Thursday, August 31, 2006

Meeting new students

Last night we had our fall kick off at Clement Park - The Amazing Race! It was a great event for many reasons, but there is one reason that grabs my heart this morning: meeting students who don't go to church! They were everywhere last night! It was great to see students from several high schools showing up for this cultivating event! I got the chance to meet everyone and actually have conversations with them before and after the event. One thing I am finding at these events is that there are more and more students in our area that have never been to church! It wasn't “church” last night, but it was God's people! It was our students cultivating relationships with new students. It was beautiful to watch! It is nights like these that ignite my passion for student ministry and remind me that I am still plowing in the right field!

Tomatoes on your butt

I was encouraged by Jen after The Amazing Race last night to post, on a limited basis, some of the things Noah and Josiah say. You can thank her or curse her! Sunday Josiah saw a young mom pushing her kid in a swing and she had a tattoo of a rose in some vines along the lower portion of her back. As I started pushing him in the swing he said in a loud, and somewhat shocked voice as he pointed to the young lady, “Dad, that lady has a tomato on her butt! That’s funny!” It took everything inside me not to burst out in laughter, but I just looked at her and said, “Kids!”

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Standing at the door

I was standing at the door of my office last week and I saw something for the first time. I looked out and saw three new people sitting at their desks working that weren't there last year! Matt was working on the calendar for the jr. high ministry. Kelly was working on getting our i2i retreat homes lined up and Carey was cranking on stuff for the Amazing Race which is later today!

I just stood there thanking God for the gift of these three individuals. I am looking forward to building into these three gifted individuals over the next year. I am realizing that having three new people in the office changes what I do when I am in the office. My routines from the past couple of years are gone! I need to be there to answer questions, talk through issues, etc…

Standing at the door and seeing the change made me realize I can embrace the changes or fight them. Even though I stayed around it doesn't mean my old habits of doing things can!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Atv's and the Ramsey case

Yesterday we were up in Boulder with at my dad’s crib riding ATV’s and eating deep fried turkey! It was great to get away for a few hours and be in the mountains! We got all three kids on for the picture and Julie and took the boys up the mountain! Adah chilled at the house! We had to get home because Noah had his first soccer practice at 6! I officially feel suburban now that one of my kids plays soccer!

As we headed back home we drove right by the courthouse that was supposed to host Mr. Karr, the lead suspect in the Ramsey case, but he didn’t make it! As you know, he’s free because his DNA sample tested negative. We took this picture as we were driving by! The only other time I’ve seen this many media tents was during Columbine.

The Insider

Our pastoral staff just finished reading The Insider – Bringing the Kingdom of God into your Everyday World. This book is all about what it means to be incarnational, as one of God’s insider’s, in the community you’ve been blessed to live in. It is a must read as I think we can’t get enough encouragement on what it means to live incarnationally in our communities.

The authors suggest that there are six life patterns that make an Insider:

1. Taking little initiatives
2. Praying and responding
3. Serving and being served
4. Teaming up
5. Conversing the faith
6. Letting the Scriptures speak, and
7. Midwifing the conversion

All seven of these are great and it was awesome to listen to each person on our staff speak to which one of these caught their attention on the first read. For me it was taking little initiatives with people. I will read this book once a year!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Tiger Woods - Swing Portrait

In light of Tiger’s fourth straight win yesterday I thought it would only be appropriate to point you the Nike commercial that’s been running on television. Thanks to Dave, one of high school leaders, for pointing me to this amazing video (below). Trust me, it’s worth at least one look, if not four and from different viewpoints!

Watching this video made me stop and think about what it would look like to watch what I do in slow motion. I know it sounds weird, but I think there’s some great value in being able to film every movement of your “swing” to see where you need improvement. I can’t film all that I do, but I can seek the advice and counsel of those who watch me every week. I can take time to get away once a month to see where I’ve been and where I am headed. I can read books that challenge me. I've got close friends who watch over me. I've got a wife that sharpens me.

I never want to stop looking for my perfect “swing” in ministry.

Tiger Woods - Swing Portrait

What a weekend!

This weekend was absolutely GREAT! It started off Friday with a birthday party for my buddy Paul! Saturday morning I got the privilege to perform the baby dedication for my niece Logan. Saturday night we celebrated Jan’s 60th birthday with dinner at Hops and a night at the Heritage Square Music Hall. Sunday morning I got the privilege to preach in our summer series on Psalm 27. That was followed up by lunch with some families from the Adult Community Julie attends on Sunday mornings…and FINALLY, we ended the night with our nephew Tanner’s first birthday party! I slept REAL well last night!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Six months ago

We were given this gift!

