Something to Think About…

In the second installment of the Out of Ur series on youth shaping the church, there’s this quote:

In youth ministry, you get permission to break the rules,” explained Doug Pagitt, a former youth worker and now the founding pastor of Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis. “Youth pastors get to do things that other people don’t get to do. Youth ministry requires that you break the conventions to connect with teenagers. If breaking the rules is permissible in youth ministry, then why is it not permissible in a broader scope of ministry?

This really made me think about what I’ve been doing in my ministry. I think I’ve been too concerned with figuring out what the rules are. Too much attention paid to questions of propriety and convention at the expense of awareness of and responsiveness to God’s direction.

Need for Music…

A professor at seminary got me interested in a blog done by Dick Staub. He writes about different elements of culture and creativity and interaction between the church and the world we live in. This morning, I was reading this post about the Necessity of Music. He has some great quotes from Rich Mullins.

In a letter to his label, he once wrote,

I want to be involved as much as possible in church work. I want to work in settings that are specifically designed to challenge people, to encourage people to seek their life in Christ. I would like not only to sing but to teach…to “hang out” with people, to be accessible, to model faith [to] them, to be with people, not as a performer, but as a practitioner of the faith.

I saw Mullins ‘perform’ a few times, but after reading that I know why I never felt comfortable calling it a performance. He didn’t perform with his music, he worshipped His Creator through it and drew the audience into participation in worship as well. Another time Mullins said,

You don’t write because the world needs your music; you write because you need to make order, to organize things.

Just the other day, I was talking to a former student (who is a musician) about some music I’d written several years ago. We’d used the songs in worship there in Auburn and at camp, and I’ve used a few of the songs out here as well. But she asked me about what I’d written lately…

Not much. Somewhere in our move a year and a half ago, I misplaced the box where I kept my creativity. (I think I left it next to the one full of security and confidence.) I’ve missed it. Thanks Megan for challenging me to unpack that box again… I needed it.

First Race

Sometimes in life, there are things you think you’d like to do, but never get to do them for one reason or another. I’m thinking about things that you’d think are so exciting that they may be a little too scary to try – serious white water rafting, hang-gliding, skydiving… things like that. This last Friday night, I got to do something that I’ve always thought would be a blast but never really thought I’d do.
When I was a kid, we’d go out to the Casper Speedway and park grandpa’s camper at the entry to Turn 1 and watch the races. I remember hiding out with my cousins and brother inside the RV and watching through the little window in the loft whenever the sprint cars came out. They were loud and I said they “scared my ears.” But, like many little boys, I thought it would be fun to race.
Last summer, I was sitting out at Highway 92 Raceway East of Gering with Ted Grant and our boys and the announcer started talking about a new class they’d started. The idea was you get a cheap little 4 cylinder car, strip it, put in some safety equipment, and race it. Ted and I both got that little-boy-with-a-fast-car look and talked about how fun it would be.
Greg Elliott helped me find a little Plymouth Colt sitting in a pile that the guy was willing to part with for $150. We put in a new clutch to get it running and built a roll cage, and Friday night, Matt Snyder towed me out to the track and I got to race. It was as much fun as I ever thought it would be. Not that this is some high-powered precision work of automotive wonder… but it was a blast. I’m really looking forward to Friday nights at the track this summer (though I’ll miss a few for my brother’s graduation, CIY, etc.)
There were a number of times when I remember thinking how ridiculous it was for a grown man to be putting so much effort into boyhood fantasies of racing a little car around a track. Sometimes, I questioned if I just needed to grow up and put those dreams away. I’m glad I didn’t because what I experienced was great.
Living in Jesus is full of things much more spectacular than driving around in circles. The dreams God has for our lives far exceed the thrill of a short track win. Pray that God would give you the courage to follow His dreams. The message of the cross may be foolishness to the world, but when we live that message, what we experience will be a life that is unparalleled by anything else… the full life that Jesus came to give. Don’t let anything cause you to miss it.

Youth Shaping Church

Out of Ur is a kind of community blog run by the editors of Leadership Journal. They’ve just started a series of articles on how the rise of youth culture & teenagers (a sociological development over the past 50 years), and youth ministry (the church’s response to those developments) have shaped the church. After reading the first of the series and the comments, I’m interested to see what the follow up articles are like.

Drive Fast, Turn Left!

