1 comments Thursday, October 30, 2008

I really love being a Youth Pastor. There aren't many ministry positions where you are not only allowed to shoot the people you are ministering to but they actually want you to do it. Of course I'm speaking of Paint Ball. I'm just now getting into the sport and have discovered a whole new world of causing pain in a good way. If you are female you may not totally understand this statement. Let me give you some insight into guys everywhere. We hate being hurt but love hurting others. In fact the joy we find in hurting others overcomes our distaste for pain. That is why men get into full contact sports.

A typical mother might say, "It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt." The typical male would append, at least in his head, "then it's freaking hilarious."

That is why paintball is so appealing. You get to "kill" people without really hurting them, but you also get to compare bruises. If you have the worst you win which makes it better, if you friend has the worst you get the joy of poking him in the ribs over the next week and remembering how fun it was to put 3 rounds in the exact same spot.

Paintball is a bonding experience and I for one am down with it.

Comments Tuesday, October 28, 2008

So it is election time. One week and the ads will be off TV so that much is exciting. I find that each election season I get more frustrated with the candidates. The problem is each promises change but I'm finding that no one really wants to change anything. Sure they will make some minor changes, but the major structures are left the same. There are still problems with campaign financing, which they promised they would fix, as well as several other issues. Each side blames the other side for the current economic crisis, and honestly they are both right. I've been voting for a while now and the Republicans have had complete control for some of that time, Democrats have had complete control and things have been split in various shades of purple (blue plus red) in the mix as well. During that time no one ever changed anything.

Sure they moved the daylight savings dates around. That was an amazing waste of time if you ask me. That kind of stuff has plagued the government. This applies to all levels of government as well, but it gets worse the closer to the national offices they get. Every branch is at fault as well, not just the President. At some point we need to force some kind of change.

They are not giving us viable choices. They all promise change but refuse to deliver because it would cost them and their friends too much. Most people in national offices come from significant money, certainly well above the median. They need donations from people with big money if they ever hope to be elected. This is why campaign finance reform hasn't happened.

I know I'm not the only one that feels this way. Look at the number of people that don't vote. If there was a good choice a lot of those people would come out to vote. I have voted in every election, including midterm, as well as many state and local voting days through the years since I have been old enough to vote.

Voting is not just a right it is a duty. I believe that if every disenfranchised citizen would come out to vote then things would change. I'm not saying you should come vote for one of the two parties, I think we should vote for what we think is right, and if neither choice works then vote that. Vote for a third party that probably won't win but supports your actual views, if nothing works for you then write in someone, anyone. Write in Mickey Mouse if you have to.

I know a lot of people say that third parties and write ins are throwing away your vote, or voting for someone you don't want to win, but the truth is, the only vote that doesn't count is the vote that isn't cast, and the only way you are voting for the person you don't want to win is if you literally vote for them.

Imagine if everyone that didn't vote because they didn't like the candidate choices went out to vote but didn't vote for the standard parties. We would have a record voter turn to with the kind of statistical anomaly that would make people look at why voters did what they did. Then next time we might get the kind of candidates that actually care about the people. If we don't get good choices next time we do it again and again until we either get some new parties or the existing parties start listening to the people instead of to the money.

1 comments Monday, October 27, 2008

Ok this can be completed many different ways but I'm focusing on worship songs that are totally vague about Who we are worshiping. I was in service yesterday and the second song we sang was new to me. I listened the first time through and then started to sing the second time through when I decided the song must have been from a deleted scene in Lord of The Rings the Two Towers. I assume this is where it was from based on the line that referred to the trees clapping their hands (at which point we did this special clap). The song never mentions God or anything remotely close to God. This got me wondering several things that made it simply impossible to sing along.

Why are we singing songs from Lord of the Rings? I understand that we love Tolkien and the quasi Christianesque sort of story that is being told. He was good friends with CS Lewis and so is the literary equivalent of U2. Still, I read Psalms and I'm pretty sure that we have plenty of material before we have to worry about the Ents clapping their hands.

What does it sound like when the trees clap their hands? We did this faster triple clap thing, but the Ents spoke so slow it could take days to say, "How how's it going?" I'm thinking we should slow way down and be like claaaaaaaaaaaap ……………………………………………………………………… claaaaaaaaaaaaaaap ……………………………………………… haroooooooooom.

And what ever happened to the Ent wives? That always drove me nuts. Tolkien must have had ADD or something because he totally tossed in all this random stuff that he never followed up on. Of course who am I to complain about ADD when I'm laughing to myself in the middle of service wondering about the Ent wives.

In closing this is my train of thought during that song the best that I could transcribe it. Things in my head are significantly more disjointed than this with various trains of thought randomly jumping into the flow of consciousness, but I think the overall point is well represented. The song did not actually mention Ents I just imagine giant clapping trees as Ents because I'm a geek.

2 comments Friday, October 24, 2008

I am running out of unique ways to describe the sequels here. Now I know why Hollywood comes up with the same boring thing over and over so very often.

So we have finally reached head wear. Personally I hardly ever wear anything on my head. I, much like the peach, have hair so I don't really need anything on my head. In fact I have more hair than I really need and so wearing hats can be a bit hot, but I do have a few and I love them even if I don't wear them through most of the summer for fear of heat stroke.

