Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Proud Moments in Youth Ministry

This morning Seth and I officially kicked off the graduation season with the first of many graduation celebrations. This particular celebration, however, was unique in that it was an 8th grade graduation ceremony. Now, I remember my last day of 8th grade, and I remember some kind of an awards ceremony (somewhere I've got a trophy or two to commemorate that day!), but it was nothing like this...this was a students-dressing-up-auditorium-filled-with parents-cameras-flashing-band-playing-people-cheering-diploma-
handing-out-full-fledged graduation ceremony. Basically, it was the real deal. My pessimistic thought for the day was that middle schools have started holding these ceremonies because so many kids (40% was the statistic I heard today) will never graduate high school. For many of them, today is their graduation day--their one and only graduation day.

I digress...

The cool thing about this ceremony were the kids from our youth group whom we were there to celebrate. We were invited by Dylan, the poster child for our student ministry if there ever was one. When I came to St. Mark 3 years ago, Dylan was just entering the 6th grade. We quickly became close friends--in fact, Dylan may have been my very first friend at St. Mark! I have seen Dylan grow and be challenged so much over the past three years. He speaks with wisdom beyond his years, and he's just about the nicest kid you'll ever meet. It was no surprise to me, then, when he walked away from the ceremony today with a handful of trophies for academic excellence and other positive contributions to his school and community.

Samantha "Sam" Decker was the other student of ours involved in the ceremony. Sam has been involved in our student ministry for a couple years now. After being invited to youth group by a friend, she has become one of the core kids in our middle school ministry. The cool thing about her is that she accepted the Lord as the result of our ministry. Not only that, but since becoming a part of our ministry, her mom started coming to church. Her mom also began bringing one of her friends to church, and that woman accepted Christ through the ministry of our church shortly before dying at an early age from cancer. One of the coolest stories you'll ever hear.

But back to Sam...she literally stole the show today. Sam was one of two students in her grade who received all A's this entire school year. She also walked out with another half dozen or so trophies and awards for things such as top orchestra student and outstanding work on the school's TV broadcasting team (by the end of the ceremony they actually gave her a box to carry all of her trophies!). Basically, she dominated!

All in all, it was a proud moment for Seth and me as we watched Dylan and Sam today. God has been doing incredible things in their lives, and it has just been great to play a part in helping them grow. I couldn't be more proud of these two! Way to go, Dylan and Sam!

Seth, Sam, Dylan, and Me.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Highlights From Hotlanta: Day 4

  • A great break-out session about a ministry called Student Impact which provides students weekly opportunities to serve in the body of Christ.
  • Another incredible message from Andy Stanley on working together as a church staff.
  • A huge barbecue at one of NPCC's satellite churches, Brown's Bridge Community Church.
  • A one-hour stand up comedy routine by JEFF FOXWORTHY! Hilarious!!!
More pics...

Worship through the arts.

Rockin' out with inflatable guitars!

THE most incredible drama skit I have ever seen!...Broadwayesque...

Nothing like finishing up a meal including ribs, french fries, and 
elephant ears with some cotton candy!

Jeff Foxworthy's stand up comedy routine at BBCC.

This guy is hilarious.

That's it for day 4 at the Drive Conference. Day 5 is already underway...looking forward to hearing Andy Stanley one more time this afternoon!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Highlights From Hotlanta: Day 3

  • Brunch at Cracker Barrel like a bunch of old people (great food, though!).
  • Hanging out in downtown Hotlanta.
  • Taking the "Inside CNN" tour (not worth the $12, but still pretty cool).
  • Meeting Glenn Beck (sort of).
  • An incredible opening session of the Drive Conference 2008, including a message on trust between church staff members by Andy Stanley and worship led by Steve Fee, Todd Fields, and Kristian Stanfill.
  • More time connecting on a deeper level as a church staff.
Here are some pics from today:

The Georgia Aquarium.

The Coca-Cola Museum.

It was a lot of fun hanging out with Seth and David...and their cell phones! :-P

Inside the CNN Center.

Riding up the world's largest escalator...what a rush!

CNN en espanol.

Seth hangin' with Wolf Blitzer!

"Larry King...he looks like an owl!"

Keepin' it real with Glenn Beck.

The cops at NPCC writing tickets to people who dared to save seats for the opening session!

Foreshadowing my future, perhaps?

Highlights From Hotlanta: Day 2

  • Sleeping in a little bit.
  • Catching the 11AM service at North Point Community Church.
  • Hearing an incredible message from Andy Stanley from his new series Faith, Hope, and Luck. Seriously, check it out.
  • Lunch at Joe's Crab Shack.
  • Cutting my head on the TV screen in our van and bleeding all over (more of a lowpoint of the day, I guess).
  • Getting a long Sunday afternoon nap for the first time in FOR-E-VER.
  • Seth and I teaching the rest of the staff how to play Settlers of Catan.
  • Dinner at a sweet burger joint called Five Guys.

Another great day! Looking forward to starting the conference tomorrow!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Movie Review: IRONMAN

Two words: Loved it.  

Two more: A lot.

I realized tonight that I don't think a Marvel Comic movie has ever let me down (I dare you to prove me wrong!). This movie is certainly no exception to that rule. If you're looking for a great action flick with heroes and villains, superhero fight scenes, a pretty solid plot, and even a bit of a sappy love story for all you ladies out there (and you, Mr. Hopeless Romantic), this is your movie!  

The bottom line: I enjoyed it from start to finish. I give it an A.

Highlights From Hotlanta: Day 1

  • A near-death experience on the way to the airport thanks to Seth's driving skills.
  • Two crying babies sitting directly behind me on the flight.
  • Walking into the women's restroom with Pastor John in the Atlanta airport (whoops!).
  • Eating massive amounts of wings at Wild Wing Cafe tonight.
  • Catching a showing of IRONMAN tonight.
  • Hanging out and laughing a lot with our awesome staff!
All in all, it's been a great day! Looking forward to checking out North Point Church tomorrow morning!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Hotlanta, Here We Come!

Our entire church staff at St. Mark is taking off first thing in the morning for the Drive Conference 2008 down at North Point Church in Atlanta, GA.  More to come on that as well.  Can't wait!!!  

A Big Day

Had some important meetings with some important people about some important future events in my life today (how's that for ambiguity?!). Stay tuned, folks...big news from MaxAC coming soon!!!