Friday, February 29, 2008

20 Things I Learned This Past Year

Almost a year ago I decided to slip into ministry detox like Amy Winehouse should slip into reality, with diligence. I had and have strong feelings about church; I am investigating my calling and searching out how I might best serve the Kingdom.

This search involves me going back to school. I received my letter of acceptance from Jeff State today. How cool is that? Almost 40 and starting over. What a kick. I did not choose a Christian college but the public campus where the public discourse invigorates me. I like different opinions. I am still leaving options open to full time ministry but I can't force it, God will have to move.

So, What did I learn?

1. I over estimated my appeal and underestimated my resolve.

2. Economics change fast.

3. The grace of God is real.

4. I really like my family.

5. I like substitute teaching.

6. I am still committed to this and the next generation of teenagers.

7. My faith is better when challenged.

8. The devil is a liar and a big fat goober.( I knew that, but this year confirmed it)

9. My marriage was stronger than I thought.

10. Help did not come from the familiar but from the foreign.

11. God does love me more than the ministry.

12. I am a better and worse writer than I thought (this is the becoming)

13. I had not used up all my ideas and God's creativity blossomed.

14. People will let me disciple them without a title.

15. All those promises of reading my Bible with all my free time was a big lie.

16. You have to keep trying. You only fail when you give up.

17. I learned how special a Boys and Girls Basketball team could be (we were champs)

18. I am still competitive and love to win (see above)

19. Life is both fragile and resilient. Fight and you win.

20. I want to continue to live a life of freedom from oppressive religion and pursue good conversation with friends (thanks Shaylon!), good movies, good music and good books.

"we are in such a hurry as to arrive at who we will be we become blind to the part where we are becoming" This year has been about becoming. I almost missed that. I may be doing it all over again. We'll see.

Please join me and my family in prayer as we make decisions for the future. Thanks.

You don't need 20 things but if you have learned anything about me this past year feel free to send me a few comments.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

7 Blunders of the Church

Recently I posted Ghandi's Seven Blunders of the World. I gave it some thought and believe I have come up with the 7 blunders of the contemporary church:

Programs w/o Relationships
Preaching w/o Passion
Crowds w/o Community
Dogma w/o Discussion
Ritual w/o Reasoning
Hype w/o Holiness
Decisions w/o Discipleship

Feel free to add to the list.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

The 7 Blunders of the World

Hello All,

I stumbled this on my account. Stumble upon is a random web searcher that throws sites your way from a list of interests you check off.

I find it interesting that Ghandi's murder was by one of his own and one of intolerance. Jesus was much the same way. My fav is worship without sacrifice. Have a fav let me know.

"Seven Blunders of the World"

1. Wealth without work

2. Pleasure without conscience

3. Knowledge without character

4. Commerce without morality

5. Science without humanity

6. Worship without sacrifice

7. Politics without principle

—Mahatma Gandhi

* Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar, India. He led India's movement for independence from British rule and is one of the most respected spiritual and political leaders of the 20th century. In 1948 he was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic who opposed his tolerance for all creeds and religions. Gandhi is honoured by his people as the father of the Indian nation and is called 'Mahatma', which means Great Soul.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Passionate Youth Worker Part Tres or 101 Uses For A Dead Youth Group

Here is the second part of the quote on civilization from Clark in the book How The Irish Saved Civilization.

"People sometimes think that civilizations consists in fine sensibilities and good conversation and all that. These can be the agreeable results of civilization but they not what makes up a civilization, and a society can have these amenities and yet be dead and rigid."

Ok, another wow moment. This quote captures what youth groups have devolved into. Youth groups have lot so stuff. They have building, programs, etc and yet these things do not a church make. It is possible to have all the resources and none of the life of Christ. So, what do we do to breath new passion and life into our youth ministries. I have two suggestions.

1. Take stock of programs that do not bring life.

Go through all the things you do with your youth group. What brings life and knowledge in Christ? What lights the fire of your students? What brings groans or great resistance? Give programs a face lift and lobotomy if it does not urge students on in their walk with Christ.

2. Have a youth group funeral.

Maybe the whole thing is dead. Why not have a formal service with eulogy and a grave with a tombstone. Each member could offer a few words like when the group was created, past achievements and surviving members. After the service gather again in three days for a resurrection service with new ideas and goals.

In the vein of the eighties book "101 Uses For A Dead Cat" drop me a line for "101 Uses For A Dead Youth Group"

Let the fun begin.


