TECHnically Great Families

I'm tired of tech-bashing childhood research.

The reason it bothers me so much is because it blames technology for the problems caused by loss of family values and skyrocketing family breakdowns. Technology is serving the role of both the babysitter and stable significant other for many kids. It's not the kids' fault and it's not tech's fault. Kids are the victims. Tech is the fall-guy.

Photo Credit
A lack of relationship values is at fault:
Commitment.
Confession.
Forgiveness.
Reconciliation.
Here in lies the true problem.

I have three kids that love their parents, each other and have long-term friendships with non-family members.

As a family, we regularly laugh together, play board games together, eat together, and chat for hours. That said, they love their tech (as do I!) and have been tech-kids since they were in nappies. The oldest was the first one to coordinate a mouse-in-hand to cursor-on-screen when he was about 2 years old. He’s been at it since. Today he’s almost halfway through a Computer Science degree in which he’s thriving. Boy 2 is in his first year of a Data Science degree and thinks it’s awesome. He’s also a WOW legend! Our daughter, the youngest, strengthens her faith by watching her favourite Christian youtubers and learns one creative thing after another from Pintrest, Instagram and YouTube.

Dad (that's me) has been a blogger for nearly two decades and a youtuber (that's what the kids at school call me! lol) for just over a decade. In just the past year, more than half-a-million people have read/listened to my content. Crazy, eh?

Tech isn't the problem.

It also isn't the reason my kids are awesome. And, they are awesome!

They are great people because their parents suffer and succeed together. We fall. We get up. We apologise. We forgive. We mean it. We learn from our mistakes. We grow stronger. And we do these things privately, publicly and honestly - in front of our kids. They know what stupid mistakes look like. They know what huge belly laughs feel like. They apologise quickly. They forgive eagerly. Because they've seen it work.

People need to stop blaming tech and start loving each other!

A safe Australia is a values-centred Australia

Individual values shape family values. Family values shape community values. Community values shape cultural values. And cultural values shape the character of a nation. Australia is not the safe place it was a generation or two ago. Due to changes in cultural cohesion, community involvement and family structure; what it means to be Australian is shifting and in the process we are losing focus on our shared values. In short, we are no longer able to articulate what it means to be Australian.

Because values provide the foundational core of culture, The Australia Government is doing everything they can to help us find ourselves. This is why schools have values statements, buddy systems and peer mentoring for the students and programs like Real Schools for teachers and staff. It’s also why schools have chaplains, mentors, councillors and well-being officers.

US President Theodore Roosevelt said, “To educate a person in mind and not morals is to educate a menace to society.” A safe Australia is a values-centred Australia. We know this! Not only do values keep us safe, they play a key role in our happiness, wellbeing and success. But, where do they come from? How do we develop values?

Values are caught not taught. We develop our values by watching and participating with other people. Values transfer from one person to another through relational pathways. The stronger the relationship, the more likely we will embody the values lived out by the other person. For most children, parents are their primary relationships and thus the strongest source for their values. Significant family members are also relational values givers. Those we value most provide most of our values.

As a parent, if we want to raise children with holistic healthy values, we need to know our core values and live by them. To do this, we need to take our own values seriously. Sit down and make a list. What are my core values? Why do I have these values? How do I live by these values and how will I ensure I live by them in the future?

A list of commonly held values is a good place to start. Values specialist Michael Gurian suggests ten moral competencies all humans need: decency, fairness, empathy, self-sacrifice, responsibility, loyalty, duty, service, honesty and honour. Happiness guru Martin Seligman adds humility, self-control, love of learning, industriousness, leadership, caution and playfulness. Parenting experts Linda and Richard Eyre continue the list with courage, peaceability, self-reliance, dependability, respect, love, unselfishness and mercy.

An honest personal values list will have just a handful of values. Although more confronting, reverse engineering your list will give you the most honest results. Instead of picking your values from a list; look at the actions, activities and communities in which you are regularly involved. Why are you involved in these things? Your core-values will likely be at the heart of the reasons why you dedicate time and energy to these things.

Once you’ve generated your list, talk about it. Notice when one of your values is lived-out by one of your children and tell them what you’ve seen in them. Put a name to the actions you want to see. Celebrate your values in action!

One by one, both you and your child will become all you hope to be. And Australia will be better for it!

