What If It Could Really Happen?

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There are times when you are listening and what you are hearing  just grabs your attention. It might be the topic that is being addressed, or the words of the speaker really resonate with you, to maybe the delivery of the communicator. For the most part I am a pretty good listener. Over the years I have heard and taken notes on literally hundreds of speakers.

It was one of those mornings when what the speaker was saying just captured my attention.

The place was Open Door Church in Maple Grove, Minnesota. The speaker, Dave Johnson, the lead pastor. He is a man that I have learned to really love and appreciate. He is a gifted communicator who has a unique style and insightful look at passages of scripture that I know and have even preached myself.  But this day, Dave’s message was about the capital “C” Church and the lower case “c” church really grabbed my attention.

For years my heart has been wrapped around the capital “C” church, even though I have been a part of many different lower case “c” churches. I have been blessed to have seen, heard, and experienced a lot in both of those environments.

I have been around the Christian world a longtime. 

  • You see, my dad, a Senior Statesman is 85 years and before my  mom’s passing, they served together in ministry for over 60 years. As a pastor, he worked with other pastors in his community. Now he is older but my dad’s goal has always been to finish well. Well into his eighty’s he was still  active in state leadership of seniors, served as the Chaplin at a care center, and was even asked to preach in churches, and participate in funerals.
  • I am 62 years old and have been a “PK” preachers kid my entire life. Yes, I was raised in a denomination, but have worked with many denominations and independent churches throughout my almost 4 decades in ministry. My involvement in the “C” Church has allowed me to serve as a leader in many Kingdom events and initiatives over the years in the different cities I have served in.

Why, am I prone to ask the “What if” question?

I guess it was because of all that I had experienced in the youth ministry world. Youth pastors in churches are brought on staff to develop programs and disciple (train, equip, and empower) the next generation. That calling lead me, in cities where I served as a youth pastor, to an even bigger “Kingdom” vision of the Church in youth ministry in those communities. A network of youth workers with a common vision, strategy, and taking action to reach the youth in our communities, together.

The word “Synergy” is defined as the whole is greater than a sum total of all the parts. What if we could create “synergy” in youth ministry in the community. After all we were all part of the Kingdom.

So, I began to reached outside of my denominational “box” to engage with other youth workers in my community. Back in the day, we called that “networking”. Why the drive to network and get outside of the “box”?

Because, early in my ministry to youth, God stamped my life with the “Kingdom DNA”. It was like this. One day I was talking to God about the youth ministry God had called me to lead. That morning He impressed on my heart the this profound concept to me, “If you will build my Kingdom, I will build your ministry (youth group).”

That day changed everything in my thinking about my calling. It made me look at my calling differently. I no longer was thinking about being the youth pastor to the kids in our church or those involved in our youth ministry. No, I thought of myself as the “youth pastor” to the youth of my city. But I could not do that alone, so I set out to challenge others to join me, to network together to impact more students in our schools and youth in our city.

Again, Why? Because Satan’s youth group in our city was bigger and all of the “c” churches combined. So, “What if” this “C” Church ministry to youth in our city could happen? What would it even look like?

It was all about the youth in our community. So as I approached other youth workers about focusing on the things that united us and not the things that divided us. It was not about everybody doing the exact same thing, but it was about everyone being on the same team. It wasn’t about the name on the back of the jersey, it was about the name on the front of the jersey. It really was about the “synergy” around the simple yet life-changing message of knowing God in a real and personal way and to bringing Hope to a generation.

That was the passion that drove my mission when I first started in full-time ministry and it is the passion and mission that still drives me today, 38 years later. I want to see people come to faith, learn to to own, live, and share their faith, so will continue to be a Christ follower for a life time.

This is what I discovered. If we, despite our difference (denominations, backgrounds, doctrines, and dogmas) could rallied around four concepts in our communities, we the “C” Church, our collective voice and actions could impact schools in our communities. If we could have a vision:

  • Big enough to capture a city – 750 Churches partnering for Pulse Twin Cities, May 18, 2018
  • Simple enough it could be grasped – Reaching people for Christ!
  • De-centralized enough that it could be owned – Common vision to reach youth in every community at every school.
  • Relational enough that it could actually work – Local Youth Worker Networks

We have a BHAG” (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), a vision for our city. It is a Ephesians 3:20 goal. Realizing that with God’s power working in us, we could believe God to do exceedingly, abundantly, immeasurably more than we can ask, think, dream, plan, or even imagine. So let’s dream big!

The mission is simply to bring the Church together around the mission to reach young people with the simple, yet life-changing message of the Gospel, the Good News, and Hope for their generation. With the mission in mind, I believed that young youth leaders can and come together in their communities to reach youth for Christ.

So “What if” it could really happen?

