Friday, September 28, 2007
I have, over the life of this blog, allowed it to become more of an online journal than what its intended purpose was supposed to be. Technically, having a blog about my thoughts, ideas and hopes of youth ministry will be a journal of sorts. It should be a collection of thoughts and resources for helping others in their ministries - not a personal blog from a youth minister who just writes about what is going on in his ministry. I know not all of my posts are journal-like, which is what I hope has been beneficial to you and your ministry.
I am not promising to never write another journal-like post, because I am sure I will. But I am promising that even those will be less private journal thoughts and more open conversation thoughts.
To anyone who has come across this blog and found something they deem to be careless words or less than loving in attitude, I would like to apologize and say I am sorry. I have tried to go through the posts and remove those things which needed to be removed. I truly regret feeling and believing those things, let alone posting them on this blog. As I have looked back, I have become aware of just how wrong I was in those thoughts.
Why, you ask, are you writing a personal journal type post about this not being an online journal? Good question. I believe I owe it to you (the readers of this blog) to hear my heart about this issue. I could have just deleted sections of posts and entire posts without mentioning anything, but I didn't feel it was enough. I want to be honest and open about how I messed up and to apologize for my failure to be like Christ in this manner.
Thank you for reading this.
I will end with these words from Ephesians 5, as a reminder to myself (and you) of how I need to be living my life (and using this blog).
"Be imitators of God...and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us."(v 1-2)
Verse 4 reminds us to avoid "foolish talk"
"Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise by as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (v 15-16)
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The other day, I ran across an article (which I can't seem to find now) from Relevant Magazine's Slices that mentioned a lawsuit against Virgin Mobile AU for using a picture with a CC License from Flickr. Here is another article from MSNBC. The person in the picture knew nothing of the ad campaign nor the caption that would be added to her picture.
My first thought was that this has to be a concern for youth ministers. There are lots of youth ministers who take pictures at events and post them on Flickr for easy distribution. Some of these youth ministers are of the "sharing" kind and mark their photos under one of the many Creative commons licenses. Which is not an issue - until one gets used in a major ad campaign.
I would caution any youth minister to always keep your pictures "All Rights Reserved" if they involve people in your ministry or church. Now, if it is your personal photo of your backyard swingset - that is your decision.
Now, I know that CC has a non-commercial option (which I highly recommend). Just know that there are big companies who will try to save some money and use a "free" picture to make a few more bucks.
One of the advantages of the CC license is that people can find many quality pictures without much effort. They can be used in so many forms, but be careful you are not taking advantage of the photographer's generosity.
To read some of the discussion going on over at Flickr about this, go here (I have not read all the comments, so I can't say what all is being said or not said) Some of the discussion is just people going back and forth, but some of it is really good discussion on what can be done when someone takes advantage of a CC.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
This is the second post on the steps to take when starting a new youth worker network. I have included a link to the first post for those who may not have read it when it was first posted.
How to start a local youth worker network:
1. Become familiar with your area.
2. Making contact with the other area youth workers.
I know how easy it is to not do this step. This is a good step even if you aren't trying to start a youth workers network. In terms of the network, there is no way you can build the network if you don't make contact with the other area youth workers. Without others, the area network is just you sitting around talking to yourself.
Making these contacts gives you a better understanding of how youth ministry in the area works. If you are new to the area, this network can help you avoid mistakes or frustrations. Connecting with people who have been doing what you are trying to do (youth ministry) gives you a "safety net." Think about it like this, maybe you want to start a line dancing night at church. Will it take off? Will students show up? You can start it and find out or you can run the idea by a few youth workers who have been in the area longer and find out if line dancing is popular or not.
One other benefit of this step is the feeling of connectedness you will feel. Not just you as the youth worker, but your youth ministry as well. I think once you start connecting with area youth workers, you will be more willing/able to join forces on different events and combine youth ministries to help the students connect with other Christians in the area (even if they are from a different denomination).
Go out there and make contacts. Go to lunch, talk on the phone, meet at their church, do whatever it takes to make contact with other area youth workers (full-time, part-time, volunteer).
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I just posted a new poll. This one asks which version of the Bible you use most often. Do you have a favorite or a "go to" version?
