Monday, July 25, 2005

white privilege: unpacking the invisible knapsack

white privilege: unpacking the invisible knapsack

read this article. my wife pointed it out to me and i think it is incredible. it is all about the privileges that i as an anglo recieve simply for being anglo. it's not a bash on the white people article. instead it is simply a good reminder of what others have to overcome.

here are a few of the mainly unperceived white privileges:
  • Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
  • I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.
  • I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
  • I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.
  • I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
  • Sunday, July 24, 2005

    i'm so glad we had this time together ...

    so here's why today sucked.

    my senior pastor, bill, resigned from our church today. our church has been going through some disagreements for awhile. bill has born the brunt of the disagreements. here's basically what was going on:
    • our church has a large private school of a little over 1600 kids (talking about the school is a separate issue for me because i basically believe in public education). some years ago the school wiggled out of the church's direct control.
    • certain individuals wanted to bring the school back under direct church control. other individuals didn't want that to happen.
    • during this same disagreement one group of people wanted the church to come under pastoral control and another group wanted it to stay congregational in it's nature.
    • finally there were two other groups: a group that didn't like the superintendent of the school and a group that didn't really care for our pastor.
    • all of these groups finally found an issue that they could unite over and fight about - the school and it's relationship to the church structure.
    • when everyone else chose a side our pastor had too also.
    • then the fight began and some people on both sides were willing to do anything to win. even to the point of questioning the fedility of our pastor's wife.

    the sad thing is that the disagreement has consumed a group of people on each side. most of the other church members couldn't care less about the whole thing. apparently bill became fed up with the whole thing and decided it was time to go.

    so now my church is confused and hurt. allot of people that i love and care about are worried about what is going to happen next. now is when i feel that we, the church staff, have to "shepherd" the most. this is not the first time that a pastor has left over a dispute and it won't be the last. we have to remind our church members that while it may feel like the "sky is falling" it is in fact not. GOD has not left our church and HE will still do great things in and through it. now is the time to remind people that sometimes families disagree and cruel words are hastily said but in the end we are still family.

    so here's the process for finding a new pastor within a southern baptist church:
    • complete confusion for the first three weeks or so - for good or bad southern baptist churches are very dependent upon the personality of their pastors. most people go to a southern baptist church for one of three reasons: 1) they were raised within that church, 2)they came from another church/city because they liked the present pastor, or 3)because this was the church in which they began their relationship with CHRIST. for a large number of people this means that when a pastor leaves they suddenly find that one of the main reasons that they had been at that church has also left. so this leads to some "sky is falling" "GOD has forsaken" us confusion.
    • after the initial chaos has finished the church slowly starts the process of searching for a new pastor. the first step for the church is that it will pick a group of individuals from within the church who will have the job of searching for a new pastor. this is usually called the "pastor search committee" but can be called anything. for the church staff the first step will be picking one of the staff members to be the staff leader.
    • the first thing the "pastor search committee" will be to search for an interim pastor. the interim pastor will preach on sundays and wednesdays. the "staff leader" will take on the remaining administrative responsibilities of the now departed senior pastor.
    • after the "pastor search committee" finds an interim pastor the group will then move to the process of finding a senior pastor. this begins with getting as many resumes as possible. resumes will be sent in from friends, seminaries, individuals, pastors, etc.
    • once they received the resumes the group will pray over everything and begin to weed through it all. they will narrow the group down and then call and ask if the individual would mind praying about the possibility of discussing this further.
    • after everyone has prayed and some of the individuals have said "yes" the committee will ask for sermon tapes and references. they will listen to the tapes, watch videos of the individuals and search through the references.
    • the group will then pray again and reach a decision to go further with one individual.
    • then the group will deal with this individual until all of the them (the committee and the individual) say "yes" or they say "no".
    • if it is a "no" then they will go back to the pile of resumes and tapes and start praying again.
    • if it is a "yes" they will bring the pastor in for a weekend for the church to meet the pastor prospect.
    • then the church votes - which is usually, but not always, a forgone conclusions because the church obviously trust the committee, since they picked them.
    • the whole process will probably take 8 months to 2 years.

    the good thing is that every interim i have ever been through has been extremely positive. in fact, the interim times have been some of my best experiences within any church.

