Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Are We That Dumb ?

Are we really that dumb ? The question goes out to fellow youth ministers or to individuals who "watch" youth ministers? There have been many individuals and groups who have been doing numerous studies about youth ministries and if they are successful.

One of the things that continually make me scratch my head is our complete lack of knowledge about the communities that we live in. For instance, do you know that there hve been studies done and ym's do not mention or recognize that stuctual issues affect teens ???

In one study, I fell off my chair when I read that youth ministers would consider relational youth ministry a success when we are in each others weddings. Ummm, can we please mention a few things like: improved education systems, lower crime rate, eliminating poverty, and more youth attending trade school / college.

I know that I am no where - where I need to be but c'mon.

There is much injustice in our community. We must be willing to step up and deal with it. As I mentioned, I am early into this game but it is a ourney that I (we) must be on.

Ashley Tisdale: Two Different Worlds

Okay, I can't believe that I am making a post on Ashley Tisdale. But, my three kids love to watch Disney and one of their favorite shows is The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. Ashley is on the show. She plays Maddie ( candy counter girl ).

Anyways, she is now in the music scene. Disney does an amazing job in introducing charachters and then putting them in their own show and then spinning that into musical careers ... money makers.

I am not sure who writes her songs (should do a search on that) but there is such a diversity to them ( I think ). Even though she is not a teenager anymore, I believe that her "split" personalities show what a lot of teenage girls go through. They are really tring to figure out who they are and where they belong.

I haved included two of her videos in this post with lyrics. They are in stark contrast of one another. At the end, I will make a few notes of reflection.


Suddenly I, am in front of the lights
Everything, I'm feeling
Scary and beautiful at the same time
And every day, I try just to breathe
I want to show the whole world
The truth inside of me

Suddenly people know my name
Suddenly everything has changed
Suddenly I feel so alive
In the blink of an eye
My dreams begin to reign

Suddenly time, it feels like the wind
It changes everywhere I go
I'm just trying to fit in
Now here I stand
And I'm still just that girl
I'm following my heart
In this amazing crazy world

Suddenly people know my name
Suddenly everything has changed
Suddenly I feel so alive
In the blink of an eye

Suddenly I am center stage
Suddenly I am not afraid
Suddenly I believe again
In the blink of an eye it's happening now

As my dreams begin to reign
I want to say love me for me
What's inside
I'm gonna be positive, not run away, so much for you
This is life

Suddenly I am center stage
Suddenly I am not afraid
Suddenly I believe again
In the blink of an eye
My dreams begin to reign

He Said She Said

Boy walking the spot he so fresh and
He got what he needs impressin'
Just look at the way that he dressin'
Ain't no question chicks like ooh!

Girl walkin the spot she stop traffic
She got everything you can't pass it
So Jessica Alba fantastic
Instant classic boys like Woooo!

Baby I can see us Movin' like that
Baby I can see us dancin' like that
Baby I can see us chillin' like that
We don't need no more than He said She said

Baby I can see us movin' like that
Baby I can see us dancin' like that
Baby I can see us chillin' like that
We don't need no more than he said she said

He said girl you winning
She said boy where you been at
Stop talking lets get with it
Just like that they

He said you're amazing
She said then why you waiting
No more deliberating
What you doing lets get moving
Just like that they

Boy acting as if there's no pressure
He'd do anything to impress her
He say anything to just win her
Money spent to diamonds sent her

Girl playing cool but she winning
She loving the fact that she's gifted
Everything that he do she get lifted
Feel so wicked dancing like ohh

Baby I can see us movin' like that
Baby I can see us dancin' like that
Baby I can see us chillin' like that
We don't need no more than he said she said

Baby I can see us movin' like that
Baby I can see us dancin' like that
Baby I can see us chillin' like that
We don't need no more than he said she said

He said girl you winning
She said boy where you been at
Stop talking lets get with it
Just like that they

He said you're amazing
She said then why you waiting
No more deliberating
What you doing lets get moving
Just like that they

One day with you
Boy just one day with you
all the things we can do
Everyday I think of
Being with you
No one else but us two
All our dreams would come true
If we just get together!

Baby I can see us movin' like that
Baby I can see us dancin' like that
Baby I can see us chillin' like that
We don't need no more than he said she said

Baby I can see us movin' like that
Baby I can see us dancin' like that
Baby I can see us chillin' like that
We don't need no more than he said she said

Ohhh what you waiting for?

He said girl you winning
She said boy where you been at
Stop talking for a minute
Just like that they

He said you're amazing
She said then why you waiting
No more deliberating
What you doing lets get moving
Just like that they


Your gunna like it
your gunna want it
your gunna like it
We don’t need no more than he said she said
your gunna like it
your gunna want it
your gunna like it
We don't need no more than he said she said!



I think that her lyrics in Suddenly can actually sum it up very well. Maybe, I am taking too deep of a look at it but I see this in individuals too well. They are "thrusted" into a position that they are unsure about and they do not know how to act - they do not know how to act because they are uncertain who they are.

This is not to slam Ashley at all but I wonder if there are parents who see her "dingy" self on The Suite Life .. see the "ballad" Suddenly and take their kids to the concert and then fall out of their seats on some of the stage presence.

Back to "normal" posting .. whatever that means for me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Stellvertreter: Place-Sharer

Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran Theologian, had this image that he loved to use. The image was one of a place-sharer (stellvertreter). A place share for him was the following: one person must stand in the place of the other. Place-sharing can and does take place when we are willing to place ourselves fully in the reality of the other. WE MUST refuse to turn away even in the worst of the horrors. We "share" the space of living with them. Unfortunately, I do not see much of this occurring today.

I am reading a very interesting book about relationships. The intruiquing thing to me about the book is that in one hand I am reading this book and the other hand I am looking at our community and seeing how we can build networks (relationships) and make a difference. The difference isn't to "change" their lives (inside - make them one of us) but it is to end poverty, welfare and unemployment. So, here are some words that smack me on the side of the head.

Relationships aren't about making things better, they are about being together in each other's most difficult moments. Now that is love. Why is it that we always want to make things better for others ? Why is it that we want to "build relationships" so we can speak truths into someone's life so they will make better choices (change this habit or that habit) ?

