Hyper – Achievers

I was reflecting the other day on why it is that some people seem to be motivated to change the world and other struggle to change their undies.

The two types of people were juxtaposed this past month in a couple of events I have been involved in. A camp for kids who are at risk from falling through the education system as well as falling into the prison system, then a couple of meetings with a young guy who used to be in my youth group who has recently set up Spark* a fantastic leadership development not-for-profit organization to train leaders in the developing world, starting with PNG.

The camp I ran was for Alta-1, a great education program to help kids hold their education until they can either graduate to further study or into the work force. Many of these kids have done time in juvenile detention or/and have been kicked from school to school due to behavioural issues or simply learning ability. Some of these kids lack so many of the things people need to ‘make it.’ And by make it, I mean…the basics, healthy relationships, a job…any job, a place to live, a budget to enable them to eat and sleep somewhere, stay out of trouble and the like. Many, not all, but many, seem to lack serious EQ. Awareness skills. I sat there listening to some of the conversations wondering how they would do much with their lives. It sounds judgemental – I know – but that was what I was thinking. I even went to questioning the parenting. I had opportunity to spend the second week of the camp camping alongside one of the parents of the kids who came in week one. This Dad, I pre-judged the first time I met him. I judged him based upon the behaviour of his son on a previous camp I had run. But having 4 nights together around a campfire I was able to put aside my prejudices and get to know him a little better. I have heard myself saying, “it’s always the parents”, when it comes to kids and their behaviours. Well maybe parenting is a major part in teenage rage and misbehaviour, but I tell you this – This guy was a really nice guy with some very strong views on parenting and discipline. Not too heavy, not too light, he seemed to me – just right. Why then would his kid plant a brick through the front window of their house and the family car, then proceed to kick in all the doors in the house? Drugs? Maybe. But why drugs? Peer pressure? Maybe. But where did he learn how to choose his peers and be wise in these choices? Man!! Sometimes I wonder if there is a heap of luck in parenting. You just get what you get. Well actually, I don’t think that at all. I do believe parenting plays a major role in moving teens through ‘those years’. Easy for me to say this…my oldest has only just entered ‘those years’. But decisions we make as parents, ways in which we parent, consistent positive patterns of parenting all compound – surely – to create a safe(r) passage through adolecence…I hope!  One example of this was when I was speaking to this father around the campfire and he said he only let his  14 y/o stay out all night twice a week. I shared that my daughter was only just allowed to go to the shops with friends for an hour on a Thursday night and even then only a few times a term! But it’s too late for my friend I think. The freedom has been given, now it would be more than hard to take it back. His son has parked his brain somewhere and is running with a pretty rough crowd.

The other conversation that I had this past month was with a young guy I had in my youth group when I was a Pastor at Whitford – Aaron Tait. This guy comes from a classic “anything is possible” type family. His Dad makes pretty much everything he touches turn to gold. He talks like something between your nicest next door neighbour and an Amway seller, he is a good guy.

Aaron is an inspiring leader and social entrepreneur. Deployed to Iraq on a United Nations mission as an 18-year-old, the leader of a secondary school for vulnerable children in a Tanzanian slum at 23, and more recently the developer of a HIV orphanage and micro-finance project in rural Kenya, his leadership of his new venture – Spark* is built on a first hand understanding of the frontline realities of humanitarian work. Aaron matches this experience with a Masters of Strategy and Policy, and a Masters of Development with Distinction from the University of Cambridge, as well as a couple of degrees he completed whist still in the Navy. To sit and hear him and his wife Kaitlin share their story this past Wednesday night at our church was simple inspiring. But as much as it was inspiring, I had to ask in relation to this post, “was this the ‘doing’ of his parents? Was it just a lucky series of events?” (he just got a good commander in the Navy who encouraged further study, he didn’t get shot, he met a great wife, he was moved by compassion on a trip to Africa to start a school etc) – I suggest not! Was it something he was born with, just a positive, ‘can do’ personality…the same as his Dad’s! So what do you think? Environment or genetic? Both?

How does one kid leave home at 17, knowingly or unknowingly to change the world, and another (I know he is only 14 and could yet become a world changer!) ends up doing time in Rangeview Detention Centre and continues to tag everything he can touch and is generally looking like heading into an ugly life of interactions with the wrong side of the law?

Dads – Fathers Day this weekend – may you be challenged not only by the question – “What do you want as a gift” (for me – a new drill!) but also by the question, “How will you raise, challenge, nurture and love the gift you have been given in the child(ren) you have”?

