Monday, December 31, 2007

Fasting for Spiritual Break Through

With the start of 2008 I fill compelled to use the spiritual discipline of fasting more frequently in my faith journey. To start this endeavor I dusted of the book Fasting for Spiritual Break Through, that has sat on my bookshelf for years, and read the first chapter. Using Isaiah 58:6-8, author Elmer L. Towns, finds nine different reasons why God’s people should. The text reads (numbers added are mine)…

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen to (1) loose the chains of injustice and (2) untie the cords of the yoke, (3) to set the oppressed free and (4) break every yoke? Is it not to (5) share your food with the hungry v and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then (6) your light will break forth like the dawn, and(7) your healing will quickly appear; then (8) your righteousness will go before you, and (9) the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. "

Towns goes on in the next nine chapters to describe nine types of fasting. It is my goal to read one chapter a week and participate in the described fast.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Check it Out

I just read a great blog about alcohol by Andrew Jones called We Baptists Do Not Drink ( . . . in front of each other). The best line was, "Now that makes me wonder - Why is everything literal in hell but figurative in heaven? Can someone tell me that?"

The Principal of Progress

Progressive…I hear that word a lot in ministry talk. I like’s definition, “favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are.” I would consider myself a “progressive” guy, thought I doubt if anyone in ministry would say they were not. A possible leadership principle may have emerged last week when the guys from Church Development Fund came to town. As I have blogged before, they recommended us replacing the pews in our sanctuary with removable chairs. They said we could likely fit more people into chairs than pew. But they also added, “If it does nothing else, it will communicate a more progressive atmosphere.” Also, “If you ever move to a second service it may be easier for people toe accept the change.”

This logic got me thinking. Should a ministry team utilize every opportunity to make progress? Something is telling me the answer is no. Progress isn’t cheap. Progress may step on the toes of stewardship. Progress could exacerbate creative energies. The pursuit of progress in-and-of-itself is not a biblical value.

But the harsh reality is that we live in shallow world. People are not ready to make needed changes without years of being prepped for progress. People will spend hundreds of dollars to feel like they are making progress. A lack of progress will turn away creative people. The pursuit of progressing the Gospel’s Mission is very much biblical. Therefore, I am not willing to let go of the possibility of the Progress Principal.

I am forming a mental list of ways my church/youth ministry has passed up opportunities of progress (which will never be posted on the net). I am also looking limitations to this principle, ie. when not to progress. Outside input would be appreciated.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Church Development Fund, Inc

Tom Warner and Chris Davenport from the Church Development Fund, Inc. came to Francesville to give our church leaders advice on ways to use our facilities better. It was a very encouraging meeting. One of the suggestions they made was to replace the pews in the sanctuary with chairs before the possible move to a second service. This ideas was so simple, I’m truly embarrassed for not thinking of this idea before. They pretty much said that modifying the current structure would not be advised. That’s not to say we wouldn’t but that was simply their suggestion.


I just watched a six part video teaching on youtube by Mr. Roger Oakland who has just come out with a book to “expose” the Emergent Church. What does he think about emergent leaders? How doe the words false teacher, secularist, humanist, universalist, liberal, anti-christ, and non-bible-believers sound? What I found shocking was his inability to say one positive aspect about this movement. Not one! How can a group of Christians (as misguided as they might be), that draw some inspiration from scripture, who follow some example of Christ make no positive contribution to the Kingdom/Church what-so-ever? It was if the Emergent Church was equal to Satanic worship.

What I learned from Oakland, as with many anti-emergent critics, is their emphatic assumption that the Holy Scriptures are not authoritative. It’s as if they believe the Scriptures have been forgotten and have no place in this “new” Christian expression.

I left this comment on the last video, “Thank you for posting these teachings. They were very insightful. After watching all six parts I am reminded of the words of a wise man, "Leave these men alone!...For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God (Acts 5:38, 39). May the Peace of Christ be with Mr. Oakland, GNNHemet, and to all who watch these videos.” I wonder what response it will receive.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Golden Compass

Rae and I watched the movie The Golden Compass in the theater last night. The preview alone caught my interest. It looked like a fantasy, “good vs. evil’ type of movie that is typically right up my ally. As the movie’s opening drew closer, Christian media began to criticize it before it was released. The Catholic League, not officially associated with the Catholic Church, condemned it in fear that the movie would hook kids into read the books of Philip Pullman (a self-proclaimed atheist). This controversy provided enough motivation for this youth minister to buy a ticket and form my own conclusion.

