Try It You Chicken!

A short post today because I'm slipping out early to shoot our curriculumn.

My son, Cole, and I discovered this website several months ago. We spent way too much time having way too much fun. If you haven't seen it, this is your chance to boss a chicken around.


Quiet On The Set

For the better part of two weeks, our junior high team has been writing video curriculum for the fall. We are hoping to create a dozen stand-alone lessons that will help out small group leaders when they need a break from our curriculum, haven't had adequate time to prepare, or simply feel like throwing in a DVD instead of working through the usual curriculum. The best way to describe these videos would be as short, simple, low budget, junior high friendly, NOOMA style videos with places sprinkled all throughout to pause the DVD and allow students to discuss what's being communicated. I'm excited about the concept, but not sure what the final result will be. My hope is that we can create a neat way for our small group students to engage in the lesson time. We start tomorrow with the goal of filming all twelve lessons in a three day period. That will leave us the entire summer to edit them and re-shoot some if necessary.

He Shoots...He Scores!

I don't think I've ever set summertime goals, but why not start now? There are definitely a few things I'm aiming for this summer, so I'll go ahead and list them as official goals.

- Teach Cole how to surf: This is actually more his goal than mine, but my goal is to be faithful to the slow process of teaching a 9-year old how to surf which means missing out on lots of good surf sessions of my own. However, the payoff could be every surfing dad’s dream of sharing the waves with his kids.

- Convince my daughter she's not in danger of shark attacks: Until recently, Kayla also wanted to learn to surf. That is until I bought her the book detailing Bethany Hamilton's story. Bethany was fourteen and climbing her way up the surfing ranks when a shark bit off one of her arms. Despite that, she's made a come back and is continuing her surfing career. I thought it would be inspiring...Kayla saw the story a little differently!

- Begin My Thesis: I have a year to complete it, but my tendency will be to put it off for far too long. I'm going to try to get a head start on it!

- Quit biting my nails: Okay, this is a goal I've been setting since I was about 12, but sooner or later I'll get it figured out. My nails are gross and I think that shame my actually be a motivating factor this time around.


Weekend Wrap-up

Beginning today, I'll start posting a Weekend Wrap-up each Monday with some stats and personal feelings about our weekend program.

Attendance: Below Average
Lesson Topic: Sex
'Fun Factor': Average
Volunteer Involvement: Below Average
Music: Above Average
Lesson Quality: Average
Length of Lesson: 28 minutes
Student Response: Above Average (see lesson topic!)

Overall, I didn't feel like this was one of our better weekends. Our team was shorthanded due to the holiday weekend. Our games were pretty dull, and the energy level felt low. The two things that saved this weekend were the fact that students were very interested in the lesson topic and our student band was led by some new faces who did a great job.


Wheel In The Sky

If you were to take a look at the music on my iPod, you would notice that about half of it is pop and top 40 stuff. My daughter loves music and like most 6th grade girls, she likes the trendy pop stuff the most. As a result, her music tastes and preferences have rubbed of on me more than I'd like to admit which is why my iPod has a bunch of her favorite music on it while hers has virtually no music from my generation. I woke up early this morning to the sound of Kayla on the computer in our bedroom. When I asked what she was doing she replied, "I'm downloading that Wheel In The Sky song by Journey". Ah...music to my ears. And now that she has it on her iPod, one of the classic songs from my junior high days will be music to her ears, too.


Strategically Un-strategic

I like strategies. I like having a plan of attack and sticking to it. I like knowing what the goals, purposes, vision and direction of my ministry look like. In fact, for years I've rang the bell of 'junior high ministry needs to, and can be, more strategic!' Believe me; I have no plans to abandon my plans. However I'm beginning to wonder if, because of the brief season of ministry time we have with our students (2-3 years max) and their unique developmental stage, too much strategy actually hurts our ministry to young teens rather than helps it. Maybe part of our strategy needs to include room to be un-strategic. Maybe we need to leave room for spontaneity, last minute changes, creative alternatives and that kind of stuff. Maybe there's a place for the strategically un-strategic.

