Two New Books!

The next two books in the Middle School Survival series were released on Friday.

I'm super excited about all six books in the series (four of which are now available and two more coming from Mark and Scott Rubin, Willow Creek's JH Pastor) because I truly believe they are fantastic books to put in the hands of young teens. In fact, Phil Shinners at Mariners Church bought 250 copies of My Faith (one of the first two books that were released about 10 months ago) and gave one to every student in his ministry and is teaching through it all Summer long.

I really do get a smile on my face thinking about a middle schooler flipping through the pages of these books.


Weekend Wrap UP

Attendance: Average
Lesson Topic: Week 6 of our summer series: Road Trip Summer (How To Jump For Joy)
'Fun Factor': Above Average
Volunteer Involvement: Below Average
Music: Above Average
Lesson Quality: Average
Length of Lesson: 20:16 minutes
Student Response: Average

This week on our Summer Road Trip, we stopped at Disney World, the happiest place on earth. Our lesson took a look at the idea that happiness is fine, but we should really be pursuing joy. I think the lesson was interesting, fun, short and kinda funny....not bad, really.

We played a great game called 'Will it Float' (borrowed from David Letterman). We had an aquarium on stage and dropped several random items one-by-one into the water. Students had to vote for float or sink for each item. It was a total hit.

We leave for Summer Camp today which is why this post is up earlier than usual.
Not sure I'll post every day.


Random Randomness

- I'm sitting in our newest Starbucks but may need to move to my old location for future Starbucks Sessions. This one seems to constantly smell of vinegar. Maybe a cleaning solution of some sort? It doesn't seem like anybody else notices, but I can't ignore it.

- I've been writing some small group curriculum and have been pondering the life of Paul. We're set to dedicate only one lesson to him, but the more I think about his life before Christ, his conversion, his ministry, his writings, his influence etc. it's tough to come up with only one lesson. For now I'm turning it into a lesson on dedication. Paul was extremely dedicated in each life role.....

- My family had dinner with our potential children's pastor and his wife last night. GREAT couple and I'd be thrilled if they joined the team.

- Haven't read a really good book in a little while. Any suggestions?

- Leaving to Summer Camp on Sunday which is always a highlight.


Talk To Jesus

I truly don't know what to think about this.

(so to a blog I refuse to link)

Even Safer Than A Disney Movie!

Online Dating

Since almost every Disney movie is rated PG, I'm not sure what a 'G' rating means any more. But apparently my blog is safer viewing than most Disney movies.

Click here to get a rating for your blog.

(so to Matt Doan)


My Own Tag Thingy

I've been tagged several times to participate in random exercises and they usually turn out to be kinda fun. Today, I'm going to start my own Tag Thingy. Here it is:
"IF YOU HAD TO BE A _____________ (who would you be and why)"

1. FAMOUS PERSON FROM HISTORY: Peter. Hung out with Jesus, a bit of a rebel, helped change the world even though he had no real idea that he was doing so.

2. CELEBRITY: I would want to be a working celebrity who isn't so famous that I could never go out in public. The kind of celebrity that when somebody finally does recognize me they say, "Hey, aren't you that dude......" So, I'll go with the guy who plays the Microsoft/Windows Character on those Mac vs. Microsoft commercials that are so popular. I'm sure he makes a good living and every now and then somebody comes up to him and says, "Hey, aren't you that dude who plays the Microsoft/windows character on those commercials?

3. ATHLETE: My first reaction was John Elway, but the reality is that most football players can't walk very well by the time they're 50. So instead I'm going to go with Tiger Woods. I know that this choice goes against my 'can't go out in public' philosophy, but if I'm super competitive and if I'm an athlete I want to be the best athlete in the world.

4. FAMOUS MUSICIAN: Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20. I've always been a fan and he can go out in public without much trouble.

Kirk Cameron..... Actually I'll say Bill Hybels. He started a church movement that has radically impacted the way we do church, he's an author, a family man, has been at the same church for three decades. I really don't know much about him, but I respect what he's done for the kingdom. I truly could say Rick Warren because after working for him for 10 years I actually respect him more than I did from a distance which is saying something. But, I'll go with Hybels 'cause he's got a better tan.

