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You can read the first three posts here, here and here. Where do we go from here? I am sure there is all of the statistical data to discuss and missional “stratgery” that merits our attention. But if we take a step back and ask, “What works?” I am not sure that we can come up with a cookie-cutter plan that works for everyone. But that’s what we want isn’t it? We want a P90x program that can be plugged into any church context that will automatically multiply our numbers. We tell ourselves thought it’s not about numbers it is about saving souls (souls are numbers right?) yet the pressure of our budgets and the depleting numbers in our Sunday night service is evident that something must budge. So we want an evangelism P90x to plug in and get results. I think we should move in a different direction…one that is simple. Consider The Skit Guys and their hilarious video that closes with a point I want to highlight….

Investment into one person. We are not called to save the world but we can invest in one person. Eddie and Tommy both talked about how investment made on their part or on the part of someone else made the difference in salvation and changed their lives. Last night one of my former youth group kids spoke to my current youth group and he talked about a relationship he had with a girl for 2 1/2 years and how he was able to baptize her. Investment. One person. Full focus. Prayers, efforts, service, study all focused on one. So often we worry about all the things around us when sometimes God reveals the fertile soil that is right in front of us.

What if we taught students to invest their lives into people for a year committed to discipling them and helping them grow over a period of time. Then watching that person do the exact same thing. Friends, discipleship and evangelism does not have to be mutually exclusive. They can be one in the same. So that is what I have learned. It takes investment, relationships and a whole lot of God in this process.

What would you add?



I have been a fan of Yellowcard since they released their epic album “Ocean Avenue” in 2003. I have loved just about every song they have come out with. Their new album “Southern Air” looks to be a great album and I absolutely love the song “Here I am Alive.” In the video it portrays a couple of junior-high kids who have dreams but come across some bullies who say, “You are never getting out of this town.”

I thought about my own dreams and where I am now. The song seems to speak some truth to life about how there are ups and downs but we are still alive. He poses a question, “If I could write myself when I was young.” I have written on this before but if you could write a letter to your younger self what would you say?

What would you say to your dreams?

What would you say to your struggles?

What would you say to your family and friends?

What things would do differently?

This kind of thing allows us to think about what we use to hold important but no longer do but also things we gave up on and said that we could never do. Things people told us we would never accomplish.

Yet…

Here we are…

…alive.

Maybe we need to dream again.

What should you dream about?

What could you do?

Watch the video below. I hope you enjoy it.


I had the amazing blessing of interviewing Wayne Cordeiro who is pastor of the New Hope Christian Fellowship Church in Honolulu, Hawaii. He wrote a book a couple of years back called, Leading on Empty where he talked about his journey through burnout and what ministers can do to keep from burning out. We talk about depression, burnout and what we can do to make sure we are leading our church with a full tank. I know you will be blessed.

This is my 40th interview and because I believe in empowering youth ministers with cool resources I want to give away some amazing books for you to read.  All you have to do is comment below and talk about your experience with burnout and what you did to overcome it.  I will select a random person on December 30th and will mail you these resources:

  • The Millenials by Thom and Jess Rainer
  • Theological Turn in Youth Ministry by Kenda Creasy Dean and Andrew Root
  • Sticky Faith (Youth Worker Edition) by Kara Powell and Brad Griffin
  • Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro
  • Ministry by Teenagers by Jonathan McKee and David Smith
  • One.Life by Scot McKnight
  • Life in Student Ministry by Tim Schmoyer

Why am I doing this?  I believe in these men and women who wrote these materials and I also believe in helping other youth ministers succeed.  So please watch the interview and comment below, spread the word and you may win some amazing resources.


Lesson #4 – What are the implications of advent?

INTRODUCTION

Hopefully, if done right, this lesson will be delivered around (or on) Christmas day and will be good for discussion.  Please feel free to go over what has been taught and learned in the previous four weeks and discuss any revelations that have occurred amongst the students during this focused time.

ILLUSTRATION:  What we are going to emphasize today is the biggest component of Advent: Waiting.  What I want you to do is to introduce the class that we are going to talk about the implications of advent.  Then what I want you to do next is wait.  Don’t say anything, don’t do anything but just sit there.  You can do it for one minute or three minutes.  Inevitably teenagers are going to give you weird looks because they can’t stand 15 seconds of silence let alone a full-blown minute.

