Monday, February 28, 2005

minor prophets

amos's table for the view

wednesday we're starting at "the view" a message series on the minor prophets. it's really supposed to be more than a message series though because we are going to have experiential stations set up around the room each week walking people through the 12 minor prophets. i stole the idea from jonny baker who did a worship session on the minor prophets that we have since adapted with some help from him. there are nine of us doing this (8 people doing the 8 minor prophets that i'm not talking about). i was so jealous of the fun that they are going to get to do by prayerfully developing a station that i decided i would do one on each of the four prophets that i am talking about (i just didn't want to miss out). i'm using the "welcome table" that we build each week for basic ministry info as a way to convey the prophet that i will be speaking on. we'll see how this whole thing goes.

above is the drawing i made in my moleskine of what i want to do with the "welcome table" while i'm speaking amos. i'll post pictures wednesday of what really happened.

here's the series of mesages and the stations for each one:

march 2 - amos
    station hosea - haley
    station joel - julie

march 9 - jonah
    station obadiah - whitney & sarah
    station micah - meagan

march 16 - habakkuk
    station nahum - sergio
    station zephaniah - brittany

march 23 - malachi
    station haggai - pam
    station zechariah - rebekah

Saturday, February 26, 2005

just plain funny

stormtrooper pissing 2
Originally uploaded by Brownstein.
i saw this on flickr and thought it was hillarious. the life of a storm trooper is simply not easy.

Thursday, February 24, 2005


the leader's material for our discipleNOW has finally been published. we finished it today. i also finished the student material and we started publishing it. it would like to see an adobe acrobat version of the material CLICK HERE. there is still plenty that needs to be done on the Dnow but life is much better now that i know the leaders will soon have their material.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

finished - sort of

my moleskineI FINISHED IT! well kind of. i've been struggling with the dnow material for about a month now. mainly it was because i just couldn't figure out where it was supposed to go. i'm in one of those times right now that when i pray begging GOD for guidance HE just responds with a chuckle and says "nope! I'm not gonna tell you right now." it sure does make for a struggle writing stuff when GOD decides to do that. the good side is that for some reason those times always help my relationship with HIM. the other part of the writing struggle has been tons of distractions but truthfully i live for distractions and usually consider the distractions some of the best ministry opportunities so i can't really complain.

anyway, i have finally gotten all four studies and general themes into a word document. now i have to proof them and get them in the desktop publisher with all those nice graphics and images. that's the easy part though.


event blog

march 11-13 we will have our annual discipleNOW. for those who don't know what a dnow is it's basically a small group retreat in people's homes with large group worship added each night. our have traditionally been wonderful because it's a good way for allot of people to connect intimately with others (on of the former participants reads this blog and he can correct me if i'm wrong). this year i decided to see if the world of blogging could help us with the dnow (i decided this a little late but hopefully it will still work). we've set up a blog for all of our leaders to be involved with. this way we can get ideas and such out to them but they can also comment on and improve upon those ideas. everyone seems excited about it. now we just have to see if it's worth the effort. if it works i'll probably start doing one for each of the larger things we do during the year.

here's the blog if you want to follow it's progress towards being effective or being a waste of time.

Monday, February 21, 2005

psalm 23

psalm 23
Originally uploaded by ratterrell.
this door is in nicaragua. i fell in love with it during my first visit to the country. the reason for my love for the door is the irony of the door. nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere and driambe is one of the poorer cities within nicaragua. if you saw it you would know it instantly.

there is extreme want within the city. i don't mean a want or desire for things but rather a desire for the necessities of life. the people of the city need food, water, shelter, clothing, etc. most important many people within the nation need hope. hope is the biggest thing necessary for life.

that's why the picture blows me away. in the midst of a situation that many would proclaim hopeless the owner of this door has decided to proclaim "the LORD is my SHEPHERD i shall not be in want."

that's impressive faith. that faith that will make a difference and probably already has.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

working on material

right now i feel just like the above picture. i'm working on material for our discipleNOW (material which should have been finished three weeks ago) and it's simply not coming to me right now. i'm strugling through trying to make sense of what GOD wants to say through this stuff and it's just not coming very easily.

SIDE NOTE - the above picture came from Si Smith's comic illustrations of JESUS's 40 days in the desert. He is posting a different image everyday of lent. you can find them here. by the end of lent all the images will be available for download. i would have never thought that comic illustrations of JESUS would be so moving.

