April 22, 2010

It takes the village to reach the community of teenagers . . .

"What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?" James 2:14 "It takes a village to raise a child" is a quote from former First Lady and current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. I never thought I would use a quote from her and be in agreement with her, but I am. On Wednesday nights at The Garage we have been in a series of studies from the book of James that really kind of started in my mind and heart about 3 months ago as I thought about the greatest need that our students had. It wasn't self assurance. It was a thrashing over the head for immorality. It wasn't a better understanding of the Trinity. . . Simply put, I felt that they needed to understand that the faith that they have is to be a muscle that they build up. It is something that is supposed to be functional. Not a dead, vestigial organ that could be cut out of their life and nobody know the difference. James asks the question, and I definitely agree with it. Is a faith that we "have" that compels us to do absolutely nothing for Jesus a true authentic saving faith. I absolutely do not think that it can be. But, that is not my real reason for writing this blog today.
My REAL reason for writing this is the desire that I have to see student ministries grasp the idea that we, greater than any other ministry, need to work together to reach our communities.
-->We need to practice our faith as YOUTH MINISTERS. We need to understand that when we give effort to working cooperatively with other ministries God will allow us to grow as individual ministries and as the collective church.

I have a great friend, Will McReynolds, with whom I served the town of Savannah, TN for close to three years. I enjoyed working with him. Greg, Clint, Stephen, and others were in that area. We all had kids at the same high and middle schools. The principal called us when there was a tragic attempted suicide one day at the school. Why did he feel he could do that?

I believe that it was the networked and cooperative effort that we displayed to minister to the same kids that he, as the principal wanted to help reach their full potential. It was different goals: academic goals compared to our goals of seeing teenagers saved, but in reality we all wanted the same thing. Teenagers that did their very best at WHATEVER they did.

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10:31-33.

Here is what is on my heart: Golden Strip Youth Ministries. GSYM.

A non-profit, consolidated effort that pooled the resources of people, money, and planning for certain specific efforts to reach our community of teenagers at Mauldin, Hillcrest, JL Mann, and Woodmont High schools with all of their underlying middle schools, as well.

Here is what I think needs to happen. Get involved with each other on events. That needs to be defined. NOT 'come and bring your kids to my event' , but rather 'lets plan these events together, pool resources of people, money, and planning for this certain effort to reach our community of teenagers.

-->Area-wide Disciple Now weekends. Area-wide mission projects to serve the Golden Strip area. Recruiting older teenagers in our ministries to mentor and disciple at risk kids in our elementary and middle schools. The possibilities are endless . . .

Why did I become involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes? Because they provided me with clout and ability to reach athletes in my own backyard at Hillcrest High school that is HARD to do otherwise in today's PC world of public education. The Athletic administration and coaching staff already had a report with FCA, and that made it easier for me to blend in to what was happening on the field.

The added result that I really had not counted on was the additional opportunity to reach the coaches and minister to their needs.

A village effort. It sometimes takes the village idiot to call the people to a common cause.Ezra had the need to raise up people to do the work of the house of God. I think that we have many more Iddo's than we realize, and I challenge us to do something with what God has given us in the resources of people, money, and planning for certain specific efforts to reach our community of teenagers.

If we don't Satan will . . .

March 25, 2010

A Thank You Returned

Last night we took our students to the four area fire stations in the city of Simpsonville. Why did we do that? We didn't do it just to climb around on the fire trucks, although many in my group couldn't help themselves!

The reason that we went was to say "Thank You!" Don't you like to hear those words directed at you? The bible tells us that we should alert and have an attitude of thanksgiving.

"Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving." Colossians 4:2

In trying to create fully developed followers of Christ, teaching a student to be thankful is a must.

We took to the fire houses a Fireman's Bible for the station, an ice cream cake, and a personalized copy of the Fireman's Prayer. We also gave them invitations to our Easter production "Crucified Lamb; Risen Lord" and our Independence Day Celebration that will feature tributes this year to Police, Fire, and Emergency Medical personnel on the morning of July 4th.

At our station, #4, I met a believer who was obviously touched. At station #1 the Captain took time immediately to send this note to our Pastor, Dr. Brad Whitt:

Dear Pastor Whitt,

I am writing this letter on behalf of the "B shift"crew at the Simpsonville Fire Department. This evening we (all four of our stations) were visited by a family (from Mike: Dell & Joel make a cute couple ;-) ) in your congragation on behalf of your church to extend prayers and thank you's from you and your church family. Let me start by saying we thank all of you from the bottom of our hearts for being so thoughtful and appreciative of our service to the City of Simpsonville. We strive to do our very best for the community and for the citizens in our call area. It was a very nice reward for all of us to know that we are being thought of and prayed for by the community, and the citizens we serve. We truly appreciate the gratitude, the prayers your church offers, and of course, we ALL enjoyed the ice cream cake VERY much!!! Again, Thank you so very much.


B Shift, Simpsonville Fire Department


Now, put into practice Colossians 4:2! Pray for these community servants, and continue in an attitude of thankfulness!

