All posts in “General”

Salt and Light

For most of my life, I’ve had the tendency to get sucked into the achievement culture that is so prevalent in today’s world; honestly, it’s hard not to do. You don’t have to look too hard to see messages that tell you perfection is the standard and even the perception of failure is unacceptable. Not only does this mindset give us a false sense of identity, but it can also cause us to overlook some exceptional claims that are in the Bible about us. Take Matthew 5:13-16 for example:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

If you have the same tendency that I do, you read this text and your mind goes down a rabbit trail of thoughts that go something like this, “Shoot, I’m not as salty as I should be, and I have definitely hidden my light under a basket”.  Now, I’m not saying that a realization of our fallen nature is a bad thing. However, if we want to make continued progress in our faith journeys, I think we must understand our relationship with God and how he sees us.

One of the unique things we see through scripture is how God tends to name people by what they’ll be long before they actually are. For example, God takes a 75-year-old man with no children, Abram, and gives him the name Abraham meaning father of many nations. Even after his name change, Abraham would wait another 25 years before receiving the child he was promised.

So, what’s going on here? God sees in us what we cannot see ourselves. Circling back Matthew 5 we can see that God says we are salt and we are the light of the world. Just like Abraham, we’ve been given a name by God that only he can truly fulfill in us.

What does this mean, then? I’d like to make the case that, in light of how God sees us, we can read this text and find encouragement instead of discouragement. Instead of focusing on our lack of saltiness or our dim light we get to celebrate in the work of God in our lives. Then, as we strive to be Christ’s ambassadors on this earth, it can be from a place of grace instead of shame.

Well Worth It

Summing up just one summer with Next Step is hard. Summing up three summers is even harder. I try to think of where to begin and am reminded of a hundred different funny stories, and those are probably just from one summer. I could tell you about the elaborate pranks I helped pull on our partnership coordinator; the time I had to go to K-Mart to buy paint thinner for one of our worship team members who spilled oil-based paint ALL over his hands; or the time we went kayaking and almost sank them in the river. Those stories are probably only funny to those of us who experienced them, but I love to tell them because they remind me of the friends who became like family and the good times we shared on summer staff together-one of my favorite parts of a Next Step summer.

However, these stories are just a few in a sinking kayak’s worth of stories and experiences. I could not accurately describe my time on summer staff without even mentioning some of the ways the Lord has transformed my life-another of my favorite parts.

Each day, as I poured myself out, He showed me areas of weakness, the areas He is made strong. In my first summer He taught me about servanthood, leadership, humility, and community. In my second summer He dug deeper and revealed a belief I’ve long held. This belief that my worth is gained through the tasks I accomplish and how hard I work in “perfection”. Instead of “doing” so much, I was challenged to invest in others. In my third summer I was challenged even more to find a balance between tasks and relationships. In all of this, I saw the Lord work through the community and teammates I served alongside, the students I met, evening programs I participated in, construction projects I helped with, various challenges I faced, and the leaders who walked with me through them. Jesus used that setting to catalyze deep transformation in my life, and it is continuing to this day.

But in spite of all these things, I almost didn’t do this internship all three summers. I always came up with a list of silly excuses I thought were justifiable. These were all excuses that gratified my desires for my academic plan, travel plans, and social plans. What I realized each spring, when I made the final decision to commit to the internship, was that an experience on summer staff was well worth the plans I thought I was leaving behind.

Maybe He is calling you to do the same. Maybe He is calling you to step out into community, ministry, servant leadership, growth, friendship, and one of the most transformative summers of your life. If He is, know that He is faithful, and you won’t regret it.

The Simplicity of Yes

This week I was reminded of the beauty and simplicity of simply saying yes to God. To obeying what He asks us to do. To taking a step in the direction where doors and opportunities are open, and trusting Him with the rest. Continue Reading…

What We Value, We Cultivate

Community development sometimes feels like a big, vague idea. It’s something we really want to see happen here at Next Step but how do we tangibly do that? For the most part, it’s taking small steps each day towards community goals. But sometimes those small steps need some direction. That’s where our core values come in.