I'd love to hear your reasons why, so please post a comment with why you use the one you use.
I mainly use the NIV for teaching because of its easier understandability. But I like to use the NASB for study due to its word for word translation. There are times a paraphrase (like The Message) works well to get people to see a verse in a new way. But I would have to say the one I use most is the NIV.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Only 4 people answered the poll for this week. Out of those 4, 2 are going to the National Youth Workers Convention in St. Louis. 1 is not going. and 1 doesn't know what the NYWC is.
For a quick run down and better job at explaining it, go here.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Someone has responded to the lawsuit against God. To the left is a picture of the man who brought the lawsuit against God. I don't know anything about him and have never heard his name before. But I did think the photo was a little ironic. At first glance, I thought the fan that is behind him looked a lot like a giant halo.
You can read the article here.
Recently, I decided to pull out our wedding tape for my wife and I to watch on a date night. Neither of us had seen the tape for a few years (the last time I saw it was when we watched it on our first anniversary in 2002). I was anxious to see how we had changed and to remember all the people who were there. How was everyone lined up on stage? When did we sing our praise songs? What did people say to us in their taped messages? We were really looking forward to watching the tape of our wedding day.
Well, we didn't get to watch it. I put the tape in and all that was showing up was static. It started to clear up, but the picture was extremely blurry and distorted. It was also in the middle of the tape, so I decided to rewind it in order to be able to watch the whole thing. (Bad idea)
After rewinding the tape and trying to start watching it, we discovered something bad. There was no picture, at all, not even a blurry one. All we had was sound. Normally you wouldn't sit and watch a VHS tape will only sound (that's called a cassette tape), but you might if its your wedding tape. We sat and listened to different parts of the tape.
But the crazy thing was that I (I can't speak for Amy here) found myself very moved by what I was hearing. To hear, even though we couldn't see, our friends sharing thoughts and words for us on our marriage and friendship made me emotional. To listen to Troy share his thoughts, to listen to Kevin & Darin lead worship, to listen to Tim sing Love Song by Third Day. It was moving. It was a moment that stirred my soul.
I am going to try to see if we can get a picture to show up or see if anyone in my family has a copy of the wedding and do whatever I can to try to get the video back. But if we do not ever get the video back, I'll be ok with the sound. For within those words are memories. Within those words is love. And I don't want to lose that.
Plus, I consider it a blessing to even have the sound. Amy taped a friend's wedding and the only copy of the wedding was on our camcorder. Well, that was the camcorder (with the tape in it) that was stolen from our house. So, we were never able to give our friends a copy of their wedding. Which I still feel bad about.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
The season 4 premiere of the Office is only one week away. While I am excited about the first few episodes (Fun Run, Dunder Mifflin Infinity, Launch Party), I'm more excited about the fact that we are going to watch the premiere at a friends' house. We are actually going to be watching the Office at a couples house without the boys.
I'm looking forward to just hanging out and spending time with these friends. It will be nice to spend time with adults our age without the boys and without it having something to do with youth ministry. Isn't that something we should be doing on a regular basis anyway? (spending time with people as friends)
So, here starts the countdown...
I just ran across an article on USAtoday.com about a new (free) phone service. Well, its free with an asterisk.
It seems like the system is $400 (will be $600 in 08) and then you don't have to pay a monthly bill. That is unless you decide to keep your land line for emergencies, like your internet going out.
Though there is no way I will be buying one of these now, it does look like a cool concept. I guess I feel about the same as I do with the iPhone - wayyyy too much money for what I need/want/am able to do with it. Maybe this makes me a non-early adopter or maybe it just means I don't have a lot of money to throw around. Though I think I'd rather have this than the iPhone.
This pretty much sums it up (from the USA Today article):
Price: $399 for Ooma Hub ($599 starting next year), $39.95 for companion Ooma Scout devices.
Score: 3 stars (out of four)
Pro: No more monthly phone bills. Pretty simple setup and fine voice quality. Well-designed hardware. "Virtual" second line and answering machine with call screening at no extra cost.
Con: Expensive upfront cost. Requires broadband, and you lose phone service if your Internet connection is disrupted, unless you continue to pay for a landline (most likely on low-cost plan).
