If you received Youthfront's Year End Report I hope you rejoiced along with us for so many great things that happened during 2014. As we look forward to 2015, filled with amazing potential, I am full of gratitude for our friends and donors, and for the blessings God has poured out on us.
In less than five months we must finish a major renovation and remodel of the Chapel at Youthfront Camp West. This means more kids can come to camp and experience transformation through Jesus Christ. We still need around $350,000 to finish this project. When we open the new Chapel we will have completed a three year capital project that has added $4.4 million in additions and improvements at Camp West. I'm so excited because these facilities will be used for decades to come to fulfill our mission to bring youth into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
I've been having a Bonhoeffer inspired season of Advent. This has mostly been hastened by Andy Root's - @RootAndrew - just released book Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, which I believe (for several reasons) is one of the most important youth ministry books ever written.
Here are a couple of thoughts from Dietrich on Advent.
"The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come." From Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons
"We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for everyone who has a conscience. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Watch for the Light as quoted in Daily Dig, December 18, 2014.
I love this as it fits nicely into my passion for a theology of place.
"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big."
Several of my friends around the country jokingly refer to me as the real mayor of Kansas City. This comes out of my passion for my city. I've lived here my whole life and I truly love my city. You can only imagine then how happy I am that one of my favorite groups, Mumford and Sons, chose to write and perform this song - Back to Kansas City.
Dr. Chap Clark from Fuller Theological Seminary is coming to Kansas City! Youthfront is hosting a free Youthworker Training on Dec 11th at Christ Community Church Brookside Campus. Plus it's hard to beat Lunch from Oklahoma Joe's! REGISTER TODAY
Chapman “Chap” Clark is associate provost for strategic projects and professor and chair of the Youth, Family, and Culture Department in the School of Theology. He also serves as director of the Student Leadership Project and is the School of Theology’s representative on the executive board of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI). On faculty since 1997, he created and directs Fuller’s master’s level and Doctor of Ministry programs in Youth, Family, and Culture, and oversees PhD students in practical theology who are studying youth and family ministry, youth culture, and adolescent development.
A well-known practitioner, adolescent and family scholar, and author, Clark has more than 30 years of experience in direct ministry, including 15 years with Young Life, as well as positions with several churches, Denver Seminary, Youth Specialties, and for seven years, as senior editor of Youthworker Journal. He is currently on the teaching team of Harbor Christian Center in Gig Harbor, Washington, is president of ParenTeen and Harbor Hope Services, and continues to work closely with Young Life.
Clark’s extensive publications of books, articles, and videos focus primarily on relationships. Among the books he has authored, coauthored, and edited are Adopted (forthcoming), Youth Ministry in the 21st Century (forthcoming), Hurt: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers and Hurt 2.0 (2004, a CBA finalist for Book of the Year), Sticky Faith (2010), Counseling Teenagers (2010), When Kids Hurt: Helping Adults Navigate the Adolescent Maze (2009), Disconnected: Parenting Teens in a MySpace World (2007), Deep Justice in a Broken World: Helping Your Kids Serve Others and Right the Wrongs around Them (2007), Deep Ministry in a Shallow World (2006), Teens and Sex: A Leadership Video Curriculum (American Association of Christian Counselors, 2003), From Father to Son (2002), Starting Right: A Practical Theology of Youth Ministry (2001), Daughters and Dads (1998), The Youth Worker’s Handbook to Family Ministry (1997), and Let Me Ask You This . . . Conversations that Draw Couples Closer (1991). He has also edited and contributed to major youth and family ministry textbooks.
This is a guest post by my friend and fellow Youthfront Staff Member Kurt Rietema, who is our Director of Justice Initiatives.
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one, new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.” Eph. 2:14-17
A week ago I stepped out onto our front porch looking for a change of scenery with Leo. Armando was across the street stirring a kettle over a makeshift grill built of broken concrete blocks and found stones, an air of grilled meat signaled a possible and very welcomed invitation. He spotted me on the porch, “Kuuurt! Vente para acá!” Confirmation. Leo and I went over while the other boys ran circles with the neighbor kids. As I sat among old friends with tacos laden with meat worthy of a Levitical sacrifice and my baby in the arms of eager Mexican mothers, I took deep pleasure in watching Armando at his craft. Through smoke and burned fingers, it was as if he was conjuring up memories of the old country. He had this look of derangement and delight, thisrudimentary fire, an exile’s protest to stainless steel and liquid propane. He looked at home in his new home for the first time in a long time and it gave me great satisfaction.
