Ski Retreat

January 30, 2008

As I said in a previous post, I went with the Junior High group up to the Poconos this weekend.  Got up there Friday night, stayed at Pocono Plateau Camp (I highly recommend this place!), and had a full day of skiing/snowboarding on Saturday.  While on this retreat, I learned two things:

  1. I am getting old.  I could only snowboard for half the day, and that was it.  I was sore all over.  Of course I knew my butt was gonna be sore due to the frequent falls.  However, my legs, back, knees, and shins were all sore as well.  Even more surprising, my abs were the worst.  I figured that I used them every time I got back up after a fall, and my six pack flabby gut was overworked.
  2. Students did not go for the skiing/snowboarding.  This was the best part of the weekend.  We took 12 students, and only half of them went on the slopes.  The rest went tubing or stayed in the Lodge and bonded with the female leaders (my mom included).  It was encouraging to see students come on this weekend, not because of the activities, but rather for the people and relationships.  I have always felt that retreats are the best way to bring a youth group together, especially Junior Highers.  This weekend supported my view.

Religious Leader Dies

January 28, 2008

Last night, President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Gordon Hinckley died at the age of 97.  He had been the Mormon leader since 1995, and during this time the Mormon church experienced a great deal of growth, especially overseas.  Read more about his death here.

 I found out about his death last night, and I could not stop thinking about it all night.  Hinckley had spent his entire life in service and devotion to the Mormon church, and his life of service culminated with his election as the 15th President of the church.  Yet, it was all for nothing.  I do not believe that the Mormon religion is a Christian one, but rather a non-Christian religion. (Unlike most Christians, I do not use “cult” to describe Mormons because “cult” implies a smaller group of people).  I cannot imagine focusing my entire life and all my energy on something, only to learn after death that I was wrong.  That is why I thank God daily for the grace He has given me and the assurance of my salvation.  I pray that more and more people, especially those of the Mormon religion, can discover this grace and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  That way your life and ministry here on earth will not be in vain, but to the glory and honor of Christ.  Then you will hear Christ say “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Amen!

Book Review: Cod

January 27, 2008

Just finished Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World over the weekend (went on a ski trip with the Junior High, will post comments tomorrow).  A fascinating little book (under 300 pages, but very easy pages) about the history of cod and it’s impact on human history.  Below is my review from LibraryThing:

         This small tome provides fascinating insight into the historical importance of cod to the development of Europe and North America.  Initially drawn by the uniqueness of the subject (Who has read a biography about a species of fish?), I was very impressed with how author Mark Kurlansky weaves the importance of cod into the narrative of history.  The secret to the Basque development in the Middle Ages? They had discovered the North Atlantic cod fields.  How were the Vikings able to survive on voyages to Iceland, Greenland, and North America? They depended on cod.  Why did Boston and the rest of the New England colonies gain power almost overnight? They had developed a great cod industry off of Cape Cod.  Throughout the last 1000 years of world history, especially North Atlantic history, the fishing of cod has been a key issue.

            Kurlansky develops the cod fishing industry through time as well as location.  Attention is given to Gloucester, Iceland, and Newlyn, three cod fish capitals in a former life.  However these towns, as well as the codfish industry itself, are being lost due to overfishing.  The author takes time to describe the current state of the codfish industry, where overfishing and the subsequent government-issued moratoriums have forced most cod fishermen into the unemployment line. 

          This very entertaining book will leave you wanting more.  I have already added a few similar subject books to my “To Read” list in order to whet my appetite.  Overall, a very good book about the impact of a fish on 1000 years of world history, and the current struggles to keep this fish from extinction. 

 Since I am a history geek, I am always a sucker for obscure yet interesting history books.  Check out my LibraryThing Library for more of my tastes in books.

   A Biography

10 Things to Learn after Graduating

January 23, 2008

Chapel went well last Friday.  There was no PowerPoint, so I did it sans photos (very ’90s!)  This was not quite what I talked about, but I wanted to write out 10 things I have learned after Graduation.