I have now seen a full year's worth of small town school sports come and go. Over this time, I've made some observations about a few sports before. I can tell you I've gone to more sports this year than I ever have in ministry.
Small Town vs. Non-small Town
1. The basic sports are offered: football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball
2. Parents abound at these games
3. Students show up in full force to support their friends
4. Any sport played in the gym is going to cause you to perspire
5. Some middle school games seem to last forever
1. No track or cross country
2. More students who play multiple sports (some out of necessity, to have a complete team)
3. I know a lot more people at the games
4. It seems like more parents show up to watch their kids
5. Downtown businesses let people write "encouragement" notes on their windows
Neutral/Specific to this church:
1. I'm not sure if its the small town or what, but I seem to have a larger number of athletes in the youth ministry than I have before.
2. Just the other day, I was driving in a nearby town and saw some writings on their windows to show support for an upcoming homecoming football game. Only some of these notes didn't seem all that encouraging or friendly (keep in mind they tried to have a tie-in between their business name and the saying)...
"Corner the bulldogs" (at a store called "The Corner")
"Cruise over the bulldogs" (at a car dealership)
and my personal favorite...
"Break their 'limbs'" (at the Willow Tree)
Going to a sports event in a small town changes my purpose. In the past, I've tried to go to part of the game (usually the end, because you don't have to pay) and see the student and the parents if I can. Now, I have started going at the beginning and staying longer - trying to interact with the parents. Plus I get to see a lot more students who are not involved that I try to connect with. Then, you throw in that my family is there with me and I my goal is to spend time with them also.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
This past Sunday, I put out a sign up sheet for anyone who wanted a DVD of the raw footage (over 2 hours) from the scavenger hunt we did as part of our kickoff. We had 31 at our kickoff and 23 people signed up for the DVD. That is just crazy to me. I thought there would be a few people who would want one, but almost 80% is unreal. A funny aspect is that there are 2 people who want a DVD that were not at the kickoff.
It is taking me forever to make the DVDs. I can only do one at a time and it takes like 3 hours to do each one. Plus I'm doing them on my computer at church, and can't on my Mac at home, so I can only get 3 done a day.
I never planned on having a DVD to hand out, but then I decided I needed to put all the footage on one DVD and get it off my computer. So, I figured I could make more copies if someone wanted it. When I first mentioned it, I had a handful of people say they would like one.
I am excited about what this next year will bring...even if I have to make 23 DVDs.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Good Idea: Wanting to do something funny (which was suggested by a few of the students you have just met) at the beginning of the first message you'll give in the community after starting a new ministry.
Bad Idea: Listening to the students who think it will be funny to put the vocal effects pedal on "chipmunk" when you get up to speak.
When I spoke into the mic and I sounded like a chipmunk no one laughed. Well, out of 400 students and adults about 5 people chuckled. And I think some of them were out of pity for me. What makes it even better is that once I did switch mics it didn't help. I was being picked up through the original mic, so out of my 10 minute message I was fighting with the sound for over 1/2 the time.
The students still bring it up, though, which makes it a great memory. We laugh about it now, because it is hilarious. But then it was just awkward.
Friday, September 14, 2007
It is now official - you can turn anything into a college class. Here is the story.
Pitzer College, in CA is now offering a class on Learning from Youtube. There are 35 students in the class. You can even follow the class online (on YouTube, of course) at the classes site.
1. It is not written from or meant to be a "Christian" video
2. There is a little language in a couple of the clips (see #1)
3. It does bring up many questions about Christianity - though no answers are given
4. It "proves" that Lucifer is a woman and her name is Lucy
5. It has the potential to (and probably will) offend a good number of Christians who would see it
6. Mr Deity and Lucy have a relationship (which is very anti-biblical)
I used episode 2 (Mr Deity and the Really Big Favor) to start a class on "What we believe about Jesus Christ." The clip brings up many points about the relationship between Jesus and God. And Jesus' role in salvation.
Here is episode 2 - Mr Deity and the Really Big Favor...
What do you think? discussion starter or sign of the times?
