Category Archives: music

my current blog roll

i spent some time the other day cleaning up my blog reader. i removed blogs that haven’t had a new post in months, and changed the names to the name of the person (if there is one), as i often forget who’s blog i’m reading when i only see the blog name!

so here’s what i’ve got in my blog reader these days. i try to keep it paired down — i just don’t have time to read hundreds of blogs every day. but these are the ones i look at at least once a day. there are dozens of others – particularly youth ministry blogs – that i check in on from time to time, but aren’t listed here.

the categories are somewhat arbitrary – they’re just what work for me!

scot mcknight
seth barnes
tash mcgill
david hayward
asbo jesus
andy marin
jonny baker
andrew jones
tony jones
dan kimball

youth ministry (this is a tough category for me, because there are SO many wonderful youth ministry blogs. i read dozens and dozens more than this on an occasional basis. but these are the handful i find the most thoughtful and challenging, or, frankly, are just friends of mine in youth ministry that i want to stay current with.)
chris folmsbee
mark riddle
mike king
fuller youth institute blog
josh griffin
ypulse (ypulse isn’t a youth ministry blog, actually. it’s a youth culture blog, focused on publishing, advertising and for teenagers.)
kurt johnston
lars rood
johnny scott
brooklyn lindsey
adam mclane

ymcp (these youth ministry bloggers are in my youth ministry coaching program)
robb gossen
paul martin
luke macdonald
zack weingartner
marty estes
andy sahl
chuck hilman
joel mayward
andrew sale
jeff goins

journey (my church)
brian berry (generations and high school pastor, close friend)
josh treece (the former middle school guy)
todd tolson (former discipleship guy, and long-ago middle school pastor, now a church planter)
christina robertson (christina is our middle school pastor, and i’m one of her volunteers)
riptide blog (the middle school ministry)
ed noble (lead pastor, and friend of over 20 years)

humor and oddities
passive aggressive notes
fail blog
mcsweeney’s lists
new math
exploding dog

david crowder
zach lind

mark dowds
indexed (the pithy little 3×5 thoughts of jessica hagy)
mark aardsma (fellow participant with me in townsend’s coaching program; super-smart young business mind)
dave palmer (buddy, former ys marketing dude, freelance marketing genius)
donavon roberson (culture evangelist at, former youth worker, and a guy i’m dreaming some stuff up with)
max (max, my son, isn’t posting often, but they’re fun when he does.)

first fifteen music meme

man, i haven’t been tagged in a meme in a very, very long time. these days, when i’m ‘tagged’, it usually mean someone has added my name to a photo or post on facebook. but remember the good ol’ days of blogging (like, 4 years ago), when someone would start or pass along a meme and call out other bloggers to follow suit?

i always like the music ones. so, when my buddy dave palmer ‘tagged’ me on facebook yesterday with a music listening meme, i was all in.

the instructions were simply:

1) Turn on your MP3 player or music player on your computer.
2) Go to SHUFFLE songs mode.
3) Write down the first 15 songs that come up–song title and artist–NO editing/cheating, please.

i appreciated that the instructions added that polite little “please” after the strong reminder not to cheat.

well, considering the 69.79 gigs of music in my itunes, i could just have easily looked like a ninny. but the first 15 tunes in my itunes dj shuffle thingy are a pretty nice little playlist, if i do say so myself:

1. beach in hawaii — ziggy marley
2. life in tenement square — flogging molly
3. fat lip — rocket from the crypt
4. song with rose — elvis costello & the attractions
5. $160 million chinese man — david holmes (from the ocean’s 11 sountrack)
6. samba de sausalito — santana
7. bedlam reprise — squirrel nut zippers
8. someday soon — ben taylor
9. feelin’ again — john hiatt
10. serious — michael knott
11. birmingham shadows — bruce cockburn
12. root down reprise — dj bc and the beastles
13. virgie — johnny cash
14. easy/lucky/free — bright eyes
15. viva la vida — coldplay

so… add yours in a comment. and, NO cheating… please. if beiber shows up on the list because you bought a song to play during a talk as a joke, you’ve gotta leave it there.

