Legacy Now Blog - Jason Carr Writes

Exploring the collision of everyday life and an incredible God

Known

There is that moment when you walk up in the line to check into the flight and they ask your name and take your license and you wait while they type and look at the screen.

The same moment happens when you step into the rental car place and do the same drill. You give information and wait idly.

Then there is the time you check into a hotel and you just wait while they type away searching for your info and confirming whatever reservations you have made.

Those moments can cause just a second of wondering.

Did I fill that out right? Did I use the right card? Did they get my rewards number? What if it’s wrong? What if the flight is overbooked? What if they don’t have the car? What if the room is not available?

It’s in those moments when you really want to be known. You want the person on the other side of the counter to know who you are and kindly accommodate your journey.

I have primarily used the same rental car place when I travel for Legacy Now. Over time, it has been cool when I walk in and they know my name, what I want, and how quickly the process is to get a car and go. It’s likely why I keep using them, I’m known.

It’s true for all of us. We want to be known. We want the comfort that comes when people see us not as a commodity or strain, but a relationship.

The powerful effect of this truth is massive. The God of the universe made us this way. He put a hole in our heart that is filled through known relationships. And that is only fully completed with Him.

In student ministry, this principal is a biggie. We are working with a generation who is relationally challenged. I love my high school dudes that I lead right now, but it’s crazy that the primary way to communicate with them is via snapchat. Being known to a teenager right now is an interesting concept.

That being said, one of the most powerful things you can do in your ministry is help your students move towards the truth that God wants to know them. You do that through truth and through the relationships you create in your culture that points in that direction. It’s why I’m all in on small groups. That relationally-invested leader is a primary connection to help a student be known.

Next time you are in line waiting to check in take a moment and catalog that feeling. Remember the peace that comes if everything works out and goes as planned. And remember you get to offer that peace to others in a relationship with Jesus.

The Whole Story

At this point in my life and ministry I’ve led thousands of small groups and walked through the teenage years with generations of students.

And I’ve changed.

I’m not the 20 something year old leader anymore. I can’t act like that. I have more years of life and scars to prove it.

Something recently happened with one of the guys in my current high school group. After the immediate smoke cleared, I was thinking about how I handled it. And I realized something, 20 years ago I would have handled it way differently. In fact, I did.

I would have taken it on the chin. I would have been hurt. I would be scrambling to make sense of their decision making. In short, I would have taken a students decision super personally.

By all means, I still care and want the best for the students He trusts me with. Yet, I’m at a place where I see that the story is not always about today. Today affects our story. But, there is a long and complete story to be told just like yours and mine.

If you were to unpack my whole story up to this point in my life I could quickly share with you the highlights. But there are a ton of low lights and challenges that made those highlights even more special. There is also a galaxy worth of grace that’s been given to me that I have never earned. My story is not just about the current reality of today. Neither is yours.

Knowing that as I get older helps me see the big picture for a teenager. Yes, I want them to make wise choices. Yes, I want them to become the person He has them here to be. No, I don’t want them making stupid choices or having the carry the scars of bad decisions with them. But I also know that He is faithful and the story is not just about today.

Perspective is a funny thing. We usually are caught up on our current perspective. I’ve learned in leadership it’s not just about today, but learning from what’s behind and thinking about what’s ahead.

The more I’ve tried to do that in my own life the more I can do that with the students and leaders He trusts me to invest in.

There is a whole story being told. Not just the current chapter. By faith, trust Him to help you and your students see the Author and Perfecter’s plan.

My List For The Guys

Recently at our high school small group I went old school. I gave them a bunch of fill int the blank one line thoughts of things i wanted them to know about manhood/life/leadership.

It made for some good conversation.  I’ll put the questions and answers afterwards.

I am sharing those lines below. Hope they are helpful for you!