In youth ministry, I see this all the time. It is done in love, but it is wrong (I think). We build relationships to "earn trust" and then we believe we can influence their lives. When we influence their lives, we can "manipulate" what they do / don't do and / or we can get them to believe this or know that .....

Andrew Root says in beautifully when he is referring to the incarnational youth ministry. He states: I was more concerned with their decisions, behavior or commitment than with their broken humanity that desired someone to share in their deepest sufferings through relationships. When I tried to influence them, I had neither the patience nor the vision to truly share in their suffering, to make it my own and to joing my own broken humanity with theirs. I was so busy making assertions about heaven that I refused to see and accompany them in the darkness of their personal hell's.

My Prayer

God, please allow my eyes to be open. Let me be "incarnate" with individuals. Give me the encouragement and the strength to walk with them in their brokeness. Allow me to open up with them and allow us to journey together. Please let me allow it be about accompaniment and not about influence. Daddy, this is a big step. I want to be with people and share life with people. Also, please let me be reminded of all the structual issues that are in place that cause the brokeness and do not fall into the trap that says, "being a friend will fix all the problems" Shine through me. Amen.

To my friends out there, if you need me to walk with you, be there with you and live life with you; please let me know.

There is going to be more on relationships, youth ministry, Bonhoeffer, incarnate living and figuring out life. There are numerous books, readings, life and conversations that are so intertwined ... I am looking forward to the journey.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Hot Under The Collar

I got a little "hot under the collar" today. I usually try to remain cool and calm but I might have "lost" it a little bit today. I also broke a "Jeff Rule". The Jeff Rule is not to answer an email that you disagree with right away. But, I did not do that today. I "fired" a reply to all after about 10 seconds after reading it. I should have went and picked up the boys and then answered ( I was leaving to pick them up in 5 minutes ).

Here is the deal. I spent the morning listening to the program on ending poverty in Wayne County. With the program, came the statistics. We have a lot of families struggling. No need to go into details. I hear from agencies in the county that are struggling to make ends meet and they need volunteers, coaches, mentors and people to care about people. I then have a conversation and find out that the Pregnancy Center in town is in need of supplies and the list goes on with other agencies in town and our community.

In the midst of that I was taking care of some of the administrative items I do on Monday and met with a volunteer from our church regarding Children's Church and an email comes across my desk.

It is an email regarding The Golden Compass. *sigh*

The email is from a fellow youth minister in town. He is encouraging me to make announcements in youth and have the senior pastor make an announcement from the pulip to SKIP THE MOVIE - it is evil and they are tring to kill off God (more of what it is really about later). He then wants all of us to contact our local movie theater and have us convince them to BLOCK THE MOVIE. *sigh*

So, I quickly fired off an email. I was nice and apologized if I offended. But, I did state that I would not make announcements. I would not try to block the movie. I told them that I probably would even take a group to go see the movie and then hang out at a coffee shop and talk about the movie.

Friends, we have alot more important things to worry about than banning a movie. Heck, the movie may even be a message that we need to hear. Once again, more on that later. We have people around us that are hurting and they need us. We must help make change occur. We must show them the love of Christ. We must be his hands and feet. Maybe, I am wrong. Maybe I should be more concerned about "banning a movie" but right now; I am not in that place.

If you want me to come and mentor a kid. If you want me to come and help at the food bank. If you want me to go and purchase some clothes for those in need .... (list can go on) then shoot me an email. I will carve time in my life for that.

I am going to be doing some posting now on The Golden Compass and the "trilogy" His Dark Materials. It will have to do with the books, the movies, conversations and my reviews. I will also share some of the discussions that I have about the movie with my students. What amazes me is that this book has been around for over 12 years. The series has sold over 12 million copies and now ... we (Christians) are getting the books banned *scratches head*

I am also going to be posting on both sides of the issues. I will dwell in the world of "fox news" (he he he) I Report ... You Decide

Ending Poverty

Today, I went to the Circles Campaign meeting. This was put on by Move the Mountain and aha! Process, Inc. The representation from our community (county) was diverse and was attended by various community leaders, agencies and churches. I believe that we as a county will act upon this measure and begin the process of implementing Circles in our county.

To do this, we will have to make numerous changes in our structure and agencies but I am hopeful that this can be done. One of the things that Circles is dependent on though is for individuals to step up and say, "I want to break the cycle of poverty and I want to get out". The concept of Circles (in theory) is simple. The individual in poverty has a team that "emotionally adopts" them. The team then helps them come out of the grips of poverty. The team consists of allies (people there to love, encourage, and support them), coach (professional: service worker), peer (individual in the same boat: giving back & helping) and finally ad-hoc allies (individuals to assist: servants). This team does life together. The team is driven by the circle leader (individual in poverty). The cast (team) is put into place by Circles. However, this puts the responsibility at the feet of those in poverty.

Highlights That Stood Out

1. Circles intentionally builds relationships across class and race lines to end poverty.

2. Research shows that it takes social capital and education to bring individuals out of poverty ( I Love the Concept of "social capital". )

3. For individuals to move out of poverty; it takes more than just the individual. It takes the community, agencies and policy changes (good examples were given).

4. Our goal has been wrong ! Our goal has been to get people off (out) the welfare system. The goal should be to end (get them out of) poverty.

5. Community mindset MUST CHANGE. It needs to shift from: some poverty is normal and tolerate to the following: no poverty is tolerable or necessary.

6. Our agencies must change. We must move from: We will deliver services to you on behalf of the community to the following: We will help you build community around your family and neighborhood so you can reach your dreams.

In a blog post, it may be difficult how we as a community or a county can/will achieve this. But, i am hopeful and am going to look into a few of the cities in the U.S. who have implemented this and are showing success.

This was the first time that I have been in a meeting or a conversation where I could say, 'YES, ENDING POVERTY IS A POSSIBILITY'. It will be hard work, but I think we can get it done.

Who Are You ?

Recently, I came across another one of Merton's quotes that has caused me to sit back and reflect. The quote is the following: In order to become myself I must cease to be what I always thought I wanted to be. To me this is profound and difficult at the same time. At times, you need to "give-up" your pursuit so you can be who you really are called to be.

Too many times, individuals "speak" to us and by their "speaking"; they have designated who we are and who we are destined to become. Thus, we are chasing goals and aspirations that are not truly who we are.

