Thursday, November 30, 2006

One of the joys of working for an organisation like the London Baptist Association is the sheer diversity of churches you get to work with. Of course it raises a unique set of issues and questions too, but as someone who gets to operate in a "translocal" role it's kind of fun getting to see how different churches do things, express worship and seek to do mission in London.
Last night I was at a pre-dominantly African congregation (who are often French speaking too, although I stuck to English!). I was given the whole of the 2 hour service to do worship and speak (and introduced a bit of alt-worship style with a few stations, candles etc.). I think it was a learning experience for me and the church!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Saturday was the LBA Re:action youth event at Edmonton Baptist. On reflection I think it was a good event, even though turnout was frankly poor.
The pic is of the wonderful gospel choir getting sorted before hand.

Yesterday at church some random German ladies (my opinion - they're probably not random, just I didn't know them!) shared some stuff about persecution and "end times". I'm still processing what they said, and although I probably wouldn't see eye to eye with them about some of the details I was glad to see them given the opportunity to share.

Today has mostly been about my essay for college. Chapter 1 is pretty much there I think, so I'm about a third of the way through working out the importance of preaching in contemporary society, with 2 weeks to go until deadline!
It's been interesting reading and working on this, raising all sorts of question about the preaching, while still going on and speaking at least once most weekends.Not sure how the essay will infliltrate my practice of ministry just yet...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Just trying Internet Explorer 7. Been a Firefox Covert for a while, but IE7 came with the latest round of "Windows Update" I apparently needed.
But the blog looks a bit, well, not right in IE7. Some of the fonts look small and the title header is cut off. Think I need to tweak...
Of course if you're an IE user you may think I meant it to be like this!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Essex Boy
Today I was in Basildon with some collageues meeting with Viz-a-Viz Ministries to do some more planning for our new gap year project SCENT.
This is an exciting project, a London Baptist gap year opportunity.
I was also putting some stuff together for an event "Re:Action (2)" taking place in Edmonton on Saturday evening. It's an event to inspire young people to make a difference (and SCENT gets pluged!). If you're in a London Baptist church the I hope to see you on Saturday evening!!
(Oh and I'm not from Essex, but the other side of the Dartford Tunnel!!!)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Yes I used the "P" word!
I'm appreciating James Smith's Who's Afraid of Postmodernism.
You can read Jonny's thoughts on it here plus in depth discussion at the Church and Postmodern Culture blog.

Smith seems to get to the heart of some of the myths about our (mis)understandings and fears of postmodernism.

One quote for now, not even on the main subject of the book, but it struck me anyway:
"Authentic worship does not have to choose between reaching seekers and building up the saints. Incarnational worship does both"
This comes out of a discussion about Lyotard and metanarritives!

This seems to point to an end to the "inside-out", "outside-in" tensions. Maybe there is a 3rd way, even for Christian youth ministry?

Monday, November 20, 2006

A couple of weeks ago I was speaking from 1 Peter 4 which includes the instruction to offer hospitality "without grumbling". A couple of years ago we did our pastor's conference around the theme "The hospitality of Christ".
This theme has led to several conversations on encouraging church beyond the Sunday meeting. How can we build relationships and encourage hospitality in a city where people claim to be "too busy"?
This article at Allelon is helpful, and the writer suggests:
"Contemporary congregations, like contemporary families, are often too busy to eat together. They fail to recognize the significance of shared meals."
Meals are social realities of great importance. Becoming communities of hospitality who 'devote themselves to the apostle's teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers' (Acts 2:42) will require courage and imagination. Courage in inviting people to set aside the time to be together and imagination to establish a creative and stimulating context for experiencing the hospitality of God's banquet."

