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Made it in safe. They say jet lag is better this way, but so far, it's alive and well. So great to see the family ... whew!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 3:54 PM |

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Grand Finals

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Got to sit in a restaurant and enjoy watching the Grand Finals of the Australian Football League (AFL). It was a blast, and the hometown favorites Geelong Cats took the championship. That's the city were Purpose Driven Oceania is located, so it was fun to go through the town last week and catch the fever. Even got a Cats scarf to wear, too. Good times ... it's not American football, but it's a fantastic game.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 4:11 AM |

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Driving on the Other Side of the Road

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After watching for the past 10 days, it was my turn to give driving on the other side of the road a shot. It was fun. A bit disorienting, and the roundabouts are silly, but a good experience.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 4:03 AM |

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A Bungie Bit of Fun Tonight

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No, I still haven't played Halo 3 - this was a different kind of bungie fun.

Tonight after the last session the staff here took me up in Auckland's SkyTower, a tall spire over the heart of the city. You can actually see across the entire island - from the Tasmania Sea to the Pacific. Truly spectacular at sunset. My favorite part is that you can walk on thick glass at the top and look straight down. Brilliant!

Then we walked over to a bungie catapult device at the bottom, and one of my local pastor friends knew the guy working. Needless to say, a few minutes later we were rocketing into the New Zealand sky. This has been a fantastic day - a full day of teaching, and a fun nightrun with my new friends. Whew.

Last teaching day tomorrow... awesome.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 3:32 AM |

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The Office Advertised

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Funny commercial on New Zealand TV tonight, Steve Carrel comes on the screen and says, "Watch The American Office. It's not as good as the English edition, but it's still quite funny."

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 10:55 PM |

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New Resources and Bundles at Simply

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There's a few new resources on Simply Youth Ministry today - Igniter Bumpers 2 and 3, Media Shout Express and some great new bundles, too. Head over there to check out the new stuff!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 10:42 PM |

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New Zealand PDYM: Day One

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Just finished the first of a 2-day conference here in Auckland, I team taught the overview of the purposes with a local pastor here in the community, and then we divided up into tracks of youth and big church. It was great fun, the audience was very receptive and warm.

The only downside to the country so far is that the internet seems to be slow and/or expensive. It is beautiful, and the people are really great. We covered evangelism, worship and fellowship today - and will pick up discipleship and ministry in the morning tomorrow. Off to see the place tonight - fun!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 10:36 PM |

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Decide My Next Book

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Working through Megachurch Myths this week on the plane and will review it shortly after I get back - so far it is pretty solid if fairly plain. So next up is 1 of 2 books: Simple Church or Going All the Way. Comment me which one to read next!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 3:56 AM |

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Welcome to New Zealand

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Made it out of Australia today - took off the ground for a few days in Auckland before heading home this Sunday. We've got one last conference starting in the morning with some Kiwis. Here's a couple shots from the flight over - New Zealand is amazingly beautiful. Grabbed dinner with some new friends and getting set for the 9AM conference start. Almost done!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 3:28 AM |

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Australian and Fellow Blogger David

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Had a chance to hang out with a new friend this week - David and I got to even record a quick podcast up on the Gold Coast this week. So fun - what a great guy! Here's his blog, too.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 3:21 AM |

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Relax

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Enjoyed this flight status reminder in Melbourne today on the way to New Zealand.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 3:07 AM |

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The Rule of 72

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It is difficult to manage your time in youth ministry. We move from periods of intense busyness to insane busyness. Often our family is caught in the crossfire of our calling, and on occasion we push aside what is most important for what is most pressing.

Talking with a respected friend this week, I learned about a great idea - perhaps an addendum to the typical routine of being home by dinner, not missing a game and tucking your kids into bed each night.

Let's call it The Rule of 72.

Every 3-6 months, you pull the kids out of school early on Friday at noon, and go away. You clear the weekend, by whatever means possible, and leave. Take vacation if you have to, fake sick, burn down the church (just kidding, maybe just the shed or something) - whatever it takes to get away. Turn off the phones, leave the computer back in your office. Post an away message on your email account and most importantly, believe it in your heart.

Money isn't important - memories are. Don't tell your kids you love them, show them. Don't tell them you care, it should be readily apparent. At the end of your life the tiny bit of guilt you felt taking a few extra personal days will pale in comparison to the time forever lost with your spouse, son or daughter. You've heard people say something like that before, quickly agreed and mentally moved on.

I sure don't want to make that mistake. I need reminders and prompting to help me remember balance, boundaries and margin.

Maybe it would be difficult for you to ever be away on a Sunday, so you would need to modify this concept a bit. Maybe you take the family Thursday at noon and be back by Sunday morning. Whatever it might look like, I think the principle still sticks.

Get away and spend some real family time together. Carve out 72 hours soon.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 1:55 PM |

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Student Ministry Learnings from Halo 3

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Corey Mann has a great new article on YouthMinistry.com called What I Learned from Halo 3. It is awesome because a) I love Halo, b) I love Wired, and c) I love Corey ... er ... student ministry. Here's a clip of what he had to say - read a bit here then head there for the whole piece. Awesome:
KEEP TWEAKING - The designers at Bungie Studios have been tweaking HALO 3 for the past three years. They need to know "Does Halo 3 rock? Do people enjoy it, do they get a sense of speed and purpose?" When was the last time we asked students and/or leaders how we were doing as a student ministry? Sure we also want our ministry to "rock" so we must constantly "tweak". Bungie has hired one guy to lead a team to specifically "find flaws in Halo 3".

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON - Bungie doesn't just test its own games. It also buys copies of rival titles and studies those, too, to see how HALO matches up. When was the last time I went to visit another ministry in their element? Its been a long time. Sure, I could go to a conference and listen to THEIR report of how they do things but to actually see it all unfold in their environment would be helpful.

