Author Info: Blane has served on staff at AU Chi Alpha for several years and became the Director in the Fall of 2014. This New Mexico native is a proud graduate of the University of Alabama but has fallen in love with the big city. He and his wife (Hannah) moved to DC to complete the DC Chi Alpha CMIT Program under Mike & Jen Godzwa. They are parents to a pretty amazing toddler, Jeremiah. You'll find him biking around DC in search of a coffee by day and pouring over a book by night. You can find him at www.blaneyoung.com, and connect with him via our AU Chi Alpha Staff Page.

*Originally published at: https://churchm.ag/in-celebration-of-tedbillion/

(Posted after TEDTalks had 1 Billion total views)

What an incredible milestone! I can’t even began to wrap my mind around the number of servers required to make this happen. As people are being encouraged to tweet their favorite TEDTalks, I thought I would share four incredible ones that you may have not have seen yet.

Susan Caine: The Power of Introverts
Lately, my wife has been trying to convince me that I am an introvert like her. I’m still not sure if that’s true as I tend to be as loud and engaging as a used car salesman at a Christmas party. But the more I read the confessional and heartfelt comments on YouTube, the more I thought I should at least take a look. This talk is inspiring, eye-opening and empowering, whether you are an extrovert or introvert.


David Blaine: How I Held My Breath for 17 Minutes
Where has this guy been? I’ve missed him! Anyways, in this personal talk about one of his biggest failures and accomplishments, we are given the privilege of seeing inside the mind of someone passionate about their craft. He is willing to make history despite the cost and so whether you are a fan or not, you will find this video worthwhile.

J.J. Abrams: The Mystery Box
If you’re like me, you miss LOST and there doesn’t seem to be a fitting replacement in sight. I even tried to get into Revolutions, but alas, it was not for me. I have probably seen this talk a handful of times but I continue to come back to it as I think about the importance of mystery as a communicator and creative.

Malcolm Gladwell: Choice, Happinness & Spaghetti Sauce
Who doesn’t like spaghetti sauce? Okay, there are probably lots of people. However, this talk demonstrates the brilliance of Gladwell and gives us insight into our desires, preferences and tastes.

What is your favorite TED talk? Which of the ones above did you most enjoy?


Originally published on December 1, 2012 • Short Link: http://bit.ly/2a11YKO

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Author Info: Josh is passionate about studying the Bible and having deep conversations with college students at American University and Georgetown University. In his spare time, he can be found with a book, a video game, or outdoors in a hammock, normally fueled by caffeine. You can connect with him via our AU Chi Alpha Staff Page.

The older I get, the more I realize that I like simple things. 

Simple meals. 
Simple dates. 
Simple technology. 

The last one is big. I love technology. I love being on the forefront of the newest thing, and I love when it is simple to use. Recently I had a conversation with a friend about the new trend towards 3D movies and virtual reality. It is intriguing to me that these things are becoming popular, but that there are many people who stay back from them due to the fact that it is more complicated than we are used to. I don’t want to have to put another set of glasses over my own glasses to watch a movie, or play a video game a specific way. Yes, I know that it is supposed to be more “immersive”, but to me, it is just complicating things that were fine to begin with. I’m only 26, but the older I get, the more I like things to just be simple. 

Simplicity. What is it about simplicity that we tend to be scared of? We live in such a complex world. If you don’t believe me, or if you don’t see it in the news, all you have to do is bring home something from IKEA and try assembling it. 

In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster talks about what seems to be this forgotten discipline of simplicity. He states, “The Christian discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward lifestyle.” 

...a lot of times, when we have that much stuff, we begin to let stuff define us instead of letting Christ define us

Moving from a three bedroom house to a studio apartment has taught me a lot about how to live simply. Frankly, there is just a lot of stuff that we do not need. And a lot of times, when we have that much stuff, we begin to let stuff define us instead of letting Christ define us. We are living in a generation that is all about the stuff that we have, and does not find joy in living simply, therefore the identity of this generation is based in what’s new, what’s hot, and what’s not. 

Foster goes on to list ten principles on living simply, and ones that I have found to be very helpful in evaluating the discipline of simplicity in my life. I encourage you to read over these, and implement them in yours. You’d be surprised at how much more refreshing living a simple life can be! (Personally, #5 has had the most impact on me!)

