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Winter Retreat '09

I was hoping to tell about the Winter Retreat (Ski Trip) earlier this past week, but after being gone for a week I felt swamped by work and just exhausted early in the week. I took some time to rest up and catch up... and now here's a little recap of last week's youth trip:

  • We couldn't get the bus going. We were suppose to leave TuesAM at 7 and couldn't get the bus running. Batteries, a solenoid switch, some creative wiring, a little motor oil, and 7 hours later, we were up going.

  • Since we couldn't leave as planned, we managed to get our reservations backed up a day (CTI, you're awesome!), travelled part way Tues, the rest on Wed, skied Thur & Fri, and came home on Sat. So, we ended up adding an extra day to the trip - which made it feel soooo much longer. It ended up being a good thing as far as the weather goes, because we got all kinds of snow Wed night and Thurs. We couldn't have planned it any better.

  • Thursday, on our way up to the ski slopes, we pulled over to let the snow plow by. When pulling back into the road, the church van got stuck in the ice -tires spinning, sliding, going nowhere. We tried adding people to the van for weight. A couple of us tried pushing. Then, the bus got stuck in the ice, too! Finally, we had everybody in the bus move to the back over the rear axel for weight to help with traction. This got the bus going and we eased the bus up to the back of the van, bumper to bumper, to push the van up the hill. Crazy!

  • The hotel we stayed at was in Canaan Valley State Park. These deer were coming right up to the back of the hotel and youth were feeding them Doritos. From their mouths. They were holding the chips in their mouths and the deer would come nibble them away. Awesome fun.

  • An indoor pool and ten minutes in a hot-tub are great when the outside temps are in the single digits! (and should be a part of every youth trip)

  • I seriously may have taken one of the greatest group of adult volunteers on this trip ever! Despite the hurdles, obstacles, and crazy adventures, they were all so helpful, on top of things, and willing to jump in to do what needed to be done. I will continue to brag on these folks! Thank you guys for all you did (and all you do) for our youth.

  • The ministry times were good. Our theme was "jump!" and we broke it down like this:
    1) Everybody Jumps (Jn8:31-32, I jumped on a little exercise trampoline, everybody believes something, so the question is what -or who- are you jumping for?)
    2) Take a Leap of Faith (Mk10:48-52, Bartimaeus jumped to Jesus, will you passionately follow Jesus?)
    3) Help Others Jump (Acts3:1-10, you have something to offer, God will use you -even young- to help others follow Jesus.)

And it all looked a little something like this...

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A Quote for Friday

"Son, you've got a good engine, but your hands aren't on the steering

Bobby Bowden, FSU Head Football Coach

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NYWC Notes

This post is part of a series from notes taken during YS’s NYWC.

Seminar : A Beginner’s Guide to Pulling Off Great Events : Dave Ambrose

Great Events Start By…
1. Thinking things thru.
2. Sketching out the Big Picture
3. Pray. No… really… pray.

So, here’s an outline…
Why are you having this event?

Who is this event for?

What’s going to happen in the event?

How are people going to hear about this event? Who needs what information?

No one-man armies. What needs to be done and who can help?

When the event is over, it's not over. The follow-thru is a part of the event. Any loose ends to tie-up? Any conversations that need to happen? Any notes to take for 'next time'?

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A Quote for Friday

"In the short-run, people will respond to a need. In the long-run, they will respond to a vision."

Doug Fields

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Radiator Cap Solution

auto mechanic shop

This guy's car was broke down and wouldn't crank, so he had it towed to the auto shop. Mechanic takes a look at the car, rattles around under the hood for a minute, and then turns to the guy.

"You ain't gonna like this, but what you need is a radiator cap solution," he says.

Curious, the guys asks, "Radiator cap solution? What do you mean?"

The mechanic explains. "Well, to fix this we're gonna need to lift the radiator cap and put a new car under it. Then the next day, we'll replace the radiator cap."
Sometimes what the situation calls for isn't the quick and easy fix.

But sometimes the bigger changes are best.

"I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." -Jesus, John3:3

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NYWC Notes

This post is part of a series from notes taken during YS’s NYWC.

General Session : Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne, & Andrew Marin

Love. Love. Love.
Love in action.

Barna survey says general impression of the church: 1) anti-gay, 2) judgemental, 3) hypocritical.

Shane says to “love the poor among you.” If there are no poor among you, maybe you need to open your eyes or change where you are.

Andrew says to “love the homosexuals.” It’s not our place or job or responsibility to judge, but we are called to love.

Tony says to “love the church and the church needs to love.” Our current economic situation provides ideal opportunities for the church to show love.

Love. Justice. Compassion. Peace.

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Youth Winter Retreat (Ski Trip)

We're leaving bright and early tomorrow morning for the youth Winter Retreat (ski trip). I hope to have some stories and pictures to share when we get back.


Canaan Valley, WV - Here we come!

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A Quote for Friday

"People will say what they think, but they will live what they believe."

Dennis "Tiger" McLuen

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Headed on a Journey

Headed out today for a weekend retreat. I'll be serving in the kitchen for the Southeast Georgia Girls' Emmaus Journey. It's a spiritual retreat for college age / young adults (19-24yo). It's a full-schedule weekend with little sleep and lots of love and plenty of food. If you're a pray-er, throw one up our way!

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NYWC Notes

This post is part of a series from notes taken during YS’s NYWC.. For more, search this blog for "nywc".

General Session : Francis Chan

Why NOT be bold and follow God?
The early disciples did it and they lived radically marked lives of love and passionate commitment to God and saw God at work in their lives and around them. So, are we in the American church missing something? Do we settle for “programming” and miss the wild following of God? Are we more amazed with our big pile of salt that’s lost it’s saltiness?

