Thursday, January 31, 2008

Reflections on: winter weather

So this week was supposed to be super full and busy. Potentially there was something every night; with two games on Monday & Tuesday, small groups on Wednesday, Winter Jam concert on Thursday, 5th Quarter on Friday. It was going to be full, but it was going to be awesome!

So, I didn't go to the games on Monday/Tuesday because I was already going to be away from home 3 of the 5 evenings during the week. We needed some family time. So, those two days were good and the time spent together was much needed and helpful. (even though baby #3 is months away, this time with my 2 boys is going quickly)

Wednesday was full. Had an extended jr. high small group due to early dismissal.

Ah, then the winter weather hit today...

Tonight (Thursday) we were supposed to go to Winter Jam. But the bad weather started. Sleet, snow, ice, "wintry mix" and below freezing temps. So, we opted to be safe and not try to go.

Tomorrow (Friday) school is closed. This means that there will be no 5th Quarter. So there is another evening that is now open. Granted the weather may not be good, but it is still a major change in the planned week.

So, out of 5 nights of stuff we got 1.

This is why I don't like winter. It is so hard to plan. More accurately, it is so hard to predict the weather. Well, there will be other concerts and hopefully a rescheduling of 5th Quarter.

An even sadder thing is one of my youth ministry team leaders took off work tonight and tomorrow to make sure he could be at both events and neither one is going to happen.

What stories do you have of the winter weather altering your ministry plans/events?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Watch this recap video from Granger CC

Tim Stevens posted this video on his blog yesterday. It is worth the watch (4:49). This is the type of recap video I'd like to do for some youth ministry stuff. Here's a link to his post on it.

#3 is on the way!!!

My wife and I are expecting our third child in late July. :)

We don't know if it is a girl or boy, and we may not find out until the baby is delivered. We have two small boys - so a girl would help bring balance to our house.

I'm excited about this new change to our life and family. The boys keep talking about the baby (not sure if they understand its going to be a long time yet). My wife is excited, and hoping it goes quickly, and is hoping for a girl. This new addition has already meant changes for our family: a new minivan, boys moved up into the next bed size, and more "baby" stuff is showing up in the house.

I'm sure I'll post more as the time comes. Thanks for your prayers.

Trivia Wednesday #54: insects

answer #53 - True

question #54 - Which insect is often fatally mesmerized by bright light?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Poll: Are you having a Super Bowl Party

There hasn't been any big super bowl party news this year. Maybe churches learned the rules last year (don't charge & don't show it on a TV bigger than 55 inches). Or maybe these churches just are not promoting it very much. Either way, I'm curious - are you hosting/having a Super Bowl Party this year.

Yes - at church
Yes - at someone's house
No

Poll Results: Old Food in the Church Kitchen

The voting is done, and hopefully a few "out of date" items have been thrown in the trash. :)

Seems like some churches are getting better at cleaning the kitchen out on a regular basis.

No one found anything less than 6 years out of date.
33% (1 person) has found something 6-8 years old
33% (1 person) has found something 9-10 years old
33% (1 person) has found something older than 10 years

Next time you use the church's kitchen, remember to help clean it up and not to put any extra in the back corner of a cabinet. Send it home with someone or give it to a soup kitchen.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Question about clothing and the Garden

The other night, my boys and I were reading the account of Adam and Eve for their bedtime story. Like all good scholars we ended up reading it from two different Bibles (both children's versions). After reading the account twice and talking about what happened my three year old asked me a very innocent question, to him. (but somewhat awkward to me) He asked why Adam and Eve didn't have any clothes on in the Garden.

I didn't really want to get into that conversation with him, so I made a few quick comments and then moved on.

I'm just hoping the issue doesn't come up again anytime soon.

Have you had that awkward moment with your children?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008

First GodTube, now ChristianTube

The difference between GodTube and ChristianTube is that GodTube is up and running - and is actually a pretty decent site.

ChristianTube is not even up and they are asking for developers to help them get the site up and running. (would have thought this would have been taken care of before you bought the domain name)

We'll have to wait and see what happens. I'm not going to hold my breath.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Accidental Feedblitz deletions

I had some accidental deletions from Feedblitz subscriptions. So if you happen to see this and haven't gotten your email updates - know it was not intentional. Please take a few moments and sign up again. Thank you.

