Monday, January 31, 2005

Origins thinking #3

Still ruminiating on some of the ideas from the conference. Two previous updates:
post dealing with the person that MUST and reading Scripture
- overall conference notes

A third thing that I have been thinking about lately is this idea that "God can pastor us." I've been thinking about that in the context of what it means in my own life as well as what it means for our faith community of students and the Church on a larger scale. Also related is the idea of "having a high capacity to hear God."

I left the conference with a new resolve to be more intentional about my time in the Word. I want to be a mystic, where God meets me, talks to me, gives me visions and direction, that God is truly pastoring me. That I have developed a high capacity to hear God. That his voice is clear, audible, and that I am obeying Him.

It has me thinking about ministry to students too. Most of us have been taught that we are the shepherd for our students. We lead them in small groups, take them on retreats, take them on mission trips. We model, teach, encourage, hang out. We are their pastors. But this changes every thing doesn't it?

If God is indeed pastoring people, then they aren't coming to church to just be fed. Instead, they are coming because they see a community of people moving with God affecting specific individuals, neighborhoods, communities, and history. Church is no longer a group of people sitting in the stands getting something, its about a group of people dynamically moving to reach a lost world. Even as I write this, I'm still perplexed. Is this in line with the Scriptures?

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Ralph Winter - One of Time's 25

I was glancing through the list of Times 25 Most Influential Evangelicals, and wasn't too impressed. I mean, it was an okay list. Certainly there were people that I had heard of, and have been influenced by, directly or indirectly. And then there were people that I had never heard of. By the middle, I was starting to get weary.
But then...alas, number 25 - Ralph Winter. That is sweet.
It's not so much about who is influential in the eyes of Time Magazine. Maybe it is that all of us who follow Jesus are trying to be as influential as we can in the spheres of people that we have around us. And that we are listening and obeying to God as we do this, that we are loving people, that we are catalyzing our close friends and family to live like this too.
Anyway, I'm glad to see Dr. Winter there. The work that he has done has, literally, changed my life. Taking Perspectives ruined my life for a little bit, and then push me into clarity of mission.

SPACE - Feb 05 and CWS

Yesterday I got the SPACE crew together to help set up the auditorium, after GCC had a big children's ministry conference. That was kind of fun, it was a lot of work, but there was a lot of people there, so that made it pretty easy.
Then we went out and drove around to a bunch of hotels asking them if they would donate some shampoo, soap, etc. for Cold Winter Shelter, later in February.
Cold Winter Shelter is a bunch of area churches volunteering their facilities for a week at a time in the winter to host homeless people in our county. It's a partnership deal with the local homeless shelter here in Howard County, and this is the first time that GCC has been a part of it. Personally, I'm really excited that we are part of it. I think its a great thing to do and we definitely have the space for it. Logisitcally, it might be a bit of a challenge, but that's part of the fun of it.
Our crew yesterday were all girls and me. (It's a recurring theme in my life...) Here they are in one of the posh hotel lobbies.
We will be taking teams and small groups to help that week with just spending time with the residents, hanging out, etc. Should be pretty cool, and easy to prep for.

Watching the Snow

Saturday, January 29, 2005

It's ok to be odd

Up to about two years ago, I had a pretty mainstream ministry experience. I had a little over fourteen years of experience as a volunteer youth worker, with your average student ministry experiences including running small groups (which was the majority of my experience), retreats, camping ministries, summer camps, mission trips. You know the drill.
And then in the Spring of 2003, this idea of student missions hit me really hard. Not that I had never thought about it - heck, I had ran two 6 week long mission trips for students in my experience. But this time, it hit me with more force, more compulsion, more passion than ever before. That process led to a proposal I wrote for our student ministry, which led me to where we are at today.
I realize more than ever that I'm at a pretty unique - and awesome - place. I've got this role in our ministry that has never been there before. The support of other people that help in the ministry has been incredible. The response to our students has been crazy. We are trying out new forms of mission and service that have never been attempted before, and God is blessing them. Kids are serving, growing together, learning to live life on mission.
I also realize that I'm at a pretty unique place within student ministry in general. I don't think there are a lot of people focusing on what I'm focusing on with students in general. Sure, we have a lot of mission boards that have youth pieces. We have parachurch ministries that cater to only student missions. There are tons of youth pastors that run summer missions. But I've yet to really find people that are the resource for their local church when it comes to providing missional experiences strictly for students. I'm an oddball. And that's okay. I've known from the time I was a little kid that I'm a little strange. In a good way. Or so I tell myself.
I'm just reminded of this as I read the categories for the Evangelical Blog Awards:
Best Overall Evangelical Blog
Best Designed Evangelical Blog
Best Evangelical Blog-Politics
Best Evangelical Blog-Ministry
Best International Evangelical Blog
Best Domestic Evangelical Blog (U.S.)
Best Evangelical Blog-Apologetics
Best Evangelical Blog-Pastor
Best New Evangelical Blog
Best Evangelical Blog-Humor
Best Evangelical Missionary Blog
Best Evangelical Youth Pastor Blog
Best Evangelical Group Blog
Best Evangelical Teen Blog

It's funny. I am an odd ball. And I REALLY like it that way.

Friday, January 28, 2005

More thinking from Origins Florida

Like the last time I went to Origins, a bunch of things have been swimming around in my head since getting back from Origins-Florida. What I love about the experience is that I have left both times with thinking about following Jesus in a totally different way and not having anything concrete or tangible to actually apply. But of course, an experience like that has to grow and stretch you - you need to act on what you have learned.
So two things have come out of it for me.
First, this idea of the person that MUST, that Alex spoke about. (There are two newsletters that also talk about the same kind of thing, here and here.) Who are the people in my sphere of influence that are people that MUST? Who are people in my influence that are not, but could be people that MUST? How do we develop those people bringing them to that point? And what is the essential task that we call them to, what are they things that they MUST do? Maybe that is one of the issues with the Western church - that we have a lot of people that call themselves Christians, but are not people that MUST (yet).
Secondly, I really need to read Scripture in a new way. Read it with the willingness to obey, reading it from different angles - the emotion, imagination, from the antagonist, chewing on the text instead of running right through it. I had a bit of time off work yesterday waiting for stuff (car appointment, gymnastic class for one of my kids) and started reading through Acts with these things in mind - it was cool.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Future Career Option

The Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom - Walt Disney World.
Wouldn't that be a great job?

