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 :).