The Inspired Volunteer

A blog to inspire the Youth Volunteers of Shepherd Church

End of the Year Template Email to Parents — May 18, 2017

End of the Year Template Email to Parents

Leaders,

Below I have written a template email you can copy/paste into an email and send to your parents (inserting your name at the end). Please send this email out by May 25th. This is a simple way to good lasting impression in the minds of your parents and get them excited about registering next semester. Obviously, you can change whatever you wish or even write your own. Just send something by May 25th. 🙂


Hello!

Thank you for allowing your student to be involved in my D-Group for this semester. It was an honor getting to mentor your child in their understanding of Biblical principles and how to apply them to their everyday life. Being a part of a D-Group is a big commitment, so I appreciate the effort you put forward to get your student here on Wednesday nights. Even though the semester is over I am still available to help in any way I can. I look forward to having your child in my D-Group next semester which will start August 23rd! Registration will open online on July 12. Please register your child by August 22nd to guarantee a spot in my group.

Thank you for allowing me to be your child’s D-Group leader,
– (YOUR NAME)

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Lesson Help: April 19, 17 — April 19, 2017

Lesson Help: April 19, 17

I want to tell others about Jesus….But how?

The goal of this group time is to give the students an easy way for them to tell others about Jesus and the experience they have had in knowing Him.

Have you ever experienced a new product and loved it? Then looked for moments when you could tell people about it? Your opening lines may have sounded something like: “Hey, have you heard of _________ ? I recently tried it and it changed how I ________?”

Your goal in telling about something that has changed you is not to create an argument or enter into a debate, but simply share something that is meaningful to you. The power of the product is shown in our personal experience and life change.

Now, I am not saying Jesus Christ is a product we need to sell, put down your stones. I am merely trying to draw a similarity between how we talk about everyday products and how we talk about our Savior, Jesus. Telling someone about Jesus does not require having a master’s degree from Oxford, it only requires us to have had a personal life changing experience with the Creator.

People who enter into arguments and try to debate with someone about the authenticity of their faith do more harm than good. Feeling the need to convince others of something you believe shows more of an insecurity than it does a confidence. Arguing with someone about your faith is a lose-lose situation. Best case scenario you stump the unbeliever, making them feel like they “lost” and giving you a sense of pride as you walk away. Worst case scenario is the unbeliever stumps you, giving the unbeliever more confidence than ever before.

Here are some simple rules to follow when telling something about how Jesus has changed you:

  • Do not argue or debate an idea: Stick with the phrase, “All I know is what Jesus has done for me.” People can debate an idea, but not a changed life.
  • Do not make up answers to difficult questions: Simply say, “That is a good question and I do not have an answer, sorry.” Making up answers only makes you look foolish.
  • Remember, it is not our job to “save” anyone…that is Jesus’ responsibility: We are simply called to share not save.
Lesson Help: March 29, 17 — March 28, 2017

Lesson Help: March 29, 17

Why is Being at Church Important?

Have you ever been at one of those sales conventions where people get up and talk about their successes and a motivation speaker tells everyone they can conquer the world if only they believe in themselves? In unison the crowd responds back, “WE CAN DO IT!!” Isn’t there something special about the energy created by large groups of like-minded people?

No, I am not encouraging anyone to join multi-level marketing and get inspired to sell hand cream. I am talking about the power gatherings of like-minded people have on the human spirit. It is easy for someone to feel isolated in their thinking and assume they are the only one in the world to believe or feel the way they do. The gathering of the local church is meant to encourage righteousness and comfort in hardship while taking away the feeling of isolation. It is an earthly expression of, a not yet fulfilled, heavenly reality in which believers experience belonging while worshipping and connecting with their Savior.

Not only is the local church meant to teach and inspire Christ-followers to go out into the world and be a witness for Jesus, it is meant to be a platform for the mature to mentor the weak. No, I am not talking about teaching others how to perform a bicep curl, I am speaking about wiser believers helping immature believers how to live and think Biblically. Younger believers may have zeal for the Lord, but most lack the knowledge to develop wisdom in everyday situations.

