Friday, February 15, 2008

Restoration Station - Church Decorating Theme

I just read an e-mail from our district superintendent highlighting some of the good things going on in our district, and it contained a few pictures from a church that's just being planted in Port Huron called Restoration Station. I'm posting one of the pictures here. It's a little fuzzy, but i thought it was so cool how the cross made of wrenches and the Craftsman workbench being used as a podium integrate the idea of healing/restoration into their worship. If you're ever in Port Huron you might want to look them up.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Michigan considers allowing high schoolers a fifth year to graduate

As a person who cares about teens, I also care about what's happening in education. There's an article in the Detroit News about a move to allow Michigan students to take five years to graduate from high school, if necessary. Actually, the article confused me a little. I'm not really sure whether they're allowing students to take five years, or just lifting the penalties for schools that may already allow it. Either way, it will make it easier for kids to take five years to graduate, and hopefully it will keep some struggling students from dropping out. It sounds like a good idea to me - we'll see what happens.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Article in Toronto Star about PK's

I probably wouldn't be linking to this if i hadn't just written a post related to pastors' kids, but since I did I thought this article I just came across was worth mentioning. I'm not sure I've ever seen a secular publication report on the PK experience before. Despite the title, it didn't feel like a negative article.

Down side of ministry - Many preachers' kids grow up knowing their behaviour reflects on parents' vocation

(I found this through the Rev! Leadership Update)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

"Are you still reading “Holy Bible New Living Translation?" "

I just got this e-mail from my iRead Facebook application. I just think it's funny.
----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Books iRead <>
Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2008 12:25:34 PM
Subject: Are you still reading "Holy Bible New Living Translation?"

Dear Joy,

We noticed that you have marked Holy Bible New Living Translation as "Reading It" on Books iRead. Are you still working on it? We wanted to send you a reminder, just in case you finished reading the book but forgot to mark it on iRead.

You can,

Mark Holy Bible New Living Translation as Read It. You will be able to rate and review the book on this page.

Get personalized recommendations for new and interesting books to read.

Add a new book to your bookshelf.

Find a new book.

Books iRead makes it really easy for you to organize your bookshelf and show off your reads to your friends.

The Books iRead Team

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pastors Kid Resources

In May I'm helping to lead our district's Pastors' Kids' retreat, and I've been online looking for resources. Specifically I'd like to find a book i could give them as a take-home present that would encourage them in their faith and in their specific challenges to their faith. There are plenty of books available for teens on the topic, but so far I can't find anything that's written with a PK in mind. I'm even having a hard time finding stuff that is written for teens in general that would be appropriate for PKs. The problem is that pastors' kids see things that many other kids and teens don't see, and those things have a profound impact on their faith. They don't need books summarizing the Bible; most of them are the most faithful members of their Sunday school classes. They don't need books describing God's nature; they have in-house theologians who have probably already done that.

My guess is that they need something that answers questions like: "How can I believe in God when my family has worked so hard to serve him but bad things keep happening to us?" "How can I feel good about church when I've seen it's darker side?" "Why would i want to be a Christian when i've seen all the dumb things "Christians" have done, and the way some of them have treated me and my parents?" "Why would I want to be a part of an institution that i've seen suck the life out of my Dad/Mom?"

Obviously not all of these questions would be relevant to all pastor's kids, and not all PKs have the same experience. For some, being the pastor's kid may not have made their lives much different than it would have been otherwise. But for many, their lives, and their experiences with God and the Church, are vastly different from those of the other young people in their communities.

But i've found next to no resources dealing with these issues. I found one website and one book dedicated to adult PKs. I also found one out of print book that looked like it was written for counselors and dealt with helping PK's. But beyond that i've found nothing in print. No books for teens, no books for parents that dealt exclusively with raising PK's, and no websites dedicated to them. And honestly that makes no sense to me.

The unique situation of a pastor's kid is something that we've recognized in western Christendom for years, if not centuries. Surely there are no fewer pastors' kids out there than there are pastors, but there are tons of books written every year for pastors. Have the market analysts really determined that nobody's interested in buying books about raising or being a PK?

So i'm writing this post to (1) see if any of you out there know of any good resources you could recommend to me, and (2) in the hopes that this little post on this little blog in cyberspace would spark the realization in a writer or a publisher somewhere that there are a lot of PK's out there who could use encouragement, a lot of pastors out there who could use advice in raising their kids, and a few PK's out there who grew up to be youth pastors and really care about PKs and could use some resources in their efforts to support them (like me). Maybe someone could write a little book for us?

Monday, February 04, 2008

(Sort of) free will

I don't think that most people in our culture (or our churches) really believe in true free will. I realized this morning that often I really don't either.

Right now I'm reading Teenage Guys by Steve Gerali, and currently I'm in the section on agression and violence in young guys. (By the way so far it's an excellent book.) He was using the story about Cain and Abel as a case study, and he described the way that God (sort of as the first youth worker) tried to encourage Cain to deal with his feelings of rejection a different way. Of course, Cain didn't listen, and went on to commit the first homicide. As I was reading Gerali's paraphrase, I found myself thinking something along the lines of "Wow - God didn't handle that one very well." A few moments later I realized that I was assuming that God - as the youth worker - could have talked Cain out of it by doing or saying the right things.

I realized that I usually operate under the subconscious assumption that I can fix things if i can just figure out the right actions to take, and I think our churches and our culture reinforce it often. When we hear about school shootings, we think long and hard about what could have been done to prevent that young person from choosing that action. We form plans and strategies and encourage teens and adults to look out for hurting young people, and we tell ourselves that we can make a difference if we're willing to get involved. And all of this is true and our efforts are good, but i wonder if I'm the only one who hears the unspoken message that if we can just figure out how to do it right, we could prevent all violence and eventually cure all teen isolation and depression.

Even churches that claim to believe in true human free will often express the same mindset. We preach that no one is too far gone for God to reach. We tell people to pray expecting that God will get through to the person we're concerned about. We hear about "irresistible grace" and the "hounds of heaven" that make redemption all but unavoidable for those God and the church choose to pursue. And while I technically agree with all of these things, it is extremely easy to start believing - even without realizing it - that by our prayers and our actions we are truly in control of what happens, and that if we just figured out how to do it right, we could fix all the ills in the world.

I'm not so much trying to argue that people have free will, because that's a theological debate that's not worth the effort to address well here. I really value my brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with me on this one, and I'm not trying to pick a fight. But what's interesting to me is how easy it is for those of us who think we believe in free will to subconsciously begin to believe that we really can fix everything if we could just figure out the right actions to take. Even Reformed theology puts full control in God's hands, not ours. As much as I believe we should do everything we can, as youth workers we need to check ourselves on this one. We can't allow ourselves to believe that we can be successful with every teen and prevent every tragedy, or else we're going to spend our lives discouraged and confused when it doesn't work.