Lent 2012

I do Lent. No, I’m not Catholic. Yes, I know Jesus and his disciples never actually did Lent. But for me, this is something that I feel like brings me closer to God and a better understanding of sacrifice and what it means to depend on God. Even though I am not Catholic, I see the importance of a practice like Lent. I don’t do Lent because I’m suppose to, I don’t do Lent because others do it, and I don’t give up something frivolous just so I can do Lent. I carefully select what I give up and when I crave that thing, I try to focus on God instead. I know I picked the right thing when I have a hard time doing it.

The first thing I’m giving up will probably be the most difficult. Sports. I feel like I’m crazy for even considering this and that is probably why this is the perfect thing to give up. Luckily there are only three major events that will test me:
1) March Madness
2) NFL Draft
3) Beginning of the MLB Season

My only saving grace will be Sundays when I can celebrate and feast (Little known secret about Lent).

Second, I’m going to try and give up Facebook as well. As much as I’m on Twitter, I don’t just waste time on there. Facebook on the other hand, ends up being just a big time sink. I read the same statuses and see the same pictures over and over again. Sometimes I just park on the dashboard and wait for something interesting to be posted, which it rarely does.

I’m not saying Lent should be something that the entire church should do because I’ll be honest, Lent is not for everyone. But before you bash it for being a purely religious thing and not a Jesus thing- remember that for some people, Lent can be a meaningful worship experience that can draw them closer to God. Taking 40 days to sacrifice something in their lives helps prepare their hearts for Easter. Just sayin’.

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Garage Sale

I’m not talking about any regular ole’ garage sale. I’m talking about a GIANT one. In fact, giant doesn’t even do it justice. But that’s what we call it. Every year, we accept donations for a month then in the first full week in June we sort, organize, and price till we drop. Then we finally have two days of the actual sale. It’s pretty intense, in fact it’s very overwhelming. But in the end, we raise just about 50,000 dollars every year for our kids to go to camps and mission trips. For day 1, I will be live tweeting the sucker. Follow me @gabebernal to get the low down and some random commentary on this monster of a sale. If you’re in the Dallas area, come out and support our Youth Group at First Baptist Church Richardson and buy some junk from us!

Church Welcoming

I never realized how much we (the church as a whole) epically fail at welcoming guests. Made a visit to a local church because of their young singles program. I went because I wanted to meet some new people. But, other than the greeters and when the worship pastor told us to say hi the people around us, no one said a word to me. Our “Holy Huddles” apparently applies to not just people outside the church, but to new visitors as well. We don’t bother to leave our clique to say hi to a someone who looks new and is by themselves.

It makes me rethink how I welcome visitors. I almost feel like it should be a requirement for church goers to visit another church on their own at least once a year, so they can be reminded how uncomfortable it feels to not know anyone.

Does anyone else have any thoughts about this?

The Battle of Minsitry

Focusing too much on relationships and not paying any attention to office work is stupid and leads to a disorganized mess.
Spending too much time in the office and not focusing on relationships is neglecting what’s most important in life.

It’s a delicate balance between the office and building relationships.

Fall Retreat 2010 Recap

This weekend was the FBCR Student Ministry Fall Retreat. This is a weekend where we just give some kids a chance to get away and let the older kids teach the rest of the group. During this 24 hour trip, we have 3 worship sessions where 3 of our high schoolers give the message and then after each session we break into small groups to discuss the message that was just given.

The topic for our student leaders this year was “Parables of Jesus.” Each student speak chose one parable that they would explore. We had three seniors who delivered our keynote messages: Riley Firth chose the Ten Virgins, Regan Akers chose the Unmerciful Servant and Shelby Tidwell chose the Parable of the Sower.

After each message we broke into small groups of about 12 students and discussed further into each parable that was spoken on. We chose 2-3 older students who lead the groups and facilitated discussion.

For worship, my friend and one of our key lay leaders, Sam Musabyimana (founder of Project X, an evangelism group) organized a simple acoustic set and enlisted three of our students to sing as he played.

Overall, it was a pretty low key weekend: we worshiped, discussed God, and (my favorite part of the weekend) just hung out and relax. The biggest benefit this weekend brings us is just being able to have 24 hours where we can just get away from our daily lives and focus on what’s really important. God, the Word, and our relationships.

Below is a video of a modern day parable that was created by Francis Chan. Yesterday before our Bible Fellowships we had a short rally, where we usually give announcements and share a short devo, and to follow up the retreat. We showed this video to lead into the devotional.

What I want in a Youth Group

In the FBCR Student Ministry we have a student leadership team where we usually select anywhere from 1-7 students from each grade (depending on number applied and ratio per grade). In just the last couple of years we starting interviewing applicants, generally in groups.

This past sunday we held the interviews to select our student leadership team and we had two different approaches for how to “make the youth group better.” One is a method that many youth ministries use and run their student ministry by and a way that honestly drives me nuts. And the other made me grin ear to ear because it is what I think is not only biblical but the way a youth group should be.

The first was wanted a program, event, social driven youth ministry to just have fun and bring in as many people as we can get- and they had idea after idea of what we could do to accomplish this.

The other blew me away because it was a bunch of sophomores and freshman that wanted this. It was to have a youth ministry based on love. We create a place that fosters an environment of love and community. We need to create a safe place that someone can come in and be who they really are and be loved for it. They want an intimate fellowship, and that if we create that- then people will come.

And that’s it!! That’s what it needs to be! I’m not saying we shouldn’t have fun events, this is a youth ministry where there are bunch of teenagers, you need that element of fun. But when a youth ministry is built on that then you end up being rather shallow. however, when a ministry built on caring for one another and the love of Christ, then a we can start to do work.

I hope this hasn’t just seemed like a jumbled bunch of thoughts, but this was something that I wanted to share because it’s what I want a youth ministry to be like. I want it to be like Acts 2 where we truly fellowship and share life together by reflecting Christ’s love.