Ball Caps:

This is the only style of hat I own. I only follow NCAA and High school sports so I only have like 3 or 4 hats all Oklahoma University. Ball caps can be worn many different ways, but think before you start wearing your hat all lopsided. Are you cool enough to pull off this look without embarrassing your teens? To be honest most teens wearing their hat like this aren't cool enough to pull it off and that means you have to be some uber cool YP and at that point it doesn't actually matter what you wear, show up in a wife beater and overalls if you want. If I wear my hat it is faced forward and straight or if I need to get up close to what I'm working on I will turn it around backwards.

Berets:

If you are French or Samuel L. Jackson you can work the Barrett, if you are the rest of the world please let this fad die in peace. This goes for all similar hat styles.

Fedora:

I know the new Indy movie has you wanting to rock the leather jacket, whip, and fedora combo, but remember, if you aren't willing to reach back under a giant stone slap as it is crashing down to save your precious hat, you probably shouldn't be wearing one.

Cowboy hat:

These are available is several styles and all are totally appropriate in Texas. In the rest of the world they are only to be worn if you are trying to be ironic. Since most Youth don't completely grasp the concept of dressing ironically you might want to leave the 10 gallon at home.

This week as been fun. If you have been looking at this as actual style tips please understand that you need to dress like who you are. Nothing is worse than trying to be someone else, even if that person is super awesomely cool. Consider Mr. T; this guy is so incredibly cool that he can pity all the fools not as cool as him, but would you really want to sport the 50lbs of gold chains around your neck look? Of course not, first off you aren't tough enough. The weight would only be tolerable compared to the pain of getting mugged. The worst thing about dressing like someone you are not is that everyone will know it isn't you and so they won't listen to what you have to say.

If you are a nerd, geek, jock, gamer, cowboy, metro, … be fully you. You will then attract kids that will look up to you for who you are and hear your message about Christ because you are uniquely you.

Comments Thursday, October 23, 2008

I've never been there but a friend of mine married a girl from Deland, Florida. I asked him where it was within Florida and I was told, "It is between the water and the other water." My mother-in-law will call me to ask what that meant if I don't explain. Florida is a peninsula and pretty much and place in Florida is between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Deland is in Florida and so it is between the water and the other water. One might even say "The land" is between the water and the other water. Of course that is what makes this almost funny because "De land" is a funny way of saying "The Land."

This is why I don't tell my MIL many jokes. Explaining it takes all the humor out.

Comments

If you don't get the title then you aren't a sci-fi geek, don't feel bad you can learn to love and laugh at all things sci-fi if you really work hard.

So this is the 4th installment of how to dress like a Youth pastor. I will be talking about accessories, but be warned that I really don't accessorize, so expect just a bit more sarcasm than previous posts.

Belts:

The first line of accessories are belts. If your pants slip and fall then buy a belt. You may be tempted to go with suspenders but trust me, those won't score nearly as many cool points as you might be thinking. Unless you live in Texas the super huge belt buckle won't either. Personally I own 2 belts. One is for work, as in labor, and the other is for all other occasions. I'd like to buy more belts because they have lots of cool choices right now. I just keep spending my belt money on silly things like feeding my family. Sorry.

Carry bags (aka the man purse):

If you are carrying a purse then you might want to consider a career in music. Seriously. Now if it is a laptop bag then you are doing much better. The trick is to keep only laptops and office type equipment in this bag. The second you start keeping your wallet, keys, and other pocket type items in the bag you have escalated to a man purse.

Cell Phone:

Cell phones are rated based on the total number of features with ease of texting being the single biggest feature. If you have a phone with a sliding or flip out qwerty keyboard your youth will think you are cool and the adults will think you are important. That is all you really need to know. Of course if the phone is larger than your hand and isn't a smart phone like the iPhone, then it is time to trade up, even if it has a full-sized keyboard attached. Of course, my phone is a flip phone because I love to pretend I'm on Star Trek. I'm a geek though so it's ok. The only other thing to remember when it comes to your phone is that you can't use the stock ringtones and graphics. Find something that is uniquely you but not overly preachy. You students will walk away the first time they see you in Wal-Mart and hear "Amazing Grace" playing from your hip.

Other accessories:

I really want one of those leather wrist straps (sounds more manly than bracelet), but I'm not sure I can pull off the look. It is very important that you can look cool when wearing cool accessories otherwise you look like a dork that is trying to pull of the cool look. Imagine Steve Urkel trying to dress up like Eddie and you'll have some idea of what you actually look like. This applies to all articles of clothing but accessories amplify this truth.

Here's hoping I'll be able to pull off the leather wrist strap look before they aren't cool. I'm starting with leather strap watches and just going with wider and wider straps until I ditch the watch face all together. Tomorrow I'll be wrapping this up with head wear.

Comments

This is not about clothing just so you know. I'll post that later. I wanted to give a shout out to Mustang OK. I was seeing where ppl who visited this blog are at and saw someone from Mustang. I use to live near there. I remember one time as a newly driving teen dropping my dad off at the Airport while running a fever of 104. I somehow missed my turn to get back onto the interstate and ended up in Mustang before I figured out where I was at. Back then I didn't have GPS or a cell phone so I was started to freak out a bit. Not long before that I dated a girl from Mustang so I knew where I was and how to get to I-40 and home.

Sometimes dating lots of different girls is a good thing.

2 comments Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Some games sound more fun than they end up being.

That is all.

2 comments

The great thing about being Youth Pastor is you get away with so much. Basically if you bring back all the same kids you left with and all their same appendages people are pretty happy with you. You can generally dress the way you feel comfortable and it's all good. Of course there are dangerous mine fields to navigate, but as long as you understand a few basic rules you will be fine.

