Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Emerging church...

For those of for whom the Emerging Church movement has provoked questions, problems or even derisions…
And for those of you who for various reasons might feel inclined to find affinity with this stereo type of the Emerging Church movement…

“Here’s the urban legend: The emerging movement talks like Lutherans – which means they cuss and use naughty words; they evangelize and theologize like the Reformed – which means, in the first case, they don’t do much of it, and in the second, they do it all the time; they confess their faith like the mainliners – which means they say things publicly they don’t really believe in their hearts; they drink like Episcopalians – which means – to steal some words from Mark Twain – they are teetotalers sometimes – when it is judicious to be one; they worship like the charismatics – which means with each part of the body, some parts of which have tattoos; they vote liberal – which means they all move to Massachusetts come election time; they deny truth – which means Derrida is carried in their backpacks.”

Scot McKnight has written a wonderfully articulate paper on the essentials of what the movement is about. This paper was presented at Westminster Theological Seminary. His challenge to all of us is to allow the movement to define itself.

“In order to define this movement, there is a correct method to follow.
Which is where I want to go now: to define a movement we must, as a courtesy, let it say what it is or describe it until the other side says “Yes, now you’ve got it.” To define a movement, we must let the movement have the first word.”

So read it. In the first part of the paper McKnight exposes the conclusions of D.A. Carson and other critics for what they are - speculative projections of doom. As I read McKnight's paper I was struck by the idea that in many instances it seems that Evangelicalism has had to prop up the image of a formidable opponent as a threat to evangelical orthodoxy in order to defend and perpetuate its own schema.

I follow McKnight’s blog: Jesus Creed as well.
Ht: Mike King

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The song...

when Alberta feels like Manitoba for a day or two..

Uncommon Grounds

by Mike Pendergrast
Coffee prices climbed slowly but steadily after they were finally freed from price ontrols in 1946. By 1947 roasted coffee retailed for more than 50 cents a pound; yet economists and pundits expected a postwar recession any minute. "The popularity of the five-cent cup of coffee has made it an established institution that's here to stay," declared one newspaper prophet. The next year, when many restaurants began charging 7 cents, angry patron broke mugs, stole silverware, and dumped cream and sugar on countertops in protest. some coffee firms began to advertise that their brand required less grounds to brew a strong cup. One disgruntled coffee man concluded facetiously that if prices continue to rise, "we may yet see coffee so trong you won't have to use any at all to get a delisious aromatic, flavorsome cup."

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

worship song mad lib...

Let’s give this a shot:
We’re gonna use the power of the blog to write a ‘worship’ tune.
Here’s how it works:
1. In order pick the next item to fill in.
2. Write the word you want to fill the requirements and post it in the comments beside the number you are filling out.

1. (Reaction)
2. (Divine Attribute)
3. (Reaction)
4. (Divine Attribute)
5. (Verb)
6. (Verb)
7. (Title)
8. (Noun)
9. (Verb)
10. (Verb)
11. (Body Part)
12. (Verb)
13. (Body Part/Noun)
14. (Period of Time)
15. (Verb)
16. (Body Part/Noun)
17. (Period of Time)....

When all 17 items have been filled, I will publish the song and maybe even a YouTube of me trying to sing the song…

If you need a little help here are some suggestions for some of the categories.
see, hear, feel, touch, taste, realize, acknowledge, praise, comfort, run, hold, forgive, live, accept, die, shout, sing, dance, tell, bleed, cry, call, stand, believe, trust, say, take, abandon, forsake, wash, live, dwell, find, rejoice, proclaim, walk, clothe, smile, tremble
Body Parts
hands, feet, face, eyes, heart, spirit, lips, ears, wounds, tongue
wind, nails, cross, hill, mountain, valley, stream, sea, river, lightning, tree, stone, grass, bird, field, child, shelter, throne, angels, world, storm, thunder, tears, temple, sake, might, power, above, deaf, dumb, shadow, presence, sins, grief
I, You, Your, His, Lord, God, we, Savior, Redeemer, Messiah, Lamb, Lion, King, Shepherd, Keeper, Alpha, Omega, Beginning, End
Period of Time
always, now, forever, tonight, tomorrow, yesterday, never, thousand
amazing, wonderful, bigger, mighty, righteous, holy, clean, powerful, loving, merciful, full of grace, kind, caring, good, worthy, just, incredible, small, weak, alone, tired, angry, peaceful

Monday, November 20, 2006

someone heard my cry...