CREATE AN EXPERIENCE - Bungie needs to create an experience that is challenging enough to thrill the 15 million existing hardcore fans of HALO-yet appealing enough to lure in millions of new players. So do we. We have many students who show up and we still need to engage them with new, creative, innovative ideas but at the same time-their is a whole new batch of students somewhere out there who need to be invited to the party.
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 1:33 PM |

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Student Zone Blueprints

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There's a post today on the ETV Blog with a PDF of the blueprints to the new Student Zone. If you want to check out what Saddleback's new student building will look like when it opens in Fall 2008, hit the link. Can't wait ...

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 1:31 PM |

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20 Things Star Wars Fans Can Get Excited About

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Wizard Entertainment has a great new post about 20 things Star Wars fans have to look forward to. Which is good, because since there are no more movies coming ... anyhow, here's an excerpt from their post:
3. CGI cone wars cartoon
(Lucasfilm Animation, Fall 2008)
If you couldn’t get enough of the Genndy Tartakovsky-directed Clone Wars cartoons that debuted on Cartoon Network in 2003, you’re in luck. In 2008, you’ll get an all-new, completely CGI series based on the same time period as the animated version.

The Clone Wars takes place between Episodes II and III during a remarkable time in Star Wars history, a time that fans have wanted to know more about ever since Obi-Wan Kenobi told Luke about the Clone Wars in A New Hope,” said Lucasfilm’s Singh. The project will come from the Lucasfilm Animation studios based in Marin County, California and promises the return of fan-favorite heroes and villains as well as never-before-seen characters. There’ll be at least 100 half-hour episodes produced, and Dave Filoni (Avatar: The Last Airbender) will supervise the direction of the series.

“It’s being produced in a remarkable CG style that underscores the action, excitement and drama, and is much more expansive and dramatically rich than the ‘micro-series’ from 2005,” Singh continued. “It’s going to be groundbreaking both in look and content.”

4. Star Wars Live-Action TV series
(Lucasfilm, 2009)
The new live-action television series doesn’t even have a title yet, but fans are already salivating for a new sci-fi program to satiate their appetite for weekly space sagas (especially since Battlestar Galactica will soon join Firefly and Star Trek: Generations in the “great but cancelled” bin).

“It’s too early to say anything about the live-action TV series, as it is in the very early stages of pre-production,” revealed Singh at Lucasfilm. All we know about the plot is that the hour-long show will be set in the expanded universe and star some minor characters, with cameo appearances from the major ones. Who, you may ask? Well, at this year’s Toy Fair we saw a teaser image that featured a close-up of Boba Fett’s helmet. George Lucas himself will write and produce the first season, and then remain executive producer and general supervisor throughout the rest of the series. Singh teased: “Hopefully we’ll have much more news to share about it and other Lucasfilm and Star Wars projects at next year’s Comic-Con!”
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 1:24 PM |

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The Value of Mentors

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Tony recorded a new Who Are These Guys? Podcast with a couple friends while I was away, so there's a new show up today on The Value of Mentoring. I think I'll have a download right now ... Jim Clark and Tom Roepke join him as special guests.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 1:21 PM |

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Buy a Missile Silo

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Just read in the BBC News about a missile silo that's for sale in the US.

It is the ideal home for an aspiring James Bond villain, or an anxious survivalist seeking a refuge that can withstand an atomic bomb. Thought it sounded cool - and at $1.5M it's a steal. Here's a clip:

A former US intercontinental ballistic missile base - with a network of underground tunnels and silos, but no nuclear warheads - is on sale on eBay for $1.5m (£750,000, 1.06m euros).

Located in a remote corner of Washington state and still ringed by its original barbed-wire-topped fence, the 56-acre site is being marketed as a "gorgeous" property and potential resort.

Bari Hotchkiss bought the former base 10 years ago from owners who obtained the property in the 1970s, after the US government deemed obsolete the Titan missiles it was built to launch.

"We used to use it as a summer camp, for our kids and their friends," he told news agency AFP.

"The only limit is imagination. We've always wanted to see it turn into a summer camp or resort camp," he said.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 1:19 PM |

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NYMC TV Commercial

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Wow ... didn't know they promoted this event on Australian TV. Fun!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 1:18 PM |

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Gamer Regret

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So most everyone in the world is playing Halo 3 - including many of the people here in Australia, a few literally rushed out the door to go back to playing the game. While I have a few days before I get my controller in hand and have a go at it (at least someone did let me hold the collector's edition today) I thought this article from Wired would help you in case you come down with some gamer's regret. Here's a clip:

In retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have looked.

I was 10 days into playing Dungeon Maker: Hunting Ground -- a little RPG I reviewed here last month -- and I was poking around the "settings" menu. I noticed that it had a "time played" option, which shows you how long you've been toiling away at the game. Curious, I clicked it.

Thirty-six hours.

Upon which my heart sank into a fathomless pit. Thirty-six hours? How in god's name had I managed to spend almost four hours a day inside this game? I should point out that this was not the only game I'd been playing during that time. I'd also been hip-deep in BioShock and Space Giraffe, so I'd been planted like a weed in front of my consoles for hours more.

This is a missing-time experience so vast one would normally require a UFO abduction to achieve it.

So the question of the column, and possibly the question of my eternal soul, is: Is this good thing? How much does it change the architecture of your life to spend that much time playing games?

The dirty secret of gamers is that we wrestle with this dilemma all the time. We're often gripped by what I call "gamer regret" -- a sudden, horrifying sense of emptiness when we muse on all the other things we could have done with our game time.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 4:49 AM |

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New Posts on PDYM Community Blog

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This is an exciting time for Purpose Driven Youth Ministry - we've already got dozens of authors over on the new PDYM Community Blog. We're getting ready for our official launch in October, but there's already plenty to read. There's some insightful new posts over there from PDYM state mentors, even including a few posts from Doug Fields. Check it out and bookmark it today!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 2:54 PM |

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Book Review: Speaking to Teenagers

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Got this new book from Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins last week at The Gathering - it comes out in the next week or so to bookstores (Simply Youth Ministry beats everyone's price for the book at $12.89, from what I can tell). I managed to read it on the airplane and also a bit here in the early mornings of Australia since jet lag has continued to kick my soft American butt.

