Posted by: mylifeisepic | October 6, 2007

a little LIFT this week


I just got back from the 2007 LIFT Conference down at the Oaks Fellowship in Red Oak, Tx. This was a great event, and it was awesome to see some buddies of mine from my SAGU days.

Here’s who I got to see:

Last Night
Jeanne Mayo – she talked about having a “Ladder 49” youth ministry. It’s about being able to give all of us to save the lives of others. I walked away with a pretty cool oxygen mask “souvenir” to keep on my desk to remind me about having a Ladder 49 mindset.

This morning
The SEVEN Staff at The Oaks put on a “mock” youth service so we could all see what one of their services is like. I must say, they do it right. Their videos are quality. Their music is top-notch. Their organization is UNBELIEVABLE. And their focus, vision, and passion are unrivaled. It was encouraging to see them do what they did, and to do it well.

My breakout session this morning was Dr. Leonard Sweet talking about Post-Modern Evangelism. Some of the key points of what he said was that we have to change the way we think about evangelism in the world today. 75% of the 330,000 churches in America are on the decline or dead. 24% of the remaining parts are growing….but they are growing as a result of other “sheep” from the dead/dying churches coming to join their flocks. ONLY 1% of churches in the US are growing, vibrant and healthy. That’s 3300. Wow. How he advised that we change our evangelism tactics is to LISTEN FIRST – learn their story, what they are “up to,” and then you can adequately gauge where they are with Jesus. The more that WE are the main character in our faith story and not Jesus the worse off we are. Quality stuff, Len.

Our next General Session was also with Dr. Sweet. He talked about semiotics – reading the “signs of the times.” Basically – we’re screwed. Not really, but the church has a lot of work to do, and there were some things he said we have to get on the ball with or we’re in trouble for the future. Very cool – and I think my head exploded.

In my first breakout session after lunch, I sat in Pastor Dan Hunter’s session on “Making Your Big Nights Big.” One of my passions in youth ministry is big events. I really enjoy them. I like the planning, preparation, and outcome of big nights. The actual execution of them is where I tend to get bogged down. It was great to get some insight from Dan about how Seven was able to have a ONE NIGHT outreach event at The Oaks that attracted 2700 students to it, with almost 700 of them accepting Christ. That’s unbelievable. It’s that sort of event that reminds me of the type of activity in the Book of Acts when people would gather, hear the Gospel, and numbers were added to them daily. Praise God for that – I’m so encouraged by what’s going on at Seven.

Last, I sat in on a session by Sy Rogers. Honestly, I was a little apprehensive at first about going to this session. It was titled “Keeping Clean in a Dirt World.” Would people think I was dirty and trying to “get clean” in this session? Maybe. But who cares? If you don’t know Sy’s story, it’s pretty unbelievable. He was molested as a young child by a father-figure, and it lead to a homosexual lifestyle in him at an early age. From sex partner to beating post, Sy endured a lot of hardship as a child. Eventually, he was fully active in the Gay community, even preparing himself for a sex change operation. It was then that God got a hold of his life, changed him, and he’s been serving God since then. He had some pretty great things to say about people/students who have similar aspects in their past. I wrote quite a bit down to keep with me. Homosexuality is NOT something Bible school or seminary prepares you to adequately pastor or counsel. Yes, they’ll teach you what the Bible says about it, but not about what to do when one of your 14 year old students comes to you confessing their behavior. Great insight here. I highly encourage ALL student pastors hear his message, download his stuff, and use it in the future. You’ll need it. I’ve been convinced for years that the church doesn’t adequately address this issue. We tell what’s right and wrong, but not HOW to deal with it if you’re stuck in it. That’s true ministry. Knowing what you believe or don’t believe is one thing. Knowing how to help another hurting person stuck in this lifestyle is another.

Then we headed out. We had an interesting night last night staying at a friend’s house, and we were ready to get out of there. I only got about 4 hours of sleep, and that was sub-par at best.

But overall, the Lift Conference was fantastic. I can’t wait to take more of my Epic Leaders next year – worth the cost, for sure.


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