Wednesday, June 30, 2004

New Links

Some cool new links of late: Loads and loads and loads of stats about countries. Very cool. 40 times as large as the CIA Worldfact book.
For example:
China has the most workers, so it's a good thing they've also got the most TV's.
Most Zambians don't live to see their 40th birthday.
I think I'll use this a lot... Free image archive. I actually got the pixelperfectdigital link from this blog.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

GCC big picture

I didn't realize this, but GCC is turning 20 years old this year. I just got a little flyer in the mail talking about it and thought it would be some good points to give people an idea about the size of GCC:

- 1350 households
- 20% growth for six of the last eight years
- 30+ full or part time staff
- 500+ teenagers
- 500 children cared for by 300 volunteers
- 25 ministries to adults
- 14+ ministries available to people outside of GCC
- 8 missionaries directly from our body, 15+ overall
- 2004 operating budget of about $2.1M
Wow. Very cool. I dream that we continue to grow disciples and not programs.

Monday, June 28, 2004

II Peter 2

Another great study tonight, with our couples group.
II Peter 2
4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,[1] putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; 5if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)-- 9if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.

If God can rescue the righteous, out of a culture that is dark, if God has a distinct purpose in the people of light being in a specific place for a specific time for a specific reason, if God can hold the unrighteous... this really spoke to me about attitude, perspective, intentionality in all facets of where God has uniquely and divinely placed us.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

DC with Brits

Had some friends of friends come stay with us this weekend. They are British, we love British people. We did the DC tour with them on Saturday, O's game on Sunday.
For DC, we did:
- Capitol (outside only)
- Air and Space (they did planetarium and IMAX)
- White House (outside only)
- Monument (outside only)
- Vietnam Wall
- Lincoln
- Korean
- Scuplture Garden
- Dinner at Union Station - Thunder Grill

Whew. Yeah. It was fun though and perfect weather. The new WWII is incredible.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

TMI Mustard Seed summary

Teen Missions International has been in the business of preparing and sending students on summer mission trips all over the world since 1970. Based in Merritt Island Florida, students participate in a boot camp prior to leaving the country. This summer TMI sent out 1307 students with 294 team leaders.
In the summer of 2004, TMI started a 4-6 year old program focused on the basic message of salvation and hearing from missionaries from other countries. Having always been intrigued about TMI and thinking it would be really fun for my 6 year old daughter, we signed up.
Mustard Seed Boot Camp lasted 4 days and 3 nights and was co-located with other Boot Camps happening at the same time on Merritt Island. With the addition of the 4-6 year old program, TMI now has something for kids from 4 years old to high school. Mustard Seed is from 4-6 years old, with one or both parents attending. Peanuts is from 7-9 and is a week long, with no parents. PreTeen is from 10-13 and then the Teen program is above that from 14-21.

There were four leaders for Mustard Seeds. Kathy was the overall director and Mustard Seeds was her vision. She also serves as the co-director of TMI overall. She brought her sister Barbara in to do music. Linda was a lady from the Finance department that was the leader of the 'Green' team. Cindy was the leader of the 'Red' team and was on a furlough of sorts from two years in Zambia. Her family (husband, two teenage sons and her) had spent two years doing AIDS Orphans Rescue in Zambia at the TMI base there. They had come back
to the States in April, met contacts to raise additional funds and were getting ready to lead a Zambia team through Boot Camp and taking them back to Zambia with them. At the end of the summer, the students would come back home, leaving Cindy and her husband there. (They are leaving their teenagers home this time)
By far, having a leader who had done cross cultural missions was a major advantage.

The schedule looked something like this:
06.30 - wake up (yeah...)
07.00 - breakfast
08.00 - program time
09.00 - the Obstacle Course (they had a mini one for the little kids)
10.00 - snack/craft
11.00 - program time
12.00 - cleanup
12.30 - lunch
01.30 - quiet time - on a big mat in the center of our program area, with everyone
02.30 - program time
04.00 - swim time - definitely the best time of the day
05.00 - cleanup
06.00 - dinner
07.00 - evening rally
08.00 - lights out

Program time consisted of a variety of things including music, missionary speakers and crafts. Music was done by one leader, most of the time teaching the kids new music from a CD and using hand motions. They really loved it. The music teacher also had an assortment of music instruments from different countries that she rotated among the kids. They loved that too.
TMI has a team called Missionaries to America, which is a group of young people that come to America for an extended period of time, do ministry here, go to Boot Camp and then return to their home countries. Mustard Seeds either heard from an individual MTA or a group of them a few times a day. Sometimes the MTAs would do a puppet show, music or a short talk.
Most of the program time centered on the colors of the wordless book. The kids learned memory verses for each color and then went off and did crafts based on the color and verse. Craft included a wooden cross with different things glued to it, putting together cloth swatches of the wordless book together (these were sent out with the high school teams when they went out) and other various crafts. The kids also decorated cookies that were used by Teen Missions for local ministry around the base, which included firehouses and nursing homes.

