Road Journal – Day Three

Posts in the Road Journal series

  1. Road Journal – Day One
  2. Road Journal – Day Two
  3. Road Journal – Day Three
  4. Road Journal – Day Four
  5. Road Journal – Day Five
  6. Road Journal – Day Six
  7. Road Journal – Day Seven
  8. Road Journal – Day Eight

Sunday, June 23
7:04am, Phoenix, Arizona

What’s become of me? Those of you who knew me in my previous life, or Chad 1.0 as I refer to it, would not believe that at 7am on a Sunday morning I would have already gone for a 40 minute jog, showered, and am now ready to take on the day.

And take on the day I shall. We’re singing at three services this morning here at Bethany Bible Church, who is also hosting us for the next two nights. They have a 3 unit apartment complex located on their campus. The boys have one side, the girls have the other, and a few of the adult sponsors in the third, smaller unit. Yes, 15 boys and one shower.

My pleas for married housing, as usual, have gone unheeded. Andy, the youth pastor from our church and logistical director of our trip, has informed me that if he’s going without sex (his wife is home with their kids), then so are we.

I say that if you can’t get laid on a church sponsored ministry trip, then the terrorists have already won.

Last night, we had a sponsor pow-wow that lasted into the wee hours of the morning. We’re feeling like something’s amiss with this group, and we’re struggling to put our collective arms on it. We’re freshman and sophomore heavy this year, in fact there’s only one senior girl. Senior girls are usually the moral compasses and spiritual leaders of the group. We have great leadership in the boys, but… well… they’re boys. Enough said.

I personally think they’re feeling Andy and I at the end of our ministry seasons. I’m retiring from Professional Christianity and Andy’s transitioning into another ministry role, after nearly 20 years of working with youth. We’re just both so burned out, which is something that people who haven’t worked on a pastoral staff will simply never, ever understand. It’s not because they’re stupid, or lame, or shallow; in fact the collective spiritual grace exuding from the group of adult sponsors we have is inspiring. They just haven’t walked this particular path.

I’m having a hard time dropping The Righteous Hammer of Jehovah on the kids. I kind of know in my heart of hearts that I’ve failed to completely prep them for this trip, so it’s not like I can stand up in front of them and give them the ever so effective, “I’m your leader and I rock and you suck and hate Baby Jesus,” speech. The foundation has just not been laid for me to claim righteousness.

I’ve tried to explain this to the kids, this idea of burnout. I’ve been, most likely, too transparent with them, in my campaign to get them to meet me halfway. They kind of just look at me like I’m crazy, which is not terribly reassuring when you’re 90% convinced that no one understands where you’re coming from.

Thank God Erica’s here. I just wish I could get a room.


Downtown Phoenix, Arizona

Aaaaah, we finally got it together. Tour has begun.

It’s been a marathon day. We did three services this morning at the church. Fortunately we weren’t the entire service, we just did 4-5 tunes and sang with the worship team. The church fed us lunch, and then we began a serious, serious rehearsal.

We made the kids set up the full system, as one of the problems we’ve been having is that we haven’t yet had a controlled environment for a decent sound check. Monitors have been sketchy, vocal mics have had their wires crossed, and nothing says good time fun like choir mics feeding back.

For two hours, I worked them hard. I had zeroed in on four songs with major problems and we did each of them 3-4 times in a row. We worked on little, insignificant things like… oh… tone…. cutoffs… the little stuff.

I then made them sit and be an audience for the two small groups to work out their songs. Several times, I had to corral and remind them that being part of a team meant that sometimes you simply sat and supported your other team members.

We were done around 3:30pm, and the good news was that we still had two hours to relax. Hooray for naptime.
We left at 5:30 for another Teen Challenge facility, this one for the men. (side note: it’s now 8:21pm, and we just passed a sign that read 98 degrees. I blame Al Gore.) Anyway, the cool thing was that this concert was in a proper chapel, with decent to pretty good acoustics. We had a long time to prep and sound check.

Then, we finally got it. One of those audiences that’s totally dialed in from the word go. No small children to distract them. I forgot to tell you that yesterday’s concert, at the women’s facility, was in their dining room, and the noise floor created by the freezers and kitchen equipment was formidable.

No, tonight, they were ready. This was one of those audiences where you can break wind into the mic and they’ll applaud the fact that you have a lower intestine. Kids were cheered like rock stars, “Amen-ed,” like inner city preachers, and just generally celebrated.

The kids responded by becoming a real choir. They were energized by the crowd, and they actually did what I asked them to do. They matched tone, and cut off together… most of the time. God gave us what we needed today. Nothing would have been worse then to have a knock down, drag out, come-to-Jesus-and-repent-of-your-musical-sins type rehearsal and then have a bummer concert. We were given a gift tonight.

Well, we’re back at the church now, in our little apartments. One of our female sponsors was born and raised in El Salvador, and is a breathtaking cook, and she’s made homemade taquitos for the whole group. The Diet is officially suspended.

Phoenix, Arizona

Three minutes until my wife’s 31st birthday. Good night, love.

Previous in series: Road Journal – Day Two

Next in series: Road Journal – Day Four

2 thoughts on “Road Journal – Day Three

  1. michael lee

    I can empashize with that feeling of going out on a limb, staking your musical reputation on something with your group, and then praying that it actually comes through. It’s the whole “I know this is true, and 9 out of 10 times it will work if you just believe me and do it this way …” and then hoping this isn’t the 1 out of 10.

  2. Daniel Semsen

    >>>I say that if you can’t get laid on a church sponsored ministry trip, then the terrorists have already won.

    Chad…dude–freaking hilarious.

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