Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Winding down

We're down to just a couple more 'events' before Christmas with a party tomorrow night for our team of volunteers. Our ministry would not have the effect it does without our volunteers. Our team members handle all sorts of things from helping plan events, programs, building relationships with all our students, running our snack shacks, staying up incredibly late on retreats and lock-ins. That's just the fun stuff. Of course there is the harder side of relationships that happens from time to time, including seeing a student struggling, witnessing the breakup of a family, or any other number of things that come into play in the normal everyday life of a teenager. I'm thoroughly convinced that without these relationships from our volunteers, our ministry would be very shallow. So every year we have a chance to celebrate with our teams, some of what the past year has been like. While its a Christmas party, its definitely a celebration party. So if you're reading this and you're on our team, I can't say enough: Thank You, for being you, loving God, and loving our students!

We're winding down some ministry stuff over the next 2 weeks before we wind back up for the new year. It'll be nice to have some downtime to rest (and clean my office!) But of course January will be here before we all know it!

So as we pause during this time of year to celebrate the coming of Jesus onto this earth, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas!

See you soon!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Coming up...

The Edge:
FNL: Back on this Friday at 8:30 in the Garage
BTE: This Sunday: Kristine is speaking (Last BTE is Dec. 9th)
Dec. 16: Christmas Party! 1-5, then come to Amahl and the Night Visitors!
Feb. 15-18th: Ski Retreat
March 7-8: Mark Matlock /Planet Wisdom Conference

Unplugged: Dec. 9th is the last Unplugged of '07!
Dec. 16: Ice Skating and Christmas Party! 3-9
Jan. 21: Snow Tubing!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Redskins tragedy

Today is a sad day for the Redskins community as many mourn the loss of safety Sean Taylor. What a tragedy it is for anyone to be killed in such a senseless act. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Redskins community.

Monday, November 19, 2007

NYWC Day 3

I was so tired last night, I decided to do a rundown of Sunday on Monday morning. Hope you don't mind. Yesterday was yet another fantastic day... including a chance to sleep in a little bit. Our first general session included Doug Fields talking about ministry envy. I thought he did a pretty good job talking about an issue that many of us face. I'll be the first to admit that this has hit me at times... usually when things aren't going so well and I'm feeling like the energy I'm putting into youth ministry isn't doing anything. This is the point that I become vulnerable to ministry envy. It must have been a little difficult doing this one because let's be honest: many (but not all) youth workers that I know have at one time dreamed of being the next Doug Fields. He has to know that going into a session like this. Yet he faced this talking about his own struggles and the damage he saw come from that.

Worship with David Crowder: Always a lot of fun. I've always enjoyed how light hearted David can be, yet drawing us into worshipping our Creator.

Sessions: Went to 2, Chris Folmsbee's on Living, Loving, and Leading like Jesus. Good seminar and was challenged to figure out and live out the virtues of Jesus. This seems so simple, yet so profound at the same time. At the end, I met a friend of Chris's: Doug, who did youth ministry in our area at one point, and knew the youth pastor 2 yp's ago at our church.

Then went to Mark Matlock's seminar on Neuroscience and biologically what goes on when we talk with each other and why talking with students is so important. (ok I'll admit, I was a geek growing up, and this stuff is interesting). There was a lot in there, so i need to process it some yet.

For dinner, we went to Jock's and Jills as the Redskins game was on, and while in the lobby waiting for our table, I met another Redskins fan from Virginia: Tim and Laura. They invited us to sit with them as their table was called first. What an experience it was getting to know them and just hangin out watchin the skins almost win, but end up losing yet again. As a fan, I've really enjoyed watching them this season almost win, then give the game up, time and again. I love being able to predict the turning point!

Last night's general session was pretty wild with Skit Guys, Marquis Laughlin who did an excellent job telling the story of Abraham (as memorized from Genesis) in a way that was so engaging. He was so good he even maintained composure when the camera man fell off his platform.