So why is attending church important for all Christ-followers? 1) Being encouraged by others helps Christ-followers faithfully obey and reminds us we are not alone in this temporary world, 2) It gives us an opportunity to serve, and when we serve we resemble Christ the most.

Lesson Help: March 22, 17 — March 22, 2017

Lesson Help: March 22, 17

I am scared to die…Is that normal?

I once heard an acrostic to describe fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. I think that describes what Christians deal with when thinking about life after bodily death. Since we cannot see heaven we tend to cling to what is tangible. We grieve the passing of loved ones and see sickness as the ultimate enemy to avoid or conquer, and rightly so. It is a sign of emotional health to grieve a loss and engage in behaviors that maintain bodily heath. The challenge, however, is to not put on hope in things governed by the law of atrophy but keep our confidence in knowing the best is yet to come.

Jesus said:

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (John 14:1-3)

Jesus is comparing His coming, departure, and return to the customs of first century Jewish betrothal. The groom would leave his home and go and search for a bride. Once found he would pay the bride price to proceed with marriage. Once accepted, the groom would leave his betrothed and return to his Father’s house to prepare a home for the couple to be together. After roughly twelve months (no exact time was given to the bride) the groom would return to take his bride to the home he had prepared. Once together, the groom’s family would throw a seven-day party to celebrate and upon the ending of the party the couple would consummate their union.

God, the Father, sent His Son into the world:
1 John 4:9
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him

John 3:17
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

We were bought with a price:
1 Corinthians 6: 19-20
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Act 20: 28
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

Jesus left to go and prepare a place:
John 14:1-3
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

We do not know when Jesus will return:
Mark 13:32
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

When Jesus does return, he will take His bribe away to be with Him:
1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

When God’s children (Jesus’ bride) know the truth we can put to rest the insecurity of this life being the best. In fact, those who have faith in Jesus are able to have confidence when circumstances are doubtful, joy when things are difficult, and hope when others are fearful. God’s children adopted by their faith in Jesus do not look towards Washington D.C. for their security, but towards the sky awaiting their Savior to once and for all take them where their heart already exists.

Template Email to Parents — March 14, 2017

Template Email to Parents

D-Group Leaders, please feel free to edit this however you wish.

Hello!

I wanted to take minute to send you an email to update you on how the semester has been going.

First off, I love being your child’s D-Group leader. I consider it a privilege to be here each Wednesday getting know and encourage your child. Thank you for trusting me to mentor your child. I do not pretend to have all the answers, but I do my best to give Biblical advice to help each student experience Jesus throughout their daily lives. We do not get that much time together, but the time we do have I really enjoy.

Here are the questions we have been answering the past few weeks:
Feb 15: What do I do when I am hurting? (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
Feb 22: I’m lonely…now what? (Philippians 2:3-4)
March 1: What is the point of purity? (Hebrews 12:1-3)
March 8: What does God really think of me? (Colossians 1: 19-22)

Here are the questions we will be answering in the coming weeks:
March 22: I am scared to die…is that normal? (Philippians 1:20-24)
March 29: Why is being at church important? (Hebrews 10:23-25)

This Wednesday (March 15) is our semester outreach night called “The Block Party.” The goal of this night is for students to bring every student they know (Regardless if they are registered in a D-Group or not) as we will have free food, games, and a gospel message to wrap up the night. Our goal is to pack out the sanctuary as hundreds of students hear the saving message of Jesus Christ for the first time.

As always, if you need anything or have questions about your student please feel free to contact me.

Thank you for allowing me to be your child’s D-Group leader.

Lesson Help: March 8 — March 7, 2017

Lesson Help: March 8

What Does God Really Think of Me?

This time of year, as seniors get accepted into college the next thought on their minds (mostly the parent’s minds) is, “Where can I get a scholarship!” Students are asked to submit test scores, GPA’s, extra-curricular involvement, and volunteer service to test whether they deserve to be given a scholarship to attend a specific school. However, it does not end there. Most scholarships are reviewed for renewal based upon the student’s GPA after each year! So, not only are scholarships given based upon past achievements, they are held in place by succeeding in the present. By giving a graduating senior a scholarship benefactors are in essence saying, “We believe, because of your past performance, you will further the cause of our endowment by continuing to produce what you have been producing the past four years.” Therefore, when a family receives a scholarship it is received with mixed emotions: Excited to be relieved of financial burden, but pressured by the expectation to continue to achieve.