  1.  Prepare for failure.  Class time was great for the theory of ministry and how to theoretically deal with people.  But in the real world, nothing is perfect.  A new graduate must realize that you are not going to fix the world with your “new ideas.”
  2. Prepare for success.  At the same time, new graduates must learn to focus their energy and excitement into their new ministry. Recent grads often provide a stagnant ministry with renewed energy and ideas. Be sure to offer ideas you learned in college to your new ministry setting.
  3. Look for other opportunities to learn.  By this I mean look to broaden your horizons by experiencing other parts of the ministry.  Coming out of school, I had a ton of youth ministry experience, but zero business or administration experience.  Over the last year, I have learned a great deal of what it takes to make a ministry run, business wise.  I have learned how to market events, negotiate contracts, and do all the other minute things that make a ministry work.  
  4. Read.  Even though you are not required to anymore, you must read.  Read youth ministry books, read general ministry books, read theology books, read childrens’ books. Just read. Continue to educate yourself. 
  5. Take time for yourself.  Relax. Enjoy life.  No one needs to rush into the Real World, especially a recent college grad.  Make sure you relax on your off days.  Have others respect your off days as well (no one likes calls from work when at home).  Be sure to get enough rest, also.  A youth worker who practices a personal Sabbath is one better prepared for a long ministry.
  6. Take time for the Lord.  Be sure to feed yourself spiritually.  Make sure you are studying the Word so that you can better teach the Word to your students.  A youth worker out of touch with the Lord can quickly drift into hypocrisy and worse.  This not only affects the youth worker, but the entire ministry. 
  7. Stay Connected with School Contacts.  Remember all those people that were in your Youth Min classes? Well, most of them are in some form of youth ministry right now! By maintaining those friendships and contacts, you now have a network of youth workers spread out over the country.  These people are great sources of new programming ideas.  They are also great sources of encouragement and support.  And who knows, maybe your youth group can meet up with your former roommate’s group for a joint retreat or activity? Any time you get students to meet other Christians from another group, friendships and lasting memories are bound to happen.
  8. Stay Connected with Other Youth Workers. It is important to network and meet with youth workers in your area.  These workers have the experience and knowledge about what works and doesn’t work in your specific region.  Join (or start) a monthly meeting of youth workers, and make it a time of sharing, praying, and encouraging one another.  Be sure to invite all youth workers, don’t limit it to one denomination or circle.  Some of the best encouragement and advice I have received have been from youth workers from churches that I do not agree with 100%  Make it an open group of youth workers passionate about reaching students.  Some youth workers may see other groups as competition.  However, any youth worker can look at today’s schools and view a sea of unreached students.  As Jesus said “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few”(Matthew 9:37, ESV).  Encourage the other laborers so you may all focus on the harvest.
  9. Find a mentor.  After graduation, you may feel accomplished and experienced.  However, you are still a novice in the Youth Ministry field.  You need gain experience in the field before you are truly a Youth Min vet.  To help ease you transition into the field, find an experienced vet that will mentor you. They can pass on their valuable experiences and suggestions that will help you and your ministry.  They have “been there and done that,” now they want to pass the baton to you.
  10. Pass on Your Knowledge.  Fresh out of college, some might be given the reins to a youth ministry.  The leaders of the church have entrusted their youth to your care.  It is now your job to minister to these students.  However, you need to minister to the volunteers as well.  Most, if not all, of them have no formal youth ministry training, and they all have full-time jobs and families.  They have a passion to serve your students, and you need to equip them.  Pass on the tools and training that you learned in school to these leaders.  Provide a monthly training session, equipping them to minister to the students more effectively.

So there is my list.  I am not done learning, so maybe I will be like Doug Fields and write another list after 2 years in ministry.

Starting Out in Youth Ministry

January 9, 2008

Over at Life in Student Ministry Tim has written a post featuring 10 tips for starting out in Youth Ministry. As it turns out, I will be speaking in PBU‘s Youth Ministry chapel this month on a similar topic: “Things I have Learned since PBU”.  An upcoming post will include my 10 tips for newly graduated Youth Min workers.

Hello world!

January 9, 2008

Welcome to my blog! On this, I will make posts about youth ministry, theology, culture, and just random stories from my life.  I don’t really care if anyone reads this, it is more for my personal use to help me verbalize and consolidate my thoughts.