Category Archives: culture

to quote someone else: changing culture (Peter Block)

“A shift in the thinking and actions of citizens is more vital than a shift in the thinking and actions of institutions and formal leaders.”

taken from Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block

I read Community several months ago and have been thinking through the implications of its content ever since. This particular quote has generated a lot of pondering and wrestling in my head.

As a youth minister, there are things I want to see changed or focused on within the context of the congregation within which I work. There are attitudes that need adjusting, focuses that need fine-tuned, understanding that needs broadened, lessons that need learned, and apathy that needs shaken. There are even changes that need to happen, but can only happen when there is a shift in the culture. And changing a church culture is no easy task.

As Block points out the best (only?) way to change a culture is to shift the thinking and actions of the people in the community you want to change. What community culture do you want to see shifted?

  • A Sunday School class.
  • The youth ministry.
  • Your volunteer team.
  • Staff dynamics.
  • Church leadership.
  • Awana group.
  • Your small group.
  • Parents of your students.
  • Your family.

Changing any of these communities will take effort and time. If you are a leader of the community, you have a vital role in helping to shift the actions and thinking of the people within the community. You need to be intentional about changing your thinking, actions, and language. Since you want to see the changes, you have already made the mental shift. You might have even made a shift in how you plan, organize or promote things in order to show the shift. But the most important step (and one that gets forgotten by many leaders) is to verbalize and share your thinking on the shift.

Do you need to change how you talk about a topic? It could be as simple as changing the way you promote the Sunday School class. For example, if you want to shift the class to be more about discipleship than fellowship you will need to stop talking about how much “fun” class is and start using phrases that reflect the depth of the studies.

Do you want church to be less about attendance on Sunday and more about living a life for Christ every day? If you are a leader, you need to help the congregation shift their thinking from the one to the other. How can you help people see the Christian life as more than a checklist? A few possibilities include: speaking about the shift from up-front, changing the way you evaluate and discuss the ministry of the church, or spending time sharing the need for the shift with a few “key” people who can help you champion the changes.

What would you add to this conversation? What have you learned about changing culture?


Advertisements Hulu for kids

My kids like to watch Noonbory and the Super 7 and Busytown Mysteries on Sunday morning. Both shows are part of “Cookie Jar TV.” Well, on Sunday I saw a new ad for which peaked my interest.

Jaroo (tagline: always something on) is still in beta, so its not expected to be without some needed changes. But I think it could be a great site for kids and families with little kids. Basically it seems to be for kids. As it is still in beta form, there are only a limited number of shows available. But honestly, the list is rather full of great “classic” kids shows and some good newer shows, too.

A few shows that my family would watch include:

A Miss Mallard Mystery
Animal Crackers
Inspector Gadget
Sonic Underground
Strawberry Shortcake
Super Mario Bros
Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad – never seen it but the name sounds cool
The Legend of Zelda

See the full list here.

Like Hulu, it appears that new shows will be added later and episodes will only be online for a limited number of weeks. They have a schedule to show you what new episodes will be added in the coming weeks. Overall, I think this could be a great site to watch some cartoons online. Take a look and see if there is anything you remember from your childhood or anything your kids would like to watch. Plus, its free.

I’d love to hear what you think.

February Trivia

During the month of February, the trivia questions are all focused on Valentine’s Day.

Feb. 3 – When was Feb. 14 declared Valentine’s Day?
Feb. 10 – First mass produced valentines.
Feb. 17 – When are most Valentine’s Day cards purchased?
Feb. 24 – Who buys more valentines?

Some Valentine Day History

Here are a few facts about Valentine’s Day. You can find more info on History Channel‘s website.

Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day around 498 A.D.

In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the seventeenth century. By the middle of the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings. Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s.

According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.)

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages (written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400), and the oldest known Valentine card is on display at the British Museum.

Research reveals that more than half of the U.S. population celebrates Valentine’s Day by purchasing a greeting card. (Source: Hallmark research)

188 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second-most popular greeting-card-giving occasion. (This total excludes packaged kids valentines for classroom exchanges.) (Source: Hallmark research)

Best of ’09: Random Favorites

The year 2009 A.D. is over. The past 12 months have brought with them many new things; some good, some bad, and some not worth mentioning. I would like to take some time and highlight some of my favorite parts of 2009. I will call this list the “best of ’09” – which simply means that, in my opinion, these are the best items in a certain category. I fully expect you to disagree with some of my choices or to be upset I did not add other items to the list. If you feel this way, please add your “best of ’09” ideas in the comments.

