Archives For June 2011

“1/3 of Smartphone Users Check Facebook and Twitter Before Getting Out Of Bed” – source


I believe Tim Challies may have diagnosed the chief idol of our age (or at least one of my chief idols):

We have begun to believe that the accumulation of information somehow leads to wisdom, that more information will solve society’s ills and improve our lives. We place our faith in information.

We find joy and life in that information – not in using that information or turning that information into useful action, but simply in its constant flow.


Quentin Schultze, professor of communication arts and sciences at Calvin College, observes the godlike importance we attach to information and coins the word informationism to describe it. According to Schultze, informationism is

“a non-discerning vacuous faith in the collecting and dissemination of information as a route to social progress and personal happiness.”


What we are finding is that more information does not necessarily lead to more wisdom. In fact, the very opposite may be true.

More information may lead to less wisdom.

– from Chapter 7 of Tim Challies’ book The Next Story.


A few steps (from Challies) toward breaking free from information worship:

Measure and Reduce Input

  • “Try to quantify the information that comes your way; seek to understand how much of it serves a tangible purpose and how much of it is really just noise.”
  • Unfollow some people.
  • Trim down your RSS feed.
  • Look beyond the surface to really ascertain what heart idols compel us to compulsively check Twitter, Facebook, Blogs.


Get Wisdom –

  • “Without the distraction of dealing with vast amounts of information and without overtaxing our brains with hundreds of sources of information, we will have the time to know more about less.”
  • “Though it cost all you have, get wisdom.” Proverbs 4:7


Success in life “is not in the accumulation of facts, but in living a life marked by wisdom, by the application of knowledge.” – Challies


What steps are you taking to deal with informationism?


photo courtesy of heathbrandon

This Summer I’m going to interview some of the Directors of the largest Cru movements in the U.S.

– to pick their brains on how they operate as a large movement, what elements played into them growing, how they lead as directors, etc.


Size isn’t everything, but to quote my boss, Tim Norman: “There are good reasons why these movements are successful. Some of which others can principally embrace.”


I did this 3 summers ago with a few directors and it was extremely beneficial for my growth as a Director (and for our movement).

This time I plan on blogging on some of their insights (so we can all benefit).


I’d love your help: What questions should I ask them? What would you want to know?
Any Directors you’d recommend me interviewing?


photo courtesy of shrieking tree via flickr

“You will not believe how long it takes to turn the supertanker,”  Otellini recalls. “When you’re the third-line manager, you say ‘let’s go left’ and people move. When you are running a 100,000-person organization, it takes a long time for the back of the supertanker to catch up to the bridge.” Which was frustrating for him. “It means you have to repeat where you’re going and why a thousand times”

From the Fast Company article on Intel CEO – Paul Otellini


I met with a national director with CCC last week and in the course of conversation he learned that I had never heard of my job description (listed here if you’re interested).

In his words: “I find it disturbing that you don’t know your job description.”

Obviously there’s a disconnect, a break down in communication, between HQ and the local level if I’m unaware of the 5 things I’m supposed to be about.


It made me wonder how many times I do that – assume that my team, that students understand what we’re about. How many times I assume that just because we’ve talked about something for months as a staff team that our students somehow magically know the new direction we are now heading in.

We so often forget to communicate – and to communicate in multiple, varied, repeated ways.


And as the quote above alluded to, the bigger your staff team gets or the larger your movement becomes,  the harder it is to keep on course. I’ve found that the larger the movement becomes, communication is more strained because there is no longer a personal connection – there is less trust to grease the wheels of communication. You can no longer communicate to everyone at once. Because even though you’re speaking, they’re not listening (because of the lack of relational equity).


What do you do to repeat (in varied ways) where you’re going and why a thousand times? What are the primary channels you communicate the where/why thru – discipleship, small groups, weekly meeting . . . ?


photo courtesy of Terry Wha

Music Monday

June 27, 2011 — Leave a comment

Bon Iver’s new album is great and is $7.99 on Amazon.

You can get one of the best songs on the album, Calgary, for free. Or stream the album for free online so you can try before you buy.



  • For some reason this is oddly intriguing – A dude asking random people around NYC: “What song are you listening to?” (via vitamin Z)

My vote for best song in the list?
“Dance Yrself Clean”–LCD soundsystem or “Black and Yellow”–Whiz Kalifa.
What’s your favorite?


  • The best song off of Death Cab for Cutie’s new album ($5 on Amazon thru June) has a cool video they shot in one take:


  • This is pretty cool. A Radiohead cover song compiled from 36 different Radiohead covers.


  • Amazon (which 99% of the time is far cheaper than iTunes) is offering a Free $2 Credit for MP3 Downloads. Enter code CLOUDMP3 (via SlickDeals).


  • And if you haven’t checked it out yet, check out my Summer Free Songs post for hundreds of free, good, legal songs.


