I saw this video the other day and was amazed. The perspective is unreal. There are so many observations that can be drawn from this!

I would encourage you to watch it, but it could be a cool thing to just play on the screens at your next college ministry gathering.


Gaining Perspective

Leneita Fix —  January 14, 2014 — Leave a comment

This past weekend I had the tremendous honor of being invited to teach the “Re-Effect” conference for The Salvation Army.  As what usually happens when Jeff Wallace and I teach, we were inspired far more than anything we were able to give away.  I love being with people who love Jesus and have a heart to see the world transformed by a relationship with Him.  The Lord really spoke to me in a myriad of ways at this event.  The speakers, of course, touched my heart. Yet, it was conversations, and the building of new friendships that fed me deeply.  I was encouraged to learn of a denomination where young adults are NOT leaving the church, instead are actually heading out with a deep faith to serve Christ.

This denominational conference (Did you remember they are a denomination?) reminded me yet again about the importance of broadening our  “church” and “ministry” worldview.  It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day of being where we are that we never learn about others.  The unfortunate bi-product when this happens is we end up only seeing about what is at the end of our nose, and this shapes our perspective on everything we do.   I believe one of the reasons we end up proud and “narrow-minded” is we don’t actively take time to learn about what Jesus is doing outside of our building, our neighborhood or even our state.

So how do we do this:

Visit “Another” Church

In 2013 I had the opportunity to visit almost 15 different churches in 13 different denominations, all which kept Christ at the center of all they do.  There were different styles of singing, different traditions, and even different ways of celebrating communion. In every one, I met a lot of people who really love the Lord. On a Sunday when you might be on vacation or “off,” then purposely sit in a “different type” of church.  See what you might learn!

Go To A Conference:

Find a Christ-centered conference (Shameless plug: like maybe SYMC?) out of your denomination and GO!  It doesn’t have to be large or even national; it just needs to draw together different people, approaching ministry and life differently.  Now when you are there (those of us who are introverts have to work on this) don’t just hang out with people you know.  Purpose to talk to someone (preferably more than one) and hear their story. We might just get some fresh ideas. (Fun Fact: All speakers at SYMC are encouraged to spend time with attendees far beyond teaching times. Don’t be afraid to ask about a meal or cup of coffee with one!)

Read A Book:

Learn about other denominations, heroes of the faith or even other “types of ministry.” Leadership books are awesome, but what about learning from others who are approaching ministry differently?  We begin to see a pattern rise of ways God is working in His people in a myriad of ways.coffeechat

Hang Out With Those Who Do Something “Different.”

Recently, I had the chance host a discussion with people who were invested in rural, inner city and suburban youth ministry. It was fun to hear the shock in their voices as they discovered all of different ways they were actually alike, as were those they ministered to. Find people outside of youth ministry to talk with. Spend time with someone in youth ministry who is in a different setting and purposefully to listen to them.

It’s very easy to stay in our own little lane and never learn about the ways the body of Christ is working around the world.  This past weekend showed me once again how important it is to keep learning, it broadens my perspective.

What are you doing to gain perspective?



According to NBC News, 173 kids under the age of 12-years old have been killed by guns since Sandy Hook.



And yet…

according to the mother of one Sandy Hook victim, “evil did not win.”


What do you think?

Be reminded… following Jesus will never, ever make sense in a broken world.

Say AMEN to that, even if you want it the other way around.

As you do, listen to these insights from Frederick Buechner:

“God is the comic shepherd who gets more of a kick out of that one lost sheep once he finds it again than out of the ninety and nine who had the good sense not to get lost in the first place.

jesus with sinnersGod is the eccentric host who, when the country-club crowd all turned out to have other things more important to do that come live it up with him, goes out into the skid rows and soup kitchens and charity wards and brings home a freak show. The man with no legs who sells shoelaces at the corner. The old woman in the moth-eaten fur coat who makes her daily rounds of the garbage cans. The old wino with his pint in a brown paper bag. The pusher, the whore, the village idiot who stands at the blinker light waving his hand as the cars go by.

They are seated at the damask-laid table in the great hall. The candles are all lit and the champagne glasses filled. At a sign from the host, the musicians in their gallery strike up ‘Amazing Grace.’”

― Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale

Some things in life seem like no-brainers.

brakeFor example, every car needs brakes. The ability to put a vehicle into “drive” really doesn’t make sense if you can’t also eventually slow down and “park.”