 

The community development department is excited to roll out our core values. These are what we are focusing on as a department in our day to day ministry.  They are listed below with a short description of what they mean to us:

Caring  //  Our goal is to love our communities by caring deeply for them and having their best interests in mind, knowing that relationships are at the heart of community development.

Supportive  //  Our role in communities is to be a support to the initiatives currently taking place, to community members, to incoming mission teams, and to summer staff.

Bridge-Builder  //  Our department has the chance to truly live out Next Step’s desire for a collision of short-term missions with long-term community development. We act as a connection point between our short-term summer trips and a community’s long-term hopes and efforts.

Learner  //  We are constantly seeking new research and developments in our field, seeking to grow in our knowledge of community development. We also take on the position of learners in our communities, knowing that those who operate in a community offer the most insight.

Initiator  //  As we collect new ideas and knowledge on community development, our desire is to initiate new thoughts and ideas into our standard mission trips to make them more community-minded.

 

There you have it! These are the guiding values as we navigate how to tangibly live out community development on a day-to-day basis here at Next Step.

Consider taking on these core values in your own community and in the communities you may visit on your next summer mission trip. What we value is what we cultivate and our prayer is that you continue to cultivate a community mindset on your mission trip.

Why are so many Christians stagnant in their faith?

God did not just save us from something. He saved us for something. The good news of Jesus does not stop the moment we get saved. Our salvation is only the beginning of God’s work in our lives.

Just yesterday, as I strapped on my daughter’s sparkly gold jelly shoes to embark on our regularly scheduled afternoon trek around our neighborhood, I was reminded of this profound truth. Standing up, she instinctively and immediately shot up her tiny arm to tightly grasp my thumb. In this precious moment of knowing that she was looking to me as her father to protect her from something on our walk…a thought came rushing to my mind: “my daughter was not only given to me to keep her from something but to help prepare her for something.”

God has charged me to keep my child from harm – that is vitally important – yet in the same breath God has also charged me to prepare, to teach, to train her for something:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

I am convinced of this: you and I will always remain in stagnant and pungent waters when we fail to realize that God not only saved us from something, but that He saved us for something. By saving you from your sins, God has graciously invited you to join Him, to live on mission – to be a disciple of Jesus who makes disciples of Jesus!

Are you stagnant in your faith?

Examine your own heart or ask a friend to honestly speak into your life by asking the following: “Am I bearing fruit in my life?” (John 15:5)  “Do you see evidences of God’s Spirit in your life?” (Galatians 5:22-23)

If not, you may be failing to recognize that God has not only saved you from something but that God has saved you for something.

Living Missionally

So often when you leave your mission trip you hear the standard encouragement… “your mission trip starts now”! It follows with words that challenge you to not just live the way you lived during your mission trip, but to serve your own community when you get back home. To live missionally on a daily basis. That said, I don’t know that the encouragement is always followed with many practical ways this can look. Continue Reading…

So, When should I register for a trip?

One of the more common questions we get at Next Step is, “When should I register for my summer mission trip?”  Well, the first answer of course, is whatever is best for you.  Next Step is intentionally set-up to accommodate registration at any time of the year, from over a year in advance to a week before a trip.  But, there are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you try and figure out when is best for your group to register.  Here are 5 tips to help you with your registration process at Next Step:
1. Sooner is Better
Each year, registration opens in July for the following summer.  And believe it or not, by August many weeks at many locations are full. Next Step asks for a $50 deposit per participant, so if there is any way your group can get that deposit money together, we recommend you register right away and then we can work together to get the details in place after registration. Also- remember that Next Step allows you to register and hold your space for 30 days without a deposit.  So, if you are in the decision making process, even if its going to be a few weeks, get registered as you wait for your final decision.
2. Community Partnerships are Valued
In an effort to encourage continued relationships between churches and local communities, Next Step offers a pre-registration period in June and July every year.  During this period, churches have the first opportunity to register for a trip to the same community, the same week as the previous year. If you use this pre-registration option, your deposit is not due until October 1st!  We never want a church to be penalized for wanted to return to the same community and not being able to register due to space.
3. Spots are Transferable
What if a student needs to drop out between registration and the trip?  No problem!  We understand that a student’s life can take many unexpected turns throughout the year.  At Next Step you can transfer a spot to another student at any time.  You’re “spot” will never go to waste, we are happy to have another participant join at any time.
4. Think About Other Groups
So far, we have talked a lot about the value of registering early.  But- if your group is flexible on dates, there is sometimes great value in waiting to register.  It allows you to see what other groups are registered and help decide what is the best fit with your group.  Want to go on a trip with 100 other high schoolers?  Prefer a week where it is just your group?  Want to link up with another church from your denomination?  IF you feel comfortable waiting until after the new year, Next Step can help you set up a specific trip experience.
5. We are Here to Help!
These were just a few tips about registration, but we understand that every group has different questions and needs during the registration process.  Just remember that Next Step is your partner and you are our customer!  We are happy to customize deposit amounts, payment deadlines and other requests that would make this process easier for your group.  Don’t hesitate to ask, let’s make this trip work!