  • What could happen with a common vision, a strategy, and a group of committed leaders collectively take action in every city?
  • What if the Church unified to impact our schools?
  • What if students, equipped by their leaders, where to go to America’s Greatest Mission Field with a purpose to reach a friend for Christ?
  • What would be the result in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, communities and cities

If we as individuals in “c” churches part of the “C” Church were to live out Jesus’ prayer in John 17…”That all of them may be one (Church), Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that so that the world may believe that you sent me.” This is the power of a “C” Church – so the world we believe.

There is no question, we “c” churches desire to see transformation in our lives of people in our communities. That is evident, because I hear it all the time we want to have community, so we need to get out of our rows, into circles.

But what if the “C” Church, with great unity, synergy, and all of its resources really desired to see transformation in our community?

Church let’s not just imagine the ‘What if”, let’s do it.

Twin Cities and beyond, we have a tremendous opportunity to be the Church. Together we can go way beyond “What if?”

We have 180 high schools to impact. We have youth workers, teachers, coaches, parents, grand parents, and concerned adults to support (pray for, pour into, and provide resources). There are 1000’s of students who have been or are going to camps, conferences, or on missions trips, who come back and desire live out and share their faith with their friends, school, and world. All they need is support from people like you and me.

Church! Let’s do this!

 

 

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We Have Entered a New Season “NEXT!”

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The Pulse Twin Cities Event at U.S. Bank Stadium is now history.

It was an exciting night as 40,000 people gathered to hear artist sing and share Jesus. Live interviews and videos from Minnesota Twins and Vikings players, and Olympic athlete. A Guinness World Record was set for the largest pillow fight and after a one-minute nap as Mike Lindell, the creator of “My Pillow” prayed that these 50,000 pillows would be prayer pillows. Then Nick Hall presented the challenge and 7,000 people responded to this challenge of faith and a reset in having a relationship with Jesus.

The Church of the Twin Cities came together pray for this event. 10,000’s of people in this season of evangelism used “Key 5 Cards” to pray for and invite their friends. 1,000’s of people were trained to share Jesus through the “Movement Training” and over 40,000 came to U.S. Bank Stadium for this special night.

But now the event is over and we are on to “Next”. We have entered a new season. There are will be thousands of conversations that will lead to talking about faith. Because of the vision, meetings, planning and now the execution of this stadium event we have entered the new season of “Next”.

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So here are some questions that we are going to answer.

  • How can God use this event for “More”!
  • What can and will “Next” look like in your city? Communities? Schools?
  • What can happen when 750 churches have a common vision to reach the next generation after the event?
    • 750 Youth Workers
    • 750 Youth Ministries
    • 750 Youth Ministry Leadership Teams
    • 750 churches with students attending 180 high schools in the Greater Twin Cities.

Church of the Twin Cities! Senior Leaders, youth leaders, moms, dads, school staffers, and concerned adults.

  • Next has begun and students from 750 churches are having conversations about the event.
  • Next will continuing as 10,000’s of students will go to summer camps, take a mission trips, hangout with their youth group and their friends.
  • Next will be fueled as these students begin a the 2018-19 school year, fueled by their experience of the “U.S. Bank Event” and their summer activities, with a desire to take this life-changing message of knowing Jesus to their friends, school, and world.

What can you do?

  • Pray
  • Pour into a young person
  • Provide resources

Join me and hundreds of youth leaders in “NEXT”!

 

 

What is Next?

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PULSE TWIN CITIES – May 18, 2018

Free Event – U.S. Bank Stadium

If you know me, you know that I am very passionate about what happens in the youth ministry world as Church works together to reach and mentor youth for Christ. Especially right my city, the Twin Cities!

So when a big event like Billy Graham Crusade, Luis Palau Festival, Teen Mania, Dare 2 Share, Planet Wisdom, Rock the River, Pulse Twin Cities, or any many other large events that has come to our city for me it is about the event, but too what happens after the event.

For the past 27 years, I have always talked about NEXT. I have had the privilege of working with and leading 100’s of leaders on NEXT.

But this is a new season. A new generation of leaders who have not experience the NEXT of churches working together at this level.

You see, for the past eighteen months, I have served with a team of youth pastors who have been meeting, dreaming, preparing, and planning for Pulse Twin Cities. Now it is here.

IT IS GO TIME!

Across the country, the Twin Cities has been known youth ministries working together. Once again we get to show the world.

In just the past 14 months, we have seen ministry leaders come together for three Pastors Summits. In these meetings 830, 500, and 650 ministry leaders have been challenged by Nick Hall with a “big vision” for this of season of prayer, unity, and evangelism.

We have heard Senior Pastors, from different denominations and ethnic backgrounds, share their heart for our city. These leaders have stood together on the stage demonstrating and leading our city in Kingdom unity. And together, we have cried out to God for a mighty move of His spirit for our city!