The gift God has given to us through Jesus’ death is nothing like a college scholarship! It is not granted to those who have proven themselves worthy, nor does it come with the pressure to achieve to keep it in place. Making the gift of salvation anything about ourselves weakens the message of Jesus and deifies humanity.

We are forgetting the power of Jesus’ death when we think to ourselves after we do something good, “Are you proud of me now, God?” Or, just as worse, when we think to ourselves after we sin, “I bet you are mad at me now, God.”

For God’s sake! STOP!! Know the security you have in Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit remind you through reading the Word: “he has brought you into his own presence. And you are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault” (Colossians 1:22).

In your groups try to investigate the cause of a student’s feelings of unworthiness and look them in the eyes and say, “because of your faith in Jesus you stand before God without a single fault.”

Lesson Help: March 1 — February 28, 2017

Lesson Help: March 1

What is the point of purity?

The word “purity” tends to bring to mind a blank canvas free of blemish or a filtered glass of water poured directly out of a Brita pitcher. We tend to call things “impure” that contain non-natural substances that either distort a substance’s original taste or distort an image from being viewed in its original form.

However, what if “purity” was actually something different from what we may originally thought? What if “purity” was obtained by adding something instead of viewing purity as something obtained by merely removing everything? I contend purity is obtained by doing both, adding and removing. Adding to our lives an intense desire to know Jesus and removing any distraction that thwarts our attention to achieve anything else.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says: “…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…”

God commands two actions, “strip off” and “run.” The motivating passion behind a person’s desire to avoid distraction (sin/temptation) is their overwhelming desire to know Jesus! To seek to avoid sin and temptation without a desire to know Jesus leads to self-righteousness, and to seek the Lord without removing sin and temptation leads to stagnation. Trying to know Jesus and experience His joy and fulfillment without, simultaneously, trying to remove sin and temptation is like peddling a bike with the brakes on.

Check out another example of this two-part path to purity the apostle Paul gives young Timothy:

2 Timothy 2: 22: “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace.”

In your groups, split your time discussing both actions. 1) Ways to know Jesus 2) Distractions that suck our time and energy. One of Satan’s biggest tools to keep us from experiencing Jesus is not to make us bad, but to make us busy.

So, eliminating distraction may look like the following:

  • Deleting your Instagram app for a week.
  • Blocking time-wasting websites (ESPN, News, YouTube).
  • Not taking your phone to bed.

And adding actions that help us know Jesus may look like the following:

  • Start a Bible reading plan on YouVersion app
  • Kneel next to your bed and pray for 3 minutes before going to sleep
  • Stopping for 30 seconds sometime before the school day starts and pray.
  • Sit in silence for 1 minute and think about Jesus.
Lesson Help: Feb 22 — February 17, 2017

Lesson Help: Feb 22

I’m lonely…now what?

The goal for this week’s group time is to help the students understand that friendships are created and sustained by each person taking initiative to encourage, listen to, and be honest with, the other person. So often we become apathetic in our friendships and begin to treat others like medicine, only going to them when we need support and forgetting about them when we are feeling good. Putting forth effort to show the other person you genuinely care about them as a person is the key to sustaining close friendships. However, we cannot control whether someone reciprocates our caring actions. So, in those cases, hold on to the hope of knowing no act of care towards another is wasted and move on to find someone else who will appreciate what you have to give.

The other aspect of creating and sustaining healthy friendships is allowing others to serve you. Nothing is more annoying than the person who rejects the help of others because they feel they do not deserve it. For example, when others try to do things for them they often say things like, “No, No, let me do that for you!” Or, “Thank you for this, but you should not have done this!” And, “Thank you for the gift, now I feel like I need to do something for you in return!” This type of hyper-humility is a way of revealing how unlovable you feel. I get it, you may not have been raised to know your worth and most likely acts of service in your childhood home were used as tools of manipulation. So, remind your students they are worthy of love because they are created in the image of God and He loves them!

