I was listening to Chuck Bomar's session from NYWC: Charlotte on "Discipling College-Age People." He mentioned that he started a new website to help resource college ministry leaders. Check it out: CollegeLeader.org.


A buddy of mine from college leaves January 17th for a trip to Central America with 2 other guys. They're filming a documentary about the beauty and hardships of Colombia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama in hopes that through the film, South/Central/North Americans will be able to better understand each other. Check out their website, it's called the Down the Road Project.


nywc: charlotte #5 [Recap #1]

People keep asking, "Was it worth it?" I've said yes, with almost no doubt about saying that. Looking back, it was a great time of rest, of learning (better than seminary learning, this was the good stuff!), but the best part was spending time with good friends. I told one of my friends from Richmond how sad it is that we have to travel to Charlotte to see each other.

Looking back on the music in worship, it wasn't the greatest. But I have come home with new songs that I've been singing non-stop. By far my favorite has been "When I Think About the Lord" from Shane + Shane:

When I think about the Lord
How He saved me, how He raised me
How He filled me with the Holy Ghost
How He healed me to the uttermost
When I think about the Lord
How He picked me up, turned me around
How He set my feet on solid ground
And it makes me want to shout, Hallelujah!
Thank you Jesus, Lord You're worthy
Of all the glory and all the honor, and all the praise

The pictures are from Stellar Kart. We missed all but the last few minutes because we went to the Charlotte Bobcats vs. Detroit Pistons. But the game was a good chance to get away from the Convention Center for a bit, and we made it back in time for the good stuff.

I'm already looking forward to next year. But here's the dilemma: St. Louis or Atlanta. The earlier conventions this year seemed to have a better line-up of speakers, bands and worship leaders. But Atlanta is during Thanksgiving Break, so I could stay longer. Ah, choices. I'd love to go to the Lou simply because I've never been. So we'll see what happens. But I will be there, ready to learn with an open mind. More on what I learned in Recap #2...


Someone hacked into my eBay account tonight. Thanks to some quick work on the web, Keanu at eBay Live Help and a slow hacker, I'm back on my own with no unwanted guests. Check out eBay's Security Center for help on staying safe. If an e-mail from eBay looks phishy, it might be. And if you open up your web browser and the URL isn't ebay.com, get away. Get far, far away! Thus endeth the Public Service Announcement.


nywc: charlotte #4

Gordon wrote on his blog earlier today about the lack of true worship during General Sessions at the NYWC. I can't agree with him more. It's ironic to listen to Dan Kimball discuss how we introduce times of music during worship services at our church as, "Let's stand and join in worship" while that exact thing happens at the NYWC. At some point, some time, we're going to have to start making changes to how we think, how we act, how we talk. And we can't just talk about making these changes, at some point we have to start doing. Enough ranting, I think. The reflective worship based on the Celtic tradition was amazing this morning, and I hope Shane + Shane can continue a spirit of genuineness in their worship leadership tomorrow and Monday.

Speaking of being genuine -- Mike and the guys from Big Daddy Weave joined us tonight and played a couple songs. The joy radiating from their faces was amazing. It caused me to become more excited about being in that concert because of their energy. They truly seemed to be enjoying themselves, having fun making music. I hope that as I lead in worship, I will radiate that joy, drawing others to desire to enter into that place of worship with me. It's not about the music style. It's not about the volume. It's not about people looking to us to solve all their problems. As Chris Hill spoke tonight, we're not the light -- we're just pointing other people, and our students, in particular, to where the light is.

Tomorrow: day 3. G'night.

nywc: charlotte #3

Yesterday I went to Dan Kimball's sessions on Changing Youth Group Kids Into Youth Missionaries[download notes] and The Importance of Theology In Youth Minister[download notes]. Great time of thinking through why we do what we do. I realized that I could listen to thoughts and ideas and ways of doing youth ministry all day. But to listen at a session like these two with Dan and begin to contemplate why we do what we do, the rest of our ministry will fall into place. Comparative Youth Ministry is no way to grow.

