Poll question: Advent?

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Over the past few years I have noticed a resurgence of liturgy and Church calendar celebrations, especially in nontraditional type churches.

Our church follows the Church Calendar seasonally and a liturgical calendar weekly.

Lent (before Easter) and Advent (before Christmas) have been two major inroads for churches and youth ministries to participate in “traditional” forms of worship and celebration.

So, my question is simply…in your church or ministry, do you intentionally celebrate Advent?

What is the Youth Cartel?

Youth is the time of life between childhood and adulthood (maturity).[1] Definitions of the specific age range that constitutes youth vary. An individual’s actual maturity may not correspond to their chronological age, as immature individuals could exist at all ages.

Often youth is associated with vigor, freshness or immaturity

cartel is a formal agreement among competing firms. It is a formal organization where there is a small number of sellers and usually involve homogeneous products. Cartel members may agree on such matters as total industry output, market shares, allocation of customers, allocation of territories,  establishment of common sales agencies, and the division of profits or combination of these.

These two definitions really have little to do with the Youth Cartel…

However, this new organization does specialize is providing innovative resources to youth workers of all kinds with their moto “Instigating a Revolution in Youth Ministry”

The founding partners are two of the leading youth ministry voices and have years of experience speaking, creating, writing, and working with teenagers.  They are wacky, funny, in love with Jesus and teens, and progressive enough to speak into the future of youth ministry. Here are brief bio’s on Mark Oestreicher and Adam McLane.

http://theyouthcartel.com/about/team-bios/

I deeply appreciate their passion for youth and youth workers and ability to speak into the lives of many in diverse contexts.  I have the privilege of partnering with the Youth Cartel in hosting Open Paris this spring.

For more information about The Youth Cartel including resources and events please visit their website:

http://theyouthcartel.com

Youth Pastor Panel: Why networking is important

 

Here is a link to a recent article published by the fine people at Called to Youth Ministry. In their questioner they asked a number of youth workers about our involvement, need, and vision for networking both personally and professionally.

In addition to this post, you can discover some great insights from other youth workers and colleagues such as Jeremy Zach, Nate Dame, and Paul Turner.

 

http://www.calledtoyouthministry.com/blog/youth-pastor-panel-why-networking-is-important#comment-737

http://www.calledtoyouthministry.com

Announcing “Open Paris” with the Youth Cartel

 

 

 

I am excited to announce a partnership with the Youth Cartel in hosting “Open Paris” this May 10-11, 2013 at The American Church in Paris.

 

http://openym.org/2012/06/14/open-paris-is-official/

 

 

I have known the guys behind the Cartel for a number of years and have always appreciated their passion for student ministry and visionary leadership.

 

Adam McLean and Mark Oestreicher’s dream is to provide great resources for all youth workers and especially opportunities for everyone to have a voice in youth ministry.

 

 

I love the idea behind the Youth Cartel and these “Open” events….  “Celebrating fresh ideas in youth ministry.”

 

These are open sourced gatherings of youth workers and practitioners sharing and discussing ideas…sort of like a large think tank.  There are no “experts” since, to be fair, what exactly is an expert in youth ministry? It is certainly not someone who has written books or been in the field for twenty years. (although I have much respect for them)  Sometimes the youngest and least experienced have the greatest insight into youth culture and God’s active engagement.  These gatherings in Seattle, Boston, and then Paris will be a wonderful opportunity to explore a new city and culture while truly learning together in community.

 

 

Of course I highly recommend taking a trip to the City of Lights and join us in Paris.  We will have a great group of youth workers and theologians from across North America, the U.K. and Europe.  This will certainly give Open Paris an international flavor.  I will admit I have learned valuable lessons from my European colleages since arriving in Paris last year.  As American culture is trending towards Europe/Scandinavia is many ways, what better source for collaboration and friendships than youth workers from there!

For more information on all of the Open events, please click the link below

 

 

http://openym.org/news/

The closer we get we will be posted more information and have an updated site for Open Paris.  Stay tuned!  à bientôt

 

 

 

 

 

in Africa

For the past week and for the next 10 days, I am in the country of Gabon with members from my youth group at The American Church in Paris.

It has already been an amazing experience and I look forward to writing my reflections upon returning to France.  If you would like to read our team updates and thoughts, please visit our youth group blog at:

www.acpyouth.wordpress.com

We leave tomorrow for one week in a remote village with no electricity or running water but will share our journey when we return to Libreville.

new blog post series…Where I am now

Over the next few weeks, I intend to publish a few blog posts on my new church: The American Church in Paris.

www.acparis.org

As some know, after ten years serving at my church in New York, a very unique opportunity opened for my wife and I to move to France and work with the youth and young adults of this historic, diverse, interdenominational and international faith community located in the heart of Paris.

With this change of position and location bring all sorts of new experiences, thoughts, reflections, and questions.  My daily routines, readings, conversations, and even diet have radically changed.  So to has my approach to youth ministry as I am learning, growing, and being stretched in new and challenging ways. I intend to offer a glimpse into these new discoveries and journeys, but context is necessary first.

