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This weekend our youth ministry is participating in World Vision's 30 Hour Famine. It's FriPM and all Sat.

Basically, 30HF means that teenagers...

  • have raised money for starving kids around the world.
  • are going 30 hours without food to experience, pray for, and better understand poverty and hunger.
  • will have one heck of a dodgeball tournament tonight.
  • will be spreading out all over Statesboro, GA to show some love through service projects SatAM.
And... It's our youth and 5 other churches, so we're talking 24 hour lock-in with a couple hundred kids and no food.


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A Quote for Friday

"When I give, I give myself."

Walt Whitman

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UNLEASH09: Breakout Session #2

This post is part of a series from notes taken during NewSpring Church’s Unleash Conference.

Breakout Session #2 : Student Ministry
Brad Cooper

2 Questions:
“What’s business?”

"How’s business?"
  • Once you can answer "what’s business?" you can begin to evaluate and improve how you accomplish that.

Fuse Discipleship Strategy
Brad Cooper laid out their strategy. It’s not dissimilar to many other ministry models, but had a unique terminology. There are four categories / steps / stages connected by intentional bridges:
  • 1. Consumer: Teens learning names of leading adults. It’s not the end goal, but it is important to produce a product the teens can be proud of. Bridges to next step: volunteer leaders, students’ peer invitation and influence, “JumpOff” – vip afterparty for first time guests and their inviter, quality production of events
  • 2. Relater: leaders learning teen’s name. Bridges to next step: teaching, small groups
  • Line of Faith: between "Relater" and "Disciple" the teen chooses to trust God in faith
  • 3. Disciple: begins to live into their relationship with God Bridges to next step: teaching, small groups, creating opportunities to lead and serve
  • 4. Producer: Teens taking up the responsibility to lead and serve. “You tell me / show me, and I’ll know. I do, and I’ll understand.”

Quick Hitters from the Q & A
  • What is your succession plan? Who’s up next? Have a vision bigger than your lifespan.
  • Use of texting to communicate (txtsignal.com, youth, parents, and volunteers channels)
  • Recruiting volunteers in new members’ class; invited to observe, one month evaluation.
  • Trips: 1 week camp in summer (feasibility of transporting huge number of people & equipment)
  • Invest in staff: "How’s time with god?", staff knowing what the leader is reading.
  • A question worth answering: What would you do if it was twice as large?

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Don't Be the Jerk

(...and don't keep jerks around.)

Seth Godin pointed out in a recent post that many teams have a jerk - that guy who knows his stuff and he knows he knows his stuff and wants everybody else to know that he knows his stuff and so he's kind of a jerk.

Don't keep jerks around. It kills teamwork and team morale. It hurts decision making and progress and achieving goals. It even subtly undermines the leadership. Like Godin said in his post:

Deep technical competency is overrated compared with the ability to make excellent decisions and to create a culture where forward motion is valued and personal initiative is rewarded.
In almost every situation, there are other people who "know their stuff" too. There are plenty of people who are knowledgeable (or can put in some work to get there. Seldom is knowledge the irreplaceable part of the contribution to a team.

For those in leadership positions, this is a healthy reminder of the value of team chemistry. For those in teamwork-oriented positions, maybe you could study up and become the new "guy who really knows his stuff."

Just be that guy with better personality.

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UNLEASH09: Breakout Session #1

This post is part of a series from notes taken during NewSpring Church’s Unleash Conference.

Breakout Session #1 : Communications & Web Strategy
Suzanne Swift & Joshua Blankenship

  • Simple, streamlined, and cohesive around mission / vision.
  • "Branded house": few logos (NewSpring, Kids’ environment, Student ministry environment) provides a consistent “feel” of every contact point repping who organization is.
  • In web design (and really throughout ministry) it’s important to provide logical next steps, because when people are given too many options, they freeze.
  • Smooth running teamwork like this requires clearly defined roles and goals. These guys ooze a passion for the vision of the church.
  • When planting new church campus, they advertised the series (as an event to come to) rather than New Spring, b/c NS didn’t hold value like an event might for that community of people.
  • Establish lead time and set deadlines. (working 2 to 6 weeks ahead)
  • Build good relationships and good systems. To build relationships, you have to go to them.
  • Initial meeting, planning, and then trusting people to be awesome at what they do.

