Unwrapping the Incarnation

This last Sunday I had the opportunity to preach to my entire LifePoint congregation. I preach two services most Sunday’s to students, but it was nice to preach to both my students and the greater congregation at LifePoint Church.

There is just something special about intergenerational worship and showing the greater population of the church the flavor of the student ministry.

This last Sunday, I unwrapped Christmas by focusing on the incarnation. Watch it and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Unwrapping the Incarnation from LifePoint Plano on Vimeo.

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David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.

 

Dreams of Greatness

On Tuesday, our staff celebrated Christmas. We did so by having lunch and then taking a tour of AT&T Stadium, aka. Jerry World or Cowboy Stadium. It was a blast touring this BILLION dollar building, but even more fun living out my dreams of greatness on the field!

After the tour, 8 of us spent around 45 minutes playing four-on-four and running fade routes to the endzone. It was so surreal. We also discovered how difficult it is to hit a 20-yard field goal!

The whole time we were on the field, I kept thinking, “what is it like to have 80,000 people watching, cheering, jeering, and criticizing your every move? What kind of pressure do these players face in their attempts to get an oblong ball across a line?”

After pretending to throw and catch touchdowns, I drove 30 minutes back to my office in Plano for a time of discipleship with two students.

We spent 45 minutes talking about our identity in Christ, and I listened to them talk about how they are slowly but surely finding themselves in Him rather than in the things of the world. It was a rich 45 minutes.

As I was packing my bag to head home, I couldn’t help but parallel my 45 minutes on the field with my 45 minutes with students. My mind wondered, “what is is like to have friends, parents, siblings, teachers, pastors, and random people at school watch, cheer, jeer, and criticize your every move? What kind of pressure do students face in their attempts get through jr. high and high school?”

Getting through jr. high and high school and keeping Christ preeminent…now that’s greatness!

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David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.

 

#NYWC Session One

Because I’m so excited to be at The National Youth Workers Convention this year, I thought I’d live blog the event to share what God is teaching me.

Session One: Mark Matlock
5 Reasons the Church Needs Youth Ministry:

1. Youth Ministry is vital to helping teens integrate into the larger intergenerational community of the church.

The church must look to intentionally integrate, target, and speak to the life of teenagers.

2. Youth Ministry resists the status quo, helping a church stay relevant in a changing culture.

Youth are always on the cutting edge. What is relevant to them needs to be relevant to the church because they are the direction we are headed!

3. Youth Ministry focuses on inviting those who are not already part of the church into the deeper narrative of God’s plan for humankind.

So many come to faith during teenage years, so we must be intentional.

4. Youth Ministry reminds the church that teens are not marginalized members of the body but are co-creators and conspirators in the divine work of the church, restoring life on earth as it is in heaven.

The church must understand that teens are a part of the body that cannot function as a body unless ALL the parts are looked after and utilized.

5. Youth Ministry helps the church focus on the way of Jesus, which goes beyond tradition, dogma, and ritual.

Unless someone is around asking why, then tradition will die. Students keep life in the body by questioning everything. In these times we can breath life into the teens and reveal the meaning and purpose behind our liturgy.

Video Monday: Prayer

I’ve come across so many good videos recently so I thought I would share some of them with you over the next few Mondays! Some of them are worship songs/videos, some of them are sermons or sermon jams you need to hear, and some of them are creative works that will get your synapses firing.

In our second addition of Video Monday, I want to share a video we used at a recent retreat before we entered a time of prayer and reflection. This video is great to help students understand the role that prayer plays in our relationship with God. It also ends with the words “let us pray.” So think about using it next time you are preparing to transition into prayer and reflection.

Just take a watch. Be encouraged.

Have a great Monday!

David Sig 2

 

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.

 

3 Ways to Train Leaders

During my time in Youth Ministry I have seen leader trainings done many different ways. In different seasons of ministry, and for different events, different styles of training are necessary.

Furthermore, I have discovered that sticking to one style of training while excluding others is detrimental to the growth of the leaders in your ministry. So as you read about the different ways you can train leaders, pray about how you will implement them in your ministry.

3 Ways to Train Leaders:

1. Large Group Trainings

Large Group Trainings are best way to cast a consistent message to the masses. In addition, large group trainings stir camaraderie among the volunteers in your ministry. There’s just something special about having your whole volunteer base together to think, dream, and pray in the same direction! But here’s the kicker: What you provide better be good. The worst thing in the world is a long, boring, low quality group training where leaders are wondering why they stuck around after church when they could be at lunch or on the couch watching football!

Pros:

  • Same vision cast to a large group
  • Time efficient.
  • Camaraderie.

Cons:

  • Content better be high quality and engaging.
  • Hard to get 100% attendance.
  • Not overly relational.