Your body’s ability to rest may also seem like a no-brainer. It’s quite the opposite, actually. Some of the brightest minds in the world are still trying to figure out the complete biological purpose of sleep and why we’re hardwired to snooze in the first place.

Maybe our Creator knows something we need, even if we don’t.

Both of these examples highlight how we all need time away from the things that keep us going and going. That may initially seem like another “no brainer,” but experience has taught me that you and I tend to stink at this.

  • What time each day (not merely at night) do you actually turn your cell phone off?
  • When do you regularly go to bed?
  • How many times on vacation do you not check your text messages or emails “just to make sure nothing big happened?”
  • Do you tend to multi-task during the significant events of your life?

I hope those questions sting a little. Simon and Garfunkel were on to something when they sang, “Slow down. You move too fast.”

That’s their “groovy” way to highlight something the Bible clarifies:

“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God.” (Exodus 20:8-9)

Some may feel that’s too confining or legalistic. Then again, might taking some regular time away from your to-do list remind you that the universe doesn’t run on your energy? As Eugene Peterson summarized, “If we are not able to rest one day a week, we are taking ourselves far too seriously.”

Talk about another no-brainer.

Time away from perceived productivity initiates real productivity. It helps protect your body from wearing out, your mind from tuning out, your soul from emptying out and your emotions from burning out. Here are a few ideas:

  • sabbath_diveDaily: Jab at your routine somehow. Claim ten minutes of downtime by turning off your phone or listening to something appropriate that makes you laugh out loud. Turn your shower time into a prayer time as a way to thank God for all your blessings.
  • Weekly: Set aside a day of the week not to catch up on errands but to invest into relationships. Make sure part of that involves your connection with God and His Church. Author Mark Buchanan explains, “Without rest, we miss the rest of God. The rest He invites us to enter more fully so that we might know Him more deeply.” That rest can help you accomplish more with six days than you could in seven days on your own.
  • Monthly: Reclaim at least a half-day each month (or the whole day, if you can) for something atypical. You don’t need to travel a great distance or conquer an amusement park.  Even a hike up a mountain or an afternoon of bowling may be enough.
  • Yearly: Maximize your vacation time. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the average American only takes about 9 days of vacation each year (compared to European countries where citizens are legally mandated to take at least 20 days off each year).

All of this isn’t meant to devise a system of regulations that becomes more legalistic than life-giving. Rather, by breaking away from the patterns of this world you will be more inclined to not be a victim of its frantic, broken ideals.

One warning, though – creating regular time away through Sabbath routines may require you to live differently.

Theologian Walter Brueggemann said it may entail “the termination of routines, the disengagement from some social conventions, or even the lowering of one’s standard of living.”

Perhaps that’s what we fear the most. Workaholics are driven by fear, but Sabbath trusts that resting in God breeds perspective and cadence.

If you don’t take a break, don’t be surprised when you break. Sabbath isn’t about time lost, but time redeemed.

Thank you for loving students!



*Love Tony’s insight on service and youth ministry? Receive his articles every Tuesday when you sign up for the SYM Today Newsletter!*


Justin (time)

Tony Myles —  August 28, 2013 — 1 Comment


Upon further review, something just occurred to me…

just in time, I believe.

“I can’t believe what those two people did on stage! Kids were watching!”

(2004, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson)
(2013, Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke)

“What an amazing performance! What a talent!”

(2013, Justin Timberlake)
(2022, Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke?)

Say it ain’t so.

I’m all for forgiveness, but wouldn’t you agree it’s odd how quickly we become selective in our outrage (and forgetful, too)?

What do you think… is that a commentary more on pop culture or the culture that consumes it?

Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.” (2 Peter 2:22)

scaleYou probably got into ministry for all the right reasons.

I may not know you, but I do know myself. If we’re at all alike, there’s a good chance something else is true of you.

Some days you’re in ministry for all the wrong reasons.

Maybe it’s not as obvious as you’d think.

  • You serve God.
  • You rearrange your schedule for students.
  • You bend over backward for parents.
  • You lobby before your church leadership in all the right ways.
  • You’re not trying to trick people out of their money.
  • You don’t attempt to be the “sexier” youth group in town.

It’s as if every time people see what you’re doing, you’re caught living out the best template for ministry you can think of.