DayZLoop.com: site for teen girls

I heard about DayZLoop.com today and thought it looked pretty interesting. Think: a good site to let the teen girls in our ministries know about. It looks like a good place for teen girls to go online, unfortunately I can't see too much without becoming a member. All the stuff I can see on the home page looks good.

Have you ever heard of it before? Anyone know a teen girl who is a member?

I'm gonna pass it along to some of my parents and teen girls. Thought you might like to pass it along to your youth group girls.

Here is what there "about" page says,

DayZloop.com is the first online infotainment TV network covering all areas of a teen girl's life. This educational and fun environment provides an essential foundation for female youth to connect, learn, interact and have direct access to information, tools and tips that support, inspire and assist them to develop and build their self-esteem.

dayZloop.com covers a full range of topics: lifestyle, spirituality, finance, entertainment, interior design, and society. The content is provided by field experts and updated on a regular basis, incorporating subscribers' topic selection and feedback. This creates organic content growth, increasing the platform's value and relevance.

The content is delivered via online video mini-series, audio shows/podcasts, online discussions & forums; and, more standard means such as publishing and posting online news and articles.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

to quote someone else: David Crowder & Mike Hogan (Hope)

"Hope placed in the future inadvertently brings hope into the present, in turn making the present tolerable"
taken from Everybody Wants to go to Heaven but Nobody Wants to Die by David Crowder & Mike Hogan

So true. I felt this when my grandma passed away a few weeks ago.

Trivia Wednesday #53: Olympics

answer #52 - pinch runner

question #53 - True or false? In the first Olympic games in 776 BC, only Greeks could participate?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Christian Alternatives" to Facebook & Myspace

Out of curiosity, I decided to google "Christian social networking" to see what I would find in the realm of Christian alternatives to myspace and facebook. I was quite surprised with what I found (2,250,000 pages) in just a few minutes.

A few were very simple. One looked a lot like Myspace (can you find it).

Here is what I found in less than 5 minutes, meaning there are probably a ton more out there:


holypal "The premier Christian social network"



mychurch "is the best way for a church to build an online community."


Shoutlife "is a community / social networking website that offers free profiles with complete customization, unlimited photos, private/instant messaging, chat, blogging and more. Our goal is to provide a safe and clean, easy to use community environment with the features you love. At ShoutLife.com, you can connect with your friends as well as amazing music artists, authors, comedians, organizations and more."

5loaves "We are an emerging Christian community of diverse people connecting with one another to build friendships, share resources, nurture our families, and strengthen the global church."


christianspaces Everything (and I mean everything) on this page looks a lot like another social networking site I know of, but which one is it? Not sure what to think about this line from the front page, "101ChristianSpaces.com is a free Christian social networking site owned & run by genuine Christians!" Are other sites not run by genuine Christians?

mypraize - this is mostly a "Christian" music focused version of myspace



mygodlyplace "We are a new Christian MySpace Alternative website offering fun, games, quizzes, photos, photo rating, photo battles, groups, blogs, events, classifieds, polls, forums, IM, videos, music and just plain sharing our love for Jesus Christ as Christians. We are your Family Safe Alternative to MySpace/Hi5/Friendster/Etc. Signup now for FREE! Get your Free profile, edit it, add some photos, videos, music and be on your way to meeting new Christian Friends today!" But the part that made me chuckle was this next line "THE FIRST 10,000 TO SIGNUP ARE ENTERED TO WIN AN IPOD OR PS3...REGISTER NOW, IT'S FREE...GOOD LUCK & GOD BLESS!!!"
They have merch you can buy, but not nearly as much as the last site - Xianz

myfaithconnects "is a fun place for Christians around the world to socialize and connect with each other. We offer a clean atmosphere for Christians of every denomination to express themselves, share their interests, and make new friends in the process."



fellowshipbuilder: Cultivating Christian community


Xianz
My favorite part of this site is all the merch you can buy. For instance you can buy a Framed Panel Print for $50 with Robbie D on it. Don't want that, how about a throw pillow or teddy bear. And so much more...








