Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Use it or Lose it!

I love our "use it or lose it" policy as it relates to vacation! I am looking forward to a great Christmas and New Years with my family as I have to use my vacation or lose it! After I've had my fill of family and football I am looking forward to blogging again!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Journey of the Magi by T.S. Eliot

"A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The was deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires gong out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices.:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we lead all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
Back to Poems

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Christmas Story - Linus vs. Donkey

There is a distinct difference in how Donkey and Linus tell the Christmas story. It's going to be an interesting discussion on Sunday with our students as we discuss what Christmas is all about! I'm sticking with Linus!

Shrek the Halls

Charlie Brown Christmas

Monday, December 15, 2008

You are my beloved

An excerpt from Advent & Christmas Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen,

"Take the gospel of each day and spend ten minutes with it. Read it, and read it again. Walk into the world with the gospel in your heart. The gospel word of the day can become like a painting on the walls of your inner room, the inner room that is your heart...You have chances every second to live this Word, but is has to be in you. It can't be just and idea, it has to sink from the mind into the heart. That's prayer - to let God's Word speak deep within you and tell you, "You are my beloved." - pg. 8

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Life and Death Investment

I love this quote from Kenda Creasy Dean in Practicing Passion,

"If commitment to Jesus Christ is not, ultimately, a life and death investment, then young people will invest their God-given passion elsewhere."

Are we asking them to join our group or die for His Kingdom?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Coffeehouse

I love our Christmas Coffeehouse! Every year we gather to celebrate the story of Jesus and our students throw together some great talent. Below is Harrison's Numa Numa! Not bad for a senior at Bear Creek with an Eagle Scout! He brought down the roof!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Incline my heart

Psalm 119:36 "Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to gain."

I have come to pray this prayer more throughout the last two weeks for myself as I've realized that my heart is inclined more and more to temporal things. To have have a heart that is inclined toward eternal things, I am pleading to God to change the inclinations of my heart. This prayer isn't just for me, but for my family, my leaders and the students who gather alongside me every everyday. I wonder if one of the reasons we lack seeing transformation in ourselves, leaders and students is because we don't pray for it.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I hope my seniors never forget this









- Charles Swindoll

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Bible has a mouth, feet and hands

I love the Bible! This quote by Martin Luther accurately tells why,

"The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Communicating the reality of God

I've been thinking a lot lately about how to communicate the reality of God to our students and this quote has been a great primer.

"To communicate the reality of God we must share our humanness...that inadequacy of ours which made us need Him." - Larry Richards

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rooting, building & strengthening students

One of the reasons I promote small groups in our ministry to students is that it helps us work towards accomplishing Colossians 2:6-7.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him rooted, and built up in him, strengthened in the faith...”

Paul’s words to the Colossians help us get our hands around what some of the elements of spiritual formation look like in student ministry:

• Rooting the new believing student
• Building up the growing believing student, and
• Strengthening the maturing student in their faith.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Out of Control Disciple - Part 3

"I am organized religion’s best friend and worst nightmare. I won’t back down, slow down, shut down, or let down until I’m preached out, teached out, healed out or hauled out of God’s mission in the world entrusted to the member of the Church of the Out of Control, a mission to unbind the confined, whether they’re downtrodden or upscale, overlooked or under-represented.

My fundamental identity is as a disciple of Jesus—but even more, as a disciple of Jesus who lives in Christ, who doesn’t trek through history simply ‘in His steps’ but seeks to travel more deeply in His Spirit.

Until he comes again or calls me home, you will find me not killing time so that one day he will pick me out in the lineup of the ages as one of His own. And then, it will be worth it all to hear these words, the most precious words that I can ever hear: 'You are my beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased. Well done, thou good and faithful…out of control disciple.'" Part 1 - Part 2.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Out of Control Disciple - Part 2

“I can’t be bought by personalities or perks, positions or prizes. I won’t give up, though I may give in…to openness of mind, humbleness of heart, and generosity of spirit. In the face of adversity, I will no longer simply hang in there. I will stand in there; I will run in there. I will pray in there;

I will sacrifice in there. I will endure in there; in fact, I will do everything in there but hang. My face is upward, my feet are forward, my eyes are focused, my way is cloudy, my knees are worn, my seat uncreased, my heart burdened, my spirit light, my road narrow and my mission wide.

I won’t be seduced by popularity, seduced by criticism, travested by hypocrisy, or trivialized by mediocrity. Just because the show must go on, whether in Hollywood, Washington, Nashville or Denver, doesn’t mean the show is worth watching."


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Out of Control Disciple - Part 1

“I am a member of the Church of the Out of Control. I am an out of control disciple. I’ve given up my control to God. I trust and obey the Spirit. I’ve jumped off the fence, stepped over the line. I’ve pulled out all the stops. There’s no turning back, looking around, slowing down, backing away, letting up or shutting up. It’s a life against the odds, outside the box, over the wall, the game of life played without goal lines other than ‘Thy will be done…’"

“I’m done primping and pimping for the overdogs, the wonderdogs, the lapdogs, or even the underdogs. I’m done playing according to the rules, whether its Robert’s Rules of Order or Miss Manner’s rules of etiquette or Martha Stewarts’ rules of living, Louis Farakhan’s rules of America’s least wanted, or Merrill Lynch’s rules of money-minding, bottom-lining and ladder-climbing."