Disaster Relief Team

Tim writes about the actual day to day work, what the living conditions were like, and the people and expertise that made up his team in this post here.
"Life would have been extremely stressful in that setting if it had not been for the make up of the team. We had a great team with lots of short term mission experience. Several had a lot of disaster relief work. The Advance team was only with us a few nights; they included two mental health counselors, a trauma nurse, and an engineer. Our team was made up of a Neonatalogist (NICU doctor), a Internist/Pediatrician who was also a retired astronaut with NASA who had 4 space shuttle flights to his credit, a retired radiologist who loves to fly planes, and two family docs (of which I was one). We also had a physician assistant student (who came from a family of 9 sisters and brothers) and a medic in the special forces who starts medical school this year. We also had a NICU nurse, a retired neurosurgical nurse, and a family nurse practitioner. We also had a few nonmedical folks who literally kept camp going."
Read this list again of people and their expertise. This is why when I hear of teams going to the tsuanmi affected region, I wince or clam up. Disaster relief requires a whole realm of expertise - not a group of Western travellers bent on doing a good deed or two.

Mentor Accepted

I posted a while ago about a student seeking to do a mentorship with me under SPACE. Previous posts are here and here. I got a text msg from her this am, she has been acccepted! It's pretty exciting news, it means that I will have a good bit more help doing the normal things that need to get done for SPACE. Even more exciting is being able to pour into someone who possibly might have a passion for student missions as well.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Leave your feedback!

I want you guys to think about this phrase for about 30 seconds, and then comment on what comes to mind.
It's just a little fun exercise I'm doing... for no one's amusement but myself.


"high places of youth culture"

Love to hear what you think.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Regional Origins Experience - Orlando

Here is a recap of my time at the Regional Origins Experience - Orlando. At least I think that's what they called it. First off, I had tons and tons of notes. I wrote almost non stop during the entire sessions (that's just the way I take notes.) However, I didn't feel like just pasting those notes here, for a few reasons: First, there were context specific things mentioned. They would make no sense to you readers. Second, you probably aren't interested in everything. So for what its worth...

Wed night from 7-10
Thursday from 9-4
Held at Discovery Church, Orlando, FL.
(see their cool student ministry thelement)
Held inside The Gallery(not their 900 seat auditorium), a kind of coffee house/cafe area with a stage.
One of the Discovery Church bands led worship before each session, very well done and had everyone well engaged in worship
About 200 people there.
50% church planters and senior/lead pastors
50% the rest of us
About 10 of us from the NorthEast (Boston, New York, Baltimore (5))

Session 1 - Alex
Session 2 - Erwin - Q&A
Session 3 - Alex
Session 4 - Erwin - Q&A again
Session 5 - breakouts - church planters; volunteers; people from the NorthEast

It seemed to me that the conference was really a get together for church planters, to get more and more people tied into the Mosaic Alliance and for those people to have conversations. The last session was so that people could meet up with the Mosaic Alliance Navigators, a team of people around the country that are resources for church planting. They also met with us from the NorthEast, since Alex would like to target Boston, New York and DC. He also asked us if we thought an Origins Experience Conference would work here on the East Coast. We also asked him if they would come to Baltimore to do the same kind of thing. They were totally open to that.
The actual venue was very intimate - almost face to face. I was able to meet both Erwin and Alex, introduce myself, shake hands, etc.
The time Erwin spent speaking was unreal. He did two sessions of Q&A, totally crowd driven - whatever questions we had. His answers were never easy, short, to the point. He elaborated on just about every one of them. A top notch communicator, he joked, told stories, totally engaged the audience.

* On reading the Bible:
- 'What is God talking about?'
- the emotion, not just the ideas
exegete the emotion
what is counter intuitive?
we cut off the sharp edges of Scripture - we make it wholesome
we filter thru the 'Christian' worldview
David was a pervert
Abraham was a weasel

- read the Scriptures with a pagan mind
allow yourself to be surprised
what is the subtext?
read it as the antagonist
for too long, we have read the Bible as the protagonist
We are always David not Goliath
We are always Israel, not Egypt
We have been trained to be the protagonist

The Bible cannot be interpreted unless you are obeying
theology for theology's sake will move to perversion

* On cultural diversity:
99% of churches in LA are homogenous
it has nothing to do with LA

- have friends who are not like you
- can't diversify unless you love them
- we currently reach followers instead of leaders
be a leader to reach a leader

* On communicating:
preach to instrinsic needs
- community
- destiny
- meaning
those 3 great themes are present in all good stories, legends, movies

Important when preaching -

* On evanglism:
"It is harder to get Christians into nonChristian activities than to get nonChristians into Christian activities."

When he leads someone to Christ, he gets them to call 3-5 of their friends right away, that day, before they go to sleep. Get sharing the Gospel into their DNA right away.

* On mysticism:
"Everyone who meets God in the Bible is a mystic. Most evangelicals would call that psychotic."

* On discipleship:
"Discipleship is what happens before a person is converted not after."
adults only learn in crisis - create positive crisis experiences - in ministry context

* On 20 somethings:
"20 year olds are not anti-authority, they are anti-irrelevant."

* On Mosaic's childrens ministry:
by 6th grade, every kid has gone on a missions trip to another city
have spent time learning about cultures
have spent time in a Muslim mosque and a Buddhist temple

Alex did a session at each beginning, Wed night and Thursday morning. A few key ideas from his talks:

* Jesus invites the disciples to come follow Him, but there is never anything mentioned about Heaven.

* The minimum structure needed for a new movement is the person who MUST.
Are you a person who MUST?
You have no choice - you just HAVE TO
(see this newsletter too)
"A person will live without if you give them a reason to live and die."

