New Forest Nightstop

New Forest Nightstop

I received this recent mailing about New Forest Nightstop:

New Forest Nightstop is the only provider of emergency accommodation in the New Forest for young people age 16-24, who find themselves suffering homelessness and this is all done through the homes of trained and approved volunteers.  There is absolutely no other emergency provision; hostels or shelters, in the New Forest.  The first thing people usually say to me is ‘Are there really people homeless in the New Forest?’  Unfortunately, this is a reality that people are very much unaware of.  The forest is mainly an affluent area with a very rural spread.  This means that homelessness, as people usually understand it, goes very much unnoticed.  The young people we help are not the street-hardened rough sleepers people typically think of in regards to homelessness but everyday teenagers, suffering a crisis, in need of help and protection.

Through our team of 26 volunteers Nightstop provides free emergency overnight accommodation, meals, laundry, baths, travel costs, toiletries, start-up furniture, food parcel referrals, start-up home energy costs, practical support with benefit claims, housing forms and the progression of their housing case through housing panels, with a multi-agency approach to the best outcomes with the means we have.  But Nightstop hosts offers much more than this to a young person; a listening ear, a sense of belonging and trust, a future, protection from rape, drugs, abuse, increased employability, offering security to not only the young person but their education; 69% of young people who stayed in the last year were in education, training or employment.

New Forest Nightstop has just entered its 12th year and in that time we have provided over 2000 nights of safety to vulnerable young people from our local communities.  Our aim is to save them from reaching the streets and becoming victims there.  We are hard at work trying to bring an awareness of Nightstop and the tragedies it prevents to the communities around us.

But the reality is that, at the moment, we do not have enough hosts, particularly in the Hythe and Dibden area, for the number of young people needing help.

Please follow the link below to visit our website for a real insight into our work and activities.  You can read stories from the young people that have been supported by Nightstop, experiences of our volunteers and even watch our short film about homelessness in the New Forest.

I hope you have found this of interest and I look forward to hearing from you if you feel you can help us in any way.

Catriona Duncan
Nightstop Support Worker
Community First New Forest
Tel: 01425 478391

Email: Nightstopsupport@cfnf.org.uk

Web: www.newforestnightstop.org.uk

YC14 Seminar: Helping yourself to help your youth

rhythm-speed-1024x535

The seminar was led by Helen Godwin and myself – you can download the powerpoint here.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Jesus calls/commands us to live freely and lightly and yet many of us don’t.  It can feel impossible, but Jesus asked us to do this so it must be possible.

When we are exhausted we long for someone to take charge – that is what Jesus is doing here ‘Come!’

Ministry – as a full-timer or a volunteer – doesn’t fit with the 21st century concept of work-life balance.  Instead the more helpful concept is that of rhythm and speed.

It is impossible to manage ministry in the same way each day, or even week.  For example Christmas will always be a busy period in ministry.  In a work-life balance model we fail if we are involved in all that goes on in church at Christmas.  Yet rhythm says this is okay, with rest and holiday the week after.

The old phrase is look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.  We need to look for rhythm in our days, weeks, months, and beyond.

We need to obey and take a Sabbath rest!

Often a deeper root being exposed here – we are works based and not grace based.

Feel compelled, guilty, fear what others think, not pulling my weight

But we are called to say ‘my yoke is easy and my burden is light’, can we say that?

Would we feel guilty if we did?

Is Sabbath rest a norm for us, preventing us from getting weary and heavy ladened? 

  • Singles – you’ve not no family to take up your time! Really!!!  Do your family and friends feel you have a good boundaries?
  • Married – does your partner not only know but see/experience them being more important than church?
  • Kids – are your kids fighting with the church for your attention? Are they seeing your faith in action in your personal life and not just your work/volunteering?

Or are we simply hiding – Is work an escapism from your life/all of these – babysit my kids!!

We are called to love God – do we only pray and read his word for the sake of a preach?

Love our neighbour – is that youth outreach based.

Love ourselves – do we even attempt this one?

Watchman Nee – “Adam began his life with the sabbath; for God works before he rests, while man must first enter God’s rest, and then alone can he work.”

Eph 2 v6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. …8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

“For Christianity begins not with a big DO, but with a big DONE”.  – we are invited to enjoy it, not try and attain it.

Priorities – The picture of putting the big stones in first – God, Family & Friends, church.  Being obedient to what he asks – so we need to take time to listen.

Are our children/youth growing up – whirl wind of activity – doing instead of being is the signal we send. Resent church.

Be kind to ourselves and others on our teams. Demonstrates Grace and that we trust God.

If self care is seen as another task on a list to be ticked off then it may well not be the genuine care that we need.  Chpt 12 – Well watered tree.  Ian Hoskins.  Youth Ministry edited by Sally Nash.  2011

There is a tension between productivity and faithfulness.  As Henri Nouwen points out – “Productivity is an attempt to create life” but “we are called to deliver lasting fruit.”  The issue centres on who is in control and how much intimacy is there – it’s a focus on the relationship not what comes out of it.

As Oswald Chambers said: “The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship.  That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack.”

Romans 12:1-2 reminds us that we can’t help but be shaped by the world.

Scarcity mentality: there isn’t enough time to do everything I need to do.    Key Q: How do I get all this done?

  • Importance of image: concern with my audience (e.g. facebook); worried what people think; personal ‘brand’; hide the real you.  Key Q: How do I look to others?
  • Workplace of culture: productivity focus; concern with measurement and success; congregation satisfcation and market share; comparison with others leads to working harder.  Key Q: How do I justify my life?  Have I done enough?
  • Work-life balance: You can have it all; Fear Of Missing Out; fill every minute; Key Q: How do I do it all
  • Orphan mentality: I’m on my own; it’s all down to me; self-reliance; unable to truth God or others.  Key Q: How do I trust?
  • Fear: Of vulnerability; of failure; of rejection; of not belonging.  Key Q: How do I not … ?

And yet God doesn’t need me to do anything but I receive the privilege of joining in His mission with Him.

Three areas of well-being we want to focus on:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Spiritual

Physical well-being:

  • Take a Sabbath
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Healthy eating

Stress is “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed upon them” according to the Health & Safety Executive.  From a Christian perspective stress is forgetting who God is, who we are, and that there is an enemy.

The spring is designed to extend, take pressure, release and return to the starting point.

