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Brian Harvey’s Thoughts On The First Day Of The National Youth Ministry Convention

Brian Harvey is the Youth Ministries Director for the Presbyterian Church of Victoria.
He has a blog.
Here are his thoughts about the first day of his first time attending the National Youth Ministry Convention.
He promises some follow-up posts about his experiences over the next few days.

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“All Pastoral Ministry Has Gone The Way Of Youth Ministry” (via The Online Pulpit)

It’s Friday night.
All over churches will be conducting youth groups. (Or will be on Saturday night.)
On Sunday their worship Services will reflect pretty much the same underlying philosophy that motivates their youth meetings.

From Andrew Root at IVP Online Pulpit:

I have a hunch. It is totally anecdotal, but I do think it is based in a reality, one that I’ve sensed over the last decade of talking with youth workers and speaking at pastors’ gatherings.
Here is my hunch: all pastoral ministry has gone the way of youth ministry.
What I mean is this: Almost since its inception youth ministry has been trying to make a case for why fickle people should come to church. Sure, I know that youth ministry has been about much, much more than this (and thank God), but it is a fair assertion to state that Protestant churches began funding in-house youth workers in their congregations because their children were no longer coming or were not all that interested in the church. So we hired young (at times hip) youth workers that could make a case for religious participation.
This meant a number of things: good looking, athletic young workers, big youth rooms, cool events, relational contact, new worship experiences, the blending of technology and Christian practice. And this has had a huge impact on the church (and this isn’t anecdotal); youth ministry people have shifted the direction of the church more than almost any other group of people in the last fifty years. After all, Billy Graham was a youth preacher, then Bill Hybels and Rick Warren were old youth workers, and a good number of emergent church folks, both leaders and participants, are either present or former youth workers.
So pastoral ministry has gone the way of youth ministry. And so far, this is positive—I think. But here is the wrinkle. As this process has happened and as our context has become more detached from Christendom, pastors, like youth workers in the past, have had to concern themselves with how they were going to get fickle people to come to church. At the beginning of youth ministry it could be assumed that people would show up on a Sunday, the only question was, would their children? Now there is no guarantee that anyone will come.
So the pastor has had to take on the entrepreneurial spirit of youth ministry, using programs, events, relational contact, new worship experiences, hip clothes, and the blending of technology and preaching to make a case for giving participation a shot.
But there was a bacteria in this youth-ministry entrepreneurial movement that has now been passed on to pastors. Because the focus was on winning participation, there was a little need or desire to reflect, especially to reflect theologically about the practice of ministry. Thinking was okay, but what won esteem was action. The hyperpractical, scaled down and digestible now became essential. I think this bacteria is now in the bloodstream of pastoral ministry, and unfortunately I think that youth ministry was the original carrier.
But here is my historical hunch, and where my book The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry comes in. In the last ten years I have watched youth workers want (yearn) to think theologically. They’ve been at this winning participation perspective too long and know it is a dead end. They are ready to think theologically about what ministry is and how human action in ministry participates in the action and being of God. They still want action—that is, they still want to take kids on mission trips—but they would also like to reflect deeply on what a mission is and how it participates in God’s own ministry.
But here is a further problem: As youth workers have sought to take this theological turn, their pastors haven’t always been that helpful or supportive. The pastor simply wants the program to continue, adding some more kids and keeping the energy high. So as the youth worker turns to theology, often times her or his pastor is ambivalent.
But this is the gift that the youth worker can give back to his or her pastor: the youth worker can remind you, pastor, that theology still matters, that deep thoughts still have a place.
It is only a hunch, but if youth ministry is guilty of being the carrier of this thoughtless ministerial perspective, then maybe we can become part of the antidote, inviting the church back into a theological conversation on the very practice of ministry.


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Happy As A Clam?

The other day we were tormenting a poor teenager with the expressions ‘As happy as Larry’ and ‘As happy as a pig in muck.’
I think he was wondering if the pig’s name was ‘Larry’, or if all the old people had just lost it.
(On a digression, there is a man in Mount Gambier who walks a pig on a leash around town, and I don’t know if that pig’s name is ‘Larry’, either.)
Anyway, at least we didn’t add ‘As happy as a clam’ to our young friend’s confusion.
What does ‘As happy as a clam’ mean anyway?

cartoon via

UPDATE: Tony knows the answer.

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Make Your Own Storm-Trooper Helmet

For those of you who like doing craft with children (You know who you are) the website Filth Wizardry has some amazing suggestions. Don’t be put off by the name.
Like how to turn these:

into this Storm Trooper Helmet:

Go and check the blog out.

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A Walk Of Sacred Wonder

Corporate worship concludes, corporate fellowship continues. We stand and talk, which is nothing unusual, until the smallest finger on my right hand is grasped with firm intention. Excuse me, I seem to be going…
She seems no higher than my knee, blond locks flowing, dressed in pink.
We walk from the hall and its coffee, tea, cake and talk, crossing the foyer and enter the chapel, now vacated by the last tardy worshippers, its lights turned off.
Stepping down the center aisle we break to our left, now in single file between the first two rows of seats; my finger still grasped, her hand aloft now leading me. We continue between another row of seats and now find ourselves able to walk alongside each other again. She chatters a happy commentary about the light in the room, the carpet, our path, the windows, the sun, and more. Some of it I catch, some of it not.
I think about the others in the room across the way, but my attention returns to our present peripatetic path around a very familiar space which has now been transformed by our new adventure.
Eventually I’m lead to the platform at the front of the room. Two steps up: one foot on the step, then the other, then the first foot takes another step followed again by the other. We walk across the platform to the other side.
I’ve done so hundreds of times. But now, it’s an adventure. We plan our descent. Nothing less than a full jump down both steps will do. After some measuring and preparation of the task she leaps and ends up sitting on the lower step. Gales of laughter indicate this has been a success.
Over the next ten or more minutes we continue to weave a familiar circuit. Minor variations emerge: we proceed between different rows of chairs, and sometimes we step off the platform, other times we jump. Still other times, having stepped down, we jump for good measure when we are on the floor. She can fall back some little distance onto what seems a cushioned back-side. I keep my feet, because I fear a harder landing.
Measures of curiosity and wonder keep me intrigued. When will she grow bored with our game and me?
I remember playing similar games with my own children. And again I’m reminded of the wonder of a God who never grows bored with the consistency of His creation.
Day after day the sun rises and sets. Familiar consistency mingled with fresh wonder.
Rain falls (sometimes less that we’d like, sometimes what we consider too much) the earth yields fruit, life goes on.
Why has God committed Himself to this continuing work of utter consistency that we call creation?
And why has he chosen to involve Himself in my life, and the lives of others beside?
He makes no indication of boredom, of wanting to divert from sustaining the order of creation, nor does He tire of being personally present in a life that at times even I feel like trying to escape?
What condescending love and grace.
But these are thoughts of fleeting seconds.
My real attention is focussed not these thoughts but on their miniature joyous mirror.
This is a time for enjoyment, not analysis.
At times now her grasp releases. She watches to ensure herself that I am committed to our path, and sometimes she issues direction if it seems I am not going the right way, but her will and joy have become my own in this short season.
I don’t know why she decided to grasp my finger. I’m thankful that she did.
I walk a path, not of my own will and design, but rather to share her joy.
At its purest that’s what it is to walk with God.
It’s why we receive the kingdom like little children.
Soon it is time to go. She with her family and me to mine.
But the sacred wonder abides.

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The Five Best Toys Of All Time

Go over to Geek Dad and have a look see.
Could be the definitive list.
I’ve played with all of these.
I’d be surprised if you haven’t, as well.