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

Outdoor Education

Just reading a great article on outdoor ed theory and young people.

“It is impossible to care for each other more differently than we care for the earth. There is an uncanny resemblance between our behaviour towards each other and our behaviour towards the earth” Hildegarde von Bingen

Nice quote.

(Hogan, 1992) reviewed a number of studies to argue for wilderness programmes to incorporate an environmental philosophy. The traditional adventure education approach of using the wilderness environment as “playing field” is no longer appropriate and wilderness as “sacred space” is more apt.

One Story – I was standing in the rain, nothing to unusual about that except it was 5.30 am the rain was coming in side ways being driven by gale force winds and the group of TAFE students and I where at 2000m above sea level , and just about to start skiing off into the blackness into the dark night. “I shouted into Ben’s ear have you taken a compass bearing?” “No, I forgot” Ben shouted “then I reckon you had better unforget!” I shouted back into his ear. This six day traverse across Australia’s highest peaks was one of adverse conditions, lost at 2000m on Mt Twynam in a white out is never a good experience, having a student’s snow cave collapse in the early hours due to rain sodden snow becoming excessively heavy and collapsing, and now back in the moment skiing off into the dark in a rain storm. When we reached the road at Dead Horse Gap, Ben (a young man of about 23, not one of my best students, never really excelled in much and never did more then was required and was still an adolescent really in how he viewed the world) turns to the group in the debrief and states:

“that was hard, no that was the fucking hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I have learnt more about myself in this trip then all the previous trips in the last two years, I will never forget this trip”

And how is this for a way to finish a great speech –

The value of expeditions? A young women from WA, writes on the last day of a 15 day ski tour across the Victoria Alps:

“I am twenty years old, its 1995 and apparently I belong to a failing generation, and it shows. I am a woman, I am unemployed. I am a registered drug user and an ex heroin addict. I have experienced homelessness, depression and hunger. I am a statistic list, and so are all my friends. I am still alive! I am fit and healthy and I can climb down the highest peak in Victoria in one day. I can pitch a tent when it’s minus seven degrees and snowing. I can traverse along the edge of a mountain, the snow’s turned icy and I’ve got my food, clothing and home on my back. I can’t see where I’m going and I can’t see where I’ve been, there’s nothing unusual about that, except for the cause, this time it’s because I’m about two hundred metres from the summit of Mt Bogong, the left side of my body is caked with snow and there’s a white out. If you have been labelled a ‘youth at risk’ then you might remind me of a girl I think I used to know.”

The article was given to me by Casey Ellery and outdoor ed specialist himself!
In fact the article is a speech I believe –



by Pete Holmes, Senior Manager, The Outdoor Education Group (OEG), Victoria

If you are into outdoor stuff, this is gold!

Leavers 06

I did a few days helping out at the Leavers Zone at Dunsborough Lakes Caravan Park. This in my mind failed last year, but was an amazing success this year. 2-3000 kids crammed in the zone and took place in a great range of activities. This was not with the Red Frog Crew (Leavers Chaplaincy) it was with the community volunteer group. Basically we are there to serve the local community in any way they see fit, we work alongside police, YFC (we mainly with them), security, Ambulance crew, drug arm, whoever needs a hand making it all work. I helped out on the climbing wall, the toilets and in what was called “the sauna” which was the rave tent. The Beat Collective are a Uni based group of DJ’s that mix well and put on a great show, it was called the sauna because the tent it was in created its own cloud from the sweat in there, it was like a sauna!
Everyone was well behaved (this is a relative statement!! Well behaved compared to Bravehearts men during one of those battle scenes!) Seriously considering these are teenage, horny, drunken, stoned schoolies…they did well!
It was another world down there.
The days (after we woke up) were filled with great conversations about youth ministry as we were actually doing a 3 day ACOM/Youth Vision facilitation, so we dialoged stuff, ate good food, swam in the dam at Fongville and ate more good food, drank some coffee (Thanks for bringing the roaster down Matty B!), read some good books and went back to the Leavers Zone to clean vomit…all good fun 🙂
I guess leavers is the closest thing our culture provides teens as a rite of passage. Not ideal, but I think we have an inbuilt need to identify a passing from one live stage into another. Our culture does not know how to do this for our young people, our churches do not know how to do this for our young people, so they invent their own passing cerimonies that involve drinking, sex and all living together for a week or so.
There are glimpses of other ways of doing this appearing around the place. Richard Rohr spoke of some of this when he was in Perth last week, he is running rites of passage retreats all over the world now, I think I will become part of creating healthier ways for people, particularly guys to move into manhood. I have no sons, but I have mates who have sons who I can stand with as their boys move to manhood. And I want to help my girls do this well also.

Post Colonial Youth Ministry

“When the Missionaries arrived, the Africans had the Land and the Missionaries had the Bible. They taught how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible”.
Jomo Kenyatta

The article “Post Colonial Youth Ministry” also went on to say –

In words: The gospel preached to the school students “you are sinners, you are going to hell, you need to be saved and forgiven for your sins, and we will show you how”

In deeds: “We will remove you from your culture, take up the rest of your free time, introduce you to new friends because your old ones aren’t good enough and spend the next few years indoctrinating you.”

This is from an interesting article sent to me recently found here.

Off To The Gold Coast in 2007

Yes, I remember the days when Mike Yacconelli and Duffy Robbins would come to the gold coast and fire up all the Youth Workers in Australia. I remember the spa, the tennis courts, the networking, the fun, the bus trips, the new friends (and potential life partners!!) we discovered, I remember the passion to see kids lives changed, to see Jesus become a reality for people.
Well, reflect no more!!

It’s happening again! (Not the Mike Yaconelli bit sorry!)
Sept 2007…start saving, start shaing the vision with your youth leadership teams and your church eldership/pastors (as I recommend that they help your team get over to the Gold Coast).

See all the details here.