That was sorta weird because I like being me a whole lot.....but fun to think about. Okay, I'll tag
Chris, Allison and Craig . Just to clarify; the categories must stay the same.


Help Wanted!

I'm wrestling with these issues in our ministry right now. A few feel like age-old struggles that I should have figured out by now or that I should realize will never be figured out. I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of them:

- How realistic is it to have a working 6 year teaching plan that corresponds with the high school ministry? It sounds great...to make sure we cover what we want etc. but also feels confining.

- Would you ever use sophomores or juniors in high school in leadership positions in your middle school ministry? If so, in what capacities? We currently only use seniors, but find ourselves turning away really great students who are younger.

- What's the longest series you've ever taught in your junior high ministry? Occassionaly we do six-week series (usually as part of a church-wide campaign), but they feel so stinkin' long.

- How much is too much to charge for Summer Camp? Currentyly, we charge almost $400.00 for 5 nights at camp. Attendance is down a little this year and I'm beginning to wonder if 'traditional' Summer Camp needs to be re-evaluated.

- How can the church break the cycle of overworking our best, most willing, volunteers?


Weekend Wrap Up

Attendance: Below Average
Lesson Topic: Week 5 of our summer series: Road Trip Summer (Start Serving)
'Fun Factor': Average
Volunteer Involvement: Below Average
Music: Above Average
Lesson Quality: Above Average
Length of Lesson: 20.5 minutes
Student Response: Above Average

The weekend was great, but I think we've hit our mid-summer slump. Lots of families and volunteers away on vacation so attendance took a hit. The series has been fun and this week's lesson on Serving/helping out others seemed to hit well. The highlight of the weekend for me was a brand new 7th grade girl singing on the worship team who has an amazing voice and wonderful attitude....very fun.


Skate Park Frenzy

My 10-year old son, Cole, and I are heading out this afternoon for a 24 hour Skate Park tour. Our goal is to skate at as many skate parks as we can in a 24 hour period. We'll skate all afternoon and evening, stay at a cheap hotel and then continue the hunt tomorrow. We have half a dozen skate parks in our local area, but are excited to discover what lies in other parts of O.C. and L.A. County.

We've been looking forward to this for quite a while. Hopefully I'll survive the experience without any broken bones.


Global Struggles

My trip to the Philippines and Singapore was my first to Asia. While the Philippines felt quite Western, Singapore is much more Eastern in feel. I'm still wrestling through many of the things I learned and what the implications may be for my youth ministry setting. One thing that stuck out is how much youth ministry has in common around the globe but how differently we view these commonalities and how differently we try to address them. Such as...

- Problem of teenagers feeling connected to larger church body.
- Struggle of youth workers to gain respect among other church leaders.
- Struggle to minister to parents, not just kids.
- The issue of students walking away from church and faith after teenage years.
- The concern of culture dictating morals etc. to our students.

The churches in the Philippines and those in Singapore all listed these as some of their key struggles. The church in America would likely list them as ours, too.

Glad to know we aren't alone.... :)


Glad I'm Home Because...

It's 12:15 and I just woke up after about 20 hours of travel. Some random reasons I'm glad to be home:

-I really missed my family. Not usually away from each other for so long.

-No fear of corn being served with my shave ice. Yes, I actually found a good shaved ice place in Singapore only to find they serve it with corn at the bottom. Oh, the horror.

- I can go see Transformers. We saw 'Live Free or Die Hard' in Singapore. They called it Die Hard 4.0 which I think is a better title due to the plot line.

- I can actually begin to enjoy Summer. I feel like Summer had already gotten off to a slow start, and being out of the country for two weeks really set me back. I'm ready for beach days, summer activities with the youth group and afternoon golf.

- Iced tea that isn't made from Lipton's instant powder. Asia must be keeping the Lipton Tea Company in business. The instant variety is served almost every time you order.

- Buying a guitar for Cole. He worked really hard to raise his grades. Every grade we were concerned about was raised by at least one letter so, as promised, it's time to go buy him a new electric guitar. He hasn't quit talking about it from the time we hugged hello at the airport.

