Old School Math

No, I'm not talking about the way we used to do math compared to how they teach kids now. I'm talking about our weekend.

Last Saturday, Ali and I took a walk through Multnomah Village to look in all the shops. We came to Paganwood Restoring, a wood restoration shop with plenty of antiques. Entering Paganwood feels a bit like going to my grandma Geist's house back in the day.

Ali's eyes immediately found a 1920's era mechanical adding machine. Being an accountant, she wanted it for her office. The cool thing is that it still works! After coming home, she looked it up online and discovered how to use it (in a very convoluted way) to subtract.

If you're looking for a touch of something from yesteryear and a good walk, come on down to Multnomah Village.

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Before I Resign

Encouragement is powerful. We are commanded to encourage one another, and yet sometimes it comes few and far between. This weekend, Brian and I received a copy of a student's paper on youth ministry from one of their college courses. The student had written it, reflecting on their own past in our ministry and as a high school student. It floored me, and encouraged me enough to keep going another 5 years! (no I wasn't thinking of quitting :)

Brian and I share this with you to remind you that you never reap in the same season that you sow, that it takes time to make faith our own, and to never underestimate the role of relationship in the lives of students. You can read the text of the letter from Brian's blog...the link is below.

Years ago, as an intern of Jon Knapp, he told me to create a before I resign file. Put in that file cards, notes of encouragement, and anything else that reminds you of what God has done through you. When that day comes that you think that you're having no impact, go to the file and be reminded of what God has done, and that ministry takes time.

This note is going in the front of that file!

Letter from a student.


Closed Ended Questions

It is my day off—1st one in over 2 weeks!—and I'm sitting here, listening to a seminar from Andrew Marin from the National Youth Workers Convention. He talks about building bridges with the gay community.

In his work, Andrew often gets yes or no questions in relation to his topic. His point about yes or no questions is brilliant and can help us in answering people in many circumstances. He points out that closed ended questions are asked because the inquisitor already knows what they believe and want to peg the answerer into a category based on their response. At that point, there is no further dialogue.

He points out that Jesus was asked 29 closed ended questions in the John the Baptist, by His disciples, and by His enemies. Can you guess how many times Jesus answered with a yes or no?


And those three times were to Pilate...when His ministry was over and the only thing that remained was the cross. Other than that, Jesus didn't answer with a yes or no to closed ended questions.

Answering closed ended questions with a yes or no puts the hearer in a position to fight, stand their ground and close off hearing you. Answering as Jesus often did puts us in a place to continue dialogue.

I'm pretty good at answering those questions with a yes or no. And I hope that I can become more like Jesus


Teen Sex

That may be the most shocking title this blog has ever had, but equally shocking and encouraging is the new research published by The Heritage Foundation on Parents and Teenage Sex. There are few other topics—save the choice we make about God—that have such lasting impact than our sexual activity.

I encourage you students, parents, and youth ministers alike to read the full study here. I'll summarize a few of the points I found troubling and helpful:

On Sexual Activity:

  • Almost 2/3 of high school seniors have engaged in sexual activity. (That goes beyond sexual intercourse.)
  • 2 out of 3 teenagers that had sex said that they regretted the decision and with they would have waited longer. (Wow!)
On Consequences:
  • The chance of getting an STD doubled for those engaging in sexual activity at age 13.
  • Sexually active teen girls are 3 times as likely to become single mothers and 40% of those will give birth outside of marriage.
  • Sexually active adolescents are half as likely to be in a stable marriage.
  • Mothers who began sexual activity at ages 13 or 14 were more than twice as likely to live in poverty.
On Parental Influence:
  • When asked "Who is the most influential regarding your decisions about sex?" (depending on the age breakdown within teenagers) 39%-59% said parents. Only 5%-8% said religious leaders. (Wow! I can say a lot as a youth worker, but the most influential person in a teens life is their parent! Parents...I'm praying for you!)
  • Parental factors that appear to offer protection against the onset of early sexual activity include: intact family structure, parents' disapproval of adolescent sex, teen's sense of belonging to and satisfaction with their families, parental monitoring, and to a lesser extent, parent-child communication about teen sex and it's consequences. (They say to a lesser extent because those parents who exert "excessive or coercive" control might lead to negative outcomes.)
  • Parent-child connectedness is measured by the level of satisfaction parents & teens feel in their relationship, the amount of warmth, love, affection, and the level of parental involvement in their children's lives.
On What a Parent Can Do:
  • Avoid sending ambiguous and mixed message about teen sex.
  • Convey clearly to their teens their values on this subject.
  • Focus on imparting clearly defined values. Simply discussing sex does not necessarily protect teens.
  • Seek to strengthen their relationships with their teenage children.
We certainly have a difficult job to do as parents and youth workers, especially when you factor in the extent at which our culture at large give us freedom to do and explore whatever we want. We no doubt need to bathe our actions and conversations in prayer when it comes to speaking about sex. But be encouraged at how strong your influence is in your relationship with your child!

