Hey All! I wanted to let you know that I will no longer be blogging at this site. I have moved the blog over to a self hosted site. Please go over to www.organicstudentministry.com and subscribe! I look forward to continuing the conversation with you all at the new site! Thanks
I am very excited to be speaking at a very innovative and important conference in Nashville at the end of November. The conference is called Txt2Speech. The conference is designed to ask the questions:
What is the future of Christian proclamation in a society increasingly driven by networked technologies and 140-character communications? What place does preaching to young people have in such a society, and what form might it take? How might we move from mere sermons and “youth talks” into affecting the lives of young hearers?
Bringing together a diversity of voices for workshops and “big room” sessions, we’ll explore both the present and future of Christian proclamation in a digital age.
I am also thrilled to be presenting with some incredible practitioners and theologians like Kenda Creasy Dean and Mike King. Today is the last day to take advantage of their early bird rate so make sure to go and register ASAP! Click Here for More Details
Prescriptive- to set down an authoritative direction
Proscriptive- to prohibit or limit
The Amazing Minds of Teenagers
One of the fears I hear fairly consistently about youth ministry asks they question, “How far should we let them go in their exploration, question asking and thinking about God?” This is a legitimate concern that I feel the need to address. I do not believe it is a concern for the same reasons as the ones who ask those questions. I believe that it is a legitimate concern because we should be asking the opposite questions of the theological exploration of our students. Continue Reading…
My new book, Hollow Faith, is available for order now and I am so excited about all of the great buzz coming from the book already! You can order it at www.cymt.org or at Amazon. I would encourage you to please share these links and help us get the word out about this book! I am also including a special link HERE for you to be able to read a sample chapter from the book!!! I would love for you to share these with your friends, family and anyone who is looking for a deeper more substantive faith for your students! Please make sure to rate it on the Amazon site as well! Thanks again for all of the support!
I began a journey the Summer after I graduated high school. I grew up in a small rural town and was moving to Birmingham, the biggest city in our state to attend Samford University. Samford was know as an excellent academic institution, with an outstanding religion department. Scholars from some of the best schools in the world populated our department. While I was very excited about this some of those who cared for me back at my home church were very fearful that I might loose my faith. I was told things like “you have to go in there firm and knowing what you believe or else they will try to steal it away from you” or “the class room in a place like that is a place of spiritual warfare and you have to go in armed or the enemy will defeat you.” Believe it or not this made my want to go even more. Not so I could “put on the full armor of God” to fight the evils of some of the greatest men and women I have come to know, but because I believed I might find a God that I could not imagine on my own. I knew that I had seen glimmers of God in my home church, not in their doctrines or sermons but in the love of many of the people who cared for me as I grew up. I also knew these were only glimmers and I knew my mind and my heart could be equally stimulated with these ideas of theology and interpretation. So I left my small town with one mantra, If I believe that God is all truth, and I go to school seeking wisdom and truth then I would eventually discover God. I remember well, I felt like an adventurer setting off on a journey of discovery. So I went, against the advice of those from home, wide open to learning, knowledge and questions. Continue Reading…
A Reframing of the Theological Conundrum
is the beginning of a new series of posts where I will outline and challenge you to consider and practice a counter intuitive pedagogy. Before I get into the actual post I want to explain my reasoning. First, we need a new model by which we engage theology and students. The previous models are no longer relevant (in the best sense of the word) and are producing a zombie/lemming disinterest in theology and study. Secondly, I would not be writing these posts unless I had seen glimmers of hope and interest in and through some of my experiments in leading and facilitating theological conversation. Not only have I seen glimmers but, for many students I have seen sparks ignite into theological infernos, this gives me hope. Thirdly, I believe, as many others believe, that we are in a major paradigm shift in the ecclesial world. We know from history when there are major shifts in paradigm, in order to move forward, do not need innovations (new answers to old questions), we need to reframe the question and change the information that is important which generally eliminates previous dichotomies. (a paraphrase from Edwin Friedman’s, A Failure of Nerve, p.37) I am not seeking new answers, I desire to reframe how we think about the role of theology in the church and more specifically ministry with students in an ecclesial setting. Continue Reading…
Prayer time in a small group setting can be magical or manic. Rarely is there a middle ground, especially when Jr. High boys are invovled. While not all, or most, prayer times are going to ground breaking sessions that will take you inside the very holy of holies these few techniques and exercises can make them much more meaningful.
