Monday, May 24, 2010


Ok.. so over the past 16 years as a youth pastor, I have made a reputation for myself. In an effort to keep my house from getting toilet papered every 5 seconds, I have made it my motto that "I won't get mad, I won't get even, but I will get one or two up."

So, after having been toilet papered, or my car trashed, or even one time a student broke into my house and pranked the inside... I have retaliated.

  • removed tires of cars at school and left their car on them sideways.
  • built a crate around a car outside once while youth group was going on inside.
  • put a dead 3 pound trout under a student's bed once. that smells later. bad.
  • hosed people down in many locations, even once to a college aged secretary who orchestrated a prank.
  • dowsed one girl in slop from the kitchen clean up crew.
  • and the list goes on.
I make it a point, that if I find out, you will pay. I don't always find out, but I do keep a list and I do pay back, long after the fact :) In fact, I think I still owe Bethany Noble for one such toilet paper job.

Anyway... this last Sunday, I woke up to the most creative prank ever pulled on my family.

I have made it known that I HATE carpet. I have talked about it on this blog, I posted it on facebook and twitter, I have used it as illustrations in messages in church... you name it, I've been out there about it. So much so, that I've almost been typecast as the "carpet hater" guy. When people have it installed in their house, they actually apologize to me. Too funny.

Anyway, this last weekend I woke up to find this sign on my front porch... made out of my OLD CARPET I took to the dump!

And this experience in my yard and driveway.

My first response was, "No freakin' way. My carpet has been gone for almost a month. Who in the world has been saving my carpet?"

My second response was, "Oh my, this is super funny and genius."

My third response was, "This might be the first time in the history of pranking me, that I actually feel no need to pass out a pay back."

It was funny. It was pre-meditated and planned. It was pretty tame. Nothing was broken and it was super easy to clean up, even on a Sunday morning and even if it rained or the sprinklers got it wet or something. I almost felt honored to have been so creatively punked. I must be getting too old for this.

I even posted on facebook that reward for coming out as to who did this would be a free dinner so I could hear the story behind the story. So two students in my high school ministry, Shea Hughes and Adam Steinauer (who helped me remove the carpet and had enough forethought to steal some) came out with photo proof and win dinner.

But to all the rest of you, don't get any bright ideas. The next one just might get you a truck load of pain and regret :) Trust me, history speaks for itself.



One of my roles as Dad is to try and make as many of my kid's school field trips as possible.

This last few weeks, I spent 2 days with my kids and their classes riding buses, walking around, reading signs, eating lunch, and checkin out fish.  Honestly, I like being with my kids, but it never really seems like it's that big of a deal that I'm there, especially after I've taken the 5th kid to the same place I've been 5 other times.  But to my kids, it seems to mean the world.  So, I guess it's a small price to pay to be a hero for a day while I still can and their school still lets me.

Here's my fun days with my kids in pics.





Four years ago, our student ministries started a community service day with a fund raiser piece to it.  Initially, it was a way for us to support our church building fund.  Then it became part fundraiser for kids at camp.  

This year it involved a used goods sale on site (swap meet), an onsite car wash, and yard work in people's homes all over our county.

So, Saturday, May 15, 2010 we worked all day for the fourth year in a row and we raised $10,102 for student ministries.  More than we have ever raised before.

These days are always a lot of work and I've learned a few things along the way.  Here's some thoughts from this year.

