Youth Ministry On a Tight Budget

Thursday, August 21, 2008

So the financial committee chair person comes to you and says: "Good news! We've reworked your have $100 to spend for the year for each of your programs. If you could spend less that'd be great!"

Ouch. Double ouch if you're working with several different programs!

You have a couple of options:

  1. Start writing your own curriculum, which takes a lot more time or
  2. Find quality curriculum/teaching material at a discounted price.

When working with church funds, you obviously want to be the best steward that you can with the money that people have given for the work of God's Kingdom. But that doesn't mean you have to skimp on quality to get the most bang for your buck!

Let me give a couple of ideas on how to save money on buying quality teaching material.

First, check out sites like and Just a couple weeks ago I was looking for some material for our Jr. High class and someone recommended to me the Dares From Jesus series by Mark Oestricher. If you go online and buy this material, it's $15. But I bought it from a used book dealer through Amazon for $1.50. No, I'm not missing a zero. One dollar and fifty cents!

When I received it in the mail I was astonished that such a great tool was available at such a low price and in perfect condition!

Secondly, check out discount Christian bookstores. Here you can find books that are either out of print or from the previous year. I bought Nelson's Annual Youth Ministry Sourcebook which is a great resource for youth ministry talks for less than $5. I also picked up this great book for about $2. Incidently, that book is available through amazon for 44 cents.

So having a small budget is not a huge deal when it comes to buying teaching resources. You have to shop around a little bit, but you could easily fill your library with tons of teaching materials for under $100.

Monday Weigh-In #2

Monday, August 18, 2008

As of 5:05am this morning I weighed in at 196 pounds - I met my 2 pound goal for the week!

Surprisingly! I was not as careful with my food as I should of been last week. Saturday I ate over 2600 calories (Cheeseburger in Paradise is my personal weakness!) Not at all what I had hoped for but still managed to pull off the loss.

As I think about it, I'm not sure I'll make the goal to 175. Not because of lack of willpower, but because of weight gain from muscle. I started weight lifting, and when you put on muscle, you gain weight (the good kind). This is why you often see on the Biggest Loser some people either lose very little or actually gain a little weight.

But the good news is that muscle burns up to 15 times more calories than fat alone. So that's great news!

Monday Weigh-In

Monday, August 11, 2008

Today is CRAZY busy so I'll make this short.

The past 3 months I've taken a short hiatus for my weight loss. Between summer camps, CIY and crazy schedules, it was nearly impossible to lose and keep a schedule of exercise.

So today I officially start again and plan on coming on here each Monday morning to give an update on my weigh in. This helps keep me accountable.

The Goal: 175 Pounds
Target Ideal Weight Loss a week: 2 pounds
Today's weigh in: 198 pounds
Estimated Date of Goal: November 3rd (12 weeks)

I appreciate your prayers and encouragement through this journey. It's been difficult and no way I could accomplish these goals without your support. Thank you so much!

Weekly Cuteness

Sunday, August 03, 2008

To Be Hungry...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The purpose of this post isn't to show that I'm a "Super Christian" because I'm not in any way. Nor am I trying to show off what I do. I just want to be able to share the way God has been blessing me through one on one times with him. With that being said...

This morning I had an amazing quiet time. I think I've finally found the groove that connects me to God in my quiet time. Someone once said "If you're bored during your quiet time, God probably is too." That made sense to me, and I decided there had to be some changes in our quiet time together.

There was a time when I was against having a quiet time with God, and I know some of you will gasp and wonder what I'm talking about but let me explain. I had a professor in Bible college that related our relationship with God to hunger. When we get hungry, we eat. When we hunger for God, we should eat. To me, that made sense. And then I learned about how each person connects to God in a different way. Some connect through singing. Some through prayer. Nature. Fasting. Silence. Solitude. Giving. I started to put things together that you don't necessarily have to have a quiet time every day where you read your Bible, but maybe taking one of those elements and doing it when you felt "hungry".

The problem is, our stomachs are naturally designed to tell us when we're hungry. We haven't really trained ourselves to listen to when our souls are hungry. I found that I was actually starving my soul AND I wasn't giving it a normal diet of different foods.

Scripture HAS to be part of our connecting with God otherwise we're having one way conversations. We do all the talking and we refuse to allow God to talk to us. Scripture is the way God connects to us on a one on one basis and shows us what we need to do and what we need our attitude to be. Thankfully, I figured this out a couple of years ago and it's been my life line to God in ministry. Now I'm going to just give a model of how I connect to God, feel free to end your reading now if you don't really care so much, I understand ;)

Here is how I connect:

  1. First thing I do when I get into my office is open my Bible and either a) read where I feel God guiding me to read. b) Continuing on with a book. I read through the Gospels last year and now I'm reading through some Psalms.
  2. I sometimes have a book that I'm reading and I'll read a chapter. Currently I'm reading this book and it's been amazing!
  3. I have a journal that I keep regular entries in. I have a hard time praying out loud/in my head. My mind goes every where. So when I am able to sit down and write out my prayers, not only do I have a record that I can go back to and see how God answered my prayer, but I can focus on what I'm praying about. Gives me a little more concentration.
  4. Sometimes I'll go up to our local forestry and take a lunch, a book, my bible and my journal and hike up to the tallest point in the county. I just have a quiet time and read and pray and it's just a wonderful time to spend with God. I call it a day of refreshment.
Spending personal time with God is essential in any believers daily life. He refreshes us. He corrects us. He encourages us. He disciplines us. He loves us through his words. Take time to be in his word.

Willow Creek Repents?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

For those that know me well enough, know that I really cannot stand Willow Creek. I've never liked their methods, their shallow practices, and the fact that they charge outrageous prices for their materials.

Anyways, I came across this article this morning about how they decided their programs were just wrong. A direct quote from Bill Hybels:

"We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own."

It's an article from last year, but still worth the read. Read the rest here.

The Weight Loss Continues...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I started the weight loss attempt on February 4th and as of today, July 16th, I've lost 43 pounds. Here is my before and after picture:
It's really hard to believe I was so heavy. I really didn't notice it. You always notice you're a "couple of pounds" over but that's about it. I had no idea I had crept up to 240 pounds.

Today, I'm under what I weighed my Senior year of High School. My ultimate goal is 180, which is (according to most height/weight measurements) still "overweight" but I'm not really going to care at that point. But we'll see.

