Saturday, January 31, 2009

to quote someone else: Andy Crouch (changing culture)

"The only way to change culture is to create more of it."
"So if we seek to change culture, we will have to create something new, something that will persuade our neighbors to set aside some existing set of cultural goods for our new proposal."
taken from Culture Making by Andy Crouch

What are we, youth workers, doing to change the youth/teenage culture? Does your ministry seek to change culture? Are you actively creating new culture for your students?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Photo Friday: Turtle

turtles are interesting animals. What does it feel like to always be home?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Free (partial) book download: The Shape of Faith to Come"

the 6 chapters of "The Shape of Faith to Come" is available for free download by going to this site.

Here is the info I got in an email explaining the book and download:

Some studies suggest Christians in North America are not qualitatively different in their character and practices than nonbelievers. Could that be true?

In The Shape of Faith to Come, research expert Brad J. Waggoner and his team measure the beliefs and actions of twenty-five hundred active Protestant churchgoers from across the country against seven key standards of biblical spiritual formation. The unpredictable findings reveal the current state and potential forecast of discipleship in the United States.

LIMITED TIME OFFER: download the first 175 pages of The Shape of Faith to Come at no cost here. The first two thousand entries will also gain access to a FREE Online Spiritual Formation Assessment!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Source4YouthMinistry's Super Bowl Quiz

Jonathan over at the Source 4 Youth Ministry has made available a free Super Bowl Quiz. (They do one every year). There are also a few party ideas/tips.

I've used this quiz the last couple years and had a great response from the teens. If you are not a football fan, like myself, it might help to have one of the youth coaches who is a football fan to help be in charge of this quiz or at least the answering of some of the questions the students will ask.

I also posted some ideas for the Big Game recently. If you haven't seen those ideas, click over and see if any of them can be helpful for your super bowl party.

Trivia Wednesday #106: The Empire Strikes Back

answer #105 - Amelia Earhart

question #106 - Who directed the film The Empire Strikes Back?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Book Review: Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Crazy Love was one of those books that came with a lot of hype. When I first picked up my copy, I had already heard some great reviews and glowing praise for this book. All the hype definitely played a part in my decision to buy the book and read it. Aside from this initial praise for the book, I knew a little about Chan himself. I had heard some great stories about his leadership and some of the things the church he preaches at was doing. So, right from the start I had high expectations for the content and what I would glean from Chan's writing.

The first few chapters deal exclusively with the greatness of God. Chan is not making any assumptions about the reader's knowledge of God. Right from the start, you go back to the start of it all - creation. Chan starts by painting several pictures for the reader of God's greatness seen in creation. From here, he spends a few chapters adding to this case that God is greater than anyone or anything ever. Though I appreciated this reminder, it seemed to drag on longer than I thought necessary (and maybe this stems from my upbringing and subsequent Bible College education).

Once this foundation is laid, Chan then starts the challenges. He spends the rest of the book challenging the reader to be more like Christ, to take God at His word and to live out what Christ calls us to live. While reading, there were moments I found myself rereading sentences just to make sure I was grasping what was being written. There were other sentences that grabbed my attention and caused me to stop and think. Sentences like, "Having faith often means doing what others see as crazy. Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers." and this quote from Tim Kizziar, "Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter."

Crazy Love is a good book and its definitely worth a read. Is it a book for you, though? I believe the best audience to read this book are those Christians who are complacent with with their faith. If you or someone you know is struggling, lukewarm or stagnant then this is a great book to read and let soak in.

God's love for you is crazy. His love for me is crazy. At the least, you will walk away from this book with that understanding. But my fear, and I think Chan's fear as well, is that you can walk away from that understanding and do absolutely nothing to change your life. Do not allow yourself that option, act on what you are challenged to change.

My advice (rating) – borrow from a friend (3 out of 5)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

to quote someone else: Tim Kizziar (our greatest fear)

"Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter."

taken from Crazy Love by Francis Chan

What is it that you are trying to succeed in? Will that success ultimately matter? If not, maybe your focus needs to change.