ASK…

WAS IT HARD FOR YOU TO WAIT?  WHY OR WHY NOT? 

WHAT IS IT ABOUT US THAT DRIVES US INSANE WHEN IT COMES TO WAITING? 

SAY…

[You can use your own personal story that emphasizes our impatience] I can’t stand to wait!  If a web page on my iPhone does not come up in less than four seconds I become angry.  If I don’t get my Wendy’s Baconator in less than three minutes then I get irate.  I mean how long does it take to throw half a pig on half a cow and throw some cheese in there?  Come on people!!!  We all struggle with waiting because of the digitized, fast-food mindset of Western Culture where we have to experience things right now.

This lesson is to allow us to focus on being ready for Jesus to come with patience but also with anticipation.  This lesson is short, but simple.  Here is the bare outline.

BODY

Two things…

Waiting means we must be ready!

“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matt. 24:44).

“It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak” (Luke 12:38).

4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  (1 Thess. 5:4-11).

ASK…

IN WHAT WAYS DO WE NEED TO BE READY FOR THE SECOND COMING OF THE LORD?

SAY…

When Jesus came John the Baptist prepared the way for the people compelling them to repent for the “kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mark 1:1-8).  In like manner we are compelled to be ready no matter what the cost may be and that means we are to “bring-in” the kingdom of God by being disciples and making disciples.  You hear of people talking about “Christmas cheer” and what they mean is giving gifts and such but the Christmas cheer is that we need to be ready for the coming of the Lord.

ASK…

IN WHAT WAYS ARE PEOPLE NOT GOING TO BE READY FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD?

SAY…

In the first century they thought that Jesus was going to come soon (you could make an argument that Paul even thought that).  Paul was very upset at people who stood around “idle”.  Paul said, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us” (2 Thess. 3:6).  In other words we have no clue when Christ will come (see 1 Thess. 5:4 above) so we should not give up our labors of spreading good news to the world.

Waiting means we must be drunk with anticipation!

“The LORD Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.Then the hordes of all the nations that fight against Ariel, that attack her and her fortress and besiege her, will be as it is with a dream, with a vision in the night— as when a hungry person dreams of eating, but awakens hungry still; as when a thirsty person dreams of drinking, but awakens faint and thirsty still. So will it be with the hordes of all the nations that fight against Mount Zion. Be stunned and amazed,  blind yourselves and be sightless; be drunk, but not from wine, stagger, but not from beer” (Isa. 29:6-9).

SAY…

The verse in Isaiah is given to talk about a time when the Messiah will reign from Zion and the people will be drawn towards his reign.  The kicker for the Christian is that Jesus now reigns (i.e. his “kingdom”) and Jesus will always reign.  We need to be intoxicated with anticipation at what we can participate in and what God has called us to do.  “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13-14).

ASK…

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORD “ANTICIPATION”?  WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

SAY…

I remember the birth of my first son (Kaleb) and the weeks felt like years until he finally came into this world.  There was excitement, fear, desire, longing, responsibility and humility all wrapped-up in a box known as anticipation.  It means we become ready for something and eagerly long for it.

ASK…

IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU/ARE YOU ANTICIPATE(ING) THE LORD’S RETURN?

CONCLUSION

SAY…

To anticipate for something you must have some sort of desire to fuel that anticipation.  Anticipating the Lord’s return gets me excited because of a single group of verses:

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 22:1-5).

This is the final moment when the Lord returns and the new heavens and new earth form and all things become completely new.  It is when the curse of Adam is ultimately lifted and mankind is allowed to enter Eden again.  It is where we participate in complete union with God and with his risen saints and we join in the eschaton at the table (see Isaiah 25:6-9) and feast forever.  No tears, no sorrows, no pain, no suffering…peace, perfect peace.

Enjoy this video and I hope you enjoyed this series.  We all can join the early Christians in a popular saying called Maranatha.  It simple means, “Come, Lord” (see Rev. 22:20).  So, “Come, Lord Jesus…Come!”


