If you've read previous posts, then you may know that we've been planning a youth conference for about 9 months now, and the first date is coming up April 15-16. I can't believe that it's just around the corner! If you live anywhere near Charlotte, I'd love for you to bring your youth group and be a part of it. I don't want this to be a commercial, so I'll keep this short. It really was birthed out of a frustration that I had as a youth worker. I couldn't seem to find something that fully resonated with my students and truly came along side of them. It isn't an easy world to grow up in today -> its just so complex! And I had a really hard time finding the right environments for students to be both challenged intellectually and experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Kids today need both = deep, thoughtful, and relevant teaching plus an understanding what it means to be empowered by God's Spirit - because they are going back to the daily noise of their lives. This conference is all about marrying the Mind AND the Heart. I couldn't be more excited about anything, except for maybe a vacation to Italy. But if you'd like more information for the Charlotte event or for bringing the conference to your region, check it out here. We hope to hear from you!
I sat in an old 1970's VW bug not long ago. Man, it brought back so many awesome memories! It's funny how all old VW bugs smell the same. My first car was a 1977 silver beetle and I began saving my money when I was 13 yrs old. By the time I was 15, I had enough to buy it all by myself. Of course I couldn't drive it for another 6 months until my 16th birthday. But on the day I got my license, I immediately drove over to my friend Rudy's house to pick him up and hit the road! We drove for hours all over DC. We were in heaven - there was such freedom and hope - we felt legit! In fact I would say, we were 2 legit 2 quit =)
Man, I loved that car!
But to be honest, after a few years I slowly started to hate that thing. It would break down quite frequently, it was slow, and I kind of wanted to upgrade to a GTI. I started to forget why I even bought that car at all.
I remember when I first went into youth ministry. I was 18, almost 19, years old and I was on cloud nine. Right out of the gate I really enjoyed it! It seemed like a dream job. I jumped into the game after a season of hardcore seeking - "God what are you calling me to give my life to?" And fortunately I found out early, so all through college I was involved in ministering to young people.
When I started out, it brought me so much life and joy - in fact, the first 8 to 12 years was non-stop joy! But then something happened. I'm not even sure what it was... maybe it was a combination of things.
Here, let me make a list:
*An extremely low paycheck (with no hope for higher pay anytime soon) and really crappy benefits
*Church staff meetings began to snuff the life out of me
*A tough supervisor who I didn't feel safe with (plus all he cared about were numbers)
*Not having a voice in shaping language and culture church wide
*Students not connecting with the larger church body and getting push back when I would try to implement integration
*The heartbreaking work of kids struggling, hurting themselves, falling into addiction, and walking away from faith
*Not feeling known, understood, or respected by staff and church members (I'd hear the old, "So when are you going to become a real pastor" thing or, "So when you're not in the office, what are you doing?" Ugh!)
*Never feeling safe to take time off to recharge
*The constant struggle to get the hires and budget that would allow for the growth we were experiencing
Each of these or a combination to differing degrees of this stuff began to take its toll.
I started to forget why I even got into youth ministry at all.
But honestly, I never got tired of sleeping on the floor at camp or on a mission trip (thank God for inflatable mattresses). I never got tired of going to students' games/recitals or listening to them at a coffee shop or dealing with and supporting struggling parents. I never got tired of daily pursuing students in the midst of the noise and busyness of their lives. I never got tired of their questions and doubts. All of that was fine, even great. But the list of the above other stuff was leaving me with little joy.
I had serious thoughts about becoming a car salesman.
A number of years ago on a Wednesday afternoon I began setting up for youth group, like every week, and out of nowhere I started having a panic attack. Now I knew it was a panic attack because I'm a youth worker... I work with students who have them. But me? Crazy! But this would happen from time to time for about 2 months. Finally I went and got some counseling. And, by the way, it helped me significantly! But I couldn't believe that ministry, which had started out so wonderful and life giving, had turned out to bring me overwhelming stress and hardship.
I began thinking about the environment students were/are living in and why they are having stress and many having regular panic attacks. I wanted to know if I was living and thinking similar to the students I was trying to help.
Feel hopeless - So how is my hope?