I have lots of people ask me "How have you done it?" So I've compiled a list of some of the steps I've taken to lose 40+ pounds. A word of caution, I am in no way an expert. I learn more and more everyday even 6 months after I've started this. This is just what I would call "practical advice":

  1. I counted calories. At first, this idea scared me because I was like "Oh my goodness, how am I going to look at all of these containers and keep track of it all?" It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I found a website to help keep track of what I ate and the calories and nutrition content of each item.
  2. I ate 1600 calories a day and rarely no more than that. You can find calculators online which tell you approximately how many calories your body naturally uses. I used 2600 calories a day naturally, so i was left with burning 1000 calories a day from food alone...but then I added..
  3. Exercise! I didn't exercise at first, I gradually got myself into the groove of the diet then exercise. But someone at the church gave us a $100 gift card for Wal-Mart (anonymously) and I used that money to buy a stationary bicycle. I started with 20 minutes in front of the TV and gradually bumped it up to 30 minutes. It was hard at first, it burned! Now I use the harder difficulty settings to get a better workout.
  4. Remember that 3500 calories equals 1 pound. And that goes for both gaining and losing. So if you cut a 1000 calories a day, you'll lose about 2.5 pounds a week. If you can put in 30 minutes of exercise a day thats another half pound.
  5. Don't beat yourself up over the occasional miss. So you ended up going 500 calories over for a's not the end of the world and it certainly isn't the end of the diet. You'll have those days.
  6. I stopped drinking calories. For example: Coca-Cola in a 20oz bottle has over 200 calories. A large sweet tea has 300 calories! Holy Crap! Thats almost a whole meal in calories! Water of course is best, but if you just can't stand water go to diet soda or have tea with splenda. Fruit juice is pretty bad for you too as it's loaded with sugar!
  7. I started paying attention to serving sizes. Believe it or not, butter is not all that horrible. The problem is that people put 3 to 4 times the amount of butter on something that they should. This is especially true of salad dressing. I remember one time when someone was on a "diet" and got a salad with 5 or 6 servings of ranch (most ranch is 150 calories per serving). She had a lot more fat in her salad than I did in my burger! If you want the butter or the dressing, portion it out first and stick to that portion.
  8. Realize that maintaining weight is A LOT better than gaining. That means that when you get on that scale and you weigh the same today as you did a week ago...that is still a success! Our weight fluctuates so much in a given day. Some people retain a lot of water at times, you have to figure in the weight of the food you're still digesting, etc...lots of factors to consider. I only weighed myself on Monday mornings because that was the same time every week that I could count on.
  9. I ate what I wanted to. Just a lot less of it. It's not uncommon for Carrie to want a pizza in the middle of the week. So instead of eating 3 or 4 slices like I used to, I would just eat 2. Or if I wanted to "splurge" I would eat less in the day so I could have that extra slice. You can still eat what you want, you just have to fit it in to your daily calorie goals. Tomorrow night we're going to Cheeseburger in Paradise and I'm going to get a half pound burger with a side of fries. So tomorrow morning I'll have some yogurt with fruit (150 calories), lunch will be a chicken salad (150 calories), and dinner can be 1300 calories. It's probably not the healthiest way to do it, but it curbs cravings. Lately I've been eating less calorie snacks and having soft serve ice cream after dinner.
  10. A typical day of food for me:
  • Breakfast: 2 cups of oatmeal cooked in skim milk. Coffee with 3 teaspoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of non-dairy creamer (400 calories)
  • Morning snack: Apple (80 calories)
  • Lunch: Turkey Sandwich on whole wheat with lettuce, tomato, nonfat cheese (300 calories)
  • Afternoon snack: Animal crackers (120 calories)
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken breast, potato, steamed broccoli with butter, whole wheat bread. (420 calories)
  • Evening snack: Fruit smoothie, bowl of cereal, Ice cream, or whatever I can with the calories I have left figure about 150 calories.
  • Total Day Calories: 1470. Which gives you enough to play with some condiments such as butter or sour cream for a potato or maybe a bag of chips with lunch.
As you can see I eat a ton of food in the day, which was surprising for me. I always though diets were there to make you feel hungry all day. There are many times when I find it hard to actually use all my calories in a single day, I'm just too full!

I'm not going to say it's been easy. There have been days where I just wanted to go to McDonalds and have my regular Big Mac Meal with large fries and a coke (1400 calories). It was REALLY hard when we had 5 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies! I stuck to 2 cookies a day...which was really hard. But I was finally determined to do something about it.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask!


You know that one thing that you have that you don't want anyone else to see? It's that one weakness...or flaw that you shamefully hide because you absolutely don't want anyone to see or acknowledge it.

I have one.

It scares the potatoes out of me when I think about someone calling it out on me.

And it happened yesterday.

Not just by one person, but by a collective group of people.

It hurt.

Now before you get all upset, this wasn't by anyone at our church or anything like that. But when someone calls your flaw out to you, it's a frightening experience. You're laid open. Completely bare and naked. The wound already open and salt being rubbed into it. It's not a fun experience. Over and over again I run the words through my mind like a broken record and each time the sting is still there.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I'm not perfect. As I frequented mutter to myself "I've yet to master the ability to be superhuman." I still get things wrong and will continue to get things wrong.

There is comfort, however, in the words of Jesus and Paul:

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." - 1st Corinthians 12:9,10

And in the words of the wise Hannah Montana: "Nobody's perfect, I gotta work it again and again till I get it right."

Oh the Joys of Summer Youth Ministry

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Lately I had been feeling guilty for taking my afternoons off from the office. In college it was pounded into my head that a minister should work an average of 55 hours a week so " one can complain that you don't work!" I thought that was fair advice and that's what I've done. My wife has continually told me that I "work WAY too much", but have since learned from people much wiser than I that a fair amount is from 45 to 50 hours a week.

So I've felt REALLY guilty about taking off in the afternoons to go home and relax. So I sat down this morning to figure out my official Summer hours between camp, CIY, VBS, etc...and came up that since June 1st, I've worked an average of 52.33 hours a week.

So today at noon I'm going to go home and feel guilty no longer!

I'm curious about the hourly averages of other youth workers. If anyone has any insight into that, I'd surely like to know! While talking with my former youth pastor, he asked me why I put in extra office hours since there were other programs that took up time. I found out that he does what I now do, work from 8am till noon and take the afternoon off to be with his family.