After watching the movie, I can honestly say that I would have never connected atheism to this movie unless someone had told me in advance. But since we have all been forewarned, I can see why some people will have problems with the movie. It talks about finding another Truth, questioning authority, and repressive ideologies. I am sure that most will find these themes to be an attack on Faith. But I saw it much differently. As a Christian who is aware of the “emerging” culture that we live in, I found God’s finger prints all over this film. Truth, questioning authority, and understanding repressive ideologies are some of the basic values of emerging Christianity. These issues are at the heart of finding new/forgotten aspects of God and new focal points for the Christian faith. Therefore, I suggest people look for God while watching this movie, instead for attacks on God. As for the kids...the PG13 rating says it all, keep the little ones at home. As far as the 13 and over crowd, it opens a great conversation about faith, God, truth, authority, and ideals. As for the books at could be purcased for kids, it wold be wise for parents to read before letting their kids do so. I have no doubt Pullman is an athesist. Athesim, dispite what they say, is a form of faith for which people of faith can still find God in their teaching.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Good Bye Sweet Friend

In an unforeseen and unfortunate turn of events, a travesty has just occurred. I may never be the same. While “caping” up my guitar with my Kyser capo,” the tension grew too great as her spring-loaded bar snapped thus ending her glorious life. She was better known as the “Freedom Capo.” Purchased in a crappy music store in Crawfordsville, IN over six years ago, she was not my first choice to purchase. Had her brother (the traditional black) been available I would have purchased him but fait prevented that from happening. The Universe brought her red, white, and blue color scheme into my life. We danced. We sang. We worshipped. We grew togther as musicians. Our time together was magical. We lead hundreds, maybe even thousands of songs before God and His people. There will never be another one like you. God bless your metallic soul. May you reign in the music accessories section of heaven forever and ever.


The good people at the Mars Hill Bible Church put together an online resource to lead people through the season of Advent. Advent is an ancient spiritual practice that leads people to the celebration of Christmas. Yet for some reason, my Christian tradition has neglected this practice. I have given little attention to Advent which makes this resource very helpful to make this Christmas season more focused on the faith instead of the frantic nature of what we call Christmas. Check it out.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Courier Artical (Nov. 26, 2007)

With Thanksgiving behind us the Wednesday Night youth program will resume to it’s normal schedule. We have just three remaining youth meetings before Christmas break begins. It’s hard to believe that 2007 is nearly over.
Just to let you know, I am on the calendar to preach on December 16. Jim Ketchen will be very busy that week with his son’s wedding. Jim asked if I would preach in his place. I agreed to do so. I’m never postive what my sermons will be about but I think my teaching will be on humility. The Christmas story is the most humble of stories ever told. God removed himself from heaven to be born in a barn for the welfare of all mankind. There is nothing more humble than that. Yet the holiday we celebrate is anything but humble. Immodest shopping budgets, a blitz of Christmas functions to attend, and a load of unneeded stress all lead to the possibility that a “humble” Christmas might be impossible. With Christmas gifts already purchased and most Christmas events already scheduled, it maybe too late to have a “humble” Christmas this year. Therefore, teaching will have the Christmas of 2008 in mind. I hope you can be there. Please keep me in your prayers. And if you have anything to add to the subject of humility and Christmas, please share. I would love to share your perspective.

Things to Keep in Mind for Hunting '08

The shotgun season for deer hunting has come and gone. Because I still have a doe tag to fill out I went out a few times since my buck but came up empty. I can still fill it out during the muzzle loading season but I have yet to fire my gun. I’m not sure if I should or will hunt deer any more this year.

Here are a few things I should keep in mind for next year:
• It might be better to hunt for does on another property instead of the Delph’s. That woods is next to a field that is always plowed before the hunting season. Look for new spot next to a food source.
• Buy a blind to hunt in. The hunt in KY made me a little fearful of tree stands. I’m still comfortable with ladder stands. A blind would offer more flexibility to hunt different places plus others could hunt with me.
• Do some tree trimming. Both the stands I hunted out of needed to have a few small trees and limbs removed to improve visibility.
• Do some target shooting in the summer/early fall. I need to find the range of my guns.

By the way, I made deer sausage for the first time. How redneck is that. Hummm…deer sausage.

Monday, November 26, 2007

"Why Not Me?"

Lori Miller is a woman in our community who has struggled with mulitpule rounds of cancer since the time I have been here in Francesville. Lori recently published “Why Not Me?: A Story of God’s Goodness Through One Woman’s Struggle with Cancer.” Cancer has made little impacted on my life. No one in my family has been affected by it. Therefore, it is difficult for me to understand the toll cancer can have a person and there family. Lori’s book helped this youth minister understand this struggle better. I am a better minister for reading her book.

