastor Sean Nix and Camp Worship Band, the Jason Lovins Band. What a great week! In fact, it went so well that we have set a date for FUSION CAMP 2010 - June 21-25. We still have a website dedicated to youth camp where you can review camp photos and videos at http://www.fusionsummer.org/. Please visit the site to see the great things the Lord has done at camp.
MissionLab was PHENOMENAL! Yes, I intended to type that word in all caps because God moved in and through our team in incredible ways. I told Tim and Ingrid Sarrell after worship today that I wish I had kept a journal to record all the things the Lord had done that week. God did so many amazing things and provided in so many ways, it is difficult to recount them all today. Suffice it to say that our prayer request that we leave as a youth team and return as a group of missionaries was indeed answered by the Lord. Added to the amazing things done by the Lord, we had the amazing chance to lead 21 children to salvation in Jesus Christ during the week. Just amazing!
Now, we move out of summer ministry and into a fully loaded fall calendar. Sixth graders move into the youth ministry and 12th graders move out of the youth ministry on August 1. It is always a bittersweet time to me because I am excited to see new kids in the group, but hate losing the incredible 12th graders we've known and worked with for the past 6 years. They will be sorely missed!
Speaking of 6th graders moving into the youth ministry, I am offering a rising 6th grade orientation meeting on Sunday, July 26 at 5:00 PM in the Youth Ministry Center. This includes parents of any age who have young people in the youth ministry who have yet to learn of the youth ministries purposes and direction. Any parent is welcome...including parents of youth who have been a part of our group for any amount of time.
Please know I love you and am praying for you regularly!
Friday, June 26, 2009
Travel Days: June 5 & 11
AM Ministry: VBS at Excite All Stars Day Camp off Read Blvd in NO East.
Afternoon ministries: clean lots at lower 9th Ward (Monday & Thursday); Prayer Walking (Tuesday & Friday); Nursing Home Visitation (Wednesday)
Evening Activities: Free time, dinner and MLab worship with other youth groups serving as missionaries at other places during the week!
We actually have had 2 openings for this trip for any high school student who may want to join us (students entering 9th grade through Class of 2009 Graduates are included on this trip). If you want "in", contact Bro. Tommy now (yeah, right now!)...706-820-3068 (home); 706-820-1911 (office); 423-596-7397 (cell); Tommy@cvbchurch,org; firstname.lastname@example.org; or email@example.com. Or twitter me at http://twitter.com/TommyVowell. If you can't locate me in one of these ways, you can assume I'm with Jesus :o).
We already have set the dates for 2010 camp = June 21-25, 2010. How's that for early notice??
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Ive EXTENDED Camp registration for as long as possible. Visit the camp website at http://www.fusionsummer.org/ for information and to print the registration form and medical release.
I've extended it because we need to take as many youth as possible. The only catch for late registrants is we will soon be ordering the camp shirts by bulk. Very late registrations will make it impossible for us to provide a shirt. So, to avoid this possibility, please register as soon as possible.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I have a special opportunity...the first mom or dad who will call me at 423-596-7397 and tell me you saw this on the YOMOMA Parent Blog, I will take $25 bucks off of your children's summer camp costs (This applies to whatever number of kids you have...1, 2, or more youth in your family will receive $25 dollars off for each kid in your family when they register for youth camp.
CONGRATULATIONS TO JEFF & JENNIFER EPPERSON (THEY WERE THE PARENTS TO RECEIVE THE $25.00 OFF YOUTH CAMP..YEP, THAT's $25 OFF JORDAN & $25 OFF BLAKELY!!)
Notice that the $40.00 deposit for youth camp is due May 3rd. Anyone who pays after May 3 will receive an added cost of $20.00. Why? Because its crunch time ann I need to know who is serious about this trip. So, I advise you make your payments early or at least on May 3 (PArents with financial need should contact me for help).
I hope we have a full bus when we leave for youth camp. We already have 15 people registered for MissionLab (Don't forget MLab team that we have a team meeting May 3 at 5:00 in the Youth Ministry Center too. This is a required meeting for our team.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Youth Ministry - I'd streamline the ministry to make it most effective. While I am hesitant to strip all we've done to bare bones ministry, I am willing to make all the complex items more into a simple ministry process.
Everyone likes simplicity -- just take a look at the most popular Internet search engine, "Google", and see the simplicity there; or, take a look at one of the most popular magazines for women, "Real Simple". These are only a couple examples, but the more I look around I see simplicity taking over in the midst of all the complexities of our modern world. Our youth ministry should follow suite.