I interview Lars Rood who wrote the book, “Youth Ministry on a Shoestring.” Lars has been doing ministry for over 15 years and is currently the Lead Youth Minister at the Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas. Lars and I talk about some practical things we can do on a low budget. Great interview.

How do you win a copy of the book?  In the comment section below answer this question:

WHAT LOW COST IDEA HAVE YOU DONE IN YOUR MINISTRY THAT WAS VERY EFFECTIVE?

Watch the video below and don’t forget to comment!

Adventures with Fanatics

November 6, 2011 — 2 Comments

Watching the BAMA-LSU game and then seeing the Twitter, Facebook and other various feeds I was taken back at how serious of fans where are when it comes to our sports.  Consider this guy who appeared on national television at what looks like he is crying over the loss…

In fairness, I do not know the guy and it may be that he is empathizing with a player he knows very well on the team.  If my son or daughter lost a huge game and was crying I probably would cry with him because feelings are strong and it is a real loss.  However, I can’t say I have ever cried over one of my teams losing.  Of course, as an Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Vols fan I am a bit acclimated to losing.  I will say I have become pretty upset like running out and screaming at the top of my lungs but I am more tame in my old age.  I wonder if it really matters how much emotion (dare I say tweetage) we put into sports.  I am somewhat embarrassed if Christ were to look at my tweets and see how much time I spent on things that really do not matter.  Why are we so fanatic over sports?  I went to a high-school football game and there was this guy (there always is) who screamed the entire game trying to pump-up the crowd, trying to yell at the referees and trying to tell the offensive lineman the way he should block.  I went to a college football game and there was this guy who was beyond the state of inebriation and he was hackling fans, cussing at refs and getting upset.

So why do we get so worked up over something that does not matter much in kingdom?  Maybe it is systemic of a larger narrative in life which says we get worked-up over a lot of things that have no bearing when it comes to kingdom.  I think we can be passionate about teams and it is ok but becoming so worked up about it that it consumes you might not be worth it. Maybe I am just a jaded person who can say this because his teams stink but stinking all the time gives you perspective on what is most important.

NOTE:  The video was not to pick on BAMA but simply to highlight what is true with every team out there.


I interview Jess Rainer, son of Lifeway CEO Thom Rainer, about a book he co-authored with his dad called The Millenials. Youth ministers more and more are having to learn how to lead this generation as many of us come from the Millenial generation. This is an interview you do not want to miss.


I talk with 25+ year Youth Ministry veteran Jerry Elder about what it takes to stay in youth ministry for the long-haul. Perhaps you have heard the high turnover rate for youth ministers and it is rare to see someone in it for even 5+ years. Jerry talks about the good, the bad and the ugly and what it takes to sustain a long ministry.

Happy Birthday Samuel

January 20, 2011 — 4 Comments

Dear Samuel,

Happy Birthday Samuel as today you are a year old (http://robbiemackenzie.com/2010/01/25/letter-to-samuel/).  I remember how joyful I felt when you came into this world and the feeling that overcame me when we saw that you were a boy.  Secretly I wanted you to be a boy but I was willing to accept life with three girls.  I am thankful I do not have to worry about that.  This past year has been a blessing getting to know you and watch your personality grow.  You do this thing where your mother and I ask you to do the “mean face” and you lower your eyebrows down and give the meanest look to people.  Sometimes you do it to complete strangers who look offended but I laugh hysterically.  Your first words were “dada” (of course :)) but now you say: ball, no, bye-bye, Kaleb (sort of), Buzz (Lightyear) and Mama who is your biggest fan.  You are so tender-hearted as you give your mother and I hugs and kisses.  You already look like a stud as we have received hundreds (no joke) of comments from complete strangers at how handsome you are.  Of course I remind people of who you look like and they roll their eyes as if to say he is handsome in a way that I am not even though you look just like me.  You broke your leg at G-Daddy’s house and have been in a cast for some time now but you have been a trooper through it all.  If this were to happen to one of the other kids I am not sure they could handle it quite like you.

I just want to tell you happy birthday son and how proud I am of you.  I am thankful God has kept you alive this year and that he has provided you with food and shelter.  I have not always been patient with you like your mother but I am trying each day to be a better dad to you.  I love you more than you know.  Here are four songs that make me think of you…