Friday, February 25, 2005

Good post on volunteer youth workers at the Bleurg.
"I wonder if too often volunteers feel scared, under equipped and intimidated, and feel like the youthwork is thrust upon them, something to do out of duty" she asks.
Getting and keeping volunteers is the number 1 question I get asked in my job!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Just do it!
Been struck by several things/converstaions which have reminded me that some of us find it easier to talk about suff than actually do it.
Of course its important to refelct, theologise, learn etc., but sometimes we just need to get on with the mission we're called to.
Same applies to discipleship - I can teach it quite well, train youth leaders in it but am I willing to be accountable, face my issues and get real? I recently asked a friend from the USA what after 3 years of working in the UK his reflection was on our youth ministry - his answer? "Make disciples".
And this could be said about so many areas of our lives. Yes I know its balance, but the gospel is not just about words, but the demonstration of the Spirit and power.
Now before this turns in to a rant (more words), I'll refer you to something Todd has said that I came accross in blogworld:
"Anyway, you get the point. Let’s not get bogged down on whether we are post-modern or not. The questions is, are we getting about the mission He gave us?"
(from his helpful post "forget post-modern for now")
Sinner to Winner 3: Tv stardom!
London's very own "sinner or winner" (see preivious posts: here and here) street preacher was featured on Channel 4's 3 minute wonders on the 10 commandments! I couldn't believe my eyes when he appeared on my screen! Classic!

You can read an interview with him at B3TA and learn more about those crazy catchphrases and why he does what he does. Its a good little piece.
One thing that has disturbed me is the discovery from the Londonist that his name might be Phil and not Terry as others have suggested. Its a mystery!
Any more encounters - let me know!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Updated links
I've updated the links and blogroll!
People I've met in reality or stumbled upon in blogland, or been reading for a while.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Voluntary Participation?

I picked up a book called
Youth In Exodus by Geraldine Witcher in the January sale at Wesley Owen. Its an attempt to address the issue of young people leaving the church. Its clearly a subject which the author is passionate about and that is to be admired. Indeed she says some good stuff about the need for parents to play their crucial role in passing on the faith. But some of it leaves me with some questions.
For example:
"In a sense, as well as natural laws of cause and effect which we take for granted -plants die without water, drinking too much alcohol causes pain - God's spiritual universe has 'natural' laws of cause and effect and the blessing of faithful children is the inevitable result of a life of faithfulness to God"
What?? "Inevitable result"? Not sure about that!

She also raises issues about the idea of voluntary participation. This is one of the core youthwork values that Danny Brierley has taken for youth ministry (in his book Joined Up he unconvincingly uses "openness theology" to justify it - but that's another story).
Geraldine's not so keen on this idea suggesting:
"one of the factors that seems to be significant for young people who continued in faith throughout their teenage years was the expectation and even compulsion that they would go to church" (p90)
I've been asked several times for ideas to teach/engage young people who don't want to be there and are therefore disruptive. Is compulsion ever the answer?
Entertain them?
Seems good to follow the theme of my last post with a link and quote from Ivy Beckwith (not that I'm saying Stopsley are doing anything less than excellent work!).
She's the author of
Postmodern Childrens Ministry (which is on my wish list!).
Commenting on some prominent children's ministries in the US she says:

"And I find the over emphasis on the entertainment environment with "gross" games (for some reason this is a way to worship God - thought I'm not sure I get how - so do the kids really see this as worship?) and the seeming lack of one on one interaction with adults and other kids as not something that can truly contribute to the spiritual formation and soul care of these children."

Applies equally to youth ministry I think! Although in the UK those days are largely over?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Children's Church?

The Baptist Times (you have to love it!) reported that Stopsley Baptist are about to launch their children's church.
"This is about children having access to thier own spirituality" quotes the article."
It goes "against traditional thinking that parents should be with their children during Sunday services".

Mike Yaconelli suggests that creativity should be one of the Core Realities of youth ministry.
He suggests it is "the ability to bring in to existence something new by using one's imagination, ingenuity and inventiveness" (Core Realities, p132).
Well I say bring it on!
We so need creativity as we re-imagine not just youth ministry but church and worship, mission and community in our post-Christendom world.
And yet the church often marginalises the creatives that are "one the edge".
I'm often challenged by the line in Pete Greigs
24-7 prayer vision about the "freaks and the weirdos". But so often they are the artists, creative people.
Where am I going with this? Not sure! But just a feeling that we need to allow the Holy Spirit space to release creativity in our churches - even if it pushes us outside our comfort zones and theologies.