Friday, February 18, 2005

landover baptist church

i can't believe it has taken me so long to realize that landover baptist church had a youth ministry. i've followed landover with interest for years. i mean what could be better than a church with a tag line that says "the largest assembly of worthwhile people to ever exist. unsaved are NOT welcomed." does it get any better than that? yet i've never imagined that they would have a youth ministry. i lucked into their youth ministry today while reading about how "JESUS didn't have long hair." what i read was amazing. it's youth ministry at it's finest. :)

every so often i try to go visit another church's youth ministry and learn from what they are doing (or not doing). what better example could there be than the youth ministry at landover? i've got to learn from them. hopefully, with lots of work i could lead a youth ministry as good as theirs. :)


i just got back from watching the movie "constantine" and i'm still not sure how i feel about it. the movie is blatantly spiritual without preaching a specific agenda. it is nice to see faith claims being treated seriously. constantine discusses CHRISTian theology on forgiveness and the battle between good and evil and it does it in such a way that good discussions will come from the movie. i love the fact that hollywood has moved beyond making fun of spirituality. constantine is just the latest example of hollywood being open to spirituality. they approach the theme of constantine with an appropriate sense of respect and it shows within it's content. there was some serious depth within some of the movie's dialogue. the conversations between constantine and gabriel are great.

what i'm not sure of it how good the movie was. i liked it because i was excited about the extreme spiritual nature of the movie but i'm not sure i would have liked the movie if the spiritual content had not been there. sometimes the movie felt a little slow. i wish the whole thing had been a little shorter.

Thursday, February 17, 2005


jonathan our minister of belonging
this is jonathan and he is our new "official" "minister of belonging." he has taken up the task of making sure that every person that joins us for anything feels like they "belong." what a great word "belonging" is. we all have a need to "belong." we need to know that we are not in this on our own and even that we are not just part of a group. nope we need to "belong." "belonging" is so much more than just being a part of something.

jonathan has decided to make sure that people "belong" with us.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


why is it that the most legitimate needs arise on the day in which i need to be most focused? i really needed about 5 hours of solitude for writing some bible study material. instead of quietness and peace i received tons of urgent messages today on real needs. these were real needs (from my youngest child having a headache to a church member being stranded on the interstate and not having anyone else to call). being a good dad and a minister meant helping with these needs. yet i still need to write two studies and format two others. i didn't get anything done on those and i really needed to since i need to have them finished a week ago. it always seems to happen this way.

Monday, February 14, 2005


i hate senioritis! it's a very personal hatred too. i don't hate it because my seniors are not around to be leaders within the youth ministry anymore - truthfully it seems to me each year that the junior class within the student ministry are almost always better leaders/servants than the seniors. it's not even that the number of seniors attenders to our weekly services goes down because the past two years it hasn't - last year we had more seniors attending at the end of the year than at the beginning and the same thing seems to be happening this year.

nope the real reason i hate senioritis is completely selfish - i don't get to spend as much time with my seniors as soon as senioritis kicks into gear. even though we have more seniors coming to our weekly programs i don't see the same seniors as often and when i do see them they don't just hang out as much. we have a fair number of teens who regularly participate in the ministry. yet the whole thing still feels small because everyone loves each other and there is always allot of hanging out that happens before and after things. for some reason it seems like every year the seniors just don't hang out as much. i love these guys & girls. i've spent four years getting to know my senior class. i love the circles of conversations that form after our wednesday night worship service, the view. in many ways these "circles" are the life blood of our ministry. i hate senoritis because it keeps our seniors from being a big part of these "circles". they simply have other things going on now so they attend, they sing loudly, they listen well but they don't hang out. that saddens me.

in addition to the fact that our kids love to hang out with each other one of the things i love about our student ministry is that our teens and adults desire to be apart of making things happen. we aren't just putting things "on" for people to come to. we have a group of people who want to participate in the process of ministry. they show up early, they volunteer to help with things, they come up with ideas for things to be involved in and ways to improve what is going on, and last but not least they aren't afraid to try something new and possibly fail completely (we frequently try things that fail miserably). senioritis leads to our seniors merely being "attenders" when they used to be "participants." that saddens me.

slowly but surely our seniors are pulling out of our hang out "circles" and becoming attenders rather than participants. it happens every year and i guess i should be used to it by now. i'm not and i hope i'll never actually be "used to it." our seniors are showing up for events and programs and then leaving. they have new directions in life that are pulling them in new directions. i understand that but i still don't like it. honestly, i feel like the new directions are pulling the kids away from me. yes this is all about me. i've seen them grow from eighth graders, small little pubescent punks :), to young men and women. i love hearing their stories. i love and enjoy these seniors (just like i did last year's and the year before's) both as individuals and a group. i miss them when i don't get to spend as much time with them. every year about this time the seniors start simply coming to things and that's when i start missing them.

i see it happening already and i am beginning to miss these kids already. that saddens me.

letter to the our church leaders

a friend of mine (chris) sent me the following "open letter" via email. i've since found it on brian mclaren's site. anyways, i was amazed by this letter.