I think we underestimate sometimes the power of taking time to eat together in bringing people together across age and ethnic divides. Although it can be hard when your as fusy about what you eat as I am!!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Was good to get to Youthwork The Conference yesterday. Good to see loads of people and catch up with a few I hadn't seen for a while. Spotted a few youthwork bloggers (chatted to most) such as Ian, Lewis etc.
In terms of reflecting on the conference, it's hard to judge on only being there for part of it. The overall vibe seemed good, and the programme looked OK. Made it to one main session and 2 seminars. To be honest one of the seminars was disappointing, especially as this is supposed to be the UK's main Christian youthwork conference. Never the less it was good to get along to it, maybe next year I'll make the whole thing. Eastbourne is a bit of a trek though (but better than Southport!).
Deacon Blue
Deacon Blue were great on Thursday evening at Birmingham. Played lots of the old favourites,sounded great and the venue was nice (despite the fact we were way high up)(set list here if you're keen). The pic is actually from Hammersmith (from here where there of lots of fab photos). Thanks to Suzie for sorting it out and the Wickers for somewhere to stay!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Professional Youth Ministry?
I've posted before about the question of training for youth ministry here in the UK. We've also explored the youth ministry/youthwork/mission type stuff (e.g. here). These are clearly still "live" issues, especially when the expectations of the local church are mismatched with the training and expectations of the workers they employ.
To that end I appreciated Ali's contribution to the discussion in this month's Youthwork Magazine.
He outlines some of the tensions around being "professional" and yet being Christ-centred and discipleship focused (of course the 2 need not be incompatable). I also agree that much of this lies in the area of training. I'm sure I've said it here before but I'm drawn to a model used elsewhere (that a Canadian Baptist drew my attention to) of training all "Ministers" in 2 years of theology and relevant issues and then a year specialising. I think that would give us the most helpful combination of foundations (ideally with adequate emphasis on spiritual formation) and the chance for specialism (the PGCE approach I've seen mentioned on the Youthwork Forum).
Whatever the case I think the need to be Christ-centred is the distinctive agenda of Christian youth ministry. Young people do need empowering but they also need the transformation of the Spirit.
Out and About
Tomorrow we're going up to Birmingham. Suzie's booked for us to go and see Deacon Blue.
I think it was 16 years ago I last saw them play, so should be nostalgic. I hope they do the old favourites...
We also get to catch up and stay at some friends' new house.

Friday is the day I plan to catch up on stuff. Stuff to prepare for Sunday, as well as a few lose ends to tie up for an event happening next weekend: "Re:action" an LBA youth event.

Saturday off to Eastbourne for one day of the Youthwork Conference. It's probably the biggest UK youth ministry event, and I've never got to it yet as previous years it's clashed with other stuff. If you're there I'll be watching out for you!
Back home from my first experience of Baptist Union Council. It was also my first experience of Swanwick conference centre (I've been to the sister place High Leigh loads).
Not sure what I can say about it - its a strange thing to describe! We debated finance and pensions, and reponses to replaceing trident misiles and all sorts of stuff. It certainly helped me understand more of the inner workings of the denomination. In many ways I just sat back and observed this time (and coughed and spluttered), so maybe I'll have more to say after the next meeting in March.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

It should be quiet in our house at the moment as I've lost my voice!
I've had a cold hanging around for a while, but as soon as we started the sound check at Back to Reality last night I realised my voice was going. Half way though the event it gave up and I could sing no more (probably a relief for some!).
So Matt had to lead for me at church this morning (and did a good job). Actually I enjoyed being free to just play.

