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Who I amReside in St. Louis Missouri currently, Lived in California & Colorado.Husband.Father.Pastor.Football Enthusiast.Teacher.Learner.Dreamer.Reader.Friend. [thoughts & comments blogged here are my reflections living life trusting Jesus as God]

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Helpful Hints for Dads

In April our church hosted a day long event for our men.  I was asked to record a quick clip speaking directly to the dads of how they can be encouraged to talk to their kids about life & sexuality.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Let Your Leaders Lead

I am not a fan of having meetings for the sake of having a meeting.  I like sending emails to share information. I like having a phone conversation to communicate details. I prefer having 10 minute standing meetings to quickly discuss details.  However there are a few times I love having a "meeting".
I love gathering people together for creative ideas & I love opportunities to produce or receive quality training.
Once a month we gather our adult leaders together for a "team meeting".  This meeting is not to discuss information but it is to share verbally what we see Jesus doing in the lives of students in our ministry & it is to provide training of how we all can be more effective youth workers.
Over 14 years of youth ministry these gatherings are often my favorite each month.  I love, love meeting with an adult team face to face. I love hearing from them what excites them & how they personally are seeing Jesus move in the lives of students. I cherish the chance to chat, talk & train others to be the most effective leaders possible.  

This past Sunday I had asked a long standing volunteer, Bobbie Crane, to share her own learnings of serving in this church and youth ministry for 12 years.  
This was such a GREAT call for our ministry.  Her insights, heart, passion & wisdom was awesome for our whole team.  She compiled her thoughts into a TOP TEN list and everyone, especially myself, took away a solid learning or reminder.  

With her permission I attached the list below.
[#9 is a constant reminder for myself]

Friday, February 06, 2015

Snow, Ice & Communion

This past week at our MidWeek gathering we had a subtle little snow storm come into town, drop about 1" of snow but it froze up the roads quite a bit.  It forced some of our leaders & a lot of our students to miss the evening due to traffic.  Our attendance was down about 50% for the night but some great things happened.
It was a smaller crowd which changed up the dynamics of the room, the music setting & the teaching setting.  None of these aspects are bad and for the evening it gave some intimacy to the night as we were able to be a little more interactive with some key aspects.

1--It helped me see which of our volunteers adapted to the change.  I think it was a great night to have a little evaluation test on the fly.  Change the variables and see what you get.  What we got was a glimpse at a smaller crowd with less leaders on hand but longer lasting groups in conversations.  I was able to talk at more length with some students about some significant things in their life & their friends.  With less students around I didn't feel as much pressure to try to roam or work the entire room.  Other leaders had similar opportunities as well!

2--It gave us as a ministry a new baseline to work from.  Because of the room dynamics we have it showed me quickly what our minimum amount of students we need so the room doesn't dwarf us.  It gave me a new set design idea for a future series as well as some thoughts on how to redesign some of our meeting space.

Teaching on communion I had two students come up to me & say that experience was the 1st time they'd ever taken communion and they'd been followers of Christ for years.  I had a thought of "AWESOME you got to experience that with your peers" but I also had the thought "Man, why not until now?!?"

It was another good reminder that students, regardless of the family & faith dynamic, are never where you think they are.  Student ministry often gives us some great chances to hold students hands through some significant phases in life and encourage them as they keep taking faith steps.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

15 Minute Moments

What can I get done in 15 minutes?  I can eat a lunch, call my wife, send several emails & check some social media.  I can do quite a bit, but what can I do with I focussed for 15 minutes and didn't try to multi-task?

