Friday, June 29, 2007

ArkAlmighty: Random Acts of Kindness

Tomorrow is our Community Service Day. In connection with ArkAlmighty, we're having an "Evan Free Day." Our goal is to serve the community and let people know about our desire to help them fulfill their needs.

Pending weather & amount of help, we will be:
- doing yard work
- washing cars
- randomly paying people's bills at stores around town (ie. McDonald's, Dollar General, the gas station - that's about all we have here)
- handing out water and popsicles at the park, ball fields & pool
- picking up trash around town
- anything else we might think of
- and asking everyone if they have a need we can try to help them take care of

I'm pretty excited about it. Though I'm nervous, too. I don't know what kind of turnout we'll have. But I know whatever we do, it will be more than we usually do and therefore a great step toward impacting our community.

Sr. Graduation Banquet

On a Friday evening, just before graduation, we honored our graduating seniors. This was the first time something like this has been done at this church. In the past, all the seniors would be called up front on Sunday morning and receive a gift. (not just high school graduates, but 8th grade, preschool and college). It was nice, but as the church has grown its become more and more difficult to accomplish. Plus, when you have someone come to you moments before service and say their son/daughter is graduating - what can you do?

So, last year when I arrived we started talking about doing something different for the seniors. I wanted to do something to have them stand out and make this accomplishment something we celebrate with them. So, we put together a banquet for the seniors and a few invited guests.

We wanted this to be better than average, so we set out to make it "feel" special (and not just thrown together). We made it as formal as we could. People noticed. We received a number of compliments on how nice the evening was and how much people appreciated the extra effort.

The evening consisted of:
dinner (semi-catered) - had great people prepare it
2 special songs
we handed out a gift to each senior
a 13 minute video (from pictures submitted by parents)
a message I shared
some great dessert

As the youth minister, I know the only reason it went so well was the great job other people did. I did little to make it a great night. A few ladies did an amazing job turning our fellowship hall into a dining hall. A couple students stepped up and helped serve the food and clean up and tear down and anything else needed.

As I reflect back on this banquet, I am reminded of the importance of having great adults involved with the ministry. Youth coaches can make or break a ministry. And we (youth ministers) all know none of us can do it alone. Even if your ministry is 5 students, you can't do it alone.

I think I'll go write a few notes and make a few phone calls just to say thanks and let them know I appreciate their hard work.

iPhone mania: 5 ways to avoid it

I'm thinking about keeping my iPhone overload to a minimum today. How can I do that you ask? Here are my ideas...

1. I won't watch TV (I've only watched 5 minutes of TV today and already heard/seen it on 2 morning shows)

2. I won't visit internet news pages (I'm willing to bet all the "tech" stories will be iPhone related - not to mention all of my RSS feeds that will be iPhone related.)

3. I won't visit the Apple store (for obvious reasons). Okay so that will be super easy for me, I think the nearest one is at least 2 hours away.

4. I will limit the amount of radio I listen to. Everyone will want to talk about the iPhone - so cds will be my choice in the car today.

5. I definitely will not be visiting today.

or, if you can't get enough of the iPhone and want to "waste" your entire day doing no work, might I suggest you do everything you can to soak in what is "iPhone mania."

Photo Friday #24: career starting job

Nothing says "career" like working at a local video store.

I can imagine the conversation now... "Now that you've graduated from college, costing almost $100,000, with a degree in ________, I think you could easily start your career at Family Video. Your mom and I are so proud of you."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Office: Season 3 DVD

Season 3 hits the shelves on Sept. 4. I'm sure it will be full of great extras, as they have done the first 2 seasons.

Here is a list of the extras, as found on

It seems like all the stuff from will be on there, as well as the little videos from the show. The big thing I'm waiting for is to see how they edited each of the episodes. Did they add the deleted scenes into the show to view all at once? Will we get the "producer's cut" version of the longer episodes? There is so much they can do with this DVD release. Maybe their throw in a free bobblehead or something in a "special pack."

(DVD cover taken from

The Effects of Porn

Tim has a post on his blog pointing to an article entitled "The Effects of Porn".