I know some of mine does.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Photo Friday: small wooden cross

This is a picture of a small wooden cross and a rock we had set up in the youth room at my first ministry. I have always liked the simplicity of the picture, so I thought I would share with you.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Poll: Next blog series

I have a few topics I want to blog about next, but I'm not sure which one to start on first. So I thought I would ask you (anyone who reads this) what you think. What series would you like me to write and post first?

Next Blog Series:
- Youth Minister's Budget (personal)
- Youth Ministry's Budget (church)
- Small Town Youth Ministry
- Youth Ministry Blog Reviews
- Parenting Mistakes
- Your ideas

I would love to hear your comments on any of these topics. And if you have another idea, just leave it in a comment and I'll think about blogging about it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #105: first solo flight over Atlantic

answer #104 - 14

question #105 - Name the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Book Review: Youth Ministry 3.0 by Mark Oestreicher

I picked up Mark Oestreicher's new book while at the National Youth Workers Convention a few months ago. I had been looking forward to reading this expanded version of a general session talk he had given the year before at the convention. Having heard the general session talk and read the numerous blog posts on this very subject, I had certain expectations of what I would find within the pages. For the most part, I was not surprised.

Oestreicher has been involved with youth ministry for almost 25 years and is currently the president of Youth Specialties. He has been around the youth ministry world long enough to know the good and bad, and to have been a part of both sides. Now that he mainly sits on the other side of the trenches, watching the youth ministry culture as a whole, he can see a little clearer the trends that have been happening lately and how they will/should move youth ministers into what he calls youth ministry 3.0.

Before jumping into what youth ministry 3.0 is, Oestreicher sets out to explore youth ministry 1.0 and 2.0. According to Oestreicher, youth ministry 1.0 was the era when youth ministry was focused mainly on the proclamation of the Gospel. Youth ministry 2.0 was the era when the main focus was programs. Youth ministry is not completely out of version 2.0, but there are some significant changes occurring across the youth ministry world. The biggest events, tools, or methods in these eras of youth ministry were reproducible. At least that was the thought among both the "big ministries" and "little ministries." The larger ministries were busy sharing their methods with anyone who would listen (or go to the conference). And the small ministries spent a lot of time trying to copy the success of the larger ministries.

According to Oestreicher, one of the biggest changes in the youth ministry 3.0 era is that this "copy & paste" mentality has to go. In youth ministry 3.0, it is not about using the same method/curriculum/program as another church. The new era of youth ministry needs to be about being present within your own ministry context. Being present is the key word for this new ministry era. When a youth ministry is focused on what God is doing within their own ministry context, the focus is taken off of being like anyone else.

Oestreicher does not answer a lot of questions in this book, in fact he asks and leaves a lot of them unanswered. And isn't that the type of book a youth ministry 3.0 youth worker needs to read? A book that does not tell you how to change 7 aspects of your current model to become a newer/better ministry. (I still believe we need youth ministry books that focus on practical application, they are just not the only ones we need) The end of the book contains three stories of youth workers who are struggling with this transition or attempting make this transition within their ministries. These stories bring encouragement and challenge the youth workers who read this book to step out of their current "safe" model of ministry and go where God is leading.

The best way to make the most of reading this book is to read it with a group of youth workers. This is one of those books that is a good read, but a great resource when you discuss its content with others. If you are a lead youth worker, get a copy for everyone on your youth team and take time to read and discuss. If you are a volunteer youth worker, then make sure the lead youth worker knows about this book. Youth ministries have been stirring for a few years now about changes that need to take place within the realm of youth ministry. Oestreicher has articulated these feelings rather well, and you would benefit from listening to his thoughts, along with the voices of other youth workers found throughout the pages.

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

Friday, January 16, 2009

to quote someone else: Francis Chan ("crazy" faith)

"Having faith often means doing what others see as crazy. Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers."

taken from Crazy Love by Francis Chan

This is nothing new and is probably something you have heard in a sermon or two, but it bears repeating. I think a lot of Christians struggle with truly living their life by faith. Living by faith means you do not know what tomorrow brings, you will not know how a certain situation will turn out. Not being "sure" about the future (and we all know its impossible for anyone to ever really be sure of the future) is counter cultural for most people.

