AGFSA is home to some cool students that need your love!

During a recent dinner and ice cream night together with some of our teen boys I was magnetized by their dreams for the future and their growing love for Jesus.  My heart swelled with jealousy for these guys, including Dakota, who God has called to be a youth pastor.  

Brian, one of our students, was just recognized as a state Fine Arts merit award winner in the category of guitar solo.  Two of his group home brothers will also join him in a journey to the National Youth Convention and Fine Arts Festival later this summer.

But these timely testimonies are chased by a growing challenge.

The fatherless challenge in America is in crescendo.

As was recently described in the New York Times, illegitimacy is the “new norm” in America.  41% of all births are now out of wedlock.  And among the predominate birth group (ages 30 and under) the rate escalates to 59%.  If we think we have a fatherless crisis in our country, we ain’t seen nothing yet!  These statistics paint a picture of the emerging decade.  And God is calling His Church to love the lost, heal the hurting and restore the broken in this crisis.  It is an evangelistic and discipleship ministry of care and prevention. (James 1:27)

Can you help us with some unique needs now?

We need a special $5,000 gift ASAP for our summer ministry program.  That gift will enable us to minister the Word of God, laughter and fun to kids of Hillcrest Children’s Home.

We need $10,000 for security equipment.

We need three new computers and furniture for the commons room in our new Transitional Living Center.

And there are numerous other ways to support identified in our regularly published “needs list.”  Information on all the ways you and others can help are found online at  Or, you can email my office directly at

AGFSA sincerely needs more caring partnership!  We need your prayer.  We need financial partners and child sponsorships; with those faithful funds we can minister to our potential.  If God is leading you to consider becoming a financial partner, please visit for information how to become a partner.

Please love these underdogs with us.  Let their identity be found in Christ and His Kingdom, not in crisis and a desperate world.  Let them grow up as the champions God designed them to be for this world.


Transition Ahead

Greetings friends!

God is leading change for National Youth Ministries (NYM) and for me. After eleven years at Assemblies of God National Youth Ministries, four as national Youth Alive director and seven as national youth director, the Lord is leading me and my family to a new assignment encompassing student ministry. Soon, I will be leaving National Youth Ministries and engaging a new leadership responsibility.

I have accepted an invitation from the Board of Directors of Assemblies of God Family Services Agency (AGFSA) to serve as its next executive director. My heart is filling with fresh dreams for this remarkable compassion ministry.

AGFSA transforms underdogs into Kingdom favorites. Hillcrest Children’s Home is a haven and hope for orphans. Highlands Maternity Home and Life Center is a transformational ticket for young women and babies of unplanned pregnancies. Both are avenues of opportunity to married couples dreaming of adoption. The new Murry Transitional Living Center is a gifted gateway to independent living for emerging adult graduates of Hillcrest and new mothers of Highlands. There are thirty-eight AGFSA gifted and loving team players making it happen at the 65 acre campus in Hot Springs, AR.

AGFSA has had good leadership but it is not fully known by nearly enough of the Assemblies of God. It is a multifaceted diamond in the breadbasket of its birth. AGFSA needs the Assemblies of God. And the Assemblies of God needs AGFSA.

God loves students and their youth leaders! And we are not leaving either. God is simply shifting the placement of our hand upon the stem of the umbrella known as Assemblies of God youth ministry. There are many hands on the stem: local leaders, districts, NYM, parents, para-church ministries, evangelists, etc. Each serves a distinctive role that makes the whole.

Laura, our children and I are extremely grateful for many friends like you. Many of you have been incredibly encouraging to us at pivotal moments. Many others have been most faithful in other countless ways. Thank you for embracing us through the years! I envision a great value for you and your ministries with those of AGFSA. Can we dream a bit together? Some underdog children and students need you.

We are indelibly imprinted by and grateful to the directorial team and staff at NYM. Wow, these have been and are amazing people and often the closest of friends! God has higher plans ahead for this vital part of student ministry in the Assemblies of God. We deeply love and respect the ministry and its people. We remain faithful fans.

Springfield has been and is a blessing to me and my family. All four of my kids have had the same youth pastor. (Testimony!) Our pastor is a relentless God chaser. The community is ripe with love and great education. The AG National Leadership and Resource Center is full of choice, godly people. It has been a tremendous honor to serve under amazing men of God who nationally lead the Fellowship. All of it is incredibly humbling. We are forever thankful for the confidence and trust that has been invested in us. We aim to increase the value of the investment.

For a period of time I will commute weekly between Springfield and Hot Springs to allow for family transition. We are most appreciative to board chairman Doug Clay and the AGFSA Board of Directors for their graciousness in this matter.