A Rewarding Day

On the day known as “Black Friday” the important women of my life went out shopping. I however, went hunting. After four missed shots about to other deer, my fifth shot finally connected on a seven point buck. He is nothing to boast about other hunters. In fact, some would question me for shooting a deer with such a small rack. But I don’t hunt for trophies…I hunt for the enjoyment for the small successes. Also, I am pleased to say that I processed this deer myself, which is a first. I shot him at 8:00am and he was in my freezer at 1:30 am that night. It made a long day but it was very rewarding.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Courier Article

Another round of the Indiana Christian Youth Convention has come and gone and I am proud that the student ministry of the First Christ Church participated in this event. A total of fifteen from the church, eleven students and four adults, went to Anderson, IN to join another thousand students for a weekend of worship, teaching, and being connected with each other. Attendees from this convention came from all corners of our state. (I think I even saw some church vans from Kentucky & Ohio.) The convention talent came from all over the country: Texas, Missouri, and California. This event was well organized and a worthy investment of time and resources to have our students involved.

I am sure that the congregation of FCC would like to know that one of it’s own, Charlie Ketchen, played a key role in this year convention. Charlie warmed the crowded up for each main session by providing a comedic element to the program. Despite his very alarming/disturbing cut off blue jean shorts and the “I’m a redneck from Francesville” reference (sarcasm should have been implied while reading the previous statement and if you didn’t, visit to see the pictures…you’ll understand then), FCC should be proud of its young “Timothy”. He did a great job.

As always, I am very grateful for the support of the FCC to make is event avable to our students First and foremost, I am thankful to the adults that sacrificed their weekend to be with us: Rae Boehning, Tina Davis, and Jake Schlatter. I couldn’t have asked for a better group. Likewise, I am thankful to all the contributors of the church’s youth fund. Your finical contribution helped pay for some of our sponsor’s expenses, lodging, and a round of pizza for us to enjoy as we relaxed at the hotel for a few hours before we went to another session. Your contributions are an important part of our youth ministry to which I am very grateful. Have a great Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Swing and a Miss

The most embarrassing thing a hunter can say is, “I missed.” Well, not only did I miss once but three times. The evening hunt was uneventful until I heard a doe calling in the woods. Three deer eventual came onto the field to cross. It’s hard to judge the distance: any were from 80 to 125 yards…maybe. They were a long ways away for an open sighted shotgun. I tried three times, I though I connected with the second, but I missed. Every time I took aimed, I lost the target in my view. They simply disappear from my sight. Now I know why guys put scopes on their shotguns. Chalk it up as a learning experience. Buy your own gun with a scope on it.

Two Passes

No shots were fired this morning but I had an enjoyable hunt. Deer where running around me. A herd of six does walked past me. I passed on taking a shot. A small four point buck was making a rub. He was close but he was in the brush thus making him next to impossible to see. I had a head shot but I passed as well. Im in for lunch then I’ll head back into the woods. Good times.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Your Story

Twice I’ve listened the online teaching from Don Miller spoken at the Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids. Miller’s message was about story. (Check it out the Mars Hill message on Nov.11) Here’s the just: if you life were movie would people watch it? People do not watch movies were the main character is self-seeking, selfish, shallow, and uninspiring. They identify with a person of selflessness and person of depth. God has given us a pen filled with blood so that we can write out a story that honors Him. This makes me think, what story I am telling? How about you?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Bad Baptism?

The opening chapter of A Search of What Makes Sense: Finding Faith gave me much to think about as a youth minister. McLaren, as do many others, contends that everyone has faith including an atheist. You either have good faith, bad faith, or a “leap of faith.” His description of bad faith connected with my belief that baptizing students to soon is unbiblical and unhealthy. According to McLaren, bad faith… (The additional comments are mine as it relates to youth ministry.)

…is based on pressure and coercion
. In our desire to see young people embrace faith, it is possible that some are pressured into the baptistery by their parents, grandparents, and spiritual mentors? I am confident that this is unintentional but I belief it is a legitimate factor.

…is the result of social or psychological need for belonging. Most the students I have baptized are in their early stages of adolescences; whose craving to belonging to anything may surpass the desire to follow Christ. Have you noticed that amount of attention a kid gets after a baptism? People wait in line to shake their hand or give a hug. Some parents even through parties. Maybe they say yes to being baptized because of the attention they will receive.

