Archives For January 2017

Bookmark this and save it for your next conference (or weekly meeting). It’s not easy to find good, upbeat, CLEAN music. Look at the top songs of 2016 – 1 out of the top 10 could be played at a weekly meeting. The rest are explicit.

I put together the playlists we play before and after meeting at our 2017 Cru Winter Conference.
And I thought it might save you all a lot of time to share those on here.
A couple notes:
  • We aim for 10 minutes of music while students come in (at night, we do 9 minutes followed by 1 minute of an epic “sit down song” – for the last couple of years we’ve used “Waking Up” off of the Oblivion soundtrack)
  • 5-6 minutes of music while students walk out
  • For the after meeting playlists, make sure to have a song that starts strong. It’s the signal for students to get up and leave, so you want it to start loud, not ease into it.
  • Pre-meeting night meetings, we aim for upbeat, danceable songs (hip hop and pop-py sing-along songs that people know)
  • Pre-meeting morning meetings, same thing, just a little more chill – Ride by Twenty One Pilots is a perfect morning pre-meeting song. Everyone knows it. Kind of upbeat. But not too obnoxiously upbeat.
Here’s all the songs we used in one playlist:

Here they are:
Here’s a slew of songs to use during a refection times:
And a bunch of possible songs you could use for competition games during the meeting (like, we do a mattress surfing competition, etc). I can’t vouch for all these being clean/appropriate (like Bangarang is great til he drops an F-bomb at the end):
And here’s some other good songs that we didn’t use but are appropriately clean and upbeat:

Every college student you’re trying to reach is a millennial. More than likely, your team of college ministers is made up of millennials (millennials were born between 1982 and 2004)

This is brilliant stuff from Simon Sinek on leading millennials. He’s talking about leading them in the workplace. But it applies just as well to leading and reaching millennials on the college campus. Well worth 15 minutes of your time (I typed up some notes below):


Simon describes four things Millennials are up against:

  • Parenting – too many of them grow up under failed parenting strategies. They were told they can achieve anything they want in life if they just believe in themselves. That they were special. You take this group and they get a job and they are thrust into the real world where they learn that they are not special and that there mom can’t complain to their boss to save them.
  • Technology – We have an entire generation that has access to an addictive numbing chemical called dopamine through social media and cell phones as they’re going through the high stress of adolescence. We’re supposed to learn to rely on our friends during adolescence but through unfettered access to technology too many kids don’t know how to form deep, meaningful relationships. Millennials don’t have deep, meaningful relationship because they’ve never practiced the skill set. And worse, they’ve never developed coping mechanisms to deal with stress. So when significant stress shows up in their lives they are not turning to a person they’re turning to a device. If you’re sitting at dinner with your friends and you’re texting somebody who’s not there, that’s a problem, that’s an addiction.
  • Impatience – they’ve grown up in a world of instant gratification (Amazon next day, Netflix, etc). You wanna go on a date? You don’t have to practice that skill, you just swipe right. Everything you want you can have instantly. EXCEPT, job satisfaction and strength of relationships. There ain’t no app for that. Those are slow, meandering, uncomfortable, messy processes. So I keep meeting these wonderful, fantastic, idealistic, hard-working smart kids. They just graduated school and they’re in their entry-level job. I sit down with them and I go “how’s it going”. And they go “I think I’m gonna quit. I’m not making an impact.” I’m like, “You’ve been here eight months!” It’s as if they’re standing at the foot of a mountain and they have this abstract concept called impact they want to have in the world which is the summit but what they don’t see is the mountain. What this young generation needs to learn is patience- that some things that really, really matter like love, job fulfillment, joy, or self-confidence. All of these things take time. The overall journey is long and difficult.
  • Environment – we’re taking this amazing group of young kids who have been dealt a bad hand. And they’re getting put in companies that care more about short term gains than life long skill-development and a lifetime of impact. That aren’t helping them overcome the challenges of a digital world and helping them overcome the need to have instant gratification and teach them the joys and impact and the fulfillment you get from working hard over on something for a long time that cannot be done in a month or even in a year. It’s the company’s responsibility to work extra hard to build their confidence and social skills. There should be no cell phones in conference rooms. When we are waiting for a meeting to start, no cell phones. Looking at your cell phone up until the meeting starts- that’s not how relationships are formed. Trust is built in those conversations before the meeting starts.

