Ben Vane from the excellent Christmas Carols Radio unpicks the lyrics of that popular carol, and poetically exposes something of the shock that God would come to that ‘mangy manger’.
[vimeo 167887527 w=640 h=360]
Talking to children when they are about to be bereaved or have just experienced a death may feel daunting. Knowing how children of different ages may react can help. As a professional there are many ways one can help families, friends, schools and communities do and say things before and after someone dies that can help children to cope with their loss. This NHS Education for Scotland video aims to enable professionals to facilitate such discussions through an enhanced understanding from the perspective of children who have been bereaved.
For more information on this video and other resources please visit sad.scot.nhs.uk. This website was designed for health care professionals supporting patients at the end of life or with bereavement care.
Here’s some links from the last few weeks that are worth taking a few minutes to read if you’re involved in children’s and youth work:
3 Ways to Use Student Leaders in Your Ministry: Austin McCann gives three great ways you can use young leaders in your youth ministry.
Gertrude Ederle’s Channel swim: an inspiring story of how at the age of 19, she crossed the 21-mile Channel in 14 hours and 45 minutes, beating the male record holder by more than two hours.
Game – Full Speed Dictionary: an old classic for that moment when you need a game and have limited time to plan and nothing but paper and pen.
Helping young people take action on social justice issues: Latasha Morrison shares how we can help students create conversations about social justice issues in their communities.
Teenage pregnancy rates across Hampshire have more than halved over the last 16 years according to figures from the Office of National Statistics, thanks to a sustained and successful multi-agency focus.
Councillor Keith Mans, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, said:
“This is really good news and shows that the County Council’s investment in education programmes targeting young people over the years is paying off.
“Working to reduce the rate of teenage conceptions among girls aged 15-17 is a priority in the Hampshire Children and Young People’s Plan (CYPP 2015-18). The focus, commitment and hard work of all the partner agencies has seen the teenage conception rate reduce year on year since 2009. For young people who go on to become young parents, support is available to ensure positive outcomes for them and their children.
“Data over the years has shown that teenage parents tend to do less well at school and are more likely to become NEETs (not in education, employment or training). This means that they often face a future of low paid jobs or unemployment. In turn, the children of teenage parents are more likely to live in poverty and are more likely to become teenage parents themselves. Reducing the number of teenage conceptions has been a priority for the Council for many years and a lot of work has gone into identifying the most vulnerable teenagers in the county and supporting them with information so that they are able to make informed safer sex and lifestyle choices.”
In Hampshire free multi agency SRE training is provided for all practitioners working with young people. ‘Girl Talk, Boy Talk’ is a single gender SRE programme delivered in small groups. This programme is aimed at supporting young people make positive choices around relationships and sexual health.
Sexual health information, advice and contraception services are provided by the specialist integrated sexual health service and access to free condoms is available from a number of trained advisors across Hampshire. Young women can access free emergency hormonal contraception from many accredited pharmacies in Hampshire. The ‘Get It On‘ website has full details of available local services.
Overall Hampshire has seen a 55.7 per cent reduction in teenage conception rates since 1998 to 2014, with rates steadily declining in all 11 districts in Hampshire. This is above the national reduction of 51.1 per cent and South East region reduction of 50.3 per cent.
The Hampshire annual 2014 provisional teenage conception rate was 15.9 per 1,000 female population aged 15 to 17. This is an 18.5 per cent reduction from 2013 when there were 465 conceptions compared to 377 conceptions in 2014.
Scot McKnight shares the following email correspondence between Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City, and David George Moore. Dave blogs at
I have read several of your books and benefited greatly from each one. I am also grateful for your willingness to do the Patheos/Jesus Creed interview with me. Hyperbole and lack of nuance (not two things many associate with you) can be taken literally when the person communicating is well regarded. I’m afraid that may be the case with the following. In several places I have seen various iterations of your remarks when it comes to young preachers. Here is one such example:
I don’t believe you should spend a lot of time preparing your sermon, when you’re a younger minister. I think because we are so desperately want our sermon to be good, that when you’re younger you spend way too much time preparing. And, you know, its scary to say this to the younger ministers… you’re not going to be much better by putting in twenty hours on that sermon–the only way you’re going to be a better preacher is if you preach often. For the first 200 sermons, no matter what you do, your first 200 sermons are going to be terrible. (laughter from the crowd). And, if you put in…fifteen or twenty hours in the sermon you probably won’t preach that many sermons because you won’t last in ministry, because your people will feel neglected.
Similar to Gladwell’s now contested “10,000 hours of practice,” many seem to take the 200 sermons in the most wooden of ways. I get the point that it may take some five years of preaching to “find one’s voice,” but surely there is a wide variation of gifts and maturity that make the number 200 arbitrary, aren’t there?
Personally, I have heard young preachers whose maturity coupled with a genuine unction of the Spirit made it evident that “they found their voice.” Conversely, I sadly report hearing some minsters who long ago crossed 200 sermons and still seem in search of their voice.
Sincerely in Christ,
Certainly we can’t take 200 in a wooden way. Of course there are variations. By the way, I doubt I’ve used the number “200″ more than once or twice in off hand remarks.
You are right in drawing out the broader principle. If you preach regularly, say 40-50 times a year, including Sunday preaching and other speaking at weddings, funerals, and conferences, then, yes, I’d say it takes at least three years of full-time preaching before you get even close to being as mature and skillful a preacher as you are capable of becoming.
There are basically three things that go into the “maturing” process: a) the actual preparation of the message, b) life experience—of your own heart, of pastoral work, of prayer, c) practice.
I’d say that younger preachers a) don’t have enough life experience, and b) don’t preach often enough to be growing in preaching as they should. They tend to put all the emphasis on long hours of academic prep. It would be better if instead of 20 hrs of prep they did 5-6 hrs of prep and spent the rest of the time out involved in people’s lives, and then simply preached and spoke more often. That is the balance that is needed. And then give it 3-5 years to come up to whatever level God has gifted you.
And, yes, I have heard some young preachers with pretty good spiritual maturity for their age and God’s anointing–be quite good. Yet compare the sermons of the young Spurgeon (who was a teenage preaching phenom) with the old Spurgeon. The older Spurgeon sermons are far richer, wiser, better.
If you aren’t a parent of teenagers but work with teenagers take 5 minutes to read this column on living with a teenage stranger to understand the challenges parents face:
I am mother to a teenager – a role I was naively looking forward to because it was never going to be too hard. After all I know my child; she won’t turn into someone who is uncommunicative and secretive.
Hahahahahahaha – I laugh at myself now.
At times, living with a teenager is like starting all over again with a stranger, not someone I have seen almost every day since she was born.
On rare days, she talks, she interacts, she discusses, she is warm and she wants to be in our company and she is bloody lovely.
On other days it is like living with someone who chucks verbal abuse out day and night. In a look, I can be crushed. And the first time she uttered the words “I fucking hate you”, I swear I felt my heart shatter. If anyone else spoke to me like that I would be moving out.
But I’m getting stronger. I am adjusting to life with a hormonal young woman who is trying to figure out herself, people and the world.
In Germany they call them “smombies” – or smartphone zombies – people who are so caught up in their device they roam the streets oblivious to other people, traffic or rogue lamp posts.
Now this particular breed of tech junkie has been given special traffic lights — installed into the pavements — to help them avoid oncoming traffic.
Officials in Augsburg in the Bavaria region have built lights into the pavement at two tram stops in the city, The Local reports, which flash red when a tram is approaching or the normal lights turn red.
They’re designed to catch the eye of anyone craning their neck to get through that last Candy Crush level before they board and alert them when a relatively quiet trains approaching.
Tobias Harms from the city’s council told reporters:
“We realised that the normal traffic light isn’t in the line of sight of many pedestrians these days. So we decided to have an additional set of lights — the more we have, the more people are likely to notice them.”
