Friday, July 28, 2006

Last Black Hills Run

Great early morning runs after the lungs adjusted to the altitude.

Last night the valley was full of kids. The picture shows a few. It was almost as if God spoke again on the 8th day and created the valley just for this night, just for these kids. All the groups mixed well, and needed no prompting to get together just to be.

“Good bye good bye to Lee Valley, we’re really glad you came…”

The decades old song continues blessing each group as they arrive and they leave.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Vision Mountain

Vision Mountain --- would be a more accurate name according the Native American people. Instead it is known as Harney Peak. Named after a general who massacred Native people.

Today we hiked up. It is the highest elevation between the Rockies and the Andes. For us today it was the top of the world.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dick Borrud

Camp director, once children’s television star, pilot, adventurer, pastor, educator, story teller, dreamer, twice struck by lightening… and at age 74 a strong bodied and willed that is hard to keep up with on a mountain side hike

Dick shared his 25 goals that he wants to do before he dies. Every year some are accomplished and new one’s are added. “The day before I die I will have in my pocket 25 things I planed on doing.”

How to live 100 years happily
(adapted from John A. Schindler.)

1. Do not be on the lookout for ill health
2. Keep usefully at work and ministry
3. Purse your hobbies
4. Learn to be satisfied
5. Keep on liking and affirming pople
6. Meet adversity valiantly
7. Meet the little problems of life with decision
8. Maintain a good sense of humor… best don by saying something pleasant every time you get a chance.
9. Live and make the present hour pleasant and cheerful. Keep your mind out of the past and keep it out of the future.

Peer Ministry Camp '06

Kids and leaders gather under the Lee Valley sign. Daily we work on the Peer Ministry skills and attitudes of caring and welcoming ministry.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

More Than Microphones and Committees

relational ministry that counts
Lee Valley Ranch - Black Hills of South Dakota

I met Rachel age 3 and Beth age 4 pushing small chairs in the halls of the education wing of our church. “Hey girls, what are you doing?” I asked. Beth smiled big and said, “We are playing meeting!”

Late night after hearing one of the top Christian speakers in the country for youth I asked my group what they thought. “He was funny,” “He was good,” “I liked him,” were the replies. I agreed, but I doubt any of us made any life changes.

When youth describe Christian leadership they most often name models represented by microphones or a committees. Kids see in the church people holding microphones – speaking or singing on platforms, pulpits and stages. Kids see people sitting in committees – elected to boards, appointed to task forces, joining advocacy groups, sittings around tables, talking and planning. These are the models we see, we reward, we applaud, give money to, and train people for. I am not against microphones and committees. We need them, but these models only fit a few people. It seems to me that the microphone and committee leaders exist only to motivate, organize, inspire, and teach so that we can be servant leaders in daily life?

Isn’t ministry about caring for one’s neighbor? Are not the real leaders the least likely person who walks along side, comes close, reaches out, takes risks, crosses boundaries, takes action and does not expect recognition or rewards?

“I don’t think this counts,” says the high school girl who describes hanging out with a friend on Friday night whose parents just split up. This is her response when asked how she was beginning to use her Peer Ministry training. “I don’t think this counts” seems to be the response of most youth who talk daily with friends about relationships, self-worth, misuse and abuse of drugs and alcohol plus a whole host of other concerns. Such caring conversations are seldom recognized as ministry. They are! I believe kids are already doing ministry! It is just that we have failed to name that what they are doing is about God!

It seems to me our first priority in youth ministry ought to be in helping every youth recognize their vital place as ministers. It seems to me that if want kids to value the church, the church must hold up their relational abilities as essential valued life giving response that any and all Christians are called to do. Maybe it is time to stop playing meetings, stop exposing kids to funny speakers, and empower them with the skills of caring and welcoming ministry. It seems to me we need to be sending letters of call to our kids, laying hands on them and blessing them as front line ministers of our churches.

As the National Director of Peer Ministry I am certainly a bit biased, but not without reason. Peer Ministry takes kids number one concerns, their friendship and relationships and gives them the skills, meaning and purpose to recognize them as ministers. Instead of preaching and teaching the Good Samaritan story Peer Ministry puts skills behind it to live it. If microphone and committees are not resulting in kids knowing that they count as essential ministers, than it is time to learn why Peer Ministry is a powerful training to equip kids in ministry.
Lets talk.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Black Hills

Lee Valley Ranch… a few feet from my bed, coffee, book, deck, pine scented air, sweatshirt nights, short sleeve days, one of my true holy grounds. Two mile run this morning got my lungs a bit more used to the Black Hills elevation. Kids come tonight and I will be on for the week.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Last Texan Night

thousands of prayers from thousands of kids

The Gathering is over...

After being a Texan for two weeks...
...ready to be a Minnesotan again!

Week Two

This was just a portion of the Peer Ministry kids I met with the second week. Numbers were hard to collect also, but the conversations were many. I will add them when I get my best smaplen count.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Peer Ministry Week 1

Peer Ministers from around the country joined in to add to the care and welcoming in the midst of 15 thousand at the ELCA National Youth Gathering. Each day we tallied the number of conversations around acts of welcoming and caring conversations around various issues. First week... our kids did what they were trained to do.

Issues and Concerns
  • 6 - Abuse
  • 13 - Alcohol / Drug Misuse
  • 6 - Cutting and Self-Harm
  • 26 - Dating Relationship Struggles
  • 19 - Dealing with Authority
  • 20 - Depression
  • 7 - Eating Disorders
  • 12 - Faith and Value Struggles
  • 18 - Family Issues
  • 9 - Grief
  • 9 - Peer Pressure
  • 20 - Physical Health
  • 21 - Relationship Struggles with Peers
  • 18 - Self-Worth or Image
  • 5 - Sexually Risky Behaviors
  • 15 - Stress
  • 5 - Suicidal Thoughts
  • 5 - Violent / Anger Management
Welcoming Acts of Kindness
  • 14 - Gift named - expressing a person’s value
  • 29 - Introduced one person to another
  • 20 - Invited someone to be included (e.g. lunch table)
  • 8 - Invited someone to come to an event or gathering
  • 13 - Served a stranger with an act of kindness
  • 18 - Welcomed & Greeted
  • 48 - "W.H.E.A.T.ed”