Friday, September 29, 2006

Favorite YM Memory #4

People are getting married!

It has been a genuine pleasure to watch relationships grow and mature through the stages of introduction, getting to know each other, flirting, wondering about each other, dating, engagement, and marriage. In all honesty, it has become a marker of communifing community that shows and gives example of deep relationship.

It has been a successful journey based not on the numbers of community development but on the depth of community development. Exciting times!

Next step: babies.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Favorite YM Memory #5

Everyone hates to love some things. The thing I hate to love is a stinky old mouse infested double wide portable trailer that leaks when it rains, is far too hot when it is hot, and, in my opinion, is a fire, health, and beauty hazard. Our church office with its paper thin walls, interesting eco-systems, and over crowded desk space is set against the backdrop of a beautiful monastery type locale of lush green forest atop a mountain. It is in this setting of a decaying twenty-five year old ATCO trailer that I have come to learn and love the idea of shared space.

Shared space in our office is not an option…there is none among us who have the luxury of privacy. We have two actual offices in our building, a boiler room, two bathrooms, and a common area. In this small space we have eight people with their own desks and another open desk available for interns and our out-of-office staff. The dynamic of cramming everyone into such a small and ghetto place has been one of those leadership things that we have learned by accident and have been pleasantly surprised by the result. In fact, as we have been brainstorming our new offices we have been trying to figure out ways to ensure that shared space is still an active part of our office structure with playrooms and common areas.

Because all of our space is shared our brainstorming, problem solving, sermon preparation, mentoring, reading, and writing is influenced, developed, and sculpted in a community environment. I would call it an eclectic learning environment that allows for and encourages the input and creativity of anyone else who happens to be around. To me, here is the most important aspect and question to ask; how can one lead a community without leading in community? It’s brilliant.

I’ll leave you with this, a quote I found on the back of a Starbucks cup while we traveled through the High Sierra desert this spring:

“If we really want to understand innovation and collaboration, we have to explore shared space. Consider Watson and Crick; how many experiments did they do to confirm DNA’s double helix? Zero. Not one. They built models based on other peoples data. These models were their shared space. Their collaboration in that shared space powered their Nobel Prize winning breakthrough. If you don’t have shared space you are not collaborating.”
- Michael Schrage, MIT Researcher.

I will never forget our portable office.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Exciting stuff over here happening in the Hawkins camp. Matt, I am very stoked on what you are doing - eventually I will only be able to book you 6 months in advance because your skills will be in such high demand. We all wish you the best of luck with this venture...

Favorite youth ministry memory number five dropping tomorrow. Get bent.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Favorite YM Memory #6

For a time in my life I quit all team sports – not because I didn’t like the particular sport, I just didn’t like being on the team. I was always among the top most talented members on whatever team it was and was always annoyed that everyone else kept us from winning every single game every season. The more talented I became the more frustrated I got – I was too good for teams. So instead, I decided to focus on sports where I won and lost or progressed based on my own ability; snowboarding, skateboarding, track and field, and bouldering.

Admittedly, I still do not play team sports, however, my motive has changed (accept I still won’t play volleyball unless it involves sand and speedo’s). Five years of youth ministry has drastically changed how I view teams and has taught me again how to problem solve, work towards a goal, and celebrate with other people. My closest team is a tight group of four guys; myself, Chad Langerud, Josh Livingston, and Chris Luff. Together we build all of our teams based on four C’s in the order and priority of what we think is most important. We have unashamedly stolen three of these from Ol’Billybones himself. A summary:

1. Character - We need to know that you know and love Jesus and are living a life that honors and follows his teaching. You are growing in faith and operating in the spiritual gifts needed for the precise moment that you need them.

2. Chemistry – Some chemicals simply do not react well together; you need to be a good fit for this team!

3. Commitment – So many people define commitment in so many different ways; the definition we use is this, “If you died right now and Jesus asked you about your life you would talk about this team.” Ya dig?