Thankfully In Christ,


February 26, 2010

My Toast-To Save A Life Series

TSAL_what is your toast copyOver the course of the last 5 weeks we have been in a series of studies entitled, "To Save A Life." Shortly, it has been amazing. Not because of me or my eloquence, but because God has shown up and spoken to students and adults alike. I like it very much when that happens.

Iddo prepared workers for the house of God. That is what To Save A Life has been about. Students becoming the hands and feet of THE Living God.

It is amazing to ride the ebbs and flows of a Student Ministry. Teens will ride high for a while and then ebb lower than they have been in a long time. Frustrating? Not really, it is part of the cycle. The end goal is for them to ascend in their lives to look like Jesus. This verse details the process.

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30

We want them to be prepared and equipped to love the unlovely. Bear the burdens of the broken. Care for those that care little for going on in their life because they see no hope. That is our mission field. We are starting to see some of that happen in our kids. . .and adults.

In week 2 of our series week did an interactive segment that really laid bare some of the things that WE deal with each day. It is easier to deal with the hypothetical; but I was amazed how eager they dealt with the REAL! The adventure was called "Cross the River". I would call out different things, and if they applied to you, then you crossed the 'river'. Some of the issues were;

  • You are often stressed out
  • Your parents are divorced
  • You have felt alone at school
  • You have felt alone at church
  • You or someone close to you has contemplated or attempted suicide or other self harm
  • Guys: You have been pushed to be tougher to ignore physical/emotional pain
  • Girls: You have been treated different in the wrong way just because you are a girl

Everyone crossed at some point.

Point: Whatever it is….YOU are NOT alone . . . .

The point to learn: we ALL have stuff that we need loving on for. Therefore, all of us need to learn to be a "Jake" and find our "Jonny" to reach.

Jake is the cool kid in the movie "To Save A Life" that has an awakening to the fact that he can and needs to help those around him that are hopeless. Jonny is snatched from death because Jake listened. We hope the 'charismatic kids with potential' "GET IT" when we teach.

Yesterday, I'm in my office with a guy I am discipling and one of my students pops his head in the door. He's not the charismatic popular kid, but he has a heart for God that is GROWING and I love that! He is a kid that has struggled and "crossed the river" many times that night.

He came to tell me about a kid that he is friends with at school. He invited his friend to the "FEAST" that we are having to honor our student's friends next Wednesday night. The friend is an atheist, but my student invited him anyway. He said YES! My student was pumped and so was I! He gets it. Who needs the charismatic kid! I have the coolest kid already!

I love the unexpected! Most of the time . . . But, here is my dilemma.

I am trying to get myself to the point where the things that God does around me in our students are NOT UNEXPECTED!

He has given us students to raise up as IDDO’s to DO THE WORK OF THE HOUSE OF GOD! So, expect that to happen . . .

Zach, thank you for making my day and I TOAST YOU!

Hey, TSM peeps . . . invite your friends to the feast!

Wednesday, March 3rd at 6:15 PM at TSM’s Garage.

FREE Meal served of Chicken Tenders, Mac n cheese and other fixn’s with dessert!

Pass along the FACEBOOK Event page so they can reserve their spot!

December 8, 2009

To Save A Life

Dear Friend of Teenagers,

One of the leading causes of death amongst teenagers is suicide. The Centers for Disease control report that suicide is the third leading cause of death, behind accidents and homicide, of people aged 15 to 24. Even more disturbing is the fact that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 and 14.

Teen suicide is a very real issue today in the United States. It is important to recognize the fact that the suicide rate amongst teenagers is on the rise. In order to prevent teen suicide, it is vital to recognize what leads to it, and then treat the causes.

One of the ways to make a difference is to decide that we, as individuals, want to make a difference. Decide that we want TO SAVE A LIFE!

On January 22, 2010 one of the most impactful movies to ever be released hits the big screen, and we need your help to make the big splash in our community.

The movie To Save A Life is an independently produced movie about the real life challenges of teens and their choices, written by seasoned youth worker Jim Britts and inspired by a passion to reach teenagers with life-affirming entertainment.

Knowing that many share that same passion we want to invite you to a private screening at Temple Baptist Church in Simpsonville, SC. At the screening you will see the full length movie, have a brief discussion after the movie, and receive information about how you can help get the word out.

I have signed up to be part of the Tower Crew for the movie. Basically, that is a point person for the movie distributor to generate interest for the movie. I am doing it because I have already viewed the movie with my family, and I believe this movie to potentially be a movie that can actually save lives. More than Fireproof or Facing the Giants . . .let that sink in.

Lifeguards are focused on one thing only…saving lives! Their lifeguard towers lift them up to see above the crowd and allow them to spot danger. Lifeguards keep an eye out for others, and when they see signs of someone in need, they GO INTO ACTION. So do Tower Crews, the street teams for To Save A Life. Will you at least entertain the possibility that you too need to be on the Crew?

We have a vision to be able to partner with local high schools to make available AT LEAST 1000 tickets for teenagers to have FOR FREE! Nobody refuses FREE MOVIE TICKETS! To do that, we need sponsors. So, pass this along to your volunteer team, faculty, AND business men and women that may be potential sponsors for these tickets.