I've really enjoyed this book quite a bit. The first 3rd of the book is quite technical, dealing with the thoughts behind communication and the transactions that take place during communication. It's pretty fascinating, if sometimes heady. After that, the book takes a turn to the intensely practical, walking you though the S.T.I.C.K. principles:
S.T.I.C.K. in section two is by far my favorite part of the book - though as it heads into the home stretch covering the actual delivery of your talk there's some great insight on room layout, where bad kids will be in the crowd and how your tone/pitch/non-verbals communicate so loudly.

A great read - feels like if you're in front of students a bunch this book should really be required reading.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 1:44 PM |

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8 Hour Block of Teaching

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Today I'm teaching an 8-hour class at the National Youth Ministry Convention 07 here in Surf City. The problem is exactly that - it is 8 hours. Now, even though I've got quite the American accent for them all to enjoy, that's only going to last for so long. To divide it up, I'm going to show a couple of videos and play some games, as well as give them some break times. Here's what I'm thinking:
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 1:17 PM |

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The Day in Pictures

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JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 4:45 AM |

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The Australia Zoo

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Spent the better part of today at Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo - it's a great place of fun with tons of local animals from the continent. That's probably my favorite part of it - almost everything you saw is actually from this place - crocs, snakes, wombats, koala bears, Tasmanian devils, echidnas and dingos.

Got some great stuff to bring home for the kids - the whole day I was thinking about how fun it would be to have them there. Enjoyed the whole place, and as a side note the memory of Steve Irwin was present throughout. The only missing was a duck-billed platypus - and of course the crocodile part of the predators show simply can't be long enough.

A super fun day off!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 4:32 AM |

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Online Social Connections and Youth Ministry

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Saw this article today in The Gazette today and thought you might enjoy the perspectives on technology, the interwebs and youth ministry. Here's an excerpt from the beginning:
Nina Cilek considers herself a traditionalist when it comes to communicating with her church youth group, preferring the telephone and post office.

“I know the kids have Facebook and MySpace accounts, but that's something I personally don't have,'' said Cilek, 26, youth director at First United Methodist Church, 214 E. Jefferson St., in Iowa City.

Even so, Cilek has access to the Internet, and she occasionally uses e-mail to send quick messages to her youths.

In fact, Eastern Iowa youth leaders say keeping the communication lines open using Facebook and other Internet sites has become a common, if not necessary, tool for their ministries. Many have their own Facebook accounts and use them almost daily to keep in touch.

Of the 26.6 million Facebook users, nearly 12 million are between the ages of 12 and 24, according to www.techcrunch.com the same group of people with whom church youth leaders are working.
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 4:25 AM |

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10 Tips to Enjoy Halo 3

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You'll be playing this game tomorrow (if it's any consolation, it came out here in Australia already today) so I thought I would pass along 10 ways to get the most out of it. Enjoy!
1. Be Heroic. If you've played through Halo 1 and 2 (even if only on normal) then you should begin this adventure on Heroic. Normal difficulty is now actually easier as to cater to those who may only play one game a year. The difficulty affects enemy AI, but also will add more enemies to different areas and even allow for enemy reinforcements. While Heroic is slightly tougher than it was in Halo 2, it's also likely that you've grown your skills over time. It won't be easy, but that's the point. Don't short change yourself on experiencing everything the Brutes have to offer.

2. Stay for the Credits. Once you finish the fight, there is a lengthy cutscene. After this, you'll see a thank you not from Bungie. You'll be tempted to hit A, but don't. Wait and let the credits roll. You should take note of the folks who brought you the great experience of Halo 3, but more importantly, there is a second ending (the same on Normal, Heroic, and Legendary difficulty). And if you beat the game on Legendary (even if it's just the final level), you earn a very worthwhile additional ending.
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 4:22 AM |

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Room with a View

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Arrived in Brisbane last night, then drove up the Gold Coast to Surfer's Paradise. Here's the view from the hotel room. Such a sweet place!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 3:57 AM |

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Kangaroo Tastes Like Chicken

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OK, it doesn't really taste like chicken. More like maybe a game meat, and it is best served on the rare side. Delicious experience!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 8:46 PM |

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Google Searches That Lead Here: Volume 39

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Over 400 different search phrases were used by about 650 people to find my blog this week - here's a few of the more interesting ones in the past 7 days:
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 6:02 PM |

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Visiting Steve Irwin's Zoo

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We're flying to Brisbane today - and I just found out we'll be checking out Steve Irwin's Zoo tomorrow afternoon. Crikey!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 2:14 PM |

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Virgin Mobile Sued Over Youth Group Photo

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Eric Smith pointed out this fascinating controversy over a photo taken at a youth group event and Virgin Mobile Phones. Here's a clip of what happened:

A Dallas family has sued Australia's Virgin Mobile phone company, claiming it caused their teenage daughter grief and humiliation by plastering her photo on billboards and Web site advertisements without consent.

The family of Alison Chang says Virgin Mobile grabbed the picture from Flickr, Yahoo Inc.'s popular photo-sharing Web site, and failed to credit by name the photographer who took the photo.

Chang's photo was part of a Virgin Mobile Australia campaign called "Are You With Us Or What?" It features pictures downloaded from Flickr superimposed with the company's ad slogans.

The picture of 16-year-old Chang flashing a peace sign was taken at an April church car wash by Alison's youth counselor, who posted it that day on his Flickr page, according to Alison's brother, Damon. In the ad, Virgin Mobile printed one of its campaign slogans, "Dump your pen friend," over Alison's picture.

