Webinar: How Christian Families Can Navigate The Challenges Of The COVID19 Disruption

The acute crisis of CV19 is passing for the moment and we are in a period of transition which in reality is just the latest in a series of…

The acute crisis of CV19 is passing for the moment and we are in a period of transition which in reality is just the latest in a series of multiple transitions over the last 12 months. Life changed in the space of a few weeks on a global scale. Fear and panic may have temporarily reduced however we have widespread hardship that impacts people, families, the Church, communities and our nation. Each of the areas of Faith, Family and Finances have been profoundly impacted in both negative and positive ways that need to be explored better understood and shared.

This free webinar explores this topic, with a great lineup of international speakers. To register FOR FREE, click here: https://www.thrivecast.com/faith-family-finance/

Posted: 21/09/2020

Covid-19 and mental health

COVID-19 has touched each of us somehow. For many, it’s been a point of realisation that mental health is important and should be prioritised as we go about our…

COVID-19 has touched each of us somehow.

For many, it’s been a point of realisation that mental health is important and should be prioritised as we go about our daily lives.

We loved this article from the World Economic Forum about caring for mental health in the midst of the pandemic.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/covid-19-and-your-brain-6-ways-to-control-the-damage-to-your-mental-health/?fbclid=IwAR1D1_PlrD1d7L2B5wC-tTKdKO1gW5cNG_CJWYz6slnh2h6cghUZo1QZlrU

Posted: 16/09/2020

Schoolies as a ‘Rite of Passage’

In November 2000 I graduated from high school. At my school’s graduation, every year they played the same music. It symbolised the end of your time at school as…

In November 2000 I graduated from high school.

At my school’s graduation, every year they played the same music. It symbolised the end of your time at school as you moved into adult life.

For me, that experience was a big moment I’ll always remember. A point of transition – a rite of passage.

Fast forward 20 years and our 2020 high school graduates are facing a very different rite of passage.

COVID-19 has limited numbers for events and gatherings, and is already influencing end-of-school processions with bans now in place for the traditional mass schoolies events on the Gold Coast.

While some think that Gold Coast schoolies events are a horrible ‘rite of passage’ for our high school graduates, the fact is that schoolies options available to previous cohorts have been taken away from the class of 2020. What will this mean?

Rites of passage have changed through the generations – but all support the same general premise: an event or ceremony to mark an important transition in someone’s life.

For Gen X and Gen Y some rites of passage included owning a first car, leaving home and getting your first job. For Gen Z and Millenials, who are staying home longer and studying/working simultaneously, there are fewer points that we can label as ‘rites of passage’.

This makes the milestone of finishing school an even more important marker for this generation.

If you’re a parent or mentor of someone finishing high school this year, here are some things I think are really important to keep in mind.

1. Talk talk talk!

Talk about the year – and ask them what are some of the symbolic markers they feel they have missed out on because of COVID-19. What are some creative ways they can experience these?

2. Help them to share their feelings

It’s okay to be disappointed – but allowing feelings to stay bottled up can have really negative consequences. Encouraging your teen to share what they are going through is vital to help them have a positive experience as they approach this key transition in life.

3. Celebrate with them!

Celebrate the successes of this year, and of the last few months of their schooling journey. Focus on the ‘lasts’ – celebrate when they finish their final assignment, final exam, etc. Help them plan a safe schoolies celebration with the friends they have valued through their schooling journey.

Regardless of the changes COVID-19 has had on our society, helping our Year 12 students to find positivity in the midst of all the things they have missed out on is key. Let’s give them the joy-filled rite of passage they deserve!

The good news for SU-Schoolies Sunny Coast is we have a COVID Safe Plan for our event, which we’ve developed in conjunction with Alex Park Conference Centre. This will allow us to proceed under the appropriate Industry Action Plan.

While this plan includes a cap on participants and restrictions on some activities, rest assured we are putting together a program that will allow you to still have the time of your life as you celebrate finishing your 12 years of schooling with your peers.

www.su-schoolies.com

 

About the author…

Beavs is a former High School Maths and Christian Education Teacher who has been working and volunteering with SU QLD Camps for almost 20 years. As Camps Specialist he supports volunteers and chaplains run camps and community outreach events throughout Queensland, reaching over 4500 young people. Beavs is married with 3 children, and loves coffee and watching sport.

Posted: 16/09/2020

How can we safely talk to young people about ‘that’ Tik Tok video?

Weeks like this one remind us why awareness campaigns like R U OK Day are important. Again, we have been reminded of the tragedy of suicide and how its…

Weeks like this one remind us why awareness campaigns like R U OK Day are important. Again, we have been reminded of the tragedy of suicide and how its impact reaches far beyond its victims.

The media’s coverage of the viral TikTok video has left many parents concerned about their children’s exposure to traumatic content online.

There are many questions to be answered and a lot of avenues of support. Here are some answers and helpful resources if you are trying to work out how to talk to your child about traumatic online content.

Should I ask my child if they’ve seen the video?

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant advises against drawing young people’s attention to the issue. If your child has not seen the video, raising the topic could cause unnecessary worry, distress or increase their curiosity about the video. Instead, monitor your child’s demeanour and behaviour for any changes, particularly those who may be considered more vulnerable or at risk. If you want to talk about it, raise the conversation generally, asking about both their online or offline activities. Parents should keep an open dialogue with their children about their online activity.

How do I talk to someone about their mental health?

