>Only Last Week?????

>Nationals 2011 seems so long ago, but it was only one week ago tonight that I was preparing to quizmaster the first of the championship quizzes. No stress at all! (yeah, right)….the photo shows me explaining something (I’m sure it was incredibly important) to the audience before that first quiz began:

For your general info, I’ve started a blog dealing with Bible quizzing that you are invited to examine, follow, ask questions, comment, etc…to go to it CLICK HERE

Even as I enjoy precious time with family (Josiah and Joel arrive this evening), I, like most of those attending the tournament, am still in post-nationals-withdrawal. The three intense days are so filled with great fellowship, tense competition, victories, temporal defeats, and a tad of frustration…it’s sort of like combat…or prison…if you ain’t been there, no way will you fully understand…

And what a joy, privilege, and responsibility it is to be involved in Bible quizzing!

>Never Forget!

>The National Bible Quiz tournament for 2011 is history…NO!…the tourney itself may be over, but over 300 teens worshiped in Spirit and Truth; the Spirit of God worked, and we’ve all been impacted. Since we all “leak” we need to feed on the Word,communicate in prayer, “ask not what our church can do for us, but what can we do for our church”, and more.

Last night (Saturday) Bryan Royle led us in singing Crowder’s song…everyone was exhausted, drained, sad to see it “end,” and Bryan’s sensitivity to the guidance of Spirit had us focus on the incredible, indescribable, insane fact that God loves us…with an everlasting love…

Maybe you need that reminder? Watch the video:

>Bible Quiz Regional Photos

>Last weekend Midland hosted a Regional Bible Quiz tournament…here are some shots:

I was privileged to challenge the students Friday night ad Saturday morning:

 Quizzers glue to the quizmaster’s mouth…hoping to “see” the question before they hear it:

 After more than three decades, it is still an honor and a joy to quizmaster and watch the teens compete

 Seated on electronic pads, quizzers are poised to jump to their feet, causing (hopefully) the quizmaster to stop instantly and acknowledge the quizzer, who then has 20 seconds to provide the right question and answer…at this level of competition it is rare to get the first word out before they jump

Though a bit stressful, the quizmaster and other table officials have the “easy” job; the intense focus of the quizzers reveal who has the tougher duty!

>Why Memorize?

>Most of us have been told to memorize scripture…some of us do. For over thirty years I’ve been involved in Bible quizzing…a phenomenal tool to encourage scripture memory.

It’s the first day of a new month…may I urge you to watch this short video and, if it has been a while since you’ve memorized, perhaps it will serve as incentive to spend November “hiding God’s Word in your heart.”

>Thoughts on Ministry


     I had a phone call from a guy who has been involved in youth ministry and Bible Quiz Fellowship-style quizzing (www.biblequizfellowship.org) for almost as long as I have (for me, since 1977; to include almost two decades of directing three leagues in New York). He was concerned about an individual trying to “fix” quizzing and virtually undermine years of work…
     In that discussion we approached many subjects from our vantage points of guys who had been hands-on-involved for such a long time.
     As I mediated after our conversation…several things surfaced:
·        It is possible (probable?) that quizzing as we know it is dying…primarily because of two factors. (1) the overall “busy-ness” of teens…a reflection of a culture that has, for the most part, said to our school system, “Take our kids, occupy them for at least twelve hours a day, so we can work our two jobs and provide for our family what we need/want; (2) the apathy and, well, laziness of Christian adults.
On this second point…it is so hard to find adults to invest the time, energy, and treasure into volunteering to help with Bible quizzing. It is such a tremendous ministry, but like most genuine ministry…it takes lots of time to do effectively.
So I pray the Lord would raise up adults who see Him as wondrous, serving Him as a combination of duty and pleasure, and students as worthy of investment.
Philosophies of Ministry
          We also discussed different philosophies of the various ministries involved
in Bible quizzing. Though we both love the National tournament, we both concur that, in our minds, Nationals should not be the focus of a local ministry. When I directed in New York I repeatedly told our staff, volunteers, and quizzers that we would not be focused on Nationals; but rather on the local leagues. Therefore, unlike many, we quizzed locally into March, and then put together our Nationals teams.
         There are some ministries that basically put their teams together at the start of the year, dividing material, etc. Others cease local quizzing shortly after New Years in order to focus on Nationals.
         This is not “wrong,” but not my friend’s and my perspective. It is more important, in our minds, to keep students in the Word for a longer period of time, rather than spending all the time focusing on the relatively small percentage of quizzers who want to compete at the National tournament.
          We laughed as we recognized that, at Nationals, some leaders seem to always take their students to an amusement-type place…miniature golf, go karts, etc. My philosophy was to take the students to something unique to the host city…whether a zoo, museum, one-of-a-kind dining experience, or whatever. Anything that was “different” from what they could do at home.
An Ugly Reality
We did not laugh as we reflected on accusations heard over the years about certain directors and coaches “cheating.” We knew of coaches who signaled students by hand motions in clear violation of the rules.
          We both had heard of directors who “stacked” the local competition in favor of their own children or perceived “favorites,”  arranging it so “their” teams would compete against lesser teams in an unbalanced way compared to other teams. I was accused of this once in New York so, as much as I dislike “committees,” I formed a small group of volunteers to assist me in putting together schedules and so forth to ensure I wasn’t playing favorites with my own children.
The Bigger Picture
          Since we are both, ah, advanced in years; we also wondered what the future of our types of ministry would be. I hate the term “parachurch,” but that is what we are labeled.
          A great thing seen over the years is that (finally) churches and schools started treating youth ministry as a “real” ministry; not a stepping-stone to a genuine ministry. Many concur that youth ministry could be a life-time calling.
          A sad thing observed is, like the rest of the Body in the United States, the gospel is sometimes rarely seen, heard, or modeled among youth ministries. It is all about numbers, decisions, activities, programs, personalities…but little growth and little awareness of the demands of discipleship.
Gloom and Doom?
          Second Timothy 3.1-5 apply. But the light always shines the brightest against a dark background. Gratefully there are people working across America to impact young lives with the gospel. “Parachurch” ministries are plodding along seeking to assist local churches in reaching out to, encouraging, edifying, and building disciples rather than Christian groupies.
          Yet the reality is that we need volunteers to come alongside and assist in a wide variety of ministry venues. We need funds (in all the ministries with which I work the staff have the privilege of trusting God as they raise their own support as home missionaries). Of course we need prayer.
          And we need full-time staff…adults young and not-so-young who are called to pour their lives into youth.
          Maybe that’s you?