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Weekend Wrap Up

Weekend Wrap Up:

  • Teaching in AM: Teaching at the Confirmation retreat Saturday was fun. It's always awesome to see them so excited and engaged with this stuff. Sounded like they were having a great retreat experience. Hope my little piece was helpful for them.
  • Dating in PM: We hit the outlet mall in Darien for a short shopping trip; I got new jeans. And the Shell House in SAV was right on. Yummy.
  • Noah's Parade: Noah spent the weekend with grandparents and went to the St.Patrick's day parade in Dublin. They said he loved the fire trucks. Ask him what a fire truck says, and he'll tell you, "woo-woo" (like the siren...) My folks brought him home Sunday and went to church and lunch with us. It was nice to have a day for just Shannon and me, but it was also nice to have him home again.
  • Youth Minsitry: Last night we had one of my former youth, who is now a mature, responsible college student (haha), come to share with our group about a mission trip she went on this past December. She spent ten days in India with a group called NetIndia and took over 2,600 backpacks filled with all kinds of great stuff to kids over there. She did a great job sharing about her experiences and making the point that we don't have to go all the way around the world, but should also serve the people right here in our own backyard. And several of the teens were interested and asking her more about it after last night.
  • NCAA Tourney: I got 25 of the first round picks right, but only 11 of the second round. Seven of my Elite Eight teams are still alive and all of my Final Four. Still hanging in there in my two pools, but I'll need some things to break my way if I'm gonna win. And, yes, Shannon is beating me. She's first in both pools. She's good at this.

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March Madness, Baby!

This is the opening weekend of the 2009 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, and we're just moving into the second round games.

Each year I'll print out bracket sheets for Shannon and me, and we'll both fill one out. Neither of us follows the regular season closely, and Shannon doesn't even like basketball, but we've each filled out one of the sheets for the past several years just for the fun of seeing who can guess the most correctly. I suppose it's that little competitive streak in each of us.

Anyway, here are my picks:
(One, please excuse the advertisements - thanks, Yahoo!. And two, "I May As Well Play The Lottery" is the chosen title for my bracket because I've got about the same shot at being right in either.)

It's funny how so many people aren't college basketball fans or don't follow the season, but jump onboard for March Madness. Or how people who don't follow the NFL or even like football will go to Super Bowl parties. Maybe it's the massive media push behind these events that pulls people in. Maybe it's the social phenomena they've become; it just woven into the fabric of US culture. Maybe it's not about the events at all, but the people / friendships / community around a SB party or the competition of who guessed the most games correctly.

So, why do people jump on a bandwagon like this? Does anybody else fill out one of these brackets?

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Teaching in AM, Dating in PM

I'm headed down to Epworth by the Sea on Saint Simons Island to lead one of the workshops for the second weekend of this year's SouGaConf Confirmation Retreat. The South Georgia Annual Conference has done a great job with this event the past several years. I've taken some fun groups for some fun times at the retreat (in a nasty van) and have even led the same workshop before. They're even using a video we made, which is pretty cool.

This year will be different, though. First, I'm just going for Saturday to lead a workshop, so I won't be around for much else of the weekend. And, SFUMC's confirmation class went on the weekend in February, so I won't have a group of teens with me.

Instead, Noah is going to Grandmother's for the weekend and Shannon is going with me. She'll kick around down there with some "relax time" while I lead the workshops. Then we're making plans for some kind of date. I'm thinking "eat at a seafood restaurant," but Shannon said something about shopping... I usually make it a rule in life not to argue too much with pregnant women. We'll see where this goes. Maybe a compromise.

Any recommendations on the date?

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A Quote for Friday

"It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference."

Tom Brokow

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UNLEASH09: Main Session #1

This post is part of a series from notes taken during NewSpring Church’s Unleash Conference.

Main Session #1 : Perry Noble

3 Questions for the Church from 2Kings7

Q: Are we willing to embrace change?

  • The men felt their situation deeply enough they had to do something.
  • God uses people who are falling apart.
  • Be willing to take a God-led risk.
  • Learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
Q: Are we willing to work?
  • The men got up and took action. And when they took action, they saw God’s action.
  • Having a ”You show me and I’ll go” commitment.
  • Investigate the obvious stuff; test assumptions.
  • Where are we manufacturing energy?
  • Too many people are “educated beyond obedience.” (ppl have heard God, but aren’t obedient to what they’ve heard, they don’t put it into practice, into application)
Q: Are we serious about reaching the world?
  • The men realized it was right to share what they had found.
  • It’s right for the church to be committed to sharing what we’ve found to be true in God with a world that is in desperate need.

