Friday, July 31, 2009

Book Review: Read and Share Toddler Bible

(This review is for anyone with little kids at home or someone who works with the children's ministry at church. You might want to look into this Bible as a good resource for having in the nursery or for gifts to parents of toddlers.)

Colorful illustrations, interactive activities and an animated DVD are all a part of the new Read and Share Toddler Bible. This Bible is designed with the toddler in mind. Each Bible story is short and includes three things: an easy-to-understand retelling of the story, colorful illustrations and an activity for parents to do with their child(ren). As a parent, one other feature I really found helpful was the Scripture references at the beginning of each story. This feature will allow parents to read the story and discover more details on their own.

The Read and Share Toddler Bible is a good first Bible for your little ones. Since there are forty Bible stories covered, your toddler will only hit some of the more well-known stories. The bright colors and easy-to-read stories will draw your toddler in, creating a great opportunity to teach about God's Word. As your child grows, you might want to allow them to read the stories on their own.

The DVD that comes with the Bible contains fourteen short animated stories. These are stories that are included in the Bible, though not every Bible story has an animated version. The videos and fun to watch and can be used to help your toddler follow along in the Bible.

Photo Friday: Cloud line clearing up

The sky is clearing up and the sun is shining through.


These pictures are provided as an available resource for use within your youth ministry. These pictures can be used for background slides, event promotion, or anywhere else you need a good photograph. What I ask is that you do not use them for anything in which you make a profit and attribute me as the photographer. I would also love to hear how you are using them (pictures of your final product would be great, too) within your youth ministry.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Book Review: Blue Like Play Dough by Tricia Goyer (blog tour)

(This post is a guest book review, authored by my wife. This review is for youth worker's wives and all of you female youth workers who are also mothers, or might be one day. You might even want to consider recommending this book to your women's ministry department or as possible small group material.)

As a mom, we all have moments when we feel overwhelmed and under qualified. During those times, there is a tendency to get caught in the situation, rather than seeing the bigger picture. And in our lack of seeing the bigger picture, we often miss what God intends for motherhood to be: a way unlike any other than he can shape and form us to be more like Jesus. It is the shaping that Tricia Goyer continues to come back to as she walks us through her experiences as a mom.

Through the pages of Blue Like Play Dough, I saw how Tricia's honesty, transparency, and maturity helped me to see more of what God has already done in my life. Things I had never identified as being part of the shaping process stirred in my heart as I read Tricia's experiences of being shaped herself. Her challenge is clear. God does not have big plans for you on the other side of your children's high school graduation, once you have time for him to shape you. No, it is in the midst of the spit up, homework, sleepovers, and sleepless nights that he is already molding us. This book has helped me to catch those nudges, those moments where my Father is transforming me in and through this adventure of being a mom.

Go here to purchase Blue Like Play Dough.

Trivia Wednesday #132: First fireworks with color

answer #131 - Oxygen (What element makes fireworks burn brighter and longer?) (Using chemical compounds with greater amounts of oxygen make the fireworks burn brighter and longer.)

question #132 - When did fireworks become colorful?

This trivia is provided for use within your youth ministry. You can use this random trivia in many ways: use it to start a conversation with a student, add it to your introduction for your lesson or message, include it in your next newsletter or email, or just randomly insert it into your daily conversations. No matter how you decide to use it, I hope this trivia knowledge can be beneficial within your youth ministry.

If you have any suggestions on topics you would like to see used for the trivia questions, just leave a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An Open Letter to Youth Minister Search Teams

(Though this particular letter is written specifically for youth minister search teams, most of the content will work for any search team.)

Dear Search Team or Committee

I have applied to your open youth minister position and would like to pass on some information from my perspective of the search. Before I begin by giving you some advice to improve your communication with those of us who have applied for your position; allow me to share these thoughts. First off, thank you for being a part of the group who will determine the next minister to the students. I understand you have a big decision ahead of you and it should not be taken lightly. I appreciate all of the extra time, effort and energy you have put into the process (not to mention all of the meetings). One last thing you should know about me - I am praying for you as much as you are praying for me. I pray God gives you wisdom, strength and the ability to discern the right choice.

As a search team moving along in the search process, I would suggest you keep these few things in mind. (In no particular order) You will notice that throughout this list I will use the word "appreciate" often; because none of these ideas are requirements for you, they are just things I would appreciate.

1. Use Technology.
You do not have to waste a stamp. Since we are living in an age of technology, with email and text messaging being more prevalent than snail mail, you do not have to send me a letter. You can send me an email letting me know you are not pursuing me any longer. This is especially true if all of our communication has been done via email.