awesome new crowder band video

this is just so cool:

from david’s blog:

this video is our attempt at creating a visual supplement to the song, sms (shine), that appears on our latest album called, “church music”. the thematic content of the song is this: god shares in the suffering of life and brings redemption for everything that is broken, and this revelation causes, no, demands, that those of us who have experienced and participate in this great rescue, display such a thing to those who live unaware of a balm, a fix, an answer to and for all that is bent.


over 700,000 pegs are visible in the video (this doesn’t even come close to the actual number used due to our amateur stop motion skills, as in, for every sequence you are viewing there was some mistake, or story piece that didn’t work like we hoped, which means hours of “pegging” gone to waste. i’m confident that we, and our dear friends, pushed well over a million pegs. that is certifiably insane when i think of it. the world record for the largest Lite Brite(r) ever made on planet earth (i don’t want to be presumptuous) is just over 300,000 pegs. we didn’t just beat such a number, we crushed it completely.) we shot over 1200 frames. we had to learn animal and plant origami. and there was then the stop motion trickery, as in, how do you make something jump through the air and capture this in still photography. we knew nothing about any of this until we started down this trail. (don’t get me started on how much time it takes to cause confetti to appear to be thrown from a hand and fall into a Lite Brite(r))

oh, and

things you should look for in the video:

the strings attached to the jumping origami frog. the discovery of the water material flowing off of the table. the player piano playing in the background. the monkey clapping on the couch. the strings holding the pegs falling from the watering can whose effect was accomplished by distance parallax. bwack frame by frame through out the wedding sequence, amazing! dust specks on the table coming and going. the lighting changes. the purple pegs that appear in the moon in two frames as it rises. there’s more, of course, some things i’m sure you’ll spot that we haven’t even noticed…

Evangelism via cursing, misogyny, and violence

This has got to be one the strangest faith-related news stories I have seen in years. the guardian (UK) reports on insane clown posse’s revelation that they are, in fact, christians who have been attempting to use their crude and violent music for evangelistic purposes.

a couple snippets:

…All of which made Violent J’s announcement a few years ago really quite astonishing: Insane Clown Posse have this entire time secretly been evangelical Christians. They’ve only been pretending to be brutal and sadistic to trick their fans into believing in God.


Violent J explained himself unapologetically to a New Jersey newspaper: “You have to speak their language. You have to interest them, gain their trust, talk to them and show you’re one of them. You’re a person from the street and you speak of your experiences. Then at the end you can tell them: God has helped me.”

in the best seth myers and amy pohler voice i can muster up…


i suppose this should serve as an absurdist case study to make us ask some good, hard questions about the approaches to evangelism we use in youth ministry. we might not be insane, but we often manipulate and masquerade like clowns.

(thanks to bob for sending the link)

ukulele version of ‘teenage dirtbag’

yes, i have a history of bashing the mighty-but-tiny uke.
a brief history of our relationship:

the newest dangerous trend amongst teenagers: my first uke post, after exposure to the tiny troublemaker at a youth camp.
clarifying my ukulele position: pretty much what it says it is.
no ukes: the t-shirt i inspired!
rock that uke: an extremely snarky post reviewing a dvd about ukes and uke players. this one got some very angry responses from uke afficianados.

but, alas, i have matured. or i have been worn down. or i’ve seen the light. or something.

i’ve also been a fan of the little indie pop-punk band wheatus for some time now. so, when i discovered this video of the ukulele orchestra of great britain playing the only wheatus song that ever got radio play – teenage dirtbag – i felt my internal ukulele tectonic plates shift. an internal uke earthquake, resulting in a uke-tsunami of enjoyment.

so, here, without a hint of malice or even a tiny uke-string of snarkiness, i present this gem for your uke-sumption:

what i look for in a worship leader (and review of “josh fox: radiant”)

whether it’s ultimately helpful to me or not, i tend to “evaluate” worship leaders in 3 ways:

1. do i like their music? are they good musicians and singers? is it a style i connect with?

