A whirl around the world wide web …

I love this time of year for the thoughts that appear on blogs and that are expressed verbally as so much training happens and youth workers take time to step back for 30 seconds and reflect on their ministry.

So I thought I would give a quick map of some great thoughts and/or discussions that are going on around the youth ministry blog world:

Johnny has posted about some thoughts from the Youth Specialties convention in Anaheim on how we captivate young people, how we always moan that they don’t want to pay attention to the Bible lesson but as soon as you give them a games console or a sports ball they are fine for hours on end.

Kurt has got a great post thinking about how do we do ‘mission trips’. It is a really interesting is mission work becoming too business like – are we actually doing much benefit – “Could we not come up with other ways to expose students to the needs of the world while actually solving some of them at the same time?” Certainly a great question – and as I begin to think how do we encourage our students to be involved in missional work both locally, nationally, and internationally something to chew over.

Josh has a helpful post on how we link with the parents in our ministry. It is always something we can improve on – we often focus on the young people and then the volunteer leaders that the parents get our left overs – but without them we would have no young people to work with – they give up their time and money to get their child to and from the events and pay from them etc. we should ensure we support and minister to them as best as we can. Something we managed to do in our summer holiday club at the church, was one of the older ladies in the congregation stood by the front door and greeted all the parents as they came to pick up their children. As an ex local teacher she had taught many of the parents and formed some great conversations. Not sure how to reproduce that at all the weekly events.

And for something different youthblog has another view on the youth workers office!

I would love to hear if anyone has got any thoughts of the stuff I’ve mentioned.

Yes, yes, yes!!!!!

We got a good chunk of money last night:
Monday Night Chillout – £2,000
Rock ‘Ard – £1,000
Rock Solid – £1,334
So out of the £8,160 we applied for we received £4334 all just for a few hours of work.
Fantastic – now we get to spend it!

Funding awards evening

Tonight is the night – tonight is the local presentation evening for the Childrens Fund and the Challenge 2000 Project funding. We have been told that we have got some money but they don’t tell us till tonight how much we get. We have applied for £8,500 – let’s hope we get a good chunk of it as the young people came up with some great ideas on how to use it.

I will try and post later tonight or tomorrow with an update.

Random bits going on in life

Having got back from New York most of the weekend was spent preparing for a preach I was doing in church on Sunday morning. I had been given the opportunity to share something from my heart about why and what we do in children’s and youth work. I am really grateful (particulaly afterwards!) when I get given an opportunity to share and hopefully inspire the wider congregation about what we do week in, week out. I also find it really helpful as it sets my heart and mind back on the central reasons as to why we do what we do.

Since then I have spent most of the time trying to catch up with work. Key things include:

  • The YFriday concert happening in a few weeks time
  • Activities and material for youth groups this week
  • My RE lessons for tomorrow afternoon
  • Dealing with some admin and background issues
  • Preparing for a preach at Doubt your Doubts, a town-wide monthly youth service
  • Dsicovering that a mouse seems to be living in my office!

Hopefully as life settles down again into a more normal pattern I can get back into the blogging.

School in local newspaper

One of the schools I regularly work in recently held a community tea so that the new head teacher could meet other heads, community leaders, church leaders etc. It seemed to go quite while and as part of it the Brentwood Gazette came to interview her and took a photo with some of her ‘key community volunteers’ which includes me! It is always nice to get publicity in the local paper – something that as churches we are not very good at doing – something we need to improve.

Funding opportunities

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

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

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

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

Simply Youth Ministry Podcast

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

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

Check it out and have a listen.

Free youth ministry study

If you want a little youth ministry study this ‘course’ is a great thing to dip in and out of. Covenant Theological Seminary offer a whole load of their modules over the internet for free – you can download MP3s of the lectures and then listen when and where you want. The few I have listened to so far have been nothing revolutionary but helpful to recap key points or to clarify thoughts in my mind – and its free!

