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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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A good day off

Monday, January 29, 2007 by Sam

First up, congrats to my mate Dan on his new baby boy; Bede. This photo is of the new arrival with my gorgeous god-daughter Hannah.

Secondly, some love thrown Gareth's way, after a very nice post he wrote. To beat his wife in the first of the series of "people he likes" may well have earned him some time in the dog kennel, but means a lot! If I may return the kiss to the nether regions; Gareth is a real legend of a guy who has chosen to work in the offices of the church, which means he can run his business there, but also that he gets called on for all sorts of IT support, and subtly (or not so as the case may be) influences the flavour of all that happens in the office and church. If only we had more business people thinking about doing the same thing, the support and resource that people could offer be simply being around would be incredible. And I love the new series. In a country that loves tearing people down (and my gosh have I being on the receiving end of that in my 25 years) it is awesome to see this new series of posts on his blog build people up.

Anyway, down to business; how do we have recharging, refreshing days off?

The thing that munts you up in ministry is that you actually do very little physical work, you spend your days engaging with people in which you want to give your full attention, there is the stress of sermons to write, youth programs to nail down, more pastoral coffees with kids just getting munted in their lives (so many you have to say no to some of them which kills you), staff meetings, camps to plan, brochures to write, parents to communicate to, emails to countless people in networks to keep the wheels turning, newsletters, reports, worship planning and practises, a meeting for nearly every event that happens, strategy retreats and days, youth leadership training and on top of this, most actual youth ministry happens in the evenings after these long days. Its very easy wind up just cranking it a little too much. Add to this the necessity to be spiritually developing, and trying to connect with Jesus in a meaningful way as often as you can. And then that the ol enemy isn't entirely happy with your little efforts to build the kingdom and you have quite the recipe for some weirdness.

My experience is that I would come home just exhausted, my brain fried from a day of intensity, and all I would want to do is jump in my cave, turn on the TV, and zone out before jumping into bed. But the problem is that because you have done jack tweety all day physically, your body is not tired even though your brain is full of stuff, and so you normally lie in bed wanting to sleep but not being able to because you have all this stuff running around in your head and wake up nailed...
So when it came to days off, the temptation would be to catch up on some emails and write some talks, or to blob and watch some dvds, again just a lame way to try and recharge before another week, and even then I had to fight a sense of guilt for not doing too much (especially as my pay check came from people that donated to the church).

A revelation came early last year when I worked as a builders labourer for about four months. From full time ministry to the building site full of rough chippies and sub-contractors and conversations about cars and rugby and killing animals....
I would wake up, work my lil guts out for 8.5 hours, come home physically shattered, eat a big feed and then crash out exhausted, sleeping like a baby. It was the most refreshing four months I could hope for and it scared my how much my lifestyle before that was really pretty unhealthy. Doesn't sound like a sabbatical, but it certainly felt like one.

And so as I continue a slightly different line of full time ministry type stuff (what a dumb way to express it, aren't we all?) I'm trying to make the most of my days off to recharge and refresh rather than just blob. And I am trying to stay physically healthy on my days charging around the place. I'm trying to soak up life and stop to reflect, to not feel guilty about doing little that is productive.
What does this look like? Well it used to be a long walk on the beach, but its now morphed into a run as often as I can (which will be hilarious for anyone reading this who actually knows me... that will not compute at all!). Of course, the ultimate chill out refresh activity is going for a surf, and as we are now living at the beach the wave count has seriously increased. We have biffed out the TV, and it is all very old school with lots of reading books (very CS Lewis of me, I know), and im trying to not feel guilty about the day off even though I now live off support not my church salary. I was fascinated to read Stu's post on his retreat day a while back... again some interesting thoughts, and with the amount of church workers wigging out at "burning out" it is probably a good conversation to crank out.
The truth is that I still suck at unwinding, and that its taken me this long to begin to get a handle on this. It certainly wasn't something taught at bible college!

Not a lot of answers I know, but be interested if you have any more ideas or stories.

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Eating some bread, drinking some wine

Friday, January 26, 2007 by Sam


Note: this is an not an attempt to try and raise the maturity of this blog after the comments in the last post. It came out of conversation with a guy today... who lives in Palmerston North. Please pray for him, and for anyone else you know living in Palmy. If you have being there, you know why.

Does anyone else find Communion empty and boring? Does the very word “Communion” conjure up the most religious and dull of memories? Doesn’t it all sound so… Anglican?
Now I (frustratingly sometimes) love the Anglican Church don’t get me wrong, (I am a closet Anglican) but surely this ritual wasn’t meant to be so lifeless?

