Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #67: Flower Families

answer #66 - J.R.R. Tolkien

question #67 - Which flower family includes apples, pears and cherries?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thoughts on Believe '08: Anderson, IN

First, let me just say that Believe was a great event. It was a great chance for our jr. highers to "Connect."

Like all trips; we had our share of unexpected events. But nothing hampered the weekend. Here is a breakdown of how we started the weekend (picture it if you will)...

- got to the school "on time" to pick up 7th graders, the 8th graders were at a local church for the day doing an all day 8th grade thing.
- walked in office and one of the secretaries (both who go to the church) said "I've got good news and bad news, what do you want first?" This is never a good way to start a trip.
- I said, "let's go with the bad news." To which she responded by telling me that a couple of the students left their bags on the bus. We would have to drive to the bus drivers house to get them off the bus.
- Waited for the 7th graders. They were in gym (I mean PE). The teacher's words to dismiss them from class "Alright, all you believers can go now" - had to be one of the highlights of the weekend for me, it brought a smile to my face.
(we never heard the good news)
- Drove down the street to pick up 8th graders. Then on another 5-7 minutes to get the bags from the bus. Then back past all three stops to head out of town.
- I think we started off being at least 30 minutes off schedule

The trip was good. We got there after the first session started. But the good thing about that was, as we were walking in we ran into Brent the Stunt Guy outside. Got to talk to him for a few minutes, great guy.

Even the first night, the students were opening up and sharing. This is rare for me; it usually takes the first day to get them talking.

Scott Rubin did a phenominal job communicating with the students. Also with the adults in the "breakout session"

Brent was great doing his "stunt guy stunts." The students think he is crazy.

Eric Timm added a whole new dimension to the weekend with his art. I've seen him before at other conferences and such, but this Believe tour has to be my favorite stuff I've seen him do.

I had some great adults who really made the weekend a great time to connect with the students. We were able to have some really good, deep, conversations that were about more than surface issues. Hoping to have it just springboard into ongoing conversations...

Thanks to Johnny and the rest of the staff for all the work they put into making Believe a very jr. high intentional and effective ministry.

(maybe I'll post some pics soon)

Friday, April 25, 2008 review

There is a website called killerstartups that tries to give its readers a good assortment of web startups each day. Recently they reviewed, which you can read it here.

An interesting take on it.

Photo Friday: Tree and Blue Sky

I like this picture.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

twitter apps

I've been meaning to write this post for some time. Over the last few weeks, I've run across a couple (more that I'm not including) Twitter apps. Here are the ones I think can be most useful/fun for those in ministry. I haven't used them all and do not claim to say they are great. But they look to be worth a look.

Twitterlights allows you to highlight internet snippets and twitter them.

Twixxer is a site that lets you share and see video and pictures on Twitter. If you have the greasemonkey addon you can see it in twitter, otherwise you get a link to click and see it (which is no different than what you can do now)

Tweetlater is exactly what it sounds like. You write your tweet and set the time/day it gets posted. Could be fun to do when you are in a meeting or youth group or in a van with 12 teenagers.

Twitimonials is a place to say why you follow certain twitterers. You just say something like, "always has something funny to say."

Intwition is a site designated to letting you track links used on Twitter. See which YouTube video has been sent over Twitter the most and which blog is getting a lot of mention.

Twitearth is a fun way to watch how tweets happen around the world at the same time. Reminds us that the world is a small place.

Trackthis is a way to track your shipments on Twitter. Every time your package changes location you get a direct message on Twitter.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #66: The Hobbit

answer #65 - Ronald Reagan

question #66 - Who wrote The Hobbit?

Happy Birthday Nathan

Today, my oldest turns 4.

I know that isn't old, but it still seems strange. Happy Birthday buckaroo!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Reflections on: earthquakes

This morning, at 4:40am, I was awakened by an earthquake. And I live in southern IL. I've never experienced an earthquake before (I've lived in Cincy, OH, Augusta, GA and grew up in northern IN) At first we thought it was strong winds, but for once this week it wasn't windy. The longer it lasted, the more I was sure it was an earthquake. A few pictures got shaken up, some puzzles fell from our huge box pile of puzzles, and I just found out one of our picture frames fell and broke.

As I tried to go back to sleep, I was able to do a lot of thinking. First, I think an earthquake would be a great plot for a movie. :) Second, I wondered how anyone could miss an earthquake. How could people just not notice it. Third, I was thinking about all the earthquakes found in the Bible: Elijah (1 Kings 19.10-12), those guarding Jesus(Mt. 27.54), at Jesus' resurrection (Mt. 28.2), Paul & Silas in prison (Acts 16.25-27), a few in Revelation (6.12; 8.5; 11.13; 11.19; 16.18)

earthquakes connected to God:
Isa. 29.6

Here is the info on the earthquake. Here's a CNN article on the quake.

