Rabu, 27 April 2016

6 Rules for Surviving the Age of Clutter

6 Rules for Surviving the Age of Clutter

We constantly have priorities and technology demanding our attention. Here’s how to navigate this new reality.
I have a friend whose life is defined by “busy.” He doesn’t really accomplish much, and I think that’s why he’s embraced an identity of always being busy. He can’t talk without complaining about how busy he is, he starts most of his emails with “I’ve been so busy recently that …” and he never seems to have time to read a book, reflect or think. It’s another symptom of this disrupted culture we live in. So if you occasionally feel overwhelmed and can’t really define why, here are a few new rules for living in the constant “on” culture:
1) Turn off your computer and mobile device notifications. Every app these days wants to be able to notify you of discounts and special deals. I looked at my wife’s phone recently and she had 22 apps that all had notifications turned on. It was pinging all day long. And that’s not counting email, text and social media notifications. Just turn them off. Do you really need to know the moment a person responds to your Twitter post? Do you need to be alerted the exact second every email arrives? Talk about overkill. Let it rest.
2) Schedule two to three times a day to check your email—that’s it. (This one is going to be rough for most people.) The truth is, we whittle away vital creative and productive time obsessively checking email. Pick three times—say 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.—and do a deep email dive then. Otherwise, focus on the important stuff.
3) Clean up your workspace. This is far more important than just making things look nice. The key is knowing where everything is. Half your stress is coming from searching under piles of papers for that information you desperately need. Take a few hours and tidy up. Sure it’s a pain, but once it’s done, your stress levels will lower immensely.
4) Keep an updated to-do list. You don’t have to go full-on GTD (that’s actually become a religion now), you just need a handy checklist. Get tasks out of your email and into a list you can order and prioritize. You can’t see the big picture until you see everything in a list. My favorites are Things, Wunderlist and Trello, but there are many good ones. Take the time to try a few out.
5) Learn to say NO. Here’s a great piece from my friend Seth Godin on the subject:
6) Finally—schedule time off. If you don’t put it on the calendar, it will never happen. I’m not talking about a vacation. I’m talking about an afternoon at the museum, going shopping, taking a nap, reading a book—anything that will get your mind off work and help you clean out the mental pipes. One of the most popular creative tools is to simply take a walk. I always feel more like working after I’ve taken a couple of hours off, so take it seriously. It will help you de-stress and greatly enhance your mood.  
Phil Cooke

Phil Cooke

Phil Cooke is the founder and CEO of Cooke Pictures in Burbank, California (cookepictures.com)where he helps church, ministry, and nonprofit organizations engage the culture more effectively. He's a filmmaker, media consultant, and author of "Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media."

A Guide to Kid-Safe Messaging Apps

A Guide to Kid-Safe Messaging Apps

Keep kids safe with some of these messaging apps.
Kids are becoming more and more tech savvy every day.
While it’s great when you have a computer issue to solve, it can be a challenge when it comes to the ways they communicate with peers.
Older kids and teens want to stay in touch and know what their friends are up to. More often than we want to know about it.
So how can we give them freedom while keeping them safe from inappropriate content and online predators?
The reality is, there is nothing you can do to completely protect your child, but the best ways to shelter them are …
1. Parent involvement
2. Supervision
3. Relationship
That said, we’ve put together a list of apps to help you supervise their online experience.
For ease, we’ve broken the group into pieces based on how they work.

1) Kid Safe Messaging Apps

These apps have various levels of functionality and ease but all work on these principles …
  • friends must be running the app to use
  • adult supervision or tracking is available
  • privacy settings are available to keep strangers out

Multi Platform

  • PlayMessenger
    • PG-13 chat app
    • Includes chat, text, message and send picture and voice messages
    • Trust Mode where parents can set level of oversight they desire for each child
    • Language filters to block offensive conversations
    • Adult verification to confirm users identity
    • Children’s information safeguarded with PRIVO-Cert certification
  • ROO Kids
    • Ages 12 and below
    • Parent controls to monitor contacts, safety and in-app purchases
    • Curfew hours to block use of app at homework and bedtime.
    • Camera lockout to prevent accidental photo sharing
    • In app reporting of questionable messages or users
  • Kuddle
    • Ages 9+
    • Accounts for kids under 13 are tied to a parent’s email. Parents receive notification about account activity and post approval.
    • Content Moderators remove questionable content and notify parents is challenges arise
    • Posts are only viewable by friends
  • Maily
    • Ages 4+
    • Designed for kids to connect with family and friends
    • Parents control kids’ contacts and can approve messages they send and receive
    • Is essentially a drawing and email service

