youth ministry

What happens at camp doesn’t stay at camp

Earlier this Spring I posted an infographic about the Power of Camp. I think this video from YouthDynamics illustrates the power of camp quite well. Personal challenges and personal encounters with Christ. That’s what it’s all about!

The video captures my own experience as a youth pastor in getting teenagers out of their context. For them, it’s a big adventure which helps conquer fears and expose them to stuff they wouldn’t get at home. But it’s also an unparralled way for God to grab hold of students lives in new ways.

While trips impact teenagers in different ways, each time I’ve taken students somewhere each of them is challenged in big, unique ways.

Of course, I think it’d be great if you helped YD crush their modest fundraising goal of $5000, they are at $3500 and need just a little bit more by July 4th. I love that they’ve set it up so that even $20 makes a difference. Wouldn’t it be cool to help them raise $50,000? 

Not familiar with YD? One thing I love about them is that they intentionally open ministry centers in small communities, underserved by local church youth ministry programs– they go places others won’t which displays their Kingdom heart.

My bigger point is this: Build experiences that put your students outside of their native context. For YD it’s taking them into the wilderness. But for you it might mean taking small town teenager to a soup kitchen in a big city or comfortable suburban kids into the worker camps of Tijuana.

Want to widen your impact? Widen your students world view to bigger things. 


Some pics from my trip

Here are a few iPhone pictures from my trip to the Pacific Northwest.

NYWC Travel

Your story matters

My drive plan for next week

Next week, I’m hitting the road and driving from San Jose to just north of Seattle. I guess there are 3 over-arching reasons I’m doing this. Two are a bit secondary and perhaps selfish, which the third is really the justification for everything else.

  1. I love a good road trip. There is something almost magical about driving across our country. If you’ve never done a multi-day drive you won’t understand that statement. My first was “Golf across America” in 2002. My last one was “Travels with Stoney” in 2008. This trip needs a name.
  2. YS is still alive. It’s not that you, my kind reader, doesn’t know that. It’s that a lot of people have an open question… “What’s going on with YS?” And this trip is aimed at answering that question. (This is what’s known as “the business justification.“) Plus, even before all of the changes, I kept begging for this because I knew there was a need to get our staff on the ground talking with youth workers out of the office.
  3. Your story matters. My first two road trips were about my story. (Travels with Stoney was a little more about our families story and our hope for a fresh start.) This trip is about the stories of youth workers. My work has put me in contact with innumerous youth workers… and collectively we have a story to tell. My premise is that as I drive and host these meet-ups I’ll hear (and capture) stories from youth workers which the community will really resonate with.

What’s fascinating about going out to discover youth workers stories is… it’s all about discovery. I’ve got a rough sketch of who I’m going to meet, but I really don’t have a clue where this is going to go. And what makes a road trip so fun for this format of story discovery is that I probably won’t really get a thread through all of the stories until I’m done. Since I’m telling stories as I go, there’s even a great chance that you will see the thread before I will.

Another fascinating element to telling people’s stories, one that I’m just learning to appreciate, is that power of telling a persons story to the person whose story is being told. It’s one thing to tell your own story. But it’s an entirely different thing to have someone come into your life and then to other people about you. As I’ve been scheduling my meet-ups and talking to people, I hear them question, “you want to tell my story?

You are story worthy.

Your story is interesting.

Your story is helpful to you.

Your story is helpful to others.

As a child of the King bought at a price, your story has unlimited value.

you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20


Megan’s New Skills

DSC_1174It’s been a big summer for Megan. At eight years old she has visited 19 of the 50 states. (By her age I think I had been to 3 states.) She got to go to Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia this summer. Since she is my road trip girl she took all of this in stride. Hadly a complaint along the way. Long car rides, plane rides, ferry rides, and train rides don’t really phase her. They just make her hungry to learn more, see more, and explore more. She is like her mother in that she can quietly take everything in or read a book to pass the time. Her intelligence amazes me. I hope that we are broadening her horizons fast enough to whet her appetite.

Back home it has been a big summer for her, too. This has been a summer of reading. She reads everything. We make multiple trips to the library every week to feed her habit. She got an LED reading light for her bed and now it’s not unusual for her to go to bed at 8 and stay up until 11 reading mystery novels. When she isn’t reading books, she is reading on the computer. She has been using Google for a couple of years now and can generally find what she is looking for. But in the Spring I introduced her to Wikipedia and her eyes grew massive. I’ve caught her a number of times going to Wikipedia to learn more about something she read in a book. Usually an animal or a country.