If you are concerned that your child or loved one is thinking about suicide or has been triggered by online content, have a conversation. Most people are scared that they will say the wrong thing and make it worse, so they avoid the conversation. This is not true. Initiating the conversation will allow the person an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings and ask for support. For more specific guidance on how to conduct a conversation about mental health and suicide, follow the links below.

R U OK: How to ask guide

Suicide First Aid Guidelines (MHFA)

ChatSafe: Talking safely about suicide online

Parent TV: How to talk to your child about suicide

How can I comfort my child who is upset by the video?

A young person may be significantly upset by what they have been exposed to online. It is not possible to unsee what we are exposed to. So how can we help alleviate their distress?

1. Express care. Reassure your child they are loved, valued and safe.

2. Normalise feelings. It’s natural to want to get rid of unpleasant feelings. We often say things like; “It’s okay, don’t be sad” or “chin up”. However, our emotions are signals to our minds and bodies that tell us something. It is normal to emotionally respond to inappropriate content online. Having a “yucky” feeling tells us that what we saw was not okay. It’s not about getting rid of the “yuck” feeling but working out what we should do when we experience that feeling.

3. Encourage positive activity. This is a good time to take a break from the online world. Suggest an ‘offline break’ to do something that will make your child feel better, taking a walk, playing with the dog, doing some art or cooking a meal, the options are endless.

4. Invite further conversation. Keep the communication channels open, allowing your child an opportunity to keep talking, if it’s helpful.

5. Keep an eye out. As mentioned above, monitor your child’s ongoing behaviour and demeanour, if you notice a persistent change, follow it up.

How can I protect my child from harmful images, videos and online commentary?

The internet is a big place full of wonderful and horrible things. Trying to eliminate the bad content is like a game of whack-a-mole; just when you hit one on the head three more pop up. Understandably, parents often feel helpless when it comes to managing their children’s activity online. But, there are a number of great organisations that are empowering parents to keep their kids safe online. The eSafety Commission is my first port of call when I want information about internet safety for young people. Parental controls might be an option for your family, restricting certain content and websites while keeping parents up to date on their child’s online activity. The Communications Alliance LTD has a list of reputable products on the market. The Australian Council for Children and Media helps parents determine what will be appropriate content/platforms for their child.

Should I ban my child from social media?

It may be helpful to keep your child away from social media for a time, to allow the platforms opportunity to remove the explicit content, but also to give your child a break to positively work on their mental health. However, for many young people around the world, social media is a vital connection to their network of friends. Perhaps less of an “All or Nothing” approach and more of a healthy balance is needed. The eSafety Commission has loads of excellent information for young people regarding healthy use of social media. As a parent you know your child best and should feel empowered to make decisions for the wellbeing of your child.

What should I teach my children to do about traumatic content online?

We cannot avoid or block every piece of inappropriate content online; our power lies within our response to these images, videos and commentary. Here are some steps to respond to traumatic material.

1. Close the video/image. Just because you started the video doesn’t mean you have to finish it. If your feelings are telling you something is wrong – get out. Don’t share/repost it.

2. Report the content. All social media platforms have a reporting function, use it. The eSafety Commission also has a reporting page where you can make official complaints about online content. You can also call the police on 000.

3. Tell a trusted adult. It’s important your child shares any inappropriate online activity with a trusted adult (parent, school teacher/support worker). This will ensure they receive the support they need, and the problem is dealt with properly. They should know that they won’t get into trouble for telling someone about what they experienced.

4. Unfriend/Block. Children should never connect online with people they don’t know. However, sometimes even known friends can share and upload inappropriate content. It is okay to unfriend or block someone who is willfully sharing harmful material.

If you require extra support, please don’t hesitate to talk to someone about it. R U OK is as much a question for us as it is for our young people.

Call:

Lifeline 13 11 14

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Click here for other support agency details

About the author…

Tess is a former school chaplain and youth pastor with 15 years of experience in youth work. She now serves as SU QLD’s Children and Youth Program Team Leader, delivering training and professional development to chaplains and youth workers. She holds a bachelor of communications and diploma of youth work.

 

Posted: 10/09/2020

What Father’s Day means to me (a dad’s perspective)

I’m the father of two sons – 14 and 11 years old. I love being a father. It’s one of the most important parts of who I am these…

I’m the father of two sons – 14 and 11 years old. I love being a father. It’s one of the most important parts of who I am these days. Of course, I wasn’t always a father. I’ve been one for less than a third of my life.

With Father’s Day coming up, I’ve been reflecting on some of my fathering influences and how they impact my own fathering today. Special days like Father’s Day provide good opportunities for such things.

Firstly, I had a good father, which is a great start. They say that some good traits in life are “caught not taught” and that rings true when I think of what I learned about living well from my dad. It was less about what he tried to teach us and more about how he moved through the world. He was a strong, calm, and warm presence in our home. He gave little unsolicited advice and when he did speak into our lives, we were ready to listen.

He gave us plenty of space to make our own decisions, which included making our own mistakes. I see a lot of him unconsciously expressed through what I do with my kids now.
Alongside my dad, I also had a bunch of other father figures who I “caught” positive traits off.

As good as my own dad was, he couldn’t be everything to me by way of an example of good manhood or good fathering. No-one can be expected to provide that all themselves. The other good blokes in my life included – Sunday School teachers, camp leaders, youth group leaders, teachers, coaches, mentors etc… These father figures all brought something positive into the mix of my life, and I count myself lucky to have had their guidance through my formative times. I recognise some of these influences in my fathering, and I want to give my boys opportunities to have these kinds of positive influences in their lives.