  1. Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
  2. Get rid of anything that is producing an addiction in you, anything you can’t do without.
  3. Develop a habit of giving things away.
  4. Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.
  5. Learn to enjoy things without owning them.
  6. Develop a deeper appreciation for creation.
  7. Look with a healthy skepticism at all “buy now, pay later” schemes.
  8. Obey Jesus’ instructions about plain, honest speech. (Matt. 5:37)
  9. Reject anything that breeds oppression of others.
  10. Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the Kingdom of God.

Published on August 4, 2016 • Short Link: http://bit.ly/2anStIA

Author info: Blane has served on staff at AU Chi Alpha for several years and became the Director in the Fall of 2014. This New Mexico native is a proud graduate of the University of Alabama but has fallen in love with the big city. He and his wife (Hannah) moved to DC to complete the DC Chi Alpha CMIT Program under Mike & Jen Godzwa. They are parents to a pretty amazing toddler, Jeremiah. You'll find him biking around DC in search of a coffee by day and pouring over a book by night. You can find him at www.blaneyoung.com, and connect with him via our AU Chi Alpha Staff Page.

Originally posted at: https://churchm.ag/how-do-you-define-excellence/

How do you define excellence? 

You’ve heard it before and you’ve probably used the term as you trained volunteers. I know that I have.  At times, it feels like the perfect word to describe the efforts of a well-orchestrated team accomplishing a project but at other times, it feels like a source of frustration as it is ever elusive. But what does it really mean? How do we actually define it?

Sure, I could quote Webster’s or lookup something from Seth Godin but I think my concern over the term being used in the creative arts arena is that it can’t be defined. Or better yet, it can be defined in a multitude of different ways.

It’s not quantifiable and even though spreedsheets aren’t always sexy, they at least provide us objective means of evaluation and feedback. Now, I am in now way going to try and create a system by which we grade our projects and creative endeavors. However, I do want to make an observation.

Everyone has their own working definition of excellence as defined by their experience. For instance, if you asked me about a moment when I witnessed excellence in church communication, I might mention the time that I saw an interactive, multimedia presentation in the middle of a Christmas service. However, you might mention a moment in which you were served communion, while an orchestra played behind a chorus of singing children.

Everyone has their own working definition of excellence as defined by their experience.

I know, the illustration is not perfect but I hope that it illustrates my point. It is difficult to use the term excellence as a goal when the definition is so varied. People will come to believe the project is complete or more than satisfactory while you are scratching your head wondering how in the world they considered the project anywhere near completion. Sound familiar?

Now, I must admit – the term can seem helpful at times. And no, I don’t think we should remove all mystery or idealist values from the creative process. I just think that, for whatever reason, the term can become the proverbial carrot, always out of reach and never grabbed. Or worse, it can wind up being used as an easier to swallow synonym for perfection. If that’s the case, then those around us will be robbed of times of celebration which I believe are crucial to both a team dynamic and a creative individually.

For the majority of us, I don’t think we mean for this to happen. I know I don’t. But I’m just unsure of how to use the term to effectively communicate expectations. Perhaps the solution is to define it and invite others to utilize that definition. I’m not entirely sure. I’m merely asking if there is a better way. A way in which we can facilitate art to a certain standard without every having to critique a piece with the words, “It just doesn’t feel or seem right.”

How do you navigate this? What are ways that you’ve seen the term used?


Originally published on November 29, 2012 • Short Link: http://bit.ly/2arVxoe

Author Info: Blane has served on staff at AU Chi Alpha for several years and became the Director in the Fall of 2014. This New Mexico native is a proud graduate of the University of Alabama but has fallen in love with the big city. He and his wife (Hannah) moved to DC to complete the DC Chi Alpha CMIT Program under Mike & Jen Godzwa. They are parents to a pretty amazing toddler, Jeremiah. You'll find him biking around DC in search of a coffee by day and pouring over a book by night. You can find him at www.blaneyoung.com, and connect with him via our AU Chi Alpha Staff Page.

Originally a guest post on thecreativepunk.familylife.ws

NOTE: If you are reading this on another day of the week, you have two options. You can pretend that it is Monday or plan to redeem the upcoming Monday.