DSC_0582My girl also has a spirit of adventure. While timid at first, she likes to go fast and isn’t afraid of skinning her knees. Both of our kids amaze me with their adaptation skills. Mom and dad have this crazy idea that they want their kids to grow up embracing diversity and looking eye-to-eye with the urban working-class poor. So it shouldn’t have surprised me that Megan loved our day with Jeremy Del Rio on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She played games and enjoyed a street fair there as if she’d lived there her entire life. Back home, we sent her to day camp with folks from the church where, again, she just jumped in and enjoyed the experience. On a more personal note, she proved that she is becoming a California girl… (1/4 of her life here, by the way) At the conclusion of day camp she went to the beach and learned how to surf. A couple weeks later she shocked up by learning to ride a bike in a single day. Then yesterday, the waves were perfect at Torrey Pines and she must have riden 25 waves in a row before giving up in exhaustion.

3rd grade is now just two weeks away. I have no doubt she will impress her teachers once again. With the move now firmly in the rear view mirror we hope that 2009-2010 is a year where she can get better established and settle into a life rthym that will carry through the rest of elementary school. My only fear is that she won’t be challenged enough.



The McLane family is on vacation. We left on Thursday and flew from San Diego to Washington D.C. Over the weekend I worked at DCLA while Kristen and the kids explored the city. The went to some museums, saw some sites, toured some buildings, and basically just had a series of long days. If you’ve been to D.C. you know it involves lots and lots of walking. Meanwhile, I took lots of video and pictures of the event. Most of which you can see at the DCLA fan page.

Yesterday, we wrapped up our trip in D.C. with a visit to the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress, and then headed north. For the next couple of days we’re going to be exploring New Jersey and New York City before heading home on Sunday.

I promise I’ve got lots and lots of deep thoughts, challenges, and calls to change coming. But for now… we’re resting!

Books Church Leadership Video Clip

Andrew Marin goes to Washington

I probably seem like a total fanboy for Andrew Marin. Thing is, I think he’s one of those few prophetic voices within Evangelicalism. Here’s a message he presented as part of the Inauguration Weekend in Washington, DC.

I’m really digging his book, Love is an Orientation. It comes out soon, you can get yours today at Amazon.

Photo Politics

Big day

HT to GeoEye

Food and Drink hmm... thoughts San Diego Living

Dinner with the Bailey’s

Kristen and I are having one of those fun weeks that is also really busy. Other than Dave, we’ve not had many visitors since our moving to San Diego. That has been both good and bad. Good in that we’ve been forced to find new friends… and we’ve been doing that. Bad in that we miss so many of our friends.

Yesterday we had a chance to catch up with Bill and Shannon Bailey. Back in fall 2007, Kristen and I had the chance to spend a week on their boat, the Pacific Catalyst. It was a great week of fun and relaxation for us as we explored the San Juan Islands. The San Juan’s are a group of islands that create the border between Canada and the United States in northern Washington. During summers they lead adventure cruises in Alaska but in the spring and fall they like to lead trips near their home in Friday Harbor. We shared hilarious memories, including Shannon’s attempt to get me into a sea kayak. I fit, barely. As Bill described, my belly formed a perfect seal which didn’t need the kayaks skirt to keep out water. And I’m pretty sure you could hear a suction “pop” when I got out a couple hours later.

Bill and Shannon are some of the most hospitible people I’ve ever met. You know someone has the gift of hospitality when they make you feel completely comfortable in their space without effort. Within an hour on their boat you feel at home.

We felt at home in their company about 8 seconds after they came to the YS offices yesterday. We tooled around the offices (They’ve been youth workers forever and have known YS and the conventions for about two forevers.) then we headed out for an early dinner at Casa de Pico in La Mesa. It was fun to re-connect with them and linger over dinner, not wanting it to end. We caught up on life, ministry, YMX, and shared some stories. We even connected their lives to the life of a staff member at our church. (I love that small world feeling in the Christian world!) It was one of those nights that Kristen and I really needed.

We came home feeling very normal when we’ve not felt normal in a while. There are times when we feel like we’ve been in San Diego for a while and everything seems routine and as if we fit in. But the last few weeks we’ve felt very much like foreigners on a vacation that lasted too long. Tough to explain that emotion. But if you’ve ever moved and had to start over in life… I think you’ll understand. San Diego seems like home at the end of a long trip when we come home. But we have a long way to go until we can comfortbly declare “we’re from San Diego.