While I think the words in the Anglican liturgy are incredibly beautiful words, (warning: judgement alert) hearing them said in a monotonous voice from a guy who sounds as spiritually excited as a plate of sausages and bored witless makes contemplating this incredibly act of grace difficult. And then to have the same words repeated every week, year on year until they have had every bit of life beaten out of them seems to be adding insult to injury.
I am well aware that for many the marriage of liturgy and communion really is something that works for them. This is not the case for me, and I would argue that many young people struggle to engage with this expression (and if we are really honest many not so young).
Once every now and then when I haven't being to an Anglican service for a long while (as in right now) and it is a deep experience. Thrashed out every week, and before you know it I am thinking about everything but the cross, it becomes another empty ritual. C.S. Lewis disagrees with me and writes that the familiarity of these words makes it like a well-worn shoe in which one can easily dance. The familiarity of the words for Mr Lewis helped the act of contemplation, didn’t hinder it.

And then there is the Pentecostal churches who are just as bad in my opinion. It seems that whole command to do this to remember what Jesus did is a bit of a pain in the back side, and so they seem to quickly get communion over and done with, and do it every blue moon to tick the box. Throwing the bread and a thimble of juice down the aisle in between songs is as much an act of contemplation as the drive thru, and again seems to have cheapened the whole point of it.

So what’s it to be; the token or the boring?

Now all these conversations are fine if you don’t actually help pastor at a church. Alas, my theory, my rants, my frustration can actually be used to try different things. Unlike many, I cannot enjoy the satisfaction of being pissed off about something and enjoy stewing about it with out ever trying to make a positive alternative. The exploration of different ways of "doing" communion began in my old church in Karori in 2005, and was really emphasised at the beginning of last year as I began helping to lead at a church called Blueprint.

Like many emerging churches, Blueprint has being guilty of throwing out the baby with the bathwater in its exploration of what Church looks like these days. And so communion had hit the sack heap until someone piped up from the church and challenged the leadership on the whole deal part way through last year. Brook, my good mate saw the point and re-introduced the event. I can take none of the credit, but love the way that things have turned out and have learnt a lot. Let me explain what has being happening the last 7 months.

In between every series through out the year (or about every 6 weeks) there is a night in which we focus on grace. For a church filled with new Christians, or old munted ones (like me), I struggle to really believe the scandal of grace, and so this is a welcome reminder. Obviously central to grace is the cross, and at the end of the talk, or sometime in the night we spend a decent amount of time either in silence or with background music eating some bread and drinking some juice. I cannot overstate that they are the most powerful nights where there is a very tangible sense of beauty and a very deep sense of contemplation of this incredible act of love. The whole process of listening to someone speak on grace, and then to spend time with some physical elements and to consider that this God loves us that much, to consider the implications of the cross, and the implications of grace on our lives. This has brought such renewed life, passion and gratitude in the act of communion on a personal level, and a desire to see new life breathed into this ancient ritual that is filled with mystery, freedom and beauty.

In no way has blueprint got it nailed and if anything it is a church marked by its obvious and very real imperfections. The truth is that in every church there is the danger that we can very easily slide into ritual and loose meaning of important parts of the fabric that make "Church", but on the other side there are things that we can learn and grow from. And I know that no denomination or church has ever set out to try and make something loose meaning or disengage young people. My argument is that something so special and powerful as communion is worth having some hard yarns about as there is such a depth that we can easily loose when we have not spent time thinking about how we will create an atmosphere of contemplation and reflection.

My apologies for the judgemental tone of the post, I would be very interested in your thoughts and experiences in this matter, and look forward to my Anglican friends roasting me on a spit.

In other news…

A blog well worth checking out is my mates Dave “Bare Theology” (no its not the theology of nudistst…). Dave has some very impressive titles next to his name; dean of men, lecturer at the Bible College of NZ, writer for Soul Purpose magazine... etc etc. Dave was my flatmate for the whole time I lived in Auckland, we completed our degrees at the same time. The difference was that I was content with the mantra "C's get degrees", Dave actually studied... and after I graduated Dave stayed on, has just about finished his masters, and lecturers at the college to this day.

He has shamelessly advertised his blog on my comments twice, and seeing that putting his blog on my link page is not enough, I am going to advertise his site in the hope that this monkey will stop peddling his new blog on my blog... jokes its a good read. Although to be honest my brain cells get a little fried after reading to much of blogs like his, a reflection of my simple mindedness and his intellect. In fact, I would encourage you to find the comment I left on his blog, which was all I could think of at the time. His last post had me cross eyed.

