Chappy turns back the clock to bring hope during covid

The days of writing and receiving letters via the post hold fond memories for many, but for our young generation the practice is quite a novelty. When lockdowns and…

The days of writing and receiving letters via the post hold fond memories for many, but for our young generation the practice is quite a novelty.

When lockdowns and learning from home became the norm earlier in the year, Chappy Sam in Rockhampton thought this would be the perfect time to resurrect this practice and show personalised care to the families in her community.

Through your support, chappies like Sam have been supporting communities in need right through the uncertainty of COVID-19. Thank you!

Chappy Sam teamed up with the school’s Guidance Officer Mel, to send well-being packs to students and their families.

“We’ve had a lot of disasters in our region over the past couple of years – floods, fires, you name it. In the middle of times of stress and trauma, it’s important to remind people there’s help available and there’s people you can turn to,” says Chappy Sam.

“Mel and I wanted to do something that would bring a smile to the kids’ faces. The packs we sent out had a letter to the parents, a recipe, some online dance activities, a mental health guide, some breathing techniques and a postcard for the kids with stickers and a balloon.”

“I sent about 500 packs between my two schools – it took about a week to put it all together! We had a lot of positive feedback from teachers and parents, saying they felt really cared for, which was awesome to hear.”

Mum of three, Kathryn, says she was so grateful to have her school chappy.

“Our family has had a really rough year and without the help from Chappy Sam I don’t think we would have made it through. My kids rave about Chappy – she makes each one of them feel special,” says Kathryn.

Kathryn’s middle daughter, Izzabella, says she was excited to receive the care package because it took her mind off what was happening in the world around her.

School chaplaincy is about modelling the love and compassion of Jesus by helping those in need, and connecting people to community.

When familiar things are taken away and our young people are feeling out of place, it’s important to remind them they are not alone.

Thanks to your continuous support, chaplains like Sam are looking out for our young people.

To help others receive the unconditional support of a school chaplain, head to suqld.org.au/donate

Posted: 16/11/2020

Why do I celebrate NAIDOC Week?

As a non-Indigenous Australian man, I confess to being a little nervous about penning a blog post about NAIDOC Week, which runs from 8-15 November this year (later than…

As a non-Indigenous Australian man, I confess to being a little nervous about penning a blog post about NAIDOC Week, which runs from 8-15 November this year (later than the usual July dates due to COVID-19). This time is about our First Nations people, and I feel a little like an intruder.

Standing for “National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee”, NAIDOC has its roots in the 1920s and 1930s as a protest against the status and treatment of our Indigenous peoples. Nowadays the week – which sometimes extends over the month – is a celebration of the history, culture and achievements of these First Australians.

So while with trepidation, I am also embracing the chance to reflect on why I personally believe NAIDOC Week is so special and why we all need it:

1. First Australians have had and continue to have unfair struggles

Sadly my starting point is the disparity between life experiences of First Australian peoples compared to the majority of us from non-Indigenous backgrounds. The statistics are shocking, necessitating a national government policy called, strikingly, “Closing the Gap”. Just a couple of the stats include:

  • A child death rate of 146 per 100,000 for Indigenous children, compared to 70 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous children – twice as high!*
  • Life expectancy of 71.6 years and 75.6 years for Indigenous males and females, compared to 80.2 and 83.4 years for non-Indigenous males and females – a gap of 8.6 and 7.8 years!** However in 2018, the median age at death for Indigenous Australians was 60, compared with 82 for non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged between 15 and 24 are almost four times more likely to commit suicide than non-Indigenous people the same age.***

These numbers are only a small part of the picture, and do not include challenges like rates of incarceration, deaths in custody, low levels of education, and the general blight of racism. These are unfair and not right.

However – this is not the whole picture! Despite these sobering realities I do not see our Indigenous peoples as victims and helpless pawns forever defeated by history. There are many other reasons to celebrate NAIDOC Week.

2. First Australian have an amazing culture

Australia is a unique country in the world, marked by a rich, vibrant and unique contribution from our First Australian peoples. No one else has their didgeridoos and boomerangs, art and dance, dreamtime stories and connection to country.

I have to confess that my perspective on this comes from my own experience of having grown up in an Indigenous community, and from having lived overseas and missing home, but I still feel a sense of pride whenever First Australians are represented in the image we project to the world. I feel a sense that this beautiful and ancient culture is ours, and we’re so blessed to have it.