When God turns the pages of our lives, He does not expect us to dedicate less for Him. It is my intent to passionately, but humbly, pursue Him and His people in this new chapter of ministry. May God be glorified!

I look forward to sharing more with you about the amazing AGFSA ministry, endeavor and opportunity in the days ahead.

Jay Mooney

2012 will be…

Dream on.

Assemblies of God youth ministry had another significant year in 2011. And there is no need to decelerate.

There are more students in our churches than ever before. The 2010 All Church Ministries Report (ACMR) data from the General Council of the Assemblies of God indicates 560,608 student adherents between the ages of 12-22. The same ACMR reports AG youth group adherents had reached almost 385,000 in 9,331 youth groups. Paid youth group leaders totaled 3,143. The average youth group size has reached 41.1 students per group. (Look for a more complete report to be published at in February.) Assemblies of God youth ministries appear headed in the right direction. Let us as leaders determine to accelerate momentum.

Ministry to students in our fellowship is growing but we can do better. Assemblies of God youth ministry has a greater potential than our present state. We can double our constituency. Our student constituency represents only 2% of America’s junior high and senior high school population. There are millions of unbelieving students in our nation. Multitudes of underdogs await, knowingly or not, a championship investment from a leader full of faith in Jesus Christ.

Take faith. Truly our fellowship is but one step away from one million student adherents. If our 500,000+ students would be relentless after another one our youth adherents would number over 1,000,000.

Assemblies of God youth leaders must keep clear focus on the full meaning of “make disciples” with the Great Commission. It is just as important to understand a growing disciple as a soul winner as a person of prayer. Discipleship is not a state of spiritual maturity. It is following Jesus. Jesus remains on a mission for people. Discipleship must be effectively evangelistic or it is not fully discipleship. The call is for disciples who make disciples. Our student ministry can be more intentionally evangelistic both personally and collectively.

In a day when it is becoming increasingly more popular to attack the Christian faith, there remains a great need for a strategic student ministry from the Church. Moreover, that ministry should be boldly yet respectfully Pentecostal. The Scriptures are clear. In the last days God will pour out His Spirit on the sons and daughters. It is a biblical emphasis we must hold fast to in our fellowship and render to this generation. We need it. They need it.

2012 is going be a year of multiplication filled with fresh opportunities. With God’s help, dreams for this generation of students will lengthen its stride. Let us press on with the love of Jesus Christ for this generation!

To quote my childhood hero, Pete Maravich, from his latter Christian years, “Love never fails, character never quits, and with patience and persistence, dreams do come true.”

Dream on.

Epic Emerging Ego

Once upon a time there was a new breed of leader.  The leader was pleasing to the eye and ear.  Moreover, the leader thought as one smarter and wiser than any before.

Now the leader was not one but many.  Names were Epic, Emerging, etc.  Epic was striking.  Emerging had vibe.  All future leaders would be forever indebted…

(I am not sure I like this story.)

“An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest…For he who is least among you all – he is the greatest.” (Luke 9:46-48)

Guest post,

Philippians 2

Thanksgiving in America

I pray that you are blessed by and moved in thanksgiving to God as you read this short history by David Barton on the who, what, why, when, where and how America came to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. May it invigorate us in the mission of God for His creation.
Thanksgiving in America
by David Barton

The tradition of Thanksgiving as a time to focus on God and His blessings dates back almost four centuries in America. While such celebrations occurred at Cape Henry Virginia as early as 1607, it is from the Pilgrims that we derive the current tradition of Thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims left England on September 6, 1620, and for two months braved the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea. After disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they had a prayer service and began building hasty shelters, but unprepared for a harsh New England winter, nearly half died before spring.

Yet persevering in prayer, and assisted by helpful Indians, they reaped a bountiful harvest the following summer. The grateful Pilgrims then declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends—America’s first Thanksgiving Festival. This began an annual tradition in the New England Colonies that slowly spread into other Colonies.

The first national Thanksgiving occurred in 1789. According to the Congressional Record for September 25 of that year, immediately after approving the Bill of Rights:

Mr. Elias Boudinot said he could not think of letting the congressional session end without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down upon them. With this view, therefore, he would move the following resolution:

“Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.… Mr. Roger Sherman justified the practice of thanksgiving not only as a praiseworthy one in itself but also as warranted by a number of precedents in Holy Writ.… This example he thought worthy of a Christian imitation on the present occasion.”

The resolution was delivered to President George Washington who heartily concurred with the congressional request, declaring:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.… Now, therefore, I do appoint Thursday, the 26th day of November 1789 … that we may all unite to render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection.

