Amusement Park, Spa, Paintball … Awesome Upcoming Events for Jr. High & Sr. High Students!

Was This Book Good or Did It Stink? My Review of "Criticism Bites"

Well, Brian Berry has written a book called Criticism Bites. Was it good or did it stink? How will he handle my review? Will he have to heed his own advice?

Yes. BUT … his advice about hanging onto notes of encouragement to help him keep things in perspective when he’s facing discouragement. This book was fantastic! I really enjoyed it and wish it had been around in my earlier years of ministry.

As Brian shared personal stories and lessons he has learned in his nearly twenty years of youth ministry I felt such an affinity with him. Many of his stories closely resembled my experiences. The criticisms he has heard and the emotions he has felt sounded so strangely familiar. As C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one”

Youth workers need community. So many people throw in the towel because they feel all alone. The reality is that while the youth ministry field is a unique culture to work in, those who find themselves therein share many of the same challenges. And the biggest challenge is usually criticism – and youth workers get hit with it from so many different angles. We get it from students, from parents, from volunteers, from pastors, from custodians, from older generations … It’s hard enough to try and make one of these demographics happy. Impossible to make them all happy. The truth is that no matter what we do, we will have our critics. I’ve had and have mine. You do too.

This book is a tremendous encouragement to those in the trenched of youth ministry. I would even go further and say … this book is valuable for everyone! Criticism bites everyone, not just youth workers. The best thing about the book is not that Brian has a big boo hoo, poor me, feel bad for me that I am unfairly criticized catharsis. Rather, he shares his stories and then distills truths and principles for dealing with criticism in healthy ways.

I highly recommend this book to all.

"Night" by Elie Wiesel – A Book Review

Gripping. Terrifying. Tragic. A Must-Read!

Last week I read Night by Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Elie Wiesel. The book is a powerful first-hand account of the Holocaust. It was difficult to read, and yet difficult to put down.

In surviving the concentration camps and having the courage to share his story Wiesel has helped to keep the horror of the Holocaust necessarily before future generations. Necessary because, as George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”

I leave you to ponder some quotes from Wiesel’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1986 (which is included at the end of the book):

“If we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices …. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormentor. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

“Violence is not the answer.”

“One person – a Raoul Wallenberg, an Albert Schweitzer, a Martin Luther King, Jr. – one person of integrity can make a difference, a difference of life and death. As long as one dissident is in prison, our freedom will not be true. As long as one child is hungry, our life will be filled with anguish and shame. What all these victims need above all is to know that they are not alone; that we are not forgetting them, that when their voices are stifled we shall lend them ours, that while their freedom depends on ours, the quality of our freedom depends on theirs.”

“We know that every movement is a movement of grace, every hour an offering; not to share them would mean to betray them.”

“Our lives no longer belong to us along; they belong to all those who need us desperately.”

The Skit Guys "Get" What Youth Workers Deal With

It doesn’t matter how many times I see it, this Skit Guys skit called “The Chair” always blesses and encourages me. They truly capture the many different types of people that we have to deal with on a regular basis.

Sending Love to Our Volunteers

Yesterday I popped a copy of 99 Thoughts for Volunteers by my friend Danette Matty in the mail along with a little note of encouragement to all of our student ministry adult leaders. Just a simple way to say “Thank you!”, to encourage them, and to provide them with practical training.

Look What We Woke Up To …

This morning our 11-year old Natalia brought us breakfast in bed. What a treat!