Thursday, March 26, 2009

Guitar Hero Ministry Mentality

This post from Steve Furtick is so good that I've shared it with all my youth leaders, and even mentioned it in my sermon on Wednesday night. Here's an excerpt:

If my generation isn’t careful, we may fall into a Guitar Hero mentality toward ministry:
Everybody wants to be a rock star, but no one wants to learn the chords.

The rest is just as good, click over here to read it.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Save the Executives

This video touched me in a very profound way. Watch it, and then I'll offer my commentary.

What's really great is this was put together back in October, well before the current round of AIG bonuses. Thanks to Ray Hansen and Pastor Rich Smith for sharing this with me!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Explanation or Obedience

Here is a great post from Perry Noble, Pastor of New Spring Church. He does a great job asking (and answering) the question, "Does God owe us an explanation when He asks us to do something?" Too many times people get stuck on why God wants us to do something (witness, go to college, find a job, start a new ministry) instead of merely obeying Him and trusting Him with the results. The results are up to God, our job is to obey! Here is an excerpt of what he said:

One of the problems I have constantly faced as follower of Jesus Christ is the mistake that believing that God owes me some sort of explanation every time He commands me to do something…

…which has caused me, many times, to expect God to explain Himself rather than me simply trusting Him enough to do exactly what He says.


BUT…I believe ONE of the reasons He doesn’t waste time with explanation is because it would lead to negotiation on our part…we would hear His plan and try to “improve” upon it because; after all, we are smarter than Him, right?


By the way…when we want an explanation and try to enter into negotiation…the result is always frustration.

We get in trouble when we expect God to do things our way. When He doesn't, then we balk at Him rather than trusting Him to know what's best for us.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Get out of Purgatory Free (Almost)

I got this story from Randy Cassingham over at This is True. If you're a fan of weird but true news, click over there and get a FREE newsletter subscription from his site. Anyways, I wanted to post this article because I watched the movie Luther on Saturday, and here's what I posted to my Twitter account (btw, if you're on Twitter, follow me here):

PAGING MARTIN LUTHER: The Roman Catholic Church is bringing back Plenary
Indulgences -- a sort-of Get Out of Hell Free card from a priest. "Why
are we bringing it back?" offered Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of
Brooklyn, N.Y., who supports indulgences. "Because there is sin in the
world." Indulgences were dropped by the church in the 1960s after the
Second Vatican Council. Church doctrine notes that even after a priest
offers absolution after confession, sinners still face punishment after
death. Indulgences supposedly cancel the punishment in purgatory. They
cannot be purchased -- the church outlawed that in 1567 -- but a
contribution greases the wheels. A parishioner must confess to get one,
and there is a limit of one per sinner per day. "It was always there,"
Bishop DiMarzio says. "We just want people to return to the ideas they
used to know." (New York Times) ...So parochial school nuns can get out
their rulers again.

If only AG churches would follow the same model... So here's a question, how much would you pay to get yourself or someone you love out of Purgatory? Obviously I don't believe in Purgatory (show me where it is in the Bible, then you'll get me interested), but if I believed for a second that I could shorten my stay there, I'd empty every dime out of my bank account to make sure that it happened. Anything less would indicate that I didn't really believe what I said I did.

So to flip that around, what are some things we believe in that we don't sell out for ?


Monday, March 16, 2009

I Love Youth Leaders

Last night I had a unique experience. A lot youth pastors will laugh when I say this, but there are several out there who are going to nod knowingly, and a few who will be jealous. I say unique because it's something I've rarely had happen to me. So enough stalling, here it is: Our small groups happened and succeeded without Tiffanney or I there. Our leaders are really stepping up, and they've taken small groups to a level that Tiffanney and I could not have gotten them to on our own. It feels like our group is multiplying! I'm loving it!


Friday, March 13, 2009

New Reality Logo?

Probably not, but we'll need to find a way to use this. I think it's pretty cool.

I guess you could say I'm having a hard time concentrating today,


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dilbert has an addiction.

And the only solution is more smartphone!!! I laughed when I saw this, 'cause Tiff makes fun of me all the time for my crackberry addiction. Although I will say that I still prefer my wife over my phone... Love you babe!


100 posts

This is it! Post #100!!! At times it seemed like I'd never make it, and for sure there have been times when I've quit blogging altogether, only to pick it back up when the time was right. If you are new to reading this blog, I'm going to take a few paragraphs to highlight some of the ways this blog has changed in the last 100 items.

It's funny going back and rereading some of my old posts. I've been blogging for two years now, and a lot has changed in my life since then. My first post was right after a lock in, and includes the prophetic statement "I think Myspace is outliving it's usefulness anyway." That's right, I called it two years ago! Back then I was concerned about the ads that were so prevalent (and still are), now I'm concerned (not really) that no one uses it.

I posted three times in the first 8 days, then took a three month break because it was getting to be too much (really I was just lazy and didn't think I had anything interesting to say (I still don't)). I hit my blogging stride though shortly after that as I posted 10 items during our missions trip. I haven't done that since, but I really need to because it was a great way to decompress and to let parents know what was happening in the ministry.

