June 27, 2008

Baptist Press - Reflecting his passion for spiritual growth, Pastor reads 68 books about faith in a year - News with a Christian Perspective

WOW!  Pay particular attention to the comments from the pastor about the book by Rainer, "Bridger Generation."

Baptist Press - Reflecting his passion for spiritual growth, Pastor reads 68 books about faith in a year - News with a Christian Perspective


How do we think differently, outside-the-box, and understand how to prepare a new generation for the work of the kingdom?  It is found books new AND old. 


New is not best and old is not worst.  God has blessed us with great Christian authors throughout time to stretch every generation.


Well, I gotta go read!  See ya later!

June 3, 2008

Goodbye Generation

Here is a link to a book that is due out in August '08. You can go here to join the Facebook Group.

Goodbye Generation

March 4, 2008

Discipling with Words . . .

Although I definitely do not prescribe to the thoughts that modern or postmodern psychological arguments or theories are the penultimate authority, I do believe that there are some good premises in those fields. These fields of study are just as any other human endeavor, they are subject to being tainted by the fallen human nature. So with that said, let's take a look at what one of its members said.

Lev Vygotsky

Lev was a psychologist, was born in 1896 in Orsha, in the Russian Empire (today in Belarus). Vygotsky was tutored privately by Solomon Ashpiz and graduated from Moscow State University in 1917. Later, he attended the Institute of Psychology in Moscow (1924–34), where he worked extensively on ideas about cognitive development, particularly the relationship between language and thinking. His writings emphasized the roles of historical, cultural, and social factors in cognition and argued that language was the most important symbolic tool provided by society. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Vygotsky said that we think in words. I can’t have thoughts that I don’t have the words to think those thoughts with. Many people that are bilingual probably think in the language that is native or more comfortable. I have neighbors that are Russian and Colombian, and every time I hear them speak to each other, they do it in their native tongue.

A tribe in the bush that did not have a word for tomorrow, never tried to save food or water or other necessities for tomorrow. They lived only for today. Ethnically/socially/culturally do we think differently and are unable to comprehend and positively affect the culture they are in.

Look at the vocabulary of today's teens.

Sic = cool, the best, apart from the rest.

WHATEVER = a Nihilist thought of this whole life that seems to be prevalent among teens.

Scripture says that there comes times when the groaning of our heart is the only thing that we have to offer up to God in prayer. The scripture says that the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf.

Also, in marriage, the sexual act may serve the purpose also to communicate to your partner the feelings and love that you have for them. Hopefully, that is not the only way for you. There are other ways to communicate love to your helpmate.

What about as it relates to discipling students?

Speaking the Language of the Faith

We need to get our students to understand the faith, right? How can I get them to not look at me on Wednesday nights like they are hearing new things all the time?

They need to understand the language.

Small groups are great for this. If this generation of students are going to be the revival generation it will be helpful, and I believe necessary, foSoul-Searching-coverr them to understand the language of the faith.

Christian Smith, in his groundbreaking research study THE NATIONAL STUDY OF YOUTH AND RELIGION, exposed several conclusions about the factors that lead students to understand their faith and practice it in a regular manner. One of the most intriguing conclusions that I picked up on concerning the articulation in the language of the faith.

Smith's study can be read in detail in his book, Soul Searching, The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.

What Are Articulate Christians?

When Dr. Smith conducted his interviews he asked teenagers what do they believe. Many times it seemed as if students never had been asked that before, or at the very least had never thought about their answer.

By contrast the teenagers could articulate what they thought or believed about AIDS, STD's, safe sex, drugs, and other socially pertinent subjects. So, the question that begs an answer is this: Can a faith that one cannot talk about be real to the person?

The answer is not cut and dry, however, the sincerity and depth of the faith almost always can be determined as not very significant.

How do we get Faith in their vocabulary?

Two other observations strike a cord with me.

First, we as Christian Educators should not shy away from teaching our teenagers about the deeper things of the scriptures. Schools demand that our teens learn the intricacies of calculus, writing essays in great detail, and how the anatomy of living creatures works, so why can't we expect them to understand the deeper things of scripture?