  • LISTENING TO VOLUNTEER FEEDBACK PAID OFF HUGE.   We have always done work in people's yards as part of this day.  This has always been hit or miss.  Some jobs will break your back and some are really easy.  Some people pay you well and some people well... don't.  One change this year came after last year one of my men came back from a grueling 4 hour job all afternoon with a trailer full of yard waste, sore muscles, a tired team, and $50.  He said two things to me in response.  #1. We need to be done with these projects by like 3pm, not 5pm.  #2. We need a suggested minimum price.  So, I listened and this year jobs were scheduled to end by 2:30pm and we added a suggested minimum of $150 for a 2 hour team job.  The result?  We raised over $5000 in yard work alone, had a lot happier teams, and a much better experience.  Yeah for the wisdom of great feedback!
  • WHEN THERE'S A REAL NEED, REAL LEADERS STEP UP.  One of my biggest encouragements of the day came from one family that heard my yard work jobs went from 9 to 24 in just one day, only 7 days from our work day.  When I called to ask if their son could help me, they said that it was mom's birthday and they were going to the beach to use a jet ski gift certificate that was due to expire soon.  I said, "happy birthday mom, enjoy your family".   An hour later I got a call saying the whole family has decided to start the day serving instead.  So for Mom's birthday, they put on gloves and served a family at our church that has been fighting cancer and has some real yard work needs for 2 hours.  I was so blown away by their servant leadership.  My hat goes off to the Anderson family.  What a blessing.
  • A BIG JOB CAN'T BE DONE WITH OUT BIG HELP.  Last year I bit off way more than I could chew... even more than our student ministries team could chew on our own.  This year, we sought out help from the larger congregation to serve with our student ministries for this day.  The result?  LOTS MORE HELP and a GREAT first serve opportunity for many of our people.  They helped gathering swap meet items, serve on yard work teams, set up and clean up our swap meet, make phone calls.... and so much more.  About 100 middle school, high school, and college students stepped up.  Adult volunteers stepped up.  When it was all said and done and all the money was counted, my body was seriously tired and my soul seriously encouraged by how a BIG job can become achievable when a GREAT TEAM steps up to the challenge.  
THANK YOU to everyone who made a day like this possible.  What a blessing you are to me. 

Here's a few pics of our day as we got started:


Thursday, May 20, 2010


THIS MY FRIENDS... is freaking hilarious!! Excuse me, but I have to go get my wife and a donut. I laughed for like 20 minutes...

"If you have a hole in your marriage, fill it with a donut."

"We are open 23/7. We only closed between 1 and 2 am. Do I have to tell you what's going to happen during that hour?"

Oh dang this is funny stuff.



or just plain LOVE a good deal... and especially if you live in San Diego...

then I have 3 sweet websites I use or have recently been recommended for local steals and deals.

Each day they send out some main deal and maybe a "side deal" where if "x" number of people sign up, the coupon is activated and you can buy it for a set price. Every deal is different, but they give you all you need to know and each of these websites gives you 24 hours to buy it or lose the deal if you don't want it.

I subscribe to their daily e-mail updates and most of the time, I have to hit delete 3 times, cuz 95% of the time, I don't use the item. BUT... 5% of the time I do. It might be an event ticket, a date idea, a class, a restaurant gift card, etc..

So far, I've bought:

If you want some great deals. Here's 3 things to check out (thanks Stina for the heads up on the last two today!)


Tuesday, May 11, 2010


After working with students for a really long time now, this last week of meetings and conversations with both current and former students has me on my knees again. Probably never should have left there... but that's another blog post.

Theologically, methodologically, and practically speaking... there's lots of "new" in my youth ministry thinking these days.

I have at least 10 questions I'm asking now that I wasn't asking when I started this phase of my life (or at least I couldn't have articulated them if I did).

  1. How can I create an environment where students can think about faith genuinely and live out their faith intentionally?
  2. Is it even possible to raise 5 teenagers in one home who love Jesus and serve God in a way that is both genuine and owned as an individual? What kind of parent do I need to be if that is going to be a reality for my family?
  3. What is the effect of facebook, social networking, and computer screens on a faith and community?
  4. Why do so many of our students date people who don't share a common faith system with them?
  5. Is the good ol' fashion work ethic really that old fashioned? Why are so many young adults around me just plain lazy?
  6. Why are homosexual and lesbian lifestyles increasingly being embraced by students and how can I create an environment where this is openly discussed like any other decision/issue students face?
  7. Do my own kids want me to be their youth pastor? What are the benefits and dangers inherent in that?
  8. If faith is more caught than taught, what characteristics are contagious in me and the ministry around me? What is being "caught", regardless of what is "taught"?
  9. What am I doing as a norm in ministry that I will genuinely have to apologize to the next generation of youth pastors for?
  10. The Bible, plain and simple, is not being read by well over 90% of the students in my ministry. Period. Is there anything I can do to change that?


Sunday, May 09, 2010


Today was a reminder of blessings of my family and especially the mom's in my world.  At this point, I have 3 of those... my own mom, my wife, and mom #2 I officially gained at marriage.  All are amazing women who bless me. I was able to celebrate this Mom's Day with the later two and my kids at my in-laws.

Here's how we rolled after church:

We went to grandma and grandpa's house for pictures.