Some quick thoughts:

  • One of college students’ primary needs is deep, meaningful relationships. What if we promo Summer Missions or Small Groups with: “want more deep, meaningful relationships but don’t know exactly how to accomplish that…” We have what students deeply long for- gospel-centered community.
  • We need to coach our students in how to build relationships and trust. One easy step – resolve to put your phone away when you are on campus. Look for people to talk to on the way to campus. Strike up conversations once you get to class. That’s how trust and relationships are built.
  • We should be teaching students a Biblical approach to technology
  • With our interns and new staff, we need to keep the long term vision in front of them – keep reminding them that world change doesn’t happen in a year or two – but over decades.

HT to Dan Allan for passing this video on to me!

Top 3 Posts of 2016

January 2, 2017 — Leave a comment

Want the cream of the crop? Here’s the most popular posts on my blog in 2016:

Top 3 Posts Published in 2016

Top 5 Old Posts that Google Search Seems to Like:

  1. Why You Shouldn’t Go to Seminary (lesson: clickbait titles work!) – by far the most popular post on my blog in 2016, even though it’s 5 years old
  2. Decision Making and the Will of God (lesson: lots of people are searching Google for God’s Will. Think about that for a minute.)
  3. We Are Losing an Entire Generation of Laborers to Student Loan Debt 
  4. Tim Keller on How to Get into Gospel Conversations
  5. Learning from Large Cru Movements

Top Songs of 2016

January 1, 2017 — Leave a comment

An annual tradition on my blog – My Top 100 Songs of the Year.

To further explore amazing music, here are my Top Songs from 201520142013201220112010 and 2009 (click “Follow” at the top of Spotify if you want to add any of the playlists to your sidebar of playlists)

There weren’t any clear “song of the year” candidates in 2016. I like every song in the top 8 equally.

2016 was the year of experimental/weird indie pop – with Yeasayer, Animal Collective and M83 all turning in a slew of great songs. Also really liked Phantogram’s album. But really, 2016 was Twenty One Pilots‘ year. By FAR my kids’ top album of the year. And as much as I’m a hipster music-snob and pretty much hate anything that is on the radio, I begrudgingly REALLY like Twenty One Pilots. Easily the best album of the year. Every song is different and good. Those two dudes have a knack for crafting perfect pop songs. AND their lyrics are super solid – with most songs referring to God.

Despite my hipster tendencies, my top 100 songs are actually really fun to listen to. If you follow indie music at all, you’ll find that most “Top Songs of The Year” are trying really hard to be cool and prove their hipster-ness. My Top Songs list is Indie Music for the Masses – Indie Music that’s actually enjoyable to listen to (not grating avant-garde or sleep-inducing-singer-songwriter).

Most of these songs are Indie-pop, Indie-rock, or Indietronica.

Here are my 100 favorite songs of 2016 (click to play individual tracks or here to play the full list in Spotify): 