2. do i find, when listening to a cd or sitting in a context where the worship leader is leading a group of people, that their leadership is helpful, rather than a distraction? do i sense it’s about god, or about the worship leader? do i sense that it’s real or contrived? is it affected (you know, when you can tell the worship leader is taking on a certain persona, voice, facial expressions, movements, posture because it looks like they’re captain worship)?

3. when i know the person at all, do i like them “off-stage”? do they seem to be normal and whole, or do they seem to be driven by other issues (in other words, does he or she suddenly switch into either “jerk” or “insecure poser” the minute the lights go off?)?

when those three factors are all present, it all boils down to whether or not i’m willing to choose to be a worshipper (rather than a spectator).

there’s no question for me (and maybe this is more about me than about the worship leader), i can engage in worship if at least a couple of these factors are positively in place. for example, i can totally get past a mediocre musician or a musical style that’s not my fav, if the other two factors are present. i can even (sometimes, on my more mature days) forgive and forget a slightly cheesy and affected “stage presence” if i know the person’s heart is really pure, and they just need to learn to disavow some of that crap.

but i find it extremely difficult to engage when the music is great, the leadership is wonderful, but i know the person is a jerk, or arrogant, or mean-spirited, or their deepest desire is to be a rock star.

in my years at ys and speaking at youth events, i’ve had the chance to interact with dozens of known and hundreds of unknown worship leaders. i’ve been with them backstage. i’ve hung out with them when the lights are off. this has endeared many of them to me, and caused me to find it difficult to really engage the songs of others (even if the songs are wonderful).

i’m blessed to attend a church where the worship leader, jason denison, hits that trifecta pretty much every week. and he’s coaching a young revolutionary group of worship leaders on the same journey.

i also have a short list of “known” worship leaders who are my fav, fav, favorites, because of how completely they nail all three of these variables. i know there are many others who fit this description, but these are people i consider friends, and whose music (live or on cd) consistently takes me out of myself and reorients me toward god.
david crowder
matt maher
shane and shane

i’d could probably add tim hughes to this list also, though i know him slightly less than the others.

really, it’s a short list.

one more i’m going to add to the list: josh fox. you might not know josh, since he’s not received the label exposure others have. but he’s been a working, recording, active worship leader for a long time. and – one of the things i love about josh – he’s been the worship leader for a local congregation for a very long time. he’s grounded in reality.

i got a copy of josh’s brand new cd the other day: it’s called radiant. as i listened to it, i found myself tearing up with emotion. the songs are so good, and so pure. many are full of energy, but it’s not contrived or manipulative. most of them are songs i found myself hoping my church would start singing — because i want to sing them with other people.

i encourage you to check out josh’s cd. it’s on itunes now (just came out this week, and is being offered for a special price of $5.99 for two weeks only). get it for your own listening; or get it for a group of awesome songs in your youth ministry or church. josh is the real deal, a good friend, humble and gifted.

an odd congomeration of diverse bits, part 1 (of 2)

here’s a weird little collection of things i’ve thought about posting, but haven’t gotten around to…

a new friend of mine, jeff goins, who i met through my work with adventures in missions, has written a fantastic manifesto published on the provocative website, change this. my understanding is that the first week jeff posted this, it was in the #1 spot. in typical “change this” format, it’s a dense deck of slides with right-to-the-point text.

jeff’s manifest (which you need to click through and read), is: Wrecked for the Ordinary – A manifesto for misfits
here’s the summary page
or, just download it here

here’s a tease:

Something is missing. Something important. Something necessary to making a difference in the world. And most are afraid to find out what it is.

This is a manifesto about the discovery process of finding what’s missing. It’s not as glamorous as a get-rich-quick scheme or as mystical as New Age spirituality. It doesn’t shine with the veneer of a car salesman’s suit or catch your eye like a pretty girl.