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Fun Little Web App

I stumbled across a fun website that could have some clever uses in ministry. You know, for those who "play for a living." (Refer here, then here.)

It's the Strip Generator and it lets you create your own comic strip. Drag and drop characters, objects, and a speech bubble or two and you're all set. Here's one I played around with...

Well... it makes ME laugh.

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UNLEASH09: General Notes

This post is part of a series of notes taken during NewSpring Church’s Unleash Conference.

General Notes

  • In one word: Wow.
  • I really liked the one day format for a conference like this. This and the cost would make it pretty convenient for a volunteer team. Hopefully next year.
  • I was very impressed by the NewSpring volunteers; greeting in the parking lot, welcoming at the doors, helpful throughout the day, and I walked back to our ride with a hand-written note. Classy.
  • I was also impressed with the staff. Let me explain this: One of the two breakout sessions was about communications and web strategy. These people were sharing about media communications and web design and branding and they kept talking about people getting to know Jesus. And it wasn’t just the web and communications departments. The whole staff was oriented around that single vision and mission for the church. One of the comments they made in regards to web design: we’re good at what we do so they (other ministry staff) can be good at what they do. That teamwork and singleness of purpose makes everyone’s efforts more effective for the Kingdom.
  • Perry Noble doesn’t beat around the bush. He obviously says whatever (WHATEVER) he feels God is telling him to say. On the one hand, that type of obedience to God is something everyone should strive for. On the other hand, a person would need to be certain they’re hearing clearly from God, and not being self-serving or people pleasing. I’m not suggesting he was or wasn’t; just saying it’s a good idea to be cautious to speak that boldly. But, then again, I suppose you should be cautious anytime you’re speaking on God’s behalf.
  • The basic schedule was Main Session #1, Breakout Session #1, Breakout Session #2, Main Session #2. There was a whole lot to chew on. I’ll be thinking through all that with a short series of posts.

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I've Seen It All

Well, honestly I haven't seen it ALL, but I've seen some stuff...

As someone who has committed to serving in ministry to teens and adolescents, people sometimes ask, "So, what do you do?" Youth ministry is sometimes an easy target. Just last week I even had a friend, (eh-hem... a close, dear friend) suggest I "play for a living."

When I saw this video (from the Simply Youth Ministry Conference - formerly the National Youth Ministry Conference on More Than Dodgeball), I thought it had at least a little bit to say about what I (and others in youth ministry) do.

"I called the ambulance, son!"

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A Quote for Friday

"Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith."

Paul Tillich

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My Ministry Field Trip

Today, I'm in Anderson, SC.

"Why?" you ask. I'm glad you asked.

This is why.

Newspring Church is hosting a one-day conference event called "Unleash." I got a last minute invite from a good friend (the pastor at Lifespring UMC), and I'm super excited.

Here's a little snapshot from Tony Morgan, the Chief Strategic Officer at Newspring:

This Thursday, we’re hosting our third Unleash conference at NewSpring Church at our Anderson campus. Here’s what to expect:
  • 3,000 registered guests eager to learn and be inspired
  • 500 volunteers ready to serve
  • 100 NewSpring staffers ready to both learn and serve
  • 2 main sessions with loud music for the young people
  • 1 Perry Noble with more Perryisms than you can shake a stick at.
I look forward to the experience and then sharing about the day.

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NYWC Notes

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

Extra : Conversation with Steve Carter

Following a seminar/workshop, I had a short conversation with Steve Carter, and he made a little comment that I thought was pretty insightful.

View others’ actions through this lens:
Everything is an “Act of Love” or an “Act to be Loved”

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The Hits Just Keep On Coming

I laughed at this so hard when I first saw it.

Maybe you've heard of this, but it was news to me. Microsoft has software called "Songsmith". Basically, you sing along to a drum track, and the software records your voice, and then generates the music to back you up, and Voila! Your very own song.

Here's the ad:
(No. Really. It's the real Microsoft ad. Yes, I'm serious - but I don't know if they were.)

And that's not even what I thought was so funny...