…appeals to self-interest and base motives. The fear of hell is often a leading contributor for a student to “make a decision for Christ.” Baptism is often taught as a theological loop hole to avoid hell. Bottom line…”I want to be baptized so I don’t go to hell.” That’s not a commitment to Jesus Christ. apathetic. Is there a better word that describes the faith of so many Christians? Apathetic is defined as: having or showing little or no emotion and not interested or concerned; indifferent or unresponsive. Sadly to say, this describes most of my baptized students. The biblical example of baptism assumes a change has take place a person’s life. Though I believe that it can have that same effect today, most people do not become passionate intentional followers of Christ until later on in life, well past baptism.

…is a step backward. “Better safe than sorry” is the term I have often heard (and makes me sick to my stomach as to what that actually means.) Could a premature baptism do harm? Is there such a thing as a bad baptism for a teenager? That’s a question I would bet few Christian Church leaders have never asked! I can think of three disadvantages off the top of my head: a false assurance of salvation (to all parties involved), a nonexistent praxis of faith, and unrealistic expectations of a “Christian” kid that who is not really a follower of Jesus.

These are compelling thoughts that I believe more youth ministers should talk about. I hope someone who reads this will leave a comment and tell me what they agree with but more importantly…what they don’t agree. These thoughts could have major implication on what we do as youth ministers.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Courier Article

An opportunity presented itself for me to me to join my Father and youngest brother on a hunting trip in the commonwealth of Kentucky. Having a handful of vacation days left, I took a day off this Sunday to spend time with family and enjoy the outdoors. The weather was beautiful and the visit with family was memorable. For those outdoor persons interested in my hunt; I didn’t even see a deer let alone get one. I hope to have better luck here in Indiana.

The holiday season is upon us and I am looking forward to it. But the youth minister within me, however, has a twitch of sadness. This is the season when our youth ministry tends to slow down. We meet less often in the later part of the Fall but I guess that overcompensates for the busy early Fall schedule.

As I look back on the past three months I am very pleased what has taken place. Youth leaders are energetic and willing to take on responsibilities. Students have shown a renewed spirit of participation in youth events. Numerous activities such as parties, 5th Quarters, the Fall Festival, and Fun Nights have been very successful.

So as we enter into this Thanksgiving season, I am very grateful to God for what has taken place in the start of this school year. I am thankful for a group of great students and committed volunteers. I am thankful to be apart of a church that provides space and resources to minister to young people. I am thankful.

I hope you enjoy this Thanksgiving season. We have much to be thankful for.

A "Think Green" Funny

I am all about the stewardship of God’s creation but this “green” thing can be pretty funny. Last Friday morning I was watching the Today show on NBC when they ran a heart warming story of the acquisition of the Rockefeller Christmas tree in New York City. This is the tree that has thousands of ornamental lights strapped on it and will likely be turned into mulch a few months from now. As the piece came to an end, Matt Lauer said (be careful or you will miss it), “This tree was cut down by hand to save electricity.” That’s funny.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Vote for Zac Hunter

Here is a blog post by Marko that I simply copied. Hunter is behind by just 400 votes. Marko wrote...

we at youth specialties just found out that zach hunter has been nominated as a cnn hero in the youth category. the winner is determined merely by vote (which, since zach doesn’t have a big organization behind him like some of the other nominees, is unfortunate). but we’d love to get the votes going!

winning would allow zach to appear on a prime time special with anderson cooper, to talk about modern day slavery, and how he (zach) feels god is calling his generation to bring freedom. there’s a cash price also; and zach has already said he would donate it for aftercare and education of rescued child slaves.

help us get the word out — to your churches and youth group and friends.

vote here (btw, the info is wrong: it says zach has raised $20,000 to end slavery. that’s how much zach has personally given, from speaking fees and book royalties. he has raised well over 10x that amount.)

you can vote as many times as you like until monday at noon.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A sample from a blog I found. (}

Google Reader

A youth minister friend, Charlie Ketchen, sent an email stating that he had become an official blogger. He encouraged us to read other blogs and to use a free program called Google Reader to be more efficient in our readerings. I took his advice, found the program to be handy, read from 20 bloggers, and am now wondering why I haven’t done this sooner.

Smoky Moutain '07 Day 4

Day 5 is still in the works.