After the general session, I was pretty wiped, so I came back to the hotel to sleep... no late night this time.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

NYWC Day 2

I have to admit, NYWC is one of the many highlights of each year. It provides the opportunity to step out of my own local faith community to be with youth workers from around the country, and engage in discussion, worship and learning together. What I didn't expect this time around was to have this nasty cold. (Yes if you hear someone hacking during the general session, that's probably me.) This cold is nasty enough that even with Tylenol cold and sinus, my throat is still painful enough just sitting there. So my thought for today is it feels as though I'm to stop talking and start listening. Course this had some hard moments such as wanting to laugh during the comedy show, sing during Chris Tomlin, and of course the normal screams and yelps that occur during an event like this.

Despite that, the day was fantastic. First this morning in our general session, Phyllis Tickle came on stage, and honestly I didn't know what to expect. Yet she came on stage and really challenged our thinking on the future of the church. She started by talking about how every 500 years, there seems to be a reformation of sorts (in her words "the church has a rummage sale"), and that we are in a period of reformation right now. She provided a lot of language to something that I've been feeling but haven't quite been able to explain. Yet I've been able to sense this to some extent with our youth. It seems to me that its no longer acceptable to our youth to merely talk about faith from an intellectual standpoint, but rather they want to know that this stuff is real! Logical of course but sometimes we tend to be a little slow on such things. Chris Tomlin is one of my favorite worship leaders as I feel like he strips worship down to what it should be: worshiping God for who he is.

In the afternoon... I ended up sleeping through all the seminars, then got together for dinner with Curtis, Donna, and Mary Beth at Ted's for some Bison Burgers. We spoke about how difficult it can be to develop community in our region.

Tonights general session was just as challenging as this morning. The comedians tonight were hilarious ( i went to the comedy club afterward to see them a second time). Louie Giglio challenged us tonight with a story of a family who lost their daughter, and how we have hope in the cross. That sometimes we try to separate our hope and the trouble we have in life. But trouble in life is certain, as is the hope we have in Christ. What an incredible reminder. I'll have to continue thinking about this as I think to some extent the medicine I'm on has made me a little numb. Tomlin led worship again, and this was the first time all weekend that I could notice the voices of everyone in the room above the sound of the band. What a beautiful sound to hear 5500 youth workers crying out in praise to God.

That's it for today. For any of our youth reading this, know that I continue to think about you and pray for you while we're away. I'll miss you tomorrow while you are at church spending time together praising our Lord.

Friday, November 16, 2007

NYWC Day 1

What a day it has been. We flew in to Atlanta this morning, got to the convention center and checked in, met up with some friends, and into it all. I always appreciate the opening general session as Marko begins by inviting everyone to use this conference however they need. Some come and need rest, others come and need a time of recharging their relationship with the Lord, some need training. Me? I would say there's some of all 3.

By the time this convention hits in the fall, we've had our beginning school year crunch, and about to hit the holidays. Its usually pretty non-stop and so this is an opportunity for me to break free for a couple days and be reminded what ministry is all about. I'm also reminded this year about the importance of taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As I right this, I'm dealing with a cold, and have been hacking away all day, no more voice, and pretty tired. :). And ready to have a concentrated time of reconnecting with my Lord.

Andy Stanley challenged us to remember that we all have power, but its what we do with it that determines our character. Will we use it for our own gain? or use it for God's glory to serve others? Challenging stuff.

Then off to a seminary with Marko and Mark R on Expectations that killed the youth worker. Challenging seminar. My takeaway was to be more committed to open communications with my supervisor and peers on staff as well as those I serve in our ministry. There was a lot that resonated here though in regards to my own approaching burnout a year ago, and the following numbness that came after it, mostly due to my own expectations on myself. It took a lot of prayer through that to finally realize that I wasn't and couldn't be in control of things, but rather I had to realize that God was in control and I just had to go where he wanted me. That took a lot of pressure off and helped put things back in perspective.