  • Change: Births, marriage, deaths, moving house, changing jobs etc.
  • Demands and expectations of others: Expectations which are often not written down.  It is key to bring them out into the open: “I am here to serve you but you are not my master.”
  • Self-expectation: This multiples the 2 springs above it.  If you try to keep everyone happy then when high demands happen it is even harder.
  • Demotivation and resentment: Resent work that someone else should do; resentful that God hasn’t delivered certain things.  Sense of scarcity and ownership.
  • Attack: As J.B. Phillips said “Enemy loves to squeeze us into the model of the world.”

Strengthen the spring: go back to the physical well-being: sleep, exercise, health diet, good spiritual habits.

Develop your support network: who prays for you on an ongoing basis?  Family and friends; mentor; accountability groups; spiritual direction etc.  To receive support it requires us to be humble.  Sometimes our role focuses on supporting others so much that we struggle to receive help.

Understand and reduce the weights: understand the dynamic between the weights and recognise the role of the ‘conformed mind’.  Reduce the impact of the weights.

We ignore the fact that we are emotional beings to our peril.  We need to teach our youth and especially our lads that emotions are part of us, and if suppressed cause untold damage.

Learning to express emotions is a healthy and normal part of our development.

Where do you worship and feed?  Are you only reading the Bible to prepare for youth sessions; praying arrow prayers to God because you haven’t had time to prepare?

It is important that all of us step back and worship God, and receive from Him.  This can be a challenge e.g. older youth doing children’s work and never going to church.

A young person stepped back from leading worship because she was no longer worshiping – a chore and needs to connect again – such guts.

Do we take time out to BE and not do?

What works for you?

YC14: Big Room 3: Andy Croft

Andy Croft

You know it is Christmas as the John Lewis advert is out. Have learnt over the years that it is better to get a present for Beth than none. Often leave it to the last minute, Christmas Eve. Once tried to buy a Christmas jumper, which Beth wanted from Topshop. Couldn’t remember what is was, cocoon slouchy jumper. Saw a shop assistant but decided to ignore the help and instead became cave man hunting for woolly jumper to bring back to cave. Looked everywhere, after 20 minutes, and the same shop assistant is now looking slightly smug. Eventually the pride gives way and Andy asks for help. Eventually in the right one but it is the wrong colour so wanted to burn Topshop down. Had to buy something from Zara in despair which she took back. Found out the cocoon jumper didn’t exist in navy!

 

Been looking for the silver bullet in evangelism and yet its never appeared. Looking for that formula where young people spring out of the ground. The silver bullets where everything becomes instant and easy doesn’t exist. The urgency is becoming more – it is getting harder and the situation for young people is increasingly desperate. At Soul Survivor looked at relationships, and tried to make space for people to encounter God through the Holy Spirit. Staggered by the pain that came out. Had a word that someone said to a family member they wanted to commit suicide the day before they came to Soul Survivor there were scores of young people. Those are the ones in the church!

 

There are less young people in the church than ever before. There are less young people in the church than when Soul Survivor started. The Christian story doesn’t exist in society any more. They’re fed dreams and aspirations that they can’t realise and/or are empty promises that never quench desires.

 

Although that is the context, never more confident that the gospel is the thing they need to hear. We don’t rejoice that the situation is becoming increasingly serious, we grieve in that, but we know Jesus is who they need to meet.

 

Matthew 12:21: In his name the nations will put their hope

 

Hope

Type “Am I Ugly Be Honest” – young people as young as 11 years old are asking the question. Some people in the comments say I’d shoot myself or put a bag over my head. We try to find a secure bedrock to build our self-worth on it. We tell the young people that God is the only solid ground, if you try with sport, exam results etc. it doesn’t work.

 

In youth ministry sometimes we lose confidence, we forget we have the medicine – unconditional love – it doesn’t get more powerful or simple. All love in the world is to some degree conditional, but Jesus’ love on the cross is unconditional. Let’s use every method, every course, every formula to help them somehow realise the unconditional love of God.

 

When we talk about peer mission it’s true, but only if they get it themselves otherwise they’re talking about a reality that isn’t in his core. Little girl has a pillow fight with her dad, during which this china doll gets broken. Daddy offers to buy a new one, she wanted that one, so he got all the pieces and glued it back together as best as he could. He gives it back to the little girl, she says “It’s ok, I want that one, just because she’s broken doesn’t mean I can’t love her.”

 

Just because you’re broken doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. Our young people are broken and they need to know more than ever they are loved.

 

Hope that something can change

Hope it doesn’t have to be the same. Some young people are really messed up. Sometimes it can be I doubt that the Lord can do anything. We lose confidence that He can do anything.

 

If you hang around anyone for long enough you become like them. How much more so when you hang out with the king of the universe. Of course we change, of course no one is irredeemable. Youth group after one of the services chatting, and one of the guys spoke about how his brother was murdered when he was 7. Brought to Soul Survivor and wouldn’t go into the evening meetings but punched a post until his knuckles bled. On the last night he asked God to speak to him. He felt all his anger was ripped out of him, and that’s all he’d ever felt. A year later he was so much softer. When people encounter the living God they can be changed. And we know that as he’s changed us.

 

Andy was dumped when he was 16 and so decided not to show vulnerability, didn’t want to get hurt again. Tried to change himself, grit his teeth to become more joyful but it didn’t work. But meeting after meeting God softened Andy. It worked itself out in really practical ways. Never had a relationship with his older brother who wasn’t a Christian, never really spoke. Realised that wasn’t normal and so decided to try and form a relationship with his brother. Went into his room, “Paul I feel like we’ve always had a superficial relationship and I’d like to get to know you is that ok?” he said yes, so Andy then walked out! Jesus has changed us in lots of different kinds of ways.

 

We can’t bring change but we can be a channel for that. A lot of it is speaking hope into the situations. We need to bring a message of hope and change, but we have to help young people go out with brokenness, the healing is in the going and the doing, empowering them in mission. In mission their friendships with God come alive in a whole new way.

 

At the Great Commission he says surely I am with you always. Young people get mission when they do it, they see their friends lives changed. We need to equip them that friendship with God is stronger when we go and do what he calls us to do.