I am not saying every child has to end up like my friend Aaron and create brilliant organisations like Spark* and change the world…but, heck, the world could use a few more like him!


Hack On ABC 2

If you ever listen to the excellent Hack programme hosted by Steve Cannane on Tripple J, you will be happy to know that he is on for a half hour programme on ABC 2 at 8.30pm starting tonight.

The Hack Half Hour is a studio-based chat program, which encourages feisty, passionate views, stories and debate. It’s confronting, irreverent, thought-provoking and a little bit naughty. It’s time to hear from a younger audience.

Each week we’ll be covering a different topic, looking at it through the eyes of young Australians. In the first episode of The Hack Half Hour: Myface, we ask the question, “will we end up regretting what we reveal about ourselves online?” We’ll explore the reasons why people want to post so much personal information online, and look at what the repercussions might be for user’s life, relationships, and career. We talk to bloggers, vloggers and social networking junkies, and even a hacker. All of them have strong opinions.

At the centre of the discussion, we meet a very popular 16-year-old. Sophie Calland has the second highest number of friends on My Space in Australia. With over 208,000, she welcomes just about anyone into her space. She spends several hours a day maintaining her profile, posting photo-shopped pictures of herself, and writes a blog about her battles with illness, depression, and the things that piss her off. Sophie is happy with the level of control she has over her profile and isn’t worried about the possible consequences of making personal information widely available.


Sydney Anglican Youth Ministry Conference

I am heading over to Sydney to meet with the Youth Vision Australia crew next week. We thought that we may as well take in a conference whilst there.
The Sydney Anglican youth department (YouthWorks) are running this Theology of Youth Ministry conference. It looks quite the academic style conference you would expect from the Sydney Anglicans. The week before the conference, all the speakers notes come out in a PDF.

This one caught my attention. The speaker is Graham Stanton, Principal of the Youth Works Bible college. His topic? All Things to All People? The Incarnation and Relational Youth Ministry.

In his notes are the following thoughts and reflections on a book by English Youth Minister and Author Pete Ward;

This incarnational approach (also referred to as ‘relational outreach’) follows five
basic stages: contact, extended contact, proclamation, nurture and church. The aim is
to move young people who are well outside the social group of the existing church to
see them established in their own church, one where the gospel is contextualised
within their own culture. The process seeks to establish a relationship (contact:
‘going to places where [young people] naturally “hung out”’ p.47), and develop that
relationship (extended contact: ‘moves a relationship physically away from the point
of contact’, with the youth worker ‘signalling that [the young people] are significant
to him’ and the youth are ‘expressing an acceptance of the youth minister’, p.53).
The aim of this relationship building is to move to a significant new stage when the
youth worker looks for opportunities to proclaim the gospel message. The
importance of contact and extended contact as pre-cursors to this stage is summed up
in the imperative (attributed to Jim Rayburn, founder of Young Life) that youth
workers ‘earn the right to speak’ (p.60).
Once young people make a response to the gospel the focus of the ministry moves to
nurture and church. Notable in Ward’s approach is that this work of discipleship
needs to be done outside existing church groups. Ward notes, ‘we are hoping that the
faith can become real within their own subcultural setting’ (p.63). The final outcome
will be a new church where the gospel is ‘contextualised amongst a group of people
who were not previously part of the Church. The hope is that Jesus can become real
within the subculture which these people share’ (p.18).

(italics mine)

Wow! Sounds like a Forge conference to me! Not sure the S.Anglican crew would recognize it as such, but boy, some of the stuff being suggested looks like something from Neil Coles Organic Church or as I said, a speaker at a Forge gig. Well they say there is nothing new under the sun, and if God is making moves to disrupt the way we have done church and church planting for a while who says it will not be coming out from all sorts of places, in fact it would be arrogant of me to ever think Forge or even the emerging church in general has some right to claim ideas such as the above as their own – they are starting to leak out in all sorts of odd places! Must be God 🙂

Where have I been?

Been Slack on the Old Blog stuff, here is a quick update;

Going Where?
I have spent the last 2 weeks with Scripture Union. Camp one was with Mirrabooka High Yr 8 boys doing a selective boys to men type camp. 17 kids, lots of attitude and not all good. The last night we had to sleep out by ourselves in the bush under our own hoothchies, I was wet, very wet! The talks I did on Men as Lover, King, Monk and Warrior went well (Thanks to Mike’s suggestions on this site!)
Last week’s camp was a bit less intense, Winthrop Baptist yr 11’s Kayaking on the Murray.