    Saturday, July 23, 2005

    been awhile

    it's been awhile since i last blogged.

    i've thrown up 4 times over the past 24 hours and i basically feel curdy.

    before throwing up for the first time yesterday i took my kids to see batman begins (which is why the contents of my first hurl was mainly popcorn - a good substance to throw up because it comes up easy). wow, what a movie. it was incredible. j.t. was right in bragging about it. it was great. i loved it, my kids loved it, and my stomach even lasted throughly the entire movie without releasing its contents.

    thursday night i went to speak l.s.u.'s baptist campus ministry. usually there are a couple of hundred people there for their worship service. thursday night there were 25. i killed the message i gone there with and instead got everyone into a circle to discuss why our first century brother's and sister's confession of "JESUS is lord" was considered so dangerous by the roman world and our same confession is not. it made for an interesting evening.

    i usually love sundays but tomorrow is going to suck.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2005

    don't panic

    i figured i would give y'all an update on my arm. as you probably know i received a typhoid shot earlier today to get myself ready for our annual youth mission trip to nicaragua. for some reason the typhoid shot is always painful and earlier today was no exception - it hurt. the question now is does it still hurt?

    the answer is - yes it does still hurt.


    i'm not a wimp about shots or anything but i received my bi-annual typhoid shot for going to nicaragua and my arm is killing me. this has to consistently be the most painful shot i have ever gotten.


    i love good comments from people. i really enjoy it when people brag about something i have done or said. it makes my day or night we someone says that what i have lead has been amazing.

    of course, i don't usually grow much from these positive comments that i love to hear. actually, i usually grow the most form negative comments. for me the negative comments usually point the clearest to my weaknesses. in some ways the negative comments are closer to honest critique than any of the positive comments i have ever received.

    according to wikipedia criticism is:
    the activity of judgement or interpretation ... the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

    i need people to "reason" about what i am doing so that it's weaknesses can be pointed out and i can work on improving those areas. that's why i joined the weekly group at flickr. weekly is a place where you can post one picture a week and then people offer their criticism concerning your photo. i want to improve as a photographer and the weekly group is helping with that. i love it. the positive comments are good but truthfully i usually learn allot more from the negative comments.

    i feel the same is true in ministry. the positive feedback is nice but the negative statements (when we sort through all the person crap that often accompanies them) do the best job of pointing out our areas for improvement. i don't absorb all that is said with a negative comment because often there is a bunch of personal bitterness connected with some of those statements. yet more often than not there is a nugget of truth to be found within the criticism. that's what i want to discover. i want to find that small granule of truth and learn from it.

    alan, the assistant youth minister, and i are about to start critiquing each other's messages. hopefully we can lovingly point out each other's strengths and weaknesses and improve because of it. i hope it works because i know that i need it.

    Saturday, July 16, 2005

    back home

    i'm finally back home (actually i got back earlier today). i have eaten, taken a nap, watched the final disc of "24" season 3, and now i am watching "equilibrium". i still need to process my thoughts concerning the mission trip i just experienced. i did have the chance, along with alan, to talk with one of the leaders of the organization and express my worries concerning it. she seemed to receive it well.

    overall the trip did once again confirm that i love my youth. they are simply the greatest youth in the world.

    Friday, July 15, 2005

    the last day of working with kids

    we finished working with our site church today. all of us have loved working with them. the program at night has still continued to stink (mainly because it has been a program).

    Wednesday, July 13, 2005

    a little good a little bad

    every now and then i have wi fi access at the mission trip i am presently on and so i now have the chance and ability to post. the trip has been positive and negative at the same time.

    first the positive.
    • the church we are working with in doing a neighborhood vacation bible school has been amazing. all of the teens and adults have loved the church and the kids. this church is incredibly interested in being involved with their community. it's great.
    • the church has also made us feel very welcome there. they have been very enjoyable to hang out with. we already feel like we belong with them.
    • the kids we are working with have been amazing. they are starved for attention, and love being with our teens. therefore, our teens have loved being with them. our teens have befriended the kids of the neighborhood we are in with an intense and great love that i am sure GOD is honored by.
    • my teens - enough said. i have the greatest youth and youth workers in the world. i love them. they take any situation and work with it.