Almost 15...

...our marriage, that is. Next Thursday, June 1st, marks 15 years of marriage to Rachel. I'm sure on that day I'll post something more significant. For now, though, I'm frantically trying to think of a last-minute, affordable weekend getaway. We had originally decided not to do anything special, but then two days ago one of us said "hey, why the heck aren't we doing something special for our 15th...." and thus the frantic effort to create a memorable time away for next weekend began. Creative ideas, insider tips and offers of the use of your time-share now being accepted.


Shout Out

I'm posting late today, but I'm posting with a mission. On my way to an off-site meeting early this morning a few of us began talking about blogs. Being new to the blogging world, I didn't know that there was actually blog etiquette that I needed to be aware of. Apparently, one such item is the practice of giving a parenthetical hat tip or (ht...) at the end of a post in which you use material from another blog. I've noticed that several of the blogs I have started to read do, in fact, utilize the 'ht' as a way of giving credit. This is all fine...Except for the fact that NOBODY in real life ever actually tips his or her hat to someone anymore. What is this, 1850? For cryin' out loud, isn't there a more modern way to acknowledge somebody than with a cyber tipping of one's hat?

I officially pronounce (at least on my blog, anyway) the end of the Hat Tip (ht) and will replace it with something that, while not a perfect substitute, is at least somewhat more appropriate for our times. On my site, I will use a parenthetical SO, or 'Shout Out', to give credit when borrowing from another blog. I fully recognize that Shout Out will become a dated term in the near future, but the fact that we are currently using Hat Tip leads me to believe I have close to a century before I need to worry about being outdated.
(SO to myself)


Some Poor Guy...

Some poor guy was sitting around when the lightbulb went off in his head. He pulled together a few 'advisers' and rounded up enough money to start the patent process on this amazing new invention! Surely, it would change the world of piggy back rides as we know it. Instead, he has become the victim of an endless stream of 'Broke Back Mountain' jokes.

Crawling To The Finish Line

For almost 3 years, I've been in a graduate school Co-hort program at Vanguard University. I really can't think of a better approach to pursuing a graduate degree at this stage of my life, but it has really been a struggle. It's been a struggle primarily because of this stage of my life! Going back to school in my late 30's sounded like a good idea at the time! In a couple of weeks, I'll finish my final class which leaves me with only a Thesis and exit exam left. I believe in finishing strong; I've preached that principle, coached others on that principle and have lived by that principle for most of my life. But for some reason, I'm finding it almost impossible to apply that principle to my final stretch of grad school. Instead of finishing strong and sprinting toward the finish line, I find myself crawling slower than ever with the hope that if I can somehow make it to the end, a grace-giving scholar will place a diploma in my tired little hands. A diploma, I might add, that I will then tuck away in a drawer so I can get back to life exactly as it was 3 years ago.


What I have vs. What I want

I drive a 1991 toyota 4x4 that was given to me by a friend. It's been a super reliable mode of transportation as well as a good truck for haulin' surfboards, mountain bikes and other junk. But the truth is it's pretty well beaten up and I feel a little bit embarrased driving it. I guess at 40 I feel like I should have a more respectable ride.

What I want is a new Toyota FJcruiser. They're pretty affordable and seem to fit my lifestyle. Unfortunately, my wife thinks things like mortgage payments, college funds and food in my kid's stomachs are a higher priority! So for now I will contently drive my truck until I can figure out a way to convince Rachel that food is over-rated.


Monday nights...

Tonight marks the finale of season 5 of '24'. We're heading over to a friend's house for our traditional season finale party. A season's worth of monday night gatherings culminates with a silly night of dressing like your favorite character and bringing a '24'-inspired snack. It's a pretty goofy tradition, but one we all look forward to.

Monday's are my day off and make a great night for hangin' out. After '24' season is over, we begin having BBQ's at the beach and surfing every Monday night and those come to an end just in time for our Monday Night Football rotation to start.


little help!

