Friday, March 31, 2006

All Marketers Are Liars - 2

I came across this quote last night. This would make for an interesting discussion among pastors.

"If you care about the future of your company, you non-profit, your church or your planet, marketing matters. Marketing matters because whether or not you're in a position to buy a commercial, if you've got an idea to spread, you're a marketer.

Key fact: in 2003 pharmaceutical companies spent more on marketing and sales that they did on research and development. When it comes time to invest, it's pretty clear that spreading the ideas behind the medicine is more important than inventing the medicine itself."

Seth goes on to say that marketing works when the following steps are considered.

Step 1: Their worldview and frames got there before you did.
Step 2: People only notice the new and then make a guess.
Step 3: First impressions start the story.
Step 4: Great marketers tell stories we believe.
Step 5: Marketers with authenticity will thrive.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Adah Jane @ 5 Weeks

Here are a couple of pictures of our beautiful addition!

Tiger Woods wants to get better! Do you?

On Sunday I watched an interview with Tiger Woods on 60 Minutes. I thought it was an impressive interview. The transcript link is below.

What struck me was how Tiger thinks he can't get better. Here's part of the interview.

As much as Tiger savors his victories, he's willing to risk losing to improve his game. He has changed his swing twice to make it more consistent. After the last time, in 2002, he went more than two years without winning a major and lost his number one ranking. All of a sudden, Tiger looked vulnerable. Tiger took a lot of criticism from some of the golf press for changing his golf swing twice. Woods says he changed the swing to become better. "You can always become better," he says.

What I loved about this comment is that even if you are the best at what you do there is always room for improvement. You can always improve your swing! I want to start living that way. I want to wake up everyday hungrier to be a better husband, father, youth pastor, friend, brother, son, leader, name it.

There's always room for me to improve my swing!

If Tiger hasn't arrived in his profession then none of us have in ours. Let's take a lesson from Tiger off the golf course that humility is part of becoming great!


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tween Marketing

Kristen sent me this article, Buzz Focus: Cracking the Fickle Tween Code, written by Tina Wells, in which she discusses what marketers need to know to reach tweenagers.

She met with some tweens and here's what she came up with.


I particularly thing #2 is most insightful to reaching this age group with the gospel. We can't just be telling them about a relationship with God. Somehow we need to start doing ministry where we are living out in front of them what we are saying to them. It would be interesting to see how many of the above elements are present in churches trying to reach tweens.

Finally, if the business world is so keen on reaching this segment of society what does this mean for the church? Do we have strategies in place to reach tweens with the gospel? Are willing to put our money where our mouth is? Are our mouths even talking about tweens and reaching them, or are we just hoping our high school ministries do the job? Are we staffing these ministries to reach them with the gospel? Are we willing to up our budgets for higher quality brochures, etc...?

This article has challenged me to ask are we doing enough in our church to reach tweens. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

No one can take away your joy and your trouble!

John 16:22 "So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy."

John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

This Sunday I had the privilege to share with our students that no one will take away their joy if they are in a relationship with Jesus Christ! I also had the privilege to share with them that no one will take away their trouble. I reminded them that the peace Jesus offers us in this world doesn't take away the trouble. For us to know His peace we must know trouble. You can't know one without knowing the other. The peace Jesus offers is peace right in the middle of trouble. Therefore, we all can take heart because on the cross Jesus made our trouble His trouble. It was for the "joy set before Him" (Heb.12:2) that Jesus died. It's in the "taking up your cross" and "walking the Calvary" experiences of life that Jesus' peace is most present with us and able to give us the greatest joy!

There is no question that this message challenged me more than it did the students.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Experience & Innovation

I came across a great article today that really resonates with where I am at in my journey of leading a student ministry. After 10 years I am wondering where my experience is becoming a stumbling block in my leadership. Is my experience getting in the way of being innovative? Where's the balance?

Towards the end of the article this quote got me, "There's nothing wrong with experience," said Mr. Marino, the company's president. "The problem is when experience gets in the way of innovation. As founders, the one thing we know is that we don't know all the answers."

I want my next ten years of leadership to be characterized by not having all the answers and empowering those around me. Do I have the right leaders around me? Am I the right leader?

I don't want to be the only big idea guy who makes everyone do what I want. I want shared leadership. Shared ideas. Shared vision. Shared values. Shared successes.

New York Times writer, William C. Taylor wrote this piece, "Here's an idea: Let everyone have ideas" which I read in the Herald Tribune.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Bracket Finals

Julie 37. Dan 35. None of our final four teams are left so we are going to enjoy the games this weekend!!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

What are you wrestling?

There is a great story today in USA Today about a high school senior who wrestles bears. I couldn't believe the headline - here.

Apparently this student has been doing this since he was four.

A few thoughts.

1. I can't imagine loading up the family today to take my four year old down to Clement Park for some bear wrestling. I wonder what the cost would be? Would he need cleats?

2. I can imagine this student being a part of our community and inviting me to attend his wrestling match. I can hear myself thinking, "I thought high school wrestling happened in the high school gym. Why am I at the Pepsi Center?" I think I would die watching him.

