Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NYWC: St Louis Day 2

Everything is ready for all 3700 youth workers to show up. Well most everything. The store is ready, the stage is looking really good. The exhibit hall is still a little empty, but its ready for some great companies to show up and connect with youth workers. The labyrinth and prayer chapel are looking good. And for those with kids - the kids room is set up (I wouldn't mind spending some time in there myself :))

Another great day of getting to know the other volunteers a little bit better. Man, God is doing some great stuff in people's lives. And at the same time, there is a lot of pain and hurt that needs to be worked through.

Had some good Mexican for dinner (Downtown Cantina - I think), I would recommend it.

I'm ready for people to start showing up tomorrow. Even though the last two days have been amazing, I know the next five are going to be beyond amazing.

Trivia Wednesday #41

answer #40 - none

question #41 - Who founded Youth Specialties? In what year?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NYWC: St Louis Day 1

What a day!

We got the store set up most of the way today. The stage area got started, it'll be fun to watch it go up tomorrow.

Today was a great to start getting to know the other volunteers and catch up with the ones from previous years. I have already been able to have some great conversations about where God is working and what He is showing people. It's already been a great convention and it hasn't even started yet! :) (that is why I love this convention)

Those who are planning on coming later this week - you're in for a great convention.

Monday, October 29, 2007

NYWC: St. Louis Day 0

I am here in St. Louis. Not a very eventful trip, but it was a fast one. I've already run into a few other volunteers and a few YS staff.

It has been a long day, but I'm so glad I stayed a little longer to spend more time with my wife and two boys. (esp. since today is my youngest boys 2nd birthday) Tomorrow we start setting up. We also get to meet each other a little more and do some of the "fun" jobs like stuffing all the booklets and getting the bags ready.

More updates as the week progresses.

NYWC: St. Louis - its here!!

Today, I am leaving for St. Louis for the NYWC. I am going to be helping out in the YS Store, so I get to go down early and help set up. I'm excited to be finally going and getting to meet some new faces. Stop by the YS Store and say "hi"

I'm going to be blogging during the convention, too. So check back to hear what is going on.

New Poll: How many things can you think of to be thankful for in one minute

(Man, that is a long poll title - should have spent more time trying to use my words better and more effectively)

The new poll is up and its geared toward Thanksgiving, not just the holiday.

In one minute, how many things can you think of to be thankful for? I would love to hear what they are, and I'm sure other readers would to. Once you've taken the time to think for a minute and answered the poll question, leave a comment on this post and list the things you are thankful for. I think it will be encouraging to see and maybe be reminded of something in our life we forget is a blessing.

I look forward to hearing your responses.

Poll Results: Favorite part of Halloween

Halloween is Wednesday and the Poll is closed. Let's see what you (the readers) voted as your favorite part of Halloween.

36% (4 people) said the costumes
27% (3 people) said Halloween was evil
18% (2 people) said the pumpkins
18% (2 people) said taking their kids trick-or-treating
0% (0 people) said the candy or the treats

Have a safe and fun night.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lessons from The Office: Local Ad

I thought this was the first episode in awhile that really showcased a lot of the cast (and it was only a 1/2 hour long). It seemed like just about everyone had at least one or two good lines or scenes. That is minus Toby (I only remember him being in about 5 seconds of the ad when the paper airplane flew past him).

Lessons from The Office: Local Ad
1. Good brainstorming means you accept all answers - encourage people to give more and feel good about sharing.
2. Don't settle for something that is not the best you can do.
3. Find people's strengths and use them (stereotypes don't count - Oscar)
4. You can crush someone's willingness to help when you bash/belittle their contribution to the team.
5. Even when you are extremely mad at someone, you can still love them.
6. Advertisements do no good if people cannot remember the name of the company being advertised.

"Break me off a piece of that applesauce"

Friday, October 26, 2007

Willow Creek apologizes: will the local church change, too?

Christianity Today's blog, Out of Ur, has an article on Willow Creek's statement that the way they have "done church" for 30 years is wrong.

As interesting as the article is, I think the comments are just as interesting. Notice that even when a megachurch apologizes some people still find time to bad mouth and put them down. They just said they desire change and want to adjust their ministry to see a more effective ministry to the people.

I wonder also if this means those congregations who have modeled themselves after Willow will now also change. Time will tell.

(gracias a Ben and Brad)

NYWC: St. Louis - one week

After hearing just a little about the San Diego convention, I am even more excited about the NYWC. I will be leaving on Monday night to start setting up on Tuesday morning. I know its going to be tiring, but at the same time refreshing.

Hope to see you there.

