Monday, March 30, 2009
PDYM was an incredible conference. I was worried that I wouldn't get anything out of it since I had read the book and really didn't subscribe to Purpose Driven fully. I used parts of it but never made the whole plunge. This conference changed a lot of my thinking, not necessarily about being purpose driven but really about how I do ministry. One thing I can say about the Saddleback Ministry crew is that they are very transparent. They didn't hold anything back. They made themselves to anyone who was at the conference. I thought this as very cool.
Here are a couple thoughts that I learned during the conference...
1. Not everyone has it together... The Saddleback crew said over and over that they were changing things. Sometimes we see large ministries and expect them to be doing everything right and perfect. Doug and crew made it a point to say that they were always tweaking and changing things that didn't seem to be working
2. Smaller is better... As big as Saddleback is, they strive to be smaller. They strive on small groups and I even heard Kurt say one time that if he had to choose, he would keep small groups rather than the large group. We have tried small groups but we will continue to move forward on them and put more energy into them.
3. Keep things in perspective... Walking into the Refinery is overwhelming for most people. The building looks incredible, is big, shiny and worth about $19million dollars. Youth Pastors can look at that and get envious, wonder what they are doing wrong to not have something like that and go back to their own church disheartened. We need to understand the dynamics of Saddleback in reference to our own churches before making judgment. I love the Refinery but know that our Student Center is an for a church our size and that is ok.
4. Good things take time... The length of time the staff has been at Saddleback is incredible. Doug has been there 17, Kurt 12, Katie 14 and Josh 5. Saddleback wasn't built in a day as they say. We need to start laying the foundation now for longevity. No matter where we are, we need to start working with the end in mind.
I really had a blast in Souther California and I am looking forward to coming back in July with my students. I get to spend the next few weeks/months evaluating our ministry and seeing what I need to change or improve upon. I am greatful mostly for all the connections I have made with other youth pastors and the staff at Saddleback. I definitely will be going back next year.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Sermon Title: Intentional Faith Development
Sermon in a Sentence: Spiritual Development isn't quick or easy
Weekend Scale of Difficulty: 7 out of 10.
Service Length: 70 minutes
Understandable Message: Intentional Faith Development is my job. Giving students the ability to grow in their Faith with God is my number one job. We have events like Refuel, Small Groups, Sunday School and other activities that give students the time. We looked at a video on youtube.com about Dick and Rick Hoyt and their marathon running. Dick runs for both of them, as Rick is confined to a wheel chair. I told the students that God is Richard and we are Rick, that we cannot move forward without God pushing us. Students need to understand that they can't just sit back and expect to grow closer to God, they must pursue him. Spiritual Growth isn't easy or quick.
Friday, March 27, 2009
- Discipleship can't be reduced to programs and people
- An "On Your Own" philosophy is top down philosophy
- Expectations without Experimentation = frustration
- Discipleship never ends
- Hang time with God
- Accountability with another believer
- Bible memorization
- Involvement with the church body
- Tithing commitment
- Study Scripture
- Expect resistance
- Being connected to an adult leader makes all the difference
- Requires continuous vision casting, meaning you can't say it once and leave it, you need to beat the drum
- Teenagers are not the future of the church (but are the church)
- Student Leadership is bigger than teenage advisor
- Ministry needs are Ministry opportunities
- Youth Ministry can and should be a ministry launching pad
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The student bands continue to rock and do a great job at leading worship. Doug talked about the purpose of Fellowship that is for the congregation (connected) students. For Saddleback, they use small groups to fulfill the fellowship purpose. Doug gave us some big picture ideas, they are:
- smaller is better
- volunteer is better than paid
- shepherds are better than chaperone's
- better is better
Katie and Jason came up and talked about specifically how Saddleback does small groups and some key learning points.
- there's more than one way to do small groups
- small group leaders need to be setup for success
- small groups can bridge to the next step
We broke for some debriefing and lunch. I decided to head outside and sit in the sun. The weather here is awesome and I really enjoyed it. I almost fell asleep :). The Refinery is an incredible place to hang out. The design fulfills many different purposes and gives you so many options to build relationships with students or just sit by yourself. I had lunch with Chris Harkins, Chris Reed (young adult pastor @ Saddleback) and Matt from TX. I had never met. We had great discussion about doing small groups, recruiting leaders and various other ideas.
Day 3 continued in a minute...
tons of fun. Worship started with a Coldplay song that was awesome.
Jake and Katie mc'd the night and had some great games. They brought
down the oldest and youngest youth pastors and had them exchange some
advice and gave them gifts. They also played a game called shoot your
distraction that didn't work as well :).
