College Avenue Short Term Mission Trips

Here’s a short promo video for the short term mission trips that we are doing this year at College Avenue Baptist Church in San Diego. Marci and I will be leading the trip in June to Mexico (I talk about it a little on this video) and if you would like to go, we’d love to have you.

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I Need to Laugh More

I’ve been reading Garrison Keillor’s latest book Pilgrims and as he usually does in his books, he makes me smile.  I was reading at home this week and my wife Marci heard me chuckling out loud to myself and asked “What’s so funny?” I said, “It’s just a funny part of the book.” She said, “Read it to me.” So I read this passage to her:

(I should explain that the book is about a group of Lake Wobegonians who go on a one-week tour of Rome. At this point in the book they are eating pizza together at a sidewalk cafe. Marjorie Krebsbach, the tour group leader, is doing the talking.)

“The first time they served pizza for hot lunch at school, it was sort of like fried silage with chunks of boiled owl, and anyway none of us were used to it and by the time school was over and we went to confirmation class, we were full of gas. I remember kids sitting perfectly still in their seats, no leaning to one side or the other, but now and then some gas would escape and sound like a bassoon solo and we’d all smell it and look around and scowl so everyone would know it wasn’t ours. We were trying hard not to laugh, and when you try to hold a laugh in, it will explode on you, sometimes in the form of a fart.  Which happened to me. I had my cheeks clamped shut and I was afraid this fart could explode and I would load my pants. And then Pastor Tommerdahl asked me to stand and read today’s scripture and I said, ‘Could I please go to the toilet first?’ and a couple boys busted out laughing and I stood up and read the verse about Pentecost in Acts, the second chapter, it says ‘And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.’”

“And I exploded. I boomed like a cannon and two big strands of mucous shot out of my nostrils and hung here like spiderwebs and I covered my face. The smell was horrible … “

I could barely read because we were both laughing hard, with tears streaming down our faces. I don’t know why farts are always so funny, but we were just howling as I read through these couple of paragraphs.

While we were laughing, I noticed a twinge of pain in my face during the laughing spell and for some time afterward I could feel it. It was the aftereffects of the Bells Palsy that I had gotten back in August. Bells Palsy causes the muscles in your face to go numb and atrophy and it takes a while to work those muscles back into shape. What I realized during our laughing episode was that the muscles in my face that I use to laugh hadn’t be exercised in a while. So like other muscles in my body that suffer from non-use, they hurt a bit when they do get used.

So it’s made me think: I’ve been trying to get exercise for the rest of my body; maybe my face needs some exercise too. Heard anything really funny lately?

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New Study, Same Results on Role Models

Who or what is the most powerful influence on teenagers? Who do teenagers look up to most as role models? These questions (or questions similar to them) have formed the basis for dozens of studies on teenagers that have been conducted over the years. The issue of teen influence is heavily researched because marketers are well aware that teenagers control an estimated 300 billiion dollars per year of discretionary income. They also know that if you can sell a teenager on a brand or product while they are young, there’s a strong likelihood they will remain loyal for the rest of their lives. That’s also one of the reasons why I believe so much in youth ministry. Lifelong disciples of Jesus are more often than not called while they are teenagers. That was true for me as it was for a number of Jesus’ original twelve.

Primary influences on teenagers (from the seminar presentation "Understanding Your Teenager.")

So another study on teen influence has been conducted (this one by the Barna Group) and the results of that new study were just released. The good news for me is that I won’t have to revise any of my teaching notes on this subject anytime soon. Well, I may need to update the clothing styles on the kids on our graphic at the right, but otherwise, everything stays the same.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been teaching and writing that the most powerful influences on teenagers are not (as some might suppose) the entertainment media and same-age peers. The primary influences on teenagers are (1) their parents, followed next by (2) their extended family (grandparents and other close relatives), then (3) caring adults like teachers, coaches, youth ministers and others who care enough to come alongside them in some meaningful way. This was not only true for me personally but it was confirmed by several studies that were conducted almost thirty years ago.