“I am not here to please the dominate culture or to serve any all-show, no-go bureaucracy; I live to please my Lord and Savior. My spiritual taste buds have graduated from fizz and froth to fire and ice. Sometimes I’m called to sharpen the cutting edge and sometimes to blunt the cutting edge. Don’t give me that ‘old time religion’ or even the new time religion. Give me that all time religion that’s as hard as rock and soft as snow." My youth pastor passed this on to me years ago and I love it! I passed this on to our seniors as a part of our Senior Study. Parts 2 and 3 coming up.

Friday, November 14, 2008

National Adoption Day

Today is National Adoption Day! Today I am celebrating my adoption and our adoption of Noah! I am so thankful for our birth moms! Thank you ladies!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Becoming a Leader of No Reputation

This week I was given a message delivered by the former president of Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, R. Scott Rodin, Becoming A Leader of No Reputation.

This message has stopped me in my tracks. Read it!

He suggests that there are five things we should consider if we are to be leaders of no reputation in our ministry:

1. Anointed vs. Appointed
2. Fighting the Need to Increase
3. Being and Doing
4. Leadership is a Miracle
5. Seeking the Right Applause

I am looking forward to wrestling with these points in the context of student ministry over the next few days.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Praying through the Valley of Vision

I am excited tonight for our students to pray this prayer from the Valley of Vision, as one of their experiences, during our Adoration time. I am praying that tonight won't be the only time they choose to pray this prayer this week!

O Thou that hearest prayer,

Teach me to pray. I confess that in religious exercises the language of my lips and the feelings of my heart have not always agreed, that I have frequently taken carelessly upon my tongue a name never pronounced above without reverence and humility, that I have often desired things which would have injured me, that I have depreciated some of my chief mercies, that I have erred both on the side of my hopes and also of my fears, that I am unfit to choose for myself, for it is not in me to direct my steps.

Let thy Spirit help my infirmities, for I know not what to pray for as I ought.
Let him produce in me wise desires by which I may ask right things, then I shall know thou hearest me.

May I never be importunate for temporal blessings, but always refer them to thy fatherly goodness, for thou knowest what I need before I ask;

May I never think I prosper unless my soul prospers, or that I am rich unless rich toward thee, or that I am wise unless wise unto salvation.

May I seek first thy kingdom and its righteousness.

May I value things in relation to eternity.

May my spiritual welfare be my chief solicitude.

May I be poor, afflicted, despised and have thy blessing, rather than be successful in enterprise, or have more than my heart can wish, or be admired by my fellow-men, if thereby these things make me forget thee.

May I regard the world as dreams, lies, vanities, vexation of spirit, and desire to depart from it.

And may I seek my happiness in thy favour, image, presence, service.

p. 194-195 The Valley of Vision

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Two signs

I found this picture randomly on my computer this morning and I can't think of two better signs to describe my daily struggle.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"I don't like John McCain"

Yesterday I was talking to my two-year old daughter about the election today! As I was talking about what happens and who the two main candidates are she interrupted me and said forcefully, "I don't like John McCain!" I replied, "Well, who do you like?" Adah answered smiling, "I like mama!"

I had to break the bad news to Adah that her mom wasn't running for president. I don't think it will leave to big of an emotional scar.

Friday, October 31, 2008

What is your food?

Jesus said, "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work." - John 4:34.

My senior pastor asked me and the rest of our staff this question yesterday and I can't stop thinking about it for my life, for my family and for my ministry.

What's your food?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Networking in youth ministry

I am so pumped to be a part of the youth ministry network in my local area. We met a couple of weeks ago and I sense that God has brought a great group of guys and gals to shepherd the students in this area.

My philosophy of networking in youth ministry is that we are all going to live together forever so we might as well get used to it here on earth! We aren't competing for market share in our churches. Jesus is building the church. If you aren't in a network in your area, get out the phone book and start calling churches and set up a time to get together to share a meal, discuss an important article or passage of scripture and pray! Thank you Southwest Connection for being a vital part of my personal and ministry health while I serve at SGC!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I need a sticker chart

The older my kids get the more God is using them to sanctify me. The other day Josiah has this conversation about me while I was at work.

Josiah: "Mom, I think Daddy needs a sticker chart!"
Julie: "Why?"
Josiah: "Because he needs to start listening."

I'll take that as strong HINT from my five year old that I need to change.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Three gifts from God

Today I am so thankful for these three gifts from God.

I am realizing more and more in ministry that my passion for discipleship must begin in the lives of these three gifts from God.

I can be replaced in the lives of teenagers by another youth pastor.

These kids only get one dad!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sin and the Son

"He who does not believe that God will punish sin, will not believe that he will pardon it through the blood of his Son."- Charles Spurgeon

I am praying that our students will wrestle with this statement on Sunday as we study the book of Nahum.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Formula vs. Formation

After spending the last few days focused on what it takes to create a transformational youth ministry, I am convinced that we must shift our focus from the word formula to formation. It's not about finding the right formula first, rather, it's about student ministry pastors being committed to spiritual formation first. Colossians 1:28 "Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ." (ESV)

If we start with the word formation our formulas might look different. What are you presenting to the world the day the students from your ministry graduate?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I never wanna stop...

