Friday, August 31, 2012

Michael W Awesome

This is how evangelism was done in the 80's.

I know it would've got me ready for the altar call...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tweak support

This week I've been dropping in and out of a conference and a recurring topic has been resourcing those in ministry.

Being a national gathering, it was obviously noted that any Australia-wide resource won't fit into every context.

An urban based resource won't sit neatly into a rural or bush setting.
A resource which pictures a youth group of 50 kids won't fit smoothly into a church of five disconnected youth.

Youth ministries are different. They happen at alternate times and with various numbers of kids and leaders.

This is why I feel that ANY widely produced resource needs to especially focus on two things.

First, the things we have in common no matter where you are. I widely publicised resource should major on the majors.

And second, how the group leader can tweak any resource provided.

I get sent scripture lessons for my upcoming classes by the co-ordinator.
Every week I get flooded with potential resources by email.
My bookshelves are choc full of curriculums and programs from all over the globe.
Thousands of games and bible studies are no more than a Google search away.

And every activity gets amended to fit my particular setting.
And personally, that's okay, since I enjoy doing it and have the time it takes.

But for a someone who leads the lone bible study for the three kids at their church, surely those who produce resources should give equal amount of thought, resources and support to those who will need to tweak what they provide.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Baptist's baptism reconciliations?

Yesterday I wrote a post about baptism and the chief reason why my wife and I aren't going to get our daughter baptised.

As I thought about it today I was reminded by the baptism-based employment proposition which I wrote about (poorly I might add!) here.

The those who can't be bothered to click through to my poorly worded earlier post, a baptist church I interviewed with wanted me to be fully-immersed baptised upon employment with them.

I now wonder, how would a Baptist church reconcile my stance of nothing-more-then-to-be-included-within-the-faith-community if this is one of the very reasons considered unsatisfying for infant baptism?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why we're not baptising our daughter

A dark corner of my mind says that, at six months of age, you get your bouncing bundle of joy baptised.

But it is increasingly likely that my daughter won't be.

I know... you're stunned.


Now, if you've baptised your child, then more power to you. That's awesome.

In a month or so my wife and I will have some kind of ceremony giving thanks for the blessing which Hanna is, but I can't bring myself to go through with a baptism.

If baptism is an outward sign of an inward change; an external identifier that you are dying to the First Adam and committing your life to Christ, why would we make that choice for a six month old?

Admittedly, confirmation is a fantastic public acknowledgement of what God has and is doing in your life (I remember mine fondly), but it misses the powerful symbolism which baptism provides (one which I have zero memory of).

Why would we deny Hanna the opportunity to make a public commitment of faith, knowing the significance of what she is undertaking?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thanks for the offering?

I'm been meaning to post on this for a while and have been inspired to do so by this resource from Giving Rocket.

Should a church thank those who give money in church?

I'm torn because I think the church doesn't value the sacrifice many faithful believers DO financially make. If... even if only once... a congregation were thanked by the leadership of the church for their faithful offerings, this would make a huge difference in the lives of those who feel that their contribution is being taken for granted.

BUT... I'm also pulled in another direction.

Why should a church thank God's people (putting first time givers or new converts aside) for doing what God commands them to do?

I don't know the answer, but I'm tempted to try it out and see what response I get.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How to dig yourself out of a bad event

I mentioned yesterday that some events are a let down. You promise an earth shaking activity but are delivered an event which barely registers a tremor with your kids.

So what do you do if an upcoming event has the stench of previous disappointment?

The simplest option is to just tell your kids to "suck it up" and give the activity a second chance.

But there is both harder and a sneakier option still available...

The hard option is to get involved.

If your involvement increases to the extent that you can a) give constructive feedback on the previous event, b) make sure the necessary changes are made and, c) give a more informed "promise" that the approaching activity will be quality.

But some events get saddled with the "stench of death."

The other answer is sneakier... Rebrand the old event.

Give it a new name. Give it a fresh twist. Give it a different tweak. Give it a face lift.

BUT... keep the basics the same (and pray fervently that you're not repackaging another disappointment!).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It will be good... I swear... TRUST ME!

Way too many youth leaders have uttered the title of this post...
Only to be let down.

No matter if it was a disappointing speaker, a mediocre band or an activity which didn't engage the kids like you initially envisaged, given enough time, the leader of young people will eventually be bitten in the ass by "promising" something will be good.

Hopefully, you've done your homework and enough quality recon to avoid repeated doses of disappointment.

And hopefully, if you are treated to a mouthful of let down, it happens once enough historical momentum has been generated that you don't need to sever ties to the activity permanently (if so, I'll have a potential solution tomorrow).

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Leader Sneak Peaking

As I mentioned in my last post, I was at an event last week where a response was invited from the front of the church.

And on that night I sneak peaked.

Understandably, as the leader, you want to know if your kids make respond so you can have a chat with them about it.