 

Don’t be afraid of ____________ and ________________. (initiation / follow up)

 

When God _________ you, there is a reason. Do something. (prompts)

 

There is a way ________ _______ in play than you currently see. (bigger picture)

 

Decide what ________ you want to tell by God’s grace. (story)

 

Awareness does not mean ___________. That comes with ___________ and ____________. (maturity.  humility / experience)

 

Be ___________ about others. (curious)

 

Everyone needs a _____ ______. Every one. (safe place)

 

Your private ___________ affects your __________ actions. Both have influence and impact. (character / public)

 

Todays __________ are tomorrow’s ___________.  (challenges / lessons)

 

When things don’t go your way you will either _____ to or ______ from God. (run / away)

 

It’s ok to not be ok, but don’t ____________. Always look for and point to _______. (stay there / hope)

 

You will never fully grasp ___________. Don’t let that stop you from digging deeper. ( The Bible)

 

_________ will always be there. Why not act like it now, He’s in it for the long haul. (Jesus)

 

You don’t have to be __________. Just be ________. (perfect / His )

 

Your _______ will influence your life more than you think. (friends/choices)

 

In life you will have a ton of acquaintances, but only a handful of trusted _________. (friends)

 

Remind yourself of __________ every day. You’ll need it. (The Gospel)

One Line Thoughts From The Trenches

I love that I get to serve churches and leaders who serve others with Legacy Now. In random order, here is a list of one line thoughts from the last season of serving others. Not intended to be negative, just honest and hopefully helpful for you as you serve others.

  1. Culture doesn’t change overnight, but it will never change until you address the elephant in the room.
  2. A pastor has a lot more affect on the overall culture of a church than they might think.
  3. It’s a great challenge to lead others well if you are not being led well.
  4. One of the main ways the enemy is attacking church culture is through poor communication and bad assumption.
  5. This generation of young leaders want to be known yet struggle to be fully known by others.
  6. Technology helps ministries a ton but can lead to a nasty comparison trap.
  7. Students are more aware. Not mature, but aware. Awareness does not always mean maturity.
  8. When you shut down a student from sharing what they really think, you are creating a moment in their life that says church is not safe.
  9. Safe cultures have a way of attracting students in unsafe places.
  10. Just because it works at another church does not mean it will work in yours.
  11. Volunteers serve for a reason. Stoke the fire and remind the purpose.
  12. Healthy staff cultures have a way of leading to healthy volunteer cultures. The reverse is true too.
  13. The Gospel still works and the church is still the light of the world and a community.
  14. Teenagers don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
  15. The tension of content/programming when you have middle school students in the room with high school students is real. But it’s a healthy tension.
  16. Social media gets a lot of negative press. But it can be one of the best tools to keep students/parents/volunteers engaged in your ministry.
  17. People will check your social media. Update accordingly.
  18. We all need an advocate and safe place to process thigns. Front line warriors deal with crazy things. Honored to play that role in the lives of others.

New Site!

Legacy Now has a new site!

You can check it out here.

I’m excited about the fresh look. I think it sounds like me and my heart.

More than anything else, I’m praying it’s a great gateway for LN to serve leaders who are serving others. That’s what He has me here for. Feel free to share it with anyone you know who might benefit from what He has called me to with LN.

Thanks for being on this journey with me friends!

– Jason

Vulnerable Group

Your small group is only as deep/good as the least vulnerable member in it.

This is not a black-and-white statement. I think about the current group of high school guys that I lead. Some are verbal processors. It’s easy for them to get to verbal vulnerability because they are constantly talking. For those who are internal processors, saying a few words is a big deal. When the internal processors share, it usually has a lot of weight to it.

Vulnerability looks different for each person, but it’s a greenhouse for a small group. When people know they are safe and trusted, it can be powerful.

If your group stays superficial, then it may be a great social gathering, but things change when people get real and honest. It becomes a safe place. A group then becomes an authentic community in a new way.

How do you lead your group to vulnerability? It takes time and relationship. It also takes sharing your heart as a leader and trusting that. Now, you must wisely consider boundaries for how much you share. I might share things with my adult group that would not be appropriate for my high schoolers.

If you are leading teenagers now, don’t be shocked that the Snapchat generation has trouble being vulnerable. It takes time to learn how to have community. Model the way and build relationships that lead to trust. One of the principles I share in my new book is this—time + truth = influence.

