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about


I spend my days doing stuff for Soul Survivor NZ and my church "Blueprint" in Wellington NZ. I am perplexed, amazed, in awe of, and spend a lot of time thinking about this revolutionary called Jesus and what it means to follow Him.

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Post-Denomination?

Thursday, September 28, 2006 by Sam

Disclaimer; The following thoughts are not something I would die for, just some ideas that have being floating around. I would love to be corrected. Please feel free to disagree with me.

So for a long time now there has being this thought rattling round my head that the majority of young people I meet do not associate or pride themselves as belonging to a particular denomination. This has being hugely re-enforced this year as I have traveled and met a lot of youth workers, and spoken and hung out with kids from all sorts of churches. I have sat down with a lot of youth workers from most denominations out there in all sorts of towns and cities, from all types of churches. And we have talked and talked about life as we know it, sometimes for hours. And I have yet to see one of the these yoof types (as gareth calls them) get warmed up about their particular denomination. In fact the worldview of most youth leaders, from what I have seen, is remarkably similar.
They don't care about their particular church name, they do care about serving young people, and getting to know Jesus, and serving him whatever that means. But there has always being a skepticism about my particular angle or motivation for wanting to spend time with them... was I covertly representing a particular denomination so that we could steal all the young people from there church through Soul Survivor, and stealthily fill up the Presbyterian church, or Catholic, or whatever...

And I can totally relate. Even though I have grown up in an Anglican church, and worked in one, I certainly wouldn't identify myself as an Anglican. Sesh, im not passionate about the Anglican church, im passionate about the local Church, any flavor, im now part of some wierd emerging church type community made up predominately of young people who are pretty missional and very creative, and work for a Youth Movement called Soul Survivor that exists to serve anyone game enough to be in relationship with us, and then some.

And so I am wondering if our culture, as well as being post-modern and post-everything under the sun, is also post-denomination? What does that mean.

My mate dan (who I hung out with last week and blogged about here) wrote;
"it does seem like people are no longer interested in what church is called, but what it is called to, worship, serving (with heart), Holy Spirit, justice etc.



There are naturally a bunch of red flags and concerns about this shift.
I mean the last thing we need is a bunch of young people who flit from church to church with out ever being a part of community (and I want to underline part, rather than "in", stu highlights the difference in this post) and without ever giving themselves sacrificially to a group, to a community. What we don't need is this whole consumer Christianity being fed by the buffet Christian approach.

And I know there is a sense of loss, and a huge concern about young people drifting away from church full stop. My observations in most established, historical denominations has being that this drift has being met with fear, and a discussion about how we can "keep" young people, or "attract" them. I would argue that this is the wrong conversation to be having. I would argue that Church leaders need to be asking how they can be a resource, support, blessing, encouragement, source of wisdom, EVEN if this means that there denominational label wont be put on these particular communities. That these institutions with a lot of money and experience would invest in young emerging leaders, and back them, gamble on them, almost to the point of foolishness. Sadly I do not see this happening for the most part. Yes, this requires humility, this requires death to ourselves, but I think that there is some very real opportunity in the midst of this shift.

That we can be united in vision and values, through relationship, in a way that we haven't had for a very long time. And that we can have more conversation about the things that matter, than the things that don't. And we can move beyond just talking about stuff, and maybe, just maybe we could do something to build the Kingdom of God here in NZ and around the world.

There is a lot more I want to write but this would then turn into this post into something wwaaayyyy too long, and I know i haven't looked at a whole of angles, and have just scratched the surface of the problems with this, and haven't really explained myself that well, but hopefully it is enough for you to have something to chew over.



Im off to speak at LIVE camp this weekend, and then to Singapore on Monday to help and participate at the Alpha Asia Pacific conference. I am as excited as a little kid, coz I have never being to Singapore before.

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Go Stu

Tuesday, September 26, 2006 by Sam

Great post here by Stu, Man I wish I could communicate how much of a hero he is, and how inspiring it is to have a guy willing to do the hard yards, humbly serving like he has for so long. Keep on going mate!

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Two Worlds and Beautiful Riversdale

Monday, September 25, 2006 by Sam


Had a great weekend helping out at The Rock youth group camp, it was awesome soaking up some sun, getting some waves, worshiping and getting up to mishchief with the crew from the Rock. There was some great times with the biggest bonfire in the world, and the always exciting fireball soccer. I spoke at the camp, and then drove to palmy and spoke at All Saints church on Sunday night.
Had some good yarns with my mate Dan that will make there way into the blog later this week if I have some time.

