Category Archives: Youth Ministry

1-2-3 Meme

I have been tagged for the 1-2-3 Meme by good friend Matt Shedden. The game is to grab the book nearest to you and turn to page 123. Find the 5th sentence and share the next 3 sentences with everyone. Then you tag five people.

My book is Family Based Youth ministry by Rev. Mark DeVries. On page 123, the 5th sentence is:

In an extensive study of the effects of divorce on children, one fact stands out as a stark indictment to churches. Less than 10 percent of those children of divorce who were interviewed “had any adult speak to them sympathetically as the divorce unfolded.”

A convicting passage for me, no doubt. I have students from divorced homes, and I’m guilty of the indictment. Ouch.

Nameless Wisdom

Tony Myles is perhaps one of the guys whose blog I’ve been reading consistently since I jumped into the blogosphere. I think I came across his name in a youth ministry context, but now I really appreciate his wide range of pastoral insight.

He’s got a great post how anonymity might factor into the lives of Christians. If we don’t insist on getting credit for all the good works that Saint James spurs us to, we “taste true freedom, for when we practice positive secrecy we become less enslaved by a culture that hands out trophies for everything.”

I’m making no comment on how –or whether or not– I applied his advice, but you oughtta consider it for yourself and maybe come up with something new…

Catalyst 2007 – Andy Stanley, part 1

“The Most Powerful Man in the Room”

  • Power has become a 4-letter word in conversations about leadership.
  • If God has you in leadership, the fact is that you have power. We like the word “influence” but let’s be honest with ourselves, it’s essentially power.
    • Student ministry is a prime example of immense power. Power to build and crush with very little effort.
  • We shy away from power because it’s intimidating. Churches don’t like point leadership (i.e. power concentrated in few people)
    • But really, “Follow We” is no better than “Follow Me” if those We’s aren’t properly stewarding their power…
  • So, when we’re talking about power, the big question is: What do you do when you realize you’re the most powerful person in the room?
    • Side-note: Chances are that in 11,000 people, some of you will be anti-megachurch. But please hear me out because a justifiable bias probably comes from your experience with abused power, which makes you a prime candidate to go forward and leverage God’s power. You know the dangers of it and you care deeply about its wise use.
  • Jesus (didn’t see that coming, did you?) gives us a prime example of how the most powerful man in the room responded: The Upper Room, John 13.
    • “He showed them the full extent of his love.” (v1) Sneak peak of what Jesus did with his power.
    • “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power.” (v3) Clearly, Jesus knew he was the most powerful man in the room.
    • “So…” (v4) As a result of this…
    • took off his outer clothing” (v4) shed his symbols of rabbinical authority
    • “began to washed his disciples’ feet” (v5) used miracle-conducting hands to scrub crusty grime, among a culture obsessed with cleanliness
    • “I have set an example,” (v15) So maybe we should follow suit?
  • Look for ways to leverage your power for the sake of others around you. Because that’s the example Jesus set for us.
  • If you leverage your power for your own sake, you (un)consciously declare that you are greater than your Master (cf. v14)
  • Not to apply this principle is an admission of weakness, not a display of strength.
  • “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.” King George III, upon learning of George Washington’s intent to pass on emperorship, and let someone else take the reins.
  • Basically, don’t fear power. Simply learn to leverage it properly.
  • The legacy of your leadership will not be determined by a lifetime of applying principles and insights, but it will be the product of your reactions time after time when you realize you’re the most powerful person in the room.

(RPD comments forthcoming.)

Student Ministry Blog

After too much red tape (and too many HTML headaches) to get a youth ministry page posted within my church’s website, I decided to just let WordPress help out. Got the “Why didn’t I think of that before?!?” idea from a colleague of mine who also uses a blog format for his youth ministry page.

It’s here:

Head over. Check it out.

  • What could be done to make it more functional, specifically for use as a youth ministry communication tool?
  • If you’re in youth ministry and use a blog for getting info out to your students, what lessons have you learned?
  • Thinking about adding a Flickr widget for ministry photos… potential privacy issues? How did you address them?
  • Have you been able to make it foster anything near the community that the social networking sites promote?
  • What cues can a blog take from the standard youth ministry webpage?