All of this has resulted in the Church of the Twin Cities being focused on the mission of every youth worker (full-time, part-time, or volunteer), that is to reach youth for Christ.
  • 750 partnering churches, senior leaders, and youth ministries engaged in the mission.
  • 750 Churches all mobilizing people to pray and share their faith in coffee shops, workplace, schools and neighborhoods.
  • 750 churches and youth ministries using the same language, messages, and promotional strategy.
  • 10,000’s of God’s people in the Twin Cities praying to fill em’ all 62,200 seats for the event on May 18that U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Big Why is?

  • To see 1000’s of students in our city come to faith and discipled (II Tim. 2:2 model – disciples making disciples).
But what if there was MORE? So much more in our NEXT?

The event will be awesome, with a massive pillow fight, great music, exciting program, full stadium, testimonies for sports personalities, and the powerful message of the Gospel where the Minnesota Vikings play! d But there are 600+ youth workers in the 600+ partnering churches who want more than a “Big Event”, with a massive pillow fight, great music, excitement program, full stadium, and the powerful message of the Gospel where the Minnesota Vikings play!

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Think about WHAT IF…(Eph. 3:20)
  • 1000’s Christian students unite and to live on mission to impact their world and their schools (180 high schools in Twin Cities).
  • 10,000’s people pray for and supporting these Christian students at their schools (ie. Christian Booster Club) and our youth ministries
  • 100’s of youth workers connect and continue to collaborate in local networks to reach youth for Christ in their community.
  • 1000’s of adults stepped up to mentor this younger generation in our churches, schools and communities.
Simply put WHAT IF…
  • Students did adults cannot do? They go to school and make Christ the catalyst in their lives and school (lights in the darkness)
  • Adults did what students cannot do? They pray, pour into, and provide the resources for students to impact their friends and schools
  • Youth Workers did they have been called to do? Equip and release young people to go make a difference in the school and world.
I don’t want us, the Church, miss the “MORE” in our NEXT from this incredible and life-changing event.

The “MORE” goes way beyond a what happens May 18th for a few hours in a stadium. But NEXT can build an army of people involved in praying for, reaching and mentoring the next generation. The NEXT can literally impact every school, community, and the world.

We Care about the next generation!

  • What will YOU do in reaching and mentoring next generation in the Twin Cities? After days, months, and for years after May 18th?

Your Call to Action

  • Pray
  • Pour Into
  • Provide Resource

It is time!

Church, let’s seize the Moment!

What Can You Do?

This generation is in a world of hurt. A school is no longer a safe place. Young people are experienced abuse, hurting themselves and killing themselves and with the many school shootings, they have watched their friends be killed by others.

Our world is a mess! You might not feel like you can do much, but you can do something!

There are four questions this next generation is asking adults:
• Do you really love me?
• Are you really real?
• Can I trust you?
• Does your philosophy of life really work?

So, if you want to impact a teenager, ask yourself these questions:
• Do I really love kids?
• When a teenager looks at me do they see someone who is real?
• Am I a person who can who can be trusted?
• Is my philosophy of life really working for me?

There are many philosophies in the world, but when a young person looks at your life, do they see a person who has built their life on Godly principles?

Jesus tells a very simple, yet profound story about two builders. They both built houses; the difference was the foundation they built on. Jesus says one man used sand and the other built his house on the solid foundation of a rock. What are you building on and how is that working for you?

This generation needs you! They are looking to people who can answer those four simple questions they are asking. Will you be someone who really cares? If so, you can impact the life of a teenager and can make a difference for a lifetime.

#NeverAgain! Students Send Message

#NeverAgain!

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That is what this generation is saying to the leadership in our country. These young people have stood up because they saw 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High High in Parkland, Florida High killed. As this week as progressed on every news outlet we again saw the pictures and video of students streaming out of their high school. We have heard the horror stories of students from inside the school. The signs missed by the FBI or even how the perpetrator escaped with other students running out of the school.

In just matter hours after leaving the school, students began to come together. Student leaders stepped up like Jacklyn, a seventeen-year-old who was heading up the students charge to go the Florida State House said, “We are leading the charge for change.” It only took student leaders pulling together, 48 hours to organize a rally with 100’s of students at the Statehouse in Tallahassee, Florida and to get students on a bus to go to the Whitehouse. Wow! You saying that Students did all that in that short amount of time?

There have been many students interviewed, but it was the interview with Alex Wind, one of the organizers who said,

“We need to take a stance. Since we have the limelight on because of this tragedy. We have to seize that opportunity so we can assure there is going to be changed in the future. Now it stops! Never again will this happen in the country or any other country for that matter. We are the future. We are the ones that are going to make the change. You know, If Congress or the state or anyone doesn’t want to do anything, you know what, we’re going to do it.”

