Sunday, September 30, 2007

86 years old

Today was a great day in the life of our spiritual community of high school students. Our guest speaker was John Nelson. He's 86 years old and he is the first speaker in our series, Faith of our Fathers, which will run 3 to 4 times throughout the year. I've had a burden to get those in our church who have walked with the Lord for decades in front of our students to share their journey with Jesus. Today was filled with laughter and tears. I think it's imperative for the students in our church to hear the faith stories of those who have come before them. Several of our students don't have a relationship with their grandparents so it's a great chance for them to hear the story of a faithful follower of Jesus.

I can't wait for the next one this winter!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

20 ppt slides...then sit down

This article, from Wired, is a must read if you ever have to get up in front of a group and give a presentation! I have never heard of the pecha-kucha (Japanese for "chatter") method, but I am going to implement this next time I have to give a presentation.

You create 20 slides which show for 20 seconds. Then sit down! This is a great method for short presentations.

For me this method is going to prove to be very beneficial when we do Discovery, our Welcome to Southern Gables lunch. Each pastor and director gets up in front of the new people in our spiritual community and gets to paint a picture of who they are and what they do in the church. We only get 5 minutes so that will translate to 15 slides.

In the article there's a really good video example by Daniel Pink that will give you a feel for what it looks like.

I wonder how this could transform Sunday mornings in student ministries? Do we start viewing our messages in 6 minutes and 40 second intervals? Hmmm...?

All I want for Christmas is my two...

...front teeth. Josiah had surgery yesterday to extract his two front teeth that got destroyed when he slipped on a set of wood stairs and landed on his face.

It took the doctor an hour to sedate him. What can I say? He's my son!

Jell-O, Gatorade, Ice cream sandwiches, chocolate marshmallows, chicken noodle soup, pixy stix...not a bad recovery diet! I want to give PROPS to our children's pastor for coming down to pray with Josiah before his surgery. I am so glad my children are under Than's care!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Students with strong souls

Psalm 138:3 "On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul." - NAS

Students gathered to pray two days ago all over the world. They called out to God. He is going to answer. He is going to make them bold with strength in their souls, to live for Christ and His kingdom on their campuses. He's going to do it the rest of their lives.

Lets encourage them to keep praying the rest of their lives.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


My daughter reminded of something that I need to start practicing more around our students and all the people in our church. Saying, "Hi!" Every time I come home the first thing out of her mouth is "Hi!" It's not an informal greeting, rather it's spoken out of a smile and a sparkle in her eye. When I see her smile and hear that word I truly feel welcomed home. Not to mention she's adorable! Sometimes she will say, "Hi daddy!" She knows who I am!

I've forgotten the power of a smile and saying the simple word "Hi" to someone. Every time a student walks through that door from the parking lot to our spiritual community I want to create a culture where there's an expectation that there is going to be someone there who will be smiling saying, "Hi!" And if we know their name, letting that be the second word they hear, so they know we know who they are.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cool Milk?

Anastasia points us to milkmedia and their passion to help make milk "cool for kids" in schools through advertising artists on their milk cartons. My oldest son is now attending elementary school and I am dreading him growing up in a world where everything he consumes has to "be cool." Milk doesn't have to "be cool" or "blue" to drink. It's good for you. That's why you drink it.

This leads me to wonder and imagine what student ministry in the church will look like for these kids who are growing in a culture where milk now isn't part of a healthy diet, it helps out your social status.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Love and sent

"O Father, thou hast loved me and sent Jesus to redeem me." - The Valley of Vision.

I have been praying this prayer for our seniors this week. When I look at the names of these students who have less than a year left in our spiritual community, my prayer is that they would know that God loves them and that he sent Jesus to redeem them. There's a lot of things I want them to take with them when they graduate, but these two are indispensable. It's my goal to have a conversation with each senior about this prayer before January 1, 2008. I can't wait to hear the stories from the lips of the class of 2008. I am going to get started tomorrow night before our gathering at 7:00 p.m.

Shanahan's glasses

Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was wearing glasses at his press conference yesterday. It was hilarious. Was that Brian Bosworth doing an interview? Here's how he explained the shades,

“When it’s fourth-and-5 and you’re at your 9-yard-line with four minutes left and you go for it and you come home and your wife hits you,” he joked. It turns out there's a cat running around his house that he is allergic to and his eyes were swollen. Hey, me and Josiah have some in common with Shanny! Oh I keep playing the Daniel Graham drop in my mind!