4. Competence – We are not ashamed to go after top notch and highly skilled individuals to lead with a ‘we kick-ass’ attitude. Unfortunately, too many teams are built with competence as the highest priority. The reality is that competence is the easiest of the 4C’s to learn and the easiest to fix. i.e. Failing at completing a certain task is much easier to fix then a team member sleeping with the secretary or doing something equally as stupid!

Go build a great team!

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Motorcycle Diaries

Merry Sunday!
A few days ago I wrote about how part of my leadership style has been shaped out of roadtrips and the effect they have on the people you road trip with. Anyhow, to further illustrate the point I should point you to a film I watched today; if you can get through the sub-titles and reading f-bombs you'll do fine. The Motorcycle Diaries moves along at a pace that is neither heroic nor spectacular - it is the simple story of two lives lived beside each other for a time while on the road. Its a true story and a great film. Go rent it!

Favorite youth ministry memory number six hits news stands tomorrow.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Favorite YM Memory #7

Often times memories become memories because what you are remembering are highlight moments in time that seem to have more significance then the everyday mundane moments. Whether the mundane or the highlights have more or less significance then each other is debatable and would be fit for a future post and doesn’t really play a role in today’s favorite youth ministry memory number seven.

This memory is actually a collection of memories from HistoryMakers Youth Convention, Merge, Chubb Lake Teen Camp, Scotland missions trips, Full Life, Reality Check, and other various retreats. These are the memories of deep and focused times of spiritually building into the lives of students and leaders; these were times of defining the direction of Christian spirituality in many teenagers lives and act as the hinge points in why they follow Jesus today.

Focused spiritual retreats and getaways in youth ministry do a number of things:
1. Community is built through shared spiritual experience.
2. Community is maintained through shared spiritual history.
3. Christian spirituality is built in the context of community.
4. Spiritual sensitivity is expected among students and leaders.
5. Spiritual leadership among emerging leaders is tested, cultivated, and encouraged.

Many students, when reflecting back on their spiritual history, point back to a retreat experience as the defining moment(s) in their Christian commitment. I am sure that many who read this can very likely remember a time away from home in some over cramped chalet, hot broken-down bus, or bug-infested campsite when God seemed more real to you, simply because you were away from the normal everyday distractions of life.

Have fun creating amazing retreat experiences this year!

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Marketing Emotions

Loyal customers will sell for you more product then you will ever sell.

Last night, Thursday September 21, 2006 I found my self wandering through Prospera Center in Chilliwack, BC with corporate seasons passes looking for Section B, row 10, seat 9. The event? The first ever WHL game of the newly minted Chilliwack Bruins.

It was very interesting watching the sold out home crowd cheering on their new home team; everybody knew who it was that they were suppose to be cheering for but had little-to-no reason to actually cheer for them. The usual electric feeling of a season opener in a full arena was simply not there as everyone sat back and quietly observed who this new team was. Any cheering that actually happened felt very contrived and more of an obligation then a real response to what was happening on the ice.

Until they scored two goals less then a minute apart.

The crowd erupted. Suddenly there was a reason to cheer because cheering was the only worthy response to a team that suddenly held some credibility. From that moment on, you could feel an emotional shift in the building from cautious observer to Bruins fan. The crowd had been bought at the price of two goals, a few good hits, and a fight.

People will buy what you are selling and cheer on your product, whether it is an idea, a way of life, or a nic-nac piece of junk, if you connect them to a credible product at an emotional level.

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PS - If you are looking for more of my top ten youth ministry memories check back tomorrow for number seven.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Favorite YM Memory #8

Traditionally, Monday mornings are the worst morning in the work week; they are a mixture of dreary eyes, more caffeine intake then is healthy, and the overwhelming thought that Friday is further away today then any other day of the work week. Monday’s, in many work spaces, are the days you call in sick…unless you work in our office.

Patrick Lencioni in his book 5 Dysfunctions of Team says, “It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.” and “If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”

By far, one of my favorite memories and “events” that I look forward to every week is our Monday morning staff meeting. Any outsider who has been privy to observe or take part in our staff meetings may ask themselves as they are leaving if we actually accomplished anything at all. They are a mixture of great food, laughing, giggling, practical jokes and more fun then anything else – it is amazing that we get anything done.