Exclusion of Hope & Emergence of Amazement

While on vacation, I actually finished the Walter Bruggeman book that I’ve been into for the past couple months (The Prophetic Imagination). Like I mentioned before, it’s can be pretty dense at times due to Bruggeman’s deep deep scholarship. Now that I’m all the way through it, I’ve noticed that the first half is the really heady part, and the second half is a lot more informal, even to the extent of being peppered with colloquialisms.

In Chapter 4, “Prophetic Energizing and the Emergence of Amazement” Bruggeman’s overarching idea for the chapter is that it’s

the task of prophetic imagination and ministry to bring people to engage the promise of newness that is at work in our history with God.

I found myself making a ton of margin notes as I read through, and so I thought those notes would make for a strong post here at the blog. I really hate seeing people quoted out of context, so I’ll throw in as big a chunk of Bruggie’s text as necessary, and then include the stuff I wrote in the margins.

In a section about how the royal consciousness excludes hope, Bruggeman asserts:

In concrete terms, technological, agricultural, and other social advances are impeded in aristocratic monarchies because the taxes, tithes, tribute, tolls, rents, and confiscations drain all the peasants’ resources and rationale for creativity; only the technology of warfare advances at a more rapid pace because that contributes to the expansion and control of the king and his entourage.

This may indeed be true for aristocratic monarchies. But how does this statement apply to my duty to bring prophetic energizing to my surrounding culture? How does this apply to the royal consciousness of my day, the MTV-driven, O.C.-addicted, celebreality-informed, consumerism-ensnared culture that surrounds me and the students I work with? Almost inarguably, that’s where the hope and newness from God most desperately needs to indwell.

I’m gonna break these Prophetic Imagination notes into multiple posts. So look for the next one soon.

Ah, summer…

Since I’m in a more or less educational field, you might be tempted to think that my summers are pretty lackadaisical. Au contraire! It’s my job to entertain the students while their “August through May” educators take a break (ok, well hopefully I do more profound work than simply entertaining).

I really don’t want to make a post talking about work, but that’s about all that’s been going on recently, so I figure if I start typing about it, other more interesting things will surface.

So the Presbyterian Church has this big conference for sr. high students that they put on every three years. It has a really exciting name. Ready for it? … wait … waaaaait … waaaaait for it …


Leave it to the PCUSA to derive almost straight from Latin the name for a conference geared at high-schoolers. And they wonder why they continue to stand around scratching their heads on how to solve the problem of losing engagement with emerging generations… In no way am I poking fun at the name to advocate the use of “eXtreme” or some other tired youth-min cliche, but c’mon! Does anyone else see what I’m getting at?

I’ve inherited a ton of loose ends to tie up. You see, for Triennium, we do everything as a presbytery. For me, that means all the churches on the Western Slope. Thankfully this year’s Triennium contingent only has participants from two other towns, both down here in the southwestern part of the state. Back to the loose ends. There’s a person for each presbytery (jeez, how lame is it that I can’t think of anything else to type but explain the Triennium registration process?!?) who arranges all the travel and whatnot for the ‘delegates’ from a given presbytery. The person who was supposed to take care of all this stuff was (up until recently) my boss that I didn’t get along with. We really just had quite divergent ministry strategies, and I gather (s)he was not accustomed to someone “under” them fighting for ideas different than their own. So as a result, I haven’t been “in” on this whole process much. And now that his/her employment contract at our church has expired, I’m left to make sure the remaining details really are in order. We have two half-hour layovers on our way to Indiana. Blah. I’m tired an will finish this post later. —Draft saved July 13 —

—Draft continued July 17— We’re staying at a church in Albuquerque. Everyone is sleeping but I can’t. We will begin loading the cars and grab a quick breakfast in about 4 hours.

The moral of this story is that I haven’t blogged much because I was tying up all sorts of loose ends for our group to attend Triennium, and now I’ll be a non-blogger for this next week because we’ll actually be at Triennium.