A friend just mentioned that he liked the new 'look' of this site, but couldn't figure out how to post a reply. See that little number to the right of each title? That represents how many replies there have been...which is why the numbers are different for each post. To post a reply, just click on that number.

A full weekend

This weekend feels more full than than normal. Maybe it's because...

8:35- 10:00 p.m. Softball game: We got slaughtered. Literally...the 'slaughter rule' cut the game short.
10:30 - 1:00 a.m. Boys dodge ball night: We hosted about 150 jr. high boys for two hours of dodge ball.

12:20 - 2:00: Took my son, Cole, to see 'over the hedge'.
2:30 - 5:00: Writing a student leadership lesson for tonight's student leadership meeting.
5:30 - 8:00: Saturday night service.
8:00 - 10:00: Student leadership.

8:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.: Sunday morning services
4:00 - 6:00 p.m.: Sunday night service
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.: Jr. High volunteers over to our house for hangin' out.

Full...but full of good stuff!


Nachos for everyone!

Junior Highers and Da Vinci Code? Not so much.
Junior Highers and Nacho Libre? Definately

Thankful And Messed Up!

One of the primary areas of discussion at our summit was around how we present a fuller, more accurate picture of the gospel to young teens. I was encouraged by the discussion, challenged by the discussion and totally messed up by the discussion all at the same time! Messed up because it has forced me to take a hard look at the methods I use to expose students to the powerful message of Christ as well as admitting that I've been guilty of focusing on only a partial presentation of the bigger message!

Ultimately, though, the time away served to refresh my passion for ministry to young teens. True, we talked a lot about theology and tried to wrestle some big issues to the ground, but ultimately I come back to my very simple, pragmatic formula for junior high ministry:
Young Teen + Caring Adult = Good Stuff!

For hundreds and hundreds of years, people much smarter than those of us sitting in that circle in the mountains have wrestled with similar issues and come up with a wide variety of answers, which is what makes the body of Christ so wonderfully diverse. I'm glad they've wrestled and I'm glad we wrestled too. But I'm most thankful that God uses cracked people like you, like me and like those we lead to point young teens to Jesus.
Young Teen + Caring Adult = Good Stuff!

Da Vinci Debate

The much anticipated Da Vinci Code finally releases today, and I've noticed a couple of things:

- There is absolutely no 'buzz' about the movie within my junior high ministry. This doesn't mean none of them plan to see it, but I don't know of any of my students who have read the book or are planning to see the movie. I'm sure the interest increases with high school students.

- More and more media outlets are giving it poor reviews and being fairly objective in treating it as fictional. I've read numerous articles and watched a show on the Sci-Fi channel last night that made it a priority to point out the flaws and mis-representations in the book and film.

- I'm surprisingly unconcerned about the whole thing. A movie was produced by Hollywood that puts the Church in a bad light....what's new about that? Is it damaging? Probably a little. But I believe this movie gives us an open door to have wonderful spiritual conversations with those who are seeking. I also believe that truth wins and that the Gospel of Christ is more powerful than a movie starring Tom Hanks.


$10 well spent

I bought this book and have had a fun time browsing the various web sites it lists.
1) This book will result in a waste of mass quantities of your time.
2) Please don't hold me responsible for content on some of the sites!



I just read an interesting comment on marko's blog by somebody who was 'repulsed' at the idea of a bunch of junior high 'power brokers' discussing the future. I don't get it:

Repulsed? Why can't a group of peers get together to talk about middle school minisry? Talking about the future (which we did very little, if any of) is a whole lot different than dictating the future.

Power Brokers? If that room was full of power brokers (I'm not even sure what that means exactly, other than the image of those mystery guys controlling president Logan on '24), we don't know it! I've known most of the people in that room for several years, and I think we are all humbled and in wonder by the fact that God would even allow us to represent him in ministry to young teens. Besides 'junior high power brokers' sounds a lot like 'jumbo shrimp'.