What about you and your life ? Do you need to give up something to be yourself ?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Leadership in the Church

Today, I want to share a scripture from 1 Timothy and then discuss how this scripture may impact us (churches) on who we place into roles of leadership. We will take a look at 1 Timothy 3:1-7. We will look at the scripture from 2 different versions: Young's Literal and New Life.

1 Timothy 3
Young's Literal Translation

1 Stedfast [is] the word: If any one the oversight doth long for, a right work he desireth; 2 it behoveth, therefore, the overseer to be blameless, of one wife a husband, vigilant, sober, decent, a friend of strangers, apt to teach, 3 not given to wine, not a striker, not given to filthy lucre, but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money, 4 his own house leading well, having children in subjection with all gravity, 5 (and if any one his own house [how] to lead hath not known, how an assembly of God shall he take care of?) 6 not a new convert, lest having been puffed up he may fall to a judgment of the devil; 7 and it behoveth him also to have a good testimony from those without, that he may not fall into reproach and a snare of the devil.

1 Timothy 3
New Life Version

What A Church Leader Must Be Like

1 It is true that if a man wants to be a church leader, he wants to do a good work. 2 A church leader must be a good man. His life must be so no one can say anything against him. He must have only one wife and must be respected for his good living. He must be willing to take people into his home. He must be willing to learn and able to teach the Word of God. 3 He must not get drunk or want to fight. Instead, he must be gentle. He must not have a love for money. 4 He should be a good leader in his own home. His children must obey and respect him. 5 If a man cannot be a good leader in his own home, how can he lead the church? 6 A church leader must not be a new Christian. A new Christian might become proud and fall into sin which is brought on by the devil. 7 A church leader must be respected by people who are not Christians so nothing can be said against him. In that way, he will not be trapped by the devil.

In these scriptures, we see 15 characteristics that an elder should have. I believe the 'key' word is characteristic. Here is the list:

1. Self-Controlled
2. Hospitable
3. Able to teach
4. Not violent but gentle
5. Not quarrelsome
6. Not a lover of money
7. Not a recent convert
8. Has a good reputation with outsiders
9. Above reproach
10. Husband of one wife
11. Temperate
12. Respectable
13. Not given to drunkenness
14. Manages his own family
15. His children obey him

We could argue and debate who wrote this letter and when it was written and who the "real" audience of the letter was intended for. These are all very valueable because it helps us distinguish the context and context is vital. However, for the look into the characteristics; I am going to by-pass that process.

I find it very intriguing that the "qualifications" are more about a persons character and how they live than their skills and how they apply their skills to their "work".

What implications does this have for the church ?

When we as a church are looking to fill deacons, elders, church council members or the various committees that we "need" to fill; how do we look for individuals ?

When there is a staff position that has a vacancy and we are pursuing candidates, what is on the top of our list ? When we as leaders in the church are recruiting "servants/volunteers" who do we target ???

I think that we may need to look at a persons inside a lot more than we normally do.

too many times, we look at their skills, the talents that they bring to the table. We get "awed" by their talents and think how their talents can soar us to the next level. we need to examine their hears and what their actions would be like when they have "power".

Maybe, we would be more 'successful' if we looked at the heart. If we took the look of characteristics and that was our priority. The skill or talent could be learned.

In my case, I know that I want individuals who love God, love others and express a servant's heart and brings a side of gentleness. this is much more important than _______________.

What is the "decision factor" for you ??

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NYWC: Atlanta - Saturday

Saturday may have been my favorite day of the convention. Now, I know that it was my favorite day this year. I mean it may have been my favorite day of all the years that I have gone (9 years) I believe.

The morning started out with a great seminar called: Creating a Rhythm of Life With God by Mike King. In the future, I will definitely epound on why this seminar was so great. I am more and more intriguide about the "rules of life" or "rhythm of life".

After class, I went to the next general session. This was the session that I was waiting for. The entertainment was The Skit guys, they always make me laugh. Worship was led by The chris Tomblin Band and the message was delivered by Phyliss Tickle. She did an UNBELIEVABLE job. Do yourself a favor and find the DVD. She did a great job explaining "the new reformation" that we are in.

After the session, we went over to Jock & Jill's with one of our former volunteers. We had lunch while we watched the first half of the Michigan / Ohio State game. We had some "beauty queens" behind us with "their cheerleading daughters" rooting at the Georgia/Kentucky game on the next TV.

After lunch, I went to the next seminar (super seminar - 2 1/2 hours). This seminar was fantastic. It was called: Story, Signs & Sacred Rhythms: Narrative Approach to Nurturing Students I took notes after notes after notes on this class. It was packed with information. I am looking forward to processing all the info from this class.

We then had a bite to eat from the food court and went to the next general session. The general session included the concert by Family Force 5. The worship was led once again by the Tomblin Band and then Louie Giglio got up and spoke. I heard about 75% of this message before (at Big Stuf). It had the theme of HOPE. I think that message is very vital and can be very vital to those in ministry. I am sure there were many wounded ministry workers that needed to grasp a hold of the message. I know it did a lot for me in June when I heard it and was in time of transition.

Afterwards, we stayed and watched Rob Bell's newest video (Name). Afterwards, we made the walk back to the hotel - in time - to see the last quarter of the WVU / Cincy game.

A great day for sure .....

NYWC: Atlanta - Friday Afternoon / Evening

The afternoon "kicked-off" the convention. It opened up with the General Session. They always have some "lite" stuff to open it up (the session). The comedy is always a good way to smile, laugh and lighten yourself up a little.

The General Session was opened with the Desperation Band leading worship. I think that they did a fantastic job in leading us in worship. The concert was by Flatfoot 56 and I think the crowd overall enjoyed them. The opening session was delivered by Andy Stanley. I think that his message was very important. His message was on power. He was stressing that we need to be thinking of what we will do when we are the most powerful person in the room.

I have to admit, I tend to shy away from those moments and "deflect" the attention away from me. But, at times, I know that i am the "most powerful person" in the room. It may be when I am speaking, it may be when I am leading an exercise, it may be when someone is looking for me to make the decision or as will be the case in a few minutes; it may be when a teen cmes to me seeking advice.