    now for the negative
    • the whole program has been very poorly organized. every leader's meeting i go to has a volunteer in it rather than staff and the meeting ends up with the volunteer having to say over and over, "i'm sorry i don't know i'll have to ask part of the leadership team." why have a meeting and waste my time if it's not going to answer questions. the most telling statement of the disorganization is that all of the schedules given to the teens have been wrong. so from the first day all 500 teens that are here have been dependent upon their leaders for knowing what was supposed to happen.
    • whoever planned the schedule has no understanding of the developmental needs of teens. consider trying to control middle schoolers as you take their whole saturday and push them through 4 one and a half hour long "training" sessions with only lunch for a break. the sermons weren't even active in their nature. it was 6 hours of lecture and singing. or consider being forced to keep 500 teens quiet for an hour right outside of the church's first worship service waiting for the moment that the pastor calls for them to dramatically march into the service and be "commissioned" for all the church to see.
    • on the schedule we have free time but in truth it is merely travel time. this translates to everyone feeling tired and worn out.

    so the good side of all this is that all the stuff that we have planned and done at our work church has been very positive and our kids have loved it. this means that my teens will leave with a good experience that has brought them closer to GOD and our work church will have been able to use us as tools to extend their ministry. the bad side is that i have basically paid someone else lots of money for me to do my own mission trip, because what they have done has added very little good.

    if you can't tell i'm a little bitter.

    Saturday, July 09, 2005

    a new mission trip

    i love trying new things - when i'm in a place that i am familiar. the problem is this week i am doing a "new to me" mission experience with some of my youth. it's called global encounter. thus far there have been somethings that i liked about it and somethings that i haven't liked about it. the biggest thing i have realized is that i am very comfortable with change when i am in control of it. i do not like having to "float along" in someone else's sea and be captive to their winds and currents.

    of course, this whole thought then turns in on me and i have to start considering if i am forcing teens to "float in my sea" or if i am inviting them to float with me. floating with me is cool but just being in my world that i control is awful frightening. i might have to reconsider some of my creative projects when i get back home.

    Thursday, July 07, 2005

    the state of the blogsphere

    yesterday i posted about the great and instant increase in the number of visitors to this blog and the confusion that it was causing me. thankfully, adam from ys forum blogring told me that the ys update listed my blog as their blog of the week. while i appreciate the "nod of the head" i do feel i have to ask "why would they list my blog?"

    so here are my thoughts:
    • ys has made a huge mistake meaning to actually type the url of instead of and accidentally sent innocent people to my blog.
    • whoever picks the "blog of the week" for the ys update was smoking something strange last week when they were putting together the update.
    • they have recommended so many blogs that they have reached the end of the blogsphere and are stuck recommending mine.

    all i know for sure is that as someone who respects ys greatly i'm a little disappointed that you've dropped to such a low level. common ys i know you can do better.

    Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    some like it hot

    tropical storm cindy went by us today without a drop of rain falling. instead of getting any percipitation like our neighbors to the east we had an absolutely gorgeous day that grew quite hot, around 95 degrees fahrenheit / 35 degrees celsius with humidity around 85 percent. which made it the perfect day for our air conditioner to break down. so for our weekly wednesday night worship service we had about 80 people packed into a room watching (and feeling) the heat slowly rise. it was quite miserable except for the worship which was wonderful in spite of the heat. still some rain would have been very nice.

    what's happening here?

    if you read this thing regularly you know that this is a small blog. using sitemeter and feedburner i know that i average around 50 friends a day that visit and read this stuff. that's why why today is so strange. today my sitemeter account is telling me that 139 people have visited the blog thus far today. that's strange enough because it is significantly larger than a normal day for this blog. the stranger thing to me is that allot of these visits apparently came from email accounts (sitemeter tells me where people are referred from but it doesn't tell me what entry people are being referred to).

    what's up with that?

    if anyone has any idea i sure would appreciate hearing it because i'm at a loss.

