Archive for September, 2007

The Cadre

The Cadre is a personal mentoring program that reached down and jump started my heart two years ago. It was my next step in defining who I wanted to be personally, then ultimately where I wanted to invest my life professionally. So far 205 youth pastors have gone through the program and the next 75 are up to bat. We had to turn people away this year, that was pretty tough. However, in order to keep the intimate nature of the Cadre Advances (retreats) at Jeanne’s house it was necessary. Here’s the break down of the two classes.

New Second Year Class – Epic
New First Year Classes – Litmus and Prestige

The starting gun sounded Thursday with their first conference call. Our next one is October with Tim Elmore, should be great stuff.

We are running hard and fast into the three Advances – October 22-23, November 5-6 and November 16-19. We’re going to be rockin’ and runnin’ hard.

I set up their email accounts and the emails are already flyin’ her way. I love it! Jeanne is still bent on answering everyone herself. I don’t think that will ever change. Which is good, cause I’m still running 50 a day and it’s about to bury me.

Here’s the data on the two first year classes…
They are from 25 different states, 11 different denominations, collectively lead over 8,000 students, range in age 22 to 37 and are 80% men and 20% women.

I just watched the video for the board of Cadre stories … three words ,,, oh my goodness.


I think I just heard heaven come down

I just came off our Friday chapel with the MC students. Worship was off-the-chart. My prayer is that when I get to heaven, and we are singing around the throne, that Alex Brown is somewhere near me. His voice is SWEET and his character even sweeter. I love when he leads!

Alex played a song called Restoration and outperformed the artist, but if you want to get a taste of it, go here. It rocked my soul.

Random Things Today

Oxygen: Just came off Oxygen tonight where Jordan taught. Not only does his integrity and passion for ministry run deep, but I think he’s the most creative guy I’ve ever met when it comes to sermon illustrations. Tonight he delivered yet again. He’s given two messages in the last four days, all while making Master’s Commission go round for 85+ students. I still can’t believe the team I get to work alongside. Jeanne and I keep having “I’m so grateful moments for you” moments. She plain and simple just makes me better and has mastered the art of making me feel crazy appreciated. I’m trying to do that for my team in my own “Judy” sort of way. So far, it’s worked really well.

Junior High Parents: My first meeting with a parent of two junior high students was today at lunch. It rocked! I dreamed the dream and cast vision for where I saw the junior high ministry going. The words I heard that rang loud in my ears were “I love it. Judy, I can tell you’ve been emersed in this awhile. How long did it take you to think of all of this?” and “Seriously, Judy, anything I can do to help make it happen let me know.”

02 Groups: I’m watching the leaders of leaders get ready for the launch of 02 groups. Wow, they are passionate about it! They took it to a whole new level than I did with Eagle’s Nest. There are full color binders with cool graphics and tokens everywhere! The momentum they’re creating with this thing is very cool. I’m am sooo watching and learning.

Opportunities: My pal Sean over at Stuck in the Middle asked me to check out his next big event in Kansas City in March 08 to give him some feedback and lead a breakout session. The conference he does with middle school students rocks. I’m pretty stoked about the opportunity to hang out with some of my Summit friends. It’s back to back with a mission trip I’m leading in Mexico, but I think I can work it out. Should know in a couple of weeks.

Youth Leaders Coach Board: We’re on a mad dash to get ready for the board meeting on Monday and Tuesday. It’s going to be incredible, but until then a whole lot of work.

On the Road: After that I’m on the road again with Jeanne, next weekend we’re heading to the Unite Conference and then early next month to a conference in Battle Creek Michigan. I think that’s where they make one of my favorite cereals … Frosted Flakes. They’re grrrrrrrrrrreat! I wrestled with going to Arkansas with her right after Thanksgiving. Her son, Josh, is hosting his first youth conference. Our brains run on the same channel and at the same speed, so I’d totally love to be there, but I want to be with my family more.

Podcast: Podcast is up and running on itunes. We’ve still got a few tweaks to work out with the name and search. I’m on the first and third episodes. I think I’m just now getting comfortable with it.

