Friday, August 29, 2008

Photo Friday: Outlaw for Atari 2600

I found this picture when I was going through "organizing" all of the pictures on the computer. I love my atari 2600, especially on the old, tiny black-n-white TV. And there is nothing like an old-fashioned shootout for a Friday morning.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Youth Ministry Blogs Worth Reading

Last week, I wrote about some aspects I look for in a good youth ministry blog. I said I would share a few blogs I thought were worth a follow, so here are a handful...
Shore Youth

Before you get mad, I know that is six and a hand only has 5 fingers. You're just jealous because I can fit six blogs in my hand and you can only get five.

I tried to pick a few that showed aspects of each of the 9 signs I wrote about. Together, these blogs do a good job at being good examples of what makes a good youth ministry blog. I also tried to pick some I thought you might not know about. Are there other great ym blogs, you bet. And you can bet you'll see them show up in my series of posts reviewing youth ministry blogs.

Feel free to add a blog you would like to be reviewed. Just leave a comment and I'll add it to the list.

Until then, Enjoy what these youth workers have to say.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #84: Back to the Future

answer #83 - three

question #84 - Which Family Ties cast member starred in the Back to the Future films?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

to quote someone else: Mike King (conflict)

"giving up because of conflict and moving on only results in needing to take the test over again."
taken from Presence-Centered Youth Ministry by Mike King

I think youth workers struggle a lot with conflict (all ministers do). We seem to always run into someone who doesn't like what we are doing, our methods, or the fact that we are changing things. You will never be at a ministry which does not have conflict. If you are, then I would guess you are not doing much to change or improve the ministry.

When conflict arises and it gets tough:
- don't give up.
- rely on God for strength.
- listen to those around you.
- work on resolving the issue.

Monday, August 25, 2008

3 Ways to Read a Blog

A little while ago, I wrote 3 reasons to read a blog. So, I thought I should follow that up with a post on 3 ways to read a blog.

1. Visit the blog
The original way to read a blog is to just visit it regularly. Basically you visit the blog anytime you want to. You can go to the site every day and only get 2 or 3 new posts a week. If this happens, you waste a lot of time looking at the same material over and over again. Unless you want to look at the same posts over and over. Or you can go the other route and only visit a blog once a week (to avoid reading the same stuff over and over) and miss out on some time sensitive material.

In comparison to renting videos, this is going to the video store every day to see if the movie you want is there. You can check very often and still come up empty. You waste a lot of time and gas searching for a movie you may never get to rent.

2. Get updates via E-mail
This method of reading a blog is one step removed from just visiting. With this method you sign up to receive updates in your email inbox whenever there is a new post. The advantage to this method is that you don't have to go to another website to see if a blog has updated. You normally get your email at the end of the day or morning of the following day. This means you may not very time sensitive material. The disadvantage is that you can only get one blog update per email. So if you like reading 5 blogs (a rather small number to follow), you will get a separate email for each of the 5 blogs. This can start to clutter up your inbox.

In terms of renting a movie, it is like becoming a member of a video store. You are notified (aware) of new releases, but there can still be a wait period to watch the video.

This is a better method, as far as time saving, than just visiting a blog. Yet, it is not the best option available (in my opinion).

You can follow this blog's email feed by signing up on the right side of this page.

3. Subscribe to a RSS feed
The easiest way to read a blog is through a RSS feed. This is when you subscribe to the blog's feed and receive a notice when a blog is updated with new posts. So far, it sounds a lot like email updates, but it goes farther. Instead of getting an email with updates, you go to your reader and see all of the new posts for all of the blogs you are subscribed to. You will save a lot of time with this method of reading blogs.

In terms of renting a movie, it is like getting videos from Netflix. You only get the videos when they are available. When you use RSS, you only get notified when there is a new post.

A couple options for RSS readers: bloglines, newsgator, google reader, or search Google for other options.

You can follow this blog's feed here.

In the end it doesn't matter which method you use. Unless you want to save some time, that is. Once you find a method that works for you, go find some blogs to read. Search the net, ask some friends, look for topics of interest, follow links to other blogs.

