Archive for November, 2007

Cool Videos

One of the things I miss down here in the ATL is watching Corey’s videos. Some people are “talented” in this area, but he is beyond that and in the “gifted” category. Not only is he gifted, he’s as fast as lightening creating them. I admit having a little “friend-vy” in this area. You can see some of his work here.


Row Host and Testimonies – More Ideas to Steal

Tonight rocked for two reasons…

1. Row Hosts. Once a month we do something called “row hosts” where a couple of assigned adult or student leaders bring treats for their students in their 02 Group (Eagle’s Nest). It can be something as simple as candy canes/Nerd’s Ropes/miniture candy bars or as extravagant as fried rice/hot chocolate/baked goods. It doesn’t stop there. Often times, the plain old chairs are covered in cloth and Christmas lights are hung. The students love it. The only potential problem I see is if one group is more creative than another. However, the hospitality giftings seem to be pretty evenly spread, plus there is some heatlhy competition that comes with it. I discovered in Atlanta that Jeanne and the team have redefine the words “going all out.”

2. Testimonies. Since the retreat was the weekend before Thanksgiving, we postponed doing the testimonies the Wednesday after retreat (i.e. the day before Thanksgiving) until this Wednesday. When it comes to who gets to speak, they don’t let just anyone come up. They have leaders and students jot down at the retreat three people who seemed impacted most from their group. Then from those nominated, the staff chooses one from each of the 02 Groups (Eagle’s Nest) to represent (of course, giving them a call first to make sure they are interested). 02 pride comes through when their representative gives their testimony… creating, once again, momentum. The words coming out out of these students mouths were powerful … three for sure were preachers in the making. They closed the time by recreating the last scene of the drama.

The whole night was a beautiful thing. I loved how it was programmed. The only thing I would change are the words “row host” and “testimonies,” but then again what do I know. I’d probably call the testimony time, “tell your story” or something like it. I have no idea what I’d rename “row host.” Whatever their names, they both are a really, really, really good thing.

August Rush

Went with some friends last night to see August Rush. While every scene was underdeveloped and far-fetched, I loved this movie. It had some potential youth ministry clips in there as well … every student wants to be “found” and know he/she is not a “freak or loser.” Other than the fact that August was born out of wedlock (the only way you know they had sex was the fact that she got pregnant; otherwise, it just looks like they fell asleep together and both woke up fully dressed), it is 100% clean.

I Heart Atlanta – Part 2

Thanksgiving in Indiana: Mostly rainy, snowy and gloomy. Temperature: 30-40 degrees.

Post Thanksgiving in Georgia: Mostly warm and sunny. Temperature: nearly 70 degrees.

Crave 07

Crave 07 Fall Retreat was spectacular. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced worship like I did on Saturday night. It truly marked me as I saw middle school students on their faces without prompting from the stage. Our middle school gang, over 40 strong at the retreat, is pictured above.

The drama Dave wrote was beyond excellent, hilariously funny and heart penetrating at the same time. In addition to the worship and drama, the highlight for me was the discussion groups. Jordan and Missy did an amazing job at preparing the guides. Even the most inexperienced discussion group leader couldn’t help but to succeed. I’m constantly learning here and can’t help but to compare how we do things in Atlanta with how we did things at Granger. I dream of what it would look like if we blended the best of both worlds together.

A couple of things off the top of my head…

1. At Granger, I liked how well we kept track of kids. Everyone had their 5 or 6 who went everywhere together. There was a system here, but not as fool proof as up north.

2. In Atlanta, the discussion guides (front cover below) were off the chart, packed with great questions and visual aids/illustrations, which enabled every break out time to be maximized to the fullest. They had in mind where they wanted the discussion groups to go and helped leaders get their students there. Like I mentioned, even the least experience leaders couldn’t help but succeed. In addition, there was a rallying of each 02 Group (Eagle’s Nest) at the end that was helpful, powerful and effective. I never fully helped to realize the potential for Eagle’s Nest (02 Group) pride up north. Down here we’ve got symbols, shout outs, events, etc. It’s a big, big deal and creates momentum like I’ve never seen.

3. At Granger, while it was camp and not a retreat, I liked the rallying of the leaders for training, encouragement and discussion the night before. It helped to ensure we were all on the same page and questions were answered. They rally the leaders here as well, but I got thrown into the mix late so I didn’t get to take part. Originally, I was going to just take care of the second year Cadre who were observing the retreat, but because of the number of middle school students attending, jumped into the discussion group leadership mix.

4. In Atlanta, the display of the Arts is untouchable. It was as good, if not better, than any ATF like gathering I’ve ever seen. 98% of the teaching was communicated through the drama and video clips. Students were totally engaged. Seriously, very few people even left to go to the bathroom.

5. At Granger, I like the idea of having a director(s) roaming around with the sole responsibility of making sure everything and everyone’s needs are being met. They have it in Atlanta as well, it’s just different. All the key point people have groups as well, which has huge pros but a few cons to it as well.

6. In Atlanta, the retreat is a big deal. It’s the thing “everyone” goes to and brings a friend to, which is probably why this youth ministry of 250 had over 300 at the retreat. They’ve discovered momentum. In addition, they did a couple of things I’d never thought of before. For instance, they had a VIP night as part of a Wednesday night before the retreat for those who had signed up and paid early. It wasn’t just some soda, pizza and Oreos…they went all out with baked goods, different flavors of floats, etc. Their promotion pieces were off the chart as well.

Those were just some thoughts. Over the next few days, I’ll give you a peek into some other happenings that I haven’t had time to blog about. As far as Thanksgiving goes, it was all a blur. My family and friends were gracious enough to let me sleep through most of it. Exhaustion was an understatement. You know you looked bad when your sister tells you as Thanksgiving break progresses that you are looking better every day. The first full day home, I dozed off at least nine times. While the last six weeks were taxing, I can honestly say I absolutely loved every minute of it (except for the unexpected 5:30 a.m. Cadre airport run last Monday after going to bed a half hour earlier, that was a little rough). Fortunately I got a lot of rest over the break and the days ahead are much lighter for awhile. I’ll be taking some time to breath deep.

Rippin’ It Up Junior High Style in the ATL

Ok, I’m pretty stoked, we had 32 kids tonight in our Junior High 02 Group (42 with leaders), four times more than when we started two months ago. What is even cooler is that 29 of them are signed up to go on the retreat this weekend. I laughed to myself when I looked around the room tonight, 31 of the students were Latino or African American and one 1 was white. An exact opposite of what I had up north. I had no idea what their names were, so I took their pictures tonight. I laughed again when I tried to spell their names … Chardonay, Nephtaly, Saba, Vonciel, Baqi, Cree, Tanisha …. I love this place!

I’m going to have “dance” this weekend. We’ve got another 35 youth pastors in the second year Cadre coming in to observe the retreat starting tomorrow and then debrief, among other things, on Monday at Jeanne’s house, and I just got word that they need me to run a rap (discussion) group. I’m cannot tell you how excited I am to actually spend some significant amount of time with some of our students this weekend, but wonder how well I’ll do at the balancing act. Save the turkey, I think I’ll be sleeping through Thanksgiving.

I Heart Atlanta

Just looked at for our retreat this weekend. Right now there is a 20 degree difference in temperature between Georgia and Indiana. I think I’m going to like winter weather this year!