Wed, 22 May 2013 14:36:00 +0000
I’m been sorting and packing and I came across this old (slightly edited) cartoon that I thought might make a reflective comment before we wrap up. For those not of the Doonesbury generation, this (at least) nine year old scene features two characters- Zonker is the perennial hippie / slacker who never seemed to grow [...]
Wed, 22 May 2013 13:00:00 +0000
In wrapping up our ninth year of blogging, we offered a retrospective of the best 20 things that I have most treasured about the blog. Here is #1. The Pizza Party is SO Over This post, which ranked #3 overall according to the site meter, seems to be the first post on the blog to [...]
By David Grant
Ahhhh, summertime and student ministry!!!
Texas Rangers Baseball
Slip and Slide Kickball
I can't wait! But what about your adult leaders?
Our student ministry is based on "life on life" small groups led by Godly passionate adult leaders. Our small group program takes the summer off because our leaders need a little break from the hectic school year.
But there's tension, discipleship isn't a program but a relationship.
Every spring we struggle with the question, "what's a healthy expectation for our adult volunteers through the summer"? Summer doesn't weaken their heart for students but our summer schedule doesn't give our leaders a weekly small group setting in which to connect.
It's important that you give them expectations and ideas. Without a "program" they're attending they may need help understanding what their role should be. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
In an attempt to find balance with giving our leaders some down time but continue the rhythm of relationship here's what we're asking of them.
In fact, here's a portion of an email we sent them yesterday.
We want you to have some time off over the summer but also know that relationship doesn’t take time off. Here’s some suggestions.
1. Swing by on Sunday nights as often as possible.
We don’t have life groups but we will be having our “What I wish I knew in high school series”. Your presence is so important to kids. Show up if you can.
2. Go to beach camp.
Nothing says “relationship” like camp. What do you think?
3. Keep those twitter, Facebook and Instagram relationships going.
It’s not face to face relationship but it reminds kids there are adults who love them and are in the game.
4. Plan a summer outing.
One time this summer plan something fun for you and your group. If you need ideas reach out to Chris or Chelsea.
We’re in the process of finishing up our summer calendar. We will make sure you get a copy asap. In the meantime here are some dates to put on your calendar.
May 29 – Night to honor graduating Seniors
May 31 – Adult Leader’s Year End Cookout – Mary Ann Connor’s
June 2 – Last Life Group: “Remember”
July 8 – 12 – Beach Camp
July 17 – Summer SWAG
August 17 – Fall Training (Mandatory for all Leaders)
My hope was to give them options without them feeling pressured. Many of them will take initiative and go above and beyond. Others really do need some time to breath and rest. I hope they feel the freedom to take it.
So, here's to a great 3 months of fruitful student ministry.
How do you utilize your volunteers through the summer months?
We're all ears.
By Mike King
Tue, 21 May 2013 14:18:49 -0500
RSVP now at http://youthfront.com/70years/birthdayparty for the Youthfront 70th birthday party! It's free to attend! Dinner is $5 (kids under 5 eat free). All water attractions will be open. It's on Saturday, June 22nd at Youthfront Camp West (formerly Circle-C Ranch)....
By Matthew Kelley
Warning 1: SPOILERS to follow. If you haven't seen Star Trek: Into Darkness (you really should, and it's worth the extra few bucks to see it in IMAX 3D) and you don't want to know what happens, bookmark this post and read it later.
Warning 2: major geekiness follows, of both the sci-fi and theology varieties.
You have been warned.
Before seeing the new Star Trek movie, I read a number of reviews that had wildly different takes on it. Some said that it was amazing and the reason you go to the movies in the summer. Others couldn't get over the massive leaps in logic and the rather deux ex machina nature of the ending. Still others fixated on all the references to other Star Trek stories. I figured that someone had to be wrong and someone had to be right.
Well, it turns out that they're all right, in their own way. The effects are incredible, if somewhat overbearing. And there are lots of references not only to other Star Trek stories, but to other movies, as well. A fight scene near the end makes one think of the Mustafar battle between Obi-wan and Anakin in Star Wars episode III. A scene near the beginning where "John Harrison" wipes out many of Starfleet's top officers seems very similar to a scene in Godfather III. I kept waiting for an admiral to protest leaving his lucky coat.
I think this latter aspect of the movie says a lot about the cultural moment we find ourselves in, where we're obsessed with irony and seem to award cool-points for one's ability to make as many clever pop culture references as possible. Family Guy and the Scary Movie franchise are prime examples.
