Tuesday, August 31, 2010


For years, I've been saying that, "As a youth pastor, I don't mind it when a 16 year-old acts 16, what I have great trouble with is when her parent does."

Well, now I can add to the list of youth ministry angst, the growing trend in America that allows a teenager to extend their development and graduation out of the "kid" world and into the "adult world" well into their late twenties and early thirties. I'm so done with allowing a 25 year-old man to sit around, live at home, play video games, and take a few classes while working part-time at the mall and calling this normal or good. It's ridiculous and evidently, rampant. Articles like this one in the New York Times last week site multiple examples of what is being waited on as evidence of delayed adulthood:

  • lack of jobs that send a percentage home to live with parents post graduation.
  • extended college degrees and career confusion
  • delayed marriage and 2/3rds choosing to live together instead of get married for several years
  • delayed childbearing/raising
  • lack of responsibility, etc
I recently read an entire treaty on this by Robert Epstein called Teen 2.0. In it, he declares at great length, that not only did Western civilization create the adolescent world, but that it has become an epidemic problem. He says, "there is simply no question that teens throughout history were integrated into adult society much earlier than they are today and that the tumultuous period that defines adolescence today did not exist until recent times." While there are things I disagree with in his book, I absolutely whole-heartedly agree that it is time to say "NO MORE" to this trend in our culture.

Donald Miller responded to this same NY Times article in a post where he titled it "If 40 is new 30, then 20 is the new junior high?" and suggests what a twenty-something who just got out of bed at noon and is reading Donald's blog on a laptop which is literally on their lap can do to combat this trend.

Personally, there are days when I'd like to combat it my foot firmly in someone's backside, but short of that, here's a few qualitative ways I'm declaring war on this in my own world and ministry:

APPRENTICE ADULTS: Epstein uses this phrase in his book and I love it. My job as a student ministries pastor and as a parent is to work myself right out of a job: to raise up adults. To this end, I've begun to see my job less as leading students during a crucial era of their lives, and more as the gatekeeper of a community where students can learn and practice adult roles. I can't call students to "grow up" unless I'm willing to intentionally provide opportunities for them to do just that.

REDEFINING FAILURE: Failure is not when a student fumbles a task, but rather failure is when an adult holds onto one so tightly, that a student can't learn it, embrace it, or lead it.

EMPOWER STUDENTS TO TAKE OVER TRADITIONAL "ADULT ROLES" IN OUR MINISTRY: Epstein argues extensively that privilege should be given to kids who show competency, even if that occurs before the age society says they should do it. (For example, he would argue that a kid should be able to stay home alone or drive a car based on something other than an age restriction) Again, while I may not agree entirely with all his suggestions, this year I'm intentionally opening up opportunities for students to teach in small groups, lead serving teams, and mentor their younger peers in other ministries as a few examples.

CHANGING LANGUAGE: I don't call students "kids" and I'm increasingly dropping "teens" from my language too in favor of "young adults". I am not calling teens to act like adults, I'm calling people who are already physiologically young adults to assume their mental, spiritual, and relational roles as an adult.

INTENTIONAL TRAINING: Starting in January, we're meeting 1x a month from 1-4pm for a thing we're calling "Seminar Sunday". In it, one of the things we'll be providing is a class for high school and college age students who want to step into adulthood to begin to learn some specific skills critical to the adult process. We'll be offering classes on money management, career planning, physical health, spiritual development, relationships, and other elements of healthy adult well-being.

ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY: I have zero tolerance for apathy. I have grace for it, I just won't create an environment where I'm apathetic to apathy. Laziness, apathy, and empowering/enabling a purposeless life is 100% counter Jesus and Biblical living. I refuse to allow teens to wallow in a stage of life that has held their potential hostage.