My Broncos are 2-1 with Indianapolis this week. GULP! At Indy. GULP! GULP!


Monday, September 24, 2007

four-year-olds on crystal meth

That's the phrase one person has used to describe the 79 million Millennials in this country. This is a great article written by a Millennial. In it she gives her thoughts on what needs to be true of an ad campaign to reach her and her peers. I think we've got something to learn about how to do student ministry from this article. Here are the steps and you've got to read the article to see her explanations.

Step one - Get our attention - Non-intrusive interaction.

Step two - Get them interested - Have a conversation, get viddy with it, blogs are best, focus on tools not networks.

Step three - Take the lead - Keep them updated, give them feedback, speak their language.

How does this change the way we lead Sunday mornings and weekly small groups? How does this change the way do retreats and large group events?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

All my heart

Psalm 138:1 "I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart..."

Today is my first Sunday back after sabbatical. This verse grabbed my heart this morning and is my prayer for our spiritual community of students and me. Not just on Sundays, but on Monday at 9:30 a.m., Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday at 11:23 a.m, Thursday at 9:40 p.m., Friday at 11:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2:13 p.m.

I think part of getting our minds around what it means to praise the LORD with all of our hearts is giving him praise throughout the week and not just making it a Sunday morning exercise from 9:00-10:10 a.m. or Wednesday night exercise from 7-9 p.m.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Let me learn by paradox

This quote from The Valley of Vision has guided my prayer time this week.

Let me learn by paradox:

that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

I want a spiritual community full of students and adults who are learning by paradox. Amen.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Columbine Memorial

Today the Columbine Memorial will be dedicated at 4 p.m.

To God be the Glory.

The Books of the Bible

I can't wait for my new Bible to come today. My copy of The Books of the Bible is going to arrive today.

I can't wait to read The Story of God in a fresh way!

I'll get back to your periodically with thoughts.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I am so pumped about this!

I am completely 100% behind the new direction Sonlife is taking!

Who's on drugs?

This Is Your (Father’s) Brain on Drugs is a must read for anyone who wants to catch up on the latest research in teenage brain development. Here's the gist of this article,

"More responsible brain researchers — like Daniel Siegel of the University of California at Los Angeles and Kurt Fischer at Harvard’s Mind, Brain and Education Program — caution that scientists are just beginning to identify how systems in the brain work...Why, then, do many pundits and policy makers rush to denigrate adolescents as brainless? One troubling possibility: youths are being maligned to draw attention from the reality that it’s actually middle-aged adults — the parents — whose behavior has worsened."

You've got to read the compelling evidence listed right after the last statement. When I read this article it lit a fire inside of me to not just want to reach students, but their parents as well.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Isaiah 59:1 "Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear."

This is my prayer and hope for those students in our community who are spiritually lost. I can't wait to see who will be in our empty seats by the end of the year. I can't wait to hear the stories.

You Can't Love Jesus and Hate His Wife

You Can't Love Jesus and Hate His Wife by Ed Stetzer is a must read. Clearly what student ministry workers and leaders believe about the church is going to radically impact the way student ministry is practiced. I like Stetzer's words, "My question is how can anyone give even a cursory read of the New Testament and miss the supreme importance given to the church by the One who is most Supreme?"

As student ministry pastors and leaders we must take seriously our ecclesiology. We get the privilege to serve the Bride of Christ. And when we start wrapping our minds and hearts around the importance of God's plan we'll realize something else Ed says,

"...the church is not the center of God's plan. Jesus is. But, the church is central to God's plan. Jesus places the church in a position of great importance."

So lets start making our student ministry about Jesus and start teaching our students that attending church, with a kingdom of perspective, should be one place they long to be each week. Our meetings on Sundays and Wednesdays at 4001 S. Wadsworth in Littleton, CO are of great importance!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Death of Bopi

Last night was the first time as a dad I got to watch my sons deal with death. Their cousin's Bopi, John T. Lord, passed away in Lake Powell last Wednesday. After we read our Bible story we started talking about Bopi and then prayed for him.

Noah's thoughts - If he's in heaven, how come his body is in Colorado? What's a soul? I wish I was a superhero so I could of swam out in the water and saved him. As he was praying, "God thanks for taking his soul with you and leaving us his body."

Josiah thoughts- Makai's Bopi is in heaven with Jesus. He drowned in the lake. Maybe a shark got him. Maybe a swordfish. I liked Bopi. As he was praying, "Jesus, thanks for being in heaven for us and Bopi."