You know how I've been belly-aching about 'Christian' music for a long time. Well, the nice people at the door have heard my yammering...
check this out!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Metaphors and phrases ‘speakers’ should not use in youth talks…

I was at a retreat this weekend and I heard this phrase:
“Instead of reading the Bible we should let the Bible read us.”
Now I think I understand this convoluted phrase and I think I understand the motivational intention behind it. If I have it right it goes something like this:
- - We should let the concepts in the Bible provide evaluation of the content of our lives. - -
More or less on the surface this seems like a fairly decent statement assuming that youth understand what you mean.
That is where the first problem arises. All too often it seems that in some parts of the evangelical Christian experience, there tends to be a propensity to transform these metaphoric ideas into literal realities. (Especially in the case of impressionable young people.) (As an aside: I used to do ‘devotions’ like this: I placed the open scriptures on my face and promptly fell asleep – allowing the Bible to read me?!?) Unfortunately, it seems many ‘preachers’ all too glibly throw these Christian ditties into their talks in an attempt at deepening/heightening the spiritual intensity of their message. Without adequately giving contextual and figurative explanation to these phrases, the real meaning is lost. They become merely spiritual phraseology for youth to bandy about. (Is there any lack of this?) So for instance when one young person uses the phrase with one of their compatriot youth group members, they mutually understand that the speaker is merely referring to a heightened state of spirituality. And can you imagine the confusion for someone outside of the compatriot faith circle when they hear this phrase?
And if the first problem is that very few of the people who use this phrase will actually intend what it means. The second problem is equally obtuse. We assume that it is possible for us to actually do what the phrase intends.
My suggestion is that allowing the Bible to ‘read’ our lives is almost completely objectively impossible. First of all, in order to allow the Bible to read us we must read it – first! We bring all our personal preconceptions and inclinations to that reading. (Hardly an entirely a reliable way to extract the truth inside Scripture) In an individualistic world it must be said that a phrase like this is especially dangerous because it suggests that we can trust our own interpretation of the Scriptures and then without prejudice allow it to evaluate our behaviour.
Now, I realize that I may be reading too much into this but…
I think in general we must get away from our public predisposition to using these ambiguous metaphors…
And to be completely I have used my fair share of spiritual hype talk metaphors but it is something I am trying to exercise from my speeches, talks, and discussions.

The Mennonite connection to the Holy Spirit

hey mom and dad stay strong against the thick tongue :)

Thursday, November 16, 2006


This is a story that has sort of melted together for me in the last few weeks.

I teach a ½ hour Bible lesson to Grade 4 children every Friday afternoon. On the first day about half of my 15 students volunteered that they had divorced or separated parents. This is a story that I have written based on some of their sharing, and my imagination.

Nancy is nine. She just took off her bracelet…

Nancy still remembers the day Dad told her that Mom was going to live in another house. Mostly she’s used to it now. Some things are still strange. Her Dad’s girlfriend, Susan, kisses her on the cheek every night. And when she stays at her Mom’s house she can tell that Mom’s been drinking a lot.

She doesn’t much mind the new friends that she is learning to call brothers – at least there is someone younger than her in the house now.

She remembers how at first after ‘the divorce’ she used to think that maybe it was her fault. She really wishes she could have been a better person so her parents wouldn’t have fought as much. Mostly, she’s come to accept that this is the way things are. It’s different but it normal.

A few months ago Dad’s girlfriend suggested that they should go to church on Sunday. Nancy hadn’t been to church for a long time. Of course at Christmas they go to Grandma’s church and her Dad makes her wear a fancy dress. She knows that she has been baptized. She’s seen pictures. She’s in the white dress and the pastor is holding her. Mom and Dad had told her this was very important. She really didn’t know why until they started going to church.

