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Creepy Guy

Thursday, June 29, 2006 by Mike Lovato

We took some high schoolers to the beach last night and I decided to take this picture with Jon "the intern" McWhorter and Whitney.

Check the Date

Wednesday, June 28, 2006 by Mike Lovato

I was getting ready this morning to go to the funeral of one our volunteer's mother-in-law. Had the iron ready to iron my one pair of dress pants that fits. So I e-mailed our church receptionist to let her know I wouldn't be in until after lunch. She replied saying the funeral was yesterday. All I'd read on the e-mail yesterday was "funeral will be tomorrow." Would have helped if I noticed the e-mail was written on Monday.

Volunteer Training

Sunday, June 25, 2006 by Mike Lovato

Had a good volunteer training meeting this afternoon. It's taken awhile for the team to completely click. We're starting to now, but still have a pretty large leader shortage, especially in high school. We could realistically use twice as many leaders as we have. We did some training on a new Bible Study curriculum we're starting in the next couple weeks. It's from Student Life and is pretty sweet because it's all delivered via the web.

Also spent some time talking through a new commitment sheet for leaders that will allow us to hold them more accountable. Also introduced a new coaching structure, care/contact plan, and plan for launching new groups. There's a lot going on.

Last year we really focused (in high school) on our midweek program which is really the front door to our ministry. This next year my goal is to close the back door through these Sunday AM small groups, while still improving the front door experience.

Staff Retreat (the other, but also fun stuff)

Saturday, June 24, 2006 by Mike Lovato

We spent the rest of our time at staff retreat going over two sessions on teamwork. Pretty good stuff that our senior pastor has taught to some leaders in Austria. My favorite part of our "official" time though was when we got to look through some data we got to take a look at where we're at as a church. It basically graphed out where all the members of our church live. It also then gave us info on our community broken down into a 5-mile, 10-mile, and 15-mile radius from the church. There were some surprising results. Here's some of them

  • We are not a total commuter church as some had believed (including myself). Our membership is actually fairly spread out evenly over the whole city.
  • There are more higher income households within the 5-mile radius than we realized. 15% of households within it make 100K or more a year.
  • They ran this psychographic stuff that showed that the biggest group near our church is called Metro Fringe. The second is called Upscale America. Unfortunately, Montia left the descriptions of these groups at the office so we're not exactly sure what they mean.
Anyways, not sure what all the implications of this study are, but it's very interesting to a nerd like me who likes maps. Combining maps and ministry is like a dream come true for me.

New Template

Friday, June 23, 2006 by Mike Lovato

Ok, so I finally changed my blog template. This looks much better (in my opinion). But can someone who's much smarter than me tell me how to make my picture not so stinking big!?!? I thought Blogger normally scales it down for you page, but I'm having trouble with this new template doing that.

UPDATE: Either I'm smarter than I thought or it fixed itself. You should have seen the pic last night!

Staff Retreat (the fun stuff)

by Mike Lovato

Spent the last two days up in Big Bear on staff retreat. We had a pretty good time. A few hours of meetings and a lot of time hanging out. One of our staff members is married to a VERY successful businessman so we were able to hang out at their "RV park" clubhouse last night. This place is like no RV park I've ever heard of. A spot by the water just sold for $425,000. That's right, just a spot to park an RV. Now keep in mind that most of these spots have sweet landscaping, patio furniture, and built-in BBQs. Last night we hung out at the clubhouse there which is AMAZING. Two stories, pool tables, game tables, big screen TV, full commercial kitchen....I could go on, but I won't. You can check the place out a little here.

We stayed at Northwoods Resort in the Village. I've driven past that place a bunch of times, but never been in. It was really cool hotel. Very mountain themed, but very comfortable and modern. Went to sleep last night with our room's fireplace roaring (ok, more like hissing gas, but it was still cool). We got a great rate there and I'd highly recommend the place.

Probably my favorite part though was when above-mentioned staff member's husband took us out on his boat on the lake. I could get very used to that. Nicole says I had a huge cheesy smile on my face the whole time. It was awesome.

When in Doubt

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 by Mike Lovato

I'm learning more and more that whenever you're in doubt on a situation....ask. When I'm not clear on a decision to be made is the time when I don't need to be making the decision on my own.

Case in point, I was ready today to have a conversation with a parent that could have done some damage. I wasn't 100% on the situation so I called a veteran youth pastor friend and asked his thoughts. He basically told me the exact opposite of what I was thinking and I knew in my gut he was right. Outside eyes are almost always extremely helpful to the situation.

Now, there comes a point where you have to make the final decision. But before it gets to that point, it makes sense to get all the counsel and feedback you can.


by Mike Lovato

I happened to catch today's reading from My Utmost for His Highest Today and it caught my eye. Here's a couple snippets.

"The continual inner-searching we do in an effort to see if we are what we ought to be generates a self-centered, sickly type of Christianity, not the vigorous and simple life of a child of God."

"How long is it going to take God to free us from the unhealthy habit of thinking only about ourselves? We must get to the point of being sick to death of ourselves, until there is no longer any surprise at anything God might tell us about ourselves. We cannot reach and understand the depths of our own meagerness. There is only one place where we are right with God, and that is in Christ Jesus. Once we are there, we have to pour out our lives for all we are worth in this ministry of the inner life."

