Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tomorrow is the start of Lent. Seems to be increasingly on the agenda for us non-comformists as well as the more liturgical churches. (40 Days of purpose seems to be appealing to some).

Not sure what I'll be doing or giving up yet, but I think there will be some interesting Lent blogs.
Birmingham churches are doing an interesting thing called "Live life, love lent"

Thirst for Life is a good campaign to encourage people to give up booze for 40 days. I've signed up, but I stopped drinking a few months back due to allergies anyway!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Growth, formation and "ministry"
Andy has written an interesting post on spiritual formation in youth ministry.
At the weekend I was speaking at a youth event at a church linked to one of the "new church" streams. It was good evening. I was struck by how much time was given to "prayer ministry" stuff. God was clearly touching young people (always encouraging when you're the guest speaker). But it raised questions in my mind about intensity, the danger of manipulation and an experience based spiritual formation. And yet this approach was part of the culture of the church.Not really sure what I'm trying to say here - other than just wondered what experiences/thoughts people had on this. How do you get the balance between openness to the Holy Spirit, intensity and voluntary participation? (I'm not suggesting for one moment that the balance was wrong at the event in question!).

Friday, February 24, 2006

Was at the Half Moon in Putney last night to catch Airborne. Good one! Was a nice evening - enjoyed the band (check here to hear them). Always good to hear mate's bands - last time I went to the Half Moon was to see the (now split) The Warming which Jesse was in. Its a nice small venue, which claims to have seen many big stars over the years.

This afternoon off to Birmingham to speak at a youth event and catch up with friends - should be good!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Beyond the Sunday School?
"Two centuries of Sunday School has led to an assumption that children are not suitable to worship with adults; indeed, that church services belong to adults. We have forgotten that for centuries, and in some cultures today, the norm has been for people of all ages to worship together. We need to recover the Church as an all-age community where everyone is 'us' and nobody is 'them' "
Magaret Withers, Where are the Children?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Size matters?
Today's post at our daily blog asks a fantastic question: "what's the ideal size of a congregation?".
I'd prefer the question to be "what's the ideal size for a church" but maybe that's just playing with words!
Roy posted some thoughts on this and the danger of being big a little while ago.

I agree with Stuart Murray and others who have suggested that its hard to think beyond Christendom formulations of church. Even those of us trying to think missionally can end up thinking in terms on numbers to sustain programme and buildings, and Sunday meetings where you face the front and listen to a speaker rather than really asking what church should look like.

So what is the ideal size for a church?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Youth Ministry off the rails?
Interesting post on youth ministry at Slice of Laodicea.
I sort of agree with some of what she says - but wonder if it needs to be so "either/or" as she suggests, but rather can't it be relevant and engaging and Christ honouring?

Youth Ministry & the emerging church
Ryan Bolger has suggested that emerging churches shouldn't need youth pastors and that:
"Just as with the role of senior pastor, the role of youth pastor does not play a role in the churches of postmodernity... ".
Darren has posted some thoughts in reply to this, starting with a PowerPoint based on the excellent 4 Views of Youth Ministry and the church.

I have lot of sympathy for Bolger's suggestion that we should be about "facilitation of participation rather than creating church for 'them'". For more see my Beyond the Youthgroup!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Back (again)
I'm back in London after a couple of days residential with one of
LBA's Church's youth groups at Viney Hill in the Forest of Dean. It seemed to be a fairly decent activity residential place (fortunately I arrived too late for the quarry scrambling and raft building!).
The group was there for half term, I went for 2 days to do some input. I did 4 session based around questions Jesus asked: "who do you say I am?", "what do you want me to do for you?", "how much bread do you have?", "why are you afraid?". Seemed to work OK! The group were actually really nice, easy to deal with.

Been good to do 2 residentials recently, one with 11-14's and this one with 14-17's, spending some time with young people rather than in youthwork theories!

Tomorrow one of the churches is doing FYT's challenging behaviour training so I plan to go along to that , and then preaching on Sunday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

If you're feeling romantic and sloppy don't click
Otherwise check out Ian's post for today at youthblog- sums it up perfectly for me!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Youth work and ministry?
Much has been said on the blogs, in discussion (face to face and virtual) and books on the tension between youth work and youth ministry.
Today I was over at http://www.infed.org for the first time in a while.
This article by Carole Pugh put a lot of that stuff in perspective!
The whole thing is worth a (slightly long) read.
I was struck by phrases such as:
"Evangelical youth workers have been seen as 'indoctrinators' and 'brain washers' whose obsession with conversion reduces their interest in developing self reliance and maturity, eyes are clouded by ideology they see young people as 'spiritual scalps' "

"Is Christian nurture different from Christian youth work?"

"motivation sets Christian youth work apart, as it is based on beliefs, which to non-Christians may seem unfounded. While the concerns around social justice may appear the same, the agenda is different"

I'm not wanting to rehearse tired arguments, or get bogged down in dualism, but the article brings us back to the question - what is the goal of Christian youth ministry? What does success mean for us?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Home (for now).
The conference was good. Many of those who came expressed that it "felt" better and had more space than previous years, which is encouraging to those of us involved in putting it together.
I've been going to the LBA Pastors Conference for 5 years now (or 6?) and there has definitely been some kind of shift.
High points: creativity and willingness to experiment, hearing stories of people's spiritual journeys, hearing about churches doing the stuff and moving towards being missional, the diversity of church in London, Roy Searle hitting the nail on the head on many issues (not least challenging the programme mentality and "driveness").

Off again next week to another youth group residential!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Posting "live" from the London Baptist Pastor's Consultation at High Leigh conference centre.
Enjoying the wonders of free WIFI!
Been good so far - lots of familiar faces to catch up with.
Roy Searle (Northubria Community and BU president) is speaking and did a great opening session looking at learning from the Celts for our changing times.
A couple of quotes:
"This is not a period for entrenchment but discovery"

and "Cultural relevance is not the greatest need for the church but authenticity, integrity and transparency"
Good stuff - look forward to more!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Just back from a weekend away with some young people from Amanda's church.
Good time! We did sessions looking at Jesus (always a good place to start for a Christian youth weekend) and "who do you say I am?". One thing that seemed to go down well was clips of this
vox pop video. We also did some fun stuff, like everyone getting £5 to get an outfit for dinner on Saturday evening, so we invaded the charity shops of Fakenham!

The pic is at Wells-Next-The-Sea which was good place to walk along a slightly damp beech. Plus we got to see seals which was cool!

Next few days I'm off again to High Leigh.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Lots of time being spent preparing stuff at the moment - last weekend for a training session (the first of 4 runs of the same session across London), and a "family service", this week for a weekend away with one of Amanda's youth groups and the annual LBA pastors conference next week!
Then another residential the week after (yes I have to do some youth ministry again rather than just talk about it!)
Think I've spent too long starring at the computer screen though...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Call to prayer:
The Baptist Union of Great Britain has called for a day of prayer on June 11th to focus especially on children and the church, in response to recent reports on the falling number of children in churches.
More information here

Youth ministry matters!
"I do not pretend to give a reason why it is so; but God has so ordered it in his infinite wisdom, that the period of youth is the best time for being saved. It has been observed, and it is very remarkable, that in all the great revivals that have taken place in our own and bygone days, the most of those who have been converted were young people...No doubt God can save sinners at any age; but he seems peculiarly to choose the time of youth"
Robert Murray M'Cheyne, 1841 (from Sermons of M'Cheyne)