Another thing I’ve tried to do is keep my eyes and ears open to various conversations around what good fathering might look like these days. I like the more traditional idea of being a good provider, but I’ve also appreciated the movement towards being more hands-on around the family home and in the lives of our children. I do the morning shift in our house, making breakfasts and lunches while the boys get ready for their day. Nothing too deep and meaningful – just good, incidental hang-out time. And across the week, we’ll talk, run, check homework, do chores, shoot hoops, watch shows and eat pies (when mum’s not looking). These times are some of the highlights of my week, and I think they’re good for all of us.

The research into good fathering strongly suggests to me that I’ve been on a good wicket when it comes to fathering influences: a good father, good father figures and access to positive fathering information that has shaped what I do (Fathering Project, 2013). Really, with all that going for me, I haven’t got much of an excuse…

My deep hope is that my boys will look back on what they got from myself and others and value it as I value what I have received from my dad, and the other good blokes in my life. I guess the point is to pass it all forward. I hear people say that one of the reasons we’re blessed is to be a blessing to others. With Father’s Day coming up, that makes as much sense to me as it ever has.

 

About the author…

Steve has over 30 years experience in school, community and church-based youth work. He is currently working as the Training & Development Manager at SU QLD, overseeing teams that deliver training and produce resources for SU QLD staff and volunteers. He holds post-graduate qualifications in Social Work, Politics & Government, and Christian Studies.

 

 

 

How Fathers and Father Figures Can Shape Child Health and Wellbeing (2013) – https://thefatheringproject.org/fpwp/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/New-Fathering-Research.pdf

Posted: 3/09/2020

Why Can’t Turtles Sing? Using Questions to Grow Kids

Kids under school age ask as many as 200-300 questions per day*. Young children live a life filled with a level of curiosity that appears to evaporate as they…

Kids under school age ask as many as 200-300 questions per day*. Young children live a life filled with a level of curiosity that appears to evaporate as they mature.

Answering questions is a vital part of parenting.

Asking questions is an equally important element of parenting and a tool that stimulates connection, confidence and critical thinking in our kids – in addition to nurturing curiosity.

Here are a few reasons why I believe questions are such a powerful part of parenting.

 

1. Our questions encourage connection

What do our young people think about current events? What are their hopes, fears and questions? What would they ask God in a face-to-face meeting? Well-formed questions can deepen family connection. At the dinner table, give someone the opportunity to ask a question of everybody else, use purchased conversation cards, or make your own (there are plenty of online resources.) Communicate, “I hear you,” as you attentively listen to each other.

One idea you can do is play ‘Question Ping-Pong’ in the car or on a walk.

The rules are simple – Two people take turns asking each other questions. No butting in, and a valid answer to any question may simply be, “I would like another question please.”

Genuine questions and deep listening connect people.

 

2. Our questions can arouse curiosity

For a time, I had the privilege of regular nursing home visits with some twelve-year-olds. Each week, question cards facilitated conversation and storytelling.

Thelma was an elderly resident who had undergone the amputation of both legs. While initially, the kids were cautious to speak with her, affection towards Thelma quickly developed.

As part of a post-visit conversation a few weeks in, one of the girls stated, “Once you get to know Thelma, you forget what she looks like because she is so lovely.”

My heart soared.

Genuine curiosity followed by engagement had dissolved the fear of difference and enabled beautiful, mutual connection.

Will Wise in the book Ask Powerful Questions claims there is a “national curiosity deficit that fuels division, separation and prevents us from building trusting, healthy connections.”

Can we wonder with our kids about people, their stories and what lies beneath the visible? Can we model and promote openness, humility and genuine curiosity?

 

3. Our questions can inspire confidence

“How did school go today?” was my query one time as I ‘ubered’ my daughter from school to netball. Her response gripped my parent-heart.

“Imogen and Mia wouldn’t let me play with them today. Nobody likes me.”

I want to side with my daughter and tell those so-called friends what I think of them. I wish I could rescue her from the pain of rejection and yet, as I respond, can I consider the long term?

I need to breathe, empathise, and later ask questions that empower rather than reinforce a victim mentality.

Questions that encourage problem solving communicate, “I believe you’ve got this.” What would you like to see happen? How could you approach this? How can I support you with your plan?

And as a check-in after the next day, “How did you go?” rather than a problem-centred, “Did they exclude you again?”

Maybe in the future, that solution-focused thinking will transfer to confidence in facing the challenges of adulthood.

 

4. Our questions can promote critical thinking

“I don’t believe in God,” “I don’t want to go to church,” (or some other statement of objection to a deeply valued belief), can hook our parent-hearts into reacting rather than responding.

Once again, well thought through questions and appropriate timing may just be the parenting tool we need. If we can still our beating hearts long enough to listen without defensiveness to this exploration of personal values, we might ask, “What led you to that conclusion?” “What have you seen, experienced or read that makes you think that?”

Once again, with the long- term view in mind, a parent who can facilitate this questioning with openness, can encourage their young person to deeply consider their own worldview rather than overreact to a reacting parent.

Attentive listening could provide an opening to be heard at some point and an apology for reacting, a reset and another conversation opportunity.

 

So why can’t a turtle sing?

Have you ever considered that maybe they can sing and the real question is “Why can’t we hear them?”

Many of life’s big questions, including those about current world events, will never have easy answers. Maybe together with our kids, we could consider alternate questions.

Intentionally using purposeful questions as a parenting tool could serve to deepen our family connections, in addition to developing the capacity for curiosity, compassion, confidence and critical thinking.

