estp.

last week, i spent some time with my seminary cohort dissecting everyone’s myer-briggs personality type. i’ve done this before, but no one has ever really taken the time to teach me what my results mean for me in ministry, so i was thankful for this time of discussion. then i wanted to know more. here’s what i’ve learned.

the myers briggs is a system of dichotomies. are you introverted or extroverted (I or E), do you focus on concrete and practical data (sensing – S) or on abstractions, concepts and theories (intuition – N), do you process information through thinking or through feeling (T or F) and do you orient your life as more structured and planned or more loose and spontaneous (judging or perceiving – J or P).

i score as an ESTP.

extroverted. sensing. thinking. perceiving. i gain my energy from people (E) and i like to structure my life very open-ended and spontaneous (P). i gather information concretely and practically (S) and i process that info logically and critically (T).

now i’m reading this book called “personality types and religious leadership”. it was written in 1988, so the facts are a bit dated and the cover looks like a Super Nintendo instruction manual, but some of the facts surrounding my type and my role as a church employee were kinda crazy to see:

– ESTP: % of clergy – 0.6%
– 38% of the US population has the combo “SP” versus only 8% of clergy population having “SP”
– Extrovert: 75% of the US vs 61% of clergy
– Sensing: 76% of the US vs 43% of clergy
– Thinking: 50% of the US vs 32% of clergy
– Perceiving: 45% of US vs 30% of clergy

awesome. literally, every facet of my personalty is more common outside of the church than inside. my immediate reaction is, “do i belong here?”, my next reaction is, “where are all my friends?”, but my eventual reaction is, “what is it about ESTPs that doesn’t jive with the church?”

no, i’m not doubting my calling because some book tells me that my personality doesn’t function well in churches. in fact, it’s refreshing to some degree. no wonder the church – and organized religion for that matter – isn’t attractive to so many people. there are a ton of personalities that simply aren’t present in church leadership and don’t know how to relate. why would a sensing thinking perceiver want to hear from an intuitive feeling judger in service every week? or maybe a better question: why would an ESTP want to sit in a pew for an hour every week AT ALL? ZZZZZZzzzzZZZzzzzz…get me some crayons or something for crying out loud.

then i read a little more in depth into my type and found this little nugget…

A major barrier to SPs becoming ordained clergy is the academic requirements. SPs have little tolerance for the abstract, theoretical, non-practical and non-functional nature of the educational system. Considering that we require an additional three years of seminary education, which is even more theoretical and impractical, we can see why so few SPs become ordained.

In fact, our entire school system beyond seventh grade conspires to increase the disinterest of the SP. In grades 1 through 6, which are characterized by learning activities from play dough to science projects, SPs have some of the highest IQ scores. By grade 7 the emphasis has shifted to theory and continues through grade 12 – then individuals can go on to college to learn even more theory! If you pursue post-graduate work, your education becomes even more abstract and detached from reality. No wonder almost every major discipline requires an internship to get people grounded in the practical world again.

The Church has bought this model hook line and sinker. It requires all ordained professionals to jump through academic hoops, then field work or internships are required to get them rooted again in the practicalities of parish life.

nailed it. i haven’t read anything more refreshing in years. this is the last 12 years of my academic life summed up in 2 paragraphs. thank God i was able to volunteer and work internships with students throughout that time period, or there’s no way i would’ve made it to where i am today.

of course, it also affirms all the fears i have of seminary in the first place. they’re right. i have little tolerance for abstract, non-practical and non-functional discussions. i don’t care about the theology behind why serving together is important for middle schoolers. i know it’s important because i have SEEN it’s effects and i’ve HEARD from students how it impacted them. don’t tell me the terms and concepts behind what just happened – that means nothing to me because it’s not REAL yet.

although, there are certainly instances – and i recognize this – where learning the theology and the concepts behind the experiences and the events is extremely instructional for me. i’m currently working on a research paper on jurgen moltmann and his book “theology of play”, and i know that when i’m finished, i will be so thankful that i understand theologically why getting together for “play” is a constructive and worth-while thing to do as a Body. right now, i know it’s a powerful asset to community, but i don’t have a clue why. i know it, because i’ve seen it, but i can’t articulate it.

and maybe that’s a better way of talking about why i’m going to seminary. so i can articulate why we do what we do in ministry. so i can know with confidence that my ministry is constructed on theology – not just constructed on what i’ve seen work in the past.

i highly recommend this book to anyone who works in a church in any capacity – staff or volunteer. a few days ago i asked my team of volunteers to take the myers-briggs and send me the results so i can learn a little more about their strengths as leaders in our ministry.