Perhaps that what was so odd living in Romeo? We felt like we were “from Romeo” almost immediately and maintained that small town pride as long as we lived there.

At the end of our time with Bill and Shannon we said our goodbyes and made plans to meet up again this fall in Washington. I hope we get to spend more time with them on the Catalyst and I hope we get to see orcas this time!

hmm... thoughts Web/Tech

Risk vs. Opportunity

A common theme in my mind lately has been how we look at the choices we make. As one would imagine, Kristen and I are making tons of decisions right now. And we’ve come to this conclusion: Most decisions are morally neutral and the outcome depends on you.

Quick disclaimer: Look, I know that there are moral decisions. Things which God has said are black and white. For example: “Should we cheat on our taxes? ” No, God’s pretty clear on that one. This is more about decisions such as, “Should we rent house A or house B?” I think those decisions are typically amoral.

Positive outcomes and positive attitudes

When it comes to amoral decisions I’ve noticed that the outcome is largely dependent on my response, action, and attitude. In other words, when I make a decision, whether it turns out good or bad typically has to do with what I do with that decision. cloud

Here’s a reality my friends in Michigan have to deal with. There is a thick black cloud of pessimism that permeates our community. Until that pessimism is overcome with optimism, the self-fulfilling prophesy of economic doom and gloom will continue. It’s oppressive. It’s depressing. And it is making things worse.

Perhaps it is because I am moving, but almost every conversation I have goes like this, “Romeo is a great place to live… but I don’t know, things aren’t looking good.” Understand this… that is a value statement of risk vs. opportunity.

And it’s not all over. As I’ve traveled this summer I think you should know that this deep pessimism is a Michigan thing. Board a plane departing or arriving at Metro or Flint and it’s all pessimism in the cabin. But walk through Atlanta, Denver, or San Diego’s airports and you’ll see people making lemonade with their lemons. Head back home and it is all about rotten lemons. Making lemonade is apparently too risk for Michigan’s lemon owners.

Today in Romeo there are about 100 homes on the market. All of them, including mine, are listed below market value. If you’re living with the black cloud… you look at the housing market and say “Wow, it could go even lower. Owning a home is such a huge risk right now.” If you look at the housing market from an optimist perspective you respond by saying, “Man, what a great time to buy. I wonder how I can get some capital to buy up some rental properties.

Here’s the simple reality. Michigan may be in a tough economic situation. But if you see where we are today as pre-boom instead of post-bust you’ll recognize that tomorrow’s millionaires (billionaires?) see today as an opportunity and are leveraging against you over inflating the risk. The rich of 2015 see this as pre-boom. The poor of 2015 see this as post-bust. Get it? It’s all about your response.

I’ve talked to tons of very young adult people 19-22 years old this summer. And the cloud has infected them with pessimism. They have no dreams. And they are not looking at today’s problems as their opportunity for a very bright future.

Here are some opportunities

#1 You could innovate the next economy for a community. It won’t be cars, but will it be technology? Probably. Yet starting a business is “too risky” or going to study what is going on in tech boom towns like Boise, Houston, or even Ann Arbor is simply too much risk. Trust me… the best technological developments come from people looking to make an opportunity out of nothing. (Speaking from experience!) R&D departments can’t build a winner. But a college kid can invent Facebook for a couple hundred bucks. And a laid off carpenter can invent an ipod repair business. Sit in a room with a legal pad for a day and no distractions and I guarantee you can innovate something.

#2 You could be the next real estate tycoon for almost no risk. If you are 22 years old with a college degree and an entry level job. You could buy 2 homes for less than $1500/month. Live in one and rent the other. In 3 months buy another rental and keep capitalizing on people’s pessimism until you have 5-6 rental homes. As Romeo becomes a renters market you could gain both equity in these undervalued rentals and make tons of income from rent. Heck, if you are 19 with a part time job you could buy a house for $600/month and rent it for $800/month. Save those profits and do it again in 6 months. Hold/rent those 5-6 properties for 10 years and you just made a million dollars.

#3 You could invest in the next Microsoft or Apple. My conversations with those bought out from their autoworker jobs are depressing. They are saying “How long can I last on this money?” Wrong question. The right question is, “How can I find the right start-up to invest in?” Michigan has a highly educated and undermotivated work force. As soon as that motivation part turns around this economy will come back like gangbusters. Are you investing in high return start-ups or are you still thinking large cap companies are going to return? Bill Gates’ earliest investors tossed in only $10,000. I think they did OK.

Every decision I make is an evaluation of risk vs. opportunity. What about you?

