In my moments of quietness over the last two days I came up with a title to something; "Somewhere the Sky is Blue". Not sure to what if anything but I like the image those words create in my mind and heart. Since I'm rambling at 2:15 am about music and how words create images, let everyone know that I still miss Rich.
We've hosted a FREE Tag Sale (Tag Sale = yard/garage sale in New England) for the last two years and this Saturday is our 3rd Annual FREE Tag Sale.
Everything is given away for free with no strings attached. It's a Servant Evangelism project. For the last two years we've had around 275-300 people who come to our church to pick up free stuff and it blows them away. It probably reaches more people who don't attend our church as any other thing we do. So last night I had to get some stuff from my house over to the church. (For those that don't know, I live 2 houses away from the church and our house is the old missionary house.) So instead of having our normal night we had a Free Tag Sale Work night.
One group grabbed stuff out of my office that had been stored there for three months, another group went to the other house and got bags of toys and clothes that filled 1/3 of the bedroom. My group went to my house and gathered all the stuff my family was giving as well as three dressers, a table, two desks and other big and small stuff from our basement. (Like I said, it was the missionary house and there was a ton of stuff in storage down there that wasn't being used.)
We finished gathering our stuff and putting our stuff in the gym and then we went back downstairs to worship. I had an epiphany after thanking them for being "slave labor" for the church. I confessed to them, "I want to apologize to you guys because I almost said something wrong to you. I almost said, 'Let's begin to worship.' When in reality, according to the Bible we've been worshipping even as we moved furniture over to the church in order for others to see God's love as a free gift, even if you weren't aware of it."
I explained the Romans 12:1-2 concept and then we had some silent prayer and then I prayed for us as we continued our worship through song after worshipping through service. Some kids still talked but by the end of the worship songs, we were truly worshipping. It was a sweet time and it reminded of why I love youth ministry.
Afterwards a parent offered to buy tickets to the Jars of Clay and Sixpence None the Richer concert for any student who helped out with the FREE Tag Sale on Saturday or any other Service Project over the next month or so. Not sure if it's rewarding those that would come regardless or bribing those that wouldn't come but we're doing it!
Washington Post staff writer and unabashed Red Sox fan
Thomas Boswell on the BoSox denying Clemens his 300th win.
I thought it was excellent. Of course, I believe that God is taking me to a new direction in youth ministry that is more spiritual in nature and intent that could be titled: "Pastoral-Based Youth Ministry". I smell a book title! All content on "looking out from my little place" is © 2003 Len Evans. Ha! Now it's legally mine! ;-)
Another book I'm currently reading is Eugene Peterson's Pastoral Library. Of course that's 4 books in 1 so the one I'm really reading is "Working the Angles" where he says that the basic work of a pastor is Prayer, the Word & Spiritual Direction. I'll try and post different quotes from his stuff for others to think about.
I'm hoping that an idea I submitted to Youthworker Journal will be accepted soon. I should hear by the first of June. It's basic title is "Communication During and Despite Conflict". Let's just say, I'm getting to live out the things I'm writing about. I'm going to write it regardless because the process of writing helps me to formulate my thoughts and develop a plan to put into action in my ministry. Any and all prayers are appreciated.
(If anyone would like to see the rough draft of this idea, e-mail me at SnaveNel@aol.com and I'll send it to you, as it is. Which isn't pretty but I'd love to get the thoughts of others.)
I just smiled and said, "No, I"m his Pastor. Has he talked to you about Jesus saving you from hell, yet?"
Nevermind, that's what I thought of saying, I just said, "No, I'm just his friend."
Josh Hunt's Articles
His entire site is great and he offers a lot of free resources but more importantly they are good resources.
I added one of his articles, his site and his Teacher's Tips ezine to my list of stuff on the left.
Don't let the name of his best known (You Can Double Your Class in Two Years or Less) book turn you off. He shares good principles and great practical applications, if only we would follow them. Isn't that always the problem, doing what we know should be done?
What's more important in youth ministry? Going to the game or planning a game for your midweek event? Talking with a student after school or making sure the flyer looks cool? The minutia of ministry wears me down and unless I fight it, it will always win. The minutia is necessary for things to happen but it's not the point of ministry. That reminds me, I'm going to a high school battle of the bands this afternoon to watch one of my students. It should be fun.
You have to read it to believe it.
Afterwards a student shared that she believed God wanted her to pray with a younger student but she didn't know how to offer that. She worked up the nerve and talked to the other student and asked if she was willing to pray with her. The younger girl said, "yes" and they prayed together. The older student was so thrilled because the younger student is one of our "on the edge" students.
It's great to see that happening in our midst.
I oversold the battle portion of the discussion going on between Mark and Chris. I informed both guys that I had posted this on my site and Chris wrote back, "It is hardly me vs him. I hope it more like I have an idea vs. what the heck are you talking about make me understand."
