What’s Needed to Help Students Find Their Calling

What’s Needed to Help Students Find Their Calling

WHAT’S NEEDED TO HELP STUDENTS FIND THEIR CALLING

This guest post was written by our High School Associate Director, Aaron Harder. For more information about our middle school or high school ministries and when they meet, check out QUEST and The Crossing.


Perhaps you are wondering what is happening to today’s youth, what causes millennial’s and Generation Z to feel so entitled. Why do these generations seem to be leaving the church at faster and faster rates? If you’ve wondered these things, maybe you should ask what your role is in transforming those realities. I’m beginning to believe the problem is not with them, but with who is—or rather, is not—teaching them.

I’ve noticed the most peculiar phenomenon about today’s youth: most of them link godliness and being Christ-like to working in a church or being a pastor. It’s as if they see a career in ministry as the final stop on the train of Christian maturity. They don’t know what it looks like to be a Christian in other workplaces.

It’s not that our pastors and church staff employees cannot be great examples for the next generation—they are–but our students often fail to equate working as a doctor, lawyer, accountant, financial advisor, or school teacher as a godly calling. To them, the ultimate way to pursue God is to work in a church.

Often, some of our students believe they’re called to vocational ministry because they don’t often understand what it looks like to be godly in other vocations. It’s difficult to see them stuck in this dichotomy—between a calling to Christian ministry and engaging one’s faith at work and pursuing some other vocation that doesn’t seem to connect to their faith.

It may be obvious, but it seems necessary to say that our God doesn’t call everyone to be a pastor or worship leader; He is too creative to only limit Christians to one field or industry and he wants us all to actively engage our faith and the world, no matter what career field we pursue. Every week at youth group, I get to see the different gifts and talents God displays in the lives of our students as I talk with students about their favorite classes, sports, art projects, and choir concerts. God calls His children to display His glory in every aspect of life, and that happens in every area of work—not solely in vocational ministry.

How do we remind our students of this truth? As a church, we cannot make the mistake of believing that mentoring youth is only the job of church employees. There is an important place for pastors and church workers to disciple our youth and there is also a great need for our youth to be mentored by Christian mortgage bankers, IT men and women, and school teachers, too.

Godly men and women who work in the marketplace of the world must help us—the pastors and church workers of the world—show today’s youth that Christians work outside of the church, too. We want our students to believe that serving and worshiping God occurs at all times throughout the day and in every aspect of life, not just what happens inside church doors. This next generation needs to see how godliness can be displayed at a hospital, business meeting, courtroom, and classroom. We don’t need more seminary degrees (though they are helpful), we just need more people to be willing to point the next generation towards Jesus in every area of their lives and rely on His power in their life to transform lives. Period.

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The Good Samaritan, Prejudice, and Parenting

The Good Samaritan, Prejudice, and Parenting

THE GOOD SAMARITAN, PREJUDICE, AND PARENTING

The term “good Samaritan” is a common expression in our culture, meaning someone who exhibits surprising kindness towards a stranger. The term itself originates from Jesus’ parable in Luke 10 where a Samaritan man did just that when he saw a man in need on the side of the road. Even in our increasingly secular culture, we’ve named laws after this character. To Jesus’ original audience though, the terms “good” and “Samaritan” weren’t paired together so readily.

To the original hearers of this parable, a Samaritan hero was a shock. Samaritans weren’t true followers of God, like the priest or the Levite who passed over the injured man on the road. Ethnic differences separated Samaritans and Jews, creating hostility and prejudice. Prejudice quickly grew into an “us vs them” mentality. In response, Jesus made sure his audience knew that these differences weren’t excuses to permit unkindness. ‘Neighbor’ became a verb as Jesus told them to emulate the behavior of the one they had looked down on an “otherized.”

In our current age that increasingly “otherizes” groups different than themselves—Republicans, Democrats, Muslims, people of color, immigrants, or homosexuals—Jesus reminds us that the person who you consider least like yourself, he or she is your neighbor to be loved in the same way you’d want to be loved.

If you’re a parent, you’re teaching the next generation how to view and how to treat others. As much as you might like to avoid the difficult topics of racism and prejudice, they won’t go away if we choose not to talk about them. Prepare for an honest conversation with your kids by first processing through these questions honestly. The questions below were originally featured on Parent Cue, a division of Orange which creates resources our kids ministry utilizes.