That statement reminded me of an event that we had in the 1990’s at River Rush. The in that video it students talked about their generation. But the statement rang in my ear was a message sent to the Church and to youth leaders. It was simply this, “If you don’t lead, we will.” That is the same tone that is coming out of Parkland students.

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In the spring of 2008, Allies had an outreach event called, GO M.A.D. (Go Make A Difference) at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, Minnesota. The speaker was a young man named Ben Strong. He was the student leader (preacher’s kid) of the prayer group at his school a student shot into their group on December 1, 1997, where he killed three young ladies and injured another 5 students. At the event, he shared his story with 3500 students and challenged 3500 students to Go Make A Difference in their school and world.

You would think that after a series of school shootings that there would be change. But we all have etched into our memory April 20, 1990, the pictures of Columbine Massacre. The minds behind this school shooting were, two seniors, who killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and injured 21 others, and even shot 3 more as they attempted to escape for school. You would have thought just maybe enough was enough.

But do you realize the 21st Century student has lived in what is called the “Columbine Generation”? It is estimated that there have been over 200 school shootings since that day. Do you remember what we used to fear and have drills for? Well, today’s students it isn’t the fear of polio or fear of a nuclear attack. It is the fear of dying from a shot of a rifle.

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We saw students running out of school and jumping out of windows. There were many stories that came out of yet another school shooting. Many were very sad and greatly affected many families forever. But one of those stories, of Rachel Scott, the first young lady shot outside of the school talking to a fellow classmate who just wanted to talk about his life. Her story has impacted, inspired, and challenged the lives of millions. Through her writings, a school assembly program called, “Rachel’s Promise” and the movie, that was in movie theaters last year called, “I’m Not Ashamed”.

If you have followed my writings, you understand that for years I have been saying, “America’s Greatest Mission Field is the middle, junior, and senior high schools.” Now the mission field is not just a school, but has become a “War Zone”! Both in the natural and the spiritual.

I have been in the youth ministry world for a very long time. Honestly, I have truly seen a lot of stuff happen in society and in the church. As you know and understand, in both areas of life there have been enormous changes.

When the students organize to get to the state capitol and the Whitehouse to bring their concerns and to say, #NeverAgain. Because of what has happened and a few students leaders who stepped up, I believe that we are going to see change. This really came to a head and there has to be a change.

So, here is my question to the Church and leadership in our churches!

Do we too need to make some changes? Just how seriously have we take the youth in our church. For the most part, I have observed youth in church leadership as an insider, pastoral positions, and as a leader in the church as an outside leader without the title. I have seen and experienced a lot over my the past six decades in the Church world.

The older I have become the more I have seen just how important the younger generation is to a church. For my entire ministry life (four decades) I have been involved in ministry to youth. It is not just something that I have done, but it has been my passion. I love to see young people develop in all areas of their lives and grow up to be great leaders.

I remember the very first video that I made for Allies Ministries, in 1990, We decided to shoot it outside of the high school that I graduated at Anoka. As I sat by the Anoka High School sign, I said something like this, “This is my high school. I graduated from here in 1974. And this is America’s Greatest Mission Field. I walked these hallways, just like you did in your school. Just like every CEO, salesperson, athlete, CEO, lawyer, pastor, mayors, school teacher, administrator, every person who sits in a boardroom, is a representative in a city office, state house, congressperson, senators, or even the President of the United States.”

Just think if we in the Church really believed this what could happen!

  • Students – go to school and make Christ the catalyst in their lives and schools.
  • Adults – pray for, pour into, and provide the needed resources
  • Youth Workers – equip and release student to go into their world and make a difference

Young people are making a difference. Every day thousands of students are making a difference as they tell their story of faith to people in their world. They are the Church’s  missionaries on America’s Great Mission Field. Let’s pray for, pour into them, and support them as they make their mark in their world and the Church.

 

It’s Not Too Late to Get In The Game!

There are times in life when it is all teed up for you, (yes, I am a golfer).
This is one of those times!
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The eyes of the world were on the Twin Cities for Super Bowl LII, despite the fact that the Vikings did not play in the big game. People came for the festivities from across the country and were willing to shell out thousands of dollars just to be here. Companies used this event as a platform for their product and paid millions of dollars for just a 30-second commercial. 
Friends this was a big deal. You may have thought it was too late but it isn’t, get in the game!

Did you know that ministry leaders, churches, and ministries like Allies (for us 27 years) have been working on a vision and strategy to reach the next generation? 

So, your opportunity of the Super Bowl has passed but we, youth workers, are just getting started. Just think about what can happen. There are 180 high schools alone in the Greater Twin Cities area and 400 plus churches and youth ministries all are coming together.

Why? To reach youth for Christ! To challenge young people to reach out to their friends with a message of hope and healing. During this season people are praying, leaders are meeting, planning, and dreaming of seeing U.S. Bank filled with 33,100 young people who bring 31,100 of their pre-Christian friends to an event that can shake our city for Christ. 

