Everything listed under: Youth

  • Sunday to Monday | Ruptured by Freedom

    On Sunday, Pastor Dave and participants in the Senior High Youth Mission Trip talked about how their lives were ruptured as they got out of their own lives and into the lives of others in San Diego. Here are some things to think about this week as we all think about how to make those short-term experiences of "rupture" have a lasting impact on our faith:

    • In Luke 18 Jesus flips current understanding upside down. The people experience “freedom” to see God in new ways. Old thoughts are “ruptured” by fresh good news. How have the experiences our youth shared and the text of Luke 18 “freed” you, or “ruptured” your spiritual journey so that you might more faithfully follow Jesus?
    • When have you been led by God to leave a well known context and experience God anew in a foreign place? Is God calling you to any new places, people, or contexts now? It could be anywhere from across the street to the other side of the earth.
    • The disciples gave up all they had to follow Jesus (Luke 18:28), and the rich man in Luke 18:22 is asked to give up all he has and to follow Jesus. Jesus is probably not literally wanting you to give your house away. But what might Jesus be asking you to set aside so that God can better reach you and you can follow Jesus more faithfully (habit, pursuit, addiction, relationship, possession, temptation)?
    • With 13 teenagers, 3 college students, and 4 adults, the youth mission trip was truly intergenerational. God's vision for community is blended by age. Pray that God might lead you into your place in Jesus' intergenerational community.
  • Following Jesus into the World

    • A dozen 12-14 year olds from GGCC.
    • Another 50 12-18 year olds from three other churches. 
    • One week.
    • No cell phones, ipods, tvs, computers.
    • Cramped sleeping quarters and shared bathroom facilities in a 50-year old building.
    • Little privacy, less sleep, lots of hormones.


    Following Jesus into the world.

    Last week youth from The Firm Youth Ministry hopped into three mini-vans and drove up to Lander, WY for a week-long mission trip serving in Jesus’ name on the Wind River Reservation.  We were there to offer a little hope and show them a lot of love.  A mission trip is a good way to practice what it means to love God, love people and serve the world. 

      Our group was split into work crews. These crews served one another during the week. 

    We got to know other missionaries from Green Bay, WI; Buffalo, MN; and Salida, CO. Each crew served two days on work projects and during the week painted the exteriors of 2½ houses that were undergoing renovation on the reservation.

     Two days were reserved for leading (planning, coordinating and executing) an afternoon Kids Club in the town of Ethete on the reservation; as well as stopping by to visit with residents at a rehab clinic/Alzheimers facility in Riverton. 

    When you list it out like this it doesn’t sound like all that much. But really – it was.

    Forming teams of young people who have just met and organizing them into functioning units is a miracle in and of itself; not to mention, reminding them that the paint was donated so paint-fights were out of the question; painting carefully so the residents would be proud to live there; building relationships with children who were skeptical. Allowing youth to develop the songs, skits, crafts and games for the children required this adult to really take a step back! 

     In a word – the youth were amazing! They didn’t complain, whine or grumble. They didn’t pine for their electronics. They weren’t able to hide behind ear buds so conversation was plentiful and creative. They volunteered to go above and beyond the expectation. They got to large group activities on time, listened when appropriate, were interested in learning about Native American culture and were compassionate and caring with one another. Don’t get me wrong – we had a lot of fun, kids were often pretty silly and getting their attention at times was a challenge. 

    But – these students give me so much hope for the future. For how the world might be a different place because of their leadership. For how the church might be a true reflection of Jesus. For how their lives intertwine the secular and spiritual. For how much love they are willing to give.  For their willingness to follow Jesus into the world. 


    P.S. Looking for more pictures? Click here.


    "Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.  No one has ever seen God.  But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us."  1 John 4:11-12


  • A Word from Pastor Dave | Ruptured by Freedom

    Today, I am in San Diego on the Senior High youth mission trip. Youth mission trips are clearly one of the most enjoyable points in my ministry.

    It was the summer of 1974, when I was a sophomore in high school on a mission trip in a big Winnebago, with my youth group from St. John Lutheran church in Keystone, Iowa, that I made one of the largest leaps in my life of faith.

    On that trip in 1974 I first began to take this Jesus who dwells throughout the earth and cosmos seriously. All of a sudden Jesus began to take on a relevancy in my life. Up until that trip, I saw Jesus as a person who wanted some songs sung to him on Sunday morning. I had honestly thought that the Christian experience was one contained to the walls of a church facility.

