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Today’s Cultural Theologians

pop-cultureI had the honor of teaching a breakout session at the National Youth Workers Convention this past Sunday (10/6/13) for youth pastors all over North America.  At the end of the session, I promised that I would make the Keynote (PowerPoint for all you non-Mac users) available.  It took a while to upload (lots of media).

As promised, here is the PowerPoint of the presentation.  It was exported from Keynote (Apple) to PPT (PC) so it’s format is a little off, but the content is there and should be usable still.


Here are the teaching notes, if you don’t understand the content feel free to ask and I will be happy to walk you through it.

Today’s Cultural Theologians

I completely enjoyed my experience and if can help in your learning process please contact me at:


Or comment on this blog.  Thanks again NYWC.

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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in birthday


Happy Birthday Charlotte!

It’s always good to look back on life and reflect.  Today is one of those days for us.  We celebrate the life of our 3rd child, Charlotte Monroe Bachman.  She is a gift and a treasure to us every day.  I hope you enjoy how she came into the world in the video we made when she was born.

charlotte blog023


Happy Birthday little girl.  You are loved!




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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in birthday


Why I didn’t post on vacation

I just got back from vacation.  It was amazing.  You should have seen it, you would have been quite jealous.  Beach house.  Coffee shops.  Bonfires.  Parks with the family.  Amazing meals. I even got a date with my wife.  I have very little photographic evidence of it, and if you and I were friends on social media sites you would have no reason to believe that my life was any different than the other 51 weeks of the year.  Why in the world would I not post this memorable week to share with some of my most distant friends?  I wanted this one to be for my family and those I talk to.

If your life is anything like mine, then the world of what is ministry and what is not becomes very grey.  And beyond that, I can’t say I really want there to be lines.  God has redeemed all of me, and I don’t want to live public and private lives.  However, as calls come in whenever, emails are answered always, and my family is my best sermon illustration I often feel that those who follow me on instagram know as much if not more about me than my own family.

So I made a decision that I would go radio silent for the week.  I did pretty good at it too! I liked a few photos.  Made a few snarky comments.  Responded to a few emails from those people that either wouldn’t leave me alone or had the power to fire me. For the most part, I disappeared.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I post like a bad Mama Jamma.  If I have something Facebook-worthy it goes up.  Kids sleeping on the floor, it is there.  Awesome youth group night; I’m your man.  And frankly there are many vacations where I want to show others my version of a family enjoying themselves.  So I do live loudly when I can on social media sites.  To that end, my wife continued to post this past week, in fact she became louder on vacation.  That doesn’t mean I am a better Christian (for the most part).  It was a personal decision and a gift that I wanted to give to my family.  They may not have even noticed.  That is fine with me.  I just wanted to be present.  To enjoy all of them and capture the event, not the event so it could be communicated to others.

I think you should do the same.  Not always, and for me this is the exception and not the rule.  For some it may be that you take a break on dates, on Mondays, or when the sun goes down.  I don’t think there is one version that is better than another, however I would strongly encourage you to find those moments in your life that are only for those you call family and for those who are dear friends.  Not to be selfish or exclusive.  Rather to silently say to those around you that they are your “circle”.  They are your “friends”.  They are true “followers” of you and your life.  Without saying no to others, it slowly communicates that you are more than a public figure to your church body and the students you minister to.  You are a dad, a wife, or friend.  All of which you need to do well if you hope to be called a youth worker in five years.

To finish this post it would be fitting to show you a vacation picture, but I didn’t really take any.  I promise to show you my next youth event, latte art, or when my kid puts their clothes on backwards.

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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in birthday


We have to Pray just to make it Today

I just got back from the a youth ministry conference and as always I had an amazing time.  I was encouraged, convicted, inspired, met new people and reconnected to old friends.  One of the things I have learned at most events is that if I don’t quickly narrow down my trip to be about a few things I will become overwhelmed and not really gain anything from it.  I have described it to others like drinking from a fire hose.

This year I decided to gravitate towards two things.  One was student leadership.  Too much of my ministry is about myself, my efforts, and my personality.  The second, and truthfully how I am going to get to the first, is on prayer.  If there is ever a subject that most believers can resonate with is that their prayer life is going poorly.  Or at the very least it could get better.

With that conviction, I attended a seminar on both student leadership and implementing prayer within your ministry.  Timothy Eldred, the seminar speaker and author of Pray21 pushed his audience to hand off ministry but do it by starting with a 21-day challenge.  Partner up every willing student with a willing (and screened) adult.  Then have them pray together for 21 days through a simple (his words, not mine) daily, devotional.

Call it coincidence or God’s timing, but we were already teaching on prayer the next three weeks.  So we decided to toss it out there as an offer.  At the end of the first week we asked if any one would be willing to take the challenge to join us in prayer for 21 days with a partner. We got thirty students and thirty adults to jump into this together.  We challenged them to pray for a few reasons:

  • Prayer works
  • It is a time to realign our heart to God’s
  • Through prayer, God will reveal things about ourselves that we would have never seen without that time and sacrifice.

