Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Possiblity

My wife and I have been talking over the past several weeks, and we've decided that we will do a "trial season" of doing some occasional speaking engagements. It's definitely some newer territory to actually put that information out there, but it also is a fun new possiblity. If, for whatever reason, you're interested in having me speak, there's a link on the right for speaking requests. (BTW - self-promotion isn't something I enjoy)

Friday, March 11, 2011

When in difficult times...

"Take Heart" is a song I've been loving off of the new Hillsong United album "Aftermath". While listening this morning, I just felt the need to share the lyrics. Whether it's hurting, struggles, frustration, feeling hopeless, confusion, loss, trials - this song is for you. Someone needs this today. Maybe it's you. Listen in. Read it through. Soak it up - ESPECIALLY the second half (which will be in bold). If you're interested, you can download the entire album on Amazon for only $7.99

Listen here

There is a light.
It burns brighter than the sun.
He steals the night.
And casts no shadow.
There is hope.
Should oceans rise and mountains fall.
He never fails.

So take heart.
Let His love lead us through the night.
Hold on to hope.
And take courage again.

In death by love.
The fallen world was overcome.
He wears the scars of our freedom.
In His name.
All our fears are swept away.
He never fails.

So take heart.
Let His love lead us through the night.
Hold on to hope.
And take courage again.

All our troubles.
And all our tears.
God our hope.
He has overcome.

All our failure.
And all our fear.
God our love.
He has overcome.

All our heartache.
And all our pain.
God our healer.
He has overcome.

All our burdens.
And all our shame.
God our freedom.
He has overcome.

All our troubles.
And all our tears.
God our hope.
He has overcome.

All our failures.
And all our fear.
God our love.
He has overcome.

God our justice.
God our grace.
God our freedom.
He has overcome.

God our refuge.
God our strength.
God is with us.
He has overcome.

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 (NLT)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What Your Ministry Can Learn From Jimmy Fallon

Late Night TV. Some people love it, while others hate it. For those who love it, everyone seems to have a favorite. Jay, Dave, Conan, whoever. Everyone is entitled to their opinions.

For me, it's Jimmy Fallon. Not just because he's funny (which he is), but because I think so many elements from his show are transferable to youth ministry (and ministry in general). These things range from programming to relational dynamics.

- Audience InvolvementTeenagers go to school 5 days a week. And a lot of school is sitting at your desk and being talked to. Jimmy engages the audience by asking for feedback or randomly going into the crowd and talking. When he talks, he doesn't just talk to the camera, but he talks to the people that are there. It's not a "sit and watch" but a "come be part of this" environment.

- With that stems another point: it's Experiential. Almost nightly, you can find Jimmy doing a game that almost always includes a couple audience members as contestants. Whether it's Karate Pinata, Cell Phone Shootout, Models and Buckets, etc - it's involving some members in "next level" interaction. This heightens awareness and experience for people. They're that much more engaged in what is happening when they or their peer is ACTUALLY being a part of what's happening.

- A third thing is: FUN. Honestly, this is a big deal. You've got to have an element of fun and be free to be silly when it's appropriate. People are spending their time to be a part of this, so you've got to engage them and include fun. Fun is attractive. On Fallon, the games are a mix between classics like charades and pictionary to their own creations like Guess That Name. And for games up front, both winners and losers leave with a prize ("no one goes home empty handed"). Even if it's a Late Night Moist Towelette. They are intentional about having fun AND making sure everyone who participates doesn't leave with a bad taste in their mouth.

- Be Current and Relevant. Because it is a late night talk show, it's easy to stay current on news happening around the world. But here's where I think Late Night With Jimmy Fallon separates from the rest of the pack. They don't just talk current topics, but they use current trends to involve people. No other show on TV has a weekly Twitter Hashtag for people to respond and interact with. Sure, Leno has "Headlines" where people can send stuff in - and that's great. But Twitter is current, up-to-date and immediate. On Tuesdays Jimmy will give a Late Night Hashtag with an example tweet, then on Wednesday he will go through all the ones he can on Twitter, pick out his favorite ones, and then read them on the air. Which in itself is AN EXTRA LEVEL OF AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION! The television audience now has a new avenue of interation with what's happening. The truth is this: people have twitter, cell phones, etc. We know this. Jimmy Fallon's show realizes this - and so they meet people where they are - and utilize what they have to increase the experience. What are way you can use what teens have to meet them where they are?

