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Author: host Created: 10/13/2008 6:48 PM RssIcon
The Daily Voice blog explores Christian education in progressive congregations. Archives of our daily email newsletter will be posted here each weekday morning. Use the various tools to the left to see posts older than 2 weeks.
By host on 5/27/2010 9:40 AM

Sound AdviceIn my house, there's an ongoing debate. After finishing an audiobook, should you say you have "read" the book or "listened" to it (or both)? Regardless of where you come out on the question (I'm a fan of "read"), audiobooks are a terrific way to pass the time, learn something new, and have fun while you drive, exercise, or work around the house. I almost never leave the house without at least one audiobook on my phone and/or iPod, and I frequently have one checked out on CD from the library as well. Here are some great sources for audiobooks, including several that charge little or nothing, plus a peek at the last two audiobooks I listened to (and loved!)

By Different Voice on 5/25/2010 7:00 AM

For many church staff members and leaders, summer provides a bit of a breather and gives you an opportunity to do a few different activities. Sure, there may be VBS or a youth mission trip to plan and lead, but most of the Christian educators I know do have some down time for at least a couple of weeks. If that's true for you, consider doing what I'm about to do: take a Summer Sabbatical.

By host on 5/20/2010 7:00 AM

In last week's email I linked to a hilarious video about contemporary worship that I highly recommend you watch (or watch again) right now. The video points out a common trait of more contemporary styles of worship: the "flow" tends to be the same from week to week ("Opening song, opening song..."). Further, there are often secondary, less obvious meanings ("...but we're tracking it.") The video pokes fun at contemporary worship, but a similar critique could be made of traditional worship and of a lot of Christian education curriculum. As one who frequently writes curriculum for publication, I know well that there are many good reasons for developing lesson "rubrics" or outlines that flow in a similar fashion from one week to the next. It's easier to write to a pattern, and it requires less preparation effort on the part of the teacher, to name just a couple of the reasons. When you review curriculum, one of the decisions you need to make is whether or not you like the "formula" or pattern that material uses, and be aware of it so that you don't get stuck in a rut in your educational settings.

A small curriculum publisher called Wayfarer puts out a downloadable youth/young adult ministry curriculum called Room 1228. I discovered it via a Facebook ad and decided to take a closer look. There are a number of things I really love about it, and I think it's a good representative example of where a lot of curricula is headed, but there also are features that just don't work for me. I'll tell you more in just a bit (and provide you with a special offer code so you can get a discount on purchases!) First, though, it's good to remember that there are MANY ways that a youth or young adult group can look, and you don't have to follow a prescribed pattern or flowchart. Some youth groups meet only once a month, while others meet weekly or even more frequently. Some college ministries provide a highly varying blend of trips, projects, lessons, speakers, and fun nights, while others follow a structured, predominantly large group/small group format. When you evaluate a particular curriculum for your setting, it's easy to immediately reject it because it doesn't fit your style, theology, or personal interests. My hunch is that many readers of this review will not typically use the format of Room 1228. If that's true for you, I hope you'll take a close look at the material as a way of reflecting on what you understand to be true about how youth and young adults learn, what your group's purpose is, and why you structure your group the way you do. Now, on to the review...

By host on 5/19/2010 7:00 AM

The odds are good that your youth room is probably the coolest space in your congregation, filled with all sorts of technical gadgets, games, photos, and the like. But what about books? Have you considered having several books in the room that can be used for conversation starters, shared browsing, and time-fillers? Books are great for those youth that are visual or verbal/linguistic learners, and they can give the more shy kids in your youth group a way to interact with one or two others. Scatter them around the room, especially near where youth like to sit and hang out. Here are some suggestions...

By host on 5/12/2010 7:00 AM

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Cast your vote here. Thanks!!

~ Tim

By host on 5/11/2010 7:00 AM

One of the places where I get the best tips about news, books, curriculum, videos, and other items of interest to progressive Christians is on Facebook. Here are 22 of my favorite pages you might "Like", and groups to "Join." You'll find many great people on these groups who you should also know, so poke around and meet some new folks! And if you know of a great group or page I missed, please add a comment below with the Facebook link.

