Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Run ‘n’ Gun Missions Trips?

Some of you have heard me blather on about short term mission trips (especially the youth kind).
Some questions for me remain:

Are we meeting actual needs with these projects?
If we are, is the way in which we meet the perceived needs actually beneficial for the people we are seeking to serve?

Are we actually designing these trips/projects more for the impact they will have on the missionaries? If so is that selfish and arrogant? Or is actually wise?

Here’s a quote from an article from the Christian Science Monitor I found surfing this morning
“As these missions flourish, however, the faithful are debating the wisdom of tailoring outreach programs to suit the needs and wants of missionaries in search of a peak, transformational experience.”

I know a lot of you have either led, participated, or are going to lead, plan or participate in a short term project in the near future. I would be interested to know how you would answer these questions.

ht: MarkO

and the winner is.......

......drum roll.......
also known as Trevor Berg
the touque will now reside in Winnipeg
and it's name will be....
"To Hell With The Devil"
Trev email me your mailing address here.
For those of you who would still like a touque from yours truly you can simply ask for one like James did or enter the next competition to...
Name That Touque

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Discover your needs

My blog buddy Nathan (is it okay to call you that) showed me how the internet can help you discover and prioritize all the things you NEED in your life. Simply type your name and the word ‘needs’ into your search engine and away you go…
Look how helpful this was for me:

Dale needs a valium
Dale needs to patiently explain this behavior and the problems it is creating.
Dale needs to make sure that he fully understands the positions.
Dale needs supervision by the graduate students.
Dale needs the work.
Dale needs to stay.
Dale needs to be recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Dale needs to manipulate and store more complex images on site.
Dale needs the support of the bear community as he faces these troubles.
Dale needs to have a bomb put in his car.
Dale needs to be more careful with his language.
Dale needs to make a change.
Dale needs an updated list of the membership and also a financial.
Dale needs to be read.
Dale needs to stay with her until the baby comes.
Dale needs to hang back in his closet.
Dale needs no defenders.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Bible

So okay about the Bible itself…
This is a statement I heard addressed to me…
“You spend too much time reading/talking about other books and not enough time reading/talking about the Bible.”
Actually, I confess that I have not, on a per volume basis, read as much of the Bible as I have of a numerous other books. But this is my testimony about the Bible…
-The Bible has ceased to be an almost magical thing that somehow transforms my life.
-The Bible has ceased to be a science project to codify or un-codify, analyze, or dissect in such a way as to somehow make it’s parts more important than the sum.
-The Bible has ceased to be my back up. Although this is hard for me to do, I am not interested in using (and often abusing) the Bible to prove my particular bias or perspective.
-The Bible has ceased to be good medicine. I’m tired of taking it in doses and ‘manageable’ portions. I am trying to learn to eat large portions at a time.
-The Bible has ceased to be a chia pet. I am convinced that just dishing the Bible to someone doesn’t necessarily save them or solve their problems. We can’t just simply give The Bible to people – add water and expect things to change. (I still think that people need the scriptures explained to them as best we can – Acts 8)
-The Bible has ceased to be a road map, rule book, instruction manual, or compass. Each of these pictures don’t do justice to the complexity of direction that the Bible gives us in how to lead a whole life.

The Bible remains for me…
-Bread. Stale or fresh, sourdough or store-bought-white - it provides nourishment for my soul in much the same way a staple like rice, potatoes or bread nourish my body.
-A love letter. It is precious like how love letters are full of innuendos, and provocative imagery, and stories to tell me about how my lover is. But most of all it makes me veritably shake with anticipation at the chance to see my lover again soon.
-A boot camp. Kicking me in the rear more often than not. Reminding me that I am not God but that He is. Highlighting my weakness and pushing me to excel beyond my expectation. Reminding me that this life is not focused on me but on other people.
-A treasure. It has come to me in it’s present form through the hard work of the failing hands of saints, prophet, and a few scondrels - dead and gone. It is a gift I hardly deserve and haven’t worked nearly hard enough to earn the right to look at let alone interpret. It is mysterious and complex. Like clues to a mystery, theology unravels as I humbly open my mind to the truth revealed.
-A book. Unique? Yes. Powerful? Yes. Important? The most important. But nevertheless it is a book! When it comes down to it – it is words on a page. I mean no disrespect. These words are different than most words because they are from so many different writers but they all talk about the same God in a consistent way. I don’t ever want to get caught up in the notion that the only way God can ‘really’ speak to me is through the words on the pages of the Bible. I think he can speak just as powerfully through the breeze on my back when I’m mowing the lawn as he can from any portion of the Scriptures. As such I don’t think it is my responsibility to defend the Bible. If the Bible is a communication from God – I don’t have to defend it – He does. Truth is its own defense. And truth is powerful to change and redeem.

