The Youth Cartel


I’m really excited to be a part of this years Middle School Ministry Campference.

What the heck is a campference? It’s a little word we made up at The Youth Cartel to describe a gathering of like-minded people at a camp. In this case, it’s unique because it’s specifically designed for adults who minister to middle school students. Half camp, half conference. I know… it’s tricky.

We moved this bad boy south. Last year, I was pretty new to The Youth Cartel when the first one happened. In fact, I didn’t even go. But I was in charge of following-up with people who had told us earlier in the year they were interested. Over and over again I heard from people who wanted to come but our location was just too dang far from where they live. Fortunately, we were able to move a couple hundred miles south. That gets us within a 6 hour drive of places like Nashville, St. Louis, Cleveland, Chicago… and really close to cities like Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Louisville. In short, that will mean it is a lot easier for a lot more people to come.

Why should you think about going? Um, I’m going to be there. Enough said.

Christian Living

Dip your toe in the river

Create in me a pure heart, O God, 
   and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 
Do not cast me from your presence 
   or take your Holy Spirit from me. 
Restore to me the joy of your salvation 
   and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Psalm 51:10-12

The river of God’s activity is real. You don’t know it really exists until you are there. And when you are there… you just ride the current and smile. 

How do you get there? There’s no formula. Just walk humbly and boldly and it seems to find you more than you find it. Like the wandering Israelites found Kadesh, sometimes it takes some hardship to find it.

But other times? You just step your toe in it.

Video Clip

Guy on a buffalo

Like that? Here’s episode 2.

ht to Andrea

Film Sports

The Four Greatest Basketball Movies of All Time

Everything I’m doing from Thursday to Sunday is measured by the following questions: “What  time does ___ start and who is playing now?” I love March Madness!

And all of those basketball dreams lead me to this list:

The Four Greatest Basketball Movies of All Time

  1. Hoosiers – Clearly, the best basketball movie ever made. I’m only slightly biased because I grew up in Indiana and my high school team won the 1994 State Championships.
  2. Hoop Dreams – (1994) The documentary which simultaneously helps you fall in love with high school basketball and the craft of documentary film making at the same time.
  3. White Men Can’t Jump – (1992) Wesley Snipes & Woody Harrelson in a basketball movie? Yes, please! I quote this movie all the time. Any time I receive unexpected money I proudly declare, “We goin’ Sizzler!
  4. Coach Carter (2005) If this inspirational story doesn’t make you cry than you probably don’t like sports. I’m pretty sure Bobby Knight called Coach Carter to tell him to tone it down a little.

Honorable mention: Basketball Diaries, The Super, Space Jam.

Agree? Disagree? What is your favorite basketball movie of all time?

family San Diego Living Sports

Late night at SDSU vs. TCU

Paul pic, originally uploaded by mclanea.

We had a good time at the game last night. But a 7:30 PM tip off is just a little too late for a 7 year old.

Context: This picture was taken after everyone had left the sold out arena. We were seated directly next to the student section. They were loud and crazy from 30 minutes before tip off until the game was over. Like 100+ decibels.

Paul passed out at halftime. Yeah, right after Coach Steve Fisher caused the place to nearly explode by arguing to get the final play of the half reversed and SDSU to make a tip in basket. And he slept through the whole second half.

I carried him on my shoulders about a mile to our car. Through campus and rowdy students, over the bridge, and past all of the freshmen dorms. (Because I’m too cheap to pay to park in the lot.)

This morning, he was bewildered at how he got from the arena to the car. But I didn’t carry him because he can’t remember that.

I wouldn’t have traded time with him for the world.

San Diego State

SDSU: I believe that we will win

This is more fun in person.

As a good friend and SDSU alumni is quick to tell me, I joined the Aztecs fan-dome at just the right moment in history. It’s been amazing to see this school go from identifying itself as a party school to a campus full of pride for its athletics. (Baseball, football, and now basketball.)

Not many people outside of Southern California have noticed this transformation. But it is exhilarating.

When we moved into the college area almost three years ago I decided I would embrace the school… because it’s part of my neighborhood and some of our neighbors are students. Yet, as a person who grew up around a major university, I was shocked by how little people cared about SDSU. You’d rarely see non-students wearing SDSU gear, people didn’t care about the sports, and even the school itself was kind of a third or fourth choice place. Non-student neighbors didn’t take much pride in being in the college area. And, unlike in South Bend, there wasn’t a soul who had the school’s logo painted on their garage door or a school flag hanging from their flag pole.

Not anymore.

Yesterday was marked by three major things in the life of SDSU.

First, they welcomed 4100 brand new freshmen on campus. They had record applications.

Second, I rode the train home from work with a trolley car full of fans headed to the game…. this is two full hours before tip off! This is something you only see with the Charger or maybe the Padres if the Angels are in town.