Tees:

You will likely wear more tees than anything else. The great part is that graphic tees are super popular as well as 80s references. Now some of you are too old or too young to appreciate Thundercats and the real Transformers, but for the rest of you enjoy this while it lasts.

Tank tops:

Friends don't let friends wear muscle shirts, enough said.

Polos:

Hey these are great if you are into them. I'm not thanks but good for you.

Button down/up shirts:

I actually own several long sleeve button ups. I really hate short sleeve versions, they look strange to me, like it was trying to be professional but couldn't quite make it. The short sleeve button up is the mullet of the shirt world. Business in the front party on the sleeves. So back to long sleeve button ups. I really love the fact that rolled up sleeves is the new style. It is nice, but don't make the mistake of rolling your cuffs super tight. For my height 3 rolls is perfect. It leaves the buffs plenty wide and also past my elbows. I will wear these shorts with jeans most of the time I wear them but if I need to look particularly dressed up I put on one of my slacks, and possibly even my jacket.

Jackets

Speaking of jackets you really need to buy at least one. You can find some pretty cool stuff with all kinds of embellished stuff on it, and that is awesome but you need at least one jacket that is fit for a wedding or funeral. Trust me you don't want to be that guy wearing the rhinestone encrusted blazer at the funeral of a 104 year old saint survived by her 86 year old daughter 64 year old grand daughter 47 year old grandson 25 year old great grandson and 10 month old great great grand daughter (and all the other relatives) all of which attend the church. Not cool dude not cool at all.

Remember these simple rules and you will be well on your way to the cool bus.

Comments Tuesday, October 21, 2008

OK, so you have shoes, and possibly socks that are cool but not something that will scare your parents, now you need to figure out the whole pants situation. Sure you can just slap on any old pair of jeans or work the white slacks that were oh so popular with preachers in the 80s, but if you want to impress your youth enough to be allowed on the cool van then you will need ot think about what you wear.

Shorts:

One of the most dangerous pitfalls any person can face is choosing the wrong shorts. You need to know your body type before you can wear shorts. If you have chicken legs then don't wear anything shorter than your knees or overly baggy since it will just emphasize those stilts you call legs. If your legs reflect and amplify all light in the room then please do us all a favor and skip this step.

Slacks:

OK this is a clothing item that will be required for certain situations. I have 3 basic fall back slacks. Khaki for your everyday have to dress up a bit clothing; if I am attending a wedding but not officiating I might go with those, or maybe I am going to a meeting with a particularly picky parent. I might mix it up with flip flops if I want to say, hey I'm casual and fun but still dressed up so parents don't freak too much. OK I probably wouldn't do that but you can if you want. I also have pressed grey and pressed black slacks for needing to dress up a bit more. Color is dependent on what else I'm wearing. Both are intentionally bland so I don't draw too much attention to myself. These are for special occasions like official parts of weddings and funerals as well as other fun events that I might be expected to dress up for. I have nice shoes, shirts, and jackets to go with these.

Jeans:

Now this is the huge decision. Seriously you will probably wear denim more than anything else. Again your body type will define the basic styles of what you will wear. Don't try and pull off the pipe legs if you are quite large, it will look like you are walking on tightly packed sausage, and it doesn't matter how expensive the jeans are that won't impress your youth. The other big danger is the artificially deteriorated look. You can spend big money on something that was damaged before you bought it or pick up something from Salvation Army and do it yourself. In all honesty the brand will say a lot to your Youth, but if you sell yourself on that then you will have to keep buying the new hot brand. The important part isn't how much you pay but how many holes we are talking, and the location. Holes in the knees are cool, holes in the seat and crotch are not. General rule of thumb, if anyone can tell if you are wearing boxers or briefs then you need new jeans, the auxiliary to this rule is that if the answer is briefs you will lose significant cool points. I'm not saying you can't wear briefs, but if your Youth see them it will super gross them out more than if they see boxers. Another good rule of thumb is to limit the tears and holes to 5 per pair. This isn't as much for the Youth as it is for the parents. You don't want some helpful mother going out and buying you new pants because she thinks you can't afford un-holified jeans.

Join me tomorrow for shirts and jackets, followed by accessories on Thursday and head wear on Friday.

Comments Monday, October 20, 2008

There are a lot of different YPs out there with their own unique style. That is cool and all. This is for the guy or girl that isn't sure how to dress as a YP. This is a very important choice and needs to be well thought out. There are some very treacherous pitfalls to avoid along the path. You want to look cool, but not like you are just adopting the same style your students wear. You don't ever want to get confused for the metrosexual worship leader. I mean think about it you go up to give an announcement and the band start playing because they got confused by your Puma's and paper denim ... ouch how embarrassing. You also have to look mature enough that parents don't freak when you drive off with their only child for the over night convention trip. This is why I've come up with a few rules.

I know that last sentence just scared you. Sure your Bible College had tons of rules about what to wear but the good news is, if your Bible college was like mine then these rules will break almost every rule from your Alma Mater.

Shoes

OK this is a great place to start. You need to have a few different shoes but they can be pretty pricey so don't go too crazy here. Own at least one pair of flip flops. Not the $2 super el cheapo ones though. Spend at least $10. Still affordable and they will actually last the year.