National Thanksgiving Proclamations occurred sporadically following this one, and most official Thanksgiving observances still occurred only at the State level. Much of the credit for the adoption of an annual national Thanksgiving may be attributed to Mrs. Sarah Joseph Hale, the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book. For thirty years, she promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day, contacting President after President until Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of November, declaring:

We often forget the Source from which the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies come.… No human wisdom hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.… I therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States … to observe the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

For the next seventy-five years, Presidents followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day. Then, in 1941, Congress permanently established the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday.

As you celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday this year, remember to retain the original gratefulness to God that has always been the spirit of this, the oldest of all American holidays.

Congress recommends a day of … thanksgiving and praise so that the people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts … and join … their prayers that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, to forgive our sins and … to enlarge His kingdom which consists in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Continental Congress, 1777—Written by Signers of the Declaration Samuel Adams and Richard Henry Lee)

I appoint … a day of public Thanksgiving to Almighty God … to ask Him that He would … pour out His Holy Spirit on all ministers of the Gospel; that He would … spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth; … and that He would establish these United States upon the basis of religion and virtue. (Governor Thomas Jefferson, 1779)

I… appoint … a day of public thanksgiving and praise … to render to God the tribute of praise for His unmerited goodness towards us … by giving to us … the Holy Scriptures which are able to enlighten and make us wise to eternal salvation.… And to pray that He would forgive our sins and … cause the religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to be known, understood, and practiced among all the people of the earth. (Governor John Hancock, 1790)

Youth Ministry is not the Devil

A satanic strategy – call good evil and evil good.

In recent years, it has been postulated that youth ministry is an “aneurism” in the Church, is a “silo” that separates generations, “divides” students from their God-designed parental influence, is etc. And perhaps the most recent kick to youth ministry says it is “unbiblical.”

Many of these challenges emerge from good teaching gone off course. For instance, the parent should be the primary discipler of a student. Or, people should not live isolated from the broader Body of Christ.  But adults, other than parents, investing in students is not wrong. And, students in small group gatherings is not necessarily a lifestyle of isolation from other generations in the Church.

If I were Satan trying to fight an emerging generation of students moving in and toward a Spirit empowered life, I would throw confusion at them by trying to turn the tables of good and evil…even within the Church if possible. I would call good evil and evil good.  I would say it over and over and over. (The father of modern psychology, Dr. William James, said decades ago, “Nothing is so absurd that if repeated often enough, people will believe it.”) I would blame and shame youth, youth leaders and youth ministry moreover than less threatening things. The enemy’s attack puts good on defense.  “Good, please explain yourself.” The strategy ends up pitting the Church against itself.

My friend Greg Stier recently addressed this in a powerful blog post that was then published in the Nov/Dec 2011 issue of Group magazine. YOU MUST READ THIS ARTICLE!

Youth leader, keep your student ministry work focused on four connections.
1. Connect students to God. They need saving relationship.
2. Connect students to family (especially parents). Here they learn to live the faith most transparently.
3. Connect students to the Church. They need more than you. They need to know that they have a place in and belong to the Body, certainly the lead pastor.
4. Connect students with the mission of God. Jesus called the disciples to Himself. Jesus is on a mission the redeem Creation. Students should be with Him.

Love God. Love people. Do good.

Acts Chapter Two – Pray, Live, Tell, Serve, Give

Pray, live, tell, serve and give are benchmarks of Spirit-filled, New Testament living!

As highlighted in the FIRE BIBLE Student Edition, these attributes are not drawn from human ingenuity. They are biblical characteristics of the Spirit-filled Church. They are described and implied in Acts 2.

The early believers lived the Spirit-empowered life. Acts 2:42-47 reveals these five victorious characteristics in action.
PRAY daily
LIVE the Word
TELL the Story
SERVE others
GIVE generously

“42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

They were devoted to the biblical truths taught by the apostles’. There fellowship (Gk. koinonia) was more than hanging out. Koinonia was a life of sharing and involvement. It included sharing and serving, and praying for one another.

The wondrous acts of the apostles testified with awe.

The believers connected with and valued each other.

Selling possessions and distributing to the needs of others is Spirit-empowered living. Such daily living perpetuates glad and generous hearts in worship and family.

The compound effect of praying daily, living the Word, telling of the Lord, serving others and giving generously leads to soul after soul after soul being saved.

When we lead believing students to pray, live, tell, serve, give…they connect, grow, serve, go and worship as an Acts 2 Church.

