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Posts from October 11, 2009 - October 17, 2009

We're To Be United in the Faith as a Church, Yet We Keep Dividing People Up

I shared last night with our Bible Study group one of the things that God has been convicting and challenging me with lately.  It's still cooking in my head, so I don't have a "program" or even a plan yet as to what to do, but it related to intergenerational ministry.

Women (6) I shared with our pastors on staff this week about this conviction as well and admitted that over the years, though I always knew something just wasn't quite right, I too led ministries and planned events that encouraged the separation of generations rather than the coming together.

Here's where I am with this.  I believe that in our continually fragmenting society, there is a great need for people to interact with others from different generations.  It seems that society has built a norm for separating everyone.  It's pretty honest at first - preschools, schools, and youth clubs and then continues until you have lodges, and eventually senior adult centers.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I believe there are developmental stages and actually needs for children, youth and adults to have their own environments for learning and even for fun activities.  It's just that there seems to be no opportunity for the generations to come together.

Years ago, when it was common for a person to be born in a town and live with their parents, near their grandparents and with aunts, uncles and cousins nearby, the natural growth with others from different age groups happened.  Now, most people live in different cities, even states, than their extended family.  My children, for instance, have a similar connection with their grandparents that I did.  They get to see them and spend time with them about a week every year.  It's a good week, but it's still only a week.

I strongly believe that teenagers need regular interaction with senior adults, and vice versa.  Why?  Well, I believe in the biblical teaching on mentoring.  You know, the old women are to teach the young women and the same for men.  Yet, often in our culture that doesn't happen.  At least it's not common.

So, we have the church.  The church focused on worshiping God and reaching people.  We, like many other church, want to be known as a church where the entire family is welcome and loved.  So, here comes the family in the front door on a Sunday and immediately we split them up.  We put the children in one building, the teenagers in another.  Mom and dad meet somewhere else and if grandma comes with them. . .well, we have a building for her as well. Hmmm.  "Welcome to the family church."  I think we have work to do here. 

When I shared this last night, it seemed like folks in my study (from different generations) were giving me that "I've never thought of that before" look.  One lady afterward said "Well, that's just how we always have had church."  I responded by saying "But, does that mean that it's the best way or even the right way?"  She said "No.  It just makes it hard to think differently."  I agree.  Sometimes we do things so long the same way we begin to think that's the normal or best way.  It may not be.

I don't have an answer yet.  I'm not ready to throw away all our age-graded ministries.  I'd really like to work here a while longer.  However, I am ready for us to begin thinking of intentional ways for people of different generations to serve and learn together.

One of the best current examples is our Church for Men on Sunday evenings.  We have over sixty men coming regularly and they are of all ages.  Some guys are in their 20s.  Others are in their 80s.  It's amazing to see how they interact and learn from each other.  It's normal for any generation to think they are the first to encounter things or at least the best.  It's eye opening to see that, as Solomon said "there's nothing new under the sun." 

I was reading a  story by Jim Johnston, Director of Threads, the young adult division of LifeWay.  He was talking about this need for intergenerational ministry and used the illustration of Sherpas in Nepal.  Here's the story:

Sherpas are natives of Nepal who have served as essential partners for the climbers of Mount Everest for nearly a century.  They know where the dangerous crevasses lie.  They know where to camp on the mountain for the night.  They know when the storms are most likely to strike.  Do you have seasoned Sherpas in your church that can guide young adults through the tough times in life?  Do you have an intentional discipleship and mentoring process in your church where young adults can connect with older adults for friendship, help and advice?

It's vital, because too many young adults today have no one to turn to when it comes to the tough questions of life (faith, marriage, life and work) and also the practical questions of life (changing my oil, preparing my taxes, making my budget work, building a resume).  Churches that attempt to separate generations drive cracks into the foundation of the body of Christ.  But, churches that connect generations can be wonderful bodies of believers who respect each other in every facet of congregational life.

Wow!  I must agree with Jim. We have to be intentional.  Mentoring, growing together, learning from each other - these are all essential on the faith journey.

So many churches are nothing more than a collection of "little churches" that come together to hear a pastor each Sunday.  These "little churches" are called Children's Ministry, Youth Ministry, Senior Adult Ministry, etc.  Now, again, don't hear what I'm not saying.  I believe these age-graded and even gender specific ministries are vital, but they never come together other than to sit in a big room and sing hymns and hear a sermon, we're missing something.