But for those bored of the paddling round the puddle, and know its time to have a “real meal” and tackle some meaty issues, then head over to Dave’s blog. On top of his intellect he is a quality guy, we had some legendary times flatting together.

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Two reasons im stoked

Thursday, January 25, 2007 by Sam

Firstly my Jackie Chan immune system told my appendix where to go, and I'm feeling heaps better, which is sweet. Not out of the woods yet, but if I keep heading in this direction, im gonna be fine by the weekend. You beauty, no stoopid hospital visits.

But most importantly; Rage against the Machine are re-uniting for one gig!! Im so stoked, and the truth of the matter is that I would give my appendix, a kidney, a couple of toes, a few children, and a kick in the goollies to go to the gig. Alas I will probably have to content myself with looking at you tube footage of the show. Still, it will fuel prayers that they start talking honestly about how incredibly lame audioslave is, and how rockin rage is, and the rage boys will surely see the light, dump Chris Cornell, get back with Zac, so that they can go on and continue to bless the world with slammin tunes. Seriously, jump on you tube and check out a rage clip and an audioslave clip back to back. The two bands are so far apart in energy, in crowd response, in the crucial X factor that it is embarrassing.
Throw in to the mix that Rage have being going hard on justice issues since the first canoe (waayyyy beofre it was the popular thing), that Tom Morello pioneered so many new sounds with his guitar that he might as well have invented the thing, and the way that Zach de la Rocha is an incredibly intelligent student on history with every song loaded to the hilt with refrences to all sorts of movements..... arrggghhhh I want them to reunite for good...

Anyway, after that moment, im going to go chill out somewhere and stop dribbling on the keyboard.


What a pain in the...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007 by Sam

Well the youth zone at summer wine was a lot of fun, there were an awesome bunch of young people there, particularly a crew from the Chinese Anglican Mission which had to be the rowdiest of the bunch. It was nice to have no "superstar" speakers or worship leaders, and have an awesome to hanging in with God. Very cool.
I was pretty nailed at the end of the camp, two camps on the trot exposed the reality that the days are over where I could happily live in a tent and charge around for weeks on end with no apparent change in energy.
I was looking forward to a couple of chill out days, however these have being robbed from me by a right pain in the stomach. Went to the doc this arvo and it is possibly appendicitis, but its not at a stage where they are 100% so I have to wait around for another 24 hours to see if it gets worse or whether my body does a kung foo hit on it and sorts it out. I reckon I have a jackie chan style immune system so hoping that I don't have to have the ol brave heart, rip out your guts operation.

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The K town boys and some SS photos

Thursday, January 18, 2007 by Sam

Ok, firstly I am sending subliminal jealous vibes to my boys from Karori who are on their way to the big day out... tool, muse, jet, the violent vemes, the killers, freaken jealous (not the band, thats my feeling after writing that list of glory).
I have being thinking a wee bit about the karori lads and lasses, and how cool it has being to hang out with them over the last four years. There has being a very cool transition from "sam the youth pastor" and the boys he gets paid to hang out with, to a bunch of mates that totally rock my world, and I consider as great friends. We've being on a holiday a couple of times last year, and these larikens totally enrich my world.

Im just about to launch into four days of camp, im leading worship twice a day, have two seminars and a main meeting, so its going to be a rather busy time. In fact its way more busy than soul survivor was for me, which is a reflection of the ninjas we had there. I have a bunch of photos from people that were there - they will be on the soul survivor website shortly. But here are a couple to whet your appetite, and make you book yourself in for next year... Will try and upload some from the afternoon serving events, some of the bands and other gaps later...

The Late Night story with Mason, went orf!!

The Twister Tournament... NZ vs the rest of the world. NZ won

My tent... there will be justice

The Steward Team, the servant legends of the event

Main Meeting in the morning...

The Horizontal Bungy was sweeeeeet

Emo Music every night at the cafe... *sob*

Cafe where all the deep and meaningful yarns happened

Mike Pilavachi in full flight during a Main Meeting

The Marquee

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21st update

Sunday, January 14, 2007 by Sam

Ok, crazy night. An absolutely picture perfect evening, party was going so well. However it all turned a bit pear shaped when a big group crashed our bonfire at the beach, and after sitting around for a while took an unprovoked swing at one of my Bros mates. Before you knew it there was a small riot. Anyway the police turned up pretty quick, and have one of them in custody, and the picture and name of another. Pete got a bottle to the head, one of the girls got a punch to the face, and a number of the boys were on the receiving end of some fists to the face. All totally unprovoked and out of no-where. Might post a picture of the idiots on my blog tomorrow. Anyway, its 3 in the morning, time to hit the hay. Certainly going to be a night to remember!