The ad also says "Free text virgin to virgin" at the bottom.

So what types of precautions do you think youth pastors should be taking when posting photo’s online. Are there ways to protect against something like this happening? Interesting, if probably isolated, incident.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 1:58 PM |

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Commissioning Prayer Before Australia

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This is now one of my favorite pictures of all time. Tom took it as everyone was praying for me about to leave for Australia. Such a powerful moment. Thanks to everyone pictured.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 4:36 AM |

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Vegemite Sandwich

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Hmmm ... had my first Vegemite sandwich today here in Australia. Have to say it is an acquired taste for sure. Had to try it as long as I was here. I hear we're having kangaroo steaks for lunch tomorrow - no joke!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 4:22 AM |

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PDYM Australia: Melbourne

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Just finished up a full day PDYM conference in Melbourne - had a cozy Salvation Army church with about 75 really great and eager to learn youth workers. We had a blast, covering the purposes overview and then spending an hour or so on each individual purpose. The discussions were great - now off to Brisbane tomorrow to get set up for the National Youth Ministry Event there for the next few days.

Off Monday, so who knows what adventures await then.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 4:03 AM |

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Australian Slang

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Hmmm ... couple of funnies today, related to Australian slang:
1) The Aussies call an outhouse a "long drop." You figure it out.

2) Simply Youth Ministry has a discipleship material called Rooted: New Testament, which they found intensely funny.
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 4:00 AM |

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Purpose Driven Australia

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Made it in safe - stopped in Auckland, New Zealand for a quick layover and then landed here in Melbourne, Australia for the next few days. Everyone here is so awesome, and the offices are amazing. Here's a quick couple of shots inside their offices as we get settled in. The first PDYM conference starts tomorrow. Fun!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 6:40 PM |

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Lost

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Is it bad that there's a guy on my plane who looks exactly like Hurley?

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 8:24 PM |

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Youth Pastors and Web 2.0

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Seems like most youth pastors here at The Gathering aren't really clear on what exactly Web 2.0 is - I just posted a video on the PDYM Community blog that if you want to know more you should for sure check out.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 12:01 PM |

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Sweet Stack of Books

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Oh man ... how great is this stack of free books people will end up with at The Gathering? Looks like I've got plenty of new books to read and review.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 11:40 AM |

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The Gathering Morning Session

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We're in the middle of the morning session here at The Gathering - it is a great morning session with lots of "getting to know you" personal interactions. Right now Doug is sharing vision for the future of PDYM. This morning we'll cover a) what have you got from PDYM, b) what you need from PDYM, and c) what does the general youth ministry community need from us. I'm excited to hear some of the answers and start the dialog as we head into 2008.

On the chairs this morning as a free gift was Doug's new book, Speaking to Teenagers. I can't wait to read it on the plane tonight!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 10:36 AM |

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Purpose Driven O.J.

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This was interesting note about Purpose Driven Life and O.J. Simpson in USA Today. Here's a clip:

According to a press release from the police department, the former football star is being held in isolation and spends about 20 hours a day inside a standard 98-square-foot cell.

A judicial official said yesterday that Simpson will appear before a judge tomorrow morning. Since he arrived at the facility, the jail says he has met with three private attorneys and two public defenders.

A minister stopped by to deliver reading glasses and copies of the Bible and A Purpose Driven Life, according to the release.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 11:38 PM |

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The First Night of The Gathering

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Tonight we opened up the invitation-only gathering of Purpose Driven Youth Ministry (PDYM) state mentors with a bang - a amazing meal and hangout time at The Field House.

We sat around the pool and the fire pit, getting to know one another and catching up. There's a few new faces, and some really familiar ones as well. Some that are in the midst of intensity at their churches, some in the midst of great success. All are welcome, this is the start to a great conversation about youth ministry in the next couple of days.

And tomorrow, my afternoon session is on the new PDYM blog we'll be launching in October. I can't wait to show them what it can do - we already have more than 20 authorized posters on the blog, soon it will be a madhouse of activity as they start chronicling their PDYM journeys and recording their recent learnings. Dan even made a post already tonight. Woo-hoo!

Exciting week ahead!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 11:26 PM |

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Couple of Contests

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Just noticed that Who Are These Guys? Podcast is having a contest to win $20 to Amazon.com, and Street to the Seat is running a contest giving away a new book, too. Shoot, maybe I should give something away, too.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 11:15 PM |

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The Outback

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I leave for Australia tomorrow, and ate at Outback Steakhouse today. Just made me chuckle.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 5:40 PM |

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Podcast 58 is in the Can

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Recorded episode 58 of the Simply Youth Ministry Podcast today - look for it tomorrow. We discuss lots of stuff, including funerals for a student and handling marriage stresses while in a ministry position.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 5:38 PM |

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Talk Like a Pirate Day

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You know it's tomorrow, right? Don't forget!

Ahoy, while not as popular as [Christmas] or [Arbor Day], Talk Like a Pirate Day is a recognized and heartily celebrated international holiday. On September 19th, people awake transformed: their ‘oices deeper, their usual pedestrian walk replaced by a seaman’s swagger, and whene’er they speak, they speak with the ‘oice o’ a pirate.

Gar.

founded by [John Baur and Mark Summers] durin’ a raquetball game and, coincidentally, occurin’ the same day’s as Mark’s ex-wife’s birthday, Talk Like a Pirate Day has taken the world by storm. A pence for an old man o’de sea?

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 9:31 AM |

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Drive Through Church

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Brilliant video from RockHarbor.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 11:57 PM |

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5 Reasons to Say No!

