Thursday, March 27, 2014

Our Lives and the Gospel: Pastors Pen, April

 Stories are powerful. Stories shape the way in which we view the world around us and believe me, there are many stories competing for our affections within the world we find ourselves. I just love an engaging story. Stories filled with heroes and villains, light overcoming darkness. Maybe you’re the same way and if the two of us could sit down at Hurricane Coffee together, I’m sure we could swap the titles of our favorite books or movies with relative ease… speaking of which, I would truly love to extend the fellowship of my dinner table to your family- let’s have this conversation at my house J Be on the lookout for a dinner sign up sheet in the auditorium, mid-April.

I’ve had the privilege of walking the middle and high school students through God’s Story, the Bible, at youth group. The story in which all of us find ourselves in as characters- regardless of whether we have surrendered our hearts to Jesus Christ. The story that begins with creation, climaxes with the enfleshing of our savior, and ends with the renewal of all things. Every man, woman and child you know (or will one day know) is caught up in this grand story as a character even if they are unaware of the all encompassing plot line with its Hero and demons.

According to Google, the definition of character can be summarized like this:
“a person in a novel, play, or movie.” I like that definition. It’s straight and to the point. I recently read Donald Miller’s ‘A Million Miles in a Thousand Years’, which gave me a deeper grasp on characters’ dynamic dual meaning. Again, according to Google, character can also be defined as, “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.”

As your youth pastor, it has been my heart to help locate our student’s individual stories within the wider story of what God has been up to on planet earth. In the past six weeks at youth group I’ve asked older characters with a Christward orientation in God’s story to come in to youth group and share their personal stories. Elders, deaconesses and beyond have proclaimed in these weeks that they did life on their own for a time but that Christ’s life is superior. Amen. As we submit our hearts and minds to Christ (Romans 12) they are renewed for correct worship, which enables us to more faithfully participate in God’s over arching narrative. In a very real sense, our character shapes our character. Has our character undergone spiritual rebirth or are we still living in darkness? We all have a part to play in God’s story, building for his Kingdom… what will it be?

Have we ever thought about the Gospel in terms of story?

My generation, growing up in possibly the most highly entertained and bored society in the world, has the convenience of choosing from a plethora of stories. From pursuing drugs to Facebook, sports, information about God, comfort, pornography, video games and beyond. We are all looking for a story to be a part of, something bigger than ourselves (which makes sense as eternity has been written on all of our hearts, Ecclesiastes 3:11). Each promises adventure and conquest, but ultimately we were created for more than this. We were created for unending relationship with the Creator God of the universe. We were all once characters walking in darkness who are invited into God’s mission of inviting others to participate in His story, His adventure. The daily choices we make shape the personal stories in which we live. The trajectory of my story changed drastically when an older man who wasn’t my father began to invest heavily into my life. I consider him one of the greatest men to walk the face of the earth. What did this man do? He spent time with me. He listened to me. He challenged me to live as Christ. He invited me into his life and home. Maybe this is why I’m so passionate about discipleship- I’ve seen how deeply it has changed my character.

A few months ago, God placed the Sequim Boys and Girls Club on my heart… and he wouldn’t let it go. I was surrounded by other individuals at DCC that already recognized the potential of journeying alongside younger students and families for the sake of the Gospel. During a sit down meeting with the director, I unpacked DCC’s vision and model of discipleship. He then asked me if we as a church could bring that to the B+G Club. My heart leaped. Christians… being invited into a secular organization (?!)- someone pinch me! Since this meeting, other DCC leaders have seen the potential this has to impact the community in which we have been placed, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This Fall, a new type of discipleship will begin. Come September, I’ve asked more from my High School disciples and their older mentors, an additional two hours a month to be exact.