Anyway, its pretty late, and I miss my family, but am thankful for the opportunity to be here.

Off to NYWC!

Last night as I was falling asleep, I did my usual thinking through the day... it was a rough one, which usually happens the day before something big happens. (this morning is fly out to Atlanta for NYWC). Living in a church house sometimes brings its interesting issues: We had to deal yesterday with termites in the floor of our kitchen, and the backing up of our kitchen sink. In the house we're in, the kitchen is in the basement (very cool), and when it rains big, we sometimes get a gyser coming up out of the sink (not so cool). After the plummer came, we found out the main pipeline going out of the house not only is broken, but has a tree root right smack in the middle of it (very no so cool). It was a fun day trying to get laundry done and packing done for the trip!

Now here we are at 5am the morning of, ready to hit the road to the airport on the annual pilgrimage to the National Youth Workers convention.

More to come...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Building Blocks

Ok I know I already posted today, BUT I had an interesting thought on the way back from lunch today. I was walking back from Panera in FC past a construction site where they are putting up a new building. Its been interesting seeing this change from a hole in the ground to a structure that will eventually be occupied with condos and stores. Today in the work, they have the bricklayers out putting up the brick facade, and I got to thinking just about how life, and youth ministry are like laying bricks. Whether its building the program, or developing relationships, none of it happens overnight. And you can't put bricks up at the top until you have the bottom layers down, and brick by brick the foundation is put it in place, then brick by brick the rest of the programs and relationships fall into place until sometimes many years down the road do you begin to see a more complete picture of what the thing will look like. But many times while you're standing close to the building, adding one brick at a time, it seems like the work will take forever, or you'll never get to see the end result.

I think this is especially where faith comes in. We're God's laborours, laying brick by brick and only he knows what the end result will be. But we trust and have faith knowing that where he has us laying bricks, will produce the fruit that hopefully one day we can see.

Retreats and such...

Retreats - one of the staples of youth ministry, are an incredible opportunity to get our students away from the noise of life to just experience, build community, and find time and space to spend with our Lord together.

This past weekend we had a gaggle of middle schoolers (at times in our group, affectionately known as the pig pen gang) up at our retreat center studying John 8:32: "Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free". So many people today get wrapped up with things going on in their life that we (and that's me included) forget about the truth of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. This weekend was a good reminder for our students and adults. Steve Able, a friend from Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) came and spoke to our students during the weekend. Steve did a fantastic job not only speaking truth into their lives in a relevant and challenging way, but he also is committed to the relational side, and was not afraid to hang out and play with our students too. I really appreciate all that FCA does in partnering with churches and connecting with students at schools, and even more so I appreciate Steve's friendship and all that he stands for.

We also had Bradley Rhodes leading worship for us. Bradley is a former student in my youth ministry who is now leading worship on one of our campuses. I've always said that Bradley is incredibly talented and gifted in not only his musical ability, but his ability to lead others in worship. I'm looking forward to seeing how God continues to work in Bradley's life as he grows and pursues his ministry.

Outside of our large group times, there was some manhunt, runnin around the center, a couple of team activities like making commercials for spam, cheesewhiz, clam juice, and beenie weenies, and just some fun hangin out. It was awesome seeing one student who has a high functioning autism and doesn't like physical touch most times, get in on a game of tackle whoever has the football. At one point he said to me "give me the ball so you all can dogpile me!". I almost cried seeing him take such a huge step relationally with the rest of our group.

Ultimately what brings me the most joy about weekends like this is hearing stories about some of our students wanting to pursue their faith with Christ at an even deeper level. Many of our youth go through some tough stuff, and its incredible seeing them see through that and wanting to lay their life at the foot of the cross, and the impact it has on their life.

So what does this mean for our ministry? There will always be another retreat around the corner :).

