Self evaluation

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I loved Andy Blanks’ article on Evaluating Yourself Before The New Youth Ministry Year Begins.  The summer and early autumn is a time where many youth workers evaluate and shape the programmes and activities they run, but too often we forget to shine a light on ourselves.

 

How is your personal life going? How are you spiritually? How are you physically? What’s the status of the important relationships in your life? Are you growing in your relationship with God? Are you improving as a leader? In short, are things going well? Or are they going not-so-well? It’s important as Christ-followers that we are in the habit of taking stock of our lives to make sure we’re living the full life that Christ has enabled us to live. It’s much more vital, however, as leaders and teachers that we make sure we are growing in our faith and that there aren’t areas of our lives that are hindering this growth. So, how do we begin to address these concerns?

He then goes on to pose questions and challenges for your spiritual life, physical discipline, relationships, leadership and work.

Grab a coffee, click here and spend a little bit of time evaluating and reflecting on your own life.

A Hopeful Future – Renewal & Reform

The second of four films themed on the vision and narrative of Renewal & Reform. The Bishop of Burnley is joined by Youth Council representative Alexandra Podd, and Archbishops’s Council member Rebecca Salter, in looking to a hopeful future.

Watch the second video in the series here:

Celebrities recite poem about refugee crisis in powerful video

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Celebrities are taking a public stance to support the #WithRefugees campaign.

Today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released a video featuring several actors including Cate Blanchett, Keira Knightley, Kit Harington and Jesse Eisenberg, performing a powerful spoken word poem entitled, “What They Took With Them.”

The Good Childhood Report 2016

Over the last decade the Children’s Society have asked over 60,000 children how they think their lives are going.  The Good Childhood Report 2016 is their fifth in-depth study into children’s well-being, produced in partnership with the University of York.

good-childhood-report-2016-coverThe media picked up on some of its headline findings:

  • 1 in 3 girls are unhappy with their appearance
  • Girls are less happy than they used to be
  • Children’s direct experiences of where they live affect their well-being more than factors further removed from them

It lists three main policy recommendations:

  1. The Government should introduce a legally binding entitlement for children and young people to be able to access mental health and well-being support in educational settings in England and Wales. This must include sufficient funding.
  2. The Government must commit to understanding and acting on children’s well-being. At the moment there is no firm commitment from the Government that children’s well-being will continue to be measured. With a new Government in place, now is the time to reaffirm the commitment to monitoring well-being – and particularly children’s well-being – across the UK.
  3. Local authorities across the UK should develop a process to make sure that children have a voice in decision-making about their local areas, including:
  • Developing a process to allow children and young people to debate the issues affecting their lives and to assist in decision-making over setting priorities for the year ahead.
  • Bringing people together at a neighbourhood level to improve children’s access to, and their perception of safety in, their local environment – including local parks and open spaces.
  • Producing an annual children and young people’s local profile that brings together the range of data that is available on children’s lives in the area.

You can read the summary report here or have a look at the full report.

And if you want to tackle some of the issues raised by the report such as self-esteem, relationships and well-being, get hold of the Seriously Awkward resource which has 6 creative sessions to use with young people.

Faith leaders call for revised refugee policy

 

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More than 200 leaders of faith communities have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister, Theresa May calling for urgent changes to the government’s refugee policy, particularly to allow families to be reunited.

The signatories are headed by Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, who will give a speech on Monday in front of an audience of faith leaders and refugees to reiterate the letter’s demands.

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, the former lord justice of appeal, has added her name to the letter, which is also signed by leaders and representatives of the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist communities.

The interfaith letter follows similar initiatives by 350 judges and lawyers, who wrote to the then prime minister, David Cameron, last October; 120 senior economists in January; and 27 humanitarian and refugee organisations, also in January.

24/7 Prayer Celebrating 17 years!

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24/7 are celebrating 17 years since a group of young people gathered in Chichester to try and get a little better at praying – and inadvertently launched the very first 24-7 prayer room.

They’ve written a great blog sharing 17 achievements from the past 17 years, here’s a few highlights:

1. PRAYER SPACES IN SCHOOLS

Over 500,000 children have accessed a prayer space in a school, enabling them to experience prayer and learn more about what it is.

3. THOUSANDS MORE PRAYER ROOMS…

Since that first prayer room, others have taken place in locations across the globe – from the Houses of Parliament in London to underground churches in Asia. And across the nations of Ireland and Switzerland, there has been a whole year of unbroken prayer.

6. A WHOLE ARCHIVE OF PODCASTS

Our Christmas and Lent devotionals get downloaded 1.5 million times a year and are watched all over the world, reaching number 1 on the iTunes video podcast chart multiple times.

7. PRAYER ACROSS NATIONS

24-7 prayer has taken place in over half the nations of Earth and has become a cross-denominational movement with Anglicans to Pentecostals to Baptists to Roman Catholics joining to pray 24-7.

