Monthly Archives: October 2007

Vying for the minds of our girls

Here is another brilliant short video by Dove and a follow-up to the Evolution video (see my post of March 17 – Seeing on multiple levels.) My apologies to you if any images offend, but this so acutely points out the bombardment coming at our girls/young women – my college age daughters found it very compelling and truthful. Those of you who are old enough to remember it will be struck by the music used at the beginning of the video – the opening tune is obviously inspired by the Rolling Stones 60’s song “Here comes your 19th nervous breakdown.” Comments posted relating to the video raise excellent questions around whether Dove is making a great statement of truth about our cultural values or whether this is just all part of a bigger campaign to increase their “brand” recognition. Unilever, the larger parent corporation of Dove also runs ads by Axe which are 180 degrees in the other direction in terms of presenting inappropriate male views of women as sexual objects. The complexity of the issues involved in this short video and the questions just mentioned compel us as Christian educators in schools and churches to move beyond simple, moralistic answers in challenging our students to apply their faith.


Filed under Biblical worldview, image of God, kids/culture

Faith Enhancing Practice* #9 – Personal faith commitment questions (Classroom)

Is your school asking students about their faith journey on an individual basis? What is the role of the school in this regard? While most educators would rightly point to parents and church to be also significantly involved in this question, is it not also something we should be concerned about at Christian schools?

By personal faith commitment questions I am not simply suggesting the “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior?” question, but also the “Have you determined to make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life?” Is it acceptable that quite possibly in 13 years of an educational experience we may never address either of these questions eyeball to eyeball with individual students? Where and when should this happen?

As a parent I deeply appreciated teachers who addressed this question with my children and who took time at a conference to discuss spiritual as well as academic issues. Is your school making this a priority?

*(For an explanation and definition of Faith Enhancing Practices see my post of February 3, 2007 entitled “What’s the difference between teachers?”) If you are interested in seeing all 12 Faith Enhancing Practices modules at once, you can go to the Member Community Center and access them there.

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Filed under classroom, distinctively Christian, encouraging the heart, student outcomes

The big ten

In my Internet reading travels I came across a promotional site for a new movie just out on October 19 called The Ten Commandments. (Disclaimer: I did not include the link in this post to endorse the movie – I have not seen it or read any reviews on it, so I cannot do either.) My interest was piqued by these statistics from the site about general Biblical literacy – basically more people remember the complete ingredients of a Big Mac than the Ten Commandments. This is outrageous!! Give the Ten Commandments challenge to your kids and see how they do.

I think that the memorable acronym “I am the Lord” (each letter in the phrase standing for a commandment) shown on the site via the downloadable PDF bookmarks may also be a great way for kids to remember the Ten Commandments.


Filed under Bible memory, classroom, student outcomes

Please share this blog!

Time for a progress report and a thank you! We are celebrating the first year anniversary of this blog and are excited by the response to it. We have had over 21,000 views and over 220 comments posted in this past year. Out of the over 500,000 blogs published on Word Press we were listed in the Top 100 Growing Blogs from January through May (then we took summer vacation!) and now again in October – we currently sit in the #52 spot.

As I have stated before, the intended audience for this blog is Christian school educators and church youth workers. If you find this blog helpful, please pass it along to others in school and church. School administrators – please feel free to forward it on to your teachers as well. Thanks for your interest and readership!

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Kids like Jesus, but not his followers

Why are kids disappearing from churches? This is the question that Dan Kimball raises in his new book, They Like Jesus, But Not the Church: insights from emerging generations. He gives several reasons gained from his own experience of growing up outside the church, and now as a pastor of an emerging church, from those inside and outside his congregation.

He identifies six common misperceptions of the church and I won’t list them here – read the book! I think that he has identified significant areas – he has gained theses insights from getting out and getting engaged in dialogue with non-Christians.

One of the antidotes he suggests is that we get into relationships with non-Christians. He wonders where our sense of urgency is on this issue. He challenges us through this picture:

It’s as if we have all fallen off a ship, and some of us, through God’s grace, found a lifeboat, but instead of helping others get out of the water, we ignore their screams. We don’t want to get in the cold water, and so we sit around, happy and warm, listening to our CD’s on our iPods and complaining that people outside the boat are making too much noise. Instead, we should be desperately paddling around trying to help others into the boat, where they too can experience warmth, community, and safety.

I was personally challenged by his questions on the subject:

  1. Am I numb or neutral toward people outside the church?
  2. Do I intercede daily for people outside the church?
  3. Who am I praying for now who is not a Christian?
  4. When’s the last time I had coffee or dinner or gone to a movie and hung out with someone who is not a Christian?

I think this is particularly a challenge for those of us working in Christian institutions – when do we find the time for connecting with others in our community who are not Christians? When we do connect are we able to develop the kinds of trust in our relationships so that there is mutual listening, sharing, and opportunities to discuss matters of faith?