 

About the Author…

Andrea is a former secondary school teacher and counsellor. She has worked as a school chaplain for over 19 years and now also serves part-time on SU QLD’s Children and Youth Program Team, delivering training and professional development to chaplains and youth workers. Andrea and her husband are parents to three adult children and grandparents to two.

 

*Warren Berger, A More Beautiful Question

Posted: 27/08/2020

Lessons from a COVID wedding

In addition to lockdowns, panic buying, border closures and everything else COVID has thrust onto our society, it’s also threatened many of our special occasions we may have once…

In addition to lockdowns, panic buying, border closures and everything else COVID has thrust onto our society, it’s also threatened many of our special occasions we may have once taken for granted.

From mourning the loss of a loved one, to celebrating the big milestones in life – births, birthdays and graduations – COVID has seemingly left no stone unturned. In my case, it was my wedding.

Planning a wedding is never easy. Planning a wedding during COVID is an emotional rollercoaster with no promise of when or how it will end.

With restrictions constantly changing, we were constantly adjusting and sacrificing for what was supposed to be one of the most amazing days of our lives. We reduced our guest list, cancelled our reception and honeymoon, and moved our wedding date forward.

We had everything planned in March for our April wedding. We’d accepted it would be smaller than we’d hope for. With restrictions getting tighter, we cancelled our April wedding and moved the date forward to the closest weekend.

Everything was locked in for the coming Saturday – just four days away. Within a few hours, restrictions for weddings were reduced from 100 people to just five. We were no longer able to even have both sets of parents there. So again, we cancelled.

This was the part of the roller coaster ride where you’re tempted to just get off. I give up COVID – you win.

We had no control over when we could start planning and rescheduling our wedding and when we could finally start our lives together. Instead of getting off the roller coaster, we stayed the course and set a new date for October.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. The news had just broken of a possible outbreak in Queensland. Once again our plans were in jeopardy.

We didn’t want to make the same mistake again and decided to get married in a week’s time. Last Saturday, we got married!! 3rd time lucky!!

Here are 4 things I learned organising a wedding during COVID.

1. Take control in a world of uncertainty
There are so many things we cannot control – even more so during a global pandemic. Instead of waiting, we took control and got married while we still could.

2. Importance of family and friends
It’s incredible to reflect on the amazing family, friends and church community you have in your life. We could not have organised a wedding in one week without everyone banding together. The community of friends and family around you are so important.

3. Celebrate in hard times
In times of struggle and suffering, it’s important to still focus on celebrating the good things in life – like a wedding. The response from our guests and from the public when they saw me wearing my dress was wonderful. “It’s so lovely to see something good happening in this time of suffering” and “Exactly what I wanted to see in such a sad time,” were just a few of the comments we heard.

4. The importance of marriage over wedding
COVID has helped changed my perspective on what’s important to have in your wedding, such as the vows we made to each other before God, and the presence of our close family and friends. We didn’t need the most expensive wedding, the perfect decorations, or the biggest party. We are thankful for the small but important things. We still had our wedding ceremony with 50 people. We had a wedding cake and celebrated at the end of the day with a BBQ in the backyard. To top it all off, we had our first dance underneath our Hills Hoist covered in lights.

We’ve learned so much from organising a COVID wedding, but I guess the most important lesson of all has been to never taking anything – big or small – for granted. And while at times you may feel that the roller coaster ride you’re on is in control of you, remember God can still control your roller coaster. Just trust Him.

 

About the author…

Jane has been involved with SU Camps and Community Outreaches for 15 years. She has experience as working as a chaplain and has a background in nursing. Jane currently works as the Camp Specialist for SU QLD, overseeing the camps and missions across Queensland.

Posted: 20/08/2020

Twenty Ideas to Connect Kids with Nature

We loved this sheet of ideas you can use to engage children and young people with the beauty of nature that is all around them! Some of the ideas…

We loved this sheet of ideas you can use to engage children and young people with the beauty of nature that is all around them!

Some of the ideas include…

  • Follow a trail of ants back to their home
  • Go for a night walk under the stars
  • Warm stones in the oven (carefully!) then draw on them with crayons and find out what happens!

Click here to access the full list: https://www.unitingearth.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Nature-Connection-Resource-FINAL.pdf

Posted: 17/08/2020

Taking a positive approach to parenting (and grandparenting) – by Professor Matt Sanders

There’s one type of family conflict that’s very common, but not often discussed in the media: parents and grandparents disagreeing. Fortunately, the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program® can…

There’s one type of family conflict that’s very common, but not often discussed in the media: parents and grandparents disagreeing. Fortunately, the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program® can offer some new ways to handle the problem. 

Commonly, conflict between parents and grandparents occurs when: 

  • Grandparents give the child extra treats or toys even when Mum or Dad has said “no”.  They may even feel that it’s their right to do so because day-to-day discipline is no longer their responsibility, and because they’re taking on some care duties. Parents may be surprised – especially comparing what they see now with their own memories of a stricter upbringing. 
  • Grandparents want to pass on their wisdom and experience in the form of frequent suggestions, but this can seem to the parent like constant criticism. Most parents don’t like unsolicited advice and therefore may not respond well.

Parents may feel annoyed and frustrated, or even disrespected, if grandparents don’t agree with their methods of child-rearing. And grandparents may feel upset because they’re just trying to be helpful, and want the best for their family.

It may be a relief to know you’re not the only one dealing with these kinds of problems. And there are ways to bridge some of the communication and expectation gaps, and help bring everyone onto common ground when it comes to managing children’s behaviour.