Students have a tough task as well, facing peer pressure, cultural influences, and their own desires. Students, this article isn't just for parents. Ask yourself, "How is my relationship with my parents?...What do they really think about all this?...Do I listen to wise advice and consider the consequences before taking action?"


NYMC 08 - Highlight Reel

What a great weekend down in Sacramento for the National Youth Workers Convention. This wonderful event put on by Youth Specialties is one of the highlights of my year. Just about the only thing I didn't enjoy was not having my wife alongside.

I'll be blogging through what individual speakers shared as the weeks go on, but I wanted to tell a few of my favorite things.

The People: Although I went for the teaching, worship and soul care, connecting with people was one of the most encouraging elements this year. It was neat getting to know a few guys from my neck of the woods, as well as some from the online world. If you're in youth ministry, you should check out Tim Schmoyer site. He is a dedicated youth worker in Minnesota who provides countless resources and tips for those doing student ministries themselves. In fact, I'm listening to a video podcast of his as I type!

The Communicators: You can't go wrong when people like Tony Campolo, Mark Yaconelli, Shane Claiborne, and of course YS President, Marko bring their thoughts on life and serving God. But I loved the great variety of topics taught. It ranged from 2,000 plus years of church history and its effect on where we are now, to how we act justly today, how we think about the gay community, and those dark times in the wilderness in which all leaders pass.

The Bands: Hello...Starfield, Lincoln Brewster, Shane & Shane, Kendall Payne, and others! Great worship leaders and artists.

The Freebies: It's real nice coming home from the convention with a bag full of free ministry resources, and a few valuable purchased ones too. Above the Golden State, a local Portland band even made it into my freebie bag!

The Tech: For those of you Twitter people out there, my total tweets increased 47% while at the convention. It was fun tweeting and reading my fellow youth workers' tweets as we all learned different things.

Brian had the chance to Liveblog the event, which meant that during all the sessions and seminars, there were 4 laptop laden people typing their thoughts and experience for the world to see. It was fun to interact on the liveblog. If you want to check it out yourself, even see videos & pictures from the convention, check it out here.

The Passion: The convention provides a camp experience for 2,500 youth workers. There are a bunch of people heading back to ministries this week with new passion and vision. You can pray for them as they seek to excite those around them in the things they learned.

Well, for someone who hasn't typed that much in a while, I think I'll call it quits. Check back soon for my thoughts on the speakers.


NYWC - Connection

Though I come to the convention for the learning, the music, the
speakers and more, this year I've enjoyed the new connections and
meeting other cohorts in ministry. Between lunches, coffee, seminars
and random hallway conversations, it's been preety cool.


National Youth Workers Convention

Well, Brian and I are here in Sacremento for the convention. We are
pumpped for what's in store. You can check out the happenings on my
Twitter (on the right of my blog), or at
where you can follow a few live bloggers...Brian is one of them.

Here is a picture of the stage as people are entering.


Twitter & Up and Coming

You may have noticed my serious lack of blogging as of of always. But do not worry, I haven't forgot about my blog friends. In fact I think that this next weekend will provide ample opportunity for me to share my thoughts. Brian and I are heading to Sacramento this weekend for the National Youth Workers Convention. This will be our third time there in four years. I am way excited about going. It's always a good time of care for the soul, learning about ministry, and experiencing some great times with 3,000 other youth workers.

In case you hadn't looked on the side of my blog recently, I've become a Twitter addict. It started out very simple and mostly so that I could see what the big todo was. Now I'm hooked. Feel free to follow me by going to