Two teams totaling about 25 Mustard Seeds and their parents.
11 families on our team from all over the country including Hawaii and California.
On our team:
7 homeschoolers
7 had prior TMI experiences
- 3 from siblings
- 4 from parents that had been team members/leaders
There were also two grandmothers that had come with their grandsons. They had lots of spunk.

Like its called Boot Camp is pretty tough. No shorts, no reading material other than the Bible, no electronic devices, no snacks, no electricity, no running water. You get a food tray and a bowl and a canteen and cup when you get there. At each meal, you walk up to the dining hall where they give you your food on your tray/bowl, you walk back to the area where you eat and when you are done, you go up to the washing area where you wash all that stuff. Washing entails 4 big bins in a line, the first one to rinse off particles of food, the second one to scrub with soap, the third to rinse off soap and the fourth one to sanitize. You are to eat all your food at every meal. There are outhouses and there are toilets and showers both with no running water. To go to the toilet, you pour a bucket of water down the bowl when you are finished. Used toilet paper goes into another bucket to be thrown away later. (I experienced similar bathroom conditions in the Dominican Republic in 1993). You could bucket shower as well. There was pool time every day as long as there were no thunderstorms. There was a 'rally' every evening, which was a worship and teaching time.
Older kids go through training during Boot Camp with both evangelistic skills such as sharing the Gospel, puppets, etc., as well as work project training such as bricklaying, pouring concrete, etc.

Does it Work?
I had the following questions going into the experience. First, does TMI work in getting kids to be mobilized for mission? Secondly, wouldnÂ?t we be growing kids better in having kids go through the experience with leaders that were connected to them via the local church and throughout the year? TMI does not allow local youth ministry leaders to come with their students. You can, of course, sign up to be a leader of a team. But coming along with a local ministry is not within their context. And finally, would you send your child back?
Since our team had 7 people that had previous TMI experiences, I did an informal survey with them. It was a good mix of people, from those that had been on teams in high school, those that had been on a team and came back as a leader, and those that had siblings go through TMI trips.
For the first question, I think the answer is yes, overall. I went in to the experience wondering how well Boot Camp prepared kids for mission. But I think the actual goal is to use Boot Camp for discipline. Getting kids excited for worldwide missions is probably more a function of the actual mission experience, after they leave Boot Camp. One of our parents who had led teams for 7 or 8 years talked about how a majority of her team members had gone on to be missionaries or in full time ministry. I donÂ?t believe that full time ministry is better than secular work, in fact, I think the compartmentalization is dangerous for the Church. However, I do believe that the observation shows a level of intentionality that is a healthy by product of people living a life on mission.
I spent a few minutes chatting with Bob Bland, the director and founder. I asked him to tell me the overall principle, after doing this for over 30 years. He stated to start something and stick to it. He also talked about I Cor 13 and the idea of putting away childish things when you become an adult. His take was that we all can decide when its time to grow up, and some people simply refuse to. Hopefully, Boot Camp is a time when people choose to grow.
For the second question, I got mixed responses. The big variable here is the local church. In some instances, parents had a great deal of mistrust towards their local church youth ministry. In that case, the question is really invalid. In other cases, parents could see the value in that kind of leadership. One parent did mention that releasing your child happens before you know it.
Thirdly, I would probably send my child back. If I sent my 6 year old back, it would be in a few years, like 8 or 9 for Peanuts. Also, I think 4 might be a little young for Mustard Seeds. We had some 4 year olds that just couldnÂ?t deal.
If a high schooler asked me what I thought of them going to TMI, I would encourage it, with the caveat that the year after, they come back and be a part of what their local church is doing for missions. I believe that we have to encourage kids to be in the context of what the local church is doing for missions whenever we can, because the local church is (or should be) the means by which the essential task gets done.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Mustard Seed - pictures

Here are three pictures...

Mustard Seed - short summary

Here is a short summary/prayer followup letter that I sent out.
I am working on a more in depth follow up that I will post later this week...
Thanks for praying...

Hi All,

Thanks so much for praying for K and I for the past few days while we were at Boot Camp with Teen Missions. To give you a little background, Teen Missions has been in operation for about 30 years preparing and sending hundreds of high school students all over the world on missions trips every summer. I've been intrigued about it for a little while and when they offered a 4-6 year old program for the first time this summer,we thought we would go to experience it first hand.