Later this week, I'm going to share some youth ministry blogs I think are worth following. Maybe you will learn from them, like I have.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A few posts worth reading

Recently, there have been a few posts that I have read which caught my attention. Maybe it made me think, or laugh, or just said something I thought needed to be said. I thought I would share some of these posts with you.

5 posts worth reading:
1. Kent shares some results about How kids live in 2008 - a good read for anyone in youth ministry.

2. Listed under the "are you serious?" label, Jonathan shares with us what the good people at Disney didn't realize was going to be an issue. High School Musical product pulled from shelves

3. Despite the fact that Ben links back to my blog, I think this post is a great read. Ben shares his reasons for not blogging so much lately. Are you playing the "game?"

4. Dennis shares 25 characteristics of a successful youth ministry. Read the list and see what you think. How does your youth ministry compare?

5. Mike wonders how we can get a Josiah Generation among our students. Some really good thoughts for youth workers.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Photo Friday: Moving Truck Overload

There seems to be a lot of youth workers moving to new ministries lately. Moving is one of those ministry frustrations that few people like. These two pictures are to remind you that no matter how bad you felt your move was or how much you despise moving, I bet your move was better than this.

That trailer is so packed it just doesn't seem right. And the couch on top - wow. One thing you can't see in these pictures is that the SUV pulling it is equally full. There is just enough room for the guy driving.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Signs of a Good Youth Ministry Blog

Over at 43 Folders Merlin Mann recently posted about what makes a good blog. After reading his thoughts, I got to thinking about what makes a good youth ministry blog. Why do I read some and not others? Why do some people read this blog? What makes a youth ministry blog worth your time?

Here are a few of my thoughts:

  1. The author has a heart for youth ministry. This is a tough one to know without knowing the person. But, I think you can get a good feel from the person's posts how they feel about youth ministry. And lets be honest, no one is going to start a blog about youth ministry to earn money from ads. You have to have a heart for it or you wouldn't take the time to blog about it.
  2. The blog is a source of encouragement. Whether it is through the stories being told, pictures being shared, or insights being discussed, a good youth ministry blog encourages others youth workers. You may not get this feeling from just one post alone. Encouragement will be an ongoing affect of reading the blog.
  3. The blog provides resources for ministry. I am not talking necessarily about a new lesson or outline each week (although who wouldn't love that). A good youth ministry blog links to resources, shares what materials are worthwhile, occasionally provides a new resource from their ministry, and makes connections between events/news stories and the Bible.
  4. The posts are thought provoking. A good youth ministry blog has posts which cause me to think. I may not agree with the author about a certain topic of theology, but I am forced to think about the issue. All youth workers need to think about and wrestle with theology, priorities, purposes and all other items related to working with youth. Youth workers need to be challenged and finding a youth ministry blog that challenges you is a great way to stay mentally sharp.
  5. The posts make me laugh. There are days in youth ministry that are just rough. A youth worker needs to be able to unwind and laugh a little. If I can relax and laugh while reading your blog, I'll read your blog. (This may seem to be the exact opposite of #4, but I think both are important). Some of the best youth ministry posts are videos, cartoon, or funny ministry stories.
  6. The blog allows you to catch a glimpse of the author's ministry. You can follow along in their ministry journey. You get to read about the ups and downs. This can encourage you and remind you of the fact that you are not the only one going through it.
  7. The tone is positive. Even when the subject of the post is negative or frustrating, the tone of the post is not negative. Its okay to vent about an issue, but trust me a blog is not the place to do it. If you want to write about the experience, keep it informative and constructive.
  8. The blog is updated regularly. Now, this does not mean daily. It may not even mean weekly. There are times of the year where a youth minister's life is completely crazy and expecting a regular post is out of the picture. There are a couple blogs I subscribe to that haven't posted in a long time and honestly I forget I subscribe to them. If one day the author writes a new post, then I'll know. But I'm not going to keep checking.
  9. The blog leads to connection. The best part of a good youth ministry blog is the connection made between you and the author. You can connect via a social networking site, email, Instant Messaging, phone conversations or even at a national youth ministry event. A good youth ministry blog allows you to share life with other youth workers.
What qualifications do you use in determining which youth ministry blogs to read/follow?