As a 24-year-old youth leader, I have had many conversations with teens and twenty-somethings, both churched and unchurched. If we truly listened, they might say something like this:

Dear Church, Leaders:

By now, some of you are beginning to notice that we, the high school upperclassmen, college students, and young adults, have lost interest and have decided that our time and money is better spent elsewhere. For those who actually want to know why, here is your chance to listen – and we know that this may be hard since many of you have learned to pretend that you’re listening to ease your aching consciences. Just so you know, you haven’t fooled us; we can see through your pretentious attempts. However, this is one last chance to hear us out – we may not speak again, so fasten your seatbelts.

Whether you realize it or not, we have actually learned very much from you, our priests, pastors, teachers, and parents. Sadly, we have learned more from your lives than from your lectures and sermons. We have learned that it is much more important to seek financial stability from high-paying, prestigious jobs and collect needless junk than it is to pursue a life of self-sacrifice and adventure. We have learned to evaluate others on the basis of race, gender, income level, and appearance. We have learned that memorizing mindless creeds and analyzing theological systems have little power in making us better people.

We have learned how to outsource responsibility. We have learned to leave childcare to the professionals, caring for the poor to the government, social justice to the ACLU and NAACP, reproductive decisions to Planned Parenthood, and environmental awareness to the Darwinists and tree-huggers.

Most of us will never return, at least not to an institutionalized church. We have zero interest in participating in your silly, religious subculture. Honestly, it’s ridiculous, cheesy, and self-serving. We will never give you our money, which we’d rather spend on rent and alcohol, so that you can make your Lexus payment or add to your building fund.

Do we sound too harsh? Where do you think we learned how to judge?

It may surprise you to find out that, although our church attendance is slipping, we are very interested in spiritual matters, perhaps more so than you. We are desperately searching for something touchable to transcend our lives of quiet desperation. We hate our jobs, we don’t know how to have healthy relationships, we are constantly seeking the next thrill. We are terribly bored and dissatisfied. We are screaming for answers.

We have also learned that we don’t want the life of any adult that we know.

You asked for it, so here’s our wish list:

We want our lives back. You told us that God wants us to live exciting lives, but that’s not what we found. We want our individuality valued. You told us that God created us exactly they way we are for special reasons – why do you invest so much time and energy trying to strip us of our uniqueness so that we can fit inside the same tiny little box you try to put your God into!!! By the way, most of us who may appear at a glance to be lazy are simply unmotivated. We’ll spend hours on creative projects; however, we simply have no desire to participate in a dehumanizing workforce that requires us to leave our individuality at home just to play a monotonous role in making another piece of worthless junk. Give us a reason to put our hearts back into our work.

Teach us HOW to think. You want us to believe that God is Sovereign and self-evident and that absolute truth exists. If He does, then He can speak for Himself. He doesn’t need a hypocritical entourage to defend Him with sleazy, used-car-salesman manipulation tactics. Teach us how to identify spiritual truth and how to spot the work of God in our lives – don’t hand us a pamphlet to memorize.

How about a little compassion? Whether we think Jesus is the Son of God or not, most of us have a favorable opinion of Him and recognize that he knew how to live a selfless life. We may never participate – after all, one of the other things we learned in Sunday school was how to live comfortably with a disconnect between our beliefs and our actions – but if you made honest attempts to follow His example, at least we could respect you.

One last thing: stop trying to make us fill your seats and sing your songs and listen to your sermons before you will “minister” to us. If you have no interest in forming actual human relationships with us, then don’t even bother. We are not projects. We aren’t an untapped market. We don’t need another program. We don’t need another product to consume. We do need friendship and we do need identity. Meet us here, and we might listen. Oh, and by the way, at that point you still might not need to say much because we pick up so much more from watching than from listening.

Your prodigal slackers

Friday, February 11, 2005

blogger comments

HURRAY! blogger has updated their comments! now non-blogger users can post comments with their name and website. ah, yes. it's good.