Just think about 400 churches and 10,000’s of people praying for, pouring into, and providing for a generation who is hungry to see a revival in their personal lives, schools, homes, and communities. 

James says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man or woman is effective and powerful.”

When God’s people pray, God moves. So be part of an army of youth workers, moms, dads, grandparents, administrators, teachers, coaches, and concerned adults who do more than just care.

GET IN THE GAME

Can you hear the team of adults yelling for the next generation? “What time is it? It is game time!” You may have missed the Super Bowl opportunities, but don’t miss this!

United, Our Message Can Bring Change!

The President’s speech last night inspired me with the thought of unity.

No matter what your political allegiance is, we are really all Americans and we have one enemy, the terrorists. President Trump made it very clear when he talked about what the strategy was for Afghanistan, “We aren’t nation building again, we are about killing terrorist” He too told the military, the American people, and the world,

“The men and women of our military operate as one team, with one shared mission and one shared sense of purpose.

They transcend every line of race, ethnicity, creed and color to serve together and sacrifice together in absolutely perfect cohesion. That is because all service members are brothers and sisters. They are all part of the same family. It’s called the American family. They take the same oath, fight for the same flag and live according to the same law.

They are bound together by common purpose, mutual trust and selfless devotion to our nation and to each other. The soldier understands what we as a nation too often forget, that a wound inflicted upon on a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all. When one part of America hurts, we all hurt.

And when one citizen suffers an injustice, we all suffer together. Loyalty to our nation demands loyalty to one another. Love for America requires love for all of its people. When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate. The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home. We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other.”

For me that has been the message that I have been challenging the Church to embrace. The reason is simply because we have a generation that needs us to be unite and not divided. So this why 27 years ago I founded the organization allies, so we could impact our world with a message of Hope. The question was, “Could we as the Church, collectively rally around the need of reaching and mentor the next generation?”

For those of you who know me personally, have read things I have written, or have followed me through my career and journey. You understand that this message is not one that I have just decided to try and would sell now that it is popular. No, it has been part of my DNA since I began in ministry over four decades ago. For the past 27 years since the beginning of Allies, every time I was in the room with ministry leaders they knew my passion and mission for the Church link arms to reach the next generation.

For many years I had a daily 2-minute show on KTIS 98.5 FM radio. I often made this statement, “The Church is not a building that you go on Sunday. But the Church is people like you and I. Followers of Christ, who desire to impact our world with the simple, yet life changing message of Hope.” The Church is people like us, men and women of God who are followers of Christ. People who have made Jesus the leader of their lives.

My friends, whatever your position you hold or stage of your walk with Christ you are at, we the Church, we have been commissioned by the one that can unite us. Yes, there certainly lots of things that can and have divided us. But it is time for the Church to raise up and impact the world. We, the Church have a message that makes a difference in a person’s life, family, relationships, attitudes, and career. It is a message of Hope through knowing God in a real and personal way.

Many years ago, a cartoon in the Star Tribune really challenged my thinking. The cartoonist portrayed a seemingly simple message with a person sitting in a car at a fast food drive through window. As they looked at the menu the items where Hn sitting in a car at a fast food looking at the menu read Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and New Age. It was a couple of years after I started Allies and too was a time when the first Gulf War had broke out and America was calling on its allies to come together to fight against the bad man in Bagdad. When I looked at that cartoon it became real to me.

You see the secular world doesn’t see the Church the way we sometimes see the Church. We often see many churches and denominations. We have labels inside of Christianity. Those labels are Catholics, mainline protestants, evangelical, pentecostal, and Charismatic and we too see that we are different in our theologies, backgrounds, ethnic, race, worship, dogmas, and doctrines. But as this cartoon depicted when others look at us they categorize us all as Christians. They too don’t distinquish a person who life has been transformed and is a Christ follower. The world just categorizes all of us as Christians. They honestly don’t know much more than that and they believe that all Christians believe and do the same things.

Yesterday was an interesting and intriguing day for people all across America, especially in the path of the total eclipse. Many Americans experienced something that has not happened for 99 years, the Total Eclipse. For a few minutes or seconds depending on where you where the sun was blocked by the moon. There were many people interview about the experience, but one guy interviewed in Greenville, SC and said, “It was amazing that it took an eclipse to unite the nation, at least for a few minutes.”

Church, we have a message that changes lives, families, and homes.  We the Church, come together around the one thing that unites us. There are many things that have and cause division in our churches. But there is one thing that can unite us in the mission. It is simply that Jesus Christ can transform any life and give all people Hope. It all starts when you in your world, share your story (and your story really matters). When we the Church, collectively, share our story of love, grace, hope, peace, and transformation we can impact the world. Let’s bring this simple, yet life-changing message of Hope and love to the world.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. That my friends is the message of the Church united in mission.