3. First Australians have much to teach us, to build a better Australia

As someone who is wired to rush through life, being busy and productive and ticking off my never ending to-do list, I admire and quite honestly envy our First Australians’ approach to life. In fact, I find myself becoming a student of their values and rhythms, and reckon they hold powerful truths we could all benefit from.

One of these is asking “who is your mob?” where they cherish the past, our roots and the people who we come from, and so intentionally recognise our cultural identity. We are not islands but connected to our ancestors, and knowing this is invaluable to establishing where we fit in now and how we will see and build the future.

Another priceless lesson is their practice of yarning or conversation, where they take the time to sit down and talk, to tell stories, to listen and to learn from each other, and together work out solutions. My nature fights this, but as I practice this discipline I start to see different solutions and experience different feelings of what progress might be.

4. First Australians are people like me

The Bible tells me that God made all people and that each is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), and Jesus tells me that I should “love my neighbour as I love myself” (Mark 12:31). My First Australian neighbours were made by God just like I was, and each have hopes and dreams and fears and struggles just like I do.

However as a tiny minority (less than 3% of our population) their voice is small. Every single one of us have at times experienced being the odd one out, the newbie, the exception to the group – and know how good it is when we are included, when we are invited into the whole and made to feel special.

Like on our birthday when our family and friends celebrate us being born, NAIDOC Week is a special time to lift up and honour our First Australians.

May NAIDOC Week be a step, together, for all Australians to better understand each other, to revel in and learn from each other, for every week of the year. And like in any relationship, we need to acknowledge the hurts and the misunderstandings, but also to be open to being changed and having our perspective widened.

I know I’d like that, so that is what I seek for my First Australian friends and countrymen. In fact, it’s what I would like to see for our nation, and even our world.

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.  

 

*  [Indigenous child mortality and life expectancy] https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/ed34c67c-e1aa-4d4f-9ff2-366ea6f27b52/aihw-aus-221-chapter-6-3.pdf.aspx

** [Indigenous life expectancy and deaths – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare] https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/indigenous-life-expectancy-and-deaths)

*** [Suicide rate for Indigenous Australians remains ‘distressingly high’ | NITV] https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/nitv-news/article/2019/09/26/suicide-rate-indigenous-australians-remains-distressingly-high

Posted: 12/11/2020

Make Empathy Great Again

A presidential campaign and election in a country far, far away has been dominating our news feeds.  Amidst the drama of this world-impacting, democratic process, you may have missed…

A presidential campaign and election in a country far, far away has been dominating our news feeds.  Amidst the drama of this world-impacting, democratic process, you may have missed a less publicised movement.  Make Empathy Great Again, commenced in the lead up to the 2016 US election and is a small, but expanding movement/operation. Both campaigns aim to make a difference. I wonder if we were to compare the potential long-term outcomes, which would be the most world changing?   

You may ask whether empathy ever stopped being great or has it just disappeared from view. In the Gonski-Growing Up Digital Study*, 80% of the almost 2000 Australian teachers and school leaders surveyed, reported student empathy has declined over the last five years.  This statistic means the majority of our country’s classrooms and playgrounds have been impacted. In a time when our young people would benefit from more rather than less understanding, maybe it’s time to Make Empathy Great Again.

Empathy is the ability to feel with someone, it’s about creating connection that leads to compassion.  It’s a skill that can be modelled and taught to young children and according to Brene Brown*, also mastered in adulthood.  It is different from sympathy, which is feeling sorry for someone else.  Empathy improves relationships, reduces conflict and is essential for good leadership. 

Screen time is up, face-to-face time is down. Competition has become a lifestyle, and our culture of offence and blame are some of multiple explanations for declining empathy.  It’s worth reflecting on these causes, as is Making Empathy Great Again, by modelling, encouraging and deliberately creating opportunities to develop it as part of family life. As in most learning there will be setbacks but practicing empathetic responses can only happen in relationships.

Here are three areas that might be worth focusing on.

In Conversation

The weight of a problem lessens when we sense we have been heard. Being aware of our own feelings and thoughts as we pay attention in conversation is important to really listening.  Being curious without trying to fix someone, recognising and tuning in to the other person’s feelings and checking for meaning can be encouraged in general conversation, after school debriefs and while reading books or watching movies – particularly those with some emotionally charged moments. Modelling and explaining the aspects of empathetic conversation with our kids will give them real tools they can use in relationships outside our homes.  

