Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Number hurdles

Yesterday, while chatting to a potential employer, the topic of youth group numbers arouse.

In my mind the numbers in a youth group face similar hurdles to those of a wider church congregation. You have to take leadership, pastoral car and facilities into account.

If you want to provide proper physical, emotional, relational and spiritual care for people you need to monitor numbers.

You need to have the proper number of leaders to cater to their needs. For a youth group it should be no more than 8-10:1. If you only have three leaders, you can grow effectivly to around 25-30.

You also need to consider how many your building can hold comfortably and effectively. If you can only have two spaces for appropriate small groups then you are restricted to around 20. If you start to feel cramped with 40 people in your meeting space, then the time to consider splitting is upon you.

But there are number hurdles prior to that point.

The first, and he one i discussed yesterday, is between 6 and a dozen.

With 6 kids you feel kinda small. You grow slowly and is quite intimate. If you're not catering to the needs of the kids that are there and the visitors who do chime in, then they won;t stick around.

With a dozen kids you need to start to expand leaders. You now have a number where, if one or two kids are away, you're program isn't thrown in the air. This gives you confidence in programming and allows you to plan further down the track securely.

The next step is around 25-30 kids. Now the number of kids will start to grow momentum. Numbers grow greater numbers. Now you can generate excitement by just being on each week. The leadership should now well and truly be team oriented, with defined roles and dedicated kids to support.

Then you hit the point where i would head to spilt to alternative times/venues... 40-50. Why? Well you split a group of 50, into two groups of around 20-25, then you take the positives from the above step and repeat.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Water reading witnesses

I had my quarterly water meter reading meeting and heard something noteworthy.

It turns out that there is a "signinng insentive" of $3000 if i can entice another poor soul to do the same job as me. As long as the person is competent, will work more than 2 days a week and sticks around for 6 months, i can cash in.

It's like the baby bonus of the water meter reading world!

But it made me think of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

From what i remember, only 144,000 get to enter heaven (or something along those lines).

Maybe I'm a jerk, but this WOULDN'T encourage me to evangelise at all. Instead i would try to assure that I'm in the chosen number, not someone i recruit to take my spot.

The trouble? I think that evangelistic success bumps you further up the heaven entrance list.

So... When you shut the door on a JW... are they actually that disappointed?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Alcopop adertising

I found this on YouTube.

I personally think it should be an advertisement for alcopops now that they're getting their taxes back from the government.

WARNING: Poor production values approaching...


Friday, March 27, 2009

Human cat wash

Today i went to the dentist.

In truth, it wasn't bad at all, but i wouldn't call it enjoyable either.

Once home, Ange and I gave the cat a wash. As usual, the cat wasn't overly impressed by the experience.

I figured, if i was going to be tasting goop on my teeth all day, the pussy cat should be covered in residual shampoo and lick himself for a few hours.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Too much chatter?

I've just about finished my small group study, on the ten commandments, for later this week.

The process made me wonder how much a small group leader should talk.

Sure, with younger years, or a relatively unknown passage, you would ramp up the chatter. But with a well known passage, with experienced believers, how much do you need to fill the air with your thoughts?

It takes me back to an experience i had a few years ago.

I was invited to present the same Spiritual Gifts course i used to give at Formation (an equivalent cert 2 youth ministry course, run a few years ago).

At the course i would talk for much of the two/three hours. Lots of slides, plenty of notes.

At the youth group i was invited to, i bombed. I delivered a cut and paste job. With a lower age range and lesser committed believers, it lost many of them.

When i taught it again at church, a year later, it was much more interactive and laid back.

My point? Sometimes a lecture type delivery isn't the best method.

Suspect attraction

I figure if a squeeze this post between a serious and a funny one, it will slide through...

Gavin, i hope you're paying attention... This one's for you...

I've come to the realisation that i will be asked for ID at pub entrances for a while yet. At the rugby on the weekend i was the only one asked on our way into the pub prior. If the trend continues i am well on my way to being asked post 30 (unless the next three years age me awfully!).

For a while i have wondered about guys who are attracted by ladies who suffer a similar curse.

Sure, you look young, but is there a threshold that makes you too young to be acceptably attractive to most blokes?

Again, the point was raised before the rugby.

Near where Gavin and i were standing was a young woman who looked 12. Deadset... 12. Ok, maybe 12 and a half.

A guy was hitting on her, using all his best moves. It could have been her boyfriend or a random. But, does it make the guy sus?

He is hitting on a woman who looks more child-like than womanly...

Time to flee...

Turns out this is painted on the roof of a house in Britain by their teenage son. It went undiscovered for a year. Then came Google Earth... (sure, it could be a hoax, but who really cares...)