Life Isn’t a Straight Line

It would be great if when you started out life it was all going to be easy. Or it would be easy to be the man or woman with a vision to do something, develop your strategic plan, and then just let the business plan work out. But just like anyone with a vision, there are different stages that will challenge your perseverance to what you saw as the reality or the desired outcome. Honestly, it might take a lot longer than your proposed business plan.
The reality is life is never a straight line. 
There might be seasons where you encounter potholes in the road that can throw you out of alignment. Yet that are which will cause you to slow down. But nevertheless for most of us the it is not a smooth road.  bumps in the road of life and less severe than at other seasons of life, but nevertheless the road is not smooth. During these seasons when it feels like your hitting those thumps, bumps, and jolts, they require you to drive differently than when the road has been resurfaced and diving on the payment if smooth sailing.
One of the absolute worst things on a road trip  is when you hit a “Work Zone”. That simply means that you will need to slow because there maybe road workers head repairing the road ahead of you. But as proceed it is when you see that “Detour” sign you know it will take you longer to arrive to where you are headed. You may not know how far it is before you are able to get back on your straighter route to your destination. But you do know it is going to throw you off your time frame of getting to your destination and arrival will be delayed.
I had the privilege of sitting with a man who had worked tirelessly in India for many years. He was the founder of Calcutta Mission of Mercy which served the poor and desolate of Calcutta India for 35 years. During those years established schools and colleges, clinics, a hospital, vocational training programs, churches, and an extensive food distribution network, all of which are still in operation today.
The dinner was small with just a couple other couples, Rachel and I, and Mark Buntain. For about 3 hours at dinner I sat right next to him. We engaged in conversation throughout the evening. I knew that his health was not well. So between his health and other challenges there had been many detours in his journey. But at some point in the evening asked a question something like, “How are your doing and have your handled all the travel, challenges with India government and your health?” I will never forget his answer to me, when he said these words, “Dan, I just deep pressing on!”
Friends, sometimes when life isn’t going the right direction for you, you need to just keep “Pressing On”. Yes you might encounter a potholes, bumps, or detours but if you stay the course and “Press On” you will arrive at your desired destination.
It was Winston Churchill who said, “Never, Never, Never, Give up on something that you cannot go a day without thinking about.” He to said, “If your going through hell, don’t give up.” Then there is one last quote to think about through life’s twists and turns, ups and downs, or success or failures. Let this one really sink in because it can really shape your life, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm” Because you are going to fail, if you going to succeed!
How have the twist and turns, ins and outs, ups and downs and successes and failure shaped your life?

Never Give Up On Your Dream

It was Monday morning and I had just come out of a very important meeting at Cedar Valley Church in Bloomington, Minnesota. This meeting had been called because of some big changes in the plans for a citywide youth event scheduled for May 2017 at the new U.S. Bank Stadium.

You see, just a few days earlier the senior pastor lead team for the event had met and it was decided the best course of action would be to postpone the event till May of 2018. This would give time to extend this season of unity, prayer, and outreach we were experiencing in the Church of the Twin Cities.

It was just in September, at U.S. Bank Stadium, where over 400 pastors had gathered. As we all look out from the from the Hyundai Club, overlooking the new field, we heard Nick Hall, from Pulse share a “big” vision to fill the stadium in May 2017. Now it is February 16, 2017, and the momentum has been building in the city. On this day over 830 ministry leaders, representing over 350 churches were meeting at Cedar Valley to hear more about the “big” vision. All 66,200 seats with young people to hear simple, yet life-changing the message of the gospel.

But with the unexpected changes in plans for the biggest youth outreach we had seen in years in the Twin Cities, the youth pastor lead team met. In the meeting, I shared the verse from Proverbs 16:9, “In his heart at man plans his course, but it is the Lord that determines his steps.” Yes, we have been planning and taking action on what we felt we should do, yet all along, have had a sensitive ear and listening to God as He has direct each step. So, at this time God was leading us to set aside our timeline for his timeline.

But what can we do with this kind of momentum?

Not only with our strategic efforts with youth workers of the region, but too, continue to capitalize on the incredible support the senior pastors are giving us, in this season, to reach this youth for Christ.

Here is a reality! 

Those of us in ministry to youth in this region have been blessed over the years by the unity we have experienced. We have come together around a common vision, strategy, and actions that goes beyond just the excitement of big events. This vision has propelled us to work together as allies building a foundation of collaboration in our communities and across the entire region in our efforts to reach youth for Christ.