A thirteen year old?

Tim pointed me to an article about this 13-year-old first baseman for Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, who stands an imposing 6-foot-8 and weighs 256 pounds. You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s worth seeing to believe. He played in the Little League World Series.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

My second office

I love my second office. It has four different kinds of coffee. It has free whole grain bread sliced that I can dip into olive oil. It has a huge table I can spread out all my stuff. It has ice-cold water that always has a fresh lemon in it. It has HIGH SPEED wireless. I can check my email. I can study. I can read. I can prepare my Sunday messages. I can meet students from our community. I can meet people in our community that don't go to our church. I can eat lunch...I always pick two. Basically, I can be ADD!

I love Panera Bread Company!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Is small the new BIG?

Seth Godin just released his new book which I have yet to purchase, but the title has caught my attention, “small is the new big.” The first thing I think of is the church and whether or not that that statement is true. Are smaller churches the new big? In an age of church growth and youth ministries with 100,000 dollar budgets, could it be that smaller churches and smaller youth ministries are the new big? Could it be that small now has the advantage? What are the advantages to being small? Thoughts from those who are small and from those who are big?

Yeah, I’ll be buying this book! Here’s a riff from Seth Godin’s blog on small being the new big!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Football, seniors and spiritual leadership

I had the privilege to grab Starbucks yesterday with a senior from our group who is gearing up for a run at the state championship in 5A football as the quarterback for his team. We had a great time talking about everything and at the end of our time I wanted him to know that I was praying for all of our seniors weekly by name. I asked him what what was on his heart for the up and coming fall. His answer, “Being a spiritual leader.” He went on to describe how he used last year’s team silence before games to inject praying into what his team does before games. It spread. Other guys wanted to start praying. One guy cussed while he prayed.

What a prayer request to start the year off! Today marks the start of school for the students in Jefferson County (the largest number of our students attend Jeffco schools) and I can’t think of a better request to pray for him and all of our seniors as they head into the new school year!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Einstein Bros. Bagels gets it

Yesterday marked the start of a GREAT relationship with Einstein Bros. Bagels in our community. Twice a month they are going to give us (AT NO CHARGE) bagels and breads for our high school and middle school students to consume before our teaching from the Word begins! They get it! They get that it’s not just about making a profit from those of us who show up early for a killer cup of joe, a bagel and a great time with a small group of guys! It’s not just about getting high school students in for lunch from Columbine, Dakota Ridge and Chatfield. It’s about them showing the students from our church that they care that they got out of bed and are in church! I am excited to start building more of a relationship with the managers and employees this fall!

The Jesus Creed

I read this book in July and I’ve been reading it again this past week. Does this tell you what I think of this book? I bought this book for my staff and I can’t wait to get their feedback. The Jesus Creed is about loving God and loving others. This book is about spiritual formation and it points us on every page to the One we are being formed into! It’s a clarion call to every youth worker to make spiritual formation about loving God and loving others first! What’s more, it’s the book that I think articulates what I want our high school students to look like when they start college. We want students to possess a Great Commandment Heart and live a Great Commission Life!

Here’s the clincher…after I read this book I emailed Mr. McKnight to thank him for writing this book and he emailed me back the same day! I can't get people down the hall in the church to do that! :) Buy two copies of this book! Buy one for yourself and one to give away! You can also check out the Jesus Creed blog under my links!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Is Starbucks starting to lose?

Jon the Canadian points us to the reason he fell in love with Starbucks (he doesn't like their coffee) and the reason his love is fading in an interesting letter here.

Starbucks was ahead of the curve when it created an "experience" for everyone, even those who don't like their coffee. They nailed the right brain function of design which Daniel Pink believes is going to be crucial to possess if you're going to make a difference in the future. It made a difference for Jon, but is it possible for Starbucks to start losing people because they are seeking so many avenues to make an influence in? How do you stay what made you who you are while seeking to grow? Jon proves the point that design matters and it can create tremendous amount of loyalty.

I love my day off

Can I just tell you how much I love having Saturdays off? It's the one day where I feel like I get to be what I love the most, a husband and a father! I get to wake up with my boys, we make coffee, get breakfast, play friends, I read the paper, get some reading done in some books, get the kitchen cleaned, laundry downstairs, play some legos, play some more friends, wrestle, turn on some golf, look forward to a Broncos game and it's not even 11:00 a.m.