Naturally, some brilliant people had the creative idea to take vocal tracks from popular songs, run them through Songsmith, and some of the results couldn't be any better! It's best if you know the original and you can listen to just enough to get the feel of the new song and really appreciate the humor. At the risk of posting too many videos at one time, here were some of my favorites:

"Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor

"White Wedding" by Billy Idol

"Wonderwall" by Oasis

"Roxanne" by The Police

If you're still hooked on this stuff... Crazy Train, Beat It, I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Hotel California, and of course Never Gonna Give You Up.

One more reason, Microsoft is so great... [cough, cough]

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A Tale of Two Blog Posts

I was catching up on some reading and came across two posts I wanted to share with people, unrelated in topic but related by author.

The first one caught my attention as a follow-up to my recent thoughts on meetings.

There are only three kinds of classic meetings:
  1. Information. This is a meeting where attendees are informed about what is happening (with or without their blessing). While there may be a facade of conversation, it's primarily designed to inform.
  2. Discussion. This is a meeting where the leader actually wants feedback or direction or connections. You can use this meeting to come up with an action plan, or develop a new idea, for example.
  3. Permission. This is a meeting where the other side is supposed to say yes but has the power to say no.
PLEASE don't confuse them.
Read the rest here.

The other post I thought was an important reminder when it comes to public speaking, something that seems to be a standard part of most ministry styles today - for better or for worse. He points out two of the most basic and important elements for a speaker: respect and love. He sums it up best with his bottom line:
And then, as the talk (pitch/presentation/interview) begins, don't focus your energy or concern on yourself. It's not about you. It's about them. The presenter who loves his audience the most, wins.
Read the rest here

Then again, maybe they are related if you're the one leading the meeting...

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Some Music for Your Monday

Some music that's been playing in my ipod lately...

Robbie Seay Band : Give Yourself Away
Such a good reminder of hope and to love God with all I've got and all I am. And then to love people as an overflow of that.
The Style: relaxed rock.
The Homerun: The popular song from this has been "Song of Hope (Heaven Come Down)," and it's really very good, but I'd recommend "Rise" and "Love Wins."
The Lyric: "Love is strong, love is strong, love is strong / It's been there holding you all along / Everything thrown away will be new again / And love will be the last thing standing" -Love Wins

Robbie Seay Band : Give Yourself Away

Jon Black : Goodbye Golden Age
This has been the audio-backdrop for my recent "get work done" moods. The headphones go in, the Jon Black comes on, and work is getting done.
The Style: soft southern rock.
The Homerun: It's a split between "I Am the Tempted" and "Broken Places". Also, "Declaration" is great, but I'd heard an earlier, stripped-down version with just Jon and his guitar, and I think it's spoiled me.
The Lyric: "It's routine that's robbing us / It's routine that some live for / 'Cause routine is safe and calm / But we could ride this storm" - Declaration

Jon Black : Goodbye Golden Age

Joshua James : The Sun Is Always Brighter (Deluxe Edition) & B-sides It's Dark Outside
Folk. Laid-back, message driven folk. Acoustic and raw. I love it. I actually bought both of these at the same time, and don't really differentiate between them when I'm listening since they're on the same playlist. Btw, I also picked up "Floods and Fields", his short Christmas album, and it's fun for a different feel of Christmas songs.
The Style: I just told you; it's folk, with a country feel at times.
The Homerun: "Lovers Without Love". You could pick "Crash This Train", "Colby's Song", "Cowboys and Indians", "FM Radio", "Dangerous", and "The New Love Song" all as stand-outs, but if you're looking for the homerun go with "Lovers Without Love."
The Lyric: "Well another silly love song could make me sick / About a heart broke emo rocker and his messed up chick / Are we so deaf dumb and blind we can’t see the candlestick / Burnin down" - The New Love Song

Joshua James : The Sun Is Always Brighter

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A Quote for Friday

"Life is a succession of moments, to live each one is to succeed."

Corita Kent

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NYWC Notes

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

Seminar : Staying Connected to God in the Midst of Our Real Lives : Will Penner

Recommended Books:
Foster : Celebration of Discipline
Jones : Soul Shaper
*Linn : Sleeping with Bread

Reflection: Taking time to reflect on highs and lows of life recently. Sharing around the family dinner table, journaling, etc. Two ideas / phraseologies… “Desolation vs Consolation”, “Pow vs Wow”

Appropriating “Down Time”: Making productive use of those dead times. Ex: memory verse flashcards while standing in line, pray in driving time…

The best nugget from this whole seminar:
What we do DOES NOT define who we are.
What we do DOES help shape who we are.

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