I have spent more time this past year reading the Scriptures than I ever have before. And I should say the Bible has become far more meaningful and central to my life than it ever has been before. I am actually reading it for it's own sake not just to get another Bible Study outline from. Here are some of my favorite parts:
The whole book of James
The origin stories at the beginning of the Bible (Genesis)
The whole book of John.
I think the book of Hosea is interesting.
I love all the stories about David
Paul’s stuff is pretty good but I think he was at his best when he wrote Romans.

I hope you understand.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

How do we define success..

In my upcoming report to the church (and insidently to the church council), I expressed my deep conviction to move away from highly program based ministry. I suggested that the church and the leadership of the church need to understand that this does not look like what we typically talk about as 'successful' youth ministry. I ran across some of Mark Yac comments as he talked about how his book was being received by adults. Here is what he said...

" invite people to slow down and sit and wait on God seems so incredibly un-productive and verges on the ridiculous. What's hard to communicate is that God isn't interested in production...or as Martin Buber says, "Success is not a name for God." It's hard to communicate to people that just seeking to do the ministry is what's pleasing to God...that the results are not in our hands and furthermore, we have no idea what "good results" look like." read the rest here

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Schwarzenegger to 'TERMINATE' obesity...

Adbusters posted a great article on the correlation between affluence and unhealthy eating patterns but apparently I need to be afraid. Arnie is after me.
"Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed legislation to ban soft drinks and other junk food from high schools in an attempt to “terminate obesity in California once and for all.”"
So many people to watch out for, a fat guy like me can't keep up...

Do jew wanna geh high meester, por favor?

Mexico is the place to be if you have a hankerin’ for some narcotic action this summer.
Of course this seems to be Mexico’s contribution to the new anti-immigration policy George Bush is pushing for. Not only will the legalizing of small amount of narcotics keep some ‘hermanos’ south of the border – it may actually entice some of the residents of USA to consider the move to the Spanish paradise. Isn’t it neat how these countries work together at this stuff?

John Stewart neatly pointed out the difference in reporting accuracy from one side of the country to the next. This is the New York Times
“Mexican lawmakers passed a sweeping new drug law early Friday that would crack down on small-time dealers, legalize the possession of small quantities of drugs and mandate treatment for addicts. Under the bill, it would be legal to have 25 milligrams of heroin, a fifth of an ounce of...”
And this is the Los Angeles Times
(notice the distinct LA feel to the piece…)
"And the per-person amounts approved for possession by anyone 18 or older could easily turn any college party into an all-nighter: half a gram of coke, a couple of Ecstasy pills, several doses of LSD, a few marijuana joints, a spoonful of heroin, 5 grams of opium and more than 2 pounds of peyote, the hallucinogenic cactus"
a spoonful?!?
come on...

Name this toque...

...and it's yours!

This is my latest creation and it does not have a name. i know this does not seem like toque weather to most of you but hey...

most creative name gets it - no matter where you are!

Entry's closed by May 31, 2006

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Recently a man I deeply respect reminded us (some local church leaders) that the church is called to be a redemptive community of faith (r.c.f.).
I ran a across this story that I think shows what an r.c.f. looks like.

One of the most powerful examples, however, was in a UCC church in Linton, Indiana. There was a kind, patient man who worked as a farmer and volunteered in the youth ministry. One night he came home and found his wife had packed her bags and left him for another man.

Who are the redeemers in this story? The youth group, the church board, Mark Yaconelli (for retelling the story and thereby elevating this story to exemplary status)?
You what is interesting is that we have begun to call “GRACE” and “REDEMPTION” by different names. Many people would retell this story as evidence of how the church is degrading it’s stance on deviant behaviour. They would attach the labels “CONDONE” and “MORAL DECAY” to the very same story. It’s sad really. If there is no room for sinners in the church – where do they belong?
Then again where to we belong?
This topic often reminds of me of the ‘sermon’ Ryan delivered a while back. He said – we are all called to be mini-Christ’s.

Guys wear girls tight pants

Does any one else have a problem with this?