 I can’t tell you the joy I have in seeing older generations of men and women come alongside high school students that in turn journey with middle school students. I can’t unpack my total vision here or all of my dreams for DCC, but what I can say is that we, as the community of faith, need you. I need older men and women to respond to Christ’s call to disciple our young people. In the next two years, my dream is to see every sophomore age and above (Christian) student at DCC, have a mentor. “But Piper, I’ve never mentored anyone before and I’m not very “cool”.” That second part may very well be true, but when you love, truly love, you participate in the very life of God; God’s love mediated through you makes you something far greater than being “cool,” you’re desperately needed. I pray a mosaic of individual student disciples and mentor stories will converge for the glory of God’s over arching story. On top of this, I pray that those who have never even heard that they are characters in God’s story would hear that their lives have purpose and meaning as we invite them into something greater than themselves.

In Matthew 26, the gospel writer paints a disturbing and wonderful scene. A colorful character, a prostitute, comes in and anoints Jesus with an expensive perfume. What captivated me most was Jesus response to her. He said, “...wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” What? This spoke to me so clearly. The value of the things we do for Christ and in His name will have a ripple effect until eternity, even if we never see the fruit of our life’s impact on another. 1 John 4:19 says that, “we love because Christ first loved us,” meaning that after meeting Christ our stories are to be lived out of our response to him, his overwhelming love for us.

What stories will people share about your response to the love of Jesus Christ? What will your story be as part of God’s story? I want to invite you into a story of altering the course of a young persons character through discipleship at DCC or volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club. Interested? Compelled? Please talk to Ben Hegtvedt, Mark Holloway or myself.



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Students Perspective

I asked a series of written questions this Sunday about Dungeness Community Church to our High School students... and this is what I got. It has not been edited for content but some sentences were shortened/combined for ease of reading. If you see a awkward word used, know that it is a direct quote from the anonymous student author. "[........ ]" Have been added by me for clarification.  Each space represents a different students view. There are a few instances where it's hard to discern whether students are referring to Sunday morning sermons in the main congregation or to Sunday school talks. I appreciate the students honesty.


Write down what you think Dungeness Community Church does well.

They chose a great youth pastor

Everyone has each others back no matter what like a family.

I think DCC welcomes people really well especially new people.

Our mission trips and outreach is our best strength

I like how DCC is welcoming of other people who are atheists or believe Jesus in a different context. I like the singing. Everyone is so nice and intoxicated with the essence of God.

Our church does missions well including support of missionaries


The location provides gorgeous scenery. The church is welcoming to newcomers.

Music/Worship/Sunday school

Building relationships w/ students in YM. Short term missions. Serving others. Fostering relationships in church community.

DCC is great at providing opps for service and worship involvement. Church supports short term missions and local outreach.

I think they do good with having lots of trips and activities for youth.

I think DCC runs a very welcoming and ministry purposed youth program. The amount of kids that have made friends and have been influenced by Christ is remarkable.

Mission trips

Missions and services

The community outreach with programs like Mychoices and the out of area missions trips.

What is your general feeling about sung worship at DCC? What do you like about it? What could make it better?

As a muscician I see many areas that need work, but most of those are things like tempo. Worship could be better by calling the youth into the worship service and leading others.

To old school.

I feel that we often over use songs. Also, louder and more bass instruments.

I feel like a lot of improvement could be made at this church, although I think there are a few singer have much potential to reach people through their gifts. Sound board and lighting needs help and advice.

Sometimes it’s good. There are mostly old people, but it would be cool to have music like Mars Hill although that might be unrealistic.

I like it but it could be better. I’d like it louder and darker in a smaller area like the Upper Room. I do thing song choice and quality has gotten a lot better.

I appreciate the heart behind those singing and their willingness to be involved. More upbeat songs, clapping songs- that are easier to get audience involved.

I love how everyone sings and worships the Lord.

It’s def emphasized here, which is very nice. Instrumentation gives full sound. I think the church could expand their song library and include new songs..

I don’t like a lot of the songs. I like the instrumentation. Improvement: Better songs, more hymns, not skipping verses.

Overall it’s ok, not perfect but improving. I like when we have more people up on stage and upbeat music. We need more contemporary music mixed in (not limited to older music)

I really like it because it inviting and the singers look happy to be doing their job.