I also met a few cool people that are doing the stuff, it's pretty awesome. One of them was Paul Gomez from NewHopeNewYork, for some potential stuff with students in NYC again. He is also a Mosaic Navigator.

Back from Florida

Well, we finally made it back. It wasn't easy, between the stomach flu and watching the snow pound Baltimore. I will be posting my notes from the mini Origins thing in a few minutes.
One thing that keeps sticking in my head is that this kind of excursion, to be a part of the mini Origins thing, or something similar, will never be easy. Someone is interested in seeing us fail miserably at kingdom work like this.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


The past few days have been a blur. Here is the quick rundown:

T pm - stomach flu hits D
W am - trying to decide who and when flies to Orlando
W pm - we all fly, by God's grace
W pm - Origins Regional Leadership - unreal, way more later
T all day - more Origins - even more unreal, of course more later
F all day - The Magic Kingdom with the fam - the perfect Disney day
F pm - stomach flu hits E
We are still in Orlando, seeing who gets sick next (I'm almost sure it will be me...) and watching the weather forecast in Baltimore. We have already pushed our flight home one day later.

Always an adventure, but really, would we have it any other way?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Global Expeditions - Leader Seminar

I spent a little bit of time poking around the Global Expeditions website this evening. Global Expeditions is the mission trip arm of Teen Mania, probably known best for their Acquire the Fire conferences (I've never been.)
We've got a few friends who have been a part of Teen Mania trips in the past, both as students, leaders and Teen Mania staff. One of them even gave me a copy of her Teen Mania Team Leader training manual. It was very in-depth and had some very practical leadership material.
Global Expeditions runs a True North seminar, which is the first step into which an individual 'applies' to be a leader for one of their trips. Covered in this seminar are the following elements:
Large and small Group Leadership
Public Speaking
Cross-cultural Evangelism
Effective Confrontation
Small Group Initiatives
Personal Feedback from Experienced Leaders
Evaluation for Global Expeditions summer leadership positions

It's an interesting list. Personally, I would love to go to one just to sit in on it and see the extent of the material. From the listing of the topics, it sounds like it's not just about going to get a project done, but rather using the trip as a means of discipleship for the students involved.
There are a few things that I like about this list:
- Large Group Leadership - I don't even know what that means, but I can imagine it deals with traveling with large groups, set up for some of their large scale dramas and or projects, maybe dealing with how to manage large groups of people and the leaders serving under you.
- Effective Confrontation - Really good idea. I've had to do some confrontation on over 50% of mission trips that I have been on. Not only mission trips; retreats, summer camp settings, Manhunt games, you know the drill.
- Public Speaking - I guess every leader they have has to be able to speak in front of people.
It would also be interesting to be on the opposite side of the table regarding the last two - Feedback and Evaluation. How exactly do they train the people that provide those two things? That would be some rich stuff.
Almost sounds like a list of things to train church planters huh?
Any other topics that you readers might list on prepping mission team leaders?

Off to Orlando

Hopefully we will beat the snow tomorrow.
Origins Wed night and Thurs.
Something Disney on Friday.
Will be jotting lots and lots of notes...

PM is back from India

Read his notes here. (Look for the heading "Mission Notes: Don't read if it bores you to death.")
Here are some snippets:
2. Just as we want people "Doing the Stuff" we also have to see missions in the same way: People need to be doing the missions. If we just let the leaders do it, then we are doing an injustice.
4. We don't do missions cause we will change the world, and we don't do them to change the people who are doing them. We do it cause we are commanded to do it.
6. Missions (just like evangelism, discipleship, & marriage) are most effective when they are rooted in long term committed relationships.
7. Effective missions, based on relationship, are two way. For example if we go and witness to a non-beleiver in Portugal we should invite them to our home, maybe pay their way, and love them here as well as there. Mission can not just be words.

You should go read the whole thing.


In recent months, I've been concentrating more and more on language - specifically the language that I use to communicate. I've started to become really sensitive to leaders that write with language that evokes and stirs, rather than just gives out information. Maybe some of you readers have noticed it here, maybe not.
Anyway, this snippet is intersting, as we consider what kind of language we use - about our ministries, goals, visions, but also about our faith, how we talk to prebelievers, etc.
I am becoming increasingly convinced all war and revolution language must cease in the Christian community. What sounds radical to western ears leaves images of atrocities for the rest of the world. Yes, the message of salvation is a declaration. Yes, the Gospel challenges political, economic, and social powers, but the message of salvation must always be expressed in the spirit of Jesus. Our weapons are that of love and compassion. Our declaration is that of peace. Our position is that of a servant. Our retaliation is bent on absorbing injustice and returning hatred with kindness. Our destiny is to die rather than to fight, to spend ourselves rather than preserve ourselves.
It's from Steve Argue, one of the guys from intersect, which I posted about before. Got the link from Mark Riddle, who I check up on from time to time. Link to the full paper.
I think Steve is on to something - the idea that Christ calls us to die in order to live, to spend ourselves. But I'm not sure its mutually exclusive from being a revolutionary. In either case, maybe you are thinking about what kind of impact your writing makes too.
Along the same lines, check out the language used in this letter from the pastor of the Nashville Mosaic plant, who Lu is a part of. Cool.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Two Communities Respond

These two churches have outlined some pretty cool ways they are involved in the response to the SE Asia Tsuanmi.
Grace Fellowship, outside Baltimore, has some details on families from their body, the strategy and forming some response teams.
Mars Hill Bible Church lists specific organizations they have partnered with and how they are responded with their Global Outreach teams.
Pretty cool stuff.
Also, Bob has a post from World Relief about the 10 myths of disaster relief.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Travel Tips

I've decided to try to glance at the Washington Post's Travel section each weekend, if I can. I thought it might be good to get some ideas, be in the know about travel trends, etc. Today they had a summary of some of the travel tips they learned the hard way in 2004. Here are some of the good and relevant ones:

If your digital camera battery dies mid-picture, take it out, warm it up in your hands, do a little dance and chant, and it will take at least five more pictures before dying for good.
They have Webcams all over London, and you can stand in front of one and call a friend and they can look online and watch you waving.
Always be nice to the ticket and gate agents, they can upgrade you if they feel like it.
Wear flip-flops on every flight. Even if you are flying for business, there is time to change your shoes after the flight, and it saves a lot of time and energy from taking off your shoes and potentially walking barefoot through security.
Do not wear overalls to the airport. You will be pulled out for a pat-down.
Never take a vacation with your in-laws where the plan is to be nomadic gypsies in a developing country.
Online check-in!
Even if your foreign destination says it will accept other ID than a passport, get a passport.