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
At the beginning of the process, I understand it might take months for you to make any sort of decision. I do not expect a weekly email letting me know what number I am on your list of potential youth workers, but I would appreciate notification when the process moves forward. As we move farther down the process, I would appreciate knowing what is going on. As the list of potential youth ministers is narrowed, and I'm still on it, I would expect to be informed on the progress. Even if the search team has not met for a month, I would appreciate knowing.

If I end up being the "chosen" youth minister, I am learning a lot about the way the leadership in the church works. If there is a pattern of poor communication during the search process, I will be more likely to decline your offer to be youth minister. Why would I willingly walk into a situation where communication is not a strength for the leadership? On the other hand, when a search team communicates well during the search process, I will willingly join that team.

3. Honesty is a must!
For me, this is a huge issue. In fact, this might be the biggest issue I consider. And as much as you are deciding if I am the right person for this position, I am deciding if you are the right congregation for me. I do not want to work with a group of people who are not completely honest. When it comes to the search process, do not lie to me. If you are interviewing two other people, tell me. If you are worried that I will not work well with the senior minister, let me know. The worst thing you can do is make me feel that I am the person for the job while I am visiting, when you know that I am not.

There is no reason to drag me along, just to keep me as a "back-up" if the real #1 choice doesn't work out. If you want to pursue one candidate at a time, then be honest and let me know that at the beginning of the process. I will not be offended if you want to be specific and strategic in your search, even if it means I am not going through the first round of the interview process. I would rather know from the beginning what the search teams intentions are, then to believe a lie about where I stand. Being honest is one of those qualities Christians are supposed to possess, so it needs to be a quality the search team possesses as well.

4. Silence conveys a message.
I have found that when a youth ministry search team is silent for an extended period of time, it usually is not a good sign. Silence from your team conveys one main thing - I (as a youth ministry candidate) am no longer being considered for the position. I understand this is not always the case, but it is the conclusion I will come to when I do not hear anything from a search team for an extended period of time. Silence also conveys the message that your team is not willing to honestly tell me what you think about my ability to minister to the students in your congregation.

As I am patiently waiting to hear back from your committee, I would appreciate an occasional (at the least) update. Even if the search team is hesitant to have a difficult discussion with one of the candidates that is no reason to avoid communication. Some conversations will be difficult, but you should have known that when you signed up to be on the team - even in the church the hiring process is difficult. You need to know that I am not going to talk/think negatively about you if you phone and tell me I am not the right person for the position. I will respect your team and appreciate the manner in which you handled the situation.

If you are silent after I have already interviewed, I believe one of two things is happening: you are calling another candidate back and you are hoping if that candidate says "no" then I'll still be willing to come for another interview. Or you do not know how to tell me that I am not the right candidate and hope I'll find another position before you have to tell me.

5. Respect my time.
This comment goes along with the silence one - as you are going through your process remember that the candidates are waiting to hear back from you. Just because you only want to meet once a month does not make it appropriate to only contact the applicants every other time you meet. Do not drag out the process for any candidate longer than necessary - as soon as you know a candidate is not going to be the right person for the ministry the best thing you can do is let them know.

We, the candidates, are not just waiting to hear back about a job. We are waiting to hear back about the city we will live in, the church our family will attend, and the people we will become friends with. Taking on a new youth ministry position entails all of our life and family. So, as you are considering your decision, please keep this in mind as you keep us abreast of the situation. And please try to meet as a group more than once a month.

Thank you for reading this letter. I hope it helps you have a better understanding of what the youth minister candidates are feeling and thinking during this search process. I pray God gives you wisdom and discernment in your search and you find the right minister for the students.


A youth minister candidate

ps. I would like to suggest two books for you to read, if you have time. The first book is "Inside The Mind Of Youth Pastors" by Mark Riddle, published by Youth Specialties. The second book is "Sustainable Youth Ministry" by Mark DeVries, published by InterVarsity Press. Both of these books contain great insight into a better understanding what youth ministry is all about and how a congregation can help it succeed.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending July 25, 2009

Today is a special day for me - its my little girl's 1st birthday! So, to help you celebrate my little girl's birthday, I thought I'd share some highlights from Twitter this past week. Oh, who am I kidding, I was going to share them anyway. :)

1. YS_Scoop (Youth Specialties) shared the link to Tic Long's new blog. If you have not checked it out, you need to. Tic is a great advocate of the youth worker and have great thoughts - plus he's just a good guy.

"Keep up with Tic and what is next in his life at"

2. snavenel (Len Evans) shared some news about a new stage of his life. Check out his blog to find out more about Len and see how you can be praying for him in this transition.
"Shared today, that I'm no longer the youth pastor at the church. Have applied to work with the Gathering prayer supporters"

3. timschmoyer (Tim Schmoyer) shared two links for resources youth workers might be able to take advantage of in their ministries. Check out these links and see how they can benefit your ministry.
"FREE City cars time lapse video download in HD. Might be good as a title background for a YG video:"
"RT @slickdeals: 20 5x7 Photo Prints $0.99 // Perfect for all your camp and missions trip pictures!"