3. It makes me wonder what the headline would read for each of the students in our high school community. While I am interested in what they are wrestling with on the outside, I'm more concerned with what they're wrestling with on the inside. What's the trouble they are facing? Do they believe that there is an answer for their grief?

Bracket Breakdown - Day 5 and 6

After the sweet 16 games the score is Julie 37, Dan 34. Julie still has UConn and Memphis alive for her final four. I still have Uconn, Villanova and Memphis alive.

Friday, March 24, 2006

It was a snowy week!

We finally had a week where there was some consistent snow! Noah, Makai, Kellen, Josiah, Emma and Maddox (left to right) all had a great time playing in the snow in the backyard. Tanner and Adah stayed inside!

We have thoroughly enjoyed Adah being a part of our family. Today she is four weeks old!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Advertising - Youth Ministry & The Bible Made Easy?

I came across an add in Group magazine that I think is a problem for youth workers and students in the church today. Here's part of the ad for this software that is being marketed to youth workers to help them with their study and teaching of God's Word.

"Don't Panic - The Youth Worker's Guide to the Really Big Book. Relax, don't sweat it, this is easy...Sometimes the best things in youth ministry just come easy!"

Don't panic? When I read this all I can do is panic. And you guessed right, my panic isn't over whether or not I can teach the really big book.

Do you see my problem? I can't speak to the content, but I will speak to the ad.

Since when was the Bible supposed to be easy? Since when did we start calling the Bible a really big book? Stand by Stephen King was really really big! Since when did the words "relax" and "don't sweat it" define part of the youth workers job as it relates to studying and teaching the Bible? There is nothing easy about taking the inspired word of God, letting it burn in you, praying over it and through it, and then preparing what you hope will give your students a vision of God.

I've found this ad to be false in 10 years of youth ministry. The best things in youth ministry just come with a lot of hard work, tears, wrestling with God and getting out of the way of so the Spirit can move.

What bothers me about this ad is what they are selling. They're selling the words "relax, don't sweat it, this is easy, best things come easy." Is this really the message we need to be sending youth workers about the "really big book?" If this is the message youth workers are getting, then what are our students getting? If youth workers think it's easy, what do our students think? Do our students think it's easy? Are they relaxed? I know most of them aren't sweating it! I know most of them think this Jesus thing is pretty easy and it's one of those "best things in life" to have. I am not buyin it, and I don't think Paul or Jesus would.

I want to think on Paul's words as a pastor of students,

1 Corinthians 9:24-28 "24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

I want our students to think on Jesus' words,

Matthew 10:37-39 "37 Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Spring Break Marketing

USA Today ran an interesting article on how businesses marketers are targeting college students on spring break. They're advertising in the hotel rooms rather than the bars. There putting there logo on pillow cases, shower curtains...You name it.

Check out this quote by one marketer as he is thinking about how he will know if he is successful, "You want to come up with content cool enough that they will want to steal it," says William Gelner, group creative director at Axe ad agency BBH. "That's usually a good indication people like what you're doing. ... Hopefully, all of this stuff will be stolen and put to good use in fraternities across the country."

Since when did we start evaluating our effectiveness in any area of life, including business, by breaking moral codes? If they're stealing the product is there really any value? Does stealing lead to buying?

I am guessing the guy thinks that stealing stuff will probably be way down on the "sin scale" as it relates to the "other" activities spring break students will be engaged in.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Google Idol - Who's your favorite?

In case you haven't noticed that American Idol is on television I would like to point you to Google Idol because I know you have a computer!

I was reading about this today on Seth Godin's blog and I had to post a link!

Pomme and Kelly are destorying Mr. Ray by more than 16,000 votes in the semi-final 1!

BTW, I will be watching American Idol tonight!


Are you running for heaven?

This weekend Pastor Nelson quoted Charles Spurgeon in the context of Mark 14:1-11. Mary had just poured out a jar of perfume that was worth over a years wages and was being rebuked by those (disciples and others) in the room.

Mark 14:6 "Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.

Charles Spurgeon wrote, "If you consort with the common (Christian), and travel on the road to heaven so slowly that it is a question whether you are going there at all, then you will escape criticism: if you keep with those who practice the snail's march they will call you a good easy man, a right respectable person. But if you run for it, if you put out all the energy of your nature, and are determined to live at a high pitch for Christ, you will get the cold shoulder, even from many of his disciples, for you will be practically condemning their half-heartedness..."

I wonder what it looks like to "run for it" today? What would describe the "high pitch" Spurgeon is talking about? I wonder who in our midst would scorn extravagantgent love for Jesus if we spent $40k on Him? I wonder what high school students think of loving Jesus extravagantly? I wonder...I wonder...

All I know is that this week I have been encouraged to pick up my pace.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Millennials Changing Business

An interesting article today in the Denver Post about Millenials entering the work force and how they are changing the face of business.

As new generation grows, employers seek its groove

I wonder if the church is ready for this group of people?

How is your church dealing with the differences? Or not dealing with the differences?

How can I be a neighbor?

While our senior pastor was in India, one of my co-workers preached a sermon that I am still thinking about. I'd like to share some of his thoughts along with a great story. I want to see this attitude reproduced in the lives of our students that we have the privilege of serving.

"How can one be a neighbor? How do we (I) meet need with God’s love?