- He Is Human. This may be my most favorite trait about Jimmy Fallon. I know he hates this about himself, but on SNL he would often "break" from character and laugh at what was happening. It's endearing. During different bits on Late Night, Jimmy will crack a smile or laugh. While having conversations or interviewing guests, he will laugh with them. Even in the middle of a monologue or other speaking, he will take rabbit trails and be silly, laugh, crack jokes on the spot. That's what I love about him. It's not all about sticking to the rigid, structured schedule. He has it, but it's ok to move from it a bit. It's not all about keeping in character (pastors, listen up) - instead, he's just real. If something's funny, he laughs. If something's serious, he shows genuine concern. But with all of his guests, he does his best to build them up and seem like they are the greatest person in the room. He will also play games and have fun with them (and not just let them win either!). And honestly, his guests love him - because he's human.

As a side, Jimmy also will involve several different members of his staff for different bits as well. He doesn't have to have all of the attention. He knows that when people benefit from what others on his team are doing, everyone wins. It builds awareness and improves the experience.

I could go on and on more about all of this, but I won't right now. Instead, let me conclude by saying: if your youth ministry engages the audience, is experiential, includes fun, stays current & relevant, and you are human - and you build all of it with the Bible as your foundation - I believe you've got some ingredients for great things to happen.

*Here's my disclaimer* not everything on the show is clean. Language generally isn't a big issue, but there can be several sexual references and other content. There's definitely been other late night shows that push the envelope way more than these guys. I personally just enjoy Jimmy, and it stirs my creativity. Several of the games they do, I acutally plan to use in our youth ministry and other conference programming. They're simple, silly and fun.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

...the passion of the church

A little while ago, Chris Tomlin released a new album. On it are songs that you've probably heard like "Our God" and "I Will Follow". Listening to it the other day, there was a line from a song that jumped out and just really caught me. As I'm driving, I hear "Let the glory of Your name (God) be the passion of the church".

That is what the church exists for - the glory of God. To make God known. How it's expressed may look different from church to church, and that's ok. Sometimes I'm afraid that it's something we only give lip service to. Or that we may want to be all about God's glory, but we allow personal agendas or interests to rise up instead.

Church: what are you about?
What is your passion?
What would it look like to fully let the glory of God be the passion of the church?

Or do you disagree?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Review: START!

About a month ago I got my copy of "START! The Bible For New Believers." As I've gone through it, I think it could be a great resource not just for new believers, but for anyone who wants to learn / be reminded of truths found in scripture. All throughout the pages there are gray boxes labeled "Live", "Grow", "Learn", and "Know". In each box is a nugget to chew on. It's written in the New King James Version of the Bible, which is a revised version of the classic KJV. The book also includes a Topical Index, a section on "Essentials" of the Christian faith, "Secrets To Spiritual Success" and other introductions for books. It even includes "The Plan Of Salvation" for anyone who wants to walk through it!

Honestly, this book has some serious potential! Not just because it's the Bible, but how it is constructed. The "nuggets" as I like to call them have some great pieces for people to focus on, whether they help unpack illustrations, look at meanings of words, walk through steps of faith, etc. Someone who is hungry to learn more about how God has called them to live could easily dig into this book. I'm not the biggest fan of the NKJV, but that's just a preference thing. If you are, or know of, a person who wants to dig in and learn more, this book really is a good place to start. My advice: go at your own pace, but be consistent and regular.

Rating: A-

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

Glad To Be Wrecked

A little bit of confession and transparency time for me. Six weeks or so ago, God used a song to wreck me. Well, re-wreck me. And it has been one of the best gifts I've ever received.

