Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Weekends Away
Residentials are a fantastic youthwork tool (as I'm sure we all know - although Alpha Holy Spirit weekends show how they work with adults too).
Not being part of a regular youthwork I haven't been for ages to one (although have plenty of memories of lack of sleep and the other joys!).
Tony has posted some great thoughts on why they can be so good and the issues they raise.
Seems he's going on one as part of a dedicated prayer team - now that is a good idea we can learn from!
Famous One?
Chris Tomlin may have written a great song about God being the Famous One, but seems UK young people are not so sure!
A letter in Young People Now from someone who describes themself as "a non-believer" tells the story of a youth club playing a famous name guessing game:
"One young man selected the God card and 5 minutes of questioning began...usually it takes no more than a couple of minutes for the answer...the group eventually gave up. When they were told the answer they said 'He's not famous', and the young person with the God card replied 'I know I wanted Sol Campbell'"

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Chap Clark's
Hurt is an insightful study of US teenagers. He focuses on what he calls "mid-adolescents" and suggests that the basic issue if that of abandonment by adults. This forces them into a "world beneath".
My question is how much of what he says applies this side of the Atlantic? Some stuff such as clusters seems to ring true, other stuff about sport seems less so. His chapter on ethics suggests cheating is "common place" in US high schools - not sure how that compares to the UK?
I'm thinking that we need to be cautious when applying his stuff over here!

His final thoughts on youth ministry are excellent though, especially calling for the purpose of youth ministry not to be individual conversion or fulfillment but: "the goal of youth ministry should be to make disciples of Jesus Christ who are authentically walking with God within the context of intimate Christian community"(p188).
Random Highlights
Been a good Easter weekend.
Apart from celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus - highlights include:
- Catching up with friends old and new [including meeting Pete (who went to the wrong restaurant for a mutual friend's birthday), a a great night with Amanda and Neil].
- Engalnd winning a football game!
- Checking out the Grace art installation - which was great - Jonny has pics.
- Our regular Sunday night pub quiz not shutting down - at least not yet

On the blogs:
Andrew Jones' response to an article on emerging church by the Southern Baptist Press is helpful (although some of it seems to be gone!).
Youthblog in shock over plans for Christian theme park is also worth a read!

Also finished Pete Ward's Selling Worship which I found interesting and helpful - more on that another time!

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Easter!

But the fact is Christ has been raised from the dead. He became the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again
(1 Cor 15:20)

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Mais Non!
Be careful what you blog - you never know who's reading!

French youth in blogging trouble after posting insults about teachers!
As reported in yesterdays Times...

Friday, March 25, 2005

Good Friday

Inscribed upon the cross we see,
In shining letters "God is love";
He bears our sins upon the tree
He brings us mercy from above
(Thomas Kelly 1796-1855)

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Easter in Ealing
Lots of things happening in my part of town over the next few days.
Grace Out of Nothing art installation at St Mary's, literally round the corner from where I am.
This runs for the next 3 days - hope to get along.

Also, all this week Soul in Ealing (which grew out of Soul in the City) have been doing stuff all week called Kiss the Community. Various churches showing The Passion of the Christ tonight.
There's also an Easter Extravaganza in Dean Gardens, West Ealing on Saturday which should be good- a kind of family fun day festival thing.

Suffering with a cold. I know in the grand scheme of things its not a big deal but had a very disrupted night last night and feel a bit pants really!
Now where did I put those tissues....

And can you believe really exists?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

School Shooting
Another tragic US school shooting.
The BBC news site has a disturbing timeline charting similar events over the last 8 years.
Holy Week
Being a non-conformist Baptist type I'm not too up on feasts and the church calendar.
On BBC London earlier they were talking of tomorrow being Spy Wednesday. Apparently its about remembering Judas betraying Jesus - when you remember his backhander deals with the High Priests.
Today - Tuesdsay - according to
"is the day when the famous incident between Jesus and Pharisees is thought to have taken place. This was when the churchmen tried to trap Jesus into making a blasphemous, or, anti-god remark.
This day is important also on another count. Jesus discoursed to his disciples on the Mount of Olives about the destruction of Jerusalem and the signs of the last day."
Now you know!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Watched the movie Saved last night.
Yes its another American teen coming of age, who's in who's out romance thing, but this time the background is evangelical Christianity.
Interesting too that Michael Stipe of REM was one of the producers.
Personally I think it should be on the curriculum for Christian youthworkers as it rasies some interesting issues - with the final quote asking "what would Jesus do?". Essentially it says key things about love, what it means to be like Jesus, not forgetting peer pressure for youth.
But not one to watch if you can't laugh at evangelical sub-culture!
There's one amusing scene with an altar call in the school assembly and the "rebel" pupil fakes speaking in tongues!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Youth Ministry UK
Youthwork Magazine is reporting on some Christian groups not getting DFES funding this round, which may leave their projects in difficulties (oops, the BU did get a grant, hence my post being secured).
Tim has an excellent post on this youth ministry stuff, especially the funding etc.
He suggests:
"I really do think this goes back to youth ministry/work in this country not having a clear theology... If our theology was sorted we would recognise our work was fundementally different, its driven by different things but at the edge we do similar stuff to secular organisations. God has a call on our lives as youth minister and or workers he is the centre of what we do, the young people we work with are part of that but not the centre"