I read Psalm 90:12 this morning, "12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." I am starting to count.

Why do they stop coming

I got turned onto Lifeway when I was listening to Ed Stetzer last week. Their research site is a must to put in the bookmark or RSS feed. Check out this article on why 18-22 year olds drop out of church.l

Reasons 18 to 22 Year Olds Drop Out of Church

I want to lead, shepherd and pray for a spiritual community of students here in Littleton, Colorado that won't drop out of church! I want to be a part of reversing the trend.

Who's with me?

Monday, September 17, 2007

John T. Lord

Today I attended the memorial service of John T. Lord. John is the father of Chris Lord, who is married to my wife's sister. The song Chris wrote for his dad had me in tears the entire time. Chris' song was a perfect tribute to his dad and the God he is know worshiping, awaiting God's next great movement in history.

Ever since he passed away last Wednesday at Lake Powell I've been racking my brain to remember the first time I met John. I was in 6th grade. Chris was in 5th grade. We were in the Wizard of Oz. I was the Wizard. Chris was the Lion. We were in our dressing room (a handicap bathroom). I heard a fierce knock on the door and the words, "Is there a lion in there?" Chris and I giggled. He opened the door and said, "Go get 'em boys!"

Today John's brother-in-law said something of him I will never forget. "I did not admire John's religion, but I admired the way he practiced his religion."

What a first day back in the office.

Earl Creps - 4th Message

His 4th message was on opportunity - "The Discipline of Making Room" the discipline of making room for God, so that the people in our communities can experience an environment where the Holy Spirit can invite them into a relationship with Christ. He is talking about taking the off-road discipline of witness to the group level. He suggests that there are no formulas, yet we live with the pressure to "reduce mission to evangelism, and then reduce evangelism to either strategy or experience alone."

Two things stick out to me today from this message that I heard last week. One, Earl said, "Jesus isn't a speed bump, he's a stumbling block." Two, he quoted Eric Swanson, "Lives are most likely to be changed when people engage with other people...Good deeds can be done from afar, but good news can only be shared up close."

When we get "up close" with students, do we present Jesus as a stumbling block or a speed bump? When we meet as a large group are we "making room" for students to engage in relationships with each other or engage in our outreach program?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Earl Creps - 3rd Message

Earl Creps third message was on "The Discipline of Missional Efficiency" and he quotes from Harvard's Robert Behn, "what gets measured gets done." He suggests that many ministries experience assessment drift, "the failure to capitalize on the power of concentrated effort because no common benchmark calls the group forward into action."

Here is Earl's list of where to start when assessing performance:

1. What proportion of our largest group meeting (and our leadership) is present because of a significant faith experience, rather than by transfer?
2. What proportion of our leadership did we develop here by spiritual formation and leadership training?
3. What have we learned about doing ministry in our context in the last month? What have we done about it?
4. How many spiritual conversations have we had this month with unchurhced (marginalized) people?
5. What would our church look like if we had the same income but the majority of it came from those under thirty (or the poor, or the unchurched)?
6. What would our ministry look like if the pre-Christian community had a representative with veto power on our board of directors?
7. If we worked for a missions agency, would we still have jobs?
8. What are the best stories we can tell about he things God has done among us since our last meeting?
9. What would we say to a poor person who asked us what we have done to help the marginalized since our last meeting?
10. Who is growing spiritually among us, and how do we know this?

#6 is my favorite. I am going to think hard about this as I lead. I want to keep the 17 year student who doesn't love Jesus in mind sitting around the table.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Earl Creps - 2nd Message

His second message was about the off-road discipline of Point of View. His illustration of Walter Cronkite and Anderson Cooper particularly hit home with me. We used to get one point of view from Mr. Cronkite, do you remember his famous words, "...And that's the way it is." Contrast him with the Anderson Cooper 360° show on CNN. Mr. Cooper is looking at things from all sides. He has different people saying, "...And that's the way it is" instead of him being the one to tell us all how it is. Here's how CNN states the point of his show,

""ANDERSON COOPER 360°" is a provocative alternative to the typical network evening newscast, going beyond the headlines to tell stories in-depth and from many points of view so you can make up your own mind about the news that affects you."

Of course Anderson has an opinion and will give it to you, but the difference is that others can speak to the topic. It's not just one point of view.