The blog took on a new direction for a little while as I tried to apply the Bible to current events, which was a noble goal but I didn't have the time to search out new information. In December 2007 our house was flooded, so there are several posts relating to that.

During that same time period our senior pastor left, and I was the interim pastor at our church. This was the one time when I could seriously say I was too busy to blog, it was all I could do to keep my head above water.

Sometime in 2008 I decided that my writing needed to be focused more towards youth pastors, as one of the things God has called me to do is to help resource the next gen of youth pastors out there. So I started a few different series, and each time they ended up being too much work to keep up with. Tools I use in ministry and What Should I do after I get Saved flowed from this line of thinking, and each one took months to complete.

In June we stepped down in Oakville, and for a while this blog became a way for me to get my name out there. When we moved to Lake Stevens, the blog became more a way for me to connect with our Youth Leadership, and to start a discussion about Youth Ministry.

So that's where we've come from, as far as where we're heading, maybe the next 100 will make that clear.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

3 Tools for Reading the Bible Online

Recently I've had a couple students ask me about getting their hands on a Bible reading plan. This is obviously very exciting because it means they're interested in getting into the word for themselves! You know God is moving when students actually want to study!

I thought it would be good to post a few different resources so you guys can get a little variety. Here's what I use:

1) if you've ever wanted to read the Bible thru in a year, this is the place for you. What I did was selected the plan I liked (chronological, New Living Translation) set the start date for the closest date, and then I bookmarked the page that came up. I also printed a copy to stick in my Bible. Then when I sat down at my computer in the am, I'd click the bookmark and click the date and voila! All my daily reading is right there on the screen. I have loved it for the last year or so. Next time I'll do a plan where you read both the OT and NT at the same time (the reading got a little lean at times in the OT, and now I'm reading whole books of the NT in one day.)

2) I downloaded their blackberry app and it's the best free Bible reading program that I've found for my phone. As cool as that is though, their webpage takes Bible reading to a whole new level by making it community oriented. Users can post comments, audio or video about certain scriptures. It's nice to be able to read what others are thinking. It's a great concept and it's easy to get lost for a long time reading the Bible and what others have to say about it.

3) Reality Student Ministries Online Devotions. We're trying out something new in our ministry, online devotions. It's like God's word for today, but written by me and our youth staff. We've had fun with it in the first week, and I'm excited to see where it goes from here.

So those are a few ideas. What plan do you use?


Monday, March 9, 2009

NYMC Announcements

I thought these videos were funny. Anyone of my students want to volunteer to be the guinea pig during announcements?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

How to Confront in Love

I hope this works, I'm blogging from the berry today! These are notes I took from one of our interactive sessions by Dan Hunter:

How to correct someone:
1) Get God's wisdom
- Hebrew 12:10-11
- If we get God's wisdom, it will always lead back to His grace.

2) Select the right moment.
- Praise in public and correct in private. - The right moment is not when you're angry. If you're angry, walk away. Get someone else to talk with them first if you need to.
- The wrong moment can make the right correction wrong.
- The goal isn't to be right, it's growth.

3) Be genuinely concerned.
A) listen to them, let them talk
B) watch their reactions
C) help them grow

4) Let them teach themselves
A) ask general questions
B) ask specific questions
C) ask forseeing questions
D) ask loving questions

5) Address the issue directly
- If we beat around the bush, they may leave the meeting without a clear picture of what they did wrong and how to fix the problem.
- don't talk in code, and don't avoid the main question because you're afraid to say the words

6) Go to the root of the problem

7) Challenge them throughout the meeting
- Let them know the mistake they made will not haunt them the rest of their lives.


Friday, March 6, 2009

What would I change in our ministry

Today at Summit our DYD(?), Jeffrey Portmann, challenged us with the question: "If you could change one thing in your youth ministry over the next year, what would it be?" I've been mulling that question over in my head all day long, and I haven't been able to come up with a great answer. Tonight I even posed it to two of our youth leaders who made the trip with us, and couldn't get a great answer from them either. Part of that is because we've only been at the church for seven months now, so there are a lot of things we're slowly changing, but the biggest reason is that things are going so amazingly well right now, it's hard to find anything that's really that wrong. And that's a great place to be.

I case you're curious, here are the things we talked about:
1) More small group involvement by our students.

2) Visitation. This is a pretty big one, and the closest we got to a great answer. We need a plan to follow up with our visitors.

3) Connecting more with students on Wednesday nights.

Well, it's off to bed for me, good night.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Brainstorming: What to do with our Adult Leaders

How many leaders are too many? God has been blessing us with leaders, in fact I think I could have 5 more if I asked specific people in our church to do things, yet I'm not sure how to keep the leaders I have busy. This Sunday we're having a leadership meeting, and I've been brainstorming tasks to keep them all involved. I LOVE OUR LEADERS, AND I COVET HAVING THEM AROUND. I hope none of them ever feel like they're unimportant to the ministry, because I know that it's crucial to have them around.