1 // HOW ARE YOU PROCESSING YOUR FEELINGS?

In order to have honest conversations with our kids, we need to be honest with ourselves. Check your heart and your thoughts. Be sure to take a step back and identify how you might need to change in your prejudices and in your interactions with others. Reflect on what it really means to love those whom God loves, and unrelentingly pursue forgiveness and reconciliation. Your kids will get many of their cues from observing your response. Yes, they’re really watching and listening. Are your reactions and frustrations to what is happening to betray any subtle biases?

2 // DO YOU CELEBRATE DIVERSITY?

Some parents may be tempted to try to teach their kids to be blind to color, to shy away from acknowledging differences or just ignore them altogether. But the truth is that we are all very different in the way God made us—in our skin color, in our genetic makeup, and in our culture. And that’s something to be celebrated, not ignored. Do you model the belief with your words and actions that God made each of us unique and beautiful even in our differences? Do you demonstrate respect and honor towards those you disagree with? How diverse is your circle of friends and the people you associate with? How can you widen that circle for your family?

3 // ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT RACISM?

Racism is a difficult and sensitive topic, but it does exist, often in the form of subtle comments and prejudice, but sometimes it’s outright hatred and violence. Not talking about it doesn’t make it go away. So talk about the issues with others outside your circle and with people of different backgrounds. Discover the truth from various outlets and seek to understand other perspectives. When you find the right words that honestly and respectfully express how you think and feel, choose which words you might share with your kids.

Then talk to your kids about prejudice and racism so you can equip them with the values and the words they will need to respect, celebrate, and stand up for those who are being discriminated against.

4 // ARE YOU FOCUSED ON LOVE?

As parents, our hearts break in the shadow of these tragic events, and our anxiety, anger, and fear, unfortunately, leak out onto our kids. It’s okay, to be honest with your kids, but it’s important to talk to them about how your family can respond to what’s happening in our world in a positive way.

As you navigate these important conversations, focus on what matters most: LOVE. Put love into action, and rest in the hope that is found there. And dole out love in especially large doses on your kids so they feel safe and secure. Hug them tightly and let them know that God is with them and they don’t have to be afraid. And neither do you.

For help with age appropriate conversations addressing recent events, check out this article: How to Talk to Your Kids About Racism: An Age-by-Age Guide.

we believe in church that is

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LITTLETON

Saturdays at 5 PM
Sundays at 8 | 9:15 | 11 AM

620 Southpark Dr.
Littleton, CO 80120
303.794.3564

DOVE VALLEY

Sundays at 10:30 AM
14076 E. Briarwood Ave.
Centennial, CO 80112
303.537.2795

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Missing Out on Real Community

Missing Out on Real Community

MISSING OUT ON REAL COMMUNITY

I was sitting in my office one afternoon hammering away on a string of emails when I overheard a conversation in the hallway. Our office shares a building with a counseling center so I’m accustomed to hearing about the latest and greatest thing to come out of the psychology field. But this conversation was different than others. It grabbed my attention with talk of “FOMO.” Have you ever heard of “FOMO”? As I heard the conversation go on, I grew increasingly curious as to what “FOMO” really was. I took a break from my emailing and Googled “FOMO”.

Turns out, it’s an acronym for “fear of missing out.” Google defines “FOMO” as “anxiety that an exciting event may currently be happening elsewhere.” This social slang can become a real anxiety disorder people when it interferes with a person’s ability to function in their personal relationships. That level of fear doesn’t characterize most of us, but how many of us simply cannot stay away from social media, constantly checking our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts to see if there is something going on we do not want to miss?

There is a core desire of all people at the root of a condition like “FOMO”. We desire connection with others.

However, most of us interact more with screens than we do with actual human beings. We wake up, turn on the news, we check our emails, text messages and social media. We get in a car or hop on the light rail to get to work where we send emails, write code, manage digital projects, design graphics, participate in video conferences. Screens, screens, and more screens.

I’m just as guilty as the average person. The last time I saw my optometrist, he told me that my eyes are getting worse probably because of the amount of time I spend looking at screens. My chiropractor and I spent several hours over the past few months working the cervical curve back into my neck because—after several years of writing seminary papers, reading and sending emails, and Facebooking—all the time spent on the computer had caused my neck to straighten.