I think understanding technology’s effect on our lives & spirituality is one of THE issues of our day.
How does the constant stream of new, late-breaking information affect our pursuit of eternal things?


To that end I picked up Tim Challies’ book The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
In his analysis of technology’s effect on us, Challies seems to pull heavily from Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death. But he takes it a step further in forming a distinctly Christian perspective on technology.

“We are looking for that sweet spot where our use of technology is not just thoughtful and informed, but it is informed by the Bible, by an understanding of God’s purpose for technology.”

“Our task is not to avoid technology but to carefully evaluate it, redeem it, and ensure that we are using it with the right motives and for the right goals.”

Challies points out that the benefits of a new technology are “always far easier to see than the inevitable costs” and that it often takes decades before those costs are fully understood.
He quotes Neil Postman’s warning: “the consequences of technological change are always vast, often unpredictable and largely irreversible.”
If that’s true, “We would do well to think very carefully before jumping in headfirst. And yet for some reason we are prone to be quite lazy in our thinking about technology”

There is so much good content to chew on, I will definitely be posting more from The Next Story.

On a side note, I got the audiobook free but bought the book on Kindle yesterday (because I needed to underline and re-read!) and am now reading it on my Mac and iPad. I’m thoroughly enjoying the Kindle app and the ease of both highlighting and quickly scanning back through my highlighted sections.

In reading the Next Story, I’m reminded of this insightful comic:

Originally posted on

I am
Tim Casteel

Campus Director

Campus Crusade for Christ

University of Arkansas


That’s what my email signature says.


We’re away from home for the summer and my 9 year old daughter asked to email a few people to keep in touch.

Without any guidance from me, she changed the signature (that automatically gets dropped in at the end of any email I send). In her letter to her teacher she signed it:


Lily Casteel

Student in

Mrs. Lofton’s class


And in her email to her best friend in her class:


Lily Casteel

Daphne’s friend

Mrs. Lofton’s class


She sees life relationally. I identify myself in terms of my vocation.

And interestingly, she adapted her “identity” based on whom she was writing to.

Not sure why, but for some reason her relational identity/signature really struck me.

Weekend Links

June 10, 2011 — Leave a comment

Zach Galifianakis at his best. From SNL a few weeks ago: Zach looks for a New Personal Assistant.

If the video won’t play in your browser, click thru to the SNL site here.

An interesting look at the role of the Foley Artist in film: (HT Ben Arment)


Some Challenging Words from John Piper (the only kind Piper knows how to utter): Decide to Abandon Retirement as the Reward for your LIfe (HT Matt Perman)


I bet you can’t watch this without a tear coming to your eye #1:

Til Death Do Us Part – the lifelong devotion of Robertson McQuilkin

From Justin Taylor’s Blog:

In 1990 Robertson McQuilkin resigned his post as president of Columbia Bible College and Graduate School, in order to care for his beloved wife Muriel, who stopped recognizing him in 1993 and went to be with the Lord in 2003 at the age of 81.

Here are two Christianity Today articles by Dr. McQuilkin about caring for his wife:

And here is an interview he did with Stan Guthrie upon Muriel’s death (February 1, 2004).

Someone had a tape recorder at his resignation speech, and you can watch a portion of it below. May God make us men like this:


I bet you can’t watch this without a tear coming to your eye #2 (HT Josh Harris)

A tribal village receives the Bible in their language for the first time ever.



Part 2 of a discussion on doing more ministry online.
Read Part 1 (and the great discussion in the comments) here.

Think about what you would say to a brand new staff on your college campus:

“Here’s what you need to think through in order to be effective in doing ministry online . . .”


When it comes to doing college ministry online, there at least three different areas to think through:

  1. How does your ministry as a whole interact online with students (Facebook page, website, ministry Twitter account, etc)?
  2. How does your ministry interact beyond your local focus (generate/share resources with others, etc)?
  3. How does each staff do ministry online?

I’m passionate about all three.

But for this post, lets just focus on the third.


This is something I know many of us have wrestled with over the last few years and,

I’d love for us (tapping into the wisdom of the crowd) to compile a set of guiding principles on how to do (more) college ministry online.

I’ll get us started with a few:

1) Make it easy/quick for yourself to interact with students online:

  • Get on Facebook AND Twitter
  • Follow/Friend as many students on Twitter and Facebook as possible
  • Get a smart phone – I do 90% of my connecting with students online in just 5 minute gaps during my day, in between appointments or sitting at a stop light.

2) Only do online ministry during cold hours

  • I can’t say it any better than Andrew Wise in his comments on the previous post:

“It seems to me that a face to face interaction would be the best kind of ministry. So, given a limited number of hours, I’m going to fill as many of those hours as I can with face to face ministry. Judging by my experiences in the past, I am not going to be able to fill up all of those hours for various reasons (before lunch is usually no good, students in class, etc…). In those hours, perhaps I could be figuring out better ways to be an online ministry presence. I would not use hot hours (by definition the hours when students are most likely to meet face to face) for online ministry unless something doesn’t go as planned and I can’t fill those hours.”