As I write about where I am now in a physical, geographically, and cultural place, I hope to share where I am now in a more personal, philosophical, and spiritual state

So…..the plan is to provide a feel for the context I am serving, but as I profess and proclaim…”context is everything”.

merci pour votre soutien
bon courage!

On arriving in Paris

The last few months have certainly been full of adventures as my wife and I left our home and church family in New York, packed up all our belongings, and flew with our dog overseas to begin a new life in Paris.  I have much to write about in the weeks to come about leaving our beloved family, friends, and students back home, but want to write a brief update since our arrival in Paris only 6 days ago.

All of our fears and anxieties dissipated upon arrival in Paris.  Our gracious God proved himself (once again) to be faithful to his promises.  The three of us arrived safe and sound with all luggage in hand to a warm and welcoming community in Paris.  Our new church home, the American Church in Paris showered us with grace, love, support, and provisions from the moment we landed in Charles de Gaulle airport.

An newly renovated apartment fully furnished and with a fully stocked fridge greeted us at 65 quai d’ Orsay.

The entire pastoral staff and church staff have been extremely kind and gracious with their time and efforts in helping us adjust to a new life and ministry.  Shortly after we unpacked and made our new place “home”, I was introduced the following morning at all three worship services (Communion, Traditional, and Contemporary) and the round of applause was simply overwhelming.  The church had been faithful and committed to pray for us since day 1, through the difficult process of saying good-byes, the more difficult process of obtaining our visas, and our arrival to Paris.

That afternoon we had our first youth group and were once again overwhelmed by the love and support.  On Tuesday we lead the young adult community here at ACP and were amazed at the rich diversity of the gathering. Over 15 different countries and nationalities were represented including (but not limited to) Pakistan, Canada, Philippines, Romania, New Zealand, Cameroon, China, Bangladesh, Jamaica, and many more.  There is beauty in eclectic and ecumenical settings, especially when Christ is the center of the community!

During our first week, ACP held a VBS program each morning for the younger children and a “Young Artists” week for the older students.  I participated in this great program, lead by Scottish artist Peter Chalmers. 

The collective group project was to brainstorm, script, film, and edit a movie.  The artistic and creative expressions of these students was a sight to behold.  I feel extremely blessed to have the unique opportunity of working with these international students as part of the youth group here at ACP.

On a personal side, my wife and I have loved every minute of exploring the sights, sounds, and tastes of Paris!  Self-guided walking tours, navigating the Metro and bus systems, buying groceries at the local markets and specialty shops, 4-5 hour dinners at newly acquired friends homes, and enjoying the culinary delights in our local arrondissement’s numerous cafes, brasseries, and bistros have certainly kept us busy this week.

We are excited to continue to meet new people, learn the language and customs, and dream about life and ministry here in Paris. We truly thank God for such an amazing church community such as ACP and look forward to what God has ahead for the youth and young adult ministry at our church and the greater Paris community.

“From Managing to Focusing: The Fine Art of Reprioritizing”- a Youthworker journal article

*The following is an article I wrote for the July/August YouthWorker Journal, and I think can be accessed at the following link:

youthworker journal online

Let me ask you an honest question. Have you ever sat down at your desk an hour before youth group and wondered where the week had gone and what the heck you were going to speak about at that night’s meeting?

For many of us, this scenario sounds all too familiar. Some youth workers hate the office part of the job. Many of us spend way too much time at the office and behind our desk doing stuff that seems to take us away from being a youth worker.In college, I read youth ministry management books that gave rookies advice and tools to organize our youth ministries in order to maximize effectiveness. While these types of books can be helpful, I believe that finding a healthy balance and managing your ministry has more to do with priorities than specific organizational methods.

When I got my first job as a youth pastor, my desk was piled high with lots of things to get done. That’s when I started taking a more critical look at what I was supposed to be doing. I soon realized my priorities were out of whack, thus causing the unnecessary and often overwhelming sense of stress and burden.There might be some of us who love sitting behind a desk full of papers and watching the time tick by on our wall clocks. Some of us may have been reprimanded or fired for a lack of administration skills.

While management is an important skill, youth ministry is neither a business nor should be run like one. The only business we are in is forming the spiritual lives of students, and that does not happen at an office, behind a computer or in front of a stack of papers. It happens in conversations and shared experiences with our students beyond the walls of our offices and church buildings.

I believe youth workers need to learn the fine art of reprioritizing our time and our workloads. Administration always will be a major aspect of youth ministry, but we never should allow ourselves to get overwhelmed by it.If you spend more than half your time focusing on busy work, I would advise taking a mini-retreat and praying about your priorities, passions and what you really are called to do in youth ministry.

Let me offer a few creative ways to make reprioritizing work for you.

1) Find people at your church who love administrative tasks and can do them well. Equip them, resource them and support them to help you.

2) Delegate certain tasks to your student leaders, such as writing welcome notes to new students, updating student contact lists, maintaining your website, taking pictures, etc.