Boot Camp pretty much describes it - no running water, no electricty,hot Florida heat, sleeping in tents, and mosquitos all the time (160 bites between the two of us). It was definitely a rough time for both of us, but we made it through. In the meantime, K had fun hearing from missionaries from other countries, making lots of crafts about sharing the Gospel story, and doing typical camp stuff, like pool time, story time
and evening 'rallys'.

It's a hard thing to put your child through some suffering deliberately. Most of the
time, K handled it well enough. But there were certainly times when the bugs, the heat, the Boot Camp rules, and the lack of sleep got to her, as it did with most of the kids there.

Needless to say, those things got to me too.

My hope is that as we both process through this experience, it would make us more compassionate towards the world, less tied to our material possessions and more eager to share Christ with those that don't know Him.

Once again, thanks for thinking and praying for us. We know that your prayers were vital to our experience there.
tony and k

Monday, June 21, 2004


I'm back from Boot Camp... Count on loads more to tell in a few days... LOADS...

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Boot Camp until 6/22

Well readers... I will be on hiatus while I attend Mustard Seeds Boot Camp with K. I'm sure I'll have some pretty entertaining stories to tell when I get back. Until then...

Mission Mondays 6/14

Just Bob has started an idea called Mission Mondays where he posts about missions, on Mondays... Get it? Cool idea. Here is the first conversation.

Talk on Mission

Well in my spare time, I put together a quick talk about mission.
It's sort of getting some thoughts together for a sendoff kind of thing for the summer trips, I don't know if I will get the opportunity to really use it or not.
But I like doing this kind of thing.
I love to speak to students when I can, when it's the right venue and all. When someone asks you to speak, its a funny dynamic. Suddenly, you have total freedom to say what you want, and someone wants you to be able to do that. They've given you liberty to say what you want. It's funny like that.
Anyway, here are my very rough notes.

you are on mission
every person

the Bible is a cohesive picture of people on mission
the overall theme is consistent, people called into a bigger purpose
than themselves

1 Gen 12 -
your blessings are unique
God has designed you for a specific purpose

2 Acts 17
Paul was distressed by the idols in the city
Do we get distressed like that?
Do we greieve for our friends?

story - TP
are we distressed by how our friends live?

3 Matt28
God calls you
to make disciples
to make people thirst for God
teach them to walk with Him
its about knowing God's book, and hearing His voice

SPACE has got some momentum
I don't know if what we are doing is right or not
If we will be succsssful or not
But I believe this is accordign to the heart of God
He wants us to care for the poor
To engage our community
To so love the people that live here, that we strive to make a difference

Darwin awards - rocket
Do we generate skid marks?
Are we moving with God with that much energy and momentum?
Are you bored with your life?

Food fight - Glenn was on a specific purpose and mission
Are we on mission like that?


or something like that...

Sharing the Vision

Every few months, I drop in on the Missions Task Force at GCC. Most of the time, it's to update them on what is happening on the student side of the Body. It is usually a pretty fun time for me, as I get a few minutes to talk about SPACE and everyone there is really intersted. It's cool.
I went last night to give them an update, and thought, lucky blog reader, that you might like to see it too.
So here it is.
All in all, its kind of a God given dream and vision come true...


GCC Youth Ministries
SPACE summer missions

Trip Breakouts:
Light Company – 6th – 8th graders:
Service based weekend working at CMTS.
Car washing/detailing, general landscaping, cleaning projects.
Break the stereotype of a missionary.
6 students/6 leaders
Approx cost - $0

10th Grade
Center for Student Missions, Washington DC.
Immersion into the inner city while working with indigenous local ministries in Washington DC.
10 students/4 leaders

SPACEcrew (SPACE leader kids)
Urban Impact, NYC
Working with ministry focused on unreached people groups in NYC.
7 students/2 leaders

Total budget – approx $8750
Raised to date - $8893
163 financial and prayer partners

Team Preps:
- worship is the goal of missions
- developing a personal testimony
- team work – Myers Briggs Personality Test, the Hardy Personality
- team work – team initiatives
- culture – 3 speakers from GCC who lived in different cultures

Various Other Youth Min trips:
CS – LC leader – the Inner City Experience, the Dream Center, Tampa, FL – middle school inner city ministry
TC – CpR Leader – Ukraine, Mission to the World

Next Steps:
Sendoff – LC/CpR – 7/11
Prayer Cards
Mission Teams Party – 8/22

Monday, June 14, 2004

Harry Potter and your worldview

Marsh has a great post here about how he feels about Harry Potter and his kids' worldview. It resonates with me.

