Mike and his partner Wayne Rice were responsible for the Ideas Books, the National Youth Workers Convention and many other tangible ministry tools. But for those of us who knew him, it was his constant support, love and inspiration for those in student ministry that truly changed our lives. He was constantly reminding us of God's love for us. He never backed down from the concept that student ministry was important- just as important as anything else the church did. I remember so well his rants about the "Jones Memorial Carpet." This was his phrase for any scared cow that churches would try to "protect" from youth. The stories would always go something like this: The church board is freaking out because a student spilled a Coke on the Jones Memorial Carpet. Mike always said the church should be shouting "WHOOO-HOO! We have youth in our church!" I remember him each year at the opening of the NYWC going over the schedule and telling some of us that we needed to skip all the workshops, grab our spouses, a bottle of wine, and go spend the weekend in our rooms, because our marriages needed more work than our ministries. Mike had a way of cutting through the BS and speaking God's truth. He believed and trusted in the grace of Jesus Christ, and had little patience for Pharisees in the modern church.
Mike was nothing if not unconventional. He was a major Christian leader who had been kicked out of Bible college. He launched "Fingerblasters" in the lobbies of some of the nicest hotels in USAmerica (once hitting a desk clerk in Denver while she was checking me in!). He cared deeply for "the least of these," and is a hero with the folks at World Vision. He once forgot the Communion elements at his church in Yreka and served frozen hot dog rolls and orange juice instead. His rants on "getting fired for the glory of God" were controversial- and right on the money. He was a member of the evangelical establishment, yet one of its strongest critics. To anyone who ever shook his hand or got a pat on the back from him, he was immediately your friend.
Because of Jesus,