Monday, September 29, 2008

New Poll: Have you ever had a day you would like to foget?

Youth Ministry is not always fun and games.

Have you ever had "one of those days" you would like to forget?


Vote on the poll (on the right sidebar) and then leave a comment sharing a little about that day. I know that doesn't help you forget about it, but it might make someone else feel a little better about their day.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Good Idea, Bad Idea: helping people out of debt when you don't have money

Good Idea: Helping people get out of debt.

Bad Idea: Trying to help people get out of debt, when you are in debt yourself.

Is anyone else concerned that the gov't, who owes a lot of money to others, is willing to bail out financial companies? I find that strange.

I'm sure I'll have more thoughts on it later, but I just wanted to put it out there and see what you guys think.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Getting Students to Show Up Contest Winner

Congratulations to Ben. He was randomly selected to win the free copy of Getting Students to Show Up by Jonathan McKee. Thanks to everyone who stopped by during the contest. I'll have another giveaway sometime, maybe you'll get that one. :)

Photo Friday: Internet no access

This is a picture of what happened when you tried to go to a "off limits" site at the hospital. Sites like Facebook, yahoo mail (unless you went to yahoo first), or myspace. But it never showed up for Twitter or YouTube (which I found odd).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

5 Lessons from The Office: Weight Loss

Thursday, Sept. 25, was the premiere of season 5 of The Office. They kicked off the season with an hour-long episode entitled "Weight Loss" You can watch it here or here

Here are 5 lessons from Weight Loss:
1. Being the new "guy" at work can be tough. (but funny...)
2. Sometimes going the extra mile to show someone you care about them makes a big difference.
3. When you love someone, you will do some crazy things.
4. People work harder at something when they desire to do it and are not "forced" to participate.
5. Discussing certain topics (homosexuality or mental illness) with people you just met can lead to awkwardness.

Some things I didn't expect:
1. The "Fat Elvis" picture Michael put up on the wall for "Body Image Celebration"
2. Was Angela really starting to like Andy?
3. Jim proposing at the gas station.
4. Ryan back in the office, as a temp.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

to quote someone else: Francis Chan (serving God)

"When Jeremiah voices his hesitation and fear, God - the God of the galaxies - reaches out and touches his mouth. It's a gentle and affectionate gesture, something a loving parent would do. through this illustration I realized that I don't have to worry about not meeting His expectations. God will ensure my success in accordance with His plan, not mine."

taken from Crazy Love by Francis Chan (emphasis mine)

When you serve God, do you place certain expectations on your own ability to get things done well?
Do you place the weight of "your success" on what you can do or do you trust God to do what He can do?

Trivia Wednesday #88: Metal

answer #87 - Golden Girls

question #88 - Which soft, reddish metal is widely used because of its ability to conduct electricity?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Free Book Download: Essential Church by Thom Rainer

For a limited time (not sure how long that is) you can download Essential Church by Thom Rainer and Sam Rainer III for free. Go here to download. You will have to enter your email address (thus being added to an email list). It may take awhile to download, but hey its a free book.

Or you can go here to buy the hardcover version.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Prayer for my daughter

This morning at 8:30am, my daughter is going in for hernia surgery. She is only 8 weeks old and weighs 8lbs. I would appreciate your prayers for her during this surgery. Thank you.

The surgery went well and she is recovering well.

Photo Friday: Candle burning

I thought you might need a moment of quiet. So, take a minute or two and look at this burning candle while you think about how big God is.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Book Giveaway: Getting Students to Show Up

My YMX review of Getting Students to Show Up by Jonathan McKee just got published recently over at YMX and I posted it here, too. And I have an extra copy of the book. What can I do with that extra copy? I'll tell you what I'm going to do with it. I am giving it away to the person who wins my little book giveaway contest.

As much as I would love for this contest to involve lots of sugar (soda) or slime, it won't. It will be a pretty simple contest. If you don't have this book, I encourage you to enter and try to win it here.