LEARNING about student ministry! Over the last five days I've had the privilege of walking through Enroute and Shaping a Missional Community from Sonlife Ministries. These two experiences have taught me a lot and reminded me why I am serving in student ministries.

I love the new direction this ministry is taking and I am so pumped to start implementing what I've learned with my team over the next months and years.

Thank you Matt Wilks!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Open their eyes

"Open my eyes so that I may see wonderful things in your law." - Psalm 119:18 I have been praying this verse every Sunday morning for the last five years for our students before we gather on Sunday mornings. Earlier this week, my good friend Seth Hanson, sent me Dietrich Bonhoeffer's reflection on this verse,

"The one whose eyes have been opened by God looks into a world of wonders. That which previously looked dead to me is full of life, that which was filled with contradictions is resolved in a higher unity, the severe demand becomes a gracious commandment. In the midst of human words I hear God's eternal word, in past history I recognize God who is present and his saving work in me. The tender words of encouragement become a new claim of God upon my life, the unbearable burden becomes the easy yoke (Mt. 11:30), The great miracle in the law of God is the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through him the word comes to life, the contradictions are resolved, the obvious receives an unfathomable depth. O Lord, open my eyes."

Lets be committed to praying this simple prayer before we teach the Word of God, while we teach the Word of God and after we've taught the Word of God to our students. Lets never forget that we aren't the ones to open their eyes.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What my youth ministry needs me to be...

"The brokenness of spirit which makes no resistance to the Father's hand is a main element of fertility in souls wherein He works. It is not power He seeks from us, but weakness; not resistant force, but 'yieldingness' to Him. All power is His: His strength is perfected in weakness." - author unknown.

I am becoming more convinced every week that my youth ministry needs me to be "broken" and "yielding" more than "intact" and "resisting."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

PPT Nirvana in youth ministry

Seth Godin has a great blog post on Nine steps to PowerPoint Magic that I think can help us use PowerPoint more effectively in our teaching and help us reach "PPT Nirvana (this is funny...and no, I am not a Buddhist)" as we communicate to students and parents. Three of his nine points stood out to me on the first read...

First, "Don't use PowerPoint at all. PowerPoint distracts you from what you really need to do... look people in the eye, tell a story, tell the truth. Do it in your own words, without artifice and with clarity. There are times PowerPoint is helpful, but choose them carefully." - What are the helpful ways PPT can be used in our teaching? Should we use it at all? One way I think we can it can be more useful is to put up an image instead of the word(s).

Second, "words belong in memos. PowerPoint is for ideas." - We need to take the time to find the right image to help our students engage with the Word of God.

Third, "Short! Do you really need an hour for the presentation? Twenty minutes? Most of the time, the right answer is, "ten." Ten minutes of breathtaking big ideas with big pictures and big type and few words and scary thoughts and startling insights. And then, and then, spend the rest of your time just talking to me. Interacting. Answering questions. Leading a discussion." - This one has really caused me to stop and think hard about my 30-40 minute teaching times with our students. UGH! For example, this week I am teaching on the minor prophet Jonah. Could I have a 10 minute "presentation" and then a 20 minute "Q&A?"

Monday, October 06, 2008

The aim of our charge in youth ministry - 4

1 Timothy 1:5 "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." – ESV

The aim of our charge is love and Paul encourages Timothy that this love comes from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. As student ministry leaders we must possess a sincere faith, a faith that isn't committed to the religion of Christianity, but to the relationship of Christianity. Our students need to see in us a faith that can move mountains, not one that gives up when things don't go our way. Our students need to see that our faith is driving us to be more and more dependent on Jesus everyday than our paycheck. We must let our students see into our own lives as our faith is built and challenged by the blessings and sin that is in this world. We can't shut them off and present a faith that never questions, rather, we need to let them see that we wrestle with the things they wrestle with...it's just that we're a little farther down the road and the circumstances are different. We must seriously wrestle whether or not our faith is hypocritical as we walk through the halls of our churches and repent if our ministries are lacking love. Our students need to see our faith, not just hear about it. "Our love must not be a thing of words and fine talk. It must be a thing of action and sincerity" - 1 John 3:8

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The aim of our charge in youth ministry - 3

1 Timothy 1:5 "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." – ESV

The aim of our charge is love and Paul encourages Timothy that this love comes from a pure heart and a good conscience. Our students are longing for people to walk alongside them who have a conscience that is free from guilt. We as leaders can't keep willfully sinning and call our students to turn from their own sin. We can't fulfill the aim of our charge when we are willfully living in sin because we are pretending to love. Our students need leaders whose minds are filled with the Word of God and who have the guts to come before God like David in Psalm 19:12-13 "12 Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression."

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The aim of our charge in youth ministry - 2

1 Timothy 1:5 "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." – ESV

The aim of our charge is love and Paul encourages Timothy that this love comes from a pure heart. Loving our students comes from a heart that God sees. It comes from a heart where God weighs every motive. We don’t love our students outwardly, while our inner motive is to be like by them. If we are caught in this duality we need to cry out like David for a pure heart (Ps.51:10). We need to deal with our sin, confess it and ask God to renew a right spirit within us. Our students need leaders who possess hearts that have been cleansed from self-centeredness and have nothing but the glory of God as their focus. Our students need leaders who actively practice guarding their hearts to remain pure (Prov. 4:23). Our students need leaders whose hearts are solely devoted to God, committed to telling His story and inviting them into it. Søren Kierkegaard summed it up well when he said, “Purity of heart is to will one thing.”

