Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mentos and Coke Rocket Car

The Mentos and Coke boys were at it again on Letterman tonight our time in Oz [so Tuesday nights show in the US] and they had 100+ bottles of Coke Zero powered by adding buckets of Mentos and then popping the stoppers to release the energy fizz and send Letterman down the street on the rickshaw type bike!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Fish Nets or Safety Nets" with Dave Male

This year I've broken my Workshop/Conference embargo for a couple of worthwhile days of listening/engagement... Restless and tired of 'talking' about mission, change and the future I decided not to attend any more talkfests.
This was a day with one of the heads of the new Training Institute for 'Pioneer Ministers' in the Fresh Expressions project which is now firmly a partnership between C of E and Methodist Churches in the UK.
Dave Male was engaging, had a sharp presentation with the right balance between stories and principles and his input wasn't new if you've done some reading but was focused on exactly the key points that stimulate thinking and bring focus.
I was able to think where I am with 'Salt [Factory]' and with places we work in encouraging change/mission and reinvention.
Some of the quotes evoking clear thinking included:

"... do not try to call them back to where they were, and do not try to call them to where you are, beautiful as that may seem to you. You must have the courage to go with them to a place that neither of you has been before.' Vincent Donovan

"...what is taking place is not merely the the continued decline of orgnised Christianity but the death of the culture which formerly conferred Christian identity upon the British people as a whole..." Callum Browne 'Death of Christian Britain'

"...create a linguistic community which speaks to itself but gives up responsibility to put the gospel in a language which is understood by the whole of society..." Tim Keller

I suppose I'm highlighting these because they say what we do in all settings but because yuo can quote and author and book, people listen...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

'Father Bob' at 'South Sydney Herald' Fundraiser

'Father Bob' was the guest speaker at Buon Gusto last Friday night when 80+ punters gathered to support South Sydney Uniting Church's 'Herald.' Because of organiser Trevor's connections even Premier Kristina Keneally dropped by for the meal and 90mins of socialising on the night.
The food was superb and Father Bob spoke engagingly about a wide range of subjects to do with celebrating community organising and social justice activism through the paper. He compared this work to that of Ted Noffs, Bill Crews and others.
He was as he is in the media in the sense that 'what you see is what you get' and I even had a chance to chat with him over coffee before the dinner and talk about the 7PM Project and his trip to Melbourne's 'Big Day Out' with Ruby Rose which I use to introduce youth ministry workshops and discussions with adults and groups.
All in all it was a great night of socialising and support where I was happy enough to provide the background music and PA system... where the new mics need some fine tuning and foam baffles to stop the "pph pph-ng when you speak!!" so hence the well placed red serviette.
Photo courtesy of Hayley French!!

Monday, June 21, 2010


Banned from Aussie cricket grounds a few years ago, like swarm of bees, cultural icon, loud plastic trumpet, potential deafness risk... cal it what you will, the vuvuzela will certainly define the '2010 FIFA World Cup'!!
There have been lots of calls for them to be banned but to be fair, this far away watching TV in the middle of the night, they actually help keep the viewer awake!! as well as their near neighbours. I swear its the actual sound you can hear too, not from the TV!!
When they were popular here in Oz at the cricket I kept looking on the ticketing website for the vuvuzela yes/no tick box because I was sure missing that is why I came to be always sitting right in front of some buffoon blowing one of them. How fitting they are part of South African footballing culture!!
Still it's only soccer!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Change" Reflection/Worship

I prepared a Reflecton/Worship for our BOE Staff Meeting today as it was about my turn again. The theme was 'change' given our upcoming 'integration' of the Boards of Education and Mission.

The start was the clip for the Greg Laswell song "How the Day Sounds" which you can check out here

The I shared this reflection/prayer...

“CHANGE” A Reflection
Do we dare? Could we possibly?
Create a space for collaboration, an engaging conversation
A safe space, which is not necessarily comfortable, but honest

This is the space God calls us to,
Where we shift from “I” to “we”
From ‘excellence’ to ‘authenticity’
From the centre to the edge
From the church, intentionally into our context

As we face changes and stare at the future
How does the day sound?
Not just, what are we doing? But, who will we be?
Not simple but complex, not imposed but planned
What costs will we recognise and how will we carry those

In this time of reflection
We are invited to recognise the past and move on
To envisage a future we can participate in
To identify culture and behaviours of value
And to challenge their absence where we find it

What story will we tell?
What space will we make?
What tension will we confront?
What risks will we take?