Not only do friendships strengthen us to deal with life’s struggles, but they give us an opportunity to give of ourselves and experience greater joy. Giving of ourselves for the good of another is what gives our lives meaning. After all, that was Christ’s mission, not to be served but to serve.

Lesson Help: Feb 15, 2017 — February 10, 2017

Lesson Help: Feb 15, 2017

What Do I Do When I Am Hurting?

The goal for this week’s group time is to get students to realize that praising God for who He is and what He has done gets us through difficult circumstances. Minimizing the pain of a circumstances or belittling a tragedy only leads to frustration and disillusionment. God’s word never instructs to ignore pain and hurt, but rather to praise God in the midst of it. Jesus even expressed grief by weeping over Lazarus’ death (Jn. 11:35). However, after Jesus wept he opened his following prayer with, “Father, thank you for hearing me” (Jn. 11: 41).

Sadness and joy complement each other by one causing the other to shine. Its sadness that makes the joyous feelings be felt more intensely.

For example, furniture must go through a rough sanding process before it will take a new stain. When others see newly finished furniture they see only the shimmering coat of shellac, but only the craftsman remembers the harsh stripping and sanding done beforehand.

The feelings of sadness should never be rushed through for the purpose of getting to joy, because wading in the waters of pain makes the warm dry towel of joy afterwards feel all the more comforting. Just as a young child gets indigestion after racing to finish his/her broccoli to get to the ice cream course, so numbing ourselves to pain causes us to be calloused to joy.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reminds of God will: “Always be joyful, never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Instead of seeing sadness as the antithesis of joy, see it as the ore from which joy is mined. At first glance the untrained eye may see only dirt and rock, but a skilled miner devotes time to work through the convoluted ore to extract a valuable metal. The same is true with hurt in our lives, patiently allowing others to empathize and remaining obedient to Christ through it all allows the Almighty Craftsman to cultivate within us a mature and Christ-like heart that only pain could produce.

So as your students express hurt and seek a solution to quickly rid themselves of their ill feelings, empathize with them and remind them of the goodness of God, then watch how over time God turns their greatest pain into their greatest passion.

Lesson Help (Nov 9) — November 9, 2016

Lesson Help (Nov 9)

Letter to Churches: We are Free! (Galatia)

Galatians 5: 16-26
Looking back, I should have included verses 13-15 in your reading of Galatians 5…so include that when you read the Scripture tonight in your group.

In regards to communicating the truth of our freedom granted to us because of Christ, think of it in terms of a relationship between child and parent (This may not be the best analogy since many students do not have a loving relationship with their parents). In this case, consider what a family goes through when adopting a baby. Does the family know whether or not the baby will grow up to be well-behaved? Do the parents pick out a child based upon how that child will contribute to the family? No. Future behavior and contributions are not criteria parents consider when choosing to adopt. Parents adopt a child due to their love for that child. Once a child is adopted the child is forever apart of the family and thus has freedom to express him/herself in a way that is according to how he or she was gifted.

Some may say at this point, “Well what if that child grows up and rejects the family by desiring to live in a manner opposite to what the parents stand for?” (I am of course illustrating the real life scenario of a person who calls themselves a “Christian” but chooses to live in unrepentant sin).  Let me point out that there is a difference between rejecting the family and losing the family. When a child is 18 years of age he or she can legally change his or her last name and sever all ties to the family that adopted him or her. But, a child just doesn’t accidentally lose his or her family by accidentally wandering into a court and accidentally filling out papers to reject his or her family; we choose what we will reject.

The same is true for people today in making Jesus their Lord and Savior. Those who have accepted God’s invitation to be a part of His family through Jesus do not need to fear losing His love and acceptance due to sin. The same reason my daughter does not need to fear me leaving her at an orphanage because she disrespected me last night when she was exhausted by saying, “NO DADDY!” when I told her to lay down so I could change her into her jammies.

Now, if I have patience with my child, how much more loving and patient is God!! So, let’s stop fearing God’s rejection when we sin. Instead, may we confess to Him with full transparency knowing He already knows our thoughts and loves us still.

When we understand God’s love we will experience the freedom to creatively and uniquely live for Him the way He has uniquely made us.