And Mark's post from Thursday, May 15, 2003 on the Re-Imagining YM blog says this, "A great email:I got a great email from Chris, who is somewhat of a critic of a lot (most) of what I say. Though we aren't on the same page. It was a good email. I added my comments in response throughout the email."
Man, wouldn't it be fun for all of us to go to the same convention somewhere and hang out and yell and get to know each other until 2 am?
Mark Riddle VS. Chris McElwee
Read the Rants @ A Rant Battle!
AL EAST STANDINGS
(Where I got the idea to display the standings for all to see.)
An hour long nap because after the lock-in is my daughter's four year old birthday party, then a soccer game for my oldest daughter and then we're going out to Chili's at my four year old's request for her birthday dinner.
Helping Parents Disciple Their Teens? Is anyone trying this or am I crazy?
If you haven't read any of the posts yet, I'd appreciate it if you did and joined the discussion with us.
''In the state of Alabama, football is the dominant thing in the culture.It virtually has all the characteristics of a church, a religious state. If you define religion as a process in which you search for all the answers in life, many people in the state of Alabama view football in that way."
Bill Curry, former Alabama coach now an ESPN analyst.
"Wierd but True" Catagory
A lady called me today and asked, "Are you Len Evans?"
Thinking it was a telemarketer I toyed with saying no but then I did the right thing and said, "Yes".
The she asked, "Are you the Len Evans who created the Goodnight Jesus Doll?"
Holding back laughter, I told her, "No, I'm sorry. I'm not. Did you find my name on a website from the UK called Ship of Fools?
"Yes, I did." she answered. "My three year old daughter was given one and it was her favorite thing in the world and now she's lost it. We're looking every where for it and we were hoping you could help us."
At this point I understood her pain because our oldest daughter, when she was two and a half, let her favorite teddy bear slip out of her stroller while we were at Sea World. Thankfully some nice Texan put it on a park bench and we found it as we retraced our steps.
"That site has a lot of different items created for Christians and I recommended the Goodnight Jesus Doll to them a long time ago. I'm pretty sure the company that made it is now out of business," I informed her.
"Do you have any idea where we could find one?" she asked desperately.
I told her, "You can try a website called McPhee.com. They carry all kinds of items like a Bobble Head Jesus, so they might have something like it."
She said, "Thank you very much" and hung up.
"Ain't the Internet Cool & Scary at the Same Time?" Catagory
Here's how the lady in California associated me with Goodnight Jesus and found my phone number.
She went to Google. Typed in "goodnight Jesus" and got Google's Results.
She clicked the first link which took her to The Goodnight Jesus Doll with many thanks to Ship of Fools.
She tried the non-working www.goodnightjesus.com link and then entered "Len Evans Fairfield, Connecticut" into Google and Presto! there's my home phone number.
Isn't the internet cool and scary at the same time?
Today was one of those great sermon days.
Worship lasted two hours today and it was just enough time for me to get refocused. I spent Mother’s Day morning with my wife and grandson Hayden. With Hayden on my lap - my mind began to ponder the question, “What does the church at large have in store for my grandchildren?”
I became consumed in my thinking - what does the church offer for our children and our teens. With it being Mother’s Day it was a time to reflect on the role that my mother and grandmothers played in my spiritual life. It was also a time to appreciate the role that my wife has played for our children as well as the three grandchildren. I became consumed with the idea, “What does the church really do for our young people?”
It seems to me that many churches are missing the mark when it comes to the number of young people in worship or the number of teens who once they leave home are still an active part of the church. Many churches I believe have delegated that idea to the youth leaders or to the youth group - but I see it more of a church issue. I see it as a leadership issue. I see it as a leadership crisis.
I wonder this Mother‘s Day …
How many pastors write sermons and plan worship on a regular basis with the children, teens and parents in mind?
How many church committees work to make worship and life in the church relevant to the issues and needs of children and teens?
How many church boards are consumed with a vision for the young people of the church, community and beyond?
How many choirs are thinking about the young people of the church in their planning of worship?
When church budgets are made, how do the young people fit in?
When buildings are built, or staff is hired, how do the young people fit in?
How many churches are more consumed with foreign missions or causes other than with their own young people?
How many churches are consumed with proactively supporting parents in becoming Godly parents?
How many churches help grandparents fulfill a spiritual role with their grandchildren?
This Mother’s Day was good for me. It was good to be reminded that the church could be a great place for mothers and fathers to be a part of - to be supported and encouraged in their parenting and in their own faith. It was good to wonder about the future of the church. Will today’s children and grandchildren desire to be a part of the church in the future?
The question for me still remains, How many churches really care about their children and teens? Not caring by words - but by actions - continual and intentional.
What does your church offer to parents? To grandparents? To children? To teens?
