Sunday, September 28, 2008

Nov. 1st, 30 Days of blogging

I have been blogging for a few years now.  I started a blog just because it sounded good, and to share my thoughts of various things.  I never intended to write anything amazing but just to share ideas with other people.  I have never been consistent at it, going weeks if not months between blogs.  

Well, I am making a commitment to blog for 30 days straight.  Each day of November I will type out an article from either personal life or youth ministry.  Not sure why I picked 30 days or even November.  I just figured that if I am going to blog, then I need to commit to it.  I have tons of stuff I would like to get out (just for me), so this is how I am going to do it.  Below is a tentative list of the topics I will cover.  I am going to try to stick with the schedule but some of it may change, who knows.

Anyways, read on to see if anything interests you or if you have any ideas or suggestions for an article, let me know.  I have a couple spots open.

30 days of blogging, list some of the upcoming blogs
1 Intro/Pledge
2 Election Prayer Stations
3 Keep Your Sabbath Holy
4 The Wait is over, Election 2008
5 HSMTurkey Dinner
6 Cheap Youth Events - How to have them and Succeed?
7 Response to the Election - Jesus for President
8 Twittering - http://mashable.com/2008/10/31/great-twitter-moments/
9 Reflections on funerals
10 Dealing with your own children in your ministry
11 71. How to respond to criticism ( timschmoyer.com)
12 Atheist ad campaign
13 5 Practices of a Fruitful Congregation 

14 5 Practice - Radical Hospitality
15 5 Practices - Passionate Worship
16 5 Practices - Intentional Faith Development
17 5 Practices - Extravagant generosity
18 5 Practices - Risk-taking Missions and Service
19 92. How to partner with parents in youth ministry (timschmoyer.com)
20 Transitions - Moving from one state to another for God
21 Loving my iPhone II - new applications (fring, remote, shazam)
22 Grief: Dealing with the loss of a parent
23 Turkey Dinner: Running a $10,000 fundraiser
24 College ministry, reaching to those out of high school
25 Going Green in Ministry
26 Working with a council & adult leaders
27 Thanksgiving
28 18. Addressing porn and masturbation at youth group (timschmoyer.com)
29
30

I hope that I write some articles that people can actually use.  I have tons of ideas in my head that I know God wants me to share with the world and those that can use them, I just need to sit down at the PC and do it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Simple Life

Remember the reality series the Simple Life with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richey. Two socialite, rich girls thrown on a farm and expected to do everything a farmer should. I never watched the show but thought the premise was funny. I don't think I ever watched more than a clip of the show but did think it was funny to take two very rich girls and put them to work with the "poorest" of families.

All that to say, sometimes the simplest things in life are the best. I spend most of my time trying to plan big, highly technical programs/events/whatever. Trying to compete with society for the most grabbing of videos or one-liners or images. I found out Thursday night that I don't need to do that. I have done an event called Ice & Ice for many years. Just an easy night of going ice skating and then grabbing ice cream. This usually is a very easy event to pull off. The students have a fun night of just hanging out. This year as we began to plan this event we realize that we couldn't get an ice skating rink for the night we wanted to do it. Thankfully there is a roller skating rink around that we were able to rent out. For just $225 we were able to have the whole rink to ourselves.

I was worried that we wouldn't have a good turnout because I wasn't sure how many of the students still skated, but we moved ahead anyways. Once we announced what we were doing the students seemed to be excited about it. Long story short, this was one of our biggest events (attendance wise) to date. We had over 50 students and 15 adults show up and participate. I thought it was great to see some of the adults get out there and skate with the students. I enjoyed the night and I know that most of the students did too. It was fun to go back old school style and just have a fun night out.

We are looking at doing this again in the future, maybe for New Years or planning a family night out and inviting the whole congregation. We are trying to do more family oriented events that incorporate everyone. We think this will build better families and then a better church.

What other events can we do that are simple and family friendly?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Lovin' my iphone

I love my iPhone. Call me another Apple fanboy, I don't care. I (like most everyone else) wanted an iPhone when they first came out but because of moving and other factors (cost) I decided to wait for a while. Even once it came out, I was hesitant because I had gotten used to my sprint phone and its "full" keyboard. Typing on the iPhone seemed hard with my fat fingers, so that was another downfall.

I figured I would write a little bit out there for anyone who might be on the fence about it. So here's my review.