Contest Rules:

  1. You must be a youth worker (full-time, part-time, volunteer), know someone who is, or want to be one someday.
  2. Leave a comment on this post sharing your biggest "oops" moment at an outreach event.
  3. Or, better yet, write a post on your blog about the biggest "oops" moment (mention/link to this contest if you want) and post the link in the comments (this way you can include video and pictures, if you have any)
  4. The best moment, as decided by a random drawing of those who enter, will win the book.
  5. Available only to those within the US, sorry I can't pay for that much postage - I am a youth worker after all.
  6. The contest ends 9/25/08 at 11:59pm Central
  7. Feel free to enter more than once, if you have more than one great moment to share.

I look forward to hearing your fun stories. When the contest is over, I might just put your stories together in a future post (with your permission, of course).

Trivia Wednesday #87: Classic Television

answer #86 - Pool

question #87 - Which TV show was nicknamed "Miami Nice"?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Discussion Starter: How much is virginity worth?

I saw this article about a girl auctioning off her virginity over on The Source 4 YM's blog. I'm still not sure what to say about this whole situation. Obviously, it makes me sad. Sad for this young woman and sad for any "man" who would be a part of this auction. It just shows that they have a strong lack of respect for women.

I think that this story can be a powerful discussion starter with your students. Here are a few thoughts on what topics you could use this story with...

- sex
- self worth
- virginity
- morals
- appropriate behavior
- greed
- college
- growing up
- decision making
- love
- value

In the end, I hope this young lady finds the love of God and learns that she doesn't have to sell her virginity to anyone.

You can also check out Marko's thoughts.

(gracias a Jonathan)

Christmas, Consumerism, and Missing the Moment

Recently, as I walked through a few of my favorite stores I began to see a change taking place. A lot of stores are already gearing up for Christmas. Some are getting ready for Halloween or Thanksgiving, but they are all putting the Christmas product out.

Do I like Christmas? Sure do. I love spending Christmas with my family.
Do I like Christmas consumerism? No! I very much dislike all the spending of money unnecessarily.

I think our culture (or rather the economic culture) has allowed us to miss the moment. Due to the manner in which retail stores function, we do not get to enjoy the moment. You don't buy shorts in the summer, you buy them in the spring. Winter jackets are showing up in the stores at the end of August. Each holiday or season is marketed months before it arrives and then "forgotten" when it arrives. When one holiday approaches it is already time to start thinking about the next one.

This process "forces" some shoppers to miss the enjoyment of celebrating. Think about the Day after Thanksgiving sales. I mean, you have to get up at 3am to get anything. Getting up this early means you have to go to bed early. Going to bed early means you miss spending time with the family on Thanksgiving Day.

Just like everyone else, I think youth workers can fall into this trap within our ministries. We become so focused on promoting an event that we lose sight of the moment. For example, we spend months preparing for and promoting an outreach event. When the event arrives, we spend time promoting our weekly event or the "next big thing." We can become consumed with getting to the next thing that we forget to enjoy (make the most of) the moment.

It doesn't have to be this way. No matter how hard the economic culture tries to grab your attention and get you to be on their time table, you can resist. You can enjoy the moment. Take time and enjoy Thanksgiving without reading the "sale papers" or thinking about how hard its going to be to find that prized Christmas present. Do not allow yourself to get caught up into the consumerism of our culture.

What do you do to combat consumerism? How do you enjoy the moment?

Monday, September 15, 2008

YM Resource:

Recently, thanks to some twitter friends and tweetdeck, I have been exposed to a new little website called 12seconds. is like twitter, in video form. As in, you only have a small amount of space (12 seconds, duh) in which to express a thought or idea. You really only have enough time to focus on one topic. You can also respond to other people's videos with your own video response.

As a youth worker, I think 12 seconds has many possibilities for use within youth ministry. Keep in mind (and I am well aware of this fact) that the video quality is not going to be HD quality when you make these videos. But I think the amount of time it will take you to use this resource will outweigh that slight negative.

