Summer Camp: Mid-Summer Update

After week off, we are back at Summer Camp. We are thankful to partner with Long Branch Baptist Church, as it has been a wonderful opportunity for our family, and for 40+ children in this neighborhood and in this church.

This experience has been new for us — being leaders at a summer camp without being in charge of it. We are thankful that we haven’t been in charge. For one, it has helped us to step back and not carry such a big load. But even more, we see that the leaders at Long Branch have done a number of things so much better than we could have!

During the first few weeks of this camp, Joanna and I noticed how loving those leaders are. This church has some younger adults and college students serving, most of the ones involved are older. And while these folks might not have the energy level they once did, their love and passion for children is obvious.

Click here to learn more, and to watch a fun video of our campers…

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Surprisingly Easy Ways to Get the Gospel into the Schools

Augusta Circle Elementary

Any evangelical Christian would love the opportunity for the gospel to be presented in schools. But we lament the “separation of church and state” and come up with outside programs. And we shy away from programs like in-school mentoring, because they are “secular.”

If this is how we approach this issue, we are thinking about the gospel wrong. We are misunderstanding the full-scope of God’s redemptive work, and we are missing obvious ways to let our light shine, so that God is glorified (Matthew 5:16).

Alvin Reid writes, “The public school campus is arguably the greatest mission field in America.” I agree.

We (the church) can gain immense credibility and have a meaningful impact, by investing in an institution that directly involves more than 85% of all the youth in our country (data here and here). And when you consider that most public school students are growing up in poverty, you know that help is needed.

What can YOU do? I’m glad you asked…

Clubhouse Kids: A Piece of the Puzzle

Let’s be clear about Clubhouse Kids, the new after school program in the Greater Sullivan Neighborhood (downtown Greenville, SC).

  • We are not substitute parents. Each of these children have a family that loves them, and that is their primary relationship.
  • We do not offer intensive tutoring and remediation. With the number of volunteers (anywhere from 3-5 on a day) and students (up to 18), we cannot give individual attention to every children who needs help with reading and homework.
  • We are not a counseling service. Some of our students have emotional challenges. While we aim to show love for each child, we don’t have time (or the know-how) to talk in-depth with each student.
  • We are not a local church. While we teach the Bible, communicate the gospel, and pray, we are not a replacement for a community of believers.

We are not replacements for parents, educators, counselors, or churches. But we can be a piece of the puzzle. Home and school are the biggest pieces of these children’s lives, but we believe that we can come alongside those other institutions.

And that’s what we are hearing from our students, their families, and their schools. Here are just a few examples:

You don’t want to miss these…

Getting Powered for Life!

Last month, we (Elevate Youth and Mill Village Farms) helped to launch a 16-week program for teenagers, called Powered for Life. We advertised and recruited with the aim of enlisting a diverse range of students. With students coming from six different schools, I think we achieved our goal!

The Powered for Life material is a Bible-centered tool to help prepare young adults for a successful life. It focuses on four main ideas, with the acronym L.I.F.E. –>

Learn more by clicking here…

Do You REALLY Believe that Jesus Is Real?

chair_attic desiring_god jesus_is_real

From Jonathan Parnell, on the Desiring God blog:

“If you see the way Jesus is described in Revelation 5, and if you believe that this Jesus is real — then what is there that we would not do for him?

I am convinced that if we could see him here, if we could grasp a fraction of what it means to have all power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing, . . . — then there is no endeavor for his sake for which we’d be too afraid.

So there are nearly 7,000 unreached peoples on the earth — Jesus is real. Let’s go.

So the secularized West needs the revival of a multiplying church planting movement — Jesus is real. Come with us.

Spend three afternoons a week to mentor troubled youth in the inner-city — Jesus is real. Sign me up.

Pastor a small church in rural America that has terrible internet bandwidth — Jesus is real. Bury me in the parish cemetery.

Sacrifice time and resources so that strangers might hear the gospel — Jesus is real. Show me where.

Do you see what these verses [in Revelation 5] say about Jesus? Don’t you know that he is real?”

Read the full post, Don’t You Know Jesus Is Real?

Are you stirred by any of Parnell’s examples of living out a real faith? Let us hear in the comments!

Related Links:

Top Posts of 2014

Micah 6_8Happy New Year!

Not sure how much you’ll be reading blogs today, or how much you’ll be watching football. Even if you are doing the latter, I’m sure they will be some terrible games. Why don’t you use some of your relaxing time to skim over some articles?

As I’m easing back into blogging from a little break, I figured this would be a good time to recap the top posts from 2014 (mind you — this blog was only launched at the end of the summer).

Did you miss any of these articles? Or do you want a refresher?

#6.  Why Don’t We Strive for Racial ReconciliationThe issue of diversity and the church has been on my mind a lot over the past few months. And apparently I am not alone.

#5.  Don’t Fund the Fight Against CancerA fun little article I wrote. Well, fun if you ignore the parts about cancer and poverty.

#4.  Teaching, and LearningExplaining the part-time jobs I had this fall. I was thankful for these opportunities!

#3.  Ministry Update: Your FAQs and SAQs. A late summer (or early fall?) update on what we were going to do in Greenville. Be sure to also read the follow-up post from 6 weeks later.

#2.  School InequalityI’m no Robin Hood, with the goal of robbing the rich to give to the poor. But the vast difference between the haves and have-nots is alarming. And as a follow up, I got to see the inside of this building (described in this post) during my son’s robotics competition. Yes, the school facilities are amazing, as you would expect from the price tag. But the school’s team still did not perform exceptionally. Money can’t buy everything, huh?

#1.  Eric Garner, Michael Brown, You, and MeI don’t usually write on hot topics, but I did this time, writing this the evening after a controversial decision was made. I was tired and emotional when I wrote it, which may have been a good thing, based on the support, sharing, and even some pushback it received. Of all the pageviews I’ve had on this blog, over 40% have been on this single post.

(Side note: To the person who found my blog while searching for “what does carcinogenic mean” — sorry that you were led down the wrong path. But the answer, in case you haven’t found it yet, is “cancer causing.”)

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to learning more with you in 2015!

Volunteer Opportunities in 2015

MVF Teen Finances Class
Guest speaker Jonathan Sargent shared important lessons about work, to our youth development class.

Over the past few months, we (at Mill Community Ministries) have had a number of inquiries regarding volunteer opportunities. We have been winding down our programming at the end of the year, but we are gearing up for new opportunities in 2015.

To start, let me be clear about why I believe in these opportunities. I want to see life change in children, youth, and adults. But this happens best when they receive two things:

  1. Loving and encouraging relationships
  2. Biblical truths and the gospel of Jesus Christ

Here is a list of opportunities that I will be involved in, which will include one or both of these needs. I invite you (and your friends and church small group) can be a part of them, too:

Click here to learn more…