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The aim of our charge in youth ministry - 1

1 Timothy 1:5 "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." - ESV

Paul's words to Timothy have spoken life into my soul this week and I'd like to take four posts to reflect on this amazing verse and how it relates to youth ministry.

The aim of our charge, the end goal, the objective is love. Our students will know us by our love. And this love is a love of choice. It's an agape kind of love, a love that is self-sacrificing and willing to die for the other. Agape love gives, it doesn't get. Our youth ministries will start becoming places of transformation when we, as leaders, start taking dead aim at willing ourselves to love the students who gather with us each week.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Youth ministry should be fraught with danger

"Looking for Jesus is an undertaking fraught with danger… The closer you get to finding him, the higher the stakes become. He is no mere passive object to be circled and appraised like a piece of sculpture. You look at him and he looks back. You may begin the search for Jesus with your own agenda, but be warned, he has one too. As the disciples discovered, you pay a price for finding Jesus. He may in fact, one day turn to you, as he did to those weak first-century followers, and ask, ―But you. – who do you say that I am?" (Virginia S Owens, Looking For Jesus, pg. 256)

It's an unbelievable privilege to get the chance to walk alongside students as a companion on their journey to find Christ which is fraught with danger. Too often our students see those around them as dangerous, but Owens forces us to think about the dangerous One. Is my youth ministry fraught with this dangerous picture of Jesus? On Wednesdays? On Sundays? In my conversations with students? Where is the balance between a dangerous Jesus and one who's yoke is easy and burden is light? Why is it easier to talk about the yoke and not about the justice?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Join my group...DIE for His Kingdom

I am becoming more convinced every day that we need to change some of our thinking as we lead our student ministries. One of the things I think we need to change is the "join my group" mentality. It's easy to default and program your ministry with the mentality that the end goal is to get students to join our groups. We have visitor cards, follow up phone calls, emails, a message on Facebook, calling their friend who is already a part of our group and checking in to see how it went, calling the visitors parents and introducing ourselves, introducing them to new students who have similar interests or go to the same school, put them in a small group, take them to play laser quest and teach them the Bible, etc... I believe all of this is necessary, but it can't be where we stop. I know we need to help students find a place to belong, but I think the "join my group" attitude puts the focus in the wrong place.

It's not about joining my group, it's about dying for His Kingdom. While I believe belonging is a huge piece of a healthy youth ministry we have to start finding ways of helping students belong to the Kingdom of God. It's not about us, it's about Jesus Christ. Belonging to the Kingdom of God starts with us saying "NO" to ourselves, the sacrifice of carrying a cross, and a decision to follow Jesus. Jesus said, "If anyone wants to come after me he must DENY himself, take up his cross and follow me." We need to start asking ourselves, "What am I doing in my ministry that is calling our students to die for the Kingdom of God?"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Awkward student ministry

Today I revisited an excellent post by Seth GodinAwkward. He suggests it’s his new favorite word and I am inclined to think that every student ministry leader should embrace this word and make it their new favorite word too!

“The reason we need to be in search of awkward is that awkward is the barrier between us and excellence, between where we are and the remarkable. If it were easy, everyone would have done it already, and it wouldn't be worth the effort.”

I want to be a student ministry leader who doesn't just react to awkward moments, but looks for them in my personal life, the life of my family and the life of my ministry. I want to search for it with my wife, kids, student ministry leaders, pastoral staff, and friends. Could "awkward" be a means of sanctification?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Enroute & Athanasius

"He became what we are that He might make us what He is." - Saint Athanasius, 295-373

I can't stop thinking about this simple phrase after I spent time with Matt Wilks, Doug Jones and Chris Folmsbee this past week discussing what a transformational youth ministry looks like. A group of us wrestled through the final Enroute training manual that Sonlife is launching this fall.

Enroute is a one-day training event designed to look at the life of Jesus in the context of the story of God to help youth workers create a transformational youth ministry in their own context. I am so excited for my leaders to wrestle through this material on October 11th!

I think this simple phrase is going to become a short prayer I pray to help remind me about what transformational youth ministry is all about.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Experiential learning

My good friend Chris Folmsbee over at New Kind of Youth Ministry sent me to this article on experiential learning from David A. Kolb this week while we were together. David A. Kolb (with Roger Fry) created a model of learning that contains four elements: concrete experience, observation and reflection, the formation of abstract concepts and testing in new situations. Here's the chart:

I am really wrestling through what implications this chart has on how I "do" student ministry. Kolb suggests that the learning cycle can begin at any one of these four points, but learning is most effective if it begins with a concrete experience. This model is challenging me to start figuring out how to make the shift from being a "teacher-centered teacher" to a "learner-centered teacher" on Sunday mornings. Any thoughts?