To qualify this somewhat: we actually do get to business, sit under the incredible leadership of Jim Lucas, and problem solve…however, where is it written that important assignments must be carried out with an air of grim determination? Where is it written that breakthrough ideas can only emerge in a business-as-usual environment? Why would anyone want work to feel like, well, work?

The best ideas come from playful and creative minds.
Turning these ideas into accomplished goals will only happen when a team can laugh and play and fight and, ultimately, work together.

My favorite youth ministry memory # 8? Team Chemistry.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Favorite YM Memory #9

In five years of youth ministry I have had the privilege of leading some exceptional volunteer teams of adults who love youth ministry. In that time, I have also had the opportunity to train nineteen different interns, most of whom, are still in close ministry contact with me or are currently on paid staff at our church. The most exciting thing about this is that as these interns graduate and move on we are seeing them get into ministry positions around the country and kicking butt at what they do! I tell all of my interns when they start the same thing; “I am looking forward to the day where, when every year our district conference rolls around, we all rent out an entire wing or floor of a hotel and spend the week together inspiring each other in ministry.” Isn’t that at least a little bit exciting?

If you and I know each other at all, you would most likely know that my natural leadership bent is to not manage teams but to create leadership cultures that are inspiring and innovative. Among my favorite ‘successes’, memories, and things to observe have been some of our new young leaders who have come up through our youth ministry, have been involved in leadership development, and are now plugged into leadership as developed leaders on our adult teams.

Simply this: I love watching leadership development turn into developed leaders.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Favorite YM Memory #10

A couple of years ago on our ‘annual’ grad trip we found ourselves in a very cramped van, an Alberta thunderstorm, and a left hand turn straight into a big Alberta half-ton truck. Now, normally when I find myself in Alberta and I begin to imagine the kind of people who drive these trucks, I imagine the typical oily rig-pig who would sooner shoot you then talk to you. Thankfully this was not the case.

With our mode de transportation now severely hamstringed our trip to West Deadmonton Mall seemed like only a bleak possibility. We were stranded in hickville Alberta with not a lot of money and almost no vacancy in the entire town. Finally, we found a little place that was way more money then we could all afford but, under the circumstances, it was our only choice. And so, like any ‘its your only choice’ options, we took the room…which turned out to be a huge blessing; once we had said that we would take it they gave us half price, moved us all into a room with a extra bedroom and a kitchen! Awesome! I felt ok. Except that I had to somehow get all of these teenagers home.

To make the story shorter then it is: between the free mechanic, an extra night on the road, an amazing breakfast that the grads all chipped in for, cooked, and then made us eat, it was, by far, the most fun I had ever had on a youth ministry trip. Not only that, but when I mentioned that I was writing a top ten youth ministry memories piece, a few people jumped in right away and said, “You’ve got to write about that grad trip!” It was amazing.

I learned a very important leadership lesson on that trip: Leadership and Community will not grow unless it is tested. Crises is the lifeblood that must flow through the veins of every effective leadership community. Crises shared together builds shared memory and experience that is among the most important aspects of ‘coming-togetherness.’ Crises creates the learning that we try and teach in workshops and on blogs. In fact, this trip impacted my style of leadership so much that I now do two things:
1. If I feel there isn’t a lot of crises happening – I create it, and
2. I’ve made road trips a mandatory part of our young adult leadership team: each person on our young adult leadership team is required to go on a roadtrip at least once every 6-months with people they have just met in the last 6-months. Awesome!

Check back for Number 9 Coming soon!

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Monday, September 18, 2006

TODO list: 5 Years of Youth Ministry. Complete.

I spent this last weekend in a huge chalet in Whistler, BC with 29 members of our youth leadership team. We had a great time building the chemistry bonds that hold teams together while together learning new leadership skills. This years leadership retreat was themed around ‘Puzzles’ and was dedicated to leaders who will imagine a new and better realities; instead of asking the question, “Are we great?” we asked ourselves, “Are we better today then we were yesterday?” It was a fantastic weekend!