Resilience Reservoirs are Filled by Sharing Your Story-Well


Stories from the story-well of your own life and the lives of others fill your resilience reservoir. The stories you pour into your children’s story-well will be drawn from for the rest of their lives.

Here are four categories of stories about yourself that are guaranteed to help your kids:

Success Stories — Your achievements from childhood, teenage years and adulthood.

Failure Stories — Things you tried, failed and learned from.

Unexpected Surprises — Unplanned things that shaped you. People. Events.

Unexpected Crises — Unfortunate events that shaped you. Accidents. Illness. Loss.


Along with these stories, make sure to include how that event shaped you for better or worse. Stories of both wins and losses are important. They show our kids that real people have real lives, just like them.

Next, expand the circle of influence to include your parents and siblings (your kid’s grandparents, aunts and uncles) and tell the same four kinds of stories from their lives. Better even, ask your extended family to tell the stories from their own perspective. You may want to prepare some key questions based on stories you know your parents and siblings are willing to tell. Prompt them for their stories with a few of your memories.

All the life-stories your children hear flow into their story-well and fill their resilience reservoir. Emotional strength comes from these stories being available when we need them.

Ask your kids to tell their stories, too. Help them to develop positive lessons from the many stories in their lives.

A deep story-well leads to a life of strength, love and joy.

The Best Way to Build Resilience in Your Children



Resilience is the ability to bounce back after a setback.

Some setbacks can be overcome easily, others take time. Why do some people bounce back quickly from an unexpected setback while others seem to get swallowed up?

Heaps of research has been done on what builds resilience. In short, the answer is - the more experience, the more resilience. But here's where things get interesting. It doesn't need to be your own experience. The people around you grow your resilience if you know their stories.

Amazingly, our brains do the same thing with stories we are told as they do with our own experiences. First, we receive the story. Then, we interpret the story. Finally, the interpreted story is stored with hundreds of emotional tags - good, bad, funny, angry, success, failure, happy, sad, lesson learned, random occurrence, etc.

Experience. Relationships. Stories. These three things combine to provide numerous memories of hitting bottom and getting back up. Sometimes quickly. Sometimes slowly. Resilience comes when a person encounters a setback and digs back in their memory - into their story satchel: "Is there a story that relates to this setback?" Our subconscious scans through the tags and says, "Aha! This is like that!" And we begin to make sense of this new struggle. Or, a storyless subconscious sends back, "Nope. Nothing to work with. This is a new low." This is when resilience is hardest.

As parents, it is important to tell stories of both successes and failures. When we share success stories, the point is implied: "I tried, I won!" When we tell struggle stories, the point (resilience) is made in the way we tell the story. It gives little hope to a child to hear, "I failed high school Maths because it was too hard." A resilient telling of the same occasion could be, "I failed high school maths because I was still learning. I had to get some help and practice lots. But then, when the next exam came, I was ready for it!" Or, in my case, I shift the focus (because maths and my brain are from different planets) and say, "Maths is really hard for me. But I love to write. When I was in high school, I did my best on the maths classes I had to take but I took lots of extra English classes because I love writing. I was even the yearbook editor in year 12!"

The important thing is to tell lots of stories. Failure is important. It shows our kids they can make it because we did. Kids who believe their parents are perfect believe their parents expect perfection from them.

Life is not about perfection, it's about connection. Build resilience in your children by blanketing them in story.

Significant Adults: Surround your children with well-storied people. Explain your goal to build resilient kids to these significant adults. Ask them to share stories with your children. Thank them for helping!

Storytelling Parents: Tell your children stories of your own. Your setbacks, struggles and successes will empower them to make wise decisions and to bounce back from whatever life throws at them.

Resilient Kids: Finally challenge your kids to build stories of their own. Overcoming small setbacks gets us ready to overcome big ones later in life.

The best way to build resilience in your kids? Surround them with stories. Their own, yours and the stories of people they love.

Solving the Loneliness Epidemic by Opting Out

Values, identity and resilience once came from our Church Community and our Family Faith. Now, both church and family are relics of the past for most westerners.


Secular Primary/Secondary Schools are facing this head on. Governments (at least the one here in Australia) know intrinsic values result in extrinsic behaviour. Due to the lack of values coming from the historical sources — healthy nuclear families and community creating churches — schools are being challenged to run ‘values programs’ and teach positive identity and emotional resilience to students. Many schools have creedal statements centring around their desired values. The clear hope is that the next generation of adults will be less self-centred, disrespectful and lawless.