We ate a dinner with so much food we decided we have more than enough to feed us all again tomorrow night.

And we went fishing. Yes, fishing... like 50 yards from grandma's house in their backyard is a community pond (pond = like 25 x 40 yard thingy)  People do catch and release only fishing in this thing.  I couldn't believe it.  TJ actually caught a big ol' cat fish and a small bass inside of an hour.  Tyler caught a turtle.  Yep, a turtle.  Yes, I set it free and it's fine, but a turtle?  Seriously, who woulda thought that we'd go fishing at grandma's in San Diego.  I think we're gonna be catching the same fish so many times in the next few years we're gonna name 'em.  Jake already named the turtle.


Friday, May 07, 2010


This video has been making the rounds about our office and across the land of churches like mine today. I saw it tweeted and linked and e-mailed in several ways. At the time of this posting, it's been played like 40 thousand times on vimeo.

Some found it funny. Some found it vain. Some liked it. Some hated it. Some said amen. Some said ouch. Some used it as cannon fodder. Some used it to think.

What about me?
  1. It's "in the camp" critique. It's not satire from someone whose church never looks like this or who has some kinda alter agenda axe to grind. North Point is a "contemporary" service church not unlike the one I work in. So I listened.
  2. I questioned. Do I get like this? Is this true of me or my mode of worship? Are the satirical motives portrayed in this video ever my motives?
  3. Is tradition bad? Like if a more liturgical church did the same basic worship pattern ever week, does that mean they are missing it too? Why do we worship variety more than consistency? Is change good? Is it bad? Do I worship God or my methods? What methods negate God?
  4. I've tasted some of this and hate it when I do experience it like this. I agreed I want nothing to do with a Sunday that is anything like this in mindset.
  5. Am I intentional about the elements I plan in our student services or do I just get into slot filling mode?
  6. I love how this made me think. More than a lot of things, this 3 minute video got me to search my soul and ask what and why I do what I do.


Monday, May 03, 2010


There is something very therapeutic in my world about a problem that has a tangible solution. Like something with a real result that can be seen, measured, and hopefully celebrated when it's done.

For the last month, I've been "escaping my day job" to do a home remodel project any "non work day" I could find and even some evenings too. After a lot of hard work with some faithful friends, some 30 days later, I finished it.

What was "it"?

"It" was ripping out all the carpet out of our house, having the concrete floors on our first level refinished, installing hardwood floors all the way up the stairs, down the hall, and into the bedrooms, replacing all the door casings and base boards, redoing two sets of desks and the hall closet and finally...that much is done.

While finishing the floor job with a long time friend, Kyle Cummins, my wife asked us if we were having fun.

We both said... "yeah... are you kidding me, this is like therapy."

  • the job doesn't talk back.
  • simple hard work and some creativity solves most problems.
  • progress is tangible and evident almost immediately.
  • you know clearly what you're trying to fix and you know when to stop.
  • the project has a start and an end that are both tangible and measurable.
Kyle and I both work full-time pastoring students. Kyle with Young Life in South Central Los Angeles and me with students at Journey Community Church here in San Diego. Compare the flooring job to what our "day jobs" look like.
  • pleasing people is always tempting, but an impossible task.
  • hard work and creativity does not necessarily produce a measurable result.
  • progress is slow, at times seems totally absent, and is often evident only years down the road.
  • very rarely is the problem you're trying to help a student solve the actual real problem: there's always something deeper that must be dealt with first.
  • there is no stopping if your goal is helping someone connect with God.
  • even if you call a freshmen year the start date and senior year the end date, there is no start or stop because for every student that graduates, here comes a whole new class of freshmen that require a completely fresh start again.

Don't get me wrong, we both love students and our jobs and even the challenges they bring. But if you're going to remain sane in this uphill battle we call student ministries, sometimes, you need to escape to a job that feeds your desire for real, radical, and even instant transformation.

Here's some pics of the transformation of my house and the removal of the sin we call carpet. If only student ministry progress was this clear and could be completed in 30 days or less.

The before of the stairs and the floor below

The after of the stairs

Jake and Billy's bedroom:

TJ and Tyler's room

Our room

The Hall

Becky's room



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San Diego, CA
Husband. Dad. Jesus Follower. Friend. Learner. Athlete. Soccer coach. Reader. Builder. Dreamer. Pastor. Communicator. Knucklehead.

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