from the ‘what was this teacher thinking’ department
Monday January 16th 2006, 4:48 pm
Filed under: youth ministry

ohio school overrides teacher’s porn assigment. uh, yeah.

a wonderful memorial service and an odd cross-section of many pieces of my own journey
Friday January 13th 2006, 9:23 pm
Filed under: youth ministry, church, personal

just returned from a quick trip to detroit for the memorial service for sandy richert (i posted here about her, and here’s the website with more). six of us from ys went. the service was wonderful — a great tribute to sandy, as well as to jesus.

what made the whole thing so surreal for me, though, was the extent to which it was a coming together of so many pieces of my own journey. after i moved away from detroit to go to college, i met rolly and sandy at a church in wheaton, illinois. and there were people at the service from that church (former students of mine, plus my old boss, who now lives in orlando). rolly and sandy ended up moving to detroit, and attended the church i grew up in. the service was in that church, where my parents still attend. so there were lots of people from that church at the service, whom i hadn’t seen in years (old youth group friends, friends of my parents, various pastors, including the pastor who married jeannie and i). rolly and sandy got me involved in dcla years ago, and there were lots of people at the service (from all over the country) who have been involved in leadership for that event over the years — old friends i only occasionally see. and then, rolly and sandy worked with lots of other ministries (producing their events) who are friends of ys. so i was sitting in my home church with old youth group friends, various speakers from ys conventions, jason from the david crowder band, pastors i’ve known along the way, people from national network of youth ministries and greg stier and miles macpherson and todd temple (from mediashout) and rich van pelt (from compassion) and former middle schoolers of mine from wheaton and so many others (too many to name). to top it off, the six of us from ys stayed at my parents’ home (though my parents are in florida at the moment). oh, and lesa, rolly and sandy’s daughter, who was in my first middle school group, then, later, an intern for me in pasadena.

all of this confluence was beautiful. it was pretty easy to reflect on my own life and the wonderful experiences and friendships i’ve been blessed with. to top if off, it was a perfectly clear, warm and sunny day — which is pretty rare for january in detroit!

are those iPod jeans, or are you just happy to see me?
Friday January 13th 2006, 9:31 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

ok, as much as a love my iPod mini (now either ‘obsolete’ or ‘collectible’ — i’m choosing the latter), i don’t think i’m gonna buy these new levi’s jeans.

The jean is designed to be compatible with most iPod systems and features include a special joystick incorporated into the jeans’ watch pocket to enable easy operation of the iPod.

i’m sorry, but something about having a joystick in my pocket just doesn’t seem right!

hurry, this may be your only chance!
Thursday January 12th 2006, 9:13 am
Filed under: humor

seriously! where else could you get a two-headed albino snake? and, i mean it, when have us tw0-headed-albino-snake fans EVER been able to get one for this someone-must-be-crazy price of $150,000!?!?! i’m rushing to put in my bid now, before it’s too late. if you’re smart, you will also. seriously, it’s an investment!

worst church junk of the month award
Thursday January 12th 2006, 9:12 am
Filed under: church, humor

as if heavenly images wasn’t bad enough, i just received this from the hilarious and blogless steve case. steve points out a couple very troubling facts:
1. there’s a glow around ‘the king’, but not around ‘the King’ (ooh, look at that, i put a cap in there — be happy, scot mcknight)
2. isn’t that the elvis from the photo with nixon?
3. they’re out of stock???!!!


conversation in my 6th grade guys small group tonite
Thursday January 12th 2006, 1:19 am
Filed under: youth ministry

shane: i’ve read 37 books so far this school year.

zach: dude! i haven’t read that many books in my life! i haven’t even read 5 books in my life!

inequality of sin
Wednesday January 11th 2006, 11:49 am
Filed under: church, thinking...