Happy 21st Pete!

Saturday, January 13, 2007 by Sam

Im getting ready for a big night, its my bro's 21st! The beer is stacked in the fridge, our cheap gazeebo (that we have set up for the very first time, and managed to break!!) is set up, the spit roast is getting fired up, and there is that cool feeling of looking forward to having a night laughing with ya mates.
My bro is my hero, and with countless surf trips and shanadigans we have become best mates over the years.
The reason pete is a hero is that he is a dude that totally lives out the christian life, and is pretty low key about talking about it. Pete is one of those rare people whose practice actually lines up with his theory... which is pretty convicting because im one of the many many people whose theory looks very diffrent from their practice. While im all about talking about it, pete actually lives for others, is an amazing servant, has given himself to work for urban vision and looks after and shares life with people on the fringes.
The other thing is that everyone in our family is looking forward to him cranking out some business once he finishes his accounting degree (mainly coz we need the financial support), I may have got the hair, but pete got the brains.

Happy 21st bro, you da man!!!


Update day 4 - 5 and end of first festival

Monday, January 08, 2007 by Sam

My phone died, which is why the updates ground to a halt. The Saturday afternoon projects at Soul Survivor will have to be a highlight. I drove around with Nikki who was taking some footage of the projects, and it was incredibly to see all that was happening. It felt like around every corner there were a bunch of young people from Soul Survivor doing something practical to help out the local community. Groups of kids were doing garden work in a retirement home, washing cars, chopping wood at a school, walking up a stream cleaning out rubbish, painting a room in a community centre, clearing weeds in a reserve, doing housework for elderly people . It was just incredible. Full credit to the churches in Fielding for an incredible effort organising the afternoon.
The last night was a lot of fun with the after hours program. There was a giant twister competition between NZ and the visitors from overseas. Happy to report NZ one convincingly.

I'm on day one of recovery, have a lot to process, there is that lingering bitter sweet feeling of being really stoked with how well the event went, and the the whole Soul Survivor NZ team are stoked, but also processing a whole of junk that came to the surface in my life over the week. Long walk along the beach in order this arvo.

I'm deeply deeply grateful to so many of the volunteers that made the event a success, Socttie Reeves doing the after hours entertainment, Andrew Galloway cranking the production, the cafe team. The hero of the event has to be Jon Cumming, the man who did all the site management and worked huge days to make everything run smoothly.
Bring on Soul Survivor 2008


Update day 3

Friday, January 05, 2007 by Sam

Slightly cooler weather today to everyones relief! There were a few burnt guys wandering around the sight this morning after yesterdays crazy sun.

Another great day, both Darryl Gardiner and Mike Pilavachi hit them out of the park in the main meetings, all the seminars cranked and the event seems to just feel more and more alive. It has being a huge day for me personally with some very deep and profound conversations with some friends who (probably unintentionally) really cut to the heart and God has being speaking to me really clearly today about some stuff. A bit of a beautifully painfall day. Its a real pain in the butt, I want to be the sorted leader, the truth is I really want and need God to bring some healing and hope to me this week as much as the next guy.

I'm really excited about the service projects happening tomorrow arvo.

Must sleep now, thanks again for your prayers and encouragment.


Update 2

by Sam

Very late, but a quick update from day 2. The weather has being great, and the day has being fantastic. It is very sureal how well things are running, and a real testament to Gods faithfullness.

I'm very tired and have an early start tomorrow so I'm signing off. Cheers for your prayers Marko and others. Its very humbling to have such a neat group of mates suporting this whole thing.



Soul survivor day one

Wednesday, January 03, 2007 by Sam

I will endeavour to update my Blog from the soul survivor festival. Not so much for anyone not here reading this, but mainly so I have written down somewhere the events that are unfolding.

It has being an incredible start to the event. The set up has being disturbingly easy and smooth. The site and production team have totally nailed it.

I was really nervous about what the first night would be like; would the kids get anything out of it, would the speaker connect, would anyone even turn up?

But the amazing thing is that the first meeting rocked, a number of kids became Christians tonight, the music worship was fantastic, and I'm curently sitting in the cafe listening to an acoustic artist typing on my blackberry with a smile on my dial.

This historic first night of soul survivor, and this very significant day in my life is coming to an end, and I could not be more blown away by this incredible God that has blown apart my expectations yet again. And this is night one, four more days to go!!!!