Now you will want a pair of tennis shoes also. You can go with Puma if your style leans toward metro, but be careful about leaning to far this way, next thing you know your are going to be pawning your wife's jewelry so you can buy a pair of Diesel's and that ain't cool. Personally I like to go with Nike. They are a solid name brand so you won't embarrass yourself or your Youth. They can be affordable and will last you more than a year. Of course, at the end of the year it is time to retire your old work shoes and let this pair become work shoes. Frugality impresses parents by the way.

OK, now you are wondering about dressier shoes. Now this is your call. I own one pair of dress shoes. They are cheap and only make appearances for weddings and funerals. You have to be careful here because you can get caught up in a shoe craze buying various loafers and the like to match this that and the other only to realize your bank account cannot support buying the this that and the other.

Finally lets consider some other shoes options and styles. I personally own some monster work boots for those hard core work days. These are left over from my days as a carpenter. I also own motorcycle boots for when I ride (cool factor plus 100 if your spouse will let you). I do have a couple of other sneaker style shoes so I am not wearing the exact same thing all the time as well. Cowboy boots are the hardest look to pull off unless you live in Texas. I'm not saying it can't be done, but think it through. For the same price you can buy quite a few other shoes ... or entire outfits including accessories when you count the counseling bills you will inure from the severe mocking if you don't pull the look off.

Tomorrow I'll be writing about pants and just keep working my way up all week long.

2 comments Friday, October 17, 2008

So if you are not aware, it is October and that means Halloween is near. Of course, not knowing this in America means you must be living in a cave and therefore must not be reading anything on the internet so I'm guess you aren't reading this right now which means I'm talking to myself … kinda worries me a bit but that's ok.

Anyways, Christians have a love to hate relationship with Halloween. A lot of churches, though, want to provide a safe place for their children and make an outreach for the neighborhood kids. I think that is great, but let's consider the names for these parties. Typically you get something along the lines of "Fall Festival" or "Harvest Party." We also like to take similar sounding words and call it a "Hallelujah Party." It starts off the same but then we hit you with church halfway through the word.

This is because we've been told all these horror stories about how evil Halloween is. Now I'd like to try and find out what is really going on with the holiday. Way back in time various cultures celebrated the fall harvest by worshiping the spirits or gods associated with the harvest. These harvest festivals (sound familiar) typically involved fruits and vegetables that symbolize the fall harvest. Wheat, pumpkins, apples, and other like items were used in these varied pagan holidays. October 31st, specifically, was a Celtic tradition that revolved around the Celtic calendar which ended on the last day of fall and began with the first day of winter. Because many cultures, even ours, associate winter with death this became a day of spirits. As the Romans took over their fall feasts became incorporated into Samhain's day.

Then the Roman Catholic Church came on the scene. Starting with Constantine the church began to incorporate various pagan holidays into Christian traditions. This was typically done to appease various cultures that had long celebrated a particular feast. I can understand the thinking on this. After all, let's say I was use to getting the 4th of July off from work. If the president and congress suddenly decided that we didn't need to celebrate a day that marked bloodshed and so cancelled the holiday I would get pretty upset. In fact, huge portions of the country would get upset.

The RCC didn't want to leave the full traditions in place, because they were pagan after all, but they didn't want to change too much. They kept the date, but changed the purpose from keeping the dead in the realm of the spirit to celebrating the saints. Perhaps you have heard the phrase "All Saints Day?" Many saints in the RCC have a day dedicated to them, but this day is dedicated to all saints. The name "Halloween" then was introduced by the Church as "All Saints Evening" or more commonly "All Hallows Eve."

Fast forward to last century when it was decided that Halloween was a pagan holiday. Never mind that we celebrate plenty of other pagan holidays as Christian holidays, this one must be particularly bad. Of course we can't do away with the entire holiday. After all, our kids want to dress up and get candy just like everyone else. We let them keep many of the traditions of this evil holiday, but not the name. After all Halloween is a name of pure evil, so instead we give it a name like "Harvest Festival." In other words, we go back to celebrating the harvest and dedicate the party to the Lord of the harvest just like the pagans did. In fact we reject a Christian name given to a pagan Holiday in favor of an even more pagan tradition.

Does anyone else see the irony here? Christmas has extremely similar roots, but we get totally offended when people try to give it a different name even though it was assigned by the RCC as well. Why do we have such a double standard on these two holidays? Why do we have to make things so confusing with our names that have gone back to their original forms? Do we really want to reach our community when we give them trick names like "Hallelujah Party?"

I say either celebrate Halloween in a safe Christian place so your kids can have fun and the neighbor kids will actually know what they are being invited to, or just turn out your lights and huddle in the dark afraid of all the evil spirits running around … oh wait that is exactly what the Celts were dealing with on Samhain's day. My bad.

Comments Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Youth group is growing again so that is cool, but we aren't quite to the point of splitting into Jr. High and Sr. High so that presents some problems. The biggest problem is the things that the younger group really get into the older group pretends they are too cool to enjoy. I say pretends because if you watch you will catch them off guard from time to time getting into it until the remember their friends might notice and put the cool face back on.

Game night is where this become most obvious. I do various ice breakers and such ever week but once a month we have a game night with fabulous prizes, well not so fabulous, and there is at least one game where the Youth get to do something to me. It can be quite nasty for me but they enjoy it.