Friday, October 26, 2007


Not sure what I think about this yet. Virtual churches? I might just have to log onto this thing to check it out. Lemme know what you think?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Good times...

Today I had the opportunity to go with a friend and fellow youth pastor Andy down to see Camp Crossroads and to catch up with some good friends Reuben and Nicole. I got to know R&N while they were the retreat center directors at Columbia... and it was so good to see them. One thing I have never been good at is keeping up with friends as they move away, and this is just a reminder to me about how sweet friendships are.

I also heard about Andy's experience at National Youth Worker's Convention in San Diego. My turn will come in a couple of weeks when I head to Atlanta for the convention there. This is always a sweet time for me to make my yearly trek to the convention. Once I'm down there I hope to do some blogging about it this year.

After getting home from my road trip, I had an opportunity to hang out with my kids while Kristine was out at a work function. Always a great time. Of course I love my kids, but even more special is seeing them laugh together and goof around together. We just did a quick dinner at Panera, but the time together was invaluable. Each night we spend time praying together, and I love hearing there prayers each night. My son's usually has to do with being safe (after he fell on the playground), and with all the rain tonight he was praying for all the dirty tires driving through the mud then getting wet.

The saddest part of the day however was hearing from Dad about having to put their dog down. Katie was a very special dog to all of us. She was a full grown dog by the time my kids came along, and I have so many memories of my kids 'riding' Katie around the house, playing with her, getting licked all over. She was always such a sweet dog but in these last few days her health really deteriorated. This pic is from when she was a baby. We'll miss you Katie...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Checkin it out...

Ran across this video today.

Pretty cool stuff. For any of my seniors that may stumble across this one... take this stuff seriously. Will probably use this one at our seniors retreat.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

'Nother Article

Check it out from USAToday.

And of course the comments at the end are very entertaining.

Also started reading ANOTHER book this weekend for a seminary class: The World is Flat. I thought it was a fairly new book, but turns out its been around for a couple of years. The main crux of this book has to do with not just the shrinking of our world, but the flattening as well as countries are more intertwining. He takes a look at a lot of the technical driving factors in the last couple of decades that helped us get to where we are today (where I can write this in a blog and anyone from around the world can read it, abeit unlikely). One of the interesting factors for me however is that I grew up in the tech industry before becoming a youth pastor, so many of the technology references being made in this book, I feel as though I lived it and could remember when and where I was when some of these advancements occurred as well as how my life changed as a result. This happened during my time in college, at&t, chesapeake, and juniper networks. Most of this stuff I used to know about the change when it happened because of my proximity to the core of everything going on. Nowadays however, its a little tougher to keep up as I'm no longer 'playing' in that industry. But still very interesting to see the changes happening globally.

My bigger question now is, what will this do to youth ministry down the road? It used to be that students competed academically locally within their own school, and maybe nationally with SATs, AP tests, and College entrance. Now with IB exams and other international tools, many of our students are competing globally. Does this affect how we do youth ministry when there is so much more of an awareness of global issues going on in the lives of our teens?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Interesting article

Ran across this article in some culture studies the other day. It has to do with the use of Halo / video games as an outreach tools for youth groups trying to stay relevant to the culture. I think its an interesting subject to discuss as it seems at least a few of us (but I know not everyone) has a video game console in their youth room, whether its gamecube, xbox, ps2/3, dance pads guitar hero etc...

At the very least, I can say with confidence that a majority of my boys (as young as 6th grade) are playing Halo 2 these days at their friends house, or at their own house, and so from an outreach perspective, I can see how moving that into the youth room might be an interesting way to get our youth to bring their friends. So from a cultural relevancy perspective, I can make the point (as the article does) that its a way to make a connection with those that aren't currently in the church.