Jonny and his wife Bex run the youth group at The Rock, and they are absolute legends. Bex has written some brilliant short poems and reflections which have yet to see the light of day. She has given me permission to use one of her reflections on this blog.
I read this, and had that sense of being convicted, rebuked, encouraged, slapped, I just felt a holy sense of being gutted all in one. It is a constant tension to reconcile the beauty and luxury of our existence, with our friends and brothers and sisters in the rest of the world. I hope we get angry, I hope we hurt, I hope we are grieved as we read what she is written. I was. The following is (C) 2006 Rebecca Gilling, and is used by permission. If you would like to use it, or read some more of her stuff, please email her at rebecca@therock.co.nz

"Its just two different worlds"

Its safer for us if we see it as two. If its two, then there are two sets of rules. One for us and one for you. And it helps that we get to make them.

If its two worlds, then we never really have to meet. We can visit yours. Maybe we can stay for a while. We can even bring you some good things. Good for me, good for you.

If its two, then we still get to feel good about being generous. We can still smile and pat ourselves on the back for being a blessing to others. We never have to move beyond generosity to concern ourselves with things like justice, or injustice.

If we are living in one world, and you are living in another, then our lives are mutually exclusive. The way I live mine does not effect the way you must live yours. Your poverty is not related to my wealth. Ending poverty does not mean ending wealth.

If its two worlds, then we never have to think about what God sees when He looks at us next door to you. I dont have to imagine you standing naked with bulging eyes and swollen stomach, parentless, and ravaged by AIDS as I add another room to my house, another investment to my portfolio. Because its just two different worlds.

And when I come face to face with the fact that there are 13million others exactly like you on one continent alone, I am reading a statistic. I am not coming face to face with you. Because if I did, I would have to hold you, feed you, clothe you, love you......I would have to change. I would have to care more about you than my portfolio.

If its two, then we can both enjoy a God who comforts the disturbed. We never have to encounter the kind of God that might be interested in disturbing the comfortable

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Disneyland sucks

Thursday, September 21, 2006 by Sam

My latest article for the Soul Purpose E-zine can be found here. The article came out of frustration at how few young people seem to be making life choices that reflect a belief or trust in Jesus. Frustration because I believe so much more kingdom building work could be going on in NZ and around the world, and frustration because young people are missing out on the wonderfully terrifying adventure of recklessly following Jesus. I am sick of people just talking about following Jesus radically, I want to see decisions that reflect that sort of radical edge. Flag what parents think, flag what culture dictates is normal. Lets live for Jesus, gambling on Him coming through for us, or we're screwed. :) Doesn't sound that safe though

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Soul Survivor

Tuesday, September 19, 2006 by Sam

The Soul Survivor Website is now fully updated and looking damm fine... Chris Darnell, one of the key guys for NZ spent countless hours doing the whole thing in his spare time. What a legend.
It has being incredible to see how many people have given there time and finance to support the Soul Survivor movement as it begins here in NZ. Aside from the HUGE hours that the core team have put in, there have being so many incredibly generous moments.
Alpha NZ have supported me financially two days a week, given me an office. People have anyomously given money at just the right time so we could print our posters and registration forms. There is a couple that give me 40 a week to help with my petrol costs. Nikki Smith who works for a production outfit in wellington spent hours upon hours after work making our introduction dvd for nothing but a hug! Last weekend a young guy who wants to remain anonymous said that he was going to be recieving a nice pay out from a drug trial that he is on. This human lab rat wants to use that money to underwrite a particular part of our festival in January. Just yesterday I was at an awesome church on the Kapiti Coast. They barely have a young person at the church, but are so keen to support finacially and through prayer the Soul Survivor movement, they are so excited!!
It certainly hasn't being roses for everyone involved in launching this thing, its being freaken tough most of the time. But these acts of generosity have completely blown me away, there are some beautiful people out there, and the world is a better place because of them.

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Wild Ones

Saturday, September 16, 2006 by Sam

For those linking from the wild ones blog, this post is for you...
The article darryl is referring to can be found here
Intresting article by some random in the media that may reinforce my point....?

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Im not addicted.... seriously...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 by Sam

The last week has done nothing for my addiction to coffee. The weekend saw the brains of the SSNZ outfit coming together to talk turkey. This meant relatively long days, and what I would strongly contend are early starts (9am). What person involved in youth ministry gets up at 8am??? Its the middle of the freaken night for crying out loud. My poor body was very angry at me, and rightly so.
This meant a lot of coffee was consumed. The weekend was amazing, we have ninjas like Andrew Galloway doing production, Jon Cumming looking after our site managment, Scottie Reeves looking after the entertainment and after hours program. These are huge jobs being our first festival and all. The photo below is one of the few times we managed to stay on task and actually talk turkey. Trust me, thing quickly descend into carnage with the crew there.