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Tony and I recorded a new Who Are These Guys? Podcast today on saying no. Want to get in on the action? Get the show here or in iTunes!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 9:05 PM |

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HIV/AIDS Youth Summit

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The next big event here at Saddleback this Fall is the AIDS Conference - and worked into that this year is the HIV/AIDS Youth Summit. Details just went up, check them out right here:
What is faith without action? This summit will provide you with the information and tools you need to discover how your congregation, organization, or agency can start to make a positive change. Every element of the summit is designed to start conversations and build networking that will make the movement to eradicate AIDS stronger.
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 8:14 PM |

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Student Ministry Isn't About Buildings

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As excited as we are for the opening of the Student Zone in 2008, the building isn't an end - it is a means to an end. Pastor Kurt shared some of his vision for it on the ETV blog this week, hit the link for more updates and pictures of the new building, too!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 7:59 PM |

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Fantasy Football Rule #17

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Funny fantasy football commercial ...

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 7:38 PM |

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Free Music? And It's Legal!

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Terrible name. Cool idea.

This new site opened today to much fanfare, enabling you to download songs legally and for free. I would say it's working, because the site is so slow it's killing me. The only bummer is that you can't burn them to CD and they don't work in what I primarily use to play music - iTunes and my iPod.

But good enough - the price is sure right!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 1:51 PM |

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Want a Cold Soda?

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Oh man, what about a bottle of Coke that chills itself instead of having to go to the fridge? It's coming! Apparently, Sprite Super Chilled will hit the market as early as late fall.
Like consumers need another reason to drink Coca Cola products! Nonetheless, the world's largest soft drink manufacturer has created a new form of keeping their bottles of fizz ice-cold by packing new technology into each bottle, so when the cap is twisted off, a mechanism inside will create ice made from the drink itself.
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 11:41 AM |

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SD Still Volume 4

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Simply Youth Ministry has a new resource today called SD Stills Volume 4 - you get 300 professionally designed background images that can be used in a wide variety of ways in any ministry setting. They stills are a great way to improve your visual communication, combining creative design with smart-space where text and lyrics can be placed without compromising clarity.

If you're interested in that or other great youth ministry resources, click on through and check them out!


JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 11:07 AM |

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Video Game Review: Rayman Raving Rabbids

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Been playing this game with the kids this past week, managed to pick it up trading in a few games. Hey, I need something to do until Halo 3 comes out.

This is a great game for kids - basically a collection of mini-games for kids featuring Rayman versus evil rabbits. While it does have some decidedly odd moments where you might question the designers (slamming outhouse doors to keep bad rabbits locked inside, for example), it is a great game that kids can actually play. After last year's amazing-but-way-out-of-reach Viva Pinata, it's fun to have a game where they can actually beat some levels. And they are odd levels to be sure - so far throwing cows is my favorite, though the dance levels are also super fun.

For most adults this is an easy pass, but I couldn't pass it up for $19 brand new. Fun with the kids, average graphics, average sound and an odd collection of minigames. B-

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 11:10 PM |

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New Look for the Blog

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Hmmm ... OK, I think this blog design is now going to stay.

I managed to find a look I liked and made it my own. I'm hoping to add some new features in the coming weeks, but here's what's new/refreshed as of launch:
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 10:52 PM |

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Sponsored Children Unionize for Better Terms

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Thought this parody article on Lark News was funny this month. Here's an excerpt:
John Randall and family recently received a letter from their sponsor child in Honduras. But instead of offering an update and gratitude for their continued support, 11-year-old Maria Salvador told them she was boycotting them.

"She said it was nothing personal, but her sponsor child union wanted better terms," says Becky Randall, 34. "She asked us to please remove her photograph from the refrigerator and cease all communication with her until the strike is resolved."

In a new wrinkle for child sponsor ministries, sponsor children in several countries have united to demand better terms. They are asking for $45 a month, up from the standard $28, plus a 7 percent annual increase, new uniforms, better medical care and more frequent gift packages from sponsors.
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 10:43 PM |

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The Purse Driven Life

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Thought this was an interesting/complimentary idea to The Purpose Driven Life. Here's a clip:
Examine contents of any woman's purse for a clue to her values, say Susan Andrews Hageman and the Rev. Allison Andrews Thompson, two young women whose current professional careers in Christian ministry and roles as wives, mothers, and daughters provide background for "The Purse Driven Life, " a luncheon program on Oct. 1 at Marvin United Methodist Church, Tyler.
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 10:40 PM |

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Stuff From My Friends' Blogs: Volume 29

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Here's my weekend roundup of good posts from my blogging friends:
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 1:36 AM |

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Amazing Likeness

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Kurt has a post you have to see. I won't say anything because I don't want to spoil it - you will laugh out loud ...

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 1:31 AM |

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Google Maps on My Phone

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I've been jealous of Google Maps on several iPhones lately, then recently I was just turned on to the fact that my PPC-6700 from Sprint could handle the mobile version, too. No more iPhone envy (on that count, anyway). Want to try it on your Windows Mobile device? I'm addicted to live traffic reports!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 1:12 AM |

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Letting Go to Grow

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We posted a new article on Friday about a youth leader having to let go of his ministry for it to be healthy. I think it's a great look inside the process of 'letting go to grow' ... here's a clip, hit the link for the rest of the story:

At 7:25 pm, I walked out of Jeff and Megan O’Neal’s house.

Jeff is one of our middle school leaders. He and his family are hosting our middle school small groups this school year. Tonight was the first night of this school year’s small groups. Our middle schoolers met at the O’Neals’ while our high schoolers met about 4 miles away at another house.

But tonight… I’m not leading a group.

Instead, I am leaving our Tuesday night small group program (5 groups in all) in the very capable hands of two high school leaders and three middle school leaders. I have all the confidence in the world in Mike, Becky, Candy, Mark and Kathy. They are incredible leaders. They have an incredible heart for students. I could see it in their eyes tonight as they gathered.