3) Remember: In this struggling economy, ministries are scaling back on events, trips and programs that cost money and require paperwork.

4) Lunch meetings, small groups and other forms of relational ministry should not require much administration and often will return far deeper results and more life transformation.Of course, you need to spend time in your office managing your ministry; but see what you can do to free up more time to be with your students. Isn’t that what youth ministry is all about?

“Youth Ministry Theology”- an Immerse Journal article

Picture this: You are staring at a dusty old bookshelf in a library with a codex, of sorts, as your guide. You scroll through each section then each aisle, until finally you come across a small book that you carefully and reverently remove. The dust is whisked away, and with great care the cover is opened to reveal a table of contents you have rarely observed before. This is the hunt for theology in youth ministry.

Over the years, conversations have circled around regarding the importance, or lack thereof, of theology in youth ministry. For some youth workers, this discipline is viewed as archaic and unnecessary while, for others, yearly curricula are structured around theological treatises. So which is it? Is theology important in youth ministry or not?

Here is perhaps a better question: Do students need to learn theology (i.e., learn about God) in order to follow him? Or can students begin to follow and then learn to trust and believe? Are students’ experiences more important than their beliefs? If we believe the answer to be yes, then how important is theology in youth ministry?

*To read the rest of the article, please click on the following link:

Immerse Journal-featured article

post mission trip reflection

*this was originally posted on bccyouth.wordpress.com on July 23 following my 2-week mission trip to Gabon, Africa

This trip has been truly one of these greatest joys of my life.  Though challenging and stretching in many ways, it provided for the perfect conditions and opportunities for growth.  I engaged and embraced each moment the best I could and was honored to be here in Africa.

With so many great stories and memories…saying good bye is always difficult.

Tearing eyes, long embraces, realizing that those moments will be some of our last.

I have learned the importance of cherishing every single experience.  I cling to these last few days with all that I have.

It is hard to let go and give all to God.  Good byes are painful and sad.  You never know when you may see them again and what God has in store for their life..and your own.

This is the one trip of them all that I deeply want to last.

It’s hard to say good-bye.

Especially when its to your students who have become family to you throughout the years.

This mission trip is bittersweet because it is my last one with my dear family at Bedford Community Church.

It has been an honor and privilege serving at BCC the past decade.  I believe this trip marks the 12 official trip I have led and each one has a special place in my heart.  Each trip has been to different contexts and countries and each year the team members change.  What has never changed has been the amazing spirit of selflessness and reckless abandon to God that students and leaders have displayed throughout the years.

If I could have scripted an end to my time at BCC…this would have been it.  So while I am extremely grateful for this opportunity it is hard to see so much life-changing work being accomplished in and through this team of students and to know that I will not be around to help cultivate (and really watch) all that God has in store.  Years past we would all return and begin dreaming together and casting a vision for ministry, faith, and life together at church.  We would return with a heightened sense of God’s presence and mission for our lives in community.

Seeing what God has done to transform the lives of these students and adults has been incredible. they are ready and willing to head back to NY to share God’s love and make signficant impact in our area.  For that I am proud and grateful

Saying good-bye to those who touched my heard and life is equally as difficult. Each year I go through a similar mourning process.  You begin to get used to seeing the same faces each day and working alongside people. You fall in love with the children who are so free and eager to trust you and give and receive love.

these good-byes bring tears as well that are difficult to wipe away. Time heals, but the wounds of loss still linger for me from trips 10 years ago.

I will miss young Christopher at the Hope House whose huge smile brightened my day every time I visited.  On my wrist I wear the 4 silly bands he gave me, one for each visit and I cherish those memories. It is hard for me now to sit here in relative comfort while this amazing young boy remains behind in Libreville.  He gave me so much love, I can only hope and pray that he received a portion of that back.


I will miss Eric Bill, an incredible 21-year old man who was a team leader for Envision in Gabon.  Raised as a missionary kid in Gabon, he now works with the C&MA denomination during his summer break from college to help lead short-term experiences for team’s such as ours.  His maturity, patience, leadership, commitment to prayer, humility, and servant’s heart deeply touched and inspired me.  Though 10 years younger than I, Eric serves as an example to myself as one who exemplifies Christ.  I will miss our conversations in the bumpy van rides and blazing trails through the deep jungles of Africa.  I will miss him translating our words into French with such zeal and passion.  I will miss his tireless service to our team.  I will miss his friendship.

But more than anything I will miss this mission team from BCC.  I have been holding on to each day; each moment; every conversation and cherishing them all.  I am grateful to God for providing this time for me to share with these students and adults before I head off to Paris.  I could not have scripted it any better.

Hearing countless stories of hearts and lives forever changed brings me both much joy and confidence.  I can rest knowing the God is with them and they are in Christ.  I can now trust their future, and the future of the youth ministry into God’s care and provision.  If I could hand off a youth ministry to any group of student leaders….this is the group.  And now after sharing 2 weeks together in Africa, I know that they are ready.  I only wish I could physically be around to watch all that God will accomplish through them, but they know that my heart, prayers, and support are forever with them.