Free youth ministry study

If you want a little youth ministry study this ‘course’ is a great thing to dip in and out of. Covenant Theological Seminary offer a whole load of their modules over the internet for free – you can download MP3s of the lectures and then listen when and where you want. The few I have listened to so far have been nothing revolutionary but helpful to recap key points or to clarify thoughts in my mind – and its free!

Burnout in ministry

Recently a couple of others (Mike Lovato and Josh Treece) have blogged on burning out or coming close. I am aware how easy it is to burn the candle at both ends. Hannah and I have one car which she takes to work in Waltham Abbey. To manage the commute and get to work in plenty of time she leaves at or very soon after 6:30pm! If I want a lift because of needing to carry more stuff than I can on the back of my Dawes Horizon or because I was given a lift home the previous night from a church activity I have to be up early. But because of the nature of youth work I am often not back home till 10:00pm. That makes for a very long day which when repeated a few times a week really does begin to burn the candle at both ends.

A few factors that should also be thrown in include the fact that I like to get into work early and get stuff out of the way before the busyness of the day with people popping in and the phone ringing which doesn’t quite happen when you walk in at 11:00am. We do a lot of assemblies etc in schools which require early morning starts on top of the late nights with the youth groups.

There is a great section in This Way to Youth Ministry (pp. 136-137) adapted from Les Parrott’s, Helping the Struggling Adolescent: A Counselling Guide:

Be more than your job
Maintain stability without stagnation
Live a whole life
Learn to say “no”
Remember that you are not the Messiah
Cultivate your sense of play
Keep the Sabbath
Do not take yourself too seriously
Remember not to let your job get in the way of your calling
Never step on the scale of comparison
Recognise that even the best farmer faces seasons of slow growth
Keep coming back to where you want to end up

This is a really important issue. It is so easy to loose the plot and get too busy. We need to be really focussed on our calling and the priorities that come from that, and also the things that therefore aren’t as important. We need to be bold at saying no as well as yes and understanding, as Doug Fields always says, that every time we say yes to something extra at church etc. means less time for God, ourselves and our family because those are always the first people to loose out. For me I find it is a real challenge but incredibly important to discern what is not just a good thing to do but a God thing – what is it that He wants to be happening.

What techniques/ways/thoughts does anyone else have on how they prevent burnout and understand their priorities?

Youth Ministry and thinking time

I have been conscious recently of how easy it is to be busy in ministry and to not give enough time over to God, to study and to general thinking. The following quote that I discovered in This Way to Youth Ministry by Duffy Robbins sums it up well:

“Most often youth workers – and especially youth pastors – are very pragmatic and oriented to the program: fun and games, Bible studies, camps, retreats, social activities, and such things. It is a little difficult to talk about philosophy and theology with youth workers in the morning when they know they are taking care of fiften junior highers that same evening. Further, youth workers have a reputation not of being “thinkers” but doers, being more interested in how to do youth ministry than in the reasons and basis of it.

But this is the problem. The tyranny of the immediate forces many to neglect the weightier matters of youth ministry.”

John Dettoni, Introduction to Youth Ministry, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1993), p. 17 cited in This Way to Youth Ministry (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2004), p. 16

Local children’s and youth leader training

Last night saw the launch of our local children’s and youth leader training. It was a good night with just over 40 people gathering to spend time in worship and being inspired about the work they do. New Harvest Community Church youth band led worship and they were really good. I spoke on Psalm 78 and God’s vision for our work with the next generation and then Johnny Douglas, a local church leader and ex-YFC man (who also happens to have a great new blog – Soul Health: Meandering with my Maker), spoke on culture and convictions. He spoke very well after what had been a really busy day for him. His two key words were culture and convictions and he was really hot on destroying this idea that it is all about the numbers – instead emphasising that it is about the lives we invest in and how we do that. Really good stuff.

It was all recorded and hopefully should be up on a podcast in the not to distant future.

Further events planned:
* ‘What’s your aim?’ and ‘Planning a Programme’ – Saturday 25th Nov 9am – 12noon
* ‘Bridging the gap between Youth/Children and Church and Community’ and ‘The appeal of God to the middle classes’ – Saturday 20th Jan 9am – 12noon
* First Aid Training – Saturday 17th Mar 9am – 5pm (Cost £25 per person)

If you are local to Brentwood and want some training do think about coming along. Get in touch if you want more information.