My one big concern, though, is that an unbeliever is not the only person who finds living by faith crazy. Christians do too. I have found in my life that there are times where other Christians struggle to understand how a person can have peace/faith during a period of complete uncertainty.

My prayer is that the way you life your life makes zero sense to unbelievers and encourages fellow Christians to step out in faith.

Photo Friday: Football Upclose

Here are a couple of football pictures.

As always, if you decide to use either of these pics please give me credit for my photography. I'd love to see or hear how you use either of these images. (Enjoy the big game)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Discussion Starter: Padded bras for preschool girls

While visiting pbsparents the other day, my wife saw an article talking about protecting your little girls from growing up too fast and avoiding a sexualized childhood. Here is an excerpt from the article:

Helen recently wrote asking me for help dealing with the aftermath of the "High School Musical" birthday party her 5-year-old daughter had recently attended. At the party, the girls dressed up in fancy clothes and were taught how to do a special [i.e., sexy] dance by the high school-aged cousin of the birthday girl. After the HS Musical cake, the girls broke the HS Musical piƱata to get their party favors -- temporary tattoos of the film's characters. The children did a special performance of the HS Musical dance when parents arrived to pick them up.

Helen's daughter loved the party and quickly started pleading to see the HS Musical movies. On a recent trip to a mass market store, her daughter kept pointing to the movie's products and got especially excited about the padded bra and bikini underpants set "in her size!" And she continued to practice her HS Musical dance both at home and in public places like the mall.

Here is another discussion I found on the topic.

My little girl is not even 6 months old yet, so I haven't had to deal with any of this stuff up to this point in my parenting. But I know that day will come sooner than I expect (and even sooner if this is an actual trend taking place around the country).

What are your thoughts on this trend? Have you noticed it with any of your children? And is it anything new or has it been this way for a while?

How does this type of sexualized childhood affect a church's children's ministry? Should it?

You can use this article to start discussion with your students about sex, beauty, self-image, how culture affects how we see ourselves, pressure, marketing.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Trivia Wednesday #104: Sonnets

answer #103 - true

question #104 - How many lines are usually in a sonnet?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

5 Ways to Use the Super Bowl in Youth Ministry

Then end of the football season means the Super Bowl is almost here. And for youth ministers that can mean the potential to connect with a greater number of students. There are several things you can do within your youth ministry to connect to the Super Bowl "hype." Take one or more of these ideas and use it within your ministry. And I'd love to hear what effect it has on your ministry.

5 ideas for using the Super Bowl in your youth ministry

1. Host a Super Bowl Party
This includes finding a house with enough room to hold the students a big enough TV for everyone to watch. Or you could hold it at church if you have the room/technology.


  • Food (I suggest pizza and chips & dip for sure)
  • TV or multiple TVs
  • Devotion or something for halftime
  • Handout, trivia questions and ideas or quiz sheet
  • prizes for winners of score contest. halftime and end of game
  • prizes for contest sheet winners
  • plastic silverware, cups, plates
2. Create your own Super Bowl Commercial Contest.
Have the students come up with a 30 second commercial that they want to air during the Super Bowl. You could either have them make up a product or use a real one. You will want to set obvious guidelines; language and such. Have them turn the commercials early enough to give you time to watch them and get them ready be viewed. My suggestion is that you watch them during halftime of the game. Plus you can put them on your group's YouTube, Vimeo, or webpage - that way the students can watch them over and over again.

3. Discuss why the Super Bowl is such a big deal.
Take some time before the big game and talk about why this is the biggest sporting event all year.

4. Participate in the Souper Bowl outreach event.
This is a great way to raise some money and help out a local soup kitchen. Go to the website to find out more and get your students involved. Get all of your downloadable resources here that you'll need to promote.

5. Use the commercials to start discussion on a number of topics.
After the Super Bowl, you could take a few weeks and steer some discussion to the topics brought up during the commercials. Or use the commercials as illustrations or intro material for the your messages.

How do you use the Super Bowl in your ministry? What have you done in the past? We'd love to hear some of your past highlights, please leave a comment to share with the youth ministry community.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Photo Friday: Chuck Norris Action Figure?

