Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Do you Twitter?

Twitter....I don't understand it. I mean I have watched the "Twitter in plain english" video and checked out their website and even seen some people twitter in's just I don't understand the point.

Going back to the MySpace and Facebook phenomenon I got the point of being able to communicate with people through your computer and cell phone via the internet. I have to say that I have been able to connect with many old friends, but only once or twice since I added them as a friend on my facebook page. However, it is kind of fun to be able to read what people are thinking and going through. The strange thing is that I know more about the youth that I work with from their facebook page than I do from talking with them. How sad is that? So knowing that my youth love to be on facebook and give lots of updates in their "status" I would assume that Twitter is the next greatest thing in life...right?

This past Monday I took an informal survey at our High School worship asking how many people had a Twitter account. What followed was rather shocking. All I got were blank stares. "Really?" I thought, was I completely wrong? There were no Twitter accounts to be had and all but a few even knew what it was. Wow, that was a shocker. So I showed them the Twitter in Plain english video and they looked like they had just seen the dumbest most pointless thing ever. They laughed and scoffed at the concept. It actually made me feel a little good inside knowing that it would be a few months or even a year before they get tired with Facebook and move to the next thing, possibly Twitter.

So, because I saw a reaction I was glad to see I showed them this video:

I found this video hilarious and completely agree with the "why the heck is this even needed?" thought. I mean really, is this something anyone really needs to do. What's the point? Don't get me wrong, I like knowing what people are up to. But Twitter is taking me back to college when I would ask my friends how their day was going. Most would say good and give me a few highlights. Then there was Nate, I would ask him and for the next half hour it was a complete rundown of his day. Yikes. I love Nate to death, but it kind-of became a joke in our circle of friends, still is.

My point: in life we can feasibly keep somewhere between 15 to 20 actual real friendships. Those are the people you can connect with, know their name, what goes on in their life, and more importantly go deeper in conversation with. You can tell them your pains your sorrows you can actually work towards a solution for your problems. Is that something that Facebook and Twitter can provide. I don't think so.

Really in the end you can put out a plea for help online and people will respond, i have seen it. But when it comes to getting to the depths of your problem and a point where it's better to be right next to the person and helping them when they need it most, that is something that Twitter and Facebook can not provide.

There is a time and a place for surface friendships, but make sure those people you really care about know it and can trust you to be there when it matters most.



Thursday, March 12, 2009

New High Score?

I think it is safe to say that I am a competitive person. There is something that wells up in me when I get into a game or someone is better than me. Don't get me wrong, I can loose, but that doesn't mean I like it. So, for the past 8 months I have been "loosing" at the game of Electronic Yahtzee. My wife, somehow managed to get three Yahtzees not to mention the bonus and scored a ridiculous 489 points. I got over 400, but only once in the 9 months we have had the game. But I was bound and very determined to see I could beat her high score.

Yesterday as I was in the midst of my morning routine I picked up the electronic Yahtzee and began playing. The game was like any other game, I employed my strategy of getting the runs first and working my way through the 3 of a kind and 4 of a kind before trying for a Yahtzee with all the numbers. Early on in the game I get a Yahtzee, "this is good" I thought. About halfway through the game I got another one, "this is very good". It wasn't until I broke 400 with quite a few spots open that I realized what was going on. I was on my way to one of the most amazing scores in Yahtzee history. The third Yahtzee came and it was with 6's. I got the bonus on that one as well. Where would this momentous game end....the sky is the limit. And finally a 4th Yahtzee. I was stunned and amazed as I watched the old score be overrun by my new high score. I couldn't believe it. I had conquered the high score and felt a relief I didn't expect. I was tense and excited and I didn't even notice. Wow, did I get worked up over a little game.

But it all goes to show that it can be done. I just hope I can be satisfied with this high score, because I don't know if I will ever be able to do this again.

(picture and proof coming soon)


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Evaluation and Accountability

I love the staff at Word of Peace. They are a caring, loving and hard working bunch of people. We are very nice to each other and we have a great congregation to lead and shepherd in their faith. But what happens when we have a staff that has been around for a while and have found a great way of doing things and is fairly content with how it is all going? This question came up when Derek and I were discussing an email I got from another staff member about evaluations that need to be done on a yearly basis. Now, I have no problems with evaluations. I welcome them. It think they are a great way to better ourselves and continue to grow in our ministry. But what I am really longing for right now is a good evaluation of the youth ministry from someone who knows youth ministry. Now, I know we all have different ways of doing things and there is no real way of doing youth ministry, but I would love to hear some feedback from someone who is immersed in it as much as I am. I know my supervising pastor does a great job, but he is also watching over 4 other areas in the church that take up as much if not more time than the youth ministry. So, I can't expect him to give a real focused evaluation because he is focused in so many different directions.

