January 1st… 1863

On New Year’s Eve, 154 years ago, people of color, both slave and free, came together in churches and private homes all across the nation awaiting news that the promised Emancipation Proclamation had in fact become law. At the stroke of midnight, on January 1, all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free. When the news was received, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as many people fell to their knees and thanked God. As we celebrate the end of 2016, may we today also celebrate a moment in history when we as a people moved closer towards justice and equality for all. Even today, may we see all other men as brothers and all other women as sisters. #HappyNewYear

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“I’m Here”

have you downloaded Marko‘s free e-book A Beautiful Mess yet? if not you can grab it over here, at least for now.  i just started reading it and fell in love with the story below. i love how as youth workers we often have no idea the impact we’re making and we’re so often in the dark, but underneath God is moving students’ hearts and answering big prayers.

A modern-day story, shared with me recently by a friend of mine, gifted veteran youth pastor Sam Halverson:Sam had a teenage guy in his group (we’ll call him Tim) who’d shown no spiritual interest whatsoever and was normally brooding and dark in his outlook. At a particular worship time, the students in Sam’s group were given some space to reflect on their spiritual lives. Tim sat by himself and was drawn into a very personal something. Sam couldn’t tell what was going on, whether Tim was having a profound spiritual moment, or was angry, or something else. He noticed Tim with his head down; as Sam moved around the room and neared Tim, he could tell Tim was in the midst of something intense. Sam said he had no idea what to do. Should he interrupt what was possibly a personal moment between Tim and God and ask Tim what was going on? Should he lay hands on Tim and pray for him? Should he leave Tim alone? Sam, feeling helpless and bumbling, lightly touched Tim on the shoulder and said, “I’m here.” Tim only nodded but said nothing. As he walked away, Sam felt he’d probably blown it, that there was likely something better he should have done (but he had no idea what that better thing would have been). A week later, Tim’s mom called Sam about another issue. At the end of the call, she said, “Oh, and I wanted to tell you thanks for what you did for Tim.” Sam was confused. Tim’s mom continued, “Tim told me that he was really struggling with whether or not God even exists. In that prayer time, Tim was begging God to reveal himself. He prayed, ‘If you’re real, God, then do something—right now—to say “I’m here!” ’ Tim told me that the second he prayed that, you put your hand on his shoulder and said, ‘I’m here.’ ”

Crazy Alone: Small Group Promo Slide

our church is about to start promoting our fall community groups, and i asked shanna to create a slide to catch the attention of our students. here’s what she came up with. she created a couple different versions, depending on your terminology. if it can be useful in your context in some way, grab it!

fonts used: "the beautiful one" via dafont.com and "american typewriter".

Free 5 Minute Countdown

i love free stuff, and i just found this free 5 minute countdown over at worship house media.

go grab one – hopefully it’ll still be up there!