Friday, February 29, 2008

The Hermeneutics Quiz

I just took a quiz on how I interpret the bible... fascinating the questions asked. It a Hermeneutics quiz created by Scot McKnight for Leadership Magazine. You can take the quiz online here

I scored a 53 which (barely) puts me in the "moderate" category of interpretation. Take the quiz and post your score in the comments section here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Bands I've seen live

I got this idea from Shane Bertou. Here's a list of every band that I can remember seeing live. I've been to many music festivals so it makes it hard to remember everything I'm sure I've missed a lot, but here goes:

All Together Separate*
Andy Hunter
Audio Adrenalin*
The Benjamin Gate
Brave Saint Saturn
Buck Enterprises*
Caedmon's Call
Celestial Static
Cool Hand Luke*
David Crowder Band*
DC Talk
Denison Mars
Derek Webb*
Element 101
Everyday Sunday
Five Iron Frenzy*
Geoff Moore & The Distance
Ghoti Hook
Hawk Nelson
The Insyderz*
Jars of Clay*
Jeremy Camp
John Reuben
The Juliana Theory
Last Tuesday
Mamma Grace*
The Micah Tawlks Band*
Million Time Winner
Mute Math*
The O.C. Supertones*
Pax 217
Pedro the Lion
Project 86
Rebecca St. James
Relient K*
Sanctus Real
Sara Groves*
Sixpence None the Richer
Sleeping at Last
Slick Shoes
Steven Curtis Chapman
Third Day
Thousand Foot Krutch
Unwed Sailor

* I put a star next to the stand alone concerts I've been to - either the band was headlining or they were one of 3 max.

My favorite concert of all time have to be the Skillet concert at Cornerstone (2003?) where they couldn't play main stage and we were all crammed in to a small tent. It was both crazy and amazing. Skillet tore the roof of weaving worship songs into their regular music.

Close seconds are Mute Math in Birmingham, and the last Five Iron concert I went to.

Bands I would like to see live:

The Rocket Summer
Jon Foreman
Shawn McDonald
The Robbie Seay Band
Falling Up

Monday, February 25, 2008

Congratulations to My Contest Winner!

Congratulations are due to Nicholas Williams from Lithia, FL. He was the furthest person (932 miles) from Cincinnati to post a comment. Sorry Corey (727 miles), you almost had it. Go ahead Nick and contact me and I'll get your prize in the mail.

NYWC Day 3-4, Final Report

Well, it's been a great weekend. I'm very appreciative for the time off and very, very appreciative to all the workers and directors of the National Youth Workers Conference. Everyone was helpful, friendly, and encouraging. I'll end my final post with some quick, pithy bullet points and then a few more pictures:

Sunday - was my "my church payed for this conference so darn-it, I'm going to run my self ragged and try to take in anything/everything all at once" day.
  • Rick Lawrance rocked our socks off with a message on "Improv" complete with a great contemplative picture exercise. Each day, Rick has challenged us to practice "play" with God and every single time, God has spoken to me through the exercises.
  • Marv Penner blew me away with the "Helping Kids Whose Hurts Are Deep" session of the Counseling Youth 101 track. We talked about unchallenged assumptions and how they can lead to a cycle of brokenness. If you were at the conference, you will want to purchase this audio as well as the next session on self-injury and give it to all of your youth leaders.
  • My worship affinity group was amazing.
  • My brain officially reached meltdown while attending Dan Webster's seminar on "Learning to Lead From Quiet." It wasn't what I was hoping for, but it was still good.
  • For dinner, I joined with other youth pastors/workers from my denomination: the Christian and Missionary Alliance to honor our retiring denominational youth director Kent Julian. Kent did a terrific job at directing our Alliance Youth and has prepared the denomination well to minister to our teens in culturally relevant ways. Kent is one of those guys with his finger on the pulse of youth culture. We will miss his hard work and inspiring vision (as well as his shiny bald head).
  • Greg Stier challenged us to "Challenging Conversations." I loved 90% of what Greg had to share, he's definitely an evangelist at heart. The reality show clip he showed was very interesting. I just hope that in our passion to share the good news through challenging conversations that us Christians stop acting like jerks about it.
  • Kutless rocked hard...very hard. I got to jump up and down like an idiot. It was great. I wasn't the only one.