This was an action figure I found last week while I was home. A few people in my family told me it was Chuck Norris. I can kinda see it, but am skeptical of this. What do you think? Is this a Chuck Norris action figure?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Best of 2008: Middle School Ministry Books

Earlier this week, I posted my top 3 youth ministry books of 2008. I left these 3 books off that list because they are specific to middle school ministry. A good resource for middle school ministry is something I am always on the lookout for, so I wanted to highlight these three to help anyone else looking for something specific to middle school ministry.

Top 3 Middle School Ministry Books of 2008:
1. My Friends by Kurt Johnston & Mark Oestreicher
This is 1 of 6 books in the middle school survival series by Youth Specialties. This book is written for middle schoolers and I highly recommend you make it available for them to read. You can also use it to help with ideas for lessons or messages you are giving to middle school students. And there are sidebars full of random facts that will be useful for those moments you need something to say, but don't know what to say.

2. Living with Questions by Dale Fincher
I used this book for a middle school small group this past year. It took a few weeks to get them into a groove, but once those first weeks were over it really started to connect with them. It started some great conversations (both in small group and out of small groups). They started talking about some of the topics on their own and really started to wrestle with the issues. This was a great resource and I would recommend it for anyone doing a middle school small group. And it is a great refresher for youth ministers, too.

3. Manga Messiah by Next Ministries
I haven't read too many manga comics, but I have to say this one caught my attention from the start. This manga is a retelling of Jesus' life, from birth to resurrection. The events are in chronilogical order, not organized by Gospel order. I reviewed Manga Messiah for YMX. If you haven't seen this book yet, you need to check it out. Plus there is one other Manga available in the series now - Manga Metamorphosis (and Manga Mutiny available in Japan, English version is supposed to be out soon)

What middle school ministry books did I miss?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #103: Beavers

answer #102 - 1904

question #103 - True or False? A beaver's teeth are mainly orange.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Best of '08: Youth Ministry Books

Next up in the "Best of 2008" series is my favorite youth ministry books of 2008. I thought this was going to be really tough to narrow down to a few books. It seemed like I read a lot this year, but it turns out that I did not read as many youth ministry specific books as I thought I did. What follows is the top 3 youth ministry books I read this year.

Best of 2008: Youth Ministry Books
1. Mission Trips from start to finish by Lynne Ellis & Doug Fields
In terms of practicality, this was the best book I read last year. Simple to follow. Full of reproducible information. This book not only helps a youth worker better understand and answer the big questions, but it provides some great detail information. If you are participating in a mission trip with your youth, this resource needs to be on your desk as you start the planning process.

2. Ministry Mutiny by Greg Stier
When this book first came out, it peeked my interest. But I never got around to actually reading it until this year. We used Ministry Mutiny as part of the mentorship program Tim started via his blog. A lot of the topics dealt with are topics just about every youth worker will face in his/her ministry. One of the benefits of reading it as part of the mentorship program was that I got to discuss each chapter with a fellow youth worker who was just getting started in ministry. I recommend this book to anyone in youth ministry; you may not agree with everything Greg says (I hope you don't) but you will find yourself rethinking your ministry. (Look for a more indepth review to show up on this blog in the next month or so.)

3. Getting Students to Show Up by Jonathan McKee
This is a great book to use when you are thinking about your next outreach event or even your weekly meeting. Since I have already reviewed this book (and given away a free copy), I will not repeat myself. You can see my review by going to this post or over to this review at YMX.

One youth ministry book that was close to making the list was YM 3.0 by Marko. I am not completely finished with it, so I didn't think it was fair to add it to the list - it'll probably be on the 2009 list. Later this week, I'll be posting my favorite middle school ministry books of 2008, so if you think theire is a middle school book left off the list, that could be why.

How did I do? What were your favorite youth ministry books of 2008?

Other "Best of 2008" Posts:
Non-Youth Ministry Books

Friday, January 02, 2009

Photo Friday: 80's Knight Rider Lunchbox

I found this old lunchbox in a box of old stuff at my parent's house. It was my brother's and I forgot we had it. I thought you might enjoy a blast from the 1980's.

Did you have an old lunchbox like this growing up? If so, what was it?