Murph Notes

Murph is cool

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Location: Dublin, Ireland

I am cool.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


This came from one of my friends blogs. She is the wife of a fellow youth minister. I read this and thought it was interesting, not because of the thoughts/feelings, but because of the source. She grew up in the church and is deeply committed to the church. I have heard/read these kinds of thoughts from many outside of the church but here it is from someone who loves the church.

"The large worship time is becoming hard for me. I am finding myself just wanting to be known. I know that everyone says join a small group and maybe that's all I need. The fact is that I don't like a show on Sundays. I like the simple worship and biblical teaching. I like creativity too. I like honesty and authenticity. I like relevance to my life."

I wonder what she would think/feel if she attended SFUMC for a month? I have never felt like we have a "show" on Sunday morning. We seem to be intentional to point to Jesus and draw people to the foot of the cross in worship.

But it does cause me to evaluate my Youth Ministry; I know my teens want to be known and belong. Those are high values for them. And they want to have fun without being made to feel like kids; so much of their world is about competition and/or entertainment and fun is different from both.

Simple, Biblical, Creative, Honest, Authentic, Relevant - Sounds like our Jesus doesn't it? Not just His teachings but His relationships and lifestyle. As I think about next year my friends quote will be running in the back of my head to remind me that my view is not the one to depend on.

Inside Out

The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is "uncopyrightable."
How about that?!
So I haven't even started my summer and all I can think about is the fall. I can't wait to see what my God will do in my life and the life of these way cool teens.
This Sunday is Youth Sunday and I can't wait to smile and cry. I love my job.
My wife is the coolest!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hard Stuff

This morning I was reflecting on my ministry life. This has been a great ride since we landed at St. Francis in Sept. It has been very hard though. And today I am looking forward beyond the summer to next fall and I realize that, in reality, the hard part starts now. No more resting on what was. Now we must go forward. I need to hear from God. I don't want to cast "Murph's vision". Something fresh and new. Now I have to start building my 20 year team too. I inherited a team; now to prune and grow it. This is the relational part I long for and yet fear. What if I'm not as good as I think I am at this?... something fresh and new.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Worship and Youth Ministry

Look at worship through the lens of “Love God, love people” and you have to measure the worship service differently. The first question is does it honor God and lead the worshipers to show love and honor to Him? Secondly we have to ask ourselves if our worship is accessible to our target audience (well I guess we would need to define our target audience to go here then right?) – Does it show love and if so to who?

Do we, as a group of believers gathered together as a local church, choose worship style(s) based on our congregations needs and taste or of those we seek to reach? Is our worship service for the “body” or for the lost and/or unchurched? These are toughies.

In a dieing and lost world we have to choose where to invest our time. Sunday mornings – prime time - do we invest them in strengthening the church or reaching the lost?

So what are teens into these days; what do they “dig”? Do I talk about these things and use them as entry or connection points to talking about God?

Today’s teens are not as interested with what is “true” as my generation is. This generation is much more interested in “Is it real?” They are watching us, the church, in their search for that answer. Does our religion “change” things? Whether we change because of our relationship with Jesus is where they will derive their answer. My teens who have been raised in the church are now facing parents who are of the world with one foot in the church and they are not seeing that it is “real”; to them it is just religion.

Our worship services are very traditional and I wonder if our teens understand our worship (the meaning and reasons) or see it just as rituals and lump it with the rest of the practices of the “christian” adults in their lives.

I have had the phrase “people must belong before they will belief” stuck in my head for weeks now. I don’t even remember where I heard it but it is there skipping away.
My youth ministry model is based on adults loving and discipling teens in groups and one on one. I want the teens to belong somewhere and know that they are cared about as they are, a safe place. If the adult volunteers will not engage in this kind of authentic, vulnerable, and yes – time consuming ministry then all I’m left with is the programming and programming isn’t my strong suite.