Starting back in June, God had already started stirring some things inside of me. A discontent with how things were and a passion to not stay there; to not settle or be complacent. So I had already been on a journey, but then it happened...

I had heard parts of a song on the latest SYMC promo video. I liked the sound of it, found the song and artist name, then went and downloaded it. Then for the next hour I just listened to it over and over. For some reason the words hit me right where I was, moving past my ears and registering somewhere in my soul. They absolutely described what I had been feeling. It's hard to describe, but it's been fatastic. It's all I would listen to for days, and I continued to process through some recent history in my life, and how I seemed to have slowly been creeping away from passionate faith to something lesser. I never stopped loving God, but I can see how I was settling on some things instead of simply & absolutely trusting God solely on faith and going after what I knew I needed to be going after.

That's all changed now.
And I'm so thankful.

It's truly awesome how God can use so many different things to impact so many different people. Stuff that hits me may not do anything for you, and stuff that hits you may make me go "...what?" But there's something beautiful about it. That despite differences, personalities, interests, God can use all of them to point back to Him. So what do you find is usually how God "touches" or "stirs" you? Feel free to share.

Today, I want to encourage you to find a way to slow down, step back and remember what He has done in your life. Every blessing you have is because He has permitted and provided. How has your life been changed? And will you daily continue to trust God with all of you? (If you can't think of an answer, maybe you need to ask "what am I not trusting Him with?")

It's worth it.

By the way, the song is "Alive Again" by Matt Maher
He will be at the conference (trailer below!)

If you're a youth worker, you want to be there.
Yes, it's really that good.
And it's already over 50% full! Register now!

Monday, October 11, 2010


I don't usually post two videos back to back, but found this video from Catalyst last week to be pretty fun. Any song about a haircut AND has Chris Tomlin in a humorous way is worth a look.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Be Who You Are (Youth Pastor)

Saw this fun video and thought it was worth sharing made by the people over at Student Life.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What Are You Doing With It?

This may make you think of me as a dork, but I love to learn. I used to watch A LOT of television. Now I read more (though I still enjoy Chuck and Thursday nights on NBC). I try to read two books a month. With that, I also love conferences, events, etc - places designed for conversation and development. They're fantastic. And I've been fortunate to be able to be a part of many over the past several years.

Between reading, conventions, events and conversations - I have taken in so much information. But lately there's been this thought stuck in my mind... as I look around at others, whether at national events or in our local area, I wonder: what are you doing with it? I go to an event and get REALLY charged up, I love hearing new ideas, principles, and possibilities - and I get excited. But when I leave at the end of the day, what am I going to do with it? It takes self reflection here - have I simply fed of the energy, or have I grown and developed in my ability and leadership?

This goes for more than just leadership and vocation. A couple years ago I heard the quote "Chistians are educated way beyond their level of obedience." I think this (for the most part) is absolutely true. We have heard, read and learned so much in our lives - but the question is, what are you doing with it? Information is absolutely pointless if it doesn't have an effect, if it doesn't change things, if it doesn't make a difference. You could know everything there is to fixing a car, but it's meaningless if you don't use it to fix a car. You could know everything there is to being a good parent, but if you don't use it to be a good parent or help others, then your knowledge is pointless. How to improve your organization. How to develop community. What changes need to be made. Knowledge alone means nothing. But...

Information + Application = Transformation

In who you are as a person
In your life as a Christian
In your abilities as a leader
In your family
At your job

Take what you know and apply it to what you do - and you will see a difference

We're not called to be libraries. We're called to be living, breathing reflections of God. He gave us the ability to learn, to think, to discern, to process and to apply. So that we can improve who we are and what we are a part of.

Don't just learn: apply.
Revisit what you've heard before.
Prepare your heart for something new.
Be open and willing to change.
And let God work in you and develop you through it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

For Or Against?