Monday, September 15, 2008

National Summit

I am in Minnesota this whole week for our National Leadership Summit for the EFCA. I am excited for the next two days as everyone from all of the national ministry teams will be together learning from a couple of great speakers. In addition to these large group plenary sessions I'll also be hanging out with the student ministry folks. Tonight we kicked off our time by welcoming our new Director, Shane Stacey! To welcome him we each gave him a verse and spoke a blessing to him. It was awesome to hear each individual share from their heart the Word of God. Finally, I'll finish off the week with the fellas from Sonlife and get caught up on the brand new Enroute! It's going to be a great week!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Chaperones need not apply

I don't need chaperones to supervise our students when we gather on Wednesday nights. I need shepherds. I want shepherds. Chaperones need not apply. I want a group of adult leaders who see themselves as spiritual guides. I want a group of leaders that won't stand up against the wall watching. I want a group of leaders that will walk among our students. I want our leaders to wrestle with Peter's challenge in his first book,

“2Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” - 1 Peter 5:2-4

There's way to much on the line and very little time to accomplish it! I am so thankful for the amazing group of shepherds our high school students have at SGC!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Biblical theology for conflict resolution

Below is what our presenters offer as the 4 G's of creating a biblical theology for conflict resolution. It's a little different than the Rock 'Em Sock 'Em toy my boys played with last year.

Glorify God - 1 Corinthians 10:31
- How can I please and honor God in this situation?

Get the Log Out - Matthew 7:5
- How can I show Jesus at work in me by taking responsibility for my contribution to the conflict?

Gently - Galatians 6:1
- How can I lovingly serve others by helping them take responsibility for their contribution to this conflict?

Go and be Reconciled - Matthew 5:23-24
- How can I demonstrate the forgiveness of God?

Do our student ministries have a biblical theology for conflict resolution? With our paid staff? With our volunteers? With our parents? In our equipping of our students? Are we being proactive or reactive when it comes to dealing with conflict? Do we wait for it to get to the Rock 'Em Sock 'Em stage? I am grateful to have this on my plate to wrestle with this fall. What does your biblical theology for conflict resolution look like?

What training did you lack?

Today I am sitting through a presentation from Peacemaker Ministries at our annual fall summit for the Rocky Mountain District. Our presenter is talking about the nature of conflict right now.

He's presenting these facts:
1. Thousands of Christians leave the church due to unresolved conflict.
2. 35.5% divorce rater in the church matches that of the world.
3. Christians spend multiple millions of dollars annually suing one another.
4. 40% of pastors experience "serious conflict" as least once a month.
5. 1,500 pastors quit every month due to conflict and burnout.

He makes this statement, "When asked what training was most lacking in Seminary or Bible college most pastors answered - CONFLICT MANAGEMENT."

I am curious, what training did you lack in your Seminary or Bible college? The first thing I think of is how to make and manage a budget. I had no clue what I was doing. Some would say I still don't!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Who will you present?

This past weekend my senior pastor presented these verses in his sermon in the context of what should our life purposes be. These are his purposes and ours.

Ephesians 5:25-27 ―Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

1 Peter 3:18 ―For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.

2 Corinthians 4:14 ―We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.

Colossians 1:22 ―But now he has reconciled you by Christ‘s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation…

Jude 1:24 ―To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—

2 Corinthians 11:2 ―I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.

Colossians 1:28 ―We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

I can't think of a better motivation for doing student ministry. Each encounter with a student is eternal work! Who will you present?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Betting on change

“There are two kinds of organizations. One kind likes to be on the cutting edge, to do what hasn’t been done before, to embrace the new. The other kind fears that, and holds back to allow someone else to go first. Betting on change is always the safest bet available.” - excerpt from The Big Moo, Seth Godin

How is change the safest bet? What should change? How do you know if your church is embracing the new or holding back? In the context of youth ministry, what needs to change? I am sure the list could be huge. I'll get it started and I would love to hear your thoughts.

The first change we need to make in student ministry is...to quit calling students to join our groups and start calling them to die for His Kingdom.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Dora is Sticky

My daughter loves Dora the Explorer! Why? Because Dora is sticky. I love watching it with her because she doesn't stop doing something. She's standing up, repeating words, learning Spanish, turning in circles and sitting down.

This show reminds me of a GREAT book I read a few years ago, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. In the book he uses Blue's Clues and Sesame Street as a case study for the tipping point. His point was there was something about Blue's Clues that caused it to be more popular (the tipping point) than Sesame Street. Dora is similar to Blue's Clues.

One of things he pointed out is that Blue's Clues is stickier than Sesame Street. The stickiness factor is what I see when I watch Adah. The program gives Adah multiple ways to learn, to grab a hold of the message they are trying to communicate. The show is sticky! Adah is increasing her vocabulary, learning motions, talking to the T.V., finding things on the map, invited to join Dora on a journey...you name it! - Aside - another blog for another time - the concept of children learning that cartoons are a journey to be invited on and not a program to watch! Hmmm....

And it's true. Adah is only interested in Sesame Street at all if Elmo comes on. She loses interest because it doesn't have as many sticking points as Dora! Big Bird scares her!

The stickiness factor! Just this simple concept can improve leading a small group, large group teaching, making a presentation, a conversation you are have with an employer, or the way you parent. I think we need to be continually be thinking about the stickiness factor in all that we are doing! Especially when we are leading a small group or teaching. We can't just assume that a great introduction is going to give someone a reason to listen for 30 minutes. We need to be sticky all throughout our message or small group time. And what I love about this concept is that it is little changes that make the biggest difference. It's not making huge changes for a huge impact.

