Sunday, December 02, 2007

Changes coming

Some major changes are coming to the YOUTH VANGUARD. Stay tuned...

If you're reading this - can you leave a comment?

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Preaching Christ Crucified

The National Youth Ministry Convention 07 was lots of fun! I met some great people, was reminded of some incredible truths and have been challenged to trust in God and not myself. There were just under 500 people at the convention and it was exciting to meet so many who are passionately proclaiming Jesus in their context.

The convention closed with a time of communion. The organiser, Stephen Parker, closed with a clear reminder of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was an encouraging time - however the cross of Christ was not given the centre stage throughout the whole conference as it ought. I think that it is helpful to get speakers from different backgrounds, but there were some who share a different gospel and ought not be part of this conference if it runs again in the future.

I said it elsewhere, but what was missing most from the conference was the gospel of Jesus' death and resurrection for sins. A pastors conference ought not be an evangelistic rally, but as the troops are brought in from the battlefront, they need to be equipped and reminded of what really matters. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul outlines that which is of first importance:
3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
Australian Youth Ministry needs leaders who will preach Christ Crucified to a dying generation.

NYMC Live Blog Summary:
Did you go? I'd love to hear your reflections...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

NYMC07 - Live Blogging

I'm at the National Youth Ministry Convention 2007. As the only 'youth vanguard' representative here I'll be doing some live blogging over at my blog.

(Click here for some live blogging I did at a youth convention at the start of the year)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ultimate Reality - an evangelistic night at Crossfire.

Last Friday night, Crossfire had its first evangelistic night - "Ultimate Reality". It was part of Annandale Community Church's 'Start the Ultimate Relationship' week, and was a great night.

Here's how we planned what we did on our night:

1. First step was choosing the Bible passage for the evening. Although we had a groovy name for the event, a funky theme (Reality TV) plus great games and decoration - first up was working out what we wanted to teach from the Bible. So often, youth (and even church) events are planned the other way around. A theme is proposed and then the Bible is made to squeeze around an inflexible program, and so the 'big idea' that the kids take home is fashioned before the Bible is even opened.
We decided that more than anything, we wanted to take these kids through Luke 15, to show them that God loves them. He loves them and goes out looking for his lost children like the woman does with the coin, like the shepherd does with his lost sheep, and like the father does with his lost son. We decided that we would focus primarily on this last story - the prodigal Son.

2. With the Bible passage chosen, the rest of the night could flow from there. Next question was: What overall shape should the whole night take? As we read through the passage, it was clear that the story of the lost Son could easily be re-created into a reality TV show. There were a few other suggestions - but reality TV is something that youth get - and it looked like it could be a lot of fun.

3. We wrote a script for a TV show in 3 pre-recorded segments, which would be supplemented on the night with live interviews on a 'rove' style set. The TV show was about a son 'Nick' who was challenged by the producers of the show to demand his inheritance from his parents and leave home in order to win his freedom. Like reality TV shows, our video contained pre-recorded interviews with (fictitious) friends and family, and reflections from the protagonist on his actions - they'll be up on youtube soon.

4. These segments were broken up with games and activities and challenges - some loosely tying in with the theme, others not. We wanted to have time to meet and relate with newcomers as well as teach them about God. These were delegated to be organised and run on the night by a leader who was not required to be part of the 'TV' part of the night.

5. The video was filmed, edited and put on DVD with automated stops at the right places - to keep things technically smooth on the night.

6. The room decoration was delegated to someone who had read the script and understood what was happening. They brought in a lighting kit, big screen, couch, coffee table and posters and P.A.

7. We wrote the text for invite/postcard ad and then sent it to our graphic designer who came up with the final piece. This was letterbox dropped to the entire suburb along with the other mission advertising, as well as given to regular memebers to invite friends. We had more guests from personal invites than we had from the letterbox drop.

That was pretty much it. Any questions or comments?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Evangelism Strategy Part 1

