Once upon a time, this week didn’t exist.

duck-dynasty-okla-prayerBefore the Duck Dynasty sound-bytes, there was dialogue… testimony… witnessing.

Maybe some of that can continue. (By the way, have you read some other perspective beyond your own? Here’s a great post by Shawn Harrison).

I’d love to offer two videos with some insightful commentary given recent thoughts.

Flashback #1: “What the (bleep)?”

Some have argued this week that a company gets to do what a company wants. So… what has A&E as a company attempted to do – not just this week, but in the past? Here is one that is intriguing, given that it was filmed in the spring that seems to reveal a piece of that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_0XS1vaX-M

Flashback #2: “Before the money…”

Check out this great interview with Jase and Missy regarding life before fame.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93LY5O7E5bU

Maybe these videos mean nothing, or maybe they give context to everything.

I suppose that’s up to you…

and really…

that’s sort of a point in itself.

Got a chance to interview Jeff Foxworthy, host of GSNTV’s American Bible Challenge! You can read part 1 of the interview right here, here’s part 2! Be sure to tune in Thursday night for the season finale!

Q: Are your kids involved in a youth group?
Jeff:
Yeah, but they’re 18 and 20 now.  My youngest is a senior in high school.  Just won homecoming queen Friday night, but asked me on Saturday, “Hey dad, will you go with me on a mission trip to Kenya.”  She’s been 3 or 4 times.  That’s how they spend their spring breaks, working in a slum in Kenya.  She’s popular and she’s pretty, but she’s been to Africa, Russia and China.  She and her sister have partnered with Compassion International and have helped raise money to help more kids.  They’re living it out.

JG: Love it! Tell me more: how have you gotten your own kids to study the Bible?
Jeff:
Well, my kids went to a Christian school, so my wife and I figured they got most of the formal stuff, there in the classroom.  We kind of wanted to make sure they ‘see’ it in action.

So, when my oldest was 14, there was a group of guys, we all took our oldest kids with us on a mission trip.  So my shy little girl, who wouldn’t spend the night at her grandmothers house a mile away, went with me to Kenya to work with people there. She came back and said, “There ought to be something kids here can do. I know kids don’t have much money.”  So, she did some research online and learned that more kids die there of Malaria than anything else in Africa.  So she found a place where she could buy mosquito nets for ten bucks.

She started baking cupcakes and doing car washes and my shy child starting getting local restaurants to give her a night and she would set up a little table about it.  Then she made a little video and partnered with Compassion International.  By the time she was in 10th and 11th grade, she was flying around and speaking to youth groups about having been there and what she was doing. By the time she was a senior, she was invited to the White House to speak to a conference of kids who are changing the world.  Now she’s a senior in college and helps run the Compassion program at her college campus and has raised over $2M to buy about 200K nets.  I said to her, “That’s 600K kids that probably won’t get Malaria because you took one small step”.  She’s been to Africa 5 times now.  For her, the Bible is alive and in the doing.  That’s probably what she’ll end up doing with her life, working for a non-profit.

Recently, someone was interviewing her and asked, “Is it weird for you to be at the high school lunch room and they’re talking about what pants or sunglasses they’re going to buy, and you’re raising money for these nets”.  She said, not wanting to judge anyone, “Well, that’s not their fault.  I’ve just seen something they haven’t seen.  But because I have seen something, I have to respond”.

Q: You have the attention of thousands of church youth workers right now.. anything you want to share with them?
Jeff:
Well, for years and years, on Tuesday mornings I’ve led a small group at a homeless mission in my city.  (Jeff adds humbly, “not for publicity or anything like that obviously”).  We started out with about 12 guys, and now I have about 20 guys that help and it’s grown to 120 homeless guys.

There is probably a connection between where these guys are at, and young people today.  That message is… Everybody wants to be worth something.  You know, I think that’s the struggle for youth groups and teens.  ”Where do I fit in?”  ”Do I matter?”  ”Am I relevant?”  And GOD answer that he whispers and he showed it right there at the cross is that you’re worth EVERYTHING to me.  EVERYTHING.  Look right there, that’s what your worth to me.