Its a good read. As a youth minister, its a great reminder of the type of issues (and their consequences) people face. The article is full of material that can be used when talking to students about staying pure and avoiding sexual temptation. It will give another perspective on how it is not just an issue which only affects the person looking.

Evan Almighty: my thoughts

I went to see Evan Almighty yesterday with my sr. pastor. We've been using the ArkAlmighty material and are thinking about using some clips from the movie for an upcoming series. So we thought we'd finally go see it, so we could talk to people who ask about it or who keep hearing all this "negative" stuff about it from "christian media sources."

Evan Almighty is the sequel to Bruce Almighty, but it is a different type of movie. Bruce Almighty is about a man who gets the power of God for a day. Evan Almighty is about a man who gets a task from God (but doesn't get any special powers). Evan Almighty asks and answers many questions about God and how He interacts with people. Or to put it another way, Evan Almighty discusses how we interact with God (and how that affects our relationships with others).

As a minister, I am very encouraged by this movie. I was encouraged because it is a hollywood movie (with notable actors) which discusses Christian topics without being overly obnoxious. I enjoyed watching the progression of the characters, as they dealt with this "task" of ark building. Watching Evan move from reluctance to fully embracing his call. (At one point a reporter asks Evan how he can be sure God called him to build the ark and Evan responds that God wants to use all of us) As you watch Joan (Evan's wife) struggle to deal with the changes taking place you see a little of yourself in her. She wants to be supportive, but has a tough time getting past the fact that Evan is "different" and changing.

Evan Almighty is a great movie that can be used to spark discussion. Discussion about God, His interaction with us, our response to Him, and how we treat people who are following God. Ultimately this movie is about love and kindness. Loving your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, supporters, and your critics.

Spice Girls announce reunion tour

You heard it right. The Spice Girls will be touring this summer. Now, if that's not something to take your youth group to, I don't know what is. :)

All I can really say is - why?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

ArkAlmighty: new skills

This week marked a small victory. There were two new skills added to our ArkAlmighty website. This may not seem like much, but it is a big step for me. I've been fighting an uphill battle to get people to actually post stuff on the site. They'll go and check it out, but won't do anything. I've been trying to show them that without their participation, the "program" is worthless.

This saturday is one of our Evan Days. I'm praying it will be a great day to reach out to the community and maybe get some "needs" from the community that we can fulfill.

Trivia Wednesday #23

answer #22 - Wisconsin

question #23 - Name the five "W's" of journalism.

Acts 2.13 - Pentecost ridicule

I was reading through Acts 2 today and came across verse 13.

"Some, however, made fun of them (the apostles) and said, 'They have had too much wine.'"
It just reminded me that no matter how "awesome" and miraculous something is, it is never above ridicule. I think Jesus said something to that affect somewhere. Something about not being greater than your master.

I think I needed this reminder today. No matter what I do in ministry and how much God works in and through the ministry - there will always be people who find fault and will make their voice heard. I mean, even the apostles were ridiculed while speaking in other languages so that people could hear the truth of the Gospel.

Do not let the "negative voices" bring your down and cause you to forget the awesome things God is doing through you.

Be faithful to God's calling!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

funeral for 18 month old

Today, I went to a graveside service for a little boy who was only 18 months old when he died last Friday. I didn't know the boy or his family. But the lady who babysat for him is a good friend of our family (and a member of our church). Its been a long time since I've been to a funeral for a little child, and it wasn't any easier today.

One thing that just kept hitting me during the service was that this little boy was less than 2 months younger than my little boy. Wow - kinda puts stuff in perspective. It was even harder since Amy and the boys are gone this week visiting family.

Life is precious.
Every day we get is a gift.
Love your family.
Spend time with your family.

God gives us something special every day and it is easy to just let that fly right by without much notice.

Take time today to tell your family how much you love them. Spend time with your spouse. Spend time with your children. Make the most of each moment you have.

Games & Grub

I'm excited about today, because it is Games & Grub day. In a couple hours there will be middle school guys over at the house to eat and play video games. It should be fun (unless I get beat really bad at the games).

