Amy's family just got here! Wednesday, my family is supposed to get here. So this whole week is family week. :)
I'm sure there will be lots of fun things to write about on the family side of this blog.
Saturday, March 31, 2007
I'm going to try to find out. I have been hearing/seeing a lot about twitter lately and didn't know much about it. So I went today and signed up, to take a test drive. I found a spot to put a "flash badge" on a blog or myspace to let people know what you are up to. So I put one on the blog to see what it does.
Is it going to be worth it? I don't know. Maybe no one will even care. Maybe people will glance at it and enjoy a laugh now and then. Maybe I'll spend too much time updating it that I don't do anything else. (probably won't go this far)
Enjoy being able to see what I'm doing, well as long as I update Twitter to show you.
Friday, March 30, 2007
I got some new business cards in the mail today. I had ordered them a few weeks ago from vistaprint. There is just one small problem with the cards, there is nothing printed on them. Completely blank (unless you count the vistaprint advertisement on the back. What can I do with 250 blank business cards? Any ideas, please let me know.
So, now I wait. They are reprinting them and sending them "priority," which means I should get them by next Friday. So, they took care of the problem and were very nice about fixing it and making sure things got worked out. But, really what am I going to do with 250 blank cards. Maybe I can hand them out to people I really don't want to contact me back.
These two (all three, really) pictures are from our trip to Cincy last week. This is from the Purple People Bridge.
This is a penguin from the Aquiarium. Nothing special about the picture, except that I like penguins and didn't get to be there cuz I was learning stuff at the YM Summit.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
"The literal translation of the words 'pray always' is 'come to rest.' The Greek word for rest is hesychia, and hesychasm is the term which refers to the spirituality of the desert. A hesychast is a man or a woman who seeks solitude and silence as the ways to unceasing prayer. The prayer of the hesychasts is a prayer of rest. This rest, however, has little to do with the absense of conflict or pain. It is a rest in God in the midst of a very intense daily struggle." (bold added)
Taken from The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen
I don't think there are many days of in youth ministry that are void of conflict or pain. But there should always be days of rest, rest in God. May these words from Henri Nouwen encourage you to find rest in God, even in the midst of parents being upset or elders not understanding or students being argumentative or youth coaches being apathetic.
Today, rest in God!
This is the topic for our jr. high class Sunday night. We wanted to go about the Easter lesson from a different POV this time. I am getting pretty excited about the lesson. I've been trying to do some extra study on the Law and what life would be like under it. I, for one, am very glad we can celebrate Easter.
There is one specific part of the lesson that I am really looking forward to. Throughout the class (about every 10 minutes) we're going to have the students do something. They will do the same thing every time. The goal is to let them gain a better understanding of what the annual sacrifices were like. They will do the same thing over and over and over and will not be able to not do it next time. One of the other teachers is preparing this part of the lesson, so I don't know all the details yet.
We are going to be asking and answering these questions:
What if Jesus had never died on the cross?
What if Jesus had never rose from the grave?
What if we were still under the Law?
What if we choose to live under the Law instead of under Grace?
Our hope is that by looking at Easter from this POV, the students will better understand the importance and magnitude of what Jesus did for us.
We'll be looking at Gal. 2&3, Heb. 9, and some various OT passages on the Law
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Yesterday was the visitation for one of the students' grandma.
Good Idea: going to a visitation with your family. Holding your son during the wait in line, keeping him from getting bored.
Bad Idea: getting to the family and after a comment is made about your son getting heavy after holding him for 15 minutes, using the phrase "he's just dead weight" instead of just saying he's getting heavy.
Ouch. Man, did I put my foot in my mouth. The bad thing was I did not even think about it until the words hit my lips, and then it was too late.
Lesson: don't say stupid things like this.
They didn't say anything to me and I didn't bring it back up, but I am sure they heard it.