The eighth, and final, list will be a collection of random favorites. This is a list of anything that does not fit in one of the other categories, but I really like. Maybe this jumbled assortment of stuff will spark some thought, maybe a laugh, or maybe you’ll just get a better glance at who I am. Without any further wait, here is a list of my favorites from TV to parenting (in no particular order).

Community on NBC
I find myself laughing more often than not when I watch Community. Though I do not think every episode is a home run, I do not expect it to be either. My favorite part of the show is the interaction between Troy and Abed – simply hilarious. If you need a good laugh, this show might just help.

The Office on NBC
Simply one of the best shows on network television, in my opinion. I’ve been a fan since episode 2 (I didn’t like the pilot on the British version, and since the American version was identical, I didn’t like it either). Consistently funny. I do have some fears about where the writers are heading with Dwight’s diabolical plan – I hope he doesn’t become super vengeful (it would ruin the “feel” of the show for me).

Watching baseball (on TV) with my boys
As my boys are getting older, they are starting to want to watch baseball more. This means I get one more thing I can share with my sons. One funny thing about watching baseball this past summer was that they would ask to watch it, then after 2 or 3 innings, they would begin to complain about watching it. They aren’t quite ready for a full game, but just watching baseball with them is good for me. And if I have an option – it would be a Cubs gave every time.

Star Wars
Star Wars has taken on a whole new level for me this year, because my two boys are starting to really get into it. We’ve watched all the movies, save Episode 3. We have read Revenge of the Sith (with some editing) to them, though. They love playing Lego Star Wars on Gamecube, playing with their action figures, coloring, pretending to be in Star Wars, and talking about the Star Wars universe. This has brought up many opportunities to talk about right/wrong, choices, good/evil, anger/love and a plethora of other topics.

Plus, I have to admit I really like the Clone Wars cartoon. Working my way, with the boys, through season one.

Being a father of 3
There is nothing like being a father and this year I have enjoyed being a father to three small children. As my youngest grows from baby to toddler, the level of play increases – which can cause friction when all three want to play with the same thing. But overall, it just means we get to do more things together as a family.

Writing more
I enjoy writing and this past year I got the chance to do more of it. I was honored to get the chance to contribute to some cool products (like SYM’s Live Curriculum) as well as a couple youth ministry projects (YM Blog). I hope to be able to continue writing, plus to improve my writing in the coming year.

Spending more time with my wife
I purposefully tried to spend more time doing things with my wife this year. We tried to read through a book together, but that didn’t last too long. We watched some shows together, spent time talking, played games, and went on walks. I want to spend even more time with her this year.

Substitute teaching
I like teaching and I like students – so substitute teaching is a great way to combine the two. Every day I sub brings a new adventure. I never know what the lesson plan will be until I get there and I don’t always know who I will interact with during the day. As a youth minister, it is also a great way to get to know more students. I hope to be able to continue subbing for years to come.

Sam’s Cola: Cherry
My new favorite flavor of pop. You need to try it – that is all.

My favorite board or card games include: Dutch Blitz, Boggle, Battleship, and chess.

What are your favorite things?

Other posts in this series:
Best of ’09 – Music
Best of ’09 – Youth Ministry Books
Best of ’09 – Non-Ministry Books
Best of ’09 – Websites
Best of ’09 – Blog posts
Best of ’09 – Web Apps
Best of ’09 – Ministry Moments
Best of ’09 – Random Favorites

Best of ’09: Blog Posts

The year 2009 A.D. is almost over. The past 12 months have brought with them many new things; some good, some bad, and some not worth mentioning. I would like to take some time and highlight some of my favorite parts of 2009. I will call this list the “best of ’09” – which simply means that, in my opinion, these are the best items in a certain category. I fully expect you to disagree with some of my choices or to be upset I did not add other items to the list. If you feel this way, please add your “best of ’09” ideas in the comments.

The fifth list will be blog posts. This will be a list of my favorite posts from this site, there are simply too many from other people to go into that list. These are the posts I liked the best, sparked discussion or simply got the most traffic. This list is in no particular order.

5 Ways to use the Super Bowl in Youth Ministry – I shared five ways to use the Super Bowl in your youth ministry. Maybe you could use these tips this year.

It’s Not About You – A reminder that your current situation may not be about you.

5 Things that would have been great April Fool’s Day jokes (had they not been real) – Just a fun list of products that would be funny if they were not actual products.

You Might be a Youth Worker if… – a startling revelation from a conversation with a student.

Finding Rest in the Summer – a few tips on how to find rest during the busy summer months.