Read the whole article here. (Free registration required)

4 days until Orlando

I'm pretty excited about the chance to go to the The Mosaic Regional Leadership Experience. I'm not sure if it is really going to be any different than Origins was or not, but either way is okay with me.
I found out tonight that three other people from GCC are going too. Our youth admin/catalyst, another admin/worship arts lady and the worship lead for Fusion. That will be fun, they are all really neat people.
I guess what I'm hoping for most of all is that God continues to ignite an even greater passion for Him and His Church. I'm not really expecting to learn techniques, ideas or strategies. And I don't think they will even talk about that kind of stuff, which was why Origins last year was such a stretch for me, in the very best of ways. It helped me with throwing structure and program out the window and the fact that it was okay to do that.
I'm also hoping that God speaks about this summer and the mission trips during my time at the conference. Wouldn't it be nice sometimes to get the plan on a piece of paper? (Of course, that would be very structured...) Anyway, I'm really looking forward to it.
One more note about it - the fam is coming along. We are going to do one day in Disney all together. The coolest thing - the girlies have NO idea, and we are going to tell them the morning that we leave. They are just going to scream...

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Il Ristorante Luce DeCristo

Tonight was one of our middle school's biggest outreach events of the school year - Restaurant Night. The idea was the families of middle schoolers invited other families to come to the Warehouse, where they would be served an Italian dinner. I don't know where they come up with these ideas... it was pretty awesome.
We only went because our youth admin/catalyst wanted all the youth staff and their families to come if they could. (I felt kind of funny about being there in general, but it was fun.) The food was great, they had totally transformed the Warehouse and there were tons of families there. Really fun.

It took over 100 volunteers to make the night happen, from cooking, decorating, clean up, etc. There is a whole Warehouse page dedicated to volunteers for the event, with very clear specific needs, instructions and contact information.

By the way, those are real 'fake' moustaches on those boys - not digitally enhanced...

Friday, January 14, 2005

2004 first sentences

Instructions: take the first line of the first post of each month

Jan - "Missionaries for Dinner"
Feb - "Super Bowl"
March - "Mark 2"
April - "ML and J"
May - "When does God call?"
June - "short-term "mission trip" worry parents"
July - "New Way to the Street"
Aug - "back from NYC"
Sept - "And I Thought Boot Camp was tough..."
Oct - "No Debate for me"
Nov - "NY in the Fall"
Dec - "Joel News Blog"

Vanguard Student on the Frontline

From David - An email from a college senior who "spends most of his breaks from school working at an orphanage in Bali. He was there when the tsunami hit, and rushed to Banda Aceh, the hardest hit area, to help."
Warning - extremely graphic descriptions of the tragedy.
Talk about giving away your life to find it.

Why Go With the Local Church?

Now that summer plans are almost upon us (I know, hard to believe), I've had one student come to me and ask me why she shouldn't go with just an old missions organization versus what we are trying to do as a part of SPACE. It's a great question, there are so so many opportunites out there for students, and the market is only going to get larger. Students today can go just about wherever they want, doing whatever kind of ministry they are drawn to. I'm sure I will get more kids asking the same kind of question.
Here is a snippet from a great write up from the Discovery segment of Wycliffe, which is their summer college age program. You can read the whole document (included in three required reading articles for Discovery applicants) here under the Discovery doc download page.
Link your short term with your local church
by Paul Borthwick
Diane’s short-term missions experience left her feeling a little flat. It had all seemed great at the out-set -- a good mission agency, excellent financial support from her family and a few friends, and a fair amount of enthusiasm from her college peers. But, when she arrived on the field, she sensed just how alone she was. Her family wrote regularly, but others seemed to forget about her, or so she felt. When she returned home, no one seemed interested in the intense experiences she’d had in a new culture. Her aloneness left her thinking, “I don’t know if I’ll ever go into missions again.”
Bob and Louise had a very different experience. Rather than going with an independent program, they decided to go through their church-affiliated short-term program. Their feelings of frustration came at the start of the summer: Why do we have to do all of this paper work? Why do we have to meet with the missions committee? When we are so ready to go, why does it seem that our church is dragging its feet?
They spent time developing relationships with people in their church. After a special send-off service, Bob and Louise were taken to the airport by a dozen friends and supporters from the church.
During the summer, letters came with regularity. They never felt the same sort of aloneness that Diane felt because there were constant reminders that they weren’t there alone: their church was behind them. They returned two months later to an airport reception crowded with church members toting “Welcome Home” signs. Several expressed anticipation about hearing their reports. At the close of their experience, Bob and Louise thought, “Wow! Let’s do this again.”
Although Diane and Bob and Louise are extreme (though true) cases, the basic reason for their contrasting summers was their relationship with a sending church.
Let’s be realistic: sometimes the local church doesn’t seem too desirable. In some ways it’s easier just to go than to stay around and try to build relationships with people who may not seem supportive of missions.
There are at least three good reasons to spend the time needed to build bridges to the local church.
First, it’s biblical. Jesus promised that the church will prevail against the gates of hell (Matthew 16:18) The book of Acts demonstrates the church in action to fulfill the Great Commission through the establishment of churches. Missionaries are sent to establish churches, not to make solitary converts. If we ignore the local church in our culture what will we have to offer the local church in another?
Second, it’s practical. Whether or not we want to admit it, our local church has plenty to offer in the sending process. Financial and prayer support are the most basic means of involvement, but people we know are crucial, too. They can best advise us on what we need to learn for a short-term assignment.
Finally, a short-term missionary can be a tremendous missions catalyst to the sending church. Most of us would admit that the local church (in general) is fulfilling a strategic missions function. The solution, however is not to circumvent the church in order to get to the field: the solution is to get involved enough so that we can build our missions vision into others.