-apc.

i used to dream every night.

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i’m writing this from conception abbey, a benedictine monastery about two hours north of kansas city in northwestern missouri. i’m doing a 4 day orientation and intensive course as apart of central baptist’s “create” program. i am in a cohort of nine individuals who i will be spending quite a bit of time with over the next three years.

we’ve had the opportunity to take part in the daily prayers with the monks, and have spent time doing lectio divina together. the place is quiet and thick with wisdom. i already feel enlightened to a spiritual life i had no clue about previously.

that being said, these are the words that have been resonating with me over the last few days:

“i used to dream every night. now i never dream at all. i hope it’s cause i’m livin everything i want.” – donald glover, aka childish gambino, “outside

yep. came to hang with the monks and can’t get the first line of a rap song out of my noggin. what’d you expect? some 6th century monastic quote? check in with me in a few years and i’ll be throwin those out left and right, but today’s word comes from donald glover.

let me try to explain. while i’ve been here, we – my cohort and i – have been led through a series of dialogues reflecting on our life…
– how did we get here?
– where are we going?
– what do we hope life looks like when we get there?
…questions like that have got me dwelling significantly on the last handful of years that have prepared me for this new venture in theological study. and a “handful”, in this case, has the value of exactly 8.

eight years ago i started my undergrad at kstate. while it wasn’t a pointless phase of my life – i did manage to acquire a degree and a wife while there – but i certainly didn’t feel like i was living out my dreams. those closest to me know that college was a time of tension for me; it was like i was stuck in a purgatory before i could begin my youth ministry career in kansas city. i knew i needed to be there if i was ever going to do seminary someday, but the present was tough. i could see the future, and i couldn’t wait for it to be in the here and now.

a bit over 3 years ago, i finally got to start doing year-round youth ministry. soon after that i got engaged to the love of my life. then we bought a house. then we got married and have gotten to travel all over the world and enjoy our marraige greatly. then i got my dream job working a jacob’s well. and then 3 months ago i found out i got a full-scholarship to seminary.

literally, all my college dreams have come true. let’s recap. college dreams:
1. do youth ministry in kansas city.
2. somehow dupe karlie into dating me.
3. put my undergrad degree to use by going to seminary someday.

check. check. check.

so back to donald’s lyric. in college, “i used to dream every night”, but since then, my life has slowly morphed into “livin everything i want.”

how about that?

but as i’m entering seminary, i feel like i’m throwing away those dreams. i have two options:
door #1. continue living everything i want.
door #2. ruin everything by adding 25 hrs/wk of class, dialogue, study, and stress.

and i’m choosing door number two. and that’s annoying to me somewhat, but i know it is what i am called to live into. i wrote a few days ago about “why i’m going to seminary“, and i still think that’s true – i’m going because i want to be the best youth pastor i can be – but i think it’s more than that too. i think i’m also going because it is where God wants me in this season of my life. if that means throwing away the good life in order to live more fully in my calling, so be it. because ultimately, living fully in my calling is more life giving than any good life i could dream of.

a wise man once said, “if you vote for me, all of your wildest dreams will come true.” an even wiser man once said, “i have come that you may have life and have it to the full.”

so i think that’s what i’m doing here. entering into the next phase of life because i know that living in the fullness of Jesus is worth more than living in the fullness of my dreams from 8 years ago. besides, if i’m already living everything i want, then i should probably think up some new dreams to strive for. like getting to perform the wedding of some former students someday. or celebrating a decade with my wife. or building a treehouse with my son or daughter someday. or maybe write a book or two. those are just a few already coming to mind.

so here’s to ruining everything and actively waiting to live my dreams even more fully. both now and someday in the future.

-apc.

with a piece of chalk.

http://youtu.be/mBZAFJ-Q6Mw

this video showed up in my inbox last monday as a part of the “youtube you can use” series from the youth cartel. two points i want to make about it.

1. this could be an adidas commercial. really diggin the sambas/school uniform combo this kid rocks.
2. this video reminds me of when God calls david in 1 samuel 16.

in the passage, samuel is tasked with traveling to bethlehem to anoint one of jesse’s sons to be the next chosen king of israel. it’s not an easy assignment considering that jesse pretty much has an army of sons to choose from. if i’m samuel, i’d be pretty nervous i’d screw it up.

jesse has seven different sons pass in front of samuel. they’re all impressive in appearance, but none of them are the right choice. finally, samuel asks jesse, “are these all of your sons?” and jesse spills the beans that the youngest one is outstanding in his field* tending the sheep.