In a trial of a special Triple P program for grandparents, participants reported lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress, and (not surprisingly) fewer grandchild behaviour problems. Grandparents also said they felt more confident when having conversations about delicate parenting topics with parents, and this resulted in a better relationship with their own (adult) children.  

Adjusting to new roles takes time for everyone. A step in the right direction is to think about all doing a parenting course together, (parents and grandparents), to help everyone to agree on the basic issues. 

The Queensland Government is currently funding free access to Triple P across Queensland. Programs available include one-to-one, group, online and self-help. Check the Triple P parent site for more information: www.triplep-parenting.net 

* Many school chaplains are trained to deliver Triple P in Queensland schools. ISo If this is something you’re interested in, check with your local school chaplain to find out if they are a qualified Triple P trainer. 

Posted: 11/08/2020

Fairness, shame and racism – how Covid-19 fears are stoking a dangerous fire

I’m not sure about other families, but my children definitely have a finely tuned sense of what is fair and what is not. “His slice of pizza is bigger…

I’m not sure about other families, but my children definitely have a finely tuned sense of what is fair and what is not. “His slice of pizza is bigger than mine!” “Why do I have to go to bed earlier than her?” “But I cleaned up after dinner last night!”

As parents we are constantly under pressure to make sure each child is being treated with complete fairness.

Last week we heard the news here in Queensland that three young ladies were found to have caught the Covid-19 virus in Melbourne, and then lied about their whereabouts when returning home. Naturally this put the state under great pressure to ensure we didn’t see a surge in the pandemic locally.

Soon after the identity of the girls was released, with their photos and names shown on the frontpage of our state newspaper, under the headline “Enemies of the State”, there was no hiding. They had done wrong and they had put us all at risk.

After the images and names were released, the comments on social media started rolling in thick and fast.

In these extraordinary times, when emotions are high, it was no surprise to see these young women recieve a lot of criticism. Sadly, it was also no surprise that the women, who happened to be of African heritage, started receiving a steady stream of vitriolic comments based on their race, which had nothing to do with their actions.

When I checked in with a Sudanese friend he confirmed that he and others of African heritage were having to cope with hurtful comments, as a result of the actions of these three women. He said “It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.” No it is certainly not fair!

We call it racism, when people are treated unfairly because of their skin colour or background.

One of the rules I have adopted in learning how to engage well with people of a different background, culture or faith than my own is: Do not judge a person by what other people of their faith or community do.

This reminder helps me to look at a person and acknowledge that while they may come from a people group who share some similarities, they are also unique and special, and need to be treated as an individual.

So yes it is right that someone is challenged and held accountable for their actions. This is justice, and if they have done the wrong thing they need to receive the consequences. That is fair.

However it is not fair to then transfer their behaviour onto all other people who look like them. Personally, I do not represent all men, or all Christians, or even all coffee-drinking-Brisbane-dwelling-right-handed-amateur-runner-Christian-men. So I should not need to answer for the actions of another person who shares any of my traits – be they spiritual, physical, cultural or otherwise.

Let us take steps to overcome the temptation to fall into racism or any other -ism that doesn’t see a person for their inherent value as an individual created by a loving God. And let’s help our children do the same.

About the author…

Tim works in Cross-Cultural Innovations for SU, seeking to foster vibrant ministry with people of minority cultures and other faiths. Prior to this Tim spent 8 years with The Feast in the UK, engaging youth of different faiths, and 10 years in various roles with SU Qld.

Posted: 7/08/2020

Leading through change and raising up the next generation

As a young SU Camper I recall looking up to my camp leaders as people I wanted to be like one day. They inspired me in my faith and…

As a young SU Camper I recall looking up to my camp leaders as people I wanted to be like one day. They inspired me in my faith and encouraged me to grow and develop my skills to one day lead others as they once led me.

A few weeks ago I was reminded of my own faith and leadership journey as I led a group of young people who were the children of the leaders I once looked up to. I was reminded of the legacy their parents passed on to me.

As Christian leaders we are called to serve those we lead and to empower them to carry on the legacy that was laid down for us so future generations can be blessed.

In this year where we’ve come to expect the unexpected, I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned about leading through change and equipping the next generation. I hope you find my experience and learnings helpful for you in your own journey.

Earlier this year I faced the challenge of not being able to run one of our most popular training events – an event that has been running for 40 years. Covid meant we couldn’t run the event as a ‘traditional camp’ – we had to adapt and move online.

Here are some of the things I learnt along this journey…

  1. It’s important to partner with excited people: When I suggested the opportunity to the senior leadership group of running a virtual program, it quickly became evident some were excited and others not. Rather than try and take everyone on the journey, I gave freedom to the group to either join the journey or jump off and what was left were those passionate about doing something new.
  2. Enthusiasm is magnetic: The passion of this group of leaders brought their peers on the journey. It was so encouraging to watch them bring together a team of people and show them how their existing excitement could be applied to a new environment. The leaders were not only taking an opportunity to lead but bringing others into the space with them
  3. Model Faithfulness: My role was to get out of the way of the programming and take on the enabling role. I was guiding a team full of ideas, my role could be to look at ways for them to outwork these ideas and then throw in some suggestions when appropriate.
  4. Pressure creates great disciples”: We were doing something brand new and let’s be honest not everything went to plan. What was so encouraging is that along the entire journey, everyone was willing to adapt to change and accept there would be some bumps in the process. Mark Sayers says “Pressure creates great disciples” and trying something new certainly puts everyone in leadership under pressure and prompts a reliance on God.
  5. Honour the builders: In the midst of so much change, I was challenged to acknowledge the people who built the foundation for these young leaders. I was able to invite parents and supporters of our new generation of leaders to hear their excitement about what was happening now in their young people, but also thank and acknowledge their time and leadership before that helped shape the young leaders in the room.