In Conflict

Conflict is often the reason students visit my chaplaincy room.  Rather than lecturing and expecting reluctant, meaningless apologies, I’ve noticed the transformation that occurs as I start by acknowledging the pain and how difficult it is to get along. Next, I encourage kids to consider how their own feelings may have influenced the way they acted and then I ask them to listen to the perspective and feelings of the other person. Often this leads to the realisation that they were actually trying to achieve the same thing.

I must admit smiling (internally), as two teary, fighting girls, realised that they both simply wanted to be accepted and valued.  They voluntarily offered, “I am sorry I called you a Ranga.”  “I am sorry I called you a Monobrow.”

As a parent, I realise the times I have blamed or lectured my kids for fighting with their siblings may not have been the empathetic modelling they needed.

In Connection

Jesus spoke about inviting those in need to our dinner table. This could be the elderly neighbour, the family with a different cultural background, or the isolated single parent of the “class behaviour problem,” among others. When we have opened up our home, I have at times, struggled with my own attitude while simultaneously learning from people who I presumed had not much to teach me.  I have fielded complaints from my kids, “Do they have to come over?” It has at times been inconvenient and out of my comfort zone and it has grown empathy.

In Romans, Paul wrote, bless those who persecute you—bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another; do not be proud, but associate with the lowly. It sounds like a way to Make Empathy Great Again!

 

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.

 

References

Gonski Institute – Growing Up Digital Report, (2020)

Brene Brown – Dare to Lead, (2018)

Posted: 5/11/2020

Halloween – Finding Light in the Darkness

Halloween is a big deal in my community. Each year, we have a huge Halloween community event, with a parade, performances, rides and food. It’s easily the biggest event…

Halloween is a big deal in my community. Each year, we have a huge Halloween community event, with a parade, performances, rides and food. It’s easily the biggest event in our local calendar. But this hasn’t always been the case. The enthusiasm for Halloween seems to have grown quite dramatically over the last few decades in our area.

I remember when I was in Year 7 (almost 40 years ago now), I went trick or treating up and down the street with my friend and most people weren’t prepared for us at all, with many having no idea that it actually was Halloween night. We didn’t fare that well in terms of treats and I don’t think we played any tricks. We didn’t bother heading out the following year…

Halloween’s origins are believed to go all the way back to a Celtic festival that celebrated both the harvest and the change of season towards the colder, darker half of the year. It was believed that during this night, the boundary between the physical and spiritual worlds would blur, resulting in heightened interactions between the living and the dead.

The festival morphed over time, influenced particularly by the Roman Empire and the Christian Church in the early centuries of the Common Era, but it’s clear that certain elements from these early expressions have stayed with us up until this day, for example, people might not wear disguises today to evade the dead’s trickery, but they still enjoy a good, spooky dress-up.

It’s been a long time since Halloween has been taken seriously as a genuine commemoration of the blurring lines between the physical and spiritual worlds.

For well over a century now, it’s been considered more of a community holiday where people get together for a party, to eat too much junk food and to freak each other out with spooky costumes, rubber masks and scary costumes. It’s supposed to be fun. I guess that’s why it’s grown in popularity over the past decades.

However, I do know people who aren’t sure about Halloween and whether it’s right to participate in a festival with seemingly such dark and unwholesome themes.

I have some sympathy for that view. I don’t love Halloween for some of those same reasons and I don’t usually go out of my way to get involved. But despite myself, I can’t help thinking that Halloween provides an opportunity to look not just at the darkness, but to look through it and see the light on the other side.

There’s a great verse in the Bible that says, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out.” (John 1:15 GNT)

It makes we wonder if I’ve failed to see the light that sits beyond the apparent darkness of my local Halloween celebration. Sure, there’s darkness on the surface. There’s lots of skeletons, zombies and scream masks, and people are certainly enjoying the shock factor in all that. But at the heart of it, people are getting together to have fun with their neighbours and friends. Surely there’s light in all that, brighter than the apparent darkness…?

So, maybe this Halloween, I won’t avoid the big community event like I usually do, even though it’s not my thing and aspects of it don’t sit completely right with me. Maybe I’ll join in and look for the light that is there under the surface. Maybe I’ll even try to be part of the light of the occasion.

I might even dress up.

Perhaps I’ll go as an angel.