Insight in discerning the will of God

Young leader, do you find yourself wrestling between circumstance, dreams and the will of God?

Take heart. God has not abandoned you. Rather He bids you come closer. Deep calls to deep.

Check this, great leaders are not a modern marvel. The following wisdom comes from the pen of the amazing pastor/writer, A. W. Tozer. Essays like this from decades back would most certainly have been top blogs today.


That religion lies in the will is an axiom of theology. Not how we feel but what we will determines our spiritual direction. An old poem states it for us:
One ship drives east and another drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow;
’Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
Which tells us the way to go.

—Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Though we do not hear much of it in this age of spineless religion, there is nevertheless much in the Bible about the place of moral determination in the service of the Lord. “Jacob vowed a vow,” and it was the beginning of a very wonderful life with God. The following years brought a great many vicissitudes, and Jacob did not always acquit himself like a true man of God, but his early determination kept him on course, and he came through victorious at last.

Daniel “purposed in his heart,” and God honored his purpose. Jesus set His face like a flint and walked straight toward the cross. Paul “determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified,” and in that determined spirit ignored the learned philosophers, preached a gospel that was accounted foolishness and earned himself a reputation for ignorance, though he was easily the greatest brain of his generation.

These are only a few of the many men and women of the Bible who have left us a record of spiritual greatness born out of a will firmly set to do the will of God. They did not try to float to heaven on a perfumed cloud, but cheerfully accepted the fact that “with purpose of heart they must cleave unto the Lord.”

In the kingdom of God what we will is accepted as what we are. “If any man will,” said our Lord, “let him.” God does not desire to destroy our wills, but to sanctify them. In that terrible, wonderful moment of surrender it may be that we feel that our will has been forever broken, but such is not the case. In His conquest of the soul God does not destroy any of its normal powers. He purges the will and brings it into union with His own, but He never breaks it.

In the diaries of some of God’s greatest saints will be found vows and solemn pledges made in moments of great grace when the presence of God was so real and so wonderful that the reverent worshiper felt he dared to say anything, to make any promise, with the full assurance that God would enable him to carry out his holy intention. The self-confident and irresponsible boast of a Peter is one thing and is not to be confused with the hushed and trustful vow of a David or a Daniel. Neither should Peter’s embarrassing debacle dissuade us from making vows of our own. The heart gives character to our pledges, and God knows the difference between an impulsive promise and a reverent declaration of intention.

Let us, then, set our sails in the will of God. If we do this we will certainly find ourselves moving in the right direction, no matter which way the wind blows.

– Rev. A. W. Tozer

Recurrent missions giving is New Testament normative!

2 Corinthians chapters eight and nine (I will comment deeper on chapter nine in a subsequent blog) are a treasure trove of inspiration in missions and giving. The following are a few of my reflections for Assemblies of God district youth directors’ to consider. However, the biblical principles apply across the leadership spectrum. Most Scripture quotes below are taken from the NIV.

Here is the BIG IDEA of this blog post…In 2 Corinthians 8-9:5, no less than three times the apostle Paul makes it clear that itinerant missions giving was NORMATIVE in the New Testament Church!

In chapter eight of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, he describes in detail the missionary work offering being collected among the “Macedonian churches” and soon again for the Corinthian church. The monies were headed for Jerusalem to meet the needs of God’s people. Famine hit Judea (Acts 11:27-30). Great persecution upon the apostles (Acts 5) spread in broader persecution of all believers in Jerusalem (Acts 8). The Church worked hard to meet the needs of widows and others even through strategic structuring (Acts 6). Among Paul’s great work as an apostle to the Gentiles was an effort to bring justice to an unjust persecution that he had previously help lead! (Acts 8:1-3)

In the midst of “extreme poverty” and “severe trial” the Macedonian “churches” (note the plural) had an overflowing joy of rich generosity to the offering Paul’s missionary team was collecting. Note the conditions of “the most severe trial” and “extreme poverty.” The language suggests far more difficult circumstance than even a double dip recession facing the modern Church.

Despite the hardships, the Macedonian churches “pleaded” to give. That is an attitude not often found even in calm watered churches. It is a sign of deep maturity in the believers even though there is no mention of a curriculum to produce it. There was distinctive work of this “grace” in the Church. Paul urged the Corinthians to excel in this same grace of giving.

It is in VERSE SIX that Paul first alludes to a normative pattern of giving to itinerant missions offerings, when he says, “So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your (Corinthian Church) part.” Titus had been at this before (v.17; 12:18). And Titus was on his way back again.