I love Saturday, but Sunday's coming!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Practicing Greatness

Fritz gave me this book in Minnesota two weeks ago and I finished it yesterday. McNeal suggests that there are seven key disciplines that make up extraordinary spiritual leaders:

1. Self-awareness, 2. Self-management, 3. Self-development, 4. Mission, 5. Decision-making, 6. Belonging 7. Aloneness.

On the whole, I didn't take much away from this read. Although, the chapter that spoke most to my heart is the need to practice being alone, but this isn't anything new to me or anyone who knows me well. I realized that I need to plan being alone in my calendar or it's never going to happen.

I'll keep this book because I can forsee that in the future I'll need reminders from all of the chapters about what I should be practicing as I lead.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mousetraps and makeovers

Daniel Pink suggests that one of the six senses we are going to have to possess to make in the future is the sense of DESIGN. It’s not just about functionality; it’s also about whether or not it’s beautiful and whimsical.

“Ralph Waldo Emerson said that if you built a better mousetrap, the world would beat a path to your door. But in an age of abundance, nobody will come knocking unless your better mousetrap also appeals to the right side of the brain.”

“A study at Georgetown University found that even if the students, teachers, and educational approached remained the same, improving a school’s physical environment could increase test scores by as much as 11 percent”

How is our mousetrap (student ministry) appealing to the sense of design? Would a change in the physical environment in the room I teach in on Sundays allow students to remember 11 percent more of the message from the Word?

A theology of hell

The more I do youth ministry the more I am convinced that we need to be teaching a proper understanding of what hell is to our students, especially to those who have grown up in the church. I am finding more and more that if you’ve been a Christ-follower since you were 5 and your 17 now, there is no understanding of being "saved" from a lifestyle that leads to eternity separated from God. Sure they know that Jesus paid for their sin on the cross, but most don’t feel the weight of what that sin leads to…eternity in hell if they didn’t have Jesus! How can you when you're five. I am sure that Noah understands that there is a problem and it's name is sin, but I wonder if he feels it? I think this is one of the reasons high school students who’ve grown up in the church don’t share the gospel. They’ve never felt what it was like to be lost in their sin and then ambushed by the love of a Savior who found them. They've never felt the darkness and been stunned by the light. Thoughts?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Whole New Mind

I absolutely loved reading this book by Daniel Pink. Man has it got me thinking about myself and my high school ministry! The quick overview today and then some specific applications later in the week and next as I see them in student ministry! Pink suggests that we are moving from the information age to the conceptual age, or moving from a left-brain dominated world to a more right-brain dominated world. He suggests that there are 6 aptitudes we should be exploring, in addition to what the left-brain offers, if we are going to make a difference in our high-concept, high-touch world.

1. Not just function but also Design.
2. Not just argument but also Story.
3. Not just focus but also Symphony.
4. Not just logic but also Empathy.
5. Not just seriousness but also Play.
6. Not just accumulation but also Meaning.

Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Skipping on

This week marks the official start of our skipping on from our summer program to our fall start up. I get the privilege to meet with the middle school leaders and the high school leaders to talk about what's happening this fall. The picture above was taken while we were in Poland...I mean Chicago, at Millennium Park! We were skipping as a group and it's a great memory.

I am excited to partner with the leaders in both ministries this fall to help our students become faithful followers of Jesus Christ. It's a privilege to be in a position of leadership where you get the chance to work (skip) with so many people, from such diverse backgrounds to live the gospel out in front of students. It's going to be a great semester!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Jay Cutler & BroncosMANIA

Lets get one thing straight, there's a reason Jay Cutler was a lot of people's number one quarterback in the draft, HE IS! Oh my, the dude was just simply amazing in the first preseason game of the year! This should be horrible news for anyone who hates the Broncos! We are going to be around for another 15 years! I can just see my kids wearing their Cutler jerseys now! I think I might shed a tear!

And for those of you outside Broncos Land here's an article detailing how BroncosMANIA has arrived! I love football!

Getting their spiritual attention

Seth Godin had an interesting post about a story in the L.A. Times, "Overwhlemed By it All" For the 12-to-24 set, boredom is a recreational hazard. The LONG article in the L.A. Times is worth a read this week, but it's what Seth said that caught my attention, "If you're busy marketing like you've got my attention, you've already made a huge mistake."

