When you grow up as a feral poor kid in the country you learn some things.

You learn how to clean out a chicken coop without disturbing the roost, how to make a fallen oak a majestic fortress and how to build just about anything from the scrap pile that collects in most country backyards.

You also learn a healthy respect for things

You learn how to respect the occasional pack of roaming wild dogs, an Alabama spring tornado and an angry grandmother who has been standing on the porch for an hour calling into the woods for you to come to dinner.

I remember, early on, learning a healthy respect for another formidable force; fire.  Fire is a tricky thing.  It can be one of the most difficult things to get going but once it does, with the right external forces, it can be one of the most terrifying and violent of nature’s tools.

I think I was around 10, it was late summer and we were wanting to clear some land.  In the country when you want to clear some land you do not bring in a bulldozer or a survey crew.  You get a few guys, some hoses and some twisted up news paper.  you would set the perimeter with the hose before hand and start spraying the area you wanted to keep untouched.  Then, when everyone is ready, you begin to light the underbrush.  Usually it is an uneventful afternoon, the fire line creeps slowly across the plot of land like black paint being spilt across a piece of paper until it reaches the edge where others are waiting with the hoses to protect the border.

That is when it goes as planned.

Here is the problem with fire; it does not necessarily care what you plan or where you want it to burn, it does whatever it damn well pleases.   Continue Reading…

Hey All,

I had the privilege of being interviewed on the Never Forsaken Podcast the other day.  I had a great time talking with John Robinson about all things youth ministry and some ideas about the future of the church.  Check it out HERE

At this point the lights have been taken down, the giant bean bags are no longer lounged upon and everyone, speakers to participants, are somewhere else.  What was is now no longer.  The theme this year was Beyond, and I think YS did an incredible job of collectively moving each of us beyond our comfort and into God’s ever forward movement.  I experienced a recognition that what we can grasp can never grasp our God, what we can reason can never fully understand God’s expanse. I heard the humbling yet hopeful message that our God is a God that we can know but only through glimpses, our own and the glimpses of others.

At NYWC15 we were shown the glimpses of others, others we may have not heard before.

Glimpses form scientists and ministers, from LGBT and straight, from minority and majority, from the close and from the other.

If nothing else comes from this incredible time of worship, learning and community I hope that we will each take away that our greatest understanding and our greatest knowledge is but a glimpse.  A holy, courageously flawed and beautifully incomplete glimpse.

One of the beauties of this conference is that we have, for a few short days, the opportunity see the glimpses that others see and subsequently know our God and our neighbor in greater and more holistic ways.

My hope is that we will continue to go Beyond our understandings of our God, listen to the stories and see the glimpses of others.  My prayer is that what happened in Louisville… will not stay in Louisville.

Go Beyond.

Dr. Andrew Zirschky

New Book- Beyond the Screen: Youth Ministry for the Connected But Alone Generation

Relational youth ministry is thinking about teenagers having relationships with one another and how to have relationships with one another and the whole body of Christ

We are called to live out of an alternative Operating System

We will cover

  1. Meaning of Social Media
  2. Networked Individualism
  3. Koinonia
  4. Relational Practices
The Meaning of Social Media

Continue Reading…

Deb Hirsch and Brandon Winstead

Deb Hirsch

Our hearts are profoundly alienated from those who are not like us

We are called to connect with the other

I am a person with a message to bring to the world but first I am called to listen and try to understand the other

Our personal narrative is profoundly important because it has informed our perception of the other.  There is an even deeper scripting that shapes our understanding of the other and that is the fall.  In the fall there was a disconnect between us and God and a disconnect between humanity.

Your heart is alienated, every human heart is alienated. Continue Reading…

Trey Grant, Kathy Khang, Mark Matlock, Karen McKinney, Latasha Morrison, Ginny Olson, James White

Culture vs Kingdom

White Fragility- When white people realize that their race actually matters and that race is now causing a self realization and causing a defensiveness because for the first time our race is being recognized in a non dominant way.

Dr. Soong Chan Rah

Less than 8% of churches in the US are integrated (80%-20%)

By 2008 1/3 of Americans are of non European descent

We are experiencing a massive change over into a new multi-cultural reality

The other half of the decline of christianity in America is that there is a massive amount of growth in the immigrant, spanish speaking and other minority churches

Schools are 6x’s more integrated than the local church

Youth see integration at school and segregation at church

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.-Revelation 7:9

Continue Reading…