Cost
Since I have over 40 gigs of music, 1tb of videos, I decided to purchase the new iPhone 3G 16gb. One of the downfalls of getting the iPhone is the cost because the church was paying for my current phone and moving back to ATT means I would be paying for it, but I took the plunge anyways. The cost of the phone for me was $333 with a package of plastic screen covers. This is half the price of the original iPhone so I wasn't that upset about it. The bigger cost came in the phone bill. Beth and I had just updated our current phones, so in order to get the iPhone we had to purchase another line @ $10 per month. We knew this going in, so it wasn't a big deal. The big deal was that we would have to move our ATT account to Kansas City based numbers since Beth wanted to keep her Nashville number. This posed a couple of problems. First, we weren't prepared to do this, so Beth didn't have time to let everyone know that she was changing her number. This wasn't a huge deal since most everyone who called her were family or close friends. Second problem was that we had to change our calling plan from 1100 minutes @ $60 a month, to $700 minutes at $70 a month, plus we lost over 8000 rollover minutes. This annoys me about ATT because I know there system should be able to do it but we knew that we didn't make that many calls, so the number of minutes wasn't a big deal.
Once we got the new numbers straightened out, we then had to add $30 a month for an unlimited data plan, then another $30 for unlimited text on the whole bill. So right now we are at an additional $80 per month just so I can have my iPhone. Bummer...

Usability
The iPhone is one of the easiest devices to use. The touch screen and tilt is incredible to use and makes one hand messaging simple. One of the things that annoyed me before I owned an iPhone was the fact that you couldn't go wide screen on every program but as I started to use it, that wasn't an issue. I find myself not missing the wide screen at all. The keyboard is very adaptable and seems to learn your mistakes quickly. I got used to it pretty quickly and can type faster now than I could on my Sprint phone.
One of the best parts about the new iPhone is all the apps you can get. I went through the App store and found all kinds of useful apps. Some apps are free, others cost, you just have to decide what is best. I like using the app store from the iPhone because I don't always sync it up to my laptop. You can download apps through iTunes if you need to. There are tons of sites that help you find the best program for you. The best part is that no program is over $9.99.

Performance
Performance so far on the iPhone is great. It runs all the programs nicely. There have been a few times when the phone was sluggish but normally it runs fine. I can't tell you the processor and bigger will always be better but I think the current hardware is good. The display is incredibly bright. The ability to tilt the iPhone during games makes it incredibly useful and fun, like having a steering wheel. I would guess that they are going to expand the storage space, so eventually you will be able to carry your entire music collection. I still have to be careful with 16gb of space and not filling it up. The biggest problem with the iPhone for me is the battery life or my unrealistic thought that the batter should last a long time. Most days the batter lasts all day. On music play, it lasts a long time. Constant use requires a mid-day recharge, especially when playing games or with wifi on. I doubt there is anything that could be done to make the battery life longer. I will be playing with the settings to see what I can do.

Programs I Use
I mentioned above that the iPhone has tons of apps that you can install and use. Some of them are just plain dumb, others are very useful though. I am still finding apps I will use, but for now this is what I have installed. Since I use Google for everything, I have a Google app that open all their mobile sites. I also have a link directly to Google Reader. The iPhone allows you to put a link to any website on your home page. Since you are virtually always connected, this is a real benefit. I have the iPhone mail app connect to my gMail (you can connect to other services as well). I use a site called Nueva Sync to sync up my calendar and contact to my gmail account. The site is free to use and connects via exchange server.
I have downloaded a few other apps that I use regularly. I have both the Facebook, Myspace and Twittelator (Twitter) apps installed and working. These apps keep me from having to go to the actual websites for each service. All of them are well written with minor flaws. The other apps I have installed are games. Asphault 4, Crash Bandicot, Sol Free, Black Jack, Sp2 Lite and Holdem. Crash, Asphault and Holdem have incredible graphics and game play. The screen is a nice size. These aren't NEEDED games but do offer a nice break from work.

Conclusion
I know the iPhone isn't for everyone (even though my wife and son want one), and I know that not all youth pastor want or can afford to have one but I love mine. The cost, for some, might outweigh the benefit of having one. For me, I live my life online and having a device that lets me do 75% of my work on it, is beneficial for me. There are still lots of bells and whistles I didn't get into but you may find useful. Overall the cost for me is worth it. Having one device for phone, mp3 player, GPS, and much more in one device is great. My pockets are lighter (for a couple reasons) and it is well worth it.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Excuses, excuses... We are all full of them.