In a season of change, there is so much potential for us to allow a younger generation to step in and be the leaders of something new. My experience of the last three months is there is great fruit in getting out of their way and guiding them on their journey.

About the author…

Beavs is a former High School Maths and Christian Education Teacher who has been working and volunteering with SU QLD Camps for almost 20 years. As Camps Specialist he supports volunteers and chaplains run camps and community outreach events throughout Queensland, reaching over 4500 young people. Beavs is married with 3 children, and loves coffee and watching sport.

Posted: 30/07/2020

The Lens – a free Bible study from Morling College

Have you ever wished you could study the Bible in depth without formal study? Morling College believes in making biblical foundations available to everyone who wishes to deepen their…

Have you ever wished you could study the Bible in depth without formal study? Morling College believes in making biblical foundations available to everyone who wishes to deepen their understanding of God and the Bible outside a formal setting. The Lens is a free, online course designed to give you access to the study you desire. The Lens is free, fun and flexible. Simply complete the enrolment form for The Lens and you are ready to get started!

Click here to find out more and register!

https://www.morling.edu.au/apply-now-the-lens/

Posted: 21/07/2020

Things to look forward to after Coronavirus – a children’s e-book

Australian Childhood Foundation has released another e-book entitled “Things to look forward to after Coronavirus” It’s a great, fun read you can do with your children or children you…

Australian Childhood Foundation has released another e-book entitled “Things to look forward to after Coronavirus”

It’s a great, fun read you can do with your children or children you know. Click here to access this free e-book!

https://www.childhood.org.au/app/uploads/2020/04/Things-to-Look-Forward-to-Resource.pdf

Posted: 20/07/2020

How I connected with God through art and nature at Create Camp

My wife, Megan, and I ran an online camp over the Winter holidays called ‘Create Camp’. Megan is an author, illustrator and artist with a passion to connect people…

My wife, Megan, and I ran an online camp over the Winter holidays called ‘Create Camp’.

Megan is an author, illustrator and artist with a passion to connect people to God, the natural world and themselves through art.

Over the three days of the camp, we met online with a small group of young people and leaders to have fun, learn new art techniques, express ourselves through art and reflect on the deeper things of life. In our last session, we asked everyone to show us their art journals and share something about the pieces that were special to them. I was blown away by the creativity of both our campers and leaders and impressed by the depth of their personal reflections.

The idea behind Create Camp is simple…

If we pay attention to our own hearts and to the world around us, we just might discover that there is more going on than we first thought.

Here are some things we learned over our three days together:

Day 1
Megan taught us to stop and pay attention to the natural world around us. She encouraged us to observe the shape, colour, texture and shades of simple natural objects and showed us how to reproduce those things with charcoal and water colours. We were sent out into our local habitats to take notice of it and record, in an arty way, what we found there. We were reminded that nature is the art of God, and more than that, that the good news of God is not just written down in the Bible, but in the trees, flowers, clouds and stars.

Day 2
We added the use of Condy’s crystals, lemon juice and collage to our suite of art techniques. Megan encouraged us to consider the beauty and generosity of nature by reflecting on the endless supply of lemon trees available to us from the seeds of just one lemon. We were reminded of a time when Jesus invited us to consider the ‘lilies of the field’ and the ‘birds of the air’ so that we might understand God’s love, care and provision for us.

Day 3
Megan informed us that in nature, food scraps can be transformed into healthy, rich soil through the natural process of composting. She also taught us that there are no mistakes in art; that every splotch or smear can be redeemed to create new, beautiful, unexpected artworks. These examples prompted us to reflect on God as ‘The Great Recycler’ who doesn’t waste any of our experiences, struggles, failings or mistakes. When we trust God, they can be transformed into beautiful, healthy soil, ready to grow great things in our lives.

On this last day, Megan also taught us how to bind our art pieces together into an art journal. We brought together our finished pieces, our unfinished pieces and even some blank pages. The invitation here was to view our lives as a work-in-progress art journal that includes some beautiful pieces, some not so beautiful pieces (that are not finished with yet), and some pieces not yet begun. The question was posed to us, “What would your life look like if you handed it over to God?”

Well, that’s some of the lessons we learned at Create Camp. We hope that maybe there is something in there for you today…

 

About the author…

Steve has over 30 years experience in school, community and church-based youth work. He is currently working as the Training & Development Manager at SU QLD, overseeing teams that deliver training and produce resources for SU QLD staff and volunteers. He holds post-graduate qualifications in Social Work, Politics & Government, and Christian Studies.

Posted: 16/07/2020

BibleProject Podcast

Have you heard or listened to the BibleProject Podcast? Each episode, hosts Tim and Jon invite you into theological, application-based and honest discussions around certain aspects of, and stories…

Have you heard or listened to the BibleProject Podcast?

Each episode, hosts Tim and Jon invite you into theological, application-based and honest discussions around certain aspects of, and stories in, the Bible.

The podcast can be listened to for free on their website here: https://bibleproject.com/podcasts/the-bible-project-podcast/

Posted: 15/07/2020

A table mat with deep and meaningful questions for family discussions

The guys over at Here2Stay have developed a range of table mats with deep and meaningful questions for families to talk about and discuss over breakfast, lunch or dinner….