8. OUR YOUTH PRAYER COURSE

Origins, our Youth Prayer Course for 11-18s has been used across the UK and has already reached America and Australia…

10. WHY PRAY?

Our short snappy video explaining prayer has been viewed over 100,000 times online – and in countless churches, youth groups and conference around the world.

11. A VIRAL VISION POEM

Words scribbled onto the wall of the first prayer room went viral across the world, and now a brand new film is going to be released to celebrate this monumental poem.

12. THY KINGDOM COME

Last year we gathered to pray and to worship in 5 cathedrals across the UK simultaneously in one of the biggest Anglican prayer events in England. And plans for next year are well under way…

16. MISSION TEAMS

As well as long term 24-7 Prayer communities serving in all kinds of places from Ibiza to Cape Town, we’ve also sent short-term teams to Turkey, Macedonia, Spain, France and Greece to serve pray, and encourage.

 

Summer Christians and Discipleship

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Jo Dolby, a brilliant youth worker from Bath and works for Bristol CYM as a youth and community work lecturer has written a fantastic response on the importance of discipleship over at Youthwork Magazine’s site to Will Jackson’s blog on new Christians at Soul Survivor.  Here’s a snippet:

 

But (you knew a but was coming!) there is something Will said in his blog that I can’t not respond to, something actually quite dangerous: “Sadly some of these young people probably won’t still be walking with God later down the line [i]but these things are not for us to worry about; that stuff is all in God’s hands”[ei].

In my opinion, these are exactly the things we are called to worry about. These are the things God has placed in our hands as his body … We were never asked to make people into Christians or converts. We were commanded to go and make disciples, and how do we do that? Baptising and teaching… or initiating them into the family of God and helping them live out everything Jesus taught. That’s our call, that’s our commission and we absolutely must stick to it, and not get distracted with the easy, adrenaline filled, fast-food business of convert-making.

Let’s be honest, getting converts is actually quite easy. We all know the emotional persuasive power of a room full of thousands of your peers, away from home, with the lights, the music, the talks – getting hands in the air and bodies to the front is not that hard.

But while making Christians is easy, making disciples is messy and difficult and takes flipping ages. In fact it takes forever. Hear me right on this: I’m not dissing Soul Survivor. I’m not even saying that emotive music, lights and altar calls are bad things, but they are bad when they are isolated, when they are not part of a bigger plan, a more concerted effort, a strategy and passion for the ultimate goal of making lifelong disciples of Jesus. They are bad when that is what we aim for, when the decision is the end goal rather than the beginning of something amazing.

So let’s have a giant party, let’s laugh, dance, celebrate and rejoice. But let’s remember that while these moments feel good, they are just a small part of the bigger mission we’re called to …

 

A Plentiful Harvest – Renewal & Reform

The first in a series of videos, A Plentiful Harvest, featuring both Archbishops on the Renewal & Reform programme is now live on the home page of the Church of England website and on YouTube. The series of videos will highlight the narrative of hope for the Church of England in the 21st century set out in the new Renewal & Reform web pages.

Suicide in England and Wales

10 September 2016 is World Suicide Prevention Day.  It serves as a call to action to individuals and organisations to prevent suicide.

The World Health Organisation estimates that over 800,000 people die by suicide in the world each year, that’s 1 person every 40 seconds.

There were 5,199 suicides registered in England and Wales in 2015.  Read the full overview of the latest suicide registration statistics.

Are tablets good for children?

The Guardians of Ancora blog recently highlighted a BBC article

There’s no question that tablet computers have swept into children’s lives in the past couple of years. But is this good, bad or neutral?

‘Parents,’ says the BBC iWonder website, ‘sometimes worry that time spent playing on screen devices may be stunting important development in areas such as social and communication skills. However, as devices and technology have evolved to be more intuitive and creative, they have opened up a world of possibilities for children who previously may have been frustrated by the constraints of their abilities and their environment.’

To help you think through this question for yourself, Professor Lydia Plowman and teaching fellow Juliet Hancock, from the University of Edinburgh, have put together a helpful guide.

Little girl’s adoption hearing has a Disney twist!

5-year-old Danielle Koning was already in for a pretty incredible day when she arrived at her final adoption hearing. Thanks to a thoughtful surprise, it became really magical.

To celebrate the girls’ adoption, foster care staff members at Samaritas in Grand Rapids, Michigan, dressed as Disney princesses for the final proceedings.

The judge even dressed as Snow White.
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Danielle’s case manager, Kristina Grey, is the brains behind the whole operation. According to MLive, she first asked a coworker to dress as Cinderella (Danielle’s favorite Disney princess), then decided an all-princess affair was in order.
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“I’m just blown away at the amount of support and how much all my co-workers jumped on board,” she said.
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Danielle is now at home with her adoptive parents, Jim and Sarah Koning.

You can watch full video of Danielle’s big day below: