Around the blogsphere

How annoying. I had written a post catching up with some of the best bits around the world and then it was deleted and I couldn’t get it back. How annoying. Anyhow here are some of the best bits, take two!

Kurt has a good post on going off track and allowing your youngsters to lead the way. If they are up for talking on something that is off topic but still has spiritual basis then ditch what you want to talk about and let them lead the way.

Youthblog has a link to a great game killing sprouts.

Simon also has various other links for some Christmas games.

Quick catch up

At the moment everything seems so busy that my rhythm of blogging seems to be going down the pan. Much of my time seems to have been spent on the combination of Christmas events and activities and the process of trying to buy a house.
Yesterday I helped to lead the carol service for one of the local primary schools that I am involved in. It is always a great joy to be invited to have some role in these events. Christmas for me can be a busy time so it is great to hear the gospel story presented in so many different ways – often, surprisingly in this suppossedly anti-Christian times, very biblically. Yesterday they had over half a dozen scripture readings alongside various carols – including some great more modern ones.
Today I spent most of the day doing paper work linked to our youth clubs, and preparing for the three clubs that we ran tonight. Our youngest group, ironically called Take Off, still hasn’t really taken off, and seems generally to only get two young boys. Something that definitely needs more prayer and thought – do we stick with it and keep trying to do more advertising, or do we change the way we do clubs for 5-10 year olds. The reason it has so few young people isn’t because we have no 5-7 year olds but because several families will only make bring children to one youth club rather than the two they should be split into. Any thoughts anyone?
The other groups seemed to go well tonight, although it was difficult to try and explain to the Rock Solid group that they are going to be temporarily closed due to a couple of leaders resigning which to some degree is linked to increasing behaviour issues in club.
Anyhow that’s my last couple of days! Hopefully tomorrow I can do a quick catch up of stuff from around the web.

Filing and funding

Wow – yesterday was spent mainly doing filing and admin. It is amazing how quickly it builds up and you then avoid it. I have a volunteer who comes in one morning a week to help with the admin, and she is a legend. For the last few weeks we haven’t been doing the filing as we have needed to do other things but yesterday we started at 10:00 and finished at 4:45. My filing cabinets and folders are all beautifully organised and there is now only about 15cm of filing left to do! We managed to get rid of lots of junk into the recycle bin – two bin bags worth to be precise.

In the evening we had a youth worker from the Council come and talk to the our groups about applying for some more funding. The Youth Opportunities Fund and Youth Capital Fund has £90,000 available in Brentwood. My younger group (13-14 year olds) seem interested but can’t be bothered to create the application. They started last night and have to finish it next week. On the other hand my older youth group (17-18 year olds) have just about finished their bid for about £11,000 of funding for things such as: food processor, digital scales, BBQ, laptop, photo printer, guitar, carpet, tables, subsidies for trips out and training. Just hope they don’t expect too much following their success in the last funding bid.

Quantity or quality; and discipline

It’s nice to be noted by Ian for my “prolific” blogging – although I am not sure it is a good thing – surely there are other things I should be doing, and I am reminded of the phrase my PE teacher always used to shout “quality not quantity”. I do try to write something each weekday but more recently I seem to be just linking to other people rather than sparking thoughts or debates. Maybe it is a suggestion that I need to slow down and ensure I spend more time reflecting on the work that has been going on.

Regarding the HTML duel being incredibly un-technical I have no idea what one is so I think you may have won already!

I have had a really mixed last couple of days. Our middle aged groups (7-10 and 10-13) seem to be seeing increasing numbers of children coming but alongside that we seem to have increased issues to do with behaviour. Some of the volunteer leaders aren’t confident in this area, and some of the young people are showing a blatant lack of respect to the leaders which makes it really hard. How do you deal with discipline issues, what is your plan? Any thoughts much appreciated.

Gaining feedback from young people

There is a great post over at youthideas about gaining feedback from young people about what they want from their group. Nigel’s questionnaire is definitely something I might well be adapting and using in the next week as we plan what we will be doing next term.

What wacky games or trips have you done with your young people that were a huge success? Put a comment sharing any suggestions. about the direction of our group.


Today I have mainly been … networking.
Following an early morning secondary school assembly on the true meaning of Christmas I spent the morning in our staff team meeting and then trying to come up with a plan with Tessa (a retired lady who volunteers her time to try and organise the paper that goes in and out of my office – possibly one of the hardest jobs in the world) as to how we could restructure one or two aspects of the filing system. Sounds quite boring, but really I am getting excited by it as it could make a huge difference in the amount of admin I have to do.
This afternoon I have spent a great time chilling out with a whole load of the statutory youth workers in the town. I went to the Young Peoples Counselling Service AGM at lunch time which was good – although they are in desperate need of funding and the re-hash of the NHS has certainly not helped them. Following that I met with one of the youth workers to chat through the funding opportunities available to our youth groups at the moment – there are so many opportunities we just need to make sure we come up with wise ideas and then put some effort in to our applications and we could have some more funding come the middle of January. What was interesting was the way that the youth workers seem open to partnering in new projects together which could be really exciting.
After that I went and sorted out one or two bits in preparation for our film night at the two youth clubs tonight. Should be quite a relaxed evening with some opportunity to do some admin – winner!

When things go wrong …

However much you prepare things can still go wrong in youth work. Tonight, at our Rock Solid group, we were playing a game entitled Mousse in the Dark. The idea was that two volunteers would feed each other mousse or yoghurt while blindfolded.
We put plastic sheeting down on the floor, put big plastic aprons on them, tied their hair back, put the blindfolds on, thinking that we had done a reasonable amount to protect them and their clothing. But when blindfolded yoghurt can get everywhere, on the sheet, on their clothes, all over the blindfolds.
It was hilarious and the kids loved it but what a mess. We managed to clean up fairly well and luckily the parents didn’t seem to stressed but I think we might invest in some boiler suits before we do that again!

Models of Mission: Community involvement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Early day session 3

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

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

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