My Blueberry Muffin...

by Mike Lovato

is on the floor. I had a near-drop experience where I lost some pieces of it. And then the whole plate went. It was a good blueberry muffin. I miss it.

Most Played Songs in itunes

Sunday, June 18, 2006 by Mike Lovato

Ok, it's kind of a boring Sunday night so I thought I'd post this. Here's the top 5 most played songs on my itunes.

Indescribable by Chris Tomlin
I Was So Alone by The Rocket Summer
Don't Panic by Coldplay
Such Great Heights by The Postal Service
Around the Clock by The Rocket Summer

Seminary Class Picture

by Mike Lovato

This is a photo of my class that I was at all last week. It kinda felt like camp so I guess it was appropriate to take a camp photo. Anyways, me and my friend Alex are the guys near the bottom staring at the guy's head in front of us.

I am a Crappy Friend

by Mike Lovato

Let me start by saying I'm not the best at staying in touch with people. In fact, I can be bad at hanging out with people I'm friends with even when they live close by. I realized I'm a crappy friend when one of the guys who was in my wedding (and was once pretty close to) got married without me knowing it. Now, I knew he was engaged, but then I saw his MySpace the other day and saw wedding photos.

Nicole reminds me that I'm only a 50% crappy friend because friendship is a two-way street. But still...I should stay better connected.

The moral of the story is: if you consider me a friend, make sure you stay in touch with me because sometimes I suck at that.


Friday, June 16, 2006 by Mike Lovato

Two deer just ran past my classroom window....and as I type they did again...and now one stopped to check his reflection out in the window. Sweet.


by Mike Lovato

Ok, everyone seems to be doing this quiz. So here's mine.

You scored as Anselm

Anselm is the outstanding theologian of the medieval period.He sees man's primary problem as having failed to render unto God what we owe him, so God becomes man in Christ and gives God what he is due. You should read 'Cur Deus Homo?'



John Calvin


Jonathan Edwards


Karl Barth


Friedrich Schleiermacher




Charles Finney


J?rgen Moltmann


Martin Luther


Paul Tillich

(HT to Sean Meade)

Mill Valley Day 2

by Mike Lovato

Day 2 of class....the time went by a little slower, but when class got done we had a great night. I went out with Alex, his mom, and his sister. We went down to Union Square and had dinner at Cheesecake Factory. His mom lives in England and has a sweet accent. Got to see a 3-story Crate and Barrel. Got some coffee. Drove over the Golden Gate Bridge for the fifth time in two days. I'm loving hanging out up here. And class is decent too.

Mill Valley

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 by Mike Lovato

I'm up in Mill Valley taking a seminary class from now until Saturday. So far so good. The campus here has an AMAZING view of San Francisco from the main academic building. I pretty much spend my class breaks staring out the window. Tonight I hung out with Alex and Larry and drove into SF to grab some food and hang out. Larry is with the IMB as well as working with Saddleback on the PEACE plan. He is completely full of CRAZY stories ranging from hitchhiking while in college in Paris to sleeping in cardboard boxes to heading up the Rwanda Open. No matter where our conversation it ends with Larry telling a 10 minute story that cracks me up and is awesome. I'm tired and that's all for now.

Last thought...Larry had been telling us some stories about being out on the mission field and how they'd need a certain part for a jeep. They'd stop and pray about it and then get on the road and they'd find the exact part lying in the middle of the road. He said eventually they just got used to this and operated from a mode of feeling like that was normal. His words, "Pray...and then do it."


Monday, June 12, 2006 by Mike Lovato

Nicole's playing PS2 right now and cracking me up. She had a hard time with Simpsons Hit and Run so now she's playing LOTR Two Towers and just hitting buttons over and over again. It's awesome.


Friday, June 09, 2006 by Mike Lovato

I've been prepping for an intensive seminary class I have next week up in Mill Valley. I've read 2 of the 3 required books so far. Here's my brief review:

Creative Bible Teaching - This book is a great basic book on how to do an inductive Bible Study and then teach it to a group of people. I liked it more than I thought I would. It has some great ideas for doing creative stuff other than just lecture or discussion without a "cheesy Sunday School" factor like I thought it might have.

The Way They Learn - Also another recommended read. It goes beyond the typical auditory, visual, and kinesthetic styles (although it does have a chapter on them) to go into how people learn best, study best, memorize best, etc. It's written to parents to help them with helping their kids succeed in school, but it's also a good read for anyone who wants to understand themselves or people better.

Discipleship Group

by Mike Lovato

Ok, so one out of five showed up for our group this morning. Turned out ok though. David and I had a good time just talking for about an hour. He said something rather profound that many teens wouldn't notice.

David: I've been thinking lately about what people really need in life. They need a purpose or reason for living and they need to be loved.

Nuff said.

