April 07, 2016

The Journey from Blog to Vlog ...

Noticed this blog is now static?  Yep.  That's because I've moved from a keyboard to a camera.

Check out my weekly vlogs on youtube --> tinyurl.com/heydanking 

- still talking about youth ministry
- still going on adventures with my family all over Vancouver Island and beyond
- still excited to join God in all that He is doing in my midst

July 15, 2012

Beauty in the hell that was ...

I've begun reading the book Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society, by Jason Locy and Timothy Willard.  It explores the false-faces we put on to cover up the person that we truly are deep, deep down inside.

That 'person' is often scarred, wounded, tired, tested, and refined.  That 'person' has been - at times it feels - to hell and back in life.  Is it possible that good can come from those times?  Is it possible that beauty can come from it?

This quote exploded off the page at me, speaking to these very questions ...
True Beauty, some say, resides at the threshold of pain.  This is why we can call the crucifixion beautiful.  Not because we are barbarians, but because there`s an inherent truth and goodness in it.  Christ lays his life down for all of humankind, past, present, and future.  This is good; he is good.  And his goodness points us to truth, truth of redemption, truth of coming restoration, truth of forgiveness.
This is why we can look back on pain in our lives and call it beautiful.  It wasn`t beautiful then; it was hell.  But from that hell grew a shoot, and from that shoot a leaf, and life sprang up where hell resides; that is beautiful.  God makes it so.
These truths are reflected in the song Beautiful Things, by the band Gungor.  Enjoy the video and may you learn to see beauty in the pain as you find restoration through the work of God in you.

March 01, 2012

Change is [the] Impossible

Seth Godin posted this insightful (as always) sentence on his blog earlier in the week:

"The definition of a revolution: it destroys the perfect and enables the impossible."

I've been rolling this over in my mind during the last few days and weighing the implications of it as it relates to my life, ministry, work, etc.   I think Seth has caught a partial truth, but that is a better way.

Here is some additional framing he adds to his post ...

"The music business was perfect. Radio, record chains, Rolling Stone magazine, the senior prom, limited access to recording studios, the replaceable nature of the LP, the baby boomers ...  it all added up to a business that seemed perfect, one that could run for ever and ever. 
"The digital revolution destroyed this perfect business while enabling the seemingly impossible: easy access to the market by new musicians, a cosmic jukebox of just about every song ever recorded, music as a social connector ... 

Revolutions are 'unexpected, expected' events.  By this I mean that no one can really tell when they will begin or who/what will be involve as key catalysts or who will lead the charge or the names of the unpredictable heroes, but people can tell that things are beginning to shake.

Revolutions are a shock when they finally occur and the masses are always caught off guard.  However, few would be surprised by them, because everyone knows deep down (at least when they sit back and consider the context they emerge from) that something is not as it should be and that change is coming.

But there, in that last sentence, is the sad truth ... we too often ignore the 'deep down' because it complicates life for us too much.  We don't want to create the space to reflect on what is broken because to give thought to the idea that something is other than perfect (or perhaps better labeled 'safe') is to move to a place of anxiety and, eventually, a paralyzing state of "I don't know what can be done to fix it ... it's impossible".

"If you are in love with the perfect, prepare to see it swept away. If you are able to dream of the impossible, it just might happen."

But what if that anxious, paralyzing place of "that's impossible to change" could be overcome?  That is the hope and dream of revolution.  But revolution is usually violent and aggressive ... a last ditch effort to fight against the status quo for something better.

The peaceful revolution?  Now that is a hope and dream that is even better!  All it takes is for those who love to stay in the safety of 'it's perfect' to start to go to that 'deep down' place and call out the creatives and the innovators and the out-of-the-box types to do what they are wired to do.

Then comes the dreamt-of-change that everyone is expecting and anticipating.  And there is no surprises at the sudden violence of change, but rather a relief in "the better" replacing "the perfect".

February 16, 2012

DJ'ing and the Art of Pastoral Care ...

I knew that somewhere, sometime, someone would write this article, and now that it has happened, I must say that they have done a superb job!

Oh, and to celebrate I did a little edit job on John Piper, imagining him as spinning "the Word" rather than preaching it!  Enjoy!

From the article:
"The role of the youth pastor or any other pastor is a strange one. Unlike many other professions, the pastor’s inner-life is constantly on display. It is through study of the Bible and prayer that the pastor cultivates this inner life. Just like the DJ is tasked with knowing music, the pastor is charged with knowing the text of the Bible and communicating with God. 
"In his book The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society, Henri Nouwen writes, “Only he who is able to articulate his own experience can offer himself to others as a source of clarification.” Neither youth pastors nor DJs have anything to share with others if they don’t study, reflect, and experience their sources firsthand. It is from this place of study and listening that they are challenged with the job of communicating what they hear to others, a task that we will explore in the next article in this series."