    On that trip across South Dakota in the summer of 1974, the adult leadership team of Pastor Don Berg, Judy Berg and another leader named Milt Jensen (also my father) guided us on an experience of God in the world. We framed discussions around the presence of God in the world. We took on heavy theological issues. It gave us a chance to talk openly about a God who created even acne faced teens in God's image. Pastor Berg would often remind us that "God does not make junk, and you are not junk." We took on real world cultural events and discussed God's presence in them, such as what is God's will of forgiveness and justice toward elected leaders in a world with Watergates?

    Luke 18 is the chapter of scripture I have asked our 13 senior high youth, 3 college aged youth, and 4 adult leaders to ponder this week. It begins with the story of a widow who approaches an unjust judge for justice. Have you ever approached the unjust seeking justice? It is not easy? What we find in the story (Luke 18:1-8) is that the widow's persistence is the greatest gift she has. The widow simply will not give up! Jesus is like the widow, and we are sometimes like the judge. Jesus persistently comes to offer us good news, fresh hope, and forgiveness. Jesus comes relentlessly to bring us an affirmation of our self image, or to remind us that God is King of the universe, and no corrupt politician has the final power over anything.

    Persistence, a great trait to maintain with our youth and all relationships. For ultimately the hope that is ours eternally comes from Christ Jesus our Lord , "...What is impossible for mortals is possible for God(Luke 18:27)."

    I am reminded of the singer Jackson Browne's view of persistence when I imagine the widow, "The stream shapes the rock through persistence not strength." Fortunately in 1974, somewhere along I -90 in a  Winnebago, God literally entered my life in a profound way and ruptured how I had previously seen (or not seen) Jesus in the world. Through experiences such as this I live in the freedom each day to see Jesus in many ways. May you be so blessed this day and often.

    Please pray that we might have safe passage home as we travel this Friday and Saturday. You have prayers rising up for you this day in San Diego.

    See you on Sunday,


    Still in one peace,

    David J Jensen

  • Sunday to Monday | Free to Follow Jesus

    This Sunday we heard from several middle school students who went on a mission trip to Wyoming with The Firm,  GGCC's Middle School Ministry. They shared what they learned about how we are free when we serve others using Matthew 5: 1-10 and Galatians 3: 14-15 as a place to start.

    Have you thought lately about how you're Free to Follow Jesus? Here are some questions to ponder this week:

    •  Think of a situation or time in your life when you felt like you had freedom. What made you feel free?
    • What keeps you from being free? What things do you hold onto that keep you tied up? When you read Paul's words (Galatians 5:13-14) what does freedom mean to you? How can you find that sort of freedom?
    • What does it mean to be free to follow Jesus? What does that look like? What would you be willing to give up to do that? Can you even imagine it?
    • Read Matt 5:1-10. How do Jesus' values differ from the world's? How would your life be different if you had the freedom to live this way?
  • Video of 2009 Confirmands

    Today six of GGCC's 8th graders who participated in The Firm Youth Ministry during their middle school years affirmed their baptism by saying "Yes" to the God who claims them and promised to live the journey of faith as followers of Jesus.  Here's a video with photos of what it looks like to live in Christian community as a youth group leading up to this Rite of Passage.

  • The Faith 5

    This Sunday at the 10:30 service we'll celebrate two rites of passage that look very different but have the same source. We'll baptize little Saryn, one of the newest members of the faith family at God's Grace. And our 8th graders will affirm the promises of their baptisms and commit to live as disciples of Christ.

    On Sunday when little Saryn is baptized, her parents and we as a community of faith will promise to help her grow up as a Christian. How will we do that? Her parents will bring her to church, teach her to pray, put God's Word into her hands and heart and mind, help her live in community with other followers of Jesus. And we will be that community, we'll pray for Saryn and her parents, we'll help provide opportunities for her to grow in her faith.

    A lot happens between baptism and affirmation of faith. With all the other demands on our time, how does a growing family stay connected with their faith at home? Here's one idea -- The Faith 5.

    Whoever is going to bed first in your home calls “FAITH 5” or “Huddle Up!” Everyone must drop what they’re doing, turn off the television, put down the newspaper or their homework, set the cell phone on silence and gather in a room of the convener’s choice. Then take turns going through these five simple steps:

    • Share your highs & lows of the day

    • Read and highlight a verse of Scripture in your Bible

    • Talk about how your highs & lows relate to the Bible verse

    • Pray for your highs & lows, for one another, and for the world

    • Bless one another

    You want a great relationship with your kids? You want openness, honesty, caring and sharing in your family? You want to raise a child to be a strong, thoughtful, empathetic, positive, healthy adult out in the world some day? You can’t buy that. You have to invest in it. And the investment is the most expensive currency you own – your TIME – aimed at that most precious young person in your life.

    Kids spell love T-I-M-E. Be intentional. Be consistent. Be caring. Be the parent. Every night. Every home.

    The church will be there for you, but the church can't be in every home every night. Only you can do this for your family.