I won't be online for a week or so.
Questions To Think About: I hope these questions are not just read but thoughtfully answered. You could ask yourself 2-3 questions each day until you've completed them. The best option would be to journal your answers or discuss them with your best friend and see if they agree with your answers about yourself.
What am I doing today that will have an everlasting result?
How am I modeling contentment to my children?
Do I treat church as another consumer opportunity?
Did I love everyone that I could as much as I could today?
When my friends talk about me at my funeral, what will they say?
What's the most amazing thing that God could do with the rest of my life?
What Bible verses am I going to memorize, this week?
Have I prayed for the church leaders in a way that would please God?
If I had one week to live what would my regrets be? How can I change that if I live longer than one week?
What do I hope my spiritual legacy will be to my grandchildren? What steps can I take to achieve that?
How big of an issue is pride in my life? Who will help me deal with this?
What relational problems can I resolve this month?
Is there anyone I need to forgive?
Do I pray for opportunities to share my faith? If not, what am I afraid of? How can God help me with those fears?
Do I see worship as an everyday attitude or as a Sunday appointment? How can I worship God more during the week?
How much of my Christian theology has been influenced by my American culture?
How can I be a better listener and therefore show that I care more about the needs of others?
Number of Nones grows
Their numbers have more than doubled in a decade to nearly 30 million. Organized as a religous denomination they would trail only Catholics and Baptists in members. They are the "nones", named for their response to a question in public opinion polls: "What is your religion if any?"
Some "nones" are atheists, others agnostics, still others are self-styled dabblers in a variety of faiths and philosophies. Despite their discomfort with organized religion many consider themselves spiritual.
That makes "nones" the fastest growing "religious group" in the United States.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IT GETS COLDER
1. At 60 above zero. Floridians turn the heat on. People in New England start to plant gardens.
2. At 50 above zero. Californians shiver uncontrollably. People in New England sunbathe.
3. At 40 above zero. Italian and English cars won't start. People in New England drive with the windows open.
4. At 32 above zero. Distilled water freezes. Moosehead Lake's water gets thicker.
5. At 28 above zero. Floridians don coats, thermal underwear, gloves and hats. People in New England throw on a flannel shirt.
6. At 25 above zero. New York landlords finally turn on the heat. People in New England have the last cookout before it turns cold.
7. At 23 above zero People in Miami die - or return to Cuba. New Englanders close the windows almost all the way.
8. At 20 above zero. Californians go to Mexico. People in New England get out their Winter coats "just in case".
9. At 15 above zero Hollywood disintegrates. Girl Scouts in New England are still selling cookies door to door.
10. At zero Washington DC runs out of hot air. People in New England let the dogs sleep inside.
11. At 25 below zero. Santa Claus abandons the North Pole. People in New England get frustrated because "the caah won't staaht".
12. At 275 below zero. All atomic motion stops. (Absolute zero on the Kelvin scale). People in New England start saying, "cold 'nuff for ya?"
13. At 500 below zero. Hell freezes over and the Red Sox win the World Series.
When I'm done with the lesson, I'm going to finish the article I'm doing for them, too.
Good day today at church. I was able to teach the Men's class. They are starting a study on 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus. I did the first lesson and did the introduction for them on the Pastorals and gave them a ton of background info and other things to consider as they begin their study of these three personal books by Paul.
I was pleasently surprised that I didn't use my notes much from the chapter I wrote for YS. I did however, just to see their reaction, give them an icebreaker type of game to do that related to the lesson. Adults should have more fun, myself included.
Off to write more.
Pressure to measure success by the number of the kids who attend the youth programs rather than the quality of the ministry.
The youth budget is often the first to be slashed in a financial crunch.
Lack of support from the senior pastor.
Lack of support from parents.
Church leadership looks to youth workers to "parent" the teens.
Parents see youth programs as glorified babysitting.
Lack of clarity among church leadership over job description, expectations, and accountability.
Lack of clear vision for the church, and youth ministry's place in that vision.
Youth workers burn themselves out trying to please . . . who?. . . the pastor, the youth committee, the parents. . .
Lack of professional training and tools.
This was in a letter sent out by Youthworker, to encourage renewing, so I'd guess it's either by Will or our friends at YS.
Please leave your nominations for other reasons why youth workers fail in the comments. Or say if you agree or disagree. Thanks!
Good stuff. I can't wait to get it. I may order it today, actually. Here are my favorite thoughts from the three things he posted:
The work of theology must happen in full community. Of course it must include the ideas of those who have come before us, but to simply accept the work of our forebears in the faith as the end of the conversation is to outsource the real work of thinking, and that turns theology into a stagnant philosophy rather than an active pursuit of how we are to live God’s story in our time. The communities that are best equipped for the task of spiritual formation in the post-industrial age are those who make the practice of theology an essential element of their lives together. This is in no way a call to be less theological, but a call to our communities to be more involved in the work of theology as a necessary part of the spiritual formation process.
Brian McLaren's Ministry in the Postmodern Matrix @ Dallas Theological Seminary
My DTS alum e-mail described it this way:
Warning! This is not your father’s conference on church ministry!
As current as today’s headlines, as on-target as a laser guided missile, Brian McLaren will talk about doing ministry in the emerging post-modern age. Not only will Brian give key insights into critical elements of ministry, he will stretch our thinking on future twists in the theological path.
I'm thrilled that DTS is having McLaren talk, I hope everyone can hear him. Which reminds me of a trustworthy saying:
You can always tell a Dallas Seminary grad.
You can't tell him much but you can always tell him.
Here's his latest post: Why things should be cheap or free
I love Chris' and Ryan's philosophy of free youth ministry materials being made available to everyone.