100        Family And Genus – Shakey Graves

99        Swim Against the Tide – The Japanese House

98        The Moment – Tame Impala

97        Arizona – Frances Cone

96        Everything All At Once – Local Natives

95        Crazy Eyes – Brother Moses

94        Strangers – Psychic Twin

93        Gemini Feed – Banks

92        Waving Goodbye – Sia

91        Sunday Love – Bat For Lashes

90        Do You Remember – St. Lucia

89        Prophecy Gun – Yeasayer

88        Gold – Jorgen Odegard Remix – Imagine Dragons, Jorgen Odegard

87        Dead Alive – The Shins

86        Wings of Love – LIV

85        Time – Mint Royale, Tom Cane

84        LIFE – HEALTH

83        Drifting – On An On

82        Way To Go – Empire of the Sun

81        Never Going Back – Caveman

80        Cheap Thrills – Sia

79        The Sound – The 1975

78        Silly Me – Yeasayer

77        I Can Only Stare – Sleigh Bells

76        Human – Caveman

75        Free – Broods

74        80 West – Caveman

73        All in My Head – Porcelain Raft

72        Club Aso – Palmistry

71        Two Vines – Empire of the Sun

70        I Was Wrong – A R I Z O N A

69        Celestial Creatures – Wild Beasts

68        For U (feat. Charli XCX) – Miike Snow, Charli XCX

67        8 (circle) – Bon Iver

66        May I Have This Dance – Francis and the Lights

65        A 1000 Times – Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam

64        High And Low – Empire of the Sun

63        Ablaze – School Of Seven Bells

62        Choose Me – James Blake

61        Bird Set Free – Sia

60        Don’t Let Me Down – The Chainsmokers, Daya

59        Broken Glass – Sia

58        I Feel The Weight – Miike Snow

57        Gone – Day Wave

56        Way Back Home – Cameron AG

55        Here’s To Us – Ellie Goulding

54        Lane Boy – Twenty One Pilots

53        22 (OVER S∞∞N) – Bon Iver

52        Easier – Mansionair

51        Conrad – SOHN

50        Tear In My Heart – Twenty One Pilots

49        I Need A Forest Fire – James Blake, Bon Iver

48        Same Old Blues – Phantogram

47        Sledgehammer – Rihanna

46        Mother Emanuel – Local Natives

45        Turning a Hand – Francis

44        Past Lives – BØRNS

43        Run Run Blood – Phantogram

42        Past Lives – Local Natives

41        Burn the Witch – Radiohead

40        Radio Silence – James Blake

39        Get Right – Jimmy Eat World

38        American Money – BØRNS

37        River – Bishop Briggs

36        Heathens – Twenty One Pilots

35        I Need Your Light – Ra Ra Riot, Rostam

34        Turn It Around – HAERTS

33        Warrior – AURORA

32        Doubt – Twenty One Pilots

31        Friends (feat. Bon Iver) – Francis and the Lights, Bon Iver – favorite part= “I’m Francis!”. Worth watching their goofy music video featuring Kanye

30        Chariots – Paper Route

29        In a Black Out – Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam

28        What Is Left to Solve – Rogue Wave

27        Cruel World – Phantogram

26        Golden Gal – Animal Collective

25        Divine Simulacrum – Yeasayer

24        If You Should See – Wye Oak

23        Hocus Pocus – Animal Collective

22        Trouble – TV On The Radio

21        Fairly Local – Twenty One Pilots

20        33 “GOD” – Bon Iver – pretty disappointed with Bon Iver’s album, overall. But a few solid songs.

19        You’re Mine – Phantogram

18        Malachite – Lydia Ainsworth – Lydia opened for Yeasayer when we saw them this fall in Tulsa and had some great songs. Eagerly anticipating a full length album from her.

17        Loan Shark Blues – Yeasayer

16        Ride – Twenty One Pilots

15        Warning Call – CHVRCHES

14        Lying in the Grass – Animal Collective

13        You Don’t Get Me High Anymore – Phantogram

12        Polarize – Twenty One Pilots

11        Used To – Mutemath

10        Watching the Waiting – Wye Oak – got to see Wye Oak in Kansas city this summer. She’s super talented and amazing live.

9        Fountain Of Youth – Local Natives – this song reminds me of the crazy election season with it’s lyric “I have waited so long, Mrs. President”.

8        Go! (feat. Mai Lan) – M83, MAI LAN

7        I Am Chemistry – Yeasayer – you’ll never hear a better song about the gas C4H10FO2P (sarin gas) and other toxic chemicals

6        Dream Awake – LIV – an early single from one of my most anticipated albums for 2017 from supergroup LIV – made up of two of  my favorites, Lykke Li and Miike Snow

5        Do It, Try It – M83 – give this song a chance. Super weird at first progressing to what M83 does best – epic soundscapes

4        FloriDada – Animal Collective – another super weird song. But you can’t help but have a smile on your face and tap your toes as you listen to it. And surprisingly deep song on the Dadaism and the elite’s snobbery toward Floridians.

3        Take Me Home – Phantogram – easily the best cover song this year. Who knew Phil Collins could be so cool?

2        Hometown – Twenty One Pilots – a great song from the best album of 2016. They did a smaller concert in NW Arkansas (which is an absolute miracle – NO ONE comes to Arkansas). I took all 5 of our kids to the show and they LOVED it (It was a few days after we got back from our summer in East Asia so we didn’t have tickets – we just scrounged up a few at the gate!). Those two dudes are legit entertainers and great musicians. My kids wouldn’t let me play anything but Twenty One Pilots in our van ALL fall. Seriously. “DA-AAD, can you put on Twenty One Pilots – this music is boring!”

