Our Next Step

Friends and Family,

Thank you for your prayers and support during this time of transition in our life! Words cannot describe how encouraging you have been to our family. We have some exciting news to share with you! After much time, patience, prayer, and seeking God’s direction and wise counsel, we have taken a next step in our journey.

I (Kyle) have accepted a position at Kentucky Christian University in the Admissions Department. The role that I have accepted is Church Admission Counselor. The goal of the position is to recruit students to come to KCU while connecting and networking directly with churches and youth ministers. I am very excited about this position: 1) because I deeply care about KCU and its success, 2) it is the best opportunity to sharpen skills outlined in our Stadia growth plan, and 3) this position taps deep into my passion for strategically equipping ministers and churches, while allowing me to create and build something new. For the past several months Ruth and I have asked for your prayers as we considered the next step in our faith journey. God has been faithful during this time, provided for us in many ways; know your prayers on behalf of us have been answered.

After leaving CenterPointe, we transitioned to Grayson, KY and resumed ministry, while seeking out avenues of church planting. We started out with a few options to quickly enter into church planting hoping one of those would easily pan out, which I’ve blogged about here. However, contrary to our call away from Lexington, the clarity of our next step has not gone so smoothly. Therefore we had to relearn a few lessons. Over the past couple months God has opened and closed many doors and possibilities, whether it was Las Vegas, Ashland, San Diego, or Chicago, it seemed none of those opportunities were what God had in mind. When we are able to connect in person I’d love to share more of the detailed story and the emotional ups and downs. Nevertheless, since Ruth and I have been married, we have continually said we will follow God’s direction “wherever and whenever,”attempting to not rule out anything.

Our next stop is KCU and for a period of time that will allow us to develop in areas directly related to church planting. I’ll outline a couple of growth areas below, but let me clarify that we still intend to be faithful and pursue church planting even though I am taking this position at KCU. In giving full credit to God, this was not something that was anticipated or that we could foresee, and we believe that this opportunity only arose because we stepped aside from church ministry to follow God’s leading. We still feel God’s direction long term West and to church planting, but as we continue to seek God, we see this as a step in the larger journey. We are not sure when we will become part of a church plant team or plant a church, however, we feel that this is the next step for us as a family. I just want to thank you again for your prayer and support!

In Christ,
Kyle, Ruth, X, and Mia

For those who have invested in our church plant journey here’s how this opportunity directly connects to our development as a church planting family.

  1. Because I will networking with churches and youth ministers, our relational connections will increase, thus potentially expanding our financial base when we do decide its time to plant.
  2. Ruth and I will continue to grow in our intentional disciple making capacity because of the people God has placed in our lives right here in Grayson.
  3. I will be regularly speaking in front of groups, which will improve my vision casting ability, sharpen my preaching skill, while growing my connecting ability.
  4. I will be attempting to persuade students to come to KCU by connecting with them quickly and passionately. These student may be interested in KCU, may be antagonistic to a bible college, or indifferent. Therefore, I see a direct connection to improving evangelistic skill—sharing the gospel with people who may not be interested, or simply willing to listen.

Our Previous Step

I don’t know how many times I’ve written and deleted this post, or versions of this post–maybe 10 or 20 times. Every time I get the words out I feel the pros and cons lists growing in my head about whether these words are too truthful or foolish and I go back to word-smithing and tweaking sentences and phrases.

As many people who pay attention to this blog know that I write mostly about student ministry and how to equip parents to help their students own their own faith. Well, that will be changing. I’m still very passionate about people owning their faith and even teaching people how to teach others, but after 3 years at CenterPointe God has shut the door on that ministry and is preparing something new.

The reason I’ve written this post so many times is because I’m not sure what to share or even if what I share makes any sense at all. Do I share the whole story in one post? Do I share the journey Ruth and I have been on over many posts? Because we still aren’t sure what’s exactly next, should I wait to post anything at all?

Maybe, it’s time to stop thinking and still share even with many unknowns. So here it goes as of March 15, 2016.

