Moving back to Arizona

Here comes some big news in the world of Lindsay and Ryan: we’re heading back to Arizona next month 🙂

It was a very difficult decision to leave our church here in California, but we know that it is the right one.

We’re headed to Superstition Springs Community Church (soon to be Mission Community Church), where I will lead the Student Ministries team and focus most of my attention on the High School Ministry.

I wasn’t looking to leave Calvary, but when the invitation came to join the staff at SSCC we had to say yes. SSCC has been a really special place for Lindsay and I for a few years now. I was meeting with the lead pastor there to offer my time as a volunteer even while I was on staff at Cornerstone- I just loved it there. And Lindsay just glows when she’s there, and I like it when Lindsay glows.

Our time at Calvary has been so good. We love the staff and students so much, and saying goodbye to them will be no easy thing. God is doing amazing things at Calvary, and we were honored to be a part of it!

Please pray for the Calvary staff as they figure out what the next move is. The High School team at Calvary is in VERY good hands with Melissa Brosch at the wheel. And please pray for us as we move back to Arizona in the middle of the summer… yuck.

You can read a copy of the letter that I wrote to the families of our ministry here at Calvary by clicking HERE.

more like APRIL MADNESS

You’ve heard of March Madness (my bracket was HORRIBLE), but check out my APRIL MADNESS!

I started seminary last night. Class meets every Tuesday night for 3 hours.

I have youth group every Wednesday night and Sunday morning.

Then I have my own LifeGroup on Thursdays every other week.

I’m at a Bachelor party in Lake Havasu tomorrow through Sunday.

Easter is Sunday the 12th. I actually have nothing to do… awesome!

Phil Wickham concert on the 16th. Dopeness.

Lindsay is in Ohio from the 19-29th. Sadness.

I’m here at home but attending Catalyst West Coast from the 22-24th.

On the 24th and 25th I begin a 4-week intensive Old Testament course at Fuller that goes from 6:30-9:30pm on Fridays and 8-5 on Saturdays.

I’m at Hume Lake with my youth ministry team for a little retreat from the 27-30th.

And then EVERY WEEKEND IN MAY I have something. Three classes, one wedding, and one Guys Retreat with my high school students.

Dear God, please give my wonderful, patient, lovely, hottie, princess wife a whole bunch more of that patience and love this month 🙂

my anniversary present

I’ve been hounding Lindsay for a couple of years now, and she finally buckled. On Monday she brought this home for me 🙂 She was going to buy me one for my birthday but I told her not to. We just didn’t have the money. We were going to go out of town for a few days to celebrate year #2, but we ended up staying in town, which saved us at least a few hundred bucks.

So she, being an amazing wife, spent that extra money on this. My justification for spending this much money was that DOZENS of my students own an Xbox, and now we can play each other live online. Or they can come over and play. And nothing shows a student that you love them more than blowing them up with a grenade in a video game.

anniversary-present

Simply Text

I signed my high school ministry up for the text-messaging program with Simply Youth Ministry. Most of our kids are on MySpace still, almost as many are on Facebook, but 99% of them are text-messaging maniacs!

For $40 a month we can send up to 3 messages a day to our group members, and they allow you to have 1,500 members in a group. So basically we have WAY more than we’ll ever need.

We tried to get our students fired up about Twitter, but… it just didn’t happen.

Youth pastors: how do YOU communicate with your students? Newsletters, emails, blogs, text?

texting in church

textingSome of the volunteers in my high school ministry have recently expressed their concerns about students who are texting during our gatherings. When I’m up front teaching I can easily see their glowing faces in the dark room. I’d like to think that it’s some sort of Jesus-esque transfiguration glow going on but… probably not.

Here’s the tricky part for me: I do think that texting in church is a bit uncouth. It sometimes comes across as rude, and even a little bit offensive at times. It usually means that the person isn’t paying attention.

I have a confession though: I’m a church-texter too.