Are there more consequences to this way of life than just the physical wear and tear on our bodies? How can we avoid stiff necks and conquer fears of missing out?

Simple—spend more time with real human beings.

Part of the bliss Adam and Eve experienced was perfect connection with each other, let alone the God of all creation. “(They) were naked and they felt no shame.” Adam shared intimacy and connection with Eve and God. There was perfect community amongst the three.

There’s something at the soul level of every human being that longs for connection with other human beings. We glorify God when we connect with others. God created Adam and Eve to share community with each other because it made him smile. It simply was good and gave him joy. Whenever we connect in community with one another, we bring God joy and experience the fulfillment of our soul-level longing to be with others. It doesn’t have to be fancy or well-planned. Start today with one step: look someone in the eye and ask them to hang out—out for coffee or lunch or a hike. You’re missing out until you do.

Sincerely,
Neil Eukel

Click here to learn more about Life Groups and how you can get involved in a community that fits you.

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Sundays at 8 | 9:15 | 11 AM

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303.794.3564

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Sundays at 10:30 AM
14076 E. Briarwood Ave.
Centennial, CO 80112
303.537.2795

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A Letter to Men at Mission Hills

A Letter to Men at Mission Hills

A LETTER TO MEN AT MISSION HILLS

Find out more about our Men’s Ministry and some of their upcoming events here.

The wind is wild, and weird, and wonderful—and I’ve been thinking about it more than usual. Maybe it’s because I’ve driven through Limon several times in the last month. Maybe it’s because my hair is getting thinner, and every little gust seems to whistle across my scalp. Or maybe it’s because I’m from Oklahoma, and the wind is in my soul.

I was five when I first heard the tornado siren and understood what it was trying to say. Coincidentally, I had also just watched the “Wizard of Oz”. Thus, as my father hurried us down the rickety, wooden stairs to the basement—down where the smells of clay, and mildew, and furnace dust mingled with my childhood fears—I was certain our home would soon be relocated, far away in some phantasmic world. To my surprise, when the sickening, green clouds had come and gone, we were still living on 39th Street.

If, however, one lives in Oklahoma long enough, he eventually understands not all tornados pass by so politely. On the afternoon of May 20, 2013, a monstrous EF5 struck Moore, Oklahoma, (a few miles east of the neighborhood in which I grew up), with peak winds estimated at 210 mph. It killed 24 people and injured 377 others. None of them made it to their basements. Nothing presumed immovable was left standing. Nobody but the weatherman saw it coming. And he was underground when it hit.

It seems odd to me that the wind can be so destructive on one day, and so peaceful the next. Sometimes it skips out of the Rocky Mountains and pushes the boats around Chatfield Lake for an afternoon. Other times it rips those same boats right off their moorings and sends them hurtling away into the Whitecaps. And occasionally, the wind is nowhere to be found. The only sure thing one knows about the wind is that it cannot be controlled.

Men of MHC

I want to speak with you now about a different kind of wind––a kind the Bible refers to as the Holy Spirit.

“And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” Acts 2:2

Now, in the same way the Bible refers to the other members of the Trinity with pronouns and titles we can understand, (i.e. “He”, “Him”, “Father”, “Son”, etc.), the Spirit is also meant to be understood and experienced personally. Nevertheless, like the wind, the Holy Spirit is often taken for granted––until, that is, our lives are adrift on a dead-calm sea, and we need a little help to get somewhere. Like the wind, the Holy Spirit does whatever He wishes, whenever He wishes it, and without our consultation. He is the very breath in our lungs… the Comforter sent to help us… the author of the Holy Bible… the God of the universe actually living inside believers. Why then, I wonder, do we ignore Him? Worse––why do we resist Him?

Over the next few posts, I’m going to talk about ways a Christian man can engage with this mighty wind—particularly in the areas of work, play, creativity, and relationships. If you’ve ever imagined there was something more to this thing we call, “Christianity”, I hope you’ll read this blog and let it enrich your life.  Or—to put it more simply—I hope your little sailboat will find itself lifted up onto the swells beneath you, and transported at such new and exhilarating speeds that your life will never be the same.
Consider this blog post as the tornado siren––and your response to it as vital.

Sincerely,
Will Cunningham

Click here to learn more about our Men’s Ministry and how you can get involved.

we believe in church that is

Real.Messy.New.