Privilege in Ministry

Isaiah 61: 1-3 NLT
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.[a] 2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,[b] and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
3 To all who mourn in Israel,[c] he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

I came across this scripture, specifically verse one, recently as I was scrolling through the Gospel inspired artwork and prints from a company I adore, All Good Things Collective. It’s a company created by women who are seeking a beautiful and abundant life with Christ and passionate about equipping other women with the tools they need to do the same. I am a big fan.

At the time I saw Isaiah 61:1 written out beautifully on a print, I immediately was motivated by the reminder of the mission, ministry, and privilege I have (and yes, you too) as a follower of Christ to speak these truths into my life and to those around me. I love the book of Isaiah, and find that it’s one of the most marked up books in my Bible. So I know for a fact that I have read this chapter before, probably many times over. But again, God’s Word is living and active and at that moment spoke to me from a digital print.

Isaiah is speaking here about the ministry God equipped Him for at that time, which is the same ministry our great God gave His Son, Jesus, when He walked the Earth. And again, it’s the same ministry God is giving us, as followers of Jesus, to do as we walk this Earth.
I love the way this scripture is written, it’s simple. It lists exactly how we can share the Gospel to those around us; to be a bringer of good news, and share that healing, freedom, comfort, and much more are found in Jesus. I am thankful for the reminder this scripture is, and I am motivated and excited to speak these truths more often to those in my life. What a privilege it is to share the path to everlasting life and a life of love, grace, forgiveness, hope, healing, peace, and comfort.

But what I am MOST excited about is how many lives Gospel truths, just like Isaiah 61:1-3, were spoken over this summer, and how many lives I pray are forever changed by the power of the Gospel. With over 6,000 students registered for mission trips, 16 communities with hundreds of community members, and 152 summer staff… I am confident that A LOT of people have experienced beautiful truths found in the Gospel. That’s A LOT of good news shared; broken hearts healed; prisoners of addictions and worldly expectations liberated; saddened, hurt souls comforted. Powerful! What a ripple effect this will create!

I find it a privilege to share the Gospel truths of love, grace, forgiveness, hope, healing, peace, and comfort to those around me, but it’s an even greater privilege to share in this ministry with all of you. I hope you feel encouraged by how much was done in Jesus’ name this summer, but may we not feel satisfied. Our ministry continues on, and may we see it as a privilege.

What is the Gospel to You?

What is the gospel to you? Would you say you believe in it? Chances are pretty good that, if you’re reading this, you would say you do. But let me ask you a few questions:

  • Do you find yourself feeling anxious about your life events, both big and small?
  • Do you often fixate on what others think of you and act in a way to gain their approval?
  • Do you compare yourself with others, thinking they are either better or worse than you?

Continue Reading…

Are You Making Disciples

Francis Chan states, “Simon says, ‘Pat your head.’ We pat our heads. Jesus says, ‘Go therefore and make disciples.’ We memorize that verse.”

Francis is right. I have memorized this verse…

Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

But am I making disciples?

Or stated another way – is my life worth following? Would anyone want to imitate my life?

