The average American lives for 28,835 days – what does that look like represented by jelly beans?
Adrian Gonzalez, a first baseman for the Dodgers, leaned over the railing to catch a ball as it arced toward the stands. He almost got it. But spectator Keith Hartley snatched it barehanded right above Gonzalez’s glove. He did this while leaning over a railing and holding and bottle-feeding his 7-month old son.
The batter was ruled out due to fan interference and the Cubs went on to beat the Dodgers 1-0.
Hannah, my wife, did her annual questions about daddy with our two boys. There’s some entertaining answers!
1. What makes Daddy happy?
D – Giving him food.
J – Building something.
2. How does Daddy make you laugh?
D – Tickling me.
J – Tickles me.
3. What was Daddy like as a child?
D – Good behaviour.
J – A scarecrow.
4. How old is Daddy?
D – 32.
J – 5.
5. How tall is Daddy?
D – Really tall.
J – Bigger.
6. What is Daddy’s favourite thing to do?
D – Play games.
J – Work.
7. What does Daddy do when you’re not around?
D – Look for me.
J – Go on a train.
8. What is Daddy really good at?
D – Driving our car.
J – Being in a castle.
9. What is Daddy not very good at?
D – Flushing the toilet.
J – Squirting me.
10. What is Daddy’s favourite food?
D – Meatballs with chicken nuggets.
J – Chicken.
11. What do you and Daddy do together?
D – Play games.
J – Puzzles and games.
12. Where is Daddy’s favourite place to go?
D – Portsmouth.
J – The park.
13. What does Daddy like most about Mummy?
D – Going in her bed.
J – He loves her.
14. What does Daddy do for a job?
D – Work at church.
J – Opens the shed.
15. How are you and Daddy the same?
D – We’ve got the same hair.
J – We’re both boys.
16. How are you and Daddy different?
D – We’ve got different colour t-shirts.
J – Because I’ve got white hair and he’s got brown hair.
17. How do you know Daddy loves you?
D – When he gives me cuddles.
J – Because he tickles me.
18. What makes Daddy sad?
D – When there’s not enough room in your bed.
J – Writing.
19. What makes you proud of Daddy?
D – When he’s good at playing football.
J – Swimming.
Tonight it was great to host 45 leaders coming together to hear from Brian Spurling of Urban Saints and Sarah Smart from Scripture Union on Sticky Faith:
Consists of four major studies over 2004-2010. Based on American family and church life and culture. We’ve never undertaken this research in the UK, although there are some similar studies from Australia.
- 40-50% of older teens who went into further/higher education failed to stick at their faith.
- Only 20% of those who leave their faith actually planned to do so. The other 80% intended to stick with their faith but didn’t. Interesting how many were staying in church just to please parents or enjoy the free chocolate and doughnuts.
- For the 50-60% who do stick with their faith, their life-styles often become very similar to those of their non-Christian contemporaries.
- Between 30-60% of teenagers who abandon their faith and their church do return to both in their late twenties. However, the damage has been done in terms of the consequences of ‘bad’ lifestyle choices.
- The research shows little difference in the above between the genders.
What does it look like in the UK?
- In 1980 almost 12% went to church at least once a month, in 2005 it was down to 7%. Recent research suggests this might level off, mainly due to immigration from countries with a strong catholic and church tradition.
- Average age in 1980 was about 37 years old, now in 2015 it is aged 56 years old. We have an issue with an ageing population, but the church has an even bigger issue.
- % of church goers who were aged 15yrs old and under in 1980 33% of the church was 15 years old and younger, in 2020 Peter Brierley expects it to be 5%.
- The difference to the American church is that in the UK we struggled to keep children, whereas in the USA they kept them through to teenage years.
- We were seeing 1,000 children aged 15 and under leaving the church every week in the 1990s – half-a-million a year.
There are two fundamental things that had been miscommunicated to teenagers by adults in their churches:
- Many young people have picked up a mistaken understanding of what it means to be a Christian. 66% thought it was just about living a life of good works that loves others and that please God and then he would be interested in you. 33% didn’t mention God and 33% didn’t mention Jesus. If you work with young people you might like to ask them this question. The key is relationship with a living God, who made us. Young people in the UK equate God as creator more than anything else.
- Many young people have picked up a mistaken understanding of what the gospel is too.