If you're up the front giving the invitation then it's easy. You need to spot movement to reply "I see that hand" (kidding!). But if you're situated right in the meat of an event, your youth leaders radar needs to be finely tuned to detect response.

Fortunately, on Friday night I was up the back, so sneak peaking wasn't done with a high degree of difficulty.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Flip to respond

I've had a few ramblings about inviting a response during church services. Last night I heard a quality response technique.

Upturn your palms.

As everyone prays, all they need to do to respond is flip their hands.

Now I don't want to minimise the importance of physical response, but I like this method, for even the coolest, most insular, bloke can flip their hands.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Square pegs into round holes?

I've previously written that there are some things, as individuals, we feel we should do and be.

If it's true for individuals, I think it's also true for churches.

We feel there are some things we should do.

We should have a youth ministry activity on a Friday night.
We should be involved in the scripture in local schools.
We should provide a playgroup for Mum's.
We should have a choir on a Sunday morning.
We should have a certain elders structure.
We should have a number (or kind) of staff members.

Now there is nothing wrong with any of the above things. In fact, most of them are not only really admirable goals and we definitely SHOULD want to do them to our God-honouring best.

But if these "shoulds" are square pegs, do we sometimes want to force them into the round holes which are within our churches and our communities?

Do we sometimes get it all backwards by deciding the kind of pegs we want and not identifying what kind of holes God is providing and is waiting/wanting to be filled???

Monday, August 13, 2012

Is the church dead?

I think not...

But it's impossible to deny that it, as a brand and a generalised Western institution, is struggling.

But certainly not dead.

Why do I say that?

First, because where God's people are, no matter if it is in a mega-church of 10,000 or a faithful few within the walls of a decaying congregation, the LIVING God is amongst them and at work. We should avoid looking at the church with a "glass half (or more) empty" attitude.

Second, Jesus said that the church would not be overcome.

Third, while the church has been in some hideous situations in the past (some by its own hand and some from exterior persecution), Christ has always kept his promise from Matthew 16.

Finally, while the church may have (and is) struggling in the West, in other parts of the world it is thriving (China and Africa for example).

Sometimes we need to remember that whilst "our patch" needs a lot of work and may look like it's struggling, in other parts the Kingdom of God is expanding powerfully.

We do them, and God, a disservice by saying that the Bride of Christ has no pulse.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Donation envelopes

I've never claimed to be original. In fact, if I think an idea will work then I'll give it a shot.

Today I tried an amazing fundraising method (is it sad that I was going to use the word scheme?!?).

When I first saw the concept (I have no idea where it was) it was promoted as "the easiest way to raise $5000". All you need to do is label 100 envelopes 1-100 and invite people to choose an envelope with the numerical equivalent to the amount they are willing to donate (eg, if they select the envelope with the number 20 then they need to fill the envelope with (at least) $20).

This morning I started with 30 envelopes (which would bring in more than $450) and they proved to be a hugely effective way to raise funds towards the 2012 batch of HSC Survival Packs.

UPDATE: I found it here.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Today is the fourth birthday of Ramblings on the Way.

If you've been here from the start, then you're one of a noble few.
If you've jumped on along the way, I hope you enjoy the overflow of my mind.

For everyone, here is where it all began...

Storytelling 101

I love this very simple formula for telling stories from some of the people behind Pixar. If was from a list of 20 tweets I found here.

Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Anonymous questions

A few times a year I'll have an occasion to ask for curly questions.

I will do it at the start and the end of the high school scripture year.
It will not be unusual to have a question sheet appear during any year of youth or young adult small groups.
Last week I did it near the end of a youth group talk on sex.

 In order to get genuine, honest questions I normally employ two techniques.

The first causes confusion in scripture classes.

Normally, the class will be given a sheet of 30 FAQ's and, in pairs, need to select the top three to be discussed. The confusion arises once I invite the class to either a) make the sheet into a paper plane or b) scrunch the piece of paper into a ball and throw their sheet at me.

In theory, this should result in fairly unidentifiable results from the class.

But when I have two or three questions, I will use a different method.

After giving the questions to be decided upon, I'll invite the audience to choose one question they want answered.

Then, choosing their question, all they need to do (once everyone has lowered their head and shut their eyes) is put up the number of fingers which corresponds with their selection.

Again, the responses should remain fairly secretive.

I will often use this later method when dealing with more controversial topics such as masturbation, porn or where there are pressing needs to be addressed, but nobody wants to actually pose the question.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Label your theology

A few times I've been asked to label where I am on the theological spectrum.

Whenever I'm asked to slap a title on myself I default to three...
Closer to Arminianism than Calvinism.

But trouble arises with the confusing subjectiveness of these terms. To two different people these terms can mean dramatically different things.

What is an evangelical? Is it someone who believes that sharing the message of Jesus is a positive to be encouraged or someone who forces their beliefs on others?

What is a conservative? Who is it compared with? Just because I may be conservative compared to many within my denomination, where does my theology place me compared with others both locally and internationally?