We made it as simple as possible for a few reasons.  I don’t need one more thing to micromanage, and if you make it too complicated people won’t do it.  So we said that if you sign up you are:

  • Agreeing to pray for 21 days with an assigned partner.  You are praying WITH that person, not for them.
  • You will contact your partner through phone calls, email, Facebook, text, face-to-face interaction.
  • If you miss a few days keep praying.  You are better off doing Pray17  than Pray0.

We email out daily reminders that have been written by an intern and myself .  It has been so fun to hear the stories and we are only one week in!  I can’t believe it took a book to partner up every willing student with every willing adult.

I encourage you to check out Timothy Eldred’s web site and get some details.  (  He is a wise man, good teacher, and generous with resources and suggestions.  For us and our ministry, I am optimistically hopeful for what God is doing in the lives of 60 people individually and collectively.


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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in birthday


Walking Dead or Walking Worthy

ImageI recognize that by addressing zombies in a youth ministry blog, it’s like pouring honey on my head and using a short stick to poke a bear.  However, on Oct. 14th, the Walking Dead had its season 3 premier with 11 million viewers.  Never before has a basic cable channel seen these types of numbers.  In addition, the Fall Harvest Season is upon us.  In our area there are billboards for haunted houses, zombie mazes, and all sort of stuff to scare you.  This might be a good opportunity to talk with our students.  They are watching it and many of them love to be scared. 


The premise of the show is not that unlike other zombie apocalyptic stories.  Some disease/illness has broken out and caused a flu-like virus to travel quickly through people.  It takes their life, and when they come back from the dead, they look like a dead version of human being, however walking around.  I know, Walking Dead…who would have thought.  They then have the ability to infect others with the same disease that took their life.  They are not only dead, but reproducing death.


As absurd as that may sound, are any of us any different sometimes?  Every day we get out of bed, get ready for our day, interact with our family and people in our lives (maybe), do our daily jobs (occupation or school), come home, shove another meal into our face, watch a little TV, complete our obligations, maybe pray (if we are super spiritual), and then go to bed.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  The next day comes and we do it all over again.  That isn’t living.  We too, are walking dead.


If left unchecked, I can go through an entire day, or sadly an entire week, and not have much to show for it.  I haven’t taken myself out of my comfort zone or done anything new.  My relationship with my God, my family, and my friends are all totally stagnant.  These were all by my choice.  I am recognizing that if something is not done about it, I am going to slowly slip from life to death.  I will never even get a proper funeral for people to mourn the loss of my life, because it looks like I am still alive and kicking.


Eph. 4:1 says, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,”(ESV)


I am not suggesting we start a “Walking Worthy” campaign.  (However, if anyone does, and they make Christian t-shrits and sell a lot of stuff I have © on “Walking Worthy”.  I think I get a nickel every time someone uses it.)


Let us never forget the calling that God has placed on our lives.  As I speak to other youth pastors, it is good to remind each other that we have a high calling.  One that not many should aspire to, as it says in James 3:1, because it is such a high calling.  A calling where God, in His mercy, sees fit to use me to help change the spiritual trajectory of a child of God.  That is a high calling.  I forget that when I have to return too many emails.  I forget that when I am told I am not doing my job well.  I forget that, though I am fortunately paid for what I do, my church and elder board is ultimately not my boss.  I answer to a Holy God who I will have to stand before some day.   I desperately pray, He will tell me “well done good and faithful servant.”  (Matt 25:23)


So then, if we are actually living worthy, we need to instill that into our students as well.  To help them see past SAT testing, school sports, family troubles, church troubles, friend troubles, work, social calendar, and then find time for a church event or two.  It’s almost enough to kill us, or at least take away a desire to walk worthy of our calling.


Ephesians goes on to say that we do this by living in humility, gentleness, patience, supporting one another in love, and in unity with the Spirit.  So again, it all comes back to our own spiritual health and the relationship that we have with the Creator of the Universe dwelling richly in us. 


I pray for us, that we don’t become infected with this disease called day-to-day living.  There is more for us, but if we become infected with the “daily grind”, our spiritual deadness and apathy will only reproduce spiritual deadness and apathy.  Don’t allow your life to take away your desire to live as God has called us.



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Posted by on October 27, 2012 in birthday


We All Graduated

I don’t know how the stars aligned all at once, but on the same day that my son graduated from kindergarden I also finished my first “season” of high school ministry at ROCKHARBOR.  I went to the final two graduation ceremonies for different high school students in our ministry.  As I was driving home, it got me thinking about this last year.

First, I still can’t believe that I get the chance to live in Southern California and drive on the PCH to get from one graduation to the other.  That is something I hope I never get used to.  Sure I can’t afford to live down here, but it truly was one of the deciding factors of our life change last year.  I had always wanted to live closer to the beach…so I did.