Emerging across the cultures
Jonny Baker links (to a chain of posts such as here) about emerging church being more than a white conversation.
I've posted on this before (here and here) and was talking about some of this at a church only yesterday. Essential conversation - huge potential for creativity in worship and mission, learning and of course misunderstanding!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Interesting discussion on Youthblog - picking up some stuff from my previous post.
Most of the stuff Campolo said about theology is in Adventures in Missing the Point , his joint offering with Brian Mclaren.

I'm reminiscing - having spotted Allan Moore as one of the "experts" on last nights Channel 5's offering Britain's Greatest Love songs. Allan is from the University of Surrey, but I studied under him in Ealing (at TVU) . He taught fantastic modules such as Music and 20th Century thought (where, strangely, he made reference to Bruegemann's The Bible and Postmoden Imagination) and Popular Music , although I remember having a major nose-bleed during a class on Music of other cultures!

Anyway it reminded me that depsite TVU's naff reputation I was fortunate to get some decent lecturers, like Allan, and Angela McRobbie.
Its also amazing looking back to see how God was in the stuff that happened - and how relevant so much of the stuff I studied is to now!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Some good comments and reflections in
blogland coming from the Matrix conference. For example Roy, Ian, Kathryn, Sarah.
Thing that I'm pondering on is around how the much the cultural/epistemological shift to postmodernism requires a new theologising. That seemed to me to be Campolo's stance.
Calvinism was good for the 16th Century but what about now? As someone who feels that part of their call is to "sound doctrine" it raises questions of what that really means! How do we avoid preferencing the novel (especially for youth ministry), without getting struck in the past?
As Campolo reminded us theology is always inadequate. But as Sally Nash said - theology must go ahead of methodology.

I'm also thinking about the impromptu "round the table" seminar with Bob Mayo that I was privileged to be part of - and his thoughts that the shift is from "relational" to "narrative" coming out of the relationship.
Problem Solved!
Well I've solved my connection problem- having discovered no reported problems from my ISP I went for a new modem. And wow - massive improvement - with the Onspeed software now living up to its claims of near broadband speeds from dialup! Should have done this ages ago!
Connection Problems
Having arrived back from the conferences there seems to be a connection problem!
Not sure if its my ISP or modem or what? Just trying to do some investigation.
Bit of a night mare, though, with stuff to catch up on, e-mails etc.

Still trying to process stuff from last week.
Had a great trip to the Tate Modern on Saturday.
And we won (well tie-break for 2nd actually!) our regular pub quiz trip last night - result!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Wi-fi Madness!

The communal area of the Matix conference has turned in to laptop land with everyone competing for the Wi-fi signal to blog and check the e-mail.
The computer room is far more sedate!

So much stuff to process - from conversations about youthwork on the groud, to Robert Beckford on Bob Marley and the grotesque to rumours of Campolo's embracing of a kind of "openess" theology!
One more session to go before I leave conference land and head back into the real world.

Worth checking Jonny's blog for what could become the Centre for Youth Ministry's latest advert!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Escaped to computer room here at High Leigh.
Highlights from the last couple of days include:

LBA conference: Bible teaching on The Hospitality of Christ (mentioned in the last post). Communion in small groups with a "multi-voiced" telling of the story (thanks to Karen from Urban Expression), an inspiring talk from my colleague David on the Holy Spirit and partnering with Him in our mission.