Photo Friday: Dragon cloud

This is a picture I took about a month ago in our backyard. I think its cool.

Discussion Starter: Boundaries are meant to keep you from danger

Someone should have told these people that road barriers are meant to keep you safe. Even if your car can get through or around, it may not be the safest option.

My favorite part is the opening two lines from the article

As many as 10 vehicles drove around barriers and onto freshly poured concrete on a busy thoroughfare during rush hour. Two got stuck, Mequon police said Thursday.
10 cars, really? It must have been a really busy rush hour and they had really important places to go.

This is a good story to use when talking about rules or laws. It would also work when talking about peer pressure or following the crowd.

What kind of barriers do you go right past without thinking about the consequences?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lessons from The Office: Money

Money felt like a very serious episode. Now, don't get me wrong - it was not even close to being a drama. And I still thought it was pretty good. Here are a few lessons we can learn from the episode...

Lessons from The Office: Money

1. Declaring bankruptcy is not as simple as it sounds.
2. And you can't run (or take a train) from your problems.
3. When you are struggling with something (like a broken relationship), you are not going to give your work 100% of your effort and attention.
4. Being a good friend means sharing your hurts and being there when someone else is hurting. You do not have to have all the answers, either.
5. We all need someone who will stick with us through the tough times. Someone who will always be there, supporting us even when we want to run from our problems.

Trivia Wednesday #40

answer #39 - Pete Best

question #40 - How many gas-burning cars usually enter the Indianapolis 500?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Weekend Recap

This weekend was fun, busy and a little refreshing. Here are a few thoughts from this weekend (in lieu of multiple posts, enjoy the extra time you have to do something else instead of readying multiple blog posts)

1. It rained for a good bit of the 6 hour trip on Wed.
Darkness + Rain + Driving = Not my idea of a fun drive.

2. Seeing family, who you don't see very often, is such a blessing.

3. I got to hang out with one of my best friends from high school (who is still a good friend). It was fun to see him and talk about how things are going. I have to say - it was encouraging to hang out with him. And he helped me pack up the car topper for the ride home. thanks doug.

4. Played golf with my dad and brother-in-law. Highlights include: a birdie on hole 1, getting the golf cart stuck in the fairway mud, "speeding" through a few puddles, hanging out with my dad and brother-in-law.

5. Wes' 2nd birthday party. We had a pinata, great food, fun gifts, family time, yummy cake, sticker tag, wiffleball game, football game and a "Green Giant Incredible Hulk" (a picture to come later).

6. 10 Year High School Reunion. It was good and unexpected. More to come in another post.

7. Went to service at my "home church." They have just hired a new sr. minister - so it was good to meet him. Talked to some old friends and encouraged by others. What a blessing to be among people who I've known for years and who have known me since I was in elementary school.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Office weather

After getting back from our trip this weekend, my wife and I sat down to watch The Office, which we had taped (I know, we're way behind - we still "tape" stuff) on Thursday night. But we got a surprise. We had not taped The Office. We had taped an hour (yes, a full hour) of weather. Apparently there was a bad storm that came through our area that night and the local NBC station decided to spend at least an hour giving updates on the situation.

Just thought it was funny. I'm sure there were a few upset Office fans that night, but thanks to you can watch the full episode online - so no need to wait until the DVD or reruns. So there will still be a "Lessons from The Office" this week.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Photo Friday: Video Games

Playing video games with my boy. Thankfully, he's not better than me, yet.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Going back to high school

Today, we are back in our hometown for a few days. The main purpose of the trip is our (Amy and I) 10 year high school class reunion. We didn't go to the 5 year (being 13 hours away we didn't think it worth the trip). We're looking forward to seeing our classmates again, for the most part.

I feel like we're going back to high school, though. I know everyone has probably changed - I know Amy and I have. But I'm still a little nervous about the whole thing. I have not talked to anyone from high school (sans my wife) since high school, except for some online communication through myspace and facebook. Due to this lack of communication, I've got a few questions...

1. Will there be the same cliques/groups?
2. Will it be just a "look at where I'm at..." night of comparison?
3. Who will be there and who won't?
4. What surprises will there be?
5. Will I have anything in common with my classmates?
6. Will we have more in common now than in high school?
7. How many people have actually moved away?
8. What kind of emotions will be stirred up when I see certain people?

We are both looking forward to the reunion, but are a little curious as to what will happen. The reunion is supposed to last 5 hours, we'll see how long we stay :) I think Amy and I are hoping to just be able to talk to old friends and share about where our life is and where it has been. To be able to share God's love.