* – this is one of my dad’s all-time favorite jokes. felt the need to insert it


this video showed up in my inbox last monday as a part of the “youtube you can use” series from the youth cartel. two points i want to make about it…

1. this could be an adidas commercial.
2. this video reminds me of when God calls david in 1 samuel 16.

in the passage, samuel is tasked with traveling to bethlehem to anoint one of jesse’s sons to be the next chosen king of israel. it’s not an easy assignment considering that jesse pretty much has an army of sons to choose from. if i’m samuel, i’d be pretty nervous i’d screw it up.

jesse has seven different sons pass in front of samuel. they’re all impressive in appearance, but none of them are the right choice. finally, samuel asks jesse, “are these all of your sons?” and jesse spills the beans that the youngest one is outstanding in his field* tending the sheep.

* – this is one of my dad’s all-time favorite jokes. i couldn’t help myself.

i know this will be shocking, but God chooses david to be king. he does stuff like this pretty often actually – ignoring the biggest, strongest, oldest, and most important and picking the smallest, youngest, and least important instead – and he does it here too. he has this to say about it…

“the Lord does not look at things people look at. people look at outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – v. 7

jesse doesn’t even think his son is important enough to join the other seven. he leaves him out in a pasture instead. shows what he thinks of him. i wonder what was going through david’s mind when he was told he couldn’t come along and would miss out on his chance to be chosen. did he say anything at all? does he object? or does he just take it and accept what the others though of him…”Looser!”

which brings us back to the video. the kid’s life is full of frustrations: home life stinks, mom and dad take their issues out on him. he gets bullied emotionally in class and physically on the playground. he’s neglected, unloved, forgotten. but we see his heart bubble over with a piece of chalk.

but when no one else is looking, he expresses who he really is. he dances. everyone else sees a small, quiet kid who has nothing to offer. and he just takes it all without a word. his heart must be exploding, but he never says anything. he just waits for the moment when he can escape the hate.

what would these kids think of him if they knew who he really is? what if they could see him when he escapes? what if they saw his incredible breakdancing? the only people who know about it are the kid and God himself. God sees his skills. God knows who he really is. if God was going to choose someone to anoint in this story, i know exactly who he is picking – even though no one else in this story can see what God sees.

my favorite moment is at the 1:05 mark when he finishes his dance and we see him smile – it’s small and quick, and it’s actually easily missed – but we get a glimpse into what these moments mean to him. it’s almost as if he is worshipping through his breakdancing; we get to see his heart poured out on those hopscotch squares.

so at this point, here are the questions i’d leave my students with – i’ll leave them for you all too…
– why does God have samuel look at all the other brothers first instead of just sending him straight to david?
– what does God see in you – good or bad – that people don’t see?
– who is the “david” in your life? can you think of anyone who you may have misjudged based on their appearance rather than their heart?

-apc.

why i’m going to seminary.

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if you’re in ministry of any kind, you know what it’s like to tell people that you work in a church. suddenly they are a little more conscious of the language they’re using and they begin to apologize for the things they mentioned prior to finding out what i do with my life. happens all the time, but airplanes and hair salons are the true jackpot.

just this week i was getting my haircut (see above), and the woman cutting it was trash talking some of her fellow employees under her breath to me. every time I get a haircut it eventually gets brought up that i’m a youth pastor, so i was savoring these moments of “real” conversation before the facade took over.

finally she asked me, “so, did you just get off work?” (it was around 5:30pm).

i said, “actually, no, monday is my day off.”

she was confused and pressed, “what kind of a job gives mondays off?”

and i knew the time had come and i had to let the cat out of the bag, “oh, i’m a youth pastor.”

she gulped, and replied, “oooooohhhh, well that’s great, i bet that is so rewarding. good for you.” she stumbled a bit over her next few sentences as she attempted to simultaneously affirm my career path and subtly mention how important youth and religion and God are to both her and society. she asked, “so did you have to go to school to do that?”

i told her i’ve got a bachelors degree from kstate (go cats), and that i’m going to seminary in the fall*.