I don't want to give them busy work, because I know that they're far too talented and busy with their lives to be doing menial tasks that I could easily accomplish during the week (or give to our equally amazing student leaders). These tasks are above and beyond their main job of loving students and pouring into their lives. So I'm looking for tasks that are essential to keeping the youth ministry running smoothly, and here's what I've come up with so far:

1) Security. Every few weeks we need one of them to be in charge of walking the building and getting stragglers back into service. Also we need them to be watching the students who leave the sanctuary, and we need them to watch the sound booth to ensure there are only two students at a time up there.

2) Prayer time. It would be nice to have one of them in position at 6:30 to get the prayer time started and running smoothly. Tiffanney and I usually get caught talking, so it would be nice to not have that worry.

3) Visitation Ministry. I need someone whose organized and would want to either come in for an hour on Thursdays or work from home but who would put together the youth database for me.

4) Online Presence. I need someone who will start and facilitate discussions online, make the youth group myspace look cool, and other things like that.

5) Setup/Teardown. This is already happening, but I want to mention it because I value it so much. Every week we put up these moving walls in the sanctuary to make the space feel more intimate, and these things are a pain. It involves taking them out of the closet they're stored in, handing them to someone on the main floor by passing them over the edge of the balcony, and then getting them in their correct spots. And then we reverse the process at the end.

6) JR High event planning. As we grow bigger, I'd like to see us do some events that are targeted more at different age groups. It would be really cool to have someone step up and start doing Jr High only events, as well as HS only.

7) Small Group Leaders. Is there a dumber name to call small groups than small groups? Yet that's what we're doing right now 'cause I'm too lazy to switch them over to Cadres or something cool like that. Anyway, we will need leaders as the groups get bigger. John is doing a great job with the Sunday School class, and I'd include that under small groups (not saying we need a leader, I'm brainstorming all of the jobs that are needed in the youth ministry).

Those are just a few ideas. If you're one of my leaders and you're reading this, leave a comment telling me what you'd like to do, or suggesting something else I haven't already thought of. Also, come ready on Sunday to talk about where you'd like to get involved.

Am I missing anything? Leave me a comment and let me know.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wednesday again!!!

It's finally Wednesday again! This is definitely the best and hardest day of my week. So much work goes into making everything perfect for a service, but then to see how God moves makes it all worthwhile!

God has been doing some amazing things in our ministry this last month and a half. I really feel like we're being positioned to do something incredible. God has really birthed in our students a passion for prayer, and we're seeing them shedding weight in their lives so they can move faster and climb higher in God. And God is honoring their dedication to Him. They have really started to learn what it means to wait in the presence of God, and how God blesses when we cry out to Him.

We're in a season of blessing right now and it feels like everything we touch turns to gold. It shows in the way God is answering prayers so quickly. Last Monday we found out our renter was moving out (last time it took us several months to get a new renter) and we have someone moving in already! It just blows my mind that God is moving so quickly. So what am I asking God for right now? You'll have to wait and see. Actually, I gotta go pray, see you tonight!


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sermon Prep: Getting Started

Sometimes I just need to start writing. If I do that then the ideas start to flow. If I don't I'll sit there and stare at a blank screen forever before getting into it. If you're like me, you're always searching for the perfect way to start a message. Something that conveys the essence of the talk, plus grabs people's attention and is usually humorous. But before I get there, there's just a blank canvas sitting before me. Here's a look at how most of my sermons start:


Or some other form of greeting. I do this because the hardest part of writing is getting that first sentence done, and that's usually how I start my sermons anyway. So, my advice for anyone suffering from writers block is just to start writing. Even if it's dumb, you can go back and erase it anyway. What did people do before Word Processors?


I've seen it all.

Or at least now I have. This video made me laugh, cause it's so true!


My Blog Challenge

A friend of mine (I use that in the social networking sense, I haven't seen him since High School, but from reading his blog I'm sure we could be close) Nic Casey, posted a blog the other day that challenged me in my blogging, and I'm going to try it. He said he was trying to post once a day for a month, and for some reason that really got to me. Blogging for me is an exercise in creativity and a chance to get some of my thoughts down in a public journal. Yet for the last few months I've become pretty set on making this a blog about youth ministry (which it always will be) and I've lost sight of the idea that this blog is about me.

Because of this emphasis on youth ministry, I tried to get my posts together into series (like a preacher would), and I tried to make them applicable to one set of people (youth pastors). What's funny about that is as hard as I try, I never put together sermon series (again, not for lack of effort). Consequently, I never posted. Rather than this blog being the overflow of what God was doing in me and in the ministry, it became a chore.

God has been doing some spectacular things this last month and a half, but it didn't fit into a series so I didn't blog it (except for Bryant's testimony). That's going to change. Who knows, I may even post a survey about myself up here for all to read, if that's what I feel like doing for the day. So all that to say, look out blogosphere, I'M BACK!!!