Now, how does a youth pastor evaluate what we've done for the past 6 years and simplify? One thing is for sure...its not simple to simplify anything. Its much easier to simplify from the front-end, rather than to simplify midway through something. I think I'm correct when I say Matthew Issennock was the first full-time youth pastor at CVBC. Of course, great leaders served prior (including the incredible ministry of Ronnie & Flavia Fleming and others prior to them). And I've been here six years. Obviously, CVBC youth ministry is in mid-swing for sure!
But, as I look around, I see the need to simplify scream to me from every angle. First, I find it interesting to read the paper or see news clips online and then read the bible as it refers to the last days prior to Christ's return for the Church. While I'm hesitant to say we're in the midst of the last days and Christ could return today, I can identify with the concept that we are in the fourth quarter (I don't know how long this quarter lasts, however). I'm reminded of how Paul, the Apostles and the early Church fathers all thought Jesus' return was in their time -- and that was over 2,000 years ago! People thought Jesus would return during every level of change in the history of the world (the Dark Ages, the Crusades, the Industrial Age, for example). Plus, any wacko leader in the world caused the Church to proclaim the end of the world (Hitler, Stalin, and the like). Still Jesus has yet to return. Today, we all refer to the postmodern era in which we find ourselves or we cry out that the end is near when people like Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden and worldwide terrorists attack us. And most recently, people have said the world's end is soon because of the strife occurring on the Mexican/American borders in Southwest USA. Again, I do not know, but I am more willing to agree this is all the fourth quarter and the Church had better get set for the final whistle!
A second reason we need to think about simplifying our youth ministry is because of the "busy-ness" level of the average person in NW Georgia. Certainly there was a time when our culture sought the church calendar first before planning their own calendars. Churches in the 1970's and 1980's can recall when no businesses were open on Sunday mornings and certainly no recreation leagues would offer games or practices on Sundays. Even blue laws were in place, and, in some communities, alcohol sales were restricted on Sundays. That was then. This is now. As much as we might be frustrated with the culture of today we are still called to minister in its midst. Instead of complaining and fighting and making it an "us v. them" mentality, perhaps the Church could simplify to become all things to all people and still reach some (I believe this is a biblical principle!).
A third reason for simplifying our youth ministry would be the "burn-out" factor I am witnessing among faithful church members. While it is true that 20% of church members do 80% of the work in the church (perhaps it would be closer to 90%) we must make our ministries simple in order to not cause burn-out with our volunteers. Everyone is busy and to be a part of a church that demands even more is killing us. The Church ought to be careful if we want to see our people remain fresh and productive as ministers of the Gospel.
Therefore, since Jesus will return one day, because people are busy, and because church members are burning out, I suggest our youth ministry become simple. Simple is not simple. It won't be easy. It may not be popular. It might bring change (And being a change agent in a church could spell out death to a pastor's influence in a church). It could draw criticism. People may get angry.
Or, there could be the beginnings of revival in the church! Maybe people will fall in love with Jesus once again! Maybe people will become excited about the more simple approach and become infectious leaders and participants! Perhaps young people will not fade away when they get their driver's licence! Maybe young people will get saved! Imagine them growing in their faith and literally walking with Jesus the rest of their lives! See them involved with the church's ministry for years to come! Imagine their commitment to purity! Watch them raise their children in the ways of the Lord! See them as they marry Godly spouses! Imagine!
Its time to stop imagining. Its time for action. And here it is spelled out below:
CVBC youth ministry will become simple by focusing on three processes:
- Leading kids to faith in Christ for salvation, church baptism and membership.
- Discipling kids to live for Jesus for the remainder of their lives.
- Involving kids in ministry and missions.
The funny thing is this changes nothing by way of our present programming. Wednesday night "Elevate" worship service is designed to point kids to salvation in Christ. Sunday School and DFG focuses on discipleship & outreach. The "Top 10" items in an earlier post still apply. The only change that is needed is a strategic move to begin ministry and missions teams. And part of the missions team begins with a trip this summer to New Orleans and another mission trip to Costa Rica in summer of 2010. We need to make ministry teams that reflect the bible...care groups, evangelism teams, ministry to the down & out in our area, welcome teams, worship teams, drama teams, etc.
A change that will impact us is to ensure our special events and activities are limited to the three processes. For example, Summit is linked to discipleship because it is a discipleship retreat. Youth Camp is both outreach and discipleship. MissionLab is a high school missions team. But, a game night just so we can play "Chubby Bunny" won't fit (although playing "Chubby Bunny" at Elevate does fit -- do you see the difference?). We don't need to plan anything that doesn't fit into the parameters of the three processes. If it doesn't fit, don't convict (oops, sorry, I know this isn't the OJ Simpson trial, but it does make a point -- only events and activities that support the three process should be scheduled).
