Seasons of the work

I was struck while speaking with a fellow Youth Worker on something that has been going around my head for a while. This youth leader from another church and I met this morning and we were saying how we have lots of balls to juggle, and that we can choose one or two to concentrate on, but we can never evaluate and revamp all the different programmes, or meet with all the leaders in one go. We need to choose specific groups or events or people to concentrate on, for a season, and then to move on to the next.

Staying for the long term

I have recently been dipping in and out of Paul Beasley-Murray’s book Transform your church. The book has fifty short pieces on different areas of the church. Topics include: evangelism, pastoral care, prayer, church discipline, hospitality, celebrating special events.

The last few days I keep rereading section 6: Stay for the long term – and keep fresh. It is a great challenge. Beasley-Murray writes about when you stay for six or more years in one place you begin to see growth, and yet he believes that, on average, Baptist ministers stay at one church for six years before moving on, so they miss that key time for growth. This is an even bigger challenge in youth work where workers are often on a contract for two years and then move on.

And yet the rewards of long term ministry can be huge. For example, a key reward, is the way in which with a longer pastorate, you can develop relationships with whole families over the course of several years, which you can’t do in twelve months. Equally, there is an opportunity for the worker to gain deeper and more meaningful friendships which if you are having to regularly move every two to three years doesn’t allow.

To do this though we have to do two things: not view our work as a ‘career’ looking for promotion to a bigger or ‘better’ church; and to constantly ensure we are developing and staying creative so that we don’t become boring and stale.

Some great challenges for children’s and youth work: are churches willing to invest in long term contracts, are workers prepared to stay for the long term, to put down roots, and commit to a particular church and families in the community.

To blog or to sleep

What an exciting day! Today has included doing some preparation for tonight, ordering some new equipment using our funding money, planning an Easter assembly for year 7 at a local seconday school, helping to lead at a local secondary school’s lunch games club, then on to a local primary school to do some one-on-one work with a needy pupil, followed by a Governors meeting, and then straight into two youth groups, including organising transport for 8 young people to club, and 13 young people back home. Really exciting stuff going on, but you’ll have to wait till another day for more information.

Influx of young people

At the moment we suddenly seem to have a group of young people who are keen to come to church on a Sunday morning, and even though everything is very foreign to them, get involved and participate.
It has led to some interesting issues: firstly, we need to work out how we can transport at least 9 different children. I think we are going to look into whether we can hire a minibus for the young people, as the older ladies use the church minibus, so I’m going to need to do some work on costings and finding drivers. Secondly, we are going to need to constantly evaluate how we make Sunday’s contemporary but Bible based.
Anyone have any thoughts on what to do when a big crowd come in like this?

Difficult times

Sometimes things happen in life which just puts everything else in life into perspective. One of those things happened to a church family over the weekend. The joy of twins being born on Saturday, the happiness as that was announced on Sunday morning, and then finding out on Sunday evening that the mother had suddenly died. At that point work in general, and blogging just isn’t a priority – you don’t know what to write in comparison. Please do pray for our church as we go through a difficult process of supporting the family, and grieving as a church.

Working with young people

This week has been a mixed week – we have seen some great things happen in our ministry but I have also had a couple of difficult incidents to deal with. It reminded me of this quote:
“Don’t tell them that Jesus loves them until you’re ready to love them.” (Author unknown)
It certainly rings true for me. I must make sure I can truly commit to loving them before I try and share who Jesus is with them.

Expensive equipment

Ironically on the day that nearly £11,000 worth of cheques from local funding arrived in the post Kurt Johnston has a post on how sometimes the expensive stuff isn’t worth it and actually young people are often happy with less. He talks about how having bought 4 new Xbox 360s they kept on having problems so in the end they bought “a bunch of $20 plug-n-play games” he goes on to highlight two interesting observations: “1) they haven’t broken! They are pretty durable. 2) Our students love them and we haven’t had a single question about the whereabouts of the X-box systems.

Great Sunday

Yesterday was a positive day in terms of our Childrens and Youth Work. We had 6 girls attend our teenage group in the morning. It was really positive that they all came because it meant there was a bit more of a buzz around the group which will hopefully encourage them to come again. It has been refreshing to watch and listen to them as they dealt with sitting in church for the first twenty minutes. For a couple of them that was the first time they had been inside a church ever.

In the afternoon we hosted our first team meeting for the Pyramid Rock holiday club we are going to be running at the end of the summer holiday. It was great to spend some time sharing our heart for what we want to do, and hearing volunteers’ ideas for the club.

Yesterday evening we had Doubt your Doubts at Brentwood Baptist Church. Jon Keel, the new youth ministry leader at Sawyers Church spoke very well. It seemed to make a big impact on a lot of the key young people. Hopefully another step for Doubt your Doubts.

Catching up with youth workers

I spent most of this morning with two youth workers who I spent a lot of time with at the youthwork conference last November. I always enjoy spending time with these two guys, and brainstorming different thoughts as to what we can be doing to improve our ministry with youngsters. Today we spent a lot of time looking at different funding opportunities and the way they can be used to supplement church giving to children’s and youth ministry. I was struck by how fortunate my church is – it has a great building with some lovely rooms, people who are keen to support the ministry, and have been blessed to receive some very sizeable funding from the local council. It was good to be reminded that – so often I focus on the negative so it is nice to spend some time on the positives.

Aim Lower

I first saw this video at the Children’s Ministry Conference in 2006. I was reminded of it today as I had a catch up time with two other local youth workers and reflected on our work. If you haven’t seen it, it is well worth a watch. I will post the follow up video in the next few days.

Dave Pelzer – A Child Called It

A Child Called Itwas one of the books recommended at the Children’s Ministry Conference. I read it a couple of weekends ago and have now started on the other two books in the trilogy.

His mum referred to David as “an It”. This book isn’t light reading. It is a compelling account of his abusive upbringing. It certainly shakes you to the core as you read some of ways in which he was abused (including being starved, stabbed, smashed face-first into mirrors, forced to eat the contents of his sibling’s nappies and a spoonful of ammonia, and burned over a gas stove). The book is written well and I found that I couldn’t put it down. It is well worth a read – but certainly not one to read if you need a happy story.