Friday, February 08, 2008

The Passionate Youth Worker Part Deaux

I'm currently reading a book called "How The Irish Saved Civilization". In this book there is a great quote that Thomas Cahill spreads like a banquet before us and I believe applies to youth ministry. I will address the first part of the quote in this blog:

"What is really lost when a civilization wearies and grows small is confidence, a confidence built on the order and balance that leisure makes possible. Again (Dr. Kenneth) Clark "Civilisation requires a modicum (small amount) of material prosperity- enough to provide a little leisure. But, far more, it requires confidence - confidence in the society in which one lives,belief in it's philosophy, belief in it's laws, and confidence in one's own mental powers....Vigour, energy, vitality: All the great civilisations, or civilising epochs- have had a weight of energy behind them."

Wow, ok, you may have to read that a few times, I did. I will take the first part fo this quote and dissect it in this blog and save the second paragraph for my next blog.

We pastor small civilizations. Students are a collection of tribes which gather for weekly "war council". They are a society which gathers to talk, listen and engage one another. Most youth ministies do not require big buildings, video games, pool tables, etc. They are nice but they do not make the tribes who they are. You could empty your rooms and put nothing but a ball in there and you students would create their own fun and would be better than anything we could dream up. Why? These students need very little in materials but need much on relationships. It is not the ball that bring the energy but the interaction with one another.

This energy comes from the need to agree. Agree on rules, standards, etc. To have the maximum amount of fun there must be agreement. Also in our tribe are triabl leaders and they include our Pastor, Board, Staff, Youth Leaders and Parents. For our group of tribes to function as the chruch there must be:

First and foremost a commitment and confidence in Christ the person and savior.If a group does not have confidence in their own salvation much time will be spent in pursuading them that they are saved and they must live for Christ.

The second confidence is in it's philosophy. In other words, how our youth ministry get's done. This is where there must be agreement on what programs are offered and how those programs are carried out.

The third confidence is in it's laws. What is your groups mission or purpsoe statement? Do you provide ways for students to fulfill this purpose or mission. I beleive thsi also goes to how fairness and judgement is carried out within your group. Does the trouble maker always get to go on the retreat? Do you always use the same people and play favorites?

The fourth and final confidence is in their own mental powers. The tribes will function better when they understand that anyone in the group can make it and attain a level of respect. The only way for students to gain this confidence in themsleves is for them to attempt the daring and fail greatly all the while having adults below with a safety net and an affirmation that they will do it next time.

In order for us to have passionate youth ministries we must create a society of confident students. Many leave the chruch because they have lost confidence in the above principles that made these societies work.If your youth group balloon is losing air(confidence) and altitude(success); take stock to see which hole of confidence you need to plug.


Friday, February 01, 2008

The Passionate Youth Worker Part Uno

Have you ever stood in front of your apathetic, passionless students and wondered, "What is wrong with these people?" If I had a dollar for everyone one of those thoughts, let's just say I would be writing this from a beach somewhere sipping virgin daiquiris. Passionless students could be the result of a passionless youth worker. Now, that does not mean that the youth worker does not love God or their students. Let me offer a few ideas to raise the passion level of your group.

Enthusiasm and passion play a large part in motivation.

When you are plugging your next event are you excited about it even if it''s a lock in? it's hard to be excited about everything so pick an event of the month to put all your energy and enthusiasm behind. If we are passionate about too many events our students passion will be divided.

Did the students plan it? Or is this just another great idea from the youth worker?

The more students plan and have input into to the more excited they will be. You can always refer to the last leadership or planning meeting you had to remind those students of the time and effort they put in. Better still allow your more excited students to get up and announce the event for a few weeks.

Be passionate about the tough stuff.

This would be a no brainer except for the fact that some events may be mandated by your church or pastor. Students will know when you are excited and when you are not. Gain courage and throw yourself into that mandatory event and then figure how to put a twist into it, how to make it uniquely your own. This way you can still pull off the event and be proud to promote it to your students.

Be positive in the face of fear.

Fear can often steal our passion. We maybe afraid that no one will come or no one will like the event when they get there. You have to be the most positive person about it. Your even may have challenges and maybe even some clunkyness but even that can be turned around to make the event memorable but you have to stay positive. Your positive attitude will be infectious and others will catch on and spread that attitude around. Suddenly, you got the best event going.