Come see the movie. Join the discussion. Then, join the Crew. The Details follow . . .

When: December 14, 2009 @ 7 PM

Where: Temple Baptist Church, 213 W. Curtis St., Simpsonville, SC 29681

What: Movie, pop corn, and sodas! Discussion to follow the movie

Who: Principals, high school teachers, Student Pastors & Pastors with their spouses, volunteers from your volunteer team, & potential sponsors for movie tickets.

WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE TEENS OTHER THAN 2 students who are leaders in your classes OR ministry.


For more information about the movie, resources to promote the movie, or this screening event please view the following web sites.

Screening event on FACEBOOK. If you are on FACEBOOK you should be able to RSVP on this site.

If not, you can just respond by email to mavants@templebaptistonline.org.


Movie SITE

Movie Leader SITE

The following is a link to the movie trailer. MOVIE TRAILER

The following is a link to the movie promotion for youth pastors or pastors. Youth Pastor Promo

October 5, 2009

FAME Sermon Series

On October 7, 2009 I will begin a new 6 week sermon series entitled "FAME". It is based on the book of Joshua, and is inspired by the verse Joshua 6:27, "So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land."

Here is a promo for the series:

We will be taking a look at the book of Joshua, not in it's entirety, but sections that will help us determine the qualities, actions, and desires of a person who God makes FAMEous . . .

FAME is not to be desired for FAME's sake, but seeking to please the LORD is to be desired. When we walk obediently God will allow us to be heard because we will proclaim HIS FAME!

Join us on Wednesday nights at 6:15 PM at Temple Baptist Church's Garage for great worship and messages about FAME for HIS NAME!

213 W. Curtis St, Simpsonville, SC 29681

August 8, 2009

A Heart for the Nations . . .begins here!

Temple Circle A18monogram w TSM

This week our student ministry at Temple took on the Acts 1:8 Challenge. We had more grandiose plans for a New York trip this same week, but many things contributed to its demise. That turned out to be just what we needed! 

This week our students experienced missions in our Jerusalem. And they did it well. 

We served the homeless Monday night by feeding them and sharing the gospel. That was a great start to an amazing week.

Tuesday and Wednesday nights we went door to door with practical gifts of batteries and light bulbs for homeowners so that we might have the opportunity to share Christ with them at the end of a spiritual survey.

Map picture

We canvassed about 300 + homes. Thursday night we took bottled waters to Heritage Park to give away to families at the park. All of those experiences gave our students practical opportunities to share Christ. We had many students who surveyed people about their spiritual lives and shared the Gospel when appropriate.

Through the surveys and intentionally engaging people for the sake of the Gospel they also had their eyes opened without having to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to go around the world (but we hope we get to do that soon too!)

One night during our post service worship times students shared their experiences going door to door. Many of them were amazed at how many people in little 'ol Simpsonville, SC either don't care about their relationship to Christ, or are unaware of what it takes to know Christ through grace and faith. Our students we amazed at how many people are depending on their works to get them to heaven.

What was I surprised about? Well, I guess it would have to be the

people who stood out. I won't call but one name. Mitch Lane was the man this week. This rising 8th grade boy went CRAZY this week sharing Jesus with people at their homes. He prayed with 3 people this week to follow Christ as their Lord! Look at him! 

Nothing ceases to amaze me! He is a great boy and I LOVE HIM because he GOT IT this week. Develop a heart for God AND men! He was not going to let someone slide by with a questionable testimony . . .so he shared with them the gospel, asked them if it made sense and if they wanted that for themselves, then he led them to pray to Jesus! SIMPLE AS THAT!  He will be a soul winner!

Others had a great week also. Got a text message from one of  our rising 8th grade girls excited because she and her Mom had invited people at Walgreen's to the car wash that we were doing for the community so that we could share Christ again.  That kind of stuff makes my Student Pastor's heart jump with joy!

So, what now? 

First, understand that Christ commanded us to share '"as are going . . .(Matthew 28:19)" not just during a prescribed week of missions.

Second, begin to pray like Jesus prayed in John 17:20, “"I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;” Jesus said I will pray now for those who will become followers later after my disciples share the gospel!

Third, as you work on being a witness begin to let your eyes wander.  What is God doing on the horizon of the Kingdom of God th

at He may would allow you to become a part of?  Maybe you have questions about mission work, even as a middle school or high school student.  If you do you need to visit The Task web site for some answers and questions you have not thought of.

God is at work. I am glad ecstatic to be around while it happens, and I look forward to seeing students develop a heart for the nations . . .it will start here!

Thank you Lord for hearing my prayer and beginning to give some of our students a heart for the nations!

July 21, 2009

Seeing them off . . .

Every year, one of the best, and saddest times of year is the Graduate Recognition service! I LOVE seeing students become what they were made to be; matured college students . . . BUT, I always hate to see them leave our ministry! Now that I am over College & Career ministry, as well, I get to soften the blow of losing them for a while!

Enjoy our tribute to the Class of 2009!