So, what do you do with power ? As Andy pointed out, we need to look at Jesus. When He had the power, what did he do ? He served. He took off his outer-garnments and washed His disciples feet. The power MUST be underneath. We can not have over-the-top power. It may be tough, but we need to serve.

After the main session, I went to a seminar that I knew that I would "struggle" with. The seminar was called: Party With Purpose: Evangelism in the Adolescence Party Scene It was led by Mike Flavin. He leads a ministry called Fire Escape. I am very skeptical of this type of "attraction" ministry. However, I wanted to go and try to evaluate the concept and what place (if any) it has in the church and more importantly in my context.

I think that if we "threw money" out to create the type of atmosphere that he is calling for; that we could create a great place for kids, a safe alternative and have "numbers". However, as I look at my community, I think we need to feed and cloth individuals ..... *sigh*

After the seminar, I tried to process the info as we gathered to eat in the CNN center at the food court before moving back to the convention center for the second general session. I was waiting excitingly for the session: SHANE CLAIRBORNE was speaking.

Desperation Band led us in worship again and once again, it was great time of worship. The concert was "old-school" *cough* Third Day. I think that i am actually enjoying them more the older that we (the band and I get).

Shane came up to speak and it was not what I was expecting. BUT, it was what I needed. I was looking forward to hearing about the "simple way". I was looking forward to hearing about his fantastic ministry. I was looking for insight on how i might be able to implement some of his thoughts and ideas into my life and my community. He did none of that. What he did instead was gave me Jesus.

He read the SERMON ON THE MOUNTAIN. After the first 10-15 versus, I had a sense that he was not going to give application but he was going to give us "the greatest sermon ever give". Thus, I sat back, closed my eyes and listened to the words of Jesus. I imagined that I was in the cowd and I listened for the words that God wanted me to hear. It was powerful.

Wow, what our life would be if we just listened to Jesus and follwed Him.

Grace is Gone

I do not think that I would make it through the movie; thus I don't think that I will be seeing it. If anyone goes and sees it when it comes out (December 7th) let me know what you thought.

NYWC: Atlanta - Friday Morning

I woke up early Friday morning after a short sleep (I watched the Arizona State / Oregon game) and headed off to my Critical Concern Class. We had three more hours of instruction.

Critical Concern Class

There were two importan themes that we covered during class; along with the project of building our "dream church". The areas that we covered were cow hunting and youth ministry in 2020.

Sacred Cows of YM

These are the cows that they believe need to be destroyed:

1. 3 Step Methods (pat answers for everything)
2. Fear, Guilt, and Presuure Evangelism
3. Consumption Gospel
4. One-Eared Mickey Mouse (having ym disconneded from the church)
5. Numbers driven youth ministry
6. Christian Ghetto (Bubble)
7. Defending Western Culture Values ( can I hear an .. amen ? )
8. Relational Youth Ministry

Note on # 8: What they were "warning" was doing so much one-on-one that there is no communal between individuals (connecting)

Youth Ministry in 2020 (Probably)

1. Programs to People (it is about people not programs)
2. Compartmentalized to Holistic
3. Shallow Spirituality to Deep Theology
4. Attractional to Missional Attractional
5. Centralized to Decentralized
6. Orthodoxy to Orthopraxy
7. Agenda Driven to Serving
8. Individual to Communial Individual
9. Separists to Collaborators
10. Church Building to Campus / Central (neutral ground)
11. Proclaiming to Guiding
12. Salvation to Way of Jesus
13. Surface to Broken Places

The Critical Concern was a great way to begin the convention. In the near future, I am going to try to break down the future of ym (13 points above) in a posting group. There are a few of them that I want / need to expound on for my own sake.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Interpreting Family Force 5

Here is a small (15 second clip) of Ang interpreting portion of the Family Force 5 concert. Family Force 5 brings high energy to the room and watch an interpretor doing the show is priceless. I absolutely love it.

One of my favorite songs that they do is eathquake. Here is another small segment of them and her interpreting that song (about 30 secs).

I would love to had more pics and videos but we left the media card at hom (doh) and only had the internal to work with.

NYWC: ReThinking Traditional YM Models

On Thursday morning, I woke up at 4 am and preparred to get myself ready for my departure. I had to stop by the church for a few things and I left the church around 4:45 in the morning. I got over to the airport and had an easy time getting parked, walking to security and getting to the gate.

A little after 7, I was in the plane and ready for departure. We had a ground delay. Why can't the delay happen in the airport instead of the plane ?? Anyways, we got up in the air and landed in Atl. I jumped on MARTA ( I love that travel ) and got checked in at the hotel. After checking into the hotel, I grabbed a Pittsburgh sandwich ( yummy ) and went off to my Critical Concern Class: ReThinking Traditional Youth Ministry Models

The class session was 5-hours long and was led by Mark Hesel and Brock Morgan. They did a good job in leading and facilitating the discussion. I think that if you had to summarize the 5 hour session in one sentence, it would be the following:

Culture has changed over the last 40 years but youth ministry has not changed.

Yes, I know that it is not "earth-shattering" and it was probably information that most people know but I think that it is vital to have that in-front of you as you begin to think about how we should do youth ministry.

Now, the greatest underlying message that was developed as the foundation was the following:

We, as youth ministry, need to make sure that we are not seperated from the life of the church.

I think that this is vital as we begin to shape and/or re-shape the youth ministry culture and the landscapes of our churches. The class time was really focused on us looking at the history of youth ministry and how it came about and what has led us to where we are.

Keywods in the context of YM

Late 60' to 80's: Decline & Disillusionment
1990's to Presnet: Restlessness and Searching for Answers

We then began to take a deep look at the teens in our culture and seeing what it means for us as a church as we see teens with the following mindest: Moralistic Therapuetic Deism.

I think that the most poweful concept to grasp was how the shift from who the influencers are in their lives and how we can "tap" into this to create ministry opportunities.

It seems like a contradiction (for students they are fine with the concept though) but the powerful force that we need to examine is the following:

Hyper-Individualistic and Communalistic

Maybe more on that later.

After 5 hours of class, I went and got a pizza and drink and waited for the exhibit hall to open. When it opened, I went in an saw the 350 booths. I have to tell you, I struggle with this ALOT.

We are SO CONSUMERISTIC !!!! I think it saddens God with where we put all of our money. I think we might be doing more "kingdome work" if we would place the money in other avenues. I am struggling in this area and I do not have it figured out.

