Weekend Wrap Up

Lesson Topic: Week One of our Series 'Strange But True' (Elijah and the prophets of Baal)
Attendance: Average
'Fun Factor': Above Average
Volunteer Involvement: Below Average
Music: Above Average
Lesson Quality: Below Average
Length of Lesson: 18 mins
Student Response: Average

It was a strange weekend for us. Lots of creativity went into the program, but I'd say the audience response wasn't what we thought it would be. The crowd just seemed a little dead overall. The band was an all student band which meant the quality dropped off a little bit, but it was great to see a band of 100% students! The lesson was good and bad...I feel like a did a pretty good job of telling the account of Elijah Vs. the Prophets of Baal and seemed to have the students interest, but my application didn't seem to hit the mark the way I hoped it would.
All in all, it was a well planned, well executed and creative weekend that missed the mark a bit.


Kinda Like Jumbo Shrimp...

My mind often has a hard time reconciling oxymoron's; especially ones that matter more than jumbo shrimp.
Lately I've been thinking about the bigness of God and the smallness of me. Where the struggle lies is in the tension between a sense of utter irrelevance and a great sense of esteem and worth at the same time. Scripture seems to make it clear that God spoke the entire universe into existence, and science seems to have made it clear that the universe is a massive, massive creation. In light of this it's clear that I'm insignificant. But scripture also says that the same God who spoke the world into existence took the time to knit me together in my mother's womb. When I pause to think about that I get a bit overwhelmed: God simply spoke and the universe was made, but he took the time to hand-make me! In light of this it's clear that I'm incredibly significant.

Insignificant and significant at the same time. That hurts my head a little but makes me feel pretty good (but not too good....)!


Camping, Church and Chaos

Got back from camping with my son late last night. We had a great time being really lazy. Two highlights:
- We woke up Tuesday morning to discover that our cooler full of water, sodas and food had been stolen during the night. Nothing else from our campsite was touched so our hunch was that teenagers stole it hoping to find beer. Our hunch was confirmed a few hours later when the park rangers returned our cooler to us and mentioned that it happens several times a week and that nothing in our cooler was missing. Apparently kids from the nearby neighborhood walk through the campground, grab a couple of coolers and open them in the bushes looking for beer. Must have been a bummer to open our cooler hoping to find some ice-cold Coors only to find cokes and meatloaf!
- On Wednesday we hiked about a mile to a seal sanctuary which was pretty cool. For the walk home we each had to pick a rock and kick it all the way back to camp.
You know it's a lazy camping trip when the two highlights are solving a stolen cooler mystery and kicking a rock for a mile!

Lots of stuff happening at church right now. We are in a busy season of trying to nail down a move-in date for the Refinery (new student building), as well as wrapping our minds around all the new ministry possibilities that will come our way as a result. A really key player on our junior high team who has been with us off and on for about seven years is moving to Kenya for six months so I am in the initial stages of figuring out what our team and ministry will look like without her. Today, we decided to host a "preparing for junior high" workshop for the parents of our incoming 7th graders. The first half of the workshop will focus on basic developmental changes and parenting tips and the second half will focus on the details of our junior high ministry. As basic as that sounds, I'm actually really excited about it because we've never combined those two topics into a single workshop.

Today I'm finally finishing up the details for the revised Controlled Chaos manuscript. I'm about a month past the deadline so it feels good to be bringing it to a close. The revised version will have three new chapters plus a whole bunch of real life junior high ministry stories from other junior high youth workers. Look for it sometime in late September.


Beach Camping

It was an exciting weekend at church. We launched two new regional campuses (in Irvine, about 15 minutes North of our main campus and in Corona, about 40 minutes east.). Both campuses had fantastic opening weekend attendance and seem to be off to a great start. Leo Galarza is our Student Ministries Pastor in Irvine and we are still hunting for a part-time (that will hopefully turn full time sometime soon)Student Ministry Pastor for our Corona campus.

I'm heading off for three days of camping at the beach with my son, my brother and his son. We are heading a few hours of the coast to the Santa Barbara area. We couldn't have asked for better weather. No real plans other than hiking, swimming, playing catch, climbing trees and being lazy.


What A Week

I feel like I've had one the busiest, most diverse, but most fun weeks in a long time.
- Last weekend I was in Palm Springs Speaking at Believe. We took a handful of our 8th grade student leaders to check it out to see if it's something we might want to do as an entire ministry next year. They loved it and I hope we can fit it into our schedule of events.

- I stayed in the desert for two extra days to ride dirt-bikes with some friends which was great.

- Tuesday through Wednesday I took our Student Ministries Core Leadership Team on a short retreat. The goal of this retreat (which consisted of our intern director, high school pastor, junior high director, volunteers director, music director, minister to hurting kids, and both regional campus youth pastors) was really just to spend some quality time together and rally around a few key issues.

- Yesterday I spent the day with about 20 other junior high youth workers from Southern California for our "So Cal Connection". We meet twice a year to hang out and toss a variety of topics on the subject. If you are a junior high youth worker in the Southern California area and would like to know about future gatherings I'd be happy to fill you in.

- Right now I'm getting ready to board a flight to Phoenix with Matt Hall and Katie Edwards. We will then drive three hours to an Indian reservation to explore some future missions opportunities. We get home about 11:00 tonight.