They are full of fear- What am I afraid of?
They feel undue and ridiculous pressure - What kind of pressure am I feeling?
They are believing lies about themselves - What lies have I begun to believe?
They have forgotten who they REALLY are - In the midst of all of this, have I forgotten who I am?
They are living daily in an environment (school, friends, family, teachers) where they don't feel safe - Am I living in a similar environment?
The enemy is trying to steal life from them - Have I forgotten that there even is an enemy?
They aren't feeding their souls - Do I have a daily/weekly/monthly rhythm that feeds my soul?
I needed to evaluate everything about my life.
I needed to remember some things that I had once known, but had fallen by the way.
When I sat in that VW Bug I was reminded how I had once lived so freely and lightly. I began to remember the truth about the story I was living.
I spoke at a camp a couple of weeks ago and a student asked me during a Q&A time how I first got into youth ministry. I started telling them story after story and we were laughing and then there were even moments of warm beautiful emotion -> just remembering how it all began.
Sometimes we have to remember because sometimes we forget.
When I started getting my life back together after that season of extreme stress, I needed to get back to the heart of what life really is about. I also needed to make some hard decisions. I may even have had to quit my job so that I could live out my true calling to students.
Youth Ministry isn't easy. In fact, it's really hard. But man I love it and sometimes I have to be reminded of that. I know why you are pouring out all of your time and energy and passion for students. I get it. You're called. And this calling, it's divine.
Don't let the noise of life or anything else take it from you. Live life well and remember. Remember that God's hand is upon you. That you are favored and anointed and he's given you a voice that this generation needs to hear. Sit in his amazing peace today. Sit in his presence. Life is good. It's full of so many good things. Remember.
I have been frustrated by church in recent years. Well, I guess I should say that I’ve been frustrated by church for the most of my life. It began with my parent’s Christian rock band in the 1970’s when churches would burn their records outside of the coliseums, while thousands of teenage hippies were joining the movement of following Jesus. These young, brand new Jesus freaks would leave the stadiums alive in Christ, but found a dead church outside of it. Every week the band would sing their hits and introduce young people to the God who literally received and accepted them as they were. But the churches they'd visit the next day would try to get them to cut their hair. My parent’s band struggled with a broken heart as churches were condemning their brand of music. Fortunately, as their band gathered momentum something amazing happened. The great Billy Graham came to their rescue when he started inviting them to play at his crusades, placing his stamp of approval on this ragtag Jesus-loving rock-n-roll band. But the damage had been done, at least in my heart.
Desiring Much More
My parents eventually left the band, became youth pastors and then lead pastors… and the movement seemed to cease. Of course we’d see glimpses of Jesus, but it rarely ran out of the church building and into our communities. And what this season in our lives did was place in me a longing to be a part of something great - a large movement of young people actually doing the faith, living this thing out.
I remember when all of this came to a head in my mind. To be honest this was not really a purely motivated exploration of my faith. At the time I had started getting caught up into some naughty things with girls, and I quite liked it. I'm mean, who doesn't? =)
Truly the Church was not pulling at me and I felt it had little to offer. However, in retrospect, I believe this journey in my thinking was completely from God. God knew I had grown weary of religion.
So one morning I had hiked way out into the woods by myself when this thought flooding my mind. “If this is the faith, I don't really want it. But if Christianity is like the Bible, full of riots and revival, then I’m in. But if it's not, then I’ll take parties and girls.”
I stood at the foot of this small trickling river and prayed for the real deal. Now in telling you this, it may sound like rubbish, but at that very moment a passage of scripture came flooding into my mind - Psalm 85:6-13 - I just knew it was from God.
I had literally no idea what this scripture said, but I just knew it was for me at this very moment. I ran a couple of miles through the forest towards my car and drove back to my college as fast as I could. Running into my dorm room I grabbed my Bible and opened it to the passage and read:
6 Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
7 Show us your unfailing love, Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
8 I will listen to what God the Lord says;
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants--
but let them not turn to folly.
9 Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
and righteousness looks down from heaven.
12 The Lord will indeed give what is good,
and our land will yield its harvest.
13 Righteousness goes before him
and prepares the way for his steps.
