Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I'm going to write a book!

Yes, that's right folks - I'm going to write a book. Well, we - my wife Nichole and I, are going to write a book. Its going to take a WHILE to write the book because the idea that I have is going to take about a year to gather all of the info, merge our notes and put it in an understandable format.

I believe this book is the missing link as far writings about youth ministry is concerned. I have NEVER seen a book like this done, specifically in the realm of youth ministry.

What's it about? Well, the rules of book writing say I'm not supposed to talk about it yet. But you can guess at it...

What's your guess?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Enough with the church and politics!

Am I the only one who feels like the line between Church and state is becoming increasingly blurred and almost invisible? What does Obama's FORMER pastor have to do with his presidency? Its funny to me that the people who always scream about church and state separations are harping on this issue.

I'm soooooooo tired of the politics, the media and Western church. Jesus' response to people wanting societal overhaul will SHOCK many people. Have you read Acts 1 lately? Watch this:

Acts 1:
6 So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”
7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”


So the disciples asked about the politics of their time being changed (vs 6) and Jesus responded basically by saying "that's for the Father to know and for you not to worry about." THEN He talks about receiving the Holy Spirit and being a witness for Him! WOW!

You want politics? You want to know "when will become that Judeo Christian nation so that His kingdom will be restored?" Jesus has a very political response - DON'T WORRY ABOUT THAT! You just be a witness for Him.

I think that's a great point for the Body to take hold of.

Your thoughts?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pastors - We've done humanity a disservice

Something that has been on my mind ALOT lately is the way we - church leaders and Christians as a whole - communicate the reality of who God is. I think the American church has done the planet a disservice. NO THIS NOT A "BE GREEN" POST. When I talk about the planet, I mean the people in it.

For a long time, the Western presentation of the gospel has been "God can fix your problems." Even to the point we as leaders talk about a "perceived need" that needs to be met. But that idea is only fit for people who have a perceived problem. That idea doesn't encompass the fullness of who God is. How does that translate to the person who has a good paying job, a healthy family, a generally happy family and has no drug or emotional addictions? Does this type of person not need the gospel?

I also believe this type of "God can fix your problems" gospel has caused more people to be like the 9 lepers that didn't return and give thanks. We present God to be the "always there for you problem solver" and not the life changer. God doesn't want to fix your problems, He wants to change your life.

I encounter so many peopl who say "yeah I tried that and it didn't work" when it comes to the gospel. It didn't work? What does that mean? Your sins weren't forgiven? You weren't translated from the kingdom of darkeness to the kingdom of light? Your past wasn't washed clean? You weren't reconciled to the true and living God? What do you mean it work? Or were they convinced to try God to fix their marriage and it still ended in divorce? Were they convinced to try God so that their parents wouldn't be abusive anymore and they still were?

I do believe that we should "taste and see that the Lord is good." I believe that God does have the ability to fix our problems, heal our bodies and break our addictions. I believe that fully. But I don't believe that's what God wants to be His complete message. Jesus died so that our sins could be forgiven, so that our soul can be free and so that we can be reconciled to our heavenly Father.

Problem solving, physical healing and addiction breaking is something I'm praying for so that God can show Himself powerful in my community and that people will live for Him. "Christ died so that those that live would live for Him."

Leaders, lets go beyond "problem solving, always there for you" gospel - and let's talk about the "life never the same, sin forgiving soul redeeming God." Let's touch the perceived needs, but let's move to the REAL needs of humanity - sin forgiving.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Quote of the day

"People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are usually the ones who do."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Awakening Conference Final Day

So, the final day of the Awakening Conference was unbelievable. The day kicked off with some amazing, heartfelt worship that could have gone on for hours - literally. Then, the leaders went into a leadership session that was led by Mike Servello where he just took some time and encouraged youth leaders. I sawy youth leaders in TEARS during this segment. Very encouraging stuff. He then started talking about the idea of youth church, but he ran out of time because he spent so much time encouraging us. Both very much needed. Good stuff. During that session we missed hearing from Jordan Boyce, but all of my youth say that it was INCREDIBLE. Many of them say it was the best part of the conference.

