Archive for March, 2005

Video Test

Sunday, March 6th, 2005

This is a test to see if I can send video to this site. Originally the video was created for Cadillac’s 0-60 in 5 seconds contest. It is not anything great but it was fun and it worked to test whether I could post video here!

The Feed and Teach Method

Saturday, March 5th, 2005

Understanding the proper use of good food in Catholic Youth Ministry based on the 6th Chapter of the Gospel of St. John.

OK they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. At least that is what they used to say when I was growing up!

It is important to understand a few things here. One is that teens are almost always hungry. Another is that food is a comforter. Probably the real reason we have an obesity problem in America is that people are unhappy in general and seek comfort in all kinds of places, food is just one of those places. But I digress…

Food is good and good for you, but as with anything that God made good, it can be used wrongly. In this case we are going to use food in the right way. How do I know that? Because we are going to follow the Master Himself; Jesus Christ.

~The Grand Rule of Feed and Teach~

Spend money on good food for your teen programs. Do not skimp and buy bargain brand cookies and watery drink mix. Get the food and drinks that they would purchase for themselves if they were at the mall and had all the cash in the world. Get name brands and buy for 20 more teens than you expect to be at the particular function. (Running out of supplies worked for Jesus at the wedding in Cana, but it is a bad thing at youth ministry functions.)

Now how is it that we expect to serve bargain brand snack-n-cakes with little children’s brand of juicy drinks, and get the teens to come to our programs?

There is a problem in Catholic youth ministry that has to deal with food and the YM’s budget. Many YM’s make the mistake of getting cheap food in place of quality food. This mistake is made usually by a very conscientious YM trying to stay within the meager budget that the pastor or the parish has set for him. It has been my experience that this is a very big mistake. I recommend spending huge amounts on money on food for teens. Here is why.

Teens will come to almost any program you set up no matter how lame they think it is if you have good food. This of course fly’s in the face of most contemporary thought on the issue. Action like this will almost always lead to complaints by casual observers of the parish youth ministry program. These casual observers are generally the elderly and those in charge of the parish budgets. What they will often say, and history will bear me out on this, is that the teens of the particular program only come for the food.

The implication here is that the teens generally do not care to hear the gospel message and therefore are only tolerant of it in order to get a free meal.

There is a deeper implication as well which would state that the youth minister is too stupid to understand that. The elderly would use terms like hood winked, or having the wool pulled over the eyes. Young teens would currently (at the time of this writing) say “punked” or that the Youth minister was “being punked” by the teens who came only for the food. This term changes every week or so it seems, so don’t hold it out there as the definitive teen expression. You will know by hanging out with teens what new vernacular they have chosen to classify this act of non-committal freeloading.

I want to address the objection first. Here is Jesus himself in a similar situation. Please turn to the 6th chapter of the Gospel of St. John verse 1 through verse 26. I’ve shortened this passage to include only the last two verses that I cited, but you really need to read the whole chapter to understand the principal of “Feed and Teach”.

Basically Jesus miraculously feeds the crowd of 5,000 men (read 5,000 men most of which were married, and barring the invention and/or wide spread use of sinful birth control methods, most of which had a few children, all who were probably present there even if unmentioned) with 5 loaves and two fishes.

Then overnight Jesus and his disciples leave and go to the other side of the lake. When the crowd which would be those 5,000 (recorded) men woke up the next day and found Jesus was gone they follow him to the other side of the lake.

Let’s pick up the scene where the crowd is about to “punk” Jesus.

The Gospel Of St. John Chapter 6

25When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

In this passage Jesus clearly shows that he knows the intention of the crowd in following him. Clearly it is not because they saw the miraculous sign the day before. He even tells them so! Why does Jesus say they followed him? Because they ate the loaves and had their fill! Stop the presses! Wake up the neighbors! Open a window and shout it from the roof tops! They followed Jesus because he fed them! Not because of the message which he was preaching to them prior to their getting hungry. What would the casual observer of the youth ministry program say, if they were watching this scene with Jesus? What would the teens say?

Let’s go on because what happens next is the critically important part of this teaching. Jesus then teaches the crowd what is perhaps the most important teaching in the bible known as the “Bread of Life Discourse”. This is where we as Catholics get most of our understanding of the Lord’s Supper, Eucharist, Mass, The True Presence, Holy Communion etc. The sixth chapter of John verse 22 through verse 71, is arguably the most important thing Jesus taught us about what we must do to have the food for eternal life.

Now why would Jesus tie his feeding the people this normal ordinary food for the body, like the bread and fish of the multiplication story, to his teaching them about the Bread of Life? Is this not a model for us. Let those who hunger and thirst come to the table of youth ministry at the parish level, so that they might follow him into the sanctuary and find the food for eternal life.

“Suffer the little children to come to me” was a command from Jesus to allow yourself to be “punked” “hoodwinked” or what have you, in order to help those who will seek deeper meaning to find it. (actually I’m taking that quote out of context but it does apply here too.)

It does take some dying to yourself in order to deal with a teen who seems disingenuous and insincere. There were many times when I felt discouraged by the white hot glare of a casual observer of youth ministry, as they/we were confronted with the image of a bunch of teens scarfing up a plethora of food and leaving abruptly before the bible study or other planned youth ministry program started. However, when this does happen rest assured, most teens will come back if the food was good and free. You will find with repeated exposure, and a critically non-judgmental atmosphere, most teens will start to stay for the real food which is the teaching you will be doing as part of your program.

We need to wake up the clergy and the “Kumbya Generation” youth ministers in positions of authority in the Catholic Church today. They need to understand that Jesus Himself would use this method of “Feed and Teach”. He also had the same critcism for the crowd, but He brought them around.

We have to get teens to our programs before we can do anything to teach them about God. Why not follow the Master? Spend the money! Get the food! Get the Teens! Teach the Teens!


Thursday, March 3rd, 2005

This is my 3rd attempt at a podcast. I’m still working out the bugs on how to get stuff out to you through RSS etc.

This podcast is the behind the scenes story of the song “Kathy” by “Oswald And The Herringbones”, (or OATH). Basically I needed to have some audio materials to work with so this seemed like the best way to sharpen my skills in audio editing (for the pod casts to come) while not violating anyone else’s copyrighted materials. Having written, or co-written the tunes I’m working with definitely has its advantages!

I spoke with Neal Havener of OATH just a few days back by email and since he and I own the copyrights to our music…I’m in the clear! Props to the rest of the band as well who were and are always brothers of different mothers! Steve Sims on Drums, Andy “Ydna” Harrison on guitar, Tom Boyer on everything except the Giant Metal Jahoozi (that was me I think). Norman Hicks and Brad Haley were also in the band at different times as well as Neal and Myself. Anyway if you are pod casting yourself, do make sure you are careful about using other’s materials without permission. Clear your copyrighted materials before you use them!

On to “Kathy”, I have a little explanation about the writing of the song in the podcast so I won’t go over that again, but know that the actual “Kathy” who I wrote the song for, was a very nice person. Despite my goofing around in the song’s monolog, she and I were never dating or together for that matter other than what I describe in the podcast. The speaking parts of the song were added later during concerts when we needed to keep people entertained and so they stuck when we went to the recording studio with the song.

I hope you enjoy it.

If you are looking for more specifically Catholic (youth ministry) related materials, I hope to have more of those up soon. I just need to practice the pod casting format a few more times. So keep checking back here until you see them here.