If we don't care about the stickiness factor now, you can bet we will when the class of 2024 (the potential graduating year for Adah) become adults because they are growing up in a sticky world! I am looking forward to making it a point to be continually evaluating how sticky I am in all the areas of my life and ministry.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Deeper yes

It's easy to say "no!" when there's a deeper "yes!" burning inside - Stephen Covey from First Things First

What's the deeper "yes!" of your student ministry? Family? Life? Legacy? I want to be in a place where it's easy to say "no!"

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I need your help

“I need your help in keeping my beliefs sharp and accurate and intact. I don’t trust myself; my emotions seduce me into infidelities. I know I am launched on a difficult and dangerous act of faith in life, and there are strong influences intent on diluting or destroying it. I need your help. Let God speak through you into all the different parts and stages of my life – in my work and play, with my children and my parents, at birth and death, in my celebrations and sorrows, on those days when morning breaks over me in a wash of sunshine, and those other days that are all drizzle.

This isn’t the only task in the life of faith, there are other things to be done but this task is vitally important for my soul. One more thing: This is not a temporary job assignment for you but a way of life that I need lived out day after day. I know you are launched on the same difficult belief venture in the same dangerous world as I am. I know your emotions are as fickle as mine and your mind is a tricky as mine. That is why I am asking you to commit to this. I know there will be days and months, maybe even years, when I won’t feel like believing anything and won’t want to hear it from you. And I know there will be days and weeks and even years when you won’t feel like saying it. It doesn’t matter. Do it. You are called to this role in my life.

Promise right now that you won’t give in to my reluctance and resistance. You are not the servant of my changing desires or my time-conditioned understanding of my needs, or my secularized hopes for something better.

There are many other things to be done in this wrecked world, and I am responsible for doing at least some of them, but if I am not reminded of the foundational realities with which we are dealing – God, kingdom, gospel – I am going to end up living a futile, fantasy life. Your task, in my life, is to keep telling the basic story, representing the presence of the Spirit, insisting on the priority of God, and speaking the biblical words of command and promise and invitation.” Will you fight for my soul?

(Paraphrased from Peterson The Contemplative Pastor)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Waiting to be wanted

"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." AW Tozer from The Pursuit of God.

I am praying that our complacent students will have a mighty longing after God this fall as we gather in our i2i groups and learn from the Minor Prophets.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How kids learn?

I came across this article again on how kids learn a couple of years ago and pulled it up again this week. The author suggests that kids learn:

by listening
by seeing
with their bodies

It's been fun to watch my kids this week and figure out which of these is their primary style and which are secondary. What's more, I am excited to incorporate these three styles of learning as a part of my teaching practice, as I get ready to teach the Minor Prophets this fall.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

1st game

Yesterday I took my oldest son to his first Broncos game. When you turn 7, you get to go to your first game, but it's only preseason. When I was 7 I went to my first game and it was against the Green Bay Packers, the same team Noah saw play last night! How cool is that? We had a great time at the tailgate. Noah ate tons of calories and we threw the football for an hour and a half. It was also a special night because my dad was there. Noah is the third generation in our family that will be loving the orange and blue! When we got to our seats we had a great time eating BBQ sunflower seeds and talking. At one point the cheerleaders were dancing and as we were watching them he tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Dad, I don't like it when they shake their hips like that." In two years it's Josiah's turn.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Trust in the Life of David

I am finding that right now in my life I am clinging to the word trust. David has been a great encouragement to me this past week and Brennan Manning's prayer is food for my soul.

“When I am most afraid, I put my trust in you, in God whose word I praise, in God I put my trust, fearing nothing; what can men do to me?” - Psalm 56:3-4

“My trust in God never wavers” - Psalm 26:1

“He rescued me, since he loves me” - Psalm 18:19

“But I for my part rely on your love, O Lord” - Psalm 13:5

“Put your trust in Yahweh, be strong, let your heart be bold, put your trust in Yahweh” - Psalm 27:14

“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust” - Psalm 40:4

“I mean to thank you constantly for doing what you did, and put my trust in your name, that is so full of kindness, in the presence of those who love you” - Psalm 52:9

"I, for my part, like an olive tree growing in the house of God, put my trust in God’s love for ever and ever” - Psalm 52:8

Prayer of Trust

“Abba, into your hands I entrust my body, mind, and spirit and this entire day – morning, afternoon, evening, and night. Whatever you want of me, I want of me, falling into you and trusting in you in the midst of my life. Into your heart I trust my heart, feeble, distracted, insecure, uncertain. Abba, unto you I abandon myself in Jesus our Lord. Amen.” - Brennan Manning

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Start with time

As I come upon a new fall season I am going through my leadership file to refocus and get ready for what I believe is going to be an amazing year in our student ministry!

I came across this quote from Peter Drucker, "Effective leaders don't start with their tasks, but with TIME!"

For me, that means that Monday mornings are going to be about organizing my time for the week. I am going to take a half day once a month to look towards the month, quarter and year ahead.

1st Grade

Today we dropped Noah off for his first day of school in 1st grade! Time is flying by! Here's the gang before we loaded up the minivan to head out! It's a new transition for us as he will be going to school all day! Julie and I are excited to have more time with Josiah and Adah over the next two years before Josiah hits 1st grade!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Staff Planning

Today our full-time pastoral and program staff are heading up to Fairplay, CO for our annual staff planning getaway. I love going on these getaways. I am excited to see what God is going to do with our time as we plan for the up and coming school year! Since we are still looking for a new senior pastor that means we get Jerry for another season and it looks like he's going to be preaching through the Gospel of John!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Prayer - Battering-Ram Style

“We shall find every attribute of God Most High to be, as it were, a great battering-ram, with which we may open the gates of heaven.” C. H. Spurgeon

The Bounties of God Isa 64:4 “For from of old they have not heard nor perceived by ear, neither has

the eye seen a God besides Thee, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.”