As a Christian, Jesus’ words are a command for how I am to live my life. This is not optional, it is not merely a suggestion or suggestive add-on to enhance my Christian faith.  

Sharing my faith with others, praying for my unbelieving friends, leading and teaching a Bible study, faithfully encouraging my Christian community, and daily living with a missional mindset to declare and demonstrate the good news of Jesus – THIS IS MY PURPOSE as a disciple of Jesus who has been called to make disciples with my life.

It is true. Disciple Making can be hard. Messy. Uncomfortable. Fearful. Costly. Intimidating. And yes – seemingly impossible.

But Jesus never promised that making disciples would be easy, rather Jesus promised that He would – ALWAYS – be with us, even to the end of the age. And that is a far better promise!

Over the years, Next Step has had the amazing privilege to witness thousands of students explore their faith and experience God in radical ways on our mission trips. But we have also witnessed some of these same students struggle to bridge their mission trip experience to their daily life upon returning home — commonly known as the “mission trip high.” While our short-term mission trips focus on the week-long student experience, we saw an opportunity for a trip that prepares students and leaders for the next 51 weeks.

What if the real mission trip was the one you spent all week preparing to start?

Next Step has teamed up with Francis Chan, the best-selling author of Crazy Love, to create Disciple Maker Trips, a unique, one-week experience that trains young people through what it means to take the next step and radically live out their faith when they return home – to be a disciple who makes disciples!

We believe these trips will be TRANSFORMATIONAL…giving students an opportunity to leave what’s familiar and step into an extraordinary experience focused on Jesus.

And these trips will be EMPOWERING…providing next level training to empower students with practical tools and the confidence to become an effective disciple.

Resting in His Presence

Matthew 11:28-29
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

I will never forget the night I almost lost it all. I barely made it to the bathroom before I was completely frozen with fear. It was about 3am and my heart was racing faster than an indy car in the 500. Sweat rolling off my body; I thought to myself, this is it. It’s over. In nothing more than my boxers I turned to the mirror and couldn’t even recognize my own face. Fear had gripped me like your worse nightmare; only this wasn’t a nightmare. This was real; this was happening and happening now! Slowly I turned from the mirror and turned my attention to the bathtub, lucky for me it wasn’t far from where I stood. Wobbling a bit, I fell to my knees quickly hunching over the tub, and began to vomit. Almost immediately I began to cry out to God.

“God if you’re there, if there’s a chance, will you please save my life? I know I’m not worthy of you, but if you save me today, you can have my life forever!”

Tears filling my eyes, I knew in that moment it was up to God and I really had no choice in the matter. I should have died of a cocaine overdose that evening but instead Christ chose to save me. The amazing thing is, He didn’t only save my physical life but He also saved my spiritually life as well. Physically, I’m now able to share my story and the good news of Jesus Christ with all of you today. Spiritually, Christ took the heavy burdens I’ve been hauling around for decades and he placed them upon himself. I will never be able to repay Him for this. For this was the first time in many years I was truly free. While I’m much older now, that experience, lives in me forever. When my life get’s hectic and I try and rely on my own power, I know that I can go back to that everlasting moment, that moment on my knees where God reintroduced himself to me. C.S. Lewis once said “pain was a megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” I didn’t believe that in my youth but I do now. I know who Jesus Christ is; he’s in the good times, as well as the hard times. He is ever-present and ever-lasting and he wants you to rest in him. He want’s you to fully rest in the perfect presence of Abba, our Daddy.

Mission Mindset: Pre-Trip Resources

As we began a journey towards responsible missions, to be a place where short-term missions collides with long-term community development, we felt that the place to start was with ourselves. With our thoughts. With our heart. As outsiders entering into a community that isn’t what we consider home, we understood there was a role we needed to play in how we entered that community. As we worked through what we thought was most important from our own experience, we felt it was necessary to share this with those coming on Next Step mission trips. In response, we created what we call a Mission Mindset. This Mission Mindset simply includes four core values to embody over the course of a mission trip; values we believe ultimately contribute to a dignified interaction with the communities we are partnering with.