The past 6-plus months have been a whirlwind. Since mid-August 2015 my wife and I felt God leading us in a new direction. We were unsure where this direction was taking us; the thought was most likely church planting, but maybe to an unknown opportunity. Based on wise counsel, assessment and a few trips, it seemed that direction was going to be church planting, so we have passionately pursued that option. Church planting seemed to be the logical conclusion, mainly, because why would a 24 year old with a wife and 2 kids leave a secure job and a thriving student ministry to step into the unknown if it wasn’t church planting? For sure, God had convincingly shown us it was time to depart from Lexington, KY to lead and learn somewhere else. I am and will forever be incredibly thankful for the people and leadership at CenterPointe and for the time God had us in Lexington.

In answering the question earlier, the short answer to why we left is because God said so. I hope to unpack what God has shown us and how we are arriving at what’s next, with God’s timing, in later posts soon.

The answer and reasoning to why we left seems so strange to many, not all, but many. It seemed strange to set an end date at a ministry when they next step wasn’t clear (the end date was Dec 13, 2015). As I’ve shared our story, it has dawned on me that the norm for some has become to only take a step to what’s next when the step is clearly laid out for them. I’ve faced this battle in my own life. I’ve been conditioned by my training for when I hear others say “because God said so” a red flag gets sent off and to be cautious–be skeptical. But, as I’ve walked this path for a few months now I can say that God dependence is a truly daunting endeavor in a “churched culture.” When a path does not seem logical or clear, direction from God drives fear and skepticism into the hearts of those who feel they could never do the same thing. Often, God reminds me that it’s easy to read stories in the bible of God dependence as fairy tales that happened in some parallel universe, or as epics in a galaxy far far away.

However, when it comes down to it, doesn’t God want us to be totally dependent on Him? What does that look like day-in and day-out?

If we don’t value (show fruit of it in our own life in accordance with His Word) God dependence then the antithesis is self-dependence and from my reading of the Bible that’s called sin.

Within the whirlwind of discovering where God is preparing for us,  it’s been exhilarating and a little frustrating to take God at His word and to just take the next step He shows us. I am thankful for the support and encouragement we have received as we take one step at a time. Ruth and I are also thankful for those who disagree or pose questions about the decision because God uses you to strengthen our convictions, while also using you to teach us.

All I know is that God has us right where He wants us and we will continue to take the next step. Pray that we continue to abide in Him, so that much fruit grows for His glory. I’m excited to see how God continues to draw us closer to himself as He shows us what He is doing across the globe.

Thank you again to those who have encouraged and supported us in prayer or provision while we have been on this journey!

Equipping Students…It’s Possible

It has officially been just over a year on the journey of using Explore the Bible Curriculum and the COMA technique of teaching others to read the bible. So far, its use in the Student Ministry of CenterPointe has been a success. Let me back up a bit to share more of the story about why we are using these two resources.

When I was a freshman entering Kentucky Christian University, I thought I knew much of what the the bible taught. I had competed in Bible Bowl and had attended Youth Group somewhat faithfully. When a tough bible question was asked, usually I could come up with the answer, especially the easy Sunday School ones. But, upon my first bible class, OT Survey, I realized that much of my bible knowledge had come from what other people taught me or told me, not what I had read or actually learned for myself. Quickly, in order to maintain the grade, I began diving in to the Old Testament and the Gospels. I soon realized I could make little sense of what I was reading and why it even mattered to today. I did not have any concept of how Moses connected to Jesus, or I was supposed to read Psalms different than 1 Kings.

Now to put my thoughts in perspective, my reading comprehension scores have always been low, but usually I could make out some connections to seem somewhat knowledgable. However, after struggling through the familiarity of Genesis and Matthew, I came to the conclusion that I had no idea how to connect bible stories to my own life. In the academic sense, I was fine, but in my personal walk with God I was distraught. After all the Bible Bowl and all the learning I had done, I could not figure out how to read the bible for myself and make it personal and I was supposed to be studying for life in ministry. Now, I do not mean to indict my youth ministers or others, but they had told me what to believe and think, rather than shown me how to discover it for myself in the depth of God’s Word. I merely could answer questions right on a test or pass a surface level bible study with flying colors, but there was a disconnect between learning the bible and applying the bible. Because of this, a holy dissatisfaction began to arise.