Then, we had the pleasure of being in a leadership session with Darren Whitehead of Willow Creek. For me, the session wasn't necessarily "eye opening" but very encouraging personally. He spoke about some of the modern adjustments we need to make as youth ministers and youth ministries. The ideas were concepts I've been speaking to some of my leaders about, but it was REALLY encouraging for both me and my leaders to see that I'm not COMPLETELY crazy for thinking about these concepts. Awesome stuff.

Then DW spoke in the afternoon session. Emmensly encouraging! Hearing an Aussie preach gives a very interesting perspective on the North American view of Christianity that I have (and I am trying VERY hard to KILL that view). His message was impacting but the part that did it for me was when he said "Is this what you want to give your ONE AND ONLY life for?" WHOA! One and only life...I honestly don't remember much of that message because that concept captivated my mind for a while.

Lastly, conference host Marco DeBarros closed out the conference. He's a good friend of mine, but I had never heard him preach before then. We talk. He preaches to me (when he doesn't know it) when we chat on the phone or in person, but I had never heard him do his do. Incredible and challenging. This was the most impacting of them all. He asked the youth leaders to come and pray for their people at the end and WHOA! God moved something mighty that night. I heard people stayed around until 1 AM just talking and praying. 1 AM!

Powerful stuff.

So that's it. That's the cliff's notes of the Awakening. If you live in the NorthEast, TAKE YOUR YOUTH MINISTRY TO THIS CONFERENCE!!! Its incredible. I'd even suggest going to this over some of the more well known events (that I will not name for the sake of not sounding like I'm bashing the others.)

The only other conference I would recommend NorthEastern ministries attend is the Generation Conference.

Now, I'm done being reporter for the events, I can get sharing some of the new ideas I've been having. Can't wait to share.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Selah...

If it was a crime to be a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you of being one?

WOW!!

Awakening - Jesus Christ Superstar!

Thursday night's session was for the hardcore Christian. Not necessarily hardcore about their beliefs, just being into hardcore rock. This Beautiful Republic kicked off the night with some fantastic rock music. The cover of Gnarls Barkley's hit song "Crazy" was excellently done...COMPLETELY unexpected, but excellently done. They went on to discuss their love for Christ and play some truely Jesus centered songs. When Ben, the lead singer, started swinging his mic around Aerosmith style, I thought someone was going to lose a tooth! But they didn't. Praise God for that. I enjoy music when its good - rock, rap, soul even country (as long as Carrie Underwood is considered country).

Then, the night was capped off with a wonderful message from Underoath/The Almost star Aaron Gillespie. I must say, not bad for his first time speaking. Engaging and insightful for many of the people there. I don't have the official numbers but I do believe that the night session was the peak in attendance since MANY people showed up to hear the guy. At the conclusion of his session, he closed out with some awesome acoustic tunes. It was fantastic. He invited the crowd on stage with him as he played. Needless to say, he had to ask people to "back-up a little bit, yes?"

Great night from people with a great heart.

I got the chance to speak to Ben from TBR because we stayed in the same hotel. He sparked a great convo about the balance of grace and discipline. The guy has a great heart. I look forward to hearing some BIG stuff from these guys.

1 day of coverage remaining. Tune in here to Collision Course for the most comprehensive recap of the Awakening COnference. Tomorrow we'll conclude with the sessions from Willow Creek's Darren Whitehead, Mike Servello and Marco DeBarros.

Cheers!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Awakening - Marco, Mike and Me

Day 2 of the Awakening Conference built on the momentum of the 1st day. While the youth heard from pastor Bobby Perry in the first session, the youth pastors and youth leaders got to sit in a leadership session from my friend and conference host Marco DeBarros. Marco took over the reigns as youth pastor at New Life less than 2 years ago. Prior to that, he was youth pastor at a church of 250 - the youth ministry was 100 strong! So needless to say, he knows a bit about healthy youth minsitry. His session was awesome. He talked about the philosophy, methodology and attitude that every youth pastor needs to take inventory of doing youth ministry. Incredible stuff!