Just to be sure…

 

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: 30/10/2020

4 keys for planning your church events during COVID

Spring holidays have always been a busy time for our SU QLD Camps team. Historically, it’s included over 30 events, involving over 2500 participants, volunteers and staff. Our volunteer Event…

Spring holidays have always been a busy time for our SU QLD Camps team. Historically, it’s included over 30 events, involving over 2500 participants, volunteers and staff. Our volunteer Event Directors start planning in April, or earlier, to design programs, form leadership teams and develop spiritual input activities.

So in July this year, when we sat down with directors to present them, at short notice, with our Spring Camps COVID Safe Plan, it came as no surprise that there was a lot of concern and a lot of questions: “Isn’t that going to be a lot of extra work?”, “Will we actually be able to run?”, and “Will kids even come?”

Now that we are on the other side of this year’s Spring camps season, I am pleased and grateful to say, yes, yes and yes to those questions.

We are so thankful for all that everyone did to help make our 24 Spring events happen, involving 1447 people. We’re especially grateful to our Event Directors who, in many cases, went above and beyond what would normally be expected of them.

The comment that I have heard a number of times and keeps coming to me is, “Once all the set up work was done, it was remarkable how normal it felt to run the event.”

Over the course of the last 6 months, words like “pivot”, “unprecedented” and “ever-changing” have become part of our everyday vocabulary. We celebrated when we heard over and over again that our camps felt like the normal special experience they always have been.

So as we enter the fourth quarter of this very strange year, planning for end of year events and events for early 2021, you might have some of the same concerns. You might be asking some of the same questions our Event Directors were asking 3 months ago.

Well, here are a few tips that helped them and just might help your church or youth group’s event planning:

1. Read the Industry Plans or requirements for what you need to do and write up a clear COVID Safe Plan on how they will apply to your context. So many times, when questions came up about what we should be doing, it was great to be able to simply come back to this reference point.

2. If you are the person running the event, find someone else to manage the implementation of your COVID Safe Plan. Your focus should be on the success of your event, not on ensuring everyone has been sanitised at the right times, in the right places.

3. Focus on all the things you can do and don’t fixate on what can’t happen. The experience of everyone getting together will be more important than the feeling of it looking and feeling a bit different.

4. Find someone to be in your corner to answer your questions and be a sounding board. One of my great joys of the last two months has been all the times I was thanked for just being available to help others think through the process and come up with workable solutions.

Whether you are running completely different events or just adjusting existing ones to meet the new requirements, just remember this.

While it may seem like a lot of work now, know that each step in the process is going to be worth it, and people will celebrate getting together at your event.

 

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: 15/10/2020

Spiritual, but not Religious…?

You might know someone who says, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” I’ve heard it plenty of times and it’s fair enough. Some people have had a bad experience of…

You might know someone who says, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.”

I’ve heard it plenty of times and it’s fair enough. Some people have had a bad experience of religion, but still want to hold onto the spirit they hope is sitting somewhere behind it.

But this saying can be a real challenge for those of us who actually are “religious”.

That’s me and it might be you too…

You see, if you identify as a Christian, then almost by definition, you’re religious. If you go to a church, then yep, you’re probably religious too. And if you support SU in some way, then there’s a pretty good chance that you’re religious. We seem to attract religious types. If you work for us or volunteer with us in some way, then we pretty much require you to be religious. You need to belong to a church, to have a pastor who can vouch for you and to be able to sign off on one of the classic Christian creeds. Religious…

So, I’m sorry to say, if you’re reading this blog post, there’s a good chance that you don’t have the luxury of being able to say, hand on your heart, “I’m spiritual, but not religious”… as nice and neat as that might be. People like us have to come up with another saying that more accurately describes our position. Maybe something like, “I’m spiritual and trying to live out some good religion.”

I know that’s a bit clunky and needs some work, but I think it’s on the right track…

There just must be something that we can point to as “good religion”. Something that goes hand-in-hand with, and points directly to, “good spirituality”. And, there must be someone out there who could show us a glimpse of what this might look like.

Well…

On Sunday, earlier this week (4th October), many Christians celebrated “The Feast of St Francis of Assisi”. You may have heard of St Francis. He is possibly the world’s most well-known and popular saint and he is definitely someone who knew about living a good religious life that pointed to a spirituality worth looking into.