What's the correlation in youth ministry? Are we busy teaching the Bible week in and week out like we've got their attention, or are we making a huge mistake? What does it mean to teach like you don't have their attention? How much will this multitasking generation change the way youth pastors communicate? How much more, because of their multitasking, do they need to be consistently fed from the Word of God week in and week out?

The thought that's continually running through my mind as to the first place begin is that the Word isn't going to get their attention until it has mine!

Friday, August 11, 2006

A moment of silence please

Today the Broncos begin their summit towards winning the Super Bowl. Who cares if it's preseason?! It's football and if you don't know this about me, I BLEED ORANGE! I love football!!!!!!!!! It's Adah's first game today! I can't wait to take her to a game in 7 years!

I am pumped to see Cutler get a lot of snaps tonight. I am excited to see Mike Bell, our undrafted running back, start the game and get a lot of snaps!

Dorm room essentials

MSN ran a short article on the top 10 things college students must have in their dorms. All this stuff is fine and dandy, but I am praying that the students that graduated from this high school ministry will consider the Word of God as the most essential thing to take to school. I am praying that they will use it in their dorm room! I am praying like mad this week and next for our new freshmen heading to school in the next two weeks that they will make the Bible the apple of their eyes when they get on their campus (Proverbs 7:2). I am praying that God would open their eyes to see WONDERFUL things from His Word (Psalm 119:18). I am praying that their Bibles will be worn out by their fingers flipping the pages as they seek to know His will for their four years in college.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Foolish Things

I finally downloaded Foolish Things first full album release off itunes yesterday! These fellas are straight out of our denomination from New Life in Aurora. I’ve been working with them for over 6 years now and I am pumped to see this album come to fruition! “Who Can Compare” is my favorite song off the album! I still remember the first time I heard them sing this song at our winter retreat as it led me to read Psalm 19. These guys have served alongside me in our community worship gathering times and done a few winter retreats for us over the years! Sure this is a great CD and you won’t be disappointed that you dropped $9.99 on itunes, but what makes them great isn’t just their music, it’s who they are! These men have been absolutely ambushed by the love of Jesus Christ!

Check them out!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A letter from 1995

I met with an old friend from 1994. Mike came to our church as intern and then left for Florida. I caught up with him yesterday for lunch in Castle Rock. As we were walking in he handed me a letter I wrote to him in 1995! It was crazy to read the letter. We had a great time catching up and sharing what our passions in ministry are and how we are doing at saying “NO” to our ministries by choosing to do a few things and do them well.

Seeing that letter reminded me that I’ve got things in my life that I’ve kept to remind me of people, times and places. I still have the journal I wrote when I met my birth parents in the 1993. I still have the first letter I wrote Julie that moved our friendship into a dating relationship. More recently I have three rocks sitting on my desk that I collected at a retreat I was speaking at in Olympia with Seth. I spent part of my solitude on the beach praying for my three kids. Adah was in the womb. I remember God touching my heart in a special way about the privilege it is to be a father. I grabbed three rocks off the beach so I would never forget that time!

What do you have lying around and what's the story behind it?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Competitive Parenting

I was catching up on my Sports Illustrated reading yesterday and found Rick Reilly’s Piece, The Parent Trap, to be a wonderful read and extremely thought provoking. He makes this statement about what he learned from his neighbor, whose life is being taken over by his kid’s sports commitments, “I learned that the most viciously competitive sport in the world is parenting.”

In the context of this article the neighbor starts complaining about how he needs to get “performance-enhancement specialists” for his kids!

These two thoughts have led me to this thought. Since parenting is the most viciously competitive sport and the hardest, but potentially the most rewarding thing you’ll do in life, why don’t more parents see youth ministries and youth pastors and “heart-enhancement specialists” for their kids? Why will families pay big bucks for athletic performance and neglect the performance of their children’s hearts by allowing on a consistent basis their children to "skip" church?

Sure we want our kids to thank us for everything, but included in that thanks must be a grateful heart towards what we did to proactively shape their spiritual lives.

I want to be part of a youth ministry that is taking the most viciously competitive sport and screaming from the sidelines, “We’re here! We’re right here walking alongside of you, behind you and in front of you as you compete. We’re teaching the Word of God when you drop your kids off! We’re making prayer a priority! We’re encouraging your students to develop and intimate love for God and others! We're working hard at making a difference in the school system and our community. And most importantly, we want you to know that because you’re going to stand before God and answer for what you did to spiritually train your kids, we’re here to serve you!”