In the afternoon session, Marco and I took the stage to do a song together with the GroundZero band. BANANAS! After that song, I went into my set. I decided to go all out with set so I included lots of video and visuals in the set to really get the message across. I did the songs "Masses", "After The Pain" and "Hope" and WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! The kicker during the set to me came at the end of "After The Pain" when everyone joined together as we sang "How Great Is Our God." Yes, we went into full blown worship in the middle of a HIP-HOP set. It was indescribable. Honestly, I think it was my best set yet. But when you have a crowd as engaged and energetic as this crowd was, you can't miss.

I got to conclude my set with an introduction of the next speaker - another good friend of mine Mike Servello, Jr. His message about our words and being instruments of encouragement was timeless. Great message. Check out some pics and video from my set.



video

Monday, April 21, 2008

Awakening - Chris Hill

Okay, night one of the Awakening Conference was the perfect kick-off to the event. Worship was led by Bobby Perry & Rain. WHOA! They came last year and blew everyone away, this year was no different. The energy of this group not to mention the musical excellence is uncanny. Most, if not all of the singers and musicians, are Berkley School of Music graduates/students. You add all of that up with the desire to worship God and...wowzers! You get an unbelievable experience.

Then Chris Hill came up and almost made me quit preaching. The message - undeniably impacting. He preached from the book of Kings with the recalling of how Elijah was taken up and how Elisha took his mantle. We've all heard that one before, right? Right. Then, he broke down how Elisha tore off his outer garment and put on Elijah's mantle. From that he began to break down how God has some of us in a new season and the garments from our old season won't fit anymore so they need to be torn off so that we can put on our new mantle. Sound encouraging? I'm doing it ZERO justice because it was delivered in a way that only Chris Hill (and MAYBE his pastor TD Jakes) could do it. He spent about 30-40 minutes pulling out absolute GEMS from these scriptures. When he gave a call for prayer concerning the message - most of the youth LEADERS in the place were face down on the alter.

Why did this almost make me quit preaching? Because this message was pure excellence in exegesis, a perfect harmony of homily, a symphony of scripture searching - and he wrote it THAT MORNING! It takes me a MINIMUM of a day to pull out half of the stuff he did. That message would have taken me a LONG time to write - IF that message would have come to me at all. Chris Hill, writes it THAT MORNING!

Fantastic message and DEFINATELY some stuff to chew on from it. Then, once we closed in worship - service didn't end until well after 10pm. And that was just day ONE.

Tomorrow, I'll highlight the leadership session with Marco DeBarros (conference host), the afternoon session where I got to rock the mic and the message from Mike Servello.

The Awakening Conference (part 1)


WHOA!! The Awakening Conference, held in Smithfield, RI, is the best youth conference I've attended. I've been to some of the said "best" ministry conferences for youth - nothing against them - but this is DEFINATELY the best one going in the NorthEast and maybe the best one in the country (I haven't been to the Generation Conference yet so the jury is still out.) Either way, its a great conference.

So, we'll spend the next few posts highlighting the the last few days of my life.

First of all - before we get into the speakers - to see that many young people with their hearts wide open for Christ in RI was a beautiful sight. I don't know exactly how many but I'd venture to guess around 800. Hearts open and hands high worshiping God with everything in them.

Next, the diversity of the event was incredible. They had musicians that covered the gammut of soul, hip-hop and rock. They had speakers from diverse backgrounds and preaching styles. I mean Chris Hill, Mike Servello, Jr. , 17 year old Jordan Boyce (conference visionary) and Underoath/The Almost star Aaron Gillespie. WHOA! Diverse!

If you were there, I'd love to hear from you. Tomorrow, I'll cover how awesome the team that lead worship was and how Chris Hill almost made me quit preaching.

Until then,
Cheers!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bummer...

Well, good news - I got more recording done for the album. The session went pretty good, too. Songs "After The Pain" and "Hope" fit the quality of "Masses."

The bad news, the songs aren't mixed and therefore Life Support Vol.1 suffers another setback.

BUT, for those in attendance at The Awakening Conference, they'll get the chance to sign up for the first wave of the release along with another small surprise I'll be announcing that day.