From the time we are children, we learn to make excuses. Maybe it is for not cleaning our room or taking out the garbage or not doing homework. This is a trick we all learn to do. Sadly as we get older, the excuses get more elaborate and we get better at coming up with them. Maybe it is going to the in-laws for Christmas, some reason for not going to the doctor or calling in sick to work because we just don't feel like working.

Sadly, in youth ministry the excuses fly around like crazy. Excuses for why we don't go to church on Sunday morning. Excuses for why we can't help out on the church work day. Excuses for why our families are falling apart at the seems. We are full of excuses. I was talking to a student one Sunday who told me they weren't going to attend refuel that night because they had too much homework to do. Now this student in one of our active students, so it kind of surprised me. I asked if they were still going to attend their team practice that afternoon and they told me they were. I just kind of glanced over my shoulder, gave a look, and was promptly told if they missed their team practice, then they would be kicked off and that I wouldn't kick them out of church. I told them just maybe.

I began to think about this and how many times, either before or after an event, I have heard excuses from students AND parents about why they didn't attend an event or come to refuel. Most of the time it is school or team or orchestra or family or something else that comes out. Now, please don't think I am saying that any one of those things are bad, but I am saying that our excuses come too easy. Church or Youth Group become the secondary in our life. A question I like to ask my athletes and their parents is when was the last time you missed a sporting event to come to church verses how many time they missed church to go to a sporting event. (or concert or Boy Scouts or whatever)

The eternal life of our students is my #1 reason for working with students. My heart hurts when I see them slip away from the church for any reason. I know life is hard and the pressure to perform is extra-ordinarily high on today's teenagers and we as adults normally don't help the matter. Over the next few weeks I will be blogging about this subject and more. As much as I may want to criticize families for not putting God or church first, I have some ideas that I want to share to help the families at our church become families that God can all be proud of.

I know I have tons of excuses and it seems my own kids have learned it as well. Lets begin to turn the tide of excuses and stop making them. I pray for all our families each day that we become stronger and fall more in love with God...

Friday, September 05, 2008

Attention Parents: VMA discussion questions

I have never been one to watch any award show for celebrities because I feel it is just a bunch of over paid actors slapping themselves on the back for making so much money BUT I know that a lot of students and families love and watch these shows.  I am trying to put out some information to help you sift through and digest the culture of the VMA's and industry around us.

To help you in your critique and understanding, CPYU (Center for Parent/Youth Understanding) has created a PDF discussion/question guide to help you and your teens evaluate the world around them.

Here are some suggestions on how to use the guide:
  • Watching solo? Use the guide to direct your viewing and critique. Then, join the discussion by throwing a comment on CPYU's blog on Monday morning.
  • Gather with other adults and/or youth workers to view the VMA's and discuss.
  • Forward the PFD on to the parents you know. Have them watch, then follow up with some discussion. Or, gather them at your house to watch with you!
  • Watch the VMAs with your teenagers. Process the show with them using the questions. You'll not only be modeling critical thinking about the show, but you'll be teaching them some valuable media evaluations skills.
DOWNLOAD THE DISCUSSION FORM HERE

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Men's Prayer Breakfast

I wanted to encourage all of our male readers to join me at the Men's Faith Breakfast on Sept, 19th @ 7-8:30am. This will be a great time to join other men for a great time together.

Check out the video below for more information.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Lindsey Lohan, Political Analyst???


I saw this article and it gave me a giggle.  Lindsey Lohan giving advice to anyone about they way they live their life is kind of funny...

"By Ree Hines
MSNBC contributor
updated 56 minutes ago

Taking a break from blogging about her dysfunctional family on Tuesday, Lindsay Lohan decided to get political and chime in on Sen. John McCain’s running mate.

Sure, LiLo’s still upset over her father’s tendency to talk to the media about her private life, but in a MySpace post titled “Political Blog,” Lindsay instead focused on Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s decision to publicly discuss her teenage daughter Bristol’s pregnancy.

“Its distracting from the real issues; the real everyday problems that this country experiences,” the wannabe pundit wrote. “I am concerned with the fact that Sarah Palin brought the attention to her daughter’s pregnancy, rather than all world issues and what she believes she could possibly do to change them if elected.”"

I love it when celebrities get all high and mighty on someone else, kind of funny really...