Monday Morning - Last day... *tear*

This picture was created outside of the meeting hall over the duration of the conference

  • I pushed myself so hard Sunday, I decided to sleep in, pack, and check out during the morning seminar time. I was really looking forward to attending Kent Julian's seminar, but I didn't have enough time to do everything I guess.
  • The closing worship session was the best time of worship (besides Kutless) all conference long. We watched a clip about Craig DeMartino - a professional climber who has an amazing story of pain and redemption. Our exercise in "play" involved exploring the challenges that lay before us. God rocked my socks off once again.
  • I got to stop at Chipotle on the way home :)

For those of you from Birmingham, you may not have been introduced to the slice of Heaven that is Chipotle... well here's what it looks like

Sunday, February 24, 2008 head asplode

Ok, I admit it! I'm a conference junkie. I love to take in new information and meet new people. Today, I feel like I was drinking from a fire hose. I don't have the energy tonight to post a full update about today. I really do need to learn to pace myself at these events.

Josh, if you're reading this - try and plan some intentional breaks/downtime into the schedule next year. Even an extra hour once a day would be a great help. With the sessions, seminars, affinity groups and meals I run and don't stop. I could take an afternoon off... but I have an information eating disorder... I need help :)

One thing I do want to post while it is still fresh is an idea I had this evening. Everyone knows how encouraging Doug Fields is to youth pastors. I was thinking, we should get a Doug Fields pull string doll to keep close to the desk of youth workers. That way, when we're feeling down and out as youth workers, we just give doll-Doug a good yank and he spouts out some encouraging line. This could catch on ;)

Don't forget my contest for the comment from the furthest away. You'll win a suite of powerpoint crowd games from I'll close the contest out Monday at 12pm. So far, I only have one comment so you still have a great chance to win.

More pics to come

Kutless concert

Saturday, February 23, 2008

NYWC Day 2 in Pictures

the crowds

My college professor and seminar speaker Len Kaegler making a funny pose... looks like Zoolander

A shot of the Jeremy Riddle concert

Blogging NYWC Day 2

Wow... it's been a really long day. Every time I go to a conference like this I always push so hard the first day that by the second day, I'm exauhsted and unable to fully enjoy myself by day's end.

Here's a quick overview of my day and some info gleaned from the seminars/meetings

Saturday Morning 9am, Rick Lawrence
  • Jesus delights in our faith...He delights in us!
  • Faith is the substance of play
10:30am - Secrets to a Healthy Youth Ministry - "the Anatomy of Stuckness"
  • When youth ministry centers on one person, it gets stuck
  • stupid ideas with enthusiasm work pretty well
  • most churches are foiled by their successes...not failure
The Crisis of Capacity: 5 normals to shoot for in youth ministry
  • $1,000 a kid - salary, budgets... invest for growth (how many students you want to have). My church does this very well for our size.
  • 1 to 50 ratio - Paid staff to students - so far, so good
  • The 10% Rule - Average student ministry should be around 10% of the total church congregation. We have at 21% ratio at Brewster Road.
  • You can increase average percentage from 10%-20% by increasing investment and staff. Our seminar leader, Mark said that percentages above 20% are not sustainable on average...hmmm....
  • The 1 to 5 Ratio - One leader for 5 students should be the norm. We need 3 additional volunteers to make this ratio in our student ministry.
Saturday 3:00pm - Secrets to a Healthy Youth Ministry - "The 411 of Sustainable Youth Ministry"
  • To sustain a student ministry we need architecture (structure) and alchemy (climate, culture)
  • It is more effective to focus on the climate (alchemy) first before building structure (architecture).
  • Trust the process... takes time to create a healthy climate
  • Embrace positive stories and metaphors
  • Deliver results
  • Develop meaningful rituals and traditions
Saturday 7:00pm, Doug Fields
  • Faith Blockers - Things that keep us from ministering with full effectiveness: Fear, being too occupied, being uncomfortable. I tend to struggle with being uncomfortable for some reason. For all the extroverted things I do, I'm still an introvert at heart. It's a constant challenge for me to push beyond my comfort zone.