The YM Summit was good. This was the first time CCU has done anything in this format, and it was very helpful. Not only did I gather new ideas for minister, I was encouraged and refreshed. Seeing that I went to CCU, I was expecting to see quite a few youth ministers I knew from school. While I did get to see a good number of people, I didn't see some of the youth ministers I thought I would. There are quite a few ministers I know who are still in the Cincinnati area, but none of them came.
Les Christie led two seminars: positive discipline and developing a faith that lasts a lifetime. Developing a faith was a new seminar that he just finished putting together and it was phenominal. It was a look at how we can better develop a faith in the students that will not be gone after they graduate.
I would recommend trying to attend the next one they do. Its not too much information to overload you, but it is jam-packed with stuff to take back and utilize.
The weirdest thing was the connection one of the workshop leaders had to me. (Well, not me directly, but close enough.) I am working in a small town in Southern IL, about an hour from Evansville, IN. The workshop leader, Randy Shivers - who is at a church in Cincinnati is related to the other Christian Church minister in our little small town. So, he knew exactly where I was from and the area. Its a strange world.
answer #9 - A,B (Acts 19.12)
(Honestly I'm a little surprised someone hasn't tried to come out with some "Christian" iPod already)
question #10 - How many people were on the roof of the temple when Samson demolished it?
A. 500 men
B. 6,000 men and women
C. 1,000 men, including the leaders of the city
D. 3,000 men and women
Monday, March 26, 2007
In youth ministry it is easy to become overwhelmed with responsibility. We feel a great responsibility for the teens we work with. Some of us get blamed when a teenager does something wrong or starts to drift away from God. This can be a lot of pressure, not to mention the pressure from the church leadership, parents and internal pressure you place on yourself. This can make our "job" seem very daunting.
Today, I want to offer this thought on youth ministry: show students their worth. One of our goals, in youth ministry, should be to show students how much they are worth to God. This is not a worth based on sports ability, attractiveness, intelligence or humor. NO, this is a worth based on who they are in Christ. We are very valueable to God (see Lk. 15.8-10 among others). God does not value us based on how much we can do for Him, but it is easy for us to value our teens on this scale. God does not love us because we are great at loving Him back.
This week, make it a point to show the students they are worth a lot to God. They are worth sending His Son to die in their place. No matter what friends or parents might say - each student is valuable to God.
Friday, March 23, 2007
My visit to CCU's campus yesterday had old mixed with new. Since it has been 6 years since I've been on campus, its not surprising some things have changed. Here are two pictures from the campus...
This is my old dorm, with a view of the city.
This is the new chapel building, which was finished a few years ago (I think). It changes the look on campus quite a bit. (It used to be parking and a grassy area)
Have you ever known someone who was bored with God? Maybe it was a friend in high school or college. Maybe it was one of your children. For me, it has been a handful of students in my ministry. These are the students who can be the most challenging to minister to, because they are basically apathetic about whatever God is doing.
In Bored with God, Dunn addresses student apathy in its various forms. He shares stories, both good and bad, covering each topic. This glimpse into the real lives of students helps the reader better visualize how apathy can enter into a student’s life. Some of the forms of apathy which Dunn addresses are excuses, self-righteousness, insecurity and lack of proper priorities.
Why would you need to read a book on helping students overcome spiritual apathy? Dunn answers that question in the first chapter. “If they have hunger, they will grow. Without it, they will simply exist.” (p. 17) When students (and adults) simply exist spiritually it will not only affect their life, but also the lives of those they encounter. If someone is not hungry for God, then they will be hungry for something else. So, they seek out anything to satisfy their hunger.
There are students you know who are apathetic because they are frustrated with their spiritual development. These might be the teenagers you think are rebellious and you do not know what to do. Students with deep hurts can become apathetic and distant. Comparing who they are to someone else can lead to spiritual apathy. The more a teenager believes they are worthless, the less they will care about God. These are the types of students Dunn addresses. These are the students we cannot ignore while trying to gain others. Because, these are the students who could eventually walk away from God as they grow up.