If I'm not totally sold on the five points of Calvinism? Do I slip into four-point Calvinism? And what if I don't agree fully with full blown Arminianism?

And, of most concern, the question of labels means nothing to the majority of non-Christians and are only used as a means to divide believers.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Safe or less risky?

Yesterday I mentioned the finger condom I got on Friday due to an infected finger (which, three short days later, is perfectly recovered).

With my rubber protector I might have been fooled unto thinking that my finger was now safe. In reality, it just had a reduced risk of being harmed.

I think the same line of reasoning can be followed for condom use... Now I have a layer of latex, I'm safe.

The truth is that condoms do not make sex safe, they reduce the risk of pregnancy and STI's.

And only if used...

Correctly - My finger protector was only effective if it was tight against my finger.

Condom will be of greatest effectiveness if they are used properly. This means checking the use-by date, not storing them in a warm place, wearing the right size and not opening packet in a way which might damage the condom. The same applies with the use of teeth or nails in applying the condom and (not that guys would read the instructions!) putting it on in a way that the condom will work (not like a sock!). This says nothing about the way piercings or improper lube can have on the condom's integrity.

Consistently - If I removed my finger protector it would be no use. 

Condoms work if they are used for every sex act. Every time. For example, you can catch, amongst other STI's, gonorrhea in the throat...

Contact - Due to the infection, my finger wasn't the only area of pain. There was also discomfort in the vein running up my hand and lower arm. The finger condom did nothing to protect me in these areas.

To protect from an STI like genital warts or herpes, skin contact needs to be avoided. Unfortunately, condoms won't cover some areas where these appear.

Of course, while a condom might create a physical barrier during sex it will not protect you from any risk/consequences which are not physical (such as emotional).

If you're going to have sex, use a condom.
But don't fall into the trap that this piece of latex makes sex "safe."
In reality, it just makes it less risky.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Finger condoms and porn

On Friday I gave my sex spiel at a youth group and I think it went... alright.
Unexpectedly, that morning I got the perfect teaching aid for dealing with porn.

On Friday morning I went to the medical centre to have my infected index finger looked at. I would have let it go, but my darling wife (wisely) insisted I go once I couldn't use my digit anymore and the pain seemed to be travelling down my hand and up my arm.

And I knew what was in my immediate future.


Around 15 years ago I had a similar fingernail infection. I still remember the pain that coursed through my body when the doc plunged a sterile shank into my puss fulled, pulsating finger.

But I had to deal with this infection so it wouldn't spread, reach my heart, poison my blood and make my daughter fatherless.

So I went to the doctor and he, surprisingly gently, relieved the pressure and whacked me on antibiotics. Now my finger is close to normality again.

But on Friday I was only starting the journey towards index finger restoration. And one of my aids was a finger condom.

A rubber protector which kept the finger dry and safe (a required device since I was playing messy games with the kids club that afternoon!).

But what could a suspiciously phallic looking rubber coating have to do with beating porn?

Like I did 15 years ago, I'm going to try and stop biting my fingernails (one of the causes of the infection).

I know, biting your fingernails is gross, it makes your hands look ugly, is neither a good source of vitamins nor a satisfying meal... blah, blah blah... I've heard all the reason to quit before. For me, pain is the best motivator to change.

In a way, this is how porn is usually dealt with. After a sharp dose of pain. You are busted... At work... At home... But your wife... My your kids... By your Mum.

And just like my fingernail biting, you will need outside help to overcome it since self control probably won't get the job done (if it could I would have stopped nail nibbling when I was a teenager).

In order to beat my munching problem I will need help. I will need to use the nail-hardening-foul-tasting nail polish and have both a nail file and tweezers handy in order to deal with the hangnails which I would usually gnaw away on.

To beat porn you need exterior assistance like the software from or
To beat porn you will need to make changes and kill off the accessibility (if it means disconnecting the pay TV or Internet at home, so be it).
Like I'm doing now, you will need to tell someone what you are doing. 

Hopefully, once my finger recovers in a few days, I will be on my way to cat-like claws.

Tomorrow I'll post what my finger condom reminded me about the effectiveness of real condoms...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Turn on your bibles

I'm a fan of people actually having the bible open during church. Before any reading I will make a point that those who have access to a bible should crack it open because, although we often take it for granted, it is a privilege we have.

That said, I really liked this post about the way people are invited to engage with the bible. They are encouraged to "turn on", not just "open up."

I like this for two reasons...

First, the bible is available (in MANY more versions then you could ever wish to carry around!) on every mobile electronic device and getting people to interact with it and become normative can only be a positive.

Second, this is happening anyway. I see it at every lunch-time group. Why fight it and project the stereotype that the church is an archaic institution? 

Sure, some people will have to fight the urge to check Facebook during church, but if they are willing to do that, perhaps it says something larger about your church service or preaching...