Kick-Off 2017 – Bazooka Ball

For the past few years we have started off the new year for our students with a fun activity.  We take a break from our regular programming over the holidays and so try to jump-start January with something that creates a little bit of a buzz.  Last year we had a Black Light Bash and played 9 Square using black lights.  Pretty fun.

This year we played Bazooka Ball.  Our students were introduced to the game at our church camp (Butler Springs) and they love it.  Any time we go to camp, either during the summer or for a retreat, the students want to know when we get to play Bazooka Ball.  So, to get back into the swing of things in 2017, we brought Bazooka Ball to WCC!

And a good time was had by all.

This recap video shows a little bit of the action.  As we were cleaning up, one of our junior high students came up to me and asked, “Will we play this again next year?”

A good sign that the game was a success.


The Comeback

ComebackWe all need a comeback.

In his latest book,Louie Giglio shares several stories, from scripture, from others’ experiences and even his own life, to underline the fact that at some level, everyone needs a comeback. It could be a huge comeback, where huge obstacles are overcome with God’s help. Or, as he states in an early chapter, “it may be a deeper sort of comeback, where Jesus redeems the worst of our circumstances for his glory and our best.”

We all need a comeback.

One of the more powerful parts of the books was when Giglio shared about the comebacks in his life. He shares with some vulnerability a time in his life when he needed a comeback, where he needed God to move in his life and help him overcome a setback. One of the refreshing parts of his personal story was that it wasn’t instantaneous. God didn’t swoop in and deliver him from his struggle with a quick stroke of His brush. It was a process, where God taught him and grew him.

I think at times we want God to come in and, in a moment, solve the problem we are experiencing. While I believe God can do that, it doesn’t seem to be the way He chooses to operate. Giglio’s story shows a dependence on God to move and the process God took him through.

As Giglio shared stories from scripture, I found the chapter on Samson to be so relatable. While Samson had uncommon strength, he displayed the same problems many of us face. He made poor decisions, sometimes more than once. He had areas of weakness where he continued to stumble. While Samson had some pretty remarkable victories, he also had a number of just bad choices. Isn’t that the story of a lot of people? We experience success, but then it’s followed by a bad decision, missed opportunity or some level of failure. What we see in Samson is that despite his poor decisions (where we may be wondering what Samson was thinking when he did what he did), God still uses him. God still offers Samson a comeback in the midst of his missteps and struggles.
The Comeback is also pretty quotable. This was probably one of the more powerful statements in the book: You may not run the exact race you thought you would be running, but God still has a race for you.

That’s a good description of the message of the book. Whatever our race might look like or where we are on the journey, we all need a comeback and God is working for our best and for His glory.

Enamored By Numbers

internet-statisticsI think for most (if not all) people involved in ministry, it is easy to get caught up in numbers. If one has a program or event and attendance is good, it leaves the planners with a sense of satisfaction. The opposite can be true if numbers are low – leaders can walk away deflated. We can become enamored by the numbers.

I remember something I read years ago (in the book Purpose Driven Youth Ministry I think): It’s easy to compare what you don’t know about someone else with what you do know about yourself. If I see what I consider success in another program and compare it to mine, it could leave me feeling unsuccessful.

I’m not sure how to get away from the numbers game. It is A way to determine success and fruit, but not THE way to determine it. There definitely is value in tracking the number of people involved in programs, groups, events, etc. I guess the challenge for the leader is not to live and die by the numbers.

I’m not the first to discuss the tension that exists and I really don’t have great, clear-cut advice for people in leadership positions. There are people smarter and more experienced than me that could speak to it. Just in the past few weeks I’ve been caught up in that tension and kind of chuckle at myself when I get either too high or too low based on the turnout for a particular program or event. I’m still working through it and manage it better some days versus others. Guess we are a work in progress.

The Traveler’s Gift

Several months ago, I read Andy Andrews’ book The Final Summitwhich is a follow-up to The Traveler’s Gift.  I enjoyed reading The Final Summit and had great intentions of reading The Traveler’s Gift, but just had not taken the time to do it.  My daughter recently read it and just went on and on about how much she liked it.  Knowing she had a copy of the book made it easy for me to finally read through it myself.  I’m glad I finally did.

The Traveler’s Gift tells the story of David Ponder and a crisis he comes to in his life.  As he struggles to find answers to his problems, he is given the opportunity to meet several historical figures and learn various principles from them.

***For those who may be reading this and haven’t read the book, I don’t want to give away much of what happens in the book, including the individuals that Ponder meets and the principles these people share.  It is worth reading on your own without knowing what is coming.***

I will say that The Traveler’s Gift very quickly draws the reader into the story.  It is roughly 200 pages long and I completed it in a 48 hour period. Once you start reading, you want to see what happens in the coming chapters.

The principles shared in the book are excellent.  One of the things I enjoyed about it was hearing my daughter’s reaction to some of the things in the book and how it applies to her life as a high school student.  I could make application to my life as well . . . as a person a few years (or so) removed from high school.

It would be worth your time to read The Traveler’s Gift.

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy – the book

I remember sitting in my basement flipping channels and came across the movie, “Rudy.” I had heard of the movie, knew the basic story behind it, but had never watched it before. I think it was a Saturday afternoon and I didn’t have anything else going on. I decided to watch it…and loved it. Seeing Rudy get in the game after all the practice and effort and dedication was pretty cool. Then, when he sacks the quarterback and gets carried off the field, you are pumped up and ready to go do something great.

I think one of the coolest parts of the movie is when some of his teammates start the chant: “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy.” It picks up steam on the sidelines and then people in the stands join in. “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy.” Pretty exciting stuff.

Being a fan of the movie (although it was probably out for 8+ years before I saw it), I was intrigued when I saw Rudy wrote a book about his story. I thought if it was nearly as exciting as the movie, it would be worth reading.

Rudy, My Story is not just the story of how he played for Notre Dame, but a deeper look into what led him to Notre Dame, where that desire came from and the obstacles he had to overcome. The pages of the book offer much more time to provide details of upbringing, struggles in school, family dynamics and all that went into who Rudy was leading up to his days at Notre Dame.

Part of the book shares what Rudy did after his 27 seconds of Notre Dame fame and the trials he endured trying to get his story made into a movie. That in itself was a time of perseverance and determination to see that dream become a reality.

Rudy is very open and honest in this account, sharing not only the difficulties he had growing up, but also after making it onto the big screen. He shares his successes and failures in order to help others work to achieve their dreams.

If you saw the movie, you will want to read the book. If you like the underdog – or even feel like one yourself – this book is for you.

**I received this book from BookSneeze in exchange for my review.

Annual Report

Each year we put together an annual report for our church family. It recounts what took place in the past year and includes reports from ministers, the elders, financial records and other things.

It is a challenge each year to boil down the previous 12 months onto 8 1/2 x 11 pieces of paper. This year was no different. I took a look at my calendar and reviewed some of the things we did. It was kind of funny, because some of the events seemed like they were a couple years ago, rather than just a few months ago.

I think the report should remind us that what we do matters. I know there is the expression that just because you have a lot of motion, your aren’t necessarily going anywhere. As I look back at the year I have to conclude (or hope at least) that what we do does make some difference. A highlight for us the last couple of years has been our small groups. We have more students involved this year than we ever had. I will take that as a win!

The report also reminds me how fast time goes. That seems so cliché, yet true. The months seem to scroll by faster and faster. I think we do need to take time to celebrate what good things have happened and learn from what didn’t go so well.

As we move toward wrapping up this calendar year, it will be good to both celebrate and reflect and also trust that God will take our efforts and use them in a way that only He can.