Right now the Jr. Highers volunteer for all the games. OK I might have to volunteer a few of them but they have a great time once they are dragged up front kicking and screaming. I can't even drag the High Schoolers up. Trust me I tried. I might have one or two that will get involved, but most of them just sit back and chill. I've tried various kinds of games but they just aren't into it. I've even setup my Wii, PS2, and Xbox 360 with various games and pretty well didn't get any involvement from most of this group. I do know a few of them are into certain games such as card games that aren't really right for the game night, but even those games I know that at least a third of the older students wouldn't be involved with.

I know this is something that other Youth Pastors have dealt with. How do you get them involved? Even if they don't actually get up and play I'd like to see them interested in the things we are doing.

Comments Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I have said recently, possibly here or in a comment on another blog, that one of my biggest struggles is pride. My wife will gladly admit that my ego makes Texas big look small most of the time. Suffice it to say that I can think highly of myself. My opinion is based on a true story. I am well read and blessed with many talents both intellectually and physically. This means I'm often right so I tend to assume I am right more often than not.

This is, of course, a problem. Pride is the most evil of all sins because it breeds all sin. God tends to keep me humble by allowing me to get to strutting just long enough to trip over my own feet. Over the years I've grown to the point that I am finally starting to try and control my pride.

This brings me to my current crisis of pride. I have been praised quite a bit lately and I have tried to keep in my head that I am only as successful as God makes me to be. Today, I made a comment over at SCL and someone commented that my comment was funnier than Jon's post. While I tend to disagree I felt my ego grow 3 sizes this day. Before I knew it I was strutting around with my monstrous ego. I think strutting is a way of walking while carrying a huge burden like an oversized ego.

Well, I saw what I was doing and decided to take a step back and evaluate myself. I am not all that and that is ok because God is. Of course now I'm feeling pretty proud at controlling my pride … vicious cycle.

Comments Monday, October 13, 2008

I love tech. I am a geek, I freely admit that, but I am a tech geek to be specific. I am drawn to electronics like a moth to a high intensity LED array surrounded by a wire mesh conducting extreme amperage. If it flashes I want it. More than wanting, though, I also understand. I can do my own coding and assemble my own computers. I say all of this to make it clear that I am not about to attack technology lightly.

Technology, as awesome as it is, is a feeble crutch at best. If you rely on electronics to do everything you will be in a world of hurt when it doesn't work right. What is worse is that the more you need a given piece of tech to work, the more likely it will fail at the worst possible time. This is typically called "Murphy's Law of …" For example, Murphy's Law of printing dictates that the likelihood of printer error increases exponentially the closer to your deadline you are. In other words, if you are doing your printing a couple of weeks before your deadline the printer will work perfectly, but if you are only one week out you have a 20% chance of failure while the day before is an 80% chance of failure and an all night printing party results in a 99% likely hood of the printer breaking halfway through the job.

This also applies to other areas of technology. I can't tell you the number of times that I had media for a sermon that worked perfectly the 5 times I tested it prior to actually preaching, but the moment of truth resulted in audio without video, visa versa, or neither.

I find that by preparing for electronic failure I am more able to recover when disaster hits, and the catastrophic happens far less frequently. I try to do common math in my head instead of using calculators, I backup to multiple locations, I do my papers early and print them early, and I have backup illustrations for when media fails to run properly.

I think my basic assumption that technology will fail is why I can love it so much. I am prepared for the worst case and so when things don't work it isn't a total loss.

I encourage you to learn how to use tech correctly, and I'll talk about some of these things in the future. I also encourage you to accept that if you embrace electronics you will experience heartache and frustration. This is like any relationship, and like any relationship the effort to push past the heartache and frustration is well worth it.

Comments Saturday, October 11, 2008

I am blessed to have the Senior Pastor I have. I feel it is very important to fall under the authority of your Senior Pastor as a Youth Pastor. I made sure to ask mine some questions during the interview to make sure that I would be able to serve under him. I wanted to know his vision for the church and expectations for me. His answers were exactly what I needed to hear because they lined up very well with what I felt God was calling me to. We have been able to work very well together. I work to keep him in the loop on what I am doing and to stay under the protection of his authority in all that I do.

I have heard some horror stories from various other YP friends though and so I've decided to try and consolidate the many pastors out there into a few types based on their attitude towards people that work under them.

Hands off:

This pastor is not interested in what you are doing just as long as they don't get a phone call about it. You can do an illustration or game and its fine. You can plan any kind of trip or event without fear of being shut down. Work the hours you want and do what you want when you are working. This pastor is obsessed with one small area of ministry and so long as you don't bother them you will be able to get away with murder.

Pros: You have complete freedom to run your department how you see fit.

Cons: This environment can be plagued with a lack of vision and don't expect any kind of mentoring or direction.

Greatest Enemy: Overprotective parent with his home, work, and cell numbers.

The former Youth Pastor:

This guy wasn't just a Youth pastor he was the youth pastor before you took over. The old pastor stepped out and the church asked him to step up. You think that is your Youth group now, think again. You will be preaching what he has picked and doing the events he has planned. Let's face it, you're only there because he can't be Senior Pastor and Youth Pastor.

Pros: You won't ever have to think while working for this guy.

Cons: You won't ever have to think while working for this guy.

Greatest Enemy: The families that wish the Senior Pastor before him would come back.

Micromanager:

The pastor that can't trust anyone to do their job right. They set very strict office hours and expect constant updates on what you are doing. How does this guy find the time to do everything the Senior pastor is suppose to do? My guess is way too much coffee.

Pros: … umm, well, you usually get 2 days off a week according to the very strict schedule.