Photo Friday: cement truck

I call this 'cement truck'.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Believe '08: Anderson, IN

Tomorrow, we are taking a group of jr. highers to Believe in Anderson, IN. I am very excited about this trip. I've never actually been to a CIY event at Anderson before. I've been to many other events, in other locations, and have never been disappointed.

Another reason I'm excited is the group that is going: great students and great adults.

I'll post about the highlights after we get back. Hopefully this year, I won't have to talk to any police.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #65: Oldest US President

answer #64 - Casey Stengel

question #65 - Name the oldest man elected to the U.S. presidency.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

DSL filtering & the church

Have you ever had a DSL line put in your house or business? We did it a few months ago at church. It was a process to get it all done. That would be a topic for a different post.

What did catch my attention during the installation process was something that happened in order to get the DSL to work in our building. The phone guy had to filter the DSL line outside of the building before it could enter. Originally the thought was to filter it once it was in the building, but that didn't work.

This filtering got me thinking about something. What do we filter before it gets into the church? Do we need to filter ourselves before we enter the building? Do we filter the "secular world" before it comes in?

And does our filtering help us or hurt us?

I don't have answers, just questions/thoughts right now. I'd love to hear what you think about filtering "anything" before it enters the church building. Please share, but make sure you filter your comments first...

Catfights & game names

Over the years, I've heard the phrase catfight used mainly to refer to two females fighting. The other night, I found out what a real catfight is all about. About midnight, I was woken up by the dogs starting to bark at some cats meowing outside. I was able to keep the dogs from getting too loud, but the cats didn't seem to get any quieter. So I decided to get up and see what was going on. Turns out there were two cats fighting on the back porch. They were jumping, rolling and chasing each other. (or it was just one tormenting the other, I couldn't tell). Either way, I couldn't get them to move by just using my voice. I had to go get a broom to chase them off. It was weird to watch.

Made me glad I don't have cats.

On to something completely different...

Last night I was looking at this booklet of various games a certain game company had for sale. I was struck by some of the names and thought I would share:

  • "doodle dice: see what your dice can doodle" (looks like you try to have the dice 'draw' something)
  • "Pegs in the Park"
  • "Rock, Paper Scissors, the card game"
  • "Solitaire Frenzy"
  • "Over and Out: the fun just keeps adding up"
  • "Kazink!"
  • "The Game of chips"
  • "Shake Up"
  • "Takeaway"
  • "Respond!: can you respond in time?"
and my favorite
  • "How Tall Am I?: fun from head to toe!"

Monday, April 14, 2008

Discussion Starter: Video on regrets - Spoons

I saw this over at YS sometime and thought it was pretty good.

You can use this clip to talk about regrets or your past. What do you regret? How does it affect your everyday actions? Have you told others? What can you do to make up for it or change it? How do you get past your regrets?

If you don't want to use this video to spark discussion on regrets, then use it just because its funny.

New Poll: Are you going to do any missions this summer?

With summer fast approaching (despite the recent cold temp. making us forget that its spring), I'm curious to hear what kinds of mission trips you all are taking. So, that is the question for today...

Are you going to do any missions this summer?
- no
- yes, overseas
- yes, national
- yes, local
- what is missions?

I would love to hear specifics about your trips. Please leave a comment and share where you are going and/or what you are doing. Thanks.

Poll Results: How many times a week do you teach?

The results are in...

The readers of this blog cover the spectrum of teaching responsibilities. Here are the specifics:

8% (1 person) normally does not teach
33% (4 people) teach 1 time a week
41% (5 people) teach 2 or 3 times a week
8% (1 person) teach 4 or 5 times a week
8% (1 person) teaches way too much each week

I'd be interested to hear if the person who teaches way too much teaches different age groups or how many lessons they teach multiple times.

Despite how much or little you teach, know that you have a great responsibility in sharing the Bible with the students. You are playing a role in how they will understand their world. Thanks!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #64: NY Yankees World Series Wins

answer #64 - Italy

question #65 - Under which manager did the NY Yankees win five straight World Series?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Adding a "wow" factor to an event

I just got done watching the latest mission from Improv Everywhere. This one was called, "best game ever." They basically took a little league game and turned it into a major league event. At first, I thought - man that is cool. But, at the end, I started thinking about what it would take to pull off something like that in my youth ministry. What could we do to turn an "ordinary" event into something extraordinary? What would it take?

Watch the video and then we'll continue this discussion...

I think everyone in youth ministry would agree that doing something like this would be awesome. Talk about memory makers. But how do you pull it off and which students do you include? How could you do something like this and include all your students?

I don't think many of our ministries could afford to do a jumbotron or even the mascots. Maybe it could be something you do for the seniors each year, or the freshmen. I'm pretty short of ideas - I was just really impressed and wanted to start some conversation/thinking.

(read about what it took to pull of, as well as a nice recap of what happened, here on their site.)

Do you have any ideas of what a youth ministry could do to add this "wow" factor to an event?

