Reading and Recently Read

Reading right now…

Story, Signs, and Sacred Rhythms: A Narrative Approach to Youth Ministry by Chris Folsmbee.  Will post more on this later.  I’m not currently a ‘youth worker’ but I’m a dad of two youth and am intrigued by how I can walk with my girls “in the story of God.”

Just Read in last couple weeks…

Jim and Casper Go to Church: Frank Conversation About Faith, Churches, and Well-Meaning Christians by Jim Henderson and Matt Casper.  You’ll have a tough time putting this one down.  Major introspection for pastors as they see through the eyes of two men who “review” the good and not so good aspects of the churches they visit.

Blue Ocean Startegy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant.  Believe it or not I read this nearly word for word and found this a great read beyond the normal stuff I dive into.  get it?  Dive into?  Blue Ocean?  Nevermind.  Crossover thought to church leaders – read this book, step away from the theology text for a week and read this, then jump back into dreaming God’s dreams for your congregation.

UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity and Why it Matters by David Kinnaman and Dave Lyons.  For me this was more than the usual Barna research factoids and alarmism I sometimes feel in a Barna book.  This book was really insightful on both the research side and practical interpretation side of why Mosaics and Busters are not Christians.

Recent Magazine Article…

Missional Renaissance: An Interview with Reggie McNeal as found online at Grace and Peace Magazine.  Read it!

Matt – Solutions

A youth pastor’s reflection

Today I just found out that a precious young lady I had in my youth group back in the mid to late 90′s is in an OKC hospital “brain dead.”  Due to unusual birthing circumstances this event brings back a flood of great memories about this young lady and her parents and all those kids that I pastored during those days.  I reflect on mentioning to her and the others of life’s fragility and how serving Jesus and his bride the Church is so very special and wonderful.  I remember this young lady singing in church, painting walls on youth mission trips, playing pranks on here friends, and just two summers ago being excited to be getting married for her first time.

So, my youth pastor friends, no real big moral to this reflection other than the fact that it was one of the friends of this girl that called me on this today.  Broken-hearted and crying she stated that I was one of 3-5 phone calls she was making to ask for prayer.  Considering us “family” this was a “must” phone call, she said.

How precious our investment must have been as youth pastors, who knew so very little about what we were doing, but loved kids so very much.  There’s a lesson in there….

Matt – Solutions

Hunger and Thirst for God

Woke up hungry and thirsty today for more of Him!

As I walked in to my girl’s room last night, my oldest was in bed reading some Scripture before closing her eyes for the night.  Not only did that scene warm my heart, but it made an impact on me.  It, unkowingly, rekindled a fresh hunger in my heart today to “seek Him first and His Kingdom and His righteousness.”  Once again on this journey as a dad of two young teens, I was pleased to see my kid hungry for the Word and it affirmed the emphasis of God’s Word as supreme guide in our home for all our lives.

Just so you know, my kid is real.  Even though she reads her Bible, she is like every teen challenged to apply it in “real time” situations.  Media allures her, many things vie for her time and attention and some not so healthy, but overall I am a pleased dad this day, to know my high schooler is seeking answers in God’s word for “life stuff.”  Again, it is one nugget of hope on this journey with teenagers.

Matt – Solutions

Compassion in Review

It’s Saturday night.  The fam is all home.  We’ve had our almost weekly usual family game or movie time and of course Sunday baths or showers are already taken.  Before we go to bed in all our glorious comfortability there is just one more thing to do – explore the world of biblical compassion.  So, what is our text to guide us in deep thought towards thinking and responding in ways of compassion towards a world that needs to see this from Christ followers?  Forward moving, our family is studying Bleed Out: Stories of Christlike Compassion by Aaron Mitchum.  This simple youth study is perfect for me and my family as two of my three kids are teens.  This short but well done book focuses on the meaning of compassion and how compassion plays out in Scripture and in “real time” through global stories of compassion.  Dad’s of teens looking to engage their teens spiritually (it’s your responsibility) should give this a try.  Chapters are not long and Q and A section is not filled with goofy rhetorical questions that would solicit only “Sunday School answers.”