Where I struggle however is with the success in developing disciples for Christ this method might have. At some point, our hope would be that those that don't currently have a relationship with Christ might come to know him by walking through our doors and playing a video game. But I have to wonder if this is actually happening? Granted I will give you that if we have a Halo night, give out free pizza, and do a devotion during the pizza time, that those that normally wouldn't hear the Gospel might now have an opportunity.

I guess that's to say that I'm not sure where I fall on this one yet. Note that we do have an Xbox with Halo2, a gamecube with mario kart (always a favorite), and DDR that has all christian music on it.

Another interesting side note on this, check out some of the trailers on the Halo3 website. Some of the thematic elements including how much master chief is the savior of the world, how the trailer leads you with a charge to believe (assumingly in master chief's ability to save the world). I've thought about using some of these in some youth talks as there is relevancy, and of course a connection to spiritual things.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Passion of the Western Mind

Alright, well today I started reading the book "Passion of the Western Mind". This isn't necessarily a fun book, but was recommended by a friend to take a deeper look into what brought us to the worldview that we seem to have today. Just in the couple of pages I read, it seems to be very intellectual and therefore, very challenging. I'm guessing I will read only 2-3 pages a day if I'm lucky.

Today was mostly about Plato and Socrates and their thoughts on the Idea as something that is bigger than the concrete world. For example, in order for us to determine is something good, there has to be a collective Idea of what is good. In order for us to make comparisons as to whether or not something is better, there has to be an ideal that gives us a basis for comparison. These collective ideals are bigger than one person and bigger than the what we can 'get' from our senses, yet it has a piece of it that can be represented concretely in our world, and a piece that can be represented within our own mind. Another example used was that of a Horse. There is an Idea called horse. The idea Horse exists outside of space and time, yet it is manifested in time and space as individual creatures that we call horse. Even though there are differences within each of these creatures, they still conform to the idea Horse. An individual horse may be born, live and die, but the Idea Horse still exists. Additionally, we each have a perception of what an ideal horse would be in our own minds based on the Idea, but my perception of what makes a horse might be different from yours.

What does this have to do with youth ministry? I'm not sure yet. But there is a sense in my mind that some of this is what we are struggling with these days, and why the discussion is so important. That is to say we each have a perception of what a relationship with God entails. Somewhere there is an Idea of what all this is about, but we as humans may only see a small piece of that manifested both in our minds and concretely in the world around us. I wonder if the same can be said for youth ministry. That there is an Idea of what the right way to do ministry is, but each of us have a small piece of that manifested in our minds, as well as manifested concretely in the world around us.

All very philosophical of course, of which I'm not a philosopher, just trying to get down some of the stuff I'm reading and wrestling with. What do you think?

Friday, September 28, 2007

A conversation

One thing I have really enjoyed and have been thankful for while being the minister of students at my church, is the opportunity to be with and learn from some fascinating people from different walks of life.

This morning I had breakfast with a good friend of mine Bruce. He often invites me, but it ends up being a little less often then I would prefer. Bruce is a man that is incredibly intelligent and wise in both what's happening in the world as well as spiritual matters. Many times we meet he shares stories including his days as chaplain at USC and mentor to many others. Most of the time, I sit there trying to keep up intellectually, having to repeatedly ask him to explain something to help me understand. Bruce continues to challenge my thinking on ministry and reminds me to keep it about the main thing. Additionally, he reminds me to keep thinking about it, and cautions me about falling into ministry that just becomes routine that I don't need to think about. Bruce has challenged me to read "The Passion of the Western Mind" by Richard Tarnas. This book gives some history to how western society has come to have the world view that we do, verses other societies. Knowing Bruce, it will take a lot to digest this book and so I will probably blog about it from time to time as a way to help me process this stuff.