The first Sunday it was weird but she found out that some of her friends from school went to church too. It wasn’t long before they were going to church every Sunday. That’s when Nancy noticed a change in her Dad. The first big deal was that when he came to tuck her in one evening he wanted her to pray to God. She told him that she did not know how to pray.

So he prayed.

And Dad seemed different altogether and she couldn’t quite figure it all out.

One night he overheard Dad talking to his girlfriend.

The next morning all the guessing was gone. As Dad drove her to school that morning he asked her if she would like it if he married Susan. He explained that since they had been going to church he had realized that his relationship with Susan needed to be more committed. He said that getting married would be better for Nancy. Nancy was confused. Would she have to call another woman Mom?

All day her brain spun.

When she got home she talked to Susan. Susan told her that she knew she would never really replace her real Mom but that she loved her. Then she said something strange. She said, “Your Dad and I just want to do what’s right – what Jesus would do.”

She had to admit she had really started getting excited.

That was a month ago.

Yesterday, her Dad walked in a told her he wasn’t sure that he could marry Susan. At least not in the way they had hoped. He told her it was complicated but it had something to do with the church they were going to.

Dad dried all day. For the first time, that Nancy could recall, Susan seemed angry…

That’s why Nancy took off the bracelet – the one Susan had given her on that day a month ago…

Nancy wasn’t sure she really knew what this all meant.

Nancy is nine.

In John 10:10 it says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

more guns and such

Steve Argue has a great article in THE JOURNAL OF STUDENT MINISTRIES about putting an end to war imagery in youth ministry. Here’s a quote:
“Some youth leaders argue that Christians are called to the public square because we’ve let “them” dominate it for far too long. But I believe it’s time to admit that the church has lost its positional status with earthly powers (i.e., governments and political parties) and confess that we’ve craved endorsements from the wrong authorities. Some seem to want to “get the power back” or “fight the power with power.” But teenagers must see—through our example—that embracing the way of Jesus comes through serving our world, living by sacrifice, and demonstrating unconditional love. The Sermon on the Mount takes priority over ideological debate. If we believe we’ll win the battle in the public square, we’ve already lost. The public square is too small and has too narrow a vision. God desires to bring healing to the whole world.”
There is a lot of fear about the onslaught of pluralism in our culture. I think many Christian families are worried that they will lose their children to the ‘anything-goes’ spiritual climate. I think their fear is real and well founded but not because our culture’s pluralistic philosophies are so powerful. No I think it is precisely because we have modeled and handed over to our children an essentially neutered religiosity. And it is only natural that in light of this it would be critical to “Draw The Battle Lines”. So often we have reduced Christianity to a set of ideological principles that need to be defended.
The more that the public square is overtaken by opposing positions from our own the more threatened we become. Retreat, retreat
Speaking of retreat – I am going on one this weekend hmmm.

i guess...

Garry and I have to stop doing wedgies seeing as it apparently leads to general chaos. Good thing nothing like this ever happens at places like Bethany College...

Monday, November 13, 2006


Just finished an hour or so of tears. After I got home from youth tonight, I talked to the boys about the sense that Char and I had that God was asking us to step out in faith and to risk more than we are comfortable with. Of course the two oldest boys (who were the only one’s up at the time) struggled with it cause they assumed that it meant we were thinking of leaving Coaldale. My leaving the church was not their choice and so I bear a lot of guilt about the decision because when I look through their eyes it seems pretty selfish of me (why couldn’t I just hang on a bit longer etc., etc.,). Anyways when I went to ‘tuck them in’ I could tell they were still struggling with it. I talked and cried with each of them individually and tried to reassure them that Char and I love them and that we don’t want to hurt them. It’s hard for them to think about leaving Coaldale when this is all they have ever known. It’s hard for me to ask them to take this step of faith when its not one they have chosen for themselves. We continue to be very committed to making decisions about our future together as a family but eventually the buck stops at me and Char. I am still pursuing a number of local options that I am excited about but even those options seems to require a lot of faith and risk and hope. It would be so much different if all I was risking in these decisions was my own skin but now I realize the broader implications of my own personal decisions.
What makes me cry is that I see in my boys the same emotional struggles that I faced as a kid with the frequency of moves that my family made in my early childhood. I don’t regret those struggles at all cause I think they made me a stronger person. I think that my parents struggled to watch their children walk through these changes. But as a parent I am finding it so counter intuitive to ask my children to walk into personal difficulty. Especially, because I sense so much of these decisions revolve around me.
I am convinced that the decision to resign was the right one but there is very little about the consequences of that decision that is easy or smooth. Tomorrow I meet with some people in leadership to discuss the rationale for my resignation. I pray that goes well.

a little shoot em up...