Don’t expect your group to be vulnerable if you are not willing to do so yourself.

This principle is key to the lifespan of a group. As I think of my 20+ years of leading teenagers, I recall moments when a student shared something and it changed the trajectory of a group. I also recall hoping and praying students would share something, but they chose not to. I clearly remember sharing something personal with a group and how if affected the group at that time.

And don’t forget, that is trusted information. Unless a student is hurting himself or someone else, you need to guard that information. If someone shares something vulnerable with you, and you tell others, it might sever that communication. If someone shares something, be sure to follow up and thank him for sharing. Let them know you are with them.

Vulnerability can very well be the on-ramp to a new level of authentic community for your small group. As you pray for and lead your group, take time to ask God to help your students find the wisdom in being vulnerable.

 

Landing Safe

The year was 1996. I went with a friend to a concert to see Rich Mullins perform. If you know much about his life, you know seeing him in concert was not much of a massive production as it was like sitting down with a friend who tells it like it is. Who also happens to be a great musician and songwriter.

Rich walks out on stage in old jeans and a plain white t-shirt. He had another musician with him. And he proceeded to play songs, share stories, and challenge those there to live in grace and give their life to His Kingdom.

Having read a bunch of books, watched a ton of videos and even watched the movie Ragamuffin about Rich, I feel like I have a small idea of who he was. He was funny. He questioned organized religion. He embraced grace. He was not afraid to stir the pudding to the comfortable. He had a calling to challenge the Christian in what that meant—to really follow Jesus.

That night he said something that hit me hard. Real hard. Hard enough that 20+ years later I still think about it. The Lord used his challenge that night to prompt me and give me a filter for my life. It was that good. I legit have goosebumps every time I tell this story.

He said this: “I think one day some will wash ashore the shores of Heaven and have their life all together, look nice and clean and talk about all they did for Him. And they will come face to face with Jesus and Scripture says that He might not even know you. You lived safe. You knew of Him, but didn’t really know Him. I know this, for those of us who really know and follow Him, when we land in Heaven we’ll be beat up, clothes tattered, and life bruised from the chaos of this world. But He’ll look at us and say “that’s mine right there.”

Read that again. Seriously. Read it again.

What a great image about what our life is about when it’s all said and done.

He shared a quote from Brennan Manning that night that says this “In love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve.”

I remember driving home that night telling God that I did not want to land safely. I wanted my life to count. I wanted to serve Him knowing it was not going to be pretty or easy.

And it has not been. 20+ years later, those words still inspire me. I’m more beat up and have weathered quite a bit along the way. And my Savior has been so faithful in love and grace that I don’t deserve.

As I carry the message of THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE, I’ve been reminded of that night. I’m reminded that you never know how He might use some challenge and encouragement in your life and in the life of others. I never met Rich. Yet one night his words propelled my life and heart. I pray they do you too.

“So go out and live real good and I promise you’ll get beat up real bad. But, in a little while after you’re dead, you’ll be rotted away anyway. It’s not gonna matter if you have a few scars. It will matter if you didn’t live.”

– Rich Mullins

Made For You

On August 21st I am releasing my new book THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE.

The material has come from my last 20+ years of serving in the trenches of student ministry and investing in students and leaders. Most of the material has been road tested by serving churches and leaders across the country.

And I would love to serve yours.

The goal of my new book is not to just release a book. In fact, that’s secondary. The goal is to serve as many churches and leaders possible helping reach the next generation of leaders and students. The book is crafted as a resource for just that. Each section includes small group questions to help get you and your leaders thinking and talking about how to apply the content. TOML is a field guide resource packed full of practical tips, challenges, and encouragement to help you and your leaders invest in others well.

I made it for you. And would love to help you leverage it to build into your culture for your leaders and students. That might be leading a volunteer training. It might be helping you evaluate and build your relational ministry culture.

The content to do that is ready to go and can be adjusted to your culture and expectations. I will mold the content to make it as personable and applicable possible for each church I get the opportunity to serve.