Apple iOS only

  • Kids In Touch
    • Ages 6-13
    • One account per family with child-specific login and multi-device support
    • Text, picture and video messaging
    • Parents control contact list and can review messages
    • Parents can disable sending photos/videos for any child
    • Note from the developer: No official Android version yet, but invitation to beta test on Android
  • Marimba Chat
    • Ages 7-12
    • Geolocation filters
    • Profanity filters
    • Security alerts for parents
    • Parents can watch conversations in real time or review past messages
    • Chat hours can be limited per user
    • Certified by the kidSAFE Seal Program

2) Parental Control Apps

These apps have various levels of functionality and ease but all work to track the online activity of your kids. Some approach protection from a content filtering side while others from a watch-and-track side. Depending on your needs you should consider:
  • MSpy
    • Remotely track and control activity on smartphones and computers
    • Monitor calls, GPS location, web history, images, videos, email, SMS, Skype, WhatsApp, keystrokes, calendars and more
    • Generate detailed reports on use
  • TheOneSpy
    • Monitor calls and live conversations in real time
    • GPS location, web history, images, videos, email, SMS, calendar tracking, photo gallery and more
    • Logging available
  • FlexiSpy
    • Spy on calls, messages, passwords, GPS, Chats, multimedia, internet use, device actions and application use
    • Receive alerts when specific contacts are contacted or phones are tampered with
Are your kids already using messaging apps not on this list? If you are unsure about the safety and standards, this infographic will help. It outlines the targeted age range of other apps on the market. Many of them don’t meet the functionality guidelines listed above so they were not included previously.
Messaging Apps for Kids
For information on ways to keep your kids safe at church, check out our free Children’s Check-in Guide.  

Ryan Holck

Ryan is a worship pastor turned graphic designer. He is the owner / designer at RAD-Ideas.com, where he combines his pastors heart with the practical need for quality church graphics. Through freelance design, coaching and his ready-to-use Open, Edit, Print resources, he strives to take the stress and frustration out of design in the church. Sign Up For Resources From Ryan