My friends are wierd

Marko and me waiting for the evening session

Contest for Youth Workers

Josh Griffin from gave me a Power Play Volume I to give away on my blog through a contest of some sort.

After almost no thinking about it, I have decided to award the prize to the youth worker/ youth pastor who lives the furthest from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Leave your name, where you church is, and what your youth ministry's favorite game/activity is (the last one's optional, but I'm curious) in the comment section below to enter the contest. On Monday, I will award the furthest Youth Worker their prize.

Make sure that your email address is included either through your comment registration or your comment so I can let you know if you win.

Happy commenting!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Blogging NYWC Day 1

Well, day one of the National Youth Workers Conference is over. It's been a long day full of all kinds of fun and stimulating activities... so much so that I am sitting here trying to detox in silence (yes, Erik time).

Let me run you through my day briefly.

10am - I went out to dig my car out of winter's icy grip. I had a nice layer of ice all over it from the storm last night.

11am - Had lunch at Bob Evans - great food. For those down South, Bob Evans is the Cracker Barrel of Northern food.

12pm - Circled the city of Cincinnati trying to look for my hotel. Then circled my hotel looking for a good (cheap) parking spot. I sure hope I can remember where I left my car on Monday.

1:30pm - Meandered my way to the convention center to scope things out and register. The NYWC staff people were helpful, sarcastic, and made me smile.
There is a sweet car show going on downstairs in the Convention Center

2:30pm - Went to a seminar with Rick Lawrence. We talked about what it would be like to have a Jesus centered youth ministry. Here are a few notes I scribbled down:
  • check out the "impossible quiz" - google it.
  • "Being Christ-like" what do we mean when we say this phrase? We are not Jesus, nor will we ever be close to being Jesus. We need to follow Jesus not try to be like what we think he is like. What Would Jesus Do is a cool mantra, but we project all our presuppositions about what Jesus would do instead of getting to know Him.
  • "Listen to your life"
4:00pm - Met up with Marko then I wandered around looking for the worship leader Affinity Group (small group). They were well hidden, but I discovered them. I felt way under talented for this group but the combination between cool personalities and potential for me to learn a thing or two will keep me going with this group for the weekend.

6:00pm - Had 2 Skyline Chili cony dogs w/ hot sauce. Very good-not good for me. I'm still looking to have some "Cincinnati chili" before I go.

7:00pm - I met up with the youth ministry department group from Nyack College and sat with them in the main session. I got to see both Len Kaegler and Ron Belsterling, both of my YM professors from my college days.

The worship band (Tim Timmons) playing their set. They were very good.

Saw Sara Groves perform after the main session. Wow. Great chill music. Great lyrics You must buy one of her albums right away.

Here's a video clip from the concert, sorry about the crappy cell phone/concert audio.

10:00pm - I sat in with the Simply Youth Ministry Podcast. These guys are as funny in person as they are on the podcast. I finally got Josh Griffin to give me my t-shirt I was promised. Thanks Josh.

The Simply Youth Ministry Podcast "Gang of 4"

That's all for today, much more tomorrow!

I have arrived

After a little orbiting around the hotel looking for parking (found a spot for $9/day) I finally made my way to the room I'll be staying in this weekend. Low and behold, I have Wi-Fi access once again, so updating my blog will be easy.