I did stop by and chat with the YMX crew. I was not sure how that would go. I had not been there (to their site/forums) in 2 months. I enjoyed seeing / meeting them. I had met a few of them face-face before and for quite a few, it was the first time. It was nice to put a face to a screen name. Numerous people have asked if I was coming back. The answer is ....... I am not sure. I will make a post on that in the near future and it will be a response to Adam's post about being a "niche".

Monday, November 19, 2007

Back from NYWC

I am back from the National Youth Workers Convention. I decided to go to the one in Atlanta, this year.

The theme this year was STORYLINE; even though I am not sure why they "choose" a theme. To me, their theme is in name only. The reason for that is the general sessions and the seminars are not "based" on the theme. But, I do like the meaning behind the storyline concept.

I flew out on Thursday morning and I flew back in today. I have been in for about three hours. I have had the opportunity to read a few individuals blogs that were at the convention and decided to begin the process of blogging about the convention, my experience and thoughts about what occurred and happened.

Thus, over the next few days, before Thanksgiving hits, my posts will be centered around NYWC and labeled as such :)

Overall, I really enjoyed the conventions. I will blog about some of the general sessions, the seminars that I attended, the fellowship times that I had and individuals who I connected with.

From the start, I do have to admit it was great to see my friend Ang. She absolutely rocks and was a HUGE ASSET for our ministry at Discovery. One of her passions is interpreting for the deaf community. There were a few from the community who attended NYWC (which I think is GREAT). Anyhow, she had the opportunity to interpret for The Skit Guys and Family Force 5 among others. It is great to see her passion and love shine through as she does it. Here is a pic of her and FF 5 show:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

See You Next Week

Have a great rest of the week my friends. I will be back on Tuesday. On Tuesday, I will have several posts geared up and ready to go. The topics will be very diversed and I look forward to sharing them with you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Medical Bills & Our Life

Ten years ago, we entered the world of financial troubles. The financial troubles though were brought about because of the greatest blessings in our life - our children. Most of the financial burden came from our man - Isaiah.

In 1997, we moved from Atlanta, Georgia where we were trying to "plant a church" to New Cumberland, West Virginia. My wife was very sick, so we moved to my hometown. I was back in school and working ungodly hours for us to make ends meet. The job at insurance. However, it was a straight 90/10 insurance with no "ceiling" (no max benefit). Isaiah and Stacey had a struggle and our hospital bills soared over the $300,000 mark. Thus, we faced medical responsibilities of over $ 30,000. We, as a family, always believed in her staying at home with the kids.

Over the last 9 years, I made anywhere from $20,000 - $ 38,000. During those years, we had two more children. We had better insurance (deductables and max amount) and we did not have major complications thus our responsibility for those bills combined was about $ 5,000. Thus, by being very disciplined, we were able to pay of the $35,000 over the last 9 years. We do have some cc debt that is still out there from some charges while we were making ends meet (about $3,000).

In 2006, when we left Discovery, we had $ 0 in medical bills. We were very happy and I remeber smiling on the last day of writing that check to pay off the final bill. We were able to accomplish this through some wonderful people's help in Alabama who eased some of our "rent burden". On a small note, please lift them (Discovery) up in your prayers. They have hit a few bumps but they are a GREAT church at heart and have a wonderful vision/mission/heart and I loved being with them.

Well, as some of you know, the past 6 months have been very rough for Stacey. She had to have numerous surgeries and the medical bills piled on. They piled on a lot more than we ever expected and planned. The reason: We thought we were going to have better coverage than we did. If we knew what type of coverage we was going to have in Indiana; we would have never left Alabama.

It has been a little dreading going to the mailbox beause the hospitals have turned us into the credit agencies. I have been placing the bills / letters into a file. In a sense, hoping they would go away. I know that is not the case. Today, I started to make the contacts with the hospitals and credit agencies. It was not much good news at all.

The credit agencies are wanting us to pay WAY too much money a month. The amount they want me to pay is 2x greater than my monthly rent. They referred me to a medical loan company. The company rold me to send them all the bills. They told me to do this as a formality because they will need to decline my request so I can show it to the credit agency. They can not and will not give us a loan because our loan amount is way more than we could pay back and we so not own a house so they can not secure the loan on that. So, what is the final damage ????

Because we did not have insurance ( well, we had insurance - technically - but the hospital considers we do not - because the insurance company paid less than 10% of the bill ), we owe $29,111.89

I am now trying to coordinate with 14 different hospitals and collection agencies. This is an absolute nightmare. We finally moved out of the financial tunnel after 9 years of hard work. Now, we are back to the beginning.


On the bright side ...... we now have a position that has fantastic insurance. We are now in part of the country that has phenominal medical centers. We are in a place (a church) that loves us, cares for us, respects us and is truly partners in ministry. I am sooooooo lucky and blessed to be part of a PHENOMINAL CHURCH.

My prayer is the following: God, I know that we can do this again (get out of financial mess, that is not fair); however please help me have wisdom in my words as I talk to the doctors, hospitals and credit agencies. May they allow us to set up a reasonable timetable. We are going to have to give up "stuff" to make this work; allow us to accomplish that. I also pray that fellow individuals out there will not have to have the same burden that we have because, it is just not right.

So, what do we do ???

I have no clue. I am glad that in 30 hours, I am headed on a plane to have 5 days of training, worship and rest. I will have time to rest my soul in a labryth. I will have the op to talk to some people that can offer advice. When I return, we will develop a plan and stick to it.

If this is too raw for some, I apologize. I know that is is extremely risky for me to place out here since I am not "anonymous". But, I try to real and honest and this is me.

New York City & Wordpress

Hey there. I hope that everything is going well for everyone today. Today has been a very good day. the morning started with me doing some reading on some family ministry studies (very interesting) and then we had staff meeting. After staff meeting, I went up to the free clinic and did some filing. I just got back to the office and a package has come to me. It is from The reThink Group. I am looking forward to reading some of the magazine after Discovery Class tonight ( who we are study at church ) and then watching the videos tomorrow.

So, why the heading ?????

Two reasons.

One, I want to give a shout out to NYC.