Not only that, but I texted all day long in my classes at ASU, and I fully intend to text during my classes at Fuller Seminary (where I start next month!!!).

If you go to an online service at LifeChurch or NewSpring you are encouraged to join in the ongoing chat room. Is that the same? It can be if the students are texting about what’s going on in the room. I think that sometimes the students might NEED to text (moms and dads might be texting them).

I would rather my students didn’t text, but I understand that sometimes they might need to.

The bottom line for me: I’m absolutely thrilled that my students choose to come to hang out with us every week. Texting, while it can be a distraction, is probably the least of my worries.

So… do YOU text in church? Do church-texters make you angry? Do you imagine yourself running across the room, snatching the phone out of the texters hand and smashing it on the ground? Do you need counseling?

why I am a youth pastor

I was vicious in high school.

I hated school. I hated authority. I might have hated you. I was really good at hate.

But… here’s the thing- I think I had more passion then than I do now.

I was very good at what I did back then.

I was remarkably destructive.

And that’s partly why I am a pastor to high school students.

Because teenagers are capable of causing so much damage.

I want to redirect all of that destructive potential towards the things of G0d.

I want to give them something better to be angry about.

I want to tell every parent that comes to my office to be optimistic, because I know that their child is in God’s hand, no matter how far they run.

—-this concludes my late-night rant

how does that make you feeeel?

how does that make you feel

Last week we finished up a pretty heavy teaching series at our Wednesday night gathering… so last night we decided to pause. We reviewed the past few weeks of topics, and then asked the students a question or two: How does that make you feel? How does this all sit with you? If you had to pick a word or two that would describe your spiritual posture right now what would it be?

We covered the room in butcher paper, played three songs on the iPod, let them grab a marker and go. Here are a few of the things they said they were feeling:

loving, warm, happy, confident, guilty, irritated, fooled, tired, stressed, despondent, sexy, spastic, forlorn (wow), betrayed, confused, exuberant, victorious, refreshed, appreciative, hungover, dooped, detached, forgotten, overwhelmed, amazed, ashamed, alone, beastlike, unwanted, encouraged, whatever, damaged, blessed, boxed in, uneasy, guarded, happy and sad at the same time.

Wow.

That’s just a handful of them… there were dozens more. All in one room. All hearing one message… but all receiving it from completely unique places.

teenage crap detectors

Love this video from “Billy Madison”. The moderator was the only one in the crowd who wasn’t fooled.

One of the things I love most about high school students is that they are skilled “crap detectors“. They are horribly difficult to persuade, especially when it comes to religious matters.

If you’re lying to a high school student you better expect their crap detector to kick into gear. Faking it? Consider yourself detected. Embellishing? Misconstruing? Manipulating? Guessing? Their crap detecting capabilities will catch you in the act. Using the same old out-dated methods to reach and teach them? They’re not having it. Putting God in a little itty-bitty box based on your understanding of Him? Not gonna fly.

The challenge for me and my team is to:

  1. Remain 100% transparent.
  2. Listen.
  3. Never ask them to do anything we aren’t doing ourselves.
  4. Abandon all teaching methods that are dead.

These are just some initial thoughts I’ve had as I’ve evaluated the crowd at Calvary these past six months.

Side note: “church kids” are the most effective crap detectors around. They don’t wear hand-me-downs for very long unless they really like the way they fit!

youth ministry format

If it was up to you, what would your youth ministry look like?

Maybe you grew up in a youth ministry, maybe you work or volunteer in one, maybe you’ve never been a part of one. Either way, I’m curious what “components” you would include in a youth ministry if it was completely up to you?

Some meet in small groups and large groups. Some only in small groups. Some only in large groups. Some large groups meet weekly, some meet monthly. Some small groups meet weekly, some bi-weekly.

What would a youth ministry designed by YOU look like? What matters? What changes lives?

You can be brief or you can roll out an entire philosophy of ministry.