This seems to echo a thought I had at the weekend during a training event I was running, that most youth ministry problems are not youthwork issues but church or theological issues.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Church Leadership
In a time where I'm aware of many churches with issues in their leadership in one way or another, Andrew Jones' post on leadership in the emerging church is helpful (as are the comments).
Here's a quote:
"The emergent dynamics of the new churches have a decentralized, non-hierachical leadership system that seems to work. But because it doesn't look like anyone is in charge, the older organizations sometimes insist that their old leadership forms be adopted"

Perhaps one of the factors that affects how we view church leadership is church size.
Is bigger better? Or is as Stuart Murray would suggest, the emphasis on large congregations a bi-product of Christendom? In a smaller setting "flat" leadership models are much more viable.
Suzie and I lead our cell group (10 people) - but in reality it kind of leads itself.

Old fashioned?
Youthblog links to an interesting youthwork article (too long to be a "post"?).
Now am I old fashioned in that I'd rather print such a thing to read than read it on screen?
It may be my monitor but I find anything over about a page of A4 easier to read on paper.
Am I just an old fart and not as immersed in the "new media culture" as I thought? Anyone else
find this?

Monday, March 14, 2005

Had a busy weekend again!
Saturday was an LBA youth leaders training day "A long way out..." which was excellent! Always a relief when people turn up to something you put on (only 2 came to my last day!). We had some inspiration from a youthworker based with a Baptist Church in Hackney - doing great stuff. We also explored the tensions of "inside out and outside in" and the possibility of a "double helix" combining both models! Deep down I still wonder if work with unchurched should mainly be about planting new cells or churches?

Sunday morning I was playing piano at another local church - having their first baptism for a few years. It was awesome - only 1 candidate but he had an amazing story of God at work. Its also a church I've been involved with over the past few years and great to see so much growth and life.

But the sad part of the weekend was finding out our regular Sunday night pub quiz is due to stop after next week - seems the brewery are to be making changes (again) to the historic Rose and Crown in Ealing.
Secret Church Goers?
This article in yesterdays Sunday times was intriguing and frustrating!
Seems the author sees taking his family to traditional Anglican church as preserving some kind of Englishness. It raises some interesting questions about mission in our transitioning culture, where vestiges of the old ways of thinking "English=Anglican=Christian" are still here. Yet the author seems to not want a Jesus who will disrupt thing too much!
Simon also comments on this article with some interesting thoughts.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Make a difference?
Today sees the launch of a new report on dealing with poverty in Africa.
The BBC reports:
"The UK-led Commission for Africa is to urge wealthy nations to double their aid to the continent, raising it by £30bn ($50bn) a year over the 10 years."

Its also UK Comic Relief Red Nose Day so lots of fundraising going on!
And we're coming to the end of Fair Trade Fortnight.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Emerging (again)
Further to my thoughts below , Youthblog links to a helpful post from Doug Pagitt on emerging church battles.

Also, the conservative Evangelical publishers Banner of Truth has a (surprisingly?) well balanced article which includes stuff that they can learn from Emerging Church. (unfortunatley the follow up article The 'Emerging Church' Further Considered wasn't quite so generous).