1        Cold Night – Yeasayer – we got to see Yeasayer in concert in Tulsa and they were absolutely amazing – cementing their status as our #1 alltime favorite band. I thought their new album was pretty disappointing – but still a few gems on it.

Would love to hear – What were your favorite songs from 2016??

4278335002_3e90e703c3_mNothing has been better for my consistency in God’s Word- leading to greater intimacy with God and understanding of Him- than reading through the Bible each of the last two years.


I think the reason it is so helpful is simple, in the words of Robert Murray M’Cheyne:
“Time will not be wasted in choosing what portions to read. Here the question will be solved at once in a very simple manner.”


That’s it. Not having to decide what I’m going to read every morning- I just open up and let the calendar tell me what to read – is enough to reduce the friction on the tracks to get me going.


Some tips and helpful tools:
  • Use a plan where you read from multiple parts of the Bible every day- that keeps you from getting bogged down in more difficult books (I’m looking at you Major Prophets). The Navigators and Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s Bible Reading Plan are excellent. The Navs plan has 25 days/month to give you some grace days. M’Cheyne’s method is everyday and reads through the NT and Psalms twice in a year, which I modify to read the NT and Psalms only once – which makes it more like 2-3 chapters/day instead of 4 which I find to be more doable.
  • I highly recommend DA Carson’s For the Love of God Volumes I & II. Carson provides commentary and reflections on each day’s scriptural passages in the M’Cheyne plan. I just wake up and open up For the Love of God on my Kindle. It tells me what to read, and then gives me a brief commentary on what I read. It’s almost always insightful, and always short. For the Love of God is also available for free online.
  • My wife uses Dr. Constable’s FREE online Bible commentary as she reads through the Bible. Constable’s commentary is an unbelievable gift to the body of Christ – most commentaries are either unhelpful because they are:
    • too obvious/short or
    • too long/intense/parsing Greek
Dr. Constable’s is like a best-of-commentary: he does all the heavy lifting, reading all the commentaries and presenting to you the best of what he found to be helpful. He’s my go-to commentary when I don’t understand a passage and he almost never disappoints. Just google “Constable Philippians” or whatever book you’re reading and it will be the first Google result.
  • The Bible Project has phenomenal, short (8 minute) summary videos for every book in the Bible. They illuminate how each book of the Bible tells one story of redemption through Christ.
  • You don’t have to start at the beginning of the year in January. And you don’t even have to finish the Bible in a calendar year (though it IS very doable; and having a measure of my progress spurs me on to keep going and not fall behind).
  • I’ve written a short 2 page article on Spending Time Daily in God’s Word that gives a little more re the why’s and how’s.
I’ve had several friends push back on reading through the Bible in a year (RTtBiaY). They’ve said that it led them to duty instead of delight. They felt that they were merely checking boxes, rushing through the daily reading to get it done.


All I can say is that it has had the opposite effect for me. Maybe it’s personality differences. For me, RTtBiaY has been incredibly motivating and life giving. I’ve found it also helps to give yourself plenty of time: if you only have 15 minutes to read, RTtBiaY will feel like duty and a checklist. But if you have 30min-hour, you can really soak in the Scriptures.


I’ve found a regular time in God’s Word, making regular process plodding through the entire Bible does not produce a rut but freedom. John Piper offers great insight on routine and structure in your Quiet Time:
“If your longing is to be spontaneous in the way you commune with God, then build discipline into your Bible reading and prayer. It sounds paradoxical. But it’s no more so than the paradox of corn spontaneously growing in a Minnesota field because of the farmer’s discipline of plowing and sowing and guarding the field. He doesn’t make the corn grow. God does. But God uses his farming disciplines as part of the process. The rich fruit of spontaneity grows in the garden that is well tended by the discipline of schedule.”


Tim Keller, John Piper, my wife… All the great spiritual giants recommend RTtBiaY as a daily Quiet Time plan.


My only regret is that I haven’t been doing this for the past two decades that I’ve been walking with God. Early on in walking with God I read through the Bible annually. But somewhere along the way I stopped.


May we see Jesus more clearly in 2017 as we soak in God’s Word this year!


What tools and tips do you have that have helped you read God’s Word?


photo courtesy of Dwight Stone via Flickr