St Francis lived in Italy across the 12th & 13th centuries. He is mostly remembered for his generosity to the poor, his love for animals and his close connection to nature. Born into wealth, St Francis walked away from a life of wealth and comfort, to not only live with and serve the poor, but to become poor himself. It is said that he preached to the birds and referred to the sun and moon as his brother and sister. St Francis founded three religious orders that continue to promote reflection, humility, simplicity, generosity, sustainability and reconciliation through their ministries today. He is the patron saint of both animals and the environment and was honoured in 2013 when Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina took his name as his own (anyone heard of Pope Francis?)…

That all sounds pretty religious. But “good” religious…

It seems to me that St Francis was not only just the right shade of crazy, but someone who knew how to practice his religion in such a way as to point people towards a positive and life-giving spirituality. Interestingly, one of the things he did and encouraged his followers to do, was to imitate Jesus Christ as closely, seriously and radically as they possibly could. He chose an excellent role model on which to base his spiritual and religious life.

St Francis is a saint for today. He’s the kind of saint that us religious types should take notice of. You should google him and find out more of what he was about. He was the kind of guy who would say, “I’m spiritual and religious”, and you’d think that was a good thing.

 

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: 9/10/2020

10 tips to build a better church website

For more than two millennia churches reached out to those in need by getting outside the walls of their buildings. In today’s digital age, churches have the opportunity to…

For more than two millennia churches reached out to those in need by getting outside the walls of their buildings. In today’s digital age, churches have the opportunity to reach even more people in need through their online presence – and it starts with your website. With churches moving services online or to a hybrid online/in person model, the need to have a strong digital presence has become more critical than ever.

At SU QLD, our heart is to serve and partner with churches in their mission to their local community. Our friends at R6 Digital, Brisbane’s second largest digital marketing agency, share our heart. It’s why we reached out to Jake Hart, R6 Chief of Design, who shares his top 10 tips for creating your church’s website. 

TIP 1: Establish your look and feel

Before you create/remodel your website you’ll want to establish its look and feel. This means, if you don’t already have a brand guide, you should develop one. This will determine what fonts, colours and high-resolution images you will use for your website. The more work you put into defining your look and feel, the easier it will be to design your site, which will ultimately lead to a better outcome.

TIP 2: Understand your audience

Now you’ve got your look and feel, the next step is knowing who your website is for. Are they first time visitors? Are they people transitioning from one church to another? There’s also your existing members to consider too. By understanding who your potential audience is, you can better plan the content of your site.

 

Keep it simple and easy to digest – Tip 5

 

TIP 3: Ease of navigation is key

This is critical to the effectiveness of your website. While you may want to shout from the rooftops about everything your church is doing and what you have to offer, you don’t want to bamboozle your visitor with too much, too soon. In other words, less is more. Focus on simplicity and user friendliness, which leads in nicely to my next tip…

TIP 4: Give your visitor an experience they’ll come back for

An effective church website, or any website for that matter, is one that focuses on creating an enjoyable, responsive experience for the user, regardless of the platform they use. In other words, your site needs to be flexible enough that it looks and functions equally as well when viewed on a mobile device or on a desktop PC.  

TIP 5: Communicate smartly

Here’s your opportunity to let your potential visitor know who you are and why they would want to join your community. Again, keep it simple and easy to digest. You will want to include: who you are (Our History and Our Team); what you believe (Vision Statement, Ministries and Outreach of the church), and why you do this.

This gives the user a simple, engaging introduction to your church, with enough information for them to get a feel for who you are, how you will support their faith journey, and/or whether they will feel welcomed. 

TIP 6: Don’t use stock images, be authentic

Stock photos might look great, but they’re not you. Your website visitors want to see who you really are. Think of your website like the foyer of your church. What will people see, feel and hear? Show them what they can expect inside.

TIP 7: Show your community involvement

Be sure to include your community outreach programs on your site to inspire visitors to give them a sense of community and purpose.

TIP 8: Use external giving platforms

Ohhhh it’s the uncomfortable bit… we’re talking about money. The reality is the amazing things your church is doing is only possible because of two reasons: God and the faithful giving of your community. It’s why I recommend using external giving platforms like Tithe.ly, EasyTithe, Givelify, PayPal or PushPay. Avoid integrated payment options because it will deter people from making larger investments as these options are potentially less secure.