2. Small Group Trainings

I love Small Group Trainings! Our Small Groups are divided by grades and we recently moved away from large group trainings for our small group leaders and moved toward…wait for it…small group trainings for small group leaders! Poof! (That was your mind.)

Small group trainings allow for great content to be distributed with a personal touch. Not only can you make sure that all your leaders understand the direction and vision of the ministry, but you can get specific on how everything applies to the ministry/group they lead.

Pros:

  • Vision and instruction cast directly.
  • Mission can be localized to specific groups.
  • You can hear back from your leaders directly.

Cons:

  • Multiple meetings over multiple weeks to reach everyone.
  • Vision must be cast over time rather than instantly.

3. One-on-One Trainings

These are by far my favorite! There is nothing more fulfilling than meeting with one of your leaders, having a heart-to-heart, pouring into them, and having them pour into you. The depth of conversation and connection that happen when you meet with each of your leaders cannot be replicated in larger gatherings!

Pros:

  • Deep conversation & deep connection.
  • Relationship builders.
  • Personal & ministry development.

Cons:

  • Takes FOREVER in larger ministries.
  • Calendar nightmare.

Final Thoughts:

How are you training your leaders? What’s working for you? How are you implementing each of these types of trainings? The goal of this post was not to reveal something new and groundbreaking, but rather to get you thinking about how intentional you are with your leader trainings.

I’d love to hear what’s working for you! Comment below!

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.

 

Video Monday: Good Good Father

I’ve come across so many good videos recently so I thought I would share some of them with you over the next few Mondays! Some of them are worship songs/videos, some of them are sermons or sermon jams you need to hear, and some of them are creative works that will get your synapses firing.

The first video I want to share with you is a worship song I can’t get out of my head! What I love  about this song is that it speaks to God’s identity as our Heavenly Father and our identity as a Child of God. It’s called “Good Good Father” by Housefires II.

Watch. Listen. Think. Worship.

Have a great Monday!

David Sig 2

 

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.

 

5 Things Youth Pastors Need to Start

After ranting about 5 Things That Youth Pastors Need to Stop, I figured I should flip the script. So if you are a youth pastor, and your not doing the following…you need to start!

Below you will find five things that Youth Pastors Need to Start:

1. Start Engaging Parents.

Everyone who is doing research (i.e. Sticky Faith, Orange) related to youth ministry is pushing parental engagement and parent ministry. All of these studies are show that parents play the most significant role in the spiritual development of teens. Why fight upstream, trying to influence students on your own in 4 hours a week, when you could tap into the number one influence in the life of a teen?

2. Start Student Follow-up.

I know this seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve been shocked how poorly follow-up happens in youth ministry (I’m guilty)! And when I say “follow-up,” I’m not just talking about first-time visitors. Follow-up needs to happen with first-timers, students who make decisions concerning salvation or baptism, and students with serious prayer requests.

3. Start Planning Ahead.

Student Ministry has a bad reputation when it comes to both planning ahead and communicating to students and parents what’s happening in the near future. If you want the ministry you lead to be taken seriously, you need to show that you are not flying by the seat of your pants. Communicating regularly with parents about upcoming events, as well as the purpose behind these events, help build trust and rapport with parents. I plan out my teaching series for an entire year, and communicate major events quarterly. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it!

4. Start Handing Over Ministry to Students

A temptation for Youth Pastors is to do everything themselves. You have probably experienced this! Do I let a student do the announcements or do I do them and make sure they get communicated clearly? Do I teach the lesson or do I let a student fumble though one? Do I tell students to invite friends to church so I can share the gospel or do I equip my students to go out and share the gospel?

I doubt any of you would admit to having these doubts, but don’t lie to yourself! We have ALL felt this way. But we must continually find ways to transfer ownership of the student ministry to students!

5. Start Reading.

We should all desire to be lifelong learners. The minute you think you have it all “figured out” will be the minute God throws a curveball your way. Any veteran pastor will attest that every year in ministry presents an new opportunity for growth and development. How are you actively studying and growing in your craft?

Need a place to start? Here are a few books I’ve read recently that got me thinking:

1. Middle School Ministry by Mark Oestreicher
2. Recovering Redemption by Matt Chandler
3. Center Church by Timothy Keller 

Thanks for reading! What else do Youth Pastors need to Start? Comment below!

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.

 

5 Things Youth Pastors Need to Stop

Disclaimer: What you are about to experience is a rant post. So if you are a youth pastor, I may, or may not, be talking directly to you.

The more time I spend in youth ministry, the more I get frustrated with the quarks of youth ministry. Below you will find five things that youth pastors need to stop.