If you could ever get that in the heart of a kid, then I think they would quit worrying so much, that I have to do this to be liked or do this to fit in.  When you start understanding really who GOD is and really how GOD feels about you, and it’s not based on your goodness, that it’s based on HIS goodness.  That’s what makes it a perfect love, because then the things you do, you do in response, not because you “love” so much, but because you’re “loved” so much.

(JG: Hear an incredible Bible story from Jeff and this group of homeless guys, watch this video on GSN’s website)

BONUS QUESTION: My blog is all about youth ministry being “more than dodgeball”. Do you have any horror stories from playing a particular game or funny memory from when you were part of a youth ministry or church?

Jeff: (Laughs…) Well… I grew up Southern Baptist… I don’t know that we had “youth group”.  We had Sunday School, Church, Sunday night service and Wednesday night prayer service.  I liked Wednesday night prayer service the best, cause they had really good hamburgers at my church for the Wednesday night supper.

I’ll tell you this… in terms of “more than dodgeball” and being more than a youth group, I have a story.  I came to my faith when I was 7 years old.  I remember being in church,  they were doing an invitation, and I said “I’m going”.  I remember my mom grabbed me by the shirt and said, “NO, you’re too young, you don’t understand what this is all about”.  And apparently, being Jeff, I argued about it all the way home, to the point that they had the preacher come to our house that Sunday afternoon.  He sat down and talked to me and on the way out told my mom, “He knows what he’s doing” so we went back to church that night so I could go down.  I just did a benefit for YoungLife in Knoxville, TN and that preacher was there and brought the bulletin from that Sunday, 40+ years later.

My struggle was at that youth group age, is that I would look at the church people who were so straight-lined in their dress and the way they acted and I knew I wasn’t wired like that.  I would think you know I love them, but I can’t dress like that and act like that.  It took me a long time in life to feel like I heard GOD whisper, “I know you can’t, I don’t want you to be like that.  I knitted you together, I know you’re not a straight-lined guy.  You stay with me and we’ll go places that are perfect for the way you’re wired”.

So, I don’t speak in a lot of churches, but I love to speak at things like Wild Game dinners.  I bow-hunt, fish, I love the outdoors.  I’ll speak at one of these dinners where there are 3 or 4 thousand show up.  Half of them wouldn’t go to church if you paid them. But I can do comedy for half an hour and make them laugh and roll that over into a story of sitting in the woods and watch the sun rise and come to life, you have to say to yourself, this is no accident.  There are too many things interacting with each other, this had to have been created on purpose.  And if that’s created on purpose, then you’re created on purpose by a Creator and here’s his purpose.  Time after time, guys will come up to me and say “I’ve never heard it like that before, as a love story.  It’s always been you better quit smoking, you better quit drinking, you better quit…”

And with that … we had to quit, too! Don’t forget to watch the American Bible Challenge season finale tomorrow (Thursday night) on the Game Show Network!

JG



There’s a great new app I just downloaded that was created by a youth pastor for youth pastors. RJ is a middle school youth pastor who has come up with a great way to use his iPhone for ministry. He’s the creator of YS’ MyGuitar app and just released Clips, an app with you in mind. I got a chance to talk with him about this project and future stuff he’s got cooking for us next:

Can you give everyone a 15-second description of Clips?
My new app (check it out right here on iTunes) is all about helping people engage with the Bible by using scenes from great films. It’s an app for pastors, small group leaders, youth workers, and parents. Clips tells you what scenes to use, what topics you could teach, the verses you could use, and even some potential discussion questions.

Where did you get the idea for CLIPS?
I always love when I can use movie scenes in my message. The Videos that Teach books have been one of my most used and most given away resource. I use it; our small group leaders use it. With the iPhone, I thought that an app like this could actually be even more helpful because leaders could have it with them wherever they go.

You’re a youth pastor. Tell us how someone might use the app in the trenches of their youth work?
This fall our middle school ministry is doing a series called “Now Showing:” where we take movies and teach through big ideas from the scripture using movie scenes. I often use the app when I’m writing a message and feel like it needs something else to help illustrate a point. In the next school year, many of our small group leaders will have the resource as an option for curriculum leading their small groups. I’ve even had one student leader use it in his school-led bible study groups to help with the discussion. Pastors, volunteers, and students can all find use from the app. I’m also hoping to see parents begin using the app as a tool for discussions with their families while they watch movies.

