Lesson Topic: Week 4 of our Summer Series “The Lab…An Up Close Look At Famous Bible Verses” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Lesson Length: 20:45

Attendance: Above average for Summer. Saturday night attendance was a little low, but Sunday was quite high.

“Fun Factor”: Above average. We had a stupid, but fun, skit to promo Summer camp. Our games were fun and energy seemed high.

Volunteer Involvement: Above Average

Music: We have been utilizing a new worship leader in junior high and he’s a GREAT guy. He’s still figuring out junior high culture and our weekend atmosphere but he’s got an incredible heart.

I don’t know about you, but for some reason I feel quite a bit of pressure to be funny when I’m teaching, leading a game, etc. I’m fairly certain nobody else really cares whether I’m funny or not so the pressure is most likely completely self imposed. But because I believe that when we can get students laughing we open their hearts and minds to more serious issues, humor seems like a very strategicarrow in a junior high pastor’s quiver.

But over the years I’ve seen, and been responsible for, quite a bit of humor that really isn’t funny. In fact, humor can be a really dangerous weapon. I’m sure there are more examples of when something isn’t funny, but here is my short list.

Kurt’s Philosophy of “Not Funny”:

- It’s not funny if the humor is at the expense of an individual student.

- It’s not funny if it’s degrading.

- It’s not funny if it’s for “shock value”.

- It’s not funny if it undermines authority.

- It’s not funny if someone gets hurt.

- It’s not funny if you’ve overkilled it (less is more).

- It’s not funny if nobody’s laughing (although there are times when I think I’m hilarious but apparently nobody else does…).

I would love to add to the list. What would your list include?

Random Randomness

 —  July 15, 2009 — 1 Comment

- I’m reading “The Unlikely Disciple; A Sinner’s Semester At America’s Holiest University” by Kevin Roose. It is a fantastic book written by a young college student whogoes “under cover” at Liberty University for one semester.

- Heard about this fun website in latest issue of GROUP magazine.

- If you like sweet tea (which I’m trying to drink less of!) you will love this stuff.

- Want a cheap, super fun addition to your junior high meeting room? Check this out. We have one and play constantly.

- Have you pre-ordered your copy of “Middle School Ministry”by Scott Rubin and Mark Ostreicher?

- Looking for some cheap and easy youth ministry ideas? I just wrote the foreward to this great new book by Todd Outcalt.

What is the most overused word in junior high ministry. That’s a statement, not a question. My hunch is that trying to figure out what your ministry is going to do is a topic that takes up a great deal of your time.

- “What topics do we want to teach at midweek?”

-”What are we going to do for summer activities?”

-”What should we do about the rowdy kids that show up?”

-”What games should we play this Friday night?”

-”What are we going to tell the elders when they notice the damage?”

What is certainly an important word, but I think why is even more important.Instead ofasking “Whatshould our ministry do”, Isuggest the first question to ask is,“Why does our ministry exist?” When you can define why your ministry exists, then many of the ‘whats’ will begin to answer themselves. At the very least, the ‘why’ will guide your answers to the ‘what’.

If you’ve never drafted a mission statement or purpose statement, I would highly encourage you to do so. A purpose statement is your chance to draft why your ministry exists which will help guide what you do and what you don’t do.

I’ve never read the book, so I have no idea what advice it gives but the other day I was thinking about some of my friends who have had the greatest influence on me in recent years and why that is. I thought it might be fun to pass along some of things about them that are (at least I hope) beginning to rub off on me.

The AbilityTo AskGood Follow-Up Questions. I have a couple of friends who are great at digging a little deeper, asking a question that brings the real issue to the surface etc. The ability to ask good follow up questions makes conversation rich and makes people feel valued and important.

The Ability To “Stop Time”. I have a friend who is extremely busy and everybody knows it. Yet when he stops to talk to you, even in a spontaneous hallway encounter, it’s as if time stops and you become the sole focus of his attention. There aren’t many things that make me feel better than when somebody who is obviously super busy canhit the pause button and make it seem as if they have nothing better to do than talk to me.

The Ability To Prop Up. One of my lifelong friends is the master of encouragement. I honestly can’t remember ever spending time with him, whether it was 5 minutes or 5 hours, without walking away at the end of our time together feeling better about myself.

The Ability To Inspire. I love being around inspiring people. I have a buddy who is constantly dreaming of a new idea, a better way, a bigger opportunity etc.

If you have never done so, I’d encourage you to think about some of your friends and other people who have had great impact on you. What is it about them that you appreciate? Whatdo you see in them that you need to let rub off on you and your relationships with others.

Random Randomness

 —  July 8, 2009 — 3 Comments

- I feel like our youth ministry is finally feeling the pinch of the economic downturn. Registrations for any Summer event costing more than about $50 seem to be very low while attendance at our “cheap and easy” events has been huge. This is mostly a good thing because it has reinforced my love for low-key, highly relational activities but it’s a very, very bad thing for our Summer Camp budget!

- I rarely read fiction, but when I do I prefer John Grisham. I read his newest, The Associate, in two nights. Good stuff!

- If you work with High School students, you may want to check out Live Curriculum, Simply’s new four-year small group bible study. While I found the website to be a little bit overwhelming (mostly because I’m old and not very “techy”) I think this new resource is a brilliant way to provide your high school students a well balanced, four-year, small group bible study experience.

- Interested in joining our Junior High team at Saddleback? We are looking for college graduates who want to be part of our two-year internship program. Click here for more information.

Haven’t posted much due to two days of stressful prep for the Dominican Republic and a non-stop pace since we landed. The focus of my time here has been to help teach a one-day PDYM conference which we are currently in the process of wrapping up.

Tomorrow we relax at a swanky all-inclusive resort before catching an early flight home on Monday morning. I was just told that there is decent surf a short drive away so I’m hoping to sneak away to catch a few warm-water waves.

I’ll resume blogging on Tuesday.

This week trips leave for both the Dominican Republic and Rwanda. We’re so excited for our students – you can check out blogs for each trip here and here. I’m so pleased with the progress we’ve made in missions over the past year and a half – I didn’t think we would be where we are today until 2010. Yeah!