Friday, June 29, 2012

Not hairy enough

I admit it, I will never be a Bearded Gospel Man...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Someone thinks you are beautiful...

I work with a lot of high school girls. This does not make my youth ministry setting unique.

One thing I kow is that they should be told that they are valued, have worth and are beautiful.

But there is a significant way this message needs to be communicated in order to protect both myself and the girls in light of kids "falling for their leader."

There is a massive difference between "I think you are beautiful" and "God thinks you are beautiful."

One is based on the image of God which is imprinted upon the girls by their Maker and the other, whilst possibly true, is creepy.

The bottom line (especially as a bloke in youth ministry)? Have your words point towards God, not meander towards creepiness.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Yesterday I went to Koorong, and whilst there, was meant to be shocked. I was meant to be appalled. What I read had been likened to the Christaian version of "Fifty Shades of Grey."

Yesterday, in the middle of the bookstore, I skimmed through the book "Real Marriage" by Mark and Grace Driscoll.

When this book came out it got a lot of attention (you can read some reviews here) and was #1 on the New York Times bestsellers list.

I'd heard the hype and read some of the reviews so I knew what I was getting into. So I skipped straight to chapter 10... the controversial one entitled "Can we _____?"

Sue me for going straight to the sex.

And, for a Christian book, it... um... had a granular texture. It could rub you up the wrong way. No doubt.

Was it more graphic than I expected? Only slightly. It was not (now THAT is a website which will shock some people!). If you've listened or read stuff by Driscoll then his frankness shouldn't have come as a surprise.

As I skimmed over the rest of the book I found things much more disturbing than the sex chapter (the reviews point some of these out), but also a heap which positively engages with questions people, especially young adults and teens, are wrestling with.

In fact, the way chapter 10 was handled, although not perfect (for the reasons pointed out here) did attempt to construct a framework for people to make the wisest sexual decisions possible. Whilst not faultless the lawful/hurtful/enslaving criteria based around 1 Corinthians 6:12 is better than none at all.

But one thing I didn't encounter was shock.

And that has me puzzled. Should I have been?

Have I read to much FHM and Cleo/Cosmo in the past for "Real Marriage" to offend me?

Should I be offended more easily?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Interpretation questions

Over the last week I've looked at a few parables (the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son) in my scripture classes and the creation account from Genesis 1 during church.

On each occasion I've invited those with me to ponder the following questions...
What is the main point?
Who is the main character?
What does it say about God, humanity and the world?
How might the time it was written, place, culture and context effect the meaning?
What genre is the writing (poetic, narrative, wisdom)?
What question is the passage trying to answer?
I think, if the author of the following video wrestled with the above questions, the point of Genesis 1 might be clearer.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Instigate the Benoit procedure?

I've written about the falling of Christian leaders before here and have known a few relatively high profiled ministry agents (read ministers, youth ministers, scripture teachers) who have been fired due to moral failure of some degree.

I wonder if local churches should treat these people like the WWE treats Chris Benoit. For those who don't know or can't recall, Chris Benoit was the wrestler who murdered his family before committing suicide in 2007.

The trouble is that Chris Benoit was a tremendous wrestler. He held numerous titles. He main-evented Wrestlemania XX, winning the world title in a match that is generally regarded as one of the best matches "on the grandest stage of them all."

According to the WWE (the former WWF), you would have no idea. On the WWE website (aside from the title histories) and in its programming Chris Benoit is never mentioned and it's, understandably, like he never existed. There is no mention of Benoit in the Wrestlemania XX web page or even a photo of him from the event.

It's a shame that a previously celebrated career has been swept under the rug because its final chapter was horrendous.

Should we do the same with those who have had a moral failure (or some other kind)?
Should we whitewash the record of any good which they might have done?
Should we ignore any positive things they did to expand the Kingdom of God?

Sometimes I provide answers on this blog, in this case, all I bring are questions...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mature actions have mature consequences

Today I had my final scripture class for year 10 (they only have it for six months) and concluded the last 30 minutes with no-holds-barred-Q&A.

Unsurprisingly, the conversation turned to sex.

I was asked about teenagers and pre-marital sex with my response similar to what wrote in this post about sex and maturity.

I said, in short, that sex is a mature act with mature consequences.

The government recognises and acknowledges this through the age of consent.

They realise what a teen will not have the foresight to adequately weigh up the long term ramifications of a relatively short action.
With sex, potentially, comes with the very real consequences of pregnancy, STI's and a rising of the relational temperature which teens are not emotionally prepared for.

With this being the case, it makes sense for sex to be expressed in a relationship of life-long commitment, signified through marriage.

Monday, June 18, 2012

I've done it!
I'm a hit on the Internet!
I've gone viral!

For one hour.
By those searching for porn on Google.

Below are my webstats for yesterday. If you look closely then you can just make out the traffic spike...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Porn doesn't know your name

After my last post about porn, my mind wandered there again after watching this short video with Eugene Peterson about the advantage pastor-in-the-pulpit-preaching has over mass media.

The difference which stood out for me was that the flesh and blood pastor knows you name. They have a relationship with you. They have shared life with you. They know, not only your, but the churches history and current struggles.

For whilst the Driscoll, Piper, Young, Noble, ect... sermons might be of superior quality with more engaging illustrations, funnier jokes, greater applied truth and sharper lights and sound, they don't know you.

This is why the Sunday morning preacher will trump the streamed pod-cast in the long run.

The same can be said for porn.

The sex may well be of superior quality. It is manufactured to be that way. It is produced to be clear, crisp and in full HD.

Your spouse should trump porn because porn doesn't know your name.

Friday, June 15, 2012

I'd hit THAT

Whilst I have mentioned porn a few times on this blog, I've never said if it is wrong and why this might be.