Secondly, it sure is fun to be able to celebrate my son’s achievements by taking him to his favorite place on earth.  He loves Disneyland, and has been talking about the opening of Carsland forever.  It worked out perfectly that we went over there for about 3 hours, celebrated his face off with Disneyland food, a parade, and three Carsland rides.  At 4:00 he looked at us and said, “i’m ready to go home”.  Odd kid, but I have to appreciate that he knows what he wants.  He had had enough, and it was time to go, simple as that.

I am so proud of him and all he has done this last year.  It has not been the easiest year of school and to be honest there was much about his school setting that we would have changed if we could.  However, I watched him go from a difficult situation where he was crying every day before he went to school to asking about when he would go, sharing what he was learning, and generally being excited to be a part of the whole environment.  Add that to the progress he has made in different areas of math, writing, social skills, and overall growth.  We are so proud of Jackson and all he has done. He is a hard worker and makes the most out of life.

Though I am only 10 months in, this has been one of the most challenging years of my life.  Not much went the way that we expected.  If I back up a whole 12 months I can honestly say we had no clue we would be here on June 21st, 2012.  I have learned that I am much better at somethings than I believed I was.  In shaking up my patterns I have seen that there were parts of me that had become dormant due to routine.  I think I am the kind of person that needs new and different just for the sake of new and different.  What I had was great, but it had become old and the same.

God has been so faithful this past year.  He has not only continued to provide for us in unexpected means, but we have come to know Him in ways that I had not experienced in my life.  I have seen through the people we have met, the students in my ministry, and our church family that He desires a level of intimacy and involvement beyond what I have ever known or thought I could have.

More than all this, the past 10 months has become a sort of mirror for me to reveal both good and bad characteristics about myself.  At 37 I am still a work in progress and not nearly there.  As I said, there were just parts of my being a husband, father, friend, minster of the Gospel, and person that I had allowed to erode to a point of atrophy.  I would love to say that it is all fixed, however I know that is not true.  I would love to say that I had responded appropriately in all situations and circumstances this past year.  That also is not true.  I continue to take things too personally and put too much responsibility on myself.  I still find my identity in what I do rather than Who made me.  I believe that most of this is rooted in the best of intentions, however most of it is also replaced a depth of relationship with God that He desires for me.  I guess I still have work to do.

I believe that though I would not choose to repeat much of this last year, I am forever grateful that I went through it.  It shaped me, defined me, redefined me, and even invigorated me.

That is much of what graduation is, isn’t it?  To celebrate what you have accomplished and all the people who were involved in it.  I also look towards the future.  It is unknown and full of mystery but it is also full of promise.  It holds the potential to be life-giving and life-changing for all who are involved.

So turn your tassels with me, won’t you?  We are part of the class of 2012.


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What is Old Must Become New Again

I, like most everyone else by now have heard the song “Call Me Maybe”.  It has droned into my skull and the bubble gum-poppiness of it has already given me a cavity.  I, like most other people, were introduced to the song by watching the Youtube viral sensation “Harvard Baseball Team” doing their lip sync of the song.  From there my son got a hold of the song and is desperately in love with it (Thanks Erin Arnold).  He has the ability to overplay the best of songs, and this one doesn’t have a ton of depth so it gets old fast.  In showing my son a live performance of the song, I came upon Ben Howard doing his cover of “Call Me Maybe”.  At this point I am barely tolerating the song, however I love Ben Howard and all he does.  I have said I could listen to him sing the phone book and I would be ok with it.  What if he sings a teen pop song?  Check it out…

It got me thinking about life and the fact that much of what we do becomes so mundane.  If done over and over again it will get boring and stale.  However, regardless of how efficient I get, how much I delegate, or even how many staff I have (no paid ones right now by the way, so I am not bragging) there are still every day tasks I must do and things are that both repetitive AND good for me.  It is my job to put a new spin on them and make them new again.

I don’t do the same stuff with my kids every day.  They would revolt, tie me up, and overtake our family.

I change my ministry calendar often.  I have had the good fortune of not having many “Golden Cows” I needed to kill in my life.  Most of my youth ministries have been blazing new trails and I keep it that way.

Not that dating my wife is mundane, but what would happen if I took her on the same date every time?  Things would get stale.  So we change it up.  It is still a date, but what we do is different.

My devotional time with God is probably the biggest area I need to work on.  If I wake up every day and sit in the same place, using the same journal, doing the same thing, my relationship with God will quickly become stale.  It’s gotta stay fresh.  Walk, run, stroll and pray.  Read, have someone read to me, audio books.  Journal by writing, typing (Doogie Howser Style ya’ll), or even audio dictate (Siri will be able to do that soon!  For now there is Dragon Dictation).  Adding a little variety with a change in location will do wonders.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  That’s insane!  If we hope to grow, change, and evolve then we must keep our lives just as new and fresh.  Even with those things that seem old, there is hope that it can become new again.

What is it that has become overplayed in your life?  How can you inject new life into that which is old?  What sort of a change or twist can you make on the old, to where it becomes something you have never done.

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