Can we do Christianity in our communities with one person telling us "...And that's the way it is?" Is there room for different points of view in our church leadership? From a senior pastor who dictates vision and expects his staff to follow suit to a student ministry pastor who uses his staff for his purposes to accomplish what he wants for the ministry, I believe several of us still operate like Walter Cronkite in the Anderson Cooper era.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Earl Creps - 1st Message

Here are some thoughts from Earl's first message - "The Discipline of Sacred Realism"

1. Instead of doing ministries to achieve Christianity we need to start doing Christianity to accomplish ministries.
2. What if ministry was the outcomes not the means? What if faith was the means?
3. We have been equipped to reach a convenient culture.
4. People we are reaching are asking two questions: "Does faith make you a better or worse person (righteousness)? Is Jesus the only way (truth)? He defines this as compound spirituality.
5. “Sacred Realism: the discipline of holding the truth in one hand and faith in the other…Most of us think about how we can change the culture. Sacred realism gives culture a chance to change us.”

Some of my thoughts:

1. I am guilty of #1. I repent.
2. I've been wrestling with how my ministry would look different if faith was truly the means. What would I start doing? What would I stop doing? Who would do it?
3. What ministries have I created that are convenient to reach my convenient students? What needs to be developed to reach those that aren't convenient? Which would Jesus reach first?
5. Culture should change us. I think Earl is in his fifties or late 40's. How many of our church leaders in their fifties believe this, are asking this of themselves, their leaders and their church?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

EFCA National Summit in Minnesota

The final state I visited on my sabbatical was Minnesota for our National Missional Summit for our denomination leaders. Earl Creps and Ed Stetzer were our speakers and I will now be following their blogs!

I also got to spend time with our National Student Ministry Council. We had a great time together. Not to mention, Matt and Chris from Sonlife came by to spend about 5 hours with us. The direction Sonlife is heading is a gift from God! I can't wait to walk through their training!

I also can't wait to unpack my notes and wrestle with the material in the next couple of days. It was like drinking from a fire hose!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

32 years old

Today my bride celebrates 32 years of life.

A Broncos win and Frontroom Pizza. Does it get any better?

Here's a great post from Bill Allison that reminded me of how important my wife is and should continue to be as we raise our children.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Celebrating others

Today I saw a character trait in my six year old that I want to be more a part of my life. During his first soccer game of the year he scored 5 goals. The dude was simply amazing. What caught my eye today while I was coaching was the different ways he celebrated his goals and his teammates goals. When he scored his goals he threw his fist in the air and ran back down for the kickoff. When he teammates scored he jumped up and down and went to give them high-fives! There was a marked difference.

Celebrating others!

I have a whole team taking care of student ministries while I am on sabbatical. I am jumping up and down in front of my computer and throwing up high-fives all around!

Thanks for being on my team.

Friday, September 07, 2007

We are contradictions

More from Leading With a Limp,

"As leaders, we are called to be PROPHETS who arouse desire, PRIESTS who connect people to one another and to God, and KINGS who protect and provide for their people. But at the same time all of us leaders are false prophets, fake priests, and sham kings who need new desire, reconciliation, and courage. Oddly, it is in leading others to truth that we find our souls more wholeheartedly wanting what we offer to others and what we can find only in the perfect PROPHET, PRIEST and KING: Jesus."

Admitting where I have been false, fake and a sham as a student ministry pastor has been one of the most difficult things I've ever done this past week.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Chief Sinner

In Leading With A Limp, Allender suggests that it's failing that matters when it comes to being a leader. Leadership begins with the leader saying to all those around, "I am the Chief sinner among you!" Yeah...I didn't learn this in my MDiv program.

He has pretty good company. Check out Paul's words to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:15-17,

"15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen."

If Paul was there, how come so many of us aren't? How would being the chief sinner in your student ministry change the culture of your small group or the entire group?
When was the last time your students saw you sin?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

God's leadership model

In Leading With a Limp Allender suggests that this is God's leadership model,

"He chooses fools to live foolishly in order to reveal the economy of heaven, which reserves and inverts the wisdom of this world. He calls us to brokenness, not performance; to relationships, not commotion; to grace, not success."

This week I have been challenged to look across the scope of student ministry in our spiritual community and search for the priority of brokenness, relationships, and grace. Not in our students, or leaders, but in me.

I've haven't found much brokenness. I haven't found much grace. I have found relationships. I have found performance. Could it be possible that a leadership style from the student ministry pastor that exhibited more brokenness and grace would spur more of their students towards the cross and new life would birth? What happens when our students only see performance, commotion and success? What would happen to the culture of a student ministry if all of the leaders kept relationships as the priority and added brokenness and grace?