Tuesday, July 8, 2014

What I'm Working On

Photo Credit: Daniel Walsh (Creative Commons)
All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
-Proverbs 14:23

The first half of 2014 has been a full season.

Full = Busy. Exhausting. Joyful. Frustration. Adventure. Burnout. Endurance. Fruit.

Full means there's been a lot of hard work. Sometimes it feels like a slog up a muddy mountain, slippery and filthy and draining, where my legs and heart are barely able to sustain my life. Other times it feels like an exhilarating run through the forest, dodging and leaping forward with enthusiasm, a smile on my face and sweat on my brow.

I'm typically challenged and thrilled with the presentation of hard work and new challenges, but I also know I struggle with Sabbath-keeping. Thus, in the midst of all this hard work, I'm taking a few vacations over the summer to play, read, write, and sleep, to simply be present with my family.

Here's what I'm working on, both in these past few months and in the season to come:

Open Vancouver:

I'm part of the organizing team for this unique and exciting youth ministry gathering coming to Trinity Western University on September 26 and 27. You can read my post about Open Vancouver here, and check out the website for details. My friends Marko and Adam from The Youth Cartel will be present, there's a lunch included in the price of $25, and we have a fantastic list of proposals for presentations. Registration should open in the next few weeks!
When the Game Stands Tall:

When the Game Stands Tall is an upcoming sports movie releasing August 22 about the high school football team led by coach Bob Ladouceur and their 151-game winning streak, the longest for any American sport. With it's focus on the coach's faith and the presence of spiritual themes and truths, this film could replace Remember the Titans as the primary sports film for youth ministry. I viewed an early version of the movie in March, and wrote two curriculums for the film: I created a small group discussion guide for Athletes in Action, and I wrote a 7-day devotional guide for 30 Hour Famine (World Vision), which you can download for free here.

The Giver:

Based on the phenomenal children's book by Lois Lowry, The Giver is an upcoming young adult dystopian movie about a unique teenage boy chosen to carry the memories of the past for his seemingly-ideal community. Starring Jeff Bridges, Brenton Thwaites, Meryl Streep, Taylor Swift, and Katie Holmes, the film releases August 15. I had an opportunity to fly down to Los Angeles to see a pre-screening of the film (my official review will come in early August), and loved seeing Lowry's novel come to life on the screen. While some significant details have been changed in the adaptation, the heart and themes of the film are present, and the story is brimming with spiritual themes and interesting ideas about human emotion, freedom, and faith. I wrote a three-part small group Bible study and discussion guide on The Giver for The Youth Cartel, which should be releasing in conjunction with the film in August.

My Third Book:
I've dropped hints here and there that I've been at work on a third book, and it's true--I am. The process for writing it has been slower than anticipated due to all the other things I'm working on, so I won't let this blog post be the big announcement about the book's details. Here's the teaser: it's a book about movies and youth ministry. Essentially, this book will unpack my theological framework for how and why I engage with movies, and how to practically and positively utilize films in the spiritual formation of young people. It's probably the most excited I've been about writing, and I'm going to have to work hard to keep the content under the publisher's word count--I could just go on and on about movies and theology!

Plus, I am...
  • Taking a John Stackhouse class at Regent College. I'm still pursuing a master's degree at Regent; it's just going to take five more years! Just finished this class about heaven, hell, and eschatology, and now I have plenty of books to read and time to rethink my position on hell (I'm now leaning towards the belief of conditional immortality, aka annihilationism.)
  • Hiring three people for our youth ministry team. We're finishing up the completion of our youth and young adults ministry team with an admin assistant, a full-time intern, and a full-time young adults pastor. (read more about it here).
  • Overseeing and discontinuing an evening service at our church. Yes, discontinue. As in, I helped lead the difficult decision to close one of our church services after being "in charge" of it for about six months. There's a long story behind this, and maybe it'll manifest itself in a blog post, but suffice to say that I was part of the process.
  • Overseeing the renovations for our church's youth room. I'm not doing a lot of hands-on work--that would lead to disaster--but it's always in my mind, and I'm constantly checking on progress and how our budget is looking.
  • Co-lead an international short-term missions trip to Colima, Mexico. Our team of 19 people will be in central Mexico for 10 days, July 18-28, to serve with a sister church, Pan de Vida. We'll be serving in orphanages, leading a youth group, visiting a local detention center, and going on prayer walks. It'll be a full 10 days, so please be praying for us.
  • Speaking for a week at Stillwood Camp. I loved speaking at Stillwood last summer, and I'll be with the older teens in mid-August this year. I'm still working on what I'll be sharing, but I'm eager to see how Jesus works in the lives of young people that week. You can check out where else I'm speaking here.
Finally, I joined Twitter. I know, I know, I said I wouldn't do this. But, I did. People change their minds; it's part of what makes us human. Twitter has been a fascinating new social media experience for me. I follow a lot of movie directors and film critics, as well as youth ministry / church friends and leaders. Follow me, @joelmayward.

That's what I'm working on. It's hard work, yet the spiritual fruit is profitable, and I love what I get to do! What have you been working on?

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