Read the full article HERE

February 11, 2012

7 Billion Stories to Tell ... Now We Can Listen.

It's so easy to forget about the size of our planet.  So many people.  As of today, we have surpassed 7 billion individuals on this blue marble in space.


Each unique and each with a story.

Some of those lives will be cut short and others will seem to go on and on and on (as of today, Besse Cooper holds the title of oldest living person alive at this moment at 115 years!)

And my mind is about to pop as I consider the fact (and I hold that it is a fact) that my god, the LORD, knows each one and is interested in each one, and has become involved in history for the sake of each one.


Netflix released the documentary, "Life in a Day" today and I'll be watching it tonight with a heart for it to stir me to prayer and to remind me to get me eyes and interest off myself and onto the bigger world around me.  To listen to the stories of as many as I can and to share, if they wish to hear, my own story and, in that, His story.

Here is the movie's premise:

After thousands of people around the world joined together to record banal and remarkable everyday events on July 24, 2010, director Kevin MacDonald led a team of editors to condense more than 4,500 hours of video into this picture of life on Earth.

Watch the trailer below or the entire movie at YouTube here.

January 18, 2012

Prayer: Level Up?

I'm currently reading "After You Drop Them Off" by Jeramy Clark (a book written to parents from a youth pastor about the heart of youth ministry), and came across an unique listing of "levels" of prayer.

It's not the first list like this that I've seen.  TV Thomas, a friend and teacher I greatly respect, had developed a similar progression of prayer that I've used in the past when teaching on the topic.

The "levels" are best seen as stepping stones toward maturity in the discipline of prayer, rather than a measure of some type of accession in mastery as might be implied by the title.

Here is the list Clark presents:

Level One: Prayer as "Wishing"
- like throwing a coin in a fountain

Level Two: Prayer as "Hoping"
- a confidence that God might be listening

Level Three: Prayer as "Believing"
- a trust that God will do something when we pray

Level Four: Prayer as "Overcoming"
- we trust God's work and know His will is perfect

Progressions like this are helpful when we talk time to consider how we might currently describe our understanding and/or practice of prayer.  They are also helpful when we take time to reflect where we've been and where we expect to grow to in our disciple of prayer.

How do you feel about this type of list?  Where would you fall in the continuum?

January 16, 2012

Youth Culture Missionary

A couple of years ago I wrote an endorsement for a friends book that was about to be published.

He asked me what 'title' I wanted to go after my name.  You know how this works: you want to have acquaintances who are 'impressive people' endorse your book.  There was one obvious title he suggested, but I knew I wanted something else to be listed also.  I just wasn't sure what that was.

I thought about it for a while.  What describes what I do, but also what I want to be?

I chose the title, "Youth Culture Missionary".

I look back and still think it was the right choice.  It is what I do ... at least in part ... every week.  I have the privilege of rubbing shoulders and running in the midst of many, many teenagers who are both actively engaged in the growth of their Christian faith, and those who aren't.  Some who aren't are still exploring spirituality and specifically Christianity, but many are not and really don't care to at this point.  But that is ok, because I know that God is still interested and, therefore, so am I.

I may not be an 'impressive person' to many, but it's what I do and what I want to be.

December 30, 2011

Leisure Suit Learning ....

Tony Morgan is a great leadership thinker and I often find myself pondering his wisdom in relation to my work in a youth ministry setting.

Today, I had a really good chat with Heather (program co-ordinator at PYM) about the following article.  We used it as a bit of a evaluation gauge for how we are doing, but also as a motivator to keep our eyes on the horizon and be planning and praying about "what is to come" and not just "what is".

If you like what you read below, you can view the full e.book for free and get some deeper discussion ...

8 Reasons Your Church is Stuck
  1. You lack a leadership empowerment plan. We have failed as leaders in the church if we do not embrace the unique gift-mix that God designed. And we won’t fully know the power and impact of the local church until people are empowered to be the people God wired them up to be. 
  2. You are unclear about your vision and mission. There are lots of churches with vision statements, but I don’t think there are very many churches that really have a vision statement that clarifies who they are as an organization. A clear vision that is properly communicated will both rally and repel people.
  3. You blame outsiders and external factors. Victim-thinking will only lead to bitterness and competition. Leaders who blame outsiders and external factors actually are confessing their own failure to think creatively and inspire their team.
  4. Your structure inhibits growth. One of the attributes of a church in decline is a complex structure. The natural tendency of organizations is to add complexity to their structure and systems. The longer an organization exists, the more complex it typically gets.
  5. You worship your past success. Our past successes can be one of the greatest contributing factors to our future demise. When organizations stick to “the way we do it,” the safe approach of avoiding innovation and change becomes the riskiest approach.
  6. You focus on activities instead of outcomes. While many church leaders are full of vision and passion, they lack an effective strategy to accomplish their mission. That leads to a feeling of disorganization, and ultimately they become stuck.
  7. You fail to equip God’s people. For whatever reason, smaller churches I work with have a tendency to rely on the pastors and paid staff to carry the ministry load rather than equipping lay people.
  8. Your ministries ignore people outside the church. When churches become inward-focused and start making decisions about ministry to keep people rather than reach people, they also start to die.