This book is easy to follow and easy to apply. Therefore, it is a great resource for parents to have access to. There is not a lot of theory found inside the pages; rather it is full of practical tips and ideas. Dunn does not, however, claim to offer any magic formulas or quick fixes for student apathy. What you will find is advice from someone who has tried to lead students from apathy to passion. You will benefit yourself, the parents and the teenagers by applying the ideas in this book.
My advice (rating) – go out and buy it (4 out of 5)
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Tomorrow I am going to be in Cincinnati for a YM Summit held at Cincinnati Christian University. This will mark the first time I've been on CCU's campus since I graduated in '01 (when it was still called CBC). I'm looking forward to seeing the changes and seeing a few of my friends who work there. Now I get to be that guy who says, "I remember when ..." :)
I'm looking forward to getting some ideas on how to better minister to the students God has allowed me to work with.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Nielsen: Average Home Has 104 Channels
If this is true, where do most teens get their imput on the world from? The last part of the article has an interesting quote on how much actually gets watched.
Last year, viewers watched only 15 percent of the stations available to them for any appreciable length of time; in 2000, they watched 22 percent of what they could surf through, Nielsen said.
What I find so interesting is that I only get 4 channels (plus 3 PBS stations) on a good day. So someone has to pick up my other 100. My guess is that this increasing number of options will not slow down, though.
Does all this exposure to TV numb the students to the usage of "media" in our ministries?
There are a few aspects of youth ministry that must always be taken care of, no matter what else is going on or what time of year it is. I would say the most important thing you can do is to NOT neglect your relationship with Jesus. Do not forfeit your personal growth for the sake of the "responsibilities" of youth ministry.
You can't lead the teenagers (or adults) anywhere you have not been. The students do not need to watch you crash and burn. They need to see you living fully for Christ, even if that means you do not have an event each night of the week or that cool video doesn't get made. Show them how to live for God by modeling that in your ministry.
Monday, March 19, 2007
"My life at present seems like an impenetrable jungle of responsibilities, a jagged briar patch of relationships, a tangled web of obligations. It feels like I am lost in the darkness of everyone else's needs, silently pursued by a growing crowd of strangers who crave one more piece of me."
Taken from Mike Yaconelli//Collected Writings by Mike Yaconelli
All of us in ministry can feel this way at times. Yaconelli talks about needing to find a clearing. I pray if you feel like this quote that you will find your clearing. May the God of peace be with you and bring you comfort.
I just got some bad news. One of the missionaries our church supports (we even had a group go down and work this past week with him in Mexico) was killed in a car accident last night. Apparently he was by himself and drove off the road. He just got remarried this past year. Please pray for his family and the ministry. His name is Steve Keim.
Well, yesterday was a rather long day. The morning was pretty normal (which is long anyway), but it was the evening that was extra fun. We had a planning meeting before service and an elder's prayer time after service. So I was at church for over 3 1/2 hours last night.
Before Sunday School, one of the little kids' class teachers came up to me and asked if her class could come in and share something with the high school. They have been working on learning the 10 commandments and wanted to share with the "big kids." I thought it would be good. The only problem is that we are meeting in a room that is not even big enough for the class itself, let alone adding another class. So the little kids sat in a circle in the middle of the room and shared what they knew. Which, after being asked, none of the high schoolers said they could do it. (I'm not sure if I could do it in order either, though).
It actually tied in with the lesson, too. We talked about Moses having to wear the veil after coming down from the mountain. (more on this in a later post)
So, the big fun was at the planning meeting. Two weeks ago I wrote about how well the meeting went when we first talked about some of our upcoming events. Let me just say that yesterday's meeting was not quite as good. Yeah, we got a lot done and figured out. But honestly, we probably wasted 1/2 the time on little stuff. The good thing was there wasn't anything else we needed to cover. There is a chance we could have worked out more details about our upcoming grad. banquet.
