What a day it’s been. It’s only 7:19am, and 44,561 people have died already, and more importantly, 4,276,540 bicycles have been made this year so far. How do I know? Through a website called Worldometers, which keeps the meter running on all sorts of statistics (How many fish have been caught this year? How many children are hungry tonight? How many times has lightning struck the earth?). If you need shocking but succint statistics for a talk – especially on ‘time’ or the ‘brevity of life’ – pick them up here.

Thank you

Tonight we said thank you to our Associate Minister, Colin Hunt. Colin has been a non-stipendiary minister (i.e. he doesn’t get paid a salary) here at the church for the last twelve years helping the church through two interregnums. It was great to be able to have a big tea for those who were able to come and share saying thanks to him as he officially retires from the ministry. As everyone knows he will still be involved – just on a lesser scale, hopefully allowing him to really enjoy his retirement now. Anyhow a big up to Colin!

Year plan

I have finally got my year planner up-to-date and back on my office wall. It looks like it could be a fairly busy year – lots of exciting things happening including taking volunteers away to Children’s Ministry Conference and Youthwork the Conference, the possibility of running a residential for some of my older young people, summer camp with PACT Activity Holidays, a week away with year 6 pupils from a local primary school, and church lessons followed by visits to the church by nine year 7 classes, as well as all the usual weekly activities of clubs, groups, lessons and assemblies.

I hope that having the plan up in front of everyone means that I can become more discerning at saying no. So, for example, in May, before the half-term, I have a month of very hectic schools work, so I need to ensure, as much as possible, that other things don’t get added during that month. Let’s hope it works!

Busy times

I seem to be very busy at the moment, lots of great youth work stuff going on at work, and lots at home, especially with trying to move home and all the paper work that goes with that. Hannah seems to have masses of work at the moment as well so I guess it is just that time of year when everyone gets busy. Probably means that blogging will continue to be a little slower for the next week or so as I continue with lots of school assemblies, some meetings about community work, starting planning for holiday club and summer camp, and continuing thoughts on how we do work with families.

Middle-class syndrome

I am running a session next weekend on reaching the middle-class syndrome. How do you show a young person that they need God when they have three i-pods etc. I am planning on throwing out some big questions for people to discuss and share ideas but I don’t know if anyone has any pearls of wisdom on this topic. Someone recommended The Road to Whatever: Middle-Class Culture and the Crisis of Adolescence by Elliott Currie. Sounds like an interesting read so will probably end up buying it to look at, give me a shout if you know of any useful literature or have read the book.

School assemblies

What topics do you do for assemblies. Working in four local schools (two primary and two secondary) I am regularly invited to do assemblies. However, it is interesting that topics and details that I am given. Sometimes we get great topics and a lot of freedom and at other times we get very bizarre titles with lots of random detail. There is some thought about trying to develop a model assembly year plan, especially for the primary schools, as many of the local teachers really struggle to come up with a plan for them. Does anyone have any thoughts or comments?

Schools work

Earlier today I wrote a post about exciting things happening in our schools work but didn’t save it, and for some reason it got lost during publishing so here I am trying to rewrite that post now in Word!

Our primary schools work has really taken off in one of the schools. Yesterday was the second week of a three week module on the Bible which I am teaching to two year 6 classes. It is great fun because they are learning stuff but also throwing out lots of questions: do you really believe that Mary was a virgin; who was Jesus’ dad; who created God etc. We are hoping to squeeze in a type of grill-a-Christian opportunity at the end of next week’s lesson so that we can answer some of their questions and encourage their thinking and reflection. That is after all what one of the key points of RE is.

Linked to all of that I am being observed next week by some of the senior teachers – it was something I have asked for, mainly because I want to make sure that I am doing stuff okay, be it the style of teaching, the way I write on the board, the questions I ask etc. especially as the school is due OFSTED this year; also there is a possibility that the teaching staff won’t have to stay in my lessons any more which would be great as my other reason for teaching is to build relationships with the pupils so that when they are in times of need we are used to help with the pastoral care. It is a really exciting and rewarding role and I will be interested to see what comments and feedback I get next week.