ugh. i’m so distracted today! and it boils down to the church’s obsession with ranking sins. i posted about this once before. but this time is different: a friend of mine flirted with some bad choices for a time this past fall, but has moved past it and is clearly making right choices in this area now. but there’s a woman who knows, and she’s deciding it’s her place to tell the world (i’m exaggerating a bit — but she’s told multiple people, all out of “concern” and “righteous anger”). a meeting took place with my friend and some others, and this woman was allowed to be there (though she had no business being there) and totally laid into my friend. no one stopped her. no one mentioned the biblical fact that her emotional accusations and gossip are sin — current and unnamed sin, not past, confessed, forgiven sin like my friend’s.

is it just our fallen human nature? is it the impact of duality and modernism? what is it what drives us in the church to create such inequality of sin? sure, there are different natural consequences of sin — i’m not arguing against that. but, it’s the speck-and-plank thing. we’re so bad at addressing this in the church.

i hate it when a wild boar accidentally falls asleep in one of my bedrooms
Wednesday January 11th 2006, 10:11 am
Filed under: humor

bavaria: home of great pretzels, sturdy beer, and (ooh, is ‘boar’ plural? ‘boars’ doesn’t sound right).


(ht to dave barry)


youth specialties’ prophetic voice
Tuesday January 10th 2006, 12:41 pm
Filed under: youth ministry, youth specialties

here’s the last-page column i wrote for the current issue of youthworker journal (the last issue developed by ys):

Youth Specialties wants to be both an encouragement and a prophetic voice.

This is a sad column for me to write. Youth Specialties has been a part of Youthworker journal since day one. And now that relationship is ending.

Here’s a bit of history: YS began, literally out of a car trunk, 37 years ago. One year later, the first National Youth Workers Convention offered something – at the time – totally revolutionary: a place for Christian youth workers of all sorts to come together and be challenged. In those early days of YS, we were primarily a voice in the wilderness – a prophetic voice to the church, and to youth workers. People regularly walked out of general sessions at the conventions; not because they were bored, but because they were ticked! In fact, one of the great early stories of YS involves an audience member in one of the first convention general sessions standing up to argue with the speaker.

Over the years, as youth ministry came into its own, Youth Specialties evolved and saw the need to be more of an encourager of youth workers – not just a cattle-prod to the church. This encouraging role has become such a key piece of our identity and mission, and will continue to be so as long as we exist.

But we’ve done some good organizational soul-searching in the past 18 months, and we’ve realized a couple things:

First, we realized that we had mostly moved away from the challenging (or prophetic) role that was such a key component of our birth. We’d moved into a place of being all about resourcing and encouraging youth workers. That’s a critical ministry; but it seemed we’d lost a bit of who we are called to be.

Second, we realized that we were relying, almost exclusively, on two voices for any piece of prophetic stuff we still provided: Mike Yaconelli and Youthworker journal. Mike’s message – through his talks and books – was clearly a tree-shaker. He reminded us all of things we’d forgotten about ourselves, about God, and about the central truths of youth ministry. And Youthworker became our other voice – the place we could push the edge a bit, explore controversial ideas, try out ideas (often in subsequent articles) that were in direct disagreement with one another.

With Mike’s death two years ago, and with Youthworker leaving us, we have to step it up. In these past 18 months, we’ve identified a handful of new values we want to drive us forward as we work to re-invent Youth Specialties (really, this is staying true to the vision Yac always had for us, especially in the last few years of his life). One of those is to resurface our prophetic voice.

What I mean by that is this: youth ministry needs some re-thinking. There’s much we all know about what makes up good youth ministry and what makes up, well, less-than-good youth ministry. But we believe our changing culture (and our deepening understanding of the Kingdom of God) calls us to constant change and evaluation, growth and revolution. And we feel called, as an organization, to be a part of that process.

This doesn’t mean that we’re suddenly going to only provide stuff that will tweak you or make you angry! We’re still all about encouraging youth workers. But we hope that you’ll see, as you watch our stuff in the months and years to come, that – even without the vehicle of Youthworker, or the voice of Yaconelli – Youth Specialties will be a place you can count on to help you ask questions, help you re-think, help you bring a revolution.