What have your high school reunions been like?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Trivia Wednesday #39

answer #38 - Molly Ringwald

question #39 - Whom did Ringo Starr replace as the Beatles' drummer?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Football's newest enemy: the overhead camera

I had a feeling this was going to happen. Honestly, I am a little surprised it hasn't happened since now (if it has I missed hearing about it). Here is the story of an overhead camera falling on the field at the Seahawks & Saints game this week.

Thankfully no one got hurt.

Remember when you had to watch a football game and you could not see the player's faces at the line of scrimmage? Look at how far we have come with technology.

to quote someone else: Mike King (behavior modification & authenticity)

"When we engage in behavior modification techniques to achieve certain results, we nurture environments of hypocrisy and deception, training young people to pretend to be spiritual and to give the 'right' answers regardless of what they really think. We leave little room for openness and honesty."
taken from Presence-Centered Youth Ministry by Mike King

It seems like it is easier to go for the quick "fixes" than wait for the lasting change that comes from a transformation of the heart. A lot of youth ministers feel pressure to have the students look and act a certain way. Pressure from parents, church leadership, other youth ministers, or from within their own minds. Most of us would say our desired goal is the long-term transformation. We all want students to stay faithful and true throughout their life, not just until the graduate.

Is your ministry an environment of hypocrisy and deception? Is mine?

How do you keep your ministry from getting to this point? If a ministry is already there, how do you change to one of openness and honesty?

Here are a few quick thoughts:
1. Ask open-ended questions to help the student think. When you are asking questions, do you want a certain answer or are you willing to let the students be open and honest? Do the students know you do not want them to say the "right" answer? You have a lot of power in the way you word a question or how you ask it. Next time you are writing your questions or preparing the lesson, try not to word it in such a way to only have one right answer.
2. Next time someone shares honestly, thank them for being honest and open.
3. Build relationships with the students. This needs to be you along with your youth coaches who get to know each student.
4. Never laugh at a student who opens up about a private issue or struggle.
5. Remember the Christian life is a journey. One with setbacks and leaps forward (some within days of each other).
6. Pray that your ministry will be a place of authenticity and compassion, not hypocrisy and deception.
7. Allow God to work in the students' lives, its not your job to fix them.
8. If you need to, take time at a scheduled program (Sunday school, youth meetings, etc) and apologize for allowing the ministry to reach a point where the only acceptable action is the "Sunday school" one. Be open about your desire for the ministry to be one of authenticity and safety.

Monday, October 15, 2007

NYWC: St. Louis - 5 more things I'm ready for

1. Lost & Found (its been a few years since I've heard them in concert)
2. Worship w/ DC*B, Starfield
3. Great seminars (Developing a strong volunteer team, The big picture - planning, the expectations that killed the youth workers; just to name a few)
4. The exhibit hall: the good, the bad and the ugly
5. Freebies: the good (I won't take the bad or the ugly, well I might take some of the ugly just to show it to others)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Pop Wars

Sometimes a rivalry can go too far. Here is case in point.

INDIANA, Pa. (AP) - The long-standing rivalry between Coke and Pepsi took a physical turn Friday when a Pepsi deliveryman allegedly punched his Coke counterpart in the face at a western Pennsylvania Wal-Mart, state police said.

The two deliverymen were "apparently bickering back and forth" while unloading their wares at the Indiana County store, police said. When the Coke deliveryman left the store, his counterpart allegedly punched him in the face three times, breaking his nose and giving him a black eye, police said.

No charges have been filed, but police characterized the incident as a misdemeanor simple assault.

taken from this article.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lessons from The Office: L(a)unch Party

Lessons from The Office: Launch Party

1. There is more than 1 way to handle difficult people. (and some are pretty funny)
2. But you can't always change their attitude/behavior.
3. Being left out of a gathering/party really hurts if the person hosting it is a friend (or at least when you think they are a friend)
4. You should always read the fineprint on a coupon, or settle on the price before the pizza is delivered.
5. People will go above and beyond when trying to impress someone.

to quote someone else: Marge Simpson (internet)

"I don't want to bother the internet with my problems."
taken from The Simpsons on 10.7.07 Midnight Towboy

This has to be a new favorite quote, esp. in regards to the internet.

So next time you want to Google something, stop and rethink if your "problems" are worth the internet's time.

Photo Friday: two dogs

A few old pictures of my two dogs. The capes are great, aren't they?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Simple phone calls to students

Yesterday, I was making some phone calls to students and was reminded of something simple. A phone call can do a lot.

What holds youth ministers back from calling a student on the phone? I think there are a few questions that sum it up.

When will I catch them at home?
What do I say?
Why do I have to call _______, I barely even know them?