In the next few days, I'll share some of the youth ministry blogs I think are worth following.

Trivia Wednesday #83: Cooking Measurements

answer #82 - with cheese

question #83 - How many teaspoons are there in a tablespoon?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Third Day: Revelation Review

First thoughts: The guys in Third Day have delivered again. Revelation is a phenomenal album. Each song is strong both lyrically and musically. If you haven't heard the first single, Call My Name, you are missing out. After listening to it, you will be singing the chorus for hours.

What I think sets this album apart is the depth of the lyrics. The songs connect with everyone because they are about our struggles and hopes and humanity. Here is the chorus from "Call My Name"

"When you feel like you're alone in your sadness
and it seems like no one in this whole world cares
and you want to get away from the madness
you just call my name and I'll be there
you just call my name and I'll be there"

Every time I listen to the album, I get a sense of comfort. The lyrics remind me that I serve a huge God. This is a great album for those who need some reminders of God's desire to always be there for you. If you have struggles or hopes, you need to pick up the album, download it online or get a hold of it somehow. Its a great return to a studio album.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Photo Friday: Star Wars Mr. Potato Head

This is either really clever or just one more fancy marketing ploy to get our money. Say hello to Artoo-Potatoo, Darth Tater, and Spudtrooper.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

5 Ways to use the Olympics in Youth Ministry

As a youth ministry, how are you using the Olympics in your ministry? Are you using Olympic references? I'd love to hear what you are doing or not doing, and why.

Here are 5 ways to use the Olympics in youth ministry:

  1. Theme Night - Turn a Wednesday night into an Olympic event. Decorate your youth room with flags. Discuss why the Olympics are so popular. Make and give out random medals.
  2. Hold your own Olympics - Have students form countries, complete with flag and national anthem. Set up team games and keep track of win totals. Make it big and make it fun.
  3. Illustrations - Use something that happened at the Olympics in your lesson. Talk about the athletes attitudes, their work habits, their training and the competition.
  4. Olympic Viewing Party - Invite students to your house (or another house) and hold an Olympics Party. It would be very similar to a Super Bowl Party. Just use that time to get to know the students and their friends.
  5. Video Announcements - Take some various & random footage from the Olympics and edit them to work for some video announcements. You could just add voice overdub or actually edit the footage, adding visuals or words over the footage.
What other thoughts/ideas do you have?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

to quote someone else: Gerald May (acts of faith)

"For this reason, the purest acts of faith always feel like risks. Instead of leading to absolute quietude and serenity, true spiritual growth is characterized by increasingly deep risk taking. Growth in faith means willingness to trust God more and more, not only in those areas of our lives where we are most successful, but also, and most significantly, at those levels where we are most vulnerable, wounded, and weak. It is where our personal power seems most defeated that we are given the most profound opportunities to act in true faith. The purest faith is enacted when all we can choose is to relax our hands or clench them, to turn wordlessly toward or away from God. This tiny option, the faith Jesus measured as the size of a mustard seed, is where grace and the human spirit embrace in absolute perfection and explode in world-changing power."

taken from Addiction & Grace: Love and Spirituality in the Healing of Addictions by Gerald May (emphasis added)

This quote not only speaks to youth workers on a personal level, but as you look at the youth ministry you lead. Are you allowing/encouraging your students to live out these acts of faith, the faith that is a major risk?

What are your thoughts?
What experiences can you share about faith leading to risk?

Trivia Wednesday #82: Spanish Phrase

answer #81 - France

questions #82 - What does the expression "con queso" mean?

Monday, August 11, 2008

no 2 fires (students) are alike

Recently I wrote an article entitled "no 2 fires (students) are alike." It is about the struggle we, youth workers, have working with students who do not all grow at the same pace.

You can read the article at Simply Youth Ministry in their "from the field" section of articles:

Or you can read it at in their leadership section:

What do you think? Can you name students who fit both categories?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

TweetDeck Review

I've been using Twitter for almost 1 1/2 years and have mostly used the website to update. I used Twitterific for a little while (then had to fix my computer and never reinstalled it). Recently I decided to try some other form of tweeting (is that a word?). I started using TweetDeck and have loved it.