The Faithfulness of God Deut 7:9 “Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;”

The Foreknowledge of God Rom 8:29 “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren; ”

The Grace of God Rom 5:21 “…even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”

The Goodness of God Ps 25:8 “Good and upright is the Lord…”

The Holiness of God Rev 15:4 “Who, will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For all the nations will come and worship before…”

The Immutability of God Mal 3:6 “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”

The Justice of God Ps 89:14 “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Thy throne...”

The Knowledge of God Ps 147:5 “His understanding is infinite”

The Love of God Rom 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

The Loving-Kindness of God Ps 36:7 “How precious is Thy lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Thy wings.”

The Mercy of God Ps 119:156 “Great are Thy mercies, O Lord…”

T he Omnipresence of God Ps 139: “Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?”

The Power of God Ps 62:11 “…power belongs to God”

The Solitariness of God Ex 15:11 “Who is like Thee among the gods, O Lord? Who is like Thee, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders?”

The Sovereignty of God Is 46:10 “For I am God, and there is none other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’”

The Wisdom of God Rom 11:33 “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! ”

The Wrath of God Rom 1:18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…”

HT: Robert Hill

Monday, August 04, 2008

Central Motivation ?'s

I am wrestling with these four questions surrounding what my central motivation is for leading our student ministry this up and coming school year.

1. How do I want to operate with others? (By myself? With others? As the boss? How?)
2. What do I want to work with? (Numbers? Things? People? Ideas? Words?)
3. What abilities recur? (Evaluation? Persuasion? Writing? Studying? Organization?)
4. What is the thing I seem to get out of the achievements? (Excelling? Building and developing? Acquiring things? Gaining a response?)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

SOS - Shiny Object Syndrome

Karyn Greenstat of Passion for Business writes,

“It seems to be a trend that’s growing: small business owners are getting distracted by too many ideas or the latest fad, going off in a million directions and never completing anything. This loss of focus is costing you hundreds of hours a year in lost productivity, lost hours, lost dollars.”

Shiny Object Syndrome gets defined in this post as "It's more that a new idea captures your imagination and attention in such a way that you get distracted from the bigger picture and go off in tangents instead of remaining focused on the goal."

Could we change "small business owners" to "student ministry pastors"? How are we costing our church? Are we losing productivity? How many hours are we wasting? How many shiny objects are in your view?

Deep Leadership by Kara Powell

I am really excited about what Kara Powell is doing at FYI! I've had the GREAT privilege of interacting with her over the past 15 months! She is getting ready to launch a new training series in September for youth workers and their teams, Deep Leadership, which will be training on-ramps for your leadership meetings throughout the calendar year. Here's a blurb from the website:

If you're like most youth workers, you hold regular meetings for your adult volunteers and small group leaders. And if you're like most youth workers, all too often these meetings degenerate into a string of announcements about upcoming events and fail to lead your team toward deeper ministry philosophies or practices.

Deep Leadership offers you something different: a school year’s worth of training modules that are both easy to use but also geared for heavy contextualization based on the particular needs of leaders, kids, and communities. We've developed this resource to include both a leader's guide and a volunteer journal for your team members to use.

You can download a couple of samples from their website. The Leaders Guide for the Mentoring On Ramp is HERE. And the introduction to the Volunteer Journal is HERE. Check them out today and then head back to the site on September 2nd!

I am really excited to promote this to the churches in our district that don't have paid youth workers, use it in some of our network gathering times with other youth workers, use it when I meet with leaders individually, and use the content as I gather with my leaders as a whole.

Thanks Kara, even if you are a San Diego Chargers FAN! GO BRONCOS!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dr. Mean

Yesterday while we were hanging out at home after church Noah came up to us and we had this conversation:

Noah - "Hey, do you know who was preaching during worship today?"

Us - "Who?"

Noah - "Dr. Mean!" Laughing hysterically.

It was classic! No it wasn't Dr. Mean, but Dr. Means, who was the first pastor of our church. It's pretty special to have the only two pastors in the history of our church still preaching!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Christian the Lion

Okay, I admit it...a tear hit my eye...Aerosmith and this video...I know this is old news, but dude!

Godly affected

“He must first be godly affected himself who would stir up godly affections in other men.”

William Perkins (Puritan)

Friday, July 25, 2008

I never stopped?

Good to Great by Jim Collins is a book I can't get away from poking my nose into once in a while. This week I am reflecting on the example of Darwin Smith who was the CEO of Kimberly-Clark. In retirement, Smith stated something that I will never forget about how he was able to perform like a level five leader.

"I never stopped trying to become qualified for the job." - pg. 20.

I am looking forward to another fall semester of never stopping to become qualified to be the pastor of students at Southern Gables Church.

So it begins...

Training camp starts today for the Denver Broncos. I can't wait for football to start!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I will go

Starfield was the band that led music at Challenge this month in Salt Lake City, UT. I've been listening to their album "I Will Go" this week and I am so thankful that our students were exposed to their lyrics.