VERSE TEN is the second reference to this recurrent offering collection. “Last year” says it clearly. The Corinthians had given in this missions offering before. Paul admonishes them with “here is what is best for you in this matter.” “Best”? A more formal translation says, “this benefits you.” Paul notes that this is not just going to benefit the need in Jerusalem. It is going to benefit the giver. It is for their best too.

Have you ever heard of Christians that do not like to give in recurrent missions offerings. Saying things like, “I gave last year.” Well, that attitude doesn’t fit the normative disciple in the New Testament. It is not a mature characteristic of a biblical disciple. Furthermore, it is evidence of a misunderstanding of what is best for them, and it is suspicious of a selfish and contrary spirit toward a biblical fellowship in the Great Commission.

Paul commends the Corinthian Church for their previous giving and their heart to give. It is fitting to encourage the Church today in the same way.

We should also note that Paul thought enough about the offering that he should write a letter of “readiness” and send a delegation to prepare it. We should not apologize for offerings toward the Great Commission today any more than Paul did in the Early Church!

Paul gives strong instructive words for another year, “Now finish the work”.

Is it fitting to commend someone’s missions giving effort to other parts of the Church?

The answer is obvious. Paul affirmed Titus’ effort in this matter and added his “thank[s]” to God for his partnership. Paul commends Titus to the Corinthian Church. Furthermore, Paul notes that the same praise is shared by “all the churches” about Titus.

Why are some Christians troubled by the public recognition of exemplary missionary giving efforts by others? Is it because they don’t share the same generous spirit and it therefore convicts them? Yes, the soul battles the Spirit. (Romans 6-8) We should pactice the biblical model of honoring givers. We should not let misunderstanding minds stop what is right.

I pray that today’s Church will welcome those collecting today’s missionary offering needs in the same way that the Macedonian and Corinthian churches were urged to do. The Spirit’s voice in this letter speaks to us to practice such hospitality and generosity.

Verses 20-21 gives place for me to bring a good report about Speed The Light….It is a joy to note that STL recently received an excellent report of good stewardship following a seven month audit! You can have confidence in that mission!

Paul’s concluding word in chapter eight rings loud to me. Once again, the apostle urges the Corinthians to demonstrate their love and faith in the cause of Christ “so that all the churches can see it.” “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Prov. 27:17)

Paul encourages them to collect offerings within the Corinthian church to pass along for the broader Church need. They are to give it to persons being sent to receive the offering.

Then we reach a THIRD note that recurrent missions giving was NORMATIVE in the New Testament Church when Paul again references “since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm stirred most of them to action.”

And in verse five we see that it was also normative to make a “promise” of giving!

Let us press on with the faith promise and the offering for the cause of Jesus Christ! It’s biblically normative.

Characteristics of Healthy Christian Students

Spiritual health is more than leader buzz inside today’s church. It is vital. And it’s not just vital for today’s church. It is God’s will.

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” (3 John 3, NIV)

This week’s blog post brings some affirmation to those of you calling students as campus missionaries, empowering students with tools like the FIRE BIBLE Student Edition, FIRE Institute and Alive In Christ. Characteristics taught and highlighted in these pathways are building spiritual health in students.

Recently, one of the excellent Youth Ministry professors at one of the officially endorsed Assemblies of God colleges, universities and seminaries emailed me about a new youth ministry book. Professor Chris McGough, youth prof at Central Bible College, notes that teaching students to PRAY, LIVE, TELL, SERVE, GIVE are not just catchy spiritual disciplines for resources and products…these habits are evidence of healthy Christian students!

Chris writes:


I’m reading in a recently released book by Kenda Creasy Dean entitled OMG: A Youth Ministry Handbook that sites a study of exemplary congregations in youth ministry and lists the characteristics of spiritually mature youth. You can see the characteristics here:

Click to access Characteristics-of-Mature-Christian-Youth.pdf

I wanted to share the findings of the study with you because all of the characteristics of a spiritually mature teenager that they list can be summed up: PLTSG [pray, live, tell, serve, give]!


Youth leader, be encouraged! Concentrate on the good stuff you were called to do. Some may misunderstand you as a purveyor of pop culture, or even a lower-level pastor. Do not let wrong characterizations cause you to look down on solid ministry to youth. (BTW, did you know that AG youth ministry grew by 60% over the past 25 years?) God knows your heart! God knows the high value of your ministry. Keep leading students to:
Pray regularly (in the Spirit)
Live the Word
Tell God’s story in them and through them
Serve others inside and outside the faith
Give generously (God is plentiful)

Now is the time for strong Christian students. The Holy Spirit is moving globally upon a student generation! God wants to use THEM for His cause…NOW!