Blogger deleting posts

Why does blogger always delete your post when you highlight the whole of your post to edit it in the create box? I have just written a post about the schools work I did yesterday and then it is gone – it is so frustrating. I must remember to write my posts in Word etc. and then copy and paste across.

Great day off

For the first time in ages I had a great relaxing day off. I got up late, played a bit on Championship Manager 4 (I seem to be getting quite addicted), made some bread, did a whole load of gardening and then did some cooking. It was the first day off, on my new schedule where I take Tuesdays off, and one I am hoping continues as well as that.
Saturdays were my day off but that didn’t really work out because of the constant demand to be at events or activities on Saturdays and so it never really happened fully. Although moving it to a Tuesday means that I don’t see Hannah as much, in theory, it means that the jobs around the house – the cooking, gardening, paper work etc., that needs to be done will get done, and then we get to go to dance together! It also means I can have more of a relaxing life – I get to do what I want on my day off. All in all I am thoroughly looking forward to having nothing to do – something I don’t normally like doing.

Happy Days

I love that phrase made famous by Jamie Oliver. The last few days have all been good.

Thursday was preparing for and then running volunteer leader meetings with the different teams who run some of our mid-week groups. They seemed to go quite well – all the volunteers seem keen to develop the groups and see them grow, and ultimately to disciple the young people and help them in their spiritual journey. It has led to me doing some thinking on how we attract families as a church. We are good at getting a reasonable amount of children to our mid-week groups but struggle to replicate that on a Sunday morning. I am sure I will be posting more about my thoughts in the next few weeks.

The other thing that was really good is that many of them seem receptive to the training opportunities (Children’s Ministry Conference and Junction 28). I am hoping in the next few days to finalise the funding applications needed, and the booking of my volunteers on various events.

Highlights from the weekend included the Junction 28 AGM with some changes in the leadership, which are both sad and happy at the same time. Mary who founded the group and has led it for the last four years has decided it is time to move on and so I and Steve Tinning have taken over.

Steve and Lauren came over for dinner on Saturday evening which was lovely. It was great to spend time with someone else who shares many of the same passions and frustrations and to see the way in which because of the work we do, our life is different to that of many other young married couples because our work is our calling and, to a degree, our life.

As a side point some of the local youth workers have been blogging. Tim from New Harvest Community Church has been blogging for a while, and Steve from Brentwood Baptist Church has recently joined the blogsphere, although seems to have stopped already!

Sunday was a busy day at church with lots of activities starting back. We made bread in younger church which was great fun – the kids seemed to really enjoy the kneading and managing to get flour everywhere! In the evening we had the first Doubt your Doubts of the year, which was great. The band seemed to be on form, and Tim gave a good short talk and then left all the young people 20 minutes to find some space and do some guided activities which were so well written.

Today has been a day of admin and trying to sort exactly how the £6000 grant that we got will be spent – the cheque is supposed to arrive this week which is great as we get to spend it during the sales and get more for our money. Tessa, my volunteer admin assistant, came in this afternoon and helped me beast a whole load of mail outs so I had a large sense of satisfaction.

This evening our two Monday night groups started back again. Both seemed quite chilled out, but it was lovely to catch up with all the young people. They are at the age, where at least some of the time, they seem to really appreciate what we do with them.

Even more exciting though is that tomorrow is my day off. It has been changed to a Tuesday because stuff get on cropping up on a Saturday that I had to do and so I would loose out on my day off. I am hoping to get lots of sleep, spend some time reading, do a bit in the garden, and play on Championship Manager which I have got back off Phil, my brother-in-law. As I said at the start happy days!

Living in Brentwood x being male = Long life!

Recently The Daily Telegraph had an article on some figures from the Office for National Statistics about how where we live links to how long we will live. The statistics basically show the gap between different local authorities is the biggest since comparable records began in 1991. This isn’t good, but I was surprised to find that being male and living in Brentwood places me in one of the top 10 local authorities!