People shouldn’t be woken up by crazy people who wake up early to run.


Yeah… that’s a window view of a crew of youth workers and SYM/Group peeps getting ready to run a 5k.

(I joined in by exiting out the back of the building and running around to the finish line, all while eating a bowl of cereal)


Day Two of the Summit is a continuation of the first day, including some great teaching and brainstorming. The difference is some unique tweaks that are thrown in.


We headed out mid-day to “Sculpture in the Park.” This was to do nothing more than spend time with Jesus. Admittedly, I’m pretty amazed that instead of using the Summit to brainstorm around-the-clock there’s a lot of spiritual investment into this group of volunteers.


It only makes sense, though. Wouldn’t the people planning a conference for youth workers do a better job of joining God in that if they first joined with Him themselves?


It’s also quite cyclical. For example, a core of youth workers loved on a couple of Group staff members. Here are Jake Rasmussen and Scott Firestone getting prayed over and gifted with some items picked out just for them.

Of course, the day had it’s share of brainstorming for SYMC 2014…


as well as an amazing dinner…


followed by some incredible dessert at the home of Thom and Joanie Schultz (founders of Group).


We even watched a Lifetree Cafe video of Jana Snyder sharing about her adoption story.


Thom and Joani released an amazing book this week, too. We’ve had the chance to interact with its core truths – how four acts of love will make your church irresistible:

Radical Hospitality:

  • A lot of people stay away from church because they feel judged. What if they heard you’re welcome as you are?

Fearless Conversation:

  • If the average person doesn’t want to be lectured, how can we let them know their thoughts, questions and doubts are all welcome on the journey of discovering God?

Genuine Humility:

  • The stereotype is that Christians are a bunch of hypocrites… how can we take a posture that we’re all in this together – from my mess to His best?

Divine Anticipation:

  • When someone says, “Your God is irrelevant to my real life,” what does it mean to reveal “God is here, ready to connect with you in a fresh way. Are you open to that?”

These values (in addition to Group’s R.E.A.L. model) have become the bass line for us to wrestle over together.

Speaking of that, what do YOU think of all of this?

  • Does your brainstorming process in your church look like this – deep pouring in so there is deep pouring out?
  • Are the leaders in every direction of your youth group and congregation operating under the same values… and actually enjoy being around each other?
  • What’s your sense of the four “Acts of Love” Thom and Joani propose?

Join the conversation!


I really enjoyed reading Thom Shultz’s Holy Soup take on why students are leaving the church post-high school. There’s been so much discussion about this issue I enjoyed a fresh angle on how to help fix it. Here’s a clip, head there for his complete thoughts:

So, why are our young people losing faith in the church and God? It’s a relationship problem. They don’t think of Jesus as their friend. He’s a concept or an historical figure. He’s an academic subject that their churches teach. And once they graduate from youth group, they forget about the Jesus subject—just as they forget about their other high school subjects. Jesus gets left behind with algebra and early American literature.

Ironically, many youth ministry analysts suggest that the cure to the young’s exodus is . . . more academic religious knowledge. They insist what’s really needed is “deeper study,” “stronger biblical teaching,” and “more robust theology.”

Thorough Bible knowledge is a good thing. I’d like to see more of it. My organization publishes Bibles and Bible resources. But kids aren’t walking away from the church because they lack an adequate accumulation of Bible facts.

They lack relationship. And relationships—of any kind—rarely grow and bond primarily due to the accumulation of data. Relationships—with people and with God—develop through demonstrations of unconditional love, building of trust, forgiveness, reliance, and tons of two-way communication.


Thought this post from Holy Soup was interesting – written from the perspective of a ministry resource provider, but had an interesting parallel to perception in youth ministry. Here’s a clip, head there for the rest:

As a publisher of Christian resources, I frequently hear from squinty-eyed conspiracy theorists who find evil in innocence everywhere they look. Some examples:

  • If you depict a rainbow you must be supporting a radical gay agenda.
  • If you ask people to silently meditate on a biblical truth you must be a Buddhist.
  • If you refer to science you must be a God-hating humanist.
  • If you discuss the environment you must be a pagan.
  • If you ask students to visualize a certain scenario you must be a New Ager.
  • If you like Easter eggs you must be a Babylonian Mother Goddess worshiper.
  • If you discuss things in popular culture you must be a “neo-Christian.”
  • If you set up a prayer walk you must be an Emergent heretic.
  • If you dance you must work at a strip club.

The Pharisees are alive and well. Today. And, they’re inhibiting the cause of Christ. They’re portraying the church as a judgmental band of paranoid finger-pointers. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that Christian folk should wear rose-colored glasses. But I mourn the harm being done by those who look at life through crap-colored glasses.


I liked the blog post over on Holy Soup yesterday – talking about a lady who was recently introduced into the Sunday School Hall of Fame (which I didn’t know even existed and could easily nominate some of the shapers of my faith as well). Thom lists out some great thank you’s to people whose amazing contributions to the kingdom are largely overlooked in the church. Here are a few thank you, hit the link above for the rest:

  1. Knowing my name, and the names of my family members.
  2. Urging me to call you simply by your first name.
  3. Spending time with my son, providing him with a formative adult Christian friend.
  4. Demonstrating, through your life, how to keep the faith in tough personal times.
  5. Praying for me.
  6. Refusing the temptation to pass along gossip.
  7. Your thoughtful hand-written notes.
  8. Doing what’s right, rather than what’s denominationally correct.
  9. Allowing volunteers to run with their ministry passions.
  10. Your eagerness to learn–even from non-ministry voices.