Give this one a try.  You’ll be glad you did.

Matt – Solutions

Barefoot announces new youth workers blog

Hey Solutions readers!  A lot has gone on since my last post.  Incredible things like uggghhh the Saints winning the Super Bowl!  Didn’t see that one happening, but it did.  What else?  Oh, our NPH Team Central Facebook is growing in the # of fans.  We are excited about that.  Valentines came and went.  I have my own personal views on this highly commercial holiday, but, it does serve a purpose to help us all rethink God’s love for us and our love for one another.

And finally, there’s the addition of Barefoot Ministries new blog for youth workers.  It’s called Slant 33.  As I look at the site I must say that the list of current contributors is quite impressive.  I signed up (subscribed) to follow Slant 33.  I recommend you do as well (yep it’s free).  Today’s blog post was quite candid as three contributors really opened up on the subject of personal prayer.  The flavor and feel of Slant 33 is very genuine and helpful.  I look forward to following this blog.  I think it will provide helpful insight on the journey to being the kind of youth worker and parent God wants me to be.

Matt – Solutions

New Year’s Sketches and Other Liturgy Ideas

The year 2010 is nearly here and although you may be enjoying Advent/Christmas all the parties and festivities if you are a pastor your mind is somewhat down the road and into the new year.  No doubt you are considering in prayer or in action the themes, missional purposes, and sermon ideas of the new year.  I hope that today’s entry can be of some help and insight for consideration.

For 2010 consideration…

…doing the Kingdom Experiment (grown up version or youth version)…

…the Mosaic Experiment

downloadable New Year theme drama sketches

Celebrations and Observances for the whole year…

Youth Worker training from Barefoot Ministries…

…Try a 30 Day Trial of…

The Psalms in Worship: Arrangements from the Psalter for Performance in Worship…and…The Word in Worship: Drama Scripture Arrangements for Performance and Liturgy…

Worship Creatively…creative ways to worship in the sanctuary and beyond

More 2010 small group ideas in another post, but I hope this gets the juices rolling on fresh resources to assist you in how you preach, teach, and present the Word of God in your congregation this next year.

Matt – Solutions

Friday Afternoon-and Still not Ready for Youth Group!

Has the week gotten away from you?  Well, it’s Friday afternoon!  You have a game tonight, maybe hanging out with kids tomorrow, a fall festival, whatever…and then Sunday…and you’re not ready for youth group!! Ahhhhhh.  What are you gonna do?

Quick!  Go online and visit Barefoot Ministries and sign up for a 30 day FREE trial and download some good stuff.  Now be mindful…don’t make this a habit.  After all this quick, last minute stuff is not always good, but in a pinch a quick download lesson could help.  Don’t forget that you have 30 days to try this site and at the end you’ll receive a bill for an annual subscription.  If you don’t like the online products you see, just write cancel on the bill and mail the bill back to Barefoot…no tricks…just trying to help and equip you as a youth leader…and maybe get you out of a “pickle” like the one your in now.

OK, #1 – Get a Barefoot Trial, #2 wear a heavy coat to the game, #3 keep loving teens!

Matt – Solutions

My Young Teens

Reality has set in!  This next month my oldest kid will be 14!!  (echoing)  Behind her is an almost 13 year old, and not too far behind these girls is a 9 year old boy going on 10 in January.  I’m moving into areas as a parent that, well, make me think about a lot of things I need to teach them…and fast.  The clock is ticking and time is racing.  More than helping them know the y-intercept or how to find the slope in math or the finer points of the U.S. Constitution in social studies, I’ve got to teach them about life and how to respond to injustice, people who use foul language at school, hormone stuff, aahhhh.  As I said, time is ticking.  The church helps some in my role as a parent.  My girls had a pretty awesome spiritual retreat two weeks ago.  They did go deeper in their relationship with God.  My son is in a church flag football ministry called Upwards, it helps too.  There’s also this new resource from WordAction called Wired which I think will be super helpful for churches.  It’s a preteen resources that incorporates multi-media to speak relevant truth from God’s Word to 6th graders.  I hope people will try this out next month.  Check out a video preview on Facebook.Yes, the young teen and preteen life is a fast paced life for me as a parent and there is a lot I want to teach, but I also know that I need use other tools and resources to help me teach them (the Bible being central of course).