I have only been to NYC once and that was mostly spent in Queens. But NYC (outside of the town that I live in) has the most views to my blog. Thus, I wanted to wave to them and give them a shout out.

The second is that I have been hearing "wordpress" everywhere I look. I am not too tech savy in certain areas. There are a few things that I can do. But I am not sure what I am missing at WordPress and I am not sure how to do a few things over there. Maybe, I need to spend some time over there and check into it. Maybe, I need some help from readers out there to help / instruct me. I set up a site, transfered some items over there so I can see what it would look like .. but I am dumbfounded ...

Jeff at WP

I am not posting there yet. I just imported things there. Anyone wanna help explain why I should / need to jump on this bandwagon and help me see the features that I can add there that I can not here. I am not fancy here ... obviously.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Balancing Youth Group Events

Tim did a post on the following: 100 blog topics I hope YOU write. He put the challenge out there quite awhile ago and some have been written. If you want to see the topics and the articles ... click here.

I am going to attempt to answer number 27. The reason for attempt is that I am struggling with the question. I think it MIGHT be the wrong question. With that being said, here it is:

How to balance youth group events with athletics, homework and jobs ?

The simple answer for me is three-fold.

One, set a schedule and stick to it and communicate that you DO NOT have to attend everything. I know that a lot of individuals do not like that because they scream: WHERE IS THE COMMITMENT !! But, if we let individuals knows when we are having the event and they can count on it; they will know where to be "if they want to come".

Two, do not fill the calendar for the sake of filling the calendar. We, as youth groups, get to busy filling the calendar for the sake of filling the calendar and we drive this crazy train for competing for time / energy of families that are already zapped and maxed out and they do not need the church "pressurring them" and making them feel quilty. I understand when people first read this and scream "WHERE IS GOD IN ALL OF THIS"

Thirdly, incorporate ministry into where their lives are at. This is very difficult to do for individuals that like nice clean scorecards where they can say, "we had 120 youth at youth last night". Believe me, I was there with the counting, numbers and the come to us mentality. We really need to see where they are in create ministry for them in those places. This will do a couple of things:

1. Free up time (for the student/parent)
2. Take the "guilt off of them"
3. Influence the Community more
4. Places the focus on the Kingdom of God over the individual church
5. Maybe, just maybe, begin to place the spiritual guidance back to the parents.

How does this look ???

1. We have students sharing their lives with individuals who they are in contact with - being real and being accountable. We realize that having students "out in the world" in school, extra-curricular activities, jobs and "you make the list" places them in direct contact with more people than would ever come to the "church".

2. We go to where they are out and make it ministry. We share life with them. We are at their events, celebrate the accomplishments, mourn in the disappointments and create ministry time before/after events.

On Monday night when the girl soccer team is playing. Encourage the parents/players to eat at a local restaurant before the game or go out to the local coffeeshop afterwards. They share what is going on in their lives and we have the opportunity to share along side of them. It is part of their "routine". you pick the scenario in your community, church and context ... Dream about the possibilities.

3. Use Technology. We have the capability to reach students and have teaching opportunities for them in ways that we have not had before. We can "instruct" without them being where we are at. Use the technology format that works for you to connect the students to teaching and have ops for them to discuss without them being there "live".

4. Develop a life plan for each family. See what the family wants their destination to be and help them create that to happen. Each family is different. Just as each individual who goes to the gym and meets with the trainer as a different "plan"; maybe we need to do the same with the families we are in contact with.

I believe these are a few steps that we can take to help balance youth group with everything that is going on in their lives. I think that we often look at the "negative" aspect when we can be and should be focusing on the positive side.

I understand why the question is asked: How do we balance youth group events with athletics, homework and jobs ? But, I think that it might be the wrong question and we need to work with the church leadership team, volunteers, parents and students and begin to ask new and different questions.

What might be the new / tough question for this one ?

For me, maybe it is the following:

How do we, as churches, impower families to be Christ in every aspect of their lives (where they are at) ?

If we do this, I believe we will see a greater impact on the Kingdom of God than trying to develop a scheme/time that will create more ops for students to be at our youth events.

I doubt if this is what Tim was looking for or the hundreds of readers that read Tim. This is just where I am at and part of my struggle on the role of the church and what we are / have been trying to accomplish.

I struggle.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Wonderful Saturday

Today was a great day. Isaiah and Bethany finally woke me up at about 8 am. I finnaly obliged because the couch was getting to me. The kids and myself had our campout on Friday night.

After I awoke, Bethany and myself ent over to the store to grab some donuts and the paper. We made our way back over the house where all of us ate the donuts and I had a nice cup of coffee and read the paper.

We then played card games for about an hour. We played Uno and Rack-O. Bethany was the queen today; she played very well and won most of the games. It was lunch time and a little bit of fb time on the tv. The games were a little zzzzzzzz so the boys and I went out to Freelander where we played basketball then walked the disc golf course through the woods.

We returned home and I watched the 1st half of the Illini / Ohio State game. Poor Ohio State .... they went down. I would have liked to see the victory myself but we had an important date on our calendar.

Isaiah had his first Upward Basketball game of the year and I am the assistant coach. Our team is the Oklahoma Sooners. We have a great group of boys. We are a "younger" team with mostly 3rd graders (3 & 4 grade team). The boys played tough but they came out on the losing end 22-14. Isaiah did get a little frustrated in one segment of the game when he got called for a traveling.

After the game, we came home and relaxed. I kinda hid myself in our room watching football switching back and forth a little. The main game that I watched was the Florida vs. South Carolina game. The Gators rooled. Look at Tebow's numbers:

Passing: 22 for 32 for 302 yards and 2 TD's
Rushing: 26 carries for 121 yards and 5 TD's

Unbelievable. I had the opportunity to see him play one game in high school. He came to The Met to play Hoover U ... ummm, I mean Hoover High School. The crowd rooted against him but at the same time had signs ... TeBow, please come to Alabama.

Obviously, it did not happen.

The wife is asleep. Jacob and Bethany is a sleep and Isaiah who can stay up late and get up early is watching ... just one last show. During the week, they don't watch tv but during the weekend; they do and enjoy it.

I am about to wind it down. I watch Hawaii play the 1st quarter since I have not seen them this year. Caught up with a few blogs and now it is time to get in bed and watch a few minutes of the game before hitting power off.