Smoky Moutain '07 Day 3

Smoky Moutain '07 Day 2

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Preaching Re-Imagined

The last preaching book I read was A. Stanley’s Communicating for a Change. That book made me question much of what I was taught about modern preaching. Then I read Doug Pagitt’s Preaching Re-Imagined and that book caused me to question the entire practice of preaching as we know it. Pagitt commonly referrers to preaching to “speaching.” Here is a brief description of speaching: a well educated and often paid Christian (typically know as “the preacher”) jams himself in a office to study, pray, and write without the impute of other from within community of faith but stand before the community to deliver a speech that declares the oracles of God to the people for their spiritual development. Though some see no problems with this type of preaching some, like Pagitt see major problems.

Problem One: Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man. Preaching, as we know it, views the preacher as the mediator.

Problem Two: Let’s face it…much of the church is ignorant of the Scriptures. In fact they know more about what the preacher said than what the scriptures teach. Modern preaching says, “I’m the official preacher therefore I can properly administer the Word of God and you have limited knowledge therefore should have limited impute. Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.” Most Christians have no desire to learn the Scriptures because their preacher will tell them what to know.

Problem Three: Perceptive and application is limited to the preacher. The idea that one person, no matter who sensitive to the community, can provide an exhaustive list of perceptive and ways a text can implicate the entire community is ridiculous.

I could go on and on about the short comings of preaching as we know it.

I would be crazy to recommend this book to anyone that defends the traditional church as we know it. It attacks the very heart of it’s existence…to preach the Word of God. But like Pagitt, I do not believe that the church’s primary reason of existence is to preach God’s Word. Therefore, this belief gives me freedom and breathing room ask “What’s the purpose of preaching!?!?”

I recommend this book to all youth workers that feel they have to deliver a well polished presentation in order for students to learn. I recommend this book to every post-modern thinker that sees major holes in the traditional and contemporary church. I recommend this book to every young preacher whose open minded enough to reconsider their beliefs and convictions on preaching as they know it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Be the Change

The focus of our Jr/Sr. High youth groups has thus far been on helping the poor and oppressed. I really want students to know that they can make a big difference in this world to help others. With this in mind, I read the book Be the Change, a book written by a student for other students to read. The author is Zach Hunter, a 15 year old student and a modern day abolitionist (one who frees slaves). To be honest, I speed read this book. I think the best part of this book could have been the summary questions asked at the end of each chapter. I’m really hoping students will take the time to read this book and answer the chapter questions.

Faith or Observance of the Law/Traditions

Could the Law of the Old Testament be compared to traditions of today’s church? This thought came to me as I read the letter to the Galatians. It is an interesting comparison.
• Paul asked, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit by observing the law or by believing what you heard? (Gal. 3:2)” I would ask a similar question, “Do you receive the Holy Spirit by observing Christian traditions?”
• Paul said, “After beginning with the Spirit are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” (Gal. 3:3) As we work toward the goal I see so many decisions being made to continue the traditions of the past and thus neglecting the fresh wind of the Spirit for the future.
• Paul said that all who rely on the law are under a curse (Gal 3:10). I would say that those who are trapped in traditional Christianity are also cursed; not necessarily to hell but to a very legalistic version of faith.
• As the law is not opposed to God’s promises (Gal. 3:21) therefore neither do our traditions.
• Paul noted that the law held us prisoners until faith was revealed therefore the law helped lead us to Christ (Gal. 3:23 &24). “Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the Law. (Gal. 3:25)” If the comparison can be made, traditions can hold us prisoners until we come to faith. Traditions can help lead us to Christ.

Perhaps I am bending this scripture too much but not so much that I am breaking it. The Law has its purpose but it also has its limitations. Like wise, traditions have their purpose but they have their limitation as well. We are not a people of just the Law or just of traditions. We are people of faith in Jesus Christ. The law is still apart of us as well as our traditions but must not let these determine who we are on what we do.

Bottom line, I think Paul was trying to make faith if Christ supreme in these verses. Like wise, I believe today’s Church needs to make faith in Christ supreme over the it’s traditions. The tradition are not wrong but they can be limiting.

Monday, August 06, 2007

My Faith

I’m surprised how many students voluntary read on their own. I stopped and talked with a few kids in the neighborhood and they told me they often go to the library to read a few books. That’s awesome. As a youth minister I encourage kids to grow (in faith) on their own. With is why I am trying to introduce Christian books for students to read. Early in the year I read The Naked Truth and suggested it to a student. I was surprised when she returned the book to me just three weeks later and said it was really helpful. I knew then should try to read more books for students to read on their own. I just finished the next student book, My Faith co-written by Kurt Johnston & Mark Oestreicher. I’m hoping the student’s will have a connection with Mark O because he spoke at last year’s CIY Believe conference. The book is a basic guide of Christianity written for the middle school student. It’s a great book for a kid that’s just been baptized. I found their seven chapters of God’s big story to be a very creative way to tell the full story of God in a short amount of time. The seven chapters are: creation, crisis, calling, conversation, Christ, community, commencement. The book is a good read for middle school students and maybe even for youth workers that would like to expand their vernacular when teaching to student.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