This meeting ran right up til our youth group time. So I didn't get to do much relationship stuff with the students before class. Then with the prayer time afterward, it was about the same. I am always encouraged after spending an hour or so in prayer with the leadership. Plus, I got home right in time to read and pray with Nathan before he went to bed.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Saturday, March 17, 2007
this past week I was on myspace looking at some of my former students' pages. While on one of them I decided to send the student a message just checking up with them. They seem to be getting more and more involved with gangs and there is not much I can do from 10 hours away. So I wanted to let him know I was thinking about him. I asked him how his relationship with God was lately. The next day I signed in and saw that I had less friends than the day before. He had deleted me from his friends. Which I guess answers my question.
But wow. He is avoiding any conversation about God. I don't think I've ever had something like this happen before. I am still a little shocked by the whole thing. Praying that he doesn't lose sight of God.
How can I connect with him from so far away? Or should I talk to the current youth minister and let him know what is going on?
UPDATE: I have also been dropped by his brother. Man, that is frustrating to see students slide as they are and not be close.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Tonight was a great night. It was a great night because I got to spend "daddy time" with my boys. Amy is gone to a conference til Saturday night, so I get to be solo dad for 1 1/2 days. Now, don't get me wrong I am already ready to have Amy back home, but I enjoy getting the opportunity to be home with the boys.
The FCA group at the high school had their annual "bash" tonight. I was really wanting to go and get to know some of the high schoolers better and meet some new students. I even thought about taking the boys with me for a short time or asking someone to watch them so I could go. But then I thought about how much that would mean I didn't get to spend time with them. They would have dealt with Amy leaving and then being sent to someone's house so daddy could go do ministry. I didn't think that was fair.
So, I decided the thing to do was put my family first. I think it is the best thing I can do for my ministry. The area students don't need me to be there at every event. The area students don't need me to hang out with them. But my boys do need me to be the best dad I can be. My boys do need me to put them first and spent time with them. In order for me to be the most effective I can be in ministry, I have to have my family life as strong as it can be.
When there is a decision between some ministry activity and your family, please put your family first.
Now, I know you have to do ministry stuff and you can't just stay home. But you don't have to be away from home more than you are home. You don't have to be at every possible event. You don't have to make your family lose out, just because you know they will "forgive you" or they understand.
Today, Amy is leaving to go to a conference for moms. I'm really excited she is getting to go and can't wait to hear what she learns. But I am going to miss her. This will be the second weekend in a row one of us has been gone. That doesn't seem bad, but it is highly unusual for our family.
It will be fun to have some daddy time with the boys. We're planning on going to a softball game on Saturday, if its not cold like it is today.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
So tonight is an hour of The Office. It is not a new episode, but rather two old episodes merged into one. The two episodes are: Traveling Salesmen & The Return. Both great episodes by themselves. The buzz is that both have been re-edited into one longer "episode". Some of the deleted scenes are being added back and some other scenes are being cut. This will allow for some of the extra storylines to be viewed. I read on one of the Office sites recently that Greg Daniels (the exec. producer) has said that to the writers even the deleted scenes are valid. He said that to them if they are written and taped then they assume it happened. This helps with writing for future episodes.
It will be nice to see a "new" version of the episodes tonight. It will also explain to some people where Andy went (those who didn't watch the Director's cut online) for the last few weeks.
Now it just begs the question: Which version will make it on the Season 3 DVD? Or will they combine it all into one longer version? Oh, I hope so. :) This season's DVD could be awesome!
Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the Christian bookstore. We (Christians) have done it again. Can't we just leave something alone? Apparently not. It seems that Christians can't let anything not have a "Christian" counterpart. We can't let anything stay just as it is. We have to take it and make it "Christian." This usually means we make a cheap copy of a good original. When I heard there were "Christian" myspace pages I thought that was bad. Well, yesterday I found something that is worse (maybe just as bad). Godtube.