Last week I suggested that we get our kids out and using what they are learning. I believe that we need to be equipping them earlier with apologetics as they are intersecting more often with other kids through soccer leagues, clubs, ballet, and a host of other activities. It seems that this could be a good topic for parents, church and school to discuss and plan for. How could we model and share with our students about the relationships that we have with non-Christians? What would they learn from how we engage with them and share our faith?


Filed under book, kids/culture

Speed and the search for meaning

I was in one of my very favorite stores (yes, a bookstore) and a title intrigued me – The Age of Speed: Learning to Thrive in a More-Faster-Now World by Vince Poscente. It was a small book – one that looked like I could speed through rather quickly – probably all part of the marketing plan for the book!

Some interesting stuff from the book that you can use in conversation:

  • Blackberries (or Crackberries as the author calls them) “have become the unofficial mascot of the Age of Speed, but mind your addiction. Research revealed that allowing frequent email interruptions causes a drop in performance equivalent to losing ten IQ points – two and-a-half times the drop seen after smoking pot.”
  • “Dopamine is also linked to addictions, including addictions to sex, drugs, and even technology. Harvard psychiatrist John Ratey thinks it’s at play in our compulsive use of cell phones, computers, and PDA’s. In an interview with Time magazine, he said that if we could measure brain activity when responding to interruptions, such as incoming calls or emails, ‘we would probably find that the brain is pumping out little shots of dopamine to give us a buzz.’”
  • 23% of Americans say they lose patience within five minutes of waiting in line.
  • 55% of workers said they opened incoming email almost immediately, regardless of how busy they were.

One of the main points that Poscente is making is that our North American progress has made our time more valuable. Our income has tripled since 1955, but our life expectancy has not kept pace – only going up by 10%. Therefore with much more life available for the living and less time to do it we try to cram it all in – like greedy kids after a candy toss from a parade float.

The author points out: “…a 2006 poll revealed that only 26% of people claiming to be time starved would choose having fewer things to do over having more time to do all the things they currently do. We want as much out of life as we can get.” We simply have more options, yet the same 24 hours in a day. We fear “opportunity cost” – the feeling of loss we get on a beautiful, sunny, mild day when we cannot simultaneously bike, kayak, lay in a hammock reading, go to the beach, or attend a sporting event or art fair. We want it all because we desire more quality in our lives – more meaning – more living in life.

If Jesus has come to give us a more abundant life is this what he had in mind?

How can we help our youth discern what is really important?


Filed under Biblical worldview, book, use of time

Faith Enhancing Practice *#8 – Use of time, talent, and treasures (Classroom)

In the preceding post (Speed and the search for meaning) we talked about our use of time and we have also discussed the use of talent (see the post of January 6, 2007 – Calling out giftedness.) So let’s focus a bit on use of treasures.

For starters, this is a very interesting link that can be used with classes: Global Rich List. We must first start with building our students’ awareness levels of North American wealth in order to have them consider their responsibility. Another compelling link that shows our use of one of the treasures found in the earth is the Who Has the Oil? page.

No one would disagree that we are wealthier than previous generations. Easterbrook (The Progress Paradox) gives these examples:

  • The typical new home in the U.S. is now 2250 square feet up from 1100 in the 1950’s
  • Our parents has one or two cars, 1/3 of families now have 3 or more.
  • The typical person now has twice the buying power of their parents in 1960.
  • A McDonald’s cheeseburger cost a half hour of wages in 1950, now one can be purchased with three minutes of wages.
  • 70% of Americans own their own home now compared with 20% 100 years ago.
  • Men and women at middle class standards in the U.S. and European Union now live better than 99.4% of the human beings who ever existed.

Things that were once luxuries have now become “necessities.” Yet most people, regardless of what they earn, estimate that twice as much income is needed to really “live well.” One of the most essential questions we need to ask, and teach our students to ask themselves, is this: “What is the difference between needs and wants?” If we can embed this into their heads so that they continue to ask it their whole lives then they will be equipped for discernment and stewardship.

According to Ron Sider’s estimate, (The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience) “if American Christians simply gave a tithe rather than the current one-quarter of a tithe (2.5%!), there would be enough private Christian dollars to provide basic health care and education to all the poor of the earth. And we would still have an extra $60-70 billion left over for evangelism around the world.”

How are you addressing the use of time, talent, and treasures with your students?

*(For an explanation and definition of Faith Enhancing Practices see my post of February 3, 2007 entitled “What’s the difference between teachers?”) If you are interested in seeing all 12 Faith Enhancing Practices modules at once, you can go to the Member Community Center and access them there.

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Filed under Biblical worldview, book, classroom, distinctively Christian

Like “Cheers” – only better!

Last week I had the opportunity to speak on school climate/culture at the Heartland Christian Educator’s Convention held at Dordt College. In reviewing some of my notes on the topic that were left lying around on my desk I came across Bill Hybel’s thoughts on what constitutes authentic community. He believes it is a lot like the old TV show “Cheers” – a place where we can:

  • Love and be loved
  • Know and be known
  • Serve and be served
  • Celebrate and be celebrated

“They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46b, 47.

I pray that God bless you as you seek to build communities of shalom where all students can flourish.

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Filed under community, encouraging the heart