"Panggilan untuk Indonesia"
Dengan didukung oleh keyakinan yang teguh dan doa yang sungguh-sungguh, Jaffray mendapat penglihatan dan nubuat yang membuatnya semakin antusias menghadapi pelayanan. Kali ini, ia ingin mewujudkan mimpinya, secara khusus panggilannya untuk Pasifik bagian Selatan. Sudah lama timbul di hatinya untuk melihat daerah ini, tetapi belum bisa tercapai. Kali ini, ia begitu yakin bahwa Tuhan sedang membawanya untuk daerah Pasifik. Itu sebabnya, sementara menunggu saat yang tepat untuk menuju ke Pasifik, Jaffray berdoa dan mempelajari peta, atlas, dan setiap sumber informasi lain yang bisa ditemukannya. Ia selalu meluangkan waktu untuk berkunjung ke kantor perusahaan pelayaran untuk memperoleh informasi dan bercakap-cakap dengan para pelaut tua yang sudah berpengalaman yang mengerti betul tentang Hindia Timur.
Setelah yakin akan panggilan Tuhan dan memperoleh banyak informasi mengenai daerah yang dimaksud, maka pada Januari 1928 Jaffray meninggalkan Tiongkok. Ia berlayar dari Hongkong menuju Selatan, ke kepulauan Pasifik. Ia tiba di daerah Sandakan, Kalimantan, jajahan Inggris, tetapi ia tidak mau menetap di daerah ini karena sudah ada utusan misi lain yang bekerja di sini.
Jaffray, kemudian bergerak menuju ke Selatan dan tiba di Kalimantan, jajahan Belanda. Kemudian, dari tempat ini Jaffray menuju Balikpapan. Meski ada berbagai suku di sini -- Melayu, Jawa, Bugis, Tionghoa, Arab, India, dan Dayak -- tetapi hanya satu orang keturunan Tionghoa yang ia jumpai, yang pernah mendengar tentang Yesus, itu pun tidak mendalam. Akan tetapi, Jaffray enggan menetap di daerah ini. Dalam pikirannya, hanya ada dua tempat yang sangat menyentuh hatinya, yaitu Makassar dan Surabaya. Meskipun ada 20 kota pelabuhan di sepanjang pantai Timur Kalimantan, tetapi menurut catatan Jaffray, belum ada saksi Kristus di sana. Ia berjanji bahwa dalam waktu yang tidak lama akan ada saksi Kristus di tempat itu.
Tampaknya Indonesia mulai menjadi sasaran prioritas misi dari C and MA (Christian and Missionary Alliance - Red). Indikasi ini muncul karena setelah satu tahun Jaffray mengunjungi Indonesia, pada 29 Juni 1929 rombongan pertama misi C and MA tiba di Surabaya. Lewis menuliskan bahwa setibanya di Surabaya, Jaffray yang fasih berbahasa Mandarin langsung mengadakan kontak dengan orang-orang Tionghoa. Keesokan harinya, mereka mendapat kesempatan untuk melayani dalam kebaktian penginjilan di salah satu gereja Tionghoa. Menurut Jaffray, waktu itu ada enam orang yang mengangkat tangan untuk didoakan. Itulah buah sulung dari suatu panen besar yang nantinya akan dituai di beberapa tempat di Indonesia.
Selanjutnya, dalam catatan kaki bukunya ini, Lewis menulis bahwa kemungkinan besar gereja inilah yang mendesak Jaffray untuk mengirimkan seorang pekerja. Evangelis T.H. Loh, lulusan Sekolah Alkitab Wunchow, dikirim pertama ke pulau Jawa oleh misi CFMU/CandMA dan menjadi gembala sidang jemaat Kanton di Surabaya. Jaffray menyadari bahwa pelayanan di Indonesia perlu dilakukan secara serius. Oleh karena itu, ia memutuskan untuk menetap di Indonesia. Daerah yang menjadi pilihannya adalah Makassar. Alasan memilih daerah ini karena letaknya sangat strategis. Jaffray membayangkan Makassar seperti poros roda yang jari-jarinya kelak memancarkan Injil ke seluruh pelosok negeri ini. Dari Daeng Tompo Straat 8 Makassar, pelayanan Jaffray kemudian mulai meluas ke Sumatera sampai Papua. Selanjutnya, api misi itu mulai terkontaminasi kepada putra-putra pribumi yang dilatih oleh Jaffray untuk menjadi utusan Injil. Untuk itu, Jaffray mendirikan Native Conference, yaitu organisasi pribumi yang akan ikut mengembangkan pekerjaan Tuhan bersama-sama dengan misi C & MA di Indonesia. Dari hasil pelayanan Jaffray, muncullah beberapa gereja Tionghoa dan gereja pribumi. Salah satu gereja terbesar yang menjangkau kaum pribumi dan telah tersebar hampir di seluruh kepulauan Indonesia adalah Gereja Kemah Injil Indonesia.
