* Had a good time hanging out with Rich on Thursday.
* Had some great conversation with some friends at Elevation. Thanks Chunks. (Yes, Chunks.) Great to meet and hang out with you John and Wade.
* Congrats to Pastor Steven and Holly on baby boy number two. Welcome to the chaos of a two kid home.
* Ate some good food at a place I’m not sure would pass a health inspection. Feeling okay so far.
* Got to hang out with my old friend Phud. (Yes, Phud. Long story. He’s a Youth Pastor in Tega Cay.)
* Looking forward to watching some NCAA Football today.
* Praying that my Fighting Irish can shock the world (in a good way) and upset Purdue.
* I’m missing my wife and girls like crazy.
So my incredible wife managed to get the girls and herself safely through the Atlanta airport and on the plane. They will be spending the next ten or so days with my parents. Yes, she is THAT amazing! I was going to be in Florida for the next two weeks but due to some unforeseen circumstances, I will now be “baching” it as we say. (That’s an abbreviation for being a bachelor or without the family. I know my mom would have asked.)
Tonight I’m in Greenville, South Carolina with our good friends the Butlers. Rich is an incredible Pastor on staff at Crossroads Community Church. He also writes a highly entertaining and thought provoking blog you can check out here. In fact, Rich is one of the two major influencers that birthed my blog. I guess that makes him my blogfather.
I’ll be in Charlotte, North Carolina for the duration of the weekend with more of our great friends from Elevation Church. I’m going to have the privilege of meeting with some of their staff and observing their Children’s ministry.
As for the rest of the week on my own…I have no idea how I’m going to keep myself occupied. Last night (my first night alone) I already did two loads of laundry, emptied and loaded the dishwasher, straightened the living room and Savannah Grace’s room and packed for my trip. Oh yeah, I did all that and still had time to watch the premiere of “Private Practice.” Don’t judge me.
After getting some thought provoking feedback on the idea of student momentum, here are some of my thoughts.
As I said, I think we do a great job of creating an electric atmosphere or momentum when we do special events or camps. What I believe we struggle with on a regular basis is the energy of our environments on Sunday morning. Being that our Sunday morning environment is the most frequent and often attended programming element, the fact that we struggle to make this an exciting time is an indicator of how successful or unsuccessful we are from a production standpoint.
One of the biggest differences that I have seen from the environments we set up at camp or other events and our Sunday morning worship time is the “doors open” element. On Sundays (and at every other Youth meeting I’ve been to or produced) students usually just come into the room and wait for friends or leaders to arrive. Usually there is some kind of video game or pool/foosball table activity to occupy them.
At camp, most main rooms are closed off to students until about five or so minutes before program starts. What this does is allows a natural build of energy and anticipation. When the doors finally open, that energy or momentum not only floods into the room but multiplies on itself. The tone doesn’t have to be set from a stage personality. If anything, the people on stage feed of the students. One of the most important pieces of production happens without effort or even intentionality at camp. While for our regular worship experience we expend so much time, effort and money to capture or create that momentum.
We commit the unpardonable sin as it relates to production in Student ministry; we underestimate and undervalue the impact our customer has on what we do. What I think we have to understand is what we do doesn’t really create the most attractive or engaging environment. The “feel” or momentum is fully dependant on the student’s willingness to participate and the depth at which they choose to buy in to the experience.
Questions, concerns, dreams, aspirations, fits of rage? (ode to my old boss Tom Shefchunas)
I’ve been thinking over the last couple of days about one of our biggest struggles production-wise in our Middle School ministry. One of the most defining attributes of our ministry, apart from being clearly focused on connecting students in small groups, is the fact that we have one meeting time and that meeting time is on Sunday morning during our first two main worship services.
The discussion can and will go on forever whether this is the optimal time for middle school students to have a worship experience. Due to many circumstances, North Point Community Church will probably continue to offer only the Sunday morning worship opportunity for Middle School Students. I believe it is effective but I’m always looking to improve whatever I’m involved in. One thing that can’t be argued is that in order to have a “successful” program that attracts visitors, offers something for regular attendees and engages both student and volunteer you must have an element of momentum or energy.
As a retreat and event-producing ministry, we do this well. However, as for our regular Sunday morning environment I feel like we are always struggling for momentum. Some believe it’s because of the Sunday morning/sleepy kid syndrome. Others think it has to do with the choice of music. While still others blame the aesthetics of the room itself. I’d love to hear some ideas on creating momentum for morning worship experience for students. So let the discussion begin.
This will be a bit depressing if no one comments back. Oh well, can’t blame a guy for trying.
The mystery is solved. Anita ran into our neighbor Jim the other day and found out that he is in fact the mysterious “Back Back Yard” cutter. He said the reason he didn’t finish was because he ran out of gas. From what I gather, he wasn’t upset. He simply had some time and saw a need. As if it didn’t make me feel bad enough that my older neighbor cut my grass, my inability to keep my yard manicured resulted in the depletion of his petrol supply. (Translation: I feel bad because his cutting my grass caused him to run out of gas.)
On a similar note, I must give out some delayed public thanks to my boy Steve. Last weeked before my insane week of travel Steve and Rachel (a couple from our small group) came over and spent a few hours with us. Steve has been insisting that I let him help me with my yard work. Turns out, Steve cut every bit of grass I own except for my front yard. (He would have done that had it needed it.) I don’t think anyone has ever done yard work for me. Then of course it happens twice in two weeks. It brings new perspective to the old youth group “rake a random house’s leaves” project.
So thanks Jim and thanks Steve. I really don’t know how to repay you. (I know, I know I can cut their grass next season.)
Embarrassed? Yes, I am embarrassed that for the first time in school history my Fighting Irish are 0-4. However, today we saw marked improvement thanks to the solid running of James Aldridge along with much better decision making on Jimmy Clausen’s part.
Does it hurt that the last Notre Dame coach to win against Michigan State in South Bend was Lou Holtz? Absolutely. But as I’ve said since the spring practices, this season is not about this season. If you’re not always playing to win you might as well not play, but the lessons our young talented Quarterback is learning this year are invaluable.
Coincidence that the first Irish offensive touchdown comes after one Mr. Phillip McCart graces the campus and makes an appearance IN THE STADIUM? I think not. It’s going to be a long and painful season but I think we were due. I’d love if we could be in contention for the National Championship every year but being the school with the most in history, we’ll politely take the humility check and lie in wait for what everyone knows is coming. A twelfth National Championship for the University of Notre Dame. The first for Coach Charlie Weis and Quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
Prediction: Michigan verses Notre Dame 2009 will be an all out brawl and an example of American Football at it’s best with the seasoned Quarterbacks and Heisman Trophy favorites Jimmy Clausen and Ryan Mallet duel in what will be known as the next “Game of the Century.” Notre Dame on top 42-35.
Thank you Defense.
Thank you Travis Thomas.
Thank you Touchdown Jesus!
Touchdown Notre Dame!!