Inspire the people that visit your website – Tip 7

 

TIP 9: Link your site with your social media

Think of your social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) as a way to funnel people to your website. Post engaging, quality content that is consistent with who you are as a church community (remember Tips 5 and 6) and encourage people to find out more by clicking a link to your website.

TIP 10: Choose the right web CMS for you

While you might be blown away by the bells and whistles that various Content Management Systems (CMS) promise, be sure to pick one that is easy to edit, update and use. You don’t want a system that only the “I.T guy” can make even the most minor changes to.

We hope you find Jake’s tips helpful. If you’d like to find out more about setting up your church’s website, or if you think yours’ could do with a minor tune up, the team at R6 Digital would only be too happy to serve you. Contact them here to start the conversation today!

 

Posted: 6/10/2020

How to build a life giving home

Almost 40 years ago, American author and businessman Alvin Toffler described the view from his kitchen window in this way, “All the old roots – religion, nation, community, family…

Almost 40 years ago, American author and businessman Alvin Toffler described the view from his kitchen window in this way,

“All the old roots – religion, nation, community, family and profession – are now shaking under the hurricane impact of today’s accelerative thrust. In the midst of all this change sits the family – stunned by the shockwaves of novelty, shifting values, and information overload, wondering how they are going to survive. The family has been called the ‘giant shock absorber’ of society. Home is ‘the place to which the bruised and battered individual returns after doing battle with the world, the one stable point in an increasingly flux-filled environment’.”

This is my picture of what family should be – what God intended for families to be.

In a world that is changing at a frenetic pace, where values are being diluted and eroded on a daily basis, all young people need a place of safety and security in which they are enveloped as they make sense of life.

When Marg and I welcomed our firstborn into the world, we talked together about what kind of home we wanted for our children. We had the opportunity to build a home that was shaped by our values and not a house that was shaped by our budget. We wanted a home that would be a safe place where all voices were validated, where anything and everything could be talked about. We wanted a home where we could laugh and cry together, and where our children felt secure in the knowledge that they were a part of a family that would always be there for them.

As followers of Jesus, our greatest hope and desire was that, in this journey, they too would grow a faith that was active and lifelong.

Put simply, our vision was for a life-giving home.

These were easy words to say those many years ago! We certainly didn’t achieve all we strived for, but we are thankful to God that our three children are living out an active faith today. When children are brought into this world through something called labour, this provides a clue of the commitment required of us as parents as we take on the responsibility given to us.

In the fast-paced world of today, when so much of our thinking is shaped by scanning and swiping and reading just 147 characters, I wrote a small 32-page book as a manageable read, to unpack this vision further.

Listen to the chorus of voices in these pages that amplify the urgency to return to the central place where life is formed, celebrated, experienced and matured.

What is proposed is a counter-cultural paradigm shift away from quick-fix solutions and program-centred strategies towards a return to the ancient, God-given priority for growing lifelong, active followers of Jesus.

Read on to find life for both yourself and your home.

Click here to access the 32-page book: Life-Giving Homes TW

 

About the author…

Terry is married to Marg and they have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. His developing gifts are in UNO, LEGO, Monopoly, racing cars, fairies, dinosaurs and Zooper Doopers. Terry is also a specialist in ministry with families and children at Scripture Union Queensland, where he has worked for 36 years.

Posted: 1/10/2020

Former SU Camper now CEO has a heart to reach others with God’s love

Brisbane’s second largest digital marketing agency, R6 Digital, is passionate about using their talents to further the work of Christian ministries like SU QLD.  In fact, for R6 Digital Founder…

Brisbane’s second largest digital marketing agency, R6 Digital, is passionate about using their talents to further the work of Christian ministries like SU QLD. 

In fact, for R6 Digital Founder and CEO, Michael Dogger, his life was profoundly impacted by SU QLD’s camping ministry almost two decades ago when he first attended a technology-centred camp called Übertweak.

“I heard about Jesus and his message of salvation for the first time at Übertweak, and ended up becoming a director for about seven years. During my time as camp director, I met a young man called Sam and fifteen years later he’s now working for me as a programmer!” says Michael. 

And now Michael wants to sow back into the very work that started his own faith journey. 

“As a CEO, I’ve got to be a wise steward of the resources that God’s given me, but when we’re working with ministries like SU we try to do things at a minimal rate,” he says.

“I believe our whole life should be about using the skills God has given us to reach people.”