We spent a brief moment observing what we could learn from a Wordle of our BOE Synod 2010 Report... pictured above

Then there were [4] Prayer Activities to do while we listened to "Changes" a new track from Sarah McLachlan from "Laws of Illusion"

1. Brown lined paper for writing what makes the meeting a 'safe space'
2. Bowl and sandpaper for tearing off strips for 'confessions'/things to let go of
3. Bowl of 'Time Out' bars to take and eat while pondering how you'll take time out:
to listen
to collaborate
to be creative
to recreate
4. Lighting candles for 'others' beyond ourselves

Reading Romans 12: 1-21 and comments
Then we got into our meeting and closed it by re-reading the reflection.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Films dealing in some way with the issue of 'racism'

"Remember the Titans"
"Freedom Writers"
"Gran Torino"
"Remember the Titans"
"The Combination"
These are from different genres but check the ratings and preview before using with your groups!!
You'll find plenty of other examples all over the www!!

"Racism' this week, in sport, in Australia"

This weekend here in Oz [at least on the east coast] a huge story has emerged from the training camp for our NSW State of Origin Rugby League Team ahead of Game 2 in the series. Local league legend and team assistant coach Andrew Johns was giving the backilne players an informal 'pep talk' about tactics and what would be required to stop some of the oppositions star players from securing a fifth series in a row clinching win in Brisbane on Wednesday night...
Only problem is Andrew's banter was peppered with insulting slang comments about the players and indeed about himself. He reportedly referred to Greg Inglis as a "Black c__" and himself as 'white trash from Cessnock.' Timana Tahu the NSW winger took exception and after speaking to the head coach, walked out of the training camp and team because of what he saw as the unacceptable comments.
Andrew apologised publicly [after some initial management 'smokescreening'] also saying "I'm not a racist, but..." and herein lies the problem. As humanity we don't always cope well with difference... sexuality, appearance, values, hobbies, race, religion... you name it. Many wise people have observed that on some level we are all racist, in the sense that we struggle with aspects of racial difference in ever more subtle ways even if we don't have some irrational or vitriolic view of others.
It's often represented as quips or nicknames about skin colour, it happens everytime we stereotype "damn Germans... that's so Irish of you... he's gone walkabout etc"... It's subtle, but destructive or rude at best!! It's an issue which we should do more about and confront when it arises in such a public way... but not by villifying Andrew Johns, instead by educating, encouraging and changing behaviours...
This week's story unearths deeper and more far reaching issues and if any good comes form this we might move from radio talkback fodder to actually doing something about the issue.
I know in my own sporting connections I have seen and been around a culture of humour and distrust. In rugby union there's a high level of participation from Islanders who are often endearingly referred to as 'coconuts' or operating on 'coconut time' even by themselves... but there's an undercurrent there and a cringeworthy moment or two when it's not said in jest. "Wetsuits" was a common term in the early 90s too... as in a black steamer wetsuit with bosy, arms and legs, black. Nobody ever meant harm or even insult, it was almost a shorthand way of speaking but did tap into the competitive nature of sport... 'a put down of others builds you up' kind of mentality!!
To the issues... this incident reflects a widespread issue in all parts of our society and is not just about the individuals. It's also true that we continue to expect talented sports stars to exhibit wisdom and intellegence, understanding and communication which is often beyond their experience or education. Being a millionaire rugby league player does not mean having the maturity, education or experience to handle life's bumps and bruises or to have thought through cultural and contextual issues, how to behave publicly and privately etc. Indeed sometime big money early in life short circuits a few life lessons learned the hard way. I have heard stories of 1980s Aussie Test cricketers who on retirement had no idea how to use an ATM as the team manager handled that sort of stuff!!
Andrew and all League players [and lots of people in mainstream society] would benefit from an 'anti racism' workshop, conversation with people fro other cultures and/or some time and experience seeing the values and lifestyles of those cultures.
It's to be hoped that happens and perhaps in the wider sport there should be some 'courses' for all clubs.
IN THE MEANTIME those engaged in youth ministry could take the opportunity to do some work on the issues and a great starting point could be our Uniting Church Assembly Social Justice Sunday Resource from 2003 "Subverting Racism" available here.
If time allows as this week progresses I'd be keen to suggest some muisc, films which could help open up the issues...

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Trials of Getting Along with the Congregational Ministry Leader in your Team

Here's an for Youth Specialties National Youth Worker training event which might resonate for some in congregational youth work!!
I found it on the Fuller Youth Institute blog

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wallabies can win the Rugby World Cup in 2011!!