Kenda Creasy-Dean [download notes] talked during her time in the General Session about the Cricket Ringtone, 17 KHz. Apparently it's ear-pearcing to those who can hear it, but I'm one of the old guys now -- I can't. Her main teaching passage was 1 Samuel 3. I hear this story of Samuel and Elijah used all the time to empower young people, to call them out. But she took a slightly different twist and encouraged us to be empowered, like Elijah was -- not necessarily to be hearing from God all the time, but to shape the lives and minds of our students so they know how to hear from God. Pretty awesome thought. She closed with a great Celtic Prayer:
God, we pray…

Christ’s Cross on this Face

Christ’s Cross on these Ears

Christ’s Cross on these Eyes

Christ’s Cross on these Lips

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

The highlight of the day was finally hearing Tony Campolo speak [download notes]. He's an incredibly gifted communicator. He spoke for at least 30 minutes with absolutely no notes, following his mental outline, quoting Scripture. It was awesome to hear from a great mind like Tony. There were great quotes throughout his message (including this one that Marko quoted this morning), but the greatest thought is this: we could build any youth group we wanted to, incorporate any worship or Bible study or retreats. But the greatest need of the students of this generation is for us to lead them into a place where they understand how to connect with God, through prayer, through worship. "You’re not gonna get kids to do any of this simply by giving them a pep talk. We need to make our kids into spiritual people because they need to be spiritual to change the world. But we can’t turn our kids into spiritual people if we ourselves are not spiritual."

Off to Day 2...

nywc: charlotte #2

Day 1 is over. It was interesting. I'm still processing, so I'll leave it at that. I'm pretty impressed with the speakers and presenters -- Kenda Creasy-Dean, Tony Campolo and Dan Kimball -- but the music and acts have been just alright.

Good time at Uno's tonight. First was dinner with some YMs from Virginia Baptist churches, a bunch of whom are good friends I don't see too often, and then a late-night dessert run back to Uno's with two United Methodist YMs from Richmond. I had to get my ecumenism in today.

I've got notes from the sessions that I'll get up in the morning, plus thoughts from the day's sessions. Time for sleep before Day 2...but first, a few pictures. Worship with Starfield (left) and Tony Campolo (right).


nywc: charlotte. 1.1

I've really been missing out on the downtown life. There's something about the energy in the city that sucks me in. It's great!

Welcome to Charlotte, home of this year's 4th and final NYWC. Hopefully I'll be blogging throughout the weekend--or at least posting recaps after it's all over. And I've got a new camera I'll be playing with, so hopefully I'll get some pictures up too.

I had noticed on Marko's blog last week that Gordon was going to be coming in from Scotland for the NYWC. Well I'm on this strange kick now that I wake up at 7:13 in the morning, no matter what. So I gathered up my laptop, a new book I'm reading and headed down to the lobby. While I'm sitting there a guy walks up and I helped him out with getting connected to the wireless network, and his name was Gordon--only I didn't realize until I looked at Marko's blog after he left that it was THE Gordon. So Gordon, if you're out there reading this, welcome to the Southeast! It's good to have the whole world represented in the conversations this weekend.

More on Day 1 later...



This webpage has been up on my screen for at least a week, just waiting to make an appearance here.

'Tis a sad day in the police world. Their internal 10-4 language that we all know and love from TV cop shows apparently has neared the end of its days, and good 'ole RVA makes the headlines.



i kinda feel like Wait -- no posting for a while cause of being sick. My single favorite holiday of the year -- good food, family time -- didn't happen this year. Some sort of stomach flu thing went around the church, and i fell victim. It wiped out a whole week, which just happened to be the whole Thanksgiving vacation. blogging will resume soon. i hope.


high school.

      I met the principal of the local high school tonight and realized maybe we're missing out on a huge opportunity in youth ministry. We look for the latest and greatest youth ministry resources on trends and what students are going through.

      Teachers and school administrators interact with these students everyday. Youth Ministers spend time with them a few times a week. Why aren't we meeting together, all political/religious agendas aside, to help out our students, understand what they're going through, share ideas?

      Is anybody doing this already?



congrats to Richmonder Justin Verlander for winning the american league Rookie of the Year award! good to have more reasons be proud of Richmond.


A friend of mine told two stories at lunch today. First...