I'm also thankful about our teams of adults that spend time guiding our students and hanging out with them. As I reflect over the last few days as well as where I'm going in ministry, I feel as though schedule wise, I'm starting to get a little space where I can think theologically, and strategically again about what we're doing here, instead of being so busy planning things that I never have a chance to just sit and think. I'm so thankful for the commitments of our leaders to not only develop a quality program, but their commitment to just spend time coming alongside our teens spending time with them and letting them know that they are each created and loved by God. The longer I do this, the more I realize how little I'm able to do on my own strength, but rather its God through me, and even more so, God through our leaders that have a passion to do what they're doing.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Back in the game...

The school year is beginning to settle into a normal pace, and a few of you have asked me if I plan to keep up my blog. The answer is yes!

What's on my mind recently:
Our church is doing a fall emphasis of family, and so I've begun to think about, what does it mean to be in authentic community with others. Of course we have biblical examples in Acts, but in our world of intense schedules, and busyness, is it possible to have authentic community, and what does it look like?

Secondarily, how do we help teenagers develop authentic community that centers around a relationship with Christ? In two of our ministries, I see two opposites that have developed. One group that has developed a great deal of community both with leaders and students, and the other where authentic community once existed and has been lost for a time (although recently I'm thankful to be able to watch some community redevelop with some of our students).

One quick story to share that still has me thinking about what God might be doing: This past weekend we were at Summit Lake, our annual Northstar association high school retreat. It was an incredible retreat all around. But one thing that has stuck with me this week as I reflect back on it: Some of our students were wrestling with the social justice issues. That's to say we had a lot of great discussion about how they as a group of teenagers can begin to think beyond themselves and begin to help others both locally and globally. It gave me a lot of joy seeing these students wrestle with this issue, AND start to take some leadership in doing something about it, not just wait for someone else to do it. This is a memory that will stick with me for a long time.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Day 5: Eagle Eyrie... Last night!

Well we've arrived to the last day of projects. Just about all the projects that were specific projects were completed today, and of course all those that are ongoing were very thankful for the teams being there to help this week. Today, signs of exhaustion are setting in. Instead of a wild card game, or running around playing frisbee, most of our team slept, a few went to the pool, and a few of us ended up having a a deep theological discussion that was a pretty powerful time for all of us.

Tonight we hear from Denton Lotz during worship, then we'll have pizza and a final church group time before we fall into bed. Tomorrow's plans are sleeping in (yay!), I'll be making pancakes for everyone, then off to a final worship / celebration time with Denton before we pack up, have lunch and hit the road hopefully by 1pm!

We're all lookin forward to being home. Its been a great week of hard work, some good fun, and worship together as our youth seek to 'take the next step' in their walks with Christ. Please continue praying for us as we make our trek home tomorrow, and thanks for following along on our blog. I will try to post once more in the morning if I can with a few more pics from the week.

See you all soon!

During spoons

Mid-spoons action

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Day 4 at Eagle Eyrie!

Well the last 24 hours has been full of excitement and adventure. Last evening a group of Italian youth came to the camp and will be here through Saturday. They performed some Italian worship songs and shared some testimonies during our worship hour. After worship last night, the camp provided free ice cream for everyone, and so to burn off that extra energy, we played a massive 20 person game of spoons. This was nothing short of a full contact sport as everyone piled on each other trying to get to the spoons. (If you have accident prone kids in the group, no teens were injured in the playing of this game :) ).

This morning's projects were great as the weather has been fantastic today. Stories have been coming in throughout the day, but much seems to have been accomplished as some teams were able to continue the siding, clearing of trails, and roofing that had been delayed in the rain.

We spent the afternoon today at the Natural Bridge, enjoying some much needed off campus time. If you've never been to the Natural Bridge before it is a stone Bridge that is apparently taller than Niagara Falls. We also saw a 1700's era Indian settlement, then drove over to the Caves and had a fun tour of the caves which included a room more than 340 feet underground. While in this room, the team experienced complete darkness as the tour guide turned off all of the cave lights. We ended the trip with some yummy ice cream for the ride home.

Everyone's spirits are still positive, although some are getting tired. I noticed a few nodding off over dinner tonight :).

