How Many Youth Workers Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?

Q) How many youth workers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A) I don’t know. But as long as they don’t do it with a member of the opposite sex in a room with the door shut it doesn’t matter.

Q) How many youth workers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A) Two, one to change the lightbulb and one to moan at the PCC over the lack of lightbulb funds.

Q) How many youth workers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A) One. There can only be one youth worker. No-one else can put in the effort or take the responsibility for these young people. No-one else can be trusted with their salvation and growth.

Q) How many youth workers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A) Two, One to change the lightbulb and one to tell the young people not to have sex.

Q) How many youth workers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A) One, however there aren’t any lightbulbs left because they were all used in trying to make the biggest tower out of ordinary household objects.

Q) How many youth workers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A) Two, one to change the lightbulb and the other to give a short talk about how once there was only a lightbulb which glowed brighter than any other lightbulb, and it never blew up or was the wrong wattage. And that lightbulb’s name was Jesus and he really wants you all to not have sex. I mean have eternal life.

Q) How many youth workers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A) Change! Hooray! Finally we’re dragging this place into the 21st century.

Q) How many youth workers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A) Two, one to change the lightbulb and one to hold the ping-pong table they’re standing on still.

Q) How many youth workers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A) One, and he does it really quickly, everyone knows being alone in a room with no light is tantamount to a sin. I mean sex. I mean sin.

Q) How many youth workers does it take to fit as many lightbulbs as possible into their own mouth?

Q) How many youth workers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A) Five. Two to start a Friday night discipleship group, one to start a sport’s ministry team, one to meet with young people one-to-one and one to do some schools work. With all that in place they can empower a young person to do it for them.

Q) How many youth workers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A) Lightbulbs! Who cares about lightbulbs when some young people might be having sex

Translating The Qu’ran

For long and complicated reasons that I won’t go into here, but I assure you, are hilarious, I was lent a DVD series of a debate between a Dr Zakir Naik and a Dr William Campbell called “The Quran & The Bible In The Light Of Science”. It’s around four hours of rip-roaring side-splitting fun, in which both parties throw aside the notion that their respective holy books are the ultimate guide to truth and chose to submit their beliefs to the word of science in the hope that that will somehow prove which one of the religions is the winner. And by “the hope that that will somehow prove which one of the religions is the winner” I mean “the hope that that will impress the audience with their clever arguments and turns of phrase and so prove which one of the religions is the more acceptable”. In short, if you want to hear tedious arguments about whether or not the moon being described as a lamp or a direct light destroys the (alleged) word of God, then this is the DVD for you.

In all this though, there is occasionally a glimmer of interestingness, unintentionally revealed during arguments over the size of mountains, or in the below case, the Arabic word which can be translated blood clot. Watch the clip, paying close attention to the last line that he says.

Bad arguments from Matthew 10:5-6 and Matthew 15:24 aside, there’s something really wrong going on here. Dr Naik agrees with the man he’s debating with about how to find out what a word used in a historical document really means. Go back to the source, see how it’s used in the source, see how it’s used at the time the source was written. That’s the meaning of the word. In writing this sentence, I use the word “writing”, in previous times this would have meant putting something down onto paper with an instrument like a pen. Now it can include typing too. Meanings change or adapt over time, therefore you’ve got to see how the word was originally used. In the Bible, the words were given to people at a specific time in a language they could understand. God reveals himself in a way we can understand. Is there an eternal meaning? Of course, but how can we know that if it’s not given in words that people can understand and translate?

That’s not true of the Qu’ran says Dr Naik, “So as far as the Qu’ran is concerned you cannot limit the meaning for only that time, because it is meant for eternity”. The Qu’ran is a book of which the words have an eternal meaning. Just because the early Muslims would have understood a word to mean one thing doesn’t mean that the word actually means that. So the phrase they thought meant “Here is the word of God” could actually eternally mean “Here is the word of a carp”. Which kinda makes the entirety of the Qu’ran nonsense. I mean, reasonably following this logic, you could rightly say about any verse “ah, but we don’t understand the Arabic here correctly, we think it means ‘sword’, but eternally it means ‘the first series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ “.

And so what you’ve got is not the Qu’ran with eternal meaning, but the Qu’ran with no meaning.

1 I’m not sure I should even bother with a rebuttal, reading either of the passages in full shows the nonsense of his position. Even the second more difficult passage ends with Jesus saying “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” Or better yet, you could read all of Matthew and hear the closing words “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

On Engagement

There are ten thousand books on dating, and ten hundred thousand on marriage. There are hundreds on singleness and at least dozens on being widowed. There is though, as far as I can see, only bare units on engagement. Maybe it’s because in today’s society engagement is just an expensive arrangement that you do next if you want to please the missus. (True story, the fiancĂ©e and I a were at a wedding reception the other day and found out another couple were engaged. “Congratulations” we say “have you set a date?” “yes” she replies “next year”. Her partner squeezes her hand and smiles at her awkwardly “I was surprised when we actually set a date, I thought we wouldn’t.”) Or maybe it’s because engagement is seen as something to survive through. It’s dating that’s the hard work; deciding who your partner should be and at what stage you should change your status on Facebook to “in a relationship” and whether or not you do get engaged. That’s the tough bit. Once you’re engaged though you’re effectively strapped in so you’ve just got to tough it out.