 

Speaking at Oxford University CU mission, and had to speak at the Carol Service. The night before Psalm 71 came to mind and was encouraged. The next morning nothing was coming, it was quite stressful. Got in the car and didn’t have any talk. Was thinking “I could pray but what would that do!”. Marched off to the theatre where he was due to speak and sat on the toilet wondering why did God not give it earlier. Kept opening up to Psalm 71. Texted dad asking him to pray for him, dad texted back and said the holy spirit is resting on you and driving out fear, great but where is he! The deadline came and had to speak with a scrap of paper with a few notes. It went okay in the end. Driving home thinking what was all that about. The next morning sent dad a text, it went okay in the end, check out Psalm 71; he texted back it is a good one, that was in our lectionary reading last night in chapel! There was the Lord – you were there all along.

 

There is an urgency but there is confidence.

 

Hope they are worth something

Hope their lives can be changed

Hope they can be part of something bigger

 

The only way we can communicate that is with the power of God. A.W. Tozer “I sometimes wonder about those who fancy themselves as important evangelicals will discover at the end we have been busy harvesters of stubble.”

 

Classical concert waiting for the famous pianist to arrive on stage. Little kid ran onto stage and was playing chopsticks. The pianist arrived and instead of telling th child to stop, the pianists put his arms either side and wove a beautiful piece of music from the chopsticks. If we play our chopsticks over and over again then the Father will weave his eternal spirit around and he will bring the change our country needs and with that we can be confident that the tide will change in this nation.

 

So we’re going to ask the Lord to give us that power.

YC14: Big Room 2 – Youth Work Works

Youth-work-works

Youth work works is a chance to hear 6 youth workers share an idea that they’ve been developing that’s working in their location.

Wayne Dixon – Seasonal presentations

In 1994 at Slough Baptist Church did some presentations to celebrate the centenary, wanted to do follow up events.  Developed Christmas Unwrapped and Easter Cracked which has two aims:

  • Positive experience of a warm welcome
  • Share something about Christmas and Easter

People are doing this all over the country.  If you’re interested have a chat, check out the website or come and visit a 90 minutes session – bring your own lunch!  You can adapt it, make it relevant for year 6 and 7.  One of the people who came is now a Vicar in Harrow and doing it for Year 1s from her local school.

Could you do something the same?

Phil, Hannah and Teresa – Mission Academy

Linked to Hope Revolution – empowering young people for mission.  Called, and anointed by God to bring a change in the situation of decreasing numbers of young people now, not just in 5 years time.  Youth workers are working their butts off for Jesus – youth clubs, mission projects, mentoring, outreach, youth alpha, freedom in Christ and more.  It’s exhausting.

How about you sit back, relax, put your feet up, go out with your mates and family and get a life while your young people do all the hard work!

  • Family Fun Day – breaking down barriers across all ages, and let the community know what the church does.  Filled in loads of forms for funding, hired a bus to do craft activities, inflatables – reached 100 children for the holiday club (double the normal number), supported people through food banks etc.
  • Blessing Community – old people’s home for gardening, sang with the worship group – mum prayed for the first time since she was 14 years old – led her back to God!

God is in a season of using young people to reach people.  Check out Mission Academy.

Johnny Bell – Friday Night Youth – Fusion

Youth minister of a church in Cromer, a seaside town in the Norfolk coast with 7,500 people, with less than 9% of the population under the age of 16.  Set up to do low key outreach, a group that is creative for young people aged 11-16.  In the summer months wanted to do something different and cash in on surfing.  In June and July they did a summer surf ministry through a local surf instructor – can we bring kids, you’ve got the equipment, can we do some sessions.  Every Friday kitted into wet suits, get a surf board and get six 90 minute sessions.  Finish the evening sharing food, and a short testimony.

What community resources can you utilise, e.g. sports hall, skate park, field, forests – who do you need to get in touch with.  Too often youth work is isolated – doing our own thing.  But God calls us to do youth ministry as a collective, involving as many as possible.  We need to thrust it out rather than keeping it in our church bubble.

Mike Palin – Fuel Team

Never cease to be inspired by things you’re doing elsewhere.  Work for the 267 project working with lots of different youth leaders.  Fuel Team:

“I think the role of leaders at this time in history is to become curators of human talent.  They need to learn how to cultivate, how to identify, how to nurture, how to develop and unleash the God-given potential in every person” Erwin McManus

As an average communicator want young people to do it as they’re so much more powerful.  Asking God for which of the young people are the leaders, have the pulse of God and where they’re living.  “Fuel Team allows me to come closer to God, develop lasting friendships and generally become an awesome human being.”  Want young people to be agents of change in whatever role they have.

The key is you’ll be amazed at how much more you can achieve if you’re not worried about who gets the glory.

Gemma Dunning – Streetspace

For many young people surviving is a reality and thriving is a dream.  Space is a place to grow.  Streetspace has 58 branches calling the walls to dust – not about meeting young people to join an established congregation – move beyond the us and them, in and out, sacred and secular.  The walls have been up for far too long.  The challenge is to mutually discover God – it looks different in each of the Streetspace projects.

Founded Bournemouth Streetspace – Bournemouth has the 5th biggest gay community – lots of life – multi-million pound library, CofE school, cafes, sex shops, and more.  Built relationship with cake – someone dies, someone is born, and more – give away cake – it is hard to ignore someone who is giving away cake.  Two of the team work in the primary school, two in the local youth project, all belong to the library and the gym.  The relationships are ever evolving and beautifully messy.  The Council like to own the transformative stories, the Church wants to own the good news stories, but we won’t pimp those stories out.

In summer we apologised to the Gay Pride participants for what the church has done for them.  In the autumn we run craft sessions, and next week will be running a memorial service for those who have lost their life to gender violence.  In December run a  World Aids Day service, Cocktails and Carols in Gay Bars.  All year feeding people.  Don’t invite people to institutional church but already church.

Will you be joining the group, do you need more cake?

Daniel Stone – School Pastor

Our experience of school is like marmite – you love it or hate it.  Not pasta, or a bible bashing pastor, but a shepherd.  The word for pastor is the same as shepherd in the Hebrew language.  It is about caring, listening, and helping.  You can’t help without listening, and you can’t listen without caring.

  • Who are you? Often asked who are you?
  • Connecting the disconnected.  There is a real disconnect between young people and faith and we need to meet them where they’re at; there is a lack of intergenerational work – but many school pastors are recently retired people passing on their knowledge to the next generation.
  • Hearing from God.  Love to stress – you have an opportunity to prophesy and see abilities in young people that teachers and others might have missed.