What’s interesting about the more recent studies on this topic is that researchers now assume the dominant position of parents in the pecking order of teen influence. That was not always the case. David Kinneman, who conducted the Barna reseach, explains that “parents were left out of the assessment because so many teenagers—particularly younger ones—have high regard for their parents or feel compelled to list their parents as role models. Previous research shows that mentioning parents is almost … automatic.” So the question teenagers were asked in this study was “Who, besides your parents, do you admire the most as a role model?”

Their answer? The most commonly mentioned role model according to this new study is a relative, most typically a grandparent. Next on the list—you guessed it—teachers and coaches. Way down the list (after people they know personally) come celebrities, politicians, sports heroes, musicians and the like.

When asked why they chose who they did as role models, teenagers responded by saying that these people “are always there for me” or “are most interested in my future.”

Who influenced you most when you were a teenager?

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Laughing Layla

Here’s a picture of our granddaughter Layla taken at Christmas, with a bow on her head. One of the few times she thought grandpa was funny.  Most of the time I just make her cry …

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Give Slacker a Try

Slacker.com is a great internet radio station offering just about every genre of music for free, 24 hours a day.  I listen to it on my computer in my office and also on my phone (Android).

Slacker is based here in the San Diego area. They contacted me  several years ago and asked to serve as a music consultant for their bluegrass station.

From what I understand, that’s what makes Slacker different from other internet radio stations like Pandora. Each Slacker station is professionally programmed by someone who really knows something about the genre. It’s not programmed by a computer.

You can, however, create your own station by using Slacker’s computer. Just enter the name of your favorite recording artist and Slacker will create a customized radio station with music by your favorite plus others who are similar. You can skip songs you don’t want to hear or play songs over and over. It’s pretty cool.

Slacker is free, but the free version includes commercials. Pay a small fee and you can get rid of the commercials and do a few other things that you can’t do on the free version.

The bluegrass station is a sub-genre of Slacker’s “Country” station. Check it out and let me know what you think.

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Follow the Light … house (part two)

Here are a couple of other photos that were taken at our Shadow Mountain Community Church performance last weekend, shot by Irene Mount, from her seat in the audience.

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Follow the Light … house

Lighthouse, the bluegrass band I play in (occasionally) reunited for a couple of performances in December.

The first was at the North County Bluegrass and Folk Club in Escondido, an annual tradition for us. The people there are always so generous with their enthusiasm for our music, and this year they not only brought us back for an encore but bought us out of CD’s.  (Pity the poor souls who get a Lighthouse CD for Christmas!)  But it felt good to play a full set of music with my bandmates. It has actually been a year since we did that last. We only played twice all last year, once in my backyard for Easter and another short appearance at College Avenue Baptist Church in August.

Our second performance was at Shadow Mountain Community Church, part of their  annual “Shadow MountainChristmas” celebration/concert. We did three shows, performing one song titled “Follow the Light,” a Christmas song that I learned from the McLain Family Band about 35 years ago.  In the concert, we followed a mariachi band (a first for us I think) and enjoyed jamming with them backstage in the dressing room. They couldn’t speak English very well but the language of music seemed to connect us pretty well. I can now pick out a little “La Bamba” on my banjo.

All in all, playing with Lighthouse has been one of the bright spots for me this Christmas season so far.  This time of year seems to add so much stress and anxiety, with all the busyness and responsibilities that go with it (especially now that I’m on a church staff). But getting to play some music once again has brought some extra joy into the season for me.

What I need to do now is take some time to focus on the real source of our joy at Christmas, the child who came to us at Bethlehem. Curiously, I am finding that being on a church staff doesn’t automatically make that possible.

