Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Story, Signs, and Sacred Rhythms Chapter 1

How's that for a headline grabbing title! Oh wait...

I just started reading through Chris Folmsbee's new book, Story, Signs, and Sacred Rhythms. At the end of each chapter he offers reflection and discussion questions. I thought I would reflect here, and if there is anyone around for a discussion, let's discuss!

1. What are some of your current frustrations with youth ministry?
I am frustrated by the "me-centered" nature of youth ministry. I feel like I spend a lot of time making kids love church and God by making it fun and relevant. Then, when they graduate high school and church isn't always those things, they lose interest. And I'm pretty sure that's because it shouldn't be about "me" in the first place. Also, a new frustration in a bigger setting is the feeling of competition between youth groups. If we aren't awesome, then students will go to wherever is. I don't think this makes for very effective youth ministry.

2. What encourages you about the current state of youth ministry?
People are asking questions and longing to do things differently. I am continuously encouraged by different ym blogs and ideas, and I am encouraged by the openness to share ideas in public forums.

3. In what ways do you see yourself advancing a limited view of God to students?
We talk a lot about the love and grace of God, but not a lot about the judgment of God. We tend to talk about the parts of God that are easy for students to understand and not wrestle with the ones that not all of them can immediately comprehend.

4. In what ways are you helping your students with an unlimited view of God?
Getting outside the doors of the church and experiencing a God who can't be contained, rather than learning about a God who we can put into any box we wish.

5. Do you agree with the statement: "Youth ministry is a theological endeavor"? Why or why not?
Yes, I agree. Youth ministry has to be theological (without being stuffy) because otherwise what is the framework for students to build a life of following after Christ on? If youth ministry is boiled down to do's and do not's, it is too easy to abandon those lists when things are hard. But a good understanding of God and the Bible gives something to hold onto and to filter life through.

6. In what ways are you currently helping your students develop context and meaning for God's mission? How might you do better?
Our junior high ministry just spent the spring semester going through the story of God (using these two resources and combining them) and discovering why the stories of the Bible matter to us today. I also try to give practical application for how whatever we are talking about matters to what students do on a day-to-day basis.
I could do better by not trying to boil everything into a lesson to learn, but give students the tools to learn and discover meaning on their own.

Chapter 2 to come soon!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vertical in Bolivia trip blog

Head over to to follow our high school mission trip to Bolivia.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Had a dream last night that just now, at 11:59 am hit me like a ton of bricks. I was teaching students and telling them that they needed to be ready to follow anywhere God would ask them to go. I was passionately pleading with them to go into the uncomfortable and risky places that God is most certainly calling them to go.

After that the dream switched to me in bed waking up with God or an angel talking to me and telling me that my family had to move to somewhere next week and leave behind our nice, comfortable life in Kansas. I was horrified! I blinked to try and make it all go away and, when it wouldn't, I begged God to change. Certainly not my family, and not so soon! Give me 10 or 15 years and then, sure, call us to a new place. And if it could comfortable and easy, all the better. The begging continued, the call did not change.

As I sit and remember the dream, I don't remember the place and I am not sure there was one. I don't think that is really the point. I am still confident that God has my family in the place he wants us to be. But, I do think he is calling us to go into the "uncomfortable" places of youth ministry to offer hope, love, and redemption.

A few months ago Don Miller posted this blog about asking ourselves "What if..." questions. And as I have thought and prayed and listened to God, it became clear to me that one of my what if's involved releasing my fears about being inadequate as a youth pastor and using who God made me to be to love students and their families without reservation or fear.

And, you know what, I'm scared of how God might show up in that particular "What if's" of my life.

What might it mean for my family?
What could it mean for my security and comfort?
Will it just drain me and hurt me?
Does it matter if it just drains me and hurts me?
Can I really trust God when I struggle to trust me?

I don't know the answers to all those yet, but I want to follow the Holy Spirit as it leads, wherever and however that may be. I am more and more certain that wherever I am, it's supposed to be crazy and unpredictable and hard and beautiful as I see God do his thing.

May we all find those places.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday Havily

(Havily enjoying some birthday cake at her party)

I am so thankful that God has given me the privilege and responsibility of being the father of this sweet and opinionated little girl. As we celebrate her 1st birthday, I am thinking about this verse that I pray defines who she is:
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
1 John 3:1
Father God,
Thank you for Havily and all the things she is teaching me and will continue to teach me about myself and you. Help her to see your goodness and love for her and to identify herslef in that great love. Amen.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lessons from Carsen

Our church is collecting books to send to the Hopi Indian Reservation in Arizona and we asked the twins to each grab 3 books to give. Carsen ran to their room and emerged a few minutes later carrying 4 books including 2 of his absolute favorites. I asked him if he was sure if he wanted to give those books away while thinking that he certainly had some books he didn't like or that were beat up a bit that he could give away. And then he informed me that he knew other little boys with no books would really like those ones so he wanted to send them to him. And then I had thoughts about being a cheerful giver and that giving should cost me something. So I looked at my 4 year old son and said I was proud of him and walked away thanking God that Carsen has that giving spirit in him and praying that I wouldn't take it away from him with my concern for what is right or proper.

Today his sister lied to me at dinner time and her punishment was to be the last to get cake tomorrow at Havily's party. Then Carsen intervened and reminded me just how undeserved grace can be. He told Kennedy that he would go after her in line and be last. He was completely willing to take her punishment on himself to show her that he loved her and to alleviate some of her sadness at the punishment.

What a great kid. I am blessed by being his dad!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Froggy Sort of Day

Was out trimming the yard yesterday when I saw this big ol' frog down by the pond. Carsen and I got a nice close look. In the first photo you can just see the outline of my reflection in his eye.