10 Ways to use in youth ministry:

1. Quick announcements
2. Daily/weekly devo
3. Goofy videos of the students
4. Student of the week - maybe they can give their acceptance speech (make sure to spread the love and get everyone on video)
5. Ask the youth worker - answer the students questions on a regular basis
6. Ask the student - you ask a question you want answered
7. Event/Class Teaser - Promote an upcoming event with a short teaser about what they can expect (maybe even "cut yourself off" at the end right when you were going to reveal the big secret)
8. Meet the youth coaches - have the youth coaches (other adults who help) share a little about themselves
9. Recap of last lesson/message - you would be forced to really narrow down your focus, because you only have 12 seconds
10. Tip of the week - it could be a parent tip, youth worker tip, teenager tip or a tip for any other group you can think of (ie. 1 tip on how to contact a student during the week - for the youth coaches)

There are lots of other ways you could use in your youth ministry. I'd love to hear what you think. Leave a comment with your thoughts. Or better yet, make a 12 second video with your thoughts (just put the link to the video or your profile in the comments so we can see the video). is free, but you have to be invited. If you want an invite just email me or leave a comment with your email address and I will send you an invite.

Here is an example of a quick video I did with my kids.

hi everybody on

Here is a 12second video of the 10 ways to use in youth ministry

10 Ways to Use in youth ministry on

Saturday, September 13, 2008

One month and I'm 30

When today is over, I will be within my last month of being 20something. Next month I turn 30. It seems like a big deal right now. I know 30 is not old, but I never thought I'd get here. In reality, I never knew what my life would look like at 30. Even if I had tried to imagine what life would be like I don't think I ever could have imagined this. :)

What do I need to do this last month? Is there anything that I need to do before I turn 30? Leave a comment and let me know.

More free episodes from NBC on iTunes

The free episode of The Office that you can download from iTunes is not the only freebie NBC is offering. Here is the complete list of shows that NBC is offering one free episode for your enjoyment. You can get them in HD and regular. Unless you have a large amount of storage or really like the HD (ie, you have a way of playing the HD) I would recommend the regular versions. Enjoy.

(gracias a TV addict)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Book Review: getting students to show up by Jonathan McKee

Do you want students to show up to your event or class? So does Jonathan McKee, that's why he wrote this book. McKee draws from his many years of in-the-trenches planning events as well as his many years of speaking at events in order to provide a very valuable resource for youth workers. You will read about successes, failures and the planning process that can help a failure become a success.

For most youth workers, there is not a week that goes by without thinking about a youth event. This part of youth ministry can be difficult and time-consuming. But it doesn't have to be any longer. McKee knows how to organize and implement a good outreach event and after reading this book you will too. What stands out in Getting Students to Show Up is that it is very practical. Each step of the process is covered, from the initial thought to the timing of the final moment.

Do you struggle with budgeting for an event? You will find a great example and some helpful tips in chapter 5. Do your events always seem to run long or do you struggle to fill the time? Chapter 6 helps you think through the entire night, including 25 questions to ask as you plan. Does your weekly outreach event seem to be becoming routine? In chapter 8, McKee helps you think through some unique elements and remember to keep the basics intact every week. In chapters 10 and 11, you will find some excellent advice on how to find the right speaker or band. If that is not enough, the last chapter is filled with 10 outreach programs and events that work.

So, whether you want to reach 10 or 10,000, this book can help you reach that goal. Getting Students to Show Up is a great addition to any youth worker's library. Next time you are planning an outreach event, make sure you have a copy nearby. I believe this is a book any youth worker (full-time, part-time, paid, or volunteer) can use to help benefit their ministry.

My advice (rating) – buy more than one and give out copies (5 out of 5)

(you can also find this review over at YMX)

Photo Friday: Obama Children's Book Covers

While looking for a book for my son, I came across these two books sitting on the shelf next to each other. They do not seem to have anything in common. But, as I looked closer I saw one similarity. Doesn't that middle kid in the "Worst Case Scenario" book look a little like Obama? Compare the smile if you have doubts.

That weird similarity was not the only reason I took the picture. I find it strange that there is a biography of Obama written for young adults. You know that part of the America public that will not be able to vote for at least 6 years. Its strange to me.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sunday School Musical??