This was the four of us who got our heads shaved. The two youth coaches on the ends were blessed to have groups who actually just finished shaving the entire head. The two of us in the middle got to go home with some design in our hair. I ended up with only 1/2 a sideburn and 4 little squares on the top of my head. The other guy ended up with a mohawk.
All in all, it was a good night. One I think the teens will remember for along time.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
in the church building. Thanks to a bunch of "technical work" by a Verizon technician. He did a lot of rerouting and moving lines or something like that. IT was a lot of stuff that was way (and I mean almost hit that 747 flying overhead) over my head. Somehow he got it to sync with our system by bypassing some "jump stations" or something like that.
Anyhow, we now have it in the building. But it is only on one computer right now (the new one for our secretary - which she doesn't even use much, if at all). So now I wait for our "phone guy" to come and run cables so that everyone on staff will have highspeed. Its almost like a dream.
"Youth look to the church to show them something. Most of the time we have offered them pizza."
taken from The Godbearing Life by Kenda Creasy Dean & Ron Foster
First off, this quote makes me smile every time I read it.
I had a conversation along these lines lately with one of the youth coaches. The students are yearning for something bigger than themselves. They want the church to show them what God is like. Sadly, there are times all they see is games and silly events or pizza.
Not all ministries are the same and not all students are being offered the same things.
Some students get:
- silly games
- upfront craziness or goofiness
- donuts in the morning and/or food at night
- only "cool" people get to do ministry
- popularity = leadership
- love lived out in daily situations
- a great adult who pours into their life
- a chance to see all generations serving together
- neglected and/or the leftovers
- love for God taught and applied
What are you showing your students?
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Recently I have had two experiences with customer service feedback - not counting those website codes you get at some checkouts. The first came while trying to get my home phone/dsl working properly. We noticed the dsl running slow and then the phone would lose its signal. So we called Verizon to let them know we were having problems with our phone line. After talking with a technician on the phone, who couldn't do anything but give me another number to call to get someone to come and manually look at and repair the line, she asked me how I would rate her customer service on a scale of 1 to 5. I'm all for customer service evaluations, but having the person just ask me. Come on! I don't think that is a fair or good way to go about it. I could have told her a 1 and she could have written down whatever she wanted. Or if I did tell her 1, how would she respond? Would she want to know why? Would she just hang up and be mad the rest of the day?
The other instance came after eating dinner at Applebee's. Our waitress gave us a survey (when I say us, I mean the two females at the table got one and I didn't) to fill out about our visit. It was a fairly normal survey until you got to the last question - "Are you a pharmaceutical representative?" I just find that strange. But I think it would have something to do with them thinking/knowing they have a lot of pharmaceutical reps who use Applebee's for meetings.
Anyway, I got to thinking about how ministries evaluate themselves. Sometimes, we just ask people face to face, asking questions like this:
"How do you think the ________ ministry is going?"
"What do you think about ___________ (insert person's name)?"
"Did you like _______________ or should we avoid that next time?"
"Didn't _____________ do a good job tonight?"
How do we really expect people to answer these questions? If we want to hear what we want to hear, I think these are great questions. But I'm afraid that sometimes we are too afraid to hear the truth. I am all for asking people in person what they think, but I don't always think the minister or person in charge should be the person asking the question.
The other method we use is questionnaires. These allow for more openness, but still have a drawback. I like annomnimous, but then you can't follow up. If you have people put there names, then they are not always completely honest. Is there a better way?
Feedback is so important to a ministry. How do you go about getting input? How do you evaluate ministries? Do you evaluate on a regular basis?
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Last Tuesday, my family went shopping. For the most part it was a normal day - except for two things. First off, neither of the boys fell asleep during the whole trip until around dinner time. Second, our trip to Macy's.
We normally do not go into Macy's (I can't remember the last time I have been inside one). Anyway, Amy was looking for some jeans, so we thought we'd try Macy's. Being the good dad I am :) I took the boys so Amy could look at jeans without being distracted. My first mistake was in thinking Macy's had a toy section - they DO NOT! But while walking around upstairs, I did discover something I wasn't ready for: Christmas decorations.
They are already putting out Christmas decorations. I thought we used to have to wait until at least November, after Halloween. I can see even October, but the first week in September. Wow!