Fortunately, Matt Jacobs (youth minister from Sydney and a guy who went to the same bible college as me) wrote an article on fervr about that very topic.

Personally, the thing which makes porn most harmful is the attitude which can create the mindset of "I'd hit that."

Not her, but THAT.

Porn creates an warped sexual appetite which is programmed to be fed by impersonal things.

Not people. Not women. Not mothers. Not daughters. Not sisters. But things.

This is the poison of porn.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ready? Set? Done anything?

Many moons ago I wrote this post about the trap which some churches fill into. They wait for the "next big thing on the horizon" to the unfortunate neglect of present progress.

It could be a new apartment block nearby, a new minister's arrival, a combining of churches/ministries or an expected injection of funds.

I originally wrote, that this mindset can hinder current ministry.

But as my mind wandered over the topic yesterday another thought hit me.

When a church waits, coiled like a cobra to strike at the dawning opportunity, they need to deliver.

There is no point "keeping an eye on the grand future" if there is no definitive plan to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

And really, this is the trap which ensnares far more churches... Inaction in the face of a new opportunity.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Faith as an insurance policy?

Sometimes you hear that belief in God is like a cosmic insurance policy.

Last night someone at church made a profound statement about this belief.

The problem with this cliche is not that it isn't true, but it's that people don't understand what insurance policies actually do.

Insurance policies don't stop the calamity from happening.
Insurance policies help you get through the disaster and move on.

To this extent, faith in God works in a similar way.
It won't stop the storms of life occurring, but it will help you ride them out.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

... And that's a God thing!

I've written quite a bit about what churches want to be known for.

For the sake of this post it doesn't really matter what it is... Children's ministry, outreach to the poor, a welcoming church, a strong music ministry, a heart for the outback...

One thing with is essential.

When people look at your niche.
When they are drawn in by your focus.
When they are amazed at your speciality.

They should be pointed towards Christ.

This is why you are the way you are.

You care in an extraordinary manner... because you want to reflect the heart God has for others.
You shelter and speak up for the homeless... because they are made in the image of God.
You especially minister to families... because they matter to God.
Your playgroup is different... because it is run by those who know and love Christ.

Without the later half of the above observations, you have a social club or an organisation like Rotary, not a church.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gay marriage: We do

I don't particularly want to have another discussion about my views on gay marriage. The issue is of ever growing importance, but this is not the main point of this post.
I'm not here for an argument.

If you want to know what I think you can read it here. My opinion has not changed much. I still think that the answer lies in elevating civil unions (thus everyone gets one) and recognising marriage as a separate religious ceremony (similar to the civil forms my wife and I had to do for our daughter's birth, but we are free to have a separate, religion based blessing/naming ceremony or baptism). I don't think gay marriage is the next step to society sliding into moral decay or people "suddenly being able to" marry ten people, their dog or a corpse.

Again, I'm not here for an argument.

If you want to read a good article for the legalisation of gay marriage, go here, or you can read one against the issue on the same site here.

I believe gay marriage will happen. Whatever noise that Christians (or other groups for that matter) make for or against, fighting against will be like trying to stop the tide.

Whatever the path travelled to get to the end point, I'm increasingly convinced that this is an issue which is hurting the church (imagine what people are thinking of this guy) and the message of Christ (which stretches far beyond gay marriage).

The theme of this post comes from the final point (Suffering for the Cause) of the first article referred to above.

Whenever gay marriage is passed, will the stance a minister or church makes be a new public label?

Will there be well known homosexual couple marrying ministers?
Will this be something which a church is be known for?

I assume for both categories those who affirm gay marriage will be in the minority (a stance I feel would be true for the majority of religions) and thus create a potential marketing point..

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Welcome Mugshots

Today I was reminded of a brilliant idea for a new minister.

Church mugshots.

A new minister is given a church directory with photos to help him/her know who people are.

I know I would have loved (and would still use!) an identification cheat book.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Church & Sunday morning sex

You're busy.

You have kids. They keep you run off your feet. You're out almost every night and then are occupied with multiple sports on a Saturday. 

On top of that, you work hard. You desperately grab a sleep in or an early night whenever the chance arises.

So... Schedule sex with your spouse or it'll drop off the to-do list.

Many relationship advice columns and church pastors recommend this for busy couples.

So, with the majority of other time slots occupied, where does this leave Sunday mornings?

How would the average church feel about a "family" staying home because Mum and Dad have put on a Veggie Tale for the kids and are taking the chance to have a much needed "special hug?"

If a church only provides kids activities on a Sunday morning, are they (sometimes) making parents choose between sex and church?

Would it even occur to a church that this might be one of the competing factors alongside sleeping in and the Sunday papers (or all three for a REALLY good morning!)?

Does sex need to be added to the list of excuses used to skip church?

Friday, June 1, 2012

The translation for that is???

Here is a list of words. Tell me what the opposite of what each words is.
Your task is to count the number of photos on that noticeboard and tell me the answer.

Above are two instructions I tried, or aborted, due to the changing nature of my kids club.

Like many communities, the area of my church is in transition. Elderly people are selling up and apartments are springing up everywhere.

Ultimately this means three things. First, more people nearby. Second, younger people nearby (particularly younger families). And third, more migrants in the area.

Now these three results are all positive (which church doesn't want to reach more people?!?).

But our new neighbours mean an unforeseen challenge.

How do you communicate with kids would don't have a firm grasp of English?
How do you explain games, or more importantly, the gospel message?

Do you try and learn one word a week (for example I could have learnt the Korean word for opposite or count in the starting instructions) to help get your point across?

Honestly, I don't know the answer.

But I am looking forward to the challenge and, positively, it has only arisen because new kids are turning up.