 

In order to make this accessible to those going on a mission trip, we created a packet of information to help guide you through the core values. This includes scripture, main points, a key takeaway, and follow up questions for each core value. If you are interested in reading more, click here to access our Mission Mindset Packet.

 

In addition to the packet, we wanted to make this information more accessible and decided to take it to Facebook Live over the past few months. Each month we dove into one core value and hosted training sessions to engage listeners. We encourage you to explore this content and use it for pre-trip training with your students, engaging them in conversations about responsible missions before your trip takes place. Here is a link for each Facebook Live session:

 

Humble Servant

As humble servants, we are eager to partake in the work of Christ. We are motivated to serve for Him. We are able to serve through Him. We are only effective with Him.

https://www.facebook.com/nextstepmissiontrips/videos/10154495243532153/

 

Fervent Listener

Listening opens the door to long-lasting relationships. A fervent listener is one that cares about the community, and seeks to invest time and energy into educating oneself of the community you will enter.

https://www.facebook.com/nextstepmissiontrips/videos/10154572448057153/

 

Zealous Developer

As the body of Christ, we have the opportunity to become zealous developers through the way we interact with the community we are serving alongside. Simply becoming aware of these concepts is a great start. You have the opportunity to be a part of sharing in the gifts of the community you are entering, in order to see work continue much after your mission trip. Pour yourself into the people, resources, leadership, and skills that already exist in a community.

https://www.facebook.com/nextstepmissiontrips/videos/10154637080302153/

 

Discontent Ambassador

As discontent ambassadors, we recognize that we hold a significant responsibility. Our responsibility is to carry Christ’s name in a way that honors Him. His strength is our momentum to continue sharing love and when, even when situations are grim and hopeless.

https://www.facebook.com/nextstepmissiontrips/videos/10154714594432153/

Just Let It Happen

Just let it happen.

…and by that, I mean, let God. Let God move. Let God author. Let God provide. Let God choose the time. Let God take the lead. Let God change your perspective.

You see, I was in a tough season of life.  Haven’t we all had those?  I graduated from college, served another summer with Next Step, and then landed at home in fall of 2016.  I’m usually the one who prepares and plans ahead; the responsible one.  But I was home, with nothing to do.  I was home desperately seeking purpose and direction.  I was home with passion and dreams waiting to be lived out.

I tried everything I was trained to do to get a job in my field of study, and sought God throughout that time, confident He would give me an opportunity. But every door I tried, wouldn’t open.  It was with a genuine heart that I sought the Lord so diligently in that time. I knew He was in control and I knew that the plans He had for me would be for my good. But when? And why was it taking so long? And why wasn’t I hearing His voice?

It was when I heard the lyrics to this beautiful song that everything changed.

You are full of life now
Full of passion
That’s how He made you
Just let it happen.

And He whispers
To your heart
To let it go
And to be a light

(Let It Happen by United Pursuit)

Even though I was praying for God’s will to be done in my life, I still had a tight grasp on it.  What the Lord taught me was to step back, sit down, and watch Him move. I pictured it as if I was observing Him by looking through a beautiful window out at the He ways He is working in my world.  I continued to press into the Lord at that time, but it was no longer a demanding cry for immediate answers, but an invitation to let Him do what He does best.

As always, God definitely moved and I had peace about where I was at with life.  He provided a job for the time being, so He could eventually open a door for me to join the Next Step team where I  could start to live out the specific calling I believe He has placed on my heart. Just wow, God is faithful. I’ve now learned the peace and freedom that comes when I take a step back to let the Lord, who is so faithful, steadfast, and loving take the lead. I’ve learned to just let it happen.

Merry Christmas from Next Step

I wish there were more times of the year like this.  Times where you can stop and put the perspective front and center of why you do what you do.