I have just returned from a couple of days in Palmerston North and Feilding chewing the fat with a bunch of awesome youth workers. Big ups to Peter at Central Baptist, Graeme at the Pressy church and Karen at All Saints. The Fielding youth workers blew my socks off today, what a neat bunch of guys all working together. I wound up having a yarn about Soul Survivor to the youth group at the Bible Chapel and at Lifeway . It looks like every major church is really keen to support the Soul Survivor movement, the guys doing youth work there are just legends. But again, there was a lot of coffee. I mean a lot... still coming down off the high. The whole festival in January looks like it is going to go off, and what other place would you want to have a festival other than wonderful feilding...

Off to Wellington tomorow for meetings with some of the Soul Survivor guys, and to yarn with some peeps about some camps im speaking at over the next month. Another three days of meetings, and coffee. Helping with worship at church tomorow night, speaking at Blueprint on Saturday night doing the big Soul Survivor launch there, spending some time with Gateway Christian fellowship on Sunday morning. Sunday lunchtime I will collapse in a heap, and try and wean myself off the addictive brown stuff...
Rock on

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For the wild ones!

Friday, September 08, 2006 by Sam

My mate Darryl just flicked me an email with a bit of a rant after we spent some time yarning about the infamous “I am not a Christian” article recently. Ive already mentioned the article in passing in this post, and there are some responses there. And so this is especially for those linking from the wild ones blog where darryl posted that rant. Darryl is a great mate who gives me a good kick up the backside every couple of weeks when we hang out, and has being a key voice that has shaped my understanding about what it means to follow Jesus. The crazy thing was that I was not writing this article to provoke, I was trying to point to Jesus as the centre of our conversations, not these labels. It has being good to yarn with the bald headed one and process my surprise about some of the reactions, certainly from a newbee who is only getting used to people being pissed off with him (whereas Darryl is suprised if people are not!). Just a wee excerpt from his email:

"The system and its language aren’t worth the time and energy they take up. I think its time that, Jesus followers, Christians, people of the way, (your choice) start focusing on the real issues. The recent UNOH Surrender conference did this. It focused us on Jesus and therefore indigenous peoples rights, fair trade, mission, micro enterprises among the poor, poverty and our responses to it…. ….and not once did I hear a discussion on terminology! Excellent stuff!"

And as much as I would love to go; “yeah, take that people that thought my article was dumb…” I also felt flippin challenged by what Darryl wrote. I really dont spend enough time thinking about the real issues of what it means to follow Jesus, I don’t care enough, I get really carried away with issues that don’t matter, a lot of my energy, finance and time is spent on myself.

I would love to give a big Justice rant now to justify myself, talk about my history, whats happening with Soul Survivor and some of our initiatives, but I wouldn’t be doing it for the right reasons, I would be doing it to impress (yeah right!) unoh and urban vision workers… so im going to shut up now… But to all those in UNOH and UV, thankyou for making me feel uncomfortable and deeply challenged about the way I live my life. And cheers Darryl for gently rebuking me yet again :)

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Sounds just like Boyzone...

by Sam

Ok firstly, big shout out to my mate Stu, especially for the tags he put on his latest blog post. Im deeply touched :) If people want a decent blog to look at, go to his. And this isnt a bad attempt at false humility, the guy genuinely has got his head screwed on, and when he gets warmed up on a particular topic, you wont find a better blogger. I mean he blogs about stuff that I think should be in a book, not in a blog. Like this post...

I have being thinking about why on earth I have a blog, in fact why anyone has one. I mean, its pretty arrogant to presume I have anything meaningful to contribute. But then I was talking to a mate about music yesterday, and about how much awesome music there is out there. And we were doing the whole "introduce each other to phat music we hadnt heard before". And there is a bunch of amazing tunes out there to discover. And then it hit me. This is kinda why I want to write this blog. Because my contribution, even if it sounds like a cat getting swung round by its tail, then thrown into a bag of babies, is still one that is valid. And it is my attempt to have some good yarns with some mates, as well as people that dont know me personally, about some of the stuff of life, and especially what it means for us to follow Jesus in this crazy world. Anyway rest assured that I will eventually move on from talking about bloging about stuff, and will wind up posting something to get stuck into in the near future. Im off to an all weekend meeting with most of the Soul Survivor crew from NZ. Me and meetings dont gel, my poor little brain starts going mental after a while, and it is crunch time for the whole thing as we head to our first festival, so im picking its not going to be the chilled out affair it usually is. Bring it on...

