Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Great New Resource for Youth Workers!

Just got the cover of my friend Darren Sutton's new book "Two Sides: Finding What Fits Your Youth Ministry" which I was able to contribute several chapters to. I love the format of the book! It presents several hot topics in youth ministry and allows two different youth ministry voices to present different perspectives on them and affords the reader the opportunity to flesh out the points and develop their own philosophy of ministry. You can pick up a copy of the book beginning next week at www.simplyyouthministry.com.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

Superchick Concert

Last Sunday night we had fun going to the Superchick Concert featuring Bread of Stone and Brock Baker (who is one of the Dalton Academy Warblers on the show Glee). We had a fun time! See all the pics here.

Brock Baker of Glee

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

After Edmund Needs Our Help!

Watch this video from my good buddies After Edmund and get onboard to help them produce their new album. We're getting in on the action! Look for our names in the album credits. :)

Going All Out Video - Week 1

Hilarious clip by our student ministries staff for week 1 of our church-wide campaign Going All Out. So funny! Below is the actual message by Ray Johnston.

Going All Out - "The Power of Decisions" January 22, 2012 from Southwest Community Church on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Building Trust with Students by Peter Vanacore

Trust: A building block of life and faith.

One of the key skills in life is learning to trust others, or more accurately, learning to trust the right people. For those of us who grew up in loving homes and safe communities, trust came pretty naturally even as we experienced some disappointments along the way. But many of our youth are not so fortunate. Instability in the home and community often increases the difficulty in enabling youth to take the risk to trust.

We all need face time to build trust. Nothing replaces face-to-face contact – not even Facebook. We use the FACE acronym to help our mentors build trust with their mentees. This is how it works:

Fun: For most of us, this is the easiest part (I’m assuming you’re not a bunch of curmudgeons). You can define this yourself, but it involves anything from Xbox to chess or basketball to shopping. There are three key aspects of having fun that can help build trust. First is to be willing to try something that a teenager can teach you. Second is to be willing to help a kid learn something you know. The third is to try new things together. Whether this is sports, music, food or whatever, there is an art to being both teachable and a teacher. Having fun often involves taking a risk. You can change their view of adults because most kids think that growing up means becoming boring.

Acceptance: This is where it gets harder. Acceptance does not mean condoning everything someone says or does. It means being willing to accept who they are so that they can have the freedom to explore all God wants them to be. You can change their view of adults because they assume that all adults, especially the churchy kind, are judgmental. Judging instantly kills trust.

Consistency: If you can only do one thing, just show up. That’s it. Many kids have become accustomed to adults not keeping promises. From parents to teachers, kids have a list of unreliable adults. And when you show up, be yourself. Act like an adult – just not a boring one. You can change their view of adults, because many kids expect adults to disappoint them.

Expectations: Expect teenagers to do great things. God has a plan for each life. Whether they become a banker, car mechanic, teacher or preacher, it is all great if it is in God’s plan. At the same time, expect a mutual friendship. Respect the youth and expect respect in return. You can change their view of adults, because many adults are condescending or dismissive of youth.

Investing face time with a youth can have results for generations to come. As we prove to be trustworthy adults, our youth can build their lives around trusting the right people. That is the foundation upon which work, friendship and marriage are built, not to mention, it is the basis of faith in our Savior.

Peter Vanacore began ministering to youth in 1978 through Youth for Christ on Long Island. In 1981 he joined the staff of Long Island Youth Mentoring and worked as an Area Director for mentoring ministry. He helped develop a mentoring ministry with incarcerated juveniles and later served as the Field Staff Supervisor. In 1996 Peter moved to Massachusetts to become the New England Director for Straight Ahead Ministries. In 2000 he became the National Field Director where he helped develop the School of Juvenile Justice Ministry. Peter returned to Long Island in 2003 to direct the Christian Mentoring Institute. Along with his duties at CMI, Peter is also a part-time faculty member of Gordon College where he teaches courses in counseling and at-risk youth. He has a Masters in Social Work from Fordham University.