>What Quizzing SHOULD Be All About

>This is a shot from the 2010 Bible Quiz Fellowship National Tournament in Pittsburgh, Pa a few weeks ago. This picture was snapped before the third “stage” quiz (the top three teams compete, but in order to win a team must take two “first” places…so it is more-than-a-bit-tense!).

Don’t know who suggested it (UPDATE – I’ve been informed that Jim Cicchesee of TFC Wis/Minn, coach and director, suggested the prayer), or if it was spontaneous; but obviously the Spirit of God was involved as these 21 teens and coaches gathered together, arms around shoulders, to pray that Christ would be honored during this climactic quiz.

There are many, many things more important than statistics, trophies, and fleeting “fame”:

By the way, I have no idea what caused that photographic glitch on the back of my head that looks like a bald spot 🙂

>Nationals Shots

>BQF Quiz Nationals in Pittsburgh seem so long ago! But it’s only been a few weeks…here’s a trio of shots taken by others of yours truly…After all these years (or rather decades) can’t express how much of an honor it is to be involved in Bible quizzing…or how much the students amaze me…Such a valuable tool to get teens into the Word, and thus the Word into students…as of May 7 I am the “national representative” for Bible Quiz Fellowship which, among other things, means I will be traveling to existing and potential local quiz programs to assist in any way possible…pray for that opportunity!

Below: me quizmastering the first championship quiz Saturday nite….the back of my head…a most stressful but enjoyable duty:

Probably texting Jane in between quizzes during two days of round-robin competition:

The Midland Ministries quizzers, staff, coaches:

Dazzling (terrorizing?) the students with my air-guitar skills on the 17-hour bus ride home!

>Nationals Trip Pics

>Yet another Nationals ended as our bus pulled in from Pittsburgh, PA late Sunday afternoon. Did a ton of quizmastering, to include the last “window” quiz and the first of three “championship” quizzes. Every time I get thru a day of quizmastering I wish we had a staff masseuse or however you spell it. One giant knot! But what an honor to try to be consistent and fair to these incredible students who have poured so much time into studying, memorizing, and (prayerfully) applying First & Second Corinthians and Titus. Next year’s book? The book whose stated purpose is evangelism – the Gospel of John.

Here’s a photo of the entire Midland crew:

And, yes, I do wish I knew how to play the guitar:

Finally, three, ah, experienced, men…Johnny Williams (who is also my pastor…was a teen roommate of mine back in 1979-1980 or so in KC), me, and Steve Sanders of St Louis.

>The Only Thing I Do At Which I Can’t Lose


Bible quizzing. Sounds boring, ey? Brings forth images of “sword drills” if you are old enough to remember those…But Bible quizzing, Bible Quiz Fellowship style, is exciting, intense, and, more importantly, the only thing in which I am involved in which I can’t lose.

I can preach and blow it (yes, I hear the amens…thankfully I try to please the Audience of One (and fail all too often) so, candidly, don’t give-a-flying-rip of “critiques”); I can counsel and blow it; I can just have conversations and blow it…but for over thirty years I’ve been encouraging, directing, and assisting students get into the Word, and thus the Word into students.

And tonight at 10pm I board a bus and journey to Pittsburgh, Pa for yet another Nationals tournament.

And will see hundreds of teens from across America…many of whom I see annually, my good friends from Family Life, my new good friends from Washington state, and a ton of other people that I’ve served with for a loooong time.

Most of us work in what are called “parachurch” (how I hate that term) ministries. We are centered on the gospel, but there can be disagreements on secondary issues. Some of us are probably too competitive, some adults probably try to relive their own quizzing careers through students (similar to sports)…but the focus is usually on Christ and His kids…trying to nurture spiritual growth even in the arena of competition…or especially in the arena of competition?

So pray with us that 2010 Nationals will be a time of salvation for those who are religious but lost; a time of recommittment for those who have wandered, and an effective witness for all of us on the hotel staff and others with whom (or who?) we interact.

And help me…help us all…to be able to walk and work hand-in-hand even if we don’t see eye-to-eye on relatively mickey-mouse issues. May we all focus on “that which is of first importance,” the gospel! (1 Corin 15)