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A word of encouragment

Thursday, September 07, 2006 by Sam

I love my mates. After sending an email out to inform the crew that the best blog since paul wrote to the Ephesians was off the ground, I received a bunch of emails that just kept me cracking up all afternoon. For those that don't know these guys, they are not being mean, just giving me some well deserved grief!! I love it. A sampling of the comments:

Elliot: You're a blog (Nice, tight, and to the point)
Chris: Man you are soo all about the fame harvey. (Only good mates could give you crap like this!)
Jonny: I feel its missing something. A photo of yourself in a black suit, colored lights behind, and a colored shirt with the collar out should do it. (Mmmm, must organise a photo shoot)
Becs: Ha! I just tried to go see your blog and the computer wouldn't let me because it is, and I quote, "a high porn public site" classic! (Ok... dont quite know what becs typed in, but I thought things have being fairly clean so far...)
Marko: I added you to my blog reader so I can see all your pithy (and inane) thoughts! (Again, just charming!!!)
Dave: Deep as a puddle.....Deep. (Ohhhhh... he got me)

As well as a bunch of others, and some nice comments on the first post...

So this post is to say "I love you" to all those that have given me some grief. And no, Im not going to sink to your level. I am a bigger man than that. But I do want to remind everyone that I have being working out, my muscles are getting a lot bigger, and so when I see you next, I will not be afraid to open a can of whoopass... you have being warned...

And for all those that thought about giving me some jib, but refrained, feel free to post here to get it out of your system. I can take it. I dont cry myself to sleep... i dont.... seriously...

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The Social Justice Trend

Wednesday, September 06, 2006 by Sam

Interesting post by Dan Kimble on the rising popularity of Social Action, justice etc. I posted a reply because it grated a wee bit, but I had to let it sit with me for a few days to work out why, if you rummage round you may find it. But sesh, Dan Kimble is a bit of a guru, so it feels like posting a comment on one of the gospels or something... well... not quite but you get my drift...

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Post No.2 (slowly getting warmed up)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 by Sam

Ahhh, already it feels better to have had the nasty first post under my belt. One of the habits I would like to get into is to post something at least weekly, if not more regulary. Now of course no one wants to know the insignificant details of my life, so I am going to try not to bore everyone with nothing posts. And if you do like that sort of stuff; just watch Big Brother or prowl around beebo.

But I love great conversation, wrestling with the real issues, having constructive dialogue. For example my mate Dave had some points of difference to an article I had written. We sparred on email for a while before he posted his response. It was great dialogue, and sparked some good discussion for myself, and some of my mates. The issue is if we stayed here. What really bugs me is when those sorts of discussions become the destination, rather than just a discussion on the journey. And when they become the a big deal. When really there is a lot of stuff that we should be way more agitated about if we really follow Jesus. Like this stuff.
Im hoping that this blog will be a healthy outlet for me with some of the stuff rolling round my head, as well as a place where people can violently disagree with me without fear of my incredibly muscular ninja body kicking their ass.

Coz it the end of the day there is a lot that really drives me up the wall, but I am realizing more and more that I don't have all the answers I once thought I did. There are some weird people that call themselves "Christians" out there, and I want to be someone that as much as possible reflects my understanding of who Jesus is, and what it means to follow Him. Even though that is going to look wierd to a lot of people!
Somehow I don't think the photo below quite reflects what I know of Jesus. Jesus didn't alienate people. He did say some pretty hard things from time to time, but I love the way that for the most part it was the religious people that bugged Jesus the most, those were the ones he had the most problem with. And the broken, munted, outcast people on the fringes were the ones he just loved hanging out with, and were the ones most attracted to Jesus.

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I can touch my nose...

Monday, September 04, 2006 by Sam

Right, so the time has come to lift my game and do the whole blog thing. The worst things about starting a blog is... starting. I love reading blogs, but it feels lame starting one. No one will actually read this for ages, and then Im thinking about how little I have to say for the most part, and that there is nothing else on this blog at the moment apart from this silly post. But in spite of all that, it will probably be a good habit to get into, even if it is just me who looks at it from time to time, I wouldnt be suprised if I dissagree with most of what I write! Ironically one of of the blogs (tall skinny kiwi) I love looking at regulary is on a blog fast, and I wonder what can of worms I have opened up...

The best title for a very first post (in my explorations of peoples first posts) has to be Chris Darnells first post; It's new, it's hairy, and it's coming soon to a noodlehouse near you. What a legend

Onwards and upwards


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