    Tuesday, July 05, 2005

    alls quite on the baton rouge front

    everyone had thought that it would be raining around here by now. in fact, i canceled the soil that was going to be brought to my house because both i and the guy at the garden store thought it would be raining and i would be stuck with a huge mud pile in my front yard. of course, it's still dry outside right now. who knows when it will finally start raining.


    i ate lunch with j.t. today (in our never ending conversation to start something new around baton rouge) and he mentioned student life bible study's six year plan. the plan is what they want a student to know by by six years within their studies. here's what it looks like:
    • the life of CHIRST
    • the basis of faith

    • covenant
    • law and grace
    • the foundations of ethical living

    • character
    • old testament people
    • the development of character

    • consecration
    • the theology of paul
    • discipline of a biblical worldview

    • community
    • the new testament church
    • essence of fellowship

    • commission
    • wisdom & prophetic literature
    • the frameworks for a passionate life

    of course, you can also use andy stanley's seven checkpoints of youth ministry as an example. again this is what their student ministry wants it's teens to have experienced by the time they leave the student ministry. stanley's seven checkpoints are:
    • authentic faith
    • spiritual disciplines
    • moral boundaries
    • healthy friendships
    • wise choices
    • ultimate authority
    • others first

    j.t.'s statement got me thinking about a study i had done four years ago. i went through the gospels looking at every time the word "disciple" occurred. what i discovered was that discipleship isn't so much a step by step plan as it is walking along side someone else who has been walking with CHRIST longer and deeper than you have yet experienced. during that study i mapped out the basics of what i think a disciple of CHRIST would ideally look like (i.e. nobody actually looks like this because none of us are "ideal" disciples). here's what i wrote out:
    if i were to do this today i would word things a little and focus more on the "walk." yet i guess it is still close to what i use as a guide directing my goals for what i hope our students learn concerning being a disciple of CHRIST.


    over the past month we have had a growing problem of kids getting up during our worship service and going to use the restroom. the problem is that i don't really want to tell teens "you have to sit down" because i don't really feel like that's true. i'm fine with people getting up, moving, leaving and coming back. i want there to be freedom. what i don't want is things that disrupt people's worship and i feel like some of the people getting up to use the restroom are doing that. the same people always seem to be the ones who have to use the restroom.

    so here's my joke of a response to the issue. it's a public service announcement on the size of the human bladder and how that means you shouldn't need to go to the restroom during the service. i guess i'll be more forceful later if it's still needed.

    Monday, July 04, 2005

    the ecological footprint quiz

    ef-quizyet another quiz. i have to admit that i think all the quizes are fun. this one though is humbling. it makes a guesstimate of how much of the biologically productive space on the earth it takes for my present existence. it's humbling (and sickening) to know that i consume so much when so many others survive on so little. once again i have to learn to want less and survive on real needs.

    thankfully, i am better about this today than i was six years ago. hopefully things will continue in that direction.

    Sunday, July 03, 2005

    my thoughts on creativity

    i am not a very creative person. some people think that i am creative and have told me that i am but that's just because they have never really met a truly creative person. i'm simply not creative but i have learned a good substitute for creativity ... time.

    jonathan, our minister of belonging, and i discussed this recently regarding the welcome tables he sets up each week. jonathan tries to establish a different and creative welcome table for each week's youth oriennted worship gathering. two weeks ago he stated that he was running out of ideas. so i told him my ideas on time being an effective substitute for creativity. here are my thoughts.

    if you plan far enough ahead you have the opportunity to have many experiences that will contribute to enhancing your plan. so i try to plan my messages and worship services out for a minimum of six months so that i have time for the messages and services to "simmer" and for the experiences around me to build up and find connections with the services and messages. the most creative messages and services i ever contribute to are always ones that have been able to "percolate" and "ruminate" for a long time. time gives me the ability to discuss the message with other people and get their input and help on it. time gives me the chance to have random experiences to suddenly become very pertinent to the worship service. time also allows me to "accidentally" wander into the resources i need to accomplish the plan that has developed. i guess you could say that my basic thought is that time gives one the chance to truly be inspired by the SPIRIT rather than just trying to winging it.

    for me worst problems are when i try to "wing it". you can always tell when i have not put enough time into something. it's shallow, vanilla, and boring. the SPIRIT isn't there to give it life and spice because i haven't allowed it to simmer long enough for any real inspiration to occur.