When it comes to the large issues like poverty, generational homelessness, hunger, human pain and suffering because of war, injustice, inequality, prejudice and crime we often cry out in despair. Despair because the problems are too big and we are too small to do anything about them. The problems and enormous and many and we are only one.

Senator Mark Hatfield tells of his day in 1974 with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India.
“As my family and I toured Calcutta with Mother Teresa, we visited the orphanage filled with crippled children, the co-called “House of Dying,” where the sick and diseased are cared for in their last days, and the dispensary, where the poor line up by the hundreds to receive badly needed basic medical attention. Mother Teresa ministered to these people, feeding and nursing the sick and elderly, loving them when others had left them to die. I was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the suffering and the utter impossibility of the tasks to which Mother Teresa and her coworkers face daily. ‘How can you bear the load without being crushed by the impossibility of the task?”

My dear Senator,” replied Mother Teresa, “I am not called to be successful; I am called to be faithful.

Faithful compassion: “when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them….” (Mt. 9:36).

Not pity – compassion.

For pity weeps and walks away,
Compassion comes to help and stay.

Pity is an emotional response; compassion is an action response.

Pity touches on feelings; compassion engages our will.

Pity often produces the tears that help us keep a safe distance from another’s problems; compassion provides a bridge that helps us move from our own background and experiences to embrace the hurts and cares of another.

Pity understands that there are hundreds of million severely malnourished children in our world; compassion recognizes the opportunity we have to live with a little less so others might live.

Pity rails against the injustice of discrimination; compassion alters life-styles in order to focus personal resources which can be used in caring for disadvantages people.

Pity observes human suffering; compassion suffers with those who suffer."

Can you imagine this generation what this generation of students could do in the world if they cared more about being faithful than successful? Maybe even more profound would be to imagine us, the adults in their lives, caring more about being faithful than being successful!

Rich's sermon - PDF, Word

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Bracket Breakdown - Day 3 and 4

Julie 33. Dan 30. I lost! The best I can do is lose by one game. Our remaining winners are Duke, Texas, Memphis, Gonzaga, UCLA, UConn, Villanova, BC and Florida.

What's in the Fridge?

I meant to post this awhile back. On Right to Life Sunday my senior pastor quoted from an amazing court testimony that is worth the read.

Dr Jerome Lejeune a medical doctor and Ph.D. geneticist who graduated from the University of Paris and had been, for over 10 years, a researcher on the Faculty of Medicine in Paris, testified in a Maryland court house on the sanctity of life. Dr. Lejeune is the one who made the discovery of the chromosome link to Down’s Syndrome.

Here are some quotes to wet your appetite.

“Inside the chromosomes is written the program and all the definitions. In fact, chromosomes are, so to speak, the table of the law of life… There exist a lot of minute differences in the message given by father and the one given by mother” and every sperm and every egg carry different information."

“The minuteness (the smallness) of the language is bewildering because if I (brought into) the Court all the (DNA strands) which make up every one of the five billions of human beings that will replace ourselves on this planet, the amount of matter would be (the size of) roughly two aspirin tablets.”

“The amount of information which is inside the zygote, which would if spelled out and put in a computer tell the computer how to calculate what will happen next, this amount of information is (so) big that nobody can measure it."

“But what I saying is that the information which is inside this first cell, obviously to tell this cell all the tricks of the trade to build herself as the individual, this cell” (already has). And it is not information “to build a theoretical person, but to build that particular human person we will call later Margaret or Paul or Peter, it's already there, but it's so small that we cannot see it."

“It's what is life, the formula is there; if you allow this formula to be expanded by itself, just giving shelter and nurture, then you have the development of the full person."

“Now, I was very surprised two years ago that some of our British colleagues invented the term of pre-embryo. That does not exist; it has never existed."

Q.: Dr. Lejeune, let me make sure I understand what you are telling us, that the zygote (the first cell) should be treated with the same respect as an adult human being?

A.: I'm not telling you that because I'm not in a position of knowing (about respect or rights). I'm telling you, he is a human being, and then it is a Justice who will tell whether this human being has the same rights as the others. (But) if you make difference between human beings, (you are) on your own to prove the reasons why you make that difference. But as a geneticist you ask me whether this human being is a human, and I would tell you that because he is a being and being human, he is a human being… As a geneticist, I would say… as soon as he has been conceived, a man is a man."

What's in the Fridge?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Bracket Breakdown - Day 2

Dan 21. Julie 24. This is crazy! I only have four teams remaining in my Washington D.C. bracket: UConn, Ill, UNC and Ten. Both of our final four teams are still alive!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture - 9

Pervaded by violence

Walt suggests that to reach students in this culture we must recognize that their world is filled with violence.

I'll never forget pulling into the church parking lot that Tuesday morning around 11:45 a.m. I had just come from chapel at Denver Seminary. I parked my car and walked into the main office and it was mayhem.

A woman who attended our church was frantically putting her things together in the office and asked me, "Have you heard?" I had no clue what she was talking about. She tried to explain, "We think Kacey has been shot at Columbine this morning." Kacey was her niece.

