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.