Professionally-Generated Content vs. User-Generated Content

shoes3I’m a fan of Group and Youthworker Journal and have been a subscriber to both for nearly 30 years. I’ve also been honored with writing articles for them, including cover articles. I’m such a fan that I still receive them in paper-form, the form this “older” person much prefers.

In an interesting twist my life took, I’m also the owner of a paintball magazine, PaintballX3. I know firsthand the tumble everything in the publishing world has taken over the last ten years and I’m not too sure what place magazines will have in the future. I know the reasons why PaintballX3 is only available in a digital format. It has little to do with printing costs and much to do about no one wanting to read a magazine anymore or wanting to carry 10 magazines on their tablet.

So I find it sad that both Group and Youthworker Journal had to “jump the shark” by placing personalities on their recent covers. I also understand the decision. While Group has done this periodically, it has been a rarity for Youthworker Journal to stray from the theme on their cover. My problem with it is youth ministry is not personality-driven. We have enough problems with strong personalities leading church ministries that may not match the church vision. And youth ministry is not improved by promoting personalities. While they offer unique insight and inspiration, it is not practical for me in my situation. But it is not the message or value of either of these publications. Continue reading


Don’t Ruin the Hymns

worship2I am a lifelong musician, longtime worship leader and love worship music and music of all types–but I am definitely partial to modern, contemporary worship with a rock and roll edge. And that “edge” sometimes rears its head in the volume of our instrumentation, our song choices and style of leading. So from time to time I try to change things up by leading an acoustic set, or starting the worship set with a slow introspective song, or doing something else that might help bridge the gap between young and old, old school and new school or traditional and contemporary.

One week a few years ago while preparing for worship that coming Sunday I had the “brilliant” idea to incorporate a few hymns into the worship set. This would clearly make the older or more traditional folks happy, right? So I grabbed my guitar and proceeded to play “Come Thou Fount” in my comfortable up-tempo, modern style. It sounded great, if I can say so myself. But a few minutes later I realized how “not” brilliant this was. To someone that loves contemporary worship and traditional hymns, this was the equivalent of a worship leader playing my favorite Third Day or Toby Mac song on an accordion and saying, “See I did this just for you.”

So if you’re a worship leader in the kind of church that has a little bit of everything, by all means sing and play some hymns, just don’t ruin them like I almost did. It’s perfectly acceptable to add your own team’s style to a hymn, just make sure you can still tell it is that beloved hymn.




blog-scotty3Something I learned today:

I’m in college now, and I’m being introduced to new ideas. One of them is the idea of conversation vs. talking.

You see, we had to read the first chapter of some book by a guy named Zeldin. He seems like a well-learned man who has clearly studied the act of conversation throughout the ages. He talks about the different ways that people have conversed throughout history. In one instance, it is mentioned how the scientific movement brought a desire among people for clarity and truthfulness in conversation above all else, rejecting rhetoric and hype for “plain talk”.

“Speaking and writing clearly, without frills, forced people to develop a more scientific attitude, to abandon magic and superstition. And also people began to criticize rhetoric as anti-democratic: snobbish, deliberately obscure, repressive of real feelings. They equated it with the cult of the genteel, the desire to be superior. Plain talk triumphed in the United States in the nineteenth century, forcing the pretentious to stop tyrannizing others with the etiquette or affectation. But plain talk sometimes degenerated into a rejection of standards and an admiration for the speech of the uneducated. It became even more obscure than rhetoric (“obscure” here means “not expressing meaning clearly or plainly. I thought that particular definition and usage was kind of obscure). In the same way, scientific clarity was carried so far that it became jargon, comprehensible only to the initiated.” Continue reading


Addicted to Validation

crazywriterThere are plenty of explanations as to why some people want to sit in the sticky spaghetti sauce of pain and melodrama. Today, I’m going to go into just one–the one that I’ve personally dealt with, therefore the one I know the most about.

We’ve all heard about fair-weather friends. We’ve all had them, too. They’re there for you during the good, but as soon as the clouds start rolling in, they’re out the door. Nobody thinks about stormy-weather friends, though–the friends that are there for you in the bad, but leave when the clouds roll out.