Silence in my soul. Chaos in the room. What ensued over the next few days was only able to happen because of the grace of God. Walking along the memorial at Clement Park. Hosting prayer times. Talking to students. Hearing the story of one of the girls who died who had been on winter retreat that January. In shock Kacey's life was spared that day in the library as she looked down the barrel of a gun. Amazed at the response of our training time at Foothills Bible Church where I think 400 people showed up to hear Rich Van Pelt. Seeing our SW Connection of youth pastors unite to reach our community. Watching our jr. high and sr. high students weep. Seeing denominational lines not matter. Funerals. Death. Saved lives. Looking into Rachel Scott's car and weeping. Seeing Katie Couric at Starbucks on Bowles. Walking the halls of Columbine every week as school started back on patrol.

April 20, 1999.

I went to Kacey's wedding this past summer. She was a radiant bride. She had survived something that I still can't imagine happened. I was honored to be there that day. As I sat with my wife I couldn't help but think of the students who lost their lives that day. Their parents would never experience this day with them.

Our culture is pervaded by violence and it is causing more and more students to live in fear. School shootings are the big stories, but what about all the suicide and cutting that teenagers are doing to deal with their emotional pain. Maybe the biggest story as it relates to violence is how much of it can be stopped if we stop and listen to what is going on their souls. Maybe the biggest story is not blaming violence on video games, but recognizing that there is a bent towards evil in us all and the only thing that can stop the darknes of evil is the light of Christ.

Even though our students walk through the valley of the shadow of death they don't have to fear evil because where there is a shadow there is LIGHT!

Bracket Breakdown - Day 1

Julie picked 12 winners. I picked 11. She picked all four winners in the Minneapolis region with Montana and UW-Milwaukee. It could of been worse as she picked San Diego St to beat Indiana.
Today is a new day!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture - 8

Broken Relationships

Walt suggests that to reach students in this culture we must recognize that their world is filled with broken relationships.

One of things that contributes to this brokenness is divorce.

Walt quotes from a book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce written by Judith Wallerstein, which is a must read for any youth worker, parent or teacher who knows a student who comes from a divorced home or is divorced.

Here's her stunning find. The impact of divorce isn't known until the student becomes an adult and becomes romantically involved. The brokenness in a sense can't be felt until they feel for themselves what they never saw modeled with their parents.

When I read this book a few years ago I couldn't put it down. Each page I turned I found more of myself as I am a child of divorce. I began to slowly realize that I was broken in places I didn't even know I could be broken in. What's interesting to note is that not many of my friends came from divorced homes. That's not the case for today's teenagers. Several students in our community come from divorced homes, or from homes where mom and dad live as roommates at best.

What will happen when they are 25 and find true love? Where will they discover they are broken? What will they all do with it?

What about students who are growing up in Christian homes and are watching their God-fearing parents sign divorce papers? If Jesus couldn't work to save their parents marriage, how could He possibly save them?

The challenge for us all is to be there to walk alongside of them, in front of them, and sometimes maybe even carrying them. The challenge is to take the time to listen to their whole story and not quote Romans 8:28 as some type of Christian band-aid. The challenge is to live out the story of God's love for them and invite them into a relationship where God wants to be their Abba (their daddy). God is a God who is waiting on the porch looking off in the distance waiting for them to come home. God's longing to complete them and show them a love that never fails. God wants to offer them a peace about their life that surpasses all understanding. Ultimatley, God wants them to know that He will never forsake them.

After we start here, then lets declare the awesome truth of Romans 8:28 and commit to not being one more of the broken relationships these students have when they go off to college and they never hear from us again.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hot As A Pistol!

Do you need to smile today? Do you need to know that there is still hope for those in our public high schools who don't fit the "OC" model of high school student?

The video of the autistic high school student who got in the last four minutes of his final high school game will answer all of the above questions and more! He's been the manager of the basketball team and the coach let him put on a jersey for the last game!

In the last four minutes he made 6 three pointers and finished with 20 points! The crowd and his teammates go absolutely crazy after every shot!

I know this is old news, but yesterday he got to meet the President of the United States of America! No student in our community met the President yesterday!

Enjoy the VIDEO!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

C.S. Lewis Quotes

I have been thinking on a few of C.S. Lewis quotes this week. I have often found that at times in my desire to know God more deeply he has used the words of men like C.S. Lewis to help me take one step closer to knowing Him as my Abba.

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you."

"Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important."

"I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain."

Monday, March 13, 2006

My favorite baby shower gift!

This is the best gift Adah got this weekend at her massive baby shower!
It's full of coins!


All Marketers Are Liars - 1

I am loving this book! The subtitle is what caught my attention: "The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World."

This book has a blog here!

Here are some elements of a great story, according to Seth in his chapter "Highlights."

- A great story is true.
- Great stories make a promise.
- Great stories are trusted.
- Great stories are subtle.
- Great stories happen fast.
- Great stories don't appeal to logic, but they often appeal to our senses.
- Great stories are rarely aimed at everyone.
- Great stories don't contradict themselves.
- And most of all, great stories agree with our worldview.

He comments, "This book is a book about the psychology of satisfaction. I believe that people tell themselves stories and then work hard to make them true. I call a story that a consumer believes a lie...this is a book about telling the truth...and the only way your idea will spread is if you tell the truth. And you are telling the truth when you live the story you are telling - when it's authentic."