 Naomi Robinson – PAIS Project

Want young people to be missionaries in the world they live in.  Young people often aren’t sure how to

Because You’re Loved – 1 John 4:19.  The card says “Because You’re Loved” which accompanies an act of service (clearing a garden, a car wash), an encouraging note (thanks, hope you’re feeling better) a gift (chocolate, paying for the coffee).

It’s been used all over the world and can be done as a one-off, or as a youth group with lots of young people doing it at the same time.

Antonia was at a lunch club in a local school, they all wrote a card to a teacher who had encouraged them, and include a because you’re loved card.  So shocked by Antonia who did it straight away in the middle of the session to say how much she appreciated the teacher.  Even though the card was so simple it gave her confidence to share an encouragement.

Also done it with a youth group who on Valentine’s Day gave out sweets with a because you’re loved card.  Strangers were stopping people and asking why are you giving them out?  It gave the young people an opportunity to share who God is and what he’s done for them.

Hope it is something you can use, check out Because you’re loved for resources.

Hilary Murray – Persevere in Youth Ministry

Run with perseverance and fix our eyes on Jesus.  One of the granny generation of youth workers and have learnt to work with young people on the job and through raising families.  Heard that the average length of a youth worker role is 18 months, but it takes years to build significant relationships with someone.  Whenever feel low God has a way of bringing a spark of encouragement.  Having moved to a new area, received out of the blue an invite to the baptism of four of the previous youth group having thought she’d lost touch.  Received a invite to a wedding – said yes but expressed surprise at being invited.  The reply from the lad was incredible: “Of course I want you at my wedding, after my parents you were the most significant person in my life as a teenager.”

Many methods have come and gone and come around again.  But however we generalise and pigeon hole there is always one issue – loneliness.  Is there anyone who cares.  Checking out the John Lewis advert which links to this, and Henri Nouwen:

“The Christian leader is called to stand in the world with nothing else to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.”

Do we put on a show in front of young people or let them into our lives?

Are you in love with Jesus, if you are you will love the young people in your youth group.  Loving, listening to them, being available to them – that’s what really counts.

 

Damian is now encouraging people to pray together having heard all these different ideas to discern what is God saying to you, what is challenging you, what is encouraging you – and what are you going to do about it.

YC14: Big Room 1: Tamsin Evans

Tamsin Evans

As this is a live blog please excuse any spelling, grammar and typo mistakes.

 

Tonight in Big Room 1 we’re going to hear from Tamsin Evans who founded Pure Creative Arts in 2003, after graduating from LIPA with a 1st Class BA Hons degree in Performing Arts. She has over nine years experience pioneering, growing and leading the team from three people to 45, and brings clear vision and direction. Tamsin is passionate about seeing transformation in the lives of young people and releasing each member of the team into their potential. As well as leading Pure, Tamsin speaks at events, has pioneered another youth initiative called ta180 and mentors a number of women.

 

We’re kicking of Youthwork the conference 2014 with Dot Tyler and Damian Wharton helping us to play some ‘Would you rather?’.

 

Now passed onto Helen Godwin and Phil Knox who are part of the conference planning team.

 

Why do we do what we do?  We believe in Jesus, we believe young people can be spectacular and do crazy things.  But it is hard.  We will not give up.  There may be a day when the church gives up on reaching young people but it is not today as we believe in Jesus and we believe that young people can be spectacular.  86% of people who chose to follow Jesus make a decision before the age of 25 so churches should spend 86% of their home mission budget on children’s and youth ministry.  We will reach up to God, reach in to ourselves, reach out to young people and reach forward to understand and engage with the future of youth culture so we can be more effective.

 

Be ruthlessly selfish to connect with Jesus, yourself and one another.

 

As we move into a time of worship Helen reads Psalm 100:

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

2 Worship the Lord with gladness;

come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the Lord is God.

It is he who made us, and we are his[a];

we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving

and his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;

his faithfulness continues through all generations.

 

Beth Croft and her band are kicking off our worship.  :

To you our hearts are open

nothing here is hidden,

You are our one desire

You alone are holy,

only You are worthy

God let Your fire fall down

 

Now moving into When I survey the wondrous cross.

 

Sharon Prior from Moorlands College who sponsored the wonderful travel mug in our goody bags is sharing something of the different courses they run.  Dot is highlighting the prayer space run downstairs – do check it out.  Tonight there’s social time in the Bistro to chat, catch up with old friends, make new friends!

 

Spending a moment praying for one young person in each of our youth groups sharing what’s your heart’s desire for them.

 

Now back to Beth and the band.  We’re joining in singing ‘Christ alone cornerstone’, and now “I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on … still I will praise you.”. Phil Wickham’s ‘Beautiful’ has such powerful lyrics: “When we arrive at eternity’s shore where death is just a memory and tears are no more”

 

Such a wonderful hymn, In Christ Alone: “no power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from his hand till he returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.”

 

Damian is introducing Tamsin Evans, tonight’s speaker. She’s written her first book looking at identity in Christ, which is due out in March 2015.

 

Tonight we’re thinking about reaching up to a powerful and mighty God. Passionate about helping young people discover God and the fullness of life that comes through him.

 

Various members of the Pure Creative Arts team are going to share different bits. Rael James Mason kicks off with a powerful spoken word about some of the young people in his youth group.

 

Everyone of us here has countless stories of young people we meet every day, who we’re praying to God for. We wanted to start off by thinking about the different lives we’re coming here to in our mind. Some of us might be incredibly excited, and others who feel like you’re stuck or just have incredibly difficult situaitons. But God is here, we can reach up to Him, nothing is impossible for Him.

 

Let’s start by remembering how incredible our God is: Psalm 106:1-2

 

Praise the Lord!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!

His faithful love endures forever.

Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord?

Who can ever praise him enough?

 

Want to start by reminding us of God’s faithfulness. Want to be fuelled tonight by God.

 

As the Israelites come out of Egypt they come to the Red Sea, Moses puts his staff down and they walk through the sea! But then they walk around in the wilderness and they forget who God is. Verse 7 reminds us they forgot who he was. Food came from the sky – he provided for every need – and yet so soon they moan and want to go back to Egypt.

 

Verses 13-14 – they tested God’s patience in the dry wasteland. When Moses went to get the commandments from God, they bugged Aaron for something to worship. They built a golden calf – we use perspective and think how silly they were – and yet how quickly do we forget God in our own circumstances. Laughing as stuck on the M25 for 3 hours – it looked impossible – there was no way out – but perspective tells us something has to change.

