Faith Development: From Unchurched to Churched

This session was run by Pete Brierley, Danielle Strickland, and Jim Partridge. The gist of the session was to look at two modes of doing youthwork: the attractional mode and the incarnational mode.

As a church our youth work has always been fairly attractional – it is based around clubs and activities that we invite young people to. From there we hope to develop our relationship with them, and as we journey together, to share something of who Jesus is. This is okay, particularly in a middle-class suburb where that is how ‘entertainment’ is done – people go out to events. However it can lack the deep relationships and the fluidity of the incarnational approach.

Danielle Strickland was advocating the incarnational model from her experience of work in Canada – she made some good points but was so focussed on this as a model that it rather put me off some of her points – she couldn’t see any positives from the attractional model. Both Jim Partridge, and to a lesser degree, Pete Brierley are more where we are – the attractional model is at least their church’s starting point in meeting with young people. There is certainly a challenge for us to be more incarnational – to be more fluid and flexible in our approaches to ministering with young people.

The biggest challenge – which wasn’t properly discussed was how do you use a two track ministry (mid-week open youth groups, and Sunday churched groups) – our groups being so open in the middle of the week means a lot of young people link up with the church, but many of them would not want to come on a Sunday to the groups then.

Youthwork the Conference

I have been away at Youthwork Conference so did not blog over the weekend. What a great conference it was – I know some people say that it isn’t their cup of tea but I found it a real encouragement – a great time to receive teaching, reflect on what we have been doing, think about ideas for the future, catch up with old friends and meet others. I have lent some of my notes out to a fellow youth worker so I will post my experience of Saturday lunchtime onwards for the minute.

It was great to see so many people at the Early Day who had been there last year – especially big shout out to James Bell who I got to know better this year and who now based in Chelmsford is just down the road from us. This year was slightly different, in that because Rob Bell was leading, it had gone from 40 people together in the basement of a hotel, to 200 people in a large conference room. The Early Day is such a good concept – a chance to receive teaching (which I never normally get), a chance to catch up with old friends, and generally just relax. I hope that it continues in the same vein as it has done.

Throughout the weekend it was great to spend time with James Edwards, the Youth Associate from Sawyers Church. I have known James for a while and it was great to spend time bouncing ideas and sharing our thoughts from the sessions. James also gave me a lift home – which turned into quite a long trek given all the road works etc., but I made it back in time for our evening session at church.

I spent a reasonable amount of time, being in the same lovely hotel, with Mark Massey, from Rayleigh Baptist Church, and Gary Bott, from Billericay Baptist Church and some of their volunteers. I first met Mark last year at the conference and we kept in touch and met up every couple of months and it is a relationship that I value, the chance to tap into his wisdom and experience. I also spent a bit of time with Simeon Whiting, the 11-14s co-ordinator for YFC. Simeon and I grew up in the same youth group when we young and we use some of his resources so it was great to spend some time catching up and it gave me an opportunity to watch Match of the Day with a whole load of football mad guys.

All in all a great weekend.

Air guitar T-shirt – how cool!

The BBC have an article on how Australian scientists have created a T-shirt that allows air guitarists to play real music – without resorting to a real guitar. The T-shirt has motion sensors built into its elbows that pick up movements and relay them wirelessly to a computer which interprets them as guitar riffs. One arm is interpreted as picking chords while the other strums. The “wearable instrument shirt” is adaptable to both right and left-handed would-be rock stars.
Check out the video from the BBC – definitely something for youth groups – you wouldn’t have any storage problems!

Delegating to others

The last couple of days various members of the church have found other funding opportunities that might be available to us. I am really excited that people are beginning to see that there are ways of developing our work by getting alongside other groups in the community. However, I am now looking to see if I can find one or two church members to help do applications etc., and do some policy updates for us. I think this is a great opportunity to involve those who wouldn’t be keen to do face-to-face work with young people but are really keen to use their gifts and talents to support the work.

Mike Newell’s dodgy comments

Mike Newell is certainly courting controversy at the moment. On Saturday he managed to make some pretty stupid comments – criticising Amy Rayner, the assistant referee, and his chairman. He had now been asked to meet the Luton board and it looks like he has some explaining to do.

It is sad that he made these comments – there is no need. You can criticise a match official without having to bring their gender into it – that is completely irrelevant. She has earned the right to officiate at that level by doing all the qualifications.

A couple of years ago Ron Atkinson was forced to resign after making racist comments in the wake of Chelsea’s Champions League game against Monaco in April 2004. While I am not keen on people being sacked I do think that we should treat sexism in a similar way to racism.

A day off

Today was a day off – it started by managing to grab 8 hours sleep – lovely! I then spent the day travelling to and from Southend with furniture helping my brother-in-law and his wife move in, with David and Margie.
They have got a nice little place on the outskirts of Southend, close to all the important things, chip shop, pub etc. Give it a month or two, once they have emptied most of the boxes and it should feel like home for them. And the great thing is they aren’t too far away so we can still go and visit.
Now got youth groups tonight – going to be finalising what we spend our funding money on!

Schools work training

Yesterday morning I went to the BSCWT training session. The session was good, although much of it has been said before. We spent a reasonable chunk of the morning looking at the future of schools work. To do this, however, we spent some time looking at the history of schools work including this quote from Chris Curtis: “the 1945 Education Act led to the church moving from owning education to being its tenant”. We (Christian schools work) are now merely visitors in the education system. It was an interesting point.
The rest of the morning was spent looking at difficult questions that we can be asked by young people. It was slightly disappointing that there were only 3 volunteers, including myself there. It does make me wonder if the trust should provide its training in different ways – maybe a slightly deeper level for those of us who work full time for churches and as part of that are seconded to schools work. Having said that I am not really sure what training I would like so it makes it hard to make constructive suggestions.

Oh dear …

Marko has posted about the following video and it really is worth a look. A re-write of U2’s ‘One’, performed by two Bank of America execs at an event celebrating the coming-together of some of their credit card divisions. I am impressed with the performance and the changing of the words, but at the same time concerned as to what business people get up to in their spare time!