How does all this work? "This is what makes it all work: a complete dedication to and embrace of your story." (pg. 16)

I am praying that the students in our community will embrace this type of authenticity as their lives have intersected with the story of God. I hope that they will stop just relaying the Truth that they know and start giving away the Truth they are living for. If Seth is asking for authenticity in the marketing world, lets hope he can meet the families and students in our community and see authentic followers of Jesus' Way, Truth & Life!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Janet Elway is making a difference in Denver

John Elway is a living legend in Denver, but what about his ex-wife Janet? I have been wondering what has been occupying her time as we haven't heard much about her. I came across a news piece that shed some light on what Janet has been doing since her divorce. Janet's raising money for 250 kids to go to camp this summer.

Janet Elway's Camp

Three thoughts about Janet.

First, I love her attitude about acknowledging the grief that she experienced with the divorce. I think a lot many people in the public spotlight make their divorce seem like a non-issue as they move on with their life. They have this "it's not bothering me...I can handle it attitude," but Janet brings a very real and fresh perspective that it's not easy to deal with and their is pain. Especially when your ex-husband is a living legend and you still live in the city that his legend reigns.

Second, I love this comment as she was talking about her kids watching her go through the divorce, "(My kids) have been proud of me through this whole divorce," Elway said. "They've been able to see me more as adult children looking at their mom as a real person with real hurts and real pains." How many moms can say that there kids have seen them as a real person with real hurts and real pains? Sure there's a line you can cross as a parent and use your kids as a counselors, but there is something to be said for "age-appropriateness" vulnerability. Our children at different ages and appropriateness need to see us hurt and how we deal with it before they leave the home.

Third, I think there is something to be said as part of the grieving process that when we are on the "up-swing" it's time to get back in the game by giving your life away! Janet's working her tail off to get just 250 kids to a YMCA camp this summer who come from single parent homes. She's making a difference in a remarkable least in a remarkable way for 250 kids!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Big Moo - 3

What did you score on your first test when you were one minute old? How about five minutes old? This woman invented the test! Do you know who she is? Do you know what your scores were. I loved reading this story in The Big Moo.

Adah scored an 8 on her first test and a 9 on her second test!

Her name is Dr. Virginia Apgar and she did something remarkable to revolutionize the way newborns are screened when they are first born.

The system assigns a maximum score of 2 points to five criteria: heart rate, respiratory rate, reflex irritability (response to physical stimulation, muscle tone, and color. The test is done at one minute and five minutes.

You need at least a seven to be consider healthy. It's now known as the APGAR score. You'll hear dads, "What was your kid's APGAR score?"

They now use her last name as an acronym to make it easier to learn and remember. A-appearance; P-pulse; G-grimace; A-activity; R-respiratory.

Can you imaging leaving a remarkable impact on the world in some way like this? No technology, no budget, no problem.

What I love about this story is that we all have Virginia Apgar inside of us. We all have the capability to leave something remarkable but it takes knowing who we are, knowing what we are good at deciding to use what we have been blessed with as a blessing. It's about making our passion a blessing to others. It's about using our passion without a financial cost to us or the people we affect! There's no strings attached. It's simply about being a blessing and who can imagine the price tag on that!

It doesn't matter if you are an individual or a business - what remarkable thing are you going to be remembered for?

So if you're a mother, a parent, a CEO, a pastor, a teacher, a small business owner, an accountant, a janitor, a tire changer on the Nascar pit crew of Dale Jr....all of us have been blessed with a passion that was given to us to leave a remarkable impact.

What's your passion? Who's knows that it's remarkable?

In a quiet moment you ought to stop and remember that one woman, who gave her passion away, is a part of your story of being alive, and you probably didn't even know it - now that's a remarkable impact!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Two Weeks with Adah

Two weeks ago today at 7:33 she arrived.

We've had a great two weeks with Adah!

Noah and Josiah love her!

Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture - 7

In chapter four, "Welcome to Their Jungle" Walt suggests that there are at least 17 identifiable marks that must be recognized and understood if teachers, youthworkers and parents are going to be able to reach Millennials with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here are the marks:

Without a moral compass.
Culturally diverse.
Pluralist and tolerant.
Broken relationships.
Media saturated.
Experience and feeling driven.
Suspicious of truth.
Overwhelming options.
Globalized youth culture.
Pervaded by violence.
Pushed, hurried and frazzled.
Street wise.
Concerned with appearance.
Despairing and hopeless.
Deeply Spiritual.
Crying out for redemption.

What a list! We could take 17 more blogs on each one of these!

Here's the one that stands out in our context - pushed, hurried and frazzled. Here are some random thoughts.

I agree with Walt that in our context students are encouraged to achieve greatness in academics, athletics and physical beauty. Now I am not at all opposed to raising my three children with these three on the list. I want them to make the most out of school. I want them to play sports. I want them to look presentable. I don't want to do it through pushing and hurrying them so they come out frazzled. Sadly, our students aren't just experiencing it in those three areas but in every area: ACT/SAT, work, friendships, family, church, etc...