Article Link

Now before any of you fly off the handle at me...
don't you forget that Lev. 19:19 explicitly states in King James English that we are not to weave two thread together. And these stretchy (sucked right tight) girls' pants that 'emo' dudes are strutting their 'stuff' in are definately made of more than one kind of thread...

This could be the next mission field people. Sign the petition here. Honestly, it's time to bring back some decency to modern fashion choices. I think this is a direct result of the summer fashion problems we had a couple summers ago. Do you remember the summer when girls were running around in what amounted to slightyly larger than usual handkerchiefs? Yup. I think some guys thought to themselves if girls can just do that then maybe we should start wearing thier pants - kinda like revenge...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Who should change?

I have been thinking alot about this lately. Since returning to 'work', I have begun wondering about how ministry to youth in this community and church needs to change to be more authentic to the mandate of Christ. One of the topics I have been wrestling with is this:
According to some stats (who beleives these things anymore) - we lose 80% of the kids in our youth program after grade 12. They stop being connected with church. That is a terrible attrition rate. All too often the reason seems to be that younger people don't find thier experience of church measures up to their experiences in a youth group. Plus kids are more mobile and transient so they put down less roots. etc. etc.
Youth ministry is notorious for trying to be culturally sensitive with the idea that this will help make thier ministry more effective. Great. But what if that same cultural sensitivity is not embraced by the "BIG" church they are supposed to graduate to...
Recently I read a review of Mark Yaconelli's book and ran across some interesting perspectives on this topic.
Here's a quote:
"Do I create a versionized liturgy/program/worship service/small group (etc. etc.) that is so alien to the wider expression of church life that my students spend the rest of their life feeling homesick for the “good ole’ days”?"
That comment brought me up short. Am I (this ministry) the problem? Don C. Richter says that we should not expect the burden of accomodation to fall to our young people. So then who should change?
Should we change youth ministry so that it looks more like BIG church or should it be the other way around? Dixon suggested that it probably is both.
I also found this interesting quote from Katie Funk Wiebe. She an older ex-school teacher who I think sorta gets this whole topic...
"What liberates an older adult from the win/lose mentality when winning on society’s terms isn’t a possibility?
I see the submission of servanthood as the only answer. The essence of this servanthood is to become good at losing, at making room for others, especially the younger generation, to be the winners. This ability enables elders to resist seeing this younger group as threats to their authority or ominous signs that they’re being set aside."

So that's what is pounding through my brain this morning. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Attention all fuzzy teeth people...

Here's the deal. Char is on this kick for me to brush my teeth every other minute. So I made up this poll to get everybody's opinion. Not that it is gonna be binding in any way! But it would be nice to have some 'stats' to back me up on what public opinion is like out there on how often people should brush their teeth. Recently, Jared and I started a little competition. We see which one of us brushes more often. Whoever brushes their teeth the most wins that week. After two weeks we tally all the points and whoever has the most brushings in the week gets a Slurpee from the other guy...

So fill out the poll on the right of your screen - and help send a message to the right people...

Monday, May 15, 2006

boys will be...

So I moved the trampoline in order to mow the grass underneath. Before I can turn around Jared yanks out the extention ladder, drags the sprinkler out of the shed and well....
you get the idea...

King of the Hill Church

I have yet to watch an episode of this show but thanks to Nathan I came upon this clip of the show where the Hills are looking for a new church. Kinda interesting stuff as it coincides with the class I am teaching in some curious ways.

Warning: the clip is a little crude and irreverent around the edges but I think it highlights some important issues about church. (The clip takes a while to download so have patience)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

What do you think?

here's an interesting story about a Hutterite colony's refusal to have thier pics on thier license...

a new blog

I have been teaching a class on the affects of postmodern culture and thought on the church. Some of the class suggested I start a blog to help extend the conversation of the class. So if you like here is a link to it...
for those of you who are not in the class feel free to comment on this other site as well...
and for those of you who could still possibly make it into the class...we will still make room for you.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Call

My uncle (CLINTON) raises some good questions about 'the calling' of a pastor to ministry. See his post here...

