The Inspired Volunteer

A blog to inspire the Youth Volunteers of Shepherd Church

Email to Parents (Send by Nov 11) — November 9, 2016

Email to Parents (Send by Nov 11)

D-Group Leaders: This is merely a template. Feel free to edit it however you wish or write your own. The goal is to show the parents you are making an effort to keep them informed.

Parents,
Thank you for allowing your student to be in my discipleship group. It has been a joy being a D-Group Leader and I thank you for making your child’s attendance on Wednesday night a priority. As I am sure you are aware, being a leader of students is not easy but I am learning as I go and loving it. In the past meetings we have been studying the following topics in Scripture:

  • September 28: The Start of the First Church
    Pentecost 
  • October 5: Characteristics of the First Church:
    A movement that included all types of people
  • October 19: Characteristics of the First Church
    They shared and gave what they had
  • November 2: Letter to the Churches: Corinth
    Using your gifts (Students took a Spiritual Gift Test)

Our last meeting on the Shepherd Porter Ranch Campus will be November 16th. We will not meet November 23rd due to Thanksgiving. But, on November 30th we will have our Leader Choice Night off Campus. This off-campus event is organized by me and designed to create a fun memory for our group. I will give you all the details of this event when I have them. Please feel free to call me directly if you have any questions or concerns.

It is my goal to make your child’s D-Group experience amazing, so please let me know any details you feel would help me to better know your child.

Thank you for your help,

(Name)
(Cell Phone)
(Email)

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Lesson Help: October 19 — October 19, 2016

Lesson Help: October 19

By: Garrison Polsgrove
For: Shepherd Youth D-Group Leaders

Tonight’s lesson is all about teaching generosity being the means in which we show the character of Jesus to the world. The first church in Act 2 gave freely to others since that was what they saw their resurrected Savior do. Jesus served us before He saved us. Generosity, therefore, is more than a virtue that attracts others to Jesus but it is the means through which we, ourselves, experience Jesus.

Generosity, which starts as a discipline, is the practice of giving away what God has given and creating an opportunity for Him to fill us with more of Himself as we empty our hearts of greed. The enemy that keeps us from experience God’s grace (definition: God’s undeserved favor) is greed.

Greed says: “What I have is mine and I’ll hoard it.”
Grace says: “What I have is God’s so I’ll give it.”

Greed operates from a mindset of scarcity.
Grace creates a mindset of abundance.

Greed is something we are born with and requires no effort to create.
Grace is something God gives and is experienced through discipline.
(Grace is experienced through effort but given freely through faith.)

Greed thrives on a lack of faith and a focus on human earning.
Grace is experienced only through a dependency on faith and giving away what God has given.

Faith-filled believers do not need to pray for a spirit of generosity, but rather we have the freedom to create one through giving. Generosity is a lot like eating Pringles, one you start giving it is difficult to stop, except the lasting effects of giving is a lot more satisfying than knowing you ingested 5,000mg of sodium.

The principle of sowing and reaping is clear in scripture in that if we sow sparingly we will also reap sparingly (2 Cor. 2:6-9). Some people say, “I will be generous with my time, treasure, and talents, when I can afford it.” But Scripture would say you can’t afford not to give (excuse the double negative)!!! Much like how exercising when you feel tired increases your energy level afterwards, the same is true with giving away what we have. The best time to give is when you feel you have nothing. Giving when we feel we have nothing allows God to do His best work, because He has a pretty good track record at making beauty from nothing.

 

Wednesday, Sep 28: Lesson Help — September 28, 2016

Wednesday, Sep 28: Lesson Help

Tonight’s D-Group lesson is about trusting the Holy Spirit’s leading. Who is the Holy Spirit you may ask? The Holy Spirit is a person in spirit form that is inside of every baptized believer of Christ. The Holy Spirit is fully God but yet separate from Jesus and Father God. The Holy Spirit acts as our true north, constantly pulling us back to Scripture and giving us strength to do what we not normally do on our own.

Illustration:
Much like how there is a magnetic pull at the core of the earth that allows us to determine north, south, east, and west; the Holy Spirit is our inner directional pull that reminds us of God’s truth when our actions begin to stray from God’s truth. Without the earth’s magnetic force we would all be lost and unable to know whether the direction we are headed in is right or wrong. The Holy Spirit lives inside every baptized believer and guides us back to truth we sin and acts as our comforter when we are hurting.

