Sunday, February 28, 2010

"It's Not Rocket Science!"

When I get around to writing a more comprehensive youth ministry book [if ever] I already have the title... because it really isn't you know... except if the worldwide and local context mega shifts while you're living in it and generations of people, parents and families, make another choice... except if that leaves a generation gap and delays the renewal of worship as it remains in the style of the dominant remaining generations... except if the societal shifts are counter to the forms of belonging, community and liturgy which remains!!
I've never criticised the older adult generation for the shape of church they live in per se... it's an excellently shaped institution/community/event for an age that no longer exists... BUT change is inevitable... what exists will pass away and what springs up will be the future... there are things existing 'members' of the church can do to make space an things they can do to consign what they know to history!!
PERMISSION, SPACE and VALIDITY are three key tasks of existing church communities in birthing new forms, experiments and stuff that younger people might want to do/be!!
All ministry is inherently 'relational' in nature and best powered by deliberate hope and action to include the Spirit of God in that relationship. Worship is described well by Mark Pierson as 'people/or a person responding to God' and neither of these things needs to be more complex than that... we layer a goal over these, we measure effectiveness in numbers, we over value conformity or forms of faith which promote a language and a behaviour of 'in' and 'out'!!
And frankly, it's time... as someone who unhelpfully takes the weight of the world on their shoulders on occasion... 'lighten up!'
Late last year I found myself at a meeting with a few moments to chat to the ladies volunteering to do the catering... once introduced I was asked "how do we get the young people back into church, specifically referring to their regional rural small but vibrant town location?"
My mind was full of the reason I was there, about to be asked questions by all and sundry about my sense of call to ordination and so I gave the most honest, short answer I could... "you don't!"
The question was rephrased as though I'd obviously misheard... I repeated my answer and suggested I was sorry but it's the wrong question... the challenge was to ask "who in our community that's present here do we so love that we wish to 'spend ourselves in serving their hurts and hopes in life'...'how can we BE the people of God in this place at this time... fully present in our community and seeking to become known on the 'grapevine' for our mission or engagement in God's world and God's activity in the world...
This might lead to some affinity groups or genuine sense of community amongst bunches of young people [for the time they live in this town] if they a served by our action and relationships in their context...
So, if young people are present, the last great gathering point in Oz society is schools... how are we engaged in serving school communities so as to be known...

Healthy breakfasts with Red Cross/Others
Homework centre with mentoring/tutors
Sports coaching
Driver Education
HSC Care Packs
Instead of the old 'Education Week' worship where schoolies turned up at church in uniform for an austere regular Sunday service... how about partnering with the school at the school in a necessarily multi-faith celebration of education?
If you did have people willing to give leadership to activities for young people, build on these missional connection points to offer related activities which make sense... read the context... kids will join one homogenous group but it'll likely be about a series of compromises for group life... why not offer a string of activities they seem to have an affinity for and focus on building relationship around those... purely because God loves us all and values us... not as a means to some 'ends'...
If young people are interested in faith, spirituality, life and it's questions they will ask and show that... the traditional 9am worship is I predict the 'last place' they will find help... no matter how much they enjoy relating across generations... unless you already have a program which is aimed specifically at their age group you need to look at 'starting something new' and using resources aimed at this context.
'NOOMA' DVDS are a great example of a relatively universal attempt to speak out of and into the current context... it's not for everyone... The 'Belonging' Kit remains a helpful exploration of belonging, beliefs and questions...
Mentoring is a viable model of relationship BUT needs boundaries for safety, for being centred on the learner, not the mentor's agenda and needs training and monitoring... it's built on active listening and reflection. You are welcome to share your story but it's important to 'own and ground' your input and work at giving young people 'tools' for thinking...
Oh, except if you want to tell them 'how it is', that seems to work too, for some young people and sometimes for the majority... but they are likely to either develop unhealthy practices in relation to moral and ethical issues, or move to and join a more conservative group later in adolescence or young adulthood or find the gap between what they've been told and their experience of life is inherently widening and so wonder who to believe... or they'll eventually discover nobody is perfect but those exhorting them to aim for that are hypocrical in the extreme... and they are wired to walk away from that at speed!! Or is these just my theories?
OK... that's the start of one unreliable idea... more on this later... including revisions!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Ordinary Courage" Donna Mulhearn

This book is a must read for anyone seeking to be challenged about being fully human, fully themselves and wanting to make the world a better place!! Donna's story begins with reflection about a pair of blood stained boots and moves through surprising and frightening episodes in her efforts to simply respond with non violence in a crazy world of just the opposite.
I don't agree with all Donna's perspectives and reasoning but am inspired by the simple commitment and following of 'call' that resulted and results in her story!! Out now!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tropfest 2010

Finally made it to a live screening last night to see one of the two or three films I quite liked, win the top prize!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

World Press Photos

Every year there are some stunning stories in a still image that make up the World Press Photo winners and at the moment our Sydney Morning Herald has them in a video presentation here
At some point the collection will be blown up on banners and tour art galleries or State Library in our case... stay tuned!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Frisbee Inventor Fred Morrison dies aged 90

Check the story of a simple name change by the distribution company which led to a huge cultural phenomenon that is the frisbee here
There's ten points gone missing from the 'deadpool'!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"A New Kind of Christianity" Brian D McLaren

It's OUT!! Last October I broke my workshop/conference embargo [sick of hearing and talking, keen to just be doing] and went to a one dayer with Brian at Rhodes. It was inspired.