For one, I believe that the deeper things can't be taught if they are not understood by the educators wether they are a student pastor, volunteer worker, or parent. Another reason that we can't teach the deeper things of scripture is a fascination with the big stuff that does not lend itself to teaching in a more intimate setting that is conducive to teaching in a way that breeds DISCUSSION. . .We can teach overarching themes, such as Christology, in our weekly student gatherings, but where is that concept being taken deeper?

Second, we need to create groups that help get our students into discussion about the things of the faith. First off, parents should be doing this in the home with students. That is their God-given responsibility, and we should encourage that not to happen by marginalizing parents in student ministry. Make them evident parts of the ministry. In addition, we create these small groups for discussion, interaction, and depth of conversation with the added benefit of inserting another caring adult into the lives of a teenager.

Teenagers can be skewed to think nobody cares for them. If we equip parents to disciple their teens, we come along side families as student pastors, and we involve another caring adult into the life of a student to teach, train, and love on them I believe that we will eventually produce a teenager that can articulate their faith.


  • It is very important that we grow up teenagers that understand and can talk about their faith in a way that demonstrates that they understand and own their faith. We have to grow their vocabulary.
  • It takes parents, student pastors, and other caring adults to surround teenagers with the environment to learn. Multiple adults in the life of a teenager is necessary.
  • If a person can not verbalize their faith it can be surmised that 1. they have not been properly disciples and 2. their faith is not authentic to them.

Wether or not Iddo used small groups are not is irrelevant. The main thing is that he had a job to produce young men who could fulfill the purpose of the Lord in the Temple and he did it. That is our calling: Produce teenagers that are capable of fulfilling the calling of God on their life.

They must be able to articulate their faith to a fallen world.

February 29, 2008

The Intern

Boomerang Theory of Ministry

Some things seem to come back to you.  Take a boomerang for instance.  They are designed to come back to you.  You throw it and it comes back.

When we disciple someone we usually want just send them out.  We shouldn't expect them back.  Sometimes the boomerang theory happens with the students that we invest our lives in. . . sometimes.

Reo Hoots Jr.

Reo was a kid that came to our ministry as a young, but BIG boy.  Playful is and was the way that Reo can be described.  You didn't know if he would ever "get it".

I had a brief opportunity to spend time with Reo in a small group that met with two other guys, Justin and Johnny.  Justin was the really good kid that loved the farm.  Johnny was the good 'ol boy that seemed disadvantaged but had a really good upside.

Reo was the transplanted Yankee that was loud, didn't seem to fit the other two, and I wondered if he would stay around.

Well, he stayed.  And, he got it.  Early on he made the tough decisions.  Gave up football to decide to play in the praise band.  I thought he just liked that better really.  Truth was he liked God's will better.

November 2007

I had a worship leader.  Got a text message from him on a Monday saying he forgot to tell me he would not be able to be there this Wednesday.  Not real happy with that one.  On the next day, I was checking my Facebook account and received a message from Reo saying that he was going to be back in the area to finish his degree at North Greenville University, and that he wanted me to help him find an internship . . .

My mind and heart had already decided:  If Reo will do it, I want him to be my Intern.  I was tied to the other guy, and I was tied closely to Reo.  And, I wanted to be even more closely.

I immediately sent him a message detailing my interest, but I would ave to talk to a few folks.  That worked out, and Reo was on his way back late in December.


Now, I am thankful.  Thankful that I had an opportunity to mentor Reo way back when.  I am thankful that Reo has stayed the course during his life as we were away from each other.  And, I am thankful that he boomeranged back to me.

Iddo was called upon by Ezra to send him men who were ready and capable of doing the work of the temple. Iddo had no expectations of having any of them to come back to him.

Now, as I am serving at Temple, I have had one boomerang back to me.  I am glad that has happened.

Nevertheless, I take the blessing with one understanding:  I have to work to prepare Reo to be sent away again because ultimately Reo does not serve my purpose, but he serves HIS purpose . . .

February 4, 2008


On February 1st I turned 35 years old. I have been in student ministry of some form since 1995. That is 12 years of loving on and learning how to love teens.