Several times a year our student ministry puts on large 200+ person retreats and as the director of the student ministry I am in charge of making sure these retreats are safe, fun and help our students grow in their faith with God. At one point in my career that induced a huge amount of stress and excitement. Over the years I have developed a few practices leading up to a retreat that takes away the stress and just leaves the excitement!
Practice 1: Lists
I cannot tell you how much I depend on lists, not just lists of what I have to do but lists of what I have done. We all know the importance of keeping good lists of what is coming. I want to offer a couple of ideas for how you use lists.
The first is to keep your lists long after you are finished with your retreat! I will always keep my lists when they have all of their items checked off. I do this because I know that I will do this retreat again next year, and the next year and so on. Since I am not a big fan of re inventing the wheel I know that there will be many, usually for me 85%+, tasks that I will need to repeat again next year. It includes simple things like remembering to bring a bull horn to large things like getting all of our small group boxes completed. I need to take a break here and note that I do not consider these lists as a replacement for my Preventative Maintnance Calendar. PMC’s are an invention of my good friend Mark DeVries. These are calendars that systematically lead us up to the event usually from around 8 months before. These are invaluable to my ministry and I highly reccomend using these. If you are more interested in this concept I would love to put on my Youth Ministry Architects hat and talk with you more! Back to the subject at hand, the lists have a great ability to keep us from having to remember the small details from year to year. It can also act as an evaluation tool to look at how we managed our time from last year’s retreat.
Practice 2: Have the Retreat Two Days Early
Ok, not really, but if you pretend that the retreat will happen on a Wednesday instead of a Friday you will not find yourself nearly as stressed or run down when Friday actually rolls around! It is a silly trick but it really works! I usually work towards Wednesday and pretend like that is the day when everything is due. When I do this I find myself doing a lot of the more time consuming and important things earlier and am much more ready for the weekend than I would be otherwise. I believe the reason why this works is because, as you know, we always will have those things pop up at the last minute. There will always be the chaperone who cannot attend, the video that will not work or the band who is late. When these things happen they are not nearly as stressful because we actually have the time to deal with them and not have to neglect what we already had scheduled.
Practice 3: Outsource, Outsource, Outsource!!!!
Often times youth ministers, myself included, have a bit of a martyr complex. We love to go into a retreat weekend and absolutely spend ourselves. I remember an old football coach used to tell us to leave everything on the field or else we would regret it. Many of us practice youth ministry and especially retreats with this mentality. I have come to believe that we are so much more useful and successful when we make sure that we have few scheduled jobs during a retreat. Now do not get me wrong, you will work and work hard but you will be able to spend your time doing the things that require your immediate attention and that can often only be accomplished by you. For this reason, you should not try to lead a small group, facilitate games or be the lead in the skit during the retreat. The other positive of this way of thinking is that you, sometimes, will have those breif moments to sit back and watch the beauty of the weekend that you worked so dilligently on play out in front of you. This is a gift you should give yourself from time to time, it is well deserved.
So I am not a huge fan of Sunday School, I also believe that family based youth ministry is where we need to go. This video, however is pretty jacked up.
While presented as a “documentary” it is anything but. ”Divided: The Movie” is nothing more than a faux documentary promoting nut jobs like Ken Hamm, Organizations like NCFIC, extreme right fundamentalist homeschooling and throwing back into the dark ages of understanding family structures. I am so afraid of this sort of destructive thinking gaining traction. Each of the “experts” interviewed represent the neo fundamentalist wings of the church. By the way if you are a woman, according to this documentary, you have no business in the spirituality of your child. FYI
This is Jacked Up.