As you can see on the logo and the website, its exactly like youtube. Except their slogan is "Broadcast Him" instead of "Broadcast yourself". The "T" in tube is a cross. And it doesn't seem to have the same good quality.
Can't we just leave anything alone?
More thoughts on this later...
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
They had it "snow" inside the arena. Pretty cool, though it didn't really bring the temp. down at all.
This would be the breakfast line Saturday morning at the hotel. Needless to say I opted for yogurt and fruit. Most people just standing in line waiting to make a waffle. Is it worth it?
This is a picture of the arena from the front. It was before a session, so it was still filling up.
On Friday, we all loaded up the van and set off for St. Louis. This would be the first time I'd ever been to St. Louis, so that was kinda cool. I got to see the Arch (not that impressive, it doesn't do anything :))
The drive to St. Louis was pretty uneventful - though we did run into some traffic once we got to St. Louis. But that was really expected. One thing I didn't like was that I had to drive. I would much rather sit in the back and get to interact with the students, but someone had to get us there. Here are some highlights.
1. the theme: This year's theme was Jesus. Plain and simple. Just Jesus. The five "take homes" were: Jesus is calling you! Jesus is calling you to something big! Jesus is calling you to bring what you have. Jesus is calling you to live passionately. Jesus is calling you to action.
2. Jesus is calling you to something big. This was a cool part of the weekend. Getting to talk with the students about how being a part of something big doesn't have to mean we have "big" parts. God uses us all (even the "small" parts) to make the whole thing work.
3. rooming with ms boys = fun, fun, fun. There is nothing like trying to get a roomful of middle school boys to settle down long enough to fall asleep. Needless to say, this was probably the craziest I've been on a trip in a long time. We were laughing so hard, when I actually tried to sleep I just couldn't. (I think it will be something these guys will bring up for a long time whenever we talk about going on a trip.)
4. changes in adults. Sunday night after our youth meeting Amy mentioned that she noticed a change in one of the adults after the weekend. I think this weekend at Believe helped this youth coach get a new outlook/perspective on working with our group of middle schoolers. And I know I saw some areas of change in how I interact with them. They are hungry for something significant in their life. My prayer is that this weekend will help to propel us into a new stage of ministry.
5. talk with police. This was a first for me. I noticed one of the students had been "in the bathroom" for what seemed like an extended amount of time. Just about when I was going to go check on him, he came back. No big deal, right? We were sitting on the edge of a section, right near the entrance to the floor seating. Two of the local police came in and were standing around, then one of them walked over to me. He asked if my name was Mike. When I told him it was, he asked if I wouldn't mind stepping to the side so I could talk with them.
I got out to talk with them to find out that that "long bathroom" student had been in the bathroom when someone was throwing toilet paper on the ceiling. The student was washing some marker off of his arm and got in there while it was going on. But he didn't do anything to stop it or to go to another bathroom. The guys doing it had left and he was the only one left when the police got there. But when he saw the police the first words from his mouth were "I didn't do anything." Which of course just tells someone you are feeling guilty. The police didn't do anything, but wanted me to know and to talk to him about it. It turned out ok, but I'm not a huge fan of talking to the police while on a trip with the youth.
6. Dumb adults! This one upset me. I mean these are the adults who are supposed to be teaching the students about how to follow God. If that is your goal, then how does this activity help promote that. Here's what they did that bugged me. All of our sessions were in an arena, which meant (among other things) there was no food or drink allowed in the building. You know, they have their own overpriced stuff for you to buy. One of the times we were waiting to go in I noticed a group in front of me. The reason I noticed them was one of the adults, a lady in her late 30s or so, was asking one of the teens in her group to smuggle a bag of chips in. He had on cargo pants and thus his pockets would be big enough to get a bag of chips into. She had no problem going against this "no food" rule and asking one of the students to help her. She was even laughing about it with one of the other adult sponsors.