Reading What?
Reading a few books;
Mark Sayers, “The Trouble With Paris
Rob Hopkins, “The Transition Handbook
Henry DeWitt, “Fathering Daughters – Reflections By Men

Watching What?
Last night watched Kung Fu Panda – Great Laugh, even some Python style humour!
Watched a 1999 flick called Pitch Black which was the first in the Chronicles of Riddick series, Vin Diesel – Good watch!

Playing With What?
My bio diesel processor…we made a batch of 50L, then 80L went great, then a batch of 150L, not so great but managed a rescue and it looks great now. Then a couple of weeks ago did a 100L batch and managed soap. Yes soap is an unfortunate bi-product of stuffing up with this process. Glycerol is one of the waste products, it is also the base product for soap manufacturing, stuff up some small element in the bio process and wham – you have litres of liquid sticky glue which is actually heavy grade soap. My mate Lance has done most of the rescuing as I have been away. It looks like we may have saved a good deal of the oil!

Enjoying What?
Loved a walk to the library and then take-a-way and movies with my family yesterday arvo.
I am also enjoying the thought of 2 weeks leave over the July school hols. 3 days at Contos camp group near Prevally/Yallingup. 2 days up at the farm, lots of days just pottering at home.

Working For Whom?
I am still full time with Churches of Christ (3 days Youth Vision Ministry Coach and 2 Days OnEARTH/GMP). The SU (Scripture Union) stuff is really to keep a hand in with youth ministry experience as well as looking at options for next year.
I will be working for SU 2 days a week next year in their Neighbourhood Outreach/Forge area as well as doing a camp a term for them in Warriuka. Hopefully I can continue doing the OnEARTH stuff as it is hotting up a little.

Looking Forward to What?
Well 2 weeks leave, then 3 days in Sydney with Youth Vision, then starting up a 14 week study (OnEARTH/Ignition) which includes 2 weeks in Halls Creek with a crew from our Church as well as some others, I am also running a weekend leaders retreat in August which looks like fun.
Finishing off our new raised garden beds out the back, fixing my dead roller door, tidying up my yard a bit and generally slowing down and reading some more.

So that is it. Been way too busy, but feel ok. Not pumped. Always dreaming too much of a quiet life in the country, working less not more. But I need to learn to be in the moment more, “be where you are”.

Interesting Topics at Conference.

I am heading to Sydney at the end of July to meet up with some of the Youth Vision Australia crew I work with. Whilst we are there we are going to attend a conference put together by Youth Works – “A Theology of Youth Ministry Conference”. Not sure I have heard of them before, but it looks interesting to say the least, I have heard of the Sydney Anglicans who are behind it all though… interesting to say the least 🙂 So I would say they are the youth department of the Anglicans.
Here are some of the topics –
– All things to all people – the incarnational youth ministry.
– The Spirit of Gen Y
– Missiology For Youth Ministers
– Implications of Missional Ecclesiology for a Missionary approach to, and understanding of, Youth Ministry.

If you ask me it could be a Youth Ministry breakaway session at a Forge conference! Look at those topics!

Warrior King Lover and Monk

I have to do a talk at a camp for year 9 boys from Mirrabooka High. These kids are tough, fringe kids, hand picked, a kind of mini Brat Camp.

Each day we have a theme.
Man as Warrior (Pioneer, Adventurer, protector)
Man as Lover (Love, honour, respect)
Man as King (Leadership)
Man as Monk (Spirituality)

I want a kind of object lesson for each one, even something they can take home, a rock, a picture, a … something??

We are out in the bush, so I don’t have a heap of space in my pack to carry stuff, so any ideas??
Any help???

Busy Few Weeks

Well, it’s been been a while since I seriously blogged anything. I have had a crazy month.
I am working for GMP the Churches of Christ missions group for 2 days a week. This group is trying to go through major change and restructure. As to the success of this change or even if the group embrace the full picture the suggestions entail we will wait and see. I went to Adelaide (Head office) for some meetings over the weekend of 14 – 16 Sept. It was short and sweet.