CHANGING OUR ADULT TO STUDENT RATIO RADICALLY: I can't expect students to act like adults if they are only surrounded by teens who display the same maturity, advice, and behavior patterns I'm trying to undo. Currently, it is not uncommon in our weekend service in specific for the ratio of adult to student to be something like 20 or 25 to one. This cannot be if we are ever to create an "other culture" in our ministry.

TEACH HOW TO THINK, NOT WHAT TO THINK: At every turn, I'm trying to raise up a group of young adults who are intentionally wrestling with life and faith to the point of ownership and the ability to articulate their faith for themselves. Our mission states that we are "Inviting a Generation to Understand, Own, and Live out a life-changing faith in Jesus." I deeply believe that is exactly what I'm called to do.


Saturday, August 21, 2010


Came home from Yosemite to this reminder that I'm not BIG TIME, but our Middle School Pastor Christina is :)

If you wanna be BIG TIME.. then come join us at the NYWC this fall.


Thursday, August 12, 2010


I have a wife, 5 kids, a full time job, still take one seminary class a quarter in pursuit of my ever elusive MDIV, and like everyone I know, also have an endless list of other things to do. Yet, despite these facts, every summer/fall I add 6 or 7 hours a week of soccer practice for 2 separate teams and coach 2 games every Saturday between Labor Day and Thanksgiving too.

This week marked the beginning of the coaching season for me again. So people ask:

What is wrong with you Brian? Are you nuts?

You might think so if you watch me whip out of the office twice a week to go coach soccer. On thursdays, I leave the office at 3:30pm and then coach soccer till 7pm and then from Mid September through the end of the season, I'll go to class from 7:15 to 10pm too. Come on, that's nuts.

Well, here's why I dive willingly into the deep end of the soccer commitment pool:
  • I LOVE SOCCER: so, coaching it is fun. I love teaching and sharing this piece of my passion with kids and watching them "get it" and enjoy the game is good times. I love putting my foot on the ball, even if it's just coaching a new move.
  • IT'S QUALITY, NEVER-GONNA-BE-ABLE-TO-DO-AGAIN, TIME WITH MY KIDS: I've coached TJ since he was 8 and this is his last year with me cuz next year, I'll coach Tyler and Jake. I'm going to miss coaching him because coaching my kids has been some of my best parenting moments. We've laughed and cried. We've talked about talent, comparison, conflict, endurance, the value of winning, lessons from losing, how to improve, and so much more. I could have had those conversations lots of ways, but not with near the ease or near the teachable moments.
  • I'VE HAD SOME BAD COACHING EXPERIENCES: Without sharing details, there are some people I don't want coaching my kids and since AYSO can place my kid with whoever they want and is limited in resources to whoever volunteers to help, sometimes the coaching experience was less than desirable for my kids. Most coaches are great, but rather than complain about those who aren't, I decided to shut up and help and try and be a solution to my own problem.
  • IT GETS ME OUT OF MY CHURCH: My world can be consumed by people that act like me or act a certain way around me or whatever because of my role as a pastor. This gets me out of the "christian world" and into the "real world" and lets me interact with people where their is nothing they presume about me. I just get to coach soccer, help their kid, and try and bless their family. I just try and be a great coach and encourage them with every opportunity I get. That's refreshing and in the end, a great testimony to the gospel and the way of Jesus anyway.
  • IT SAVES ME TIME AND HEADACHES: Yep, believe it or not, it saves me time. We have 5 kids in soccer and that means 5 practice times. You KNOW that someone will need to be on one end of town when someone else needs to be across town at the same time if we just left it to chance. And, as a dual coach, I get to pick when and where we practice around my schedule and our games on Saturdays for at least 2 of the kids are guaranteed to not conflict. Also, our kids are young enough that we don't just drop them off and leave. We have to stay and watch. So, if I have to be there, I might as well be coaching. So, in the end, coaching the teams saves our family time and gives us the easiest way to manage our season.
So, there ya have it. That's why.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010


A few years ago, we started holding an annual, 45 minute, school year orientation meeting for parents of students in our youth ministry.

