Holbein in England

I had the day off yesterday. After the busyness of the weekend it was a real joy. I went into London and spent a good chunk of the day with my dad. We went to Tate Britain to the Holbein exhibition . It wouldn’t necessarily be my cup of tea normally but it had had some rave reviews and I did enjoy it. Some of the portraits are just so realistic they look like they could walk off the page. Inparticular I thought this picture was amazing:

If you get the chance well worth a visit.

Models of Mission: Community involvement

This seminar was led by Malcolm Duncan of Faithworks and Paul Sanderson of The Wire Project. The session started with a Biblical basis of why we should be involved in our community – points included the need to protect human dignity, our prophetic role, the need to have a Kingdom mentality, holiness and worship, being salt, light and yeast, and the example of St. Francis of Assisi.

Paul then shared his experiences of starting the Wire project which were really helpful in the different ways that the work has developed and the way that inter-church work can be really successful. Something to continue to mull over and come back to me thinks.

Main session 2: The Kingdom is Nearer than You Think (Luke 10)

You reach a point when you have to rethink everything before. Jesus forces us to do this. His thoughts on the Kingdom of God turned the Jewish thoughts upside down. He redefined the Kingdom as “a reign not a realm, authority not geography”.

Youth work is prophetic for the church. We need to rethink the faith – the message, the scope, the lifestyle. Andy then looked briefly at 3 areas:

  • Proclamation – Luke 10 shows how we must have preaching of the word, social action and a charismatic spirit. We must stop this pick ‘n’ mix attitude.
  • Spirituality – we must know the king to know the kingdom. Ensure that our youth work isn’t a place where Jesus is left out – it certainly can be easy to do that.
  • Discipleship – have we aligned ourselves with God’s kingdom and are we encouraging our young people to align with God?

Main session 1: Going to New Places (Luke 4:14-44)

Rob Bell spoke on imagery from Ephesus – we didn’t seem to do that much with the Luke passage! The idea that there may only be a few Christians in an area and that the rest of the area is quite non-Christian. Paul just hikes in and does it – no budgets, no film clips, no fancy advertising. Paul manages to cause a riot, and Gaius and Aristarchus (probably aged 15-20) end up standing in a theatre of 25,000 people shouting for their death. Yet Paul wants to appear before the crowd! Paul has a story he is dying to say – what is our theatre, our Ephesus.

As soon as the riot is over Paul moves on. He leaves because his disciples have been trained – they handled a riot of 25,000 people. Who are our disciples, who are we giving some ministry responsibility to?

The leaders of the province worship Artemis but they want to protect Paul! Who are those in our area who are our friends but hate our faith. Paul must have held his tongue on certain things, e.g. statues, to build a friendship that is incredibly important in the long run.

Early day session 3

The third session started with Martin Saunders, from Youthwork magazine, interviewing Rob for the next edition – look out for it.

The rest of the session was an expansion of that and the discussion from the previous sessions with various questions from us being answered. Points included:

  • That the Christian community should always be progressive – probably small steps rather than big leaps.
  • Use background reading to really understand the culture and the context.
  • “Your calling is where your passion meets the world’s biggest need”
  • We are invited to be a Eucharist (good gift) for the world. However, you can’t be a Eucharist endlessly. It is why there must be rest and an opportunity to be refilled.

Early day session 2

The second session was slightly more random in direction but very helpful.

We started by looking at how Jesus had priorities – his was to get to Jerusalem – and because of that he was able to say no to people. He stared people in the face with real needs and still said no. What is your Jerusalem – you can’t meet the needs of every child and leader. If you think you can then you are using your ministry to hide an arrogant ego.

From this we had a great period of time on the need for Sabbath and how that should look. We looked at the importance of 1 day of rest in 6 – to book periods in the diary – to know that all you are going to do is to go for a walk and then sit and look out of the window – but the rest and refreshment gained from that is more important than productivity.

The key to it all is sustainability – he gave the example of a pastor who when interviewing for a youth worker said he didn’t want someone to give 110% for 2 years but 85% for 35 years. Can you do it for 20 years plus?

We then jumped across to examine preaching and teaching. Rob suggests that we need a shift from the emergency of trying to get a session sorted for a couple of days time to allowing God to give us something to say. He does this through a long process which might easily take 10 months. Starting with just a random thought Rob will try and develop it in to a sermon or series of sermons – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But if you aren’t desperately searching for a sermon for a couple of days time then it doesn’t matter if they don’t all work out.

