3 is all you need

there's a lot that i like about my job:
- recruiting, developing, empowering, and leading other adult leaders
- preparing messages and speaking to students
- crossing administrative tasks off a list
- planning events and services

there's even more that i love about my job:
- watching authentic community developed in a small group
- nerf dart wars and water balloon fights
- seeing students lead other students
- dreaming where the ministry could be in the future
- creating series & retreat themes to target a need

there's a few things i could do without:
- all-nighters (i like sleep)
- the predictable pressure...every week - same time, same channel
- emails that have nothing to do with me but still need to be in my files

but the thing that drives me month after month:
pacing with students through the mundane, normal, and sometimes chaotic moments of life

in youth ministry there's so much pressure to have big numbers and continual growth and more impact. and i'm all for that...more people is more impact (if you're doing the right things the right way). but sometimes i feel like the perfect youth group size is 3. a friend would always say that...and it's so true.

just the other night i was at an all nighter sitting at a table with some pizza and 3 guys that happened to also be in my small group. we were just hanging out, joking around, goofing off, and connecting about normal everyday stuff. we just came off this amazing inflatable and were showing off our flesh wounds from it. we talked about video games. that's pacing. late night conversations about stuff that's important to a student...that's pacing. normal, everyday stuff that everybody goes through all the time...but going through it together with them...that's pacing. on paper it doesn't seem to be anything monumental or earth-shattering. in fact you can do it and nobody will ever know. but i think i'm passionate about it because someone paced with me through the mundane, normal, and sometimes chaotic moments of my life...and it changed everything for me.

3 is all you need.


hickory, dickory, dock...

...the mouse ran up the clock. Or in our case - the wall and behind our stove. We started hearing our little friend a few weeks ago. Just sporadically. However, the noise has been escalating. We were pretty sure it was somewhere around the stove/oven. Actually, it sounded like it was IN the oven. But, whenever we got close it would run away. Finally, tonight we pulled the stove away from the wall. jackpot! No mouse, but 2 gigantic holes, a chestnut (which neither Cory nor I have ever had in the house), some coffee beans, and the inevitable pile of mouse poop! Sigh.

Oh yeah - did I mention yesterday, I dropped the glass top for my desk on the foot and then while trying to check out behind the stove tonight... I cracked my ankle on the cabinet in an attempt to sit on the counter top (because I'm short and can't just look over the top)... then proceeded to impale my forehead on the corner of the stove vent. And the klutz in me lives on!



we have an all-nighter coming up next weekend and i thought i'd post this video as we get ready for it. the days after i always feel like we're "detoxing" from it. funny stuff:



following up on last night's post - found a great article on the twilight series put out by the center for parent/youth understanding's magazine "engage". a free copy of the magazine with the article can be downloaded here.


tuesday night random stuff

it's tuesday night...shanna and i (mostly shanna) are watching twilight. we've seen it a few times already, but shanna's been on this kick lately because she picked up the first book, and then had to get the other 3 and completely read them too...all within a couple days. she describes the consuming addiction of it to me like a new season of 24. i find that hard to believe except for the craze surrounding the books in teen culture. despite our own personal views on movies and books like twilight, there's definitely a sense in which it's important to see what our teens are seeing so we can speak intelligently with them on it.

as we look back at the last few days, here's a few random happenings:
1. FIREPROOF MOVIE - lakeshore showed the movie at the church on friday night and it was neat to see all the people there and the challenge the movie gives to marriages and the importance of working at it continually. the acting was pretty bad at times imho, but the plot was good and it was still challenging. what was even cooler was doing dinner with a few couples before the movie, and then going to a cafe AFTER the movie with a whole bunch of others from the church. i love how relational lakeshore is!
2. SLT PARTY - saturday evening we hosted all the students that have served on a student leadership team over to the house. we used the bbq and cooked up tons of food for everyone, put up a volleyball net in the backyard, played hide and go seek and terrorized our neighbors, and had a bonfire. it was SO great to see our entire yard used!
3. KITCHEN CABINETS - spent a good portion of my day off yesterday working on 4 of the kitchen cabinets and doors - they are hung and up. pictures soon...
4. SOFTBALL - this was the first win in like 5 or 6 games, and it felt so good. we actually beat them so bad the game ended in 5 innings due to a mercy rule. everything was good until a member of the other team made a derogatory comment at the very end about the umpire. i'm not the purest in terms of my temper on the court or on a playing field, but it really bothered me. i went up to the umpire after the game (we had casually talked some before the game) and i apologized for him. i hate apologizing for other christians. i know many have had to for me before and they probably felt the same way. it's a shame.