CAMPUSES


LITTLETON

Saturdays at 5 PM
Sundays at 8 | 9:15 | 11 AM

620 Southpark Dr.
Littleton, CO 80120
303.794.3564

DOVE VALLEY

Sundays at 10:30 AM
14076 E. Briarwood Ave.
Centennial, CO 80112
303.537.2795

ONLINE CAMPUS

Watch LIVE from anywhere!
Saturday at 5 PM
Sundays at 9:15 | 11 AM

CONNECT


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Seeking God in the Meantime

Seeking God in the Meantime

SEEKING GOD IN THE MEANTIME

We all face them, those seasons in life where we feel like we are in between “promised-lands.”  Internally, we may feel like we lack any purpose or direction and this emotion can swell up inside of us, despite having full schedules and busy lifestyles.  Deep down inside we are still eagerly waiting for God to direct our path in undeniable ways.

These “in-between” seasons of life can feel like the “wilderness” narratives in the Bible, where God is testing, purifying, transforming or preparing his people—including Jesus—for what he had in store for them next.

The danger you and I face today is facing these journeys with impatience, believing they are a waste of time and serve no purpose.  Sometimes we face these wilderness seasons with contempt, saying, “If only God would show me where to go, I would then follow and be able to honor and glorify Him.  But right now, I’m not sure what’s going on or what I’m supposed to do!” Especially in those places, there’s a risk we won’t perceive how the wilderness is God’s providence or how being faithful to the journey is how we honor God the best. 

JESUS IN THE WILDERNESS

In Matthew 4:1-11, we read about Jesus’ time in the wilderness. Consider his journey in the wilderness while starving, thirsty and physically exhausted.  Had we been in Jesus’ situation, how many of us would have succumbed to Satan’s temptations?  Had Jesus’ time in the wilderness been a pointless endeavor, he likely would not have journeyed through it.  Yet, he endured strong temptations that enticed his basic needs, such as food.  Rather than giving in, with every temptation He pressed deeper into His Father and relied on Scripture. 

Two of Jesus’ responses were quotations from a section in Deuteronomy that are rooted deep within the identity of the Jews and should also be rooted deep in the heart and identity of every Christian.  The command in Deuteronomy 6:4 is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.”  Jesus quotes two verses that appear later in Deuteronomy 6 and echo this command, as a response to Satan’s temptations.

In Matthew 4:7, Jesus responds to Satan’s temptation by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16 which says, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”  Then again in Matthew 4:10, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:13 which says, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”  These two quotations from Deuteronomy 6 echo the command to the love the Lord.  What’s important to realize is that Jesus’ focus, while being tempted and journeying in the wilderness, was to cling to the heart of his identity and ours, “To love the Lord with all your heart.”

HOLD FAST TO FAITH

To put it shortly, whatever season you are in—whether you are in the wilderness or in the promised land—being faithful by loving God while you’re in that place is a God-honoring act. 

Perhaps we struggle to find ways to honor God in the meantime because we imagine feats of grandiosity that can only be achieved while being in the “promised-land.”  However, what grander thing can there be but to press deeply into our own relationship with Jesus? Honoring God in the “meantime” means to press into God more deeply, and cleave to Scripture just as Jesus did,

This week take a few moments during each day to pray with intentionality while reflecting on scripture.  Communicate with God about your struggles and your desire to hear from Him.  Use these reflective moments to be open and honest with yourself before your God who loves you.

You can accept the reality of your situation today and fight to maintain your hope in God. He hasn’t left you, wherever you are.

How to Make Sports Camp Last

How to Make Sports Camp Last

HOW TO MAKE SPORTS CAMP LAST

What parent has not received their son or daughter back from an experience like camp, only to say a week later, “Gee, my kid seemed so excited and transformed when he first came home. But now, it’s like he never went at all! Isn’t there some way to make camp last?”

At Mission Hills Church, we believe the only Sports Camp worth putting on is the kind that produces lasting results long past the days your child is in our care.

To ensure this happens, we constantly remind ourselves that no one on the MHC Kid’s Ministry staff is your child’s head coach––you are!  As the coach, you are the ones responsible for seeing that the momentum of Sports Camp continues in your home.  Sure, we just hosted a safe, exciting, educational, healthily competitive, spiritually-challenging camp for nearly 800 kids, but we’re only the assistant coaches.  You’re in charge now!  So, say these words out loud right now as you read them––“I am my child’s head coach!  And I can keep the ball rolling!”