This has been a difficult year for Marci and me in many ways … yet also one with many blessings. I know that the shortest route to joy is the path of thanksgiving, so that’s where I must go. As I look back on the year, I see a new church and a new ministry, a new granddaughter (beautiful Layla!), a new kitchen (under rather trying circumstances but new nevertheless), new friends, new experiences (like attending junior high camp at Forest Home and watching our son do his thing),  new books in print, new  health insurance (Medicare!), and the list goes on. God is so good. The child who comes to us in the manger every year is not only our Savior, but a perfect picture of the goodness of God, the best of all his gifts to us. He is the source of our joy.

What brings you joy this Christmas?

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Reviews of Reinventing Youth Ministry [Again]

Since my book Reinventing Youth Ministry [Again] came out last month it has received a few very positive reviews that have been very encouraging to me. To tell you the truth, I was worried about how this book would be received. As I was writing it, a little voice kept whispering in my ear: “Nobody’s going to want to read what you have to say about youth ministry … you’re almost 65 years old for crying out loud!” and “Who do you think you are, writing about your early life as if you were a big celebrity or something?” The voices got louder as the publication date for the book neared and quite honestly I was a bit nervous waiting for it to come out.

Well, it’s out now and I have been very blessed by the positive reviews that the book has received so far.

These reviews were solicited by InterVarsity Press from three friends of mine who are also respected voices in youth ministry. They read copies of the manuscript before the book was published:

This book reads like a novel, incites like a prophet, engages like a story, reports like a history, coaches like a veteran and encourages like a pastor. Wayne Rice is absolutely one of the pioneers of modern-day youth ministry. But don’t read this book looking for nostalgia. The whole thrust of this amazingly honest, insightful and hopeful youth ministry critique is about looking backwards only long enough so that we don’t repeat (or make new) mistakes going forward. I couldn’t have written this book with the eyewitness authenticity that Wayne has written it with, but I’ve felt and thought much of what it says. Wayne Rice is still giving youth workers IDEAS they can use.”
—Dr. Duffy Robbins, professor of youth ministry, Eastern University

“All of us in youth ministry owe a debt of gratitude to Wayne Rice. Depending on your age, Wayne’s your youth ministry brother, father or grandfather. With this book, our debt just got bigger. All of us would be wise to sit at the feet of this youth ministry pioneer as he tells us the ups and downs of his own ministry story; shares the kind of deep wisdom and perspective that can only come with years of experience; and challenges us to live, think and minister with biblical integrity. Youthworkers have benefited from Wayne Rice’s experience and wisdom for well over forty years. And now, we should be listening more than ever.”
—Walt Mueller, president, Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, and author of Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture

“Wayne Rice is (still) one of the most authentic, honest voices speaking into the world of youth ministry. I have loved reading Reinventing Youth Ministry (Again). It is unlikely that we will reinvent youth ministry well in this generation without a clear and accurate picture of where we came from. Wayne helps us do both, with passion, intensity and his characteristic gentle wisdom.”
—Mark DeVries, founder of Youth Ministry Architects and author of Sustainable Youth Ministry

Here are some other reviews from blog posts, web articles, online booksellers and the like:

Rethinking Youth Ministry

Michael  Catt

Thirsty Ones

Amazon.com

CPYU’s Engage Newsletter

I have also received several very encouraging e-mails from readers who took time to write but I won’t post them here since they were not intended for public consumption.

Needless to say I no longer hear the voice telling me that this book isn’t going to be well received. Now if it would only sell a few copies … !

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National Youth Workers Convention 2010

I just returned from the National Youth Workers Convention in Nashville (Youth Specialties). I was a speaker at both the Nashville and the San Diego YS conventions this year, an honor for me given that I’m well past my prime as a youth ministry expert. What I am these days is a walking youth ministry museum.

But YS president Tic Long graciously invited me to do a couple of seminars this year based on recent books I’ve written and I really enjoyed participating in both conventions. At the San Diego convention I also got to do a seminar with my son Nate on camping. Since I really don’t know all that much about camping, I basically slow-pitched some questions to Nate (who DOES know a lot about camping) which he hit out of the park. It was a good seminar, if I must say so myself.