You can’t actually watch the videos from the device with a simple touch which is the only part I didn’t love about it. Is that a feature that is coming by chance? What other kind of updates are you working on in the future?
Unfortunately due to licensing, I can’t actually have the videos on the device. I’m working on figuring out some creative solutions to that problem, but at this point it’s still trial and error.

The updates that I’m working on right now … for sure the movie library needs to grow so I’m working on building that app as much as possible and we’ll be adding a “suggest a clip” feature so users can help me generate ideas. In one of the next versions Scripture readings will be built into the app, too.

As for updates that are further down the road I for sure want to find a solution for watching the movie scenes right on the device and also making Clips a universal app for iPhone and iPad.

That’d be awesome – I’m iPad2 all the way so universal is a must. So it costs a couple bucks to get Clips – any chance you’ll give me a few free codes to giveaway on iTunes to whoever reads this first?

Yes. It’d be cool if youth pastors gave the codes away to their volunteers. First come first serve on these: FMF9N9JP7KK3 and T99RT3MHJ7RH

*codes expire after 28 days or as soon as Clips gets updated

Thanks for that, man! I’ll save one for Twitter randomly this afternoon, too. So Clips is incredible, what’s next for you? Got another cool one cooking?
I’ve been trying to focus on ministry-related apps since its a niche that my code skills intersect with my passion for youth ministry. At this moment, I’m focusing on some of the bigger updates that I’d like to see happen in Clips so that it can become one of the go-to resources on the iPhone. There are also some cool apps that may be coming for potential clients, but I’ve been asked to not share those. I try to primarily do my iPhone stuff on days off from church-work so between updating Clips and client work, I haven’t worried much about turning my other ideas into apps.

Shameless plug: I also blog (www.rjgrune.com).

Dude, I’ll subscribe to you right now. Thanks for your time!

JG

The movie adaptation of Bethany Hamilton’s life Soul Surfer was #7 at the box office this weekend! Bethany’s story is incredible and clearly points to her faith in Jesus Christ. As of right now, there have been over 10,000 commitments to Christ through the movie’s official outreach site, SoulSurfer.com. How amazing is that?

If you or your youth group kids haven’t seen it yet – as always if we want more movies like this we need to vote for them by buying tickets. I met Bethany Hamilton’s youth pastor, Sarah Hill, at a conference I attended a few months ago. She is an incredible woman and I asked her a few questions about the movie and her role as a youth worker through this crisis. Here’s some of our discussion:

1) Tell me about your part in Bethany Hamilton’s story?
I am a youth leader on the Island of Kauai. I have been here doing ministry for 10 years and Bethany was a precious young girl in my youth group. We did discipleship together and would surf together and just have a great time hanging out. After she was attacked by the shark her brother Noah called me after he got the news. As I picked him up to head to the Hospital, I was asking God to help me understand how he could have a plan in this happening. As Noah, held his head out the window, the Lord began to minister to my heart. That is where the Lord brought Jeremiah 29:11 to my mind. From that moment on I felt Gid wanted me to really help support and walk Bethany through this time of her life.

2) What was the scariest moment?
I think the scariest moment was waiting for the ambulance to get to the hospital. We were not sure how bad it was or even if Bethany would survive.

3) Going through all of this — did you ever imagine how God would use it?
After go spoke Jeremiah 29:11 to my heart for Bethany I felt Him impress that although Bethany had always been a light for Him he was now gonna use her as a voice. I had no idea that within two hours i would see this come to pass. While Bethany was in surgery we had every media outlet calling the hospital for an interview. Jesus always knows the outcome of our situation. He is faithful to use them and when we surrender all to Him, we can take a deep breath knowing He has a plan.

4) What did you think of the movie? Did Hollywood portray you well?
I am so proud of the movie. I think it definitely tells Bethany’s story. I have heard so much great feedback and hears so Many incredible stories of how the movie has inspired others. I feel they did a great job getting an accurate portrayal of me. It was great being on set and having the opportunity to read and help with the script.

5) What encouragement would you leave other youth workers with, too.
To make sure they are taking those personal time out to hear from Jesus. So often we get so busy and so bogged down dealing so many hurts and family needs around us that we put ourselves on the back burner. You can’t lead publicly where you are going personally. Jesus himself knew how important that was as He too went to be alone with the Father.

JG