Worship is alright. I feel it’s more for older people and we could use more upbeat music.

I like most of songs, but feel like we have been singing the same ones over and over. Some morning are more alive than others. I like how anyone who wants to sing, can.

I like it. Everyone gets into the songs. The lady who did it today [Breva Funston] was really uplifting and it made me feel better.

It’s too slow and old fashioned.

What is your general feeling about spoken worship at DCC (aka Piper’s teaching on Wednesday/Sunday teaching) What do you like about it? What could make it better?

I think that if we were a little more deep and philosophical it would be better.

Good. I like it. He is so cool and can make the messages so we understand them. He interests everyone which is great.

I like both Wednesday’s and Sundays. Both times I’m generally able to connect and reflect on the message being given.

I think it’s fine, one thought though is maybe something new.

The content is good because it connects with the HS/MS students on their level

I like how he makes personal connections and stresses application. It could be made better through less tangents and getting quickly to the point so you don’t lose attention.

Spoken worship is good. I like that he is able to connect to us well. It would be better if... [this sentence left blank].

What I would expect from a church based on my experience. Sometimes is repetitive (ex. “we just finished a 14 week series” 1 ½ months ago)

I’m new

I appreciate the enthusiasm and big picture ideas that you bring to your lessons! However, sometimes you have so much background knowledge you want to share with us that it can get us on some tangents, and while interesting, may make some confusion for your audience J

Piper… you’re awesome. The lessons are awesome and I think you do a really good job of reaching everybody.

I think they’re good. Easier to understand the message, and not boring [I couldn’t tell if the student meant this in a positive or negative way based on final sentence]. Usually pretty funny though.

I think Piper has very good insight and inspirational teachings to share with us, and I appreciate his clear passion for the Lord. One thing that could make it better though, is maybe more of a direct focus on the topic at hand, instead of a multiple focused speech.

I enjoy theological discussions. I don’t like questions that nobody answers.

It’s down to earth and more understanding.

I don’t usually attend this (I’m graduated) but from what I have observed, it’s great!

Write down what you don’t like about DCC.

How the youth and older generation are kind of separated.

There is not enough seating in the auditorium.

Mission trip fundraisers. (I don’t like swags+ Auction)

Sometimes it feels like there is not much enthusiasm during worship and I can’t usually connect to the sermon.

I dunno. Sort of like the big churches with sort of a young people type vibe. I’ve always gone to DCC and this is sort of what I’m used to.

Generally it’s pretty good. Maybe a few too many old people but that’s not going to change.

Regular long sermons and sometimes going off track. Lot’s of elderly, which is ok, but sometimes makes it difficult for youth.

I’m new

Needs new carpet. Nothing.

No one goes to [HS] youth group so it’s kind of boring.

Small [HS] youth group


Worship is too mellow and laid back.

I don’t like that the grass isn’t two inches long. It’s not conducive to playing games safely outside.

I like everything. I wish there was Firwood [summer camp] for High Schoolers. (it was a big eye opener)

I don’t know

Write down what you would change about church if you could.

The high school needs a summer retreat..

Nothing, just wish there was Firwood and more mission trips. I love them!

If I could I would like to see the youth band sing on Sundays more often also I would like their to be cake on Wednesdays J

Worship. I think worship is important because it’s how we start our day.


More information about long term [supported] missionaries. Do announcements. High school summer retreat.

More people at [HS] youth group, better games.

Add another hs/ms retreat.

[Left completely blank]

More community building opps b/w youth and church family. More lively and upbeat services. Steady and exciting worship opportunities.

DCC has its own unique atmosphere. I wouldn’t really change anything.

I suppose if it was possible, having more young people music, I like the concert vibe some churches have but I don’t think it could work here for this church.

I still want it to be more active and personal relationship with God… sometimes it feels like it’s just a bunch of information.

More chairs.

More chairs for the high schooler’s in the auditorium.

I wish that the generation gap wouldn’t be such a gap and that the youth would be called into adulthood by the adults on a more personal level.