7 Practices of Effective Ministry

When I purchased 7 Practices Of Effective Ministry I already knew the just of the book. Over a year ago I downloaded a series of pod-casts called Practically Speaking, which is an audible summary of this book. (I believe this pod-cast is no longer available.) I bought this book so I can pass it along to other church leaders. I would interested to hear what a business person would think about this book. The practices are very simply yet very profound. This practices are:
• Clarify the Win
• Think Steps, Not Programs
• Narrow the Focus
• Teach Less for More
• Listen to Outsiders
• Replace Yourself &
• Work On It
I’ll likely write about each of these practices in the future.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sex God

I’ve been in and out of four books for the last month. Don’t ask me why. I guess I’m a A.D.D. reader. But I finally finished Sex God by Rob Bell. Though it took me a while to get through it, my delay had nothing to do with the quality of the book. This was a great book and a must read for Biblical teachers to youth, youth adults, and marriage counselors.

The book talks more about sexuality rather that sex which is a limited part of sexuality. I’ve already blogged an idea or two from one chapters but the over-all book is about seeing God in our sexuality. Some ideas that come to mind
• “This is actually That”…Sex is often about something else.
• Marriage is a picture of God’s relationship to us and…
• Like the young boy that risks the rejection from a young girl, God runs the risks of us rejecting him.

Like most of Bell’s writing, I am inspired to learn more about the Jewish hermeneutic of scripture instead of the Christian. I contacted “Doc” Reece, a former college professor of mine with a book recommendation for the Song of Songs. He recommended a book that will likely stretch me and the NIV’s translation. I look forward to see what it has to say.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Submission, Love, & Young Girls

Today I read the 6th Chapter of Sex God entitled Worth Dying For. It was on submission, a topic that is only talked about in the church. Common themes that I have heard many times before began to emerge with a splash of new insight. For example, a husband and wife should have a mutual submission toward each other as Ephesians 5 teachers. The quote that made me stop to think was…

“So the husband is commanded to lay down his life for his wife, and the wife is commanded to submit to her husband, but they’re both commanded to submit to each other because everyone is commanded to submit to everyone else, and all of this is out of “reverence for Christ.”

Submission and marriage are often subjects that people get uptight about. It shouldn’t be. Christians should submit to others (Ephesians 4:21), not just their spouse. I know why people get uptight about the subject. It’s a power issue. Submission is giving up power. We live in an upside down Kingdom where giving up power is a part of citizenship. You could argue but you’ll only damage yourself.

But the section that causes the most spiritual commotion tapped into my paternal nature…young girls and their perceived scenes of lack of worth. This always touches a nerve within me. So few girls know how valuable they are and so few guys have anything clue how to love them with an ounce of Christ’s love. Some quotes that come to mind…

“Do you realize you are worth dying for? You don’t need to give yourself away to someone who won’t give himself to you.”

“Sex becomes a search. A search of something they’re missing. A quest for the unconditional embrace. And so they go from relationship to relationship, looking for what they already have.”

“You don’t need a man by your side to validate you as a woman. You already are loved and valued. You’re good enough exactly as you are….You have limitless worth and value.”

As a youth minister I know few girls will actually embrace my words when I teach. Worth is not taught. Worth has to be shown. In an age where verbal complements and innocent touches can easily be interpreted with sexual overtones…it’s difficult to show girls how much they are loved.

When you think about all the girls that live in my safe little community, how many actually know they are of great value and worth? 5% maybe? I mean, maybe 5% will actually hold out for the right guy and present themselves with dignity and honor?

Call me young and idealistic but I think the church of Jesus Christ shouldn’t be having it’s butt kick in the area of honoring and respecting young woman. On the other hand, the perverted nature of my male driven urges knows exactly why we are losing the battle. Maybe this is why so few men will actually say anything to the woman they love the most. We are hypocrites.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Deep Ministry In A Shallow World

Despite my belief that the Purpose Driven model of minister is a strong and healthy model, I have spent four years at this ministry and have seen limited amounts of fruit. The cause of this is numerous, largely due to my leadership inabilities and partly due to the congregation’s (thus the student’s) ability to relate all five purposes to their individual lives. (I still get the impression that most believe that discipleship is the same as being baptized, that evangelism is the responsibility of the paid guys, and fellowship is a nice but unnecessary part of growth). I guess a Purpose Driven Youth Ministry can only work when “big” church is truly driven by purpose.