Where is this division shown?  Other than the fact we have a building for every age group, it also is shown with the annual budget goes out.  Every person immediately looks to the line item of the budget for their "little church."  If their "little church" is getting less funds than another age group's "little church" then the Enemy uses that to create dissension.  You don't think this happens?  Get real.  It's human nature.  I've been here fifteen years and each of those years, questions have come up related just to this.  Funny though, as has been our practice, we have funded and adjusted as need be to make sure every ministry has all the resources they need to minister to and reach people.

Oh well, we forget that I guess when looking at the budget form.

Still, it's more than budget or Sunday School rooms.  It's a mentality.  Pray with me as we seek God's lead on this.  God created the family, the extended family and the church family to be multi-generational for a reason.  This is nothing new.  In fact, maybe it's just getting back to the basics of being church.


The Wizard Turns 99

Ucla-coach-john-wooden The very best college basketball coach of all time (in my opinion) turns 99 today.  John Wooden, the "Wizard of Westwood" led the UCLA Bruins to many championships and records that will probably never be broken.When I was playing basketball at Texas Wesleyan College (now University) back in 1986, Coach Wooden came to Arlington, Texas for a one-day coaches clinic.  Just about every high school and college coach in the D/FW Metroplex was there.  We were honored to be his "practice squad" for that day.  Coach Wooden used our team for a couple of hours as he showed these coaches how to organize and run a practice.  So, for a couple of hours, I can say I was coached by John Wooden.  Man, I wish I would have had a camera with me that day.  Still, I did shake his hand and get an autograph.  Coach Wooden's legacy will always be more than just a winning coach.  This man poured so much into the lives of his players over his career and truly let his love for Christ shine through in how he carried (and carries) himself.  The LA Times ran an article today called "On his 99th birthday, 99 things about John Wooden." These things are worth sharing. 

1. He was born in Martinsville, Ind., on Oct. 14, 1910.

2. Wooden led Martinsville High to the Indiana state title in 1927 and runner-up finishes in 1926 and 1928.

3. As a boy, one of his role models was Fuzzy Vandivier of the Franklin Wonder Five, a basketball team that dominated Indiana high school basketball from 1919 to 1922.

4. He was a three-time high school all-state selection.

5. Wooden met his future wife, Nell Riley, at a carnival in July 1926.

6. They married in a small ceremony in Indianapolis in August 1932. Afterward, they attended a Mills Brothers concert to celebrate.

7. Wooden and Nell were married 53 years before Nell's death in 1985.

8. After high school, Wooden enrolled at Purdue, where he won varsity letters in basketball and baseball his freshman year and earned All-American honors as a guard on the basketball team in 1930-32.

9. He was a three-time consensus All-American.

10. Wooden was captain of Purdue's basketball teams in 1931 and 1932 and led the Boilermakers to two Big Ten titles and the 1932 national championship.

11. While playing basketball at Purdue, Wooden was nicknamed "the Indiana Rubber Man" for his dives on the hardcourt.

12. Wooden is noted for his philosophical quotes about life and sportsmanship, such as: "Failure is not fatal but failure to change might be."

13. After college, he spent several years playing professionally with the Indiana Kautskys (later the Indianapolis Jets), Whiting Ciesar All-Americans and Hammond Ciesar All-Americans while teaching and coaching in high school.

14. During one 46-game stretch, he made 134 consecutive free throws.

15. His first coaching job was at Dayton High in Kentucky.

16. In his first year, the team went 6-11, his only losing record as a coach.

17. Wooden went on to coach basketball, baseball and tennis at South Bend Central High in Indiana and taught English for nine years. His 11-year high school coaching record was 218-42.

18. World War II interrupted his coaching career and he was a lieutenant in the Navy from 1943 to 1946.

19. Following his discharge in 1946, he went to Indiana Teachers College (now Indiana State University) as athletic director, basketball and baseball coach for two seasons before moving to UCLA.20. At Indiana State, Wooden also coached baseball, served as athletic director, taught and completed his master's degree in education.

21. Another quote from Wooden: "Learn as if you were to live forever; live as if you were to die tomorrow."

22. In 1947, Wooden's basketball team won the Indiana Collegiate Conference title and received an invitation to the NAIB tournament in Kansas City. Wooden refused the invitation, citing the NAIB's policy banning African American players. A member of the Sycamores' team was Clarence Walker, an African American from East Chicago, Ind.