I think 15 minutes a day can change your life and the lives of others:

  • I have found in the last few months of my personal life & professional life that a lot can happen in 15 minutes.  I have roughly a 15 minute drive to school each morning with 1 son and a 15 minute walk to school with the other son.  Both are PRIME opportunities to have great conversations.
  • Talking with a leader or a student you can have some great ministry conversations in 15 minutes.
  • Making a phone call to a parent, sibling or an old friend and giving up 15 minutes of your day can help keep a relationship growing and not stale.
  • Pausing and giving your spouse a thorough update of information they really need to be aware of could be the best 15 minutes of your day. 
  • 15 Minutes a day to connect with Jesus can keep your heart and soul sensitive to God's voice in your life

Now if you only every put 15 minutes into every aspect of your life you may only be scratching the surface, feel shallow and you may never really accomplish much.  There are many times where lengthy and in-depth conversations are needed and even mandatory.  But think about it if you developed a habit of regularly taking 15 minutes to be strategic & intentional would you maximize some influence in your life and the lives of others?

Take a meeting scenario for example.  When you want team input & you are dealing with multiple personalities you can get creative and fairly effective results if you break down your meeting time to smaller, intentional segments.  Years ago I borrowing a meeting idea from a friend Brian Berry seeing how you can break down a team meeting in 15-20 minutes this way.

Take a problem or an idea you want to invite other people's perspective on:
  • Take 5 minutes to pitch it
  • Everyone else takes up to 5 minutes to ask clarifying questions of you
  • The team takes 10 minutes to share helps and helps only
  • You personally take 5 minutes to think through action steps based on the interaction.

Monday, February 02, 2015

A Year and a Journey

It was a year ago this month that I read a resignation letter at one church and our family began a transition of life.  At that point we had no clue what was in our future.  Anger, pain, frustration, worry, fear, joy, relief, jealousy, "why", tears, processing moments, straining moments, stretching moments and so much more has filled all of us this past 12 months.  We never would've thought Missouri would be a state we lived in and honestly never wanted to stray from the West Coast.  And if we were going east moving back to Colorado was the "only option" we had.  But for whatever reason (and we truly do not know or have any insight yet) Jesus saw it fit to land us here.  In time we saw there were strong & clear signs that we had to follow.  And we did, even though it wasn't easy.

There are days I still process all the events that took place and think about a lot of things...

mental typed letters of the coulda, shoulda & woulda's of life
traps & snares that can bind us
false lies that other people speak
chisels of rejection & abandonment 
truthful whispers of hope which is a gift that can free us

Thoughts are powerful.  
Truth is even more powerful.  
And when truth is spoken, seen & observed it will always win.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Need Vs Want

This whole topic of Need vs Want can be a real mood killer.
I want ice cream, but what I really need is to go for a run.
I want to win the lottery, but what I need to do is save more than spend.
I want to travel the world but what I need to do is keep my job to pay my bills.

It seems this conversations of NEED vs WANT happen in all phases of my life. Finances, parenting, marriage, relational, possessions, purchases, wish-lists and even in how I approach my life with Christ.

Living in a culture where a mindset of "if you want it get it" seeps through almost every marketing and advertising ploy by virtually every industry (even religion).  We live in a way and we buy the lie without even realizing it of "want" matters more than "need".  

This is one of those immediate eye-openers whenever I have taken students to a cross-cultural life setting.  It his them quickly that their American "wants" are grossly misaligned when they see that 70% of the world barely makes it through a day or a week with basic necessities for survival.  

Living in a land of excess dulls us to believe that our basic necessities are never enough.

And when that way of thinking pours itself into how we approach a relationship with God, then we will approach God for "what's in it for me" instead of Who He Is.

I was teaching on Ephesians 2:4-10 this past week for our student services.  

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (Ephesians 2:8 ESV)
It is a well known verse, often quoted & memorized. It has a theological truth and depth that is life changing. But 'grace' is shallow unless we understand the NEED we have for God's grace
even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
(Ephesians 2:5 ESV)

Grace is always shallow when we do not understand the depth and depravity of the consequence of sin.

Living in a setting that is WANT driven instead of NEED based as followers of Christ we consistently need to be reminded and reminded and reminded that without grace our basic need of forgiveness is not attainable.