Reflections on: being "old"

Recently, after a jr. high small group I was caught off guard by this conversation...

teen #1 to teen #2 - Do you think Mike knows about Monty Python?
teen #2 response - Probably, but you can ask him.
teen #1 to me - Hey, Mike have you ever heard of Monty Python and the Holy Grail?
me - Do you know how old that movie is?
teen #1 - no
me - I bet I saw that movie before you were even born. What year were you born?
teen #1 - 1994
me - Yeah, I think I saw that before you were born.

me (afterthought) - does that make me old?

One moment you forget how many years there are between you and the students. The next moment you are reminded that there are plenty of years between you and the students. And I'm not even that old, just shy of 30. What will it be like in the next few years? Will the students remember the Smurfs? Will they know about baseball before there was a "central" division?
Will they know about the original Super Mario Bros.?

Have you had one of those "old moments" recently?

Technology & Your Teen: A parent seminar

I'm teaching a seminar on technology tonight. Its a seminar for any and all parents of teenagers in the congregation. I'm excited and nervous all at the same time. I'm hoping enough parents are concerned about the subject and want to learn more. I've found a lot of good material and really want to get it into some parents' hands.

If you get a chance, pray for it. thanks.

Here's the promo I used for it. (there is no sound)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Photo Friday: Resting Dogs

This is a picture of my two dogs relaxing on the couch. Don't they look comfortable?

One year of tweets on twitter

At the end of last March I joined Twitter. What a year it has been, too. At the beginning, I wasn't sure what it was going to be like to use twitter. I mean, really, who wants to know "what I'm doing" at any given moment. Plus I didn't have any friends to follow or many people following me. It turns out that using twitter has been quite fun and beneficial.

I've been able to...
meet and get to know a couple youth ministers from around the states.
reconnect with friends I hadn't talked to in a while.
gain some insight on topics I wouldn't have otherwise gotten.
share the good times and bad times with people.
receive prayer from friends when its been needed.
laugh some more.
find out about opportunities and helps for ministry.
get to know people better.

I think Twitter has and will be beneficial to me and my ministry. But you don't have to take my word for it (man, I miss Reading Rainbow) read what Dennis and Adam have to say.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Good Idea, Bad Idea: Hand Sanitizer

Good Idea: Using hand sanitizer after eating lunch at the middle school.

Bad Idea: Using hand sanitizer, after eating lunch at the middle school, on the hand with two notes written on it you need to remember. (Let's just say it smears)

Trivia Wednesday #63: Aircraft Bombs

answer #62 - false

question #63 - Who demonstrated the first use of bomb-equipped aircrafts - Germany, Italy or England?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Why teens enjoy fast food and what youth workers can learn

I found an interesting post on why teenagers enjoy eating fast food. It got me thinking about what we (youth workers) can learn about why teenagers might enjoy being involved in a youth ministry. Look at a few of the reasons noted for why teens like fast food...

The food is affordable.
The place is comfortable and safe to hang out
They can choose what they want.
Affordable = cheap.
Most youth ministries have many, many events that are free or low cost. Do more teens come out to events because they are free or low cost?

Comfortable and safe.
There are not too many ministries out there who are not trying to be a safe place for teens. Does it count as comfortable to have couches and games? Do more teens come to a youth ministry event because the couches are comfortable?

Choose what they want = get their way.
There are options. We have a small group on Wednesday, basketball on Tuesday, outreach on Thursday and a youth service on Friday night. Does that sound like enough choices for a teenager? Is that what draws a teen to a youth ministry event, the fact that they can go to something they want to?

I think if we look at youth ministry the same way the fast food industry looks at itself, we are going to find ourself in trouble.

Yeah, teens will come to events that don't cost much. But if that is all they are coming for or to then you might find yourself with a teen who isn't growing. (with the obvious exception of Bible studies/small groups which don't usually cost much to attend) Maybe the concern shouldn't be on the need to have cheap events, but on having quality events. If you can't do many quality events without charging the students more than you want, then try doing less events - just make the quality. Remember teens will go to more expensive places to eat, just not everyday.

Feeling comfortable is very subjective. The methods you use that make "Timmy" comfortable may make "Tony" very uncomfortable. As a ministry, you cannot expect to do the same thing for every student and achieve the same results. (but isn't that so much easier to do?) Accept the students for who they are. Make sure they know you are concerned about them and want to know about who they are (ie hobbies, sports, interests...). Use their names whenever possible.

Of the three, I think the multiple options is the hardest for a ministry. Unless you are a large youth ministry, it is difficult to have systems in place to "appeal" to a wide range of likes and interests. Maybe the choices aren't always as easy to see. Maybe the teenagers get to help pick out the music you listen to on a trip. Maybe you allow them to pick the place you stop to get gas or pick up food. Maybe you let them help you decide which topics to teach or how long you teach them. Even at a fast food restaurant the choices are limited to a relatively small menu board.

And really, do you want to be like those fast food places and give the teens a "mildly fulfilling" stock product?

In the end, I don't think youth ministries need to try to be like McDonald's or Wendy's and especially not Taco Bell. But who says we can't learn something as we drive-thru.