Luckily, the young chap is currently traveling.

If you squint, you can make out a giant... submarine?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ya know in 6 months... Ya know in 12

Whilst I'm posing on recent news stories, i also noticed that Harrison Ford proposed to Calista Whats-her-name (notice there is no link. If you're interested... look it up).

I think it's grand that after nine years he finally popped the question. Good for him, nice for her.

It made me wonder what i would tell a couple that had been dating for nine years.

Sure, most couples i would chat to about dating aren't in the same situation that our dear Harrison and Calista are in, but forget that for a moment.

For starters... i wouldn't say "good for him." Instead i would say "ABOUT TIME!"

I reckon, as long as you start seriously dating around 18 (serious being, in view of a potential life partner), you should have some kind of inclination about marriage around six months.

In the first half year you work out if you're potentially compatible. You spend a stack of time together, you expand on emotional and physical chemistry, you trade stories, you share experiences, you meet friends and you're introduced to family.

In the first six months you should have a fair clue if they are NOT right for you.

You will know if you clash on major personal issues or important life-identifying attitudes. You discover if your partner ticks enough "deal breaker" boxes.

Come a year, you pretty much should know if they ARE right for you.

Do you propose the day after your first anniversary? No. But, i believe, you should be seriously posing the big questions to yourself, never mind your partner.

Spreading the love

Last year i posted my love for the people's Republic of China during the Olympics. The hope? Boost my blog views by roughly a billion or so.

Now a new wave of lovin is required.

After i saw this news story on how Aussie bloggers have angered our brethren over the ditch (http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/mp/5426019/aussie-bloggers-upset-kiwis/) i was inspired.

Kiwi's... there is no shame in being the second best nation on the edge of the Tasman Sea. You are second in regards to sports, beer, living standards and the majority of other measurable aspects. In fact, you should be proud. Very proud.

Now, if every person in New Zealand reads this blog then I'll increase my views by roughly 4.3 million (http://www.stats.govt.nz/populationclock.htm).

Then again... I'm not convinced it was worth it...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Confusing advertising

I walking past a church that was advertising "A night of worship and fellowship. All invited."

I wondered if this would appeal to nonbelievers. Furthermore, would they even realise what the event would include?

What does someone who isn't church literate think that worship is? Would someone with a decade old, negative memory of boring hymns, be attracted to this?

What about fellowship? This word is never used outside of the church (and even most Christians will give you a variety of definitions). Is it casual, over tea/coffee, chit-chat afterwards or deep sharing get-to-know-you's?

Now, i don't want to discourage the church form advertising events that they are doing. But if the ads are full of Christian jargon, is it overly effective in reaching outsiders?


Last night at small group i brought up the proud tradition of enforcing youth group exile.

The equation is simple. You're at a youth gathering and something greatly annoys you or a danger is uncovered by the kids. Almost by magic, the offending object disappears the next week!

Exiled... never to be seen again (unless it is discovered years later because you forgot where you hid it).

Over the years I've exiled balls, cushions, poofs (otherwise known as an ottoman), hockey sticks, 2 meter long twirling sticks, excess chalk and more.

The only downside? The deception that occurs once the kiddies try to track down the dangerously annoying contraption of fun. The upside? Making a challenge of trying to find the missing item.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Outta work?

Today's big job was getting a haircut.

Just before the snipping began i wondered how i would answer the question "So... What do you do?"

I pondered... do i say that I'm an out of work youth minister, a youth minister between jobs, or a water meter reader and nothing more.

In the end i fumbled out some half baked answer, but I'm not sure how much longer i can use the first two options.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

PQT rumbles

You know i'm on holidays when i'm watching Parlament Question Time. Oh, how the experience makes your patriotic heart swell with pride.

Want the highlights?

Blah, blah, blah.... Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb.... ORDER, ORDER, ORDER... Blah, blah, blah...

The whole thing reminds me of the old church bullfrog.

The what?

The sound that emanates from a congregation when the minister makes a joke. Each elderly believer chuckles quietly to their neighbour and grey heads bobbles up and down.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Niece surprises

Today i saw my niece at Mum and Dad's, who were baby sitting.

There i feed my niece.

There i burped my niece.

There i changed the nappy of my niece (I'm such a SNAG!).

Most importantly, there i was thrown up on by my niece.

Last minute prep

Now that I'm on holidays I'm filling my days doing odd jobs. Today i went to my optometrist, tomorrow i put my car in for a service and on Thursday I'll get a haircut.

Therefore, I've been extra diligent in taking my eye drops, I vacuumed my car and I've ramped up the number of times I'll shampoo my hair.

In fact, a similar thing happens before going to the dentist. For the few days prior i will scrub my pearly white extra long.