It sounds strange, but this was one of those moments; a real turning point for me. I read this passage and just wept. The scriptures spoke directly to my longing for more. The psalmist is asking God for revival, so that once again the people can rejoice in God.
Later that night I remember telling a friend how God had given me this passage earlier in the woods. But he just didn't quite get it - he thought it was a coincidence. I remember looking at him and saying, “Yeah, it might be a coincidence. It's likely that it in fact is. But if it isn’t, then this changes everything for me.”
Change of Gears
Last April we began a new ministry called Generation514. It has been all consuming for us and at times, extremely difficult, but we haven't felt this alive in years. Ultimately we are trying to raise up next generation leaders to instigate and influence change for the common good, all over the world. I’m so excited about it that I can barely sleep at night! One of the programs we are launching is, The Amazing Next Conference. It's for 8th-12th grade students - it's a regional gathering that is both highly intellectual and absolutely spiritual. A conference that engages the heart AND the mind and calls young people back to the movement of God’s work here on earth. Heck, there's even youth worker training at it. We just want to see whole youth groups go back home feeling like they just can't continue to function the same anymore.
We know that to make impact in this world, one must be intellectually savvy and yet completely empowered by the Holy Spirit. I just really believe that we have to get back to an early church brand of christianity. The cool thing is that this generation is longing for more than what they are seeing and receiving in the church… and so are we.
Our first conference is April 15-16 in Charlotte and then there are regions trying to bring it to them: Boston, Philly, Houston, San Diego, LA, DC, Tampa, and others.
I long to see a movement in my life time. This post-Christian world really needs one -> Not one that leads us back to religion, but back to the heart of Jesus. "Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?"
Those of you who know me know that I love movies! And like many of us, I have been known to love bad movies. You know, those guilty pleasures that when we're exhausted or home sick we throw on to feel just a little better. Well, I thought I would make a list of my favorite bad movies. You'll notice a couple of things - first, this is not at all an exhaustive list. Secondly, I'm a child of the 80's and this is going to be very evident -- many on the list goes back to my growing up years -- but not all of them mind you... Anyways, here we go! Enjoy!
This is one of those movies that initially you think, "oh my goodness, this is a ridiculous and goofy movie." And it is, so sue me. All in good fun and you just might enjoy the ride into space. It does have some great actors: Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, and Daryl Mitchell. Rain Wilson even has a small role. This is a really great bad movie!
OK, so here's a classic! I don't care what you think, this is a terribly bad yet really fun movie. Tremors stars Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, Michael Gross, and Reba McEntire. I watched it recently with my 18 year old daughter and she loved it... ok, maybe not loved it, but we had fun watching it together. It is a bit scary for the little ones (or my wife), but Kevin Bacon is hilarious in it. I haven't seen Tremors II or III or IV or however many there is, I just couldn't bear it. But this guilty pleasure is just fun, just don't take yourself too seriously.
I remember going into the dorm room with my college girlfriend (soon to be my wife) and a bunch of guys were watching Over the Top. She couldn't believe that all of these college guys were really into this film. She then couldn't believe that I refused to go anywhere with her and that I stayed with them to finish watching it! This really is a bad movie, but there's something about seeing a guy drink a bunch of motor oil just to get ready to throw down for a wrestling match. Absolutely insane!
Yes, many Stallone movies could be on this list, I know. Cobra, Rocky 5, Rambo 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, you get the idea.
But I saw Tango and Cash when I was a senior in high school with one of my best friends, and we loved it. It might just be nostalgia, but if this movie is ever on TV, I tend to watch it. I can't help myself. The bad guy is ridiculous and the plot is awful. But Kurt Russel is really great American actor and Sylvester Stallone was THE star of the 80's.
But It Is Really Bad!
I've heard a lot of people bash this film. It tends to always be on the bad movie list. But I have to agree to disagree... and then agree at the same time.
The plot of the film follows college professor Ira Kane (David Duchovny) and geologist Harry Block (Orlando Jones) who investigate a meteor crash. They discover that the meteor is harboring extraterrestrial life which is evolving very quickly into large, diverse and outlandish creatures. Good times ensue!