See you all soon! And check out the two posts below from two more of our students.

Fun times have been had by all, and for some, mainly at night. A group of us decided it would be fun if we went down the 20ft slide in the dark after it was rained on. Many fell in the mud, and for Pierce, 4 flips and a twist suited him well for the night. Also, I managed to tie a knot with a cherry stem in my mouth, and started the trend of it, only having one for success.
The group today all piled in the vans and saw the Natural Bridge and the caverns beneath it, all in awe of the amazing site.

Today the Italian people came arrived. I learned some pretty cool Italian words. They are beast at soccer; it's scary. We plan on playing them tomorrow ...The results will be posted later.
Pierce Out:D

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Day 2 and 3 at Eagle Eyrie!

Well so far we've had an incredible time here at Eagle Eyrie. Since our last update, we had playtime yesterday afternoon and some great worship in the evening with a skit and some music from one of the church groups here. Also Tuesday evening my cousin Cammy came to EE to join us for the evening. During evening devotions she gave our students a challenge to rely on God for everything no matter what's going on in their life.

As with any youth trip, we were up late playing games and generally hangin out.

Today we our teams ran into some rain in the morning. Some still worked even in the rain getting good and muddy. Only the roofing team with Jim W. had to come back mid-morning. Other outdoor teams could pair up with other teams and join some indoor projects such as the sports camp where some of our students were leading sports for underprivileged children in the area.

Of course a good rain makes the athletic field good and muddy and perfect for a good game of Ultimate Frisbee (see some pics below).

Everyone is doing well, and most are seeing the fruits of their labor on their project teams. Additionally I'm really seeing some great bonding between a lot of our youth which wouldn't have happened had we not come to spend the week here.

Below I've included 2 comments from a couple students... more are planning on writing for me tomorrow as well.

Everyone's having a great time, and we miss you all. See you all soon!

Today has been another great day! To me, it has been inspiring how diverse the ministry opportunities are. I knew that there were a lot of ways to minister to others, but I was never aware that there were so many opportunities. To me it is exciting because it proves that you can show God's love through whatever you do. I have also learned a lot from the leaders at the Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center, the station where I am working. They are so meticulous about what they do and try as much as they can to include God in their work. The leader of the center told us yesterday that many ministry centers will try not to openly profess that they are a Christian institution, however she believes that our God is so much bigger than that.

I think that most campers would agree that we have a lot of free time at the end of the day. Although it can get boring at times, it has been so much fun to get to know persons within Columbia's youth group and out. We have enjoyed swimming in the pool, walking in the rain, buying ice cream, going down the huge slide, making weird stuffed animal videos, and much more. I am sure that tomorrow will be another fun and productive day!

- Marlee

Missions Connections 2 is very different from the other trips I have taken with Columbia. I love how I can share my beliefs with other believers, and not be afraid of discomfort. Everyone here is extremely welcoming, and it's easy to feel at home. Especially in our lodge. I've gotten to know Columbia youth that previously, I had not gotten to really talk to. In essense, it's just a camp, but we do service projects in the morning. The variation of the projects is so wide, ranging from VBS-esque projects to construction sites. No matter what project, if it is directly or indirectly helping the community, this has been so much fun, and I'm glad Columbia chose to do this trip for the youth this year.
- Dana

Proof that she was workin hard. See how dirty she got?

Just one of the many pics about Ultimate Frisbee

Crazy dance by Pierce

Big Reach by Tak

Kelly... um doing the sprinkler?

Marlee Sarah and Jenna... Jus chillin.

Jim W's roofing project

Last night's wrap up church time with Cammy

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Road trip to Eagle Eyrie! 7/24/07

sterday we made out trip down to Eagle Eyrie for Missions Connection 2. As always, the van drive down was full of singing,laughter and overall excitement as we made our trek down for the week. Once we arrived, the afternoon was filled with adventure as we explored the campus, got settled into our lodge, and joined the rest of campus for an evening picnic complete with a watermelon seed fight.