Early day session 1

Rob started off the Early Day with a two hour non-stop whirlwind tour of the Bible. He started off spending an hour looking at Jerusalem v Lystra. He showed the context of Jewish faith as based on Exodus 3 and then on into Acts 14 looking at how Paul shares faith with those who don’t have the same background. They knew nothing of the Jewish culture so Paul has to do some serious work in culture shifting. However, the Jewish headquarters of Christianity weren’t so happy about the culture shift and encouraged the Christians in Lystra to hold to the Jewish traditions.

We concluded this section by thinking about how for many youth workers we work in Lystra but receive our pay cheque from Jerusalem and so the key question is how much of Jerusalem do the Lystra folks have to follow?

The second half was spent looking at four locations in the Bible:

Egypt (Exodus 3) – God hears the cry of the oppressed – both at the individual and corporate level.

Mount Sinai (Exodus 19) – the formation of a new kingdom – it is also the only time in the history of religions, according to Rob, that God speaks to a group of people. Redemption occurs through a community – the taking care of others, e.g. foreigner, fatherless, and the widow.

Jerusalem (1 Kings 9) – they forget the story and so it all goes wrong. The oppressed are now the oppressors. The blessing God bestowed on Solomon he used for himself – similarly we can get so focussed on ourselves that we put all our resources into preserving our church empire – keeping numbers, being careful not to offend a certain family with truth etc.

Babylon (2 Chronicles 36) – they remember the story and they remember Egypt. They begin to cry out to the Lord and so the cycle starts again.

Jesus repeats the cycle for us:
1. Let’s leave – “come and follow me” (Jesus is the new Moses).
2. The new kingdom is happening.
3. Unlike the previous Son of David this one gets it right.
4. The need to go home – he welcomes us as the prodigal son on a return from exile.


The YFriday gig on Saturday night was great. We had just under 350 people at the gig. The bands were great – the music was really eclectic – punk rock, hip hop, and pop rock combined with worship – something for everyone.

Lindz from LZ7 did a mini gospel talk which went down really well with the young people – just under 50 came out of the gig to be prayed for.

All in all, a great night. Big thanks to the large team who worked really hard to put in on.

Secondary school CUs

Today has been filled with secondary schools work – a couple of lessons on the true meaning of Christmas and two lunchtime CUs. One of the CUs has had an increase in older pupils attending and so is becoming more self-sufficient – they are keen to run their own sessions and we are there as back-up. But the other group is full of year 8 (12-13 year old) girls – some of whom are Christians, but many of whom aren’t.

It was started last term and following a few random sessions we used YFC’s RS2 introductory pack. This term we have been using Simply Junior High’s small groups stuff on the Fruits of the Spirit – but I am not sure what to do next. We want to keep high energy and participation, but make sure we do open the Bible up (often the only time they are quiet is when they are reading the scriptures out loud) and also something that isn’t too expensive.

Any thoughts – shall I just continue with the Simply Junior High small group stuff or is there something else you recommend?

Goings on from around the world

It seems that Marko’s seminars at the Youth Specialities conference are prone to being at bit more random than at the Youthwork conference. In this post in his blog he recounts how “three belly-dancers came into the back of our room and started belly-dancing up the main aisle” and “all 200 or 250 of us gather up by the little door in the airwall, then screaming and waving our arms, streamed into chap’s room, running around the entire room and back into ours”! Check out the post to read more of the antics that go on at the YS conference.

Justin Taylor has got a great post based on the remix of Michael Jackson’s “I’m Bad” with John Piper and Piper’s comments on the spoof. It certainly made me laugh.

seaninthemiddle has a great discussion starter on why do we blog – I know for myself that in the run up to Christmas as I get busier and busier I find it harder to make postings on my thoughts. But I find it so helpful when I do – it is good to have a space to splurge my thoughts out on and to then take the time to reflect on them.

Josh Griffin managed to get taken out during an inter-church football game. But even more funny is that he is so committed to the podcast that he records it before going to get himself stitched up!

Lastly, check out my mate James Edwards’ blog that he has recently started up on myspace. Some great thoughts coming out on it already.