Plus you get to see a young Seann William Scott, who was our neighbor at the time.
If you were a youth worker in the very early 2000's, then you know about this film. Every youth group in America was watching it.
It's a Christian-based comedy romance film about four teenage(ish) guys on a roadtrip that they have been planning their whole lives. Their dreams are to participate in as many extreme sports as possible. And they do! Its a really bad movie, but it does have a blue flame scene, so there's that. You can watch it here. Another great thing is that it stars Rufio from Hook. Classic youth group movie!
When I saw this as a kid, I thought it was the coolest movie I had ever seen in my life! But then many years later, when I told my wife that she had to see it, well, it didn't go over very well. Yes, it is kind of a guys movie but also, she didn't like it because, well, it sucks. I have a hard time admitting this because I thought it was so cool.
The most memorable line = Warriors, come out to play! Here's that scene. Enough said.
I've only seen the non TV version of this film one time. The first time I saw it, I was 17 years old and I sat in between a high school friend and his mother. Now if you know anything about this movie, there are some raunchy sex scenes. Needless to say, it was the most awkward and uncomfortable I might have ever felt in my entire life. I think it took me a month to look that woman in the eyes. Ugh! But when its on TV, I enjoy it immensely.
Many probably have never seen this film. Initially it was supposed to be the first in a series of Remo Williams movies, but this first one didn't do well in the theaters.
But in the 80's, when people were first getting cable TV, this film was on all of the time. It was a staple of my group of friends. Remo could even walk on water - so Jesus wasn't the only one =)
So here's a nod to my daughter. When I was brain storming movies for this post, I asked my wife and daughter for their thoughts. Dancin, my daughter, blurted out, "What a Girl Wants! I love that movie, but it's really bad."
She is right, it is really bad, but her generation (mostly girls) really loves this film. Years ago she even made me sit down and watch it with her. It is about a father/daughter relationship that does pull on your heart strings a bit... especially for a sappy dad like me. So it does belong on the list. Plus it is pre-struggle Amanda Bynes.
This Disney movie is about a cartoonist named Woody who becomes the superhero that he draws. Using his gadgets he helps a Soviet spy defect to the West.
Now, I've only met one other person who has mentioned seeing this movie, and she loved it and of course we became instant friends. She told me that she showed it to her husband and he hated it. Well, of course he did, it's an awful movie. But if you saw it as a kid like I did, you'd have really enjoyed it. Actually, my daughter is a fan. I'm raising her right. Here's a quote, only true fans will know, "A double? Nobody has a double!"
Now, I know I'm missing a lot from the list. There's just so many aren't there? Half of the Stallone movies could make up the whole of the list. Check these out if you are unfamiliar. These could be your new family classics!
But what movies do you think belong on the list?
When I first started out in ministry I heard people regularly say to me that I was a natural evangelist. I think they said this because it was the early 90's and kids were coming to Christ every week at our churches youth group. But it wasn't just at mine, students all around the country were coming to faith at youth groups. I CAN tell you that nothing brings me more joy than seeing a student open their life up to God (except for a nice MLT – mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They’re so perky, I love that :)
But I have a confession to make: as time went on, I grew weary of evangelism. In fact, when I hear that someone is an "evangelist," I immediately have a negative feeling about them. And I think I grew weary of it because of the regular manipulation I was seeing at youth conferences, retreats, and in churches all over the place. I know I'm not the only one for sure - many youth workers actually began avoiding evangelism all together because of all of that heavy baggage that came with it (not to mention that we were also seeing a lot students walking away from faith, so discipleship became the main focus for the past 10 plus years). But recently I have wondered if the reason students today can't articulate the gospel is because they really haven't heard it expressed in a regular and thoughtful way. Let alone been asked to share it.
Anywho, The Youth Cartel asked me to come and talk about this at their amazing youth worker convention called, The Summit. They just released two of the talks for free (one of them being mine) - but you can purchase the others on their website here. They are absolutely amazing and I highly recommend them!
Below is my talk.
Brock is an author, speaker, youth pastor & the executive director @ Generation514 who is doing his best to live the adventurous & expectant life of following Jesus.