So for those of you waiting, the additional wait won't be for too much longer.

Extreme Witnessing?



Wow...that's all I can say...wow...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shout to the Lord on American Idol

Here it is folks! The first blog to show the vid! American Idol finalists sing "Shout to the Lord!"



Thoughts?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Global Crisis


There is a global crisis. The crisis is obvious but yet the crisis is going ignored. The church is turning away from the #1 crisis facing our planet that has TRULY put our planet in peril. That crisis - SIN.

Why is the church turning away from this MAJOR crisis? A crisis so major, God sent His only son to deal with it. Don't get me wrong - I think poverty, under-education, sickness, AIDS and global warming are problems our planet faces that the church needs to be front and center in addressing. BUT, our message is centered around the death, burial, resurrection and Lordship of Jesus. The Bible doesn't say "he who believes poverty is a problem will be saved." Scripture teaches that belief in Jesus' death and resurrection and our confession of Him as Lord is our key to salvation.

I read today that Emerging leaders are telling people that the focus of the Church should be the issues like global warming, overpopulation, etc. and not scriptural and spiritual issues. If sin, forgiveness, redemption and repentance aren't at the core of our message - then let's shut the church doors and let's join the Peace Corpse.

Again, I think we truly should be in the fight for justice, global warming, poverty, famine and the like - but not at the expense of the TRUE message of the cross.

The problem I'm having with the way the discussion goes is that leaders make us think the two have to be mutually exclusive. I don't think the issues are mutually exclusive.

What do you think? (Or did I just COMPLETELY confuse you?)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My social networking sites and 3 reasons why I don't use Twitter

So, I tend to use my blog as my internet "homebase." Why? Because I like to :-)

But you can find me in other places of the net. You can find me here on Myspace, right here on Virb and even here at Facebook.

I JUST started the Facebook page as a test. A test to see 1) If I like it and 2) If I have the desire to keep up with it. But I figure if I have enough people hitting me up there, then I'll keep up with it more.

While I see the benefits of the whole social networking scene, I REFUSE to use Twitter. I know, I know, some of you will no longer read my blog because of that or just plain old call me uncool. That's okay, I'm from Detroit. I can handle the name calling.

But I have my reasons why I won't do it. Here are my main 3.

1. I don't have the time. Between ministry, working a full time job, doing music, being married and just living I don't have time.

2. I really don't think you care that much. I mean really, do you care that the person in front of me in Starbucks is listening to One Republic too loudly? No? I didn't think so.

3. I don't care that much. Sometimes, I hate it when people call and they don't have anything to talk about. So I don't care if they just got your order wrong at Dunkin Donuts. Just have them remake it and let's move on with life. Blog, email, myspace, virb, facebook, text message or call me when you have something to say to me. Keep your time in line at the drive-thru to yourself.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Expelled: No Intellegence Allowed!

Check out this movie trailer:



Finally, a movie that challenges Darwinism. This will be good!

Also check out the blog associated with the movie

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Is the process personal?

So, as I've mentioned before, our church is going through a major overhaul. Location change, name change, process change - lots of change. Change is a good thing. I dig change. Before we started this change, I started to think about what types of changes we need to make in our youth ministry. I started to picture a youth church that didn't focus on how "we" do things, but a focus on how things are done. Creating a culture that breeds a long lasting life change, not just something that creates spiritual turn around. You what that is, right? All youth ministries see it. Its the "I'm a Christian in youth group, but after I graduate I'm done."

So I wanted to build something that gives life lasting impact. Then, I started to read the church all-star resource "Simple Church." It really confirmed some stuff that I thought about the process of making disciples. But I started to think "Why do limit our processes the church's role in creating disciples?" We have great church processes, but what about our PERSONAL process for growth? How do our church processes translate into a personal growth process? Better still, do we personally use those processes in our own lives? How do they translate in different stages of our own spiritual development?

These are questions I am having a blast answering and yet feeling convicted at the same time. We have developed a process in our youth ministry and its a process that translates into a personal path for spiritual growth.


So leaders, how do you live out your own church's process? Or do you have your own?