Funding opportunities

I wanted to post this last night but I didn’t get the chance – the first time I have not posted on a weekday!

I sit on a local town-wide committee that brings various different agencies and providers who link together through youth work and puts them around a table once a month. I sit there and don’t understand all that is said, many of the bits I do understand are fairly irrelevant to my specific role and ministry. But often there are useful bits.

The last two meetings there has been some information regarding funding opportunities through Challenge 2000 and the Children’s Fund where groups of children and young people in Essex can apply for grants of up to £4,000 to panels of young people. We were sharing this with some of our youth groups last night and encouraging them to dream about some of the resources they would love to have. It is has ended up with us looking like we will put in three bids for a large amount of money all because I sat in some meetings which while not the most relevant at first are providing opportunities to quintuple my budget.

Let’s just hope we managed to get some of the money!

My Chemical Romance – Welcome to the Black Parade

My Chemical Romance have a great single out at the moment which has just got them their first UK number one. I like the tune with the wide variety that exists in just the one song but I think the words are really interesting.

For example:
He said, “Son when you grow up,
would you be the saviour of the broken, the beaten and the damned?”
He said “Will you defeat them,
your demons, and all the non believers, the plans that they have made?”
Because one day I’ll leave you,
A phantom to lead you in the summer,
To join the black parade.”
We’ll carry on,
We’ll carry on
And though you’re dead and gone believe me
Your memory will carry on
We’ll carry on
And in my heart I can’t contain it
The anthem won’t explain it.
Do or die
You’ll never make me
Because the world, will never take my heart
You can try, you’ll never break me
You want it all, you wanna play this part
I won’t explain or say I’m sorry
I’m unashamed, I’m gonna show my scar
Give a cheer, for all the broken
The words remind me of so many images from the Bible. Jesus comes and shows us what God’s love is like by defeating overs, how he is there for the broken hearted etc etc.
Update: their website says: “the album tells a hair-raising story in song. ‘Half of it is about making a deal with the devil’ says [vocalist Gerard] Way. ‘The other half is taken from our experiences as a band’.”

Who’d be a goalkeeper?

After the Reading v Chelsea game who’d want to be a goalkeeper. Both the Chelsea keepers took quite big hits – with both ending up having to come off Chelsea finished the game with John Terry in goal! Check out BBC Sport’s report on the game.

What is interesting is listening to the comments afterwards with Jose Mourinho wanting the FA to investigate the challenges and then Steve Coppell and goalkeeping legend Bob Wilson saying there was no intent shown by Hunt and Sonko in their challenges.

What is fair to expect off a goalkeeper?

Simply Youth Ministry Podcast

I love listening to the Simply Youth Ministry Podcast. I really enjoy the mixture of some good youth ministry content but also a whole load of banter and laughs. This week’s show (episode 32) is great including, as summed up by Josh, stuff such as :

How do we create a team that motivates each other?
I feel like an indentured servant!
How far is too far with authenticity?
When should you split up your group in a small church?
How do I deal with arrogant student leaders?
What’s Matt’s beef with elders?

Check it out and have a listen.

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.