Mustard Seed Playlist

Like all 6 year olds, K is getting big into music. She wants her own CD walkman and the other day her grandparents took her shopping and they bought her a CD, her first CD that she has ever picked out... Scary....
It's scary because I think music has a profound influence on our culture. And at the age of 6, I think we as parents have to be super careful.
For Mustard Seeds, we are going to bring an MP3 player for the plane ride. And I got a double headphone jack. And, of course, I picked out our music. It's going to be fun to be able to listen to the same music...
Here are some of the tracks:

Ashton, Becker, Dente - Angels
Ashton, Becker, Dente - Song of Reconciliation
Ashton, Becker, Dente - No Other
Chris Tomlin - Enough
Chris Tomlin - Not to Us
FFH - Fly Away
Hillsongs - Angels
Hillsongs - Glory
Hillsongs Kids - Every Move I Make
Mosaic - Closer Than Breathing
Mosaic - If I Step
Mosaic - No One Above You
Mosaic - What You See
Mosaic - Invisible
Mosaic - I Live For You
Mosaic - Nothing is Better
Chris Tomlin / Crowder, David Band / Hall, Charlie Band - Famous One
Crowder, David Band / Hall, Charlie Band / Tomlin, Chris Band - Prepare the Way
Rebecca St James - Lamb of God
Rebecca St James - Blessed Be Your Name
Steven Curtis Chapman - Live Out Loud
Steven Curtis Chapman - Jesus Is Life
Steven Curtis Chapman - Magnificent Obsession
Third Day - Come Together
Bebo Norman / Caedmons Call / City On A Hill / Sing Alleluia - Holy Is Your Name
Newsboys - Joy
dc Talk - Between You and Me
dc Talk - Colored People
Keith Green - You are the One

PS - Funny thing, K is a huge Keith Green fan....

High Impact Leader

Spent a little time poking around Christian Associates which is the mission agency the McNs are going to Italy with. They are seeking high impact leaders to plant high impact churches all throughout Europe. Here is their definition of a high impact leader:
* pursue a vital relationship with God over their lifetimes
* maintain a learning posture in all areas of life
* seek a biblical perspective on life and leadership
* cultivate personal integrity and authenticity
* develop healthy relationships with family, co-workers, and the community
* pursue their life purpose and calling
* develop dynamic mentoring relationships
* discover and develop their own giftedness as well as giftedness in others
How do you rate? Is there a low impact leader, and what would that look like?

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Laying Hands

This morning I got to be a part of the Mission Task Force/Elder team that prayed for and laid hands on the McNs. They leave Tuesday for Florence, Italy. It was an honor to be a part of that.

What I'm going to do about Origins

rough thoughts after a few weeks of processing thoughts and ideas from Origins...
and listening to some of McManus' messages...

Principle-Relevance to the culture is not optional
*-Shengs will engage culture via active watching of movies
*-we will have a line item in family budget for culture (movies, entertain, music, etc.)
*-SPACEcrew meetings might evolve from just launch planning to including ideas and concepts about being active in mission (this is hard to articulate)

Principle-every NT church had heresy and immorality because they had prebelievers involved in community
*-we will articulate that friends of students have an open invitation to every Launch

Principle-Mission is why the church exists
*-how many students can we get involved in Launches and Mission trips?
can we shoot for 50% within 3 years of starting SPACe?

Principle-Faith and safety are closer tied today than faith and risk.
If you have faith, you will be successful -> false principle.

*-what things are we attempting that can only fail unless God accomplishes (God accomplishes relationships, tasks, thoughts - SPACE involves relationships of people, getting tasks done, acting upon thoughts)
*-can we attempt things that can only fail unless God accomplishes them?

Principle-We need to live lives that are active in listening for God's voice and call.
*-are we spending time in God's word and listening for His audible voice?
Not only the leaders, but the people/students we lead.
Does the worldview we teach to students include this aspect of spiritual growth?

I'm not sure I'm totally done with this, but I think its a good start...


My hair up until Saturday the 12th at around 2pm...

Friday, June 11, 2004

Who is the most important?

So at the K graduation, all the kids got their final books that they wrote. Volunteers in their classes typed their stories up, typeset them and bound them just like real books. It was cool. On the backpage, it had an About the Authors page.
One of the families we have gotten to know this year live in our neighborhood and work full time for the Church of God. They had pastored two churches previously and are now area directors for the denomination. They have two kids in Kindergarten, and one of them wrote, On his Authors page:
- S wants to be a pastor when he grows up.
- Jesus is the most important person in his family.
Wow. Those are quite the statements.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

#1 finishing K

Well our first born graduated from Kindergarten today. I was in tears. Just kidding. Graduation was certainly easier than putting her on the school bus at the beginning of the year though... Anyway, it was fun... life moves on... your kids and my kids grow up... Jesus help us to take hold of the kingdom forcefully...