youth leaders

we have a fantastic group of adult leaders in our student ministry...honestly they are the backbone of the whole structure and i'm pumped every week to see how much they invest and pour themselves into the lives of students!
last night reminded me how great they are. we were doing one of those goofy, pointless games that sometimes you lay in bed at 3am asking yourself "did we actually play that?" this particular game we divided the group into 4 teams and each team was given a bunch of clothespins. (clothespins are as useful as balloons in youth ministry i'm finding!). each team then had to select one person to be the "model" while the rest of the team gave them a new hairdo with clothespins. sounds a little painful eh?
as we kicked off the game, it was interesting to me which person got elected for each team...and of the 4 teams, 2 of the models were adult leaders. the final image is still in my mind today - absolutely hilarious. reminds me that adults who work well with students don't have to have a goatee, an earring, play the guitar, and be 22. they can be and are in their 50's, 60's, and even older!

what makes a good leader?
1. an intense love for God
2. a deep like for students
3. willing to make themselves vulnerable
4. they don't take themselves too seriously

i saw that last night and it made my night!


the article below was written by one of our junior high guys. classic.

Jack Bauer to take a nap during an episode of ‘24’

Even in it’s seventh season, FOX's hit show “24” is still one of the most exciting hours on television. Yet that hasn't stopped many from criticizing the show and show's writers want to try and answer this criticism.
"Ever since 24 went on the air, people have been calling into question the show's realism," said Joel Surnow, creator of the hit series. "Not really about the terrorist plots, we all know that's believable. People just don't believe our characters can go through 24 hours without taking off some time to rest."

For that reason, plans are being made to have main character Jack Bauer take a nap in an upcoming episode, a nap that may stretch over two to three episodes.

"Having Jack take a nap does three things for this show," said Surnow. "One, it makes the show more believable. Second, it will give us a chance to develop some of the other characters. And third, we can build up Jack's return. How long will he nap, did he set his alarm? People will have to keep tuning in to find out."

"I think it's a great idea," said Kiefer Sutherland, who plays Jack Bauer. "It brings a touch of realism to the show. If it were up to me, I'd also like to see Jack sit on the toilet for half an episode; fans of the show could watch him poop and I think it would be a good way for them to relate to a character that may otherwise seem, well, superhuman."


if i could do it again...

i think we all would have pages to fill of things we'd do over again if we had the chance. the one that comes to mind for me right now happened this past saturday morning. it didn't really dawn on me that this was an experience worthy of a mulligan until i "tweeted" the experience and was asked in reply by my brother how i responded.

it was one of those nice, lazy saturday mornings that we all hopefully have every now and then: sleep in...read the paper while drinking coffee...grab a book...etc. and then the doorbell rang. i'm already a little frustrated at the interruption to begin with, hoping with everything inside me that it doesn't require more than a quick hello/goodbye from me. as i opened the door, two women were standing there...dressed up and eager to talk. they had to have been cold from the frigid, rochester wind (i was just standing inside with the door open and i was cold!). they started asking questions about faith and religion, and immediately here's what was going on in my head:

1. i really want to ream you out for interrupting my saturday morning and then slam the door shut.
2. what makes you think i'll talk to you about this right now in this setting when i've never met you before in my life?!?!
3. who ever came up with the concept of going door to door...and why didn't you poor women get the memo that it doesn't work anymore?

thankfully i didn't respond in any of those ways, but rather, i politely answered a few of their questions, took their literature, gave some obvious clues that i didn't want to talk, and wished them well. all in all - it was a 90 second conversation...and i deeply regret it now.

fast forward to sunday night. i'm with my junior high guys small group - we had just gotten done with a massive nerf dart war at the church and were setting down to discuss a chapter from the case for faith by lee strobel - the chapter was all about other religions and tolerance and jesus' very INtolerant statement in john 14:6. we talked about how we don't need to be experts in all the world religions out there...we just need to know the truth and what we believe. at the same time, we talked about how it helps us go a long ways with others when we genuinely try to understand someone else's point of view.

we wrapped up the discussion with me encouraging the students to try to get into a conversation this week with 2-3 of their friends at school - not to try to "convert" them to anything, but to just have a casual conversation asking them what they believe and why they believe it - being genuinuely interested in their point of view in order to start a conversation.

and then this morning it dawns on me that saturday morning i slammed shut a wide open door to do exactly what i just encouraged our students to do. here's what i wished i had done saturday morning:

i wished i had welcomed the two women in and introduced them to shanna (who's way more hospitable than me)
i wished we had offered them some coffee and a seat in our living room
i wished i had been more honest and up front with them in answering their questions
i wished i had asked them, as someone who doesn't understand their point of view at all, to simply explain what they believe because i was genuinely interested
i wished i had been more concerned about them as individuals

but...there's always next time...