I hope that you had a good Saturday as well.

Friday, November 09, 2007


I just wanted to say thank you to Reggie.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ugly .. Ugly ... Ugly ... BUT A WIN

WVU looked like they were going to have an easy win but they blew their 17 point lead. When you have 3 fumbles in the 2nd half and as a team you have 150 yards in penalties .. it is going to be a rough road.

Thankfully, with 90 seconds left, White held onto the ball and ran his way for the game winning TD.

I had a headache (not feeling too good) before the game ... that game added the headache on. Pain pills and 8 hours of sleep; here I come.

Circles: Reducing Poverty In Your Community

Today, one of the members of our church stopped into my office to let me know about an initiative that is coming to our community. It is called Circles. Some basic information:

Circles is a coalition already in place in several towns throughout the country, that aims to bring together members of the faith community, social service agencies and goverment groups with the goal of reducing poverty nationwide.

If you want to take a look at their website, you can find it here.

I am looking forward to this opportunity to meet with community leaders and see if we can make a HUGE IMPACT in our community. I want to give praise to the following organizations for making this meeting a reality:

St. James Episcopal in Wooster
Wooster Area Interfaith Peace
Justice Network
United Way of Wayne County

The meeting is on November 26th. After the meeting, I will give you a lot more information and updates. I believe that I will also include this under my WWJDWTC because this is a piece that will be tied in with me being connected to the community.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Gardner Webb

I have got to be honest. I have never heard of the school. They look like they have a very nice school. Here is their web page.

Info On School

Gardner-Webb University is a coeducational, residential, church-related university on
a beautiful campus just outside Shelby at Boiling Springs, North Carolina. The University derives its name from O. Max Gardner, distinguished governor of North Carolina in the 1930s, and his wife, Fay Webb Gardner. The beauty of the campus and the quality of the academic program owe much to their example and leadership.


I am not putting this on herre because this is where I want my next degree to come from. I put this school on here because they just whipped the University of Kentucky basketball team at Rupp.

Way to go Cats'


*** EDIT: Addition ***

The Wildcats hadn't lost a regular-season game to an opponent in a mid-major conference since falling to Western Kentucky Nov. 15, 2001, in that season's opener.

The tournament had been set up to send four top programs - Memphis, Connecticut, Oklahoma, and Kentucky - to New York next week to play in the semifinals. Last night in Storrs, UConn got past Morgan State, 69-65, behind Jerome Dyson's 20 points. As a result, Gardner-Webb, which finished 9-21 last season, will next play the winner of tonight's game between Buffalo and UConn.

Ooops .. maybe you should have just put those teams in NY :)

Dreaming of Church

Alan over at Assembling of the Church has become one of my favorite places to go and spend 5 minutes as I sip my morning coffee. In a recent post he asked the following question:

What if we met to edify one another ?

I think that it is a great question and a question that we do not put much thought into. As churches, I wish that we would spend more time in that area. Alan through our comments on the post asked if I would go more in-depth about the elements that I would love to see in a gathering. Thus, this post. I absolutely love our church, where we are going and what we are doing THUS this is not a "negative" post about how we are doing church.

I, as Alan, think that we need to be a place where edification occurs. I also believe that we could do this in the midst of our regular gathering (church worship). YES, we would have to make changes but I believe that these changes would help us grow us individuals and as a body of believers and it would encourage us to be more of whom God has created to be and *GASP* we may make a bigger impact on the Kingdom of God.

So, my dream of the gathering .....

A Time of Gathering

Individuals and family would enter into the "space" with music playing. The music would help create a "laid-back" approach and invite members into fellowship. The "space" would be flexible with chairs, couches and tables for people to relax and have the opportunity to have conversations.

Introduction to the Theme for the Day

As the music fades, a leader would get up and announce what the theme of the day will be. In the introduction of the theme, there may be a synopsis of the topic, cultural relevance, a poem or a scripture reading.

Scriptural Reading

I think at times that we do not listen to the voice of God through Scriptures. I think that it is vital that we create an opportunity where the Scripture is read and we have time to meditate / reflect / listen to the words being spoken to us. We may even use the Scripture reading time as a time for Lection Divina.


For myself, these would include baptism and communion. I know that there are individuals who differ over the terminology and some that believe there are more than 2 that should be recognized. For us, though, we would have a time to connect to God through baptism and communion (Eucharist). I think that these are vital for the gathering. I would not call it a "sacrament" but I would also like to have a time for annointing of the sick (some believe this is a sacrament). These elements (or sacraments) are important for community to connect with one another and God.

Sharing Time

One of the things that I would want to see is a time in the gathering for individuals and groups to share about what is going on in their lives and where they have seen the "Kingdom of God" at work in the community life throuhout the week.

- An individual may share about their Meals on Wheels route
- A small group may share about their work on the Habitat House
- An individual may share about their mentoring in the school
- etc .. etc ..

I think that it is vital for us to share where we are seeing god working and the connections and differences that we are making in the community. Remember, this comes from my belief that we are to TRANSFORM the community.

Connecting Points

We will have a time for a message. the message may differ each week (the mode). The thrust of this would be the following: challenge of what we are learning/sharing (weekly theme) to what is happening in the community and how we can be the hands and feet of Christ this week.

Message Board

We would have board in the "space" where all celebrations/prayers of group and individuals are at in their journey and what their dreams / aspirations are. This would be a place for prayer / thanksgiving / encouragement for the work of the Kingdom of God to occur.


Food, Food and more Food. I think by having a meal as a group is essential. I think that it opens up lines of communication. I think that it provides time for questions and answers. the conversations around the meal can include the theme, what spoke to them today and MORE IMPORTANTLY .... members can apply Ephesians 4:29 (build one another up with your words). As we are eating, we can encourage the work individuals are doing / attempting face-face.

Body Prayer

I think that there is something special when we connect to God through our mind, body and spirit. Thus, I would love to incorporate this as part of our worship services. There are quite a few resources out there. I would suggest this book. by Doug Pagitt. These prayers can help us focus.


In closing, we give individuals encouragement / building up / prayer for individuals and groups to have a "successful" week in the community

Thoughts on Edify

To edify means to build up, to strengthen, to encourage. It is to help the members of the church grow spiritually. What are some of the things that edify? God's Word, fellowship, engaging in worship, helping one another, good works, and love.

