Monday, February 28, 2011

What I do all day (part 3)...

I get a chuckle out of my students when it finally registers that I work at the church and that I'm here more than just the two nights a week that they might see me. And it's almost always followed by, "What do you do all day?"

Well, in the midst of emails, teaching prep, organizing events, Facebook (yes, it's a ministry tool!), filling out references, studying, meeting with students & leaders, picking out music for worship, cleaning up pens taped to my floor, and anything else I missed, I have few meetings that I need to be at each week.

Weekly Meetings:
  • Monday Leadership - I meet with a few other pastors each Monday to watch a leadership related video or listen to a podcast. That's followed by some healthy discussion on what we're learning, how we need to improve, and how any of what we heard fits with our current ministries.
  • Monday Youth Leadership - This is the newest addition, but I get together with 2 of my youth leaders who help with the teaching and we go over our upcoming teaching series, discuss the calendar and basically talk youth stuff.
  • Tuesday Staff Coffee - The entire church staff hangs out and eats snacks. We all take a turn bringing something in (usually cinnamon buns from me). And every other week we end the time praying together.
  • Tuesday Pastoral Staff Meeting - This is the big one. 2.5 hours of discussion about everything church related. We evaluate the past services, we look ahead to the next ones, we plan preaching schedules, we talk about door stops, we have animated conversations, we joke, we dream, we pray. We cover a lot of ground. And we're changing the loaction starting this week and I'm looking forward to that!
  • Wednesday Youth Worship Practice - A weekly opportunity to work with the students on music as we try to prepare them to lead in upcoming Sunday services as well as just give them a place to grow in their musical abilities. Autotune made an appearance at the last one which was good for some laughs.
  • Thursday Stand Up - We used to actually stand up at this meeting so we could keep it short. But then we added a few more elements to it, started sitting down and never changed the name. This is basically a last chance for us to go over things for the upcoming Sunday and make sure everything is in place. Songs, timing, lighting, people, announcements. We end it with some prayer time for each other and the church.
Occasional Meetings
  • Board Meeting - Once a month the pastoral staff is invited to join the Board of Elders at their monthly meeting. I don't go often, but it's nice to know I have the option.
  • Worship Practice - If I lead worship on a Sunday morning I need to be at a 3 hour rehearsal/practice on Thursday evening and then a 45 minute run through early Sunday morning.
  • Youth Leaders - I hesitate to call these "meetings". We usually talk a little shop but mostly we just like to get together and have a lot of fun.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Birmingham brings joy...

I love watching Manchester United win. But I also find immense joy in watching some of the other "big" clubs lose. So I found a sense of satisfaction today when Arsenal lost the Carling Cup final to Birmingham, who have been without a trophy since 1963.

I also got a laugh after reading a headline from yesterday about how one Arsenal player wanted Cesc Fabregas, who is currently out injured, to lift the trophy when they won.

Upon reading it yesterday all I could think was, "I hope they lose".

So consider this a little PSA: It's best not to talk about who will lift the trophy until you've won it.

Thank you Birmingham for bringing me some joy today.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


These last few weeks have been a blur. When you throw sick kids into a mix of school, work, and various medical ailments and top it all off with what seems to me to have been 2 straight weeks of meetings, my brain is mush.

I know I'm in trouble when I actually get a night at home and I have no idea what to do with myself. I literally wander around and try to see if something sticks. Read a paragraph of a book. Watch a few minutes of a hockey game. Try to play PS3. Bother the kids. Re-read a paragraph of the same book. Pester Erin. Pick up the guitar. Nap. Play Tetris on the phone.

So today is a welcome change of pace. All 4 of us slept in. Waffles & strawberries & whip cream for brunch. Soccer highlights have been viewed (Go United!). There's only one commitment for the day which involves getting Aidan to a soccer windup at Boston Pizza. I love days like this.

So what will I do?

Blog. Taunt the snow. Try to clean up our bunker. End up playing guitar. Who knows.

The kids have currently opted for playing quietly together, so maybe I'll take advantage of this time and play a little PS3.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What I do all day (part 2)...

I have arrived twice in the last few weeks to find pens everywhere in my office. The latest one found them taped to the floor, under chairs and behind doors.

Am I bothered? Only in as much that I don't know who keeps letting them in.

If there's one place that I live up to some of the Youth Pastor stereotypes, it's my office. But here's a few things you need to know:

Office Hours
I'm in the office by 9:05 each morning after I drop my kids off at school. You'll find me here Monday through Thursday, as I get Friday's off. What time I leave depends on the day. I occasionally pick up my kids so I get to actually see them on Mondays & Wednesdays. Otherwise I usually try to get home for around 5:00pm.

Office Attire
I have a long, protracted argument for what I wear...and what I do not wear. But the basic idea is that I wear what I'm comfortable wearing, and I'm grateful that I have this privilege. (And no, I'm not comfortable wearing sweat pants.) Same thing goes for Sunday mornings. I remember a long time ago being told I should never wear sandals in the office because I might need to go on an emergency hospital visit. (That one still confuses me. Maybe hospitals have more visitation rules than I thought?) Anyway, that was the past and now I regularly wear flip flops when the weather allows.

