For The Outsiders and the Misfits

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Jesus was a Misfit.

He was an Outsider.

He was born to reconcile all of us back to Himself. That is why we celebrate Christmas.

Christmas time can be a tough time. Many people bring up the history of their hurts and struggles during this time. People are triggered and many face relapse. I was reminded this year that Jesus was for all of us. All of us Misfits and all of us who have seen brokenness, hurt and loss.

Jesus was born in a barn. Literally. He took the idea of what a King, a Savior, should be and flipped it on it’s head. Instead of being born in the Temple, or in a Throne room, He was born with sheep. His first visitors were like you and me, the Misfits of society.

Angels came to announce this birth to some shepherds in a field. The sheep these men tended would be used in ceremonies to wash sins away. Jesus was born in the same place as these very lambs. Yet, in keeping these sheep the shepherd themselves were deemed unclean. They were marginalized, outcasts, isolated, yet recipients of the grace of of Jesus.

This Christmas season we are reminded of how Jesus came to bring salvation, redemption and joy to all people. Those the world have deemed Outsiders, us Misfits, Jesus has called us Sons and Daughters of God. Walk in that.

Holiday Cheer

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Christmas is upon us. Just a few more days and we will be knee deep in wrapping paper and covered in bows. Laying on the couch overstuffed with cookies and others carbohydrates. Then like that, Christmas is gone. Everyone goes back home, back to college; we tear down the tree, the lights and the nativity set you got fifteen years ago. There are things though that we need to continue to think of throughout the year, not just on Christmas. We need to think about being kinder, more generous, and reflect more on Jesus.

This time of year is always awesome because it just seems people are kinder. They smile more and are just genuinely more cheerful. Expect maybe Black Friday shopping, but we won’t get into that now. We need to extend that kindness throughout the year. We quickly forget the “spirit of the holidays” as soon as New Years is over. What can you do to be a kinder person this year? Maybe it is just saying you will compliment people more often, or swear less at bad drivers. Treating people well should be a priority throughout the year, not just on Christmas.

People give, a lot, this season. Maybe they save up all year just to give, or they have a “Christmas Carol” moment and wish to turn from their Scrooge-like ways. Either way, we are more generous during the Christmas season. What does it look like to be more open-handed throughout the year. Giving more of our time to others more regularly. Volunteer somewhere on a regular basis and become a staple of that organization that you’re passionate about. Give more of our talents away, using what you’re talented in to help a cause, to help a friend, and to further what God is doing in your church. There is always a need and you can fill that. We can be more generous with our money throughout the year. Instead of giving 10%, what if you gave 12%? You can become a better tipper at restaurants or buy that extra box of girl scout cookies and give them away. This upcoming year, lets learn from this Christmas and be more generous with our time, talents and things.

It is natural for us to think more about Jesus on His birthday. Yet, we get busy and distracted as Jesus slowly takes a back seat to life. Let 2016 be different. Take one month to be committed to one spiritual discipline, evaluate and keep it going the rest of the year. Carve out time to pray, read more, sing or play worship. Commit to that journal that you’ve written in twice and swear you’ll get back to but keep pushing it off. Keep Jesus the priority throughout the year. Allow Jesus to be the motivation for why you’re more generous and why you are kinder to others. Make it a priority to grow closer to Jesus in the new year.

We can bring the spirit of Christmas with us the rest of the year. Being kinder, being more generous, and loving Jesus in a deeper way is possible all year round. Lets extend the holiday cheer throughout the New Year.

A Christmas Connection

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The Christmas season is officially upon us. I love seeing all the Christmas decorations and the cookies that are everywhere. People saying ‘Merry Christmas’ and everyone just seems more joyful. This is also a rough time for student ministry. Families are out of town, students have Christmas plays to attend, they have other commitments and it is common to not see a few students for this entire month. Yet, we can still discover new ways to connect with our students over this hectic time of the year. It is a great time to be creative and think outside the box to grow your students in their faith and develop relationally in your ministry.

USE SOCIAL MEDIA

Press into your social media plan to stay connected with students. Show them a few pictures of what you’re doing this season. Post some devotionals along with some questions to help them process something in the craziness of the month. I’ve had many students say that these are the only time they are able to read some Scripture and connect with God. Do a few social media games to get students to post about their favorite cookies or Christmas traditions with their families. Create a video devotional for your students. Especially during the week leading up to Christmas and the week after. Something short that they can watch on Christmas morning or stretch their thought process past just the receiving of gifts. Shoot them a text message asking how their day is or ask them what they’ve been up to for Christmas. When you can’t be present with students, connecting with social media is clutch.

CONTACT

The Christmas season gives us a unique opportunity to have contact with students. Invite them into some of your Christmas traditions or start some new one withs students. Bake Christmas cookies, go Christmas Caroling, or just shopping for presents together. Recruit a couple students to help you decorate your house. Have a White Elephant Christmas party or Secret Santa amongst your students. Chances are you will watch ‘A Christmas Story’ or ‘Elf’ fifteen times over the next few weeks so have a few students over to watch with you. Go attend a students play, recital or concert and bring some other students with you. Think about what you would normally do and invite a student into that.

SERVE

Serving with students is a great time to connect with them. Your church is probably doing extra events this upcoming month. Challenge your students to show up with you and volunteer along side you. Find an outreach opportunity in your community. Better yet, join your students in an outreach opportunity that they are passionate about.

In the busyness of this upcoming month we can still connect with students. We may have to think outside the box but students matter. They matter enough to go the extra mile this Christmas to connect with them.