By God’s grace, people around me began to point me in the direction of commentaries and resources to help with bridging this gap. I attempted the SOAP method, but found it personally difficult. I attempted to consult commentaries, but their application was still distant and impersonal. As I began to grow in my understanding of the bible, I began to apply what I had began reading, but I sought a clear and concise way to teach others what I had been shown by others. Thankfully, my brother-in-law, recommended a resource called One to One Bible Reading by David Helm. I should mention by this point I am already a weekend Student Minister and, whether by my own curriculum, or others I resolved that I would not send my students into adulthood without being able to think critically about the bible and read it for themselves. I knew that someday Kyle (me) may no longer be CenterPointe’s Student Minister and the best way to for a ministry to sustain itself was through hearing from God and learning to be Christ-centered in every way. I was on a mission to eliminate the reasoning that the bible was difficult to understand or from another time and place so it does not apply to us today from our thinking.

As soon, as I finished reading One to One Bible Reading by David Helm, I began to implement the practices I had learned. Specifically, a process called COMA: Context, Observation, Meaning, & Application. Our church has used this process with other supplemental studies to help student and adults read the bible for themselves.  I found the process worth teaching because it was able to be reproduced. About the same time, I had been searching for curriculum to use in my new middle school class on Sunday mornings. At that time, Lifeway.com had just come out with their Explore the Bible curriculum that went book by book breaking down God’s Word in a simple process. Each week the curriculum went through essentially the same process that I had learned from One to One, so I was sold on using it in my class.

Fast forward 9 months after teaching this process through the lens of Explore our students began to get it. We were seeing students in 15 minutes sit down and pick apart a passage and figure out what it meant (central truth) and then how to personally apply the meaning in specific ways with little guidance from the “teachers.”

Our next step was to begin teaching them to teach others. By God’s timing it was finally time to launch a high school class. Our high school class, by the way we only had one consistent high schooler until this summer, is devoted to equipping students to lead other students in bible study. By God’s grace, 9th & 10 graders have been opening up God’s Word, walking through a passage in Genesis, figuring out how it applies to them, and peer to peer teaching each of the past three weeks. What has been amazing, not even sure if the students realize it, but their commitment to God’s Word has affected our outreach efforts. They are beginning to lives of intentionality and purpose, not because we have some cool mission statement, but because God’s Word speaks to them and they go apply it. Also, when non-Christians are introduced to a study that asks more questions and is more process than content, we find them learning more content than simply ignoring the teacher.

As we have brought new students into the middle school and high school classes there have been challenges. One challenge has been switching the brain from learning content to learning process and learning to ask questions. I have found that much of my personal experience of regurgitating content is the same for many church kids. These church kids are bothered when the teacher of our middle and high school classes ask more questions than provide answers. They so desperately want to get the answer right that they are unsure of why the right answer matters. One of my favorite exercises is answer questions with questions that drive kids back to the text. In essence, we are helping student be more biblically-anchored, not because of teaching content, but teaching them how to walk with God by reading His word and through process making it less intimidating. This challenge has been good because it forces students to own their faith and provide substance to the content they have already learned.

I would love to hear how others are teaching students to read God’s Word! I am all about best practices, so please share your thoughts, or questions.

CP Parents Taking Home the Word (10/4)

 The GATHERING

This week we continued our series called, “Lies We Believe.” This series is based out of a resource that has impacted my walk with God called The Gospel Primer by Caesar Kalinowski. Throughout this series we will be working from the perspective that every sin in our lives comes from disbelief in the character of God (Romans 14:23). When we cease to believe God is who He says He is we rebel in our depravity. We exchange the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:25).

