Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Speaking at Youth Ministry Forum

May 16-17, 2011 I will be on the faculty for a fantastic event that Virginia Baptists are putting on called: Youth Ministry Forum. This year, the main speaker is Marko (Mark Oestreicher) whose important book Youth Ministry 3.0 will be the dominant theme for discussion. I am really looking forward to the time in Richmond with some really sharp folks to discuss the future of student ministry.

It was at this event two years ago that Chris Folmsbee, author of A New Kind of Youth Ministry (and more recently Stories, Signs and Sacred Rhythms), asked if I would be interested in writing a short book for students on the idea of Sacred Hope. A book that explores the idea that the hope of God for our lives is not simply for ourselves, but is an invitation to be on mission with God to restore the world to its intended wholeness. I spent the next six months working on it in various ways, and it came out at the end of 2010. It was fantastic working with Chris and the team at Barefoot Ministries to publish the book, and I hope it isn't the last time we get to work together.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have gotten some really thoughtful notes from some college students and college graduates that have enjoyed the book, and I've been trying to think through some of their comments as I prepare to speak on it at the Youth Ministry Forum (for Faculty Bios, click here). I have two different sessions that I am speaking on at the forum, one on my book, and one on student ministry in general. Here are the descriptions:

Form over Function: Moving From Entertainment to Spiritual Formation in Youth Ministry
Do you find yourself spending more time, energy, resources on games, events, and flash for your student ministry rather than creating space for reflection, formation, practice, conversations, and ultimately relationships? In this session, we will explore how our aims for formation should drive our calendaring rather than the measuring sticks of fun and entertainment.

Exploring Sacred Hope: An Invitation to Join God’s Mission
Sacred hope is an expedition into mission. In Josh’s recent book Sacred Hope, students are invited to imagine the future where God is leading us, only to plummet back down into reality to investigate how we can join in God s mission to restore the world to its intended wholeness. In this session we will discuss ways we can cultivate spaces and conversations of hope and mission in our student ministries.

If you are going to be at the conference I'd love to meet you, and look forward to a great couple of days of rich conversation and thoughtful exploration. Hope to see you in Richmond!

getting creative

I'm starting to feel creative again.

Not like I am ready to write a masterpiece kind of creative. Just creative. I'm reading more. Listening to good music. Am having better conversations. Am feeling a stronger and stronger desire to write again.

I just started reading David Dark's The Sacredness of Questioning Everything and so far I am loving it. I have enjoyed his work in one of my favorite magazines Paste (that is currently on hiatus in print, but only online). And he is a great person to follow on Twitter. One of the things I wrote about in my book for students Sacred Hope was a chapter on the importance of asking good questions, of perpetually asking questions for it helps us to be in a posture of humility; a posture of seeking so that we may find. Dark puts it this way: "When we have questions, illumination is possible. (p. 14)"

To some degree doubt is necessary in order for faith to exist. Without doubt, faith becomes unnecessary, for our certainty rules our hearts and creates our image or idol of God in our minds. Dark writes, "Religion is born out of questions, not answers. (p. 22)"

When it comes down to it, I think I am feeling more creative because I am starting to ask more questions again. I am opening my heart to wrestle with ideas, art, love, hope, and doubt. Truthfully, I might be feeling more creative because my boys are sleeping through the night again or spring is starting to make you want to be outside, or I am starting to find balance after our new addition to the family. No matter where it is coming from, I am going to settle in and see what kinds of great things might come out of the questions and creativity.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Brush, Brush, Dust, Dust

So it's been a while since I've blogged. Life with two little boys is fun, crazy, and an adventure always...but it hasn't always helped me find time for writing. There have a been a lot of great things that have happened with us in the last few months, not least of which is the birth of a new little boy Elison. I also had my book published, Sacred Hope.

My good friend Stephen is going to be trying to blog once a week, and I thought that would be a good, and healthy goal for me too. I have a lot of things that I'd like to write about as a way of processing thoughts, and I thought that by writing regularly, it would be a really good discipline and way to cultivate those thoughts. I will try to be brief and playful at times, but more than anything, I just need to write.

This week have had two special moments for me with my oldest son Rowan. One happened today, I took him with me to get a haircut, his first done done at the hands of a professional instead of Shey. I didn't know what to expect, but he did a really great job, didn't cry, and was super excited for his slurpee prize afterward! At one point I look down and realize as he's sitting in the chair, how much he's grown, and crazy it is to be a father. Rowan is my son. My SON. As I watched him squirm with the clippers and give his hair stylist a high five when it was all done, I just kept thinking about how fast he is growing up and how humbling it is to be a part of helping him grow up.

The other thing that happened with Rowan, was that while I was giving Eli a bottle one day this week, Rowan sat on the couch and we watched an episode of Clifford the Big Red Dog together. During the episode one of the dogs had a best friend that moved away and was coming back for a visit. And for a while, the show centered around the two dogs being friends, and all the great things they did together, and ways they played. Then, one of the dogs moved away. And I look over, and my two-and-a-half year old has tears running down his cheeks. And as the show continues and the dog friends reunite, his tears continue to roll down. It was a beautiful moment to watch him learn and feel empathy for others. It broke my heart to see him recognize that kind of life lesson, but it brought tears to my eyes to witness his response of kindness, empathy, and joy when the friends were reunited.

This parenting thing is certainly one of the most humbling endeavors I have ever been on, but it is also one of the most insightful times of my life as well. I hope that I can find the strength to help Rowan grow up well, and help him live in that space of hopeful empathy and love for others, especially when he sees others hurting.