Romeo News

A horrible yet honorable story

I recognize that the news is never going to cover this story. So here’s it’s shot at getting out there. I received this email from a person in our community today. Most people would know her as a protagonist. I know her as someone with a deep sense of justice for our schools and the people in her life.

So here is her story from today. I think you’ll like it.

I want to tell you about a horrible incident that happened to me today….somewhere there is a lesson to be learned in this story, so please bear with me:

I pulled into the Meijer parking lot on 26 and Van Dyke to buy some cough syrup for my daughter and a few cans of cat food.  While I was getting my coupons out (gotta love those coupons!), I sat in my car with the car engine off.  A man was exiting his car one spot over directly across from me.  While he was exiting his vehicle, an older woman attempted to pull into the spot directly across from me next to the man exiting his vehicle.  He quickly closed his door and waited for her to pull in….she almost hit his car, she was within inches of his vehicle sideways.

He opened his door and began yelling at the lady (I later found out her name) and telling her to back out before she hit him.  She didn’t move…he kept yelling.  I got out of my car and said to the dude, ‘why don’t you try to help her instead of yelling at her?’ and I walked up to the lady…she was a senior citizen who was shaking with her hands on the steering wheel.  I asked her if she was okay, and she said the guy was scaring her and she turned off her car because the steering wheel locked up.  I asked her if she would restart the car and I would help her unlock the steering wheel and get the car into the parking space.

She was visibly upset, shaking and staring at the man who was out of his car by this time and yelling every profanity you can imagine, not only at her, but at me for being a ‘do gooder’ (and that was the nicest thing he said, believe me…his language was worse than a sailor, much worse than anything that I have ever hear from any human being in my lifetime and for those of you that know me, that’s pretty bad!).

When she restarted her engine, the guy got of his car and got in between her car and his – literally inches.  I asked him to move and he said no, she was going to hit his car and I explained to him that if her car jerked forward she would take off his kneecaps and he said good then he could sue her sorry old ass and get her inheritance!  He did move and leaned against his car mocking her as she tried to get the car moved into the space, which she did successfully shaking and in tears!

Once out of harms way, he hailed a stream of profanity at both her and I, going off on how how old people shouldn’t be driving and she should have her keys taken away from her…he began to walk away and I called him back to apologize to the lady and to me.  He told me to &()@ myself, asked what kind of C*&@ helps old people and to mind my own business!!!! I told him to return so I could call the police and he said for what…thank goodness the Meijers security guards were watching this all on their in-store cameras and came out to assist!

I called the police… she was in her car visibly shaken and they arrived while the guy was still spewing his horrible language.  The police asked what was going on; I told them my version, she told them her version and the Meijers security told them what they had seen and then heard in the parking lot once they were on scene.  The police officer then talked to the dude…they did a breathalyser on him and arrested him for DUI and disorderly conduct and hailed his ass off to jail!

The victim and I drove down to the police department to file witness reports while they were towing his car away and when I arrived at the police station the guy was still going at me and her for being every female word you can think of that is not positive!  The victim is 87 years old, her husband passed away 35 years ago and she prays everyday that she will not harm anyone, even if she goes for a walk, with her mouth or her actions (I need to learn alot from Geraldine!).  The dude is 75 years old…spewing that old people shouldn’t be driving!!!!

He was slammed with a DUI and a disorderly in public charge, locked up for 12/24 hours and I also asked to have another charge brought against him for harassment of me and Geraldine.  The statute is VERBAL SEXUAL HARASSMENT and SWEARING IN A PUBLIC VENUE.  We are both going to appear in court in June when he is charged, but at least he is locked up tonight for awhile anyway.  The officer told me that the dude has a previous criminal history, he could not say what it was for confidentiality reasons, but the guy has been in trouble before…lovely eh?

I drove her back to her car, we did our grocery shopping together and we sat in the food court until I could get in touch with her son, who assured me he would come by tonight and check on his mom…he already called to tell me he checked on her on his way home and she is still flustered, but doing okay!

I warn my kids everyday to watch out for the lunatics and I thank my lucky stars that I was there when this all took place with her.  I could only picture my daughter or my mother being harassed by the dude, and my heart broke!  How could anyone stand by and watch a defenseless old woman be harassed by a dude so disrespectfully?

We all need tolerance, patience and empathy….this victim is now my friend…I called her tonight to make sure she is okay and we are having lunch next week…I need to learn alot from her….please take the time with older people, have the patience with the young and the old cause we all will be there one day (hopefully!).