Thursday, November 9, 2006

more blender stuff
this would make a great christmas gift...

more on Red Letter Christians...

"The purpose of this gathering was not to create a religious left movement to challenge the religious right, but to jump-start a religious movement that will transcend partisan politics." -TONY CAMPOLO
read the whole article here...
from what I can tell this movement is far more politcally focused than theologically focused.
more on who these people are here

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Thoughts on Nicaragua

Char and I were sitting outside of the convention center. As we were sitting there one of the grounds keepers came up to us and we struck up a conversation and I’m not sure exactly how but we started talking about Nicaragua. This guy was pretty set on the idea that if Daniel Ortega got elected the president of Nicaragua that it would be a bad thing. “After all,” he said – “he’s a socialist.”
Now I’m pretty much out of touch when it comes to Latin American politics but for what its worth here’s a few perspectives:
Most of what I’ve been reading both in the local new media: (See: La Prensa, La Noticia, El Nuevo Diario, brush up on your Spanish before you go) and in other publications (See: The Economist, NPR, CNN, and Time) give a pretty similar picture of Ortega.
Ortega has claimed that he has changed: “My idol was Sandino, and also Christ. I was brought up a Christian, but I regarded Christ as a rebel, a revolutionary.” He claims to have had a conversion experience and is embracing the Catholic church which shunned is former communist regime. Ortega was a war president rising to power as the most articulate of the 5 leaders of the Junta National, he fought the U.S. backed contras for most of his presidency. Some of the articles I read even suggested that Ortega might be leaning strongly to a form of liberation theology popular in many parts of the Latin American Catholic church.
Of course most of the reporting give cautious hope at best that this new leaf is little more than wily electioneering on Ortega’s part.
Ortega makes Washington nervous. Ortega still holds strong affinity with Cuba and most recently with Venezuela. From my rudimentary perspective there does seem to be a strongly anti-American block of leadership forming in Latin America that has reacted against the right wing foreign policy of the Republican party. It will be interesting to see if these leaders can develop enough cohesion to manipulate some power in the region.
Ortega’s skeletons mean Nicaraguans should try sleeping with one eye open at least until he delivers on some of the promises of peace and fair trade.
Nicaraguans have long been pawns for political agendas that were not of their own making. If Ortega can help Nicaragua find its own voice on the world stage – he will earn my respect.
So we wait and hold our breath…

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

new youth worker apparel

youth workers are checking out some new duds for this year:
theology seems to be the vestment of choice for a growing number of youth workers and according to some of the presenting/feature seminar leaders at this years NYWC in Anaheim there is an impressive new hunger for that discipline.
For years the gurus have stared down the barrels of their seminar guns and fired warning shots against allowing youth ministry to degenerate into 'fun and games'. Tony Jones figures that more and more youth workers are interested in theology than ever before and they are ready to open their minds to let in competing points of view.
Jones who led a late night theology forum at NYWC said: "In the six or seven years I've been at this, I can say that I've seen the conversation about youth ministry change qualitatively. Youth workers are more serious, more theological, more educated"
Jones also commented that the seminar was more civil than it had been in the past.
I will suggest to you that theology is far too important a discipline to ever loose the reins on. Youth ministry has a cronic propensity to mindlessly importing formulaic methodology.
I also say that the fact that any theology discussion at a youth workers convention that is more civilized may show just as easily that theology has reach the pinnacle of its life cycle in youth ministry. It takes a high level of ambivalence, in my experience, for youth ministers to be able to interact with any amount of civility toward each other. (I mean did anyone bother to notice the repeated flatulence on the escalators - that is hardly civil). I am saying this tongue in cheek somewhat. But if you get the impression that I think that for most youth workers theology is mostly a trend - you've got me nailed.
I appreciate what Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, and Donald Miller have done to reawaken the theological pursuit in youth ministry but it is hardly time to let our guard down. Okay, so maybe mr. Jones was just trying to inject some optimism - in an otherwise bleary news day but...