After all: the gospel of Jesus Christ is (not just was) revolutionary. And our youth ministries must reflect this! We hope you’ll continue to walk with us – or better yet, allow us to walk with you – as we explore effective, life-transforming youth ministry, today and in the years to come.

“What characterizes followers of Christ is that we tell the truth.… We talk about all of life. We’re not afraid that teens will see life as a struggle every day—and that it will always be so. Most of all, we point them away from us and toward Jesus…. What’s so disturbing about youth ministry today, however, is how little truth-telling there is. I’ve been in youth ministry for 40 years, and I wish I could have some of those years to live over again. Oh, God, forgive me for causing your little ones to sin. Oh, God, help me to learn from my mistakes. Oh, God, in spite of me, cause all of your little ones to run into your arms. Oh, God, help us all.” — Mike Yaconelli

goodbye to youthworker journal
Tuesday January 10th 2006, 12:10 pm
Filed under: youth ministry, youth specialties

20-something years ago, ys decided there was a place in the world for a professional journal for youth workers. kind of like a youth worker equivilent of leadership journal. so we launched youthworker journal. and ever since then, youthworker has been an important space for exporation and discussion. it’s been an intentional place for pushing thought, pushing boundaries, and pushing buttons. sure, some articles — or maybe even the occasional issue? — have missed the mark; that’s the nature of exploration, i suppose. but, in general, it’s been one of the few places in the youth ministry world you could find side-by-side articles that opposed each other, or topics that no one else would touch, or extensive and wide resource reviews (not just three or four), and stacks of summarized research.

but, alas — ys is a business (run like a ministry). and sometimes, in business, things happen that you don’t want to happen. here’s some history:

ys used to have an entire periodicals department, because we had three of ‘em: the wittenburg door, youthworker journal, and youthworker update. we sucked at the back-end stuff; and it’s pretty difficult to break-even in the magazine business when you can’t spread things like advertising and circulation cost over several magazines with decent subscriptions. this got WAY worse for ys after we decided our wittenburg door days were over, and sold it to the trinity foundation in dallas for a dollar. we made what seemed like a great decision at the time (it WAS a great decision at the time): we sold youthworker journal to ccm communications and entered into two agreements with them — a marketing agreement (that paid us for promoting the journal), and an editorial agreement (that paid us to provide all the content). we also managed all the web stuff over the years, and this loosely fell under the editorial agreement.

well, a handful of years ago — much to our shock and surprise — our good friend at ccm, john styll, sold his company to salem communications. salem is the largest provider of christian radio in the u.s. (in the world?), and was stretching into a few other areas. oh — and to complicate things a bit more: our contract with ccm had expired just prior to the sale, and no one had gotten around to re-negotiating it. so we began the road with salem, with no contract (but still operating under the terms of the old contract). a couple years ago now, we started the process of re-negotiating the contract. for whatever reason, it’s been a crazy-slow process.

ys passionately desires to serve the WHOLE church — all kinds of christian youth workers. and this doesn’t just mean serving youth workers who are more ‘liberal’ than whatever our theological median would be; it also means serving youth workers who are more ‘conservative’ than whatever our theological median would be. so the fact that salem is a decidedly different, and more conservative, organization that us shouldn’t have posed a problem. but there was a good deal of rub, to be honest. our “wide net” approach was just a different approach than they would likely have chosen. in the end, though, their decision to discontinue our contracts was purely a business decision (at least as i understand it), not a theological decision or compatability decision. they’d like to take a shot at running all aspects of the journal themselves.

it’s a great loss to us. yes, we sold it; but to be honest, that was to keep it alive — so we could do what we do well, and someone else could do what we do didn’t do well. the current issue (ironically, on “truth”) is the last that we’ll have anything to do with. the editor will change, the advisory board will change, many of the authors will change.

we’re not sure yet what we’re going to do to replace the important role of youthworker journal in the ys world. we’re still considering our options. i’ll post seperately the last-page column i wrote in the current issue, which talks about our calling to exercise a prophetic voice.

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