It is often said that ‘It takes a village to raise a child’… But the villages are empty. People are flocking to the cities. In cities, community gets swallowed up by cacophony. Without healthy relationships at the core of cohesive communities, we will not see other-centredness in the village square.

More people need to decide the relationships they are in are worth saving and savouring. Throwing a person or an organisation away because your views have changed is sending you down the path of loneliness with the rest of the west.

Right now, the default is to join the cubicle conglomeration: a collection of secluded self-actualised humans living in tiny cardboard boxes jammed-up against other boxes of other success-driven self-made men and women.

Buck the system. Leave the conglomeration and join a congregation. Find a spouse and get married. Then stick around through thick and thin. Build a family. Join a church. Face life together. Create something together today worth living in together tomorrow.

What is The Gospel of Jesus Christ?



Wikipedia summarises the Gospel this way:
In Christianity, the gospel (Greek: εὐαγγέλιον euangélion; Old English: gospel), or the Good News, is the news of the coming of the Kingdom of God, and of Jesus's death on the cross and resurrection to restore people's relationship with God.

What is the ultimate purpose of the coming of Jesus?

Why is this Good News?


The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia summarises the Gospel this way:
The central truth of the gospel is that God has provided a way of salvation for men through the gift of His son to the world. He suffered as a sacrifice for sin, overcame death, and now offers a share in His triumph to all who will accept it. The gospel is good news because it is a gift of God, not something that must be earned by penance or by self-improvement.

How did the gift of God’s Son provide salvation? (3 points)

Why is this Good News?


Salvation for a Doomed World - John 3:16-18
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

What is the default position of humanity?

How did God’s Love solve this problem without forcing people to accept it?

What must we do to be saved?

Why is this Good News?


Paul’s Declaration – Romans 1:16
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”

What is the point of the Gospel?


Paul’s Explanation - 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, . . . the twelve . . . five hundred . . . James . . . the apostles; and . . . me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I laboured even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

What is of “First Importance” in understanding the Gospel?

1. Jesus _ _ _ _ for our _ _ _ _ (according to scripture)

2. Jesus was _ _ _ _ _ _ on the Third day (according to Scripture)

Paul tells the Jesus story, the impact it had on others and then the way it changed his life. How is Jesus’ death for your sins and his defeat of death Good News for you?


Group 1
Read Acts 16:25-34

Spend time in your group writing out what you think was said in Verse 32.
Prepare to share this as a story.

Why did the Gospel mean so much to the jailer?


Group 2
Read Acts 8:26-38

Spend time in your group writing out what you think was said in Verse 35.

Prepare to share this as a story.

Why did the Gospel mean so much to the eunuch?


Personal Sharing of the Good News of Jesus Death and Resurrection
What would your answer be to a friend who says:

Why do you follow Jesus?

Why should I follow Him?








Being the Body of Jesus


Why Everyone IS Leaving the Church and Why They SHOULD BE


The reason the church is emptying through the back door, front door, windows and floorboards is simple. But it isn’t obvious. It’s simple because it’s just a matter of knowing Jesus. It lacks clarity, however, because there are more versions of Jesus than denominations. No wonder Jesus prayed for his followers to be one as He and his Father are One!


The Purpose of the Church

Contrary to the bumper sticker:
The church is not meant to be a hospital, but it often is.

Contrary to the record keepers:
The church is not meant to be an institution, but it often is.

According to Jesus:
The church is a body — one body. Well, it’s meant to be.
The church — the body of Christ — is Jesus’ chosen way to be active in today’s world.

The easiest place to see Jesus’ purpose is in his own actions. Understanding Jesus’ purpose then will help us understand the role of the church now.


Jesus’ Body

When Jesus was living on earth, he bodily served and savoured marginalised people and called religious people to drop the act.

When he was dying, Jesus’ body was broken for the lost — those besmudged and buried in sin. If you’ve hung with him, you’ve heard Jesus say, “You will be with me in Paradise.”

When his body died, everyone lost hope. Some left town.