* – this fall, i am entering seminary. i got a scholarship to central baptist theological seminary to be apart of their CREATE cohort program. technically, my first class is next wednesday, but since i have to read 4 books and write 3 papers before my first class, i have basically already begun.

then she asked me a great question. she didn’t mean for it to be a great question, but it’s the same question i’ve received dozens of time this summer as i updated various people on my life. the question is this…

“so what will you be when you’re finished?”

the question these people are actually asking is, “what will your master’s degree be in when you are done with school?”, and i know they’re meaning to ask that, so usually I just say, “I’ll have a masters of divinity.” but sometimes that answer is even more confusing – a master of WHAT!? I don’t even know what that means – so this go around I went with an alternative answer…

“hopefully, i’ll be a better youth pastor.”

which is the absolute truth. i don’t care about the degree or the title or any of that business. in fact, i’m not totally certain what my title will be when i graduate…Reverend APC? APC, MDiv? Master Cooper? whatevs, they all make me sound old and lame and someone i wouldn’t want to really hang out with. i hope my professors all ask me to call them by their first name and not “Dr. Fillintheblank”. that just makes me feel weird. it creates an us-and-them mentality…as if reverends or pastors or doctors aren’t just broken icons of God’s image too. cause that’s what i am. and this degree won’t change that one bit.

but anyway. you can pray for me as i enter into this next busy phase of life. i’ve never been a good student. i’m lazy and unmotivated most of the time. but I’ve also never gone to school because i wanted to go to school. i just went because society said i should. hopefully that changes my work ethic and excitement level. i told the cbts professors that about me back in june during my interviews and they still gave me a full-ride. so either they’re just throwing money around at whoever will apply for this scholarship, or they actually believe that i can do it. i pray it’s the latter and i pray they’re right.

toward the end of my conversation with my hairstylist (read: great clips employee) as i was signing my credit card receipt, she said, “honey, i know we don’t really know each other, but i think you’re going to do great.”

i smiled and said, “thanks, i really appreciate that.” maybe she was just being nice. maybe she was just hoping i’d add another dollar to her tip (which I did), but regardless, I felt pastored by this woman who only minutes ago had been ragging on her co-workers. it felt like a role reversal of sorts. in fact, it felt like an encounter with Jesus.

and i think that’s my point here. you and i and that woman at great clips and your neighbor and my friend and your mom are all created in God’s image, and can all look an awful lot like Jesus from time to time.

so…seminary or no seminary, pastor or not, i just want to act more like Jesus as i disciple the students in my life. that’s all.

-apc.

verge 2012 student blog.

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our jacob’s well high school group is on a missions/adventure trip in colorado this week. we’ve spent the last three days working in inner city denver with Center for Student Missions at various ministry sites around the city. our students have been amazing, and a couple wanted to share their experiences thus far on the interwebz. here’s some insight from macyann…

oh my gosh I have had so much fun being in Colorado! One of the coolest experiences for me has been being able to really see how the life of a homeless person works. a lot of the time I think that all of us really take homeless people for granted. it’s sad but it’s kinda true. meeting some of these people was extremely eye opening. one of our nights spent in Denver we went all around down town and did many of the things that a homeless person would have to do. one of these tasks was asking for a job application. my group went to McDonald’s only to find that you could only take the application on line. how disappointing would it be if you were a homeless person with nothing left to lose, to walk into McDonald’s only to find out exactly what we did. these people aren’t just lazy dopes that lay around all day. some of them are, but many of them really try.

I think many of us are intimidated by the homeless. this might be because they never shower and only have one pair of cloths. everyone has a story. sometimes it just takes one of us asking them a simple question. we can so often put people in generalized groups. they’re all different and many have great stories. i had the pleasure of talking to some of these kind of people. right when you start to talk to them you can just see their eyes light up. some people are just lonely and need someone to hear their stories. it just takes a willing person with a heart!

– macyann c.

and now some thoughts from chacko…

Incredible. that’s the first thing that comes to mind. putting so many smiles on people’s faces really impacted me. meeting the refugees and teaching them English to packing food boxes for the homeless, it all gave us the feeling of excitement. I personally have never seen god work in that way before. most of the time, we just skip passed the homeless and we don’t realize what they are really dealing with. when we traveled to the Senior Service Center, they were so happy to talk to us. it felt so good to hear the stories of many people. even when they heard that we were from Kansas City, most of them cheered and said, “Kansas City here we come!”

overall, this trip has been a life changing experience. I’ve never felt this way for helping people before. I help at a soup kitchen once in a while in Kansas City but nothing like on this trip. I hope more people get to do this. it will change everyone in every way possible.