Today as I was driving to the office, I ended up behind a truck with a large sticker in the back window. As I looked at it, I realized that the sticker was the logo of a local business, but then had a red circle with a slash through it over top (like a no smoking sign). This was seriously disappointing to me. We live in a town of only around 6,500 people and is full of local businesses - and we have advertising AGAINST other businesses going on?

But I feel like this has been the progression and path we've been on for awhile now. Immediately I thought about the political arena. At least half of the time when you see any commercials or ads about political candidates, they're often purchased by their opponent talking about how bad that person is, how unqualified they are. Instead of saying "here's why I am your best candidate" they say "here's why so-and-so is a worse choice." I've heard people compare some elections as choosing the "lesser of two evils" (not saying anyone is evil). And instead of choosing who we are for, we simply avoid who we are REALLY against.

Which then got me to think about the church. So often people know Christians and the Church for what we are against, not what we are for. They think "Christians are against homosexuality, and against abortion, and against..." Do people know what you are for or against? Just because you against something does not mean you are for something else. If I'm against the death penalty, it doesn't mean I'm for no consequences. If I'm against abortion, it doesn't mean I'm for orphans or pain.

Do people know what you are for? Instead of talking down about what you're against, why don't you build up what you are for? When people spend time with you, do they know you are for God's purposes, for Jesus, for love? Or do they know more quickly what you are against?

I have no idea who the driver of that truck was for.
Do people know what you are for?

Be for something good today.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ignoring Potential In Your Organization

So I've been thinking about this over the past couple of days, so the thought process is, in fact, a work-in-process.

Some organizations are great at tapping into the gifts and value that a person brings.

Other organizations aren't. They just don't see it.

And then there are some organizations, whether intentionally or not, that simply do not want to recognize what a person can bring to the table. At first, that seems like a ridiculous idea. Why wouldn't they? What group, organization, company would not want to find what people have to offer and put them into a role where they can thrive?

1) Organizations stuck on structure.
Basically, an organization only has a certain concept of what structure and staffing looks like. And if someone has gifts that don't quite line up within that structure, they don't allow it. This limits potential.

2) Organizations with insecure leadership.
Some positional leaders are afraid to let people "shine" in ways. Just being honest. If a person can do REALLY well and it points back some focus and positive attention to the leader, then they may be all for it. But if it takes away attention and focus from the leader, well... that's just not acceptable. This means you have leadership that is about themselves and not about the cause. Plus, if a person shines, they may get recognized, promoted, and even a higher ranking role. That's viewed as competition, and again, if your leadership isn't cause-focused, they will push against it.

3) Organizations with really tight fists.
The truth is in most organizations, even in "church world", there are lots of people with decision-making power who are concerned with the money. Don't misunderstand, we need to be good stewards and take care of what we have. We shouldn't be wasteful. With that, don't miss the point. Some organizations will ignore or choose not to recognize the value someone has or potential they can bring because it may mean they would have to increase their pay and budget. Instead of viewing it as "if we unleash this person to do what they could do, it could be a huge addition and well worth it" you have "things are good enough now. That could cost us _____, so why chance it?" I would say rarely do organizations REALLY thrive when they don't put the people in it into positions where they are gifted.

Is there anyone where you are that has so much more to offer, but they just need the opportunity? The risk is worth it, even if it comes with some failures. That will set you apart.

Again, this is a thought-in-process, so any feedback is welcome. :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

John Tibbs "Origins"

John Tibbs is a young man who was in our youth group. His brothers still are. Currently he's a college student and on staff as a worship pastor at a church in Anderson, Indiana. I've known John for 5 years now, have watched him grow as a person and a worship leader. This is his passion. And for such a young man, he's had some GREAT opportunities to lead thousands (literally) in worship - fantastic!

Yesterday his new album "Origins" released. This is a huge deal, as he and the band have been working for awhile now to record and produce a solid album. Now it's happened - and it's really good! It's only $7.92 over at iTunes right now. You should definitely check it out (and support my boy)! Click here to get it on iTunes!

UPDATE: He's already in the top 50 Christian albums on iTunes.