The speaking session started of with different people who have been
effected by a youth pastor or had been a youth pastor and had effected
someone. I was amazed at the impact that we have on the life of our
students when we do real ministry. Each person talked about the
different Pieces of Youth Ministry like:
. investing in students
. trusting God to use imperfect people
. beings learner
. not giving up
Doug came on stage and talked abou tthe values for Saddleback Student
Ministry. Values like...
. value of food
. being student led
. music and song
. laughter / games / gifts
. believing in students
. dependence on God's power
. relationship with God and students
I really enjoyed the talk and it made me reflect on how our youth
ministry is rim and some things that I need to change. I look forward
to day 2.
I read Doug's book PDYM over 6 years ago, thanks to a youth pastor I was working at the time. I read through it, took note of some of the ideas but never fully bought into it. Since then I implemented little bits of the purpose-driven philosophy but never all the way. I was hoping this conference would help me decide once and for all if I wanted a ministry that was purpose-driven or just keep going the way I was.
Anyways, I got here on Monday, grab some dinner and headed to the hotel. I got up at 6am on Tuesday (8am Central Time) and couldn't fall back asleep. So, I got in the sweet ride I am driving and headed to Manhattan Beach (45 minutes away) to see the ocean and enjoy the view. The 350Z is going to get me a ticket (almost already did) before the weekend is over. It is incredibly fast and has awesome pickup. Driving 90 feels like nothing for it. I loved driving to the beach, I love being on the beach and watching the surfers (vowed to get in shape for this summer so I could surf when we come back).
I got to enjoy lunch @ Fuddrucker's with Josh Griffin and Jake (from Saddleback) and other yp's. Some of them I follow on Twitter so it was good to meet them. Left from there, grabbed another yp from the airport and headed to the conference. Walked-in the door and was greeted by Josh and he gave us the full tour of the Refinery, it is amazing. I told him it reminded me of walking into a Universal Studios ride. The whole place has a purpose and they did a great job of setting the building up. Very useful and very student friendly. The most interesting thing I saw (or didn't see) was video consoles, they only have two Wii's. They opted not to have video consoles because they didn't think it promoted relationship. Very interesting thought.
The Conference began with a great opening set by the Saddleback student band. They did a great job. They have done a great job all week (so far). It is great to see these kids lead youth pastors in worship. As I as was watching them, it amazed me how they seemed to forget we were there and just sing to God. Very cool.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I will be Twittering (twitter.com/soulshaper) the whole event and blogging at the end of each day.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
As I think about the time since I started college till now, SO MUCH HAS CHANGED. I started college as a fresh off the farm (if you can call Miami a farm) 18 year old. I had no idea what a college credit was much less how I was going to pay for any of it, but God provided a way for me to go. My first day of registering for classes, Hurricane Andrew had just floored Miami and the home I lived in for many years, was gone. Kind of a weird way to start college, but that first day I meet Jamie, who soon became my best friend. The next year, I met Beth, my future wife. The next year, I was married. Looking at the last 16 years, I have...
- changed my major
- got married
- had 3 wonderful kids, now 10, 9 and 3
- moved at least 7 times
- lived in two different states
- worked at 6 different churches
- had 4 fulltime jobs
- gone from being a youth pastor, being an accountant, being a programmer back to a youth pastor
- I have gone to 5 different colleges
- worked at one company for 9 1/2 years
- met hundreds of great people
- made about 30+ trips from Nashville to Ft. Lauderdale and back
- traveled up and down the eastern seaboard from Nashville to Delaware to Miami
- had a house fire that destroyed everything we owned
- lost my father to a stroke
- plus much much more...
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Sunday, March 01, 2009
Conference I'm Columbus, OH. This is my first time coming to this
conference and I knew that it was laid out differently than the others
but I was still very excited about it. I am glad that I came. I am
lucky enough to have brought my wife, my assistant and one of my adult
leaders with me. Me vs 3 ladies, not always fun :) jk. We had a very
easy time getting to Columbus via Chicago. Planes were on time, a
little hot but short fligts with no problems. Once we got here, the
four of us took a normal cab to the hotel. The Crown Plaza is a nice
hotel to stay at. Glad we are staying there, all the COOL people are
I got the opportunity to take an early pre-conference seminar with
Doug Fields about working with volunteers. This is one of my focuses
right now in my ministry because I think we are burning out adult
leaders. I haven't been as good at leading them as I should be. I
was hoping this seminar would help me kick start a better adult leader
program. Doug always does a great job I'm laying out simple steps and
ideas to get things done. I am excited to go back and think through
some things he talked about.
After dinner, we enjoyed a great opening general session with Josh
Griffin hosting. He is a very funny guy and made us all laugh. I
loved the Segway Olympics. The worship was incredible. Doug did Sr
introductions. Then we heard from Alex And Brett Harris who wrote a
book about teenagers wanting more than low expectations. It was a
great talk and something I am going to talk to my students about. I
know our students want to do more, and I need to help them do it.