According to Group Magazine:

"The average hours worked per week reported by youth pastors crept up slightly, from 45 to 48. That means your ministry keeps you on the clock much longer than your neighbors. The average workweek across the country is 42 hours. You're basically among the three in 10 American workers who put in at least 49 hours on the job every week. But if you subtract the number of hours spent eating pizza and drinking diet Coke..."

Each church is different. I know there are area churches that require their staff to be in the office till 5pm (ouch!) Some churches require very little official office hours but require much more home visitation and hospital visitation.

So if you are a youth worker (or just happen to have a love OF youth workers...or just like to make comments...I'll take all I can get!) and are able to participate in this discussion, your voice is welcome and appreciated!

Why yes, I'll pray for your Gas!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I'm still not sure what I think about this.

My initial reaction is: "Aren't there other areas that could better use your time in prayer?"

Top 10 Worst Selling Youth Ministry Books

by Scott Firestone (Group Magazine)

10. Time Shares and Texas Hold 'Em: Creative Fundraising Ideas
9. No Halos for Halo: Why Jesus Hates Video Games and Video Gamers
8. The Gaithers: Rockers for Jesus or the Devil's Marionettes
7. The Care Bears: Leading Teens Down the Dark Road of the Occult
6. SUPERGOOD Life Lessons From SUPERBAD - Includes CD with Video Clips!
5. Budget and Salaries: Youth Ministry on $1 a Day!
4. Defensive Driving Tips for Your 15-Passenger Metal Box of Death On Wheels
3. 101 Flannelgraph Bible Lessons for Teenagers
2. Chubby Bunny: How an Addiction to Marshmellows Ruined My Ministry
1. Junior High Bible Studies: Song of Solomon


Friday, June 20, 2008

Just when you think you've had an awesome week...

...something causes it to come crashing down...

My Personality Type: INFP (It's me word for word)

Friday, June 13, 2008

From the Myers/Briggs Type Indicator (My comments in blue)

INFPs focus deeply on their values, and they devote their lives to pursuing the ideal. They often draw people together around a common purpose and work to find a place for each person within the group. They are creative, and they seek new ideas and possibilities. They quietly push for what is important to them, and they rarely give up. While they have a gentleness about them and a delightful sense of humor, they may be somewhat difficult to get to know and may be overlooked by others. They are at their best making their world more in line with their internal vision of perfection.


INFPs decide early on what is important for them, what is of value. They tend to rely on themselves for direction and are reticent to ask others for help. They would rather do things themselves, to make sure they are done properly. INFPs have found this to be both a strength and a curse. Depending only on themselves and being careful not to show mistakes to others is important. As teens, INFPs may have a bit of a rebellious streak. They may argue with those who hold different values than they do (My class in World Religions comes to well as starting arguments with any Baptist I could find!). They are also likely to have a small, close set of friends with whom they share good times. In the comfort of those close relationships, they can relax and are often quite entertaining, since they see the world in a different and special way. Their sense of humour is readily apparent. However, unless an INFP finds an appreciation for his or her uniqueness and personal values, he or she may feel like an odd person out.

When they set their minds on things, INFPs are not likely to give up easily, yet because of their outward gentleness, they do not show their determination. They may not take a direct path, but somehow they reach their dreams.

As young adults, INFPs may have some difficulty finding the ideal career and the ideal mate, in part because of that very word 'ideal'. They have a vision in mind of what they want, yet reality may not follow suit. They may make several starts and stops in their career until they find a comfortable place for themselves.

INFPs have a need for perfection in connection with their personal values. They become frustrated with those who dwell on trivialities. (ie. Board meetings where 45 minutes is spent deciding on whether or not to include a stamp on a postcard mailing)

INFPs need a purpose beyond the paycheck. They become burned out easily if their job does not fit their value system; they may not feel good enough about what they have achieved and, as a result, may undervalue themselves and their contributions. (Bolded because this is so true)

In retirement, INFPs need to look back and feel that they have led a worthwhile life that has made a difference. They want time for a variety of activities, including travel. They may also be very attached to their family and enjoy special visits with them. (I'll try to remember that)


At work, INFPs contribute their creativity, their value system, and their ability to work with others. They are able to see the larger picture and how specific programs fit in. They do not dwell on the trivialities or the details. Their job must be fun, although not racous, and it must be meaningful to them. (Perhaps this is why I'm a youth minister?) They need a strong purpose in their work. They want to be recognized and valued, without undue attention given to them. (ie. Minister Appreciation Day: I'm so embarrassed!) They may become embarrassed when make the center of attention. (See!) As a result, they may undersell their strengths in order to avoid being singled out and made to feel conspicuous. They would rather have their worth be noticed gradually over time.

INFPs like to work with cooperative people committed to the same values that they are. They can become bothered when they see others working at cross purposes, especially when conflict is overt. They do not like competition or bureaucracy. (Church politics) They need privacy. Calm and quiet appeal to them, as does time and space for reflection. People usually like working with INFPs even though they may not know them well.

INFPs are quite disorganized. (It's an organized mess!) But when tasks at hand are important and best done in an organized way, INFPs strive to do so. Practicality is not a driving force for INFPs. Things that traditionally belong together may not be placed together because the INFP does not see it as necessary. They have trouble finishing what they start because of their perfectionistic nature. When they do finish a project, they may not consider it done 'for good.' Projects can always be improved upon, revised, and reworked, and therefore INFPs find it hard to bring tasks to closure. Because they are able to visualize the finished product long before it is done, the actual completion is of less importance. (I've been working on camp for 5 months now and I still don't think I'm 'done' even though we leave on Sunday.)

INFPs prefer occupations in which they can be involved in making the world better. Having their heart in their work is important to them. These occupations also allow for an element of creativity and flexibility. INFPs are particularly interested to be counselor, editor, education consultant, English teacher, fine arts teacher, journalist, psychologist, religious educator, social scientist, social worker, teacher, writer, and other occupations that engage their values. (Every one of those appeals to me believe it or not)


The INFP leadership style is subtle, gentle, indirect, and inclusive of others. INFPs do not confront people head-on, but rather work with them and through them to get the job done. Their style is not an aggressive one but is highly persistent; only reluctantly do INFPs assume leadership roles. (So true)

They lead with their values in mind, and these guide them. They prefer not to take a hands-on approach with others but to allow them to achieve in independent ways. They are facilitative rather than directive. (Delegation!) They encourage others by appreciation and praise. Critiquing others does not come easily to them.