The frequent references to other Trek stories struck some as lazy storytelling. After all, the JJ Abrams reboot found the best of both worlds, blending the established universe and characters with a clean slate/alternate reality thanks to some time traveling Romulans. The photo above appeared in the very first trailers, and I figured that's as far as the reference to the final scene in Wrath of Kahn would go. It turns out I was wrong.
Why not take advantage of the clean slate? Why not introduce new characters and new stories? After all, the alternate timeline leaves them un-beholden to the Trek cannon. Why tempt fate by risking the new Kahn not measuring up to Ricardo Montalban? (no worries there- Benedict Cumberbatch owns it)
We don't know if the filmmakers are making any kind of explicitly theological or philosophical statement. Probably not, as JJ Abrams has said he initially preferred Star Wars over Star Trek because the latter was "too philisophical". Nevertheless, he has created shows like Lost that have all sorts of latent theology, whether intended or not.
But, narrative choices aside, simply looking at all the similarities between the "old" timeline and the "new" raises questions of theological anthropology: how we understand humanity overall and individual personhood in relationship to the divine.
The similarities between Into Darkness and Wrath of Kahn go far beyond the presence of the titular character. A core idea explicitly stated by Spock in both movies is that "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few", both spoken at times when he was prepared to sacrifice himself for the good of a larger group.
Both films feature a main character entering a lethal radiation zone to fix a mechanical problem that would allow the ship to warp out of danger, saving the crew, but killing the person in the process. In Darkness, Kirk even tells Spock that his self sacrifice is "what you would have done".
Both death scenes feature a conversation between Kirk and Spock through the glass, the person on the outside having to be held back from trying to rescue their friend (again, see the photo above). And, of course, both characters are resurrected sooner or later so the adventures can continue.
Again, putting aside the question of what the screen writers were thinking, how is it that such similar things would happen in two different timelines? The alternate realities were created by time travelers who altered Kirk's life in a major way by ensuring that he grew up without a father. The butterfly effect resulted in Kirk and Spock meeting and forming their friendship under extremely different circumstances.
From these differences, one might conclude that such formative events might have led Kirk to become a fundamentally different person, one with whom Spock would have never developed a friendship. In fact, the first movie heavily suggests that their friendship would never have happened if not for the intervention of Spock Prime (the Spock from the original timeline who ends up in the alternate). But neither of these conclusions turns out to be right.
So clearly, there is the latent idea in the story that one's circumstances only have a superficial influence on who one is at the core of their being- that there is some kind of fundamental created personhood that cannot be undone no matter what happens to us. In other words, nature is more powerful than nurture.
The Arminian aspect of my theological heritage doesn't like the implications here. If Kirk and Spock are fundamentally wired to be a certain way, are they really free to choose these actions that come from their gut? Is their choice to sacrifice themselves to save others really heroic if it's not really a choice?
Then again, there is something appealing about a story where nature trumps nurture. The fundamental goodness in each of these characters, particularly the way they make one another better, can't be changed by those external circumstances. Perhaps that says something about the perseverance of grace in the face of all obstacles.
That would, of course, also suggest that Khan was going to be evil no matter what. But he's genetically engineered to be a megalomaniac, so perhaps the bad hands he's dealt in each respective timeline override the fleeting glimpses of altruism and genuine human emotion he displays at certain moments.
So, do you agree with the theological anthropology inherent in Into Darkness? Are we who we were created to be, regardless of things that happen to us that are out of our control? Or does nurture have a much bigger influence than Abrams and company give it credit for?
Tue, 21 May 2013 14:30:00 +0000
The challenge is should we be using the internet as a resource for our ministry, not only to serve us in our needs but to utilize it as well as a venue by which we are to communicate as church with young people. The ability to employ the new languages is required, not just to [...]
Tue, 21 May 2013 13:00:00 +0000
As we wrap up our ninth year of blogging, we are offering a retrospective of the best 20 things that I have most treasured about the blog. Here is #2. There is no joy in CNN offering breaking news of a tragic event. As a blogger. it has previously served as a call to action [...]
Tue, 21 May 2013 11:00:59 +0000
something significant changed in the world of christian music the day the David Crowder Band released their first album. i’m not even completely sure how to describe that change. but i’ll try with this: the line between “worship music” and “totally fantastic music i want to listen to all the time” was suddenly blurred. in [...]
Mon, 20 May 2013 15:46:51 +0000
The other day, Doug Fields wrote a great post in which he mentioned four ways churches might help strengthen families: STRONG marriages CONFIDENT parents EMPOWERED...
Mon, 20 May 2013 14:30:00 +0000
I have come to an understanding regarding sarcasm. Lots of folks get by on sarcasm. Often, they may seem as if they are the quickest wit in the room, using a snappy bit of sarcasm to make everyone chuckle about an obnoxious colleague or a silly policy. Their sharp sense of humor is often used [...]