Third, the national media has no choice but to pay attention. They were the first team to 20 wins and hold the longest win streak in the NCAA.

As I walked around the Viejas Arena last night before finding my seats I did an extra loop around the stadium because the buzz was palpable. Everyone was wearing SDSU gear, walking through campus I saw tons of visitors carrying bookstore bags… and I mumbled to myself, “This is what jumping on the bandwagon feels like.

hmm... thoughts illustrations

Moments of Awe

Awesome is one of my favorite words. While my day is full of moments of awesome there are only a few moments in life described by the word awe.

Here’s a few…

  • Hearing the words, “I’m pregnant” from your wife. (Trust me, as much “awe” is created the first time at 24 as at 34 when it wasn’t expected.)
  • Seeing the sunrise over the mountains or the sunset over the ocean for the first time. (Whoa, there are colors I never even imagined!)
  • Meeting a starving person who asks if they can pray for you. (Whoa, you mean you can really praise God even when you aren’t comfortable?)
  • The birth of your child. (Whoa, you and me doing that can result in this?)
  • Witnessing 50,000 worshipping God in a city where hundreds of thousands just died in an earthquake. (Whoa, how is that possible?)
  • A young lady sharing her deepest fear and how God showed up in front of her peers. (Whoa, her words are more powerful than mine.)
  • The realization that Jesus died for me. (Whoa, the son of God… was perfect… and gave his life for me?)
  • A jet-lag induced early morning walk through a crisply cold city in a foreign country. (Whoa, discovering this place is amazing!)
  • Riding the Maid of the Mist deep into Niagara Falls to feel the full force of gravities simplicity. (Whoa, I’m soaking and exhilarated at the same time.)
  • The moment you realize you both feel the same way and knowing you’ll spend the rest of your life with her. (Whoa, there really is someone just for me.)

There are moments in life so full of awe that words truly defy them. I think that’s the history of the word awe right there. Something happened and a persons jaw dropped and said, “Awe.”

Getting back, recreating them, and remembering them creates years of inspiration.

Oh, that we might live a life inspired by awe.


Under the hood of

For the last month I’ve had my head under the hood on a brand new event for YS called, “YSpalooza.

Over at the YS blog I’ll talk a little more about what the event is and why we are excited about it.

But here I wanted to take readers behind the scenes to show off some of the nerd-factor I added to the website.

  • The site is fully HTML5 compliant. (No flash or plug-ins required to view the site, it looks great on mobile phones. All the hover overs and what-not works the same on a computer which it does on a phone.)
  • Since Internet Explorer isn’t HTML5 compliant, we had to learn a lot of hacks and workarounds for the world’s least functional browser.
  • This is our first big event to use Eventbrite for registration. I’ve used Eventbrite for a number of things and I totally love it. I especially love how it integrates with Mailchimp.
  • This is the first site in FOREVER (like maybe ever) that I build just in HTML/CSS without a content management system. It was like learning to ride a bike all over again. I love the customization level I was able to achieve by going this direction… but when it comes to managing content, there’s a reason you go with a CMS!
  • Building a site in this way has an aesthetic to it all it’s own. It’s a slow and methodical method. But I have a much more intimate connection to the site than I typically would. I have spent a ton of time on each of the 50+ pages.
  • Dave Luke was a freaking wizard. I’m not very good with coding websites and fortunately for me… Dave is formally trained. I broke stuff and he fixed it.
  • With no SQL databases or feeds or anything like that, the site loads super fast. Really, what you see is what you get.

This was a fun project to work on. For one thing, it’s a brand new event. So we were creating a lot. Typically, I manage a group of freelancers who all do 1-2 pieces of the pie. For this one it was a blast to do it in-house, with coding help from Dave.

Music Social Action social media

Google honors John Lennon

One of the most fun jobs on the internet must be to be on the team that plays with Google’s logo. I love this little doodle. Maybe I’m in love with the style or maybe the music? All I know if this is just too cool.

I want to be a dreamer, forever.

ht to Michael Novelli

Photo youth ministry

You never stop being a youth pastor…

You might need to click on the image so you can take in the awesomeness of this moment. This couple was completely oblivious.
  1. This was Sunday, early evening, at La Jolla Shores. (The most kid-friendly beach in San Diego, one of the best beaches in California.)
  2. There were families and young children everywhere.
  3. Lisa (former youth group student of mine and retired RA from Grace College) couldn’t resist the cameo. She tried, it was too awesome.
  4. My favorite part of this picture is the kids playground in the background. We’re not talking about a secluded beach spot for a private make-out session… this literally is in the middle of family-friendly central.
  5. They cleaned it up by the time we took this picture. There was a time when she was on top of him. And also a time when when hands were in all sorts of places.
  6. Yeah, it’s weird we took a picture. You never stop being a youth pastor and this is always funny. It’s like a middle school girl farting in the church van. You just find it funny!