So, what do you do with all of these (and the many more out there) alternatives?
Do we ignore them and not join?
Do we join them all?
Do we join if one of our students is on that site?

Do your students even know about these alternatives? I'd be curious to take a poll with students in our ministries and see how many of them know there are "Christian alternatives" to Facebook, Myspace, Bebo,....

What do you think about all of these sites? Is it too much? Is the church trying too hard to stay away from the world? Is it a good alternative to keeping our students safer?

Free Prince Caspian Resources from Interlinc

Youth Ministry Ideas posted about some free resources being provided by Interlinc for the upcoming Prince Caspian movie. Check out the info here, and click on the bottom of the page to sign up.

All Jewish Social Networking Site - Koolanoo

It seems there is an all Jewish social networking site. Its Koolanoo.com

I must say two of the ads for it seem a bit violent for a Jewish social networking site.
The other one is just a little too edgy (think Carl Jr's Paris Hilton ad esque). They are definitely going for some viral marketing with their ads.

I don't think it is necessary to cross a line in order to get people to your site. You should have standards as a company. If I were Jewish, the ads themselves might keep me from joining the site.

Later today, I'll post about all the "Christian" social networking sites I found out of curiosity.

Monday, January 21, 2008

SNS taking steps to protect teens online

Found this article about social networking sites (myspace, facebook specifically) taking some steps to keep teens safe online and offline.

I don't think this is enough. Well, I don't even know if it is feasible. I hope it is a way to help protect underage kids from predators. Ultimately, the key is parents knowing what is going on and helping to monitor their children. The article says this:

He said the best way to protect children is educating them about the dangers. Because the teenagers who fall victim to online predators are often alienated from their parents, he said, education programs should directly target children ages 13 to 15.
Here is another excerpt from the article:
In a 2006, Finkelhor found that one in seven children are sexually solicited online and that one in 33 are aggressively solicited. In a separate study he found that, over a one-year period, between 2001 and 2002, there had been 1,000 cases where someone was arrested for sex crimes against a juvenile where the Internet played a role in the crime.

"I really think the attorneys generals did a great thing to step into this vacuum and get this conversation going," Finkelhor said.

But he also cautioned that fears of online predation might be overblown and that the dynamics of such cases are misunderstood.

There is little evidence, he said, that the Internet or online social networks have led to more cases of sexual assaults on children, despite the solicitations.

He noted that since the early 1990s the incidence of sex crimes against children has dropped by about half, despite a steady growth in Internet use.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Social Networking Site for Pets

Yakety Yak Pets is a site for your pets to connect with other pets. Really? My two dogs don't even want to associate with the cats next door, let alone a dog in CA.

Would you sign your pet up for this?

Tips on Starting the New Year Strong

Whether its the start of a calendar year or a school year, the need to start strong is the same. What does it take to begin strongly? Here are 5 ideas to think about when you start planning the new year.

1. Pray. Talk to God about what your group (and individual students) needs. Spend time praying about the spiritual health of the people involved in the ministry.

2. Have a direction in mind. Know where you want the group to move toward (this will come from your time spent praying). As a whole, where do you want them to be? Will the focus be on an upcoming missions trip? Do they need to learn more about their faith? Would it be best for you to do some outreach focused activities?

3. Plan with your team. Once you have spent time talking to God about your group and know where you want the group to go, get together with your youth ministry team. Share with them the direction and passion God has given you. Get their feedback and discuss what you can do to help the students get to the "point" you want them to. (This is definitely not a magic formula and God can always change things up or work however He wants to, but we can't sit back idly doing nothing either)

4. Place the big events on the calendar. (this is one I struggle with) Once you have the first few big events (one a quarter) scheduled, put them on the calendar. Then make sure the parents and students know the dates well in advance.

5. Be Present with the students.
Now that the "big stuff" is done (well, you'll still be doing the details) you need to spend your time being present with the students. Go to their games, eat lunch with them, call them, write a note/email/text/IM/write on their wall. Use this time to listen to what God is doing in their life. Be an encouragement. Challenge them to go deeper. Help prepare them for what you feel God is going to be doing in their lives over the next few months.