"Going All Out" Series Introduction by Ray Johnston

Going All Out - Introduction by Ray Johnston from Southwest Community Church on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mother-Son Date Night

Last Friday night we had a fantastic Mother-Son Date Night! We stated off with dinner at a restaurant during which sons were able to do some fun activities with their moms - including the boys asking their moms 30 questions. After that we had a photo scavenger hunt. Great seeing families connecting! See all the pics here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Last Night We Had The Conversation Every Parent Dreads

Last night we had the conversation every parent dreads. Our oldest was at a friend's house and our youngest was just hanging with us. Suddenly she said out of nowhere, "I don't think Santa's real." She then went on to list some clues and evidence that seemed to support her theory. We talked about how he could get into the house, how she could explain the video evidence we had of him from a few years ago, who else could possibly eat all those cookies, etc. We then pulled out Santa's letter to her this year and asked her to read it and tell us what about the letter would lead her to think he didn't write it. Here are 5 classic statements she made as she read it that had us rolling:

  1. How would he know I like to dance? Is he a stalker or something?
  2. He got me a toy mustang car instead of a real one. What a cheapskate!
  3. How would Santa know I miss my friends in NY. Is he in my heart or something? No!
  4. I don't want to say he's not real because then I'll get on the naughty list if he is real.
  5. Dad, are you seriously Twittering all of this? You're messed up!
As you can imagine, after all the laughter there were lots of tears. And that was just for my wife and I! Our little girl's growing up.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

PK Dizzle Video Shoot Sneak Peek Photo

The new PK Dizzle video "Winter Camp Time" drops live tomorrow at The Wire! Here's a sneak peek photo from the video shoot to whet your appetite! The video will be available world wide soon!

Friday, January 13, 2012

There IS A God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind

For Christmas my daughter gave me the book There IS A God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind by philosopher Anthony Flew. It was a fascinating read! The first half of the book is Flew's personal story - the roots of his atheism and the journey that led him to conclude in the existence of God. The second half is the actual evidence that led him to that conclusion. Flew's journey was not one he would call necessarily "religious," but one simply based on reason and his conviction to "follow the evidence where it leads." He has not arrived at a conclusion as to who God is, but rather the inescapable conclusion that there is in fact a God. In his opinion, however, he believes that Christianity is far and away the most intriguing possibility citing it's claims about Jesus and the writings of the great thinker Paul in the Bible.

I very much enjoyed reading his conversation with my favorite theologian N.T. Wright with whom Flew has developed a friendship with and whom he believes presents the strongest case for the God of the Bible as the creator. I would highly recommend this book to anyone - especially those who are searching for God and trying to reconcile science and reason with religion. It's not the end of the journey, but certainly an important step moving people in the right direction.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Family Small Group Started!

After almost 11 years of helping students connect life-on-life in small groups and raising up both adult and student small group leaders, last night my wife and I joyously open up our home and welcomed other families in for our first night of small group! With one exception (our first church) we have served in churches that were not small group oriented, so we found ourselves building community into the fabric of our volunteer teams, i.e. they were our small groups. This is the first time we have actually reached out and started a small group outside of our work and volunteer team relationships. We had a wonderful meal together and enjoyed some good "get-to-know-one-another" conversation. We're super excited about what God is going to do as we begin to share life together.

How YOU Can Help Meet a Huge Need! 
When we approached our small group department, it was simply to find out about joining a small group. We were instantly asked to consider hosting a group as there was a shortage of small groups. In fact, there is a waiting list of people trying to get into small groups - especially small groups that are "family-friendly", i.e. welcome children. If you go to Southwest Community Church and would be interested in hosting and/or leading a small group, please click here to contact the church and let them know of your willingness to help meet this need.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Best Part of a Youth Ministry Conference - Kurt Johnston & Josh Griffin

Yesterday we got a surprisingly high response to “How to Get the Most Out of a Youth Ministry Conference” and are beyond excited that many of you are joining us for SYMC 2012. Today we wanted to highlight the very best part of a youth ministry conference, but we couldn’t limit it to just one! Here’s a quick look at our four favorite parts of a conference.

Click here to read the 4 parts.


Contact me and I can give you a special code to receive $25 off of the SYM Conference.

In the words of the great Larry The Cable Guy, "Git Er Done!" ... Hey, that just sounds so right considering the fact that the conference is in Kentucky, doesn't it?! Register HERE.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Teaching Series Prayer Request

4% said they read their Bible 5-7 times a week.
20% said they read their Bible 2-3 times a week.
76% said they read their Bible less than 1 time a week.

These were the results of a survey I did among our students this past weekend. I was saddened by the results but not surprised. They were confirmation as to why we are doing a new series called "MY BIBLE." 

I asked students to bring THEIR Bible and a pen with them on Sunday, and led them through several verses dealing with the importance of Scripture. If they didn't own a Bible, we gave them one for free. Getting kids into the Bible PERSONALLY has long been a burden and a passion for me. If you haven't noticed, very few kids (or people for that matter) bring their Bibles with them to church anymore. Reasons can vary - they don't own one, there are Bibles at church they can use, the Scriptures will probably be on the screen, the preacher will tell me what God has to say, they don't want people to see them carrying a Bible, etc. Obviously the point is not to go to church and walk around with a Bible in your hand so people think you look good. To me it's a matter of, "This is my Bible. I'm going to learn something today. I want to have my Bible out and ready to follow along and engage with what I am learning." Through the series my desire is to cast vision and help people understand the importance and significance of the Bible and help them learn how to engage with the text ON THEIR OWN. To that extent I led them through various passages and asked them to underline, highlight, write question marks next to things they don't understand or wonder about, put a star next to things that are meaningful to them, draw lines between things that are repeated, etc. In short, I want them to use the minds God has given them and allow the Holy Spirit to make the Bible come alive in their hearts. 