4. StudentMinistry (John from Lifeway Student Ministry) linked to an article on helping your students after you get back from camp. If you took kids to camp, or know some who went, you'll want to read the article.
"Help Your Students Keep Their Camp Committments" now on -

MikeFoster (Mike Foster) shared this little bit of wisdom (and truth). I agree wholeheartedly with his statement.
"true leaders take ownership of their contribution to a bad event."

rainnwilson (Rainn Wilson: aka Dwight) offered a little bit of hope for those Office fans who are tired of watching "summer television." The Office is back to work!
"Office table read today. Like first day of school. What to wear!? Make sure to ask for spoilers cause I will def. be revealing all!(um, no)"

7. theofficenbc (The Office on NBC) provided a little bit more information for Office fans - the first episode is entitled "Gossip" (oh, the possibilities).
"Scoop! Season 6 of "The Office" officially begins today, with a table read of Episode 1, entitled "Gossip." Welcome back everyone!"

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Photo Friday: Thick Clouds

The cloud were rolling through.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #131: Elements in fireworks

answer #130 - True (True or False: Fireworks makers wear only cotton clothing?) (Static electricity in synthetic clothing can ignite fireworks. Those who make fireworks wear cotton all the way down to their underwear.)

question #131 - What element makes fireworks burn brighter and longer?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Finding Rest in the Summer

Summer is busy, especially for youth workers. But even with all of those activities, you do not have to become overwhelmed and exhausted. You can survive summer and feel rested as the school year starts again.

I recently wrote an article entitled "Finding Rest in the Summer" for on 5 ways to find rest this summer (which can be applied to just about any season of the year). Here is an excerpt:

If your summer calendar is too full to include time to rest, you need to find a way to adjust it. The people around you do not need a youth worker who is tired. They need you to be well-rested and modeling healthy behavior.

Click on the link below to read the entire article. And let me know what you think. How do you find rest in the summer? How do you find rest during the busy times of your ministry?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending July 18, 2009

Being gone for most of the week meant that I didn't catch a lot of the good stuff Twitter had to offer, but I did catch a few things.

1. SITM (Stuck in the Middle) is giving stuff away, and all you have to do to win is help promote their awesome middle school event.

"WIN $50 and Free Pizza from Stuck in the Middle:"

2. bigsmooth433430 (Matt Couch) is celebrating a collaboration with a local school for one of their upcoming events. Awesome chance to impact more students and work together with the local school system.
"We're in! Avon has agreed to support our Battle of Schools event! Thank you Jesus!"

shawnmichael (Shawn Michael Shoup) got to hang out with Skillet. Its always nice to hear good things about "Christian" bands.
"Secret's out: I just got to hang out w/ the guys from Skillet for the past four hours. Great guys!"

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Photo Friday: Orange Sky Reflection

A nice orange sky reflected off the water.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #130: Proper firework-making clothing

answer #129 - 9 (E.T. - 44, Beverly Hills Cop - 28, Tootsie - 27, Top Gun - 27, Titanic - 26, Forrest Gump - 26, Crocodile Dundee - 26, Home Alone - 25, Dances with Wolves - 25) (How many movies have been in the top 10 for 25 or more weekends?)

question #130 - True or False: Fireworks makers wear only cotton clothing?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Learned from Twitter: week ending July 11, 2009

What a fun week its been, on and off Twitter. Here are a few of the nuggets of wisdom and wonder I learned on Twitter this week.

1. saraeden (Sara Eden) was blessed by some generous people at her church. These are the people who both bless & humble us as we serve God and students.

"the grandparents of 2 students just offered to write a check for my @nywc registration. Humbled by this church family over and over."

2. riddlegroup (Mark Riddle) shared a great opening line for your next message.
"A great intro to a sermon/talk: "Your job is to take notes, my job is to make that impossible." - Peter Rollins"

MarkMatlock (Mark Matlock) asked a great question for anyone with kids to answer. So, what is your answer?
"Sit-down meals with family 'keep youths out of trouble''. How often does your family eat together?"

(Anonymous twitterer) shared one of the reasons youth ministers do what we do.
"Had a great meeting with a young man considering going into full time ministry."

shawnmichael (Shawn Michael Shoup) quoted me for the first time of anyone on Twitter (that I know of). Thanks Shawn. (I just thought I'd share with you, blog readers, because I thought it was cool that he actually quoted me.)
"You need 2 B involved in a youth worker network & more importantly, U need 2 strive 2 help make it the best network anywhere."(via @lilkup)

saraeden (Sara Eden) shared a great moment she had with a senior and freshman. Sometimes, high schoolers are just amazing, aren't they?
"Just heard a senior say 'woo hoo! You're officially a high schooler!' and high five a new freshmen. Love it!

