The myth of the elite young athlete


I recently received an email from my brother-in-law that contained several video links.

“Tell me what you think.” My brother-in-law wrote.

I clicked and opened each link and watched my 8-year-old nephew goaltending a lacrosse goal. The video contained the coach’s commentary, superimposed video drawings, and slow motion point-by-point breakdown of his form.

“Wow! When I played that type of analysis and video work was only on ESPN,” I wrote back. I was shocked at the level of sophistication of the coaching analysis.

In the last 10-15 years, there has been an explosion in youth sports training, travel teams, artificial turf fields, video production, websites, private coaches, and “elite” sports teams. According to the news channel CNBC, youth sport travel is a $7 billion dollar industry.  With the recent interest in forming “elite” youth athletes, parents are left paying for additional training and sacrificing family time to “elite” sports.

Growing up in the 1980’s and 1990’s, we kids played football, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, street hockey, and basketball. Some of us were on recreation teams and others were not. We tried all sorts of sports and leagues. We played because it was fun.

Now, as a father of three children, I cannot believe how much youth sports culture has changed. What was once a time of fun, team building, and exercise is now a billion dollar industry. Families spend the whole weekend carting around their kids to sport games or leagues. They spend 2-4 nights a week at practices. Their kid’s sports are their life.

It is not supposed to be this way.

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#1 reason why churches have lost millennials


After recently writing about misconceptions of millennials, I stumbled on study that discovered the strongest contributing factor of the millennial’s departure from churches.  The study reveled something so basic it amazing that more research is not being done.

There are groups like Barna and church trackers like Ed Stetzer who have listed several major reasons why millennials and young people are leaving churches. According to the research about 60% of young people stop going to church altogether. These studies quoted take a pretty dynamic approach looking at many factors. However, the answer to the millennial exodus is simpler and more troubling.

The Christian Century cited a report by the Association of Religion Data Archives that went under the radar. I was shocked when I read it. The study found that 1% of youth ages “15 to 17 raised by parents who attached little importance to religion were highly religious in their mid to late twenties.” Here is what else they found about millennials and young people:

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What you know about Millennials is wrong


The hype surrounding millennials has been heavily documented. You know the millennials. Those trophy-for-everything-kids who live with their parents. The millennials who grew up as the “me” generation. Millennials, with their technology, social media, and heavy cell phone use. As employees, millennials are high maintenance, liberal, and self-serving.

Everyone thinks they know the millennials, but they don’t. Here’s why.

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What Twitter is giving up for Lent

In case you were still working on what you are giving up or for Lent, the 2015 results of the top 100 Lenten sacrifices are in (according to Twitter).

With about 646,000  tweets analyzed, the hot topic “school” is currently out in front, with chocolate, swearing and alcohol in the top 5. Christianity Today gave an in-depth analysis, here.


Stephen Smith of’s running list of the top 100 most-mentioned Lenten sacrifices (both serious and cynical) in 2015:  [Read more…]

Time for a new adventure

I have some big news to share… well, it’s not “big” as in world changing, but big to me. After three years of searching, praying, and considering, I decided to go on a new adventure.

drum roll please

I’ve applied and was accepted into the Doctor of Theology program at La Salle University in Philadelphia, PA!

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What Christians can learn from Norse god temple


A rather provocative religion news story came across my screen this morning and it is something Christians should learn from. The Religion News Service reports that the first Norse temple in a 1,000 years will be built in Iceland. It seems Marvel‘s god-like Thor really does have a following.

Norse paganism is the stuff of fables and bedtime stories. If a religion that has been virtually dead for 1,000 years, how can it come back? What about it makes it so interesting? To add to the mystery, the Religion News Service reports the temple’s membership has grown to 2,400 people. The temple’s leader, Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson, high priest of ‘Asatruarfelagid’ (try to say that 10 times fast) said:

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Kirk Cameron, Chuck Norris, and War on Christmas

It seems every year there is an outcry from Christians who bemoan culture’s lack of acceptance of Christmas displays and call it the War on Christmas. Kirk Cameron is the latest to defend Christians from a supposed secular atheist attack with a candy cane and Jesus snow globe. Even Chuck Norris is getting in on the War on Christmas with a drop kick of truth!

If there is a War on Christmas, then there must be casualties.