I saw this post over at Ryan's site the other day. You have to go check it out.

Sunday School Musical

1. I can't say I'm too surprised at this.
2. Really?

What do you think?

(gracias a Ryan)

Free episode of The Office on iTunes

For the next week or so (not sure exactly when the end date is), you can get the first episode of season 4 of The Office (Fun Run) for free from iTunes. Yeah, you read that correctly. You can download Fun Run (an hour long episode) for free off iTunes. In fact you can get the regular or HD version. So if you are a fan of The Office or just like free show downloads, head over to iTunes and grab it before its gone. (Well, not gone, but $1.99)

(gracias a OfficeTally for the heads up)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Reflections on: Visiting a church

On Sunday, the family went to visit a church and listen to one of my friends from high school preach. (He's a music minister, so this does not happen often) I came away with a few thoughts on visiting and a few observations from the service itself.

Visitor Observations:
1. Friendly faces greeting you at the door can make all the difference.
2. There is a big difference between someone greeting you and someone "smothering" you.
3. As a visitor, I appreciate a few simple questions or statements - when the person is genuine.
4. Signs showing me what is where are very helpful and appreciated.
5. Knowing how much time I have before the service starts is great (via a countdown on screens in the hallway).
6. As a visiting parent, I like being able to go back with my child(ren) and see their room.
7. Knowing my children are safe is important. Thanks for making safety a priority.
8. I like to know I'm not an inconvenience when I ask questions.

Observations on the service:
1. Standing during the songs can be contagious. For some people, all they need is to not be the first one to stand.
2. Watching someone use sign language during a worship song is simply beautiful. There really isn't anything else like it.
3. Even if you have already had one service, there is still potential for a mistake in the second service.
4. Mistakes during the service do not equal a bad service.
5. It was nice to worship with Amy for a good bit of the service (something we haven't been able to do much over the last month or so).

I am really glad we decided to make the trip to visit. It was a blessing to be a part of the service on this particular Sunday.

Trivia Wednesday #86: Games

answer #85 - Leviticus

question #86 - Snookers is a variety of which game?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Alltop, Christianity, & Me

If you are seeing this from a RSS feed, you probably have not noticed that this blog has a new little badge on the right side. What badge is it, you are wondering? Well, Reflections is now a part of the Alltop list of sites on their Christianity page. You can go to the Christian page on Alltop site and see the latest 5 posts from a number of blogs. Don't know what Alltop is, go here to find more.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Office: Season 4 DVD & More

Yesterday, I was with my family in a nearby town (an hour away). We had driven over to see a friend preach. He did awesome, by the way (more on the service later). While we were there, we went ahead and did some shopping.

The Office: Season 4 DVD came out last Tuesday (meaning Sunday was day 6 of it being on the store shelves). A few stores had limited editions or special editions you could get if you were fast enough. Even the online side of things was running out of the special editions before the release day on Tuesday. And I kept reading online how people tried going to "X" number of stores and still did not go home with the one they wanted. So, while we were shopping for other stuff, I thought I would look and see what was left.

At Target, there were only 2 copies of the Ultimate Package (seasons 1-4) left. The shelves were bare where the regular season 4 was supposed to go and where their limited edition was. So, Target was typical of what I had been hearing.

At Best Buy, it started to look the same way. I looked on their new releases shelf and not a sign of The Office anywhere. I had resolved myself to not finding a single copy when I spotted the floor display. That had to be a good sign, right? When I got to the display one side was completely empty, so I walked around. On this side of the display there were a handful of the regular season 4 packages and 4 copies of their "Fun Run Kit" special editions. I was floored. I'm not sure if that means there are not that many Office fans in the area or there are not as many fans willing to pay for the extra bonus items.

With the season 4 DVD on the shelf (either store or home), that means one thing - season 5 starts soon. September 25th is the premiere: its called Weight Loss.

Should be an interesting season. :)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

YMX Review of Getting Students to Show Up

My review of Getting Students to Show up by Jonathan McKee is posted at YMX. Check it out here. Let me know what you think.