Strategi Misi Jaffray
Untuk mengembangkan misi pelayanannya, paling tidak ada tiga strategi pengembangan yang dilakukan oleh Jaffray. Ketiga strategi pengembangan pelayanan misi Jaffray ini adalah penerbitan, pendidikan, dan gereja pusat. Penerbitan, memang tidak mengherankan jika penerbitan menjadi strategi Jaffray. Ia adalah anak seorang pemilik surat kabar terbesar di Toronto. Selain itu, pengalaman sejak tahun 1913 ketika ia mendirikan Bible Magazine berbahasa Tionghoa yang sangat terkenal di kalangan kaum Injili. Selain itu, salah satu peninggalan Jaffray adalah berdirinya toko buku rohani Kalam Hidup yang berkedudukan di Bandung. Pendidikan, pendidikan yang dimaksud di sini adalah pendidikan teologi. Pada tahun 1932, Jaffray mendirikan sekolah Alkitab Makassar. Dengan berpedoman pada 2 Timotius 2:2, Jaffray berkeyakinan bahwa satu-satunya jalan untuk melestarikan pekerjaan Tuhan melalui pelayanan C & MA di Indonesia ialah dengan mendidik dan melatih orang-orang Indonesia sendiri. Gereja pusat, pada tahun 1932, Jaffray mendirikan Gereja Kemah Injil yang pertama.
Kebaktian pertama dimulai di ruang kelas, di rumah Clench, pada malam hari. Ada banyak orang yang datang untuk mendengar firman diberitakan. Salah satu orang yang dimenangkan bagi Kristus adalah seorang wanita kelahiran Minahasa, yang di kemudian hari menjadi nyonya A.B. Fransiskus. Bapak Fransiskus termasuk salah satu penyokong pada waktu pembangunan Gereja Kemah Injil Pusat ini dimulai.
Meskipun tidak dicatat sebagai bagian dari strategi pengembangan Jaffray, tetapi ia juga mendukung pelayanan radio. Yang menarik buat saya adalah tidak semua misi Jaffray mendapat dukungan finansial dari misi C & MA. Akan tetapi, itu tidak menjadi penghalang bagi Jaffray dalam menjalankan misinya. Boleh dikatakan, baginya bila Tuhan berkehendak, tidak ada seorang pun dapat menghalangi, dan itu terbukti!
Kunci Sukses Pelayanan R.A. Jaffray
Setiap tokoh mana pun dalam sejarah peraihan suksesnya dan dalam hal apa pun, selalu dipengaruhi oleh faktor-faktor tertentu yang menjadi khas dalam apa yang ia lakukan. Demikian pula dengan DR. Alexander Jaffray. Setelah membaca kedua buku yang ditulis oleh A.W. Tozer dan Rodger Lewis, maka ada beberapa hal penting yang patut dicatat sebagai kunci yang membawa Jaffray menjadi salah satu tokoh misi yang dapat disejajarkan dengan tokoh misi dunia lainnya.
Pertama, doa. Jaffray tidak akan pernah melakukan sesuatu tanpa didahului dengan doa yang sungguh-sungguh. Ia baru akan mulai sampai ia yakin bahwa Tuhan mengizinkan pelayanan dilakukan melalui penglihatan dan nubuat. Kedua, filosofi pelayanan. Filosofi atau falsafah pelayanan Jaffray sangat sederhana, yaitu membangun dan memelihara hubungan baik dengan banyak orang, memberitakan Injil kepada setiap orang, mengorganisir jiwa-jiwa yang telah dimenangkan, dan mengajar atau melakukan pemuridan. Agar falsafah yang dibangun ini dapat berjalan sesuai dengan yang direncanakannya, maka Jaffray melakukan pendekatan strategis melalui pendidikan, literatur, dan gereja pusat.
Mengenai filosofi dan strategi pengembangan pelayanan Jaffray, saat ini sudah banyak gereja dan lembaga Kristen atau para pelayan yang melakukan, bahkan mungkin lebih baik. Akan tetapi, ada satu hal yang sering diabaikan, yaitu doa yang sungguh-sungguh untuk suatu pelayanan yang baru. Banyak gereja yang mengalami perpecahan, hamba Tuhan yang saling menjatuhkan, jemaat yang picik dan tidak mau tahu dengan pelayanan. Semua terjadi karena memulai pelayanan bukan berdasarkan apa yang Tuhan kehendaki, tetapi menurut apa yang kita inginkan dengan segala kepentingan yang terselubung. Saya harus banyak belajar dari orang seperti Jaffray!
Sumber bacaan:
  • A.W. Tozer "Biarkanlah Umatku Pergi"
  • Pdt. Rodger Lewis, BA. "Karya Kristus di Indonesia"