Personal/Momentary Promptings
The Holy Spirit does not give us the entire picture of where He is taking us, but rather gives us only momentary promptings. The amount of trust we have in God’s plan determines the extent to which we will obey God’s leadings. However, the Holy Spirit does not work in the same way with everyone, that is because the Holy Spirit is personal and works out God’s will through our gifting and make-up. Thus, we should never compare the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives to anyone else’s.

No Contrictions
Although the Holy Spirit is personal, His promptings will never contradict the Bible or the character of Christ. Therefore, if one is feeling a prompting to do something sinful (Gal 5:19-21) that prompting is not of the Holy Spirit but rather comes from that person’s sinful nature that has yet to be killed off.

Killing Sinful Desires
We kill off the sinful nature and its promptings within us by starving our minds of sinful things. Think of ourselves as having two natures with us (The nature of the Holy Spirit and the nature of sin we were born with) and those natures being personified as two dogs in a fight against each other. The dog who will win and the dog who will lose is determined who got the most food that week. In the same way, the more we seek to eliminate sinful things from passing before our eyes and ears, and at the same time, seek to obey and know more of God through Scripture study and prayer, our sinful desire begin to die due to starvation.

I love the quote someone said: “The easiest way to kill a roaring lion is not to wrestle it to the ground but to ignore it by starving it of food.”

Principle:
God places His Holy Spirit in us so He can live through us. Allowing God to live through us happens when we submit to his promptings and starve our sinful desires of thoughts and actions.

Email to Parents (Send by Sep 20) — September 16, 2016

Email to Parents (Send by Sep 20)

Hello Parents,

Let me first start off by saying I am so glad your child is in my Discipleship Group on Wednesday night. I consider it a privilege to be taking part in this ministry in helping your child experience Jesus and grow in their faith. A student’s middle and high school years is at times the most influential part of your child’s life. I take my role as your child’s mentor seriously as I seek every week to help them see God’s truth is the best way to live.

Over the past three weeks our group has been going through the New Testament by focusing on the following subjects:

August 31: The Birth of Christ
September 7: Knowing Christ is God
September 14: The Crucifixion of Christ
Upcoming this week: The Resurrection of Christ.

As you may know, keeping students on subject is tough as I seek to facilitate discussion, but I do my best to keep the week’s topic the focal point. Please know I am available to talk if you need me for anything. I want you to see me as partnering with you in loving your child and seeing them fulfill God’s plan for their life. Also, do not hesitate to email me back if you have any direct questions regarding our group or the lessons we discuss.

Thank you for entrusting me with this responsibility.

-[Your Name]
[Your Contact Information…cell phone)

Wednesday, Sep 7 Lesson Help — September 7, 2016

Wednesday, Sep 7 Lesson Help

Here is my thinking behind the lesson.

I want students to understand and accept Jesus as God…and not just a good man who did miracles.

In the world we live in students are going to be pressured by other people and religions to answer how they can know Jesus was God and why was it necessary.

This lesson may be more about obtaining head knowledge than it is practical.

The practical application behind it is this: If Jesus is God then following Jesus is the best way to live. How would creation know how to live a life better than the God who created life?

The goal is for these students to understand through this lesson that Jesus is not just “a” way to but “THE” way to salvation. Jesus is not just one path that leads to God…Jesus is the only path because only He was God in human form.

Illustration to use in your group:
Say we were all on a ship and it started to sink. Everyone is panicking trying to figure out a way to fix the situation before we all die. Then, all of a sudden a helicopter drops down a man who announces to everyone, “I am the creator of this ship and know the way to fix everything.” Not only does he announce it with his words but he starts to immediately fix things no one on board could figure out. Would you follow his instructions from that time on or would you keep looking for someone else? Or even worse…try to keep figuring out everything on your own?!

Jesus is the Creator who came to His creation to show us the way out of a dying earth. He announced his position with His words and backed them up with his miraculous actions. Submitting our lives to Jesus isn’t only right but it’s logical! Jesus was either crazy, a liar, or actually God! You either trust Him completely with your everyday life (Faith) to be who He said He is or you do not at all. 

Here are some application questions:

1)      Often times we struggle with disobedience of God’s way because we doubt His way is the best way. Have we ever trusted someone and then later found out they were not someone we could trust? How does a lack of trust in God cause us to struggle to obey Him?

2)      How does it make you feel to know that God loves you more than you imagine and wants you experience a blessed life?

3)      Close your eyes: What pictures do you think of when you hear these words: “God loves you more than you know.”

4)      What does it mean to know that God will never let us down?

