Is others’ spiritual growth your responsibility?

“Nothing is better for the soil than the farmer’s footprints.”
(4th Generation Farmer passing on wisdom from his grandfather)

I am learning that following Jesus, walking in His footsteps, is all about Him not me. Growing, succeeding, flourishing is dependent upon the presence of the farmer not all the effort I put in my misperceived role as the farmer. As a seminary graduate, I was well trained in “farming” techniques. I have spent most of my time learning how to farm and teaching others the same.

Truth be known, I am not the Farmer. That’s the Father. I’m not the Vine. That’s Jesus. I’m just the branch. When His first two children decided to go out on their own and enjoy a fruit salad from the wrong part of the garden, the Gardener walked the Garden to find where they were hiding. When all of His kids were lost and hopeless, the Gardener talked with His Son in the garden and agreed to buy us back even if the plan was not the Son’s preferred cup.

What about growth? Hard but relieving news… it’s not about me. Sure, I’m involved. I am integral. Fruit comes through me. But seed sprouting? The Master reminds us it is all from the Father. Three clear, simple words, “All by itself.” (Mark 4:28)

What does it mean for you and me today? What signs of growth do I see in me and others and how can I help? How hard is my soil?

To pass on some sage wisdom: Nothing is better for the soil of our souls than the Farmer’s footprints.

Guest Post: Doug Webster is a long-time youth worker, long-long pastor, long-time writer, long-time friend of Doug Fields (in each others’ weddings), long-time follower of Jesus…who is beginning to learn how to follow and not lead Jesus. Doug can be found hanging out with a small group of other followers in Irvine, CA called The Following.

Maybe cliques aren’t bad: Stop trying to make your youth group like each other

“What are you doing about the cliques in youth group?”

If you are in youth ministry, you’ve probably heard that question. It may have come from a tattle-telling teenager, a concerned parent or a critical church member. In each case, the assumption is this: Making teenagers get along is part of your job. I disagree.

C.S. Lewis writes in his book, The Four Loves, about the difference between lovers and friends. Lovers stand face to face but friends stand shoulder to shoulder, looking at the same thing. Friendship is built around a shared interest for something else and their shared gaze keeps the friends side by side.

D.A. Carson writes that the church is “a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake” (Love In Hard Places). What this means (I think) is that outside of Jesus, we Christians wouldn’t necessarily be pals. What makes us a part of God’s family is not how enamored we are with each other but how in love we are with Jesus!

We exert a lot of wasted energy in getting teenagers to like each other. The problem is that outside of Christ, you can only appeal to self-serving or self-preserving reasons to get teens to get along. The cruel twist is that the more a group grows to like each other for reasons other than a shared love for Jesus and His mission, the more likely they are to stop caring about both Jesus and His mission!

If you take Carson’s thought and combine it with Lewis’ thought then you begin to realize that what you really need to do is help teenagers see and appreciate the person and the work of Jesus. That alone will lead to true biblical community. No community is more powerful than a community made up of Christian friendships built around a shared love for the Savior.

The next time someone asks you what you’re doing about cliques maybe you should reply: “Nothing. But I’m doing everything I can to help those teenagers grow to love Jesus.”

Guest Post: David Hertweck served as senior associate pastor of Trinity A/G in Clay, NY for over eleven years. He served as the lead pastor of inside-out student ministries and element young adults ministries and as a worship leader. He is an ordained Assembly of God minister. He presently serves as the District Youth Ministries and Chi Alpha Director. He’s also the author of The Word: a 31 day devotional… buy one and make as many copies as you want.

3 things I love about events

I’m not a big event guy!

Either way you interpret that sentence, it’s true. Events are not the highlight of my year and the size and scope of them doesn’t change that fact. I prefer the process, the journey, and the moments in between THE moment.

But there are three things I’ve learned to love and value about events.

1. The work of the Spirit.

We have no control over this one but it needs to be said. I believe God honors our unity and I also believe that simply changing the scenery can heighten a student’s sensitivity to what God is saying. In other words, events can be a time of both coming together and coming apart. There’s nothing like seeing the Spirit use that combination to do a real work in teenagers, revealing Jesus to their hearts.

2. The power of the moment.

I can walk into certain rooms and immediately point to a place where I had an encounter with God. The moment becomes a landmark in our spiritual lives. In the Old Testament, our spiritual fathers built physical landmarks to signify where and when heaven invaded earth. While the ultimate spiritual landmark in our lives is the cross there are additional times when God reminds us of His greatness and the Spirit whispers to us of Jesus’ goodness. Those moments matter.

3. The importance of the conversation.

I often tell leaders that events have a way of starting, restarting or accelerating really important conversations between students and leaders, between disciples and disciple-makers. You can’t sustain a moment but you can sustain a conversation. Without the moment there may be no conversation but without the conversation, the moment will never be more than just a nice memory. Getting students plugged into disciple-making environments creates opportunity for the conversation to continue.

Question:So…what do you value about events? Share your thoughts here.

Guest Post: David Hertweck serves the Assemblies of God in New York as the state youth director. He has been involved in local church youth ministry since 1999. He’s also the author of The Word, an easy-to-use, reproducible Bible study guide for teenagers (available on He’s married to Erin and has two daughters, Lilia and Caraline. He loves his girls, his family, good music, good food, his Weber grill, his Taylor guitar, Liverpool Football Club, the Yankees and the Gospel. You can follow him on Twitter at @DavidHertweck.

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