Forts, falling leaves, and other acts of faithfulness.

January 31, 2011

Growing up, we had two massive trees in our front yard. They were great for playing hide and seek behind, for showering us with fort-building materials in the fall, and providing some much-needed shade in the middle of scorching summer afternoons spent playing outside. Sad were the days when first one and then the next had to come down, morphing our front play space into an area much easier to play catch in, but more bland as well.

One day toward the end of grade school, though, they handed out trees to all of the students to take home and plant. I proudly claimed a tiny little sapling, excited about the idea that I could fill what had now been empty for a couple years. My parents, being the kind-hearted people that they are, let me plant it right in the middle of our front yard, barely taller than an angry weed.

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Safe water is about relationships…and so is the rest of life.

August 19, 2010

So there’s a great article from Dr. Jonathan Mitchell over at Ministry Spotlight on the importance of relationships in helping the developing people have continuing access to clean water.  He uses the principles developed by Brian Fikkert’s “When Helping Hurts” to show that we can’t just treat the symptoms of poverty, but have to address the deeper underlying issues.

As I gear up for the coming school year, I’ve been meeting with lots and lots of potential volunteers, casting vision for what it means to love middle school students in the name of Christ.  Over and over I’ve talked about relationships as being a (if not the) core component of our ministry model.  If we get students amped up about a specific program or get them to be able to spout specific pieces of information, or not spout certain four letter words, transformation will not have occurred.  We will only have addressed the symptoms.  But if we connect in relationships that model Christ’s incredible love for us, then we have the opportunity to speak to the deeper root issue for us as humans:  our relationships with God, with others, with creation, and even with ourselves are all broken.

When and how have you been investing in relationships recently?


seismos 2010

January 12, 2010

Last year in April, I was able to be part of a challenging and encouraging 3-day gathering of youth pastors at Camp Carl in Ravenna, OH, discussing the future of youth ministry.  We used Mark Oestreicher’s “Youth Ministry 3.0” as our base text for the time and had a series of discussions that considered what the various shifts in culture, adolescence, church, and families meant to us and to our youth ministries. (you can see my series of blog posts on these here)

So you can imagine my excitement not only to announce that we are holding Seismos again this spring, but that Marko will be joining us for our time together!

Here’s the scoop:

Basic Info & Registration

Facebook Event

All the details (will be updated as questions arise):

The goal of Seismos when it was started was to host a gathering (not a conference) of youth pastors that promoted dialogue and discussion among participants, was affordable, and dealt with issues that were relevant to the youth ministry that we love.  Last year was a great start, with a gathering of 20 youth pastors from 4 states discussing “Youth Ministry 3.0” for three days.  The conversations begun during these three days have had lasting results in our ministries, in our continued relationships, and in our personal lives.

This year we continue to hold onto these goals as we also try to make this an even more profitable time.  To this end we’ve connected with Mark Oestreicher, youth ministry guru & author*, to join us for our time together.  Marko won’t be functioning as a “talking-head” for our gathering, but as a facilitator and guide for our time, sharing from his own wealth of knowledge, but also prompting the input of all of us as participants.  Our specific topic this year is adolescence and brain development, looking at both the important recent research on the brain development of adolescence as well as the expanding range that the term “adolescence” is coming to include.  Similar to last year, we have a suggested reading prior to coming, which is Barbara Strauch’s “Primal Teen”.  Marko will be present with us for our whole time on Monday and our morning and afternoon sessions on Tuesday before departing and leaving us time on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning to further contextualize our conversations and process what we’ve been discussing.

Our price of $85 includes all meals during our time together, lodging, and honorarium/expenses for Marko.  We’re excited to be able to offer this 3-day retreat for such a reasonable cost, thanks to the partnership of both Marko and Skyview Ranch, who offer a variety of camp experiences throughout the year.

We’re limiting the size of this gathering to the first 40 participants to sign up.  We strongly desire this time to be community-driven, full of rich discussion and dialogue, and to do this we have to cap the number of people participating.  We tried to think carefully through the number of people that would both make this affordable for those involved but also would keep the size small enough to encourage this community we’re striving for.

*one of the things I appreciate about Marko is that he’s not talking from a removed viewpoint.  He still leads a small group of middle school boys on a regular basis as an active leader in the youth ministry at his home church.  The struggles that we have and the things we’re thinking about…he can relate, because he’s right there.


People I really believe in…

June 18, 2009

Hey friends…

I want to take a moment of your time to really, strongly urge you to take a look at the info below & consider responding.  I know many folks are strapped for cash currently, but this is run by a couple of my friends and I whole-heartedly believe in the Kingdom work they are doing.  Thanks for your time.

First Glance is attempting the impossible. Their goal is to raise $66,988.37 by June 30, 2009 at 11:59PM (in just 13 days)!

Why? You may ask…

First Glance is a Christian organization that provides a safe place for students to go where they can shed their burdens and enjoy themselves. This volunteer based organization has over 300 kids a week walk through their doors. In 2008 they ran out of room and needed to expand their facilities. The expansion project is now nearing completion, and they need only $66,988.37 to finish paying it off! This is where you come in!

Simply click here to see where we are in our goal, sign up to help spread the word, watch videos and more!


Seismos pt. 6 – Inquiry #1 – keys to the future of Youth Ministry

May 1, 2009

picture-65Seismos is a gathering of 17 youth leaders from 4 states & 15 churches representing over 9 different denominations. We met for three days (April 20-22, 2009) to dig into what the future of youth ministry might be. Mark Oestreicher’s “Youth Ministry 3.0” formed the leaping off point for our discussion (many of our thoughts will make more sense if you’ve read it). On this eighth post (intro, first, second, third, highlight video, fourth, fifth posts), we’re looking at the first of four questions we really dug into. Read the rest of this entry »


Seismos pt. 5 – the 6 inquiries we settled on

April 29, 2009

picture-65Seismos is a gathering of 17 youth leaders from 4 states & 15 churches representing over 9 different denominations. We met for three days (April 20-22, 2009) to dig into what the future of youth ministry might be. Mark Oestreicher’s “Youth Ministry 3.0” formed the leaping off point for our discussion (many of our thoughts will make more sense if you’ve read it). On this seventh post (intro, first, second, third, highlight video, fourth posts), we’ve (finally) arrived at the point where we were ready to pick some topics to drill into more specifically.   Read the rest of this entry »


Seismos pt. 4 – YM 2.0 appreciative inquiry & related thoughts

April 29, 2009

picture-65Seismos is a gathering of 17 youth leaders from 4 states & 15 churches representing over 9 different denominations. We met for three days (April 20-22, 2009) to dig into what the future of youth ministry might be. Mark Oestreicher’s “Youth Ministry 3.0” formed the leaping off point for our discussion (many of our thoughts will make more sense if you’ve read it).  For this sixth post (intro, first, second, third, highlight video posts), I’m going to outline our appreciative inquiry of Youth Ministry 2.0 & some of the questions that came up related to it.  By the way, sorry about the delay since the last post…I’ve been on spring retreat with my middle schoolers & am finally back & recovered & ready to keep rolling on here.  I’m interested to hear your feedback Read the rest of this entry »


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