HOW TO MAINTAIN MOMENTUM

Even so, there’s not a coach on the planet who doesn’t need a little continued education.  That said, the following three principles should help you and your child get the most out of Mission Hills Sports Camp.

Principle #1:  “Make it fun!”   Remember, your son or daughter has just spent four days immersed in high-energy activities.  If they return to an environment that resembles a library, they’re probably going to go through major withdrawals.  On the other hand, if you’re willing to spice things up with games, songs, riddles, puzzles, and competitions, (especially at the dinner table), then Sports Camp could last you all the way to September, when school begins.  Two good resources for improving the fun-factor in your home are: “Playing for Keeps”, by Reggie Joiner, and anything by Karl Rohnke, the guru of creative games.

Principle #2:  “Make it fit!”   As many people know, we’re sold on the “Orange Strategy” for kids’ ministry at MHC.  This blending of the “light of the church” with the “love of home” is a perfect way for us to build a bridge between these two vital institutions.  Part of the Orange Strategy involves understanding the “phase” that accompanies each age group that we minister to.  At our recent Sports Camp, four of those phases were represented.  If you truly want Sports Camp to last, and your efforts to fit the specific needs of your child, you can become a student of the phase that fits your child.  The four phases represented at this year’s Sports Camp are as follows:

 Kindergarten and First Grade

This is the, “Look at me!” phase, where all of life becomes a stage for your child.  During this phase, your child has just begun to attend school, which means he or she now has to share undivided attention with as many as thirty other children.  To insure the results of Sports Camp continue, devote yourself to noticing your child a LOT!  It’s the most important thing you can do in this phase.  Remember, we’ve been praising your child for every basket, goal, pass, and handspring for the better part of a week.  So, you’ll want to make sure you continue this pattern of paying attention and praising your child.

Second and Third Grade

This is the, “Sounds like fun!” phase, where your child is still excited about the things you’re excited about.  Interestingly, studies show that fairness matters almost more than anything during this phase.  So, if you’re playing a game at the dinner table, make sure all the rules apply equally to every family member––or you may see all that Sports Camp transformation flying right out the window in the course of one short meal.  Making it “fit” with this age group really means making it “fair.”

 Fourth and Fifth Grade

This is the, “I’ve got this!” phase, where you will see your child become super-interested in belonging to some tribe, team, club, or clique.   Peer approval will mean the world to them, and peer disapproval will crush them.  So brace yourself––because your opinion is suddenly going to mean a whole lot less to your child.  Fortunately, kids in this phase will still long to show you how smart, fast and strong they are.  This means you can turn anything into a fun competition, and it will fit the “I’ve got this!” phase.  Literally… anything!

Sixth Grade

This is the, “Do you care?” phase, and if ever there was a phase where drama will happen, it is this one.  Period.  Also, you will notice a huge growth in your grocery bill, particularly if your sixth-grader is a boy.  So, keep the snacks coming, and you can reduce some of the drama––though not all of it.  And most of all, prove that you care by not letting the drama get to you.  In time, the drama will pass.

Principle #3:  “Make it forever!”  Jesus once said, “A slave can’t exceed his master,” and what He was really getting at was that we can’t expect our kids to be any more spiritual than we are.  Sadly, it’s the temporal things of this planet that often get our devotion.  But if you really want Sports Camp to last––particularly the spiritual aspect of it––make sure your kids see you reaching up to God for the “forever” things.

For instance:

  • What if they heard you talk more openly about your time in the Bible that morning, or the things you learned from Craig’s sermon last Sunday?
  • What if they watched you appreciating God’s creation, and listened to you praising Him for creating beautiful mountains, streams, trees, and birds?
  • What if they saw YOU begin to treat everyone around you as if he or she was a “forever” being, rather than just the man who picks up your trash, or the woman who makes your coffee drink at Starbucks?

We think that “making it forever” is the best thing you can do to keep Sports Camp alive in your home.

So… there you have it.  If you really want Sports Camp to last, it’s up to you to see that it happens.  Make it fun!  Make it fit!  Make it forever!  And most of all, remember that the church is here to assist you.

Go get ’em, Coach!

Your friend,
Will Cunningham, Family Pastor