One of the best moments for me through the weekend was looking out at this remarkable group of people who love teenagers and thinking to myself that there is no other place that I would rather be. I wouldn’t have traded the last five years of leadership development, youth ministry, and relationships for anything in the world. Over the coming week I will be sharing with you my top ten memories from five years of youth ministry and some of the things I have learned from them.

If anyone on our leadership team reads this know that you have been apart of the most inspiring five years of my life. Thank you.
Grace and Peace,

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Information Flush

According to the Bathroom Readers Institute (Volume 18), the first Encyclopedia Britannica, published in 1771, was only 3 volumes long. Image that – the bathroom reader, which is no doubt the most fascinating and eclectic reference set you will ever read, has six times as much information as the first encyclopedia!

Some more interesting bits of information to pass on to you:
In a book titled Information Anxiety author Richard Saul Wurman writes that a “weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than an average person was likely to come across in a lifetime in seventeenth-century England.” And here is the kicker; the New York Times, unlike the 18th edition of the Bathroom Reader, can be read in one sitting!

Unless you’ve run into a very bad case of something awful.

We are a culture trying to sort through the collateral damage of information overload; there is so much to take in from so many different sources that we have evolved into living breathing RSS feeds. We will only take in exactly what we want and nothing else because there is simply no other option.

The noise that surrounds the message and story of Jesus is louder and more cluttered then ever before; the market share the church once enjoyed has been slowly and, in many cases, systematically filtered out. What will the church do to make it necessary for people to hear them? How will they hear us?

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The Day History Changed

I guess, in reality, everyday is a day history changes. However, on this day in 1991 Nirvana released its Nevermind album with the hit single Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Every now and again a new idea, a band, or a film comes along that doesn't simply change how a genre is viewed and expressed - it creates a genre. Since 1991 there has been a musical flood of Seattle Grunge (as it was soon labeled) that lived in Chicago, New York, Hong Kong, and Toronto. Where ever there were kids with guitars, three chords, and plaid shirts with ripped jeans there was Seattle Grunge.

Why did it explode? Why was it big enough that even Weird Al did a parody? Because it connected socially and emotionally. Immensely.

Need proof? I cried when I heard Cobain died. So did a thousand(s) others.


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Monday, September 11, 2006

True or False: A Theology of Everything

Judging by the many people who have either called or emailed demanding that comments be turned back on it should not surprise me that people actually respond to this new True or False question. So here it goes: True or False?

"Because we are created, God's handiwork, then it follows that all of our problems and their solutions in life are theological."

If you read this, response is required.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Small is the New Big

Let me help you with your style.
Pink was the new black.
Brown is the new pink.
Alpha male is the new metro-male.
And Small is the new Big. Follow the link to an important article that, in my opinion, has big ramifications for the church. CraigsList has got it....why doesn't the church?

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Go Hiking!

Theory and reality are often worlds apart.

Between my Myers-Briggs and Birkman it is pretty apparent that I am much more comfortable working with abstracts, the conceptual, and theory while concrete reality and practicality prefer to makeout in the backseat. The problem is, however, that practicality score more points and wins more games then theory.

For example, Ralph Waldo Emerson said this; “Do not go where the path may be. Go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.” This all may sound very good and appealing but that fact of the matter is simply this; when you step off the trail local vegetation is at risk, erosion quickens, and you might just get stung with stinging nettles.

If you must step off of a trail, pay very close attention to where you place your feet – in theory and in the forest.

Happy Trails!

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Confused selling?

Let’s pretend for a moment that marketers actually sold what they advertised.

Yesterday as I was doing an errand through our local mall I passed an Aldo’s store full of people, shoes, and people buying shoes. What grabbed my attention most was the huge window advertisement of a girl in a short-short skirt with the question, “What is your story?”

Is Aldo selling shoes or stories?

Marketers clearly know that quality product alone does not move product from retailer to consumer. Consider this billboard (and Failure to Launch line), “Buying a boat is not about the boat, buying a boat is about the culture.”