INFPs seldom confront situations directly, in part because they do not like conflict. Whenever possible, they would rather wait for a situation to work itself out, since they trust that people will work things through. They do not like following all the rules and regulations, but they are not overtly rebellious. They seek to get things done in their own style. (Yeah that gets me in trouble some times)


Leisure activities are very important to INFPs, but at times it is difficult for them to separate work from play. When a new leisure pursuit is found, INFPs typically do a great deal of research. They may read many books and make several phone calls to dig for information. (Wikipedia has been a great source of learning new things. When I started getting into Star Trek I would spend a great deal of time just reading about the Star Trek I"m reading about Jeeps!)

Many of the INFPs' leisure activities are done alone --- reading, listening to music, and gardening are some activities likely to appeal to them. Reflection time and the opportunity to make sure things are right are important. INFPs often enjoy leisure pursuits with loved ones as well. When they want to be sociable, they can be exceedingly charming and outgoing. Their flexibility, gentleness, and sense of humour can make them quite popular in social situations.


For the INFP, love is a very deep commitment, and one that is not easily attained. They have ideals, and therefore reality may be carefully scrutinized.

With their ideal firmly envisioned, the first date with that special person is carefully planned and prepared for, and often every aesthetic thing is taken care of. The flowers are in place, the right wine is ordered, and the proper meal is prepared.

INFPs may have difficulty sharing their feelings about others. They keep so many of those feelings inside that they may forget to tell their partner how much they love and appreciate them. (Yeah we've had a couple of 'discussions' about that) They also need reminders of their partner's love.

When things go wrong in a relationship, the INFP takes it to heart but does not readily discuss it with others. They may not be willing to communicate to let others know how they are feeling. When scorned, they are very hurt and may overreact in an almost maudlin way.

Everytime I take the Myers/Briggs test I always get the same result. I took it the first time when I was 19 and it's always the same. It's just me, word for word. It's funny to read something like this and then understand why you do the things you do.

Anyways, I would encourage anyone to take this test. There is an application on Facebook that allows you to take it and you can find it on my profile in facebook.

Church Membership Sucks!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Church photo directories frustrate me.

They're a great tool and all, but everyone comes out of the woodwork for them! I saw a family last night that I haven't seen in church in the 3 years that I've been here, not even for Christmas Eve or Easter.

I remember a conversation I had with a lady a couple of months ago. It went something like this:

"You're the youth minister at Reddington? Well I've been a member of that church for 45 years! I haven't been there in about 30 though..." And this was a woman who was able to get around well but for whatever reason, she had chosen not to go to church.

So that raises the question: What makes you a church member?

Some people think you join a church to get that recognition, "I'm a part of this organization."

Some people think you join a church because their whole family does.

I think too many take church membership too seriously.

Who cares about membership!

What about servantship?

You can quote me on this: I feel a lot more respect for the dedicated Sunday school teacher than I do the dedicated tither. It's easy to throw money in and feel like you're doing something good. Don't get me wrong, we all need to take part in growing God's Kingdom financially...but I think God is more in to serving others on a more practical level than by giving money to a church/organization.

So that's my rant for today.

Tranformational Thinking

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Once a Youth Pastor... blog has dramatically influenced a change in how I perceive 'effectiveness' in youth ministry and how youth ministry SHOULD be done. If you haven't seen this blog you have to. Go through and read it all. Most of the posts are short and to the point but it has been instrumental in reforming my ministry paradigm.

In one of his latest posts he lists the 5 questions that helped him rethink youth ministry.

  1. When was the last time we saw teens and their parents inside the walls of the church discussing spiritual things together?
  2. Do we equip and support parents of teens even a fraction as much as the teens that walk through their doors?
  3. How much time does our church/youth ministry invest in parents?
  4. What percentage of our youth ministry programs involves parents as participants, not just chaperones or leaders?
  5. Which of our ministries communicate that parents are the most important part of a teen’s faith formation?

Again, this is his, I don't want to take any credit from his work and pass along his site so you can be blessed by his words. I'm going to print off those questions and put them in a spot that I will see daily.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

I had hoped to come back from my blogging hiatus, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen.

This June I will be in my office a total of 4 days.

4 days.

I hope to have a lot to talk about when I come back :-D

Charlie the Unicorn 2

Monday, May 12, 2008

If you haven't seen Charlie the Unicorn 1, stop what you're doing and go to YouTube and search for Charlie the Unicorn and watch it so you can fully enjoy Charlie the Unicorn 2. Otherwise, enjoy!

The Media (Not so evil as you think)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Quick post before the service.

Most people blame the media for misrepresenting news or not publishing news of "substance". I know I often get ticked off when the war in Darfur gets 10 seconds of news time and the cafeteria worker who saved a little girl from choking gets 4 full minutes (true story). But is the media to blame? Or is it that people just don't care about things going on in the world elsewhere?

I present the evidence. CNN's "Top News" according to page views:

1. Jenna's big Wedding Day
2. Ex Manager: OJ confessed
3. 'Idol' finalist's dad banned
4. Can Clinton Land the plane?
5. Obama closes in on Superdelegates.
6. Price of snail mail creeps up
7. get the point

What does this mean for youth ministry? Maybe exercising an awareness of what's going on in the world and having compassion for people in other countries. More thoughts on this later.

Movie Trailers that are Destroying America

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Things are getting Busy!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

To my faithful readers:

Things are getting busy with school ending and the summer months coming up. Youth workers around the country are bracing for a summer of activities, retreats, camps and trips. Updates may be slow coming in these next few months so I apologize.

To Be Irrelevant

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self." - Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus

Being a Bigger Loser Finale

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Results are in! (Gotta love the loser references!)

Not sure where I eventually ended up but as of last week I was in 20th place out of the 175+ that participated. The contest is over but I'm still trying to lose!

Me after losing 30 pounds

Friday, April 25, 2008

The "Are You A Bigger Loser Than Marko" contest ends today and I officially weighed in at 210, 30 pounds less then when I started. I'm pretty excited. But it's not over yet, I still have about 30 more to go! Thank you all for your prayers and your support!

It's a Numbers Game

Monday, April 21, 2008

Like it or not, youth workers live in a culture where numbers apparently matter. This is horrible. When i read curriculum, everything is geared towards a group of 20+ attenders. Games. Events. Everything you read (almost) in youth ministry is geared towards large youth groups. It's almost as if people have forgotten that the average church in America is under 100 in attendance for the whole church!