CCECYOUTH has a 5 pronged evangelism strategy. I'm currently re-working some of our strategy material. But at the moment, here's a quick sketch of the gear:
  • 1) FRIENDSHIP EVANGELISM - We want our teenagers to know the gospel, seek to live the gospel and share the gospel with their friends in whatever way they can. We equip them in at least 3 ways: Two Ways to Live, The Jesus Bridge, Telling your Jesus Story. The first two tools are more about understanding the gospel than how to share the gospel. The 3rd is about giving your testimony.
  • 2) FRIDAY'S ARE FRIENDLY - We want any week of youth group to be a good week to bring a friend. We recognise that outsiders are present each week - we want to present the good news of Jesus every week. We also don't want to use insider language and jokes all the time - we want to speak about Jesus often and clearly and in a way that's not boring. Friday's should be fun!
  • 3) DOUBLE UP ONCE A TERM - While any week is a good week to bring a friend - one night a term we have a night where the talk is specifically geared toward someone who doesn't know Jesus. The aim is to double our numbers on this night. We haven't yet done that, but this year there have been many non-Christian teens come on those nights.
  • 4) FOLLOW-UP SMALL GROUP - We've got 2 follow-up courses called simplyJESUS. The junior youth material is similar to Tim Hawkin's Discovering Jesus (God, Man, Jesus, Jesus' death, Our response). The senior youth material is based around the two ways to live structure.
  • 5) WEEK LONG MISSION - Currently we run a week long program in January - this is a heightened period of bringing friends along to events that we put on for juniors and seniors. The juniors program runs closely with our family mission in the mornings. Seniors runs a bit more independently in the evenings at a local hip youth centre (very cool space!).
What do you think? Would love to hear some feedback as I rework all this stuff.

In the end - we want our teenagers captured by Jesus. That honours him. And they are going to be far more effective at evangelising their peers than I can be by handing out flyers in the local high schools. (Note to self - get rid of Christian school so there are more Christians in gov't schools!)

If you don't know what I mean by the gospel... check out this.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Below is some info about a conference we are hosting this coming weekend. You are more that welcome to attend! coast youth REVOLUTION is all about living radically in response to the good news of Jesus.

You don't have to be from the Central Coast to attend! If you're planning on coming - come! If you're bringing a group that needs somewhere to sleep on the Friday (and Saturday if need be) contact and we'll organise billets.

Monday, August 27, 2007

coast youth REVOLUTION* conference 2007


coast youth REVOLUTION* radically changed by the goodnews of JESUS
3 great speakers | 2 great bands | 1 incredible GOD

coast youth REVOLUTION* conference
Friday Sept 7 - Saturday Sept 8 AD2007

Erina Centre (next door to library @ erina fair)


SPEAKERS: Andrew Heard, Paul Dale & Dave Miers

BANDS: Running Home & Revive


When you understand the cross of Jesus… it radically changes everything. Join us on our first coast youth REVOLUTION conference as we look at JESUS and learn how to... LIVE THE REVOLUTION

FRI PM: 7-10pm (program @ 8pm)
SAT AM: 830-3pm (program @ 9am)
SAT PM: 3-6pm (activities & hang time)
SAT PM: 6-10pm (dinner 6pm, program 7pm)

Fri 7-10pm & Sat 830am-10pm

COST = $25 (or $10 per session) Bring some $$ for lunch + Arvo activity (Activity price range $0-$15)

Contact or
Dave & Row Miers 4322-2107 to arrange

Download flyer for photocopier (100KB). Download postcard (1.8MB)

The Gospel and Teenage Culture

I gave a talk to a bunch of leaders at a mission training day a couple of weeks ago. The aim was to think through how we reach teenage culture without compromising on the timeless gospel of Jesus' death for our sins.

The Gospel and Teenage Culture

How do you preach the unchanging gospel in your context?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Double Up

Hi all, just thought I'd tell you that Liz and I (Tim) had a baby girl last Saturday! Way cool. And, Steve and Penny (Steve is another contributor to the Vanguard) also had a new bub on the very same day! Double way cool.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

National Youth Ministry Convention 07

Hey peeps. I posted about this back in Feb. I'm keen to go - but haven't yet booked. There is a $20 saving per person if 5 people book together. Can I get 4 takers???

National Youth Ministry Convention 07

Steve Morrison Live

Steve's yet to give his first post to the youth vanguard... but he promises that it's coming soon! In the meantime...


Thursday 16th August 2007 8pm start
The Basement, Sydney (29 Reiby Place Circular Quay)
$20 at door plus everyone who comes gets a free copy of the new CD!!

I'm a fan of Steve's last CD - so look forward to hearing this one.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Kids say e-mail is, like, soooo dead

It's American based research, but it's still interesting ...

'E-mail is, like, soooo dead' is the headline at, where a piece looks at youth attitudes towards communication mediums. A group of teenage internet business entrepreneurs confessed that they really only use email to 'talk to adults'. Primarily, these folks are using social networks to communicate. 'More and more, social networks are playing a bigger role on the cell phone. In the last six to nine months, teens in the United States have taken to text messaging in numbers that rival usage in Europe and Asia. According to market research firm JupiterResearch, 80 percent of teens with cell phones regularly use text messaging. Catherine Cook, the 17-year-old founder and president of, was the lone teen entrepreneur who said she still uses e-mail regularly to keep up with camp friends or business relationships. Still, that usage pales in comparison to her habit of text messaging. She said she sends a thousand text messages a month.