But I “died” a little bit tonight as I walked out that door. You see; I want to be there with those students. I want to hang with them… I want to laugh with them… I want to lead them… all of them. And that’s not healthy.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 12:39 AM |

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PDYM Community Blog

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Here's a sneak peak at something we're pushing to have ready for The Gathering this week. Around the first of October we're hoping to have this site ready to launch - basically it is a blog on steroids for Purpose Driven Youth Ministry. Wouldn't it be fun if we could have all 100 of the state mentors be able to post on it? We're working on it, look for it next month ...

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 12:05 AM |

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Gamerscore Crossing 10,000

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Closing in on a Gamerscore of 10,000 on my Xbox 360. Gamers will appreciate that milestone of a number. Should happen tomorrow sometime ...

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 11:19 PM |

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Google Searches That Lead Here: Volume 38

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As usual, some amazing searches people put into Google this week that landed them here on the blog. And in related news, there was a new record of different searches - over 300 phrases/words brought over 1,000 people here the past 7 days. Here's some of the more notable ones I pulled from the list:
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 8:56 PM |

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Blogger Pictures at Random

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Check out Blogger's new PLAY feature. It's this cool page that shows pictures people are uploading to blogger in real-time. It's super cool ...
Blogger Play will show you a never-ending stream of images that were just uploaded to public Blogger blogs. You can click the image to be taken directly to the blog post it was uploaded to, or click “show info” to see an overlay with the post title, a snippet of the body, and some profile information about the blogger who uploaded it. We also wrote a Blogger Play FAQ with more information.
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 10:37 AM |

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Temporary New Look

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Hmmm ... for the time being, I'm going with this new template. Got to work out a server issue with my other look. Enjoy!

JG



posted by Joshua Griffin @ 10:20 AM |

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Sitting in the Back of the Class

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OK ... this class is very interesting. I'm loving hearing about the credibility of the Old Testament here at seminary. The intensive is a bit intense - we'll be spending 13 hours in this classroom over the next 2 days.

Well, it's a whole new age, and everyone is clicking away on their laptops. Only 2 people out of 40 don't have one on or open. Here's what I can see on their screens that the teacher can't:
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 4:43 PM |

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Book Review: Simply Strategic Stuff

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The only possible downside to this book is the layout and clip art - because although the content is pretty much timeless, the layout unfortunately dates itself instantly. The book walks you through 99 lessons for leading a church, with practical advice on a myriad of subjects. It's a little like a blog in a book form, bite sized pieces of wisdom on a page or two. There's some great examples of success leading the church, and some great failure stories as well.

Do these chapter titles interest you? Respect Their Time, You Can’t Fix Everyone, Creativity Doesn’t Just Happen, Never Do Ministry Alone, Simple Policies Simplify Life, The Staff Should Serve the Servants, Seek Ability Over Availability, Easy Access Is Crucial, Master the Art of Celebration and Volunteers Are Sinners Too.

All in all a book with solid advice, even though the layout is roaring into the 90's.

Content: A
Clip Art: C

JG






posted by Joshua Griffin @ 3:12 PM |

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Life Hurts, God Heals Launches

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LifeHurtsGodHeals.com launched this past week, the coolest part of the new website is the interactive map - it allows people to post their Life Hurts churches for others to discover and/or visit. So cool!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 3:06 PM |

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Randy is Blogging at Seminary

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Just noticed that Randy is blogging right next to me here in class. Check out his seminary thoughts, too.

JG



posted by Joshua Griffin @ 3:01 PM |

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Is Direct Mail Dead?

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Had some discussion as we launch regional campuses about direct mail. Aka: junk mail.

One possible answer to the question of it is still effective can be found in Fast Company. Seems like it has really gotten cheaper, but still doesn't work super well. I wonder if we'll do some Google AdWords to help promote the new regional campuses? Now that would be cool.

JG



posted by Joshua Griffin @ 10:17 AM |

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Star Wars Live Action Update

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Just reading an update on the upcoming live-action Star Wars TV show, the movies are done ... but there is another. Here's a clip from Starwars.com:
How is the live-action Star Wars TV show progressing?
It's been exciting because we've had the opportunity to meet over 200 writers. George and I had a fantastic time in England, where we met about 35 or 40 writers. We met a lot in the United States, a couple in Paris, Prague, and Budapest, and then we're off to Australia at the end of July. We're trying to get a group of about five or six people from all around the world. I'm hopefully going to start the writers' conferences later this year. It'll take about six months to get the scripts, so by about 2009 we hope to actually be shooting.

Will you be shooting the show in Australia?
Right now, that's the plan. I think it's going to really depend on where the most effective and cheapest place that we can make it is. Right now, for us, that place is Australia.

How ambitious is the project going to be?
It'll be darker and more mature, and very character based. The idea is to do, say, 13 to 16 episodes over one or two years -- we haven't quite figured that out yet as television is changing so dramatically worldwide. After the second or third year, one of the characters from the first series could move on to his own series. Then, by the fourth or fifth year, we would love to have four or five separate TV series of 13 episodes each running. That's a pipe dream right now, of course! But as long as it's good, and as long as people respond, and as long as we're doing it at the level we need to do it, and people care about the characters, I think that's totally possible.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 9:45 AM |

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Baptism Ideas

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Just saw that Kerry had posted 40 Baptism Ideas - good ways to help encourage people take the next step in their faith. Here's a clip:

1. Mention the value, purpose and benefits of baptism regularly in sermons.

2. Videotape some of your baptisms. Prepare a music video of baptisms to show in your worship service so people who’ve never seen a baptism can witness one.

3. Have clothes ready for people who decide spontaneously to be baptized after a service.

4. Make it a party atmosphere. It’s a celebration, not a funeral. Applaud baptisms!

5. Invite small group members to witness the baptism and identify them before each baptism.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 8:51 AM |

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Seminary Old Testament Intensive

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Hmmm ... leave for Australia next week, but I've got seminary intensive this weekend - 13 hours of Old Testament. Yikes! Here we go ...