Continue Reading…

Kingdom Come

Catholic Charities of Colorado Springs is a hub for many of the surrounding homeless population. Daily they provide clothing contributed by donation – whether it be a warmer jacket for the winter months, gloves, hats, underwear, or t-shirts. Continue Reading…

The Timeline of a Coffee Bean

Recently I was sitting in a coffee shop, enjoying my cup of coffee and simply looking around. Allowing time to observe opened my eyes to see people surrounding me, people who have stories and lives. Continue Reading…

Go Small

In 2015 Next Step Ministries had the privilege of filming Francis Chan for a worship series in San Francisco, which in turn gave us an opportunity to film at some of the most breathtaking landmarks in the United States. One specific landmark that sticks out to me was the Golden Gate Bridge.  The views from the bridge and the mountain lookouts overlooking the bridge were nothing short of amazing and not to mention, a true accomplishment for human engineering; yet, as stunning as the bridge is in terms of it’s beauty and engineering, it is also known as the second most popular destination in the world for people to end their lives. Continue Reading…

Call To Prayer

God has done amazing things this summer through Next Step. Communities are growing closer together and our partnerships in the communities have been nothing short of amazing. Continue Reading…

Community Worship Night

This summer was the very first for what we call, community worship night. As our staff reflected more and more on how the community can be a part of our worship services in the evening, as well as students being apart of the community during their weeklong trip, we knew we wanted to make some changes specifically in our evening programming. Continue Reading…

What’s our “Next Step”?

One of the more popular questions I get asked is “how do you choose your new sites”?

The answer is a complicated journey of questions, prayer, growth and one thing we’ll never do again. Continue Reading…

Kingdom Value

– This parable is attributed to the philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard.

One night, a group of thieves broke into a jewelry store. But rather than stealing anything, they simply switched all the price tags. The next day no one could tell what was valuable and what was cheap. The expensive jewels had suddenly become cheap, and the costume jewelry, which had been virtually worthless before, was suddenly of great value. Customers who thought they were purchasing valuable gems were getting fakes. Those who couldn’t afford the higher priced items were leaving the store with treasures. Continue Reading…

The Last Timothy

I love comic book origin stories.

Watching an awkward teenage Peter Parker transform into the Amazing Spider Man or seeing a broken Bruce Wayne turn fear and hate into something virtuous as Batman. Knowing someone’s origin story helps you understand who he or she is today. Continue Reading…

Summer Prayer

Our Father, who art in Heaven
You are such a good God, a God who reigns on high and is working in so many powerful ways. We worship you. We stand in awe of you. And we recognize your vastness. Continue Reading…

Construction: Scope of the Summer

For the past eight months our construction team has invested in the project planning process, which ultimately leads to the three-month period in which the majority of these projects are executed. Continue Reading…

Worship as a Lifestyle

So often within the full-time staff at Next Step we talk about worship being a lifestyle. The guys in our construction department will be the first to say they are actually in the worship department… they simply worship through building. Continue Reading…

The Often Overlooked OST

 

In a world of missions it is easy to get in a routine. And for us at Next Step our routine often hinges around a packed summer of nearly 150 mission trips, 150 summer staff and over 6,000 students. But we just wrapped up another time of year that is almost equally as exciting and Kingdom impacting. Continue Reading…

Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

John F. Kennedy once said “the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.” Continue Reading…

Partnership Coordinator Pay Off

Over one year in the community and we have already seen the work of each Partnership Coordinator create a foundation for development. Partnership Coordinators are those full-time staff members at Next Step who live in one of the 15 communities we partner with. Ministry is an every minute kind of thing. Continue Reading…

Break Out Of The Box

Every year we produce a new film series for Next Step that shows to students during our summer mission trips. Each video series is unique and different. We strive to find the balance between delivering the message in a creative way without compromising the message itself.  Continue Reading…

Hey Youth Pastor, Remember Your First Trip

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.

– Revelation 2:2-4 Continue Reading…

The Moments

Isn’t it crazy how when we were young time never seemed to move fast enough? Now, however, every day seems more like a mere moment in time, a mere memory. Continue Reading…

Holy Discontent

“And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, ‘The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and it’s gates are destroyed by fire.’ As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said, ‘O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel, your servants.”

– Nehemiah 1:2-6 Continue Reading…

Beyond Mountains There Are Mountains

I remember watching the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake play out on every news channel. It was devastating. Over 100,000 dead and many more injured. A whole city displaced.