The times have changed. I am not as thin as I used to be and my hair is thinner than it used to be, but the passion is just as great...if not greater!

I have been at Temple Baptist Church since July 1, 2007. Just getting my feet under me good. God has been blessing our church greatly. Yesterday, as my Pastor gave an invitation I sat quietly on the front pew praying and waiting. . .

There was a young lady that had been quite frequently in the past month to our church with a girl that has been at TBC for quite a while. She has openly discussed that she is not saved, BUT she is tring to work through the issues in her head.

Our guest for the past month indicated by the raising of her hand that she wanted to be saved.

My heart lept! Her still seeking friend came with her to be counseled with, and she witnessed the path that the counselor took through the scriptures to affirm what had happened in the heart of our new sister in Christ.

We have in a sense been "discipling" our seeker girl . . . In all of that effort the Lord caught up another one to Himself that we really had not "planned for"....I am still amazed...and humbled that the Lord allowed us to be a part of it!

So, 35 this weekend wasn't so bad. Dinner out with friends Friday night. Dinner out with the deacons and staff Saturday night. Sitting at the banquet table of life with the Lord on Sunday!

If that is what student ministry has in store, I will take 35 more years of that, please!

January 26, 2008

Oops, I did it again...

Brittany has been saying that a lot here lately. Losing her kids because, "Oops, I was stupid again!" Being caught by the paparazzi in compromising positions because, "Oops, I got drunk, again!"

There is a lot of negativity in the "oops" portion of megastars and the ordinary teenagers that we work with on a weekly basis. Nevertheless, there are also great discoveries in the repetitions that we take the kids under our watch through.


A fad is classified by something that comes along, everyone starts doing "it", and the next thing you know, it has passed on....sounds like a lot of ministry that I have witnessed in the 12 years that I have been pursuing my call....not just student ministry either.

Why do we get caught up in the next greatest things that always seem to never leave us satisfied or growing, but rather, they leave us looking for the the next big thing.

I believe that much of that practice comes from not having a basis for our ministry philosophy.


Philosophy of ministry is a concept that I learned from my mentor and best friend, Mike Landrum, the youth minister that I learned ministry under. He is a professor of youth ministry at North Greenville University now. The first thing that he deals with in his intro to youth ministry classes is the issue of philosophy. Why? Because it undergirds everything that you do.

The basis that I work from is that it is our calling is to see students saved, see the saved discipled, and the discipled to become disciple makers. We do that through relationship and by integrating ministry to the students families.


Paul and Timothy. You and ___________. Who would you put in that blank? Timothy and Paul had a special relationship. Paul mentored Timothy. He gave him things to do. Sometimes those things were the same things that he had already done before. Does accomplishment automatically mean forward progress or moving past doing something over?

I remember the first small group that I led with 4 teenage guys. One guy in particular always semed to talk about struggling with the same thing, and it seemed to be the simplest of things. When he did it once, twice, or even 30 times, did we move on and forget that task?

We did not move on just because he did it....


Do overs in ministry are needed even when someone that we are discipling has done something good or even exceptionally well. Fads come and go for a reason, and I believe that reason is men and women don't master the basics of the faith.

We are starved for the next 10 ways to get closer to God or see his hand move in miraculous ways. Jesus spent 3 years with his guys. He ate with them, walked with them, went away from the to pray, minsitered to people, and taught them. He did that everyday. Everyday......

Jesus was repetitious. Was he an old stooge? Did the guys wonder what was up and want to move on? Yea. They wanted to know who was going to be greatest in heaven. He responded in Matthew 18:2-3,

"And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."

The basics. Come to Him simply as a child. Children do things over and over before they get it right. Why do we want to get good at things. So that we can do them the rest of our lives.....

So, lets put down the fads and pull up a chair at the workbench beside that one that God has given us to menton and do it again. Maybe someone can find an extra chair for Brittany.

January 20, 2008

Iddo? What is that?

Welcome to my new blog, Iddo's world.

Wondering what an Iddo is? So did I until about the fall of 2002.

God called me to ministry through the course of a year after I was born again on May 1, 1994. I started college at North Grenville Colege, University now (www.ngu.edu) to prepare in the spring of '96 after making public my calling in June '05.