Historically the big events like: 1992 Super Bowl Outreach; 1994 NBA All-Star Outreach; 1996 with the Greater Twin Cities Billy Graham Crusade; a few See You at the Domes and Go M.A.D.’s in the late 1990’s; the 2004 Luis Palau Festival; and Rock the River in 2009 have all fueled seasons of greater unity of the Church of the Twin Cities.

Now many of the youth leaders from those seasons of the big events are senior pastors in Twin Cites churches. Too, many of the current youth workers who have never experienced this kind of unity of the Church in the Twin Cities. Honestly, in my 27 years of these kinds strategic events and initiative, I have never seen this kind of support of the senior leadership.

The Church of the Twin Cities has entered a new season

Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding, abundantly, immeasurably more that we can ask, think, dream, plan, or even imagine. According to the power of God that is at work in us.”

This new season of unity of the Church gives us, ministry leaders, an incredible opportunity in leading this next generation. So, let’s dream big dreams. Let’s accomplish great things. Let’s climb many mountains with God. For with God, we can do anything who gives strength to us. So, let’s dream big dreams for God.

What are we in youth ministry going to do with this momentum and opportunity?

How can we help youth workers from over 350 churches and communities across the region, develop relationships, strategy, and create action plans to keep building on this momentum in their local church and community?

15 months is a longtime in the youth ministry world. When the average stay of a youth worker is only 18 months, typically during this season there could potentially be major leadership changes in the youth ministry landscape in our communities and this metropolitan region.

But could it all of this be a win/win? Both, for the church where a youth worker serves and the Church of the Twin Cities. A win for churches and for senior pastors where the youth worker stays in their leadership positions longer, simply because they are connected other youth workers and something bigger than just their youth ministry.

It is a proven fact and I have personally experienced it to be true over the years. A youth worker who is connected to other youth workers in a network in their city, will stay longer at their church.

The discussion around the table, at our youth worker meeting, quickly began to move to building relationships and having strong networks of youth workers in cities. Networks where the leaders can build relationships in their cities. Where they, collectively, could challenge their students to unite with other Christ followers at their school. We all realized this could be critical to continue to build the momentum for the U.S. Bank event in May 2018 and way beyond.

We also looked at events on the calendar where we could focus to continue to build the momentum.

Youth workers in community networks challenging, training, and mobilizing students in their ministries to lead and participate in these opportunities.

Just think what could be over the next 15 months with the 350+ churches? So, what if…

  • Every youth worker was connected to other youth workers in their community.
  • Every student from every church were to unite as the (Church on the Campus) to impact every school for Christ?
  • Every school staffer from every church was engage in this mission impact their school for Christ?
  • Concerned adults (parents, grandparents, church small groups, etc.) in every church prayed for every student in the youth ministry by name every day.

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Carpe Diem. Let’s seize the moment!

With all the support and the momentum, let’s lead the charge with a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), an Ephesians 3:20 vision, a Kingdom vision for ministry to youth in the Twin Cities and beyond.

  • A vision big enough to capture our city
  • A vision simple enough to grasp
  • A vision de-centralized enough it can be owned
  • A vision relational enough it can actually work

So, it was a “Big Meeting” and a “Historic Day” for Church of Twin Cities!

Nick Hall made the announcement of the change of plans. He challenged us all that it isn’t a delay, but an extension of a season. He defined delay, as cause to be later or slower than expected or desire. But instead of a delay in our plans. This time is an extension, a lengthening, stretching out, or enlarging the scope of something. It has never been about one night at one venue, but a movement of the Church. At this time, we all are being invited, as the Church of the Twin Cities, to prepare, enlarge our scope, and increase our impact during this extended season.

This historic day is just the beginning of a new season for the Church of the Twin Cities. We are all, followers of Christ, invite into this season to see God change our city and the world.

Jesus prayed in John 17, for His Church would be one, just as He and the father are one. Why? So, the world will know the simple yet powerful message. We believe we are going to see the Twin Cities changed and the world will see the His Church united.

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Dan, why is this so important to you? 

As I came out of that all-important youth pastor meeting, I ran into and introduced myself to the Lead Pastor at Cedar Valley Church, Neal Rich. We talked for a few minutes about his journey to Cedar Valley. Then I shared with him my story. I told him, his Church was part of my journey. You see, his predecessor had played a big role in my life and the history the ministry I founded Allies Ministires.

I told him I had a conversation with their Senior Pastor 27 years ago, Jerry Strandquist. I was just starting Allies Ministries and was needing an office. So, I asked Jerry if I could get some space for my office at Bloomington Assembly of God (now Cedar Valley Church). He graciously found a room on their campus for first office of Allies Ministries.  Not only did I have the office space, but could use of the choir room as my prayer room.

At that time in 1990, the Church looked very different and not many churches worked together. There were many things that seemed to divided us; our denominational walls, our theology and dogmas, ethnic backgrounds, and our egos. We were not a united Church, matter of fact, we were a divided church in our own little silos.