As i review my actions, i find that I'm nothing but a slacker. You do what you're supposed to do the days before and then... 1) You make the best impression and 2) When you're asked if you're doing the upkeep, you're affirmative reply isn't a total fib.

Muffled street evangelists

Today in the city i saw a street evangelist.

I say i saw, because i didn't exactly hear.

He was on front of the QVB, atop his milk crate, Bible in hand, saying something. His microphone was pretty dodgy, so you couldn't understand what exactly he was saying.

I wondered, if no-one can hear you, what's the point?

Whilst standing at the traffic lights i think i heard him saying something along the lines of "do you consider yourself a good person..." I understand this evangelistic tract works wonders.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Performing monkeys

Today Ange retold the story of her second week at Northbridge.

On that fateful morning the kids had to sing "Touch the Earth Lightly." In short, it traumatised the poor kiddies. I can still get cringing responses from them by just uttering the opening lines of the hymn.

I despise it when kids/teens are told to perform stuff they don't want to do and hate. I think it's one of the greatest disservices we can do for children's ministries.

At the core, the performance is for the momentary thrill of the oldies but with the kids paying the price.

In my mind, church for kids should achieve a few simple aims. First is to teach them what God commands and how he has worked through the Bible. Second, i think kids should receive positive experiences of God's people meeting together.

When kids are told to preform like monkeys, i think it majorly desecrates the second aim.

Ringless Hubbies

Last night, whilst at the golf club with Gavin, i noticed i was different.

To the untrained eye you would have thought that i was the only married guy at the table. On a table of ten guys, of whom Gavin and i were the youngest by decades, i was the only one wearing a wedding ring.

But it turns out that four of them were actually hitched.

It disturbed me.

Why would a husband not wear his wedding ring? It's not as though there were any ladies about the club or that they were all having an ale prior to seeing their mistresses. All signs indicated that this ringlessness was the norm.

If i were their spouse i think it would bother me.

Personally, i like my wedding ring. It says a lot about me without speaking and i would be annoyed if Ange went around bare fingered or was alright if i did.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The angel of death

I just finished watching an episode of "Murder, She Wrote." Now that I'm on holidays until April, I'll be seeing more of "our Jessica."

Oh Jessica Fletcher... The Angel of Death.

Think about it.

There were 265 episodes and 4 telemovies of "Murder, She Wrote."

If each episode began with a killing and included (at least) one "swerve" death, those around Mrs Fletcher dropped like flies!

Where she went death followed. On holidays? Death. Getting a new maid or butler? A murderer. Changing doctors? The secretary will be a vicious killer. A relative in the Fletcher family? You will die, be a killer, or loosely connected to a slaying.

Actually... Don't follow "those pesky kids and that mutt in the Mystery Machine" either.

Wherever they go, spookiness ensues.

Who does it? The gardener, manager or janitor who only briefly appears in the episode, about a third of the way through.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Itchy T-Rex

So Ange and i were wondering about the puny arms the Tyrannosaurus Rex had. What use could they have had? Surely they couldn't even reach the T-Rex's head.

So what would happen if they had an itchy nose?

Would they scratch it against a tree or get another to gently itch it for them? If the later, did they have a special signal to instigate the help?

That's right... I deal with all the big issues.

Small group messages

Today Claire usurped my regular small group messages. She says that it was on the instigation of the Minister of the Word, but i think she's trying to muscle in on my turf...

And... SURPRISE... SURPRISE... It inspired me to post.

Each week, for years (even before i worked at Balgowlah), i sent each member of the small group i lead a message prior to the group. The reasons are simple...

First, it reminds the members of the group it is on.

Second, it chases up the same people each week. The reminder to come to small group, and building of excitement, doesn't depend solely on a quick Sunday night chat.

Third, it should tell the people something of what they are to expect that night.

Fourth, with phone caps, it doesn't cost you any more. Why wouldn't you?

Finally, it lets you keep track of numbers. If your small group contacts list grows above 12, it's time to consider splitting the group.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Non's and ex's

WARNING: Please don't read too much into this. I've been pondering this for a while and it doesn't actually hypothetically connect anyone. If you can't stop your mind from wandering... ask me how this topic came about. I assure you it's a pretty dull path. Just let the ramble be a ramble...

I wonder... should you set up a nonbeliever with someone who is no longer a Christian, but was at one time?

I wonder this because, without the religious strings attached to one person, it's nothing out of the ordinary. You reckon two people will get along, you put them in the same place, at the same time and chemistry does/doesn't ensue.

But with the results of believers linking up with unbelievers (the majority of the time, the believer waivers in commitment or falls away completely), if the budding relationship you connect together works, are you helping a former believer fall away further?