Tuesday, May 9, 2006


I ran across these comments on membership and baptism. How would you respond.
"I was thinking of an experience I had at the MB when I first came. Someone mentioned a Christmas banquet, and I thought, oh, that sounds interesting. I'll go buy a ticket. When I went to get my ticket, I was asked which table I wanted to sit at. Which table? I had no idea! Were there differences in the tables? NO, you just had to pick which one you wanted to be at. Well.... all of a sudden, this became a HUGE issue. Could I join just any table? Should I see where friends were sitting? Did you need to be invited to join a table? Suddenly, the whole issue of going to the banquet became a problem. I couldn't just go, and sit wherever there was space. I had to decide before I signed up, where I would sit if I signed up. YIKES! That just about scared me off completely. I helped organize a couple Christmas banquets after that, but in spite of my input, I was never able to convince the rest of the committee that reserved seating was not mandatory. Somewhere where people sat was almost more important than that they came at all.
I though too of that in relation to being baptized and joining THE church, versus A branch of that church. I think that sometimes the branches of the church get in the way of the reality that it is but one church. Signing up for the banquet of Christ suddenly becomes an issue of 'which table will you sit at'? Young people have to choose which church they will be baptized in, join, be part of, etc, often before they really have any sense of what others stand for. It just gets more complicated than it needs to be. Sometimes we forget that the church is far bigger and grander than any of our minute imaginations or demonstrations of it.
...If the larger denomination makes a decision that the indiv congregations, or the individual members of those congregations, don't support, what then? Do they just break away (individually or as congregations) and go on their own, as has happened in many circles? Or, does the congregation ignore the 'ruling'? Or, do those members who don't like it simply leave, or ??????
I guess the whole thing makes me tired. I think we often have missed the point....The answer, I think, is to strive to be faithful to serving in the congregations and communities where we are. We need to be willing to be part of an extremely imperfect body of believers. Some time ago I gave up the search for the perfect church, since I realized that when I found it, I would not be allowed to join. End of search..."

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Two stories came together for me just now.

Story #1:
Not too long ago I had a senior high student tell me that she found it hard to pray. It seemed to her that her prayers only reached the ceiling and bounced back.[1] My response was, "Welcome to the club.
“Great!” she said, “only when I read the Bible it seems like the stuff that happened to the people in the Bible almost never happens to me.”
Again my response was “ME TOO!”
“It’s just that I often doubt that God is real. My friends all tell me that they have these awesome experiences with God and I am jealous. But even more I wonder if I am doing something wrong?”

Story #2
Those of you who know Char and I well will probably lose your jaw in your pants pocket over this one. We bought a new TV. Yup. Found one cheap at Da ShuupRShtore. Brought it home set it up. First had to take the old one down. Plugged it in. Plugged all the contraptions into the slots and…
It would not fire up. Press the remote no action. Put batteries in the remote. Still no action. Red light is blazing on the bottom left hand corner of the TV but nothing is showing. So I am toughing all the stuff searching the TV for a hidden switch to point me in the right direction. Now my kids are crowded around offering increasingly maddening advice. I am already thinking about putting it back in the box when Charlene suggests the instruction manual. Fine!So she’s reading and I am trying to follow her instructions and my kids at the same time. Still nothing. Finally I take the instruction book and read it in a frantic methodical way. It is typically cryptic of these types of documents.[2] It reads:
“Once the TV set has been put in place…Press the Standby/ON button on the TV set (this is the only button on the set) to turn the unit on. When you have picture and sound…”
So I start talking to the instruction book.
“Okay the red light is on buddy but no picture and sound."
I turn to the troubleshooting to find the problem because obviously my unit is not functioning properly. It says:
I am about to swear in Portuguese when I randomly press the on/off switch again. The red light goes off and after a few short seconds the familiar hum/hiss or white noise hits my ears. I look up and…
Yahoo! Kids dance!
As any good youth pastor I have often used the instruction manual as an illustration for the Bible. You know, the Bible gives you instructions for life. Follow it’s guidelines and your life will be better. But what happens when our life is not better and you go back to the ‘instruction book’ and find it oddly cryptic and generally confusing? And I have seen it too many times how (just like with our new TV) we go rampaging through the Bible doing troubleshooting. And with forlorn guilt we start asking why: Donkey’s aren't showing up in our driveway talking to us. Or why raven don’t just bring us Pop Tarts in the morning.
I think when we say that the Bible is mainly an instruction booklet – we are screwed! Shoot we can read about all those fantastic things that happened to people in the Bible (healings, seas being calmed, sun standing still) and we can think that because “the Bible is full of that stuff,” it must have been happening all the time. You know, this is normal behaviour – check the troubleshooting section if you are experiencing difficulty. We forget that people probably would not have written about that stuff if it was common place. We forget the Bible’s narrative takes place over several thousand years. But because the Bible has become this instruction manual we have totally come to some crappy conclusions.
And another thing…
We totally have taken that another step farther. We say if you don’t get the same stuff out of the Bible that I do – you are wrong! Have we forgotten that if the Bible is God’s word that it must have been translated from Godese into human languages? Not literally! But you know what I mean. Could it be that something got lost in the translation? Of course we would never dare to dream about that because we might have to stop judging (even fellow believers). And don’t think that just because I ask these questions that I think the Bible is in any way less authoritative. It really means that I have to be way more responsible with how I choose to handle the scriptures and images I instill on the minds of those youth I have influence on. Oh yeah and I think it forces us all to stop being spiritual bigots on all sides of every fence.

