And Youthwork the conference 2012 is about to begin.  Steve Leach is pumping out the tunes as the Main Room fills out.  We’re live blogging, connection withstanding, so apologies for any spelling mistakes!

If you’re liking DJ Steve Leach’s tunes then check out SoundCloud profile.

And we’re off – are you ready to let your light shine brighter?  Welcome to Youthwork the conference 2012!

Damian Wharton and Rachael Gardner are welcoming us, and introducing DJ Steve Leach and Pete James.

Damian reads some of Psalm 33:

For the word of the Lord holds true,
and we can trust everything he does.
He loves whatever is just and good;
the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth.

The Lord merely spoke,
and the heavens were created.
He breathed the word,
and all the stars were born.
He assigned the sea its boundaries
and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs.
Let the whole world fear the Lord,
and let everyone stand in awe of him.
For when he spoke, the world began!
It appeared at his command.

20 We put our hope in the Lord.

    He is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
for our hope is in you alone.

We’re going to spend time in worship, starting with Bless the Lord, O my soul, and then Our God is Stronger.  The worship is really rocking, we’re now spending some time praying out praise to our Almighty God.

Two brilliant treats for you tonight, in the Gold Room a debate on “Where is youth work going?” also The AFC are rocking the Hall.  Damian Wharton just tried acoustic hip hop, with his boots and cats – unfortunately it didn’t go well but Hobbit was awesome.

Andy and Rachel from Moorlands who say they don’t beatbox but do love Jesus and working with young people, go and check out their stand.

Divine are running a chocolate tasting tomorrow night – something definitely to get involved in.

Abby Guinness: “Prayer is not an idol amusement, properly understood and applied it is the most potent instrument of action” Gandhi.  What is the one thing you really want for people around you?

Now Abby is challenging us to think of young people who live in your locality but you don’t know, let’s cry out to God for them together now.

We’re going to worship, Pete is introducing the band

  • Sarah on vocals
  • Jamie is on keys
  • Mark is playing bass
  • Tim’s on drums
  • Johnny is on electric

Pete and the band are properly rocking out tonight – so inspiring to be led in worship by them: “Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, Jesus, Saviour of the World” we worship you.  We’re now singing Higher than the Mountains, that line “Your love  never fails, it never gives up, never runs out on me” is such a powerful line.  Christ is Cornerstone, and Christ is the hope of our glory – powerful words to sing out alongside a thousand other youth workers.

Great bible reading video of young people reading our reading Colossians 1:15-23.

Rachel Gardner thinks Youthwork the conference is the start of Christmas!

When Rachel was younger they had a shed in the garden, and she nagged her mum to let her use the shed.  All day she was in the shed, and at the end of the day took her mum to see her creativity – she’d turned it into a lift!  What an imaginative child she was!

Youthworkers do icebreakers – she wants us to swap socks – only joking!  Imagine an exit is a secret door where would it lead?

Imagination is a really powerful thing – we can unlock so much through this.  A Air Force Colonel was captured, and for seven years was kept in solitary confinement, he played a game of golf in his mind everyday, when he was released he played in a competition, he scored 76!

Whilst staying in Les Pas, everyone was reading Jack Reacher by Lee Child, these books have sold in their billions, so no wonder Hollywood wanted to make a film.  He is 6ft 5in, a 50in chest, 18 stone, ice blue eyes, blonde hair, in Jason’s imagination he is enormous, but Hollywood have said Tom Cruise is going to play him – very disappointing.

It is tough when the reality does not match up with what is in your head.  Imagine your are a first century Christian in Colossae, you will lay your life down for Jesus, you’re experiencing persecution and suffering, who do you imagine Jesus is, and is he worth it?  Can he live up to the hype or he is just another hero who will let you down?

Paul writes you a letter and he puts you straight on who Jesus is, it blows your mind, this Jesus is incredible.  He is the image of the invisible God, and you’ve been captured by who he is.

