No raindrops on roses here, or even whiskers on kittens… but since the year is winding down, here are a few of my favorite new and not so new things from 2009:
Lucid -WestWay hosted the 2009 rendition of the Spring Thing youth rally this year. The rain was incessant, and the attendance was low – but One Time Blind was awesome and God was simply amazing. It was a great weekend of worship and being challenged to deeper faith. Here’s a post with some after thoughts regarding the weekend.
Catalyst West Coast – Immediately following Lucid, I headed to the west coast for Catalyst with my good friends, Jimmy and Rodd. (No that’s not a euphemism for a couple travelling goodies packed away in my suitcase, it’s the two names of two guys that I drug to California in April.) Catalyst was a great experience from which I took away so much that I’ll spare you a rehash here. But check out my posts from late April to see what we were gleaning from a great rented Mustang ride, Andy Stanley, Perry Noble, Guy Kawasaki (and the rest of an incredible speaker lineup), as well as In-n-Out, Jack in the Box, and Chick-fil-A induced euphoria.
The Coldwater Mission – This was the summer when I finally was able to pull together a group of students and adults to go on a mission trip to an unknown location with an unknown job to do. We depended on God and got to see Him work in some exciting and wall-paper-scraping ways! Most of these posts from August revolve around Coldwater.
Sustainable Youth Ministry – A lot of youth ministry is not sustainable. It just can’t keep going the way it’s going. Youth ministers burn out, volunteers flame out, and students check out. This book will go a long way toward helping a church that wants to build a youth ministry with a larger view than the next big event. Any church looking for a youth minister needs to have the search team (or whoever is responsible for the selection) read and discuss this book early in the process.
Primal & Wild Goose Chase – Goose Chase is a challenging look at the Holy Spirit as the guiding force of our lives. We don’t need to be in control as much as we need to be responsive. Primal digs into what is really at the essence of Christianity – and what is all too often deficient in our day to day living: loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, & strength. I really appreciate how Batterson pulls together so many different fields of interest in illuminating Scripture.
An Unstoppable Force – The first book by Erwin McManus I came across several years ago, I still think it’s his best. I don’t re-read very many books, but this one is one of my annual favorites. The church can (and should) be so much more than what most people (even many of those on the inside) think it is. I gave away my copy this year, but will definitely be buying another in 2010.
Tribes – This book was a freebie from Catalyst this spring. Glad I got it! Lots of great stuff about how a group of people can come together with leadership. I’m still not completely comfortable with calling someone my “tribe” but there is a lot of wisdom to be found here.
Jim & Casper Go to Church – Henderson and Casper let us in on a great experiment: church guy and atheist visit churches together all across the country and share perspectives/observations with each other. Lots of eye-opening stuff.
They Like Jesus, But not the Church – Kimball shares the stories of a generation who has grown very skeptical of the church, but still have a pretty high opinion of Jesus (even if it’s based on an incomplete perception of him). Enlightening thoughts about some areas where we (the church) may not be reflecting Jesus as well as we think we are.
UnChristian – Completing the “take of the insider-blinders” trifecta, this book, based on solid research, shares what young people outside the church see when they look at the church. Perception is important, and younger generations are not perceiving the church in a very healthy light – we need to do better.
Crazy Love & Forgotten God – Are we really in love with Jesus? Does our faith make too much sense? Francis Chan opens his heart and shares a glimpse of what it looks like to really love Jesus in Crazy Love. Forgotten God focuses on the “third person” of the Trinity: the Holy Spirit. Why is it that we don’t seem to talk about Him near as much as the Father and the Son? Is He really just a “silent partner” in the Godhead? I don’t think so, and Chan does a great job leading the reader into a deeper walk with the Holy Spirit.
new worship music – Steve Fee led a number of the sessions of worship at Catalyst West Coast with the Hillsong United crew leading a couple times. The passion with which these guys approach their craft sparked something within me that’s been a little dormant for way too long. The church needs to continually create great art that is an expression of worship given to our Creator.
NewSpring Community Church – After being so encouraged by their pastor in April, I began to dig into the website of this church in South Carolina. These guys are doing awesome stuff with technology and teamwork. Check out their services sometime (either live or archived).
Twitter – I’m usually way too wordy for only 140 characters, but decided to give this a shot earlier this year. It’s a fun and interesting way to share thoughts. I’ve especially loved getting a peak into the everyday workings of some leaders I greatly respect. You’ll find me as 6drews on twitter if you’re dying to see if I can really say anything with such a restricted word count! One thought that twitter has brought to mind is that if I can’t tweet a sermon (summarize it in 140 characters), the people I’m talking to probably don’t know what I’m talking about either…
Friends Starting Blogs
Several friends have started blogging this year – some often, some not quite so often. I’m excited to see what will develop as my WestWay friends share what God is doing through this forum. I’ve gained a great deal from blogging and am praying they will too. Check the “Blogs of Local Friends and Family” area on the left side of this page to see what they’re saying. Feel free to castigate any of them who have not posted lately!
Mine is awesome! No additions this year, but Liz turned 3, Josiah is still hilarious, Dakota is the coolest 1st grader I know, and Emily is closer to the age I was when I got married than to the age she was when she started to walk! Their mom spent the year being incredible. She is definitely my favorite.