Last year at a big 4-day youth worship experience in our community, he noticed one of his youth texting during worship. He asked her what she was doing figuring she was just goofing around. She said back to him, "I'm inviting somebody." My friend was thinking "he better show up, or I'll show her!"

About ten minutes later a guy walks in, sits down behind the girl and leans back, seemingly counting the ceiling tiles. My friend asked the girl what the deal was with this guy. She said, "He's my best friend's boyfriend, and we can't stand each other." My friend said, "Then why'd you invite him?" She said, "Cause he needs to hear about God too." Later that night this guy decided he needed to follow God with his life. His life changed in one night cause a girl he didn't like, who didn't like him, got him to come.

Story 2:

The same friend was worshiping in a big city arena a few years ago when two girls and their boyfriends walked in and sat down behind him. The girls worshipped while their boyfriends sat behind them, cussing, obviously hating being there. By the end of the night, they were worshipping too.

Why is it that we feel like an "outreach" or "evangelism" event has to be fun and entertaining? If we're connecting with God through worship, people outside the church will see that, and hopefully understand that. Or at the very least they'll ask questions about why we do what we do. Why can't we put as much energy into worship experiences and connecting with God as we put into the "fun" stuff?

kyle lake.

Kyle's Film came out a few weeks ago. The previews are pretty incredible, and tug at your heart realizing his kids will grow up without an amazing father.

I also read through the "Footprints" project, and my note was included, which is pretty cool, along with notes from Chris Seay, Dan Kimball and Tony Jones. Good company.

love God. embrace beauty. live life to the fullest.



I hate politics. In grade school it was a popularity contest. In the "big boy" world it's about making the other guy (or other woman) look like a sissy, a screw-up, a scum bag, and the spawn of Satan. and that's just church politics. kidding.
Church politics have become just as bad as the real-world, if not worse.

Earlier in the week I talked to a graduate of the seminary I now attend. I told him that I was becoming disenfranchised by the politics and rhetoric of people here at the seminary. The school was built as a reactionary institution after Baptists got political in the 1980's. But you would think after this period of time, the school could adopt it's own identity, it's own image. There are still too many people who can only bash the "opposition," and we think it's always the other guy who's causing all the trouble. How come people always look at the speck when they've got a whole tree sticking out of their eye?

Driving home tonight I was listening to Rob Bell's sermon from 9/10/2006:

"Jesus wants to save Christians from being the moral police of the world. We have to understand that when Christians start charging around the world, saying to people who never claimed to follow God, "You're out of line," it's not something Jesus did. Jesus goes to the people who claim to know God and confronts them with their lack of obedience, their hard-heartedness, their indifference, and says "Return and be, because the message is about flesh and blood people, stepping into their God-given destiny."

It's an easy trap to fall into, criticizing other people. It takes effort to step up and declare WHO YOU ARE. God is "I Am Who I Am." Why can't we say "We Are Who We Are." Instead we say "We Are Who You Aren't." It implies that a hierarchy exists. There is no hierarchy, we are all God's people.

Let us go this week, out into the world, declaring who we are and what we stand for. We stand for justice. We stand for human rights. We're in a world with too much fighting already, we don't need to make that problem worse.


One of the guys I met in VA Beach was Jim Baucom, the pastor of Columbia Baptist Church in Falls Church, VA, a suburb of DC. It's a pretty big, urban church. Their youth ministry represents 50 different high schools. They have 4 weekend services at the main campus, plus another Sunday morning service at their Crossroads Campus (the sermon for Sunday's Crossroads service is recorded during Saturday night's service at the Falls Church campus, and they watch the video).

From what little I talked to Jim, he seems like a great pastor and leader for that church. His dad and my current boss worked together at a church in Martinsville in the late 1980's, so that's how I met Jim. I was intrigued by what I heard about their church, so I decided to check out their Saturday night service. He taught about being a member of the body--just like your finger, ear, eye are members of your human body--and making sure we use all the resources, gifts and talents we have to make a difference.

An interesting point he made: he doesn't have the gift of giving, but someone in his former church who did made sure that certain needs were taken care of by a group of givers, but anonymously. While Jim isn't a giver, he is motivated by people who do have the gift to be the giver that God has called him to be. I don't have the gift of evangelism, but Jim said he does. It doesn't mean I shouldn't go tell people about God. But Jim's purpose then is two-fold: to use his gift of evangelism to be a zealous advocate of God to the people he comes in contact with. And to be a motivation to me and others to step out of our comfort zones and make a difference in somebody's life.