My Side Job: I lend a consulting hand in the Accounting department. I jumped back six years when I learned they run on Shelby. I could go on and on about databases. Every system I’ve ever worked with seriously lacked one thing … a strong connecting of the designers with the daily users. Six years later it’s like a flash back from Hades, I can’t get the report that works in the format I need. I can get a report with the wrong numbers in the right format … or I can get a report with the right numbers in the wrong format … ugh! Fortunately, I don’t have to resolve the problem but can tell them to get on the phone with Shelby and have them help figure it out. I love dabbling in accounting stuff, actually more the internal control and systems side, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

Article – Mr. Clinehands Theology

I was asked to write another article for simply youth ministry or (they’ve kinda blended now, so don’t know where it will appear). Here was my attempt…

Mr. Clinehands Theology

To this day I remember the water rocket contest my Sunday school teacher, Mr. Clinehands, held when I was in 6th grade. Whoever could launch the water rocket the furthest won a pair of skates. And, back in the day, that was a pretty big deal. Mr. Clinehinds didn’t choose to hold the competition at the church, but instead he’d set up a time to stop by our house so we could launch it in our own yard. He’d only stay about 15 minutes under the premise that he was there to simply watch and measure the launch.

A decade after entering youth ministry, I had an ah ha moment about Mr. Clinehands one day. I never thought of him as a youth ministry strategist, but I think that’s exactly what he was. I think Mr. Clinehands held the whole contest so that he could get a feel for what kind of home and parents his Sunday school kids had. It was the perfect “door opener” – parents didn’t feel pressure, the kid didn’t feel pressure and he didn’t feel pressure.

Here are a couple principles in youth ministry that I think Mr. Clinehands figured out…

1. The potential for long-term impact skyrockets when you reach parents. We are better at impacting kids than parents because we’re just naturally more comfortable with kids. However, if we can reach the parents too, our long-term impact on a kid dramatically increases.

2. Impacting the parents begins with meeting them. And, chances are you have to go to them, they’re not going to come to you. The problem is that most of our leaders are scared to death of parents. The unspoken question is, “What do I say?” The water rocket serves like a Coke can when you’re uncomfortable at a gathering. In some weird unexplainable way, we feel more comfortable hiding behind a little Coke can. In this situation, if the conversation doesn’t naturally jump start, you can just stare at the water rocket flying through the air.

3. Parents need you on their team. Parents need another voice telling their kids the exact same things they are telling them. Even if they aren’t Christians and concerned with spiritual things, they know other people teaching their kids etiquette and morals is necessary. In an unconscious way, they can observe it when they hear you say things to their kid things like, “Let’s pick up the pieces and put the hose back” after the launch. Hopefully, after you leave they have a private ah ha “I like this guy/girl. I think they can help me with my kid” moment.

4. Whether you impact the parents or not, you need them on your side. Typically, they won’t be a champion of someone they don’t know. So, if you do it right, the more they know you, the more they’ll trust you. As trust grows, their willingness to get their kid to where you are, like a small group or youth ministry, suddenly becomes more of a priority.

5. Finally, open lines of communication are essential in deepening relationships and, ultimately, affecting life change. Through it, you might actually get a glimpse of what’s going on inside a parent’s and/or kid’s head and heart.

Shhh, can you keep a secret?

I had one of my first junior high meeting this morning at the southern delicacy known as Waffle House (seriously, they are on every corner in Atlanta … at least at every exit). I think it’s going to become our Saturday morning meeting place. Four people ate for $20, I can do that.

Anyway, I am so stoked at the leadership that was at the table. Diverse as night and day, but powerful. This will be my first attempt at leading from behind the scenes. I have my hand in too many other things to do the work of the front person, but I’m pretty confident in my ability to direct and empower those I oversee. The only up front area I’m going to own in this thing is with parents.

Today, we planned all the events for 2007-2008 to give to parents when we hold our first parent meeting in October. Between now and then we’ll brainstorm the topics we’ll be discussing in Sunday school (yes, that beast exists down here at 9:30 a.m. every Sunday morning) to give to them as well. One thing I always wanted to do well at Granger was connect with parents. However, other things kept pressing in that I LET prevent me from doing it. This time around I’ve decided it is NON-NEGOTIABLE. In fact, my first lunch with a parent is this Wednesday (before I’d be having lunch with kids, not this time around, it’s the parents I’m pursuing … I’ll let my leaders do the lunches with the students). Bottomline, the three things I’m committed to doing well are leadership training/mentoring, small groups and parents. Youth ministry-wise, I’ve decided there are things I’m willing to give up in order to relentlessly lead these three areas well. One huge thing I’m giving up is being the weekly up front leader, in particular teaching leader – that’s a pretty big deal for me. I’m in the process of finding those killer teachers who can step into that role even now.

Don’t tell anyone, but I’m setting a growth rate of 300% as my goal for junior high this year (don’t be too impressed because the junior high numbers are low). My goal is to break off junior high from senior high by Fall 2008. I think we’ve got the plan and staff to do it … easily. I’ll be fine if we don’t hit the numbers, but my heart is feeling it’s a good target.