Midweek At a Glance

Thursday, June 08, 2006 by Mike Lovato

Ok, I'm going to try a new feature based on what I've seen several people doing on their blogs and give the breakdown of our Midweek crowd program each week. I'll base this mostly off Kurt's style of doing it because it's simple and I like it. Here we go:

Topic: Parables - The Good Samaritan

Game: Below Average. Wasn't really a game, but more of a bit where we send guys out of the room, remove a chair, and they fall through a hole. It had some potential, but one of the guys knew about it and told the other ones. So it tanked. But we had fun laughing at ourselves.

Music: Slightly above average. Songs: Here is Our King, Oh Praise Him, Let Everything That, Amazing Love (You Are My King), and May the Words of My Mouth

Message Length: 25 minutes

Message Quality: Average. This whole series has been a departure from my normal teaching style which has made me feel a little at insecure at times. Plus I feel like I've managed my time really crappily lately which means my talks aren't getting my full attention. But, I've gotten good response each week and God seems to be using it.

Volunteer Interaction: Average. Our volunteers do a decent job of connecting with students during the program. We just need to get them interacting before the program.

Student Response: Average

Attendance: Below Average

1st Time Guests: 4


by Mike Lovato

Nicole and I got an idea from my friend Josh. He's doing a month-long TV fast. We decided not to do a fast, but instead to drastically cut back. So we're cutting back to an hour of TV a day. To some of you that probably still sounds like a ton, but we were watching A LOT of TV. Typically I'd say we watch a couple hours in the evening and then an hour or so in the bedroom before falling asleep. It's, unforunately, become the total time-killer for us

So we've been doing this for about a week and it's been cool so far. We've found that we don't even use the full hour some nights. Life has felt a little slower paced since doing this. A little bit of margin is good for all of us.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006 by Mike Lovato

I should be working on my talk, but I'm having trouble getting motivated. I've felt like this a lot lately. I think it's partially because I've done a crappy job of structuring my time during the days. I've used some of my most productive times on meaningless stuff so then I get to the stuff that needs my attention and I have a hard time because I'm tired and not all there. Ok, enough from me. Time to go get motivated.

Crazy Weekend

Monday, June 05, 2006 by Mike Lovato

Another crazy weekend. Saturday night was our Senior Night Out for graduating seniors. We took a group of them on a Harbor Cruise in Newport Beach and then to dinner at Buca di Beppo. Lots of fun. This has been a class that pretty much disappeared during all the transition of the last couple years, but now some of them are back (just as they graduate).

Sunday consisted of senior recognition in all 3 services, freshman parent meeting after church, catching the end of a college ministry brainstorm after that, quick lunch with Jon and Nicole, picked up a helium tank, got ready for our senior reception that night, then we had our high school choir musical followed by the senior reception.

On those last two notes, let me say a couple things. I've never been a huge youth choir fan, but youth choir is huge at our church. I have to say though, that last night was my favorite thing I've ever seen them do. It was basically just a bunch of songs with Scripture readings in between. It was a cool night.

For our senior reception, our church has this cool tradition of having all the grads decorate tables with all their photos, awards, memorabilia, etc. from their whole lives. We serve cake and punch and people walk around checking out the seniors' stuff. It's a lot of fun.

Anyways, all that left me exhausted when I got home. Today has been a fairly lazy day of resting up for the rest of a busy month.

Friday, Sweet Friday

Friday, June 02, 2006 by Mike Lovato

Got to take today off for my Memorial Day (Monday's my normal day off so when there's a holiday I get an extra day during the week). Here's the highlights:

Went to guys' discipleship group at 6:45am (ok, so the time wasn't a highlight).

Came back and took an hour nap.

Slowly browsed blogs.

Read a sweet article my bro sent me on NYC development. I'm a nerd when it comes to that sort of stuff.

Got Nicole's car washed.

Rented a helium tank for our grad reception Sunday night.

Wandered through Borders.

Ate lunch with Nicole at Panera Bread.

Came home.

Turned on the A/C (it was like 99 degrees today!)

Went to Costco and Best Buy.

Went to Nicole's parents to hang out and eat.

Went home again.

Went and saw The Break-Up. Very funny.

Am now sitting at home blogging and listening to Coldplay. Life is good.


by Mike Lovato

I've told a couple people recently that I'm rediscovering grace and learning to live by grace and not guilt. The last month of my life has been intensely painful, but probably some of the most productive, growing times I've ever had. Today I had an e-mail from a good friend where he mentioned how we need to let go of things at times and "rest" in God's grace (easier said than done - his words). That is very hard to do because it's not like you can "try" to rest in God's grace. It's not something you try to do; it's something you do. And it's something I need so desperately. I'm such an overanalyzer and worrier in life. I try to figure out everything. I want to know the reasons behind things. I always want to peel back the layers of reality to see what else might lie there. But...in the end I need to knock it off and rest in God's grace.

A well-known verse is Proverbs 3:5 - "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;"

I love the way it's paraphrased in The Message - "Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own."

So much of what I wrestle with and struggle with in life is because I ignore that verse. I'm all about figuring it out. So, my only hope is when I stop analyzing myself and I stop trying to figure everything out and I simply...trust.


Mike Lovato is a follower of Jesus, husband to Nicole, daddy to Addison, and pastor to teenagers in Riverside, CA.


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