Article summary taken from

Friday, July 20, 2007

Youth Leader Training Syllabus

I’ve been thinking more since first posting about training youth leaders. In particular thinking about planning a training strategy. Most of the youth leader training programs I’ve come across so far take a grab-bag of ideas that the trainer perceives as important for leadership and teaches about them. Thus, there may be training topics on the spiritual life of a leader, how to run a small group, or the strategy of youth ministry. Whilst topics such as these are vital to youth leader training, I think it could be helpful to have a broader structure that helps each training topic fit into a whole training strategy. Below are my first thoughts on how this could be done.

I think it would be helpful to have four broad training modules, which would link together as shown in the diagram below. There would be a number of training topics that would make up each module.

Youth leaders do not progress through the modules in order, as if they first gain a complete understanding of the bible and then move on to think about culture. Rather, the arrows show how each module provides foundational material for others. We should aim for youth leaders who are consistently maturing in each of the four areas.

I'll post some thoughts about what topics might be covered under each module over the next week or two.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Good Parenting Books?

Below is a review of 'The Danger of Raising Nice Kids' by Timothy Smith that I've just finished for the Journal of Youth and Theology. I've given it a mixed review, some good bits some average bits.

Part of caring for young people is encouraging their parents. Are there any good Christian parenting books you would recommend?

And as an added bonus, I'll post a free copy of 'The Danger of Raising Nice Kids' to the first person who asks for it (email to youthatnowrabaptistdotasndotau)

The Danger of Raising Nice Kids
By Smith, Timothy, IVP Books (Downers Grove, Illinois: 2006), 202p. ISBN 0830833757 (pbk).

Timothy Smith, author of The Danger of Raising Nice Kids, has written numerous books to equip parents to raise their children and teenagers. In this book, his underlying assumption is that most parents are not raising their children well, not out of neglect, but simply because ‘they don’t know how’ (p13). Smith takes the role of a parenting expert, promising that his advice will take readers to ‘the next level of parenting’ (p12).

Smith outlines his thesis in the first two chapters, which he summarises as ‘nice is not enough’ (p12). That is, socialising children to have nice exterior behaviour is not an adequate parenting goal. Rather, parenting should be seen as discipling a child (p28). Moreover, parents should aim at moulding the heart and mind of their children. Smith proposes nine virtues, or traits, that ought to be fostered by parents. These nine virtues are vision, authenticity, listening, empathy, compassion, discernment, boundaries, contentment, and passionate love. The majority of the book comprises discussion about these nine virtues, with a chapter devoted to each. In each chapter, Smith shares a number of anecdotal stories about teenagers, interspersed with his own observations and practical tips about how parents might nurture the particular virtue under discussion.

The Danger of Raising Nice Kids displays several strengths. Smith’s central thesis is helpful. I am sure all youth ministry practitioners would agree that ‘nice is not enough’ and also with the goal of fostering virtuous young people. Moreover, Smith’s writing is often warm and easy-going. The range of practical tips he provides is both helpful and empowering to parents. He even includes three appendices with a range of worksheets and activities for families to do together. Personally, I believe that one of the most effective ways youth ministry practitioners can care for young people is to care for their parents. Therefore, resources such as Smith’s book can have a helpful role in building up parents, and consequently strengthening young people also.

Despite the outlined strengths, the Danger of Raising Nice Kids has a significant overarching weakness. Smith has aimed to write a Christian book, and refers God and the Bible at numerous points. However I felt like the central truths that ought to orientate all of the Christian life were missing. Smith has no discussion about how Christ’s death and resurrection, the certain hope of his return, or any other significant Christian truth, should be shaping parental goals for their children. Having proposed that ‘nice is not enough’ Smith moves immediately to a list of virtues. Whilst each of these virtues may be noble, I was left wondering why he chose those virtues in particular, and not others such as humility, patience, or hope. Moreover, I wonder why obvious biblical material such as Paul’s virtue lists go unmentioned. Smith’s list appears to be the nine virtues that came to mind when he was writing the book, rather than a list of virtues self consciously driven by a Christian worldview. Indeed, some of the traits Smith promotes, such as vision and boundaries, appear to be drawn more from fashionable pop-psychology than biblical Christianity.