Several pedestrians are said to have been hit by the trains while looking at their phones recently, and a 15-year-old was reportedly hit and killed after being distracted by her device in Munich in March.
The 2016 Christian Youth Work Awards are open. You can nominate for the following categories:
- Youth worker of the year
- Volunteer of the year
- Best youth work employer
- Most innovative youth work
- Best youth work resource
- Young leader of the year
The Christian Youth Work Awards are all about appreciating and celebrating the incredible work done with young people in churches and through Christian organisations up and down the UK. Thousands of youth workers, paid and volunteers, run clubs, Bible studies and groups every week. They spend hours talking and listening to young people, just hanging out. They don’t just give their time, they give themselves.
As Christians, working with young people is part of our service to God. We are motivated not just by their needs, but by our commitment to following in the footsteps of Jesus. We seek to do it in His strength and through His Spirit. We don’t do it for recognition and we certainly don’t do it to receive an Award. However, we also know how important it is to encourage each other in the Body of Christ, and that’s why these Awards exist. By highlighting just a few of those doing youth work, we hope we’ll inspire and encourage us all.
The Church of England has released a prayer for the EU referendum campaign.
The prayer is for use by churches and individuals ahead of the vote on June 23.
God of truth,
give us grace to debate the issues in this referendum
with honesty and openness.
Give generosity to those who seek to form opinion
and discernment to those who vote,
that our nation may prosper
and that with all the peoples of Europe
we may work for peace and the common good;
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Independent reports that the world is going to become more religious, with the number of people who identify as non-religious shrinking as a percentage of the world’s population, according to a report by the Pew Research Centre.
But what are the world’s religions, and how they distributed? This map, developed by The Independent and Statistia, shows which religions have the most subscribers in different parts of the world.
As the Trussell Trust reveals that food bank usage is at record levels one user writes a first hand account of her experiences using one:
My designated food bank operates out of a nearby church and I feel a deep sense of shame and anxiety on the way there. I worry that someone I know locally will stop to chat and I will be exposed as broke and dependent on charity.
The food bank volunteers, however, are kind and solicitous. They introduce themselves, shake my hand, and invite me to sit in chairs thoughtfully grouped at conversational angles. I am not interrogated and nobody towers over me; I am grateful for the eye contact and empathy I receive in response to my tale of benefit delays, impoverishment and worries about the rent. I am offered tea, cake and cheerful conversation in the most welcoming tradition of the church. It feels as though the whole process has been carefully worked out in order to preserve my dignity and I am moved by this tenderness.
As I unpack my groceries, I am deeply grateful that there are good citizens out there who have a bit to spare. I am also deeply angry that it is up to the churches and charities to plug the gaps left by a welfare state that seems to be creaking under sustained ideological pressure in one of the world’s richest countries. I feel guilty that my poverty is nothing compared to the suffering of those in developing nations or walking the roads of hostile Europe seeking refuge from war. And I am thankful that I have enough to eat for a while longer and that I will live to fight another day.
Drinkaware alcohol education resources have recently received the PSHE Association Quality Mark for best practice PSHE teaching resources.
Drinkaware for Education offers free, curriculum-linked alcohol education resources for students aged 9 to 14. Incorporating discussion-based activities, role plays and scenarios drawn from everyday situations, the resources make it easy to equip students with the information they need to stay safe from alcohol harm.
Using videos, lesson plans and a range of activities, Drinkaware for Education addresses emotional health and peer pressure, as well as the harms and risks commonly associated with alcohol.
Developed in conjunction with teachers and educational experts, the resources are flexible and can be adapted to suit teachers’ needs. Teachers can mix and match which activities to use and when to teach them, and they can be taught in any order.
Young people are encouraged to work in teams, as well as take part in whole group activities which develop essential skills such as risk-awareness, managing peer pressure and communication, through sessions covering:
- The law on alcohol
- Health and social harms associated with drinking alcohol underage
- The effect alcohol can have on emotional health and wellbeing
- The relationship between peer pressure and underage drinking