I think part of the stress in our community is that pushing and hurrying is the drug some of our parents use. The more you push and hurry the better your kids make you look. My kids go to the best school, go to church every Wednesday and name it. My kid is the achiever! The pushing and hurrying is to create the perfect shell of a teenager!

Here's where the pushing and the hurrying lead to in my opinion. It leads to raising a soul-less teenager. It leads to raising a teenager that believes the only thing in life is to perform and then judge other people's performances. It leads to a teenager without a soul. There greatness is only what people can see. Their identity is in keeping up in every area except their soul. Why push when no one can see it?

So how great is their soul? No one knows, because no one will spend enough time to listen. We just want them to look right because we are pushed, hurried and frazzled ourselves. So we end up having soul-less adults raising soul-less teenagers. Man we look good, but we are decaying away if you could just get past the fa├žade.

And we push and hurry in the church too.

I wonder how many of our families are pushing and hurrying spiritual growth? How many youthworkers are pushing and hurrying growth? And is our pushing creating teenagers that have a faith that we can all see but when you open them up they're hollow? Do we know the soul of our students? Can we get past the shell and start seeing the layers like Shrek encouraged us, "Ogar's have layers"?

If we are going to push, lets push them towards being real. If we are going to hurry, lets hurry them to the cross. If they feel frazzled, lets offer them a relationship with a God who says not to worry because he knows the number of hairs on their heads and gives peace that surpasses all understanding.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Seminary, Youthworker Networks, Walt Mueller & 10 Years!

Today I had the privilege to have the two youth networks I am a part of together at Denver Seminary. Dr. Brad Widstom, who oversees the youth ministry department, is a leader in our high school ministry and asked me if I would be willing to invite the two networks I was a part of to meet in front of his class! We said "YES!"

Chris Brock from Chic-fil-A hooked us up with some great chicken! Thanks Chris!

The purpose of our time was to model for the students in the MA or MDiv Youth and Family degree the value of networking both in your denomination and in your community.

We also spent some time in Walt's book, Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture, as we looked at the 17 characteristics that make up the students we are trying to reach in the context of postmodern worldview! We had a great discussion.

I am thrilled to be a part of the EFCA denomination and the value they place on networking. Likewise, I love my SW connection! It was this connection that gave us strength as we walked through the Columbine tragedy several years ago.

I've been a part of both groups for 10 years and I will always make it a priority to take time out of my schedule to meet with my brothers and sisters who share the same passion as me!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Why I Love the Apprentice

I love watching The Apprentice! Here are the reasons:

First, I love listening to Donald in the board room. Last weeks line was awesome, "You're a total disaster!"

Second, I love finding out what the new task is each week.

Third, I love hearing from Trump's eyes and ears on the field. I liked having his daughter their this week.

Fourth, I truly believe that a youth pastor could win this!

Fifth, I loved the winning teams "reward" this week for getting the most text messages. They didn't go live it up and have a great meal, rather they provided three men with suits who are getting back on their feet. I loved this redemptive twist. It reminded me that even in primetime, where the name of the game is to win and get the sweet job, the more important role is to be a blessing with what you have been giving. I liked seeing Trump take his blessing and make it a blessing for someone else.

Finally, I love this show because I always learn something about leadership. For example, this last week I learned that when you don't have unity in the war room as you are planning and dreaming you will fall flat when it's game time. I was really challenged to evaluate whether or not all of my leaders are unified around our mission, vision and values. When it's game time, do we look like we are standing on a corner in Times Square with nothing happening, and the souls of our students on the line?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture - 6

Chapter 3 is Walt’s take on postmodernism. I must confess that I was really excited to read this section because I believe Walt has been the loudest voice in the church imploring youth workers, parents and teachers to know the culture the students in their ministry are being shaped by.

Walt suggests that there are at least 11 common threads within the postmodern worldview that are helping to shape the soul of teenagers. He cautions that these elements will vary within each context. Finally he suggests that, “In the postmodern world we can expect consistent inconsistency from person to person and within each individual as he or she changes from moment to moment.” (pg. 62)

1. Stories and words are power grabs.
2. Use feelings, not reason.
3. Embraces moral relativism.
4. Celebrates pluralism, diversity and tolerance.
5. Replaces immorality with amorality.
6. Promotes an agonizing pessimism.
7. Displaces hope with despair.
8. Fosters a longing for connections and permanence.
9. Advances interest in spirituality.
10. Dismisses Christianity.
11. Sees faith as a smorgasbord.

Each one of these points could be a topic of discussion for a month! Do you agree? Disagree? What is he missing? Which one stands out as most prominent in your context?

Here’s where this is getting me today in our context. Do our families know these elements? Do the students know these elements? Does our pastoral staff know these elements? Do our high school and jr. high leaders know these elements? And if they know them, can they see them working out in the lives of the students in our church and in the culture? And if they see them working out in the lives of the students in our church and in the culture, do they know how to address it from a Biblical worldview? One more thing, where in our ministry are we allowing students, who have never been to church to see how the Bible interacts with these elements?

Additional resources for this chapter are HERE!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Free Seth Godin Book

In case you haven't bought one of his books he has put a free ebook on his blog!

Flipping the Funnel

He has written the book for companies, non-profits and those in politics!

Which way do you think you flip the funnel and what will it make to assist you in accomplishing your mission and vision?