After reading Deep Ministry In A Shallow World, I have come to the conclusion that my application of Purpose Driven has casused me be more agenda driven instead of relational focused. When I would challenge the y.m. to a deeper understanding of discipleship or worship, I was basically telling everyone that they weren’t good enough and we should do better. To say it another way, “The purposes are more important than you.” That’s a bad message to send.

Instead of being agenda drive, Deep Ministry In A Shallow World asks the question “What is God up to?” We answer this question knowing that God is in the business of transforming people. God wants his children to change from their sinful nature to his nature. Youth ministry should be an environment of spiritual transformation for students. To say another way, God wants students to go deeper.

With this basic understanding of God, we can take four basic steps to take students deeper. (See Chapter 2)

Step 1 – Now? Goal: To discern (understand) God’s current transformation by asking:
o What type of transformation is God bringing about now?
o What is creating space for God’s transformation now?
o What is hindering God’s transformation now?

Step 2 – New? Goal: To reflect upon new insights and ideas by asking:
o What does Scripture say?
o What does history say?
o What does research say?
o What does experience say?

Step 3 – Who? Goal: To observe others who are already going deeper by asking:
o What are some ways others are applying these new insights to their ministries?
o In what ways are their situations similar to our?
o In what ways are they different?

Step 4 – How? Goal: To apply information from Steps 1-3 by asking:
o Given everything how can we go deeper?

Going through these four steps seems to be a much better way to go deeper instead of asking how to improve the purposes.

Overall, the book is a good read. It has a lot of research on adolescent culture and practical ways to apply to this to the leader’s ministry context. I would love for my volunteers to read this book.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Communcating for a Change

I’ve been Andy Stanley fan since I heard him speak at the ‘99 Youth Specialties convention. I seem to grow in appreciation for him every year.

I just finished his book Communicating For a Change. Stanley basically questions what most homiletic professors teach and what most modern preachers preach…the three points, informational based sermon. It’s not that these sermons are altogether useless. But Stanley simply states that there is a better way to communicate God’s Word.

Here is something that I learned…the Relational Outline.

The out line I was taught was an outline for information. Ideas are organized to help the teacher to impart information. Stanly developes his teaching with the belief that multiple ideas (or points) make communication less effective. Teaching one points makes it easier for the listener to understand and apply. Therefore, Stanley takes his one ideas and develops it in a relational outline. It basically looks like Me – We – God – You – We.

Me - To help find a common ground with the audience, I introduces myself and the one idea as it pertains to a struggle in my own life. (Orientation of the tension)

We – The struggle in my life is not limited to me but is shared by us all. The one idea pertains to us all. (Identification of the tension)

God – God has an answer to our dilemma and this is what the Bible has to say about it. (Illumination of the tension)

You – Because the Bible has an answers, here is how you can do something about it. (Application of the tension)

We – What would happen if we allowed this one idea to change our life? (Inspiration from the tension)

Great book for church communicators.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Beatboxing Flute Inspector Gadget

Who knew a flute could be so cool.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Naked Truth

A few weeks ago I attended the National Youth Worker’s Conference put on by Group publishing. (It was a worth while event.) One of the speakers was Lakita Garth, a national speaker on the subject on sexual abstinence. She had brand new book that was “fresh off the press” and I could buy a copy for just $10. Sex is a subject that very few in the church will go into depth to make a meaningful connection. So I purchased this book to help my teaching.

The book is called The Naked Truth About Sex, Love, and Relationships. The basis of the book is that we (culture) has accepted a-many-of-things as “a lie in truth’s clothing.” Many “lies” are exposed in a new and fresh light. For example, Garth believes that peer pressure does not exist; that it serves as an excuse when students lack character. I think she is right. Garth attacked the difficult subject of co-habitation; a subject that the church typically has nothing intelligent to share. Pre-material sex is the biggest part of the book. It’s a good read for Christian teachers and even for students.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Hotel, Hotel

I spent a few days in Indy at the National Youth Worker's Convention put on my Group. They showed some funny clips and this one was the funniest by far. Youth minister's will get the greatest kick out of this.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Through Painted Deserts

I started to read Through Painted Deserts last October on my vacation to east TN. I read just three chapters while I was away and never continued until ten days ago. It’s basically a record of a long road trip from Houston, TX to Oregon in a worn down VW bus. After all of the mechanical problems, people meet, and side treks they realize they have been on a spiritual pilgrimage as God has guided them every moment of the journey.