[1] Even that phrase seems a little cliche
[2] Something always seems to get lost in the translation from Japanese to Engrish

Char's Birthday...

My wonderful wife is 36 today...
so along with the small tokens of our (the boys and I) appreciation for having the blessing of such a beautiful person - I wrote her a poem. Here are a few lines...

this is the swing
chain-links hanging the bum worn board barely
able to fetter the fleeting childhood hung
there in mid-flight
ruddy knees like pump handles
against thin air
the touch of a boy’s sweaty palm on your back
guarded against a forbidden touch
cursed halter-top

this is the jump
the inevitable
like when your bottom lifts slightly at
the top of the swing
and you know that the next swoop is it
it’s just right
not at all like shuffling off
and more like scared to…
but never more sure than before
like asking me about what to bring on
your first day of grade seven

i will
if you want me to
jump first
leave the swing to bounce and wiggle
and tell you if you want me to
what it feels like to roll in the grass
at last

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

The corporate take over

I am very interested in this item from a few angles. Zondervan has bought Youth Specialties. Now to be clear Z has been YS’s publishing house for 30 plus years so maybe there should be no alarm bells but…
When I did my research for my paper on postmodernism and the church, I noticed that 90% of the books that were recommended were published in Grand Rapids (Zondervan's headquarters) as well. Now YS has assured everyone that their unique prophetic voice in the youth ministry niche will remain unchanged. This is fine to a point. I know that with the resources that Z has YS stands to benefit from the deep pockets of a giant like Z. So maybe this is a good thing. I get worried though about the potential for homogenization. You know a kind of lowest common denominator that might emerge as decisions for direction arise. One commentator said,
“just great - so the local non-christian, publisher-of-christian-material bully is at it again. but i guess since you are all still employed, we are the only ones who suffer in the end…
congrats - and hoping i’m wrong”

A little harsh – probably! But I think this guy makes a good point about the way Christian lit./publishing is big business. And there are many people trying to do authentic ministry who do not have the luxury of large financial resources to ‘affirm’ their legitimacy in ministry. How many O.T. prophets, for instance, could have won a popularity contest? Does anybody else wonder about these things?

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

women drivers?

Dr. Evil Part Deux

Ryan sent me this email which was forwarded to him etc. etc. It certainly is a fascinating story.

As you are no doubt aware I am still having difficulty seeing how Evil could merely be the abscence of good or God. But this story seems to take me to the cleaners on this count. It's happened before quit looking so surprised. Anyway here is a link to where a version of this same story has been posted on the web.

"LET ME EXPLAIN THE problem science has with Jesus Christ."
The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand. "You're a Christian, aren't you, son?"
"Yes, sir."
"So you believe in God?"
"Is God good?"
"Sure! God's good."
"Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?"
"Are you good or evil?"
"The Bible says I'm evil."
The professor grins knowingly. "Ah! THE BIBLE!" He considers for a moment. "Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help them? Would you try?"
"Yes sir, I would."
"So you're good...!"

(please i am not endorsing this website)
(the version I got from Ryan claimed Albert Einstein as the brilliant student - this quite unsubstantiated)

the touquesmith

I am proud to report that some of the Friesen touques are far off places. One touque has gone as far as Iran to a friend of Charlene's from University.
Two more are going to be going back with the Dueck's to Vancouver to sit atop Nikky and Claire's heads

Monday, May 1, 2006

change of date

Hey Date Change To May 25th after lunch. please let me know if you can make it for sure. Jessi, Jan, the two Marks, me, Char maybe Vicky Berg, tyler and and the rest of the gang are all welcome...