I can't wait to incorporate their music into the life of our student ministry as we ADORE God in the up and coming year.

I disagree with this review!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Happy Birthday JOSIAH

I love this 5 year old kid!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Happy Birthday NOAH!

I love this 7 year-old kid!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brain Rules

Brain Rules has been the best book I've read in 2008! You can check it Dr. Medina's website HERE! He states, "If you are in education, you are in the business of brain development. If you are leading a modern corporation you need to know how the brain works." I would add, if you're a student ministry leader it's imperative that you know how the brain works! His twelve rules are very engaging and changing the way I practice and lead in my student ministry. More on this later. The Presentation Zen has a great slideshare about the book here.

Watch this video for an introduction from Dr. Medina himself and short summary of Brain Rule #1 - Exercise boosts brain power!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lunch Bunch

I am so excited to start having lunch once a week with our students. I picked the place and the time and invited "whoever" to show up! This week it's the seniors at Chipotle! I am pumped to spend time with our students outside the walls of the church more this year.

Plus, I love to eat food with integrity!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

2 kinds of people in the end

C. S. Lewis said, "There are only two kinds of people in the end—those who say to God, 'Thy will be done' and those to whom God says, 'Thy will be done.'"

I've been thinking about this quote all week as I prepare to preach the Parable of the Sower from Luke 8 in our summer series next Sunday.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Challenge 2008 @ Home

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." - Acts 17:11

I have found in this week following Challenge that tons of our students are eager to examine the Scriptures and interact with me about Truth. What a privilege!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Incarcerated youth in Colorado

I spent the morning with Nathan Jones and his team to hear about Youth For Christ's Juvenile Justice Ministries at the Mountview Correctional Facility which is located right behind our church building. I've been to Mountview a few times to visit students over the years, but had not been exposed to what YFC is doing. We already do monthly ministry there as we hold a worship service there once a month for the girls who are detained. I found out some interesting stats about incarcerated youth in CO:

- Approx. 10% of youth in CO between the ages of 10-17 are arrested each year.
- 10,698 youth were incarcerated in CO last year.
- 63.3% of incarcerated youth had 1 or more previous incarcerations.
- 23% were between 10-14 years old.
- Incarcerated youth are diverse: 42% White, 38% Hispanic, 16% African American, 3% other...23% Female.
- Over 60% ran away from home in the year previous to arrest believing they were better off.

I am praying that our church and other churches in our area can be places where these students can land to be in spiritual community once they are outside the fence. I am really excited for what God is doing through these men and women to live out the Great Commandment and Great Commission to these youth.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Worlds Largest Kazoo Choir

At Challenge we sang "Amazing Grace" in the record setting Kazoo Choir! Check it out! It actually starts 4 minutes into this video!

Front row seat @ Challenge 2008

We made it home from Challenge 2008 in Salt Lake City. I am overwhelmed with the amount experiences I've had in since Sunday morning. One of the greatest privileges I had was that God gave me a front row seat @ Challenge 2008 to watch Him move in the hearts, minds, souls and bodies of our students and leaders.

It was unbelievable! I watched Psalm 107:9 come to pass in some way for all of us who attended, "For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things." I can't wait to see the ripple-effect in our lives over the next weeks, months and years!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Snoop Dog and Homeless Dave

Yes, there is another Snoop Dog story to tell. Homeless Dave is the nickname of the bass player in Starfield. Homeless Dave heard Snoop Dog was in town so he took a Starfield CD to him. He went up to the penthouse and was greeted by two body guards. GULP!

After explaining that he was a musician in town with our conference he asked the door guards if they would be willing to give Snoop Dog the CD. They looked at each other and said, "Well, do you just want to give it to him?"

So Homeless Dave walked in to find Snoop Dog playing Playstation. He got up, took the CD, they had some conversation, and then Homeless Dave left.

What a great story!

Challenge '08 Rewind #3

Here is the video for Day 3. You'll be able to see the process we went through to make the meals for Kids Against Hunger.

Vintage Fritz Dale

We had a great time with Fritz on Tuesday night during our debrief time after the evening Rally. It was quite a site to see Fritz sitting in our circle of 29. He was the youth pastor at our church for 17 years. I was so excited that our students got to spend some time with Fritz. It was a special time for all of us leaders (Dave, Kelly, Carey and myself) as Fritz was our youth pastor!

We experienced Vintage Fritz. After he told the students the story of Julie and I getting lost with him on a backpacking trip while we were in high school, he asked our student this question, "Where have you seen God working in your high school ministry?" He then asked each leader a specific question about their relationship with Jesus. It was awesome! My question was, "Dan, what question do you have for me?" Whew...I got off easy. I asked Fritz to speak to our students about the one thing he would want them to walk away with from our time with him.

He told a very personal story from his life about a time tough time he went through and he was longing for a vacation to get away and relax and refresh. He believed that getting away from Littleton would help him overcome the trouble. While he was doing the dishes one night he felt Jesus was impressing this question on his heart,

"Am I enough?"

Despite the tough circumstances you'll face in high school, "Is Jesus going to be enough for you high school students?" It was a PRIVILEGE to have Fritz with our group.

After we were done Fritz stayed around to sign the student's Bibles...just kidding!