We need grace & we should want what Christ has for us. I want a live that honors Christ and lives that out, which means I NEED to embrace God's grace and God's standard in every facet of my life.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Youth Ministry: Leading Leaders

leader |ˈlēdərnounthe person who leads or commands a group, organization, etc
I like being around leaders.  I often see Leaders as such:Leaders tend to be the people who desire to see somethingdone. They have a voice (both loud & quiet) that peoplelisten to. Leaders create action and encourage others tofollow. Leaders are people that can tend to have strongopinions and in general have strong work ethics. Leadersare people that do not sit back idly, but tend to leanforward to help fix problems. I like being around leaders. A wonderful privilege I've had isbeing able to also lead leaders. Whether it's been as a staffperson, intern or a key volunteer I've had leaders aroundme. I love it. I enjoy the energy, conversations, convictions &drive they have.  
So how can a leader lead leaders?
Here are just a few things I've learned that are needed to lead other leaders:1- Vision Leaders, even if they are following another leader, want vision.  They want direction.  They want to be able to know where their energies are being pointed and how to focus their energies.  Leaders want and need a vision to stand behind and upon because it allows them to feel they are a part of something bigger than them.  Leaders desire to see dynamic and life changing opportunities come their way.  A solid vision, allows them to be a part of those moments. 
2- CommunicationLeaders need to know what is going on.  They want to know all the details and whose responsible for various aspects.  I have experienced that leaders need to know the details because it allows them to communicate better with their teams or circle of influences.  I also have experienced that this is an area where leaders can be easily frustrated.  When there is lack of communication and unclear communication leaders will get frustrated.  Be sure to communicate & over communicate so there are no unspoken assumptions or expectations your team is unaware of.
3- BoundariesWhen leaders are leading leaders boundaries are needed.  Leaders can tend to step on one another toes unless they are given some boundaries.  Boundaries are not to handcuff people, but boundaries are to help people know exactly where they can fully engage themselves.  Boundaries allow organizations & departments to operate effectively.  Boundaries are areas for communication, vision and also evaluation.  Boundaries allow people to know exactly what is & is not expected of them.
4- TrustLeaders want to lead and act.  As a key leader you have to show trust, confidence & belief in the leaders around you. If you communicate, set boundaries, cast vision and want leaders to lead you have to trust them when you release them.  Trust is easily lost and easily gained with the respective actions.  When you have a leader who leads well be sure to affirm them.  When you have a leader that gets off track communicate with them as quickly and appropriately as possible.  

This list could be a lot longer and there are a large amount ofresources available to read up on how to lead well.  Iencourage you to invest in resources by Patrick Lencioni,Andy Stanley, Seth Godin & Malcolm Gladwell.Andy Stanley has an INCREDIBLE podcast forleaders that I highly recommend everyone to subscribe to

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Four Hard Questions to Ask Yourself

It's a New Year with new opportunities.  New opportunities that we create and new opportunities that will come our way.  But with those opportunities come challenges, hurdles, conversations & change that has to be navigated.
I have a list of questions (about 30) that I look at often throughout the course of a year to help me process life, spirituality, marriage, parenting & leadership.  Here are four that I tend to always ask myself.

1--Why Am I Doing What I am Doing?
What is my motivation for doing what I am doing as a husband, father & leader?

2--When I say "Yes" to a New Opportunity, What am I saying "No" to that I am Already Doing?
I cannot do all things at all times.  I have to create boundaries in my life so I do not over commitment and underperform.

3--What Impact Does This Have on the Health of my Entire Life?
My soul, my healthy, my family, my relationships and my own sanity can all be impacted by things I make commitments to.  Can I keep life healthy for everyone if a new opportunity comes along?  

4--What Blind Spots do I Have Going On?
There is no such thing as a perfect leader and all aspects of my life are open to imperfections.  Where do I need to give more energy to make sure a blind spot doesn't turn into a harmful or destructive aspect of my life?