are short-term missions becoming faddish?
Thursday March 01st 2007, 12:17 pm
Filed under: youth ministry, church, blogs, youth work

great post today from seth barnes on the faddishness of short-term missions. it’s especially gutsy, since seth is the founder and exec dir of adventures in missions, an organization that takes thousands on short-term missions trips each year. he starts…

Are short-term missions becoming faddish? That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is: YES. I estimate that 75% of STMs are done poorly (that is, not meeting many of the standards of excellence referred to below). Robert Priest estimates that as many as four million a year go on STMs. You do the math on the waste there.

Those going are increasingly ill-prepared and what they do is of questionable value given the resources invested. Sadly, many participants are narcissistic, they have little cross-cultural perspective, and often their experience does little to advance the Kingdom.

read the rest here


many of the comments (interesting stuff, btw) seem to be implying that i don’t believe in short-term missions, or wondering if i don’t. many are taking time to defend stm’s. let me clarify: i’m a HUGE supporter of stm. i’ve taken thousands of teenagers on, litereally, hundreds of missions trips. i served on the board for adventures in missions (the organization seth barnes — the guy this post links to — leads) for 5 years. and i’ve rarely seen more lasting change in students than as a result of stm.

that said… i think seth (who is clearly also a massive propoant of stm, since that’s what his organization does) raises a good question (or, questions). i HAVE noticed a trend where youth workers and churches are adding stm as another program without really thinking through WHY they’re doing it, HOW they can do it effectively (without actually doing more damage to the culture they visit), WHAT should actually occur on an stm that makes sense for both the participants and those being ministered to, and so many more questions.

there’s some addition great reading on this. read dave livermore’s excellent book, . it’s all about the damage that can be done by poorly executed stm, and how to avoid that.

AND, read the follow-up posts on seth’s blog. the one i linked to was only the first in a series!
what does an excellent missions project look like?
excellent mission team prep
and, how to follow up on your mission project


yesterday, in the world of middle school education
Thursday March 01st 2007, 10:59 am
Filed under: youth ministry, youth work, news

a middle school principal was arrested for dealing crystal meth out of his office at the school.

i remember when i was in elementary school (primary grades, for my u.k. friends), and we were trying to learn how to spell “principal” as opposed to “principle”, and the teacher told us you can always remember because the principal is your “pal”. uh, yeah.

dwight schrute: funniest character on tv
Thursday March 01st 2007, 10:13 am
Filed under: humor, tv/movies

dwight just makes me laugh. out loud. in a bursting, embarassing kind of way. gotta love this “theme song”:

(ht to josh treece)

here’s dwight’s blog also, though “he” hasn’t posted in a really long time.

1 Comment

divine intervention
Thursday March 01st 2007, 10:13 am
Filed under: faith, books

intervention.jpg, by tony jones.

it’s only fair to admit, prior to writing this review, that tony (the author) is a highly valued friend of mine, one i have such a deep level of respect for that i constantly desire to be influenced by him (both in person, and by his writing).

and it’s only fair to admit, prior to writing this review, that i’ve come to cherish lectio divina — the subject of the book — as a path of prayer that brings me into direct contact with the maker of the universe who loves me.

so to say i was pre-disposed to like this little book is, well, only fair to admit. fair admissions aside, it’s a great book.

written to teenagers and college-age students, obstensibly (which really means that most of us can actually understand it!), the book has a simple intention: to explain the theology, history and practice of one particular prayer discipline, lectio divina. lectio isn’t a complicated process, but understanding it more deeply is helpful (i can tell it will be helpful for me). it’s a disarming book, because tony’s tone isn’t one that assumes the reader brings all kinds of nasty, “this is evil” baggage to the book. there are plenty of people who will bring that bias or suspician, thanks to the relative success of the new brand of fear-mongers feverishly working to re-define evangelicalism in their own image or, at least, in their own imagination. but this book doesn’t brace itself for that: which makes it a breezy, casual, even whimsical read. i love the way tony gives us tangible “walk throughs” in three different settings: one his own (you’ll feel like you’re sitting next to him on that dock in northern minnesota), with his youth group, and with his church.

the only odd thing to me about this book has nothing to do with the content itself, and won’t be an issue for 99% of the readers. it’s that i can’t figure out the timing on this thing. it released in 2006. but tony seems to have written it when he was in the thick of youth ministry — which he hasn’t been (in terms of employment, that is) for a handful of years. tony? can you ’splain? oh, and i’m dying to know why it was published by the “th1nk” division of navpress (their line of books for older teens and twenty-somethings), but isn’t on the th1nk website. it’s only on the regular navpress website. simple administrative oversight? or is there a story there (i’m wondering since it was some content in our emergentYS line that caused navpress to pull the plug on that line just before the first books went to print: we moved the whole line to zondervan at that point).

in summary: not only would this be a good book for high school upperclassmen and college age students, it’s really a great little read for any age.