What we did on Monday...

We (Garry, Char, and I) skipped the last 1/2 day of the convention. We took in a tour of the Crystal Cathedral. Wow!
The decadence is astounding! Not many could say that these people have given less than their best to God – at least when it comes to their building anyway. The Christmas set that was erected costs a million dollars to make. It was all really overwhelming
In light of Shane Claiborne’s message it all felt sickeningly gluttonous. Ironically, if Shane could he’d:
“visit the Crystal Cathedral with St. Francis... and then hitchhike to the beach to turn some somersaults and hear him preach to the seagulls.”
I digress…
Then we went to Huntington Beach and spent 1 1/2 hours in the ocean (the first time since I was 10)
We packed up and headed to the airport and ‘enjoyed’ the bumpy ride home…
Much to process…

blend it baby!

ht: shaun groves

I Knew This...

Thank-you Kim Painter
"It won't surprise coffee drinkers to hear that the beverage, at least when caffeinated, also has been found to improve mood and memory, increase safe driving in tired drivers and boost endurance in athletes. Some speculate that coffee might aid weight loss, but that has not been proven."

Ted Haggard...

As most of you have heard Ted Haggard has finally confessed to sexual misconduct in realtionship with a male prostitute. I read the USA Today story. I was mostly unaware of who this man was but obviously he held some significant influence in the Evangelical world. He endorsed a candidate who was against homosexual marriage in the election held today.
Tony Campolo said something interesting about the Ted Haggard issue: "We are all better than our worst mistakes."

At the same time, the National Youth Workers Convetion was picketed by three ardent men who advised that NYWC led to hell. MarkO encouraged everyone to be non combative and to buy the guys some Starbucks. I think that most of the fuel for this demonstration came from places like this (which, ironically were the same sites that were used to suggest that I should not attend this conference.)
NOTE: When I first tried to make some connections with these protestors I was thought I made some connections between organizations but now i can't seem to fidn the links on the web to help me make those same connections. Maybe they weren't there in the first place or maybe they have been removed.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

shane claiborne

Just got out of the Shane Claiborne general session. I wept like I haven’t for long time not out of conviction so much as a deep personal sense of urgency to get on with following Christ into the deep places of faith.
This guy interned with Mother Theresa got a degree under Duffy and Tony at Eastern
I really was not able to appreciate Vicky Beeching. I know many people were. She was the worship leader for this session and quite frankly I just felt like it was more of the spiritual musical gluttony that makes me barf. I left and ordered CD’s.
I sat in on Tony’s seminar. It was good. “How to become a red letter Christian”. He said that even though he considered himself an evangelical he was starting to label himself as a RLC. I really wanted to ask him the question that Gil and I have batted around for a while: isn’t taking on a new label just a form of escapism? I mean I have often wished that I could stop calling myself an evangelical because of the ramifications that this word brings in the public consciousness. Yet I wonder if there is something wrong disavowing something that is so ingrained in the identity of who I am or was…
Any thoughts…