Here are 10 thoughts on talking to students on the phone.

1. Good phone calls do not have to be long.
2. Talk about what you know is going on in their life (sports, family, job...).
3. Ask a few simple questions (how was the test, how is practice, are you ready for ____, is your _______ feeling better).
4. Listen for verbal cues to what is going on in their life.
5. Be ready, some students can be a lot more open than you might be ready for.
6. Stop talking long enough to let the student talk.
7. If necessary, make sure you follow up with them personally.
8. Talk about things they are interested in.
9. Take the time to encourage them.
10. Talking with students on the phone should encourage you.

Pick up the phone this week and call a few students.

How do you connect with students using phone calls?

Trivia Wednesday #38

answer #37 - Star Wars

question #38 - Which actress played the character who turned 16 in the movie Sixteen Candles?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Lessons from The Office: Dunder Mifflin Infinity

Lessons from The Office: Dunder Mifflin Infinity

1. It can be hard to let go of a past relationship (thanks Kelly for showing us how to not try to get someone back)
2. Change is not easy to accept for people, even if you give them a good presentation on the why and what.
3. Gift baskets are awesome!
4. It will take more than force to get people to see the need for change, as a leader you have to help them discover how it will benefit everyone.
5. Going from subordinate to boss is not an easy transition. People will often continue to think of you as the old you.
6. Never, never go back to retrieve a gift once you've given it to someone - it wasn't nice in grade school and its still not nice today.

New Poll: Your favorite part of Halloween

A new poll has been posted. I'd like to know what your favorite part of Halloween is and why. So, take the poll and then make a comment on this post to add some reasons why you like _________ the best.

For me, its the time spent with the boys trick-or-treating. Which I won't be able to do this year because I'll be at the NYWC.

Poll Results: what version do you use?

Another poll is closed, and what did we learn? We learned that the "official" Bible version for this blog is the NIV.

85% of the readers use the NIV (that's 6 people)
14% of the readers say the NASB is their most used version (that's 1 person)

I have to say, I'm glad no one answered they use whatever version says what they want it to say.

I'll try to make 85% of all my Scripture references be NIV :)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Baseball Season is over

for me. This year I got to enjoy 3 more games than normal. Thanks Cubs.

Next year, it'll be our year!

Now, I just sit and suffer through every other sport until Spring.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Photo Friday: The Maze

Entering the maze.

Do you ever feel like youth ministry is a maze?

Do you feel you are in a maze, trying to navigate your ministry, your life, and your marriage?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Unexpected hospital stay

Yesterday, Wes (my youngest) went to the dr. and ended up in the hospital. He has pneumonia in both lungs. Amy has been able to stay with him overnight, so that was good. We'll see how it goes today.

Please be praying for him.

NYWC: St. Louis - 5 things I'm ready for

The National Youth Workers Convention in St. Louis is just a month away! I am ready.

Here are 5 things I am ready for at the NYWC:
1. I am ready to connect with some fellow youth workers whom I only know as a profile picture.
2. I am ready to stay up late and get up early.
3. I am ready to hear great speakers and musicians.
4. I am ready to listen to youth worker's stories.
5. I am ready to be recharged and refreshed by God.

Watch this promo:

Are you ready? What are you looking forward to?

Lessons from The Office: Fun Run

Well, it has finally arrived (as of last Thursday) - the new season of The Office.

It was an hour long episode, which meant a lot of little stuff stayed in (and they still have 5 deleted scenes that will be up on - 4 up currently).

Lessons from Fun Run:
1. Things are not always as they seem
2. It is not always easy to forgive someone who has really hurt you
3. It is easy to base your belief in God on how things around you are going
4. Talking about your religious beliefs at work is not always easy
5. Forgiveness is given when you take actions beyond just words

Trivia Wednesday #37

answer #36 - -459

question #37 - In which films will you find the Millenium Falcon?

Monday, October 01, 2007

to quote someone else: Stalin (evangelism)

"A million deaths is a statistic, one death is a tragedy."
Stalin quoted by Richard Stearns (Pres. of World Vision) in an interview

Now, think of that quote in terms of the lost. It isn't until we see the unsaved as people instead of statistics that we'll be pushed to do something. We hear all the time about there being millions of unsaved people in the world, but does that really spur us to action? But when you have a friend or family member who doesn't have a saving relationship with Jesus - its a whole new ballgame.

Maybe we need to stop talking about the big numbers and start focusing on those around us. We need to help our students (ourselves, too?) see the need to save the one.

What do you do to help students feel the "tragedy" and not the "statistic?"