Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Top Tens 2011: Movies

   I begin my 2011 Top Tens today... I must have other stuff I'm really supposed to be doing!! This year the Movies List is a bit different. It usually only includes films I've seen, not reputation, and this time it's about films I enjoyed for some reason and films that 'tanked' with me!! They are not recommendations, just reflections!!

Top Ten Films I Enjoyed in 2011
1. 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2' better than it could have been... go Neville!!
2. 'Mr Poppers Penguins' surprisingly moving and a great deep story
3. 'The Guard' brilliantly dry and edgy
4. 'The Adjustment Bureau' could have been so much better but I enjoyed it
5. 'Captain America' appalling great scmaltz... can't wait for the 'Avengers'
6. 'Kung Fu Panda 2' classic
7. Gnomeo and Juliet/Rio as a family at the Heddon Greta Drive In [first visit for 30 years]
8. 'Bridesmaids' just wrong but a quirky likeable character
9. 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' almost rubbish but escapist fun!!
10. 'Larry Crowne' heartwarming and I could relate to the emotions

Lots of the silly escapist comedies I saw made the top twenty as a sign of the year I had but didn't make the final trim down. I might have missed one somewhere and I haven't yet see 'Red Dog'

Worst Ten Films that Didn't work for me
1. 'The Green Hornet' major disappointment badly acted
2. 'Real Steel' oh dear, Hugh? It sounded good, it wasn't...
3. 'Three Musketeers' It ain't no Pirates...
4. 'Thor' Almost but Chris Hemsworth spoilt it for me
5. 'Limitless' a great idea that went nowhere
6. 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' almost but not quite, patchy
7. 'X Men 1st Class' really, Kevin Bacon??? one film too many
8. 'Green Lantern' aweful
9. 'Cowboys & Aliens' so funny but you just shouldn't get funded for this
10. 'Jonny English Reborn' better than the first in my book but the story stopped

Jason Statham's 'The Mechanic' just missed the cut

Friday, November 25, 2011

News on the Vocation Front

Well, it's November...
And I can now share that for the next three years I will be taking up the role of 'Youth Ministry Development Worker' in the Uniting Church Hunter Presbytery [region]!! I'm really looking forward to the role of mentor, teacher, resource person in some great team situations...

I've been focused on NSW/ACT and travelling to a Sydney base for twelve years... I am not going to finish my 'bucketlist' but I'll get close and I'll leave what has been a trying situation for the last 2-3 years [not just the last 12 months] with a 'Closing Time' celebration on 3rd December!! Probably if I visit IMAX next week and have lunch in Surry Hills, return to the Powerhouse Museum at the start of the school holidays then 'see a play' will be left... I missed tix to see Kevin Spacey does Shakespeare and Cate Blanchett earlier in the year...

I look forward to exploring 'capacity building' with faith communities, sustainable discipleship and leadership amongst youth & young adults and mentoring and resourcing great volunteers and others who are already doing what they can to engage in God's activity in the world where they live... and a few other things along the way!!

I am not enjoying looking for a used car... techniques and personality types have not changed in over a decade... having no trade in helps!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fun T-Shirt

But even if I did buy it, I couldn't wear it anywhere could I?

Brilliant 'Rolling in the Deep' cover

Great Adele cover from VazquezSounds

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Myths about Why Young Adults Leave the Church

   The Barna Group are engaging in a five year study about young adults dropping out of church and the desire on the part of communities of faith to encourage growing faith. The Barna Research Group material is always thorough and often translatable to our context [or at least able to be understood for what it is and isn't saying]!!
   In this case they are exploring 5 myths here and give a glimpse for free at the costed resources that flow from the project!!

"Myth 1: Most people lose their faith when they leave high school.
Reality: There has been considerable attention paid to the so-called loss of faith that happens between high school and early adulthood. Some have estimated this dropout in alarming terms, estimating that a large majority of young Christians will lose their faith. The reality is more nuanced. In general, there are three distinct patterns of loss: prodigals, nomads, and exiles.

Myth 2: Dropping out of church is just a natural part of young adults' maturation.
Reality: First, this line of reasoning ignores that tens of millions of young Christians never lose their faith or drop out of church. Thus, leaving church or losing faith should not be a foregone conclusion.

Myth 3: College experiences are the key factor that cause people to drop out.
Reality: College certainly plays a role in young Christians' spiritual journeys, but it is not necessarily the 'faith killer' many assume. College experiences, particularly in public universities, can be neutral or even adversarial to faith. However, it is too simplistic to blame college for today's young church dropouts. As evidence, many young Christians dissociate from their church upbringing well before they reach a college environment; in fact, many are emotionally disconnected from church before their 16th birthday.

Myth 4: This generation of young Christians is increasingly "biblically illiterate."
Reality: The study examined beliefs across the firm's 28-year history, looking for generational gaps in spiritual beliefs and knowledge. When comparing the faith of young practicing faith Christians (ages 18 to 29) to those of older practicing Christians (ages 30-plus), surprisingly few differences emerged between what the two groups believe. This means that within the Christian community, the theological differences between generations are not as pronounced as might be expected. Young Christians lack biblical knowledge on some matters, but not significantly more so than older Christians.

Myth 5: Young people will come back to church like they always do.
Reality: Some faith leaders minimize the church dropout problem by assuming that young adults will come back to the church when they get older, especially when they have children. However, previous research conducted by Barna Group raises doubts about this conclusion."

