Filing and funding

Wow – yesterday was spent mainly doing filing and admin. It is amazing how quickly it builds up and you then avoid it. I have a volunteer who comes in one morning a week to help with the admin, and she is a legend. For the last few weeks we haven’t been doing the filing as we have needed to do other things but yesterday we started at 10:00 and finished at 4:45. My filing cabinets and folders are all beautifully organised and there is now only about 15cm of filing left to do! We managed to get rid of lots of junk into the recycle bin – two bin bags worth to be precise.

In the evening we had a youth worker from the Council come and talk to the our groups about applying for some more funding. The Youth Opportunities Fund and Youth Capital Fund has £90,000 available in Brentwood. My younger group (13-14 year olds) seem interested but can’t be bothered to create the application. They started last night and have to finish it next week. On the other hand my older youth group (17-18 year olds) have just about finished their bid for about £11,000 of funding for things such as: food processor, digital scales, BBQ, laptop, photo printer, guitar, carpet, tables, subsidies for trips out and training. Just hope they don’t expect too much following their success in the last funding bid.

The weekend

We have spent the last few weeks looking into buying a house and so most of the weekend was spent doing stuff to sort that out. Hopefully we will continue to make progress with this over the next couple of weeks. It is scary how much money is involved but I guess it is better in the long run than renting as at least you get some of the money back.
Other highlights included dinner at Bryn and Marian’s. Bryn is on the diaconate at the church, and is my pastoral deacon and mentor within the church. They are both real legends, always willing to help out, and live just around the corner. It was a great evening of food, wine, and conversation, not forgetting Strictly Come Dancing!
Most of Sunday was spent doing a mixture of bits at church, writing Christmas cards, and trying to finalise ideas for the funding applications for our two older youth groups.

Quantity or quality; and discipline

It’s nice to be noted by Ian for my “prolific” blogging – although I am not sure it is a good thing – surely there are other things I should be doing, and I am reminded of the phrase my PE teacher always used to shout “quality not quantity”. I do try to write something each weekday but more recently I seem to be just linking to other people rather than sparking thoughts or debates. Maybe it is a suggestion that I need to slow down and ensure I spend more time reflecting on the work that has been going on.

Regarding the HTML duel being incredibly un-technical I have no idea what one is so I think you may have won already!

I have had a really mixed last couple of days. Our middle aged groups (7-10 and 10-13) seem to be seeing increasing numbers of children coming but alongside that we seem to have increased issues to do with behaviour. Some of the volunteer leaders aren’t confident in this area, and some of the young people are showing a blatant lack of respect to the leaders which makes it really hard. How do you deal with discipline issues, what is your plan? Any thoughts much appreciated.

Mentos and diet coke

Marko has put up the new mentos and diet coke experiment. I remember first hearing about this when Scott Mills and Chappers did the experiment on the roof of Radio 1 as part of their afternoon show. Looks great fun although these guys obviously have way too much time on their hands:

The speed of change

I am involved in running a CU at two local secondary schools. A couple of months ago one of the groups was really taking off with about 12 young girls (mostly non-Christian) coming along and getting stuck into the bible, while the other group was full of more experience Christians who just weren’t gelling and often not bothering to attend. How quickly things change: today we had only a couple of girls turning up for the ‘successful’ group, and 16 young people at the other group including a whole load of non-Christian friends, with a young person leading the session. It’s amazing but frustrating at the same time how quickly things can change in our work with young people.

Closest Book Meme and other things

Marko has really been on form with his posting recently. Highlights include the hilarious Butt Scan story, and the Closest Book Meme which works as follows:

The rules are:
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next four sentences on your blog, along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest!

The nearest book on my desk was Youth Ministry Management Tools, that I have borrowed from my friend Steve. Page 123 and the fifth sentence following is:

“That’s the only way you’ll ever get a handle on the ministry finances.

First six months:

  • After understanding, observing, and personally monitoring the budget for at least six months, you can delegate to a staff person or trusted (experienced) volunteer some of the routine procedures. Request weekly or monthly reports from your volunteer so you can monitor any major income or expense (perhaps more than $25 or $100, depending on the size and scope of your ministry).
  • Reevaluate the budget and adjust it according to your ministry needs.”

Helpful book, and one that I am hoping to be able to implement some of its thoughts and suggestions in the next few months.