Here are a couple more things I’ve tried and hope you will to.

Sacred Time – Gave this to my eighth grader.  She devoured it (spiritually speaking of course).

Credo – Three words – “deep but cheap.” is useful as a supplement to teach Credo  as a small group curriculum.

Now back to figuring out how far a train traveled and how much time it took if it went from NYC to Baltimore traveling 55 miles per hour with 4 fifteen minute breaks….(yep, 7th grade word problems).  C’mon you know you love those too.

Matt – Solutions

What do you have on emergent…..?

Postmodern and Wesleyan? Exploring the Boundaries and Possibilities

Postmodern and Wesleyan? Exploring the Boundaries and Possibilities

By the title of this post you can probably guess that I get this question a lot from both pastors and congregants concerning resources that Beacon Hill has on the topic of the emergent church.  While I won’t venture to define my interpretation of emergent in this blog I will say that we do have a book that has just come off the press that speaks not so much to “emergent” but to the social construct of postmodernity, from which I feel emergent comes from.

The book is much anticipated in several circles of Wesleyanism and is in fact titled, Postmodern and Wesleyan? Exploring the Boundaries and Possibilities.

“This book models what the Church should practice in an often tumultuous culture.  It suggests constructive ways for the church to navigate the promises and perils of living in a postmodern culture, it welcomes those with differing views to join in the conversation, and each chapter closes with good, critical questions that draw the reader into dialog.”  James Hampton – Professor at Asbury Seminary.

As Hampton says each chapter provides feedback and opens the door for dialog through responses by author and speaker Len Sweet.

Now, if you are reading this blog and you’ve already developed your opinion on this book without even reading it, I would lovingly challenge you to order a copy today and see if the contents of this book resonate with the Wesleyan spirit within you and ultimately the Spirit of faith that provides hope in a complex present and future.

Matt – Solutions

Super Quick Easter Ideas

A week from today is Good Friday and of course a week from this Sunday is Easter Sunday.  Maybe you’ve got it all down as far as music, worship outline, etc.  But maybe you don’t.  So, here’s a few quick ideas for you to ponder for Easter illustrations or teaching helps that may help you in last minute planning.

Youth Ministry

1.  Hye One Hye video entitled Painted.  For use with your youth or as a sermon illustration.  The video is from Barefoot Ministries and VERY well done.  Downloadable in seconds!

2.  The Triumphant Entry as part of the “not so King James version” videos by Barefoot.  SUPER affordable (like almost free) and sort of a lighthearted look at part of the Passion Week narrative.  Again a quick download and your set.

3.  Quick drama piece called So Dead.  8 minutes, 3 actors, Easter appropriate…you should try it.


1.  Super easy and well done sketch for COMMUNION.  Requires one person.  It’s called Remember Me.  Might be a nice way to include one more person in your Easter liturgy.

2.  One man monolgue called A Man Out of Time: A Personal Confession.  done with expression and passion this could really stir the hearts of those who listen.

3.  Grace Flows Down MP3 Stereo Track.  Could be quickly downloaded and rehearsed to perform or played at the end of a sermon or for your communion time on Easter.

4.  See How Mercy – Leadsheet and Split track download.  Great worship option for offering or before the sermon.

Hope this mix of media and drama helps a bit as you think about how to involve more people or media into your youth or adult worship settings for Easter.

Matt – Solutions