“Please, Be Seated?” 

I did it just a couple days ago: We were moving into the closing song of the service, and I decided to sit and sing. It was fine. Not just fine, I found my closing expression through the lyrics of the song and the melody that we sang together was enhanced by not standing up, but simply sitting there, head bowed (I knew the song so didn’t need the words on the wall) and enabled by this posture to receive the encouragement of the message of the music and then the closing prayer of the service in a more meditative and, to me, more personal way. 

I may be stirring up some controversy. I hope not. Not my intention. But I have what is, for me, a valid question regarding “worship posture.” I’ll start with a leading question: In order to worship while singing, do we have to stand up? 

Now, I know that most worship leaders graciously give the option to remain seated by making the statement, “As you are able, please stand as we worship…” or something similar. That’s a good thing to say, especially when you (the leader) know that you have some who are not able to stand for periods of time—or, perhaps, at all. What I’m wondering is, what if I just don’t want to stand? 

I’m not suggesting anything here. I really don’t have a message to bring, an axe to grind, or even a request to make…other than this: If you are a worship leader, give some thought to letting people simply sit and sing without the distractions that come from a whole group of people standing up together.  

Just a little food for thought.  

P.S. - The subject of this blog submission reminds me of one of my favorite (older) worship choruses: 

I will stand in the congregation, and I will exalt You. 

I will stand in the congregation, and I will exalt You. 

Let the children of Your salvation lift Your praises too! 

Ha-lay ha-lay lu--jah! 

So, you see? I’m really not against standing, at all. Honest. 

Blessings! 

Bruce Stumbo - North American Mission Ministry Associate

Feeling a Little Lost?

When I was in high school, my friends and I played this game where we blindfolded a passenger and then drove them to an unfamiliar place. Once we arrived, the blindfold was removed, and that person now had to guide us back to where we started. I remember being the blindfolded person and having it removed only to see a big red barn right in from of me. I was utterly lost, and I had no clue how to get home.  

I think that every person in ministry can relate to being “lost” in some aspect of their work, at one time or another. For example, if you asked me to give feedback on how to start or strengthen a worship ministry, I would be quickly lost as to what to do. 

My greatest ministry passion is to see the next generation grow as followers of Christ and for them to take on leadership roles within the church. I know that I am not alone in this and, while I know there are many ministry leaders who feel competent in leading their churches toward effective youth ministry, I know there are also many who feel “lost” in getting organized for this special work.  

For the last twenty-five years, all my ministry roles have had a fundamental commitment to teenagers. Fifteen years ago, CLB North American Mission extended me a part time call to help build a youth ministry network, to provide resources to youth workers and to find ways to encourage youth workers.  

I have thoroughly enjoyed connecting with youth workers, providing them resources, and keeping them in the loop with opportunities within our church family. I’ve discovered that there are many who are eager to grow as youth workers. There are also many churches who don’t have a point person focused on youth ministry or they don’t have a focus on youth ministry at all. For those who might find themselves feeling a little “lost,” I hope that the rest of this post helps point you to what the CLBA is doing to encourage churches in this vital area of ministry.

Here are some of the resources that our national family of churches has made available to you and your congregation. Please take advantage of them in your work. 

As you hear about all of these opportunities, please know that I would love to hear more from you and I am available to help you navigate the world of youth ministry. If you are not receiving any of our digital communication, please contact me!   

I’d love to hear from you! 
Mark Johannesen  - CLB Youth Ministries Communications 
mjohannesen@clba.org  
 

Mark 10:14b – “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.…” 

You Gotta Pay Attention

When playing a certain card game, my friend Harley likes to remind me that it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on—what’s “trump” and what’s not. If I make a misplay (usually causing me to fall far behind or to lose completely) he’ll cheerily look at me across the table and announce, “Bruce! You gotta pay attention!!” 

Of course, he’s right. 

Paying attention is pretty much always a good thing to do. In games and in our walk with Jesus.  

You probably know Hebrews 12 but here you go, verses 1-3, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 

Through the years my wife and I have had dogs and one thing I’ve improved in is teaching a dog how to “heel.” I learned how to do this from a lady who wrote a book about how Hollywood animals are trained to perform on screen. It’s all about getting, and holding, their attention. If you are training a dog, you put them then on a leash with a collar, go for a walk and, when the dog runs off to the side or ahead of you, you turn quickly at a right angle to their desired route. If you do it correctly, it might take them right off the ground, or simply spin them a bit. Your intention isn’t to hurt them (and I never have with this maneuver) but what does happen is that dog starts paying attention and watches your every move. It works. Watch a TV show or a movie that has dogs; see if they are watching the actors or looking off to the side a bit at someone that you never see. You’ll see.  

Anyway, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus the same way a puppy needs to watch its master going out for a nice walk. We gotta pay attention! How do we do that? 

By reading and paying attention to His Word. Reading the Bible is the best way to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Jesus wrote the book on faith. Let’s pay attention and not go running off after every distraction that might promise special knowledge, guidance, or power. Pay attention to Jesus. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Him. You’ll see. 

Bruce Stumbo – North American Mission Ministry Lead

LONE RANGER?

The show always ended something like this: “Who is that masked man?” “Why, don’t you know? That’s the Lone Ranger!” and the final scene would see The Lone Ranger and Tonto riding away with a hearty “Hi O, Silver, Away!!”

The thing of it is, is, that the Lone Ranger, was not alone. Oh, I know he was supposed to be the only Texas Ranger left after a devastating attack that only our hero survived…but he survived because he was rescued and brought back to health by Tonto. They became inseparable partners, fighting crime and saving people from all kinds of hardship throughout the old west. The idea that the Lone Ranger was a one-man crime fighting super-hero just doesn’t fly…with me anyway.

I have a friend who will often respond to complaints about overwork or frustrations in life with this little rejoinder, “Well, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger.” Meaning, of course, that others have shared in the same challenges, sufferings and frustrations as the one complaining (usually me).

What about you? Are you a “Lone Something”? Pastor? Teacher? Manager? Dad? Mom? Leader?
I’m sure we all feel that way sometimes, but it just isn’t true. How do I know that? Because Jesus says so (I tend to go with Jesus on stuff like this).

From the context of the giving of the Great Commission, Jesus calls his followers to service and then assures them that he is not sending them “out there” on their own. Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV) -  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Long before that promise was made, the prophet Isaiah passed along this word of the Lord: Isaiah 59:21, “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. 'My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,' says the Lord."

So, just in case you are feeling a little left out or on your own these days, take heart in the promise of God’s presence, in Christ. Sit back and think on that for a while. If you’re a bit full of yourself and believe you can do most things on your own, without help from God or anyone else…please think again. I hate to say it, but I will anyway, you’re wrong. Let Jesus into your planning, programs, preaching…everything.

He’s already there. Promise.

Bruce Stumbo – North American Mission Ministry Lead