Every time I go to a large youth event, they bring in "big speakers" who are heralded as professional youth workers because they are on staff at churches of 10,000+ or have youth groups that are hundreds of students. What about Bill down the road who has been doing youth ministry for 20 years for little or no pay at all and has a youth group of 8 high school students. Or Lindsay in the next town over who has been at the same church for 5 years and ministers to a group of 3 middle school girls.

Big numbers equal big success...or so we're told. I was asked several times last week how many are we taking to our CIY Believe conference. My answer was 5. But what I was really excited about was that we had 2 of them going for the very first time, which to me is a big deal.

Numbers don't equal success. In fact, there is no way possible that we can ever measure the success of a youth ministry. Not till we get to heaven. It's not the work of a single youth pastor. It's not the work of a vision statement or even a hospitality ministry.

So the next time you're tempted to ask someone the size of their youth group, ask yourself why you want to know. Why does it matter? Are you trying to measure up to them? Are you trying to measure their success? Think about it.

Maybe you're someone who plans a large gathering for students. Instead of asking Doug Fields to come and speak at your event, think about Bill down the street. Consider the youth workers who don't have a line of books or merchandise.

Father forgive us for turning youth ministry into a competition and popularity contest.

My name is Dj and we have a small youth group, and I enjoy each and every moment I have with them.


Monday, April 14, 2008

I'm tired.

I've been going for 2 weeks non-stop with stuff at home and at the church and I'm tired. Lately it feels like I go to the church, get all the crazy stuff done that I need to get done in a week, get home, do whatever crazy stuff I need to get done there and the last hour or so I have available I spend it with my wife or by myself because I just need that alone time and then I'm in bed.

This is a COFY (Community Outreach for Youth) week so this week I am traveling with the group doing school assemblies hauling music equipment. This weekend I'm taking 5 jr high students to a CIY Believe conference. Tee ball practice. Dog surgery and meetings meetings meetings...

I'm tired.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I accomplished a goal yesterday.

Several months ago I went out to our local National Forest and attempted to hike the Pinnacle trail, a 1-mile long rugged trail uphill several hundred feet. Needless to say I didn't get that far. About a quarter of a mile.

Then a couple of months later we took some of our elementary aged kids there and attempted the same trail. This time we got about half way because of time constraints.

Yesterday I took my best friend in the whole world with me to climb the trail once and for all: my 65 pound chocolate lab Levi. He was a trooper. Thirty-five minutes later we were at the top of the "mountain" looking out at the fields below. It was amazing.

It was a holy place.

Nature is where I meet God. I see the trees, the mountains, the valleys the lakes and streams form a connection for me to know how amazing our God is. I don't have any formal prayer time except maybe a word or two, but it's as if God speaks to me through the silence of the trees and hills.

Words really can't express the rejuvenation that takes place.


I just have to say that I am EXTREMELY excited this morning. Our little church of 300 is taking 15 to The Core Conference this Saturday. This is really a huge step for our church and I'm really excited about it!


Thursday, April 03, 2008

I have 4 lessons to write today because it's been a busy week and I haven't gotten around to it. So while I'm having trouble with my lesson writing, I thought I would procrastinate with this question.

Lately we have had a flow of people contacting the church asking for help and assistance with hotels rooms and food and such. Food is easy, we have a food pantry that we can either take food to people or they can come and get what they want. Generally, our Senior Pastor deals with all of the benevolence requests but as he's been out this week due to surgery I've had to talk with some of these people.

The question I have is, what do you do? I talked to a woman on Sunday who I felt had a genuine need and had kids so I paid for their hotel room with our church credit card and found a generous person to give them money for food that evening. Yesterday a man came into my office with the same request. He had contacted the church on Sunday and asked for help and to my knowledge the elders had said they would pay for his room but lost contact with him (his story). So I (on behalf of the church) agreed to pay for his hotel room and give him a ride back to town.

I found out this morning that this man had contacted the church on Easter and one of our elders agreed to pay for his room and did so. The Sunday that he had "lost contact" with the elders was in fact a lie, they paid for his room for that Sunday evening. So here was a man that was taking advantage of the system. Two completely different situations.

How would you approach those situations?
Do you decide to cover all that ask and open yourself up for people to take advantage of the system or do you turn away people who potentially are in genuine need?
The age old question: What would Jesus do?

Jesus was fairly straight forward with his message of loving your neighbor as yourself. James echoes the acts of faith:

"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." - James 4:17

But Paul warns against being idle:

"We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat." - 2nd Thessalonians 3:11,12

To be honest, I'm completely torn on this issue. Me and Carrie have talked about it a lot this week neither of us can come up with a satisfactory answer. It's a difficult thing to wrestle with. Your comments and insights are appreciated.

New Post Coming Soon

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I haven't forgotten you all I promise! Life has been busy!

In the mean time, read this.

Being a Bigger Loser part 3

Monday, March 24, 2008

Just found out and wanted to report to you all that I am in 29th place for the "Being a Bigger Loser Than Marko" contest. I'm pretty pumped since there were over 175'something that have been participating.

I've not lost as much as I would of hoped at this point, but I'm down 20+ and still keeping it off. I've made a big adjustment to diet this week so hopefully we'll see more results next week.

Anyways, I'm pumped that at least in the running for doing fairly well out of 175 participants. Thanks for the support!

Being a Bigger Loser part 2

Thursday, March 13, 2008

On February 1st I embarked upon a contest with Youth Specialties to "Be a Bigger Loser Than Marko". In other words, who could lose the most weight?

Here are some things you might be interested in knowing since it started:

  1. Those who are in the contest have lost over 1,370.9 pounds!
  2. Marko is in 2nd place!
  3. Dj isn't in the top 10.
  4. But Dj has lost 20 pounds!
So continue to pray for me, it is greatly appreciated. I'm continuing to eat good food and exercise everyday. I've even found that I can effectively cheat and still maintain my diet. It was unfortunate that we ordered Girl Scout cookies a couple weeks before I knew about the contest and they have since arrived. Since I have to eat about 6 times a day I've limited myself to 2 a day and I've found that I don't even take advantage of them every day. Look at it this way, I can have 2 cookies for 160 calories, or I can have a large apple for 120 calories. I usually choose what is going to fill me more (and its better for me!).

So it's going well. My first goal is 200 pounds, so another 20 pounds and Ill be there. There are times when I get frustrated because it's not coming off as fast as I'd like but I feel rewarded when I finally see that progress is still happening. Thanks again for your prayers and support!