What are you selling? Facts, formulas, hard truths, and fake community…or…are we selling great stories, culture, and life. How would a marketer sell the church?

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Unchurchable Stories::Unchurchable People

Richard Stone, head of the Storywork Institute in Orlando, Florida, says this, “To change an organization you have to change its stories.”

Living on the left hand clasp of the buckle in the Bible belt it is not uncommon for me to run into, on a surprisingly regular basis, disoriented and disenfranchised Christians. These are the over churched and rarely churched who are quickly becoming the unchurchable because of some bit of history they have had with the church. The story of the church and the story of their lives simply do not seem to merge.

If our churches must have stories then our jobs as leaders in these churches is to create the stories that connect. If our churches must have stories then our job as leaders is to take the stories that have existed through the ages and connect them. If our churches must have stories then lets tell the right ones.

Do you want to connect with the unchurchable? Surprise them with a story that they never would have ever suspected the church would tell.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Primal Leadership

Sir Isaac Newton was a complete crackerhead, nutball, wackjob, eccentric, over-the-top, and generally just a really weird and controversial person…yet, he was brilliant. Doesn’t it seem very peculiar but at the same time very normal that the weirdo’s are also the ‘brilliant ones’ or, at very least, the ones who fail or win at something new, risky, outrageous, or controversial? At some point along the way these eccentrics depart from the established norm often only holding loosely to the ragged edges of convention or, for that matter, sanity. These are people who have the ability to imagine new and better realities and who will eventually be the ones to enter the arena of creativity to test, determine, and forge the best possible path to this new realm.

Leadership that does not allow for these people is, in my opinion, short-sighted, power-hungry, and intolerable. The non-conforming inventive spirit of the wingnut-eccentric is often the expression of a leadership that is pulsating with thee primal and divine leadership instinct:

The urge to create.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Young Buisness People

Who wants cash?
There is a lot of money out there to be made, spent, and given away! I know that there are a number of pastors who are regular readers of this blog and I know that you likely know and even mentor young and emerging business tycoons...or at least future ones.

Among our many roles as pastors we have the unique position and responsibility to give some spiritual guidance and mentoring to our young buisness leaders. Let me recommend a couple of things:

1. Young Mavericks is a buisness event sponsored by Dreams Unlimited for the purposes of equipping and inspiring young money makers!
This years event is in Abbotsford November 2-3.

2. My brother Jon Postal, who is a dynamic and smart young buisness leader, is developing a learning network on his blog for young entrepreneurs. I would highly recommend that you pass on his blog address to the people in your circle of influence. God is raising up kingdom financiers before our eyes - let's support them and help be a catalyst for their networking! At least go over and say hi...

Grace and Peace,


"How embarrassing that the institution that worships the Creator is often bankrupt of creativity.......Creativity as a leadership art of spiritual navigation is critical creativity: it aims not at novelty, but at innovation that specifically continues the divine work of creation."
-Len Sweet

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Prayer

My Lord God
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following
your will does not mean
that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that my desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire
in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me
to face my perils alone.

-THOMAS MERTON (1915-1968)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Merry Long Weekend!

Hey yo - it is September now! Crazy hey?! Anyhow, start checking back in here regularily as I begin this new writting season. For now, let me recommend a couple of things:

1. There are certain books that are good but are so far advanced that you need to re-read them. I would suggest finding a groundbreaking book from five or six years ago and re-read it - you might understand it this time. I did. It was cool.

2. If you still don't own the American Idiot album by Green Day there is something wrong with you. The whole album is one story that follows the lives of a few characters in their search for Jesus. Some find grace, others friendship, and others suicide. A moving album.

3. I found two corpse's yesterday. Read about it here.

4. I would suggest some kind of trip this weekend. Call some freinds, load up your car, and go. Candace and I and a few friends are backpacking/hitch-hiking around the Gulf Islands. Should be good times.

5. Add Jim Lucas to your bloglines. I am sure that he will be writting some great stuff in the near future.

Have a great weekend and welcome back to eclectivity!