-Chacko F.

that’s it for now. might be some more student blogs to check out later in the week. i’m so proud of our group – how they’ve engaged in the work in denver, but also how they have encouraged one another and grown as a group.

tomorrow and friday bring whitewater rafting, rock climbing, hot springs and mountain climbing. should be a blast. thanks for your prayers – keep em coming!

-apc.

a convo with a sixth grade guy.

we had our middle school shaving cream fight two weeks ago. as expected, it was a blast. my favorite part of the night had nothing to do with the fight though. it was a continual conversation with one of the guys in our youth group. here’s now the conversation went down. keep in mind, this is in mid-fight while we are covered head to toe in a thick lather of shaving cream. (note: students names have been changed.)

dwayne: adam, can i have a piece of paper and a pencil?

apc: right now? you’re covered in shaving cream dude.

dwayne: yeah, i know, but i really need to write something down.

apc: what is it? did you get some girl’s number?

dwayne: (with a proud grin on his face) …yep.

apc: seriously? haha! atta boy. i’d like to get you a paper and pencil, but we’re kinda in the middle of something here.

dwayne: ah maaan. please?!

apc: how about this: if you can tell me the girl’s name, and three interesting facts about her then i’ll get you that paper and pencil.

dwayne: …uh…okay, i’ll be right back.

the kid runs away and back into the chaos of the shaving cream fight. about 10 minutes later he runs up to me again and quickly spouts off the facts.

dwayne: okay. her name is sarah. she has a friend named maddie. she likes soccer and she likes to read.

apc: wait a minute…if i go ask sarah to repeat those three facts, would she be able to?

dwayne: um…hang on just a sec!

the kid runs back into the mess and about 3 minutes later taps me on the shoulder. he’s standing there with a girl at his side.

dwayne: go ahead! ask her!

apc: (to the girl) did he ask you to name three facts about yourself?

girl: he asked me to tell you that i like soccer and reading.

apc: what about your friend maddie?

girl: no. i am maddie.

apc: wait. so you’re not sarah?

maddie: nope! sarah is my friend.

dwayne: dangit adam! you were supposed to think she was sarah!

apc: (to dwayne) have you even said two words to sarah?

dwayne: yes. er…fine, no. but can i have a piece of paper still?

nailed it. and people wonder why i love my job so much.

-apc.

a new kind of calvinism?

this fall i’m entering seminary. i had a scholarship interview a few weeks ago and one of the questions they asked me was, “what question about God, theology and/or ministry keeps you up at night?” great question. wish i’d known it was coming so i could make up an equally great answer.

in the moment, what came to mind was the nagging question of whether or not what i’m doing – this whole youth ministry thing – is remotely impactful in the lives of the students in my youth group. it’s the whole “i planted, Apollos watered, but God makes the seed grow” conversation i blogged about following Holy Week. the frustration i often feel when i am forced to sit back and let the Spirit move in the hearts of these young men and women. i cannot make the seed grow…and that frustrates me sometimes.

a few days ago I came across this Calvin & Hobbes comic strip by Bill Watterson, and it helped shed some light on what life in youth ministry looks like. Calvin, in a moment of philosophical brilliance, mentions to Hobbes…

“Know what’s weird? Day by day nothing seems to change, but pretty soon everything is different. You just go about your business and one day you realize you’re not the same person you used to be.”

and that, my dear readers, is where I have been finding my peace lately. you may not notice a change over a day, or a weekend retreat, or a short-term missions trip, but pretty soon the student is a totally different person. seeds don’t just sprout overnight. seeds need time to grow, and throughout that time, under the surface, that seed is slowly taking root.

in fact, if they did sprout overnight, i’d be worried that they wouldn’t have the root system to survive their growth. if there aren’t people there continuing to water and cultivate in the life of a student whose life has changed in an instant, then the student won’t survive their transformation and will get lost in their journey…but that’s a topic for another blog.

are there times in youth ministry where we get to celebrate huge transformational moments of change? of course there are. but the bulk of the transformation that occurs is the result of countless hours of prayer, Bible studies, mario kart, lacrosse games, service projects, and relational contact. and day by day, it doesn’t look like anything has changed, but before you know it, that student isn’t the same kid you met a year before. the gospel has taken root and the seed is beginning to grow.

oh, and for the record…i got a full-ride scholarship. holler at cha boi.

-apc.