 

When Tamsin first felt God saying to set Pure up, she said she’d take one step and he had to open the door. People after people got put into her path with issues that God had laid on her heart.

 

A girl had bulimia, had issues but never had an issue with eating. Facing this girl struggling with all these issues and Tamsin had no experience. They met for coffee, and over time she saw God working in the situation. Psalm 139 she is fearfully and wonderfully made and you want her to know that. Over time, week after week, with starting contests over coffee, she developed a piece of theatre which was the first touring piece. She joined the Pure team from a place of something that looks impossible.

 

The next girl was a lovely girl who would literally knock on Tamsin’s door to meet up. She’d met a guy on the train and he offered her some coke and she’d do a line; other times she’d randomly sleep with a stranger etc. No idea what to do with her except to be with her and love her. One evening at a youth group meeting she disappeared and locked herself in the bathroom and was trying to take an overdose. After a while she let Tamsin in but she was incredibly angry. Tamsin spoke God’s love over her, but she went to try and get toilet cleaner to drink. She raised her arm to hit Tamsin, but stopped. She moved away and so Tamsin doesn’t know the end of the story.

 

One of the challenges of youth work is we don’t always know the outcome of our input. God doesn’t ask us to know or be in control he asks us to trust him with people’s lives.

 

Watching another performance piece. Think about the different situations young people face – there is a powerful God that lvoes them, who sees the dreams and the potential in them. Not here tonight to say if we reach up to God it will all be easy, but we know that God is powerful. Where we see a locked cage, he sees an open door.

 

Performing a piece on SRE linked to abuse, a girl ran out and was crying uncontrollably. She was afraid, scared and hysterical. Praying to God asking for wisdom as she spoke to her. The girl said can’t tell you. She indicate it was about rape.

 

Told her about a girl Tamsin knew who had been raped and how she had got through that situation with support, counselling etc., and bit by bit her life changed. After an hour or so, she said “I can’t tell you anything because it won’t change anything.”

 

Eventually agreed if it wasn’t happening and ongoing they could talk without needing to tell others. When she eventually disclosed she was completely different, like a weight off her shoulders. Began to tell her about God and how he loves her, and wants to help with what was in her life. In that moment, which is rare, they were able to pray, which was incredible. What was important was someone stepping in and stir faith for something else, reaching up for God even though she didn’t know God. Spoke to the school, got her support and mentoring to ensure it was followed up, but it was an incredibly powerful moment.

 

It can be so easy to be overwhelmed by what we see. We are so passionate for young people. So often it feels impossible, but God calls us to partner with him to work together.

 

Matthew 14:22-33 – Peter sees Jesus walking on water. He asks Jesus to tell him to come, so Peter being exciteblae steps out of the boat and begings to walk on waer, doing the impossible. As long as he keeps his eyes on Jesus it is possivle, but as soon as he looks at the wind and the waves the htings that make it look impossible he begins to sink. God is saying look up, reach out for me, understand what is going on but don’t get bombarded by what is going on, nothing is impossible for me, you are you and I am God, and you don’t know as much as I do. God is saying what is your impossible, what is your water – he is saying come step out to me.

 

Praying at a prayer meeting, gave a nice word about turn around and how powerful God is and a girl runs out in hysterics. There was blood everywhere on the sofa and the floor. She ran to the bathroom and was 11 weeks pregnant and was losing her baby. Held her and said she was so sorry. Asked others to call an ambulance and the girl’s husband. Felt challenged by what she’d been previously saying and the situation and said “Tamsin what do you think you are doing, start speaking faith into the situation” Started praying over the womb. But what if she loses the baby and can never come back to her house or even church. But God I know what you can do. Bit by bit the husband came, the ambulance came with a wheelchair still losing loads of blood. As a group of leaders said it wasn’t how the evening was going to end. She said they had told her to prepare herself for the worst; then they told her they wouldn’t scan until tomorrow as likely to have miscarried; then when they examined her they found her womb was closed and when they scanned her they found a heartbeat and a healthy baby. She’s now a little girl, Mia who has just turned 3.

 

We have to say Lord I lift my eyes to you as you are where my help comes from. We want to see it God’s way. In our imperfections God makes us perfect. I use Gideon who is scared and the weakest of his clan – it doesn’t matter as I am God.

 

Going to look at one last performance as we look at how we reach up to God. So often when we get busy it is easy to fail to take the time to spend time with him to listen to what he says. We need to daily meet with him. It is so easy for this to slip. Jesus modelled this for us, he needed to go away and be refreshed by the Father. Wanted to think about how easy it is for us to conform, to get stuck in a rut, and in the monotony of life. God calls us out of this and to keep our eyes on him and not on the water and the circumstances.

 

So easy for us to get into striving and struggling ourselves and God just wants us to let go. What are the ties, what is holding you back:

  • Disappointment – disappointed in God
  • Disapproval – feels like others disapprove but God reminds you that he calls you his child
  • Disbelief – can God really do it, like the father in the Bible who says I really want to believe will you help me with my unbelief.

 

Beth and the band lead us in a time of worship: “Oh how I need you Lord, You are my only hope. You’re my only prayer. So I will wait for You to come and rescue me. Come and give me life.”

 

Not going to do a big response but a chance for you and God to meet. Praying for freedom for people tonight, loosening the chains of oppression that hold people back from running in the way you have created. Set them free from anything that limits how they can reach out to young people.

 

Great words of worship “Hold on, I’ll hold on to the cross, love so amazing, love so divine, hold on, I’ll hold onto the cross.”

 

We’re closing up our first session here. Look forward to seeing you tomorrow morning.

Saying goodbye to students

goodybe - michael-phelan

As our young people leave for uni we try to give them a little goody bag.  This year it included:

  • Pot Noodle
  • Bag for life
  • Pens
  • Post-it notes
  • Notebook
  • Corkscrew
  • Baked beans
  • Highlighters
  • First by Matt Carvel

Some of these are fairly useless and jokey presents, others have a more serious use and meaning to them but for us it is important that we mark this rite of passage as they leave home for the first time.  We want our young people to know that as they leave our youth ministry, as they leave our little village on the edge of the New Forest and head out into the big wide world we still deeply care for them.

As part of our goodbye we also run an event for those going off to university for the first time where we eat lots of pizza, and chat around topics such as accommodation, finance, lectures, friendships, relationships, social life, CU, church and more using a mixture of youth leaders and some 2nd and 3rd year students.  We had lots of feedback this year that this was a really helpful event giving lots of practical information and helping to deal with their fears and nervousness.