When we cease to believe that God is good…we think we can find satisfaction in other things or people. Hence, why we try to fill that God sized hole with awards, food, alcohol, sex, approval, lack of stress. Ultimately, we try to seek comfortable stress free easy lives, which proves our satisfaction and happiness is rooted in stuff other than God. We make choices that make life easier, rather than involve God in the choice process. We become selfish and self-absorbed when we believe the lie that God is not good. However, when we realize that God is good…we don’t have to seek comfort, but pleasure that truly comes from Him

We challenged your students not seek postures of influence of comfort, rather surrender their life over to a God who loves us for exactly who He created us to be. He is good, so we can live lives of faith that reflect His goodness in our priorities and character. In order to do this, we must abide in Him to discover that He is the only one who sustains us and fulfills us. Because, once again, if we truly believe that God is good, that He is more important and we find true satisfaction in Him, then we can rest and repent of stressing out over people, circumstances or your future. We must walk by faith that God is good even in the midst of pain, suffering, and brokenness.

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” — C.S. Lewis

Parents, does your child fear stress or demands? Or, do they constantly want for life to be easier?  Do you sense that your child seek comfort in the midst of tough situations? Do they desire to quit when things get tough or stress gets high? I’d encourage you this week to lift God up as good.

The good news is that we can live a free life because a good God exists. We can let our redeemed and rescued lives reflect that God’s story is bigger than our own.

KEY TEXTS: John 6

CRITICAL QUESTIONS: What does it look like to believe God is good? Do the conversations about whats important reflect God’s goodness, or satisfaction in something else?

CP Parents Taking Home the Word (9/27)

 The GATHERING

This week we continued our series called, “Lies We Believe.” This series is based out of a resource that has impacted my walk with God called The Gospel Primer by Caesar Kalinowski. Throughout this series we will be working from the perspective that every sin in our lives comes from disbelief in the character of God (Romans 14:23). When we cease to believe God is who He says He is we rebel in our depravity. We exchange the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:25).

When we cease to believe that God is gracious…we think we have to prove ourselves (to ourself, to others, to God). Hence, why we check Instagram or Facebook to see how many likes we are up to. Ultimately, we try to impress God with our lives so that he will bless us or be happy with us. We think the same way with other people. We even seek positions or postures of power over others in potentially destructive ways. However, when we realize that God is gracious…we don’t have to strive, we can simply respond in gratitude.

We challenged your students not seek postures of influence or power over others, rather surrender their life over to a God who loves us for exactly who He created us to be. He extended us grace, while we were still living wrongly. We must live lives of gratitude and grace where we don’t pressure ourselves to earn respect or fear humiliation. Because, once again, if we truly believe that God is gracious, that He is more important and His grace-filled relationship to us carries the utmost importance in our life, then we can rest and repent of stressing out over people, circumstances or your future. We must walk by faith that God is the most gracious not what we can see with our own eyes.

Parents, does your child fear humiliation or a lack of respect? Or, do they constantly argue for control over situations?  Do you sense that your child seek approval from others to be accepted, or fears rejection from friends? Do they struggle with jealousy and envy? I’d encourage you this week to lift God up as gracious. As a parent you don’t have to prove yourself, stop trying to prove yourself and your value through the success of your students. Make a conscious effort to encourage your student to follow God in such a way that Jesus’ name is made famous, more than your family name & more than their name. If you struggle with validating your parenting through the success of your children, check out Trophy Child.

Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God in response to our sin by sending Jesus Christ to pay the penalty of our sin. We didn’t earn our salvation, God gracious extends it to us. Let’s let grace characterize our relationships, attitudes, and posture.

The good news is that we can live a free life because a gracious God exists. We can let our redeemed and rescued lives reflect that God’s story is bigger than our own.

KEY TEXTS: Matthew 6:25-34

CRITICAL QUESTIONS: What does it look like to believe God is gracious? Do the conversations about whats important reflect God’s glory or proving oneself?