I wanted to help. I didn’t know what that would look like, but I was in a unique position as part of Next Step’s leadership. Maybe there was something we could do? Continue Reading…

2016 VISION

If you’re like us, it feels like summer was just wrapping up yesterday and your mission team bus was pulling out of the community as you waved goodbye.  But here at Next Step, we are in full swing for our 2016 year and wanted to share a glimpse of what we’re excited about as we head into our 9th year as a ministry.  This past weekend, all 21 of our full-time staff were together for 3 days of prayer, planning and vision at our annual Spiritual Retreat.  As a partner or supporter, we always feel it’s important for you to know the heartbeat of this ministry.  Here are the four things our staff is focused on for the 2016 ministry year.

 

Continue Reading…

GOD CREATED US TO CREATE

For many years when our kids were younger we would spend a week vacation renting out a small but quaint cabin on a lake. It was a place where the kids could swim, bike, go fishing, have bon fires and just slow down and enjoy each other’s company. Continue Reading…

A Day in the Life of Summer Staff

The alarm goes off at 6:00 AM. It’s time to begin preparing breakfast for 75 volunteers that will soon head out to various families’ homes to engage in new relationships and build with their hands. This is the fuel for the day, so it’s important to make enough. Continue Reading…

MYSTEP: Tools to take the next step

Have you ever returned home from a mission trip only to wonder what happens next? Mission trips are a unique and incredible opportunity to live in community, worship, and ask questions of faith. At Next Step, it is our prayer that your faith would continue to flourish and your relationship with God would go deeper as you return home from the trip. To help with this, we created Mystep.

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The 50-50 Goal

Have you ever had someone tell you to “put your money where your mouth is”? Well that’s exactly what we are trying to do here at Next Step. There are many ways of looking at community development. There are many ways of looking at our model of missions. But one way of looking at our approach is telling; where do we spend our money?

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Shattered: 2014 Worship Series

Creativity influences just about everything we do at Next Step, but it’s especially evident in our summer worship series. Every year around August after the craziness of the summer has ended, Todd, Neil and I lock ourselves in a room for a few days and brainstorm what we’ll do for the next summer’s worship series. Last year we had just finished watching a movie about magic and thought — what if we used illusion to help unveil the truth of Christ?

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The Nehemiah Model

The vision has been cast. Prayers have been answered!

You have been hearing it all over the Next Step front – there is a new movement! We are making every effort to cultivate community-based work, where short-term mission trips collide with long-term community development.

Still uncertain what we mean? Well, here is another example:

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Community Becomes Staff, Staff Becomes Community

A shift in missions.

Community-based missions.

Short-term mission trips collide with long-term community development.

Words such as sustainability, partnership, collaboration, empowerment, and

development emerge in the unfolding story of the new direction our ministry is taking.

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Why the Price Increase?

For the first time in our seven-year history, Next Step has raised the cost of our week-long mission trips. We still offer domestic trips starting at $299, but most domestic participant costs rose from $399 to the current $419. Our international participant costs also rose from $599 to $649.

We believe in being fully transparent as a ministry, which includes our finances. So the natural question is why the price increase?
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New 2014 Website!

You may have noticed, our website looks a bit different.

While thousands of students are serving around the world this summer, Next Step’s media team has been hard at work designing and developing a brand new website.

Why you ask?

Really there are 3 reasons for the switch…

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Summer 2014 Update

All praise and glory to God, thousands of students are coming to faith, serving God, and loving extravagantly on mission trips! Looking back on the first four weeks of the summer, many students, adults, and community members have come to faith in Christ. It is Jesus who brings hope, freedom, and healing. He repairs what has been broken and restores what has been lost.

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A Shift In Missions

Do you ever wonder if your short-term mission trip really made a difference?  Would it shock you to hear, that as a short-term missions organization, we have thought the same thing?

The truth is we, at Next Step, think it’s a great question.  Over the last year, it’s a question we have been wrestling with. But through the questions and the struggle, God has pushed us to grow and evolve as a ministry.

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