I don't know why she did it. I hope she took it out before going in (she could have because I didn't follow them the whole way in). I'm just frustrated at the mixed signals we can send students. On the one side we tell them that there are things Chrstians are called to follow and ways to live in the world. Then on the other side, you have a kid sneak in some chips because you don't want to pay $3 for a thing of nachos. Which is more important: setting the example or saving a few bucks?
7. Who is sitting in the "decision" seat? This was from one of the skits (which I wish I would have taped or could find online). Only one of us can sit in the decision seat; you or Jesus. Far too often, I want to sit on the seat with Him or push Him off. I have been trying to ask myself this question often.
The Veggietales theme song proclaims “Have we got a show for you!” If this book had a theme song it would proclaim “Has Phil written a book for you!”
Vischer writes about how Veggietales came to be a household name. The first part of the book is filled with stories about Vischer’s childhood and love for making films. He talks about his Christian upbringing and the breakup of his family. He paints a picture of what it was that drove him to eventually create Bob and Larry. The second part of the book is about the fall of Big Idea, Veggietales and Phil. Phil writes with honesty and humor, even during the parts that are painful to read.
Me, Myself, & Bob is not just about Veggietales. Though you will learn why Larry only has one tooth or why he sings silly songs. Me, Myself, & Bob is also about God. More specifically it is about learning from what God did in Phil’s life. There are lessons to learn and emotions to be dealt with. I found myself stopping to consider how the truths Phil was sharing fit with my relationship with God.
If you enjoyed the funny writing found in the Veggietales videos, you will enjoy the writing inside the pages of this book. Each page is full of openness and transparency laced with humor. If you have ever wondered why God would allow Big Idea to come crashing down into bankruptcy, destroying jobs and countless families who lost jobs, then you will want to read this book. This book takes you on a journey to discover one reason God would give you a dream and then take it away.
Ride along with Phil for the journey of discovery. Along the way you will discover a God who wants to see what is more important – a dream or Him. You will glimpse the impact hanging on to God, no matter what, has on your life. Follow along as Phil shares how he came to understand this quote by C.S. Lewis “He who has God plus many things has nothing more than he who has God alone.” In the end, you will see that “we really shouldn’t attempt to do anything for God until we have learned to find our worth in him alone.”
Do you have a dream? If so, you will want to listen to Phil Vischer tell you his story about a dream and a God much bigger than that dream.
My advice (rating) – buy more than one and give out copies (5 out of 5)
Monday, March 12, 2007
I've been struck lately with the thought of what my son(s) will become. I have the ability, as their dad, to help shape them into the men they will be. That seems rather heavy to me. I mean, how can I shape them into who they will become when I'm not even completely who I want to be? I am the first example of what a man is supposed to be, aren't I?
I feel pretty good about the example of a godly woman they are watching (my wife).
My ongoing prayer, for them, is that they will see God in my actions. They will see how a man is meant to treat his wife. They will see a passion and desire for God in our home and will know they are okay to wrestle with their beliefs.
What do they see in me? What is Nathan learning from how I spend time with him? What characteristics will Wes learn from me? I am being reminded that time with Nathan and Wes is way more important than time reading a book or time writing on this blog.
What a weekend it was at the Jr. High Believe in St. Louis. I'll put up a longer recap later today or tomorrow. But I wanted to say a thank you to everyone who prayed for us. I think it was a great "turning point" in the jr. high ministry. I'm especially excited to watch as the other adult who went with me is impacted and changes how she interacts with the students.
One of the strangest parts was getting asked to talk with the police during one of the sessions. No one got in trouble, but man was my heart raising.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Tomorrow I am leaving with a group of jr. highers for St. Louis. We're going to the Jr. High Believe conference. I didn't get to go last year due to transitions in ministry (well at that point I was not at a church). This will be the biggest group I've taken (even though we've lost a few the last few days) and I am excited. Marko (Youth Specialties Pres.) will be doing the speaking and One Time Blind will be there doing some drama. The theme is Jesus and I'm thinking its gonna be a great chance for the youth to see a whole new side of Jesus.