With all our students we try to keep in contact – over the first term we plan to send a couple of parcels to each of our students, and send fortnightly emails keeping in touch with each of them.  We’re looking forward to a Christmas social when they’ll all next be back together as a big group.

Job opportunity: Youth Ministry Officer – Diocese of Leicester

Leicester-Diocese

The Diocese of Leicester are advertising for a new Youth Ministry Officer:

With the appointment of the present Diocesan Youth Ministry Officer, Mads Morgan to a role as Pioneer Development Worker within the diocese, the diocese is looking for a new YMO to take forward this exciting work, located within the vibrant and nationally acclaimed Mission and Ministry Department.

Below you will find links to the Job Description, Person Specification and an application form.

Assembly: Communication

communication

This morning we did an assembly on the theme of Communication in our local junior school.

Ways of communication

Start the assembly by saying something like this. While you are all getting settled, I’ll just have time to phone my friend who lives in London, about 130 miles away’.  Speak on the phone/to the laptop, saying something like:  “Hello, Mum, how are you? Just a quick call to remind you to remember Daniel’s looking forward to ice creams with you this week! (Pause) You had remembered – fine! (Pause)I’m in school, just about to take an assembly. I’ll talk to you later. Bye!”

Continue by saying that if everyone can wait a little longer, you’d just like to email (or text) your friend Sarah, who lives in Chile in South America. Then tap away at the keyboard, speaking as you (pretend to) type. Hi, Sarah Hope you’re having a good week, and enjoying some sunshine. Weather here is chilly, but the summer was good.  Take care and talk to you soon. SEND!

Ask the children when your friend will get the message. He might even get back to you before the assembly finishes, unless of course she’s in bed. Suggest that this type of communication, although now commonplace, is amazing. We hear about things happening all over the world within minutes of their actually taking place:

Message in a bottle

Ask the children for examples of the way people send messages today, such as text messages, email, phone, etc. Discuss ways of sending messages through the ages: messengers, post, telegrams, pigeon post.

Have the four bottles displayed on a table in view of the children. Ask if anyone has sent a message in a bottle. Discuss with the children whether they think this is a good way to send a message?

Explain that it is impossible to predict the direction a bottle will take in the sea.  An experiment was carried out tracking two bottles dropped off the Brazilian coast. One drifted east for 30 days and was found on a beach in Africa; the other floated north-west for 190 days, reaching Nicaragua. (Track these on the world map if you have one.)

Explain that, fragile as it may seem, a well-sealed bottle is one of the world’s most seaworthy objects. It will bob safely through hurricanes that can sink great ships!  Glass also lasts for a very long time. In 1954, 18 bottles were salvaged from a ship sunk 250 years earlier off the English coast. The liquid in them was unrecognizable but the bottles were as good as new!

We are going to think about what kind of message might be sent in a bottle by looking at some actual messages which have been found. Volunteers can be chosen to come out and open a bottle and read the message. Track the journeys on the world map.

Bottle 1: Thrown in to the sea at Morecambe Bay by a four-year-old girl as part of a nursery school project on ‘Beside the Sea’. This bottle ended up in Australia. Message: ‘Hello. Please will you write to me?’

Bottle 2: Dropped overboard by a Swedish sailor called Ake Viking. Picked up in a fishing net by a Sicilian fisherman.
Message: ‘If any pretty girl finds this, please write!’ 
The fisherman gave it to his daughter, Paolina, who wrote back, and the couple subsequently married!

Bottle 3: Tied to the long line of a fishing net that was found by 88 refugees who had been abandoned in the seas off the coast of Ecuador. The boat had started to take in water and the men they had paid to take them to the USA had abandoned them three days earlier. As a result they were saved. Message: ‘Help, please, help us.’

Bottle 4: Picked up on a beach somewhere on the west coast of Africa, along with a New Testament of the Bible. Message: ‘God loves you very much.’ It had been sent by a charity called Bread on the Waters from the USA.

So you could put all sorts of messages in a bottle and who knows where it might end up and who might read it. It might be a cry for help, it might be a proposal of marriage, it might bring you a pen friend, or it might be good news for someone.

God is always there

Talk about the ways the children have already communicated today, e.g. talking, maybe a phone call, smiling, pulling a face, answering the register.

Show the children some of the forms of communication that you have brought. Ask what is good and bad about each one. For example, a mobile phone is a great way of communicating with people even when they are not at home; however, it can be easily lost, and there are times when it needs to be switched off, making the owner not contactable. An email is a good way to contact someone if you don’t want to disturb them at a busy time, but some people may not check their emails for days on end.

Explain that all forms of communication have their good and bad points but none of them gives immediate access to someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Christians believe that God is available for us to talk to him at all times. They believe that there will never be a moment when God is not listening to us. This can bring people great comfort as they feel that they are never really alone.  Psalm 121 verse 4 tells us: ‘He who watches over you will never slumber or sleep.’

Misunderstandings

When we think about how we communicate it’s really important to take the time to understand the feelings of others and what those around you really mean. Otherwise we might upset them, start arguments or just get very embarrassed.

Show the letters WC and ask your audience if they know what these initials stand for. (Answers may include Winston Churchill, West Central, etc.). Hopefully, you should eventually get the answer ‘water closet’ – an old-fashioned term for a toilet.

Now tell them the following story: A lady from England, while visiting Switzerland, asked the local schoolmaster to help her find a place to stay where she could have a room for the summer. He was a very kind man and took her to see several rooms. When everything was settled, the lady returned to England to make final preparations to move. When she arrived back home, however, the thought occurred to her that she had not seen a WC in the apartment. So, she immediately wrote a note to the Swiss schoolmaster asking him if there was a ‘WC’ in the place.

The schoolmaster only had a very limited knowledge of English and was not familiar with the term, so he asked the local priest if he could help in the matter. Together, they tried to find the meaning of the letters ‘WC’ and the only solution they agreed on was that the letters must be an abbreviation for ‘Wayside Chapel’ – a small church common in the Swiss countryside. The schoolmaster then wrote the following letter to the English lady:

My dear Madam, I am delighted to inform you that a ‘WC’ is situated nine miles from the house in the corner of a beautiful grove of pine trees, surrounded by lovely grounds. It is capable of holding 229 people, and it is open on Sundays and Thursdays only. As there are a great many people expected during the summer months, I would suggest that you come early, although there is usually plenty of standing room. This is an unfortunate situation, particularly if you are in the habit of going regularly. You will no doubt be glad to hear that a good many bring their lunch and make a day of it, while others, who are unable to go in their car, arrive just in time.