No, I didn't go look at them. I don't buy Christmas decorations until after Christmas when they are over 50% off. I am a youth minister, remember.
There is a new poll up. Are you going to NYWC?
If you are going, I'd love to hear which one and how many you've been to. Leave any and all additional information/comments by commenting on this post. Hope to see you at the NYWC in St. Louis (where I'll be helping in the YS Store)
Monday, September 10, 2007
Apparently because the church is in a rural area we get to get all the "fun" parts of trying to update technology. We had to "fight" to even get Verizon to realize we could get DSL service (took months). Now we are having trouble with the line and its not our fault. So we get a Verizon tech out to look at it tomorrow.
For the last 4 days I have been without any internet at work (not even dial-up, thanks to some rewiring for the dsl). Its not the end of the world, but its tough to not even be able to send an email or look for a lesson help. I have to do it all at home.
Hopefully, tomorrow will bring some relief.
It seems like there is a good mixture of people who read this blog - based on the latest poll.
30% are jr/sr high youth ministers
20% are birth to college youth ministers
20% are sr. ministers
10% are music ministers
10% are church volunteers
10% do not work with or at a church
With 10 people voting that translates to 3 jr/sr high only youth ministers, 2 birth to college youth ministers, 2 sr. ministers, 1 music minister, 1 church volunteer (keep doing what you're doing) and 1 person who doesn't work with or at a church.
Thanks for voting.
Welcome to the Festivities :)
Fun Facts about this blog:
1st Post - May 26, 2005
2nd Post - June 24, 2005 (wow, one month for 2 posts)
3rd Post - July 25, 2005 (my last big trip with old youth ministry) (another month, no wonder no one ever started reading)
This was originally supposed to be a blog for my former ministry - but it never worked out (what with the whole firing thing). So, now it is my personal blog.
Some of the most popular pages:
5 things youth ministers don't want you to know
The Office: Season 4 premiere For a while I was the first entry when you went to yahoo and searched for "office season 4"
10 Minute email This one gets found with searching for "10 minute porn" - so I'm not sure what people expect to find.
Dakota Fanning Rape Scene I posted this a long time ago, but its starting to get a lot of hits because of the movie coming out soon.
5 Ways to Survive Summer
YM Thought: Your relationship with Jesus
5 Things I Learned at the YM Summit
Why Ministers Go to Church - some good thoughts in the comments section
Is your ministry like Wal-Mart - I just "love" wallyworld
Posts I love, that most people have never read (written before people other than friends read this blog)
The Lighthouse Effect
Raising Lazarus & My Life
Yesterday was the day (announcing to congregation we were leaving) - this is always an emotional thing to think about for me
Final Sunday & My final day in the office two posts about my last two days of last ministry
Ramen Noodles & God - even reading this post makes me cry to remember how much God provided for us while I was out of the ministry
Do you ever feel like its enough?
DxVxF>R - something to think about
Depending on God
God vs. God's gifts - I always need this reminder
Sunday, September 09, 2007
The Simpsons Movie
For Simpsons fans, the long wait is finally over. The movie version has been made. And it seemed a little anti-climatic.
There were unexpected hilarious moments throughout the movie. On the other hand, there were a lot of moments that just did not seem to fit. For the longtime fan, the movie has some treats (like the ambulance smashed against the tree by the Springfield Gorge, from the episode Bart, the Daredevil). Not the mention all the characters that make appearances; some getting more airtime than almost the entire run of the show.
The movie is not solely based on having a working knowledge of The Simpsons, though. You do not need to know the episode numbers or the character names to enjoy this movie version. It can stand alone - and I think it does a great job of doing just that. As a minister, I think there are some great discussion starters throughout.
Here are a few of the discussion starters...
- the way the Simpsons stick together, as a family
- Bart's desire for a "better" dad
- Homer and Marge's marriage
- Can you really be completely seperated from the world?
- putting other's first
I would not say The Simpsons Movie is for everyone. But I do know that most of the students in your ministry have probably seen it. I know a lot of students in my ministry have seen it, and I didn't know most of them even watched the show.