To be fair, Smith may have done a significant amount of groundwork in deriving his virtue list from Christian doctrine, but if so, left his working out of the book. In its current form, I fear that all The Danger of Raising Nice Kids has succeeded in doing is presenting parents with a better way of achieving nicety in their children. That is, by focusing on virtue rather than external behaviour, parents may encourage children to be nice all the way through, rather than only nice on the exterior. However I don’t think that even ‘nice all the way through’ is enough. In my opinion, if young people are going to become culturally radical disciples of Christ, then they must know why virtue is important, and how virtue is grounded in Christian truth.

Smith’s book may be helpful to the youth ministry practitioner. The practical parenting tips and activities in the appendices are resources that encourage healthy families, and healthy young people. However, Smith leaves too much unsaid for The Danger of Raising Nice Kids to be a solid stand-alone resource.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Lost and Found: The Series

Series aim:
1) To see that Jesus came to seek and save the lost
2) To see that without Jesus you are lost
3) To see that only through the death of Jesus can you be found

I'm writing a series of talks and studies on Lost and Found. These aren't talks or studies... just some of my thinking in preparation. Stay tuned for the talks on
In #1 we see that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Throughout #2-9 we meet a whole bunch of different people - both real and fictional - who were lost. Some realised it. Others didn't. If you aren't a follower of Jesus and you've stumbled onto my blog (or you're a regular reader) - let me encourage you to see yourself clearly: you are lost... and see Jesus clearly: he died and rose so that you could be forgive and have life eternal.

Shout out to James and the peeps at Central Espresso - the Best Coffee in Gosford - it kept me going with all my early starts (6am in Gosford is very early for a night owl!) over the last couple of weeks.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

How To Measure Success?

How do you measure the success of a youth ministry? Should you even try?

I rekon the easiest, but least reliable, way to measure is by counting numbers.

I rekon the most relible, but difficult, way to measure is by the growth of God's kingdom as kids come to Christ and grow in Christ.

What do you think?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Journal of Youth and Theology

I recieved the first JYT for the year a couple of weeks ago. There are four essays in this issue:

  • Beyond a Godless Understanding of Youth: Why Exegesis Matters of Youth Ministry

  • Towards an Adolescent Hermenutic

  • Faith in Networks: Religious Education of Dutch young adults in a 'post-ecclesial' era

  • From ghetto to communitas: Post-Soviet youth ministry and leadership on a pilgrimage to Emmaus

It's an interesting journal, like no other in youth ministry, that helps me think outside the square.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Church Office - Episode 2

What people are doing online

This is a helpful graph from business week (click image to make it bigger). It shows the way in which different generations are using the web. (H/t marko)

The implications for youth ministry in Australia (assuming that the AUS figures are similar to the US figures above) are that we cannot ignore the web. Here's two to start:
  1. We need to teach our teenagers how to be Christian on the Internet. How they can use it for good rather than bad and how they can point people to Jesus.
  2. Our youth ministries need to have an active presence online which will help with number 1 above.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Teenagers dealing with parents

Can I commend to you one of the best things to come out of CCECYOUTH this year? It's our latest J-walk magazine. It was all about Parents and how to help teenagers to deal with their families in different circumstances. I'm keen for the material to be spread widely. I already know of a number of youth ministries that have passed this latest issue (as well as the companion podcast) onto teenagers in their groups. Let me encourage you to do likewise!

Check it out. You can download the full magazine in friendly formats, listen to the podcast, and read some of the articles online. Guest Authors include: John Piper, John Dickson and Michael Corbett-Jones. I'd be interested to hear how you go with passing this gear on.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Swing into Action 2007

THIS IS A GREAT CAMP!! We are for year 7-11's and we still have room for more campers! It's from July 1-6. Please pray... but also think of youth group kids you can encourage to come along. It's encouraging for Christians - but also a great opportunity for Christians teens to bring their friends along to hear about Jesus.

Check out the Swing into Action MySpace page for all the info (including online rego)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Music in the smaller youth group.

Crossfire currently averages around five or six kids a week. On my mind lately has been the question how to do music/singing with a group this small. Obviously we’re hoping to grow, and music should get easier as we do, but because the group is currently quite small, it makes group singing a little awkward. Does anyone have any tips on how do music well in a small context like this?

Currently we go into morning church (it's on at the same time) for the first 10 minutes – which generally includes a couple of songs, and then we leave with the Sunday School kids during the announcements - but don't do any more singing in our group. I’d eventually like to do it ourselves, and have the kids come straight to crossfire rather than go to church first, but I’d like to have a plan for doing music in a small group before making that step.

Any ideas?