Here are my thoughts of TweetDeck (with some observations specific toward Youth Ministry)

constant updating - unlike which doesn't update unless you refresh the page or hit "home", tweetdeck updates every minute.

notifications - these notifications (with notification window option) show you how many new updates there are from either the people you are following, replies, direct messages or one of your groups of searches.

searches - this feature is especially useful for finding out about an event, organization or just learning about a key word/phrase. As a youth minster, there are many uses for this feature. You can add a search for your church or youth group name. Every time someone tweets about your group, you will get to see it. If you want, you could add a search for your name and learn what people are saying. You can search for "youth minister" or "student ministry" and find out what others are saying about it, and thus find other ministers from around the world.

easy to reply, direct message, retweet - this feature is even easier than using Not much to say other than it is really simple. The options are right under the person's picture

Twitscoop - This is a feature that allows you to see what is causing buzz on twitter. You get to see the top words or phrases and then can click to search. For example, you could use it to find out a lot about the Olympics or an earthquake.

columns - You can set it up to be full screen or just one column wide. For me, the one column setup is cleaner and easier to manage, but if you have a bigger screen (or 2 monitors) you might want to allow for more columns.

groups - this feature is really handy for youth ministers. You can group your followers into specific groups, which will have their own column. You can put all of the people from your church into one group, youth minister friends into another group, neighborhood friends into another group. Or you can use it to put a Sunday School class or small group into a group and keep track of those specific conversations without missing a tweet. This can help you keep different conversations together and not get cluttered (lost) in the "all tweets" column.

twitpic - it has a built-in twitpic button right there. You don't have to go to to upload a picture. Much more convenient.

short URL - again, there is a spot to put in your URL and automatically have it shortened without going to a separate website. Another time saver

trouble closing - I've had some trouble closing Tweetdeck. It usually just becomes unresponsive and I have to force quit. This is a minor negative, but still frustrating.

Yeah, that is the only negative I can think of. (for my needs and uses, at least).

I recommend Tweetdeck for those who use twitter throughout the day. If you are on a computer most of the day, it is easy to keep open and connected.

What do you think? Have you tried it? Positives? Negatives?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Photo Friday: Don't laugh daddy dressed me!

A new onesie I got recently for my new daughter. I thought it appropriate, though I wish that it would have been done in strange colors or actually looked bad. I'm thinking one long sleeve and one short, or part of it purple. (It doesn't really look that bad)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #81: Louisiana Purchase

answer #80 - The Griswalds

question #81 - With which country did Thomas Jefferson negotiate the Louisiana Purchase?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Reflections on: strengths & weaknesses

The other day I asked Nathan, my 4 years old son, what he thought my strengths and weaknesses were. He couldn't think of any weaknesses. His two main strengths were that I could reach tall things and I put batteries in toys.

I'm hoping to add those answers to my response next time someone asks me what my weaknesses or strengths are.

My son's answers did teach one valuable lesson about being a dad. There are certain things that stick out in a child's mind as being very important. Nathan didn't say I was good at providing for my family. He didn't say I was a good cook. He didn't say I was good at handling our budget. He didn't say I take good care of the cars or the yard. He said I was good at being tall and replacing batteries. Now, all of the other things are very important and I need to do them. But I can't neglect the importance of being there for my son.

As a dad, your kids need you to pay the bills, bring in an income, take care of the yard and get them clothes and such. But those are not the moments they will remember. They need more.

Your kids need you to:

  • get down on the floor and play.
  • fix their toys when they break.
  • hold them when they are hurt.
  • listen to their stories (even if its the 10th time you've heard it).
  • pick them up.
  • laugh at their bad jokes.
  • smile when you see them.
  • be patient with them.
  • love them unconditionally.

Have you done those things with your kids lately?
What would you child(ren) say your strengths are?
What do you want them to say if asked?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Photo Friday: 2 great Christian t-shirts

Here are 2 shirts I saw the other day while I was at a local Christian bookstore:

"faithbook: Jesus wants to put you in His Book. Do you accept?"

"Hii Saved Me"

I'm gonna let the pictures speak for themselves. Feel free to add your own thoughts, though.