I'm hoping to really get a chance to build some better relationships with the guys. Esp. as some of them are moving into high school in the fall.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Trivia Wednesday #22

answer #21 - false

question #22 - In what state can you find a cheese factory on "every" corner?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I stood next to Jeff Gordan at Famous Dave's

While at a Famous Dave's in "the Dells", I got to stand next to Jeff Gordan. It was awesome! He was nice enough to let me take a picture.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Wisconsin Dells here I come

Today is day 1 of our family vacation. We're heading to the Wisconsin Dells. I've never been to Wisconsin and we haven't taken a family vacation (with all 4 of us), so this should be fun.

I need a good vacation. Lots of ministry stuff going on that is starting to pile up and really get to me. I'm looking for a good rest. Which means, you probably won't hear from me via this blog for a week.

to quote someone else: Kenda Creasy Dean (passion)

"Passionless Christianity has nothing to die for; it practices assimilation, not oddity. Passionless Christians lead sensible lives, not subversive ones; we are benignly 'nice' instead of dangerously loving. We become a race of amputees, cutting off passion - that divinely appointed impetus toward the Other - in order to fit in with all the other limbless Christians who are incapable of reaching out. Every now and then we feel a phantom pain, an impulse toward suffering love. But for the most part, we have learned to live without capacity to extend ourselves."
taken from Practicing Passion: Youth and the quest for a passionate church by Kenda Creasy Dean

So many youth ministries have become passionless. Oh, we're not boring. A lot of teenagers would say we're fun and exciting. We have a good show. We have energy. We have hype. We use technology. But there is no passion. No passion for Christ.

All the hype and excitement is easily mistaken for passion. But we have become passionless Christians gathering together in a passionless youth group.

Are you encouraging your students to live like Christ? Or are you encouraging them to become good citizens?

One of my biggest struggles comes from parents. I have met far too many parents who just wanted me (the youth minister) to help their children become good students, good children or just good citizens. They do not really want their children to do anything too strange or different. They want me to teach their children the Bible and go on trips, but don’t schedule it during sports (or my children won’t be there).

What do we do? I think we, youth workers, must help parents rekindle their passion for Christ. We have to teach everyone what it means to follow God (and it’s not about looking good in the community). We must be full of passion ourselves. If we, the spiritual leaders, are not passionate about Christ then neither will our students.

What do you think? Are American churches passionless?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Office: no spinoff

A few days ago I posted about a news article stating that there might be an Office spinoff involving Dwight. Well, it turns out it was false - thankfully.

though, it might still happen after the series finale.

Friday, June 15, 2007

What Every Girl Should Know About Boys! - guess the release date

I picked this book up at the library for free (they had withdrawn it). I saw it and just could not pass it up. Honestly, I haven't read any of it yet. I'm hoping to use some of it for a sex/relationships study in the future.

If you can't read the back cover in the picture, here is what is says:
How do you talk to a boy you like?
What do boys think of girls?
How do you tell if a boy likes you?
How do you break up and stay friends?

You'll find answers to these and many more questions in this one-of-a-kind-book.

What year do you think it was published?

Photo Friday #22

In honor of this week being our first full year here in IL. Here are three pics from our trip last year.

Full U-Haul, ready to hit the open road.

Nathan didn't stay awake the whole 11 hours. I don't blame him.

Wes was pretty excited to be somewhere, out of the car, and ready to eat.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Convenience Fee

I was renewing my license plate tags today and wanted to pay online instead of sending in a check. We wanted to save the $.41 and get it done quickly. Well, in order to pay your renewal on an IL plate online there is a "convenience" fee. And how much would you expect to pay for such a convenience?


So, it will cost me $1.31 more (not a huge deal) to pay online. Plus think of all the mail that they get to keep coming (which I'm sure is about 2 or 3 jobs for people). I'm just not sure what to think. Needless to say, we will be mailing in our check today.

Transformers Trailer

Transformers looks better than I thought.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

ArkAlmighty: Evan Free Day - Random Acts of Kindness

We've got one Evan Day coming up on June 30th.

We are planning on doing some random acts of kindness around town. There will be different teams designated to take care of certain aspects of our kindness.

We will have a team to:
- mow yards and do yardwork
- wash cars
- pay people's bills at local stores
- pass out water & popsicles at the park/ball fields

We're mainly doing it with the youth ministry, but have opened it up to the entire church. We are hoping for no rain and a big turnout. I will post pics/video and a recap afterward.