One of the cool things about my ministry is that I have an incredible team of people who believe in you. They might not know you. But they believe in you and your ministry. They want to help the next gen win so they have invested in my ministry so I can serve you. That means I’m open to what works best for you as far as budget goes. We’ve set my ministry up so that I can serve as many churches possible.

If you would like bring me in to lead a leader training or consult on your ministry, I can also you a bulk deal for books for you and your leaders once it’s released.

I want to help you invest in others well. THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE is a resource to help you with that.

If you want to book me to help you, it’s simple. Email me. I’ll follow up as soon as I can and we can go from there. Already have some dates lined up this fall to help churches using this content and would love to serve yours too.

It would be my great honor to serve you in helping others live.

Til The Whistle Blows

I can still hear my football coach saying it: “You play until the whistle blows.” If loafing at practice or caught in a game taking a play off, a player would hear something similar. Often coaches chose to add some choice words in there, but essentially they are always saying the same thing. The play is not over until it’s over. You know it’s over when the referee blows their whistle.

Simple, right?

Not so much. You get tired. You feel like your part does not matter. You don’t get the attention you think you deserve. You lose focus. It gets monotonous. So you take a play off.

I’m not just talking about football. This is true in ministry. We take plays off. We miss opportunities. We “kinda” prepare for that talk. We settle to get things done. We get tired of the same thing each week and dial it in and just get by.

Recently I talked with a student pastor experiencing that. His energy had tapped out. His motivation had waned. He knew he was not giving it his all, but frankly needed some encouragement.

How do you fix that?

It’s not easy, but there are some things you can do to keep playing until the whistle blows.

Focus on the end game. What you do now matters for later. Relational ministry (especially with students) is rarely tangible. But He is the grower, and our job is to plant well and trust Him. In the end, the victory is His.

Remember who you are playing for. He knows. He is with you. Your service matters to the Kingdom of forever. Reset your perspective.

Your value can’t come from man alone. Seek to sink your identity in the One who rescued you and gave you a new name. You are His son or daughter. Work from there.

Celebrate regularly. Choose to celebrate anything pointing to your vision and mission that is being accomplished or developed.

Trust relentlessly. Even when it does not make sense.

Be you. Kick comparison aside and focus on faithfulness. You’ll find freedom in your spirit there.

No matter where you are in your ministry, until He calls you home, the whistle has not blown yet. Don’t be discouraged in doing good. Praying that you serve well until the whistle blows.

Attendance Equals Interest?

Students quit coming so they might not be interested, right?

Not completely.

Attendance does not always equal interest. There are too many variables to consider outside of them just being there with you at group.

It’s easy to see students not at your program and take it personal. Remember, there is always a story deeper that what we usually see.

Take time to ask questions to those involved or engaged in your ministry. Often, you’ll discover there are school things that conflict. You’ll find family things going on with the student you were not aware of. You might even be let onto a blindspot in your ministry that you didn’t see.

I recently worked with a church that was planning on changing their weekly meeting time. It sounded great in the meeting. Even went over well in the volunteer meeting.

The parents and students? Not so much.

When they changed the time, their numbers initially dropped. The church realized that they needed to clearly communicate more often the reasoning and purpose behind the change. It wasn’t that students hated the church and didn’t want to come. They needed to know the why, to a degree they felt left out.

It’s also great to remember that there seems to be seasons. There are some seasons where you might have a great group of student leaders who really do a great job of committing and gathering. And then there are seasons when you pray for those students to engage in your ministry.

It seems like some churches can just open the doors and students just come running in and fill the room. That’s not always the case. In fact, most churches would be wise to invest time and resources in thinking about gathering outside of the weekly program.

Don’t forget about the power of social media to communication, cast vision, and help gather too. It’s a great resource for your ministry is your leverage it well. Pull your leaders aside and get their feedback. Survey some students. Let your ears and curiosity lead the way in times of wonder. What you learn might just help you understand what’s going on.

Moral of the story is don’t allow attendance fluctuations to discourage you from doing good. It might just be the thing that helps you reconnect or rethink about your ministry in a new and powerful way.

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