In my mind, its even more important that students go with their local church's missions experience if at all possible. Their experience will be so formative, coming home with other students and leaders that understand is paramount.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

WHFS - the end of an era

If you have spent any time in DC or Baltimore, you probably heard of, or heard 99.1 WHFS. As of yesterday, HFS is defunct, being taken over by Spanish "El Sol" which will play "a mixture of Salsa, Merengue and Bachata" music.
I remember listening to HFS when it was on 102.3, broadcasting from downtown Bethesda (right near the Sunshine House surf shop.) When I was in high school and college, I really enjoyed HFS. They had DJs with personality, played really cool up and coming college and alt rock music and were sooo not the establishment.
Later on when they moved to 99.1, they became the modern alternative music powerhouse, ultimately hosting the HFStival, a huge summer weekend music festival. As you can rightly imagine, HFStival gave lots of good excuses for good Christian youth workers to be against WHFS and rail against the evils of pop culture, music that was too loud, and all day music festivals surrounded by scantily-clad girls.
HFS was definitely a cultural icon around our area. In many ways, I'm sad to see it go, for it was significant in my own teenage years and really big for a lot of the students in our area. Music is the language of youth, and they captured and capitalized on that fact very well.
At the same time, I know there were much better things kids could be doing with their time. All of this to say, there will always be cultural icons, good or bad, in our student's lives. The question is how well we engage those icons. Culture is a constant and we better engage.
Read more here and here about HFS at DCist.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

from George to mobilizers

A letter from George Verwer to mobilizers.... Read the full article here.

1. Try to have your information and facts correct and stick to what you know is true.
2. Try to stick to basic passages where the call to prayer, action, and mission is strong.
3. Take the grace-awakened approach; never preach down to people, but always loving and esteeming them.
4. Be honest about your own doubts, struggles, and failures as well as the victories and answers to prayer.
5. Don’t present overseas mission as a superior calling for super-special people. Esteem those who remain home in Market Place Ministry and sending. Especially esteem those who are giving and praying. For 50 years I have experienced it is easier to get the go-ers than the senders. Push the book, _Serving_As_Senders.
6. Make sure you have a great display of books and other materials. If they have their own book display, try to push their items. Get permission in advance for what you are planning to do.
7. Use Power Points and audiovisuals. Test everything before the meeting and keep it short! If you get others to testify, give them a time limit and beg them to stick to it. Stick to your time as well.
8. Try to get personal time with the pastor and other key people before or after the meeting.
9. Make sure everything is covered with prayer. If possible, make prayer part of the meeting.
10. Try to be clear and specific. Give invitations for commitment and at least to be willing to get involved more. Isaiah 6:1-8. I get people to pray that prayer, "Here am I, send me," urging them to realize that the Holy Spirit may send them across the
street or across the sea.

Some good stuff. I most struck by #5. It's a tough balance, but he is so right. Just because someone decides that overseas missions is not for them, there is no less validity in their call or mission that God has for them. It's an issue that I know I need to be more careful of when I talk to people. It's being a missions snob. No room for that around here.
Hopefully, I haven't conveyed that sense here on my blog either. But if I do, please tell me so.

following ZAMblog

Ever since our experience at Teen Missions last summer, I have been more interested in Zambia. (One of our leaders ran an AIDS Orphan Rescue unit in Zambia). The other day I found ZAMblog, which is a blog about - you guessed it - Zambia. It's pretty cool to follow.
This post about a well is really enlightening. I had always heard about the water problem there, about organizations building new wells, etc. But all that information never meant much until I read the details in this post.
If you've got a twinkle towards relief and development, want to learn about African culture, or going to Africa anytime soon, its well worth the read.

Now thats a serious debrief

Contrary to how some people live, there are those of us that know that a mission experience can be a vital tool in a person's spiritual formation. In other words, we aren't taking people on a mission experience just to provide a service. Rather, we are taking them because they have a great opportunity to grow in their walk with Jesus. Of course, this needs to be balanced so that the trip is not just self-serving. Usually the mission experience is paramount in our planning efforts.
However, many times we miss the important fact that BOTH preparation and post trip followup are also key pieces of the mission experience. Some people I have heard from don't prep so that the God can work during their actual mission trip. (Don't get me started on that one...) Some people consider it done when they get home. Both are mistakes.
In any case, David@revolution242 just returned from India. He has done a big writeup of his experiences including pictures, summaries, all organized. It's pretty awesome, you should take a look. He also gave me permission to use it as an example for students (thanks David!!). For all the people that support summer missions, they ought to get back a report like David's.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

24-7 prayer teams

I was poking around the new 24-7 prayer site today. Part of it was from the
tip from Andrew, part of it was just to maybe spur on some ideas for our summer teams from GCC. The 24-7 movement looks pretty awesome, this phrase "high places of youth culture" is really sticking to me.

I'm still trying to get this whole progression of summer mission trips together. I think we need to be progressing, middle school -> high school. I think we need to capitalize on some really good training that is offered by something like SEMP for a 9th or 10th grader. I think the end goal needs to be a team that goes to help a GCC supported missionary.
What I'm unsure of is how the SPACE team trip fits in with this progression. My first inclination, since this is the team that I lead, is that we should be striving for exposure to new models of missions, new paradigms, ideas that are edgy, unheard of, not quite tried and tested out. For instance, I think NYC fit that well last year, because it was a view of planting ethnic churches right in the city, something those kids had never ever heard about.
Another thing about the progression is that I'm not sure my team is ready to go overseas just yet. And, it looks like there will be at least two other overseas teams from GCC this summer. I want to be cautious about trying to raise loads of money from the body for multiple overseas trips in one shot.

Anyway, I'm going to chase this around a bit and see if maybe they have something in the states this summer.
In the meantime, 24-7 is doing:
- mission teams
- a big get together called Transmission and then sending out of teams right after that
- a team that will go to Miami, FL for the Winter Music Conference, all in order to "pray, build relationships and seek favour for Christians in the world of dance music." Is that some kind of vision or what? Coolness.