23. In 1948, the NAIB changed its policy and Wooden led Indiana State to another conference title.

24. That same year, Wooden guided his team to the NAIB final, losing to Louisville -- the only loss by a Wooden team in a college championship game.

25. Wooden was inducted into the Indiana State Athletic Hall of Fame on Feb. 3, 1984.

26. His top salary while coach at UCLA was $35,000.

27. Wooden turned down an offer to coach the Lakers from owner Jack Kent Cooke that may have been 10 times what UCLA was paying him.

28. The record Wooden is the most proud of? His Bruins teams won 19 conference championships.

29. Wooden's name was inscribed on Purdue's academic honor roll and he was awarded the 1932 Big Ten Conference medal for outstanding merit and proficiency in scholarship and athletics.

30. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame both as a player (class of 1961) and as a coach (1973). He was the first person ever enshrined in both categories, later joined by Bill Sharman and Lenny Wilkens.

31. Another quote from Wooden: "The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team."

32. At UCLA, Wooden became known as the "Wizard of Westwood," though he disliked the nickname.

33. He gained lasting fame with UCLA by winning 664 games in 27 seasons and 10 NCAA titles during his last 12 seasons.

34. Wooden's UCLA teams won seven consecutive NCAA championships from 1967 to 1973.

35. His UCLA teams had a record winning streak of 88 games and four 30-0 seasons.

36. His Bruins also won 38 straight NCAA tournament games and a record 98 straight home games at Pauley Pavilion.

37. In 1967, he was named the Henry Iba Award USBWA college basketball coach of the year.

38. In 1972, he was honored as Sports Illustrated magazine's Sportsman of the Year.

39. Wooden coached his final game at Pauley Pavilion on March 1, 1975, a 93-59 victory over Stanford.40. Four weeks later, he surprisingly announced his retirement after a 75-74 NCAA semifinal victory over Louisville and before his 10th national championship game victory over Kentucky.

41. Another quote from Wooden: "Young people need models, not critics."

42. UCLA was Wooden's second choice for a coaching position in 1948. He had also been pursued by Minnesota, and it was his and his wife's desire to remain in the Midwest.

43. Inclement weather in Minnesota prevented Wooden from receiving the scheduled phone offer from the Golden Gophers. Thinking they had lost interest, Wooden accepted UCLA's offer instead.

44. Minnesota contacted Wooden right after he accepted the position at UCLA, but he declined because he had given his word to the Bruins.

45. His alma mater, Purdue, wanted Wooden to return to campus in 1947 and serve as coach Mel Taube's assistant until Taube's contract expired. Wooden declined, citing his loyalty to Taube, as it effectively would have made Taube a lame-duck coach.

46. At UCLA, Wooden had four undefeated teams. No other coach has more than one.

47. He also had seven teams that went undefeated in conference play.

48. He won five titles without Lew Alcindor or Bill Walton.

49. He coached 15 seasons at UCLA before winning his first NCAA championship.

50. His winning percentage in college and high school was .813.

51. Another quote from Wooden: "Talent is God given; be humble. Fame is man given; be thankful. Conceit is self given; be careful."

52. Wooden won his first national title in 1964.

53. In 1965, the Bruins became one of the few teams to win two NCAA championships in a row.

54. In the 1965 final, Gail Goodrich scored 42 points for UCLA as the Bruins defeated Michigan and Cazzie Russell.

55. The 1965-66 season was a down year for Wooden. His team failed to win the NCAA title, the last time that happened until 1974.

56. The 1966-67 season marked the beginning of the Lew Alcindor era and UCLA easily defeated Dayton in the final.

57. Wooden's Bruins had a 47-game winning streak before a 71-69 loss to Houston and All-American center Elvin Hayes on Jan. 20, 1968, in front of what was then the largest basketball crowd in NCAA history, 52,693.

58. That game was called "the Game of the Century." The same teams met again in an NCAA semifinal, where the Bruins routed the Cougars, 101-69.

59. UCLA defeated North Carolina in the 1968 final to become the only team to win consecutive titles twice.60. Wooden has called that team as good as any he coached.

61. Another quote from Wooden: "Ability is a poor man's wealth."

62. In 1969, UCLA became the only men's basketball program to win three consecutive NCAA titles.

63. In the final, Wooden faced Purdue, his alma mater, and won easily, 92-72.

64. With that 1969 championship, Wooden became the first coach to win five NCAA titles.

65. In 1970, Wooden won his fourth consecutive NCAA title despite the loss of Alcindor to the pros.

66. In the final, 6-foot-8 Sidney Wicks outplayed 7-footer Artis Gilmore of Jacksonville for another easy victory.

67. In 1971, Wooden won his fifth NCAA championship in a row; the Bruins defeated Villanova in the final.

68. The Bill Walton era began in the 1971-72 season, and the Bruins won a sixth consecutive championship with a victory over Florida State.