Mon, 20 May 2013 13:00:00 +0000
As we wrap up our ninth year of blogging, we are offering a retrospective of the best 20 things that I have most treasured about the blog. Here is #3. The Catholic YM Blog is No More was the king of our Funsies, was ranked #5 all time according to the site meter. Joyously, a [...]
Sat, 18 May 2013 20:27:00 +0000
From our Sunday Readings. Please feel free to share this image via social networking…
Sat, 18 May 2013 13:02:00 +0000
Sometimes humor can be found in interpreting something from another viewpoint. h/t to Ansel.
Sat, 18 May 2013 11:00:00 +0000
Later came separating sheep from goats and then finally separating wheat from chaff. So much on the Lord’s to-do list this weekend. from The Far Side Seriously, this post has been in the “laundry basket” forever… It is good to have it posted!
Fri, 17 May 2013 14:30:00 +0000
Thu, 16 May 2013 22:27:30 +0000
YMCP has become one of the primary ways i spend my time. and i love it. i’ve spent a good amount of blog real estate explaining why, and the impact; so i won’t do that again here. i just wanted to communicate a “where it’s at” (thanks, beck), so i have a place to point [...]
just arrived in west brom to get ready for resonance an early day for the youthwork summit 2013 that jenny and i are leading - it's a reflective retreat type day... then racing back to ealing for the opening of...
Thu, 16 May 2013 11:00:13 +0000
recently in one of my coaching groups, we were talking about our propensity to try to control. i see this in so many of our youth ministry approaches: an attempt to control the outcomes. one of the participants asked me for a definition of control, and i responded with this: minimizing variables and maximizing efficiencies [...]
small adventures, a photography exhibition that i am taking part in opens this friday. i have a book of photos and 4 photos which will be on display along with around a dozen other photographers from the ealing LIP group....
Wed, 15 May 2013 17:18:20 +0000
the hits, they just keep coming… only a san diego 7th grade guy would ask: what’s a snowblower? we were doing a lesson on how god is a dreamer. and, since we’re created in the image of god, we should have that “dreamer” character in us also. after looking at the characteristic of god, i [...]
Wed, 15 May 2013 16:07:57 +0000
I couldn’t be more excited about the new book, A Youth Ministry Volunteer Speaks His Mind….at least what’s left of it! Rick Williams has been...
By David Grant
Every once in a while I’m reminded of how important words are. There’s a popular rhyme we all know, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. I’m not sure the origin of this little saying but let’s face it, it’s a lie.
Words, positive and negative, have incredible power. We have the potential with our words to lift the spirits of a person or add anxiety, to bring a person joy or create discouragement.
Proverbs has much to say about our words and how powerful they are. Here’s just one example.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Just last week I was reminded of how an encouraging statement can make all the difference. I was struggling with a little discouragement when I received this text from my dad. It’s as if he and God knew exactly what I needed.
It made so much difference in how I was thinking and feeling.
Students are especially susceptible to words. They’re already feeling insecure and bad about how they look and behave. A kind / encouraging word can act as a beacon in a world where they’re constantly hearing how insignificant they are.
When relating to others, my wife, kids, staff, students, I want to be intentional about using words to encourage and strengthen. The power we have to influence those around us with words is huge.
As I’m thinking through growing in this area here are a few thoughts.
Be a truth teller
Don’t try to make something up just to encourage someone. There’s nothing worse than someone trying to blow sunshine up your skirt. It feels cheap, manipulative and confusing. As you observe others look for ways God uniquely uses them. They may not see it unless you tell them.
“You’re great” isn’t as good as “I love the way you served little Johnny other night”. Specificity can help others see how God has uniquely wired them and is using them. The depth of encouragement is proportionate to how specific you are.
Most people (especially students) already feel they don’t measure up. They are told over and over that they’re not good enough and will never amount to anything. As we create a culture of positive words it can act as a rhythm that balances out the lies they are hearing.
So today as you’re interacting with those around you look for opportunities to use your words to build. As you use words to encourage you will be lifting the souls of those around you, and that's a good thing.
To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!
Tue, 14 May 2013 16:02:56 +0000
in about 2000, i found a strange little stack of black and white cardstock photos in ireland, designed to be used for conversation and sharing. they were out of print, but had been published by a mainstream publisher. i loved them, but saw how they could be amazing when connected with spiritual reflection and meditation [...]
Tue, 14 May 2013 15:49:33 +0000
In addition to the normal youth group happenings, a typical weekend in our student ministries includes any number of youth pastors popping in for a...