February '23 Update
God, you are very good. Thank you for being a God worthy of praise. Continue to give us eyes to see your goodness, ears to hear your word, and hearts to love those around us well. Above all, have grace and be patient with us as we strive to look more like your Son.
We love you, God, and we know you love us! Amen.
A Word of Thanks
As always, thank you never goes without saying. Thank you so much for everything you do! For your financial support that allows me the time and flexibility to do what I get to do. For your prayer that doesn't go unheard. And thank you for being someone in my life that believes in me and believes in what CTF is trying to do in Wylie and for believing that we serve a very good God.
Our ministry continues to be such an immense source of encouragement for me. I don't know how many of you are familiar with the axiom "You win people to what you win people with". I'm honestly not sure I even typed that right but the meaning behind it is unforgettable and one that I've seen ring true time and time again.
If you fill seats every Wednesday night with gimmicks and games then you shouldn't be surprised by teens leaving when the games stop and the focus shifts to Jesus and, ultimately, truth. You won them to a facade with a facade. And herein lies one of the great challenges of teen ministry, of any ministry: what are you winning people with? This is a question that really can only be answered by the teens involved.
We had our students fill out an anonymous survey asking various questions ranging from the personal fears and doubts they may have to simply why they like CTF. I've included below some responses from our teens to the question "Why do you personally go to CTF?"
- I can grow even more and not lose touch with God
- Because it really does make me grow in my faith and it doesn't feel forced
- It makes me happy
- Because it is fun, helps me build relationships with people, and I love the sermon and small group time.
- To grow my faith
- Everyone is so close
- Because I never was interested in God until I came to CTF
- I have amazing mentors and it always helps me grow my relationship with God
- To know about Jesus and learn about him and worship
This is what God is doing at CTF. This is what is happening in the hearts and minds and lives of 25 (give or take week to week) junior high and high school students in Wylie, TX. What are we winning teens with? Christ and him crucified.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't starting to get teary-eyed writing those responses. I love these kids so much and I want nothing more than for them to know and love Jesus. The heart cry of so many teens is to be seen and loved. To be known. And I get to be a part of a ministry that strives to do just that. From large group every Wednesday night to one-on-one bible studies to tough phone calls and everything in between, these teens are never alone even when they are, if you know what I mean.
To see them interact with one another at CTF and to hear their hearts for each other and for their classmates and families in one-on-ones. These teens are special. Teenagers will live up to or down to your expectations for them and I refuse to write them off or look down on them because they are young.
Are they perfect? Absolutely not! Are you? Are they incredibly frustrating sometimes? Absolutely! Aren't I? I am incapable of loving them perfectly since I myself am sinful. So in the meantime, all I can do is point them to the one who loves them infinitely better than I can even imagine, and allow them to point me to Him as well.
I love what I get to do and I thank you for joining me in it.
|Selfie from the CTF Christmas Party|
|The chaos of an icebreaker game (I promise they aren't beating each other up)|
Last month Wylie Northeast started a grief ministry for any and everyone who has lost a loved one and is in the process of grieving. I get to lead this group with Erin Cavanaugh.
We've been able to have a few meetings now and they have been impactful in ways I didn't foresee. When we started this ministry I was both very excited and very, very nervous. I am not a trained or licensed counselor or therapist. So why try to be? A ministry like this isn't one you lead from the front. Especially not when you yourself are grieving. It's a group you lead from alongside and beneath. I am not a counselor, but I am able to listen and cry. And that is what we get to do together. We get to realize that even though OUR grief is unique, grieving itself is not. You're not alone. You're not crazy. You're wounded.
A lot of people have lost very sweet relationships sooner than we would've liked and now we have to figure out what to do moving forward. A group of about nine of us meet up every other week and talk about the people we miss, talk about the doubts we have, and talk about the God we are still trying to believe is good.
I've been learning a lot. I feel like last year while doing the apprenticeship I grew a lot in my knowledge of scripture. I grew in my ability and even comfort when it comes to discussing theology. This year, however, I've shifted toward less graduate-level study of theology and toward more applied principles of ministry. I love to learn. I love to challenge myself and study God. I love God with all my mind. But now I'm learning how to love Him with all my heart. And how to love His children with all my heart.
- Wisdom and love
- That I can continue to become a better husband to Sam
- For our teens that are just trying to figure things out
- That CTF can continue to be a little piece of the Kingdom for those teens
Thank you all!! God Bless.