One year ago today...

I was in a u-Haul with my dad driving up from GA. We were being followed by Amy, Nathan & Sticky (one of our dogs) in one car. And my mom, Wes, Sadie (other dog) in another car.

I had forgotten that today was the anniversary until Amy reminded me on the phone a little bit ago. Wow. One full year.

I am very glad God brought us here to serve. A lot has happened in this past year, some good and some not so good.

Looking forward to year #2

The Office: Dwight Spinoff?

There is a rumor that there will be a spinoff of the Office. It will be a show around Dwight.

I don't think I'm ready for that. I'd probably watch the first couple shows, even if it didn't look good. Outside of The Office, I am just not sure how much stuff they could find for Dwight to do. Though Gilligan's Island lasted a long time without much "hope" for stories.

We'll see.

Maybe they could do a tie-in with the Caveman show.

Trivia Wednesday #21

answer #20 - I was at camp

question #21 - True or false? Some insects have ears.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Today I made a Facebook account. Now I just have to find some friends.

As I signed up and looked for people I know, there are more people on Facebook that I know than I thought there would be. I'm not sure why I haven't used this tool of connecting with students before now.

to quote someone else: Alan Nelson & Stan Toler (leadership)

"Exceptional leaders get involved in small groups for the purpose of developing themselves as people. Developed people develop people best."

taken from The 5 Secrets to Becoming a Leader by Alan Nelson & Stan Toler

It is far too easy to forget about personal development. But if you want to be the best leader you can be, you have to remember about your own personal growth.

5 reasons I am a youth minister

The last few days I have had the opportunity to talk with friends about why I am in ministry. I've also been able to listen as a few of my friends are really struggling right now in their churches; some being asked to leave, some being asked to leave without actually saying those words, and some just not wanting to fight the battles anymore.

Along with these conversations, I've been reminded that this week is the one year anniversary of starting ministry here. I have been doing a lot of thinking as to why I am in ministry and why I want to stay in ministry. I thought I would share 5 of the reasons I am in youth ministry with you.

1. God's calling. I truly believe God has called me to ministry and there is nothing else I want to do. No other job allows me to feel at peace at the end of each day.

2. Teens are hurting. It seems like everyday I am reminded of the hurt and pain that thrives among teenagers. They need the hope of Jesus Christ.

3. Life Change. There is no other job that allows you to watch life change happen so closely. Watching one student's life transformed can make all the "junk" worth it.

4. It's indescribable. There are some parts of youth minstry that cannot be described in words. It is tough to explain to someone why I want enjoy spending days or weeks with teenagers. There are times I talk to another youth minister and start to talk about an aspect and they just understand, because they have been there.

5. Ah-ha moments. Whether it is a Sunday School class, small group, camp, conference, retreat or just hanging out there is nothing better than watching a teenager "get it." Being able to watch when a truth clicks and becomes real is a pure joy.

Why are you in youth ministry? What is it that keeps you from running away and working at an insurance company?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Visiting friends from Africa

Tonight, in a couple hours, some of our good friends from Cincinnati will stop by for a visit. They are now serving in Africa. We haven't seen them since graduation, six years ago. They are in the states on furlough for the summer and are able to pass through our part of the country in between stops. We are excited about getting to see them and hang out.

The biggest thing we want to be able to do, though, is offer them a place to really relax. A place where they don't have to speak, give a presentation or answer a ton of questions about their ministry. We want to be a safe, quiet place to rest in the midst of their busy/crazy travel schedule.

Small Town YM: Graduation


Small Town vs. Non-small Town

1. Its a BIG deal.
2. There are awards given out.
3. The valedictorian and salutatorian are announced.
4. The valedictorian gives a speech (usually really short).
5. It is crowded (and no a/c).
6. Family come a long way to be a part of this special day.
7. Graduates wear a cap & gown.