Some photos from DJ who was there in person. Some of the images are just stunning. Here.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


I got together with one of my 03 dteam guys tonight, T. I've written a bit about him before. Tonight as I was driving out to meet him, I just prayed that God would use me, that God would give me the right words, that we would just have a real conversation about life, and stop just playing with nice conversation. I think that part of my prayer was really answered.
We talked a lot about the existence of God, whether the Bible is true or not, how God can't or should be able to do something outside the realm of his nature. Most of it made me a little frustrated. But that's ok. I appreciated the dialogue.
What I don't appreciate, what I am incensed about, what keeps me up at night when I let it, is that his parents have gained the whole world, literally, and have lost their son's soul.

Erwin MP3s

Found two messages Erwin recently gave. Very good. Listen/download here.

K back from Kstan

K hung out with our fam last night for a few hours, telling loads and loads of stories about Kstan. Definitely a great experience, propelling him even more into missions. Very cool.
So many stories... He said the most interesting was probably hearing a believer in one of the villages give the Bridge illustration, but one that was slightly changed to be specific for Muslims. Really brought out some intersting things for K to process regarding the Contextualization Scale... And, believe me, I've got lots of questions about it too. But I think it's good for him to be thinking about that. More about the C-scale here.
K also mentioned:
- the trip made him see that the world is pretty big. the idea that Americans have this inherent right - to be happy, to be wealthy, to be comfortable - really annoys him.
- what is the core of the Gospel in the New Testament? because we (the Church) disagree about a lot of other stuff that doesn't really matter.
It was great to hear all the stories and see all the pictures. I didn't want him to be overwhelmed with our questions, but yet I wanted him to be able to share all that he wanted to. Sometimes, people come home and they get frustrated because their friends and family here only want to listen for a short time, when they have absolutely tons to share.
K gave me the questions that his team leader gave them for debriefing too. I don't know if I've mentioned it here before, but debriefing is always key. So I grab as much as I can from people who have debriefed or done debriefings, especially for cross cultural ministry. I've got probably about 10-12 different documents with questions, studies on specific passages, activities, etc.
K brought me back a miniature dutar, which looks like this -
He also brought me a set of muslim prayer beads. 33 beads, and when they pray through them 3 times, they have covered the 99 gods. I asked him if it was safe to bring into my house and at one point, D put them on her Bible and said, "I probably shouldn't put them on my Bible..."

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Safe in DC

As you might imagine, DC is abuzz with the preparations for the state funeral for President Reagan, the first in over 30 years. There are tons of preparations going on around town between the arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, to the coffin at the Capitol for the public to walk by, to the ceremony at the National Cathedral. The news is saying that this is akin to the 9/11 memorial service that was held at the Cathedral. The anticipation even drifts out to the Beltway, where major delays are expected as the casket travels from arrival to the city.
I grew up right outside of DC and have lived here my whole life. One of the great things about DC is that there is so much to do and all the good stuff is free. The Smithsonian, which all the museums are part of, is all free. Yup, everything, including the National Zoo. So living so close, we hardly ever take advantage of it.
On the flip side, because DC is the capital, in our post 9/11 world, there is always an undercurrent of "what if?" I remember a good friend telling me that there were snipers on the rooftops of the Senate and House buildings when he worked there during the first Gulf War. Along the same lines, we always think twice before we go downtown these days, just for the safety aspect. Is there a big event? Lots of tourists going to be there? If so, we usually pass. DC is an awesome city, but if there is lots going on, it might be better to skip. After all, that is the safe thing to do.
On the flip side, like what they said at Origins, we will continue to live in an increasingly violent world. No doubt about it, terror alerts are now a fact of life. In the US, we should get used to it, like other parts of the world have been used to it. Like what Alex McManus said, "We have grown to believe that God’s kingdom is not about life and death."
(If you haven't noticed, I've been thinking about this 'safe' issue a bit lately.)
Below is a very well done graphic about Reagan's funeral. Linked from You might need to login (free registration).

took the graphic out and put a link in instead. easier to read that way...
graphic here

Monday, June 07, 2004

Mustard Seed

wow, almost less than a week away.
pray for me....