Maybe I'll have to see if I can join their club around 04/04/04. hmmmmm :-)
166 Downloadable resources from Jim Burns and Youthbuilders.
I scored a 52. "You are a dedicated weblogger. You post frequently because you enjoy weblogging a lot, yet you still manage to have a social life. You're the best kind of weblogger. Way to go!"
I love encouragement even when it's from a goofy quiz.
Quiz found @ Johnny Baker's Blog.
The fact that I posted this on the church computer 15 minutes before a church meeting means I'm a healthy weblogger. If I was sick I'd do it 2 minutes before the meeting. :-)
After going through 40 Days of Purpose, a national campaign that began at Saddleback in the fall of 2002, the Sierra Christian Center almost doubled its attendance. The number of prisoners in small group Bible studies grew from around 20 to more than 150 in just a few months. Prisoners from different social and ethnic groups have begun worshiping together -- a monumental breakthrough in a prison system often plagued by racial violence.
Now their small church, from inside prison walls, has even started worship services that are friendly to non-believers, including smiling greeters and plenty of greenery. . . .
This is the final blog about writing and I'm amazed I've had this much to say.
Everyone has a Story
This is my primary conviction that drives me to try and write. Everyone has a story to share. I think that anyone who has been in ministry for more than five years has enough exprerience to help others, even those with more exprience. The key is to think of the unique stories in your life and extract the principles from them that can help others. There is nothing new under the sun. My classic story is when at my last church a leader came in and told me that the church wanted 200 students at church every Sunday and it was 100% my responsibility to make it happen. (If you want the full story e-mail me at SnaveNel@aol.com) What I shared with others as a result of that experience are these two main points:
1. Expectations determine your experience and your exit in youth ministry.
2. Expectations that hurt you in youth ministry are either Unspoken, Unclear or Unrealistic.
I had more details for each of those points but both principles were learned from one experience. Look for the principles in your experience and paint a picture of what that looks like for others.
Paint a Picture
When you tell a story you paint a picture of what it is that you want your readers to experience. You want to be understood but more importantly you want to avoid being misunderstood.
Find Your Voice
Be yourself with your own unique quirks and views. As the old country preacher used to say, "You gotta be who you is. Cause if you is who you ain't, then you ain't who you is." No one else has your view or experiences, learn how to share those views and expriences with others, as only you can.
Finding places to write
I recommend two books: Christian Writers' Market Guide 2004 by Sally Stuart and Sally Stuart's Guide to Getting Published
Writers Guidelines for GROUP
Writers Guidelines for Youthworker Journal
Writers Guidelines for NavPress
Submit an Article to TheOoze.com (you have to be logged in as a registered user to use this link)
Writers Guidelines for Christianity Today
I hope these hints from my experiences help you as you seek to get published. Now stop reading and GO WRITE! ;-)
It helps to know someone
This one stinks but knowing someone or knowing someone that someone knows helped me in different ways when I began to write. I got my first break in an online "YM Cafe" hosted by YS in an AOL chatroom, once a week. It was back in 94 or 95 and Tim McLaughlin and I were the only ones there to talk YM. After we chatted for a bit, I asked him how they choose their "Tool" reviewers in Youthworker and that my old youth pastor used to do them. We talked a little about Greg and then I gave him my e-mail and he added me to the pool of Tool reviewers.
Another friend of mine had written for Interlinc and one day asked me if I wanted to try because they were looking for writers. I said "yes" and I began to get on their list of writers, too and eventually wrote my first lesson for them. I've been able to help three other friends get published with Interlinc, so far.
Connections help get your foot in the door but what you do determines if you are invited into the room or if the door is shut in your face.
One of the best things you can do is go to the "So You Want to Get Published" late night options at a YS Convention. There you can meet with editors and producers of products and throw your ideas out and see the response.
A more recent development has been that my advisor from seminary has pitched a YM idea to Kregel and he wants me to be a co-author with him, if they like it. I should find out in a month or two.
You don't have to know someone
If your idea is good or unique enough, someone will want it. Magazines and Publishers NEED good ideas to stay in business. GROUP is a great place to "break in" for youth ministry publishing because they have a wide array of needs in their magazine.
Pay Your Dues
Maybe you'll live the dream and your first book will be a runaway success but don't plan on it. Write what you can and where you can. Try denominational magazines, newsletters, etc. The very first time I was published was because of my seminary prof who was able to let us write some "filler" for a Chistian Education magazine. It was small but it was a start. I then wrote occasional "Tool Reviews" for Youthworker for a couple of years and then my first sidebar (little article) back in 98 for Youthworker.
Then no other artilces until 2001 but a good streak started then with Youthworker Journal. I'm guessing I've had 6-7 sidebars and two articles for them since then. During this time I also sold the concept and all of my archives to YS for the "Student E-Newsletter". After that was completed I put off sending my idea for a Creative Bible Lesson book for about a year but I finally sent the proposal and Waa Laa!! I'm an official author, come August of 2004. But it has been a long road for me to go from wanting to write to being able to write a book.
Hopefully your writing journey won't be that long until you get to where you want to be but hopefully it will be just as rewarding.
One of the best things I ever heard about getting published was in a late night option at the YS Convention in '97. Tim McLaughlin, Youthworker's managing editor for six years, gave some advice along these lines.
Whether you are published in a local newspaper for a story or Backpackers Monthly, the important thing that editors like to see is that others have used you. And no, church newsletters don't count.
Very few people make money they can live on by writing
Don't give up the day job and become a freelance writer. Become a freelance writer while you work your day job.
Those that succeed at writing take it seriously
This was the advice that I took to heart. I started treating writing like a part-time job. I'd try to put about 5 hours a week towards writing, research or improving my writing. It didn't always happen but it helped me to remain focused.