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men." -Mt. 5:13

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fail blog

Sometimes things go right in life. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes, things fail.

not the dog trick she intended

price fail

a bad rodeo situation

bill's not excited with hillary speaking

Not entirely rated G, but this seems to be a list of things that FAIL with the world, it’s the FAIL Blog. For me, it's not necessarily any one picture, but the accumulation of failed experiences that allows the humor to grow. (It's a pretty dry humor.) Enjoy!

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Meetings: Information vs Action

I was sitting in a meeting a couple weeks ago, and this began taking shape in my mind. This is really directed at meetings within the local church, but whatever applies to your situation. Any input or thoughts on keeping meetings functional, useful, and to the point?

The whole chart boils down to information versus action.

Is the purpose of the meeting to spread some information to the people attending? That’s not necessarily bad, but there are lots of other ways to share information. A letter, memo, email… Granted, they can tend to lack a personal touch, but if it’s just about getting information to people, these types of communication are more time efficient and still communicate the message.

But, if that information is being given in hopes of inspiring people or casting a vision, then that’s best done face-to-face in person. That’s a different kind of information and dictates a different kind of presentation. It helps for people to be able to hear what you’ve got to say, but also to hear it in the sound of your voice, and to see it on your face, and to feel it with the passion and enthusiasm you say it with.

Mostly, meetings should be about action: decision making that requires the group, assigning tasks that need to be carried out by the group, following up on assigned tasks as needed (which, yes, get’s back to information, but this should be info given in an action-oriented way: here’s what’s done, here’s the next steps). People should walk out of the meeting feeling a sense of usefulness and purpose and direction.

And this is where I come back around to “info for the sake of casting a vision.” If it’s just about info, most will tend to feel like it was a boring waste of time. If it’s just about action, people will eventually feel some burnout. But if people catch hold of a vision for what’s coming, for where the group is heading, for the exciting things that they will get to help make happen… That’s a sense of purpose and direction. And if the next actions are obvious, people are more likely to take that next step.

The tag at the bottom: #’s & $ and/or ‘story of ministry’. Often reports are given in meetings with the bottom line in mind. How many people? How much money? And those can be helpful things to look at. I think, though, that it would be much more effective, and have a greater impact, to share those numbers, but to put a face with it. Tell a story about ministry. Tell about what God is doing through the team’s efforts. Celebrate the wins. Point out the successes – and even perceived failures can be successes if you tell about what you’ve learned from the experience.

So, how are you going to take this into YOUR next meeting?

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Live Baby Treated as Trash

I realize I just recently posted about abortion issues in the news, but I read another headline yesterday that simply amazed me. I have no intent to make politics or subjects like abortion a regular topic here, but I felt like I ought to share this because it raised some questions and thoughts for me.

A Florida abortion clinic threw away a newborn infant. Just tossed out with the trash. A baby. A live baby!

My unrefined, stream-of-consciousness thoughts and questions: clearly the doctor should lose his medical license, this could raise questions and cast new doubts on the legitimacy of abortions, questions of viability of life at early term births and late term abortions, when does life begin, ethics in medicine, court ruling on the case against the doctor and clinic may establish certain precedence for future rulings on abortion cases, does the mother now regret her decision, how does she feel about aborting a fetus vs killing an unwanted child...

It was just one of those headlines that caught my attention.

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A Quote for Friday

"You don't drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there."

Edwin Louis Cole

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Those Are Good Questions

I thought this was a great list of questions by Tony Morgan. Insightful, helpful, straightforward questions... "strategic" even. Here's two, just for example:

  • 1. What is God telling me to do? That’s usually confirmed through reading the Bible, praying and listening to the wisdom of the friends who surround me.
  • 4. Who? Because the most important thing I do in ministry is get the right people on the team. That includes both staff and volunteers. As I get older, this is also about identifying the new leaders.
It a short read, and potentially very helpful. So, go go check it out.

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On Laundry and YthMin

Youth ministry is kind of like doing laundry; you're never "done" with it.

piled up laundry basketMost days, people wear clothes. And this creates an endless cycle of dirty clothes that then need to be washed.

It's much the same in youth ministry. There's always more to be done. You could spend a few more minutes working on prepping a lesson. You could make another phone call, write another note, go to one more game or dance recital. You could even attend one more meeting.

So, I'm thinking that the "work" of youth ministry isn't about getting it done, because you never get it done. Rather, it's about defining the tasks that are important/priorities and then honing and refining the processes by which you go about the work.

Some thoughts from the laundry analogy:

  • When you're not washing clothes, don't stress about what's sitting in the dirty clothes hamper. You'll wash it when you wash it. (take time off)
  • But don't let it pile up. That mountain of dirty clothes is more intimidating than it should be. And I hate having to scrounge around looking for clean socks. (work when you need to work)
  • Spot-treat what needs it as it comes up (crisis management), but then actually wash a load of similar stuff at one time. (block-out time, batch tasks)
  • Use fabric softener. (bathe your work in prayer)
  • When folding, just take it one piece at a time. (b/c you can only do one thing at a time)
  • Don't stress trying to have it "over and done with." (life keeps happening, and, therefore, so does the work of ministry)
  • And don't get overwhelmed with "you mean there's more?!?" (remember it's about the process)

The question isn't "What do we do?" in the sense of looking for activity. The task is to zoom out often enough to see the bigger picture of values and direction to keep in touch with that. And then to zoom back in to the hands-on work of individual tasks to do what's important in the best ways possible.

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