So this lends to the question of who should we get to evaluate us as youth ministers? Who should be the ones that give us the constructive criticism? In the past I have asked and surveyed the youth, that was helpful. Knowing things that they liked and didn't like. But as teenagers they don't always know what is best for them. You can't have all games and pizza and lockins without substance.

I also asked the parents what they thought. That was interesting...mostly because they didn't know what was going on. They gave good reports if their kid was happy and didn't return it if their kid didn't come. So, not what I had hoped. This is a hard question because I don't want the survey to be all about programs either. This is what I have learned about youth ministry from 3.0 by Marko, that we should not focus on programs but the relationships in and around the community.

Maybe I'm not asking the right questions. Maybe I need to be more specific and dig deeper, ask some tough questions.

And that is all well and good for information gathering purposes, but what about the ministry, how do I evaluate that? How do get other people to evaluate it? I do I get feedback from a congregation who is used to how I do things and (thankfully) can do no wrong in their eyes. Maybe I'm not doing crazy, edgy, and wild enough things. Maybe I'm playing it too safe. No, I shouldn't do stuff just to get a reaction out of people, that's just like the attention starved teenager that does dumb things to get people to notice.

This is an ongoing process in my head and youth ministry is just the beginning of it. I also lead worship and do lots of tech stuff for the church too. How does that get evaluated?

The bottom line is that I hope we all are willing to give and receive constructive and helpful criticism. That way we can know that we can and should do things better. But also don't forget the other side of the coin. Complement each other and tell them what they are doing well also. Be willing to take it and dish it out so that we can continue to work to further God's kingdom.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Youth Ministry 3.0 Part 2

I'm at the point in my reading that I think I need to stop and think. The book is a lot of fun, but when it comes to provoking my thoughts, I need time. This happens when my brain likes to distract my eyes by thinking of a bigger picture. This has also happened with other books as well. So, let's let my brain expand on some more MarkO thoughts.

The idea of a new train.

I love the idea that the train analogy is changing or has already changed. I guess I noticed it happening in my own ministry but didn't know how to express it or build on it either. Here is an example we had in our confirmation program. A few weeks ago we were trying to figure out how we could take 3 weeks worth of material and boil it down to 1 week and still get the point across. The topic: stewardship, not an easy task. How were we supposed to get this complicated subject into the minds of youth whose parents don't even understand the concept? Using our curriculum we decided to have three distinct teaching section in the evening. Time, Talents and Treasure were the areas we needed to cover in a matter of an hour. But I would have to say the Holy Spirit was working in us that day of planning, because we came up with a way for the youth to experience stewardship rather than just throw facts at them.

In the end we got our senior pastor up with us as a Scrooge character who didn't like to give anything away and Pastor Rick, Derek and I were the "Ghosts of Stewardship" time, talent, and treasure. It became really elaborate from that point on, but after the fact I noticed something different about the youth that evening. Not only were they engaged with the lesson, they remembered what we told them. We even heard complements back from the youth. That doesn't happen often.

My point being, rather than just hearing the facts that people need to give to the church and charity with their time, talents and treasure they saw something in what we presented that made them experience the importance of the topic. Then, somewhere down the road, they will remember this night and feel like they have something to give, even if they don't have money.

The experience is driving them. They felt, saw, heard, and were touched by the message given that evening. Isn't that something we would all love to hear said about everything we do as youth workers? That somehow we were able to provide a place where youth can experience God? That we are no longer the goofy person up front, but a transparent youth worker that youth can see through us and straight to God? This is not an easy task. But we have to realize that the experience is backed up by faith and facts. That unless we are rooted in the Bible and believe whole-heartedly that God is working through us, we will not be able to provide the experiences youth need to connect to God in today's society.

My prayer is that we will offer experiences to youth that will help them encounter God in new ways, that will offer up a different view of themselves and the world so that they are forced to reevaluate their faith based on the facts and experience they had. And then the train, their life, will move down the tracks God has set out for them with those valuable experiences leading them ever closer to Christ.