I was able to talk with a friend tonight, through instant messaging, about yesteday and I was encouraged. Everyone needs to know someone who's been in youth ministry for over 25 years. Thankfully, I know a handful.
The reason today was great: I had one of those great phone conversations in youth ministry today. I talked to a student and figured out when I would be able to go see his baseball game and it works out that I'll get to see him pitch next Monday. I could just hear the excitement in his voice and he actually said, "That'd be great if you could make it".
I talked to him to about getting together sometime and talking about a spiritual game plan for his own growth and he wants to do it.
Another student shared tonight via AIM how she "converted" to Chrisitanity a couple of months ago. She seemed to understand some basic salvation issues, I will meet with her and her best friend after Sunday School to talk in person.
I'm thrilled that God, sometimes, gives us reminders of why we are in youth ministry after one of those bad days.
Full Story in USA Today or NY Times
Take a look at the Weapons of Mass Obstruction ad that's going to run in The Washington Times Weekly today.
The story relating to the ad is titled GOP decries abortion 'litmus test' for judges.
I think this will be the real revolution in youth ministry for us to come alongside parents and help them create a custom spiritual game plan for their children in line with biblical orthodoxy and historical biblical spiritual habits. The revolution starts within and most parents need a spiritual game plan for themselves, too.
Dmitri always wanted to play in the Major Leagues but he also worked hard even then. He had a batting cage in his back yard. We'd go there for batting practice every once in a while.
How do we develop those type of students to be that advanced spiritually when compared to their peers? I think part of it is DNA (Family's Spiritual Heritage) but part of it is heart and dedication. I think a huge priority for us should be to model and show them how to develop the heart and dedication part of spiritual transformation.
We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. 1 Thessalonians 2:8
Two funny things to share: Which Circle? & Van Impe Adds Sports and Weather.
What are your reactions to their message from their site?
Josh McDowell and Ron Luce Have Heard You
"Your voices as youth workers have been heard. You’ve said that the values, beliefs and behavior of your youth are being eroded to what can only be called a state of crisis. And Josh and Ron want to help—help incite a revolution in youth ministry that will equip you to see your youth groups turned upside down for God!"
The family is asleep and I can enjoy some solitude and silence now, so I'm going to get it while I can.
This morning I experienced one of the things that will never change in American Youth Ministry. . . my house was TP'd, Toilet Papered, or Rolled. It was a "B+" job and my yard even had 'HI LEN' written with TP in 4ft letters on my front yard.
I am loved! :-)
Another reminder that anyone can dissapoint you. In seminary, I'd always hear the professor's say, "Better men than you have fallen." It's been branded in my mind. I actually keep a list of guys that I've known personally who've fallen over the years morally. The list is up to 8 guys. 8 guys in 9 years of full time ministry, those aren't good odds. I don't want to be one of those guys.
If we hire someone to do Jr. high and other responsibilities, my pastor wants me to start a "college ministry" and I will but I'm going to approach it with a church plant mentality. This is why I'm wrestling with the whole emerging church thing. I think a lot of it is right on, now I have to discover and discern what is right on for us in our little place.
Ministry is a funny thing, no need for details.
Ironically I was renewed and refreshed while hanging out with friends and fellow youth pastors during day long meetings.
I realized today that my daughter will enter our youth ministry in only four years. What kind of ministry will it be for her? I love my students but when I think about the youth ministry getting better and more focused on the important things in order for my daughter to have a dynamic, Christ centered youth ministry for her faith, I feel the urgency to work harder and pray even harder over goals, plans and KRA's for the next 4 years.
Maybe I should confess this to the parents at my church. Not sure. The great thing is I feel that I could share this with the parents at my church and they'd still love me and encourage me to do what it takes and invite them to do what it takes to create that sort of youth ministry in God's timing and God's way.
I don't want to be the best youth pastor in the world but I do want to be the best youth pastor that God has created and called me to be.
I was just told to turn off all electronic devices.
(This was written via the wonders of the PALM and Palm keyboard @ 9:53pm May 2, 2003)
I had a surreal moment today. One of the guys flew in today and the first thing he said to me was,"Nice article in the new issue of YouthWorker".
I think I'm finally becoming semi-comfortable with being considered a writer. I truly believe that any youth worker, who has at least 5 years experience, can contribute to the larger world of youth ministry by writing. The key is thinking of something unique that you've experienced and then translating your experience into principles for others or being able to tell a story that is unique to you that would encourage others in their ministry.
I told a couple of guys today, who asked me about writing, that the most important thing to me is in trying. You can't control if the editor or publisher will like your idea but you can control if you write and try, so at least write and then send it off. I might get to actually talk to me daughters 2nd grade class at some point about writing because my oldest daughter told her teacher about the book. That would be fun to do and it'd be fun to contribute to the school, I think that's what becoming missional is all about.