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Archive - April, 2008

A Racy Hannah Montanna?

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand in children’s ministry, you know that Miley Cyrus (a.k.a. Hannah Montanna) is the hottest person out there in kid culture especially in that 8-14 year-old demographic of girls. Hey, my six-year old girl even knows Hannah and can sing the songs to boot.

Well, recently some edgy pictures of Miley Cyrus are slated to appear in an upcoming issue of Vanity Fair, and pictures have been circulating the internet. The “picture” is of Miley with just a bedsheet covering her front and showing some of her bare back with stylish-bedhead looking hair. There are also some other pictures of Miley and her friends that have been deemed “inappropriate.”

Here is a link to a Toronto Globe and Mail article about it.

I saw the pictures on the morning shows yesterday. I don’t really know what to think about them. I think that Miley, at 15 years old, is a bit young to be taking edgy pictures like that. As for the other photos, I think they are just a record of teenage stupidity that should’ve never been put on MySpace. The story of the Vanity Fair pictures was that Miley felt some pressure to have the pictures taken by the renown Annie Leibovitz. Whatever the reason for the pictures, Disney and Miley have already issued apologies about the pictures. With the recent nude pictures of Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical fame, I’m sure parents are wondering about positive female role models for their children.

What do you think about all of this? How should we talk to our own kids as well as equipping parents in our ministry of how to talk to their kids when they see these pictures on TV or hear about them? My aforementioned 6-year-old daughter was in the room when the Vanity Fair pictures came up, and we asked her what she thought of the pictures. She didn’t think girls should dress like that. For now, I think that was enough. As she gets older, though, I know I will have to enter conversations about the line between what is art and what is profane.

On a side note, the Globe and Mail article is also interesting because of the viewpoint of the Culture Wars in America from someone outside of the US.

Conspire Conference – Overall Impression

I was very pleased at the changes that were made to the conference this year. It felt more like a breath of fresh air than an extended commercial for Promiseland. I also appreciated the Point Leader Summit and the practicality of it. I only wish that we could’ve interacted with the presenters in a smaller setting.

One of the things that did stand out this year was the lack of clear communication from the stage about services like where the men’s restrooms were, that a business centre was available to use and have laptop batteries charged at, what to do at meal times. I was also a bit disappointed that there were a couple of things that I had to order (like the FX 3-pack) instead of being able to pick them up at the conference.

This year they tried to take advantage of forums and blogging during the conference, but no one really took advantage of it. Maybe something that could be done in the future is to give out prizes to people who post on the blog or forums or have guest bloggers do some live blogging and such. Last year at the student ministries conference, they did a good job of getting people to interact online. Maybe the children’s ministry conference planners should check out what student ministries did.

All in all, this year’s conference was really well done. I overheard many positive comments from people. Before the last session I was sitting in the cafe and heard someone say that if the conference hadn’t been so good up to that point, they would be heading home already and not waiting for the last session. One of his team members piped in that he really didn’t want to come but was VERY glad that the leader dragged him along.

Kudos to the planning team. I look forward to perusing the MP3s of the sessions in the next few weeks and letting my team here benefit from it all.

Conspire Conference – General Session 6

This session was entitled, “Don’t Eat the Glue.” It was presented by Phil Vischer. I’m sure all of you are quickly clicking the link for his bio because no one in CM has ever heard of Phil Vischer. Wait, isn’t he the guy who made those talking Veggies that told Tales? What were they called again? Didn’t he have some sort of Big Idea or something? (OK, sarcasm done!)

Most of us know Phil as the creator of VeggieTales and Big Idea. Many of us also know that Big Idea went bankrupt and Phil no longer runs it. What some of us might not know is that Phil has been working on a new project called Jellyfish. You can find out more about that by clicking on the link in the previous sentence. That is not what Phil talked about.

The title of the session kind of sums up in a fun way what Phil shared. Too many times we take on burdens that aren’t ours to bear. We come to conferences like Conspire, get a lot of info, get overwhelmed and, in essence, eat the glue and get sick and discouraged and defeated. Phil shared some very personal stories about his experiences in losing Big Idea and what he learned about laying down his own burdens and taking up those God gives.

Three of the burdens he talked about were:

  • Burden of ego
  • Burden of childhood occurences/hurts
  • Burden to entertain

Phil emphasized the importance of listening to God and doing only what He calls us to. One quote I really liked was, “Ministry to kids starts with God’s love for YOU.”

One other cool thing he did was after he gave the benediction. He told everyone that if they felt overwhelmed by all that they gathered from the conference, then they should chuck their notebooks on the way out. I loved that!