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Christians! Posted by Hello
You might have heard it before - but it struck me again:

"The problem in our day is not that people don't believe in Jesus, the problem is that people don't believe in people who believe in Jesus" (Jacob Aranza)
Seems to me only bloggers comment on blogs!
Now I don't want spam or anonymous nonsense (nor do, I suppose, any blogs I'm linked to).
But its not a secret club!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Andrew Jones
suggest the best "new thing" I've seen in a long time!
"Choraeoke? I just made that up - its like Karaoke and its like chorus singing, but there is video and the words whizzing across the screen just when you need them - and everyone can sing along, instead of one bad singer on the stage."
Having experienced "Sing-a-longa" I think this is genius!
I've often though that Songpro and those other Christian song pogrammes needed the bouncing ball. This just takes it to a new and improved level!
Andrew suggests using:
"Other favourites on the vinyl?
- Godspell (totally rocks)
- George Beverly Shea (acquired taste)
- early Keith Green"
I'd like the musical "Come Together" (from Owens family) or anything accomanied by Derek Moon!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Paul or Apollos?
A long time ago the apostle Paul wrote of the folly of falling into "camps" (see 1 Cor 3).
Yet how come we never learn?
Today I came across some interesting blogs such as emergentno, Slice of Laodicea and Steve Camp's A1M (which sounds like a UK road!). The title of the first one gives away what they are about.
People doing good ministry stuff (and in fairness Camp says some good points).
But why do we feel the need to spend so much energy exposing "heresy" and critisizing others?
Of course its good to have conversation and discuss stuff, and there is also a time for doctrine etc.
But why does my being right mean everyone else must be wrong?
Surely God is bigger than this?
It comes back to something I said a couple of days ago:
"Lets get a broad understanding and view of what life in God looks like - sometimes it may take us by surprise".
Please no more knee-jerk. Lets get real - the world is changing. Post Chrisendom is here in the West. Lets celebrate all God is doing through the many "streams" - emerging, reformed or whatever label you chose.

Friday, March 04, 2005

We are not the future! Posted by Hello
Preparing for a talk/session for Saturday on "Dreams and Vision" (for a youth event I used to run!). I've been drawn to the call of Jeremiah - especially where God says "Do not say I am a youth" (Jer 1:7), and have been thinking about how we inspire young people to "go for it" now and in the future.
This article: We are not the future from Relevant puts it well:
"Young people have a future, no doubt, but we also have a present and a past. By equating ourselves with the future, we have inhibited the contribution we can make to our communities, culture and churches today."

Apart from that, my fear in any thinking about dreams and vision or vocation stuff in general is the we normalise the exceptional, and risk setting people up for disappointment. Many people don't have grand dreams or a dramatic calling - they just work out what it means to serve God in the day to day. But somehow that seems less "spiritual" than a voice from heaven calling someone to Outer Mongolia!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

School Uniforms & Religious Freedom
Lots in the media about the case of the Luton school girl winning her appeal about wearing a full-length jilbab gown to school.
This raises huge issues - the BBC suggests "school uniforms may need review".
The Times quote
The Muslim Council of Britain who
'said that the decision was a "very important ruling on the issue of personal freedom"'.

There are clearly questions about this case - which are complex and we don't know the facts. But the question of religious freedom is a key one and I think this is a positive result from the courts. Its seems to me a half way compromise would be inefficient - you either go the French way and try and keep religion out of school or you go for freedom. I know which I think is preferable...
This is also a story about young people making faith decisions and being willing to stand for what they believe- surely something else we can learn from?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Feeling it!
I'm feeling agreement with Jonny when he says:
"i almost totally identify with brother maynard's longings as expressed on the latest update on - great stuff..."
I'm liking this from Maynards first point:
"I’m tired of hype, I’m tired of noise, and I’m tired of intensity. I used to like all those things, but I no longer equate these with “signs of life.”"
That's so good!
Lets get a broad understanding and view of what life in God looks like - sometimes it may takes us by surprise. I know I've seen it in the unexpected churches, the small and struggling as much as the "successful". Just because God works one way in one place does not make it the model - even if it sells books or makes a good conference...

Team Work
Yesterday I was part of a training day on Team Ministry. I went a bit reluctantly fearing naff team building exercises and stuff. But it was a good day.
A lot of the stuff was familiar but it was good to hear it again. We were led by in part by Colin Buckland who runs the
Claybury Trust an organization supporting leaders. He said some good stuff about ministry stress, why we should have a team :
team should come from strategy not stress"
and the need for a team to have a focus and goals.
So much resonated with the questions I ask churches who want to employ youth ministry staff - employing staff comes from mission and vision, but often churches want the youth worker to set the vision and then shout when it doesn't fit their agendas!

In the afternoon we looked at conflict, led by Alastair from Bridge Builders/
The London Mennonite Centre. Again familiar but helpful - looking at our conflict styles - how much is about tasks/vision and how much about relationships, as well as ways to keep a team healthy (including the interesting suggestion of whole team non-managerial supervision).

All in all good stuff - and lots of relevant points both for my own team working in the LBA and also in working with churches and youth workers (paid and voluntary).