Cons: It looks really bad to leave a church as soon as you realize that you are working for a micromanager.

Greatest enemy: The hippy Youth Pastor

The best friend:

The pastor that wants to be your best friend. He wants to spend every lunch with you and a couple of dinners each week. He tries to go on every youth event and tries to be the Youths' best friend also. He wants to know everything you have been up to but because he actually cares about you not like the micromanager that just wants to make sure you are busy.

Pros: Can be a great mentor and actually cares about you.

Cons: Often tries too hard to be cool and embarrassed you in front of other friends and the Youth.

Greatest enemy: Anyone that takes up too much of your time.

There are certainly other types of pastors but these are the ones that I have been hearing about lately. Of course these are stereotypes but some pastors really do these things. Oh the horror stories I have heard. Also, I have used the male pronoun but female pastors can do the same things. I will say that no matter how bad your Senior Pastor is, you should still speak highly of him in front of others. Find nice things to say and look for the positive. It is never appropriate to tear down any minister in your church.

2 comments Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Numbers aren't everything but they sure do help. That is the problem with numbers. When you have a bunch of people come to your service you feel great but when the numbers drop you feel terrible. Your self-worth gets attached to these numbers. That is probably why ministers play the number game. You know, when 15 people show up but you go ahead and round that to 20. 40 people might as well be 50 and 75 is as good as a hundred. Pretty soon you are rounding 600 to an even thousand.

When you round like that it is much easier to ignore the dropping numbers unless they drop below the next level. You have 40 people one week and 35 people the next week you can still round that to 50 right? Going from 700 to 600 definitely counts at 1000 still, so it's all good. The problem with the number game is, people aren't numbers.

Tonight I felt really good because we had a great crowd. Our numbers have gone up every week for the past month or so and this is great for the number game I play in my head, but I'm also convicted about playing this game. There were real people there at church and they had real needs.

I had a girl come back to Youth that hasn't been in service for almost 3 months. She brought 2 friends with her that have never been. I had a boy that hasn't been to service in even longer. There was a girl there that hadn't been in service in about 5-6 years. She was asking about the YP from back then. I'm not sure if she had been in any church since then. There were a few other visitors and I'm sad to say I counted them as numbers first and people second. I did make a point to talk to each of them and to try and make them feel welcome. I was honest in my intent with all of that not just trying to keep my numbers up, but so much of me is wired to think of the number as a real value.

I don't know how long I will wrestle with this issue. I don't know if I will ever completely overcome the number game, but I can try to make myself keep people more important than numbers.

5 comments

So I'm going through our music selection the other day and it occurs to me that all the music we have, every last song, was great back in the 90s. Oh we might have a song or two from the turn of the millennium, but not much and those are pretty slow.

I am now in the hunt for good worship music for my Youth group. Stuff that we don't sing in "big church." Right now our worship is exactly what we do up top and the youth just aren't into it. I have been able to make a few changes with what we are doing that seems to be working but I can't seem to find music that has the driving beat but is also "worshipful."

The biggest change we made was having out lead guitar go from acoustic to electric. The guy playing rocks and was never really comfortable on the acoustic. It just isn't his style. He didn't have time to get his acoustic one day but had his electric with him and made it work. After that I've asked him to leave the acoustic at home.

The problem now is really the music itself. I want something that we haven't sung a thousand times before; something that the Youth would listen to on their iPods; something they'll actually sing along to. I'm not sure how to find that something though. I've asked my worship team and some other people that are more up to date with music than I am to find some new music. So far I've found a bunch of bands that I really like but that won't work for worship because the lyrics just don't lend themselves to it.


I wonder if anyone out there has a suggestion?

1 comments Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I actually enjoy history. I keep this bit of information secret because then people might wonder why I hate learning history so much. If you asked what my least favorite class was in school it was history. The problem is learning dates. My brain just isn't wired for dates. I honestly have trouble with the most basic of information like my birthday. It isn't that I can't remember numbers. I can remember certain kinds of numbers like no bodies business. I can tell you my phone number from when I was 14 years old. I know IP addresses for servers I setup years ago. I just can't remember dates very well. I can't spell in English either. I can spell perfectly in 3 other languages but not English. I have a great vocabulary but terribly spelling.

I digress. My point is that history is fun and exciting and knowing the key events from the ancient Middle East to Rome really opens up your understanding of the Bible. I've been working on giving history to my Young Adults group as I go through an end times study from Daniel, Matthew 24, and Revelation. We are on Daniel 7 and I have learned some things myself that were never taught in any of my history classes. I was able to run down these details because of what I did learn. One thing jumped out at me because of one of the few dates I actually remember from history.

70 AD. This is the year that Rome sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. I applied this bit of random trivia to some information I was researching as I tried t make sense of the 4th beast in Daniel 7. The beast has 10 horns and those horns are 10 rulers. Then a small horn rises up and pushes out 3 of those rulers before boasting and persecuting the saints. Rome was initially a republic and so the ruler was the people and then there were 9 emperors from Julius Caesar to 69 AD. In 68 AD Nero dies leaving Rome in civil war. There are a total of 4 emperors in 69 AD. The first 3 die very quickly and the last sets up a new dynasty. This emperor (Caesar Flavius) buys off all the historians to ensure history is written to suit him. He also is responsible for the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

I can't guarantee that this is the correct interpretation for the vision, but it seems to fit. I had searched this out but haven't really seen the idea anywhere else. As I study this more I find there are some amazing details that are revealed and even more details given so that we can know what to expect. I think this is the reason I like history. When you really get into it there is a mystery that presents itself and I love solving mysteries.