Diambil dari:
Nama situs : Pilar Sukses
Alamat URL : https://pilarsukses.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/refleksi-hidup-dan-karya-rev-dr-alexander-jaffray-oleh-maarjes-sasela/
Judul artikel : Refleksi Hidup dan Karya Rev. Dr. Alexander Jaffray
Penulis artikel : Maarjes Sasela
Tanggal akses : 17 Februari 2016


Bacaan: Roma 15:14-33
"Apabila aku sudah menunaikan tugas itu dan sudah menyerahkan hasil usaha bangsa-bangsa lain itu kepada mereka, aku akan berangkat ke Spanyol ...." (Roma 15:28)
Pelayanan untuk memberitakan Injil tidak terfokus pada satu tempat. Dalam Matius 4:14-16, Yesus memberitakan Injil kepada bangsa-bangsa lain, "supaya genaplah firman yang disampaikan oleh nabi Yesaya: Tanah Zebulon dan tanah Naftali, jalan ke laut, daerah seberang sungai Yordan, Galilea, wilayah bangsa-bangsa lain, bangsa yang diam dalam kegelapan, telah melihat Terang yang besar dan bagi mereka yang diam di negeri yang dinaungi maut, telah terbit terang". Demikian juga panggilan Paulus dalam memberitakan Injil di Makedonia.
Panggilan untuk memberitakan Injil haruslah diberitakan sampai ke ujung bumi, sesuai dengan Amanat Agung Tuhan Yesus. Paulus mendapatkan kasih karunia yang telah dianugerahkan Allah untuk menjadi pelayan Kristus Yesus bagi "bangsa-bangsa bukan Yahudi" supaya bangsa-bangsa itu diterima Allah sebagai persembahan yang berkenan pada-Nya, yakni supaya bangsa-bangsa lain memperoleh pengharapan dalam Kristus -- pengampunan yang membawa kepada keselamatan yang kekal dalam Kristus Yesus.
Pemberitaan Injil kepada bangsa-bangsa lain adalah hak istimewa yang telah Tuhan Yesus berikan kepada Paulus;Paulus menjadi "saksi-Nya", memimpin bangsa-bangsa lain kepada "ketaatan oleh perkataan dan perbuatan" sehingga bangsa-bangsa lain itu juga berhak menerima "janji Tuhan". Paulus sendiri boleh bermegah, menganggap suatu kehormatan bahwa pemberitaan Injilnya tidak dilakukan di tempat nama Kristus telah dikenal orang, tetapi sesuai dengan yang ada tertulis: "Mereka yang belum pernah menerima berita tentang DIA akan melihat DIA, dan mereka yang tidak pernah mendengarnya, akan mengertinya" (Yesaya 52:15).
Bagaimana dengan diri kita? Apakah kita sudah sungguh-sungguh berjuang untuk memberitakan Injil kepada saudara-saudara kita, sekeliling kita, masyarakat tempat kita berada, bahkan kesempatan sampai ke ujung bumi? Kasihilah jiwa-jiwa yang terhilang, yang belum mendengar akan Injil Kristus, Injil Kerajaan Surga.
Studi Pribadi: Apakah menjalankan pekerjaan misi adalah suatu keterpaksaan atau suatu anugerah? Jelaskan alasannya!
Doakan Bersama: Berdoalah bagi para utusan yang menjalankan tugas pelayanan sebagai misionaris, di mana pun mereka berada, agar mereka tetap tekun, setia, dan senantiasa bersandar pada pimpinan Tuhan.
Diambil dari:
Nama situs : GKA Gloria
Alamat URL : http://gkagloria.or.id/perspektif/wp/2014/08/panggilan-misi/
Penulis artikel : Tidak dicantumkan
Tanggal akses : 17 Februari 2016

Senin, 18 April 2016

Free eBook: “9 Evangelism Insights That Will Transform Your Ministry” by Greg Stier

Free eBook: “9 Evangelism Insights That Will Transform Your Ministry” by Greg Stier

eBook - 9 Evangelism
Gain crucial insight into a youth ministry strategy for both spiritual and numerical growth.

Free eBook

Download and share this free eBook with your leadership team.
From Dare 2 Share, “See more fruit in your ministry. We all want to see new believers and deeper discipleship in our youth groups, and this innovative FREE resource from Greg Stier of Dare 2 Share will help you do just that. This free PDF download will: Offer a youth ministry strategy for both spiritual and numerical growth, give you tools to inspire your teens toward relational evangelism and spell out simple ways to make evangelism an integral part of your youth ministry.”