SIDE NOTE - i uploaded the summary video from our fall JESUS project retreat. i made the video in imovie and therefore the format is quicktime rather than the usual realmedia that i publish the other movie files in. i'm not very pleased with this video. i wish it moved a little faster. it feels like every scene last about 4 seconds too long. it makes for a slow feel through out the whole video. of course, i made the video in the 30 minutes before our last worship service on the sunday that the retreat ended so i guess the video is as good as time allows. i really need to figure out how to use final cut express 2. i've just been too lazy to really dig into the program and figure the whole thing out.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

feminar video

this blog started out as a journal of my exploration into learning how to use homemade video within our ministry. that's why i need to tell you about another fact i have justed learned about video within youth ministry. the fact i learned is that if you asking someone to video an event for you make sure and walk them through all of the operation of the camera. give them in depth instructions. we had a "feminar" for our girls this past weekend (i have discussed the feminar is an earlier post). i asked one of our adult volunteers to video the event (since i as a male was not allowed in). she did a great job of videoing the weekend except for one minor detail - i didn't tell her about the camcorder's night shot feature. she videoed the entire night with the nightshot feature on. this makes all of the video looked like a greenish black and white film (which i guess would be a greenish and white video).

anyway, here's the summary video in realmedia format.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

the view - february, 2005

for the next several weeks at the view we are doing messages based on teens questions that they put in a fish bowl each week. some of the questions are serious and some of them or not so serious. tonight we discussed:
  • was jonah swallowed by a fish or a whale? a question came back to how do we understand scripture: as a book of facts or as a message meant to convey GOD's good news to a hurting world.
  • is satan a homo? we answered this be means of a video that we had allot of fun with.
  • faith or works?
  • what is robert's favorite color? we answered this with another video

it made for a somewhat disjointed night but it was still fun and the discussions on "jonah" and "works" brought up some really good discussion that is needed within the youth ministry.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

the "justice" of social security

i'm basically a liberal conservative. what this means is that my default pattern of thinking has be conservative from my childhood but it has been progressively becoming more liberal as i grow older (the exact opposite pattern of typical american political thought - more liberal at an early age becoming more conservative as a person grows older). the main part of the growth of the more liberal thought within my life has been centered on social justice issues. my desire for the poor to be taken care of is beginning to be the determining factor within my political thought. it is with that in mind that i want to talk for a second about the privatization of social security.

the typical conservative stance on this issue is to support privatizing social security as a means of getting the government out of another area of life. the standard liberal stance is to demand that social security stay non-privatized. personally, i want to see social security privatized but it has nothing to do with conservative thought. nope it has everything to do with social justice. right now minorities (especially african-americans) have a lower life expectancy. the average white male has a life expectancy of 74.8 years. the average black male has a life expectancy of 68.2 years. this means generally that african-americans who pay into social security get much less back from it than do anglos because they will must likely live 6 years less. african-americans are paying into a system that they will receive very little from. when they die none of the money that they paid into the system will go to their survivors, unless those survivors are below the age of 18.

privatizing social security will begin to provide an inheritance because a large portion of the money you pay into the system will be in your own private account. when you die that money can go to your survivors as an inheritance. think of the difference that could make. thing of the impact that it would have on a family to receive $50 to $60,000 at the death of their 55 year old dad. that money could buy a house and move a family into a better area of town and schools. this could change an entire family's life. i see this as a religious issue because i believe we should look out for the interests of the weak. right now the weak whose life expectancy is less are paying for the majority to be able to receive social security.

Monday, February 07, 2005

ministry consumerism

my mail today consisted of nine different opportunities for me to involve my kids in some "ministry opportunity" that is going to change their lives, or change the way they view GOD, or shape them into leaders who will change the world. all i have to do is shell out $265 for the conference fee or $99.95 for the leader's pack or $350 for the whitewater camp experience. it's really that easy? all i have to do is bring or buy something for my youth and the youth ministry has accomplished it's goal? all of the offers came with outstanding advertisements. the promotional materials were full of great testimonies from other ministers who had been smart enough and sensitive enough to the SPIRIT to take their kids to these programs or use the right material. the ads were full of pictures of cool looking teens having a great time. it was all hip, cool, and definitely appealing.

it all made me sick.

how much do we spend in promotion to get out the message that our standards are no different from the world's? the contents of my mail showed the truth. the advertisements and promo packs told the story of what we really think is valuable. we value flash. this is why our churches are so busy going to national programs rather than doing things together, locally, relationally. this is why our kids are convinced they must have an "experience." if they didn't have an "experience" then it was a trip or event that GOD was a part of it? rather than us growing closer and closer by being in the whole process together we sell out and just take our teens to things.