UPDATE: In case anyone is interested in exactly what I'm doing. I limit myself to 1800 calories a day and exercise at least 30 minutes, usually on a stationary bike. If all goes well throughout the day, I net about 1200 calories which is just what the body needs. I've typically seen 2 to 3 pounds a week of loss which is considered a very healthy amount of loss.

Which Movement Are You Part 2

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

When I took that quiz it was early in the afternoon and I've since returned home and had time to think about it.

I'm such a hodgepodge of faith backgrounds that I don't think any particular "movement" would accept me. I've "grown up" in the Restoration Movement and even went to one of their colleges. I've since moved on from a lot of their traditional doctrines and would probably be ousted from the movement if they knew where I stood on some of the issues (although I still stand on their basic premise that we should restore church and should not consider ourselves the 'only Christians').

Anyways, I have no idea how I've come to my current standing on doctrinal issues. I read a lot, both of those I agree with and disagree with. I'm not a HUGE fan of Brian McLaren, but I do like a lot of what he has to say. I guess I could put it this way: I could spend the day with McLaren and the next with John MacArthur and be perfectly fine.

I'm weird.

Which Movement Are You?

What's your theological worldview?
created with
You scored as Emergent/Postmodern

You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.



Reformed Evangelical


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox




Classical Liberal




Roman Catholic


Modern Liberal


MUST Reads

It's been a great week in 'blog land' with several great posts from many different areas. I wanted to share with you some of the great ones from this week. Hopefully this is something I can continue to do each week.

"Once a Youth Pastor..." is a blog that recently got hit with a ton of traffic due to Marko talking about it in his post. It's about one youth pastor's exit from youth ministry because he felt God leading him somewhere else. His posts are great! It's all about why modern youth ministry isn't working and he raises great questions. Make sure you read this first! But make sure you make it over to The Piano Teacher part 1 and part 2.

Church Marketing Sucks is a great website for those that are looking for the more "commercial" side of our faith. It aims to equip leaders to be more effective in their outreach and media. Pretty good stuff! But this post on why Christian Living Sucks floored me! It's a must read! Here is a small snippet:

"Forget polishing up that web site, planning your next series or training your greeters. Because if we can't effectively live the gospel, how can we hope to communicate it?"
What is the Kingdom features a video on the horrors of Lord Waldemart!

One of the hardest things to do in our lives as disciples is to surrender. RETHINKING YOUTH MINISTRY has posted about this very subject with a great prayer written by Charles de Foucauld. Simply beautiful prayer that I aim to keep with me.

Oh, and don't forget to Take the Test!

Enjoy the reading! I sure did!

"All ye..."

Monday, March 10, 2008

I had a friend come across this video off the now booming GodTube and it was certainly an encouragement to me. So, I wanted to share it with you and hope that it encourages your day as well.

Can you name all 50 states?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

In 5m 2s

Click here to Play

Thanks goes out to Marko for finding this.

Homosexuality and the church

Jeremy Zach is having a great conversation on the topic of homosexuality and the church and what is to be our response to homosexuals in the church. I point you in that direction to take part in the conversation.

Purpose Statements

Monday, March 03, 2008

Many will remember back in the 90's when the big "Purpose Driven Church" movements came into existence. At the time I was a clueless 15 year old who just kind of went along with it all, but I did remember that we were challenged by our youth pastor to memorize our "Mission Statement". In fact, we were expected to know it at a moments notice and could even win $1 if we asked a leader to recite it and they didn't know it.

I never did memorize was like a paragraph long. But I DO remember the key words: Reach, Connect, Grow and Discover! I never read Purpose Driven Church or Purpose Driven Youth Ministry. I guess I just dislike program oriented churches.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with some individuals that I know and trust and laid out all the challenges that we are facing in our student ministry. I drove home with the conclusion that we just flat out lack a vision.

Vision is different than a purpose statement.

Vision is a matter of the heart.
Purpose is a product of the mind.

You can have the greatest purpose statement in the world that is short, quick, easy to memorize and even say a lot about your organization, but if it lacks vision it's just a lot of words on paper. Vision is what drives people, not purpose. Let me give an example from a mission statement I found (and actually happen to like):

" Youth Ministry is a church wide ministry which strives to provide a variety of opportunities and experiences to draw teens into active, responsible participation in the life, mission and work of the faith community and the greater church."

I like this because it has vision! You can sense that the person(s) who wrote this, had a wide view of what a church ministry should look like. Two years ago, I had a vision. Today it's been twisted and misguided into every day pressures and influences. I would like to make a stop to that and regain the vision I once had.

So now I need a vision.

Quote of the Week 3

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"Your personality may open some doors for you, but it is your character that will keep them open." - Unknown

Good Clean Comedy

Now, for those that know me know that I hate that we have a Christian subculture: Christian Rock Music, Christian Contemporary Music, Christian Death Metal, Christian Bookstore, etc...It drives me nuts! So as often as I can, I like to present artists and speakers that don't promote themselves as a "Christian anything" but rather someone who is a believer and happens to be in a rock band, or a comedian, get the picture.

So I want to make a recommendation for something I came across this week that I think is noteworthy for youth pastors, parents, families and anyone else that just likes to laugh. His name is Tim Hawkins and he is a stand up comedian/music parodist (wow, that actually seems to be a real word). The man is hilarious! If you're a fan of Brian Regan, or Weird Al Yankovic, you'll love this guy. His songs are great and his comedy is top notch.

For anyone that lives close by, I have his DVD and you're more than welcome to borrow it.


Monday, February 25, 2008

I had one of those moments yesterday while teaching Sunday school that I come into a new realization about something.

We got onto the topic of predestination...or with our class...*I* got on the subject of predestination and salvation. We talked about how some people make our salvation a difficult thing. You have to agree to a certain amount of doctrine, you have to give so much money to the church or attend a denominational conference, etc...People make up these lists of how you are seen right in God's eyes.

But it's so much easier than that.

"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life." - John 3:16 from The Message Remix

It's that simple.

Faith in Jesus.

We have all this "You have to live a holy life..." or "You have to have good works..." those things are products of our sanctification. As we come to know Jesus, he trims away the excess of who we were and puts in place himself. The process takes more than a lifetime.

There isn't a list or creed we have to memorize or recite or a list of things to do. It just comes down to knowing Jesus. Simple.

Adventures In Youth Ministry 3

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

If you've never heard of Mike Yaconelli, drop what you're doing and go see as many of his videos and read as many of his books as you can. The man was amazing and ever since I was introduced to him years ago, he has been a great encouragement to me. Mike has gone on to be with Jesus now, but his passion still remains.