But as a youth pastor, in churches I served in Ohio, Colorado, and Texas, God had put in my heart a desire to work with other youth workers. Leaders who were outside of my circle and denomination, with a goal to reach youth for Christ in our city. So that is exactly what I did!

When I left my church position in Colorado Springs, Colorado and moved to the Twin Cities in in the late 1989, God gave me a vision for Allies. As I sat in my rocking chair in my living room on December 4, 1989, He dropped three things in my heart as pillars for the ministry.

  1. Network youth communicators (school assembly speakers) with a vision to reach the youth of America.
  2. Network youth workers in communities with a vision to reach the youth in their communities.
  3. Network the students on the campus with a vision to reach a friend.

From the early days of Allies, we have been a leader in ministry to youth. We have faithfully worked with youth workers in the Twin Cities building partnerships and assisting the church leaders to reach and mentor the next generation by pursuing those three simple objectives.

Over the years, I have learned a few things. 

There is going to be change. Ministry leaders come into the city and they also leave the city and their youth ministry positions. Think about the change I have experienced. If a youth worker stays in their position for 3 years, I have seen the Twin Cities youth ministry landscape turnover 9 times. But though out all the changes there has remained a foundation of unity in this region to reach the youth for Christ.

Another thing I have learned is, how to live by faith. Yes, you can have little faith like a mustard seed, or big faith that can move mountains. On our journey, my wife Rachel and I have definitely experienced both those kinds of faith. But a time we have just called it stupid faith. Why? Because it just didn’t make sense.  Yet, as the late Dr. Mark Buntain would say, we just kept “pressing on”.

There were times when we would felt like we were just hitting our heads against a brick wall. The vision stretched our marriage, impacted our family, our health, and our finances. But despite these all the obstacles, barriers and challenges we faced we continued to pursue the vision God gave us. I guess what I am saying it hasn’t been an easy journey and it would have been a lot easier to give up!

But I am glad it didn’t quit. Because just a few days ago on February 16, 2017, guess where those 830+ ministry leaders from 350+ churches gathered? You guessed it? Cedar Valley Church (the old Bloomington Assembly of God Church).

I am sure that very few of those leaders had any idea of what I had envisioned over a decade ago just down the hall in that building. They never knew about the early morning pray times I had with Clarence St. John (Superintendent of Minnesota Assemblies of God) where we would pray for God to unite His Church to reach a generation for Christ. Now that room is packed with hundreds of leaders who are uniting with the purpose to reach a generation for Christ.

You might call me crazy, but it wouldn’t be the first time. But I believe we, the Church of the Twin Cities, are on the crest of a really big wave of unity that the world is going to notice. My friends, it all focuses on our mission to reach and mentor the next generation for Christ.

So, don’t tell me perseverance doesn’t pay off. I could have never even imagined that my vision would go full circle all the way back to Cedar Valley Church or Bloomington Assembly of God Church where it all started for me. 

Don’t give up on Your dream, it might be 27 years later, but #never, never, never give up on your dream!

God, do it again!

17 years ago, Allies gave 10,000 Students this Challenge 2000 Card!

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Selling Hope

Hope
One morning last week, I was looking through my inbox. There was an email from the John Kaisich Presidential Campaign. You too, may have received the same email in your inbox. But what caught my attention is how the campaign manager and the strategists on his team were selling hope. The hope they wanted me to buy into was that their candidate could win the nomination for the Republian party nomination.
The messaging came from the chief strategist and their copywriters who spun it this way. It read this way, ““The Stop Trump movement missed an opportunity to support Gov. Kasich in New York and deny Trump quite a few more delegates but we’ll get another opportunity next Tuesday.” The email was all in the effort to communicate hope and get my support with my voice and my checkbook for the Kasich campaign.
 All my life I have been selling Hope. But the Hope is not political but a message of giving this generation Hope. This Hope comes through knowing the simple, yet life-changing message of knowing God in a real and personal way. No matter where you find your self in life or what you have or don’t have or what your circumstances are. In the midst of all of life you can still have Hope. You can know the peace that only comes through having a relationship with Jesus. Letting God take your hopelessness and give you Hope, because of what happened on a old rugged cross.
Yes, there is no question what happens in November political is going to bring change to our nation and impact the world. So that is why all those in this Presidential race will continue to try to give their supporters and our nation hope for their vote and personal gain.
But when a person comes to know the love, joy, peace, and Hope that Jesus can bring. They is Hope for not just for life now, but it will have an impact for eternity. Jesus said it this way, “I have come to give you life” Life that is abundant. Life that is full. Life that is free! Join me in bringing Hope to your world and I will do my best to bring Hope to me world. When you and I do that we can being Hope to the world and our lives will impact the next generation for eternity.
I just saw that John Kaisich has withdrawn from the Presidential race.