- Beginning tomorrow I will serve at 5 of our easter services.


Random Ramblings

- Haven't been to a theater for a movie in a while and feel like I'm over due. The most recent movie I saw was Michael Clayton on a plane ride. It was a lot different than I thought it would be, but pretty good.

- Something on t.v. bothered me so much that I actually hollered at it. Must not have bothered me too much, though, because I can't remember what it was. Gosh, I am becoming my father.

- Is it just me or does it seem like the purposeful cycle of the media is to build people up simply to tear them down? Maybe that's what I was hollering at.

- Gonna spend Sunday afternoon and Monday dirt bike riding out in the desert with some buddies. No families this time, just a guy trip.

- Because I love Shave Ice so much, I've been promising to purchase a shave ice machine for the new student building at our church. I just found out the machine that makes the good stuff costs $2,500.00! I'm asking myself if I promised to buy the machine or just said I might buy the machine!

- This weekend I speak at my third, and final, Jr. High Believe. It's in Palm Springs so we're taking about a dozen of our leadership kids to let them check it out and see if it's something we want to plug our entire ministry into next year. My hunch is that they'll totally love it...other than the speaker, of course.


Teen STD Increase

By now you've probably heard the recent news that 1 in 4 teenage girls has an STD. Here is Wall Street Journal article and some interesting discussion.


Happy Birthday

This month marks the 10-year anniversary of the MP3 player.

A Little Nervous

Tonight I'm teaching a short parenting workshop at my kid's school and I'm super nervous about it. I really don't like putting myself in the position of "expert" of any kind, so I'm hoping to present in a way that communicates that I'm just a struggling parent myself! I'm trying to create a series of "pictures of parenting" that I'll work through. I'll update tomorrow with an honest report of how things go tonight.


Fight Club

Ridiculously cheesy but I had to give it a try. I guess I'm not as tough as I like to think I am.


Junior High Newsletter

Years ago, Group Publishing actually had an entire magazine devoted specifially to junior high magazine. They discontinued it a dozen or so years ago but have decided to give it another try...almost.

Instead of a magazine, Group and Simplyjuniorhigh now have a monthly 12-page newsletter focusing on junior high ministry. Each issue will have some training, some research, some interviews, some lesson ideas and some other really great stuff. Forty Bucks for a year feels a little pricey, but it's probably the cheapest way to get ongoing, monthly training and encouragement.

I would suggest you buy one subscription and then photocopy key articles etc. to give to the volunteers on your team (but I don't know if that's legal!).


Name Game Part 2: The Winner Is....

We've landed on a name for our new student building. Thanks a ton for all of your suggestions. A few names that got us thinking and were in the running were:
- The Hub
- The Foundry
- The Warehouse
- The Mill

Ultimately we landed on 'The Refinery' as the name. We think it matches the look of the building and also has a great biblical tie-in. Since nobody suggested Refinery, I will hold onto the $100 worth of free Junior High resources until somebody suggests an easier contest!


The Best Tea I've Had In A While

I'm sitting in Peet's Coffee (my favorite new hang out because their tea is great) enjoying a pot of English Breakfast tea while I journal (something I'm trying to do once in a while even though I've never been good at it....but today I'm being good at it). What started out as a normal cup of tea has turned into a great cup of tea because of the conversation at the table next to me.

It's a young married guy and a student who looks like he's in 9th or 10th grade. The moment they sat down I thought, "looks like a youth pastor hanging out with a student to me." Sure enough. As soon as they sat down the conversation begins to take a classic mentoring/discipleship turn: Small talk followed by a little bit of catching up followed by some deeper conversation followed by some great discussion about the life of David. As I listened I was reminded of a few things.

- Relational ministry really is the best kind of youth ministry. There's no doubt in my mind that the 30 minutes this kid has spent with his youth worker is way more effective than anything else that particular youth ministry has going on.

- Kids respond to caring adults. Relational ministry isn't easy, and takes a ton of extra time and effort but the pay off is huge.

- I don't do enough of it. Maybe the biggest reminder for me as I watch this whole thing unfold is that I simply don't do enough one-on-one ministry with kids. I've got a ton of excuses for why it doesn't happen like it should but none of them are really all that valid. Time to step up.


Weekend Wrap Up


1st...it was week #1 of our new series, "Bad Girls". Each week we will focus on a bad girl from the bible, and a different woman from our team will teach. This week the bad girl was Jezebel. We've taught this series once before several years ago and it was a big hit so I'm excited to repeat it. Plus, I get a little teaching break!

2nd...most of us weren't there this weekend because it was our annual volunteer leadership retreat. Each year we invite all our junior high volunteers plus their spouses down to San Diego for an over-nighter. We hang out, eat good food, play games, have worship, share communion and pray for one another. There is no training and no tight schedule. It's basically our way of saying thank you to the team for their ministry. We charge $25 per person and our ministry picks up the rest of the tab. We typically only have about 1/3 of our team attend so it's a little smaller and way more relational than a typical staff meeting or gathering. The best part may be the fact that almost every year we end up having a spouse of a volunteer join our team because he/she had so much fun on the retreat.