Honestly, I have no idea why I waited so long to start doing something like this... I think I did one my first couple of years in ministry and then stopped when parents became familiar with my ministry and the demand/fears subsided. But I really never should have stopped. I honestly think it's one of the very best things we do for parents all year.

Anyway, we did it again this last Sunday after our weekend services with parents of middle school & high school age kids. It was advertised on our ministry blogs and pushed it in the main church service as an important piece for all families with teens in our program. It's still not got a great attendance (or at least what I wished it had), I think because most still think it's old info or just for families with new 6th graders or freshmen... but hopefully in the years ahead we'll be able to change the tide and see more families there.

Here's why we do it:

  • It reminds the new and old of why we do what we do cuz we talk philosophy and vision for a few minutes.
  • It gives parents a chance to hear from our staff and for us to express our desire to team with them.
  • Because we give them a big picture of all our major events and their estimated costs for the school year, it gives families a chance to budget their time and money if they want their student(s) involved in our program. This alone seems to me to worth it's weight in gold as a parent who wants to see my student actively engaged in our ministry and plan our weekends and family life accordingly.
  • It gives us a chance to share what volunteer needs we have and communicate ways to serve in alongside of us in both big and small ways.
In case you're a parent of one of our students and missed this meeting or if you're just curious what we pass out... here's a pdf handout you can download with all the details.


Monday, August 09, 2010


I subscribe to a few channels on youtube and as a result, I get periodic e-mails telling me when there's something new for me to enjoy.  Well, due to a crazy summer, the last 5 or so sat in my inbox and tonight, in an effort to clean it out, I watched several of the updates I missed.

In the process I laughed and cried.

These two are just funny:

This one made my heart hurt:


Sunday, August 08, 2010


One of my students recently used one of those wordle websites to make my blog into a word picture.

If you want to know why I've been blogging so little the last 2 months.  This pretty much covers it:


Friday, August 06, 2010


Well my family had been trying to get to Idaho to visit some long time friends, Adam and Andrea Johnston for forever it seems.

We moved to San Diego 5 years ago, just about the time they moved to Idaho and we haven't seen one another since. We've made several attempts to cross paths, but circumstances beyond our control canceled a cruise together in the Caribbean, a flight to Boise in CA fire season, and even a quick trip to Disneyland last winter... so we were determined to make our summer plans to see them a reality.

I'll spend several posts summarizing some of my learnings and discoveries, but here's some quotes I logged on our 2516 mile trip that took us through CA, NV, AZ, UT, ID, and OR in 8 days.

  • He asked this amazing question before we left our driveway. Welcome to the world of 5 kids on a roadtrip.

"YOU MEAN GO WITH THE FLOW?"- Shannon- kinda confused.
  • Shannon kept trying to tell our kids that our schedule was flexible based on so many factors and that they should just stop asking so many questions and "go with the flow". Billy, in his attempt to still learn crazy English idioms tried to tell shannon to stop asking questions when we were in Vegas with this one. Too funny.

  • Jake said this after he asked me while camping if he could ride back to camp on his bike without his shirt on after swimming. I asked him, "What are you going to do if you fall and get scraped up?" This was his response. I have no idea what God has in store for this kid, but some days, I just can't wait to see it.
  • This was Becky telling Adam that his hide and seek place sucked. He was "hiding" behind a light post and asked Becky if this was a good spot. Becky held our her hands to explain to him that he needed a "Biiiggg" item to hide his body behind. Adam repeated this phrase to us at least once a day for the rest of the trip.

"ARE YOU FRIENDS OR FAMILY?" - Waitress at Buffalo Wild Wings.
  • I met Andrea almost my first year in full time youth ministry. I then met Adam when he wanted to volunteer on our staff when Andrea was in college and serving part time on our admin team at church. Eventually they dated and I did their wedding. We've been on countless ministry related trips together and share tons of crazy stories.... so our history is long and deep. I was reminded how precious long term friends really are.



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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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