was an interesting day…
Physically, I was bagged most of the day.
In the morning session Matthew Barnett from the Dream Center came and shared his testimony in the general session. Very powerful. Very Assemblies of God. Very Good! His message: give up our preoccupation with success and commit ourselves to make everyone else’s dream become reality. It is inspiring to hear someone who was willing to dive into significant risk.
Char and I talked about this later in the day. Throughout this conference I have gotten the distinct impression that God is calling me into a place of way more risk. This is directly related to my deep craving to exercise more faith.
I went to MarkO’s Super seminar. I was challenged. He mentioned the idea of being Level 5 leaders in the vain of Jim Collins book Good to Great. Collins suggests that if you are not a level 5 leader you cannot become one. MarkO suggested that with Christ’s help we could grow into Level 5 leaders. My suggestion would be that: no honest Christian leader ever suggests that they have ever achieved L5 leadership.
L5 leadership’s most prominent feature is that the leader has professional will and personal humility. Collins uses the mirror/window illustration. An L5 leader looks in the mirror to affix blame and responsibility. The L5 leader looks out the window to others to give credit for success.
I would have really like to push back at MarkO a bit more on the co-dependent martyr complex that often youth workers live in. And what about the need to be honest in the face of the glaring stupidity that can often dominate the function of the church…
More on this whole thing in another post.
I had to duck out early on his seminar – another bone chip decided to work its way out of my mouth. After some medicine I was fine…
Char and I spent some time talking together before supper.
I would love to live in a climate like this again. The vegetation has brought out a longing to live in this tropical kind of place again…
Char has reacted violently against the prolific marketing that is evidenced in the exhibits. It does seem gluttonous.
Mike Pilavachi spoke in the evening session. I have heard him before and honestly I was expecting that this presentation might be a bit weak. Not the case. Mike used the woman at the well to describe how we need to engage people in their own context. How Jesus loves and affirms the sinner. Cares for the one.
Everyone of the speakers have worked the theme ‘Reveal’ very well.
Shawn Groves was great. Check him out. His song Jesus was so good.
I cannot say enough positive about the music that YS has supplied for the conference. Thank you YS for choosing not to bring in the bullshit artists who just want to paint the fairytale versions of this thing we call faith.
I think I am getting a cold.
Oh yeah and I expect that my stupid human trick of putting a towel in my mouth might get up onto the big screen. I am such a sucker for that sort of junk. Thanks to Garry and Darren and Char for getting me into that…

Saturday, November 4, 2006

day one

Day 1 of Convention
Main session was huge for me
Not sure that I have cried so spontaneously before.
Regulars here will know how much of a sceptic I am when it comes to these big production things so…
David Crowder: seriously here is dude who knows something about enjoying music. The way he engages the audience and interacts on stage communicates that he is not taking himself too seriously. At the same time what the band pulls of musically is splendid. At times his lyrics seem shallow and I catch myself doing the over-analytical thing with the theology Geiger-counter approach but I trust him – that’s huge.
Kenda Creasy Dean: although probably not the most flamboyant presenter, was awesome. She talked about welcoming youth into the sideways theological discovery that needs to happen in community. Made me remember why I feel such a strong conviction to advocating engagement of youth in the actual theological and doctrinal direction of the church.
Session 2: Effrem Smith – what can you say about black preachers – fun and intense! Great reminder of the need to be so full of God that he oozes out of us.
Can I tell you about Kendall Payne? Seriously, check out her music. She did a fab job in the opening session…

so yeah

Let me just finish a thought here
I am so proud of Darren. Like so many other former youth group members it is amazing to see these people pursue ministry options. I know I should be more humble about crap like this but seriously. I also very much realize that it really has very little to do with me and that I might have actually been more in the way than a positive contributing force. So it’s not that I am taking credit for these people, its just cool to see people who ‘get’ ministry who are willing to serve. So thank you to each one of you who has made the sacrifice of ministry.