Or maybe just as some people send their idle moments working out how to secure their current location from zombie hordes, so some people spend their days dreaming of their perfect partner, the beautiful house and their seven children. And so while a lot of forward planning can be done –where to go on the first date, what food to stockpile– once you’ve said yes and the approaching zombie hordes are coming, you realise that you haven’t really planned for this stage and just fall back on the few basic rules you know and try and make it through; don’t go off alone, don’t sleep together, plan a good wedding, aim for the head. And then hopefully, you’ll make it through the long dark night / period of engagement.

And that’s probably the end of sustained metaphor on this website.

So maybe there’s just not much to say on the subject. But then, I’m currently engaged and the question I have to wonder about is how do you live being engaged? And it’s not like the Bible doesn’t speak rather a lot about engagement. I mean the church is currently engaged to Christ so maybe it’s a bigger idea than people make out.

Or maybe it’s just that books don’t sell on engagement because when people get engaged they go “Oh bother, I’ve got to pay for a wedding”. So maybe it’s just that engagement is not the best time to market a book.

On Productivity

We run a driving theory course as part of our outreach and Christian love for the young people we work with. The logic goes; our young people are dropping out of education with no qualifications, they want money, realise that getting a job isn’t that easy and then realise that they need qualifications for a good job. Also, they want to learn to drive. But for the above reasons they can’t afford to learn to drive. Also, it turns out that having a driving license is a pretty good qualification. So we teach young people the highway code in small numbers every few months so they can pass the driving theory test. Hopefully one day we’ll be able to teach them all of the driving test, but the theory gets them farther along that way. We do all this because it is a a loving act. You should try them some day, they’re pretty neat.

Anyway, today saw me making a introduction quiz with some of the questions that you might be tested on during the driving theory test. Pick a random question from the driving theory test bumper question book, type it up, then repeat. Except it’s hard to pick a random question from a book, after all, a book pretty much always falls open near the middle (Section 9: Motorway Rules). So I wrote some 3 lines of php code to pick a random section (out of the 14 sections) and then a random number out of the maximum number of questions in a section (155).

echo rand(0,14);
echo '<br />';
echo rand(0,155);

So I started using that. And then I realised that it had a bug in that 0-14 is inclusive of 0, and there is no section 0 (unless you count ‘a message from the Chief Driving Examiner’, but that has no questions so I don’t). So I rewrote the code.

echo rand(1,14);
echo '<br />';
echo rand(1,155);

But lo, it wasn’t very long before I realised that if it selected a question in any of the smaller sections (eg Section 14: Vehicle Loading or Section 12: Documents) then the number for the question would far too often be far too high. I mean, Section 2: Attitude only has 49 questions in it, what do I do if the number generator pulls out a 127?. So I decided to rewrite it to make it useful every time.

$sectionlist = array(0,39,49,114,56,98,86,63,66,76,155,41,79,15);
$section = rand(1,14);
echo $section;
echo '<br />';
echo rand(1,$sectionlist[$section]);

And then on the way to lunch I realised that it was still going to be biased to the shorter sections and so actually I needed to work out how to weight answers to certain sections. And then I realised OH DEAR ME WHAT ON EARTH WAS I DOING.

And so that, in short, is how we’ll all live happier and more productive lives because of the ever growing abundance of technology in the world.

The Grove Is On Fire

I’m loath to start up something that’s been done before, especially something that’s been done before in such a large amount and so recently. (I think I’m even loath to start something by saying how loath I am to start something because it’s been so much done before, so much has that been done before; alas.) In the last few weeks and months, it seems like everyone and his iPod has started up a website devoted to youth work and theology, and youth work and ministry, and youth work and church mission so throwing something else out there, another website about youth work and the Christian life, seems like a fairly awful idea. But the internet being the soapbox that it is, self-loathing aside, I’m going to start a website about it. And by website I mean weblog. I mean one person writing about youth stuff. They’ll be no ‘resourcing’ here, no informative sessions plans or curriculum built around self-esteem and the book of Judges, just links to things that might be helpful and tirades into the ether.

So, this is what this is then; a weblog about doing Christian ministry with young people from me, a youth worker from a reasonably reformed evangelical background.

Alright, mostly about doing Christian ministry with young people, occasionally about other important topics such as that photo I took the other day, music of the early 21st century, the promotion chances of Ipswich Town football club, and the difference between crackling and pork-scratchings.

Alright, from a youth worker who is a five point Calvinist.

It’ll be great.