This video was a shot in the arm for me this morning. Take 10 minutes and watch it, you'll be glad you did!

Youth Ministry is Broken

Monday, February 18, 2008

Let's face it. Youth ministry as we have known it is broken. It no longer "works". I've studied enough and been with enough youth ministers to know that the youth ministry that worked back in the 70's and 80's no longer works today.

Here is what we have done for the past 30+ years:

Church hires youth pastor.
Youth pastor creates fun and engaging programs.
Youth pastor encourages kids to show up and 'bring friends'
Friends become part of youth group.
The world is saved.

Heres the problem: We're still doing that today and it clearly is not working. I've had the opportunity to get to talk to a lot of different pastors here in the past 2 years. Some are my friends that I went to school with and some have been in it a LOT longer than me. They're having the same troubles that our church is having in relation to their youth. Namely not showing up and not getting involved. That makes me feel a little better as I've struggled for months believing that maybe, possibly it was all my fault. Of course there is still that nagging possibility that I am the problem.

Post-modern youth ministry HAS to change in order to survive. How? Wow! I wish I knew the answer to that so I could write a book and make millions. My gut feeling is that parents have to take more of an initiative to get involved in the ministry process. Church youth ministry should ALWAYS be the complement to what is going on at home. The discipleship process should always start at home. When that influence isn't there at home, such as in the case of unbelieving parents, thats when the church becomes more instrumental in the discipleship process.

Something needs to change.

What I would love to do is completely cut off all church activity for a year. No Wednesday Nights. No Sunday nights. No events. Just worship on Sunday mornings. Getting OUT of the cycle of monotony and living the believers life in simplicity of every day life for just a year. Of course, I would be fired for such a suggestion as it is my job to keep everything busy. There...I said it, and I'm not taking it back either!

I always hear about big words like "missional" and "attractional" and why it is bad to be the latter and how we need to be the former. I would agree with that, but how do you share that mindset to other people? That is a complete paradigm shift and people will only believe it when they learn it for themselves. We're fighting 50+ years of church tradition, and that in itself is a near impossible task.

It is my prediction, that within the next 50 years, the churches that are refusing to make these radical changes will either cease to exists, or on the brink of death. I'm not saying that's a bad thing...maybe thats what we need. Being in a section of the country that you can throw a rock and hit 4 or 5 churches in a single throw, less churches may be a good thing.

We need a change. A drastic change. What kind of change, I haven't a clue and I'm always open to suggestions. Let us continue to seek the face of God in all of this as we struggle on making his Kingdom more of a reality here on earth.

GOP full of "Fake Christians"

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Can't say I disagree with him, Charles Barkley, former pro-basketball player made a bold statement on CNN the other night. See what you think here.

Over a week into the diet...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Things are getting easier. I'm losing my cravings for some of my favorite foods...although I'd LOVE to have some Taco Bell today. One of my favorite meals consists of turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, red onions and a very thin layer of reduced fat Miracle Whip. I'm going to have one in an hour and I'm already craving it..And It's healthy!!

To be completely honest, I'm actually having a problem of eating enough food! Let me put it this way, I don't do calorie counting...that's no way to live. But I do have a rough estimate of what calories I have been taking in and shooting for about 1800 a day. Unfortunately, I'm only getting about 1200 a day...which you would think is good since you're supposed to take in less calories. But I'm just not eating enough to sustain my workouts.

I cycle for at least an hour everyday at a moderate level. According to my research, I should burn at least 500 calories from each cycling workout. So while the weight is coming off, I'm probably not doing my body any favors with the energy deficit.

This weekend will be a challenge. I"m taking my wife up to Indy for Valentines day and we're eating at one of our favorite places to eat: Cheeseburger In Paradise. I'm going to have to be extremely careful as to how I eat that day so I can afford the 1000+ calorie food I'll be consuming that night. I've looked all over the internet and can't find how many calories are in their food, so it's going to have to be a straight guess.

We might even get some Japanese Hibachi, which isn't all that healthy either (white sauce anyone? LOVE IT!!) so, it will be a tricky weekend not having my exercise readily available but I think I'll be alright.

The Evil Eye

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


In my journeys throughout the internet, I have never encountered such a video that made me laugh as hard as the "Evil Eye Baby". What you're about to see is the most amazing video...ever. In other news, I hope to get a new post up and going here soon. Stay tuned.

Being a 'Bigger Loser'

Friday, February 01, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, one of the men that I look up to a lot in youth ministry posted on his blog about his personal need to lose weight. Mark Oestricher of Youth Specialties talked about how they had toyed around the idea of having a contest to see who could be a 'bigger loser than Marko'. Me, and apparently a lot of others jumped on the bandwagon and thought that would be a great idea.

Thus the contest had begun!

Today I officially joined the community to start this "Biggest Loser" contest. The prizes are pretty neat, I have to admit, however the motivation to finally do what I've been trying to do is an even better reward. My goal weight is 190 lbs. I'm flucuate between 230 and 240 and to be under 200 would just be amazing. So here's what I'm going to do about it.

A couple of weeks ago, someone slipped $150 worth of Chamber of Commerce gift cards underneath my office door as a Christmas present. I vowed then and there to use that money to get in better shape with either the purchase of a treadmill or exercise bike. I still don't know who gave that money, but it was a blessing and I plan to use it to better my health. Obesity runs in my family, and thankfully heart disease does not, but just the though of being able to run and play a game of football and not be all out of breath is just an amazing thought to me.

So, I ask for your prayers and your support. This is going to be difficult for me and I'll need lots of help. My diet isn't horrible per se, but I didn't get to 240 by eating broccoli. So with a combination of better diet and exercise I hope to drop under 200 lbs by the middle of April. We'll see what happens!

Lost: Season 4

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Needless to say I'm pumped about the upcoming season of Lost. I've been slightly dismayed at the delay of 24 season 7, but there is little I can do about that. So until the release of 24 I have Lost.

When we last left off, the passengers from Oceanic 815 were getting ready to be 'rescued' by the boat just off the island's shore. Some will be saved...some won't.

If you've never season an episode of Lost, that's okay. You can watch some of them on ABC's website. And if you don't have time to watch 3 seasons of Lost, you can go to the Lost website and watch all 3 seasons summarized in 8 minutes and 15 seconds. By the way, I don't think it's a coincidence that the video is that long. You can find the video here.