Just like his previous "Everything Must Change" he was answering questions lots of us are asking about non black and white theology... with credible researched and scholarly back up for 'living the questions'!! As a result I can't wait to get a copy of this new book and have a read!

I only ever say that about gripping biographies of sports, political or media figures with colourful history or come connection to my own story!!

I was able to share the mp3 and lyrics of a song with Brian in October that was inspired by 'Everything Must Change'... not sure I can follow that up but was embarrassed in handing it over to discover Brian was writing and posting songs on his website... I had no idea!!

Anyhow... better get to the bookshop and get reading!! I suspect the backbone of some already written Camp Talks and musings will receive a boost froma well set out story and background... with Brian having 'done the theology'!!

Monday, February 08, 2010

New Wallabies Jersey from KooGa

Well, here it is!! The new hi-tech KooGa rugby union jumper replacing the Canterbury strip with the bandaid strips on the shoulders and the sickly golden yellow!! In it's place this very yellow but pleasantly plain effort!!

Let's face it, after the All Blacks jersey everyone else is scrambling for second place but at least the doggy shaped green bubbles are gone and it looks like a football jumper!! At $170 it'd want to...

New Orleans saints win the 'Superbowl XLIV'

The Saints historic win in 'todays' grand final of the American football was built on a stoic but pressured defence and the risk taking options that allowed Drew Brees to take them to a 31-17 win!!

Payton Manning had Indianapolis ona familiar path with early drives that were just too strong but in the end he was intercepted and a later knocked down ball let time run away as the party on Bourbon St broke out live on satellite of course!!

I like many others thought while 'The Who' did their best at half time, it was a great stage show, some classic tunes BUt a little underwhelming!!

Yes, I follow this crazy sport... catching about 2/3 game a week on Fox and keeping up with the standings so I can watch a little more later in the 'post season'!!

The Superbowl goes in my diary asap and I had hoped to watch NY Jest this year but they fell one game short!! As an Oakland Raiders fan I rely on mild interest in a bout 5 other teams to ensure I am cheering for a competitive bunch!!
None of this can wipe the horrendous things that happened through hurricane Katrina but coimmunities do have a way of rallying around such points...

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Worship Unplugged # 63 Fishing Line Prayer

Another creative surprise at Camp was the effectiveness of a prayer activity using coloured art paper which was different colours each side, cut into A5. Punters wrote prayers and then used masking tape to stick them on an angle onto a length of fishing line strung from a ceiling lighting bracket to the floor, secured by being tied to a bread knife.
Standing back it looked like the paper was hovering unassisted in a line from floor to ceiling!!
Simple things done well!!

Worship Unplugged # 62 Magnetic Poetry 'Stop Animation'

At Summer Camp we had a mixture of pre=planned simple creativity and ideas generated by campers in specific planning sessions in their Learning Groups. One small group worked together on a simple prayer using magnetic poetry...
Rather than stop frame video they took some 60 snaps with words changed and we added them to 'keynote' with soundtrack and auto animation!!

Friday, February 05, 2010

George Smith retires from International Rugby Union

When I first saw this headline on the net I had to check it wasn't April 1st!! George has played over 100 Rugby Internationals for the Wallabies and is an absolute legend! Quick on his feet with good hands he was a little short to be a genuine 3rd lineout option but overshadowed that by simply being first to the ball, pilfering and creating havoc just wide of the ruck for season after season!! He and Phil Waugh forced a double openside selection for a number of coaches and seasons with George taking the points recently... more will be written in coming days I guess but he must have just begun to feel he couldn't get through to next years World Cup and so has called it a day for Internationals!! Enjoy watching him for the Brumbies this season I guess!! Or maybe in the near future they'll see a little more of him at Manly Rugby or the Dee Why Tongan congregation!! I assume Japan, England or France is first port of call for a payday first!!

TROPFEST Trip 21st February

Click on and save the flyer above as your invitation to join 'Salt Factory' on a trip to Sydney to view the 16 Finalists short films in the Domain on 21st February for $10 [films free, $10 for bus ride]!!
This is our February event with a Live Music Cafe planned for March!!
There re a few final detils to be locked in for this event BUT these are the arrangements!!