I'll post some pictures, video and thoughts after the dust settles next week.
This is the first "trip" I've taken with the jr. highers since I got here last summer. I'll get to see a new side of them and they'll get to see a new side of me. :) Hopefully both of those will be good.
Yeah, you read that right. Some woman in Boston is sueing over a failed abortion because her little girl has cost too much to raise.
I always thought sueing McDonalds over spilled coffee (which you spilled on yourself) was a little over the top. But I have now been proven wrong.
I pray the little girl, who is 2 now, hears about God's love for her. I pray the mom hears about God's love for her, too. Why would anyone do this? I hope it doesn't even go to court and it gets dismissed or the woman drops the suit.
I hope a church or two out in Boston tries to reach out to this family. This little girl needs to know God has a purpose for her and wants to know her and love her. On Sunday in the high school class we're talking about God's call on your life. I think this might be a good way to introduce a discussion on how we, and others, see and value ourselves.
I found it at the YMX forums and the online article can be found here.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Though, I'm not sure if I'm ready to get it today. This new camera from Canon looks quite impressive; with its ability to take high def video. I won't be throwing the old video camera away, though. With only 6 minutes of footage on a 2 gig memory card, the video camera will continue to be a part of all trips and church events.
But the ability to take pictures then take video without switching cameras is quite appealing. How many times have I been at a youth event and had to either focus on video or pictures. Which usually leads to me missing a great still shot or missing a great video.
Friends and family, take note of what I would like for Father's Day, Christmas, birthday, or just because. :)
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
"When people see someone who lives a surrendered life, who honestly puts others first and is not caught up in making a name for him or herself, they will take notice." (bold and italics mine)
Taken from Bored with God by Sean Dunn
I think this is an important point to remember as a youth minister. In the world of blogs, forums and countless avenues for expressing yourself, those of us in ministry must always be watching to see what is the motivation behind what we do.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Last night, we had an event planning meeting. Before I get to the meeting, just allow me to share this comment from my 2 year old. At dinner we were talking about how we were going to church early because there was a meeting.
His response: "I don't like meetings, I'd rather stay home."
Despite my uneasiness at what would happen at the meeting (ie. productivity, just a lot of talking, absolutely nothing), I was presently surprised. We were able to get a good bit accomplished and came up with some good ideas, I think.
We got the ball rolling on an upcoming youth rally we are putting together. I think it will be a good evening. There are a few things we are going to try to do that are going to draw attention (nothing negative) from area students (I hope). I am a little afraid some of the adults are wanting to pigeon hole the night and only "realize/focus" on a few issues. Almost like if we focus on say drinking for a night, then that will fix the kids. Don't get me wrong, these issues need to be discussed. But I'm afraid its far to easy to work on behavior management and forget about the lasting effects of building a relationship with God.
The second planning event was a senior banquet. Nothing new or original there, I know. But its never been done at this church and I think it is something we need to do. A "right of passage" type of event for the seniors. This planning actually blew me away. What I had in my head as something we could do got completely blown out of the water and expanded. The ideas we have now are going to be awesome. The banquet is (if things go how we talked) going to be a very special and memorable night for everyone.
I was encouraged by the ability of the group to feed off each other. This was the first such meeting we have had at this church and the first one I've been involved with in a long time.
My faith in the ability of meetings to be useful is up a point or two after last night.
Also, Nathan (my 2 year old) has a new outlook on meetings too. He got to play with a few friends during our meeting. Not just play in a room, but they got to take the ride-on toys and ride around the church, which he thought was so cool. So, he's ready to go back for more meetings :)
Would you watch a show about "Geico's cavemen" trying to live normal lives in Atlanta 2007?