Giving away at least 4 Bibles to kids that didn't own one, and seeing the response to our little survey tells me we're onto something that is mission critical. As you see the results, join me in praying that God will give us a hunger for His Word, because only God's Word can lead us to living lives that honor God.

Monday, January 9, 2012

SAY WHAT???!!! Middle School Boys' Date Night ...


Although the middle school boys might not be super excited about this event we're doing Friday night, I am, and I KNOW it's going to be a great night of connection for moms and their sons, not to mention A LOT OF FUN! We're meeting up for dinner, helping boys have good conversations with their moms, and having them work on some fun things together, including a photo scavenger hunt. It's gonna be fun! We're all about families at The Wire!

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Painting: Luke 14:27

Simply Youth Ministry Conference Just Around the Corner!

Hi friends! If you're in the youth ministry world, I would love to invite you to join me and 3,000 other youth workers at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. The theme for the conference is BREATHE! Come learn, recharge, connect and fall in youth ministry all over again. I was in Colorado a few weeks ago with some great youth workers planning the conference, and trust me, it's going to be fantastic! You don't want to miss it!

Contact me and I can give you a special code to receive $25 off.

In the words of the great Larry The Cable Guy, "Git Er Done!" ... Hey, that just sounds so right considering the fact that the conference is in Kentucky, doesn't it?! Register HERE.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My 10 Year Old in "Tales of Maui"

Last semester my 10-year-old joined Drama Club and in December they performed "Tales of Maui". She did a great job and we were super proud of her!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Wire IS BACK!!!

Taking Student Leaders to the Believe Conference

At the end of this month I'm taking our student leaders to the Believe Conference at Hope International University in Fullerton, CA. Believe is the ministry of Christ In Youth that specializes in Jr. High programming. For more than 10 years, CIY has provided high-energy, Christ-centered events just for Jr. high students and their sponsors. We are intentional about reaching Jr. high students for Christ - on their level. We would take all of our students, but we have Winter Camp in February. Looking forward to this experience with our emerging leaders.

Believe Promo from Christ In Youth on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My 14-Year Old!!!

On this day 14 years ago Adriana and I welcomed our first child, Claudia Vanessa into the world. It's amazing how fast the time has gone by. Seeing her love God, serve others, and develop her gifts has been a great joy. This year she has been serving as a student leader in our middle school ministry, was able to see one of the people she invited to church receive Christ, and has really blossomed as a musician. We are so proud of our big little girl! 

Pics of 2 More New Paintings ...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Books I Read in 2011

  1. 127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston
  2. 99 Thoughts for Parents of Teenagers by Walt Mueller
  3. Alive by Piers Paul Read
  4. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  5. Believe: The Words and Inspiration of Desmond Tutu
  6. Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen
  7. Church: Why Bother? by Philip Yancey
  8. Closing the Window by Tim Chester
  9. Crazy Love by Francis Chan
  10. Grace Notes by Philip Yancey
  11. How People Change by Timothy Lane & David Tripp
  12. Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron
  13. Justification by N.T. Wright
  14. Life's Healing Choices by John Baker
  15. Love Wins by Rob Bell
  16. Mad Man in Waco by Brad Bailey and Bob Darden
  17. Marketing God to Teens by Ryan J. Doeller
  18. Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light - The Private Writings of "The Saint of Calcutta"
  19. My Jesus Year by Benyamin Cohen
  20. Radical by David Platt
  21. Secondhand Jesus by Glenn Packiam
  22. Sifted by Rick Lawrence
  23. Surrendered and Untamed by Jason Clark
  24. The Accidental Anglican by Todd D. Hunter
  25. The Bible
  26. The Eyes of the Ship: Navigating the Waters of Fatherhood by Jim Moore
  27. The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  28. The Grizzly Maze: Timothy Treadwell's Fatal Obsession with Alaskan Bears by Nick Jans
  29. The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns
  30. The Power of a Whisper by Bill Hybles
  31. The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation by Barbara R. Rossing
  32. The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen
  33. Time with God for Fathers
  34. Tracker by Tom Brown, Jr.
  35. What Good is God? by Philip Yancey