A little while later, Alejandro from next door showed up and I overheard their conversation. Armando told him, “You know Kurt and Emily, they’re from a different class, but you wouldn’t know it. They’re educated. They’ve got some money. But they’re here with us, you know? They’re not like other güeros. They could be living in other places among different people, but they’re here with us. That’s why I like them. They’re one of us.” It was a moment that validated our efforts of downward mobility. The immigrant experience is often marked by feelings of being unwanted, second-class, and perpetually catering to someone else’s desires. It’s lonely, alienating, isolating and anti-shalom. But here, Armando was seeing the temporary rules of the world suspended as together in our neighborhood we’ve put aside what divides us, we preach peace to one another, and taste a new kind of humanity.
The week after Mike Brown was shot in Ferguson, Missouri, I was fixated on social media. The protests and marches had become about so much more than taking sides on Mike Brown’s presumed innocence or his guilt. It became the epicenter of racial pain in the US. On social media, I heard the pain and the raw emotion pour out, unedited from people of color in a way that I never had experienced before. And some of the most recurring, frustrated cries were the ones that wondered why their white brothers and sisters were so silent, echoing Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, a generation before. One reporter asked someone how he felt about Mike Brown’s death being a young, black man himself. His response cut right to the very alienation that was embedded and invisible within the question itself. “I don’t know, how do you feel about it as a human?” At their core, the marches and protests were about people of color looking for validation, emotional bids burdened by a desire to know they’re not alone. They wanted someone to acknowledge that their pain is real; to tell them they’re not crazy and that their frustration is not unwarranted. The Sunday after Mike Brown was shot, I called up a few friends and we went to Ferguson, not to take sides but to walk with them and tell them they weren’t alone.
When we walked up Florissant Avenue for the first time, we were the ones who felt alone. It seemed the only other white people were either cops or the media. Soon, we stopped to talk to a few people—friends of the Brown family as it so happened. They welcomed us in and shared some of their stories. They found out we were from Kansas City and they thanked us for coming down and joining them. They took away our anxiety and displacement and, from their response, it seemed their sense of alienation subsided as well by standing with them. If only for a moment and if only among a handful of people, the normal dividing wall of hostility was set aside and we experienced the new humanity that Jesus came to bring.
A few months ago, Sarah Bessey, a Christian writer and blogger wrote a brave piece about how the world traffics in fear of the other and the unknown and how evil and hatred is propagated by fear. “Be afraid, the world tells us. And now, sadly, it seems many of our [Christian] media outlets and leaders are telling us the same thing. Be afraid. Be afraid of money, be afraid of losing “the fire”, be afraid of education, be afraid of theology, be afraid of growth and change...be afraid of the news, be afraid of Islam, be afraid of the President, be afraid of the UN, be afraid of immigrant children, be afraid of other churches, be afraid of the Pope, be afraid of socialism, be afraid of the government, be afraid of the world, be afraid be afraid be afraid.” Yet we know that there is no fear in love, forperfect love casts out fear. Throughout scripture, it seems that every angelic or divine encounter is prefaced by one message--don’t be afraid. And when Israel lived in terror in Egypt, they cried out andGod listened. When scared and helpless during the period of the judges, God didn’t abandon them. When living in fear under Roman occupation, God did not remain distant. Instead God took on flesh and moved into the neighborhood. When the world ran from the lepers, Jesus ran toward them. When the Jews flanked Samaria, Jesus cut through it. When the Temple cordoned off the Gentiles, Jesus took them for dinner. Do not be anxious about tomorrow and do not be afraid, says Jesus, for there is not one square inch of creation that is not mine.
God has given some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, pastors and teachers. Sometimes I’m not sure if I fit any one of those categories as cleanly as I, or others, might like. But it seems that one constant message that God keeps surprising us with is that the world is not such a scary place after all. Preaching peace both to those whose life is very different from me and to those who are like me is one thing I can’t keep silent about. For it is Jesus who casted off fear like he casted off demons, showing the world for the first time what it means to truly be human, what it really means to live, what it really means to love. Without fear, one new humanity.
"Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him." (Matthew 2:2).
The reason the three wise men journeyed so far to see the Messiah was to worship Him, the King of Kings. They did so with their hearts, time, and gifts. Worshiping Christ should also be our goal as we celebrate Christmas!
Join Youthfront as we begin the Advent season with Pack Friday, the act of worshiping by serving one another. Add meaning and blessing to your holiday weekend by helping us package meals to feed 50,000 of our brothers and sisters right here in Kansas City. Pack Friday is an opportunity for your family, friends, neighbors, youth groups and churches all over Kansas City to come together and set our hearts on Christ this Advent season.
What: Pack Friday Something To Eat™ Meal Packaging Event
When: Friday, November 28th from 1 pm - 3 pm
Where: Something To Eat™ Warehouse 1200 South 5th Street, Kansas City, KS
Why: Because serving others is a great way to worship!
Wait, for now. Distrust everything, if you have to. But trust the hours. Haven't they carried you everywhere, up to now? Personal events will become interesting again. Hair will become interesting. Pain will become interesting. Buds that open out of season will become lovely again. Second-hand gloves will become lovely again, their memories are what give them the need for other hands. And the desolation of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness carved out of such tiny beings as we are asks to be filled; the need for the new love is faithfulness to the old.
