youth ministry’s achilles heel
Tuesday September 26th 2006, 9:26 am
Filed under: youth ministry, youth work

on this little convention promo lunch tour, i have an opportunity to share some kind of a ‘thought’ or ‘devotional’ or something. tic long, our pres of events, had done a handful of these already, and i’d heard he’d talked about fear of culture, and i thought that was something i’ve been noticing also, so this is mostly what i said, yesterday (and again today):

first, i asked people to talk at their tables about what the achilles heel is in their ministry — or, what our collective achilles heel is in the youth ministry world. what’s holding us back?

there was some interesting discussion. one helpful thought that dave rahn (youth min prof at huntington) brought up was that, at it’s root, the problem of kids leaving the church after youth group boils down to a theology problem, based on our theology of church. he suggested each church has a self-image based on their theology of church, and that works itself out in all kinds of practical ways. if you take some of those assumptions down the road a few iterations and years, you end up with teenagers who aren’t connected with their churches beyond youth group. i’d love to see a book on this, frankly: how a variety of ecclesiologies result in certain approaches to youth ministry.

anyhow, after some discussion, i suggested (not a ‘right answer’, just my observation) that based on all the input we receive from youth workers, and all the youth ministries i observe, i think our collective achilles heel for decades was arrogance. and this is still present; but i think it’s moved into a second-place spot, behind fear. fear has become a motivator for way too much of what happens in youth ministry these days. all kinds of fear: fear of parents, fear of church boards, fear of our little kingdoms being threatened, fear of our salaries being threatened. but more than all of these, i’ve seen a fear of culture become a motivating force. often, this is a roundabout fear: parents and church leaders possess a fear of culture, and youth workers instinctively know that if they play into these fears, they will get resources and job security and whatever else we desire.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship [and daughtership]. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (romans 8:15)

fear is a cul-de-sac. it might bring short term results; it might get donors to open their wallets, secure our jobs, and get people in our churches to see ‘value’ in the youth ministry. but it starves our souls, and sets our teenagers up for a lifetime of wrong-headed interaction with culture and the world.

then i asked how we could see our ministries embrace hope instead of fear. i pointed out this verse:

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God

this verse is — word-for-word — psalm 42:5, psalm 42:11, and psalm 43:5. now i know there are literary/poetic reasons this verse repeats three times in 2 chapters. but it also seems to indicate that it’s something we should really notice!

what would it look like for our ministries to be characterized as ministries of hope?

like so many, i’m sick of it
Tuesday September 26th 2006, 9:04 am
Filed under: personal, thinking...

i’m sitting in my hotel room in south bend, just a stone’s throw away from where the wolverines of the university of michigan kicked notre dame’s butts a little over a week ago. i have the tv on in the background as i type, and a political commercial just popped up about a couple local politicians i’ve never heard of. the commercial was pointing out how one politician had supported or made contributions to another politicians programs, as a line went from dot-to-dot (each dot represented another of these programs).

when the ad proclaimed the inevitable suggestion that the listener “connect the dots”, it pulled back to reveal the completed connected dots, spelling the word ‘LIBERAL’ in large block letters. clown music was playing in the background.

at first, i laughed, because it was so stupid. but within a second, i felt nothing but disgust and frustration at the political scene in our country. when a politician (or, in this case, the GOP) can actually garner votes by merely casting labels on others (whether ‘liberal’, as in this case, or ‘conservative’, as in others), we get nowhere. we gain nothing. this is nothing but regress. and i’m so over it.

a somewhat silly milestone
Monday September 25th 2006, 8:16 am
Filed under: personal

for frequent fliers, ’status’ with the airline means all kinds of perks: better seats, upgrades, shorter lines, more free miles for free tickets, and more. i’ve been a ‘1k’ with united for a handful of years (which means i fly more than 100,000 miles each year). but there was one milestone still out there: being a one-million-miler with united. when a flier reaches 1,000,000 actual miles, lifetime, united grants ‘premiere executive’ (their middle of three tiers) for the rest of your life.

i passed the 1,000,000 mile mark last night, flying to ft. wayne, indiana, for a couple promotional lunches for our national youth workers conventions. i’ll be at lunches at hungtington college and bethel college today and tomorrow (i can’t remember which is first).