The future of youth ministry

Various people (especially Marko and Lev) have drawn attention to the article by Christianity Today on the future of youth ministry in 50 years. It is a really tough question – I struggle to think what things will be like in 2 or 3 years time let alone 50 – I will be 73 by that stage! I think it will be interesting to see how key thoughts and agencies adapt over time – thinking both of the emergent group but also of groups such as Scripture Union, Youth for Christ, and Crusaders. What will their role be, how will they have adapted?
We had a strategy day for the local schools work group last weekend and someone there made a really interesting comment. What happens if the government takes all religious content out of the schools how then do we reach young people? If that were to happen – as seems increasingly likely, sad as it is, in this age of political correctness, it puts a big pressure on the church to ensure that it improves the way that it reaches out to young people. That is certainly a huge challenge to mull over.

YFriday Universal Tour

Junction 28 (the Brentwood wide group of children’s and youth leaders which I am involved in – for more info check out ) are hosting the …
YFriday Universal Tour (Titus & LZ7)
The ‘Universal’ Tour is coming to Brentwood on the 25th of November. ‘Universal’ is the follow up to the worldwide success of ‘Revolution’. Released in April 06 ‘Universal’ has already been named Wesley Owen / Premier album of the month in the UK. YFriday will be touring with Titus and LZ7.

Download Booking Form

YFriday concert details
Date: Saturday 25th of November 2006
Location: Courage Hall, Brentwood, Essex
Ticket cost: £8
Doors open: 7:00pm
Start: 7:30pm
Finish: 10:30pm

For more info:
Phone: 07870 444015
Or visit: , ,

How then shall we fight for joy? – George Müller

I have started rereading John Piper’s Desiring God and was provoked by Appendix 4 entitled ‘How then shall we fight for joy?’. Piper lists as series of 15 points as an outline to how someone can become a Christian Hedonist. Under point 6 on meditating on the word of God day and night he provides a fantastic quote by George Müller:

The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it become a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit.

Autobiography of George Müller, comp. Fred Bergen (London: J. Nisbet, 1906), 152-4, quoted in Desiring God, John Piper, (Leicester: IVP, 2003), p. 357

Schools work

Schools work is a real opportunity for those working in churches. I am seconded to a local schools work organisation for 16 hours a week. As part of that I work in two local secondary schools helping to organise a Christian Union and a drop-in lunch club in each.

I then spend an afternoon a week in a local primary school doing ‘detached work’ at lunchtime – hanging around in the playground playing football, teaching RE lessons and then I run a football club after school. In this school over the course of the year I and another schools worker are teaching every ‘Christian’ part of the RE syllabus to the pupils – what an exciting thing to have Christians teaching Christianity to pupils. On top of that I do assemblies and other things such as sports days etc. at that and another local primary school. This has recently led to a school asking me to become an associate governor with the view to helping in the wider context of the school.

It is great to play a part in the wider community and to develop a link with young people for many years – we can follow them from the start of primary school to the end of secondary school if I stay at the church for 14 years!

What links have others managed to set up with people or groups in the local community?

Possible goal of the season

Robin van Persie scored an awesome goal on Saturday – a real contender for goal of the season – as Arsenal beat Charlton. It was a goal worthy of winning any match. Check it out:

Organising my diary

I have been struggling recently with making my diary work. I use a paper diary for ease of carrying around and being able to quickly scribble additional notes or contacts in it but I have been finding since this academic year restarted that I need more space than I have done previously, and that with the increase in activity that it is getting more of a hassle to manually sync it in with my laptop. I use the laptop because it is easier to store more detail, to link it to email, and for my diary to be seen by others such as the lady who comes in and organises me and does some of my admin.

I have managed to borrow an old pda and a filofax off some friends and am now charging the pda up in the hope that I can test them out for a couple of weeks and see if I can find a system that works better for me. How does anyone else run their diary?

The importance of volunteers

I have been struck recently about the importance of volunteers in work at the church. It is so easy for workers in the church to be seen as the person who has been bought in to do it and they should do it all. But I don’t believe we are called to that – I believe we are called to try and do ourselves out of a job – to ensure we train, develop, encourage and support volunteers to the degree where they can take over our ministry.
The wider the team the easier it is too minister to young people for two reasons: firstly one person can only minister to a few young people, Jesus only had twelve disciples and even then he concentrated more on three of the twelve; secondly, hopefully the bigger the team the more varied your team members the more varied the young people you will be able to care for. I am blessed that I enjoy sport and playing sport with young people but I have some leaders who are great at craft, music, dance, drama etc.

Anyone else got any thoughts?

Starting out …

Starting things is always hard work – the first post always feels so uncomfortable. Whilst working as a Children’s & Youth Worker I have noticed the increasing amount of people using blogs to organise their thoughts and share ideas etc. with others and thought I might give it a try … so here goes!