I've also found two blogs from people that are associated with 24-7 and I've added them to my bloglines, for a while at least.
Jonah Bailey
Check out more at the 24-7 prayer site.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Proportions and Ratios

In our youth ministry staff meeting today, we talked about the overall proportions and ratios of overall students, students in small groups, and small group leaders. The ratios were just incredible.
Everyone doing youth ministry in 2005 knows (or should know) that it is totally not about numbers. Rather, it can certainly be about proportions, especially regarding what you think is essential to your ministry. If you have been reading here for a while, you know that our ministry is really strong in terms of small groups.
Ratios for high school only:
kids in a small group to kids that show up to Sunday morning ratio- 2:3
average Dteam leader to student ratio - 1:6
Those are some pretty awesome statistics, like whoa.
kids that came to Orbit to kids in a small group ratio - 1:5
kids that came to Orbit to kids that show up to Sunday morning ratio - 1:7
Of course, I would love it if every kid involved would come to a SPACE event. Or would I? It would be a logistical nightmare.
Additionally, I have often felt like there is a certain kid who gravitates towards something service oriented. And there are some that just don't even know yet. So I don't feel like we need to have a goal of 100% participation. Instead, if we can make sure we try to engage kids that have that sense of calling for service and mission, maybe that's a better milestone.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

A very big orbit

Well, Orbit was tonight and it was pretty phenomenal. We had around 60 to 70 people participating, with 10 small groups participating. Most of all them had a blast going out and serving in the community. There were so many great stories, and so many kids came back in to the Warehouse just pumped about the time that they had. Most of the leaders really enjoyed themselves and, I think, can see themselves leading their groups into a small service project, after going through different ones tonight. And that was our overall goal.
Each project was delivered via a series of larger to smaller envelopes, with instructions on the inside of each. So each next set of instructions was on a smaller envelope on the inside. The idea was to add some suspense and progression to the projects, and I think the leaders really liked that.
UPDATE 2005-01-09
The envelopes also included a pack of Orbit gum. Funny huh?
Below are the project lists, with their specific steps. I've listed what age group did what as well as adding some commentary to their actual orbit.

Project #1 11th grade boys/12th grade girls
Troops (2 groups)
1. need to provide small boxes, preprinted labels, descriptions of troops from GCC
2. go to the grocery store and fill the boxes with some cool stuff
3. pack and fill the boxes with your letters and stuff. Someone else will fill the boxes.
(this one also included address labels and specific lists from some of our troops)

Project #5 10th grade girls
1. Go to the closest dollar store.
2. Go buy as many balloons that say 'Get well soon' as your group can afford.
3. Go to Howard County Hospital and hand them out to people that are visiting as they come in. Don't be afraid to talk to people about whom they are visiting and why you are handing out balloons.
They were actually able to go in to the pediatric ward and hand out balloons to kids.

Project #6 12th grade boys
1. Buy water
2. Buy hamburgers at a drive thru - buy one for your cashier, but only if they want one.
3.Drive around the Inner Harbor looking for homeless people. If you find any, give
them some water and a hamburger or two. Don't be afraid to talk to them if you want.
The bought 40 hamburgers and the cashier gave them $10 off.

Project #10 10th grade boys
Glowing the Bowling Alley
1.Go buy as many glow sticks as you can
2.Go to the closest bowling alley
3.Give out your glowsticks to as many kids as you can. Don't be afraid to get into a conversation with them about why you are doing what you are doing. If it comes up, you can mention something about the light of the world (that would be Jesus)
This one didn't go so well. No one wanted to glow sticks.
UPDATE 2005-01-09
Actually, I spoke with the leader this morning and he said it went great. He cursed me under his breath when he got the first envelope that talked about glow sticks. (He was actually my dteam co-leader for 4 years, so its a sign of affection.) They got in and actually hung out with bowlers - it was league night. His guys pretty much just went up to people and handed them a glow stick and said "Jesus is the light of the world." So, the leader is planning on a more in depth debrief this week.

Project #12 8th grade boys
Caroling in old town Ellicott City
1. Go to someones house that has a computer and a printer and print out the words to 5-6 Christmas carols. Have enough copies for every 2 people in your group (you can share)
2.Go buy a big box of candy canes, if you can find one. If no candy canes, buy any kind of Christmas candy. Buy a big can of bubbles.
3.Go to old town Ellicott City. Walk down main street as a group, singing Christmas
carols. When people stare at you funny, give them a candy cane. Use Tony's bubble machine, but don't lose it or sell it.
I forgot to give them my bubble machine, so instead they bought candy and flowers. They sang Christmas songs for a while and then sang praise choruses. They got lots of strange looks.

Project #15 8th grade girls
Christmas decorations
1. Get a copy of the church directory, and go find a phone.
2. Call X Y. Ask her if she needs some help taking down her Christmas decorations.
3. Go through the church directory, one letter at a time. Pick one person, and call them and ask them if they need help taking their Christmas decorations down. "We are a small group from LC/CpR. Do you need any help taking down your Christmas decorations (or something like that.)" Do as many as you can before time is up.
They actually found one of their girls in the group whose family they helped take down their decorations.

Project #16 6th grade boys
Collect toiletries from hotels
1. Make a list of all the hotels in Columbia. You can use the phone book or the www.
2. Go to as many hotels as you can (the closer is better) and ask them if you can
collect extra unused toiletries (soap, shampoo, etc.) for a homeless shelter.
3. Drop them off at Grassroots.
They went to 7 hotels and got this huge box of soap/shampoo that they delivered.

Project #17 11th grade girls
Babysit a family
1. Go buy some ice cream and stuff to make ice cream sundaes.
2. Drive to the YYYY. yyy, off of Oakland Mills Road.
3. Go inside, they are expecting you. Babysit their kids for a little bit. While you are there, clean up their kitchen for them. Make sundaes for the kids.
I actually did this one with the junior girls since they needed a driver. Really fun.