After dinner all the groups met in the worship center for some interesting worship led by a trio from Columbia's hispanic congregation! After worship each of our students met their project teams and spent some time getting to know what their project would entail.

Finally we ended the evening as a group with some great conversation, talking about the distractions that each of us bring into a week like this, and praying for each other.

Before we knew it, the morning had come, alarms waking us up, getting ready for the new day. All of our teams are currently out on their projects right now as I have a few moments of rest, a few errands to run, and preparation for the rest of todays activities.

Tonight, a cousin of mine will be joining us for dinner onward through the evening and will be leading us in a devotional after worship this evening.

We hope everyone at home is doing well! Stay tuned for more blogs and pics from our week!

Um Just a little excited?

Just Chillin

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Youth Ministry... How'd this happen for me?

As of this post, I've been doing youth ministry on staff for 4 years, and before that I was a volunteer for 5 years. It all really happened by accident. I never had it in my 'gameplan' to be in youth ministry at all. I graduated from college fully intending to have a long and prosperous career in computer network engineering. Of course we all know that sometimes God changes our plans. Right after college, my wife suggested we volunteer with the youth ministry at Columbia as she had mentored some girls while in College, and so I decided it would be a good opportunity for us to do something together. Thus began our re-entry into a world that we both desperately tried to escape: Teens.

Fast forward a year and a half and both the Minister of Students and Senior Pastor at the time took other positions, and our church began the road of refiguring out who God would want us to be. In our student ministry, we started 2 years of interim student pastors. At one point we had a youth minister search team and a final candidate. That candidate fell through and thus our team entered into the struggle to figure out the direction to go with the search.

At the same time I was thrust into the arena by a number of factors that I resisted at first, however after 4 months of serious praying amd struggling through different areas of my life, both my wife and I felt that God was leading us to this radical change in our lives to go into full time ministry. Major lessons? 1. Trust God with everything. If there's anything holding you back from totally giving up your entire life to Him, he will continually bring these issues up until you're ready to release them into his hands. 2. God can use you for his purposes anytime, anywhere even if its an area that you totally don't feel skilled / trained / or even confident doing. What's your role in all this? Be prepared and ready to go when he calls you.

This is really the short version of how we got into this. It was a long process of discovering what God had in store, and didn't hit us overnight.

How has life been since then? Well of course its had its up and downs, but I'm continually reminded to keep focusing on God, and I'm continually reminded that this ministry isn't mine, but its God's, and I just have the opportunity to take part in what He's doing!

Coming up: My philosophy of ministry and other thoughts...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My Foray into Blogging

Well enough of you have talked to me about blogging, that now is the time. I'm jumpin in. I've always got thoughts about different things in life and so here's my opportunity to pass on, ideas, thoughts, and experiences so that hopefully at best you can be blessed by them, and at worst, have a view into the crazy world that is mine.

My hope is to update this about once or twice a week and to include things that would be beneficial to the students in our youth ministry, parents of our students, as well as other youth ministers that I know. At times this may include articles and books that I've read, passages that have been convicting or just general thoughts that I have.

My next couple of posts will I'm sure be longer as I'd like to share with you my thoughts on Youth Ministry and what its really about at its core, as well as what we do (or hope to do) at Columbia, and why. This is to help parents of our students know why we do what we do and what we're about.

I can also say that these are of course thoughts / ideas / sometimes stream of consciousness, and at times may seem inconsistent with other of my posts. I'll try to be as consistent as possible and let you know if I'm thinking about something that changes my thoughts somewhere else. I know I don't have the corner on knowledge, and this provides me a way to think about something 'outloud' as I tend to do.

One thing I can also promise you is that I will be praying for you as you read these posts that God would use these posts to impact your life, and be a blessing to you.

See ya!