Things at which I'm no good

In the past few days, I've discovered several things at which I'm no good. I never knew I was no good at these things until this trip.

-Drinking on an airplane: On my trip out as I was putting my stuff in the overhead compartment, I dumped a large coke from McDonalds all over the guy sitting behind me.

- Fly fishing: I've tried and tried over the past few days, but just can't get the technique figured out.

- Walking up long hills at high altitudes: We are at almost 8,000 feet and I've gone for a walk two times and both times mandated that I hike up a hill...which resulted in breathing like I just finished a marathon.

- Sitting in a crowded hot tub full of men: No explanation needed.

- Music: We had a short discussion about music but I kept my mouth shut because as people shared the quality music they have on their iPods (music by artists I've never even heard of), I realized that all I have is goofy pop stuff that my daughter has loaded for me. Stuff that I really like but am afraid to admit!

- Paying attention: This is not a new discovery, but the fact that I'm blogging during discussion time is a good reminder!


So You Wanna Be a Postmodern Youth Pastor?

Before you commit, you might want to take a tattoo out for a test drive.


Contest Time

In a few weeks, we're doing a 'water games' event. The problem is that we are playing on an asphalt parking lot and I don't have a ton of ideas. Here's the deal: Submit your most creative, fun, unusual water game and if I use it at my event I'll send you a free copy of 'Race This' from Simply.

Get Real

This morning, we spent a few hours sharing about some significant happenings in our lives this past year. While most of us chose to stay at the surface, two decided to get real and share some pretty heavy experiences. I was suprised and disappointed at my initial reaction to their 'realness'. My initial thoughts of 'Too much information" was quickly replaced with a sense of longing to be more real myself. Why is it that most of us are so uncomfortable allowing others even a peek into our struggles, hurts, failures and set backs? More importantly, why am I so uncomfortable with the idea?
Could it be that we feel we have too much to lose if we get real? Could it be that the truth is we have much more to lose if we refuse?



I was born in Grand Junction, Colorado and lived in Aurora (a suburb of Denver)until I was in 5th grade. I've only been back a couple of times since then and, frankly, I've forgotten how incredibly beautiful this place is. We are at a private ranch near Estes Park. There's a one-acre pond stocked with trout plus kayaks, mountain bikes, a massive jacuzzi overlooking the pond, an outdoor fire pit and a bunch of other stuff. Eventually, we'll have to be disciplined enough to actually talk about young teen ministry!

Eric V.

If you're name is Eric Venable and you are reading this on Sunday night....you are a dork! :)



Off to Colorado

I'm heading out to Colorado tomorrow for a junior high summit. Each year, about 25 career-minded junior high Pastors get together to hang out, laugh and strategize about young teen ministry. Normally, the summit is held in San Diego but this year it's at a private ranch in Colorado. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to connect with old friends and to learn. The discussion is always really rich and stimulating, so I will try to blog a few times while I'm gone.


Gotta get in shape!

So I knew I was out of shape...thus the motive behind my sweet tea fast...but I didn't know it was this bad. This morning I got up early to surf which I haven't done in a while. To get to our spot requires a 15 minute walk in a wetsuit while carrying a 9 foot longboard. By the time I walked to the surf, tip-toed across the rocks and paddled into the line up, I needed to rest for about 15 minutes before I had enough strength to paddle for a wave! Totally humiliating. The long walk back to the truck reminded me again of my need to get in shape. Of course I forgot all about that need 20 minutes later as I ate a massive plate of eggs, sausage and biscuits covered in country gravy. Somebody please pass the Lipitor.


It will never be the same...

I'm on my way to lunch at Chick-fil-a which happens to be my absolute favorite lunch spot, but only partly for the delicious chicken sandwich. What I love most is their sweet tea. Unfortunately, I don't love the spare tire I've developed which is forcing me to take drastic measures. Today, for the first time ever I will replace a large sweet tea with a 'skinny arnold palmer' which is 50% unsweet tea and 50% diet lemonade. Chick-fil-a will never be the same again....that is until next week when I decide spare tires are okay on 40 year olds.