Burnout in ministry

Recently a couple of others (Mike Lovato and Josh Treece) have blogged on burning out or coming close. I am aware how easy it is to burn the candle at both ends. Hannah and I have one car which she takes to work in Waltham Abbey. To manage the commute and get to work in plenty of time she leaves at or very soon after 6:30pm! If I want a lift because of needing to carry more stuff than I can on the back of my Dawes Horizon or because I was given a lift home the previous night from a church activity I have to be up early. But because of the nature of youth work I am often not back home till 10:00pm. That makes for a very long day which when repeated a few times a week really does begin to burn the candle at both ends.

A few factors that should also be thrown in include the fact that I like to get into work early and get stuff out of the way before the busyness of the day with people popping in and the phone ringing which doesn’t quite happen when you walk in at 11:00am. We do a lot of assemblies etc in schools which require early morning starts on top of the late nights with the youth groups.

There is a great section in This Way to Youth Ministry (pp. 136-137) adapted from Les Parrott’s, Helping the Struggling Adolescent: A Counselling Guide:

Be more than your job
Maintain stability without stagnation
Live a whole life
Learn to say “no”
Remember that you are not the Messiah
Cultivate your sense of play
Keep the Sabbath
Do not take yourself too seriously
Remember not to let your job get in the way of your calling
Never step on the scale of comparison
Recognise that even the best farmer faces seasons of slow growth
Keep coming back to where you want to end up

This is a really important issue. It is so easy to loose the plot and get too busy. We need to be really focussed on our calling and the priorities that come from that, and also the things that therefore aren’t as important. We need to be bold at saying no as well as yes and understanding, as Doug Fields always says, that every time we say yes to something extra at church etc. means less time for God, ourselves and our family because those are always the first people to loose out. For me I find it is a real challenge but incredibly important to discern what is not just a good thing to do but a God thing – what is it that He wants to be happening.

What techniques/ways/thoughts does anyone else have on how they prevent burnout and understand their priorities?

Youth Ministry and thinking time

I have been conscious recently of how easy it is to be busy in ministry and to not give enough time over to God, to study and to general thinking. The following quote that I discovered in This Way to Youth Ministry by Duffy Robbins sums it up well:

“Most often youth workers – and especially youth pastors – are very pragmatic and oriented to the program: fun and games, Bible studies, camps, retreats, social activities, and such things. It is a little difficult to talk about philosophy and theology with youth workers in the morning when they know they are taking care of fiften junior highers that same evening. Further, youth workers have a reputation not of being “thinkers” but doers, being more interested in how to do youth ministry than in the reasons and basis of it.

But this is the problem. The tyranny of the immediate forces many to neglect the weightier matters of youth ministry.”

John Dettoni, Introduction to Youth Ministry, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1993), p. 17 cited in This Way to Youth Ministry (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2004), p. 16

Local children’s and youth leader training

Last night saw the launch of our local children’s and youth leader training. It was a good night with just over 40 people gathering to spend time in worship and being inspired about the work they do. New Harvest Community Church youth band led worship and they were really good. I spoke on Psalm 78 and God’s vision for our work with the next generation and then Johnny Douglas, a local church leader and ex-YFC man (who also happens to have a great new blog – Soul Health: Meandering with my Maker), spoke on culture and convictions. He spoke very well after what had been a really busy day for him. His two key words were culture and convictions and he was really hot on destroying this idea that it is all about the numbers – instead emphasising that it is about the lives we invest in and how we do that. Really good stuff.

It was all recorded and hopefully should be up on a podcast in the not to distant future.

Further events planned:
* ‘What’s your aim?’ and ‘Planning a Programme’ – Saturday 25th Nov 9am – 12noon
* ‘Bridging the gap between Youth/Children and Church and Community’ and ‘The appeal of God to the middle classes’ – Saturday 20th Jan 9am – 12noon
* First Aid Training – Saturday 17th Mar 9am – 5pm (Cost £25 per person)

If you are local to Brentwood and want some training do think about coming along. Get in touch if you want more information.