My desk
I have a tendency to make piles. I also have an inability to understand how a filing cabinet works. This leads to semi-organized chaos. I consider it a miracle if there is one pile on my desk. As I type this there are more than 3.
That is a sign that life has been crazy and I need to clean the office.

Next up: What would YOU like to know?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dwindling Creative...

Are you less creative now than when you were younger? I know I am.

I've played guitar for 16 years. I used to keep a binder of songs was writing. Now I don't write. I think I have only ever finished 3 songs. And only 1 song in the last 5 or 6 years alone. And it was about our intern, Swarley.

I'm scared of not being as good as someone else.

I'm scared of what others will think of my music.

I'm scared of failing at it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Book #1 (Chazown)...

Craig Groeschel

When I look back at my college days I can remember that I had a goal. I wanted to graduate. I wanted to get into the working world. I wanted to find a church where I could start doing what I felt God was calling me to do.

It didn't happen on accident. I had to work for it. I studied, I read, I volunteered. But it was worth it because I knew what I was aiming for.

It's amazing that 10 years later I can actually be in ministry, doing what I was trained for, when I suddenly realize that a lot of the purposefulness of my life has vacated the premises. That's not to say that my calling to ministry has changed, or that I've not been doing what I was hired to do. It just means that I've become less intentional with a number of areas in my life.

I grabbed this book by Groeschel and as I started reading it became apparent that this book would be more than a superficial read. This one was going to cut into the surface.

Everyone ends up somewhere. Few people end up somewhere on purpose. That's a theme that is repeated throughout the book. This is a call for people to step out of the accidental living of their lives and to step into living out a life with some purpose. A life with vision.

Groeschel encourages you to look at past experiences, your Spiritual gifts and your core values as you try to determine what your chazown (or God-given vision) is.

As you're walked through the process via the book or subsequent website, you are encouraged to come to a place where you try to put into words what it is that you exist to do. All the while paying attention to some key areas of life that Groeschel states are important for keeping ourselves on track: our relationship with God, our relationships with others, our financial health, our physical health, and our life's work.

What this book did was open my eyes to the fact that I, in many of these areas, was not being purposeful. In addition to reading the book, I'd recommend checking out the website. It sounded a little cheesy to me at first, but after I started to try some of the tools out, I saw a lot of potential. Both for myself, and for recommending this to others.

I think many of us could benefit from some more intentionality in our life, whether it be in our relationships, our physical health, our Spiritual walks or our knowledge of stats for our Fantasy sports league.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

What I do all day (part 1)...

I discovered my office littered with pens this morning and the youth room covered in Nerf guns and sticky notes. The white board contained vague references to how awesome my job is (see photo), while one comment (not pictured)states I will receive a $5 reward for discovering what is actually missing.

Anyways, moments like these remind me of what a great job I have. And that ultimately gets me thinking of how many times I've heard someone say to me "What do you do all day?!?!" And rest assured that I've heard my fair share of jokes about the youth ministry stereotypes:
  • I only work one night a week
  • My car is littered with McDonald's garbage
  • My primary food group is pizza & Coke
  • I'm always up to 3am playing Xbox
  • I can't show up in the office on time
  • my office is a mess
  • I have a Rolodex of games that result in barfing, belching or farting
  • I only wear shorts and flip flops
  • I need to become a real pastor
So, I thought I could spend a few blog posts debunking some of these myths while possibly perpetuating a few more.

Working Nights
Youth Ministry can be a lot of fun, but I'm officially "on the clock" Monday & Wednesday nights. My leaders show up between 6:15-6:30pm, with students arriving shortly after. I leave when they leave, which ranges between 9:00-10:00pm. I have 2 separate groups of students that I am responsible for, but that doesn't mean I do everything myself on a given night. I have some great leaders who are stepping up in some big ways to help out. Set up, teaching, games, music, clean up, prayer times, small name it. But, at the end of the night, it's my butt on the line to ensure that certain things happen: sound Biblical teaching, a safe environment (physically, emotionally and relationally), fun and connecting with parents, students and leaders.

My office fridge is stocked with pop. And while I occasionally partake of the delicious caffeinated fizzy beverage, my students know the rule: if you show up in my office outside of a youth night, you can help yourself to the fridge. I do not live off Coke, but I do start most mornings with a French Vanilla cappuccino.

This I can't escape. I love pizza. It is the food of choice at youth & leader events alike because it's convenient, relatively cheap, easy to clean up and it doesn't require me to book the church kitchen or be certified as "Food Safe". Also, on the rare occasion when there are leftovers, my kid's get a special lunch for school: cold pizza!

Video Games
I do not own, nor do I play Xbox. I occasionally attend a Halo night one of my youth leaders hosts, and I am usually guaranteed to be in the bottom 3 of the 12-16 people there. I do however play PS3. I can stand my ground in Call of Duty or FIFA, but my 9 year old will beat me at NHL 10.

Anything else you're dying to know about what I do all day?

In my next post I'll fill you in on my office.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011