It’s why R6 Digital is partnering with SU QLD to offer their expertise and software to help us and our ministry partners, particularly churches, improve their digital presence in an increasingly online world. 

Übertweak is all about teaching and challenging high school students in matters of God and technology in a supportive camp community.

In Michael’s experience, many churches think of marketing as almost a dirty word. But it doesn’t need to be, if it’s done right and with the right motivation. 

“Churches are not traditionally very good at marketing, and I’ve realised that churches need to market. I’d almost go so far as to say if we’re not marketing, we’re not fulfilling our calling as the church,” says Michael.

“At its core, sharing Jesus’ love is about reaching those in need. And nowadays people are living their lives online so we need to be there to reach them. Digital marketing means your church comes up when people Google ‘Churches near me.’

R6 Digital recently refreshed Citipointe Church’s website, and they were thrilled with the result. 

“R6 was absolutely fantastic. They were so committed to achieving our goal of having a functional website that had the ability to grow as we did,” says Jess, Head of Graphics at Citipointe Brisbane.

“They didn’t speak in a language that was foreign to us and always took the time to explain and educate us on things so we were well-informed about decisions we had to make.” 

“Our church’s calling is to influence the world for good and for God and we believe that having a strong online presence is a very effective tool in which to do that. R6 really takes the time to find out exactly what your needs are and where you want to grow to. That’s what we loved about them!”

– –

From all of us at SU QLD, we want to say a massive thank you to Michael and his team at R6 Digital for being such a blessing to us. Your heart to use your skills and expertise to make a difference in the lives of others is an inspiration. 

To get in touch with Michael and the R6 Digital team, click here.

Posted: 28/09/2020

Mentoring Matters: 5 keys to help your teens thrive

Close your eyes for a minute and think back to your teen and young adult years… Who were the important people in your life at the time? Who were…

Close your eyes for a minute and think back to your teen and young adult years… Who were the important people in your life at the time? Who were the significant adults in your life?

I was blessed with an abundance of aunts, uncles and family friends who all played important roles in my youth. I have great parents too (*applauds my mum and dad*), but there is a special place in my heart for those grown-ups who didn’t have to invest in my life but chose to anyway.

Research tells us that high-quality relationships are crucial to the development of young teens and young adults. However, 40% of young people report feeling lonely (Search Inst. 2017) and possess one or less relationships they would deem significant (Search Inst. 2017). In a hyper-networked world, teens and young adults lack real relationships, and are at a high risk of not having a significant adult in their life to guide them through the unstable landscape of young adulthood.

In short, teens and young adults need mentors.

When I think about mentoring young people, I am reminded of this little gem from the Bible;

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says; “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Young people in our communities need invested adults to walk beside and guide them through the sitting, walking, laying and rising of life. Mentors for the mundane and monumental.

How does mentoring benefit teens and young adults?

The Search Institute uses the term ‘developmental relationship’ to describe the nature of healthy connection between significant adults (mentors, parents, coaches, teachers, etc.) and young people.

In layman’s terms, a Developmental Relationship is a close connection between a young person and an adult that positively influences the young person to help them thrive.

Through their research they identified three key benefits of these relationships;

  • Help discover identity
  • Help develop capability
  • Help discern purpose.

If you think about the important people in your life during your adolescent years, can you recall how they helped you discover your identity, develop your capabilities, and discern a sense of purpose?

How can I help the teens and young adults in my life?

The Search Institute’s research found five essential components of developmental relationships that benefitted young people the most.

Express Care. Young people don’t just need to be told they matter; they need to be shown. Think of how you can practically demonstrate to a young person that they are valued.

Challenge Growth. Young people need to be encouraged and pushed to keep getting better. Consider how can you encourage a young person to give their best and keep them accountable.

Provide Support. In order to grow, sometimes we need a little help. How could you assist a young person to complete their tasks and achieve their goals (without taking over)?

Share Power. We all want to feel empowered to make decisions and take action in our lives. How could you treat a young person with respect and give them a say in what is happening around and to them?

Expand Possibilities. I don’t know what I don’t know. Can you connect a young person with people, places and experiences that broadens their horizons?

Consider how the significant figures of your teens and young adulthood demonstrated these key elements, and how they impacted your life?

As the African proverb says; it takes a village to raise a child. Mentoring Matters, not just to avoid loneliness, but to assist teens and young adults to thrive on their journey to adulthood.

To read the full Search Institute report click here.

 

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: 24/09/2020

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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