Matrix: meeting people (even some fellow bloggers in the flesh- you know who you are!), Tony Campolo's opening talk (see Youthblog for details!).
Plenty more to come.
Bring on the caffine!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Well the London Baptist Pastors Conslutation is drawing to a close.
Its been a great time - although I know some wouldn't be so sure you could describe being away with 120 Baptist minister as that!
Been great to connect with people and hear about suff "on the ground". My seminar seemed to be well recieved - thinking about youthwork as part of the church and young people as the responsibilty of the whold Christian community not just the youth leaders!
David Coffey (BU General Secratary) has led some inspiring Bible stuff.
All in all positive - one session to go!
Then the Matrix - of I can stay awake!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Fantastic post from Youthblog on not "holding on" to youth but empowering them etc.
"I believe in the Church, I believe in the faith community! I believe that youth ministry is a whole church endeavour (where youth leaders play an important part) of discipleship, listening and enabling! ".
Due to be speaking on something similar this afternoon - if anyone opts for my seminar!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Guest poster Mark Leveson on Emerging Church!
One thing that strikes me about the emerging church movement (and this isn't especially original) is that it often comes across as essentially a movement of protest - what it's about is defined over and against what the traditional church(es) are about, particularly as far as how it relates to post-modernity is concerned. This is interesting when compared with other movements in the church in the past. Many of these also either started off in the same way or by their very existence contained strong elements of protest against the ecclesial status quo. The Reformation is a classic case in point. But what is interesting, especially compared with one of the most recent of such movements, the charismatic movement in its various forms of the '60s - '80s, is to see one thing that the emerging church movement seems to lack at this point in time - a DISD. What's a DISD? A Distinctive Internal Spiritual Dynamic.

The charismatic movement for many was about protest - against the perceived formality and lack of "life" in many churches etc. And for many people who "grew up evangelical" to become charismatic was a form of protest, even rebellion, against the formal Christianity of their parents generation, while remaining true to basic Christian convictions. In many ways you could probably argue that the emerging church movement performs a similar function. The difference though is that the charismatic movement had a DISD - the experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit. In fact it was that experience which defined the movement rather than the protest that it implied. The same is true of the evangelical movement starting in the eighteenth-century, with the dynamic of assurance of salvation, and even of the Reformation with justificatin by faith (for Luther at least far more than just a doctrine). So the question is, does emerging church have a DISD? Does it need one? Perhaps it's still a bit early to say?

(Mark is Pete's brother, and pastors a church in Kent)
I'm preparing myself for a week of conferecing - 2 in a row at the same venue!
First up is the LBA's Pastors Consultation (London Baptist Ministers conference). Usually good time for me to catch up with people, network, plug what I'm up to etc.
Then that finishes and the Matrix youthworkers conference begins.
If you're coming to either of these - see you there!
Should be able to blog from my PDA, so might be some posts too!

Friday, February 04, 2005

2 interesting articles struck me when browsing
Theooze today.
The first is called
Management theory & the church. As well as being thought provoking for church life in general, it resonated with me some stuff I've been thinking about youth ministry. If we take youthwork as our starting point rather than ministry do we miss something? Sure we can learn from the statutory scene, and serve God in it. But what does it look like to take ministry and theology as our start and then work that out with young people as our "field" or locality? This raises the issue of professionalism.
To quote the article:

'Trusting in management theory[or sociology/psychology/youthwork theories] is a part of the larger professionalization of the ministry. As John Piper has written in his recent book, Brothers We Are Not Professionals, “"There is no professional weeping, no professional Christ-likeness, no professional love”..." '.

The second article is The Problem I have with programs. Enough Said!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

God bless the DFES!
Just received word that the Baptist Union's bid for DFES funding was successful.
Why does that matter? Well, the net result is that my employers (London Baptist Association) get some of that money - which means resolution about my job uncertainty at last!
So I can go back on a full time post.
Phew! Relief!
But God has been good through it all and provided in awesome ways.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

As a musician/worship leader sometimes people ask for thier favourite worship song.
Just this Sunday I was asked if we could sing the song "Above all".
But its a bit tricky - because I'm not sure about one of the lines.

For those that know it - I can live with the "like a rose, trampled" part, but its the line:

"Took the fall [yes, no problem] and thought of me through it all".
Did he think of me?
Hebrews 12:2 suggests otherwise - that "for the joy set before him endured the cross".
I'm thinking that the cross was about obedience to the Father and the glory of God primarily. Not that it wasn't "for me" (as a beneficiary) , but he didn't think of me "above all"!
I'm not wanting to get into (another) atonement debate.
But leaves me in a quandry about singing the song.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

For those who've been following this blog for a while, or people who know me in the real world -I'm still waiting for news about my job/funding etc.
At the moment I'm back part time - hopefully should hear soon about funding to be full time again.
Getting a bit fed up with the feeling of being in "limbo", but perhaps the bigger question is "what if the funding doesn't come?"
All good fun - trying to balance what God has called you to do with the reality of life (and the expense of London!)