December 12, 2011

Living Above Reproach ...

It seems that rarely a year goes by when I don't see one of my ministry friends, or an acquaintance that I've had in leadership within the church, disqualify themselves from their leadership role in the church by doing something that they ought not to have done.

Each and every time that I hear about these tragic stories three things happen in me:
1. I am broken for the people involved (sin never just affects one person) and my heart aches for the pain and disillusionment it will cause in the communities they ministered in and the the lives of the youth that looked to them to be an example of one who follows Jesus. 
2. I am reminded that moral failure virtually never "just happens".  It is the result of an often extended series of choices that have led the individual to where they now find themselves.  This make me take the mirror to myself and ask the Lord to search my heart, reveal and convict me of sin that is finding a foot-hold in my life, so that I can repent and return to freedom found in living in the forgiveness and in the grace of Christ. 
3. I am once again renewed in my conviction to make the marriage and friendship I have with my wife Charlene the single most important focus in my life aside from my relationship with Jesus Christ who is my Lord and my God

I experienced all three of these responses again tonight when I heard of a youth pastor of a very large ministry who chose to walk down a path that led to disqualifying himself from the role he had been entrusted with.

At the time of this event the church released a video communicating what had occurred to the church (it's since been removed due to its irrelevance now, months later).  It included two sections.  The first was the lead pastor speaking to the middle and high school students under this leader along with their parents.  The second section included the lead pastor teaching on four important issues pertaining to the disqualification:
  1. The importance of leaders living above reproach,
  2. The difference between forgiveness and trust,
  3. Avoiding gossip in your life, and
  4. What to do with potentially damaging information about a staff member or member of the church
Important items to remember and ponder ... unfortunately there is always something happening that they speak into.

November 30, 2011

A note to a middle school kid about the Holy Spirit ...

I've been talking with a middle school kid during the last week about the Holy Spirit.  It's been a great conversation.  I though the thoughts given might be helpful to others too.  Enjoy.

Dear ____________,

I’m really glad that you’ve had the chance to read through the verses in Romans that I passed on to you. I’m also glad that they helped you! The best source of truth is to go to the Bible, because it IS the truth for those of us who have decided to follow Jesus in our life as Christians.

So you’ve discovered that you don’t have to have “felt” the Holy Spirit in an emotional or some physical why in order to get to heaven or be called a Christian. The verses that you read have shown you that. But here is the cool news: when you become a Christian (when you’ve accepted his forgiveness for sin and embraced the Lord as the god of your life) Jesus gives a gift to you ... the Holy Spirit! There are a few bible verses that will help you understand this: John 15:23-26, John 16:26 and Ephesians 1:13,14.

So the Holy Spirit is a gift that Jesus gives us when we are saved. He is a deposit in us of what is to come.

When the Holy Spirit fills our life he does things in our life (like leading us to the Bible so that we can learn more about obediently following Jesus, like convicting us of our sin so that we repent, and like giving us boldness to speak about Jesus when we lack courage).

When the Holy Spirit fills our life he changes who we are so that we act more like Jesus. He causes “fruit” in our life that changes our character and how we act. You can read about these things in Galatians 5:22-26.

When the Holy Spirit fills our live he also can bring “gifts” for us from Jesus and the Father. These gifts can be all sorts of different abilities both in how we are able to act and treat others (like in serving people or being a better leader or a great helper) and also in supernatural ways (like prayer languages, able to heal, able to speak prophecy). Holy Spirit does not give every gift to every person, but rather just a few to each of us that we can then mix with the gifts He has given to others in our church in order to be unified and complete. You can read about some of these gifts / abilities in Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28 and Ephesians 4:11 to name a few.

So in summary, if you have embraced Jesus as your God and your rescuer from sin (and it seems you have), Jesus has already given you the gift of the Holy Spirit! He is alive in you! The presence of God is already at work in your life (He’s probably responsible for causing you to ask all these questions, because He knows if you do you will grow in your faith!!)

You may not “feel” like the Holy Spirit is in your life, but it is a fact! Sometimes you will, indeed, “feel” him, and that is cool too!

So first pray and ask Jesus and Holy Spirit to lead you to understand the Truth. Then read all the verses above. Then thank God for what you learn.  Then we can talk more if you like.