Thanks Seth!

Esther 4

This week I had the privilege to teach Esther 4. It's probably the chapter that gets the most attention from preachers and teachers as it possesses the verse with the words, "...for such a time as this."

The situation is as bad as it can be for the Jews. Mordecai's offense against Haman set off an edict to annihilate all the Jews. The whole city of Susa is in confusion while Xerxes and Haman are drinking alcohol at the end of chapter 3.

I briefly touched on our experience at Auschwitz each summer during our trip to Poland. We talked about walking through the gas chambers, seeing block 10 where the babies were experimented on, etc... I wanted to set the tone for what it must have been like to be a Jew in those days and know that Auschwitz was your destiny. Who would have drawn up dying like that? No one then and no one during the days of Esther would have dreamed this up.

The tension mounts in this chapter as Mordecai and Esther have their first extended dialogue and it is centering around whether or not Esther will go before the King to save their people.

There are a whole bunch of interesting things happening in this chapter but I landed at the end with a challenge to our students:

Do you think that where you live is an accident? Do you think that there is a purpose for why you attend the school you do? Do you think there is a purpose for why you were born into your family? Birth order? Attending this church? Getting here this morning?

Each of you were placed here "...for such a time as this" and God is looking for one of you at a time to say, along with Esther, "I will go to the king." We closed our time looking at Oscar Schindler and the power of one person to make a difference. We also looked at the final clip of the council of Elron in the Fellowship of the Ring. Oscar said, "I will not stand for the genocide." Frodo said, "I will take the ring." Esther said, "I will go to the king."

What will you say?

"I will deny myself, take up my cross and follow you, Jesus, straight to Calvary." And just like Frodo, when you realize that you were brought to this point for such a time as this, you will find 8 other people to stand with you, not to mention God! But you will never know who's standing alongside of you until your willing to lose your life and say, "I will go the King!"

Sunday, March 05, 2006

New Links

I put up four new links that I frequent.

Douglas Groothuis - Professor I had at Denver Seminary

CPYU - Center for Parent/Youth Understanding - Walt Mueller's website and author of Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture.

Ravi Zacharias - Apologetic thinker.

Tony Morgan - One of the Simply Strategic Guys.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Godin - The "Go Up" Factor

In light of my post on seeking to bring about change in our student ministry - HERE - I found this thought provoking post by Seth Godin. He is talking about the "go up" factors that people are marketing that are causing growth in business.

"Why Wouldn't They"

I am looking to grow in our ministry so what are the "go up" factors? For me, going up isn't having the largest ministry in the area, rather it's making more disciples who make more disciples in the context of the three steps Walt suggested in chapter 2.

Here's one of Seth's cautions and one of his challenges as it relates to deciding to "go up."

Caution - "The "go up" equation is complicated by the fact that every go up comes with a hint of "fall down."

Challenge- "It's really easy to underestimate how afraid people are of even the tiniest changes--especially in areas where they're already a little uncomfortable. The best response may not be to reiterate the "go up" benefits. It might be to amplify the risks of doing nothing."

I like this challenge!

Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture - 5

Continuing in chapter 2 with the "Three Crucial Steps for the Crosscultural missionary" we come to the 3rd and final step:

Taking the unchanging Word to young people growing up in a rapidly changing culture.

At first glance, this step surprised me. Did you catch what we are taking? THE BIBLE!

If we are going to reach into the soul of youth culture and make a difference for eternity it is going to be with the Word of God.

Herein lies what I believe to be the biggest challenge facing youth ministry in the next 10 years. To be sure this has always been the challenge throughout every rising generation, but it's a tad bit different today. Many students who dawn our door are literally unchurched. The only framework they have for the church is cable television and the "Christian students" in school and most of them aren't living step 3.

I know one reason our students don't live step 3, we don't model it as a youth ministry. Of course we teach on evangelism every fall (I challenge to look at their class schedule as an opportunity given to them by God to build relational and spiritual bridges to the students in those classes), have great outreach events and even stress the need for outreach in our small group ministry, but I don't think it's working. We see a few students whose lives are being changed as they find Jesus Christ as their Saving Lord each semester.

I am wrestling with the changes right now that I want to take place to make this step happen. Here's some of my thinking:

1. Prayer - Are the changes I am seeking of the Lord?
2. Taking - key word here, I want them to come to our building. I need to take it to theirs!
3. Know my context - Our context isn't "churchy"! We don't have mega youth ministries in Littleton because we don't have mega churches. Walt goes on to talk more about knowing your context in towards the end of this chapter.
4. What am I doing well right now?
5. How is the overall health of my adult leadership team?
6. How are the class dynamics going to change with the smallest freshmen class entering our ministry in 15 years?
7. I want prayer to be the catalyst that makes step 3 happen!
8. I want to start thinking about step 3 more proactively in stages - moving students through cultivating, planting and reaping model of evangelism more intentionally. For example, a shy student in our ministry might really be challenge to grow this fall by starting to cultivate friendships with spiritually lost students in their school. I want my to know where each student is at and encourage them to get to step 3 - reaping - taking the Word to their friends.

It looks like Walt is going to get to more of this...These are just some of the 30 points I have written down that I am processing as I try to make step 3 come more alive in our ministry.