The guys over at Here2Stay have developed a range of table mats with deep and meaningful questions for families to talk about and discuss over breakfast, lunch or dinner.

We think this is a great, innovative way to spark some potentially powerful conversations in families.

To download these free tablemat pdf files click here: https://here2stay.org.au/chatmatters/

Posted: 14/07/2020

PrayerMate is a FREE app that brings your prayer points together!

Prayer is an amazing privilege, but it’s also really hard work (the apostle Paul compares it to a wrestling match!) PrayerMate is an award-winning Christian prayer app that seeks…

Prayer is an amazing privilege, but it’s also really hard work (the apostle Paul compares it to a wrestling match!) PrayerMate is an award-winning Christian prayer app that seeks to help you actually pray for all the people and causes you care about.

PrayerMate brings all your prayer points together. Whether it’s your personal prayer points for friends and family, regular updates from some fantastic mission organisations, or the latest PDF prayer letter that just arrived in your inbox, PrayerMate puts it all together in one place and helps you get on and pray.

It’s available for free on iOS and Android. Links below! 🙂

iOS: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/prayermate-quiet-time-organiser/id434815549?mt=8&ls=1

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.geero.prayermate&pcampaignid=MKT-Other-global-all-co-prtnr-py-PartBadge-Mar2515-1

Posted: 13/07/2020

Guardians of Ancorda – free app game for children that brings the Bible to life!

Guardians of Ancora is a free-to-download game for children that brings the stories of the Bible to life. It is an amazing, free tool that you can use to…

Guardians of Ancora is a free-to-download game for children that brings the stories of the Bible to life. It is an amazing, free tool that you can use to engage children with the Bible in an exciting new way.

This e-book is filled with ideas on how you can use Guardians of Ancora for family faith building time – or just enjoying time together.

Click here to download the game, access the e-book and find out more! https://content.scriptureunion.org.uk/resource/guardians-ancora-family-activity-bank

Posted: 10/07/2020

How to build resilience into our children from a young age

Resilience (noun): the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity (Dictionary.com) This definition of resilience resonates with me….

Resilience (noun): the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity (Dictionary.com)

This definition of resilience resonates with me. It’s action-based, visual and doesn’t sound like it comes from a psychology textbook.

My time in school chaplaincy has given me the opportunity to meet many young people who have been ‘bent, compressed and stretched’ by life’s circumstances. Some amaze me with their ability to recover from adversity, wiser, stronger and more competent. There are also children with seemingly ideal lives who are not yet managing to deal with the more commonplace “stretching” that life provides.

While resiliency (or lack of) is the subject of many discussions in school communities, the good news is that resilience can be learned – and where better to learn about it than at home.

To develop resilience our offspring (notice the word spring) need to hear about it, see it modelled, and have the opportunity to practice with support. You don’t really notice the difference between a length of elastic and a piece of string until some stretching is attempted.

Karl Ronke’s three-zone approach to learning is helpful as we consider developing resilience. We can view the process of learning life skills as a set of three concentric circles, the Comfort Zone, the Stretch Zone and the Panic Zone.

The inner circle, the Comfort Zone, is ‘known territory’ and relatively challenge-free. There is no “bending, compressing or stretching.” It’s an important space in which to do some, but not all of life – as keeping kids protected, happy and comfortable at all costs is not doing them any favours.

Rarely does the God of the Bible go before His people to ensure everything is smooth and easy; the epic stories of faith did not take place in a relaxed, suburban lounge room. When we rescue too much or protect too much, we disempower young people.

In the Stretch Zone we learn, grow, interact with the unfamiliar, and experience challenges. This space calls for initiative, risk-taking and introduces the potential failure. Allowing or encouraging our children to be in this zone, at a level suited to their age, can empower them. Sometimes we do more by doing less.

When a child is struggling and growing, we need to be cheering them on and validating their emotions. Supporting children through uncomfortable feelings and acknowledging their difficulty communicates both love and confidence. Stepping out can be celebrated even if the result looks like failure.

After a period of stretching, our kids need to return to the Comfort Zone to rest. Appropriate time in the stretch zone develops confidence and resilience because too much stretching will take anyone to the Panic Zone.

In the Panic Zone, stretching is beyond manageable to the point of inducing fear and a sense of being overwhelmed. We can put our families there, through unrealistic expectations, overscheduling and not planning to play, laugh, eat and sleep well. There is simply not much space to recover when life is overcrowded.

Sometimes however, life involves a huge amount of stretching – ending up in the Panic Zone is unavoidable. When we find ourselves in this space, there are some important things to remember. Resilience is a team sport – it’s about community and has potential for growing our faith. A significant study by Werner, found that connection with religious beliefs provided stability and meaning in times of adversity.

There is no doubt that parenting is a high wire balancing act – and one of the challenges is to prepare our children for the inevitable ‘bending, compressing and stretching’ that life will throw their way.

With God’s help, let’s empower the next generation by teaching them resilience. Let’s build spring in our offspring.

 

About the author…

Andrea is a former secondary school teacher and counsellor. She has worked as a school chaplain for over 19 years and now also serves part-time on SU QLD’s Children and Youth Program Team, delivering training and professional development to chaplains and youth workers. Andrea and her husband are parents to three adult children and grandparents to two.

 

*Karl Rohnke developed the zone model from the Yerkes-Dodson law (1908), which explored the relationship between performance and arousal.