I had a week at home before a quick wedding rehearsal on the Saturday and flew out to Sydney on the Sunday to spend a few hours at the ACOM retreat en-route to Queensland for National Youth Ministry Convention.
I flew with Mark O’Brien of Lowercase fame. We chatted extensively about the ‘biblocentricity’ (love that word? I think I just made it up…not sure) of our Joondalup thing. A conversation coming out of a long discussion on his blog.
I came to a couple of conclusions;
1) What we are doing is different and challenges some of the ‘come and see’ models of church. We are a church that is low on ‘event’ and high on ‘just live it out’. If you hang out with our crew, intersect with out group’s web of relationships, you have ‘come to our church’.
2) What we are doing does indeed lack some sense of biblical missional/evangelical type drive that seems to be present in the New Testament from my (and Mark’s reading). It also lacks, as I have always felt, a common set of beliefs.

Anyway, we chatted lots, not just about that, but lots of stuff, all the way to Stanwell Park in the south of Sydney. Caught up with Neale Meredith that night and all the ACOM crew the next morning before heading back to the airport for a 3pm flight to Coolangatta.

I checked into my flash hotel (Watermark) right on the Gold Coast, managed to wangle a free room for the week! Nothing like saving money for Youth Vision!
The next day was an all elective day at conference. I elected to have the day to chill. I was a bit peopled out and needed time to me. (A new thing I am finding I value a lot!) But with people flying in from all over the place I found myself spending the best part of the day catching up with people. By about 3pm I realized I was getting rude, argumentative and sarcastic so took myself to my room for a couple of hours reading and rest – getting old I think 🙂

We had dinner on the beach with most of the WA crew that night, nice.

Wednesday saw the start of the NYMC proper. Tim Hawkins jumped in as main speaker #1. He is probably Australia’s premier youth pastor. Brenton Killeen and I had the privilege of being MCs at the conference so we had the chance to banter a bit with the speakers and get to know them a little, this was great stuff.
Duffy Robins spoke that evening and Tony Campolo the next day morning and night. I lead an open space technology session on Thursday on youth ministry issues which was fun.

Friday I headed to the Sunshine Coast for the day and evening with Gary, a great mate. He and I have become friends through working with ACOM together, but as our lives (our ACOM lives) have gone separate ways, we have retained some contact, mainly through blogging really. We have some differences of belief and understanding about who God is and the way he works, and we have some deep similarities about the way we think about the earth, family, peace and lifestyle…and red wine, Guinness and cigars!
I enjoyed a relaxing day with Gary and his amazing family, Catherine, Christopher and Tamara Gary’s great wife.
I got on particularly well with Christopher their 11 year old, he and I have some common interests; 4WD videos, the bush, naughty jokes, and identifying cars a long way off!! He is a champ!
Gary has a great little electric scooter, it only does about 60km/h and only travels about 50km before needing a recharge but is great for around their area, just ducking to the shops etc. It is completely silent but for the wheels on the road, felt odd!
Sadly I said goodbye and headed to the airport after a great night’s sleep in their guest house in the forest.

A long day traveling took me, 2 hours on a freeway, 2 hours to Melbourne, 3 hours to Perth and finally in my own bed!

Sun 30th Sept is Animal Sunday according to the new insert into the traditional church calendar “A Season of Creation”. So we celebrated this day as a church out at Landsdale Farm. We explored what, at the farm, stood out and made us this of God the Creator. It was a great sitting together on the lawn surrounded by goats, sheep, horses, pigs and rabbits discussing our creator.

I did a wedding in the afternoon…a 15 minute service, almost my shortest on record…one I did was 11 minutes long!! Hey, there is only so much you can add to a wedding in which the couple don’t want too much at all!

The next day was a public holiday, our whole extended family went to Super Golf in the Swan Valley and then for a picnic lunch. A great day was had by all, Super Golf is worth the effort.

Tuesday2 Oct saw me back up in Lesmurdie for another day of “Life Skills” with Roger tan and the Churches of Christ crew, not bad stuff, good PD.

Trip to Northam Thursday for a meeting about an outreach we are doing their next year. We met in the old hospital which is slowly being transformed into a conference centre of sorts…long road ahead!!

I took the kids south with me on Saturday for some work meetings;
Sunday – preached at Busselton Church of Christ, good crew there. I caught up with Greg, who thinks a bit like me in terms of Church. He has done some Forge units and indicated maybe I would be a good fit for the Senior Pastor’s job going there… hmmm I love the church, Greg seems great, we do think a like, I would love to go country one day, but for now I think we are where God wants us. I do often wonder how I would fit into an ‘normal’ church these days. I entertain the thought from time to time!
I caught up with some of their new youth leadership team, a great bunch of young adults willing to make something happen for their High School Youth Min. I think something great could happen there!