Racing starts this Friday night! My car is oh so close to finished. I still need a paint job, final welding on the roll cage (about 80% finished now), new battery, and sponsor checks! After all this work, I’m really hoping I don’t put it into the wall right away! It’s pretty exciting to think about getting out on the track – kind of nerve racking too – what if the car’s just got no speed?!

The downside has been the annoyed looks I get from LuAnn when I go out to work on the car and the fact that I’m selling my other car. Since I got the 4runner, I just don’t really need another car sitting around, but I like the Avenger and really don’t want to get rid of it. After driving the 4runner around for a month or so, I got the Avenger fixed and drove it a little today. It just feels so much quicker and more fun… maybe I’ll make it into a race car!!!

If you’re around on Friday night, come out to the Hwy 92 track and say hi. I’ll be in the little Colt with a 94 on the side (haven’t picked a color yet, but the old color’s red, so that might be a safe bet)!

Church Gone Wrong…

Saw this story today about a lady suing her former church where she hit her head and apparently did some damage. Something’s definitely at work here ~ but it sure doesn’t seem like the Holy Spirit I know.

It’s Not Brain Surgery…

I used this story of a young writer, from Eugene Peterson’s Under the Unpredictable Plant for this week’s newsletter article. Thought I’d post it here as well… with some bonus comments.

The young man longed to be a writer. As he grew up, that’s all he wanted to be. As he prepared to go to college, his mother took him aside, with good intentions, “I know you want to be a writer, but why don’t you become a brain surgeon instead. You’ll keep a lot of people from dying… and you’ll make a lot of money.”
“But mama, I don’t want to be a brain surgeon, I’m a writer.”
This conversation continued for years, in bits and pieces sprinkled over vacation conversations and holiday dinners, always with the same refrain, “You’ll keep a lot of people from dying, and you’ll make a lot of money.” Eventually, the ‘suggestion’ became a little more pointed.
“You’re wasting your time! Why do you insist on this writing business? Be a brain surgeon! You’ll keep a lot of people from dying. You’ll make a lot of money.”
“Mama, I don’t want to keep people from dying, I want to show them how to live!”

Too much religion has settled for keeping people from dying. I’m glad that WestWay is a place that doesn’t stop there. Please pray for our student ministries as we seek to show students how to live. This summer will begin a new phase for Wind and Water Student Ministries that is specifically targeted to show students how to live as disciples of Jesus. Be praying for the students and leaders of our small discipleship groups. May we all know how to truly live!

My family was supportive of my choice to go into youth ministry. Several teachers and counselors at school, however, echoed the words of the mother, “You’re wasting your potential.” After over 10 years of living with the repercussions of that decision, I can honestly say they were wrong. What I’ve chosen is not brain surgery or rocket science. I don’t build bridges or fly airplanes or design great buildings. My name will never appear on some great scholarship endowment or public library. But what I do matters. What I do helps some students know how to live.


Spent this past weekend with about 200 Middle School and High School students at an annual event some of our area churches do called Spring Thing. It was the 25th year of the event, and the focus was on leaving a legacy. Central Church of Christ over in Gering hosted the weekend this year. Shane, from here at WestWay put together a really good band to lead worship, and Rob Maupin of Lincoln Christian College did a great job as the speaker. He grew up in the area and used a lot of stories from his time here to detail the idea of leaving a legacy by being a disciple of Jesus – actually doing what He says as opposed to just hearing what He says. He had a lot to say that the students and leaders need to hear, and did it really well. As far as spiritual impact for me, his messages were the highlight of the weekend. I hope the students got as much out of them as I did.

I have to say, that I did not like the medievil banquet (greasy chicken thrown on to the table to manhandle-share with whoever else happened to be in reach – tear off a piece and pass it around) but everything else went really well.

Another highlight for me was Saturday afternoon’s paintball tournament. I’ve never done paintball before and even had to borrow stuff to use, but it was awesome. It was 3 man teams and our team got second. We lost the final to a team with a former prison guard with a little SWAT team training, so I really don’t feel too bad about that. The few bruises I ended up with were well worth it, but there was one episode that caused me a little more angst – I made a girl bleed. She wore shorts. I shot shin. She bled. In three spots. I felt bad about it, but she thought it was cool. Reminded me of some of my soccer girls, who loved to get bruised and beaten on gameday.

Looking forward to what we’ll do next year as we’re looking into making a few changes. Possibly working with the Cheyenne church to have them host for the first time. Lots of possibilities…