- Wildside! I've missed two weekends in a row which is really rare for me. I miss our students!


Pretty Cool

In Singapore, I've been spending my training time focusing on young teen ministry and spent significant time discussing their various stages of development. One area we talked about was that young teens are at a time in their life where it's crucial to give them experiences and memories that "put handles" on their faith so it doesn't just remain a bunch of head knowledge that doesn't connect with their real world experiences.

Then today I visited My daughter's blog. Kayla is attending the Student Leadership Conference being hosted at our church and posted about this experience she had there. A perfect example.


Sick In Singapore

I felt it coming on last night and now my cold has hit me head on. I'm stuffed up, have an ear ache and my eyes are burning. It's the wrong time to be sick because I'm speaking five times between Thursday and Sunday....bummer.

However, Singapore is amazing and our host is a wonderful man with a tremendous desire to see the youth workers in this area equipped for ministry. The conference really should be a neat time of training and encouragement. As usually happens on these types of trips, I'm already feeling like it is me who will be leaving the most encouraged.


Boracay Bliss

Finally managed to get some Internet connection.

After spending a day-and-a-half together, Matt Hall and I said farewell to the junior high team as they headed home after about 9 days of non-stop ministry. Matt and I are hanging out on Boracay for an extra day before heading to Singapore for a youth ministry training event.

This afternoon we played nine holes of golf at this course. The green fees included our own caddies who carried our clubs, helped us line up putts and dug through tall grass looking for our errant golf balls.


Oh My Manila!

A quick post from a high-rise condo on the outskirts of Manila before heading out to join the entire team. The fourteen hour plane ride was fairly uneventful save to highlights:

- Watching the movie "Wild Hogs" twice.
- Hitting a piece of turbulance that made the plane drop so suddenly I literally went weightless and left my seat. Awesome!

Driving through town was utterly chaotic. I'm told there are traffic laws, but I couldn't figure them out.

I'll be joining the junior highers in just a few hours....the missionary who picked me up at the airport says they've been champs.


Big Ol' Jet Airliner

This afternoon, I'm heading to the Philippines and then to Singapore and won't be home until July 17th. I think this will be the longest I've ever been away from my family which makes me dread the trip even though it's going to be fantastic.

In the Philippines, I'll be joining a team of our junior high students who have already been there for about a week. We'll be doing some local ministry stuff then leading a one day Purpose-driven Youth Ministry conference for about 600 local youth workers. From there, the students will come home and I, along with my co-worker, Matt Hall, will fly to Singapore to be part of a three day youth ministry conference.

I'll be posting occasionally while I'm gone.

I wonder if the Philippines has good shaved ice?


Oh Shave Ice, Where Art Thou?

I'm not a huge sweets/dessert kind of guy, but I do have one true love: Shave Ice. Not just any old garden variety, either, but the real Hawaiian style stuff. Good shave ice....the kind that is super fluffy and melts in your mouth...is hard to find. In fact, I've never found the good stuff here in California. Sure, there are places that sell their version of 'shave ice' but it is always too crunchy...more like a snow cone than true shaved ice.


I'm thinking about contacting Al Gore. Since he created the Internet and is on his way to solving our climate issues, he can certainly figure out a way for the mainland to have decent shave ice.

Weekend Wrap Up

Attendance: Average
Lesson Topic: Week 2 of our summer series: Road Trip Summer (Get Connected)
'Fun Factor': Above Average
Volunteer Involvement: Above Average
Music: Average
Lesson Quality: Above Average
Length of Lesson: 18.5 minutes
Student Response: Above Average

After a busy weekend last week, it was nice to feel like we are settling into our Summer groove. Attendance was decent, the program was fun and the new 7th graders seem to be transitioning well. The worst part of our Summer theme is the hassle of parking an RV in front of our JH Tent every weekend for decor. We have to get security to remove parking bariers, drive it onto campus and then remove it every weekend. But, how can we have 'Road Trip Summer' without an old 1988 RV?