I hate when this happens!


One more reason I don't do High School ministry

There must not be much to do in Chesterton, Ind! I love the quote by the kid at the end of the article

Almost summer...

Each Summer, we pick a theme that carries us through the weekend programs. Our summer calendar, weekend lessons, stage decorations etc. all refect the theme. Our theme this year is 'IN MOTION'. For some reason we've had a tough time landing on a good way to integrate that theme into our weekend. We've gone back and forth, but finally landed on the idea that God is not a passive, uninterested God but is in motion in the world and in each individual life. We are going to take a different Bible story each week that demonstrates the 'in motion' nature of God. It's always a challenge to carry a theme for 10 weeks but I think this one will create some of momentum.

I've got my 8th grade guys small group tonight, but I'm also supposed to go to an estate planning seminar with Rachel(which I find funny because our 'estate' amounts to so little that I don't feel the pressure to plan it!). I've missed my last two small group meetings with my guys and we only have a few more times together before they graduate. I think my estate will have to wait another month or so.


I'm Hooked on Deal or No Deal

I'm addicted to Deal or No Deal online game.

In fact, the first time I played it I won $1,000,000.00 - I've got to get on the real show!

Check it out!


Jack Bauer VS. Ethan Hunt

I'm a big '24' fan. I've been watching every episode since episode one of season one. I think Jack Bauer is the man! This season, his 'manness' has increased even more due to that amazing bag he's been carrying around. That bag, which I call the 'jack pack' has everything in it! With Jack and his pack, there's no problem too tough.
I'm not a big 'Mission Impossible' fan. I've seen the first two movies and didn't like either one, so I went to see the new M.I. a couple nights ago feeling less than enthusiastic. Man, was I in for a suprise. I really liked it!
So, while we were watching '24' on Monday night, I mentioned that I thought if Jack Bauer were to face off against Ethan Hunt that Ethan may actually be able to take Jack out. After I realized the heresy I had just uttered,I quickly corrected myself to avoid the ridicule of my family and friends.

But I must wonder. Jack....or Ethan....?


I'm a poor speller and other stuff...

Got an email from my buddy Scott Rubin pointing out that I spelled PILATE wrong in my previous post. I guess I got Pilate mixed up with the PILOT who was flying over the scene when Jesus was arrested...his story doesn't get told very often since it was left out of the gospels.

I'm currently reading two books. Leading the Team-Based Church by George Cladis is an easy, interesting read. I especially like the opening chapter concerning the trinity. I'm also reading The 22 immutable Laws Of Branding by Al and Laura Ries. Not sure how it translates to my ministry setting, but I find the whole concept of branding really intriguing, and this book has been fun to read.

As you can tell, I'm technologically challenged so I had trouble getting the book covers in the right spot and can't figure out how to move them around!


Two in one day.

I have a buddy who just celebrated his one-year blogging anniversary. Turns out in his first year he had almost 600 posts! While I have no intention on posting that many times, I figure It can't hurt to get the ball rolling by posting twice in one day.

Dang, it just hit me...since I'm not totally comfortable with my lesson for this weekend, I should be tweaking and fine-tuning my message instead of posting again!

My cute braceface daughter

It's happened...It's been painful on her mouth and on our pocket book. On Wednesday my daughter, Kayla, got braces. I must say she looks extremely cute and is suprisingly okay with the idea of having braces. The first day was rough...lots of pain and poking of her cheeks by numerous wires. Her teeth weren't terrible to start with so she'll only wear them for a year or so.

At church, we are teaching through topics that students requested in our annual survey. This weekend we're looking at peer pressure....I'm going to use Pilot as my example of a guy who knew what was right and knew what he should do, but went along with the crowd anyway. I don't feel super confident in this particular lesson, and I know it's a HUGE deal for my students so I'm hoping the Holy Spirit fills in the gaps I'll be missing.