Project #18 fusion young adults
The food Court
1. See how much money you all have collectively together. Can anyone get more?
2. Go to the food court in Columbia Mall. Split up into pairs. Choose someone that has a little bit of nerve.
3. In your pairs, see how many people will let you sit down and have dinner with them if you pay for their meal. When time is up, get a final count of all of those people. How many people? How many 'significant conversations'?
The fusion kids loved it. They had such a great time. They got lots of pictures with the people they sat with, funny.
When all the teams came back in, we had some snacks. Then we did a little sharing time, where they talked about what they did. It was cool to see kids respond to other groups and what and how they did things. After that, one of our junior guys led a little worship time, him, his guitar and a microphone. It was so pure and authentic.
A few other interesting tidbits:
- One car load of kids asked their leader if we were going to do this again next Friday.
- The Fusion kids felt like they could easily do something like this again instead of going to a movie together.
- Someone said we should do it again next weekend but just rotate the projects.
- Met a junior girl for the first time and we got to talking about missions. She thinks she wants to go into missions and I asked her if she had ever heard of the "10/40 window". She said no. Exciting to be able to engage kids like her, who have the desire, but just need to have someone help them with their worldview.

Well, I'm certainly spent. Thanks for those of you that prayed about it, I think we met the goal, of giving the small group leaders another tool centered around getting outside of the church and serving and impacting the community.

UPDATE 2005-01-08
(I will probably have more to say about this in the next few days... so for those of you reading thru syndication, you will probably see the posting again. I will try to tag my updates at the bottom though.)
What did we learn:
- We gave these kids zero details about this event. Seriously, I mean zero details. Even the leaders had no idea what any of the projects were going to look like. The SPACE team gave some great suggestions, but they didn't really have any idea either, I was really the only one that knew all the details. And we still had around 70 kids come out knowing the whole purpose was to serve in the community. Maybe we haven't called kids to a high enough purpose and revolution. (I'm not talking about youth ministry in general per se, but I'm talking about our own context.)
- The projects were a good mix in terms of money that had to be spent. On Friday, two middle school parents called and wondered about details. One of them had no idea that their student needed money (a detail the small group leaders knew about.) But thinking about the financial outlay, the projects were switched around at the last minute (and I do mean last minute) so that younger teams would be doing things that didn't cost money. It made sense, except that it should have made sense sooner. My wife was the one that clubbed it into my head... The essence is that projects and their financial requirement need to be tied with the age of the teams.
- In a ministry that serves some four to five hundred kids a week, our numbers for this event may seem low. It isn't a numbers game. But it is a matter of proportions. When Jesus' calling to serve only affects a certain percentage of our communities (even if they are students) versus the majority, we have more work to do. If the ideas of serving others, sharing our faith authentically, or listening to issues of the world only strike a few of our 'Christians', our calling is clear. And the work isn't a turn key thing, rather it is a slow growth, cultivate-plant-reap, marathon style of encouragement, teach and model.
- I can plan these things until I toast myself. But when a small group leader says, "I can do this with my group on my own," that's when we begin to see transformation. Transformation from a group of students that meet specifically to feed themselves to a group that is tied from the bond of wanting to be in God's movement of the world, touching those who are distanced from Jesus.
- Some of the students told me that there were some rumors about the event circulating this week. Isn't that great?!!?? We have become more than just a little project. That's the best kind of publicity isn't it - kids spreading rumors about the event before it happens. And the rumor was that - this is really great - that we were going to all go to the Mall and evangelize, and then come back to the Warehouse to have worship. HA!
- In relation to the above, I would like to publicize the proud fact that we haven't used one single tract in any SPACE event this school year so far. It's a core principle for the rest of this year.

UPDATE 2005-01-09
These SPACE events are usually a good opportunity to bring out emerging leaders. (Please note that this has nothing to do with the ongoing conversation/debate about the emerging church, Emergent, or anything related.) I feel like I should always be on the lookout for three types of leaders:
1. Any students that feel specifically drawn to SPACE, in terms of kids that will help with the leadership, especially 9th or 10th graders. We need to keep the flow of students for SPACE crew, drawing from younger kids in the ministry.
2. Any older kids (post high school) that we can tap to help with summer mission teams. Just this morning, one of the college kids that came Friday night mentioned that he wanted to get together with me to talk more about missions as a career after he graduates.
3. Kids that can support us in other various ways. The first and foremost is worship leaders. On Friday, one of our junior guys came and did a worship set. He is one that has told me that he would love to do that for any SPACE event in the future. (For the people that came out especially to help, I gave them a CD with a Rob Bell message on it.) Another key area is in the arts - video and graphic arts. I would love to have someon that can help with videography, since so much of students' lives are media related. And someone who can do some graphic arts work for SPACE, including logos, flyers, etc.
I know that SPACE must rely on a team of people, and that no one person can do it all themselves. The difficulty lies in the dynamic of catalyzing emerging leaders that see the movement, the vision, the passion. It's not enough to have hands and feet doing the right thing, the key is in the heart.

UPDATE 2005-01-10
This is my final update about Orbit. It was great, but I'm done being fascinated by it... Tonight we packed up all the care packages for the troops. Two groups had these projects, and the actual project was driven by some correspondence with some of the troops from GCC and lists of soldiers from GCC that are in service. It really could have been an event on its own. We had about 12 packages, containing all kinds of useful stuff. The groups that did this one had a good time with it, which I'm glad for. The intent of the projects was to make them very relational - ie. kids HAVING to talk to strangers. In this project, it wasn't so. But they did write letters to the troops, so in a sense, that could be a stretch for a student.
Here is a picture of the boxes. The international ones also have custom forms that were filled out for them - an important detail if you are trying something like this.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Out of Creativity

Sorry for the light posting in the past few days. The truth is that I'm totally out of any more creativity. Most of it has been due to prepping for Orbit. I will post more about that later tonight. I'm really looking forward to it, but it's been quite a bit of work. Hopefully, it will all be worth it tonight, as small groups gain a new dimension in getting out of the church and serving and engaging our community.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

delicous feed for missionx

I've been trying to really use to manage my bookmarks of late. I've added a link to an RSS feed of my bookmarks categorized by 'MissionX', which is just a general lump of mission resources. It's on the right side of my template, for you RSS readers, here is the link as well.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