Connect the dots and you will see that there is truth in this mystery.

2 comments Monday, October 6, 2008

So I was driving home and ended up behind and SUV at a light. I saw 3 kids in the back seat. I thought they were pretty young but I think it might be my age.

Well they weren't as young as I thought I guess. The girl in the middle started kissing on the guy behind the driver. It was a bit embarrassing to watch considering how involved they were. At one point I'm pretty certain an entire face got swallowed. The worst part was the poor third kid in the back with them. This kid had to deal with presumably a sibling and a friend sucking face right next to him. I'm not sure how long this was going on before I ended up behind them or how long it happened after they were heading down the road, but the entire minute or so until the light turned was an intense purpling session and this kid had to live with it.

How many times do we live with stuff like that? Stuff that is embarrassing and even sinful. The things going on in the world right next to us. All that stuff. Some of this stuff is in our life; some of it is in the lives of our friends and family. We try to look out the window at something else but all the while we know it is going on right next to us.

The problem is how we deal with this kind of stuff. Do you confront it head on? Do you make snide comments or retching sounds? Do you take the passive aggressive route? Do you figure there is nothing you can do about it and just try to live with it?

I think we tend to take the wrong approach. Sometimes you need to take the issue on directly, but I think that is the exception not the rule. I see Christians doing on of tow things most of the time when they have to deal with stuff that isn't "Christian." We either figure we have to live with it or we make such a spectacle of trying to deal with it that it ends up making things worse. I think of how Jesus dealt with the stuff. People were doing these same kinds of things back when he walked the Earth. He saw past the stuff and into the lives of people. That seems to be the real trick. A bunch of guys drag this lady out to him and tell all about how she was painting the whole town purple. They wanted Jesus to either pass judgment along with them or to ignore the great offense and open himself to judgment. Jesus found another path.

He started drawing in the dirt. Imagine that, he plays in the sand. It is a pretty cool thing when you think about what God does on the 6th day of creation though. God formed man out of dirt and the breathed life into him. That was so different from all the rest of creation. I don't know what Jesus did with his drawing. There are as many opinions as there were grains of sand at his feet that day. I know this, when he decided to respond he did something else amazing. He said the very one without sin gets to pass judgment. Of course everyone left because they all knew their own sin. Jesus was the only one left that could pass judgment but he doesn't. Instead he chooses the breath life with these words, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."

That is powerful. He doesn't ignore the issue. He doesn't try to play in the dirt till they leave him alone. He doesn't jump all over the lady. He doesn't choose to live with the stuff. He deals with it in perfect love and wisdom. He shows grace and then expects her to live up to his standards.

That is what he does for us too. He gives us grace, forgiveness for everything we ever did wrong, and then expects us to start living up to his standards. We don't have to get it perfect so we can earn it, we don't have to even stay perfect once we've earned it. Jesus keeps pouring out the grace and making it possible for us to actually live this life.

Now I wonder what would happen if we all started treating others like Jesus. I really don't like that phrase "love the sinner hate the sin." Sure it is right but let's just look past the sin and see a person, not a sinner. Ok sure they are a sinner but stop thinking of them like that and start thinking of them like a real human being and see if that doesn't begin to change the way you look at the world. I'm not saying ignore the sin. Jesus didn't. He just didn't worry about it until he changed lives. He knew once he breathed in life the sin wouldn't really matter because of the grace effect.

Can you imagine what the world would look like if we all really made this part of our life?

Comments Saturday, October 4, 2008

So I came into this position early in the year and I made the mistake of assuming the calendar that was already in place. The problem is this calendar isn't exactly on paper. As things "we've always done" come up I am asked what my plans are for the event, as if every church in the world does this and so I should already have plans. It turns out "what we've always done" is insidious because it doesn't just block you from new things it surprises you with things you never thought you would be doing. I can say now that I should have put together a calendar for the year as soon as possible. I should have submitted requests to all department leaders for things that the former Youth Pastors always did for them and when so I could work it into my schedule or let them know to make other plans in advance of their event.

I am working on my calendar now for next year. I know I won't get everything on it, but I'm trying to get the major events on there including planning guides. I need to be planning Christmas in July so to speak. I was asked a week ago what we were doing for Halloween. I know I should have seen this coming but since I didn't have a calendar in place I let all the other stuff keep me busy so that I didn't think about it until I was asked. Now I'm scrambling to do an event in less than a month. Sure this can happen but if I started planning back in August I could be focusing on Christmas right now (September is for Thanksgiving and November is for New Years). You have to get the planning in a couple months early so you have time to see the big picture then focus on the details as the event approaches.

So the question is what am I forgetting? I have down major holidays, graduation, some events we did this year and some smaller events for fun every couple of months, like paintball and canoeing.

Comments Friday, October 3, 2008

It's football season. I know this has nothing to do with Youth Band but bear with me it will make sense I promise. I really love High School and NCAA football. I'm not a big fan of the NFL, or other professional sports for that matter. I don't dislike them I just don't follow any teams. There is too much money involved and to be honest they are just too good. It is less likely to have the underdog win. Of course, that means if I pick a team that is doing well and stick with them I'll be rewarded by seeing them win a lot.