1. Stop pushing entertainment over the gospel.

I get it. You want kids to show up, so you advertise and program around things that students would be interested in (i.e. dodgeball, all-nighters, give-aways), but what happened to the preeminence of Christ? That word “preeminent” means supreme, of utmost importance, marquee, chief, or most excellent. When you sit before the throne of God, what will matter more? How you lifted up His name or how great your all-nighters went? Which leads me to my second point…

2. Stop making it about the numbers.

I’ve heard the lines: “God cares about people, if people are numbers we’re counting, I should care about numbers.” Stop! I’ve been there. It’s hard not to associate growth and spiritual progression with numbers. But once again, is God more concerned with the breadth of your flock or the dedication and faithfulness of your flock?

3. Stop dressing like a teenager.

Time for comic relief. If you dress like your students and are double their age…something is wrong…very wrong. Be yourself. Stop trying to be “like” them and start leading them! Every youth conference I attend…the more disappointed I get in the fashion choices of youth pastors!

4. Stop leaving so quickly.

I once heard that the average stay for a youth pastor was 18 months. If that is actually true…shame on us! Very little is accomplished in 18 months. I am going on 3.5 years in my position and feel like I am just scratching the surface of what God wants to do through me in this community. Stick around.

5. Stop neglecting your family.

While investing your time and energy into a community is important, don’t sacrifice your family on the alter of “ministerial success.” It will not benefit you in the long run. Here is the reality: Every other ministry of the church has the summer “off”…except youth ministry. So when is your down season? When do you pull back the throttle to refresh, rejuvenate, refill the tank, and focus on the family you have seldomly seen throughout the summer? My suggestion: scale back in December.

What else do youth pastors need to stop doing? Comment below!

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David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.

 

Fall Retreat Secret Sauce

Over the past two months I have been a part of three retreats. I was the speaker for two of these retreats and hosted the other for my students. Two of the fall retreats had what I’m calling a “secret sauce” and the third (the one I hosted) did not.

So what is this secret sauce?

Free Time.

Whoa. Whoa. Settle down. I didn’t mean to blow your mind with this ground breaking concept!

But on the real, I was truly convicted about the way I structure a retreat. Our students are over-scheduled, over-worked, sleep deprived, and stressed. One of the youth pastors I spoke for told me he had a student who had to go see a doctor for stress related twitches.

Between tutoring, classes, athletic/musical/artistic practice, club meetings, chores, family time, and homework, our students have little to no downtime.

As youth pastors planning retreats and getaways, we have the opportunity to help students detach from chaotic weekly schedules and experience the beauty and serenity of free time. At my most recent retreat not only was there free time for the students to shoot hoops, play gaga ball, hike, or canoe, but there was a half hour of planned prayer and solitude.

When planning a retreat, it can be tempting to fill the schedule. In fact, if you are like me, you feel PRESSURED to fill the schedule! After all, these students/parents are paying good money for their kids to attend an event, so we better deliver with high quality, entertaining activities…right? Not so much…

The best thing that many of us can do is balance high quality programming with intentional free/down time. When we mark out intentional free time or planned prayer and solitude, we help our students understand what it means to Sabbath…a concept lost to football, homework, and projects.

What are your thoughts? Have you had success with intentional free time? Have you felt pressured to fill retreat schedules? Comment below!

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David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.

 

Cliques are Sinful

If you’ve spent any time in youth ministry, then you’ve exhaustively encouraged students not to form cliques. It usually comes in the form of: “Let’s be sure to include everyone!” or “Make sure you don’t leave anybody out!” or “This weekend everyone is your BFF!”

But apart from “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39), have we ever explained to students WHY we use these cheesy one-liners to encourage inclusivity?

Try this one on for size:

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. -Matthew 2:2-4 & 8-9

Cliques are Sinful

I would bet that most students have no clue that their “cold shoulder” is an act of sin. Furthermore, most students have no concept of sins of omission.

Sins of Commission – knowingly doing something wrong.
Sins of Omission – Not doing what you know you should do.

If James were talking to a group of students today, he might say:

“My brothers, show no favor as you follow Jesus, the Lord of Glory. For if a cool kid wearing the latest clothes with the nicest car is walking down the hall, and the stinky annoying kid who nobody likes is also walking down the hall, and you pay attention to the cool kid, have you not shown favor to cool kids?…If you show favor to people you like over people who you deem “unimportant,” you are committing sin.”

Our emphasis on inclusion is not merely an attempt to foster community, it’s a battle against sin.

How do you help foster community and fight against exclusivity? Comment below!

David Headshot

David Hanson: Texas native, Texas Tech Red Raider, M.Div. at Truett Seminary, husband to Ashley, father to Ava & Ben, Student Pastor at LifePoint Church in Plano, Tx, table tennis (ping-pong) extraordinaire, addicted to coffee. For anything else…you’ll just have to ask.