I would especially advise you to go on Thursdays when there is an organ accompaniment. The acoustics are excellent and even the most delicate sounds can be heard everywhere. The newest attraction is a bell, donated by a wealthy resident of the district, which rings every time a person enters.

It may interest you to know that my daughter was married in the ‘WC’ and indeed it was there that she first met her husband. I can remember the rush there was for seats. There were ten people to a seat usually reserved for one, and it was wonderful to see the expression on their faces.

Sadly my wife is rather delicate so she can’t go regularly: it is almost a year since she went last. Naturally it pains her not to be able to go more often. I shall be delighted to reserve the best seat for you, if you wish, where you will be seen by all.

Hoping to have been of some service to you, I remain, Yours truly, The Schoolmaster

Comment that, as you see, it is so easy to misunderstand those we come into contact with if we are not careful.

Obviously we hope to see you in the nearest WC – that’s Wayside Chapel, of course!

 

Reflection

Do you ever feel lonely? Do you ever feel scared and alone? Christians believe that God is always with us and that we can talk to him at any time.

Prayer

Dear God,

Thank you that you are always there for us to talk to.

Thank you that you understand me when other people don’t.

Amen.

Assembly: Sharing and Working Together

Sharing

We did this assembly on sharing and working together last week in one of our local junior schools:

Preparation and Materials

  • Equipment: two spoons, sticky-taped onto long canes; some small sweets such as Smarties, or crisps; two shallow dishes; two bananas; two bags of cookies.
  • You will also need a travel bag and a couple of books. Put one book and one of the bags of cookies in the travel bag – along with other items to ‘hide’ the secreted bag of cookies.
  • Before the start of the assembly, place three chairs at the front of the assembly space with the travel bag on the middle chair and the other paper bag of five small cookies out of sight behind the travel bag. The three chairs are the airport departure lounge. Put two further chairs to one side of the ‘stage’: these will be the plane.

 

The Long Spoons

Ask for two volunteers to come out and eat some sweets. Tell them they must use your ‘Special Spoons’. The children try to eat the sweets, but fail as the spoons are too long.

 

Stop the children after a few attempts and tell them that the theme of the assembly is ‘sharing’. Give them a few clues if necessary, so that they get the idea of feeding each other with the spoons. Stop after a few successful attempts.

 

Ask the children for any examples of times when they have helped someone to do something, or needed someone to work with them. If appropriate, have some children act out their ideas, or use the ideas above.

 

Discuss the need for working together to make life better, for offering to help rather than waiting to be asked, for being open to help and ready to receive it.

 

Have a Banana

Explain that you are very hungry because you missed out on breakfast/break/lunch (whichever is appropriate to the time of day). Say you hope that, while you are talking, no one minds if you have a snack.

 

Produce a banana from your pocket or bag and say how much you like bananas and how healthy and delicious they are, etc. Begin to peel it.

 

Part way through peeling it, stop and say that perhaps you are being a little selfish, and maybe someone would like to share your banana with you. Ask for a volunteer who really likes bananas. Choose an older child who is emotionally robust(!) and say you will ‘go halves’ with him or her. Continue to peel the banana, and then give the skin to the child while you begin to eat the fruit, saying: Half for you and half for me.

 

Look disappointed that the child isn’t eating the banana-peel, and say something like, I thought you liked bananas – what’s the problem? Hopefully the child will say something along the lines that s/he can’t eat the skin, and so hasn’t really had half, etc.

 

Make the point that sometimes we think we are sharing and being generous, when really we are keeping the best for ourselves and giving away rubbish. Can the children think of any examples, such as sharing sweets but only giving away the ones we don’t like? Christians believe that everything we have really belongs to God, and we need to be responsible with it and not greedy. In the Bible we are called to be generous and ready to share (1 Timothy 6.18).

 

Finish by apologizing to the volunteer and giving him/her the second banana.

 

The Cookie Thief

Ask for two volunteers to act out the story that you are going to tell. Tell the volunteers to sit on the two outside chairs. Explain that they are passengers waiting in an airport departure lounge for their flights. They don’t know each other and are waiting for an announcement to board their planes. The man is reading a book (give one to the volunteer).

 

The lady is getting a bit bored. She decides that she will get her own book out to read (she gets it out of the travel bag).  An announcement comes over the speaker system that her flight is delayed. The lady is getting a bit peckish so decides she will have one of her cookies. Without looking up from her book, she reaches down by her bag and takes a cookie (the child reaches into the paper bag behind the travel bag).

 

To her astonishment, the man also reaches down and helps himself to a cookie and eats it all (child gets a cookie out of the same paper bag). The lady is shocked and thinks what an awful man he must be. She chooses to say nothing but gives him a look of disdain. She has a further cookie and again the man takes one and quickly eats it. (Lots can be made of this – how the lady must be feeling – her shock and surprise. Get the children to imagine how they would feel in her place.)

 

Then to her disbelief, the man reaches down and takes the last cookie in the bag, looks at her, breaks it in half, offers her half of it and he eats the other half. The lady snatches it off him and with a scowl eats it. Another announcement is made and it is the lady’s flight that is being called. She pushes her book in to her travel bag, puts the bag over her shoulder, grabs the cookie bag, screws it up in anger, throws it in the bin and with an angry look at the man, storms off to the departure gate and her plane (child moves and sits on one of the other two seats: the plane), leaving the man behind to wait for his own flight.

 

Settling in to her plane seat, the lady prepares for the flight. She reaches into her travel bag to get her book. (Give a gasp of astonishment and shocked disbelief.) To the lady’s horror, she discovers her bag of cookies! (She pulls out of her travel bag an identical paper bag to the one just screwed up and thrown away. Hold this up.)

 

Depending upon the age of the children, remind them of what has happened and point out that the man had offered the lady half of the last cookie even though they were his cookies.

 

Time for reflection

What a terrible situation to be in! But reflect upon what the man did. Even though the lady was eating his cookies, he graciously let her have half of his last one.

 

Would we have done the same?

 

Just as that lady did, do we think bad thoughts about people when they act strangely? Perhaps we should sometimes turn around how we think and respond with kindness even when we feel we are wronged.