A War on Christmas means that people are not free to worship or celebrate Christ’s birth, right?  Where are the storm troopers coming into churches and shutting the place down? Why use such charged language of “war” like “war on terror”, “war on drugs”, and now “War on Christmas”? Rumor and speculation of a “war” via talking heads does not make a War on Christmas.

The truth is that there is no War on Christmas.

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How Jesus and Santa can get along


Every year I struggle with a Christmas ritual that millions of parents have no problem with: a visit with Santa Claus in a season that is about Jesus. How can Jesus and Santa get along?

Why do I struggle? For some parents, Christmas and Santa Claus go together like white and red striping on candy canes. You cannot separate the two. Santa is everywhere and just about every culture. For others, Jesus and Santa are a clashing pair like fruitcake and tofu. Many Christians lament telling the myth of Santa Claus to their children because they believe it sends the wrong message of Christmas: The holiday is about getting presents from a jolly fat guy and not the celebration of Christ’s birth.

At the same time, parents do not want to be a Grinch about Santa. Nobody likes that kid in school going around telling everyone that Santa isn’t real. Parents are then confronted with the reality of explaining how and why Santa is not real. Either parents go with the flow of Santa or become Santa haters.

There is a better way to involve Santa Claus into the Christian mythos that does not sacrifice the person of Jesus Christ.

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Thanksgiving is not just a day


As millions of Americans travel and look forward to sitting down on this Thanksgiving Day, many will eat until their gut is full. Turkey, ham, and mashed potatoes will be consumed and football will be played or watched. As Americans celebrate this Thanksgiving Day as a holiday, do we really understand the significance of giving thanks?

The origins of Thanksgiving are well storied and documented in our cultural conscience. Picnic tables of Native Americans and European settlers sharing corn, turkey, and bread come to mind. However, the reality of the first Thanksgiving was much more dark and difficult.

Most of those who celebrated the first Thanksgiving were English religious dissenters in 1621. Many traveled to America on just a word or hope of a better life. Long voyages, illness, and harsh winters left many to die.  To come through such a journey led to giving thanks.  We only have a handful of first hand accounts of what the first Thanksgiving was like. After a drought, William Bradford wrote in 1623:

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Why pastors need pastors


Much of what we pastors do is to minister, care, support, and uplift the people in our congregations and community. We go through college and graduate school (seminary) and learn the basics of sociology, psychology, and therapy.  We pastors walk with people through depression, grief, and death.

Through all those hours, days, weeks, and years of care-giving, what happens when we pastors need a pastor? Who will be the care-giver to the care-giver? Who will be the pastor to a pastor?

I recently posted an Baptist News Global article, written by Jeff Brumbly, on Facebook with some startling statistics for pastors:

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Do you have church money anxiety?


In congregational life, there are always those who give more /worry more/spend more time on the money than others. In systems theory this is called overfunctioning. Members who are overfunctioning with financial aspects of the church always think if others gave more or were more responsible, the church wouldn’t have this problem.

Yet there’s a balance between those who overfunction and those who underfunction in terms of financial responsibility. It takes both to keep this dynamic going. Often key church  leaders carry the anxiety for church  finances.

Who is staying awake at night? Typically, it’s the pastor, although sometimes lay leaders are more worried than the clergy. I talked recently with a church treasurer who was losing sleep night after night over whether there would be enough church money in the account to pay the bills. In this situation, the potential shortfall did not belong to the treasurer but to the church. It wasn’t his responsibility—or not his alone. Yet he was the one who was holding all the anxiety for it.

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Are your church greeters and ushers trained?


First impressions are huge for church visitors. The average church visitor has made up their mind within 3-4 minutes of coming into a church whether they will return. That is why your church needs well trained church greeters and ushers.

Charles Arn of writes,

The communication that occurs in the first four minutes of human contact is so crucial that it almost always determines whether strangers will remain strangers or become acquaintances and perhaps friends. If this is true, and it applies to all who walk through our church doors, what an opportunity and challenge it provides to greeters! Those church members who welcome the people God has brought to church have the chance to positively influence these important vistors in those first crucial minutes. In the process, it is the greeters who often hold the key to whether guests return.

Greeters provide a valuable ministry to churches. Here are some basics on church greeters and ushers:

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