Everyone hates Mondays. Almost as much as they hate lines at Wal-Mart or having to go into the bank to make a transaction or losing their keys. It’s like it is an unwritten rule of the universe that humans and Mondays don’t mix. But think about it this way: If everyone has a low expectation for Monday, then strategically, it is a great time to shine when it comes to productivity. Here are a few tips to redeem Monday:

Do Something Before Checking Your Email
The dreaded yet important tool (or beast) of our day. Do something that is on your task list before you check your email. Because email will always take every minute of time that you give it and then ask for seconds. (A cheesy pun, I know) 

Plan Your Week
Look at your upcoming tasks and projects and prioritize them based on deadlines and importance. Don’t forget to reconcile this list with the to-do’s that just didn’t quite get done the last week. The key to this tip is to be realistic. If you over plan or have ridiculously high expectations, then you are setting yourself up for a guilt trip.

Think About A Game-Changer
Take at least ten minutes to think and dream about a project or idea that would be game-changing. Particularly, something that would benefit both your organization positively and yourself positively. For me, I am working on a way to use Flickr as a hub for all of our volunteers that love photography to upload and store their files. (I stole the idea from Phil Bowdle and his sweet project called Exposure for Frazer UMC ) You don’t necessarily have to execute this idea or dream today, but start thinking about what has to happen for it to actualize.

Celebrate A Win

It doesn’t matter if it is big or small, celebrate a win from the previous week. Remind yourself why you took this job in the first place. And remember these simple but true equations:

Vision + Action = Running
Action – Vision = Crawling


Originally Published on October 11, 2010 • Short Link: http://bit.ly/29Ua6M5

Author Info: Stefa Chappell was just named Chi Alpha’s first National Field Director, after serving faithfully in a variety of roles throughout the country. She recently completed her Master's degree, and when she's not taking care of her adorable dog Finn (who has his own Instagram) she's probably out for a run, or searching for authentic salsa. She has a passion for college students that’s unparalleled and has a gift for teaching about stress, rest and cultivating healthy devotional rhythms.

Facebook | | Twitter | | Finn's Instagram | | Stefa's Instagram 

I have found that one of the hardest things about being in ministry (for me now for over two decades) is maintaining my faith.  Yes, I just said that.

The ministry is a wonderful calling—an adventure in walking with Christ that’s a little off the beaten path compared to most vocations.  In being called to full time ministry I have been invited to walk a path similar to the path Jesus walked—dependent on God through His people for my salary, called to serve and lead this fabulous, messy group of people called the Church.  

Online fundraising for Reach the City - 2016

Ministry is not unique in having intense pressures.  What makes ministry unique is that it is so intricately bound with our faith.  If I did not love God, why would I be in ministry?  But the pressures, criticism, unending workload, typically lower pay and higher expectations can have an adverse effect on a person’s spiritual life.  Outside of a daily, protected time with Jesus, there are a few things I have found to help me keep my faith in Jesus central to my life as I endeavor to serve in this wonderful ministry. 

Take intentional time away from the ministry to be reminded that you are first and foremost a child of God.

I was called into relationship with God before I was called to ministry.

Several years ago I took a six-month sabbatical—I was burned out and too young to be that way.  For much of my sabbatical I traveled and stayed with dear friends who just loved me.  Without question, the most valuable thing that the Lord did deep inside me was to remind me that I am first and foremost His daughter.  I don’t think you need to take a sabbatical to learn that lesson (although I think more ministers would be healthier and more fruitful if they did!), but it must be learned.  I was called into relationship with God before I was called to ministry.  I was called to relationship with God before the earth was founded.  That’s got to mean something. 

Have friends outside of the ministry.

My friends are lawyers, image consultants and nurses—they own their own businesses and work at places like NASA and somewhere that has to do with Defense (which I may or may not be allowed to know about). :)  As I interact with my friends we don’t talk much about what’s going on in my job (insert Selah here!).  We talk more about our relationship with God than my To Do list.  I am not the leader in our friendship.  I am a follower of Christ.

Remember that God really doesn’t need you.

The simple fact is that God can do this work without me.  Yes, He wants me to be involved (which is why He asked) and He wants to partner with us mere mortals to see His Kingdom come to earth (and He always will), but He really doesn’t need me to make sure it all happens.  When I keep this in mind I can’t help but respond with gratitude for being a part of this work.  There are times when I literally say to God, “Thanks for thinking of me.”  Gratitude nurtures a healthy relationship with God (or with anyone, really), and that’s a great way to stay Christian in the ministry!



Originally published on July 16, 2014 • Short Link: http://bit.ly/2ahv1hD