An Open Letter to Youth Ministry Search Teams – I wrote this to the many search teams looking for a youth minister. I hope search teams read it and make needed adjustments.

Life, Death, & the Uncertainty of it All – A reflection on the shortness of life and what God promises to those who love him.

6 Saddest Verses in the Bible – a quick look at some sad verses in Scripture.

Youth Ministry Budgeting Series – a 5 part series with tips and thoughts on improving your youth ministry budget.

5 Year Youth Ministry Contract Series – some thoughts on what would happen if youth ministers signed a 5 year contract.

Other posts in this series:
Best of ’09 – Music
Best of ’09 – Youth Ministry Books
Best of ’09 – Non-Ministry Books
Best of ’09 – Websites
Best of ’09 – Blog posts
Best of ’09 – Web Apps
Best of ’09 – Ministry Moments
Best of ’09 – Random Favorites

Oh Christmas Troy – a late Christmas video

I wanted to post this yesterday for Christmas, but I forgot (because I was enjoying time with my family – like you should have been).

So, here it is, “Oh Christmas Troy,” from the end of the last Community episode.

Learned from Twitter: week ending August 15, 2009

This week’s edition covers last week and this week. Here are a few of the things I learned on Twitter.

1. timschmoyer (Tim Schmoyer) observed something that I agree with 100%.

The longer I’m in ministry the more I’m convinced that gossip will destroy a ministry faster than anything else.

2. HolidayWorld (Holiday World) celebrated a milestone on Aug. 3rd.

63 years ago today, Holiday World opened (Santa Claus Land till ’84). Thanks to all the generations who’ve visited over the decades!

3. MarkMatlock (Mark Matlock) linked to an article on teens and Tweeting.

Teens Don’t Tweet… Or Do They? More thinking on this hot topic …

4. uthpastor (Ryan Nielson) was one of many people who linked to an article on the sad reality that youth ministers need to be more responsible than “cool.”

Youth minister indicted in teen’s death. A sad reminder that being a shepherd is better than being cool.

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Learned from Twitter: week ending July 25, 2009

Today is a special day for me – its my little girl’s 1st birthday! So, to help you celebrate my little girl’s birthday, I thought I’d share some highlights from Twitter this past week. Oh, who am I kidding, I was going to share them anyway. 🙂

1. YS_Scoop (Youth Specialties) shared the link to Tic Long’s new blog. If you have not checked it out, you need to. Tic is a great advocate of the youth worker and have great thoughts – plus he’s just a good guy.

“Keep up with Tic and what is next in his life at

2. snavenel (Len Evans) shared some news about a new stage of his life. Check out his blog to find out more about Len and see how you can be praying for him in this transition.

“Shared today, that I’m no longer the youth pastor at the church. Have applied to work with the Gathering prayer supporters

3. timschmoyer (Tim Schmoyer) shared two links for resources youth workers might be able to take advantage of in their ministries. Check out these links and see how they can benefit your ministry.

“FREE City cars time lapse video download in HD. Might be good as a title background for a YG video:

“RT @slickdeals: 20 5×7 Photo Prints $0.99 // Perfect for all your camp and missions trip pictures!

4. StudentMinistry (John from Lifeway Student Ministry) linked to an article on helping your students after you get back from camp. If you took kids to camp, or know some who went, you’ll want to read the article.

“Help Your Students Keep Their Camp Committments” now on –

5. MikeFoster (Mike Foster) shared this little bit of wisdom (and truth). I agree wholeheartedly with his statement.

“true leaders take ownership of their contribution to a bad event.”

6. rainnwilson (Rainn Wilson: aka Dwight) offered a little bit of hope for those Office fans who are tired of watching “summer television.” The Office is back to work!

“Office table read today. Like first day of school. What to wear!? Make sure to ask for spoilers cause I will def. be revealing all!(um, no)

7. theofficenbc (The Office on NBC) provided a little bit more information for Office fans – the first episode is entitled “Gossip” (oh, the possibilities).

“Scoop! Season 6 of “The Office” officially begins today, with a table read of Episode 1, entitled “Gossip.” Welcome back everyone!”

What did you learn from Twitter this week?

Trivia Wednesday #130: Proper firework-making clothing

answer #129 – 9 (E.T. – 44, Beverly Hills Cop – 28, Tootsie – 27, Top Gun – 27, Titanic – 26, Forrest Gump – 26, Crocodile Dundee – 26, Home Alone – 25, Dances with Wolves – 25) (How many movies have been in the top 10 for 25 or more weekends?)

question #130 – True or False: Fireworks makers wear only cotton clothing?