I remember a time in seventh grade when I was having a bad day in a bad month in a bad year. This girl, whom I wasn’t particularly close to, came up and asked me if I was alright. “No, not really,” I muttered in response, staring down at whatever I had for lunch that day. The girl looked at me sympathetically. “Do you want to talk about it?” Of course, I thought. She popped the ‘do you want to talk’ question. Great. This time, however, I decided to give it a try–after all, who else would I talk to about it? My sandwich? That’s a real listening ear. Actually, corn would be a listening ear. (Sorry. I had to.) Anyway, I told her a little (a little, I’m careful about who I trust) about what was bothering me, she listened to me, then walked away. She never made an effort to talk to me again. Sure, we’d have cordial conversation during math class, and we’d smile at each other in the hallways, but that was it. That was the extent of our friendship. Continue reading


How Creation Care and Missions Belong Together (Also the Mention of a Must-Read Book)

shoes3I’m green.  I’m not a complete greenie like I don’t do one of the simplest things which is to shut off the power overnight on my power cord.  But I do think green before I make decisions and I am often found picking up other people’s trash, especially if it is “clean” trash and I see a trash can in my eyesight.  And I’ve purposely used the real estate of Wild Frontier to encourage a greener outlook to the influencers we reach.  We’ve been doing this since 2008 and plan to continue this after the green-trend is gone.  Hopefully the green-trend is never gone again.  I believe the earth is stronger than alarmists make it out to be but it is still our Christian-duty to take care of this place God has given us.

I am a fan and am not a fan of teen mission programs. I’ve read all the things that are now being found as wrong with them and they make sense.  In our hyper-youth ministry world we jumped on this idea with both feet and have only recently looked back at the footprints we’ve been leaving.  It has not really been a world-changing footprint.  Yet how can I deny the effect that those trips have on individual teens.  This has been life-changing.  Maybe not world-changing but I love that life that has been changed.  This is a tension I continue to live in with no wisdom to share. Continue reading


Worship of Youth

blog-scotty3“Dad, why does America worship youth?”

This I asked my Dad in the parking lot of a doctor’s office, right before we had to get out of the car and go in for an appointment.

I had wondered this for a while because I’ve been a youth most of my life, and I don’t find myself all that incredible, much less godlike. On American Idol (said the not-current-with-TV guy), there’s an age ceiling in the 20s, isn’t there? And Katy Perry, who looks pretty youthful to me, has already been looking back with nostalgia to her teenage years in “Teenage Dream”.

Why? I kept wondering. What’s so great about these years? Continue reading


Know What You Sing and Play, Sing and Play What You Know

worship2I’m a huge sports fan. I know Abner Doubleday invented the game of baseball; I know the football Hall of Fame is in Canton, Ohio; I can name the NY Mets starting lineup from the first game of the 1969 World Series; and I know Jim Thorpe actually never lived in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. But until recently I didn’t know that Jubal, the son of Lamech and Adah and a descendant of Cain, was known as the “the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe” (Genesis 4:21) and he may very well have been the inventor of music as we know it. I also didn’t know until recently that a lyre was a ten string instrument. I was also surprised to learn that the “organ” or “pipe” in Biblical times was the instrument we now call the “flute.”

So as a life-long musician and long time worship leader why didn’t I know these simple biblical truths about music and instruments in the Bible? The truth is I just never thought it was that important. But my opinion on that has changed about a year ago when I was singing “Days of Elijah” and realized I had no idea what “Out of Zion’s Hill salvation comes” meant. That small wakeup call made me realize that I was singing a song that I didn’t know the true meaning of, and I was singing about a time in history that I didn’t have a musical grasp of. And that’s just not acceptable for someone called to lead worship.

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I’m Going to Teach This Boulder How to Swim

crazywriterI sometimes feel like I’m in the middle of a vast ocean with a rock tied to my neck. I’m not talking about one of those little stones lonely kids decorate for pets (hint: I was one of those kids). I’m talking about a massive, NFL-sized boulder. Because it’s far too cliche to say “I refuse to sink,” I’m going to go with my own alternative.

I’m going to teach a boulder how to swim.

I don’t expect this boulder to just go away. It’ll take Jesus to do that–and I’m ready for whenever that healing comes, I guess. In the meantime, however, I’m going to give this rock a pair of swim-sleeves. (What do you call those inflatable arm things children wear?) I’m going to swim through this ocean, not sink in it. My pain will not cause me to drown. I will pull it all behind me until I’m set free.

Not only will I, in Dory’s words, “just keep swimming,” but I’m going to blast this boulder with the truth. You know, like a little truth water pistol! Like this:

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