- The ‘gospel of sin management’: faith is reduced to a list of do’s and don’ts and focuses on the unpleasant consequences of ignoring the don’ts.
- The ‘Red Bull gospel’: a performance-led view of faith that believes staying on a treadmill of good works’ is what really counts. It is almost impossible to keep it up.
- The ‘Pharisee’ gospel: a view of faith that believes inner righteousness is achieved by being seen to do the right things on the outside. No need for personal holiness.
History has brought us to the point where the Christian message is thought to be essentially concerned with only how to deal with sin: with wrongdoing or wrong-being, and its effects. Life, our actual existence, is not included in what is presented at the heart of the Christian message, or it is included only marginally … The current gospel then becomes a ‘gospel of sin management.’
Dallas Willard The Divine Conspiracy
The core of Sticky Faith is developing a clear and honest understanding of both the gospel and biblical faith.
At the heart of Sticky Faith is a faith that trusts in God and understands that obedience is a response to that trust, in everything.
Dr. Kara E. Powell & Dr. Chap Clark
Sticky Faith is
- Both internal and external: part of the inner thought and emotions together with lifestyle choices and actions that reflect the inner faith commitment.
- Both person and communal: celebrating God’s love for the individual, but always locating faith in the wider community.
- Both mature and maturing: showing some evidence of maturity but recognising we are all on a journey.
Developing Sticky Faith
Consumer Gospel: Mike Yaconelli’s, Contemplative Youth Ministry, is a critical book to read. Outside In by Mike Green as you are turning young people into religious consumers through the youth ministry programmes. Mark Yaconelli said we have done it, we’ve
|Consumer approach||Content (Sunday School) approach||Contemplative approach|
|Rooted in||Anxiety & fear||We’ve always done it this way||Love for the individual|
|Theology||Faith is fun||Faith is conformity||Faith is an on-going relationship of trust|
|Leader||Programme director||Teacher||Spiritual director pointing to God|
|Volunteers||Chaperones||Classroom assistants||Seekers and mentors|
|Teaching||Life skills/issues||Religious information||Way of Jesus/Christian living|
|Practice||Passive entertainment||Memorisation & reiteration||Action rooted in prayer and reflection|
|Young people||Religious consumers||Potential church members||Spiritual seekers|
- Expose young people to real-life examples of others learning to trust God.
- Contrast ‘good things we should do’ with ‘trusting in a good God.’
- Focus on trusting God before obeying God.
- Teach about recovery and repentance.
- Don’t dodge difficult questions about trust, but do avoid ‘pat’ answers.
How do we view young people:
- Empty containers ready to be filled with knowledge.
- Sinners in need of repentance.
- Prisoners waiting to be freed.
- Growing plants needing to b carefully tended.
- Pieces of clay ready to be moulded.
- Spiritual beings made in God’s image.
The last is the most challenging and yet rewarding.
What is the top issue that tweenagers need to sort out in their lives?
- Who am I?
- Where am I?
- Why is there so much brokenness in the world?
- How can I find a pathway to wholeness?
- What does the future hold?
The Bible answers the questions in order beautifully from Genesis to Revelation. Things need to be grounded in the meta-narrative of God’s story.
From a survey of 7,000 11-16s from a wide variety of backgrounds, carried out between 2011 and 2014 by the New Philanthropy Capital.
- Emotional wellbeing for boys is static aged 11-18 and above girls; whereas the girls drops down significantly and is always below boys.
- Self-esteem matches this.
- Overall life satisfaction the boys dips as well, but again the boys drops less than the girls.
- Satisfaction in your community produces the steepest drop for both of them.
- Develop rituals and rites of passage, and celebrate milestones reached or passed. (It works in family life too.)
- Help your young people identify their passions and gifts. Affirm character growth more than academic achievement.
- Help your young people to reflect more on their experiences, and grow through hardship.
- Pay attention to ‘trigger moments’ that promote identity growth.
- Aim for a diverse youth and children’s leadership team
- Support your teens for at least an extra year when they leave home.
Know your young people and involve them fully, not treating them as separate entities:
- Involvement in all-age worship for teenagers is more consistently linked with mature faith than any other church-based activity.
- The more teenagers serve and build relationships with younger children, the more likely it is that their faith will stick.
- Teens in the survey said that the best way they felt welcomed was when the congregation showed an interest in them.