Have you read the book? What did you think?

Friday, September 05, 2008

10 Ways to Appreciate Youth Workers

Tomorrow (9/6/08) is Youth Worker Appreciation Day (thanks YS). I thought I would share a few thoughts on how you might appreciate that special youth worker. Trust me, you are not going to find a "YWAD" card at Hallmark, so try one of these methods...

10 Ways to Appreciate Youth Workers:

  1. Write a note/card/letter sharing what they have meant to you or your family
  2. Make a video montage of all the "good times" you have shared in the youth ministry
  3. Write a song about them and make a music video of it
  4. Pray for them (and ask for anything specific that you can pray about)
  5. Tell them "thank you" at least 25 times over the next year...and mean it
  6. Babysit the children, so they can have a quiet/relaxing evening (or weekend)
  7. Buy them a CD/DVD/Book (one they will enjoy, of course)
  8. Take them out to eat, and let them pick the restaurant (not pizza)
  9. Be a cheerleader for the youth ministry (this means talk positively about it)
  10. Hold a Youth Room/Youth Ministry "shower" (kinda like a baby shower, but without the silly games) to provide resources that are needed
and a bonus #11. Give them a $100 Southwest gift card to get away on vacation. The one I found and posted about was found at Wal-Mart.

What have you done to appreciate your favorite youth worker? What has someone done to show you appreciation? Let's hear from you...

Photo Friday: Southwest gift card

Not sure what to get that constant traveler as a birthday present. Try a southwest gift card. For $100 you can help get that special someone from point A to point B (and back, if you want them to return).

Maybe you know a youth worker who needs a vacation or a couple who needs to get away. This would be a great gift to those who need some time away, but can't afford to fly. It is Youth Worker Appreciation Day tomorrow (9/6/08), you know. Or maybe you want to get your youth coaches something special to say "thanks" for a year of hard work - if the budget has money, why not get them a gift card and let them pick their destination.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Youth Worker Appreciation Day: 9/6/08

As a youth worker and a friend to many youth workers, I am excited about what Youth Specialties has put together. Youth Worker Appreciation Day. And the best thing about the day is that you don't have to take any time off work to celebrate your favorite youth worker, because its on a Saturday. This Saturday, September 6, 2008.

You can go here to see a list of Christian bookstores who are participating. If you are a youth worker and you go to one of these stores, you'll get "something" from them to show you their appreciation for what you do.

They even has a section of ideas for church leaders to celebrate youth workers on Sunday.

If you are a fulltime youth worker, take this opportunity to celebrate all the hard work those youth coaches put into the youth ministry.

Come back tomorrow (Photo Friday) and see another gift option I think you need to get for your favorite youth worker.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Third Day on the third day: Third Day live

(that sure is a lot of "third days" in that title)

Over at Third Day's blog, there is a little "contest" going on. So, I thought I would write about my favorite live experience.

I have two shows I remember very clearly (out of the many I've been to).

The funnest show was an outdoor show I went to in Atlanta back in '02 (I believe). Sitting on the grass, enjoying the weather and listening to Third Day was awesome. They also played my favorite song: Thief. Though they skipped a verse. :) Which was just hilarious. Ah, good times.

My favorite show was April 23, 2004 in Augusta, GA. This was the Live Wire Tour. The show was awesome and the band sounded great. But my favorite part was that it was just 2 days before my first son was born. And he "loved" the show, too. The entire concert, my wife kept saying he was moving around and "dancing". This is also the day we started sponsoring a child from World Vision (Beza).

Other show highlights:
The state fair show was fun, in the rain.
Then there was the Come Together & Worship Tour - that was awesome.

What is your favorite band to see live? Or better yet, do you have any funny stories about taking a group to a concert? (Come on, somebody has probably left a kid at the venue)

Trivia Wednesday #85: Jewish dietary laws

answer #84 - Michael J. Fox

question #85 - Which Old Testament book contains Jewish dietary laws - Deuteronomy, Judges or Leviticus?