 

In a moment of silence, ask the children to think especially of someone they might share things with, choose to work with, play with or help in some way today.

 

Dear God,

Please bless our school,

that by working together and playing together

we may learn to serve you

and to serve one another.

Amen.

 

Mentoring needs to start with children

Mentor Children

Mentoring has been a trendy area of youth work and youth ministry over the last decade, however I’m not convinced that most of us have realised the full potential of mentoring.

In the church where I work mentoring is an exciting, purposeful relationship that helps young people grow, develop,  learn and share the journey that is life. Some want to work through specific issues such as anger management; others just want somebody to talk to. Whatever the purpose, our mentoring scheme can help to create trusting and lifelong friendships for any young person.

Over the last decade I’ve seen lots of lives changed by mentoring – the changes in behaviour, self-esteem, spiritual maturity and more and it’s left me with one conclusion.  We need to start mentoring at a younger age.

We constantly hear the challenging and distressing statistics about how many young people are leaving the church.  There is lots of research about just why this is.  Most of the religious beliefs, behaviours and expectations that define a person’s life have been developed and embraced by the age of 13, according to Christian Research.  If there isn’t a firm foundation in the Bible and the Christian life before that, children are more susceptible to succumbing to peer pressure, to doubting the faith and seeing church life as alien to the real world.

The Sticky Faith research from Fuller Youth Institute shows that inter-generational contact in the church is critical for a child to developing a resilient faith.  Take a moment to think about your church. How does it ‘do’ children’s work?  Is it separated away from the youth and adult ministries?  One of the easiest ways to join them together is to have a mentoring scheme that includes children using a combination of young people acting as older sisters and brothers, and adults who can act as spiritual and pastoral parents and grandparents.

I want to challenge you not to see mentoring as a tool to work alongside older teenagers but to instead view as something that children, young people and adults all need to be involved in – both as mentees and mentors.

How do you do mentoring in your setting?

m4s0n501

Assembly: We are all special to God

You are special

We did this assembly in one of our local Infant schools this afternoon:

 

Start by looking through the binoculars as if bird-watching, with a bird book at hand. Pretend to follow a bird’s flight path. Every now and then say, ‘Wow, did you see that?’ Take out the bird book and pretend to search for the bird.

 

Notice the children and tell them that you are a keen bird-watcher and you have heard that there are some rare birds about. They have been blown off course in a recent storm. Suggest that the children help you. When you spot a bird you will try to describe it to them. If they think they have identified the bird they may put up their hand. 

‘Here comes one now.’ Pretend to follow its path. ‘Now this one is quite big. It is all white and has big wings. I think it is looking for fish.’ Take the first reasonable answer you hear and thank the children.

 

‘Look, here we go again.’ This one is making for the school bird table. It is quite small. I see a bit of blue on it. Oh, it is eating the nuts.’ Again accept an answer from the children.

 

Then choose an unusual bird, maybe an osprey, a kingfisher, or a bird from another continent if any class has been studying such a topic. Be very excited about this one. Lots of exclamation! ‘Imagine us seeing an osprey! Do you know how rare that is?’

At that moment another bird flies quickly past and you immediately stop talking to the children to follow its imaginary flight as before. ‘What is this one? Do you see it go? It’s brown and it’s small. Oh, quick, it’s landed on that gate.’ Keep looking. ‘I think it’s a … Oh, it’s a sparrow!’ Put the binoculars down.

 

Explain to the children that sparrows were once very ordinary in this country, one of the most common birds around, in fact. They are not very colourful. They don’t do anything very spectacular. But God speaks about them in the Bible. There is no mention of a seagull in the Bible. There is no mention of a blue tit in the Bible. Nor is an osprey even mentioned. But an ordinary, little sparrow. Yes, in fact it was Jesus who had something to say about sparrows. In Matthew 10.29, Jesus says that his Father knows when a sparrow anywhere falls to the ground. He cares about each common little sparrow. Christians believe that this means that God cares for everyone, not just the ‘special’ or unusual people.

 

Point out that recently the number of sparrows in the UK has dropped off so that in some areas they are not very common at all – they’ve become special and unusual!

 

Ask: how many of us feel very ordinary like the sparrows? Maybe we are very ordinary to look at. Maybe the things we are able to do seem very ordinary. Maybe we don’t think we particularly shine at anything. But just like the sparrow, the only bird that Jesus talked about, we are special. Each one of us is unique. Ask if anyone knows what unique means: we are the only one just like us.

 

Lewis Carroll

Ask the children if any have heard of someone called Lewis Carroll. Hopefully an older child will have read Alice in Wonderland and know that he was the author of the book. Spend a few minutes allowing the children to share what they know of the story.

Say that Lewis Carroll lived during the reign of Queen Victoria and is well known as an author. But probably not many people know that he was also a lecturer in mathematics. He invented something called the Carroll Diagram. We are going to find out what this is and maybe we will discover that the older children have been using these diagrams already as they have gathered and sorted information in mathematics.

 

Put the large pieces of white paper on the floor. To the left side of the squares place the labels Brown and Blond. At the foot of the squares place the labels Boy and Girl.

 

Choose a class or group with the smallest number of children in it, or the reception class. Explain that you are going to sort this class by their sex and by their hair colour. Bring each child out one at a time and see if they can work out in which square they should stand.

Ask the older children questions from the information on display. For example, how many boys have blond hair? How many more girls have brown hair than boys?

 

Explain that as we start the new school year many children have moved into a new class with a new teacher. In some classes there are new pupils. Some classes may even have been joined in with another class. There is a lot to learn about one another!

It is easy to be able to say what colour of hair we each have, whether we are tall or small, whether we are quiet or noisy. But there is so much we have yet to find out about one another, so many interests and talents that are developing in each of us. 

Very few people, including your teachers, perhaps knew that Lewis Carroll was not only a famous author but a famous mathematician.

Time for reflection

 

Reflection

Lewis Carroll was good at writing stories and at mathematics. Choose two things that you are good at. Maybe you could share these with your teacher when you go back to class.

 

Prayer

Invite the children quietly to look around at one another as you say this prayer:

 

Dear Father God,
Thank you that I am me!

Thank you that I am special, that there is no one else quite like me.

Thank you that you have made me in your image, which means that I am able to think and do and make and create and learn and enjoy.

Help me as I grow and change this school year, to become all that you made me to be.

Amen.