Dedication Sunday

You ever have one of those Sundays where you feel so priviledged to be a part of something? Where you have been given some insight, a special view into what God wants a family to look like? Where a community laughs hysterically together at some ridiculous line and a few minutes later weeps together for something lost that will be found later? Yesterday was it for me, in 3rd service at GCC.
A recap here won't even come close to being fair, but I'll try anyway:
- our middle school pastor coming in dressed as a knight with a youthworker behind him knocking coconuts together (just like in a Monty Python movie)
- the overall child dedication service where:
* one of the parents was reciting a passage she had memorized but forgot the last half.. she gave the mike to her husband, who said, "She did really well in bed last night..." of course, the whole room was laughing hysterically. he came back and said, "hey people, this is church, get your minds out of the gutter.."
I looked at PM back in the sound booth, he was cracking UP
* another dad choked back tears talking about his kids
* another dad up front, with his mother and mother in law, dedicating his daughter, who was 6 months old. his wife had passed away in april. at the end of his time, he read a letter his wife had written their daughter. not many dry eyes after that.
* the reading that we do at Grace during child dedication services, about our commitment to these families as His Body.
- hearing PM speak about Jesus and his interactions with kids - from Mat 18
It was one of those mornings in church where you feel so blessed to be among this group of people, to be so lucky to get a glimpse into how God is moving in people and families and friends, to feel so fortunate that God has given us a spirit of joy and laughter, among the sad and the hurting. Like I said, it's a poor narrative about what really went on that morning but hopefully you get the idea.
I left with the thought in my head, "Man, this is church."

Sunday, June 06, 2004

More Real Live Missionaries

Had an opportunity to meet the McNs tonight at GCC. They are leaving for Florence, Italy next week and GCC is their sending church. They were really excited to hear about what we are doing with students, they love youth... For the past 2 years or so, they were in Charlotte, getting some training. Awesome to connect, and best of all, they are British! They will be speaking at 4th service next Sunday and I'm trying to line up some of the student summer teams to help dish out some ice cream. It would be a great way to connect, have the students hear about Italy and have the McNs catch a glimpse of SPACE. Here is more about them.

The Gap Between Me and Middle Schoolers

I went to LC this morning to make an appearance to talk about the LC missions trip, just for a sec. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was Theme Park Sunday... and the 5th grade kids had shown up just to get a peek for their next year in middle school. There were tons of kids there... all playing some kinds of games... and then there were these dressed up theme park creatures there... see picture... and then when the program began, there was total chaos for a few minutes when one of the leaders welcomed the new 5th graders and threw candy at them. Picture 300 middle schoolers diving off the bleachers to grab handfuls of candy. I am too old.
I think the Theme Park Sunday idea was a carry over of yesterday, when LC went to Six Flags and you couldn't go unless you brought a friend. That's cool huh?
A snippet of this morning:

Saturday, June 05, 2004

What I did during the Mall Prayer

In case anyone was wondering, during the Spring Break SPACE Prayer walk through the Mall, I was taking pictures in the mens room.

One of your SPACE leaders hard at work. Oh, and there is a new SPACE photo album on the Warehouse website. Thanks Chris Hayes!

The Faces of Missions

Some of the faces from the 2004 SPACE missions...
For those of you that have heard me go on and on about it, I hope this helps put some faces to the momentum.
Pray for these kids and leaders if you remember.

PS - As you can probably tell, these are linked via I started using it a while ago to host very lightweight images, you get 20M free. But I've had a really bad time of it... Sometimes my images show up, sometimes not. In other words, if you have another place where you can host images, use that. Comment if you've got another good place thats free. Although, I readily realize that it could be just me... html is my friend.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Mission 5 follow up

Wow. What an awesome time. We had three people who had spent some time overseas come and talk... Kind of a round table.
B - the Sudan
D and M - Egypt and Israel
The questions:
1.What was the best thing you did to relate to another culture well?
2.After being immersed in another culture, how should we behave differently as Americans?
3.What was the biggest cultural mistake you made? How did it happen?
4.What did you love about the new culture that you were in?
5.How did elements of your walk with Christ become known in that other culture? (ie. It was not just an American thing.)
Some great thoughts that they talked through, and I think the students got a lot to think about regarding culture. I know they are going to deal with different cultures on these trips, thats the beauty of it...
It went on for about 60 minutes, a little bit long for some of the kids. There were middle schoolers there... (Maybe this middle school weekend I am leading is a mistake... I'm just kidding...)
Also going to start to pray with the other team leaders periodically as we get closer to departure.
Wow. I can't believe the 5 meetings are over. I'm going to miss it.

Merry Go Round to pump water

Check this out. A merry go round that pumps water out of the ground while kids play on it. Very cool.