 

 

Let It Go — March 16, 2016

Let It Go

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church


Often times when I leave the office I load my backpack with books just in case I will need them at home. However, the more I have to carry a heavy load the more difficult it is to think about anything else besides when I can set my bag down.

What’s true about carrying heavy backpacks is true about letting disturbing comments made by students dwell in your mind. Have you ever had a student say something in your group that made you feel uneasy? Did you have the thought that maybe you should tell someone, but didn’t? As a result, how many times did those comments loop in your brain making you feel concerned?

Disturbing comments made by your D-Group students bug you because you care about them. You want what is best and are bothered if they divulge details that cause them to experience anything less. So, what do you do?

When a group leader asks me what they should do in response to a bothersome comment made by their student the first thing I ask is: “If you were the parent of this student, would you want to know this piece of information?” The answer is rarely “no.” Think about it. If you want to help this student, wouldn’t the best thing to do is give their most influential person details they could use to help them? If your response is, “Well, their parents have more issues than their own child!” It doesn’t matter. You are not the protector of this child. You are their D-Group leader and not responsible for their upbringing. Their parents are.

Now I realize some information needs to be spoken directly to Shepherd Youth staff for legal reasons (see volunteer handbook for details), but issues of non-abuse can be directly stated to the parents.

Telling parents about disturbing things their child is saying relieves you from playing “Savior.” It reminds you that you have your own kids to raise and releases the disturbing looping thought in your mind.

Benefits of informing parents of their child’s disturbing comments:

  • Allows the parent to know the issues their child is having and to get the appropriate help.
  • Allows the parents to stop things that are causing the problem in their child’s life.
  • Creates trust between you and the parent and reassures them you will come to them with future issues.
  • Relieves you from having to worry about an issue you have no control over.
  • It is wise.
Annoying Pebbles — March 1, 2016

Annoying Pebbles

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church


The other day my daughter started walking with a limp. I did not think much of it at first, but as her limp continued she began to fall further behind. I know, I know. You are probably thinking I am a horrible dad for letting my child walk behind me, but don’t worry. There were plenty of strangers around to watch out for her. I kid, I kid!! My wife was following behind her so it was all good.

As we continued to walk, my daughter stopped and aggressively sat down and pulled her foot up to her chin. She un-velcrowed her shoe and ripped it off. As she turned her shoe upside down, a small pebble fell out. My wife sat next to her through the process and helped her put her shoe back on. Once she stood back up she took off in a dead sprint.

I think what happened to my daughter’s walk happens to our lives. The smallest of unconfessed sin, unresolved conflict, and unspoken hurt can slow us down from keeping in-step with the Spirit. We desire to fully hear the Spirit’s voice, but our buried hurts overcome the Spirit’s leading. Our unresolved issues are not inherently stronger than God, but the power we allow those issues to have makes them so.

Have you hurt someone lately and need to confess your wrong-doing to him or her? Is there a debt someone owes you that needs to be canceled for your own well-being? Is there a fear that needs to be voiced so it loses it power?

What I love about D-Groups is it provides an opportunity for students to clean out the shoes of their hearts. It offers a space for them to express to a trusted adult the issues drowning out the voice of the Holy Spirt. Often times the best thing a mentor can do is sit. It’s what my wife did as my daughter rid her shoe of the annoying pebble. Sitting and listening to students’ hurts, fears, and sins may not sound powerful, but it is effective. After all, you may be the only person in that student’s life who expresses a desire for he or she to be free of what hinders the sprint towards experiencing Christ.

Galatians 5:25 (NLT)
“Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”

The god of Comfort — February 24, 2016

The god of Comfort

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church

O the deceiving voice of the god of comfort! His voice is loud and promises relief, but in turn breeds shallowness and dissatisfaction. Those who choose to forgo challenge and instead take refuge in comfort become people who are never satisfied and continue to long for luxury. Seeking to chase comfort dulls the senses that tune with the Spirit of God. It places our pleasure on the throne of our lives. Thus, our energy is spent trying to avoid challenge and sacrifice for the purpose of pleasing our desire for comfort. AAHHHH!!!! This is me!!

However, I have learned that comfort is the enemy of growth. Luxury is the nemesis of maturity. If the god of comfort lives in a palace, then challenge and sacrifice are the forces that those within the palace try to keep out. Those who worship comfort experience internal peace momentarily because deep within he or she knows his or her life is wasting and God-given abilities are squandering.

