Saturday, December 29, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
“We found that teenagers quite rationally weigh benefits and risks,” Dr. Reyna said in a recent interview. “But when they do that, the equation delivers the message to go ahead and do that, because to the teen the benefits outweigh the risks.”
For example, while an adolescent might consider playing Russian roulette for a $1 million payoff, a normal adult would not give it a moment’s thought. Cutting directly to the chase, the adult would be more inclined to think: “No way! No amount of money is worth a one in six chance of dying.”
...I think the "teens are too rational" theory contradicts recent findings about the teenage brain. The problem for teens is that the rational circuits of the frontal cortex are actually the last to develop. (The development of the brain recapitulates its evolution, so that, in general, the brain areas that were last to evolve are the also the last to develop.) While the have fully functional emotional brains, adolescents often lack the mental muscles to hold these emotions in check. A 2006 fMRI study by neuroscientists at Cornell, for example, demonstrated that the nucleus accumbens, a brain area associated with the processing of rewards (like sex, drugs and rock n' roll), was significantly more active and mature than the prefrontal cortex, which helps us resist such temptations. In other words, teens have reckless sex and drink too much and drive dangerously because their rational brain is at a literal disadvantage. It can't argue back against their impulses.
Friday, December 14, 2007
A new documentary from Morgan Spurlock, the guy who brought us "Super Size Me." Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir on a cross-country mission to save Christmas from the Shopocalypse (the end of humankind from consumerism, over-consumption and the fires of eternal debt).
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I think these are all questions that need to be answered ahead of time. It is always better to be proactive instead of reactive. The church I serve has answered some, but not all, of these questions. Overall, I think we have a good process—if anyone is interested, I would be happy to share how we formed our youth protection committee and what all of this entails. But, I’m interested in hearing what others have done.
How about you? What steps do you take at your church to make it as safe and welcoming as possible?
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Be safer than you have to be: As good as professionals are, don’t be complacent about safety. Go above and beyond when you can. Once we hired an inflatable climbing mountain for an event. Students climbed to the top of a pyramid shaped “mountain” and then slid back down. It looked safe, and they were harnessed in, but halfway through the event a freshman thought it would be fun to jump from the top onto the inflatable mat below. His harness ripped out, he did a free-fall onto the mat, and the impact shot him back into the air. He landed on his head, without a helmet, on a concrete floor. He instantly went into a grand mal seizure, and by the time I arrived he’d been seizing for nearly two minutes. We dialed 911, and when the seizure finally stopped, he looked straight up into my eyes and was unable to move any part of his body and could only mutter nonsense to me. I was afraid he’d been paralyzed. Luckily, he wasn’t, but it took several hours for him to regain full control of his body at the hospital. But the whole incident could have been averted by simply requiring kids to wear helmets. The company I hired said they weren’t necessary, but they were extra protection that would have cost us little and prevented serious injury. Taking kids skiing? Require them to wear helmets. Taking them boating? Local law may only require you to have lifejackets in the boats, but go a step further and require teens to wear them. Small safety precautions make a big difference and are minimally intrusive. Take them.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Fellow youth ministry blogger Stuart Delony offered to send out his family Christmas card to his readers this Advent season and I couldn't resist taking him up on this opportunity that could only have happened thanks to the blogosphere. The card arrived in the mail today. See above what you might have had for yourself if you were a regular reader of Stuart's blog like me! Stuart serves with a ministry called Arlington Youth Dynamics and he describes it this way:
Since 1994 Youth Dynamics has been reaching teens in Arlington with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Youth Dynamics mission is to invite and challenge youth to a lifelong journey in relationship with Christ and His church. This mission is the heart of our ministry to local teens, many without a church home or a relationship with Christ.Youth Dynamics ministry is relational as we build into the lives of students by taking time to know them and come into their world.
Friday, December 07, 2007
A: Christmas Eve
Q: What do you call an opinion survey in Alaska?
A: North Poll
Q: When the salt and pepper say, “Hi” to each other, what are they passing on?
A: Season’s Greetings
Q: What do you call a holy man with no change in his pockets?
A: St. Nickleless
Closing: Take time as a group to name and pray for "children" of all ages in your knowing around the world in need of the good news of God's love that Jesus shared with his life and ministry.
What Pullman encourages is unmediated, critical thinking – the only antidote to the mental stupor that today's culture cultivates in young people. And Pullman does so in multiple ways. For example, by turning the familiar story lines of Genesis, Narnia, and the like, on their heads – thereby prompting the reader to reimagine those stories for him- or herself. In short, Pullman doesn't tell his readers what to think, but how to think. And to think, period. This, I suspect, is what Pullman's critics really find unnerving.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
"As governor, I tried to do the right as best I knew it, serving the law and answering to the Constitution. I did not confuse the particular teachings of my church with the obligations of the office and of the Constitution – and of course, I would not do so as President. I will put no doctrine of any church above the plain duties of the office and the sovereign authority of the law."
"If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause and no one interest," he said. "A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States."
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Got a minute? Take time out of the rush of the day and "enter" the scene above. Take a walk in the silent snow of this image, captured on a Christmas morning.
- Who among you has the gift of hospitality -- the gift of welcoming in "the stranger" and helping them feel comfortable and valued.
- Who among you has the gift of listening -- the gift to let another person pour out their heart and then offering them a word of comfort or wisdom?
- Who among you has the gift of healing -- the ability to reach out to others in a time of crisis and need and make the touch of God real and tangible?
- Who among you has the gift of leadership--the ability to energize others to put their faith into action in places where others are hurting and in need?
The Advent season is the perfect time to focus on these gifts of the Spirit that really matter -- the kind of gifts that won't end up collecting dust on some shelf or find their way into our next garage sale. They are the gifts that draw us together and nurture us as a community on the journey of faith.--Brian
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Another way to unleash your creativity is to see what others are doing and head in the completely opposite direction. Powerpoints and videos all the rage? Break out the whiteboard and dry erase markers. Draw diagrams. Make arrows pointing here there and everywhere. It’s fun, really. Of course, since I have started doing this very thing I discover that others are doing a similar thing (i.e. Rob Bell’s everything is spiritual tour). My next idea? Bust out the flannelgraphs. I’m thinking life-size so the whole congregation can see it. Younger youth pastors, go ask someone in their 30s or older.
It took many years for me to understand that the goal was not to "FIND your bliss." Bliss was not some prize to be discovered at the end of the journey. Rather, following one's bliss is the journey itself. It is the "way" that Jesus speaks of in the Gospel of John. It is the path that we make straight for the coming of Christ into our lives each Advent. It is the journey that takes us to surprising places and encounters with surprising people. It is a journey in which one must travel lightly and leave much behind: self-centeredness, lusts for material possessions, the need for prestige, our contempt for others, and our own sense of self-importance. When we do lighten our pack, we open ourselves to true life and we find that we are already on the journey toward bliss -- toward that life-affirming and transforming experience of God's love.
This Advent, why not encourage your youth to prepare their hearts in this time of waiting by challenging them to discover their bliss and follow it wherever it might take them.