Wait. Don't go too early. You're tired. But everyone's tired. But no one is tired enough. Only wait a while and listen. Music of hair, Music of pain, music of looms weaving all our loves again. Be there to hear it, it will be the only time, most of all to hear, the flute of your whole existence, rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.
I'm really excited to be a part of this exciting project which, for me, is a combination of many personal passions - Scripture as Sacred Text, ancient manuscripts, story telling, experiential learning, archeology, history, artifacts, good friends and partnerships, plus more...
Youthfront LaCygne is offering a free month of retreat for pastors and church staff. You're invited.
During November you can book a retreat any Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday staying the night on Monday and/or Tuesday. The community at Youthfront LaCygne will take care of everything for you, and put you up in a private room. Wifi is available, and there's 600 acres of space to experience the beautiful outdoors.
Youthfront LaCygne seeks to create a sacred place of pilgrimage and transformation where young people freely discover what it means to be fully alive in Jesus Christ by facilitating spiritual exploration and practices, community, fun, and natural environments.
Youthfront LaCygne desires to be a gift to the church and to the world, and inviting you to be there on retreat is certainly an effort in that direction. If you have any questions, please feel free to email Micah Thomas at MThomas@Youthfront.com or if you're ready to book some time with us, just click the link below.
Dr. Jeffrey Keuss, author of "Blur: A New Paradigm for Understanding Youth Culture", and Professor of Christian Ministry, Theology and Culture at Seattle Pacific University is coming to Kansas City as a special guest of Youthfront. On Thursday, October 30th, Jeff will be joining us for a learning day. We will start at 9:00am and finish with lunch provided by Oklahoma Joes. Powerful combination, huh?
Jeff has been a colleague and friend. He is articulate, witty, super interesting and challenging. Our day is being hosted at Christ Community Church in Brookside. To read more about Dr. Keuss and/or to let us know you coming click here.
A very surreal week started with a wonderful tailgate meal with Vicki while anticipation mounted for the Chiefs playing New England on Monday Night Football on a perfect fall evening in Kansas City. Even though we love our Chiefs, the city is in frenzy over the KC Royals. While waiting for the kickoff the atmosphere was enhanced by a dozen or so Royals players who made a surprise appearance on the field at Arrowhead. The crowd roared as they walked around the perimeter of the field, giving high fives and chatting with fans. The Chiefs made a classy decision to feature a Royals congratulation video on the jumbotron. Arrowhead was charged up. I felt like the Chiefs had a good chance to win but no one expected a 41 to 14 spanking of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. This was SO FUN. We also broke the Guinness Book of World Records by becoming the loudest open-air stadium in the world reaching 142.2 decibels.
This event was opening act for the headliner happening on Tuesday, when the KC Royals would return to post-season play for the first time in 29 years. If the opening act featuring the Chiefs was so good, then certainly the headliner playing the next night would surely be stunning.
Tuesday morning started out charmed when I pulled up to one of my regular coffee stops to find George Brett holding court with some buddies, talking baseball and telling stories. George saw the Brett Jersey I had bought my father several years ago hanging in my back window. That brought a big smile and thumbs up from the Hall of Famer.
I headed to Kauffman Stadium early to take in all the festivities. I particularly went to sit in the same seat I sat in next to my father on his last outing before dying a little over a year ago. My dad taught me how to love baseball so deeply. When it became clear that we would be playing the Oakland A’s in the Wild Card game, I knew I had to be there. The A’s came to KC from Philadelphia. They never had a winning record in KC but I loved them. In fact, my parents had to get special permission at my grade school to let me where my Kelly Green and Gold A’s hat. I even had my school picture taken with my hat on. When my father told me that Charlie Finley was taking the A’s to Oakland, I cried for days. It wasn’t long before KC was granted an expansion team that we wouldcall the Royals. Some of my earliest memories are of my father taking me to old Municipal Stadium to see the A’s and then the Royals play. Ewing Kauffman, the owner of the Royals, worked to get us a new stadium, along with Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt. Several times a month my dad would take to the overview hill to watch the progress being made on the new stadiums. So it was special, painful and joyful all at the same time to sit in this chair and remember.
The pre-game festivities set the stage for an amazing, one of a kind night. I chatted with Jamie Roach, my brother-in-law; Eddie Garlich, a Youthfront kid now grown up; friends Gary and Vickie Pener; I saw friend and Royals legend Mike Sweeney and exchanged texts; and for a special treat I discovered in row two behind the Royals dugout and right in front of me, Julia Burbridge, a Youthfront supporter and friend, with her two daughters, Lisa and Anna. I was missing Steve, Julia’s husband, who was in Palm Springs on business. I eventually moved down a row to sit with them. I got non-stop messages and texts from friends, during the drama of the game, friends who saw me on TV. I’ve learned that sitting near the dugout gets you TV and JumboTron time.