Dec. 18 release of the movie on DVD
Tonight is the first official meeting of the fall for our ministry (the younger kids took the summer off completely and are starting back tonight).
Tonight we are going to be watching the recap video from our kickoff, two weeks ago. Which was about 1 1/2 hours of footage. I got it down to about 22 minutes of video. I thought that was pretty good. But today in SS, when I mentioned it just about everyone was upset that they couldn't just watch all 80some minutes. :)
(Thankfully, I was already planning on putting all the raw footage onto a dvd. Now I am going to be making extra DVD's to give out to students.)
Anyway, the biggest thing tonight, is going to be the "prizes" some of the teams get for the scavenger hunt.
We had 5 levels of prizes:
1 - eat dinner during kickoff
2 - get dessert
3 - put a pie in an adult's face
4 - shave an adult's head
5 - 1/2 off the cost of any youth trip/event (no one made this level)
So, after tonight I will be bald. I've never had my hair that short, so we'll see. There are a couple other youth coaches who are willing to get their head shaved - so there is a chance.
Friday, September 07, 2007
The Alpha version of YouVersion is out and I got my password this week. Though its only the Alpha version and there are many aspects that are not done yet - it looks great.
For a more indepth description, check out Adam's post here. I haven't had a chance to really do a lot of looking, but what I have seen looks good.
I know it is just the alpha version, so you can't expect everything to be working (therefore I look forward to the beta version - and ultimately the official release).
I would encourage you to check it out and sign up for the updates.
I had never even seen The Wuzzles when I was growing up. But Amy (my wife) has a thermos she kept from when she was a kid. The other day, I decided to use it to take a drink to work. I was intrigued. So I did some investigating online. The Wuzzles is a show about these animals who are a combination of two animals. In fact the whole "land of Wuz" is a combination of two things. For instance, they have flants, which are a combination of ants and flies.
I'd love to find an entire episode online, but I've only found snippets. Here is one. Enjoy.
Did you ever watch the Wuzzles? What cartoon did you like growing up?
I found this Warren Moon Poster in some of my old stuff a few weeks ago. I gave it to Wes (my youngest - 23 months) and he wanted to put it up on the wall. :)
We may just be the only house in America with a Warren Moon poster on the wall.
Do you have any strange posters up in your house?
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
This morning, I was able to be a part of a very special prayer circle.
One of the adults who has been very involved with FCA and the high school (in general) was diagnosed with cancer last year. He has battled it and was doing better til recently. Now, he is about to start a new form of treatment to try to slow things down. Well, he was at FCA this morning. It is always a blessing when he can make it to the school to be a part of things.
During the prayer time, one of the students asked if we could huddle around him for prayer. We had to stay some distance away due to his weakened immune system, but we had a circle of prayer for him. It was pretty cool.
It was encouraging to see that happen at a student led event. To see the students step up and go the extra mile.
Those are the moments I remember when someone asks me why I'm in youth ministry.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
If you are in youth ministry, I'm sure you have probably sent one of those notes to a student that reads something like, "You have mounds of talent." But the word "mounds" is replaced with an actual mounds candy bar.
When I heard this quote (thanks to my wife passing it on) I thought about that concept. This is a statement made by some guy on a morning talkshow. It really doesn't matter who it was or what he does - the best part is just the quote.
"If we don't play monopoly with our kids today, they'll play sorry with us tomorrow."Isn't that great? :)
I'm thinking about using it at my next parent meeting. If you get to use this quote first, please let me know how well it goes over.
And remember, go play monopoly with your kids or you'll be sorry.
Today is the day to go and pick up the Office season 3 on DVD. Only 3 weeks til the season premiere "Fun Run"
Not sure where to buy your Office season 3, check out the options here. I recommend Best Buy or Target, unless you want just the basics...
Monday, September 03, 2007
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Yesterday (Saturday) the church got a package. This is not just any package, though. It is the one thing that will help bring our offices/church into the 21st Century. What is this great gift from "the future" you ask? A dsl package from Verizon. :) (If words could only express how excited I am)
Hopefully by the week's end, there will be no more dial-up.
I am looking forward to helping set it up this week. My prayer is that I don't let the "new" technology get in the way of ministry.