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 8:23 AM |

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BIG NEWS: The New YouthMinistry.com!

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Just noticed youthministry.com has a whole new look to the site! Amazing new destination for youth workers. Brand new and open for business today - adding this to my daily stops for sure. Enjoy!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 9:16 AM |

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Tracking Visitors and Readers

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From time to time people ask about where I get the interesting data about the search words people use or keeping track of the people who visit the blog. I use and recommend Google Analytics to track visitors to the actual blog pages, and Feedburner to manage and track the RSS readers. Both are amazing and FREE tools!

JG







posted by Joshua Griffin @ 8:32 PM |

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Sweet Little Car

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Toyota has just got green down I guess. What a cool little car.

JG







posted by Joshua Griffin @ 8:28 PM |

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YouVersion Alpha Review

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Been playing around with YouVersion on and off the past few days, and absolutely loving it.

Honestly, this is going to be a great tool. Perhaps one of the most significant innovations in our niche in a long time. Basically it is a community version of the Bible, allowing you to post comments, insight, learnings, video and more to the website. You also get your journal for personal thoughts you want to keep private. On it's own it is essentially an online Bible - with the community and the tools they are providing it is far more than that. It will become a massive pool for youth workers to collaborate share and take their ministries far beyond their current state.

YouVersion isn't quite ready for primetime, the search function has a ways to go yet and honestly there's just not enough versions of the Bible for it to be universally accepted/used. Having said that, I'm confident they will add more versions of the Bible and the search feature, just in the time I've been checking it out, has improved drastically.

There is one word I want to use to describe the potential of this site: remarkable.

Honestly, imagine a place where you search for verses or topics, grab maps, illustrations, a testimony and a video as you prepare your talk. Imagine a place where youth workers congregate to share outlines, slides and MP3s with each other - all centered around the Bible. I love it - and can't wait until everyone sees in in the Beta in the coming weeks. Brilliant work, gang.

JG





posted by Joshua Griffin @ 12:01 PM |

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Communications Seminar

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Today is staff training day here at church, everyone is in sessions on time management, communication or getting a student ministries update. I just got out of the communication one, it was taught by Mark Affleck, CEO of the a huge avocado conglomerate. Some of his best imperatives came at the end, here's some of the highlights:
JG


posted by Joshua Griffin @ 11:15 AM |

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Book Review: Mentor - The Kid and the CEO

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This isn't the typical book for me, which is exactly why I chose to read it this week.

While it does have an interesting connection to The Purpose Driven Life, this is a real-life story of an inmate who experiences community through a caring mentor. I really like this book, there's plenty of practical, earthy wisdom in it - just solid direction for someone rebuilding a life.

I can't help but think that most people would benefit from reading it, and there's even some downloadable stuff on their website to check out, too. The best of which is "The List," which I would encourage you to download and share immediately. All in all this is a good story - seeing real life change is a powerful tale to behold. A-

JG






posted by Joshua Griffin @ 11:21 PM |

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Finally Pre-ordered Halo 3

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First, the good news: I finally pre-ordered Halo 3. Just got a gift certificate to Amazon and snapped it up.

The bad news? I'll be in Australia during the release teaching a series of PDYM events and won't get to play it until October 1st.

Will anyone up for some 4-player co-op with me then? Or will everyone have played through it and I'll be the last person on earth to finish the fight. Nnnoooooooooooooooooooooo!

JG







posted by Joshua Griffin @ 8:08 PM |

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How to Rock the Podium

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Many of you are speakers, so thought you might enjoy this Wired How To on the subject of rocking the podium. Here's a clip:

7. Don’t rely on the event’s A/V setup, either. To play an audio clip, try holding your mike up to your laptop’s speaker.

8. Use your Q&A time wisely. Field the big-picture queries while you’re onstage and deal with the minutiae offline.

9. ENUNCIATE. I cannot stress that enough.

10. Visualize your voice. Imagine your voice is a laser and try to project it strongly to the opposite wall.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 1:17 PM |

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Book Review: Purple Cow

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Just finished up Seth Godin's Purple Cow - a book centered around one word: remarkable.

You see cows. Lots of cows. And after a while, cows just fade into the background. That is, until you see a purple one. It gets your attention, you want to see it up close, touch it, see what happens when you poke it. And you can't wait to tell your friends about it.

The book is fantastic, really a quick read that could have lasting implications to your business. Some of it translates well to the church setting, but not as much as some of his other works. Is your service remarkable? What are you communicating to the early adopters, and are they sneezing? Once you have a Purple Cow, what can you do to develop another one before you become one of the crowd.

If you aren't working on something remarkable, drop everything and head that direction now. Good stuff! A-

JG





posted by Joshua Griffin @ 11:26 PM |

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4 Keys in Connecting to Your Local School

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The latest Who Are These Guys podcast is now up - Tony and I tackle 4 Keys in Connecting to Your Local School. Some potential ideas to use in your youth ministry setting.

JG



posted by Joshua Griffin @ 10:15 PM |

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ETV Photo Caption Contest #2

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Just updated Saddleback's ETV blog with a new photo to be captioned, and also just finished up the 2nd newsletter headed out to the congregation this afternoon. Yeah, Student Zone!

JG




posted by Joshua Griffin @ 1:44 PM |

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"Worship" vs Worship

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A funny thing happened at church yesterday.

My wife has been bringing her friend with her to church for the past couple of weeks. As we launch into the 10x10 vision, we're committed to doing our part as God directs. Part of the way we're reaching out is asking an unchurched friend and her son to visit church. And last week, she accepted Christ!

She was so excited to see my wife this week in church they began talking excitedly together. They were buzzing back and forth during the first song and well into the second. There was talk of Jesus love, baptism and even a few tears. It was a powerful moment - I was moved sitting just down from them seeing a life so dramatically and instantly changed.