What tips or ideas do you have for starting the new year strong?

Photo Friday: Glass Bottles


Glass Bottles on a Shelf.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

40+ GIMP plugins

Now that you all have checked out Open Source programs and discovered (or already know about) GIMP for photos. Let me throw some more fun freebies at you...

Here is a list of 40+ GIMP plugins.

Though I doubt you could use them all, there are sure to be a few that will be beneficial to you (and your ministry) as you make better images and fun pictures.

a few of my favorites:
-Pandora (Make a panorama from multiple images.)
-DustCleaner (Detect and remove the dust spots in digital images.)
-Photo Effects (a bunch of efforts to help make some fun pics for a website, newsletter, etc)
-GimpPublishr (Publish images to Picassa and Flickr directly from inside GIMP.)

Now, go and make some good pictures even better.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #52

answer #51 - 33,000

question #52 - What is the only way a baseball player can get to first base without ever stepping into the batter's box?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New Poll: What is the most out of date item found in your church's kitchen?

What is the most out of date item you have found in your church's kitchen?

- just a few months
- 1-2 years
- 3-5 years
- 6-8 years
- 9-10 years
- over 10 years
- don't know, no one wanted to get that close


Recently, while I was helping someone go through the kitchen, we found a big can of pudding and a smaller can of something else that were at least 9 years past "good". So really there is no telling how long they had been in the pantry.

Poll Results: Have you ever broke up a fight at a youth event?

The final round is over. A majority of you have never had to break up a fight at a youth event. That is good news :)

Here is the break down:
77% (7 people) have never had to break up a fight
22% (2 people) have broken up a fight

It seems most of us don't deal with physical fights, we just get all the emotional and non-physical arguments and tension.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Reflections on: vacation

My reflections on vacation:

Craziest - Saw a moped rider yesterday. Not too uncommon, until you notice he is carrying crutches on his moped. Makes me wonder if the moped had anything to do with the crutches. Wish I could have gotten a picture - because just thinking about it makes me chuckle.

Unexpected Goodness - non scheduled family time is awesome!

Responsibility - is van shopping on vacation still vacation?

Good Times - friendships grow deeper as the two friends mature. Having a longtime (lifelong) friend makes reconnecting that much easier.

Close, but not close enough - almost got to eat at Chipotle. But they were not open yet, just taking applications. My first impression of the building was that of a used car dealership. Its just a big metal box. Maybe next time I get back "home" I'll get to stop by and try it. (interesting sidenote, the new Chipotle is in the old location of one of my favorite seafood places - Long John Silver's)

Take away thought - you've got to make every minute count or you'll regret it afterward.

Non-negotiable - Spending some quality & quantity time with the family is much better than going to a fancy resort.

Everything by Lifehouse: Drama Format

I was told about this video over a month ago by a parent of one of the high schoolers. Its a good visual to show our struggle to let go of the world and hold onto Jesus.

Here is the version via GodTube...



or for those none GodTube users, here is the YouTube version...



They look (about) the same to me. :)

Free training for young church leaders by Jim Wideman

If you are under 30, a leader in your church, and would commit to praying for Jim Wideman once a week, you qualify for free training.

Jim's training called "The Club" is being offered for free to young guns. Go here to sign up.

Here is the description from the website:


“The Club” is a monthly audio leadership resource. Designed especially for children’s ministers and those who want to take advantage of over 30 years of children’s and family ministry experience without taking 30 years to learn it. Jim has been a proven leader and ministry pioneer during four decades. Since 1995 thousands of ministry leaders have taken advantage of challenging themselves to the bigger thinking and vision that “the club” provides each month. Each lesson is like having your own personal leadership coach to help you. You will learn organization, administration and leadership skills from someone who’s been there and done it with a proven track record of excellence in ministry.



(gracias a ChurchRelevance)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #51

answer #50 - 221,184 (you could have a whopper for every meal and still have a different meal)

question #51 - About how many miles is Alaska's coastline - 8,000, 16,000, or 33,000?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Warning labels: Common sense not required


Great Warning label contest.