Tomorrow I'm off to Baptist Union Council for the first time. Not sure how I got volunteered for that! The papers that came through were voluminous to say the least.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Between appointments
Posting this between events. This moring I was over near where I grew up running the training "Beginners guide to young people: An introduction to the world of the teenager".It's probably one of the sessions I've run the most often but it's still interesting to see where the conversations go with different groups.
Off in a bit to Back to Reality in Ealing to lead worship with some real young people. Just hope I was listening to my course this morning...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hot Water
On Monday night we were convinced we could smell gas in our bathroom. Our boiler had been a bit tempremental and sounded like it was exploding when you ran hot water (often resulting in the thing blowing out and needing to be re-lit). Anway on Monday things did not seem right. So after calling our managing agents handyman we called the Gas emergency line. About 1am a guy from National Grid came and did his stuff which resulted in a "Concern for Safety" notice being given. It was a late night!
The upshot is today we're havin a new thing fitted. I realise that's probably not too exciting for most people who stumble on this blog. But for me it could at last mean hot water without the hastle of relighting the boiler every few minutes!

Boundaries in Church youth ministry
I was at a meeting yesterday of the "Association Youth Coordinators" from the Baptist Associations in England. Most are part-time (glad that phase passed for me) and it was great to hear what's going on.
One of the issues raised was about boundaries in church youthwork. When I worked in Local Authority youthclubs it was very clear what was work, what the nature of the relationships were etc. In church life this is fuzzy, especially with the emphasis on church as family, socialising outside formal sessions and the emphasis on "being" as much as "doing" in discipleship. Add to that the lack of a culture of openness and accountability, and support for workers in many churches and there is potential for confusion.
When we hear of high profile cases of leaders getting in wrong (e.g. see this blog post), how can we work this out in a way that enables rather then hinders good youth ministry?
(Mark Driscoll has some interesting advice for male pastors here. But not sure how much of that works in a UK youth ministry context?)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

UK youth are the worst?
News reports today based on a new study suggesting that UK young people are the worst in Europe. Our young people spend more time out and about, take more drugs and drink more than our European neighbours apparently.
Britons are also more immersed in consumerism than American youngsters".

Another study reported by the BBC suggests ASBOS are like a "badge of honour".

So more bad press for young people. Is it justified?
The Baptist Times
Latest edition of the BT is out today.
If see one look out as I wrote the "Around the Associations" column this week.
No link as you have to pay to see the online addition.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Phones in church?
I must have been influenced by London's buses with my posting here - nothing for ages then 3 in a row!
I'm appreciating Doug Pagitt's Preaching Re-imagined. Interesting reading it alongside other thoughts on preaching for my studies. Still getting my brain in gear on that subject.
One quote that amused me was this:
'We have a "rule" about cell phones during our worship. We say "keep them on; something important might happen"...there is something positive about telling people they need not set aside their everyday life to interact with the things of God'(p131).
Not been to too many church gatherings with that policy - normally the first thing you say when you lead an event is "turn your phone off"! (Not sure that policy would work in youth minsitry either - given that many teens are totally glued to their phones!). But it's an interesting perspective - unless the point of gathering for worship is to come aside?

On the MP3 this month...
On my travels when I'm driving I've been continuing to listen to some podcasts and MP3's.
I've been doing a few of the sessions from the Desiring God conference.
Some of this is "of its kind" - its USA, reformed, Calvinistic, conservative evangelical stuff (that in itself need not necessarily be a bad thing!).
I've not heard them all yet, but so far it was Tim Keller's session that resonated with me most.
I appreciated his call for "Gospel urbanising" - getting Christians into cities not escaping from them. He also made some helpful remarks about evangelism and the content of the message. He seemed to me to be trying to strike a balance between the "traditional evangelical" emphasis on heaven and the Kingdom emphasis favoured by many emerging church thinkers.

I also heard Todd Hunter speak on emerging evangelism (from the Soul Survivor USA site) and he struck a similar note, although he seemed to be trying to get some people to get out of just the "pray the prayer to get to heaven" box.

Makes me wonder why I didn't get an MP3 player sooner...
Everyone knows there are downsides to the "broadband revolution" (or whatever you want to call it).
But I think one of the most annoying is"Comment Spam".
Something not so good about another Christian youth ministry was left here.
It was unnecessary and unhelpful. But at least we have a "delete" button.

Maybe "netiquette" should be on the National Curriculum!