Friday, March 03, 2006

A Funeral and A Birth All in One Day

A week ago today at 7:33 God gave us a "beautiful addition" to our family. I could barely cut the cord that attached Adah to Julie as my eyes were swollen from the crying that I had been doing. The crying was because of the complete and utter joy that had filled my heart.

What made this day even more unique a week ago is that I cried around 12:30 p.m. out of profound loss on my way home from a funeral. I presided over Doris' funeral at 11:00. My friend Paul lost his mom the previous Saturday and he gave me the privilege to lead the service to remember and celebrate the life of his mom.

That day I celebrated two lives. I celebrated two lives on the opposite ends of the spectrum.

Doris' death brought me to tears as I was driving home up I-25. I held it together through the service and even the message. I spoke out of John 14:1-6. But as I was driving home I just started weeping. Thoughts of losing my mom and dad in the future were overwhelming. I was grateful to hug the family as I walked by Doris one final time. I don't like to hug, but that afternoon I hugged a lot of people and I needed it as much as they did. More tears were flowing as I was grateful that I answered God's call on my life to serve Him in the church. My call has blessed me to be there in a special way to serve my friends and words cannot express the joy. No amount of money can replace that drive down to Castle Rock that day or the drive home. There were a hundred more thoughts flying through my head as I pulled up to the house to go check on Julie and see if she was in labor.

She was and at 7:33 Adah's life brought me to tears too.

It is right now.

God allowed me to do something on Friday, February 24th that I am sure not many pastors in the last 50 years have done - presided over a funeral in the morning and then watched their wife deliver a beautiful baby girl all in the span of 9 hours.

So why did this happen?

I don't fully know all of the implications, but here's one thought. As we head into the season of preparing our hearts for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ I am reminded of these words which many people read over this week if they took part on Ash Wednesday,

"Remember that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return."

Life is fragile. Life is a gift. Life is a fragile gift from God, so don't waste your life. You and I will return to where we started. And when I return, if I'm the first one, I want their to be streaming tears of profound joy in the eyes of Julie, Noah, Josiah and Adah as they have hope that I am with our Saving Lord in the place He went to prepare for us. And we will meet again one day!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Amazing Race in my Backyard!

Well not really, but this week's episode of the Amazing Race started about 4 miles from my house at the historic Red Rocks Amphitheater. It was awesome to see all of the teams standing in a place that I have stood. The headed down 1-70 East to D.I.A. It was awesome to see a show that takes people all around the world start so close to home.

Red Rocks is more than just a place where U2 has played. I have some personal history at Red Rocks! Both my wife and I had our graduation ceremonies there way back in the day in 1993 on the same day! We held our freshmen initiation breakfast in our high school ministry there a few years ago. But I might have topped all that as last year I officiated a wedding on the stage for a couple in our church! Now that was sweet!

Our pick to win - the frat brothers!

Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture - 4

Continuing in chapter 2 with the "Three Crucial Steps for the Crosscultural missionaryy" we come to Step 2:

Know young people and their rapidly changing culture.

To truly know our teenage audience Walt suggests that we need to know our students on three different levels.

First, we must know our students individually - their unique personality and abilities (nature), and their lifetime of experiences (nurture) (pg. 49).

Second, we must know our students developmentally (pg.50).

Third, we must know our students changing cultural context (pg. 51).

What I love about this step is that it's forcing the youth leader, teacher, adult to get past just trying to remember students names as the most crucial piece of working with them. Knowing their name is a great start to the marathon we are asked to run with them called life. If students are going to chose to be a part of what we are doing in our church then we need to seek to KNOW them. We must learn to ask open ended questions in our small groups that will draw out the issues of nature and nurture. We must remember that there bodies, minds, emotions and souls are going through normal, God-given changes. Therefore we need to read books on adolescent development. Finally, we need to walk in their culture. Get on myspace and check them out. Watch the WB. Watch the award shows. Watch MTV Spring Break programming. Listen to Kayne West. For some of us it's getting a T.V. in our house and starting to watch T.V. at all. CPYU - Walt's website is a great tool for knowing and staying engaged in the culture.

Knowing should start taking on an entirely different meaning!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Big Moo - 2

In the chapter "How To Be A Failure" two things stood out of the list of 11 things written.

First, you'll fail at being remarkable if you "Don't bother to dramatically increase the quality of your presentation style."

How do I re-invent myself in front of students, parents, peers, and those who are leading me? One thing that has hit me with this statement is that if I am not wanting to increase the quality of my presentation style I need to check my passion barometer.

Second, you'll fail at being remarkable "If you always go for the big win."

I want to be faithful in the small projects, routine phone calls, emails, appointments, study, etc... Too often in the church I think we miss the principle that remarkability is birthed from consistently improving each quarter, each semester and each year in using what we were gifted to do to serve Christ and the glory of His kingdom. Sure we'll have times when we say "NO DEAL" and end up winning 2 million, but how often does that happen?

One of the big wins for me is longevity and consistency in a community of people where they know that who they are is more important than what they do for you. The win is in the everyday communication that you (the leader) are in it for the long haul of building a relationship around them as a person and not their act of service that is helping you look good to the masses.