During the time between being converted and June '05, God put men in my life that help shape my life as a Christian. Ken Owens, Associate Pastor, helpe me understand the disciplines of a believer's life. Tom Deer, Survival Kit discipleship class leader helped me understand how to share my testimony. Wayne Epps, a guy working on his call to minsitry, who gave me advice when I asked for it and affirmed when when I began talking about a "calling."

Oh yea, there was some guy at the Michelin Tire Plant where I worked who when I saw him the first time said, "Man, you ever thought that God was calling you to ministry?" Never saw that guy again.....

All of these were folks who helped me get to the point of being ready to say, "YES! I will answer your call!" Even the janitor dude at Michelin.

After college I went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX (www.swbts.edu). I got there in August '02. Through the course of that first semester I was reading through the book of Ezra.

Like many of you I was cruising right along with not much fanfare or spiritual pyrotechnics. God was speaking stuff to my heart through bible reading, but he was coupling that with stuff that I was trying to wrap my mind around in my classes, as well. The neat thing about seminary is the focus is always the ministry and how we can incorporate the things professors are teaching or we are thinking about into the ministry.

Some things that I was hearing in student ministry classes from Dr Richard Ross was about how God was using teenagers around the world to do the work of the church. Along that time I continued in Ezra. One day I read Ezra 8.

The next morning I got dressed, ate a little bit, and sat down with my bible. Yesterday was Ezra 8. Today, Ezra 9, right? I tried. I even got started reading chapter 9.......

The Spirit of God was prodding my heart, "Go back to chapter 8...."

So, I did......What I read changed my view of my calling to serve God as a Student Pastor forever....

15 Now I assembled them at the river that runs to Ahava, where we camped for three days; and when I observed the people and the priests, I did not find any Levites there. Ezra 8:15....

No Levites? Wow....Why didn't I see that yesterday? My heart swelled with emotion.....

My God, there were not any Levites with Ezra to do the work of the temple.....what about today? How are we doing? Am I doing what I can to make sure others follow behind us? What will I need to do in the future? What do I need to do NOW?

Ezra did all that he knew to do...16 So I sent for Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah, Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah and Meshullam, leading men, and for Joiarib and Elnathan, teachers. 17 I sent them to Iddo the leading man at the place Casiphia; and I told them what to say to Iddo {and} his brothers, the temple servants at the place Casiphia, {that is,} to bring ministers to us for the house of our God (8:16).

He called to the man that could repopulate the numbers of the Levites as Ezra rebuilt the temple of God.

How does that relate to my ministry as a student minister? A part of my calling is to help identify and train others that are called.

That morning as I read this passage again, I heard in my heart, "Mike, I want you to be an Iddo."

So, I have been working toward that for the last 5 years. I am trying to raise up student ministry workers who care about students being made into fully devoted disciples of Christ. I have challenged students to dig deeper than the 5 minute devotionals to where the Spirit takes their minds. I want to put students on mission in their Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and around the world.

Knowing the word. Doing the word. Seeing the word return fruitful.

Depth. Doing. Dynamic!

This generation of students are the ones that the Lord will use to reach the world.....

Bold words......I believe them.

One day in Ezra 8 turned into a whole week. I had lunch with Dr Ross to talk about what was going on in my heart and Spirit. I even shared kind of name for the ministry or effort. He encouraged me to take the building blocks of what God was speaking to me and build on that.

After seminary I went to Mount Hermon Baptist in Savannah, TN, and I met some other student ministers there, and I quickly discovered they too were seeing and hearing the same thing in the Kingdom of God. I will continue to sound that trumpet at my current place of service, Temple Baptist in Simpsonville, SC (www.templebaptistonline.org).

Over the last 5 years God has confirmed repeatedly to me that I should do everything that I can to get students on mission, in the word, and doing above average things in the Kingdom.

That is what Iddo's World will be about. I hope that you check back often. I will sometimes throw out thoughts, write about discoveries, and hopefully engage others that have the same heart and desire for the students that we work with.

I have said I-ddo? Do you?

Read Ezra 8.