Twelve months ago was a different story but the selection of youthful players with form and the blend of experience in the side all showed out against England last night in Perth!!
'Hang on, didn't our scrum get destroyed and wasn't the score close?' Well, yes but that's not the game going on within the game!!
You see we tackled low in the try zone and bustled England who played 10 man rugby and looked ordinary in attack. Our backs played slight of hand, ran good angles and kept the ball alive!!
Quade Cooper directed an attacking style and they 'chanced their arm' time and again!! They were fast, aggressive and had a good plan. Begrudgingly I'd say that Luke Burgess had his best game for the Wallabies.
With injuries and trying to boost our depth the scrum was exposed by the massive England front row and yielded two penalty tries from splintering the scrum on or near the try line. We need to remember that this was about our fourth choice front row and it's all experience for them as the Poms were 'boring in' and playing on the edge of the rules, but deserved to dominate as they kept their feet and drove forward.
I look forward to the game in Sydney next week to see how the players under pressure handle the moment!! The team now have about 18 matches to keep working on combinations, selecting different up and comers and seeing who is our best option and what is our best plan of attack!!
The Wallabies actually showed some 'steel' last night and it was exciting to watch despite the scrum penalties, penalty tries and scrum sin bin.... in the words of the coach "our group will definitely be the better for this experience!"

Natan Sharpe was a revelation
Elsom played well
Rob Horne is a 'Sterling Mortlock' in the making but with a better step
Pocock is getting there
Luke Burgess, Quade Cooper and Digby Ioane made the difference
The 21 year old sub James Slipper looked a good prospect in the scrum!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Moving with God - Transforming Communities

Next in my series.... I really like the idea being pursued by our friends in the Uniting Church Synod of South Australia who are pursuing the notion that as a helpful church, a church committed to community and to connecting with people, they are offering connections, positive ideas and media presence emphasising that the UCA is a church made up of people. The featured ads here are a little obscure on their own but the website shows ideas about connecting with churches, ways you can make a difference in your community and offers advice and helps for parents and others.
All this without a full briefing from SA, seems to me a really creative way to present in the mainstream... and working at 'transforming communities' and just happens to play to our strength of the growing role of UnitingCare all around us.
I hope we would be in a conversation that would lead us somewhere towards creative ways to show we are 'people' in the Uniting Church. Just as it shouldn't take [3] years to get to a 'new form of 'Synod meeting' we should also be getting on with what our vision might mean on th ground.
This kind of idea is closer to peoples experience and need than the 'Jesus - all about life' stuff I reckon!!

Check out the ads here
And the rest of the site here

"Other" by Kester Brewin

I am in a bit of a resource exploration mode at the moment and Jonny Baker just referred to the new book by Kester Brewin [author of 'Complex Christ] called "Other." You can read about it here and download an audio talk described as 'touching on the themes of the book.'
It's timely for me because I was briefly waxing on the other night at 'Salt [Factory]' about my recent random thought that maybe a lot of event attendance, Bible Study and exploration was a massive use of time where we could just be applying a few simple biblical truths or a few tenets of relating to God through the example of Jesus and maybe just get on with it... don't get me wrong, I remain unconvinced by my own thought... but what if we took seriously the notion of 'love God and love neighbour, with a few basic examples from the life of Jesus and just 'got on with it.' Maybe I'm advocating a six session intro and then action? Ongoing exploration could happen in normal community and be focused on praxis!! Of course those who push further always inform and normalise other simpler conversations... as I said, unconvinced... just wondering I suppose!!
I look forward to reading Kester's book because the subtitle "loving self, God and neighbour in a world of fractures"... seems eerily appropriate to where I'm at...
I still consider it 'opportunity lost' that when I was at Greenbelt in 2008 we happened to sit with a bunch of families in the circle for the eucharist outdoors and the 'Kester' spoken to by his partner was indeed Kester Brewin [whose photo I had not seen but whose work I had read] and I didn't ask the obvious question and have a quick convesation about his work!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Youth Specialties Top 20 Youth Ministry Blogs

Using publicly available figures for activity on the various sites, Youth Specialties have just foreshadowed a Top 100 Youth Ministry Blogs by publishing a Top 20 here
You may or may not be aware of many of them and should check them out for relevance to your context but there are a few brilliant contributors who made this list...

I think it's fair to say this is another area of youth ministry which is a very blokey field!! The sooner that changes a bit the better...

2010 Rank

Blogger NameBlog address2009 Rank
1Youth Specialties Blog
2Mark Oestreicherhttp://whyismarko.com3
3Tim Schmoyerhttp://studentministry.org3
4Josh Griffin
5Adam McLanehttp://adammclane.com7
6Adam Walker Cleaveland
7Orange Leaders
8Chris Folmsbee
9Ian MacDonald

10Walt Mueller
11Jeremy Zachhttp://www.reyouthpastor.com28
12Jonathan McKee
13Fuller Youth Institute
14Mark Riddle
15Mike King
16Tash McGill
17Gavin Richardson
18Matt Cleaver
19Kurt Johnston
20Stevan Sheets

Which do you find helpful?
What makes for an effective youth ministry blog?
Are you aware of aussie sites you'd recommend?