1. The graduating class is smaller.
2. A lot of the community attends who don't have a child graduating.
3. Some of those people are somehow related to a graduate.
4. As a youth minister, most people notice if I'm there or not.
5. Area pastors are fairly involved from the stage (message, prayer).
6. They have 8th grade graduation, too. Complete with caps, gowns, "certificates", and valedictorian speech.
7. I didn't hear of any graduation party.
8. There is only one high school in our county, so only one graduation.

Neutral/Specific to this church:
1. They had 7 (yep 7) salutatorians this year. (Thankfully they didn't all get to give a speech)
2. They personalize their caps. Some put picture collages on them. Others have their caps airbrushed with a team logo, sport or their name.

Graduation is such a special time for the students (probably moreso for the parents) that we need to show our support. For some of the students this is the last amount of education they will be getting. Others are about to begin a long college career. Every year, there are seniors who graduate that we hate to see leave the youth ministry and others we "celebrate" their moving on. As a youth minister, you must not show favortism toward some graduates and neglect the others.

One of the things we do to celebrate is our senior banquet. This is a night to celebrate and honor our seniors and their families. This year we added a DVD to their gifts (the DVD had the 13 min. picture slideshow we showed at the banquet and the slideshow we showed on Sunday morning) to help them remember the night. I think it is important to encourage students in various life stage transitions (such as going into high school and graduating). The longer you are in ministry at a church, the harder each year will get to say goodbye to the students.

Being in a small town is an advantage during graduation season. Take advantage of the community support and involvement. Use the graduation season to let the community know more about your church by being involved and "noticeable" in the area.

Remember to take the time to "be there" for the seniors during graduation season.

Trivia Wednesday #20 (On Monday)

answer #19 - Hercules

question #20 - Where was I last week?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

High School Camp

Today it starts. My first week of high school camp since I've gotten here. Well, its my first week of camp in a few years. I think I'm ready though. Especially because Amy and Nathan are going to be there, too.

I'm sure I'll have lots of stories to tell when I get back. Its going to be a great week for building relationships and getting to know the students better. And I'm pumped about what God is going to do in their lives!

ps. please keep praying for my grandma, she's supposed to have a defibrillator put in on Tues.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

ArkAlmighty: Evan Almighty and our info table

This past week, we got a really cool addition to our already packed ArkKit supplies. We got this Evan Almighty Standee.

He now mans our new ArkAlmighty information table.

He really is such a great guy!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Schmoozing the youth room

Just read a great post on schmoozing a room: savvy socializing over on Guy Kawasaki's blog. I think we can learn about connecting with teens by applying some of these tips. Here are some tips, with my added thoughts.

Apply these tips next time you meet:

1. Think analog, not digital. You better be doing both. I've found here that not all of my students have email, so I can't rely on it alone. I have to still use it, though, to connect with those who do have it. Personal touch will always be more effective than email.

2. Find a commonality. A common place of interest will make both of you more comfortable. It helps the student feel less intimidated (unless you come across as an expert on whatever you have in common). Focus on their interests and likes, not yours.

3. Prepare a self-introduction. Seems like a no brainer, but worth mentioning. Pass this one along to your students, they should be ready to introduce themselves to the students they don't know.

4. Read voraciously. This gives you something to talk about if their is a lull. Don't just read YM books/articles/blogs, read youth related stuff, too.

5. Approach the person standing alone. So true! Make sure you connect with "loners" before you connect with the crowds.

6. Just smile and say Hi or Hello. "According to research, those are the best opening lines." (quote from Susan RoAne, author of list) Remember you do not have to have something brilliant and life-changing to say. Just say something - preferbly Hi or Hello.

7. Make small talk. Get to know them. Be yourself.

8. Listen, listen, listen. Students love to talk about themselves to people who will listen. Just listen and get to know them.

9. Go everywhere with the intention of having fun. Make it fun for them to be there. Let them see your true personality.

10. If you want to make a positive memorable impression, treat students like people not like numbers! Don't treat students like they are just one more number to getting to your next attendance goal. Show them love, treat them like Jesus would.

Photo Friday #21

Earlier this week, the family went to visit my grandparents. We stayed with my grandpa, while my grandma was in the hospital. It was really nice to spend time with family. One of the things I got to do was play pool with my grandpa. I don't remember the last time I've gotten to do that. I'm hoping its not the last time I get to play pool with him.