Reading my first Walter Bruggeman book , I’ve come across a great quote that fits the questioning spirit of this blog. Well, the ideally questioning spirit. Sometimes I notice that posts end on a note bearing more resemblance to an answer than a question. Anyway, without further ado, this snippet from The Prophetic Imagination:

The alternative consciousness to be nurtured, on one hand, serves to criticize in dismantling the dominant consciousness. … On the other hand, that alternative consciousness to be nurtured serves to energize persons and communities by its promise of another time and situation toward which the community of faith may move. …

In thinking this way, the key word is alternative and every prophetic minister and prophetic community must engage in a struggle with that notion. Thus, alternative to what? In what ways alternative? How radically alternative? Finally, is there a thinkable alternative that will avoid domestication? And, quite concretely, how does one present and act out alternatives in a community of faith which on the whole does not understand that there are any alternatives or is not prepared to embrace such if they come along?

The Prophetic Imagination, page 4

Could come up with quite a few posts’ worth of musings here, I suppose.

  • How can I carry out my work –ultimately a work of reconciling– in a fashion alternative to the dominant culture in need of said reconciling?
  • What aspects of the dominant culture beg an alternative? Are some aspects more than others urgently lacking an alternative?
  • Are the unhealthy aspects of the local dominant culture different than those of the overall (national? hemispherical?) dominant culture?
  • Within the local dominant culture, what is different for the students directly under my care, or for their age group?
  • Are the local or the larger aspects more important to promptly address? Are they addressed in the same way?
  • Can I offer alternatives piecemeal? Or must I require blanket acceptance on the part of members of the dominant culture?
  • Can piecemeal acceptance of the alternative grow into full acceptance? Is such a progression scriptural? Practical? Tolerable?
  • Does my alternative approach change with dominant culture? Or are there things about my approach that will forever be inherently alternative?

Back in town but buried @ desk

The title says it all.

I am indeed back in Durango. I had an awesome week at Sonlight Camp. It was a ton of work to play that much!

I’ve got a serious pile of catch-up stuff though. Planning out middle school’s and senior high’s midweek meetings, nailing down Fall retreat dates, writing proposals for fund-raisers, etc… Not a pity party, but just real busy. I really should knock it out before I try to do much blogging. But I have fun new stuff to post when things calm down a bit!

Also, we’re putting my wife’s kitty of 18 years down tomorrow. It’s super-sad. I know it’s just a cat, but it’s going to tear Nina up. Prayers for serenity and assuredness would be appreciated.

Out for a Week

I’ll be away from computers for a week, beginning this Saturday night. Thus, don’t expect any posting during that time (not like I’ve been horribly productive recently anyway…).

I’ll be at Sonlight Camp. This week in particular, I’ll be out there as a volunteer counselor. It basically means I get to play all day tell the kids to shut up and try going to sleep at night. Hikes, trail rides, rafting… I’m looking forward to it.

Later in the summer, I’m going back for another week, but that time as the speaker for the week. Each week’s speaker addresses the same theme all throughout the summer. So I’m kinda nervous because I don’t really have my ideas for my week clearly lined out yet. I’m guessing this next week’s speaker will hear I’m a speaker later on and want to compare notes on how we’re each gonna come at the theme. Also, I don’t want to be influenced by his approach. Don’t wanna seem like a copycat hahaha. But I think I can spend some time tomorrow to at least get some big idea subthemes laid out in advance. Anyway… it’s trivial.

Wikis, wikis, everywhere

The newest wiki (definition) I’ve come across is wikiletics. It was set up by Leonard Sweet, a forerunner in church imagination. Here’s what Rick Lawrence says about him:

In sum, Leonard Sweet sees things others don’t. He leans into the corners so he can peek around them. I can’t think of a better person for a brain-picking session on youth ministry’s second century. That’s why we asked him to point his mental browser at today’s young people and tell us what he sees.

I’m also excited that Sweet is going to be a keynote at Catalyst. (Oct. 3-5. Anyone else want to go? More people = better price…) At first I kinda dismissed him as a grandiose thinker without a gameplan, based on others’ descriptions of him. But the more I read, the more I see the error of my ways hahaha. A good example of me being proved wrong like this is in the above-mentioned interview he did for Rick Lawrence.

Anyway, back to the wiki. I created a login yesterday and put up my first contribution. It’s a sermon I composed and delivered last November. It’s also posted here within my wordpress.

Stewart, you should join in!