College football is different. The underdog win is a huge part of college football. That is why they make so many movies about it. That is why we have such memorable events and the "band on the field" incident. These things are more unique to high school and college football because of the change up schedule. In pro leagues you can build a team and as long as you can afford to pay them and keep them happy and healthy you don't have to really worry about the team leaving. Sure you need to recruit so your team is always getting better, but you star players can often carry a mediocre team for years. In college and high school you only get 4 years of play from a given player. The typical change over schedule means that you will essentially have a new team every 2-3 years as significant portions of your team graduate. This means training freshmen to become your next leader on the field and ensuring that all positions will have experience players by not always relying on your star players. You have to be planning next year this year. That makes things much more interesting and it makes great players shine all the more brightly.

I hope you've caught how this applies to Youth Band. It is pretty simple. Youth graduate and move on. A Youth Pastor has to understand this and always be investing in the next generation. I inherited a situation where this didn't happen. Two YPs ago did a good job of preparing leaders in the younger kids and stretching them so they would be ready when the older kids moved on. The last YP inherited a great group with an awesome Youth Band and lots of active Youth. He let it ride for 2.5 years and over that time all the Youth that were in leadership and in the band graduated and moved on. The last of them will be graduating this year and I'm scrambling to try and get all the empty positions filled as well as the positions that will be emptied soon. I'm in it for the long haul so I'm trying to get things into place so this won't happen again. Planning for the future is a must with Youth groups and this is more than just planning next year's events.

1 comments Thursday, October 2, 2008

So I've been dealing with a situation since I took this church. There is a person in the church trying to take over. This person had many positions in the church and even asked for my position when it opened up. This would have given the person every major office in the church except the Senior Pastor. That was the next step really. This person was heavily involved with a division of the Youth when I came and I let things ride. Even when I started having conflict with getting information and getting this person on board with my vision I let it ride hoping things would smooth out. I knew early on I should have taken more control but between time constraints and a desire not to make waves early on in this new place I didn't follow my instincts and that is all on me. However, I never saw some of the huge things coming from those small conflicts. Now I know and I will not ignore those small things. As Solomon says "It is the small foxes that ruin the vine."

In the past couple of months we have found many highly questionable financial issues. Each time I get pretty angry considering this person more than most knew that there wasn't money available to steal. All of that pales in comparison to what happened at an event that took place just before we started finding the money problems. This was a trip that was organized as part of the Youth ministry this person was involved with. I kept having trouble getting details on various things leading up to the trip and was mislead in many of the details that I was given. Ultimately this trip ended up costing at least $8000 for only 8 Youth and of that only 4 attended the church. They had 2 adults (both women) for a 6 day trip with both young men and young women. I was told that there would be male and female chaperones with an adult in each room. Had I known different this would have been stopped or altered. This is why I was mislead.

The problem involves a young man that I suspect is wrestling with his sexual identity. I am have been working at building a friendship with him because I believe he has a lot of potential. This friendship was set back significantly because of this trip. In fact everyone that went on this trip was severely harmed. I got one message the first day of the trip that all was well but no other information after that. When people got back I tried to find out how things went and got strong responses where everyone said it was great in a tone of voice that gave a different answer. I gently pushed but never got past the brick wall happy trip fa├žade. Well I found out 2 weeks ago what happened. One of the boys accused this young man of "coming on to him" and trying to peek at him while he was using the bathroom. The leader called the young man out in front of everyone there and jumped all over him. Didn't ask, didn't do it privately, just humiliated him completely. Then, apparently, continued to humiliate him the rest of the week. After they got back this leader had all the parents wait until they could be informed of what happened on the trip. They were given the details of what he was accused of doing in front of all the parents and his friends once again. His own mother was informed through this public humiliation.

I have since been able to talk with this young man and apologize. I didn't question what he did I simply told him that regardless of what he did this leader was 100% wrong. I've been able to start growing this friendship again and hope one day he might be able to open up to me about what happened. I also talked with his mother about it and let her know that this leader was no longer at our church and after hearing about this I will not be welcoming her into any level of my ministry again.

People misquote Jesus quite often. One of the big ones is "Judge not lest ye be judged." This really says, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Matthew 7:1&2). It isn't that we cannot pass judgment but if we judge without reason and if we are harsh even with reason we are judged the same way.

I don't know what this young man did. Was there a comment that was misunderstood? Was there some actual issue? I will likely never know now because of the idiocy of an individual that wants everyone to follow after them. I haven't posted except that little comment about being sick since this happened. I kept trying to saying something but I was just getting too mad. I tried posting on other things but kept getting drawn back to this. I haven't even been able to tap into my sarcasm. It turns out I do have more ways to deal with things than sarcasm and reason. I can also respond with anger. I would like to think I can respond with love as well. I haven't seen this leader since this event. I have honestly struggled with my anger in the past two weeks so much that I kept deleting what I had written because I saw too much anger. I don't know if that was love coming through or reason. I'll settle for either because note responding in anger is a win. I don't know how I will respond when I see this person next. I want to pray that I will respond with love and forgiveness. That is what I'm supposed to do. That makes me a good example and the better person, but honestly I just don't know. I am growing and God has given me time. Each new wrong that is uncovered seems to come just as a get over the last issue. God allows me to work through instead of piling it all on, and so I hope God will supernaturally help me in this as well.

I am hoping that posting this will help me to release the last of the anger so I can start being myself again. I don't like the angry Geek. He isn't fun, all though some of his plans for revenge can be funny in a sadistic kind of way. That is another story for another day.