69. Walton starred, making 21 of 22 shots, as Wooden won his seventh consecutive title in 1973 with a victory over Memphis State in the final.

70. UCLA's record 88-game winning streak under Wooden started on Jan. 30, 1971, with a 74-61 victory over UC Santa Barbara.

71. The streak ended when Notre Dame upset UCLA, 71-70, on Jan. 19, 1974.

72. Notre Dame also handed UCLA the loss before the streak started, 89-82, on Jan. 23, 1971.

73. The Bruins' record streak included two one-point victories: 69-68 at Oregon on Dec. 12, 1971, and 65-64 at home against Maryland on Dec. 1, 1973.

74. Wooden won his last NCAA title in 1975.

75. In Wooden's last game as UCLA coach, the Bruins defeated Kentucky, 92-85, on March 31, 1975.

76. Wooden spent 40 years as a basketball coach.

77. He coached 27 years at UCLA, finishing with a record of 620-147.

78. Wooden's teams went 149-2 at Pauley Pavilion.

79. Wooden's "Pyramid of Success" has become an organizational and inspirational tool for coaches everywhere.80. The foundation for Wooden's "Pyramid of Success" is Industriousness, Friendship, Loyalty, Cooperation and Enthusiasm.

81. The peak of the Pyramid is Competitive Greatness.

82. Another quote from Wooden: "A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment."

83. Since 1977, the most prestigious postseason award in college basketball has been the John R. Wooden Award.

84. Two annual doubleheader men's basketball events are named after Wooden -- the Wooden Classic and the Wooden Tradition.

85. In 1999, ESPN elected Wooden the "Coach of the 20th Century."

86. The recreation center for intramural sports on the UCLA campus is named after Wooden.

87. A high school in Reseda is named John R. Wooden High.

88. In 2003, UCLA named the basketball court at Pauley Pavilion after Wooden and his wife, Nell. Wooden insisted the court be named the "Nell and John Wooden Court," keeping Nell's name first.

89. Wooden has his own website, www.coachwooden.com.

90. In 2007, UCLA announced it was planning to renovate Pauley Pavilion, while setting a goal of opening the renovated facility on Wooden's 100th birthday, Oct. 14, 2010.

91. Another quote from Wooden: "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

92. On July 23, 2003, Wooden received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

93. Wooden is a fan of women's basketball, because he says it often features more fundamentally sound basketball than the men's version of the game.

94. Wooden has written several books, including "They Call Me Coach" and a book for children, "Inch and Miles."

95. He has another book scheduled for release today called, "A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring with John Wooden." In conjunction with the book's release, fans can visit the website happybirthdayjohnwooden.com to send the coach birthday wishes.

96. On Wooden's 96th birthday in 2006, a post office in Reseda was named the John Wooden Post Office.

97. Wooden retains the title head men's basketball coach emeritus at UCLA and attends most of the team's home games.

98. On Nov. 17, 2006, Wooden was a member of the founding class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame. Others were James Naismith, Dean Smith, Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell.

99. One more quote from Wooden: "Don't give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you." 

Mike Penner of the LA Times put this list together.  It can be found at here.

This list of 99 things is pretty incredible, but there are so many other stories and facts about the Coach.  This list could just go on and on.  The fact that he led UCLA to 88 consecutive victories is astounding.  I remember hearing of how he would teach players to wear their socks. 

On the first day of practice, the coach would tell his hotshot recruits, “Gentleman, today we’re going to figure out how to put our shoes and socks on.” Some players would blanch. Wooden would calmly explain that most players are benched for blisters, and the easiest way to avoid them is to pay attention to the basics. He would meticulously show them how to roll up their socks and tighten their laces. “I wanted it done consciously, not quickly or casually,” he said. “Otherwise we would not be doing everything possible to prepare in the best way.”

Pure Wooden genius.  The basics matter.  Well, Coach Wooden, even though I know you're not reading my blog - "Happy Birthday."  I saw your interview on ESPN and you said 99 was no big deal.  Well, sorry to correct you, but it is.  Have a great one.