A further point to ponder... How long do you wait until you try to hook the two people up? When are you sure that the former believer is beyond the point of no return? Or at least enough to hook them up...

Beautiful boredom

On Sunday night something caught my attention. After a testimony, the service leader mentioned "beauty in the boring." boredom

For me, i particularly liked this.

My testimony is a pretty boring tale. I went to youth group when i was a kid because of a girl and a mate. Eventually it became less about the girl and more about God. By around year 9/10 it all started to make sense.

I actually, feel that the majority of Christians testimonies would be considered "boring" or at least wouldn't make an incredible telemovie. Thus the boring...

But, in reality, no description of how a believer came to faith is boring. Each tells a story of the mercy and love of God and a changed life when connected with the living God. Thus the beauty...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Chaseless drifting

I pondered the effect youth-minister-less-ness has on youth and young adult numbers. Usually there is reduction... but why?

I think one of the main reasons is the lack of chase.

Without someone on your back, you can feel more comfortable to slip away. Chances are... no-one will call. There will be no wondering "where were you on Sunday/Friday."

And the longer it goes on, the more drastic it can get. As time goes on with chase-less-ness the further people can slip off into the background...

The solution? A strong lay community who support one another... and more importantly... follow up.

Surplus 10%

Oh i love how uncle Kev and his mate Wazza are buying my love for $900.

I've been spending the incoming dosh in my mind and i can't wait!

But it hit me the other day... I should tithe the cash bonus. Not out of guilt or obligation, but because God is good and supporting the church is a part of being a believer.

I wonder how many other Christians will tithe the cash handout? I wonder if it will occur to most of them? It took me a while to remember...

I also wonder if churches are planning on an influx of money in around a months time?

Imagine what the church could do if the majority of people in a church gave $90 per person...

Dechurched or unchurched?

Yesterday i wondered whether there are more dechurched (those who have once been in the church system, but since left), or unchurched (those who have never darkened the doors of a church)?

Sure, globally, the unchurched is an overwhelming victor, but on a more local level i think it begins to balance out. This is especially true once you consider how many of the generation above me used to go to church, even if they only went for meaningless ritual.

But my question resolves around this... Which section of the lost are more difficult to reach?

Those who haven't experienced church and fall for the stereotypical ideas about Christians and church, or those who have been in the church world and left for whatever reason (boredom, bitterness, moving away...).

Equally important, do we look to reach both these types of people evangelisticly? And, do we use the same strategies for both people?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hello Hanna

This evening Hanna went to my blog for the first time and i was inspired to give her an official welcome.

Welcome Hanna.

Not so hungry mozzies

Right now i want to scratch my lower torso off.

Why you ask?

At the moment, due to overnight snacking by numerous (or one VERY ravenous) mosquito, I'm covered by 71 mozzie bites.

If i were Edward Scissorhands, i would cut myself to pieces...

Living the nightmare

Since the Challenge Camp team leaders meeting on Tuesday night I've been stuck in a horrible nightmare.

The remote control for the TV is... missing!

Getting up to change the channel sucks. Getting up to alter the volume sucks even more. Getting up to turn the TV on or off also, surprisingly, sucks.

Man, living in the time before remote controls must have... been terrible.

Puffin or backslidding into trouble

Today I wondered what would get me into more trouble... taking up smoking or giving up my faith?

Now... I'm not planning to do either, but it is an interesting question.

In the eyes of God, he would be more disappointed with the second option.

My wife? I'm pretty sure she wouldn't be too impressed by either. I'm sure many arguments would erupt in the Baldock household...

The church is, surprisingly, harder to decide. I figure I could fake being a believer for a substantial period of time without too many people catching on. Smoking on the other hand? Not a chance.

My mates? Well... Smoking would be annoying because I’d have to depart to puff away. But shenanigans would increase due to the complete lack of a moral compass.

The answer? I don't think I’ll do either. Smoking is slow suicide and backsliding will cause me trouble once the ciggies have sent me to the grave.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Just so you all know... the 1000th visitor has been decided and is currently choosing the delicacy of his/her choice.

Photographic evidence of the winner delighting in the spoils will be forthcoming soon.

Want to be a winner as well?

At the moment the visitor count has ticked over to 1009... in only 991 visitors time my wallet will spring open up again.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Nervous 90's

Just in case you're wondering... the count is now 991.

Someone is close to victory...

Change Industry

Today i heard an ad on the radio for a personal trainer. He said he was in the change industry. In his case he was referring to the physical size of a individual.

I like that term and i think it can be applied to ministry.
After all... lives are changed when people come in contact with the Spirit of God and his people.