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

July Trivia

The rest of the month of July's trivia will focus on fireworks.

How much do you know about the firework explosives you watched/set up earlier this month? (Who knows, you might still be setting them off)

Friday, July 10, 2009

July Photos: Sky

During the month of July, the Photo Friday posts will all involve sky pictures. I hope you enjoy them on the screen as much as I enjoyed looking at them in real life.

Photo Friday: Sunbeam through hole in clouds

This was the view behind us at one of the t-ball games.

Makes me wish I knew what it was that was getting "hit" with the beams of sunlight.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Trivia Wednesday #129: movies with 25 or more top 10 weekends

answer #128 - E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial - 16 weeks (What movie has the most weekends at #1?)

question #129 - How many movies have been in the top 10 for 25 or more weekends?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

to quote someone else: Fireworks & First Independence Day (John Adams)

"The day (Independence Day) will be the most memorable in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade...bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore."
a quote in reference to the first Independence Day fireworks celebration in 1776 by then future President John Adams

Learned from Twitter: week ending July 4, 2009

Hope you are enjoying your 4th of July weekend. To help get you going this weekend, here are a few tidbits of information I learned this week on Twitter.

1. crowderband (David Crowder Band) let us know some specifics about the upcoming album. Mark your calendars.

"Church Music releases Sept 22. 17 tracks. 73 minutes. There you have it!"
2. Drpoulette (Dennis Poulette), along with a few others, shared a link to the article about the walkman review by a 13 year old. Its a great read. My favorite part is when he admits to not knowing there was a second side to the tape - classic.
"RT @boingboing 13 year old kid reviews a 30 year old Sony Walkman original story:"
3. bigsmooth433430 (Matt Couch) has a student photography team. I want one! Better yet, I wish my group would have had one when I was in high school.
"Getting ready to meet with our student photography team for the first time. Pretty pumped about all the new ministries starting this summer"
nikomas (Nikomas) shares a link worth reading.
"Apostle Paul's bones tested and pass authenticity:"
5. YMX (Youth Ministry Exchange) provides the link to the story about the accident involving a youth minister, a youth coach and some teens during a day at the lake. If you haven't already, take some time to pray for those involved with this tragedy.
"News story about the youth trip accident that claimed 2 in MN"
6. steelehousemark (Mark Steele) is in control of the Tomato's words. Look out toddler world, the next VeggieTales movie is gonna be funny, at least I would expect it to be with Mark working on the script. (I am looking forward to this one.)
"Working on outline & script for the next VeggieTale. Oh tomato, you will say what I tell you to say."

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Friday, July 03, 2009

Photo Friday: softball field at night

I really like the way baseball/softball fields look at night when its still light out and the lights come on.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Book Review: God's Little Princess Devotional Bible by Sheila Walsh

(This review is for all of you youth workers who have little girls at home. Or for anyone who works with children and might need a resource of ideas or a gift to give to parents)

As my daughter is getting ready to turn one, I am really starting to think about what resources are available to help me as a parent. I think I know what the boys need a lot better than I know what my little girl needs. So, when I saw God's Little Princess Devotional Bible, I was quick to pick it up. This devotional Bible is geared toward girls age 4-7 and I would say Walsh has done a good job writing for that age group. The Scriptures are taken from the International Children's bible, which means they are written so that little girls will understand the verses.

Along with the Scripture, this devotional Bible contains several other features. Everything from Scripture memory, tips on being beautiful on the inside, profiles of women in the Bible, Scripture promises, skits, songs to sing, teaching manners and values. Each feature is full of fun activities and questions to help your little princess grow. If you are looking for something to help you and your daughter spend time in the Bible together, God's Little Princess Devotional Bible will be a huge help.

There is only one problem I have with this book: the almost complete absence of dads within its pages. There are only four mentions of "dad" throughout the book, all in the combination of "mom and dad." (p. 213, 215, 284, 336) A few other times, parents are mentioned. But every other time there is a reference to a parent, it is always mom. And I understand the need for daughters to spend time with their mothers and the fact that during the day mothers are more likely to be home, but let's not neglect dads. If there was a mention at the beginning of the book stating it was going to focus on the mother/daughter relationship, then I would be fine with it. If you are a dad like me and want to use this devotional with your daughter, then you will need to adjust some of the wording.

My advice (rating) – go out and buy it (3.5 out of 5)

Trivia Wednesday #128: Movie at #1 for the most weekends

answer #127 - The Passion of the Christ (#12 - $370,782,930) (Finding Nemo, #15 - $339,714,978) (Which movie has grossed more domestically, The Passion of the Christ or Finding Nemo?)

question #128 - What movie has the most weekends at #1?