Sunday night dinner with Dave Cohen from Dunsborough along with Gavin R my long time mate. Gav is a Dr in Busso, Dave the Pastor at one of the Dunsborough Churches. Great night of chatting until the kids were ready to move, could have talked all night with these guys…Gav and I eventually did!!

Monday morning saw us driving further south to catch up with the Youth guys from Rivers Church (the CofC in Margaret River) Steve and Jaylene live right down towards Augusta on a big eucalypt plantation. He is a timber mill dude…no I did not set up a Gunns Pulp mill protest sign at his front door 🙂
They have just built THE most amazing house on the bank of the Blackwood river. He has done the rammed earth himself as well as most of the timber…in fact it has almost been all done by Steve. These guys are great and are doing brilliant work with young people in and around the South West.

On to Bridgetown…a big contrast to our Rivers Church (pentecostal)!! Bridgetown is typical of most small country churches. We met in the pastors house, a very traditional looking country conservative pastors house with morning tea laid out on the table in the dining room and all the chairs set in a circle ready for our meeting of key members of the church to discuss youth and children’s issues in the church and town. They were a really wonderful bunch of people with a passion God and for their town, a stunning town I could really live in, seriously this place is a picture.

The kids and I camped out next to a beautiful lake not far from the little town of Franklin. Nice break in the rain for our camp, even when it did rain we had a picnic shelter under which we pitched the tent and swag.

Tuesday saw an early visit to the Mt Barker bakery to pick up a nice bun before dropping in to visit Paul and Deb Ritchie. Deb was a ‘Michaels’, a kind of relative of mine in a round about way!
These guys are ministering to youth in Mt barker, they are part of the Baptist Church…but, hey, I’m not fussy about who I coach 🙂
We chatted extensively about ACOM study, Forge, missional living, Christian community and other stuff…if I told you I would have to kill you 🙂
These guys are champs, seriously they have a house full of kids on Wednesdays after school for homework club, fun, games and dinner, they deserve a medal!

After almost a half a day at their house me and the kids drove to the Stirling Ranges, my favorite spot in the world…ok Tasmania is but the Stirls comes in close.
With so much rain around we took a cabin…cheats!!

We headed up to a cloud covered Bluff Knoll first thing the next morning the kids did brilliant, they climbed all the way to the top with no complaints.

Even Amy after falling and giving her knee a big whack got up and made it to the top and back. Girls going to wee in the bush is not an issue I have experience in! I found myself pondering ways in which to invent some pipe system in which to simulate the same ‘system’ boys have…ok, I didn’t spend a long time thinking about this, but seriously, there has to be a better way girls!

On top of Bluff, we did not see much at all, the cloud was too thick, but the buzz of being on the top was brilliant.

I took some video on my phone, see below. The girls made lots of crazy video once they discovered how to use the phone video thing, see here.

We headed home in time for Church last night, a great few days of combined ministry/life/family/work/play/recreation/mission/whatever you call it…it was fun!

Off To Cambodia

Well in a few hours I leave with 5 others for 2 weeks in Cambodia. We will be working with the Hagar project in converting a factory into offices and accomodatin for kids, we will be playing games with some other kids at an orphanage and we will be having a look at Siam Reap/Angkor Wat temples/tourist area, should be fun, stay tuned…better go pack!
I am taking heaps and heaps of kids clothes donated from a leading clothing store here in Perth, amazing, all new!

See ya

Weekend Away at SYG

I spent the weekend down at State Youth Games with my eldest daughter Mikaela and her friend Emma.

It was a well run weekend, Brendon Hunt is the coordinator, he is amazing at pulling this off with what looks like the least amount of stress, like a duck on the surface of the water I am sure 🙂

I wrote a full story with pictures on it all here, if you are interested.

I guess I felt the outreach/church service hit what I would call, good middle ground. It did not feel showy or hyped, and it wasn’t out there too creative in which no one connects. A local band lead us with a real genuine sense of worship, the preacher, whilst not being my style, was spot on for the moment, seemed to connect with young people and made a sensitive altar call in which about 40 responded for various reasons.

They say you can’t please all of the people all of the time, I know there will always be someone (mostly me!!) having a complain about something on a night like this, but I think we managed to pull it off this year…well Pete and I agree, so for that reason alone I would say it was tops!

A few of our Joondalup Thing crew were in the games, Joel is seen here walking off the court…TOOOOO many fouls!

And these guys…good friends, just good friends.

The biggest controversy of the weekend was from one of our sponsors…the COC Women’s Ministry’s new logo…

I will let you judge for yourself… hmmm