- Sticky faith encourages churches to develop ‘Sticky Webs’ where at least 5 adults (of all ages) speak into the lives of every young person. Teenagers said they wanted MORE interaction with adults, not less!
- Mentoring is a brilliant, biblical model for growth!
- Why do young people go to youth group? Because they want to be with their youth leaders.
- What % of teens said they felt their youth leader really knew them? 20%
- What did they want their youth leaders to help them with the most? Applying the Bible teaching to everyday life, especially suffering, why is the church so full of hypocrisy, and what does the bible say about sexuality, creation & evolution.
- What was the number one thing the teens said they wanted more of in their youth groups? More time for deep conversations, whereas more time for fun stuff was bottom of the list.
- Who had the stickiest faith in the end? Those that often talked about having doubts – especially does God exist, does God love me, is Christianity the only way to God.
Suicide has become the leading killer of teenage girls, worldwide. Take a moment to read this article to find out why:
Towards the end of last year, a shocking statistic appeared deep in the pages of a World Health Organisation report. It was this: suicide has become the leading killer of teenage girls, worldwide. More girls aged between 15 and 19 die from self-harm than from road accidents, diseases or complications of pregnancy.
For years, child-bearing was thought to cause the most deaths in this age group. But at some point in the last decade or so – statistics were last collected on this scale in 2000 – suicide took over. And, according to the WHO’s revised data for 2000, it had already just inched its way ahead of maternal mortality at the turn of the millennium.
“I’m not quite sure why we haven’t realised this before,” says Suzanne Petroni, a senior director at ICRW. “Maternal mortality has come down so much, which is fantastic,” she says.
That’s a major factor behind the fall in the overall death rate for 15-19 year old girls from 137.4 deaths per 100,000 girls in 2000 to 112.6 today. It’s an amazing achievement.
And it has allowed the spotlight to fall, finally, on what has actually been the biggest killer all along: suicide.
The report looks at six global regions. In Europe, it is the number one killer of teenage girls. In Africa, it’s not even in the top five, “because maternal deaths and HIV are so high,” says Petroni.
But in every region of the world, other than Africa, suicide is one of the top three causes of death for 15 to 19 year old girls. (For boys, the leading killer globally is road injury).
It’s particularly shocking given that suicide is notoriously underreported.
“We don’t really know the extent of the problem,” says Roseanne Pearce, a Senior Supervisor at Childline in the UK. “Because the coroner often won’t record it as suicide. Sometimes that’s at the family’s request, and sometimes it’s simply to protect the family’s feelings.”
In countries where stigma is particularly high, suicides are even less likely to be recorded than they are in the UK. And the poorest countries in the WHO’s report have very patchy data on births and deaths at all, let alone reliable detail on what caused those deaths.
I love this story of a 3D baby scan to help a blind mum ‘see’ her little baby:
For expectant parents, a baby scan visit is a time of joy and anxiety. It’s the earliest opportunity to see a child waiting to arrive.
Tatiana Guerra, 30, will soon give birth to her son, Murilo. She’s blind, so can’t see the fuzzy results of a sonogram. To promote Huggies nappies in Brazil, the ad agency Mood created a 3-dimensional model of her son as he appeared in a sonogram. It then surprised Guerra with the model, giving her a wonderful glimpse of her son that she could touch and study with her fingers.
Raheem Sterling is being much maligned for his refusal to sign a new contract with Liverpool – some of that criticism is fair, some of it isn’t. The big issue for me though is that all this should not be taking place in the media in public.
Whilst I think a £100,000 a week contract is more than fair for a player of his ability and potential I can see there are two key issues at play.
- Firstly the potential to win trophies and play in the Champions League football is key to any young footballer. Once again Liverpool have failed to qualify for the Champions League – to not have the opportunity to play against the best players in the world is going to be frustrating for Sterling. Liverpool haven’t won a trophy since 2012, when they beat Cardiff on penalties to win the League Cup.
- Secondly, Liverpool Football Club seem to have once again chosen the wrong time for contract negotiations. Sterling, in an interview with the BBC, claimed his future could have been resolved after last season’s title challenge. He said: “If, at that point in time, I was offered a contract, I most definitely would have signed straight away and probably for far less money than is being said now. I think the timing was a bit off.”