*Werner, E. E. (2005). What can we learn about resilience from large scale longitudinal studies? In S. Goldstein & R. Brooks (Eds.), Handbook of resilience in children (pp. 91 -106). New York: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Posted: 9/07/2020

Daily Bible Notes from Scripture Union UK

Did you know Scripture Union UK release daily bible reading devotionals? They’re full of great bible verses, notes and reflections – as well as questions to ponder as you…

Did you know Scripture Union UK release daily bible reading devotionals?

They’re full of great bible verses, notes and reflections – as well as questions to ponder as you start your day.

There’s also a Facebook group where you can discuss each day’s devotion with a community of like-minded followers of Christ.

Click here to read the daily bible devotional for today! https://content.scriptureunion.org.uk/wordlive/

Posted: 7/07/2020

The Lumo Project – the four gospels in feature movie format

Redefining the standard of visual biblical media, LUMO is a visual translation of the four Gospels produced to engage people with scripture in a new way. Taking each of…

Redefining the standard of visual biblical media, LUMO is a visual translation of the four Gospels produced to engage people with scripture in a new way. Taking each of the New Testament Gospels unedited and unabridged as the script, LUMO offers four feature-length films with breathtaking visuals to paint an authentic portrait of the life of Christ. These stunningly innovative films, currently available in dozens of languages, are easily adapted for a global audience.

To check it out, click here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjiDMt6Lm1jYQvSp4BROWVw/featured

Posted: 6/07/2020

Living well with different neighbours

In 2010, I relocated with my wife Merryn and two-year-old daughter Rosie to Birmingham in the UK. We moved to join a new ministry called The Feast, which was…

In 2010, I relocated with my wife Merryn and two-year-old daughter Rosie to Birmingham in the UK. We moved to join a new ministry called The Feast, which was founded by SU England and Wales.

The goal of The Feast is to foster and encourage dialogue among young people across religions and ethnicities. I was so excited to join this movement, which is about celebrating differences, collaborating together and authentically learning from one another.

Little did I know that the opportunity to “love my neighbour” would present itself so soon!

Our family found a terrace house to rent in Chestnut Road; a suburb where around 70% of the population were devout Muslims from Pakistan. I must confess, we were a little nervous about moving into the neighbourhood and wondered if we would be accepted.

On the day we moved in, our next door neighbour (whose front door was literally 1m from our own), came out to welcome us. Her name was Rosie Hussain, and she told us she was so happy to meet us and was glad we had chosen this street to live in. This was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Over the next eight years, Rosie and her extended family proved to be the most incredible neighbours. They lavishly blessed us with gifts of food. Rosie’s husband, Jumshed, serviced our car, they invited us to celebrate Eid with them and joined us for Christmas. What’s more, their kids became best friends with ours’. It was a special time.

Back in April of this year, when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its scariest, the whole world seemed to be talking about togetherness. Sadly, this unity has not lasted. We’ve recently seen the ugly depths of our social divisions.

The human race is made up of immense variety. Every single person is unique and special, and I believe, hand-crafted by a creator God.

We know as Christians we are called to love all people, regardless of our differences. But talk is cheap. We are called to put these words into action. In the case of Rosie and her family, it was easy for me. They welcomed us into their home and their hearts. I learned so much from the Hussains about what Jesus meant when he asked us to love our neighbour – and I am so thankful for that season.

The challenge is, how do we still follow this call to love our neighbour when others do not welcome us, or even persecute us? Or how do we love those who make us feel uncomfortable?

The Good Samaritan is a well known story which Jesus told to help his followers grapple with this teaching. The Samaritan man reached out his hand to help his neighbour at a time of great need. He did so, despite knowing that the man he helped most likely despised him for no other reason than his ethnicity.

For my good friend Rosie and her family, they reached out their hands in friendship to my family and I, despite our differences. They reached out, not knowing how we would respond, and yet they did anyway – and I’ve not been the same since.

The way forward with racism is complex, and I feel I could never capture all my thoughts in a single blog post. Instead, my hope is that a personal story with reflection on personal change will inspire you to learn, listen and understand more about the cross-cultural turmoil and unconscious prejudice across our society today.

 

About the author…

Tim works in Cross-Cultural Innovations for SU, seeking to foster vibrant ministry with people of minority cultures and other faiths. Prior to this Tim spent 8 years with The Feast in the UK, engaging youth of different faiths, and 10 years in various roles with SU Qld.  

Posted: 3/07/2020

Shiny Ordinary Family Moments – a children’s book

The Australian Childhood Foundation have produced a beautiful e-book for children in the midst of Covid-19. It’s called ‘Shiny Ordinary Family Moments.’ Click here to access a pdf version…

The Australian Childhood Foundation have produced a beautiful e-book for children in the midst of Covid-19. It’s called ‘Shiny Ordinary Family Moments.’

Click here to access a pdf version of the story: https://www.childhood.org.au/app/uploads/2020/05/ShinyMoments.pdf

Posted: 29/06/2020

Lost Sheep Stories

Lost Sheep is a fantastic website full of stories, activities and resources for families, churches and children! To find out more, click here: https://www.lostsheep.com.au/

Lost Sheep is a fantastic website full of stories, activities and resources for families, churches and children!

To find out more, click here: https://www.lostsheep.com.au/

Posted: 24/06/2020

What is Family Space?

Family Space is a resource-based website that’s all about nurturing the family unit.

Our mission is to equip, empower and nurture family households and church families across Australia.

Family Space seeks to support children, teenagers, parents and churches through practical resources, activities and expert advice.

We’re all about nurturing healthy families and creating healthy communities.

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