Enjoy a good laugh with the Wacky Warning Label Contest.

Maybe we should do one of these based on "rules" in a church that were put into place thanks to the youth group.

If you've got a good one, let us know by commenting on this post...

Open Source Living: library of open source "sources"

Do you like open source products? Would you like to have a copy of Microsoft Office (well at least a program compatible) but don't like Office? Do you like free stuff?

Then Open Source Living is the site for you. Some of the "sources" may not be new to you, some of them might be. For some of you, it will all be new.

One thing I really like about the site is the ease of finding what I want. It is all categorized and easy to access.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Overnighter Tip: Shift Help

Even though I know a lot of youth ministers do not like overnighters (for various reasons), we still do them. There are some overnighters that are way too easy and fun to count as work. There are others that just drag on and on and on - which results in taking three days off just to recover. After having done my fair share of overnighters over the years, I have learned a few things. Through a series of posts, I would like to share some tips to think about when planning and participating in a youth overnighter.

Overnighter Tip: Shift Help
*Plan shifts for adults to sign up to help with.

One thing is for sure, getting an adult to help during the entire overnighter is difficult, at best. Most people do not function well on that little sleep. So this year we decided to try something new. We broke the evening up into five shifts. One shift started 30 minutes before the last one ended. This helped with the chance that someone was running late or just slept through.

We set it up so that I was there the entire night, for consistency. There were also a few others who split the night up and stayed a little longer. You need to have at least one person (depending on the size of the group) who knows what has happened and is a consistent figure throughout the night. And it doesn't have to be the youth minister!

I had never done this before and was a little hesitant when it was first mentioned. But I must say I was overwhelmed with how well it worked. It worked on many levels. For one, we were able to fill every spot (now the 4-7:30am spot was a little tough) with at least 2 adults. The students seemed to like the changes in adults. The adults were able to help without getting burnt out and overreacting due to being tired. This point was huge. After 7 hours straight it is easy for certain students to really start "getting to" an adult and this shorter shift schedule helped that not happen.

Here is an example breakdown, for a 7pm to 9am overnighter:
6:30-10:30pm
10-1:30am
1-4:30am
4-7:30am
7-9:30am

Have you done shifts at an overnighter? How did it go?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Photo Friday: dot com store sign


I saw this store front on a recent trip. It is not too often when I see store signs that contain the web address for any store.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Poll: Have you ever had to break up a fight at a youth event?

Just curious...

Have you ever had to break up a fight at a youth event?

I personally have never broken up a fight.

If you have, leave a comment and explain.

Poll Results: Did you have a New Year overnighter?

Now that it is 2008, lets see how many of you had a overnighter to ring in the new year.

83% (5 people) did not get any sleep
16% (1 person) did get plenty of sleep

I for one had a great time (even without the sleep) at our overnighter. Thanks for giving up a peaceful evening at home. Until next year...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #50

answer #49 - 2 (Mt & Lk)

question #50 - How many ways can you order a Whopper? (closest answer wins)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

American Idol & the Robbie Seay Band

While I was watching the GA/HI game tonight I heard Rise from the Robbie Seay Band, but wasn't sure where it was coming from. Maybe it was from my iMac in the other room. It wasn't. It was coming from the TV. A commercial for the new season of American Idol uses the song. Pretty cool. Its my favorite song on the new CD & one of my least favorite TV shows :)

From the bands website:

21 Dec 2007
AMERICAN IDOL & RSB??
Friends. i know. i know. we're having a hard time believing it as well. i mean i've spent many a night trying to dance like Justin Guarini & sing like Ruben Studdard - neither worked out too well, mind you - but never dreamed we'd be a part of the new season in some small way. The fine folks at American Idol are playing RISE on their new commercials promoting the upcoming season starting in January - and we're thrilled about being a part of the ads! What? No my uncle does not work for Simon Cowell, why would you say that? anyway... seriously, you can see for your own eyes.. click on the link below: ...AMERICAN IDOL & RSB COMMERCIAL... Be on the lookout for the spots, airing on FOX (of course) throughout the holidays. There's even a moment when the band name and song title flash on the screen. crazy!