What's craziest is that going simple for us is not far off. Its more of an attitude shift than it is anything else. Imagine Sunday School leaders who understand that their class is one of the most important tools we have that will reach kids for salvation and prepare them for discipleship. And imagine DFG leaders who understand they are responsible to give kids practical instruction in living for the Lord. And imagine scores of kids involved weekly in ministry and missions teams that are serving people inside and outside the church.
Volunteers are key, but instead of needing adults to work in 10-12 programs, now we are simplified to having one of three options: Sunday School, DFG, or leading or co-leading a ministry/missions team. That's all! Every week, volunteers would serve in one capacity. Of course, I have some training to do...helping teacher organize a Sunday School class where the Bible is taught primarily. Creating DFG leaders who understand their main role is applying the Bible to kids lives in their studies. And working with ministry/missions team leaders to ensure they are the best they can be.
Three processes, little change in present programming and special events, creating a mindset that realizes simple is better, and a ministry that is growing by leaps and bounds because now we offer a ministry similar to that of Jesus himself. I for one, am pumped and think this is going to change the fabric of CVBC youth ministry!
One last focus before I sign off...these three processes cannot happen without prayer and without parental support. Prayer is the most important. You will be hearing in coming weeks how the entire church will be able to pray for all of our young people from middle school, high school and college.
Parents, I need you too. You! If you are a believer and willing to help, please contact me. You are the most influential person in the life of your child. Not me! But, together we can see to it that our kids live for Jesus for the rest of their lives! Please contact me if you are willing to help.
May God bless Chattanooga Valley Baptist Church generally and the youth ministry specifically!!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
meets from 7:00-8:15 PM almost every Wednesday night in the Youth Ministry Center.
Elements of Elevate: live music (cranked up!); games; fellowship (Warm Fuzzies); Video illustrations; Testimonies; & a relevant message from the Youth Pastor.
Message Topics: I try to provide messages that are current with the culture in which youth find themselves. I always use the Bible as my main text, but often use video clips from YouTube or an appropriate clip from a movie that will enhance what the Lord is saying through the text. (NOTE: I always preview these clips to ensure they are appropriate).
Since the end of January through the end of March, I have focused these messages around specific passages that promote honoring God with our bodies, renewing our mind for good, turning our eyes from worthless things, and guarding our hearts above all else. The theme of these messages has been called, "The Purity Code". Originally, the goal was to offer a 2 week focus on the "True Love Waits" emphasis around Valentine's Day. But, I discovered a resource that took the beauty of TLW but focused upon the whole of the matter of dating, love and the "s" word.
An interesting discovery: The first session of the Purity Code was a survey of the opinions of the youth. I asked the kids to stand as a large group in the center of the room and then I had 2 adults with signs...one sign read "I agree" and the other read "I disagree" (These adults stood at opposite sides of the room).
I then asked the kids questions and they were to move to a place in the room with their appropriate answer. If they agreed with the statement they would move closest to the adult with the "I agree" sign. If they disagreed they moved to the adult with the "I disagree sign".
The questions ranged from "I love the Georgia Bulldogs (Or the Tennessee Vols)" to "I believe in true love". One question revealed an interesting phenomenon..."The Bible speaks often about love, dating and sex." A majority of the kids answered "I disagree". Only 2 youth answered "I agree". Amazing....here we had a room full of 45 young people and only 2 of them believed the Bible had something significant to say about the topic!
The Big Reveal: Over the next 10 weeks I showed the youth several passages that deal with the subject either directly or indirectly. I emphasized the four parts I mentioned in the "Message Topics" section above. The sessions revealed over 30 passages of scripture that speak to the topic. I continually referred back to their original answer that the Bible didn't contain much on the topic and emphasized that, in fact, the Bible has much to say about the topic. My prayer is they will walk away with the knowledge that God's Word applies to life. They can read and study it and they will find it to be the source of life and help them as they live for God.
The Pledge: As I type this article, I have the pledge on a certificate that the kids will have an opportunity to sign and take home (I will keep a copy for myself). The pledge reads as follows:
The Purity Code Pledge
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body. -1 Corinthians 6:19-20
In honor of God, my family, and my future spouse, I commit my life to sexual purity. This involves:
*Honoring God with my body.
*Renewing my mind for good.
*Turning my eyes from worthless things.
*Guarding my heart above all else.
If a youth so decides, they can sign the pledge and hopefully keep it. I've emphasized repeatedly that its just a piece of paper. It takes a heart commitment to see it last. The Bible can help you fulfill this pledge. Jesus must be your Savior first and foremost. And, the church is committed to helping you.