I’m loving the job, but please pray for wisdom as I navigate the many waters. Right now, I’m the direct report for six full-time people in three totally different departments, as well as for a number of MC students. Jeanne is having me serve as a middle layer of management so to speak on the Youth Leader’s Coach side. While there are some issues that we need to work through, the beauty is that all the people are amazing. What they are doing drives them to get up in the morning, not to mention that they are just plain fun and funny, so that is making my life easier. I’m excited at the opportunity to speak into their lives and they are pretty excited to have someone to champion them. I plan on “championing” well.

The Adventure Begins

What a great week and it’s only Wednesday!

My sis is in town and we’ve had fun doing the IKEA, Gerogia Mall, Habachi and cruise through the city kind of stuff. We ate at Jason’s after church on Sunday. It’s a deli that is AMAZING! Then I recruited her to help the paid staff with some tokens for the opening night. Our woodburning extravaganza is a moment in time that I think I might be permently scared from. No, I didn’t burn myself, but I did walk into the corner of a piece of sheet rock sitting on a cabinet about eye level. Needless to say, I have a nice gash on my nose between my eyes. Yes, it was pretty funny.

Saturday Morning
A big day! The first year MC students showed up. Looking over the crowd, I loved the fact that they have students here from every walk of life – rich, poor, athletes, beauty queens, thin, thick, tatooed and pierced. Jordan did an amazing job of making registration look easy. He pretty much is oozing with giftedness from administration to teaching.

Let the adventure begin…

Monday Night
95 Master’s Commission students and staff loaded into vehicles for that “special” place Monday night. I’d describe more, but it’s a secret. While there, Jeanne spoke for part of the time. Words can’t express what she breathed into their hearts as she cast vision for the 07-08 year. She ended with four questions.

1. Are you more into SELF IMPROVEMENT or TRANSFORMATION? There’s a big difference you know.

2. Most true inner-transformation begins with a call to LEAVE SOMETHING. What is Christ calling you to walk away from this year?

3. Transformation often happens more through our mistakes and failures than through our successess. How determined are you to “fail successfully” this year?

4. The inner journey of transformation will be a lifetime of one repeating question from Christ. DO YOU LOVE ME MORE? What will the honest answer of your heart be?

It was a night like no other, best experience with your sister sitting next to you.

The repeating thought that went through my mind was “what if?” What if every teenager across the nation had someone who spoke so boldly, in love, into their hearts as Jeanne did for the 85 students present. And, had someone to love and walk them through the messiness of their life. I think the world would be a different place.

Tuesday Night
We all took the train downtown and went to see STOMP at the Fox Theatre. No word was uttered from the stage for almost 2 hours, just sounds from the banging of brooms, trash cans, sticks, lighters and a few other miscellaneous things. It was incredible.

Wednesday Night
Dave taught tonight and hit a home run. Mike, Scott and Nick put my IKEA furniture together afterwords … I’m grateful.

Here are some important people for me…

Pic 1 – Scotty and Mike, two of my favorite guys.

Pic 2 – Nick is against the door. He’s my audio engineer for Youth Leader’s Coach

Pic 3 – Cherry (in peach) is my Administrative Assistant. She’s amazing. Not as amazing as Chris, but Chris would really like her … and so would Mike (that is, if he were allowed). My junior high guy, Andrew, is also in the pic (guy way in the back on the left). He, Cheryl, Desiree and I are going to rip it up this year … junior high style!

Pic 4 and 5 have Amy (blue shirt) and Hoi (stripped shirt) in them – They’ll always hold a special place in my heart.

My Day – The Master’s Encounter

Who are these guys/girls!?! I’m watching the second and third year master’s students rock the house. I figured out tonight that some of my most significant time with the Master’s students is going to be the late night hours after Oxygen. I loved it. Three of them, one by one came in my office to just hang out and talk awhile – first James, then Jorge, then Ben. All talking youth ministry, asking questions, sharing dreams … I can’t even begin to describe how cool and sharp they are. Wow! I’m not sure what has transpired in their previous year or two in Master’s, but it has transformed these guys. While each is sooooo very different, Jeanne’s signature runs through their veins … they get the importance of relationally connecting with those they encounter. It was evident as they told me how their night went with their 02 group.

Earlier today I dreamed with Andrew and Cheryl about transforming the junior high ministry. There are great kids in it, just not many … at all. I realized talking junior high stuff still gets me fired up. Andrew is a big time strategist so we had a fun conversation, but far more importantly he has a huge passion for middle schoolers. Cheryl, on the other hand, is pure heart. One who will help put feet to other people’s dreams, which is so very important to have on your team. Then my MC Administrative Assistant, Cherry, dove into doing some Cadre stuff for me. Not surprising, she knocked it out of the park. Seriously, where did these guys/girls come from!?!