24 May Be Over… But Look What’s Coming

ok… this post has nothing to do with student ministry and not much to do with family. but if you know me, you know i’m a huge 24 fan. so you can totally see why i’m stoked for the new tv show TOUCH set to premier sometime in 2012. just watch the trailer and you’ll want in on it too!

When Your Relationship With Your Neighbors Is Less Than Great

a few weeks ago, we received an anonymous note in our mailbox. though it was anonymous, it *seems* pretty obvious who wrote it, because of the way the wind blows.

to give you an idea of how many leaves we were actually talking about, here’s a picture that shanna took with the baby surrounded by them. ironically, every single one of the leaves comes from one of our other neighbor’s trees!

to be very honest, there were many ugly thoughts rolling through my brain when i first saw the note. and i quickly learned that i could respond in 1 of 2 ways:

1. i could respond by building the wall between us stronger. like buying a leaf blower and blowing them all off my yard and onto his. or by installing a fence between our yards. or by “f***ing it” and doing nothing, like another neighbor told me to do.

2. or i could respond by building a bridge. it would require some work, time, and a good dose of humility. but the good thing is, because of Christ’s influence in my life, this was actually a doable option.

so… after stewing on it for a few days, i raked all the leaves up, mulched up the leftover ones, and then raked them a second time (they filled the yard back up as soon as i was done). and as i was raking and thinking about it all, it saddened me that we don’t have a better relationship with this one neighbor… or at least a good enough one that he could’ve felt comfortable talking to us face to face about it.

so we did some baking. we made some cookies and took them over with a note apologizing for the inconvenience. i tried to let him know our door is open anytime an issue arises in the future. and the hope is that a bridge has been built, or at least begun.

there are so many examples in life and ministry, just like this, where we’re given opportunity to respond.  and they’re usually small, mundane moments that don’t get a lot of attention. but it’s in those moments where our leadership money is earned.

i don’t want to just “settle” for what is around me. i want to lead the change and create a new and better reality.

Are Our Churches Addressing Real Needs?

was just poking around over at craigslist – looking for a new pizza stone to help me perfect my store-bought pizza crusts. and then i bumped into this ad:

Uphappily married man looking for an uphappy married woman … to walk on the walking trails of the canal. Open to the friendship being with benefits after getting to know you for awhile.

so sad and so heartbreaking …and so real. i wonder, do our messages on sunday morning address this level of need, and the many like them? do we know that this is the reality for many people we greet at the door each week? do we have structures in place to help our people connect at deep enough levels with each other to help save some marriages? and when all the lights and fog machines are turned off, do our student ministries have the space to pace with this guy’s kids through the mess?

Why As Youth Pastors We’re So Insecure

3 months after the leadership summit, and i’m still replaying in my mind a quote from steve furtick’s session. you can see it in this clip below at 1:01:

“see one of the reasons we struggle with insecurity is because we’re comparing our behind the scenes with everybody else’s highlight reel.”

it is so true. and it doesn’t just apply to those in student ministry, but in every other area of church leadership as well.  the more networked your church is, the more ministries you have to compare yourself to.

and one thing i’m learning: whenever you compare yourself to someone else… whether it’s your lawn, your home, your car, or the behavior of your kids… you always lose.

no matter how great their highlight reel looks, there’s a messy behind the scenes clip that you’re not seeing… and it looks just as bad as your’s and mine!

This Here Blog Has A New Look

not that you didn’t already notice that. the old background & theme was getting hard to see. maybe i’m getting old. or maybe i just like change and got bored.

but either way… it’s on purpose and you’re still at the right place!

Shanna Is Now Lakeshore’s Graphic Designer

i’m very proud of my wife shanna and excited to announce that she’s just a few weeks into her new job as lakeshore‘s graphic designer!  to meet the growing graphic demands on both the print and web side of things, the church just created the part time position (about 10 hours/week), and we’re stoked.  most of my teaching series and promo pieces for the last 6 years have been worked up by her, but it’s super cool that the rest of the church will now be able to tap into her talent as well!

this isn't a picture of her. it's some random person on google. and the back of shanna's head is way prettier, btw. 🙂

the really cool part about it all is that the position is setup so most of the 10 hours are spent working from home. right now we have it set up that every morning from 7-9am i get to spend with adelina while shanna works. i’m loving the time with her. we chase the dog around the house, perform random science experiments together (mixing green beans w/ sweet potatoes), and make a ton of noise. AND we watch good morning america! on evenings when we’re home together, wheel of fortune is on too, which makes me feel like an old man.

anyways – way to go shanna!!!

Each Of US Can Do Something

just saw this powerful video over on morethandodgeball.com.  i love the creativity and some of the thought-provoking, powerful lines in it. it’s totally worth the 3 1/2 minutes. thanks luke st. hilaire for putting it out there!

Accusations: A Powerful Force That Can Take You Out Of Play

i’ve been watching the drama unfold between republican candidate hopeful herman cain and the sexual harassment accusations against him.  the whole thing is rediculous in my mind – and all i know is that at least one of them is lying. even if there’s no truth to the accusation, can the guy still get elected? it’s doubtful now…

and it gets me thinking about how we in ministry – especially ministry to students and children – can be taken out of play so quickly and so easily when accusations surface.  whether there’s merit or not to the accusation, you have to surround yourself with caution and care so that your integrity isn’t questioned.  like this verse in titus that i was reading this morning…

along these lines, the volunteer leaders under us too can be taken out of play (and our ministries given a black eye) from accusations. as we in our ministry continue to add more leaders and layers of leadership, we wanted to put some basic things in writing, some of which would help with this whole accusation business. i created a “leader covenant” document that everyone in leadership in our student ministry will sign every year – feel free to grab it and edit it if it’s something that can work in your context.  one piece of paper won’t stop every accusation, but it certainly can be a starting point with some written parameters in place.

Adelina Dresses Up Like A Football For Halloween

A Great Book To Read Your Kids At Night

shanna and i recently picked up a book called the jesus storybook bible by sally lloyd-jones, and we just started reading it to adelina as part of her bedtime routine. some nights we’ll read some curious george, or a few comics by my buddy calvin and hobbes… some nights there’s not much of a routine and we just try to throw the kid in bed as quick as possible. but i’m loving this new find.

from the acknowledgments, it looks like the author attends/attended tim keller’s church in new york city. i was first introduced to him a few years ago at the leadership summit and through his book prodigal god.  very profound stuff.

anyways, the book narrates the major stories of the bible in terms that kids can understand. (not that adelina can understand any of it yet, but it’s getting us in the habit of reading to her). what i like about the book is that it constantly weaves the mini-narratives of the bible into the larger story of God, and the principles and truths about His character and the significance of the cross easily come through.

if you’re looking for a good book to take your kids through, check it out!