Special Note: Why? Why emphasize the love, dating and sex theme? I understand the question. The answer short and simple - I believe the Lord guided me to teach this emphasis. But, also, I read the studies and the articles, both of secular nature and those of the Church. Kids are experimenting with sex, many of them before the 4th grade, without proper adult input. If this is true, and I believe it is based upon personal conversations with other ministers and also education professionals, this means I am dealing with kids some 2-8 years removed from the 4th grade. Most of them have had little to no parental or adult guidance on the topic. A precious few have and I hope your kids are part of the few. But, I was inspired by the Lord and through the Bible to teach these truths.
Never did I discuss anything sexual other than asking kids to postpone sex until marriage. I stayed focused upon God's Word and the teachings there. Where there needs to be specific sex education, I leave this to you as the parent. I urge you to start talking this over with your kids if you haven't already. If I can help, please feel free to contact me.
What topics are coming up in "Elevate"? I am taking the youth on a journey....the Gospel of John! John is an awesome book on the life, miracles, teachings, trial, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I will be teaching a systematic series of messages from the book that will take us into the summer. Please pray for me as I study, but, more importantly, for the kids as they hear the messages and apply them to their daily lives!
May God bless your family and may our kids be found pure in Jesus!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Why do we do the things we do? What is the process by which we choose one event over another? What influences the decisions to offer a particular program, activity, or special event?
These are all questions I hope you are asking when it comes to your kids. I hope you don't simply drop them off at the church hoping maybe they'll get something for coming. Youth need to know certain things before they graduate high school. The youth ministry is purposefully designed around ten top things we want to see accomplished in the lives of the kids. Some of these directly influence their lives and other do so indirectly, but all of them are designed to bring about a particular result.
I recognize you may not want to know the "nitty gritty" details of why we do what we do. So, I've recently designed a simple format that helps to clarify our purposes. They are not in an chronological order. Some of them are emphasized more than the others at different times, but they all are things we would like to see accomplished...they would leave us with a sense that we are being successful.
Anyone can plan stuff to fill a calendar. That's easy to do. And in this day and age I receive more emails and junk mail from thousands of organizations offering things to do. The scary thing is that I actually have seen church youth ministries operate under a "cram-the-calendar full of stuff" ideaology. God is not a God of disorder and His ministries have no right to behave in a disorderly manner.
Well, enough philosophy. Here is the top ten things we are trying to accomplish for the Lord.
Based upon a foundation of prayer...we desire to:
1. Reach as many youth as possible to surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
2. Train and equip Christian youth to live for and follow Jesus with their lives.
3. Create a weekly program where Christian youth can worship Jesus and bring their friends to hear the Good News about Jesus.
4. Teach the Bible to youth...a comprehensive approach that guide youth to know God's Word.
5. Build significant relationships between youth and the youth ministers (Adult workers).
6. Build a connection between the church congregation and the young people.
7. Raise awareness of the youth ministry to the church congregation.
8. Build meaningful relationships with the youth ministers to equip them for ministry.
9. Connect with the parents of youth by partnering with them in raising Godly children.
10. Instill in youth a vision for missions and global development with a Kingdom perspective.
Now, if you can bear with me a little bit longer, I'd like to give examples below of how specifically we are doing these 10 items right now within the programs, activitiies, and events:
Based upon a foundation of prayer (Shout PMI - you'll learn more about this later)
1. This is a part of everything we do...constantly giving youth chances to make Jesus Lord.
2. DFG - its solely about seeing them grow in their faith
3. Elevate youth worship on Wednesday nights
4. Sunday School, every Sunday at 9:30-10:25 am
5. Using youth ministers as chaperones to Summit, camp and other key events.
6. Personal salvation testimonies from adults to youth at Elevate.
7. Bulletin ads, speaking to age groups within church about youth ministry.
8. Salt dinners (these are lunch meetings with youth ministers for encouragment and planning)..
9. Recently we offered the "Parent Fuel" course in Life University.
10. MissionLab New Orleans and volunteering to work church VBS.
If I could sum up in one sentence what these top ten things are, I'd say the following (in fact, you'll see this one sentence on almost every piece of paper that comes out of my office...so, next time you see it, you'll know that one sentence actually represents ten goals we hope to achieve):
"To create life change in youth through Jesus
so they can become life-changers to the world for Jesus."
Thanks for letting me take all this time and space to let you know about the Top 10! Its really important to me that parents understand the bigger picture and just not receive info about event details, costs, etc. We've certainly not arrived where God would have us be, but we are on the right path. I cherish your prayers and always welcome your involvement. God bless you and your family for Christ!