Negotiations are negotiations – people say all kinds of things in those meetings to get that compromise that everyone is happy with. But the problem is that currently these thoughts and comments are being made in the press, in front of all of the Liverpool fans. This is what has really led to their criticism of Sterling. It’s little wonder that he received a mixed reception at Liverpool’s end-of-season awards ceremony when he collected the young player of the year prize to a combination of boos, heckling and some applause.
I think Jamie Carragher is completely right to tell Sterling to “keep your mouth shut” and “get on with playing football”. He said on Sky’s Monday Night Football:
“For a 20-year-old kid to be taking on Liverpool Football Club over a contract. To the pit of my stomach that just winds me up, it angers me.
The lad is from London and he obviously wants to go back home. It might not be about money. It may be about trophies or playing in the Champions League. If it’s about trophies, Liverpool had a chance for a trophy this year, in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley against Aston Villa. Where was Sterling? If you want trophies, they don’t get given to you, you have to earn them, you have to play well in big games. What did Liverpool do in the Champions League? Nothing. What did Sterling do? Nothing.
To do what he’s done now. There’s nothing worse than that. You keep your mouth shut – get on with playing football.”
I love living in the New Forest, but one of the worst bits is every so often driving past the scene of an animal that has been hit as it wandered into the road – many of these are fatal accidents. Recently New Forest organisations have published a new map to highlight the worst roads for animal accidents.
The map shows 138 accidents across the Forest in 2014, with more than a third of accidents taking place on just three roads:
- B3078 from Cadnam to Godshill – 24 accidents
- B3054 from Hatchet Pond to Portmore – 16 accidents
- B3056 from Hatchet Pond to Lyndhurst – 13 accidents
A number of Forest organisations work together to reduce the number of accidents including the Verderers, the Commoners Defence Association, New Forest National Park Authority, Hampshire Constabulary, the Forestry Commission, New Forest District Council and Hampshire County Council.
The overall number of accidents fell in 2014 to 138 (from 181 in 2013). But Forest organisations are warning against any complacency, especially among motorists who travel across the Forest each day as most incidents involve people who live in or close to the New Forest. This is particularly important as many foals are born at this time of year.
Initiatives include fitting reflective pony collars, changing road warning signs to keep drivers’ attention, traffic calming measures, verge cutting to increase visibility and awareness campaigns.
Sue Westwood, Clerk to the Verderers, said: ‘New Forest ponies and cattle are free to roam the New Forest and it’s their grazing activity which shapes the iconic landscape. We hope this map will be a visual reminder to motorists to be aware of animals as they’re driving. Although accidents are spread across the Forest and their distribution changes every year, there are particular roads which always seem to have a high number of accidents.’
Nigel Matthews, Head of Recreation Management and Learning at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘Local motorists should never assume that it won’t happen to them. One day that animal beside the road will step out at the last minute, so go slowly and give it a wide berth. The speed limit is 30 or 40mph for a reason. Animals are on the road day and night, and unfortunately have no fear of cars.’
- Be ready to stop – ponies may step out even when they’ve seen you approaching
- Slow down, especially at night and when other cars are approaching with their headlights on
- Give animals grazing by the side of the road a wide berth
- Take extra care when there are animals on the verges on both sides of the road – they may cross to join their friends.
- Consider travelling on the fenced roads (such as the A31, A337 and A35) so that you don’t have to cross the open Forest.
- The faster you are going, the greater the damage will be to the animal, your car and your passengers – start your journey early so you don’t have to hurry.
- If you witness or are involved in an accident involving a pony, donkey, cow, pig or sheep, call the Police (999 for an emergency or 101 if it’s not an emergency).
I’ve always enjoyed reading Francis Chan’s writings, a few years ago I was inspired by his book Crazy Love, so I was looking forward to reading Multiply: Disciples making disciples. As a youth minister I’m incredibly passionate to resource young people to share their faith with their friends – they do such a better job than I every could do. Not because I can’t share faith, or because I can’t answer the tough questions, but because I don’t have the shared context that they have.
The book can be used for personal devotions, but works well for a group to look through together. It is split into five sections:
- Living as a Disciple Maker
- Living as the Church
- How to Study the Bible
- Understanding the Old Testament
- Understanding the New Testament
This book would work well as a post Alpha or other evangelistic course for those who wanted to develop a stronger foundation to their new-found faith.
We used the first section themed around what is a disciple and what does it mean to share our faith with our group of 11-14 year olds who really enjoyed looking at the material.
I thoroughly recommend taking the time to read this book and the additional resources developed for it.