this is a strange, bittersweet milemarker. it means more perks when i fly, and it means i’ll get good seats on united for the rest of my life. but it’s also an indication of the fact that my quantity of travel is still something i haven’t figured out. there’s a weird paradox here: my travel is critical for ys, for my job. and i love most of what i travel for. not going on most of these trips would have an adverse impact on ys. but, being gone as much as i am isn’t healthy for my family; and, in the truer part of the paradox, leaves me more out-of-touch with the staff of ys (which descreases my effectiveness). i’m psyched about reaching this silly milestone, but immediately, within a split-second of that feeling, move to guilt and frustration over my apparent inability to figure out this elusive balance.

feeling the pressure of convention season
Monday September 25th 2006, 8:16 am
Filed under: youth ministry, youth specialties, youth work

i can’t believe the austin national youth workers convention is a little more than a week away. and this year, with four conventions, i’m expecting the fall season to be a bit of a blur. i have to plan my seminars, but that doesn’t feak me out too much. what freaks me out is figuring out what i’m going to say in my closing general session talk. i’ve had a theme in mind for some months, and have been planning to do a bunch of background reading and prep, but just haven’t gotten to it. now it’s crunch time.

let me know if you’ll be blogging from the austin convention.

little superstar
Monday September 25th 2006, 8:16 am
Filed under: humor

i have no explanation for this. i’m somewhere between baffled and highly amused.

(ht to bob carlton)

nifty little book parser
Sunday September 24th 2006, 1:28 pm
Filed under: books

logo_small.gifhere’s an elegantly simple little web app, called daily lit. you choose from a list of public domain books, enter your email address, and the book is emailed to you in little bite-sized bits each day (or multiple times per day, as you choose). they range from 4 parts (i read the wickedly subversive ‘a modest proposal’ by jonathan swift this week, one part per day, delivered to each morning to my email at 6:30am) to 675 parts for ‘war and peace’ by tolstoy.

(ht to bob carlton)

monkey name
Sunday September 24th 2006, 1:28 pm
Filed under: humor

i’m not quite sure what a monkey name is, but apparently mine is…

Sugary-sweet Fuzzy-Butt

so says the “monkey name generator“. huh, i wondered why my wife always calls me that.

(ht to bobbie)

interesting post
Saturday September 23rd 2006, 2:17 pm
Filed under: church, blogs

i thought this post on the CT blog had some interesting points about the conservative church’s prohibition against alcohol and tobacco, and the tacit endorsement of obesity. worth reading.

(ht to len evans)

laughing at the wuss
Saturday September 23rd 2006, 2:17 pm
Filed under: personal

6a00c2252214ef8fdb00c22526b22a549d-120pi.jpggreat. my “good” friend mark dowds has actually posted video of me about to die by heart attack on the side of the road in argentina a couple weeks ago. nice. not my finest moment.

the story is here.

the video of my almost death by wussy-ness is here.

photo in need of a caption
Friday September 22nd 2006, 6:57 pm
Filed under: humor

time for a contest — haven’t had one in a LONG time!

best caption gets a book of your choice from YS. i’ll close it off sometime in the beginning of next week.



famous last pranks (patrick)

simply youth ministry (dana) [marko comment: i’m not even sure why this is funny, but it made me laugh!]

With the ammo all gone and the virus out of control, “the others” resort to new methods of intimidation (jeff m)

September 23, 2018: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney finally discover the weapon of mass destruction. (brian aaby)

The cover illustration from the new YS book, “Play It! Bloopers and Outtakes” (scott b)

capture the flag taken to a whole new level (colin)

Time Capsule from Marko’s First Youth Ministry Discovered. EPA cautions local inhabitants to stay clear. (chris marsden)

The unearthed alien pod was said to contain the building blocks to a new, better tomorrow, unfortunately it was Bill’s last day and the pod was extremely sensitive to sound (kevin i)


funny stuff — but the one that got the loudest response from me was the creative brian aaby, with…
September 23, 2018: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney finally discover the weapon of mass destruction.

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