The worshipers of comfort have learned to be great deceivers because they must convince themselves daily of their impact. Every day they repeat to themselves, “I’m making a difference…” “I’m growing…” “God is using me…” But the reason they must repeat those lines to themselves is because they know their impact and character is not anymore stronger or Christ-like than they were two years ago. Comfort promises fulfillment, but delivers an unquenchable hunger for more.

Despite my own personal struggles in following the god of comfort, the only way I have found to defeat following his well beaten path to shallowness is to purposefully and consciously invite challenge into my life. Challenge acts as a diamond plated grindstone cutting out selfishness and stinginess and polishes my character to look like Christ’s. But it hurts. It is by definition uncomfortable. My brain naturally resists challenge and would rather avoid it. However, my brain is conditioned to conserve energy and avoid risk, not to shape my character. Challenge is the conditioner of character. Inviting challenge that requires personal sacrifice is the action of rebels who seek to dethrone the god of comfort. Sacrifice seekers are the mighty-men of Christ the Spirit uses to accomplish what will last into eternity.

So look challenge in the face and invite it into your life. Make sacrifice your friend and ask it to accompany you throughout each day. Where challenge and sacrifice live dwells the peace that passes understanding.

Slow Down — February 16, 2016

Slow Down

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church


Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Have you ever heard that saying before? It sounds like one of those phrases your grandfather tells you as he sits on the front porch whittling wood. It’s true, though! Maybe you have never said it, but I bet you have experienced it. I bet you have experienced it after you rushed through something important only to look back and think, “I wish I would have taken more time and did a better job.”

When we don’t take the time to do something well and the job itself is worth doing well, a feeling of “cheap” comes over us. Not the type of cheap we feel when we order a water alongside a fifty-dollar meal, but the cheap feeling that overwhelms us when we hurry through a meaningful conversation at church so we can get home catch to our favorite television show. The feeling that whispers to us, “You only have one life so was that really a moment you’ll be glad you rushed through?”

It is easy to drive home with a feeling of accomplishment after giving a mini-sermon to your students only to later realize you did not connect with them at all. Although listening may not be as exciting as getting to express all the wisdom you have collected over the years by talking for thirty minutes; connecting to your students by showing empathy will bring satisfaction in the long run.

Leading a D-Group of students is a privilege and one none of us should take lightly nor rush through. It is amazing to think we have the opportunity to add value to a student by listening to concerns and affirming who they are in the eyes of God. Although at times we may be tempted to rush through a meaningful interaction to beat traffic or get home to go to sleep, remember if you agree that student ministry is worth doing then let’s be sure we do it well.

 

The Road Is Long — February 9, 2016

The Road Is Long

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church


In high school I told my track coach that running a four minute mile would be easy. I must have just drank an energy drink because a two-hundred and twenty pound fullback had no business running long distances. My track coach grabbed his stopwatch and said, “Let me see it then.” We walked out to the track circling the football field and the race began.

I started strong and after the first lap I heard him say, “You’re on pace.” I got so excited! After the second lap I heard him say, “You need to pick it up!” However, what he did not know was that my feet were burning and my lungs were in my throat. By the third lap I was jogging and by the fourth lap I was walking. I then discovered running a four minute mile was more difficult than I initially thought. My intention to accomplish something difficult might have been admirable, but taking on such a challenge without committing to train was foolish.

Committing to lead a Discipleship Group is similar to running a four minute mile. It is exciting to think about influencing a young person’s life and leading them to experience Christ, but it is difficult to commit to the weekly task of showing up and giving it your all even when you do not see immediate results.

Nothing makes you question your involvement more than enduring the long car rides home after groups pondering the question, “Am I even even making a difference?” Or spending a majority of your time with the students telling them not to use their cell phones or talk to the person next to them. Its tough! Especially when you are not the type of person who enjoys being a disciplinarian. Listen, I get it. I really do! You are serving in one of the most challenging ministries there is (second to cross-cultural missions). Students are confused and conflicted and worse is most do not have the vocabulary to express how they feel.

However, the road is long. Meaning, God does not have a stopwatch measuring your performance and basing His involvement off our weekly impact. Just how the Lord was patient with you while you were a student, He is pacing with with these students as well. Our role as leaders is not to measure our “mentor achievements” but to realize we are the coaches helping to train these students for life-long faithfulness to Christ.

So, as we begin this new semester let’s remember our role, not a measurer but a mentor. Let’s remember too that life-change does not happen in a sprint but over the course of training for a marathon.