Reaching all children: the inclusive group: Lesley Burnett & Shirley Austin

This was a slightly bizarre session that was dominated by one delegate who had lots to say!

The first part of the session was spent engaging with what ‘inclusion’ means, and osme of the biblical and legal reasons for it. We then moved on to look at the problem of labels – how they can segregate children and create stereotypes; children don’t struggle with this as much as adults – they are very accepting and see that inclusivity benefits all.

They then concluded looking at some general approaches to how we work towards this inclusivity. The session had some interesting points but lacked direction and therefore didn’t really feel helpful. I hope that the resources recommended will develop what the speakers were saying.

Messy Church: Lucy Moore

Lucy ran a great session outlining some of the stuff they have been doing in her church in Portsmouth to reach out to the community. They had very few children, a small number of church families, yet locally five primary schools. They realised there were 3 options:
– Holiday clubs
– Mid-week groups
– Attempting to reach whole families

They decided to try a ‘fresh expression’ of church. Sunday was still important, but here was another church congregation, not a feeder into the Sunday service. They run once a month for approximately 80 children and adults, including games, crafts, ‘service’, and meal.

Messy theology
There are messy edges to the church – people’s spiritual journey isn’t straightforward. They are irregular in attendance and could go either way. This can be reflected in life and in God – life isn’t straightforward it messes up the simple ABC conversion that we talk so often about; and God has not created an exact or symmetrical world, e.g. the trees don’t match they are one huge mismatch.

An opportunity for all ages to worship together – have to work hard not just to focus on children. A lot of people want to worship but they need to teaching how.
Help people of all ages feel they belong to church and each other. There is no huge community sense these days so it is great to affirm people through knowing their names etc.
Help people have fun and be creative together. Not the be all but a key part of what being a Christian should be. As Christians we can be very boring – let’s be more engaging.
Introduce Jesus through hospitality, friendship, stories and worship. People need the love of someone else first.

Lucy then spent the rest of the session outlining an average session and then looking at some of the key questions to address – both at the start and then a few days down the line. Definitely something that we are spending more time thinking about here in Brentwood.

The Funding is in

As I mentioned ten days ago, we have received some more funding through The Youth Opportunities Fund and Youth Capital Fund. We heard that between the two youth groups they will be given £10,645 for various bits of equipment such as a cycle shed, BBQs, sports equipment, and funding for trips and training such as first aid and food hygiene. Really pleased for the young people.
It was great to hear how Sawyers Church received some funding as well. I hope that local churches will continue to look towards funds like this to help support their children’s and youth work.

Main session 2: The child through the eyes of the church

This session was by Alan Charter and was fantastic. He started off by asking what does it mean to be an older generation sharing with a younger generation? Thoughts included that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, and ‘the life of a child is like a piece of paper on which every passer-by leaves a mark.’ It is the role of the whole community of God’s people: parents, children’s leaders, volunteers, ministers and pastors, and the church family.

We should be raising them up to know God and to live for him. To support this he used the famous verses of Deuteronomy 6; Psalm 78; and Micah 6. As children’s leaders we need to encourage the church in this.

His main points could then be summarised as:
– Be an advocate
– Be people of vision
– Be informed
– Be strategic

He concluded with 4 things to get good at:
1. Your own relationship with Jesus
2. Equipping your own children
3. Making disciples in your church
4. Reaching the children in your community

Concluding thought was this: “The church of God doesn’t have a mission, the mission of God has a church.” A very powerful thought.

Main session 1: The child through the eyes of Jesus.

Dave Roberts took the first session, which I found rather hard work. He seemed to jump around the Bible a lot, and got increasingly louder in volume which just seemed to end up with him shouting at us.

He started off by highlighting how 2000 years ago society had a really low view of the child. It was common for them to be sacrificed or forced into sexual practices. The Aramaic for child means servant or salve, so to see the context that Jesus spoke into we need to look at societies where people are marginalised.

Jesus blessed children and was an advocate to the marginalised. He wanted inclusivity in the kingdom of God. The church is to be the advocate for the child in religion and wider society.

Dave then went on to show how Jesus remodelled the father heart for his culture. They saw father as a fierce far off person, but Jesus was keen on tough love – of passionate caring.

Children’s Ministry Conference

Last weekend we went to the Children’s Ministry Conference. A great weekend of teaching and thinking. We were able to take a couple of key volunteers with us this time which was great for them to have the chance to be inspired and do some thinking on their ministry. Had fun with our accommodation but that is for another post. I will try and post some summaries of the sessions.

Hectic but alive!

I’ve been really hectic recently with going to the Children’s Ministry Conference at the weekend, some big events at youth groups and trying to organise the spending of our grant money. I’ve felt quite frustrated about my lack of blogging but as Hannah, my wife, said it is from the busy times that you get good things to reflect on. Let’s hope that is the case next week!

More funding

A while ago I posted about how we were going to put a bid in to The Youth Opportunities Fund and Youth Capital Fund which had something in the region of £60,000-70,000 available. I received a phone call last night saying that both our groups that applied have been successful. While some funding was knocked off from their bid they have still received a considerable amount. We should hear the confirmation of the figure on Monday, so I won’t post the precise figure till then.

Supermarket asks man, 87, for ID

The BBC is reporting how an 87 year old man was asked to prove he was over 21 when he tried to buy a bottle of sherry in a York supermarket. The former Lord Mayor of York, Jack Archer, said he was shocked – but flattered – when asked the question by staff at Morrisons in Acomb. Seems like a case of the rules regarding selling alcohol being taken too far – obviously he doesn’t need to be asked.

Youth club trip out

Tonight was the first trip out of the New Year. We took our two monday night youth groups to the Rayleigh Megazone . It was a great night – the kids always enjoy the laser tag. We had an entertaining start with the smoke alarm going off within minutes of us entering the building. On one of the coldest nights it wasn’t great to be standing outside but they got it sorted really quickly. The first game was just the twenty young people we took, the second game included twenty younger children from another group which was good although quite difficult because everywhere you turned someone was shooting at you.

Always a good night out so if you are in south Essex do pop along.