The problem is you can be doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons.

There’s a situation in my life right now with a disgruntled group of people who have found joy in being disgruntled together. They’re people I’ve loved and invested some of my best energy into, from teens I mentored and took on mission trips to adults I scrambled to serve. One of the louder households left our church and began complaining “sideways” – subtle enough to go unnoticed by most, but potent enough to create a funk that I’m still not sure what to do with. It’s as if no matter how hard I try to live out some of the most basic principles in Matthew 18 on reconciliation I’m met with misunderstanding, evasiveness and slander.

I’m doing all the right things.

At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

What I eventually realized is that some days it’s for all the wrong reasons.

There are moments that I want to be vindicated.

I want to work out the misunderstanding, because I hate having people say things about me that aren’t true- especially when I have put so much energy into doing the right things. If I dove into the reason why I do so, it is my human pride wanting to assert itself. I have to make clear that the door to reconciliation is open, but if they never walk through it or continue to group up on this then a part of me needs to turn this over to God.

Check out what the Bible reveals on this:

  • God has a pattern of vindicating His people as a whole.(Deuteronomy 32:36)
  • Humans have a desire to be vindicated individually by their behavior. (Job 13:18)
  • People who watch us will notice our desire to be vindicated and may assume the worst. (Job 11:1-2)
  • Jesus was vindicated by the Spirit – not other people. (1 Timothy 3:16)
  • We will only experience real vindication when we spend time face to face with God. (Psalm 17:15)

If you don’t get this right, then all of the serving you do will come across as ministry perfume and not the genuine scent of Jesus Christ.

Wrestle with this. Consider what you’re doing to get people to think or say better things about you. Give someone else permission to point out when you build a case against a case someone has built against you.

Otherwise, it will leak out. To quote William Ury, “When you are angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”

Thank you for loving students!

Service to a just cause rewards the worker with more real happiness and satisfaction than any other venture of life. – Carrie Chapman Catt

It is absolutely true that oftentimes the people volunteering feel like they are getting as much out of it if not more than those they are supposedly helping. Why? Here are some of the most common reasons I’ve heard:

Knowledge. Volunteering can teach you things about the world that you didn’t even know you didn’t know, whether the experience happens on another continent or right in your backyard. You might discover something about a particular group of people that makes you rethink the previous views that you held, or learn how the ostensibly helpful systems we have in place are actually keeping certain problems from getting better. And I can’t tell you how many people say they feel like the experience of volunteering taught them a lot of things about themselves good and bad and showed them how to be better.

Skills. When you volunteer, you might come away from the experience knowing how to do just about anything it really just depends on the kind of volunteer work you’re doing. Builders for Habitat for Humanity learn a number of skills related to house-building, including carpentry and teamwork, but those who volunteer in other departments might learn transferable skills in administration, marketing, leadership, and more. Chances are, if you can think of a skill you might need in the workforce, it’s something that you might be expected to do somewhere as a volunteer.

Experience. Knowledge and skills are great, but what’s especially powerful about volunteer work is that, depending on the kind of activities you were engaged in, many employers look at almost as another type of job experience. Cooking in a soup kitchen for a year is great experience for someone looking to make meals in the food industry, especially if you can add to it some formal training in the classroom. In fact, this kind of experience can be incredibly important in times like this where jobs are scarce and it’s difficult to get an entry level position to get the work experience you need.

Joy. How can you beat the smiles of an entire village in Africa after you dig a well that will provide them with drinkable water for the next three generations? Or the tears of happiness shed by a family after you fix their home that was ravaged by a storm? Or the look of relief on the face of a mother as you hand her Christmas gifts so that she doesn’t have to tell her children that they won’t be getting anything that year?

Perspective. No one has an easy life, but if you ever start feeling like the world is out to get you and sabotage your success or happiness, I recommend volunteering. Nothing puts things in perspective quite like seeing families dig through dumpsters together or be thankful that they have a roof over their heads even though they live in a shantytown in Brazil where each family’s house is little more than a metal box. Most volunteers end up heading for home happier than when they arrive if for no other reason than they are thankful for all that they now realize they have.

Aileen Pablo is part of the team behind Open Colleges and <a href=”http://newsroom.opencolleges.edu.au/”>InformED</a>, one of Australia’s leading providers of Open Learning and <a href=”http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/distance-education.aspx”>distance education</a>.