By host on 4/27/2010 7:00 AM

Anyone who spends a lot of time on a computer has likely encountered the problem of how and where to store website addresses, bits of text, names of books or movies, and all of the other "stuff" one comes across on a daily basis. The bookmark or favorites tool in your browser works fine for websites you use regularly and occasionally, but they really aren't generally well-designed for holding a lot of entries. Storing notes in Stickies clearly has space limitations, and To Do applications are generally ill-equipped for data storage and retrieval. 

There are countless other tools that have been developed for storing and searching your "life-text," and many of these are quite good. For example, the products from Devon Technologies are just superb, if you're a Mac user. I've previously written about Instapaper, a free service that works pretty well for saving web addresses, and (until recently) I used that on an almost daily basis. Evernote, which I've also encouraged readers to check out, is my tool of choice for taking notes, doing drafts of blog posts, storing quotes, keeping lists of books I want to read, and much more. But while Evernote's an amazing tool, it just has never fully grabbed me. Partly, this is because I couldn't justify the cost of the Premium version, and partly it's because I just find it's clunky for certain purposes. But after testing Springpad, an even newer, totally free web-based service, I think I'm about to be a convert.

By host on 4/22/2010 7:00 AM

The library in the church where I spent my teenage years didn't have many books—and practically none that were intended for teens—but since I was a voracious reader I polished off a few of them one year. They would have fallen into a category I'd call “faith memoirs,” and they were stories of persons whose evangelical faith had been the driving force as they worked with gang members, were imprisoned in a dark prison cell in some Asian country, or survived the Holocaust. Thinking back on those books now, I realize that they played an important role in shaping my theology at that time. After all, I thought, the people in those books actually seemed to live their faith in profound ways, not just go through the motions like many of the adults I knew.

My theology has changed quite a bit since then, but not my love for reading. The faith memoir genre—and memoirs in general—have not been high on my reading list for some time, though. Nonfiction books seem to capture my attention the most these days, but I still love the power of a good story. When I realized I'd saved three memoirs to my Amazon wish list, I knew it was time to give the genre a go again, so in a bit I'll share three brief reviews with you of three really great memoirs.

Memoirs are a sub-genre of autobiographies, and the primary difference is that they tend to focus on a smaller time-slice of a person's life. The faith memoir tends to contain not only recollections about particular events, but it also reflects on the spiritual significance of those events. Thus, it's common in faith memoirs for there to be long sections of theological reflections which surround the personal stories. These reflective passages, I find, tend to keep my interest in the book higher because I find the author's stories to relate more to my own life.

By host on 4/9/2010 7:00 AM

We live in the age of sharing…at least in certain spheres of our life. If I open iTunes to listen to music or podcasts when I visit my local wireless-enabled coffee shop, I often can see the music playlists of the other persons who are also listening to their tunes. As long as they leave their laptop open, I can "stream" their music through my computer to listen to anything that catches my interest. I'm always surprised at the eclectic mix of tunes most people have on their computers; showtunes sit next to electronica, and country hits appear in playlists with classic rock. In reality, I almost never actually listen to the music, but I occasionally do browse the lists just to get a peek at someone's personality, a window into someone's soul.

We participate in the age of sharing. Ever noticed this little image before on a website like ours?

When you click on the icons, you become an evangelist of sorts. Whatever page, product, song, or article you happen to like is instantly shared on your favorite social network with your friends, or even just through email if you prefer to "kick it old school." Click on the Twitter icon from one of our daily emails, and you can immediately Tweet the world, "Hey, you really should see this."

By host on 4/8/2010 7:00 AM

teddy bearWhen Tim and I were initially creating the Different Voice website in the fall of 2008, we spent quite a bit of time coming up with our Core Values. The core value I have found myself thinking a lot about lately is Change. “We believe God is continually active in the world and that God is still speaking. Change is critical to growth.” I would add to this statement, that change is inevitable. (Change is the only constant, as I remind myself frequently.) Change, however, even when it is a positive change, is rarely easy.

It is with mixed feelings that I write this, my last scheduled email for Different Voice. I am excited and energized by the possibilities of the future. And yet, Different Voice has been a wonderful experience on my journey, and the decision to move on has been a difficult one. As I have pondered these things, two words have repeatedly popped into my head – Thank You.

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