There's not much on TV now and if this makes it, I'm not sure about TV next year. Though I would rather see this than Desperate Housewives or Ghost Whisperer.
Deep Ministry in a Shallow World is useful on two levels. The first level is the actual content of the book. Chap Clark and Kara Powell do an excellent job bringing new light to topics like discipleship, mentoring, missions, and teaching (to name a few). These insights are worth the price alone. But there is a second level of usefulness, the Deep Design. This Deep Design process, they outline and use throughout the book, is a tool that needs to be applied to all aspects of youth ministry.
Deep Ministry is a textbook for youth ministers. It is packed full with insight after new idea after practical application after insight. It is easy to follow and understand, but more importantly easy to implement. No matter what the topic, you can answer the four questions raised (now?, new?, who?, and how?) and help take your ministry to a new level.
The chapter on Deep Mentors challenged me to rethink our small group mentality. Its one thing to get a small group leader to commit to leading the group for x number of weeks, sometimes even this can be difficult. It is another thing to get that same small group leader to commit to mentoring those students even when there is no small group meeting. The first looks good on the outside, and to the elders or church leadership, not to mention how it looks to the congregation. The second has more of a long-term impact on the students, but may not be as noticed.
Another thought I took away from the level one of usefulness was in the chapter on Deep Communication. I have been having some struggle getting discussion started with the high schoolers. This chapter helped me realize my communication is not just about the lesson I prepare. It’s also about the students who are listening (the ones I am trying to teach). On page 158 is a list of 6 behaviors that promote defensiveness. As I read the 6 behaviors, I found myself accepting that I have been guilty of each one at various times in my ministry. Knowing this, I have begun to actively and purposefully avoid these behaviors while I am teaching.
The Deep Design will be an asset to your ministry long after you put this book on your shelf. This process of continually examining your ministry and its various aspects is the real key of Deep Ministry. This important application is evident in the fact that each time we “fix” a part of our ministry, we realize we need to tweak it just a little. “The reality is that the problems we face Now are largely the result of yesterday’s solutions.” (238) There is never, or should never be, a time where youth ministers can sit back and just watch ministry happen. We must always be striving for excellence and adjusting our methods to fit our current culture. This book gives you the tools to navigate the waters of a constantly changing ministry.
My advice (rating) – buy more than one and give out copies (5 out of 5)
Let me end with this, I think you should do what you can to get this book into the hands of all your youth coaches.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
This is not a post about the rights and wrongs of tattoos. Rather it is about a surprising tattoo one of the teens got Saturday night. This is a guy that has been coming really regularly to just about everything we have been doing. His main reason for coming (as far as I can figure) has always been because of his girlfriend, whose family are members. I've gotten to know him since we got here last summer. He's a great guy, but has not given his life to Jesus.
This morning as I was talking to him he told me he got a tattoo last night. I thought "oh great, he got his girlfriends initials" but I didn't say that. I asked why and what? He said he has always wanted one and he got it on his right shoulder. Then the big question - what is it? To my surprise, he got a cross. I didn't get to ask him too much about why he picked the cross, but I'm hoping to talk to him more about it this week when we get together.
I was just shocked that a cross would be his top choice for a tattoo. It was a good surprise.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Early this morning, 12:37, one of the youth coaches gave birth to a son. What a blessing. I can't wait to get to see him.
A little reminder of what is really important in life. Its not the long hours at work or the paycheck. Its not the "congratulations" or pats on the back. Its not fancy promotions or other material.
Our life is a gift from God and what we do with it is our choice. If you have a family, make them most important. If you have children, pour into them.
Pass this lesson on to your youth coaches (sponsors or whatever you call them). Make sure the people on your team know that family is more important than the ministry. Don't ask people to be away from their family more than you would want to be. But if you don't mind, or are single, make sure you're not asking too much of your adults who have a family.