Monday, August 07, 2006

Eternal Laundry

Someone forgot to mention to me how much laundry there is with three kids. Holy cow! What’s more, no one told me that when our third was a girl she would have the exact same amount of clothes as her two older brothers combined! When we let the laundry go it takes an entire weekend to catch up! The great part about doing laundry is that I have to be at home! The boys get to help fold clothes, we play games, eat, laugh and have a great time. I thought it was going to be the eternal project, but it turns out on Monday morning I am home free...almost, it's all folded on the couch and we've still got to put it away.

An old friend and being a Watchman

This weekend I got the privilege to hang out with an old friend. Phil brought his family out from Minnesota for the weekend. He’s a movie buff and works in the food industry. He’s also the brother of my friend Tim. Seeing him this weekend reminded of my senior year in high school. Phil, Chris, Frohl and myself met every week (almost) for our Watchmen prayer group. I still remember leaving Frontroom Pizza late on Fridays or Saturdays and heading to Chris’ house for prayer and accountability. I remember this verse grabbing my heart to start this group,

Isaiah 62:6 “ 6 I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest,”

I am praying for watchmen in our high school ministry this fall!!!!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Seeing seeds sprout

I was reminded this week that we can't expect growth in our lives and in the lives of the students we are leading unless we faithfully plants seeds with the hope of it growing. We've got to faithfully plant the Word of God, the priority of prayer, community and serving one another, etc...all of the time if we expect to see something sprout. The faithfulness in our ministry is a faithfulness of planting. Too often I want to see the sprouting and forget that it takes time to prepare the soil, find the right seed, plant it right, pray for rain, and wait for the harvest.

I've seen it play out in my life since I've been home from Poland. I've been planting the priority of prayer, and time in the Word and I am starting to see patience sprout instead of anger. I'm barely above the soil. I'm grateful to see some light. I can't wait to see which students in our ministry are going to get above the soil this year!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Building a new team

We’ve got two out of the three positions hired to help us create out new team in student ministries. We’ve hired an administrative assistant (Carey), and a ministry assistant (Kelly)! Both of these ladies have hit the ground running and I am so excited to have them as a part of our team. What’s more, we’re looking for a new Middle School Director which we are hoping to complete in the next two weeks.

It’s a new era and I am excited to build a new team. There are three things we are looking for: character, chemistry and competency. Character is who you are when no one is looking. Chemistry is your personality and what drives you. Competency is being able to git r done with a high level of excellence and achievement. It's going to be an exciting year!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

One little two little three little youth pastors

I just realized this week that we will have FIVE new youth pastors in our southwest connection of youth pastors this fall. Five of our churches have new guys! I am so excited to get to know the new guys that God has called to partner with me and the other brothers and sisters in this community.

Why is there so much transition in youth ministry? When is it time to go? How long should you stay before you know that it’s not a fit? I know there are definitely valid reasons to leave but how impressive is a resume of a youth pastor that’s been to four churches in 9 years? Thoughts? I'll post some thoughts later, but what are yours?

One Year of Blogging

A big thanks goes out to Charlie for imploring me to blog. I love it. The 362 posts have given me a chance to talk about my family, sports, movies, books and what I am wrestling with as I get the unbelievable privilege to shepherd high school students in Littleton, CO. It's been great to have my family and friends around the world keeping up with the chronicles of my life by just simply reading these posts. It's also been great to have an avenue to allow the parents of the students in our ministry to get a look into what I am thinking, feeling and processing as the pastor of their students.

I am looking forward to another year!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dreaming about the direction of youth ministry in the EFCA

I’ve had the privilege yesterday to talk about where we want to see student ministries head in our denomination over the next 3,5 and 10 years. It was invigorating, exciting, humbling, overwhelming, scary and downright wonderful to ask God for what He would want!

One of the many things we wrestled with is how to we take our denominations 10 Leading Indicators of a Healthy Church and merge them into student ministries. The discussion was lively and engaging. We spent a lot of time talking about the value of creating training that would address how to implement each of the indicators into student ministry in the local church. Take a look at the indicators here. These indicators fall into one of the three areas we would like to address across the nation: Ministry Health, Personal Health and Leadership Development. We want all of our leaders in the 19 districts to be thinking in these categories as it relates to having healthy youth pastors in healthy youth ministries across the country. Here’s how it breaks down.

Ministry Health
10 Leading Indicators
Personal Health
Connect w/ God, self, spouse
Leadership Development
Training and Coaching

As I reflect more on these areas I’ll “throw up” some thoughts! It was good to be here in Minnesota but I am looking forward to being HOME tonight!