Quote of the Week 2

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Don't waste time: In just two days tomorrow will be yesterday."

Getting Political

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Honestly, I'm not much of a political person. But with election season in full swing, I have chosen my candidate relatively early. You've probably noticed that with the ad on the right side of the page here. My candidate of choice is Ron Paul. Why? The man is a genius! When you listen to him speak, he is passionate in what he says and you can honestly believe that he cares about what he is talking about.

While other candidates make their usual campaign promises, Ron Paul talks about the issues that really matter to the majority of Americans. You can't help but listen to him and believe what he says. I don't agree with all that he stands on, but I can't find anyone else that I more readily agree with. If you're like me and you're a big fan of smaller government, take a look at this video. Even if you know nothing of the man, watch it anyway. You'll enjoy it!

Quote of the Week 1

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Each week I'm going to try to put up a new quote that is either insightful, inspirational, or something that makes you think (I ran out of words that begin with "in"). This week's quote comes from an unknown source but that doesn't devalue it.

"In addition to knowing God, there are 5 secrets to a joyful life:

  1. Free your mind from hatred.
  2. Free your mind from worries.
  3. Live simply.
  4. Give more.
  5. Expect less."

We're watching you

Monday, January 14, 2008

By now, most people have heard of Google. Of course Google is most famous for their amazing search engine which can find pretty much any information you want. If you knew the term, you could even search for unprotected security cameras in various areas and literally take control of them.

However, quite a few people are still unfamiliar with the other services that Google offers. Gmail, which is web-based email, news, shopping and they even try to show you ads that you might be interested in as you search! Probably the neatest piece of application they offer is their ability to make maps and show you satellite images from all over the world! And this is the application I want to ask a few questions about.

People got a little freaked out when they learned people had the ability to look at their house from a satellite image. But now with "Street View", you can literally drive down your street using your web browser. People didn't like this either. In fact it's made some stories over the past couple of months about people seeing funny things that people are doing walking down the road or even invasion of privacy.

I thought it was all quite an amusing bit of news and something fun to play with when you're bored at home. Then yesterday, it was brought to my attention that Seymour was now on Street View and thought it simply unbelievable! There are large cities out there that haven't even been mapped, and yet they have Seymour on the Google Street View map? And sure enough, there it was!

So of course the first thing I do is go and see if I can see my house. Sure enough, there it is! Not only can I see my house but I can see both of our dogs outside in great detail and I can see right into our living room. Kinda freaky! All in all it doesn't bother me because this type of "information" is available to anyone who just drives down our road. You can't even make out the license plate numbers on my wife's car. But it was a neat thing to be able to see your dogs on the internet through google.

So, what do you think? A neat novelty or an invasion of privacy?

Lil' Markie

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I found this little diddy over at Marko's spot. Word's cannot express this video. You have to watch the whole thing. Notice the awkwardness of the audience...

The questions kids ask

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A couple of weeks ago I started a "series" in our Junior worship (1st grade through 5th grade) about "Questions about God". I challenged the kids to write down a question that they had about God or the Bible or anything in the church and I was pretty excited that they accepted the challenge with an amazing gusto!

The first question I got? "How can God be three different people?"

From a 4th grader. We have a young theologian in our group!

But I wanted to focus on the question that I got this morning from a third grader. She asked: "Why do we do bad things that we know is (are) wrong?"

Good question, I wish I knew the answer to that. If I did, I'd sell more books than Rick Warren!

Paul kind of struggled with the same question in Romans 7:15

"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing."

To sum up, we are evil creatures. This is the only part of my theology where I come close to being a Calvinist. I believe that we are totally and utterly depraved, unable to do any good EXCEPT through the grace of God. Only God allows us to come to him and accept his love and grace.

I often think about the decisions I make in life and ministry. Am I making this decision because it is what I believe God wants? Or am I doing this because I want the glory of it? The eternal struggle between what I want and what God wants is nothing new, it's been going on since day 10* of creation.

Only when we get to heaven will we finally be able to live in total and complete righteousness.

*Day of the first sin is only an approximate...but you knew that already.

Adventures In Youth Ministry 2

Thursday, January 03, 2008

On December 26th one of the most memorable moments in my life occured: Operation Knee Socks. Long story short, our High school youth group decided to plan a lock in type event that involved me being kidnapped and thrown into our church van for an afternoon/night of fun and excitement.

I present you the video that gives you the play by play on what happened.

Adventures In Youth Ministry 1

I wanted to start a series on here entitled: "Adventures in Youth Ministry" where I share funny stories, anecdotes, and even the dark times of youth ministry. To kick off this series I want to begin with a funny "Top 10" that is in this month's issue of Group Magazine. FYI, I wrote a letter to Rick Lawrence the editor of Group and he published it in this issue as well, but that's just bonus. The following was written by "Steve" a contributing editor of Group and not written by me.

Top 10 Rejected VBS Song Titles

10. I'll never be as good as Jesus
9. Come on down to Brokeback Ranch
8. What did David do with Goliath's Head, Head, Head?
7. I get a buzz from the Savior's love
6. John, John, John the Methodist
5. Vomit, you big fish, Vomit
4. She-bear, she-bear (Poor Elisha had no hair)
3. C'mon, it's time to Exegete!
2. We're gonna build a new church (with the $ in mommy's wallet)
1. Father Abraham had many sons (and wives!)

And we're back...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

It's been a while but I'm back and ready to get back to getting on the soap box again.

Today's topic: Normal person + Internet Anonymity = Jerkwad

If you've ever participated on an internet forum you know what I'm talking about. When you take completely normal people and give them complete anonymity and free reign to talk about whatever they want, they become the biggest idiots of all time. It's almost magic how the transformation takes place.

Let's take for instance, posters on our local newspaper forum. All reason and sanity are gone when a comment is made.

I have witnessed someone posting a topic on a video game forum stating that the original player had died and the brother was posting in the forum to say his goodbyes for him. The very next reply was by one of these anonymous idiots asking "Did he drop any loot?"

When a disagreement takes place it is not uncommon for one person to tell another to "go and die in a car fire" or "have a few drinks and go for a drive".

It's been called by the media "cyber-bullying". I call it being an idiot. You wouldn't say these things to someone's face.

The famous advice given to children about annoying friends is still the same today: Just ignore them and they'll quit doing it. Unfortunately, people are unwilling to ignore such people and give forum trolls and idiots exactly what they're after: Attention.

So please, do the internet a favor and stop feeding the trolls. Happy surfing.