When we went down two runs in the first inning my heart sank but soon soared as we regained the lead. I’m not going to lie – I was depressed and resigned to lose when we entered the bottom of the 8th behind by a score of 7-3. But then magic happened and continued to happen. When Peres hit the walk off single, in what had become the first winner-take-all game to go at least 12 innings since Game 7 of the 1924 World Series, I cried, the kind where tears roll down the cheeks. Even though the clock was striking midnight and I had a 5:00am flight to Sacramento, California for the National Youth Workers Convention, I couldn’t leave. The fans couldn’t leave. The players couldn’t leave until we properly celebrated in astonishment what had just happened. My phone was lit up with texts, v-mails, calls, tweets, Facebook mentions, etc. from friends from all over the world. I so wish my dad could have been at this game. One of those voicemails was from my mother. I called her back on the way home and we celebrated, talked about dad and reminisced.
As I finally pulled myself away from the field, I did, what my dad would have wanted me to do. I stopped at least two dozen 8 – 10 year olds who were walking to the cars with their fathers and mothers. With what voice I had left I enthusiastically told them, “You are so lucky to be here. What happened tonight you will remember the rest of your life. You will some day tell your children about it. You were here. You saw this and you will never forget it.” Once the parents realized I wasn’t intoxicated, they affirmed what I was saying and jumped on the moment to drive home the moment to their children. I think my father would be very proud of me for doing that.
This is a powerful TED talk by Zak Ebrahim who is the son of the man who planned the bombing of the World Trade Center. Hearing Zak gives me hope in the midst of all the craziness happening around the world.
Jake Kircher’s book Teaching Teenagers in a Post-Christian Worldis a quick but important read for far too many of us youth workers who declare that we have a plan for ministering to youth but deep down aren’t really sure that what we are accomplishing will actually last. Kircher is not afraid to be honest about his youth ministry past and what he believes today.
Yesterday our family gathered on the one year anniversary of my father's death for the interment of his remains. It was a time of remembering, story-telling, crying, laughing, praying and celebrating. We wore Royal blue because we knew that would make him very happy. Below the picture is a video from his memorial service a year ago this weekend.
Exciting news regarding the 2014 Apprentice Institute National Conference
We are weeks away from hearing enlightening and powerful speakers at the 2014 Apprentice Institute National Conference. Registration is still open for this amazing event, click here for more registration details.
One year ago tonight my father, Dave King, and I, along with my brother-in-law, Jamie Roach and family friend Topher Philgreen, attended a special KC Royals baseball game. It wasn't special because the Royals won, they didn't. It wasn't special because they were still in a pennant race, they really weren't. It was special because it was the last public outing of my father just nine days before he died.
It was special because my father and I really had a thing for baseball. We loved the game and we loved the Royals. During my father's battle for his life last summer we had moments of high hopes for the Royals, but alas... like the last, nearly three decades of Royals' baseball, it, once again, was not meant to be. It was special because we got to go into the Royals' broadcast booth before the game to hangout with broadcasters Ryan Lefebvre, Rex Hudler and Denny Matthews. I wrote about it here.
Today, I thought a lot about my father. It's hard to believe a year has passed by so quickly. I wish he could have experienced what the Royals are doing right now. My father and I used to go to Municipal Stadium to watch the KC Athletics play. He consoled me when Charlie Finley decided to move the team to Oakland, I cried. He took me to watch our new team, the Royals, play at Municipal. He took me several times a month to monitor the progress of the new stadium which would become Kauffman Stadium. We had all those great years of rooting for our team in the golden '80's. I celebrated with him when we won the World Series. I wish he could have experienced this season. I hope my kids get the joy of experiencing a World Series (and a Super Bowl, come on Chiefs).
My father and I had a deeper connection than just baseball. He loved Jesus and served God faithfully and he loved to pray. I've thought about him during this pilgrimage I'm currently on. I've though about him during the offices of prayer we've attended in the Cathedral in Chester, at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Palace and today in Canterbury Cathedral. Yes, we connected on the deep level of our Christian faith, but that doesn't diminish the sweet and passionate connection we had over baseball.
He was a coach to me in life and he was my baseball coach for nearly a decade as a child and teenager. I miss you coach.
How easily we forget that the church was founded by disciples who betrayed their master. None was willing to stand by Jesus as the religious and political authorities condemned him to death. At his moment of greatest need, the disciples fled in the darkness. The boldest of the lot, Peter, was the very one who cursed and denied him three times before the cock crew. It was for traitors that Jesus died." Philip Yancey, Source: Soul Survivor. Daily Dig, July 26, 2014