Conspire Conference – General Session 5

This session was entitled “Notes From Your Best Friend.” It was presented by David Staal.

I really appreciate the preparation that David puts into his presentations. You can tell he gets feedback on what he is presenting as well as going over how he will present. I also appreciate his gift of casting vision.

David talked about this year’s Promiseland theme called “What If…” and he went on to share 2 Key Cornerstones to stand on in ministry.

  • Own a burden
  • Love one another

He said that when God gives us a burden we need to own it and see it to fruition. He shared a story of a new video that Promiseland has called “Love God, Love Others.” It was put together and produced by Marta Johnson, a Promiseland staff writer. She had no video background but because of her burden to see this video about the ten commandments happen she did what needed to happen to get the video done. This included learning how to produce and put together a video. We watched the video, and it was well done. Kudos to Marta!

David also shared that we need to love one another, especially those on our team. He said one thing that really caused me to take this one to heart. He challenged us to figure out why we love the people we lead. That put some feet on this cornerstone rather than it just being a nice platitude.

All in all, this was a good session.

Conspire Conference – Point Leader Summit – Session 4

This session was entitled “Integrating Media.” It was led by Johnny Rogers.

Johnny made the point that media

  • tells a story
  • connects stories with images
  • helps make room for interaction

He used examples using pictures and stories to illustrated these concepts. Unfortunately, I felt like the talk was longer than it needed to be. I know that Johnny put work into his presentation, but there was just a sense of inauthenticity in his presentation. I felt like I was being wowed by all the pictures and technology stuff because it all looked nice.

Conspire Conference – Point Leader Summit – Session 3

The third session in the Point Leader Summit was entitled, “Generational Turnings.” Christine Yount-Jones was the presenter for that session.

Christine spent the bulk of the session giving us some insights on two upcoming generations: The Millenials (up and coming students and parents) and the Futuristics (those born after 9/11 up to now). The prospects for ministry with these two generations is tremendous. Although there may not be many of them, the Christian Millennials and Futuristics look to be the most active group that will have ever been. They want to change the world around them, strongly believe in truth and are incredibly connected to each other and the world.

It was refreshing to be challenged to look at things from a positive perspective rather than from a negative one. I liked the reminder that we need to act more as if God did have power and has made that power available to all of us.

Once again, it was refreshing to hear from Christine. It was also great to be able to meet Christine and talk with her for a short while.

Conspire Conference – Point Leader Summit – Session 2

The second session of the Point Leader Summit was entitled, “Leading Teams at Multiple Levels.” It was led by Jody Dreyer. She is a VP at Disney for Marketing. (Yes, another Disney person presenting at Conspire!)

Jody used the word “Synergy” to illustrate the principles of working with multiple teams. Each letter of Synergy stood for one of the principles.

  • Success – Define what success looks like and how you will know when you get there.
  • You are the Key – There MUST be a leader who has the final say. You work with teams but the buck has to stop somewhere, and if you are the leader then lead.
  • Need a Practical, Practiced Plan – It’s important to have a plan that is written down and communicated from the very beginning. It doesn’t have to be all figured out when you begin… just get it down because ideas in your head are just ideas in your head.
  • Engaging Stakeholders Early and Often – Know the teams above, beside and below you. Know what their dreams are, what their fears are and who they are and make sure they are communicated with in the way they need.
  • Rabbits are a Problem – Beware of rabbit trails and quickly evaluate which ones need to be followed and which need to be ignored
  • God is in Charge so Get Out of the Way – seems self explanatory
  • Y Not Have Fun – Take time to enjoy the fun moments and don’t forget to plan in some fun as well.

Again, it was great to see yet another top Disney executive who is committed to following Christ. And it was fun to get some more free stuff from Disney :)

Conspire Conference – Point Leader Summit – Session 1

This year, Willow had a Point Leader track that was an option. I took that option (hmmm… obvious from the title). It was at the Renaissance Hotel, and we were in the same room from 9:00 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. Needless to say, it was a LONG day.

The first session was called “Inspiring Your Volunteers” and it was led by Amy Dolan.
The main thrust of the session was to come up with a plan on recruiting, training and inspiring volunteers in different time chunks: once a week, once a season or quarter, and once/twice a year. It was really practical and helpful because she shared some of her recruiting, training and inspiring ideas for each of those time chunks. We were then able to share with each other at our tables and then some shared with the whole group. It really broke down those three areas of volunteerism into easy and doable steps.

I know that you are all waiting for me to write down all the ideas we got, but sorry I’m not going to. But I am sure if you were to sit down with your team or with some other children’s ministry people you could come up with things you could do to recruit, train and inspire volunteers once a week, once a season/quarter and once or twice a year.

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