3) Use social media to move toward or reinforce face to face ministry.

“The best way to take advantage of social media is to be savvy about using social media to move toward or reinforce face to face ministry” – Andrew Wise


Do you agree or disagree with those first few? What would you change?

How would you finish the sentence: “Here’s what you need to think through in order to be effective in online (and on-campus) ministry . . .”

What guiding principles would you add to the list?


photo courtesy of x-ray delta one

There’s not much debate that Facebook is THE primary way college students interact with the world.

infographic from


How does that change how and where we (as college ministers) do ministry?



I was talking with a friend in the Army and he said that the U.S. Army, notoriously wary of social media, now does over half of it’s recruiting through Facebook. Instead of spending time in malls and with high school guidance counselors, Army Recruitors now spend the bulk of their time online.

Many meet their recruits face to face for the first time on signing day.

“We have to reach out in forms like [Facebook] to get [recruits] to want to know more, to join us in social media and extend the dialog.” – Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakle in a NYTimes article


Presence via Technology

Dave Kinnaman in his talk at Catalyst proposed that the response to the growing isolation among this generation is our presence via technology (twitter, email, facebook, etc). By being present online we can respond quickly to their questions and be more accessible.


Scott Allen, the Cru director at SFA, posed this question in a comment on the Kinnaman post:

“How can we continue to remain “present” with students by using technology? Do we incorporate that into a part of our weekly work schedule (probably already doing that more than we realize)?”


What do you think? Should campus ministers incorporate online presence into our work schedule? And when (during the day) should that happen? Should we ever spend “hot hours” (afternoon hours) online?



Alright – here’s an epic list of great, legal, free music for your summer playlist (over 200 free songs).


Summer must be the season for free samplers because there are a TON of them out there.


Here’s the best songs. Die hard music fans can download the rest of the samplers below.
  • Wye Oak – Civilian – This is one of my favorite songs of 2011 from one of the best albums so far in 2011
  • Bright Eyes – Shell Games – definitely in my top 25 best songs of 2011
  • Young The Giant – My Body – #28 on my top songs of 2010
  • Yeasayer – Ambling Alp – phenomenal song from one of my favorite bands
  • White Rabbits – Percussion Gun- #3 on my top songs of 2009 (have to download the entire Brooklyn Sampler on iTunes)
  • Sleigh Bells – Infinity Guitars – great rock song (in the Brooklyn Sampler on iTunes
  • Miiike Snow – Animal – this one’s a little weird; but I guarantee you’ll be humming it to yourself after a few listens. And it’s actually pretty insightful.
  • Freelance Whales – Hannah – a happy, fun song from a good band
  • My Morning Jacket – Circuital – Good song from a good album (only $5 on Amazon)[UPDATE: I changed my mind. I don’t think it’s worth $5. If anything just buy the first song on the album!]

here’s all the Free Samplers.

I’ve listed the Samplers from Most-of-the-Songs-On-the-Sampler-Are-Good down thru Most-of-The-Songs-are-Bad (I’ve listed some of the best groups/songs on each one)

  • Digits – Free 5 song EP – some good electro-chill music (I especially like the song Lost Dream)
  • 2 albums of good indie Christian stuff from Catalyst (you do have to do a little more work for this one than the others – you have to sign up to receive info from Catalyst. But they reward you with TONS of free stuff- Songs from Lecrae, Gungor, John Mark McMillan, Thad Cockrell. Page CXVI and more
  • Made in Brooklyn Sampler on iTunes – SO many good artists/songs. GREAT songs from the White Rabbits, Sleigh Bells, Bear in Heaven
  • Spring Sampler from American Eagle – Yeasayer’s Ambling Alp song is worth the effort. Such a good song. Here’s the best three but the whole album sounds pretty promising: Yeasayer, “Ambling Alp” — Ra Ra Riot, “Boy” — Young Blood, “The Naked and Famous”
  • NPR has a ton of good free music on their SXSW page (I’d recommend Firefox’s DownThemAll to get all the songs at once so you don’t have to right click each one individually!). Best Songs – Bright Eyes, “Shell Games” — Alexander, “Truth” — Wye Oak, “Civilian” — Young The Giant, “My Body”
  • Lollapalooza 20 song sampler on iTunes – some legit songs on here from John Butler Trio, My Morning Jacket, Silversun Pickups, and a classic from Jane’s Addiction
  • SubPop Summer Sampler on iTunes – Fleet Foxes, Handsome Furs, etc
  • Bonnaroo 2011 Sampler – Alison Krauss, Iron & Wine, Ratatat, etc
  • SPIN Magazine’s June Playlist on iTunes (not my style of music – heavier; but some may like it)
  • Willie Nelson’s Country Throwdown Sampler on iTunes (definitely not my style of music but some might like it)