No, it more likely grabs your attention like a week-old bag of garbage sitting in the corner or piques your interest like nails on a chalkboard. Yes, it’s hard, but it can’t be denied.

OH, and check out “wrecked“, a site dedicated to this kind of thinking.
also, check this out: jeff’s post about how and why to write a manifesto.

jon acuff is right when he says this is an amazing ted video about creativity. it has already shifted how i think about creativity in my life (and the lives of others).


the story behind queen’s “bohemian rhapsody“. i got a kick out of watching this 6 part you-tube series (of a bbc documentary) of the story behind the song and the groundbreaking video.

rudy singing bob marley’s “redemption song”

i posted a link to this video days ago, but wanted to embed it now that i have bandwidth. we found rudy in a tent hospital, where he was healing from a surgery on a broken femur. he sang this beautiful version of “redemption song” for us that brought us all to tears. rudy taught himself english by listening to music.

yes, please, god; bring your redemption to haiti.

link fest

Millennials’ Judgments About Recent Trends Not So Different
report on new pew research

a tease:

As might be expected, members of the Millennial generation are enthusiastic about the technological and communication advances of the past decade. They are also highly accepting of societal changes such as the greater availability of green products and more racial and ethnic diversity. What may be less expected is that, in many cases, they are not much different from the age groups that precede them. And on at least one issue — the advent of reality TV shows — their views differ not at all from those of the oldest Americans.

(ht to bob carlton, via email)


interesting commentary on christians influencing hollywood
i have zero interest in the “christian film industry”. however, i’m very intrigued by stories of faith leaking into hollywood. this commentary is particularly about the success of the blindside, and came out prior to the book of eli. but i find it especially interesting in light of the fact that many of the mixed or negative review i’ve seen of eli (some reviewers loved it, but certainly not all) had to do with the movie being “too christian” (ironic, since no one connected to it, other than denzel, would consider themselves overtly christian).


one in eight million
wow, beautiful first-person storytelling and black-and-white photography of new yorkers. i could listen to these stories for hours.
(ht to kevin o’brien, via email)


david crowder and mike hogan’s amazing book, everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die, has been re-written, revised, re-edited, and re-released by a new publisher. i’m happy to say i had a tiny hand in helping this fantastic book see the light of day again. if you haven’t read it, now’s the time. (my review of the old version)


really thoughtful post by josh griffin about the correlation between a relational approach to youth ministry and student participation.


been meaning to post about this for awhile, and this will have to do: eugene cho has started a very cool “organization” (really, more of a movement) called one day’s wages, as a practical, achievable global poverty initiative. really worth checking out.


as a reader who loved chap clark’s book, hurt, tony jones’ book, postmodern youth ministry, and christian smith’s book, soul searching, i have struggled to understand how they might fit together, when they sometimes seem to have messages that are at odds with each other. tony jones has an interesting post about this, and suggests a bell-curve approach to their compatibility.


a fascinating study on teenagers and sleep, showing a correlation between lack of sleep and depression. important reading for youth workers and parents.

a snippet:

Results show that adolescents with parental set bedtimes of midnight or later were 24 percent more likely to suffer from depression (odds ratio = 1.24) and 20 percent more likely to have suicidal ideation (OR=1.20) than adolescents with parental set bedtimes of 10 p.m. or earlier. This association was appreciably attenuated by self-reported sleep duration and the perception of getting enough sleep. Adolescents who reported that they usually sleep for five or fewer hours per night were 71 percent more likely to suffer from depression (OR=1.71) and 48 percent more likely to think about committing suicide (OR=1.48) than those who reported getting eight hours of nightly sleep. Participants who reported that they “usually get enough sleep” were significantly less likely to suffer from depression (OR=0.35) and suicidal ideation (OR=0.71).


interesting commentary (on time magazine’s website, no less!) on whether or not the hit tv show “glee” has anti-christian themes. i’m not sure that one hypocritical christian character makes a whole show “anti-christian” – but it’s interesting reading nonetheless.

(ht to ypulse)