Dangerous Opportunity

Dangerous Wonder
Critical concerns course with Rich VanPelt and Jim Hancock
Some thoughts:
First of all the presentation is very thorough and like they said they have anticipated many of the questions that the material involves. The presentation seems a little too slick though. The way the two ot hem play off each other seems too scripted and precise. It’s clear to me that Jim and Rich are not disingenuous but I am thinking that in a context where their ministry experience and reputation was not assumed or well known they might come off as such. I also understand their intention with the presentation being as seamless as it is – the material will be covered (less time wasted on rabbit trails).
That said I have appreciated the material and the presentation a lot; especially in light of the recent Risk and Threat Assessment seminar I attended.
There were a few areas that I would have liked to push back on:
-with regard to referrals: they very strongly emphasized the need for youth pastors/workers to refer to outside sources. Now this is actually something I think that I do quite a bit of already. And for the most part I agree with the principals that they are teaching. But this is the statement that bothers me. Youth workers are not counsellors they are disciple-makers. Now I realize that we have many volunteer youth workers and other non professional youth workers and for these people referrals make sense as many situations of interpersonal interaction with kids are going to be out of their depths. But the statement seems to make disciple-making sort of an exclusionary function to counselling. Almost as if counselling is beneath disciple-making. And for me I guess this seems like a false dichotomy. How can we expect to be effective in disciple-making if we are not willing to deal with the baggage that kids bring to the table? We communicate a subtle but powerful message that Christian discipleship is about solved problems and issues when our response to kids baggage is to send them away to get fixed. Now Rich and Jim were clear that we were to stay involved in the kid’s lives but… …If we (youth workers) are the ones being approached with the complexities of counselling situations why is the is it that the best we can offer kids is a professional stranger. I guess I am wondering why there are not stricter demands (especially on paid youth workers) to have counselling qualifications in ministry positions. When we train our volunteers, we should make counselling strategies and objectives a part of the package. I think we only heighten the stigma of counselling by making it the kid of thing that only experts can do. Not only that I think we do communicate to kids that we have more important things to do than to deal with their problems.
That said I have and do refer a lot. I think it is crucial to give kids the best resources to deal with the problems that I can – and there are wonderful people who can deal with these things with greater expertise and experience. I wish there might be more collaborative work between various areas of counselling services. My aim is to find ways to ‘sit in’ on counselling sessions with experts.
I also think that this is an area where a severe disconnect has occurred between secular and ‘religious’ counselling. Because so much of religious counselling has been conducted out of ignorance and lack of training, I think many secular organizations (school counsellors, etc.) are suspicious of collaborating with pastors in counselling situations. With good reason they should be reticent of working with people who are going to be largely ill trained and inexperienced.
With regard to setting up a safe community:
One of the statements that came out was that we need to get rid of all sexual, gender, and racist joking. I agree. Here’s a place where I wish I could push back a bit. First of all they said that in order to create be the type of person who people will approach with problems you need to develop a sense of humour. Last spring I ran a wildly successful overnight trip to SABC with my senior high guys. I made a conscious effort to use the language and idioms that I hear from the boys informally in my teaching on male sexuality. The session proved to be quite funny actually. Now I didn’t make any sexual jokes directly but used all the terms and references that are often made in the joking context. What has been weird is that out of that talk alone I have had so much interaction with guys about male sexual issues.
My point is that we may actually benefit from dealing with some of these issues in a humorous way. Humour has a way of speaking truth and intention that ‘serous’ cannot. I am never interested in derogatory ridicule but I think there is a place to allow the power of humour to unlock the door for honesty, transparency and, actually, safety.
With regard to reaction:
At the R&T Assessment training, we told that you should and can never under-react to crisis. Jim and Rich thought that there might a place where an overreaction might be more damaging. That is an area that could warrant some further discussion/investigation. I realize that in the context of the R&T Assessment Training it does not seems reasonable to under react when the schools population is at stake.

A few other notes about the convention so far…
Hooked up with Darren and Judy and saw their offspring. There is a lot of personal pride I feel when I see Darren in ministry for 5 years now.
More tomorrow

we are here...

The trip was an extended process of unfettered fretting. First, was the freak out session at customs when Char’s Bible was too thick! Then we waited at Calgary terminal for 1 ½ hours to get boarded. This was mostly due to Jeff Gullacher’s rocket trip into Calgary. From Coalhurst to Calgary in 1.5
But then at LAX we get on to this shuttle bus to get to our car rental company. Holy Hannibal Lechter I soiled myself. It’s hard to put into words but it nothing short of miraculous that we made the 4 mile trip in one piece.
But we ended up in this sweet Anaheim home. And there is banana tree growing over the back yard fence. Julie the woman of the house is a high school math teacher in a mostly immigrant public school here in Anaheim. I am going to try to get hooked up to make it into her classroom if I can.
Right now I am sitting in the lobby of the Hilton hotel across from the convention center. There is no doubt we are in USA – if you have any questions just check out the nearest gas station. American flags everywhere.
Had a Carls Jr. Burger for brunch I am off to register and get ready for my critical concerns course. Hopefully I run into Marv to thank him for getting me a discount on the registration fees….
10:52am November 2nd