Origins review

Here is a review that this youth pastor from OH wrote about the Origins conference. It is well written and a good summary. Of course, how can you summarize 3 days of McManus...

Final Official Missions Prep

Something like this:

* real live missionaries panel talking about culture
* ice cream sundaes
* team time revisiting the 8 great questions
1.What can I learn about myself?
2.What can I learn about God?
3.What can I learn about community and church?
4.What can I learn about culture and its impact on faith?
5.What can I learn about justice and poverty?
6.What can I learn about discipleship?
7.What can I learn about my lifestyle?
8.What can I learn about my vocation?
(Taken from Short Term Missions Workbook)

Wow... It's been a great set of meetings with these students. Are we ready? Are we setting them up to be successful for these trips? Will they come back with a missional attitude and worldview? Will they understand more of the world and God's passion for it with and thru them?
I think so... and somehow I think little of it has to do with these meetings...


Over the past month or so, I've been focusing on meeting some key people just to hang out and talk about ministry. To hear about them, and listen to them, their dreams and visions. And of course, they want to hear about SPACE and my dreams and visions. It's been a great interchange.
Yesterday, I had lunch with our middle school pastor. He is new, only having been here for a few months. However, he was an intern here earlier and his wife grew up at GCC. Very cool. Great guy. He LOVES middle schoolers.
We had some great conversation, including shooting around the following ideas:
God always seems to call people to bigger ministries. Do you ever hear of someone answering a call to the 'little church'?
Hearing/listening for God's voice and direction
Can you impart a lifestyle of service to middle school kids or are they inherently only about being served? Are we too intentional about making ministry to them all about them and for them?

Would love to hear what you readers think about any of those.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

IM presence

I don't know how much time you spend in actual hanging out with your students, aside from Sunday church, maybe a weekly small group, or a formal youth min activity. I find that I, unfortunately, hardly spend any time at all just being with them. I would love to more, but with the rigors of a full time job, two young children at home, and all of that, I don't really get too much time. It does happen every once in a while, but it has to be intentional and it has to be scheduled in advance. It's kind of too bad it has to be so structured, I love to just drive and pop in for visits... But it's important to realize that I'm not just making plans for myself, I've got 3 other people in the house to consider. Sometimes, I'll have kids drop by the house around the girlies bedtime, which is always fun for everyone. It's a big treat for them when someone comes over and reads a story or prays with them before bed.
In lieu of hang time, I find that IM can create a presence to connect with students. We used to use AIM quite a bit at work, now we have a corporate messaging platform. And since most of my job is leading, delegating, empowering my team, it's mostly done from a desk, either writing email, chatting over IM or talking on a conference call. IM is just so practical.
So I find that around 2-2.30, the buddy list just lights up. Of course, I don't have any milk and cookies when they get home from school, but I think some of the kids I have connected with know that I'm mostly around and can chat if they feel like it. I also don't try to overburden kids, like talking to them every time they come on. That would be a little weird. But of course, I make an effort and I think they do too. It's neat. Someone asked me once if I thought it was just a medium for gossip. I don't really think so, anymore than the phone is. They also mentioned that a kid that just moved here didn't really connect because they kept chatting with their old friends from where they moved from. I could see that. In fact, I told my graduating kids that that when they get to college, they should not log on for the first 2 weeks. The beginning of college should be about roaming from dorm to dorm, meeting people, not sitting at a computer.
Also, I use a thing called GAIM, which lets you run msn, yahoo and aim from the same window manager. It's very cool. The other thing that I love about it is that it automatically logs every conversation. Not because I am a weirdo. But I think it's fun to go back and read those significant conversations sometimes.
Anyway, I thought I would share some of the different things that I have chatted with kids about, things that I think are pretty significant:
missions (of course)
the will of God
careers, the future, etc.
planning a surprise party
starting with a new campus ministry or not
working on a resume
checking grammar on a paper
dealing with addiction
helping a friend with is suicidal
good versus bad worship
family issues

So all in all, I'm a big fam of IM. Some of the students think that all I do is chat with people all day long. In reality, I do a lot of chatting with people all day long. It's just that most of it is work, some of it isn't. After all, I AM an extrovert...

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

For Bob

Bob, I think I deleted the post you commented on.
But yes, haha, I think I like it now...
Of course, I imagine there are people out there more neurotic than me...?

Template Done

now i'm happy

New Template and Comments

New Template and Comments
Well that wasn't too hard. I think I have all the pieces up and working like they used to, just with this new template. I dig it. Although, I'm not too happy about the way the Haloscan comments look on this page. Should I switch to blogger built in commenting? Anyone have a preference? Or even care? Ha.

New Template

New Template
new template.
comments will be up later today.