Internet Explorer 7

The new Internet Explorer 7 has been a pretty good experience for me. I enjoy being able to tab through different sites rather than require lots of windows, however, it has taken quite a bit of using to get used to accessing the favourities. My only bug bear is that, as Lev has mentioned the title header gets cut off in the eblogger. Anyone know, in simple terms, how to adjust it or should I just leave it until eblogger update the templates.

Listening ear

We are continually seeing opportunities to develop our schools work in the local 5 schools that our church partners with. Today was a start of a new activitiy that we are hoping to develop in one of the local primary schools – a listening ear service. Basically I will provide a listening ear for children who want someone to share issues from their life with, and to target a few children who need more support than the school staff can realistically provide. We tried a taster today with three very needy boys and they seemed to really enjoy the session. It is something I think will be a real challenge for me.

Gaining feedback from young people

There is a great post over at youthideas about gaining feedback from young people about what they want from their group. Nigel’s questionnaire is definitely something I might well be adapting and using in the next week as we plan what we will be doing next term.

What wacky games or trips have you done with your young people that were a huge success? Put a comment sharing any suggestions. about the direction of our group.


Today I have mainly been … networking.
Following an early morning secondary school assembly on the true meaning of Christmas I spent the morning in our staff team meeting and then trying to come up with a plan with Tessa (a retired lady who volunteers her time to try and organise the paper that goes in and out of my office – possibly one of the hardest jobs in the world) as to how we could restructure one or two aspects of the filing system. Sounds quite boring, but really I am getting excited by it as it could make a huge difference in the amount of admin I have to do.
This afternoon I have spent a great time chilling out with a whole load of the statutory youth workers in the town. I went to the Young Peoples Counselling Service AGM at lunch time which was good – although they are in desperate need of funding and the re-hash of the NHS has certainly not helped them. Following that I met with one of the youth workers to chat through the funding opportunities available to our youth groups at the moment – there are so many opportunities we just need to make sure we come up with wise ideas and then put some effort in to our applications and we could have some more funding come the middle of January. What was interesting was the way that the youth workers seem open to partnering in new projects together which could be really exciting.
After that I went and sorted out one or two bits in preparation for our film night at the two youth clubs tonight. Should be quite a relaxed evening with some opportunity to do some admin – winner!

The weekend

It is amazing how easy it is to miss a couple of days of blogging, the disciplines of spending time with God and others similarly can be so quickly pushed to the side in the busyness of everything else.

The last few days have been fairly hectic with some exciting things and some less exciting things going on. Hannah and I have started thinking about trying to buy a house jointly with her parents, to help both of us on to the property market (David gets a house with his job so as soon as he retires they won’t have anywhere to go.). So Friday and Saturday saw us viewing various different properties and having a couple of meetings with mortgage advisors. It is all looking very complex but positive at the same time. Hopefully things will keep progressing and in the next few months we will be the proud owners of our first ever house.

When we weren’t doing house stuff we spent some time trying to get stuff sorted for Christmas, doing on bits of work here and there, and going to a dance. Hannah and I do dance classes on a Tuesday night, and the posh Christmas dance was on Saturday night. It was quite a fun night trying out different moves. Unfortunately it was quite full so you didn’t always have much space to do anything but it was a good evening.

Church over the weekend was good. David seemed to lead the service really well on Sunday morning, all looking at the start of advent which is always an exciting time, but difficult to make exciting if you know what I mean. It has been great to see how so many of the people who have joined the church in the last year are ‘young’ (i.e. under 50!) which is slowly changing the atmosphere. In the evening I took a couple of our young people to Doubt your Doubts, the town-wide monthly youth service which was a good evening, and then chips and nuggets afterwards while chilling with Steve who promises he is going to start a blog.

When things go wrong …

However much you prepare things can still go wrong in youth work. Tonight, at our Rock Solid group, we were playing a game entitled Mousse in the Dark. The idea was that two volunteers would feed each other mousse or yoghurt while blindfolded.
We put plastic sheeting down on the floor, put big plastic aprons on them, tied their hair back, put the blindfolds on, thinking that we had done a reasonable amount to protect them and their clothing. But when blindfolded yoghurt can get everywhere, on the sheet, on their clothes, all over the blindfolds.
It was hilarious and the kids loved it but what a mess. We managed to clean up fairly well and luckily the parents didn’t seem to stressed but I think we might invest in some boiler suits before we do that again!