When Jesus rose, his body walked through walls into places he wasn’t expected, a hint of things to come. Every meal — in every house — became a statement about his act of salvation. A reminder to some. An invitation to all.

When Jesus ascended, his body disappeared. Like the disciples then, we often need to hear, “Why do you stare into the sky? He will return. Now go — be His body.”

When the Spirit came, his body — the church — was in Jerusalem, praying in a small room. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ body spoke in many languages and baptised thousands on the first day of the Way.

In Jerusalem, his body brushed up against the religious leaders and told them to drop the act. Then leaving Jerusalem, his body was sent to serve and savour the marginalised.

The first outside convert was an outlier in every regard — a foreigner, a slave, a eunuch. The Spirit found him reading aloud from the Holy Scriptures in a chariot. This may not strike you across the face as firmly it should.

So, let’s reverse through it slowly: (In first-century Jewish understanding, this story is one blasphemy after another.)

Location: This Scripture reading was not in a synagogue but a chariot.
Reader: This Scroll was not being held by a Jewish Rabbi but an unwashed foreigner.
Learning: It was not being read with historical knowledge but scriptural ignorance.
Purity: This man was a eunuch. Eunuchs were not allowed in the Temple. Not allowed to be included in Jewish worship. Certainly not allowed to touch Holy Scripture. And yet, here he is — a gender-reassigned slave, touching and reading Scripture while bouncing along in his foreign queen’s chariot.

The Clincher: The Holy Spirit — knowing all this — sent Philip to catch this precise chariot. Not to tell the foreign eunuch he shouldn’t be touching, reading or questioning Holy Scripture but to tell him the rest of the story — the whole story starting with the passage he was reading. To tell him Jesus died to remove his record of sinfullness and make him — just the way he was — right with the Almighty God. Eternal life and freedom from sin was his, if he wanted it. The telling of this Good News — by the church, the body of Jesus — outside Jerusalem, throughout Judea and into all the world starts here. With a conversation. And it ends with a baptism. All in one day.

The Church: In this mission launching event, the Holy Spirit blew out the religious cobwebs and threw open the church doors. Peter’s night-time struggle with a sheet full of meat pales in comparison with this first conversion! This is what the Body of Jesus is all about. There are no limits to where the story of Jesus can reach. Jesus came to earth to save you and me while we were still sinners, and now he sends us to tell everyone His story.

Good news for the lost in a broken world.
The dying outsiders with real need.
Those who have yet to hear.
The whole story.

This is what the Body of Jesus does.
This is what the true church does.


Why They Leave

When people leave the church, it is because they have not experienced the body of Jesus. They’ve been a victim of mistaken identity — people playing church while outsiders cry out for something to make sense of the senseless pain, suffering and brokenness of life.


Why They Come

The Good News shared in the chariot that day still works. It is still needed. God loves by nature. God forgave you before you asked. Right now, God is holding His hand out calling — and His call is heard when the body of Jesus, his church, knows their purpose. Then hand in hand, two walk into the church where one walked out.


More Good News

You don’t need a degree, a Bible study training course, a script or a secret prayer to get started. Those doing the caring and sharing aren’t perfect. You’re ready right now. All you need is your story of how you met Jesus.

Just like the eleven staring into the sky, some of us still doubt. Like Peter denying; we question our own worthiness and readiness. Like Thomas doubting; we question the nature and nurture of Jesus Himself.

Like the Apostles, we question the meat in the sheet. The worthiness of the hands holding Scripture, the untrained voice reading aloud. The readiness of the eunuch in the river, the sincerity of the baptiser.

Some of us, looking at the ascending body of Jesus, still doubt. His solution? Get us busy. Give us a mission. Go — be His body. Baptising. Teaching. Obeying. Until he comes.

Such an embodiment of Jesus today is a hard place to find but an impossible place to abandon. So, let’s build it. Let’s be it.

Eat everything in the sheet. Drop the act!
Chase a chariot for the Holy Spirit! Tell Jesus’ whole story.
Then come home and testify to the glory of God sweeping the world.

One by one, we’ll shake the saints out of the pews and into the true work of the body of Jesus.

The goal of the church isn’t to stop people from leaving but to set them firmly in Jesus’ mission before they go. Then, they will go tell Jesus’ story. And return with a new friend. Go. Return. Go. Return. Winning the world for Jesus — one chariot conversation at a time!

Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...