I don't think I get enough opportunity to sit down and talk with people that have no interest in 'religion' and talk about the deep issues of life. Recently, we got invited to our neighbors house for a Bible study. And we didn't even know they went to church. Apparently, they just got involved in a church a few months ago and the church decided to do the 40 days of purpose. So our neighbors, C and L, decided to host a Bible study on the Purpose Driven Life. Yeah, you are right, that is kind of cool. D has been going almost every week, I just already had too many commitments and such. Anyway, this past weekend, we were both able to go, and it was really fun. Not only fun, it was very intriguing and healthy to sit and mostly listen to what people outside the Church think about deep, significant issues of life. It's also been great to get to know C and L a little better instead of just talking about lawn feed and stuff like that.
Last week's study was on mission, ministry and service. As we talked, I jotted down some snippets which I found interesting. Interesting because I think they are symbolic of what people think about the church in general. I hope you find them interesting too:

- 'the church is fashion show'
- 'who are the unbelievers?' (also - I think the group we were with doesn't quite understand the Gospel yet, they still believe God chooses people based upon how good they are. Of course, I wanted to pipe up, but thought it was better to just listen.)
- 'that doesn't sound very Christian.'
- 'we need some kind of religious education for our son.' (really... very intruiging.)
- 'how do I decide how to serve, I might not want to make a long term commitment, or something better might show up.'

Overall, I was trying to take the advice that sometimes, we as Christ followers just talk to much. Do you sometimes feel, that when you only listen, you missed the boat?

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

NYT articles about adolescents

NYT articles about adolescents
Two very good articles I just read regarding adolescents.
Both from NYT. You might need to get free registration.
Both links From Thunderstruck

For some reason, I've been fascinated with Las Vegas for the past few years. It's weird. I think it all started when I decided to take my Dteam guys, right after graduation, to work with YWAM Las Vegas. They have a thing called Lost World Cafe, where they minister to street people, down and out gamblers, etc. I thought it would be really really cool. In reality, guys that just graduated from high school were more interested in spending their summers saving money for college. It's understandable, and an interesting issue to note when planning student missions.

Kids in Las Vegas

The second article: talks about friends with benefits. I had never understood this phrase, and even still don't. But this article really opens the door on how easily our teenagers talk about sex these days.. and more.... Read it for yourself.

short-term "mission trip" worry parents

short-term "mission trip" worry parents
Someone found this by googling: 'short-term "mission trip" worry parents'
I thought that was pretty interesting.
So I thought I would share a little bit about my perspective about parents worrying when their kids go on mission trips.
There is certainly enough to be worried about, outside of sending your kid to a foreign country or to the inner city. You can't be with your child at all times, knowing what they are doing, the people they are meeting, how their leaders are protecting and guiding them. And in a post 9-11 world, the circumstances, especially overseas, can escalate within a moments notice. One other thing about the post 9-11 world - it is a violent world, and we better get used to it. We will no longer be able to travel the world as citizens of America and be so well greeted. It's a tough edict of the new world, but one that we just will have to deal with. And as one who believes we need to build Christ-followers that have a correct worldview, violence based on what you believe is a real part of the world outside of America. We have no idea what persecution for our faith really is. Jesus came to draw people to Himself, out of false idols and religions, and the violence that our world has come to is part of that equation.
So, yes, lots to worry about.
On the other hand, I have met a handful of families that would, as one way to put it, love to sign one permission form for their childen's whole high school careers. Worry is not part of their worldview. Their child's safety certainly is important, but its not even close to dominating their decisions about their children. It's quite intruiging, especially since I am certainly not on this side of the scale. Why are they like that? How can I be more so? I think some of it comes to an issue of faith. They probably have more faith than I have. But I think it's more than just the idea that God will take care of their children. Because, in the end, that's a pretty shallow theology. I think, and I might be wrong, that it's more the idea that God has placed our family on mission and whatever comes will come. It is a sense of an overriding direction and purpose, driving not only the kids, but the parents as well. So the mission trip is, in a sense, the opportunity when the child is released into the world, from the family, to fulfill their passion and destiny. One other component with these families, I think they have prepared their kids so well, worrying about their decision making, the activities they will be doing while unsupervised, the character that has been ingrained in these kids, their levels of responsibility, all of these seem to be a nonissue too. I think it becomes not so much as what could happen to my kid as what a great opportunity for growth and purpose and he/she is ready for it.
It reminds me of this:
"When we believe that God’s purpose, intention or promise is that we will be safe from harm, we are utterly disconnected from the movement and power of God." - McManus
I hope this helps the person that googled that phrase.