we "ministers" really like to buy into all this stuff. we love the "big events" just as much as the kids. we love the hype, the great "summary" videos, the t-shirts, and crap. we buy right into it all. i know i do. give me some free stuff and i think much better of you. free stuff dismisses allot of my questions. i'm such a whore.

i'm really not opposed to all the "big things." i think they have their place. i think they can be great tools. but that's all they are ... tools. they're not ministry. they're events. the real ministry takes place in the youth ministries that bring the kids to the "big events" and are there when the real problems of life occur. that's the important stuff.

i just hope i can remember that next time i'm given some cool camp item for free.

nerd test

i just finished taking a test on my "nerd rating" and figured i would paste it for y'all to be able to see. nothing really surprising personally. you can take the test for yourself by clicking the image below.

I am nerdier than 54% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

the feminar

feminar 2005i am firmly convinced that most youth ministry is far to masculine in nature. because of this a few years ago our student ministry came up with the idea of doing a "feminar". basically it's a mini-retreat dealing with feminine issues. so of course, i have nothing to do with this retreat. i give the whole thing over to a group of ladies (led by my assistant, jessica) and they work through all the details. all i do is make an appearance to say "hi" and then hear the reports afterward. the ladies make the whole thing into a huge slumber party.

this year the feminar was february 4th-5th and it was tremendous according to all reports. we had about 65 girls that were a part of it. my wife, pam, was a part of the weekend and she came back talking about seventh grade girls talking about their lives being full of thinking that they have let people like their parents down and how hard it was to live under that pressure. they had deep conversations and CHRIST was continually brought into the midst of those conversations. it was a great weekend. i'm very proud to have those ladies on our team.

Friday, February 04, 2005

hospitality - what is it good for?

do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. hebrews 13:2

lunch @ deangelosover the past four to five months my wife, pam, and i have really been dealing with the biblical concept of hospitality. truthfully hospitality is a concept that i find frustrating. it frustrates me because i don't understand it. it is completely foreign to what i have been told in this world. hospitality is much more than just "having people over." hospitality focuses on the "alien" or "stranger". it means bringing those who are on the "margins of society" into your lives. it is not just meeting the needs of food, clothing, or lodging, though that is definitely a part of it. hospitality involves bringing those who are on the margins actually into your lives and homes.

in my opinion hospitality is simply not practiced very well within western CHRISTianity. if nothing else i know that i don't practice it very well. yet it is of incredible importance in both the old and new testaments. this means that the follower of CHRIST, which i am trying to be, needs to practice it. this is not something that is easy for me to practice. i would rather give money to help, or go to the place of need and serve. bringing the "alien and stranger" into my house is something else entirely.

pam and i have been taking small steps. we had a homeless friend over awhile back for supper with our kids and us. it was a wonderful experience. the next step for us is to "adopt" two l.s.u. students who are from india. according to the university these guys have been in the states for two years and are still desperate to know someone. we've made the contact and started the process of getting them over to our houses regularly. the next step is actually getting them into our homes. we're not doing this as some form of evangelism to india (though if they come to know CHRIST i would be please as punch). we are not trying nor will we attempt to prostelize them. this is merely an attempt to bring some guys who are on the margins of american society into our homes and practice hospitality.

i don't really know what i'm doing but i do know that i really want to understand what GOD means by "do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers" and i guess this is the start of understanding that.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

the beauty of a team

i've been majorly sick the past week. starting sunday afternoon i developed the mother of all flu's. it was awful. i didn't go anywhere near the church until earlier this morning. truthfully i didn't care what happened at the church - not because i don't care about my family that is there but rather because i didn't care about much other than when my next dose of medicine was coming up and how long i could sleep that time. i felt miserable. this post however is not about me. it's about the staff that i work with.

i work with two wonderful people, jessica and alan. together we make up the youth ministry staff that leads a team of volunteers in getting the youth ministry going and grooving. technically i'm their boss, but truthfully we are a team. they didn't miss a beat without me there even though we have a pretty major girls event this weekend (the feminar). everything, including our wednesday night service (the view) ran wonderfully. kids were assured of GOD's love, parent's were assured that they matter within the youth ministry and everyone was pushed and encouraged in following our wonderfully dangerous LORD and SAVIOR. and i had nothing to do with it.

i love my staff.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005