Get Download Now

Resource provided by Dare 2 Share

10 Questions to Diagnose Your Smartphone Usage

10 Questions to Diagnose Your Smartphone Usage

Whether student or leader, smartphones are a regular part of life. Here’s how to make sure you’re using them for God.
Recently, Tony Reinke interviewed British thinker Alastair Roberts. His first question was, “If a young Christian adult came to you, wondering about whether their personal smartphone habits were healthy or not, what are the preliminary diagnostic tests you would offer?” Roberts’ written answer was substantive and perceptive enough that we thought it would serve our readers to make it available as a stand-alone article here.
The smartphone—we should not let its name deceive us.
The smartphone is not just a glorified phone. That we use the term “smartphone” is an accidental result of the path taken by its technological evolution. The smartphone is, in fact, a personal mobile device that is at once a camera, computer, calculator, gaming platform, means of sending mail, GPS, PDA, phone, reading tool, miniature music and video player, window onto a neighborhood and connected world, and many, many other things besides.
As a device, the smartphone as it typically and currently exists must also be understood as a technological counterpart to two key developments in the character of the Internet. The first of these developments is the rise of the social web (related to what some have termed “Web 2.0”), resulting from the shift of the Internet from a less structured and open realm, populated by a more distinctive demographic of creators and publishers, to a heavily colonized realm of mass participation, social networking and interaction, and sharing (which is dominated, shaped and policed by powerful companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter).
The second and later of these developments is the rapid rise of the app. Our connection to the online world on our mobiles is now overwhelmingly dominated by the use of apps—chiefly within an environment established and managed by Google or Apple—rather than by mobile browsers.
The app represents a wider diffusion and greater immediacy of the connected realm into our lives. Rather than the more determined process of “going online” by opening a browser on our mobile devices, we are always connected through mobile apps. Being connected functions less as a purposeful action than as a continual state, part of the unconsidered and ubiquitous wallpaper of our contemporary existence. The app-based experience of the online world is localized, personalized and a continual background to our experience. The smartphone is a landmark development in the process that Marva Dawn has termed the “technologizing” of our intimacy and the “intimatizing” of our technology. Keeping all of this in mind is essential as we continue this conversation.

Are Your Smartphone Habits Healthy?