    shane yancey at confessions of an average youth minister just posted about having things "pop up" at the last second and how disturbing they are. i usually hate those last minute ideas for a different reason - for me they are usually just not that creative.

    mike yaconelli memorial basic school

    mike yaconelli memorial basic school

    our mini-bus started to slow down, and i noticed (car-sick boy that i am, sitting in the front) that there were a group of women standing on the side of the road. they were all wearing brightly colored african skirts and headwraps, and white blouses. they cheered and danced as our bus slowed down next to them, and it was then that i noticed the government sign next to them:

    Zambia Ministry of Education
    Mike Yaconelli Memorial Basic School

    if you are a fan or yaconelli then you have to read marko's description of he, tic, and karla yaconelli going to dedicate the school that has been built in yac's honor. my wife and i both fought back tears.

    i was only able to meet yaconelli twice and to spend 20 or so hours under his instruction. still i miss him.

    Saturday, July 02, 2005

    it the beginning

    the landscaping of my front yard has begun. i just finished spraying roundup on the lawn that we will place the flower beds on. in 24 hours all the grass in the area i have sprayed will be dead. there is no turning back now.

    Friday, July 01, 2005

    how do you scape a land?

    i love reading youthblog by ian. awhile back ian detailed the building of his shed and i was surprised at how much i enjoyed reading about and following the progress of his shed. my fascination with the building of a simple shed is probably a rather sad statement on my life (and my extreme jealousy over him having a shed and me not having one is probably a very sad statement on my CHRISTianity).

    through the whole thing i was inspired to likewise mark the progress of my own non-youth ministry related home improvement. pam and i recently finished the remodeling of our master bathroom and have now decided to move on to landscaping our front yard. this will be our project for the next three weeks. i could actually finish it in one week except for the fact that i will be leaving in the middle of the whole project on a mission trip with our youth ministry and will therefore be interrupted for a little over a week. anyway, we are starting on the project this weekend and will finish it whenever i get back. hopefully it will throw all of you into shock and awe regarding my masive green thumb.

    the first step of this whole process is to determine what landscaping software is best to use for designing the whole project. the image above came from better homes and gardens' free website landscape designing tool. obviously you get what you pay for. i'm probably going to purchase better homes and gardens' landscape and deck designer because it seems to have the best reviews of any of the landscape designing software. if any of you guys & girls have any other suggestions on software i would be more than open to your suggestions.

    i would also gladly take any suggestions you have on sources of top soil in the baton rouge area. i priced it today and found out it will take between $210 and $300 to purchase the top soil we need for the project. what is wrong with this world when DIRT costs this much? there has to be a better way to raise my flower beds.

    psalm 149 flash animation

    a while back i made this flash animation to begin one of our worship services. if it works for any of y'all please feel free to use it. click here to view it.

    the power of apple

    i've been podcasting our youth oriented worship services for 6 months (and simply making them streamable for years before that). the podcasting has been pretty cool with probably 10 to 20 people downloading the podcasts each day (and then the very rare days where it raises to 100). personally i've ben pretty lease with an average of 15 people per day downloading messages and music and i thought our little ole youth ministry was doing pretty well to be in the podcasting world.

    tuesday, june 28th apple relased it's new version of itunes which has the ability to subscribe to podacasts. i was interested in the whole thing and immediately downloaded the new version (though i'll probably stick with ipodder just because it's i'm not the hugest fan of "the man" in any industry). still i didn't really think that itunes would have much of effect on a little bitty site like our's. as usual i was wrong. the people subscribed to feed from the site has doubled in the past two days and the total downloads (clickthroughs & subscriptions) have doubled also.

    to quote from applpe's own press release concerning hitting one million pdocast subscriptions:
    “iTunes has done what possibly no one else could have accomplished, propelled Podcasting into the mainstream,” said Will Lewis, management consultant for KCRW. “Our servers have been swamped with a stratospheric increase in traffic. In fact, downloads have increased tenfold as a result of the iTunes 4.9 launch.”

    who knew apple had such power? aren't they supposed to be the "little guys" in the computer world? i wander what micro$oft will have to say about all this.