'Inside Sport' 20th Year

  The marketing and the first edition of 'Inside Sport' magazine promised cliche free insightful sports journalism and has pretty much delivered over the 20 years it's continued to be published here in Oz!!
   My favourite section has always been 'Verbatim' with a page of quotable quotes from coaches, sports people or writers that pick up ones you've heard or read in the papers and can't wait to see if they've captured.
   The action photos are always stunning. The magazine has been strong on the issues of drugs in sport, corrupt bidding processes for major events and heroes with 'feet of clay.'
  It's a couple of years ago now that they made the decision to take the bikini models off the front cover citing feedback from their loyal readers who had reached an age where the purchase had to be explained and justified to bystanders and family members with the familiar 'but it's a brilliant sport magazine!!!'
   I have not missed an edition in all twenty years. I went close when OS for nine weeks but managed to catch that issue from a friend and at the Drs waiting room weeks later. I subscribed early on but because I travel I have preferred to be able to grab a copy on the Wednesday it comes out wherever I happen to be.
   Testament to the magazine is that given the sterotypical choices available for this months particularly celebratory edition it has Cadel Evans on the cover!! He is the obvious unbiased choice... well done 'Inside Sport' and here's hoping you're around for another twenty!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just When I Thought It was safe to Go Back to Youth Focus

   Aussie cricket dipped to a new low in South Africa this week. This will happen in a rebuilding era. There will be days when the side loses focus and momentum. It has to be said this was a day for a Simon Katich type player to step up and make a statement. But then he'd have to have been contracted, selected and not giving the current Captain and administration a shellacking in the media for that to occur...
   In case you missed it or don't care... Australia played well until being all out for 47 and handing momentum back to the opposition. South Africa themselves had only doubled that in their innings but experienced players stood up when the chase became achievable in the second dig. At least the skipper made 150 in his first knock!! It's a long way from here to a Bonds commercial!!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Guest Post on 'More Than Dodgeball'

My post on 'Space, Permission & Validity' can be found here at 'More Than Dodgeball'!! Thanks Graham Baldock for prompting me to write it down and Joshua Griffin for putting it out there...

St Jude's Uniting Church

   Mark Senter III wrote work leading to 'The Coming Revolution in Youth Ministry and it's Radical Impact on the Church' and released the book at the start of the 1990s. I recall mentor Fuzz Kitto showing me a typed copy and suggested I read some of the manuscript on the couch with a good coffee!!  
   To this day I remember that I didn't fully grasp what I was reading but somehow knew that it was important and would one day speak precisely into a context I did understand.
   Coupled with 'Four Views of Youth Ministry and the Church' I believe Senter's work has 'arrived' in terms of our current challenges. But more than that the very titles of the books teach me an important lesson. You see I've been talking about them a lot [I'm not one for including subtitles] but not using the full name. '...And It's Radical Impact on the Church' and '...and the Church' don't shift my understanding of the key points very much but they do make sure the focus is on the community of God's people that is currently commonly represented by a local group or congregation. They are key to the future of mission and ministry with young people. This is true whether they are shaped for mission or for getting out of the way of God's action in the world. What I mean is that whatever Senter's wisdom in these books they reflect on how the church engages in or will be effected by the very issues he's raising

Why do I think his work is now more relevant than ever?

   Because of a little hypothetical Uniting Church known as St Jude's. St Jude's could be a small rural church or a high density urban street corner or a large suburban centre or a neighbourhood group in a building too old or too large for their purposes... The congregation or main Sunday worshipping community aren't getting any younger. They as a group represent only a small slice of the culture/s, backgrounds, educational achievements and history of those in their wider community.
   At St Jude's there are a few under 60s but a huge gap between 25 and 45. There precious few youth or young adults if any alongside the remnant of a small infants and primary aged Sunday School with one volunteer teacher engaging with kids right across the spectrum.
   The older members are concerned about the lack of young people and especially the High School drop off rate. Who will we be without the youth? How can we have young people here again? Should we hire a Youth Ministry Worker?
   This is a common scenario and connects strongly with one of the 'Four Views' explored by Senter and called the 'Preparatory' model. Say what you like but the majority of ministry with young people I've seen over the last thirty years is subtly or strongly aimed at preparing the young people to 'be' the church... to take up where they leave off... BUT the global context of these young people has so radically shifted in the last 40 years that the models of church most encounter are simply contextually irrelevant.
   I don't blame the churches. The context has changed rapidly and radically and the generations who've left mean there are few change role models and we are still trying to share faith, foster discipleship and unpack the good news as it was taught to us...
   We need to totally re-orient the church for engaging in God's mission in the world. We need to develop our ethos and values and live those out in the everyday and shape our life by what God is doing. The goal is not church engagement but discipleship or 'following.' So growing faith to maturity is an additional measure alongside attendance.
   We need to develop skills in appreciative inquiry or at least 'listening' skills to understand the perspective of 'the other' not just our own narrowly expressed goal of 'saving people.' If a congregation is truly able to connect with a few areas where they believe God is active in their community then questions of numbers at worship and money through the offering will in time be irrelevant.
   But one key ingredient in this is leadership. People with contextual skills are used to asking questions, adaptation and experimenting with ideas. What if our view of 'church' was that we exist to serve? Or the very radical idea that we exist to create other communities of faith and so initiate our connected groups to 'plant' missional churches elsewhere. They learn the skills from earlier but apply them to a new community. Even one step shy by engaging young people in activity with which they share an affinity and direct social justice action... we could change St Jude's forever... more soon... what are the practicalities...