If we are to assess whether our smartphone habits are healthy or not—and this is hardly a question that should be exclusive to young Christian adults!—perhaps a helpful place to start is by challenging the underlying cultural script that typically drives our adoption of new technologies. This script is one that rests heavily on choice and potential as such and the notion of freedom from (upon the removal of constraints, limitations and restrictions) and is much less attentive to the reality of freedom for—to our being liberated to become more fully and faithfully human in communion with God and each other.
The familiar cultural script is that more is typically better—more interactive, faster, more efficient, more connected, more fluid, more integrated, more social, more intimate, more inclusive, more “user-friendly”—and that the farther our limitations are rolled back, the freer we become. Yet many of us are rediscovering the truth of Edmund Burke’s dictum that many of the restraints upon us, and not merely our liberties, should be reckoned among our rights and the grounds of our freedom. Pursuing unguarded liberty with things puts us in very real danger of having those things “take liberties” with us (1 Corinthians 6:12). The loss of natural limitations often doesn’t leave us better off, and many struggle to re-establish these broken barriers in the far less certain form of sanity-restoring disciplines.
The diagnostic tests that we should run—and should continually be running—ought to be informed by a clearer concept of what our freedom is for and the sorts of shapes that it takes. The bigger questions that we need to address are as follows:
  • Do our particular uses of our smartphones, and our use of a smartphone more generally, have the actual effect—not just hold the theoretical possibility—of making us better servants of God and of our neighbors?
  • Are our smartphones tools that facilitate our commitment to the central purposes and values of our lives, or are they—and our habitual modes of using them—constantly distracting, diverting or obstructing us from them?
More specific diagnostic questions could include the following:
1. Is my smartphone making it difficult for me to give the activities and persons in my life the full and undivided attention and self-presence that they require and deserve?
2. Do I habitually use my smartphone as an easy escape and distraction from the difficult task of wrestling through the experience of lack of stimulation and boredom to the rewarding reality of true engagement?
3. Is my smartphone use squeezing out my inner life, encroaching upon time that would otherwise be given to private contemplation, reflection and meditation? Do I use it as a way to distract myself from unsettling truths and realities that can slowly come into focus in moments of silence and solitude?
4. Am I using hyper-connectedness to substitute a self unthinkingly immersed in a shallow and amniotic communal consciousness and its emotions, for the difficult task of developing my own judgment, character, disciplines, resolve and identity?
5. Are my uses of my smartphone arresting and hampering my processes of deliberation and reflection, encouraging reactive judgments and premature decisions?
6. Is my use of my smartphone mediating my relationship with and understanding of myself in unhealthy ways?
7. Is my smartphone a tool that I use, or has it fettered my attention and time to other persons and activities that are wasteful and overly demanding of them?
8. Are my uses of my smartphone preventing me from developing and maintaining healthy patterns and routines in my life, disrupting my sleeping patterns, interrupting my concentration upon my work, habituating me to the fragmentation of my time and attention?
9. Is my smartphone usage consuming time that I used to, or could potentially, devote to worthier activities? Do I use my smartphone to “kill time” that I could otherwise fill with prayer, reading, writing, edifying conversation, face-to-face interactions and more?
10. Are my uses of my smartphone conducive to the faithfulness and freedom of others? Am I using my smartphone in ways that create unhealthy demands and pressures upon them?
Of course, as they are the epitome of multipurpose devices, our uses of our smartphones are complex and varied, and their effect upon our lives in the aggregate is often difficult to assess for this reason. Consequently, it is important to attend both to particular uses of our smartphones and the space that they occupy in our lives more generally. Alan Jacobs’s recent article in The Atlantic on abandoning his smartphone for a “dumbphone” is a good example of the benefits of “disaggregating” the purposes and uses of our smartphones and determining which of them truly enrich and equip our lives’ purposes and values and which do not.
One of the things that Jacobs observed, for instance, was that his smartphone represented a highly intimatized device for him in a way that his dumbphone could not. I suspect, however, that even a dumbphone would be intimatized for many of my own and younger generations, for whom intensive texting has represented a means of maintaining a persistent low-level hum of sociality throughout our day-to-day lives and activities (and significantly different patterns and levels of mobile phone uses and addictions can often be observed between the sexes in these respects).
These diagnostic questions are tests that we need to perform upon ourselves. We should beware of issuing general condemnations of devices or media more generally and of the communities that use them. Although there are common patterns of dysfunctional usage, these patterns of usage, while often encouraged by our media and devices and even more so by communities of users, are seldom straightforwardly determined by them.

Greg Stier: The Greatest Threat to Your Youth Ministry

Greg Stier: The Greatest Threat to Your Youth Ministry

It’s probably not what you think.
The greatest threat to youth ministry (other than the Devil of course) is probably not what you think.
It’s not church budgets that are getting squeezed tighter than ever.
It’s not the things that compete with youth group attendance like sports, academics and entertainment.
It’s not even demanding elder boards, angry parents or apathetic teenagers.
No, the greatest threat to youth ministry today is the status quo.
Any youth ministry model that is just doing typical youth ministry in the typical ways is dying a slow but steady death.
These youth ministries tend to be meeting driven instead of mission driven. And, because of the internal focus, the discipleship process shies away from a healthy, vibrant missional movement to a game-filled information download session.
But our teenagers are not computers and God’s truth is not a flashdrive. The Bible is “alive and active” and is designed to activate God’s mission in and through us and our teenagers. It releases our teenagers to become agents of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21) on their campuses and in their communities. It was never meant to be merely studied and applied to young lives. It must activate our teenagers on mission.
Any youth ministry model that fails to unleash God’s Word to be both lived out and shouted out becomes a Pharisee-building factory or a future young hedonist assembly line. True learning takes place in the middle of the mission, not in the middle of a lesson.
Just like Jesus with his disciples, we send our teenagers to their peers to engage them in Gospel conversations and then train them afterward in the truths that their minds and hearts are now ready to receive (Luke 10:17-23). The more that youth ministry becomes the central storytelling center where teenagers share challenges, victories and questions, the more learning actually takes place. The kingdom of God grows and goes both deep into the hearts of our teenagers as they take it wide into their hearts of their campuses and communities.
It’s time to change the way youth ministry is done in America. It’s time to activate Gospel advancing, disciple multiplying ministries where teenagers grow as they go. It’s time to attack the status quo and eliminate the biggest threat to your youth ministry.