Scriptural Passages:

Acts 9:31; Romans 14:19; 1 Corinthians 8:1; 14:26; 2 Corinthians 12:19 and Ephesians 4:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

Where The Church Is At

I think that alot of people come to the gathering and sit. they are in the "space" for an hour and then get up and leave. There is no connection, there is no challenge, there is not direct encouragemt and there is no place for them to receive edification.

I think alot of gatherings may need to be "tweaked" to get back to where God desires for us. Maybe, my dream is off the mark ......

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Come & Go

Do we make it too complicated ? In scripture (Matthew) in particular, we see these two words: come / go.

Come to Jesus
Go to the People

It sounds simple, why do we make it so hard ?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Through The Eyes of My MIL

My MIL came and spent 9 days with us. My wife and the kids had a ball with mom and granny hanging around. While here, she took tons of pictures. We dumpped them on my comp and here are a few pics for people to see the family growing up. So, these are pics through the eyes of my MIL.

Here is a pic of Bethany and Granny

Stacey, Isaiah and Jacob carving up the pumpkin:

Does it scare you ???

Stacey prepping Isaiah for Trunk-Or-Treat

Our Pastor at Trunk-Or-Treat

Isaiah & Jacob at T-Or-T

Stacey & Jacob picking on each other ....... endlessly

Our "small" dog with the boys ..

Friday, November 02, 2007

Big Stuf 2008

I received the promo today for Big Stuf '08. I am looking forward to this trip, It is one of the most enjoyable times for me as a youth pastor. Yes, the camp is awesome. The worship is top notched, the speakers really have messages that touch the heart. But, it is spending a week on the beach with students and getting to know them better and hearing their stories. Some of the best times are simply eating dinner at the picnic table over-looking the ocean and listening to the students talk about what God is doing in their lives. Promo Video below:

Christmas Shopping & Helping A Cause

Hey, if you do any on-line shopping, would you like to shop and while you shop (no cost to you) donate money for our students to go on a mission trip ?

If you shop through the link (680 stores) you can do that. Every purchase that you make, the store will give us a small donation. The donations that we receive are going into our mission trip account. There are some great stores that you can shop at.

Also, if you register and shop within 45 days, we will get an additional $ 5.

Hopefully, the plug does not offend too many. But, if you are not already supporting a cause, we would appreciate the support; especially from those who already shop on line. Also, you can get credit for donations (tax deduction - if you want ). Registration takes about 30 seconds.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

WWJDWTC: My Story: Part 4

It has been two weeks since the original post and I have made a few updates. I have enjoyed reading and seeing what others have been involved in and their strides. I am still trying to find my way through this process.

Let me give you some "progress" as I laid it out in my original post.

1. I am still going to be working with Meals on Wheels a few times a month and it looks like my wife and I may tag-team to do a route together. I have not done the route, yet. This past Friday was going to be my first day. However, I was over in Indy. My wife filled in for me in my absence and her serving in that area has prompted us talking about doing a route and covering it.

2. I went up to the clinic last week. I was in the room filing folders. It is not a tough job but a job that needs to be done. I enjoy the act of serving by placing folders into the correct med files and praying over each file as I put it away. NO, I DO NOT LOOK AT OR IN THE FILE. But, it is an act of prayer for me as I place it in the correct spot.

3. I spent sometime up at the Children Service Center this week. My heart really does break for all the kids who are in foster care. I also thank God for individuals who find it one their art to serve by doing foster care. While I was there, I talked and played (watch mostly) with a kid that is in a rough position. His case is backed up in the courts - soooo many cases. One of the cool things that we are going to be doing is "pen-palling" some of the kids in foster care.

4. The art of presence. In some ways, you would think that this would be the easiest one. But at times, it is the roughest. I am trying to be at events where the members of the church are and I am trying to "meet" people when I am out in the public. The one area where I wish I would do better would be outside the school when I am waiting for the boys. I have also taken up helping with Isaiah's basketball team. He is happy that I am the Assistant Coach. But, he makes sure to remind that I am not the "real coach". It was fun tonight cheering the boys on and encouraging them about their pass or shot (3&4 graders). We also as mentioned in the last post, hosted the dinner for 8 and we are hoping to invite and have more people over.

There are a couple of individuals that I need to be in touch with this week, so hopefully I will be able to practice the art of presence then.


Hospitality is a word that has been ringing in my heart and ears for awhile. I have been trying to figure out what is the best way in our present situation to offer hospitality. In numerous avenues, I have been touched by this concept. I want to share with you a paragraph+ that I read this past week. It comes from a booked called "Christianity for the Rest of us: How the Neighborhood Church Is Transforming the Faith"

An essential part of the early Christian teaching and fellowship was hospitality, a practice that awed even the roman opponents of Jesus' first followers.

A few centuries later, as the Roman Empire broke down amid social chaos and violence, Saint Benedict charged monastic communities to "receive guests as Christ" and to embrace the poor, outcast, strangers, and pilgrims. The heart of Benedictine spirituality is hospitality: a Christian community is not a closed community but extends welcome and shelter to all, regardless of class, status or responsibility. Joan Chittister, a contemporary Cathloic writer says, "Hospitality means we take people into the space that is our minds and our hearts and our work and our efforts. Hospitality is the way we come out of ourselves." Or, as two Roman Catholic writers put it, "Guests are crucial to the making of any heart."

(the paragraph can be found on page 84)

Hospitality changes both the host and the guest. I have witnessed through stories a number of people who are doing great things as "host". We, as a family, have not done much.

A few days ago though, we did "host" a dinner for a few people from the church. We are part of Dinner for 8. We enjoyed having individuals in our homes and having a meal. The cool thing about that was that they were individuals we did not know.

I am going to ponder how we, as a family, can be more open and how we can have a place at the table for others.

What are you doing in the area of hospitality ? What are ways we can extend ourselves to those around us in need ? Maybe, it does not even have to be someone in "need". Maybe, for us, it is having a "set night". We will set aside one night of the week, have a meal and invite a family to join us ....

I am not sure


Last words, they come from Nouwen: if there is any concept worth restoring to its original dept and evocative potential, it is the concept of hospitality. He then continues, hospitality is the creation of free space where strangers become friends.

Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.