It was good to be in a "big church" like I grew up in. Throughout my drive home tonight I pondered how my church, the church I am employed by, can strive to make a difference in our community. We don't need to have 3,000 members and a budget of $3 million. But we can't just sit still and wait for God to take us off this earth. We need to stand up, go out and make a difference. A church that doesn't see lives changed and new people coming into the community is a church without a vision, and a church that's lost its purpose. I hope that's not us...


va beach.

Well it didn't quite make it to sunny with a high of 75 at the beach this week. It was only about 70 both days--a bummer, I know.

It's always good to see old friends, and I'm amazed looking back at how many people were there that I knew--from church growing up, from working over the past 7 years with Impact Virginia!, old family friends (not that the friends are old, or that my family's old...). And meeting some new people too.

The keynote speaker during the two-day conference/va baptist annual meeting was Leith Anderson, the pastor of Wooddale Church in Minnesota. I missed his first two messages because I was too busy catching up with people. But I caught his last one. His point: our sole purpose in life is to make God look good, to enhance the reputation of God. Nobody will want to be a God-follower if we're making God look bad. Pretty good thought. [side note: Leith is taking over as President of the National Association of Evangelicals after Ted Haggard's incident last week...].

In other ground-breaking news, the representatives from each church voted on the VA Baptist budget for the year--delegating finances to missions, staff positions, church plants, and partner institutions. Alumni and supporters of one institution was upset that they weren't getting as much money as last year (over $300,000 to less than $150,000...I will give it to 'em, that was a big drop). So in order to not raise the budget, they just decided that they still wanted their $300,000, their institution was better than two of others, and so they recommended taking more than $150,000 from those two schools and giving it to their beloved college. Why is it that some people are so greedy? All 3 schools are educating young leaders. If they had really needed the extra $150,000+ they should go out and fundraise it. Churches shouldn't be their crutch to lean on... Enough ranting.


oh! gravity!

after a long, rainy drive down the interstate we finally made it to norfolk. it's become a tradition to eat at max + erma's before the show, so we grabbed dinner at the mall before we headed across the street. we missed the opening bands, which is a bummer 'cause the Moses Mayfield cd is incredible. but we didn't miss switchfoot, which was most important.

I want out of this machine
It doesn't feel like freedom
This is my American dream
I want to live and die for bigger things
I'm tired of fighting for just me
This ain't my American dream
- from "american dream"

great lyrics in a few of their new songs, especially "american dream." it was a great show, they played the old, they played the new, they played the brand new [side note: i guess this is how worship really should be. great words have been spoken through music for centuries--in the case of switchfoot, only for years--and none is necessarily better than another. end soapbox].

switchfoot has an uncanny ability to bring people together, reaching out to something beyond ourselves, and they do it in the confines of a public venue. worship is "the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity" and "adoration or devotion...shown toward a principle." put those two together, and a switchfoot concert is worship -- worship of God for those of us so inclined -- but worship nonetheless.

"i want to live and die for bigger things." this has, should, and will be my motivation in life. if i live on the edge and take a risk to do bigger things, in dying my life will be a reminder of bigger things. i want that.


getting started...again.

Welcome to my newest venture into cyberspace. I've tried to start blogging before, but it never went very far. Exciting days are ahead though... Exciting days in youth ministry, exciting times at our church, and good times with old friends. With a lot of travel and the holiday seasons right around the corner, I figured this time there would be plenty to talk about.

Up this weekend -- Virginia Beach for our denominations annual meeting. They say these meetings are just for the old folk, or are boring and irrelevant. I've never been, so we'll see. If nothing else, the hotel is right on the oceanfront and it's gonna be sunny with a high of 75.

After Thanksgiving I'm heading down to Charlotte for the National Youth Worker's Convention. Four days of no school, no church -- just me, a couple thousand other youth workers and (hopefully) a rockin' good time.

Thanks for coming along on the ride, we'll see you again soon.