the absurd goal: write a book this week
Wednesday February 28th 2007, 4:32 pm
Filed under: personal, books

i’m behind schedule in my writing. kurt johnston and i have a deadline on march 1 (thursday) for the next two books in the middle school survival series: my friends and my school. i have my half of my friends finished — have had it done for a couple weeks. but i haven’t written a word of my school. kurt is in a similar pickle. he’s hoping that it’s no big deal to turn it in next monday, which would only be a few days late, and give him next weekend. my plan is to take today through wednesday as writing days (not go into the office, try to stay off email), and crank the book out. we’ll see if it’s possible to write my half of a book in three days!

day one of three, update:
i have to write 37 little chapters for my half of this book, plus an intro and two sidebars. this morning, i had nothing done. i now have 14 chapters written. pretty good start. if i keep this pace for two more days, i just might finish!

day two of three, update:
another 14 chapters written, for a current total of 28. tomorrow: 9 more chapters, 2 sidebars (”I was a middle school dork!”), and two intros (one for each book). breathlessly, i’m on target.

day three of three, update:
done! sent all 37 chapters, 2 sidebars, TOC, intro, dedication, acknowledgements, and instructions to my co-author, kurt. He’s going to finish his part and compile the pieces into one manuscipt this weekend. yee-ha! thank you lord. thanks to my family. thanks to the fine people of sony for my vaio. back to work at ys tomorrow.


the jazz musician jumped from what?
Wednesday February 28th 2007, 3:17 pm
Filed under: humor, news

this has to be one of the strangest (or best, depending on your perspective) opening sentences to a newspaper article that i’ve seen in a long time…

A jazz musician was injured Friday after jumping from a burning motor home driven by a one-time roller skating stripper from Lodi.

(ht to dave barry)

Wednesday February 28th 2007, 11:37 am
Filed under: humor

that this was hilarious to me reveals much about my sense of humor…

(ht to my daugher, liesl)

an interesting downloadable youth ministry book
Wednesday February 28th 2007, 7:00 am
Filed under: youth ministry, books, youth work

lsmbookMEDIUM.jpgfor years, internet prognostocators have been predicting that the web will change the face of publishing, because anyone can publish whatever they want, without jumping through the traditional publishing hoops. of course, this is causing us at youth specialties, and publishers everywhere, to rethink some things. the wild success of blogging and youtube have proven the “throw it up there, and if it’s good, people will find it” construct. but blogs are limited in terms of developing longer cogent thinking. and, other than organizations and companies that are dipping their toes into the downloadable world (like we are at ys with our ysunderground downloadable site), i haven’t seen many truly downloadable books that are purely created outside a traditional editorial process.

but scott aughtmon has created one. scott interview — via email — 14 youth ministry leaders (myself included), using a standard template of questions (which provides interesting contrast and overlapping threads in the responses), and compiled the whole thing into a book called How To Build A Lasting Student Ministry (you can download the book at that link, for $12.97). i’m sure many will wish for a different, or more expanded list of contributors — but it’s scott’s book, and he got to choose (that’s part of the point here, really). as you’ll see from my responses in the book, some might even wish for a different set of questions. but, again, it’s scott’s book, and he gets to choose. in that sense, this book — and publishing like this — has the potential to be both more unique (publishers have a bit of a tendancy, whether they intend to or not, to “lowest common denominator-ize” books, in the hopes that they’ll connect with a wider audience), as well as narrower in its helpfulness. i’m not saying that to bag on scott’s book at all — just the opposite: i think he’s like the bow of an ice-breaking ship, plowing into into the publishing-world ice-shelf.

here’s the list of contributors:
Jonathan McKee
Mark Oestreicher
Jason Gerdes
Jonathan Herron
Wes Black
Brenda Seefeldt
Dave Keehn
Greg Stier
Nigel James
Ben Hardman
Brad Baker
Chuckk Gerwig
Jeff Slack
Katie Edwards

you may not be familiar with all these people — i wasn’t. but their bios show that why scott chose them. and their responses are diverse enough to provide some good fodder for thought.

and here’s scott’s description of the book:

Based on an imaginary situation, I asked these top student leader some simple questions:

1.What are two common mistakes most pastors make when starting a student ministry that you would make sure not to make?

2.What methods/steps would you use to lay a strong foundation that would last beyond your time there?

3.What is one method/system you would use to see numerical growth as quickly as possible?

4.What is one method/system you would use to see lasting spiritual growth?

you can read more about the book on the website. but, i applaud scott for his perseverance on this project, and for “going offroad” in his desire to get youth ministry thinking into the hands of youth workers.

living as a christian in a radically pluralized culture
Tuesday February 27th 2007, 12:39 pm
Filed under: faith, church, emerging church, emergent

tony jones has written an excellent post on this subject. this is, i believe, how we are called to live.


this funny video seemed a good example, in a silly way, of what tony refers to as the “lowest common denominator” approach.

(ht to the wittenburg blog)


the wheel of food!
Tuesday February 27th 2007, 11:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized



nice. a wheel-of-fortune-like thingie that populates with restaurants near any zip code. enter a zip code and a foodie keyword (i tried steak, mexican, and vegetarian, and got good results on all three). the wheel spins and selects a lunch or dinner choice for you. you can re-spin if you want. links and directions are a click away. could be a fun way to find a few favorite place to eat.



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