GWCEA conference and Intersect

When I first started in youth ministry, I went to the Greater Washington Christian Educators Association (GWCEA) conference a few years in a row. It was local and put on by my home church so I checked it out one year. One of those years, I ended up going to this incredible workshop entitled Philosophy of Youth Ministry, which ended up profoundly affecting my experience as a youthworker. I swear I listened to the tape of that workshop over and over for the next five or so years. I also had one of my first 'dates' with D one of those years too. (It was cheap, I was in grad school, she sounded interested, you know the drill...) I was poking around the site tonight and looks like they have some pretty good stuff coming up for the conference later this month.
They have a youthworker track as well as a student track, two things they never had when I went. The speaker for the student track, Dave Burke, has spoken on a few of our student retreats and although I have never heard him, people say he's phenomenal. The speaker for the youthworker track, Steve Argue, looks really good too, looks like he was a Sonlife guy and has now branched off to form intersect, which looks something I could relate to:
"Initially, we offer training and consulting pathways through leadership courses, extended weekends for youth ministries, leadership summits, and written resources. Our focus is upon calling leaders to be formed theologically, personally, and missionally. What does that mean? We believe theology--the study of God and His Redemptive Story--has deeply practically implications for how we live and lead in ministry. It affects who we are and how we engage in the mission of God."
Looks like intersect has some great resources about student missions. I'm definitely going to check those out some more.

Mary's Magnificant

"Thomas Cahill says, 'Mary speaks her Magnificant- the most muscular poem
in all of ancient literature.'"
- Rob Bell, in his 3rd message about Christmas.

yet more resources from tallskinnykiwi

This is why I love reading Andrew's blog.
- Reports from the Flooded Areas
- Disciplines for Emergency Workers
Thanks Andrew, from a whole lot of us!

Monday, January 03, 2005

Tsunami relief - what we did

Some of you might be interested in what we personally gave to for the Tsunami relief. So I thought that might help in terms of what you might do.

1 - Doctors without Borders.
2 - Compassion International. I know for sure Compassion has a project in Chennai.
3 - Pioneers. We support a family that is serving in Southeast Asia, very close to the epicenter. Thankfully, they were not directly affected by either the quake or the tsunami. The cool thing is that they have connections with local churches that are helping with relief efforts. That is, indigenous, national, local believers, who are in perfect proximity to really help and serve. This family gave us info so that a contribution could flow from Pioneers directly into the hands of these local churches. If you are interested in this type of contribution, contact me and I can get that info to you.
We will also probably be giving to the Red Cross too, I think. News just came out that the company I work for is giving a 2:1 matching gift, which is almost too good to pass up.

Jan 2005 Prayer Update

A quick email prayer update that I sent out to my list of people that pray.

"The life of the church is the heart of God. The heart of God is to serve a broken world. The church cannot live when the heart of God is not beating within her. God's heartbeat is to seek and save that which is lost. The church exists to serve as the body of Christ, and it is through this commitment to serve that we are forced to engage our culture. When she ceases to serve the world around her, she begins to atrophy."
Erwin McManus
_An Unstoppable Force_

Dear SPACE prayer team,

Happy New Year!! and thanks for continuing to uphold these students in your prayers. You are a vital part of this ministry as we continue to grow and push students beyond their comfort, as a part of the Church that is longing to serve the world around her.

I wanted to communicate a few small points to you for the start of this new year:
- Pray - for an event called 'Orbit' this Friday, Jan 7. It is an evening specifically focused on small groups going out and serving together with strategic, mini-service projects. Hopefully, this evening will create momentum that small group leaders can use to grow their kids to engage the world around them and catalyze their hearts for Jesus' mission.
- Pray - for our summer mission team plans. Specifically, if you can pray for one set of team leaders and one set of specific team's plans.
- Thanks - for the possibility of one student doing a mentorship with SPACE, where she will get school credit by helping out with SPACE events and leadership. Her overall goal is to get experience and knowledge with regard to student ministry and world missions.
- Thanks - for the continued efforts of the SPACE crew team, a group of students that love to get together to plan, organize and dream about community service and mission with their peer students. It's a joy to work with them.
- Thanks - for me to have a chance to go to a mini conference in Orlando later in January to hear Erwin McManus speak.

Once again, thanks for continuing to pray for the ministry of SPACE. You are a significant part in our journey to engage the next generation, bringing them forward in seeking to save the lost.

All the best for the New Year!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

misc update

I'm writing about some random stuff in this post.

1 - Mentorship update
The fam and I had lunch with the student who wants to do her mentorship with SPACE. It was great to talk about some of the details. What she wants and how I see it fit really well. It's going to be cool. What I thought though, was that she was going to be doing this in the spring semester. Reality though is that it will be all year next year, starting probably when this school year is over.
I had actually planned out all the stuff for her to do for Orbit this week, haha, but thats okay. It means that she is going to be helping out all year next year, which is really cool.

2 - Orbit project list
We put together the final project list for Orbit for Friday night. There are a few loose ends that I have to nail down this week, phone calls and such. But overall, it's going to be good. So far, I have three small groups coming. But I anticipate as the week goes on, more groups will sign up. It's always a last minute thing. I even have a few college kids volunteering to help out with the logistics side of it, which is really neat. Three of them were from my Dteam grade level. I'm feeling really good about the projects, they have an edge, they are pushing the kids a bit, doing them together will create momentum and energy and an environment for their leaders to capitalize upon.

3 - Clive Calver this am
Clive Calver spoke at GCC this am. Wow. He spoke from Micah, and talked about past, present and future, in relation to the new year. Link to the rm file, but you might have to wait until Monday or Tuesday before its updated. He is leaving World Relief and has taken a church in CT. Small world - one of D's good friends from high school has visited this church's MOMs group and really liked it. So we are going to see if they want to visit it with us sometime.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

The crazy ones

"When it comes to leadership, the crazy are those who don't hear voices." - Alex McManus. Read more from the Origins newsletter.