I'll be heading to the convention center in a few minutes to register and check things out. I'll post more later.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stranded! (kinda)

So today was one of the longest driving days EVER! Not only did I encounter at least 3 traffic jams/slowdowns (some close to an hour), but when I got to northern Kentucky, old man winter threw a welcoming party for me. I started to encounter this so-called "freezing rain." Soon after, my car was sliding around on the road like a 4 year old on a slip and slide.

My plan was to get into Akron where my family lives around 7-8pm and have dinner with them before leaving the next morning to drive 4 hours back south to Cincinnati. Well, at 6pm, I wasn't even in Ohio yet. With 4 hours (or more with the weather) of driving left and a very real possibility of me totaling my car in a ditch, I decided to grab a cheap hotel and call it a night.

I'm bummed that I won't get to see my family, but the good news is that I can get to the convention really early (20 minutes away from here) and not only that, I have free Wi-Fi :)

Oh, and I get to watch Lost tonight in my hotel room *bonus*

Multimedia message

Stuck in traffic en route to Ohio

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Going to Cincy

I'll be traveling this weekend to the National Youth Ministry Conference held in Cincinnati, Ohio. It's been a rough month and I'm hoping this will be a great opportunity to unplug and connect with other youth ministers who share my heart and interests. I get to see my former intern Marko, as well as 2 of my youth ministry professors from Nyack College.

Thursday I'll be traveling all the way back home to Ohio to see my family before heading to the conference on Friday. It's a 12 hour trip, so pray that God keeps me alert and my car healthy and in working shape.

I plan on blogging pictures, maybe some video, and updates from the conference. I you are interested in youth ministry (or at least me) make sure to check out my blog for updates.

In other news, I lost my very cool flash mp3 player that I use to record my youth ministry podcasts on. So if you listen regularly, it will be a few weeks before I get something new to record with. I'm getting a device so I can record directly onto my ipod.

Tonight at Invert we are having our first of 2 "Doubt Night"s. I had the students write out questions and I'll do my best to answer them honestly and from the scriptures. It should be a great time.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

New Invert Site

Well, I got anxious and bored with the all-flash superhardtoupdate Invert site. So I made a new one.

Check it out at

Friday, February 01, 2008

Another Life Update

It's been a while since my last update so here is what's going on:

On the student ministry front, things have been slow and steady. It's remarkable the way God is working in the lives of my teens and it's a privilege to be a part of that. We've been slowly upgrading our youth room and have finally got our new sound system together. Our worship band is growing (and so are my guitar skills...a bit). This weekend we' re going to a Christian concert called Winter Jam which should prove to be a good outreach opportunity. I'm psyched about seeing Skillet perform.

On the private front, my iPod died. Luckily it's under warranty, so I just got to take it to the apple store, hopefully they'll replace it with a macbook.

I watched the season premiere of Lost last night and I'm looking forward to another season (what writer's strike?). Other than Lost, there really isn't much other TV I watch other than random things on the Discovery Channel and such.

I've been reading more recently (which is alway good). I'm currently working on two books, one by Donald Miller and the other is the first book in C.S. Lewis' space trilogy. Both books are really good and hopefully I can move on to one of many books waiting on my shelf.

Lately, I've been incredibly introspective (too much so). My thoughts of late have drifted from politics to ministry to love and relationships, quite the variety. I think now that I'm one step closer to 30 I'm really trying to figure out whether I'm where I want to be. Am I living out the life that God has for me? Am I missing anything? I really am not sure. But I have had this nagging feeling that something must change in the not so distant future. Now if I can only figure out what that is... oh well.

I'll be in Ohio at the end of the month for a youth worker's convention in Cincinnati. Hopefully the conference will provide a well needed breath of fresh air and new perspectives as well as some encouragement. Ministry (especially when you're single like me) can be incredibly lonely- especially at a small church with no one your age. If you're up to it, please continue to pray for me for encouragement and strength as I serve God here in Alabama. Thanks!