One of the really fun things I got to do this year was lead a few old youth ministry songs at one of the main (“big room”) sessions. In Nashville, the “big room” was the Bridgestone Arena, a huge hockey palace across the street from the convention center where some of the biggest concerts and events in Nashville take place. It was quite a rush to lead several thousand youth workers in a half dozen or so songs like “Pass it On” and “Pharoah Pharoah.” From the response I got, I think everybody really enjoyed singing those old songs. As it turned out, I warmed up the crowd for the band Jars of Clay who brought things pretty much up to date.

I think the highlight of the convention in Nashville for me was hearing Mark Yaconelli speak. I sat high up in the stands and alternately laughed and cried as he presented a beautifully crafted message on what it means to serve God in ministry. Now in his 40’s, Mark has become the spitting image of his dad Mike who I had the opportunity to work with for more than a quarter century. It’s obvious that Mark has inherited the formidable speaking talent of his father (with many of the same gestures and mannerisms) yet he clearly communicates in a style of his own which is passionate, fresh and insightful. He had that huge crowd in the palm of his hand for 45 minutes or so, and me in particular. Having known Mark since the day he was born, I loved hearing him speak so skillfully and powerfully. I couldn’t keep from wondering if somehow up in Heaven, Mike wasn’t enjoying all this too and feeling very proud.

I was only at the Nashville convention two of the five days, but I did see a lot of old friends and catch up a bit with some of them. I also had my first opportunity to get acquainted with Paul Bertelson, the founder and CEO of YouthWorks,  the organization that now owns Youth Specialties. YouthWorks is a ministry that has a real heart for youth ministry and as the co-founder of Youth Specialties, I’m very grateful to these good folks for taking on the challenge of keeping YS moving forward, especially during such tough economic times. From all that I heard and saw at both conventions, they are doing a great job.

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Reinventing Youth Ministry [Again]

Last year I wrote a book summarizing pretty much all that I have to say about the past, present and future of youth ministry. The book is titled Reinventing Youth Ministry [Again]: From Bells and Whistles to Flesh and Blood and it was just released this month by InterVarsity Press. I began my youth ministry career in 1963 as a Youth for Christ club director, ran junior high summer camps at Forest Home, served as a youth director in a couple of Nazarene churches, then started Youth Specialties with my old pal Mike Yaconelli. All of that took place long before many of today’s youth workers were even born.

So I thought I would share  some of that history as a kind of memoir, along with a few observations on how youth ministry has grown and changed (for better and for worse) over the past 40 years. The book contains a lot of stories, a few rants, and my best shot at trying to describe what good youth ministry should look like in the future. I put all of this down in a book and was simply amazed that a respected publisher like IVP would agree to publish it.

To tell you the truth, I’ve been pretty nervous about how this book would go over. There are so many voices better qualified than me to write about youth ministry. And I’ve had a hard time convincing myself that anyone would want to read another youth ministry book by a relic of youth ministry like me. (“Um, like wasn’t his last youth ministry book written in the last century?”)

Reinventing Youth Ministry [Again] has only been out a couple of weeks now but the response has been pretty gratifying. A couple of friends who got advance copies said they couldn’t put it down. And I was just blown away by the kind endorsements written by Duffy Robbins, Walt Mueller and Mark DeVries on InterVarsity’s website. Best of all, my son Nate gave the book two thumbs up and my wife Marci told me it was the best I’ve ever written. That’s about all the affirmation I need, really.

I’m just very grateful. My prayer now is that it will be used by God to encourage better youth ministry in the future and result in more and more young people coming to know, love and serve Jesus for years to come.

If you do get a chance to read this book, I would appreciate your comments. It’s available not only through InterVarsity Press but from Amazon.com and other online vendors.

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