Colossae was under Roman rule, they didn’t just use market forces but controlled peoples’ minds – they kept their imagination on lock down.  Caesar was god, and he was a brand that was everywhere.  Paul writing from prison in Rome  just challenges this all.

When young people feel the ceiling above them it breaks our heart, something says that’s not for them.  Kelly, taught Rachel loads, and she struggled massively in school, she was really bright and would get into trouble – she was convinced she was worthless.  Recently visited her in uni and she said “I didn’t know I had it in me”.  Rachel rages about online porn being seen as a healthy relationship.  Paul’s words are really powerful to a society on lockdown, they bring incredible life.

The passage looks like a poem when written out in our Bibles.  He focuses them on who Jesus is and who they are in Christ – he is not painting a picture of someone who fails to live upto expectations – he is a genius.  Every time you speak out you put your neck on the line, you don’t need more resources or worship, you need to know who Jesus is, and everything you have in him and because of him.  Paul is able to help us in this.

Remember that Paul was the man when the lights went out in his eyes on the road to Damascus, the fire was lit in his heart.  Paul until then was a boundary focussed man, persecuting the Christians.  He met a man who was outside the box we put him in.

When we read these words, we hear a man who knows what it is to shine, to trust, to hold out the word of light in a dark and crooked generation.  Rachel loves the conference, being with brothers and sisters who share a passion for young people.  At the beginning, let’s let the light go on, let’s be reminded who is Jesus, how do we picture Jesus, who are we because of him?

We need to remember that, as when we forget that our ministry, our life as a youth worker starts with Jesus it all becomes about my identity, how we see ourselves affecting the situations we’re in.  We think we can’t deal with, who are we to do this.  The challenge is we’re not here because we’re youthworkers, because the church has paid for us, because we want more resources but because our destiny is to shine, like Paul, to have the light switched on inside us, to radiate the beautiful, powerful, reckless, dangerous light of Christ where ever God calls us.

That challenge feels so hard.  It has been a tough year for Rachel, working with Romance Academy for years, now handing over to others and feeling who am I, having an ego check.  We think we are brilliant, and young people think we’re amazing.

We swing between being broken people who don’t think we can do it – an insecurity, and our bravado of knowing what we do, our ego – we need to lay these down.  We can rest assured we’re here as God has called us here.  It doesn’t matter how good we are at shining, our destiny as God’s children is to shine – the same light that burst through Jesus, that burst through Paul, wants to burst through us.

We’re going to pause and spend sometime embedding this praying for the person next to us – encouraging them to be lumen for God, for a releasing of God’s power.

This is not about shine brighter, work harder – this weekend is about saying the light of Christ is in us.  Paul’s prophetic imagination is so powerful.

One very awful night Rachel had a girl who took an overdose at a YMCA hostel, the girl felt broken, rejected, hurt, unloved, alienated.  She ended up in Eastbourne hospital, and when she came home a few days later, Rachel asked her what she wanted to do, the girl said she didn’t want to go to the hostel, so they went for a drive and ended up at Beachy Head!  After some laughs Rachel shouted “I am alive”, whilst the girl had a cigarette, but eventually they both shout “I am alive”.  The story doesn’t end with her becoming a Christian, soon after she was moved to a girls hostel where she could be supported more.  But in that moment something happened as they shouted out prophetically.

Paul is saying they might hold you down, beat you, imprison you, but your heart is free – wherever you are we shine – in a conference centre, in school, in church, in community.  And isn’t that what we long for our young people, to be captivated by Jesus, where they say it is all about him.  God bringing release, housing estates, shopping centres, schools, PRUs, prisons being transformed by the light of God.  The sin of 10 years, 10 months, 10 minutes, 10 seconds doesn’t cling to us, we are faultless, we are free, so for this weekend and the rest of our life let’s shine.

A little video of Emili Sande ‘We are full of Wonder’.

We’re now going to move into a time of worship and response so we’ll sign off for tonight, but we’ll be back later with a blog on the “Where is youth work heading” discussion.

Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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