But I could tell the woman in front of us was going to blow a gasket.

She looked back once or twice with "those eyes." She looked at her husband a minute later and rolled her eyes. She shrugged to her friends. She even kind of scowled back once, I think trying to use ESP to tell the 'bubblygirls' behind her to be quiet. Finally, near the end of the second song, she just had to say something.

"I'm sorry, but can you guys talk to each other later? I'm trying to worship."

During her "worship" she missed the most beautiful expression of worship ever. Angels were dancing in Heaven and she was ticked on earth.

Now, in her defense, my wife's friend IS loud. She does get a bit excited and I'm sure it was distracting. She doesn't know the "rules" of church and even stopped the offering plate later in the service for an extra 4 minutes to write her check. But isn't that all OK?

Sometimes I like Christians more before they know how to act like Christians.

Why am I so worked up about this? Because I've done it before. As my wife and I talked about it after our post-baptism-celebration lunch, she admitted to doing it, too. Busting someone without knowing the whole story. Getting frustrated without knowing the other half. In fact, I now realize I'm doing that to this lady in front of us, right? Is it possible that this was her last Sunday to live and she is living knowing she's terminally ill? Is it possible she brought her jaded son and daughter-in-law to church for the first time after years of trying - and some jerk behind them is being loud and distracting?

Hmm ... not sure where I'm going with this, other than to say maybe we should loosen up a bit in church. Maybe we should empathize with each other a bit more. And maybe our first reaction to a disruption in the service is that God is up to something, instead of someone being distracting.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 10:56 AM |

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Hormone Explosion

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Here's a fun old school student ministry video from 2001 ... this intro'd the 30 Days of Love series on purity we were doing at the time.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 10:52 AM |

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Leave Nothing

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I love this new commercial by Nike ...

JG



posted by Joshua Griffin @ 11:57 PM |

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How to Write the Perfect Email

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Just saw this on Wired on how to write the perfect email. Here's an excerpt, should be required reading if you're dealing with a big team.

Email, not the web, is the most-used Internet application by transaction volume. It’s also the most misused. Since it’s such an important and often overlooked component of our online lives, I’m going to step away from preaching about the web for a moment and focus on simple steps to make your email discussions more effective.

If you grew up like I did, you were taught how to write a letter. You learned how to write business and casual headings and salutations, state your purpose, make a request, set expectations for a response, and wrap it up with a Very Truly Yours.

But an email is not a letter, and you’re not typing at a Selectric II typewriter. You may look at the days of formal graces in written communication with some sadness, but rest assured that they are as dead as Dillinger. If your purpose is to solicit information or action from another person via email, you must make that clear to them at the earliest possible point in the message.

I get hundreds of emails a day, not counting spam. I know I’m not alone. Email overload is a problem, and it will probably only get worse.

It’s tempting for geeks like me to propose some kind of microformat as a solution: begin subjects with these words, format the first line like that. But email is too widely distributed to corral into a any kind of structure now. All we can do is focus on quick, concise, effective communication.

People differ in how they manage their inboxes, but attention to a few details can help make your messages more usable for everyone.
JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 7:55 PM |

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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Apparently that's the title of the new Indiana Jones movie, according to someone watching MTV's VMAs. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ... of course, that's one of the domains that Lucasfilm registered a while back as well. Cool!

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 7:17 PM |

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A Robotech Movie!

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Just read that Tobey Maguire signed on to play a part in a now-in-development live-action Robotech movie! Yeah, loved that anime series when I was a kid.

JG







posted by Joshua Griffin @ 2:12 PM |

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Student Life Videos at SYM

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There's 6 new videos for sale up on Simply Youth Ministry - all from Student Life. Some are great, you should check them out if you're looking for solid multimedia content in your student ministry.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 3:13 PM |

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Saddleback Intern Ad for YS

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Sarti Design just finished up a new Saddleback Internships ad for the Youth Specialties notebook this year - and, I might add, we're actively looking for new interns. Got a good candidate to refer our way? Maybe you? Details here.

JG

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 2:52 PM |

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It's All About Changed Lives

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We're going to tell the story of life change.

People can see the construction on the building when they come on campus. The bulletin insert or video covers the progress updates and timelines. But one thing many people miss is the life change that is happening in our student ministry. So we're going to tell them about it!

Today's first post in this new series on our Extending the Vision campaign blog is about Nikki Lalague. She followed Christ in junior high and even recently led the music at a weekend service in big church. Such a great story! Here's a clip, follow the link for the rest:
Hi, my name is Nikki Lalague. I'm a 17-year old senior at Capo Valley High School. I've been calling Saddleback my home for almost 5 years now, and have found my passion in serving and leading others to worship God through the gifts He's given me.

I grew up in a non-Christian home, and had no idea who God was until a friend of mine in 7th grade invited me to a Junior High outreach event at Wild Rivers. I came to a service that same weekend and realized there was something different about the leaders, the music, and the students: something I wanted for myself. After attending services for a little over a month, I dedicated my life to Christ and began discovering who I was in Him and what His plans were for my life. I started playing guitar and singing in the Wildside band, and joined a small group in 8th grade with incredible girls that I still grow with to this day.

Since I became a Christian in Junior High, I have continued to grow and love God, but it wasn't until 2 years ago that my faith was really put to the test. Going into my sophomore year of high school, I began to lose my love for people, for ministry, for music, and for myself. I discovered in September 2005 that I suffered from depression and anxiety, and was diagnosed bipolar around Christmas. I struggled to hear God's voice when I needed it most, and began feeling imprisoned by a disorder I had no control over. I questioned why God would allow this to happen in my life. I started failing school, and I felt overwhelmed with the drug abuse in my own household.
J
G

posted by Joshua Griffin @ 2:03 PM |

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