The quote that I remember the most likely had very little to do with the over all scheme of the book. It came early in the book, which means I read it four months ago, but it struck of never of truth. It read…

When you build a city near no mountains and no oceans, you get materialism and traditional religion. People have too much time and lack inspiration.

Hum…I think he is on to something.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Why Backpacking?

While shopping at Dick’s Sporting Good Store an idea crossed my mind. If I lived anywhere the Smokey Mountains I make it a spiritual discipline to spend one night a month in the backcountry. Now it’s safe to say that the Smokey’s could be substituted with any outdoor wilderness area (that’s a little bigger than what Indiana has to offer). What is it about the backcountry that drawls me into its surrounding?

I’ve been reading Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller. Midway through the book he finds himself at the Grand Canyon taking in the majestic surroundings. As he looks at this section of creation he thinks, “Life is a dance toward God.” He thinks about all the junk he left back in the real world, as he manages life with just a few necessities, he comes to a comforting conclusion: “There is nothing I am missing. I have everything I was supposed to have to experience the magnitude of this story, to dance with God.”

This struck a nerve. My back packing is spiritual. It’s one of the few opportunities to “dance toward God” without interruption. Everything I need to enjoy this dance is strapped on my back in a 30 to 40 pound pack with no ability to clutter up my life with more junk. I can spin 360* and never be removed from this magnificent pace of life. Life is simple and therefore God becomes much more visible.

I wish I were closer to that magnificent canvas. Or maybe I need to learn to appreacted the canvas I currently posses.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What Matters Most

Doug Fields wrote What Matters Most to encourage youth ministers to find balance in life and ministry. Saying no to the things that do not matter is far better than saying yes to the things that are secondary. I bought this book mainly because I relate with Field’s approach to the job. But in all honesty, it wasn’t really a book that I needed to read. My training at college prepared me well to keep a balanced life. Then I heard Andy Stanly teach at a Y.S. conference that every minister has to choose who they cheat; their church or their family. I’ve learned to be intestinal about personal time, to keep family first, and that the church can survive without me. Thou this book was not the most approate for me, it will help teach the importance of balance to my church. There are a lot of people saying yes to the wrong things. Balance is difficult to find. I’m thankful for a job that allows me to find it.

I Want to Talk With My Teen About Addictions

I Want to Talk With My Teen About Addictions is a resource geared more for parents rather than a youth worker. Much of the material was extremely basic info about the signs and trends of adolescent addictions. Some of the static I question and the phrase “We need to safe our kids!” came up more that once. I shy away from such statments because I’m a firm believer that we need to be less focused showing kids the things to avoid and more about showing them the virtues of faith that need to be embraced. I would recommend this book to a youth worker but only as a resource book when counseling students or parents.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Creating Community: 5 Keys to Building A Small Group Culture

I picked up the book Creating Community : 5 Keys to Building a Small Group Culture with the intent to glen some advice to improve the culture of our youth ministry. I believe that community is at an all time low and youth meetings are becoming more of responsibility than an opportunity.

The book is a detailed description of the small group ministry of the North Point Community Church. Though I am not the small group director or even a leader, I identified with many of the values of this ministry…
• The need to be strategic with clear expectations and goals.
• Putting an 18 to 24 month cap on the time the group can exists thus, makeing it easier for new participates to join once a new group has been formed.
• Closing the group to new members so that the group can focus on spiritual growth rather than numeric growth.

This was not a youth ministry book but I did glen one major idea about how I lead the youth groups on Wednesday Night. When describing the goals of a ministry they believe that their “open door program” should “change people’s mind about church.” Their small group ministry should “change people’s minds about their priorities.” Without knowing it, this is the exact opposite of the way I’ve been teaching the youth.

The way I’ve been leading it was; come to youth groups so I can change your life’s priorities then we can change your mind about church. How foolish of me. Only God can change priorities; not a teacher. I need to focus more on changing kids minds about God and church rather than their life’s priorities. This will be very hard for me to change but I must.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A New Kind of Youth Ministry

A New Kind of Youth Ministry, by Chris Folmsbee, is a quick read. Putting the content of this book into practice will be anything but quick. If you are new to the “postmodern conversation” then many of these ideas will be new. I’ve been in this conversation for over six years and I can honestly say that many of ANKYM’s ideas have already crossed my mind once before. This book, however, collects these ideas and presents them in a clear presentation that leads it’s readers to one over arching conclusion…youth ministry can and should be done differently.