Top 6 ways to get the most out of Youthwork the conference

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As I sit writing this we’re halfway through this year’s Youthwork the conference.  You’ll have heard lots of great things from speakers, stayed up too late last night, and rushed around trying to grab lunch.  This conference is so important – not because the conference is the best, or the speakers are the biggest names, but because for one weekend we get to take off our mantle of responsibility and leadership, and become participants and receivers.

So here are 6 ways to help you get the most out of the next 24 hours of Youthwork the conference:

1: Take a Seminar You Don’t Agree With: My favourite thing is to hang out with people who agree with me and like all my ideas, my model of youth ministry.  Yet most of the opposing views aren’t ridiculous, and are held by equally passionate Christians who are committed to seeing young people come to lasting faith.  Being challenged in your theology and practice will actually sharpen you and cause genuine growth.  Because we are all at the same conference, chances are you already agree on the big stuff, so let the small stuff sharpen and refine you.

2: Don’t Go to Everything: We don’t want you to do everything – there’s main sessions, seminars, keynotes, after hours, networking meetings.  We can only cope with so much, so don’t do everything.  Find the ones that are most interesting and helpful, go to those and ditch the rest. This conference is our one time a year to get recharged. If we cram our brains with too much information, we will get worn out before we even get home. Hit the beach, take a nap, read a book, meet up with friends.

3: Find 3 Practical Take-A-Ways: There is so much to learn at a conference.  Everyone has a good idea that will revolutionise your ministry.  Remember though that you have a very specific context in which you do ministry.  You know your young people the best.  Find 3 practical things you can add to your current ministry to tweak it and improve it.  Once you have your three, stop – trust what God has been doing in your ministry already.

4: Wrestle With One New Concept: You will be challenged to adopt all sorts of new ministry models, curriculum, and causes.  While I think it is silly to chuck what you have been doing because of some great marketing, it is important to be open to new things that God has for you and your ministry.  Use the conference experience for God to begin or confirm a new work in you and in your ministry.

5: Connect, Connect, Connect:  Our journey in ministry is hard, we need fellow youth workers who understand young people, what it means to work with the church.  This conference gives you an opportunity to connect with other youth workers.  Make new friends, nurture old ones, just connect and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you through this unique community in this unique setting.

6: Be Expectant: At the end of the day, our attitude 100% shapes what we take a way from any conference experience.  God has all sorts of work to do on our souls and in our ministries.  God wants nothing more than to encourage us in our faith and in our calling.  Let us cut away the parts of our hearts that are hard, cold, judgmental, self-righteous, and rude, and ask God to give us his eyes, his ears, his heart as we lean into all that God has for us.

May God use every single thing while we are away to restore our weary souls. Every session, every speaker, every conversation to fill up our cups to overflowing so that we can go back to our ministry context and live fully into the woman or man that God called us to be.  Let us soak up this mountain top experience so we can enter back into the valley with clear vision and purpose.  And may all of it be to the glory of God.  Blessings!

New Imagine conference website

Imagine schoolswork

Schoolswork.co.uk have launched a new website letting you know about the two exciting events happening this September. One in the South on Monday 2nd September and one in the North on Friday 6th September.

IMAGINE began back in September 2010 as a way of connecting schools workers and commissioning them into the new academic year.

Visit www.imagineschoolswork.co.uk for more information and to book your place.

Ministering to Children conference: Q&A with the speakers

Just before the end of the conference there was a Q&A with the speakers

How much do you refer to the parents, in resourcing them to disciple their children?
Colin: Who is Israel in Deut. 6 is it parents, God, the church, the nation, all of the above. It is a partnership from all. Anyone who is involved sees it as a partnership between church and parents.
Andy: a leader who was a mum told another child off, and the parent complained, had to work through it. We have to see all God’s children as our children.
Pete: primary role for looking after children is me, and if you’re being paid then people assume you will do it. The more we can do to help parents the better.
Helen: Parents are desperate to hear feedback at parents evening, what opportunities do we give.
Jane: remember the non Christian families as they don’t have parents to help them. Church can provide a safer community, helping families to connect with 20 mums doing toddler groups, become a Christian through Alpha, and now have tough challenges moving forward.

Do you have a stance on non-Christians helping to lead children’s work?
Andy: a bunch of non Christians who were in worship group but not leading, all of them were involved in a mentoring relationship moving forwards toward faith, so no problem so long as in that relationship and have boundaries.
Helen: need to be very clear in boundaries and relationship, and you would never want into be outnumbering the Christians, and sympathetic to Christian faith. Seen many volunteers come to faith, and equally how we do know that our “sound” Christians aren’t having crises of faith etc.
Colin: is it on God’s heart or yours, is it because you don’t have enough people to fill the roles. Anyone can paint but to what standard?

Love the idea of integrating children more fully into church but what does that actually look like?
Pete: that is the heart of Messy Church, an all-age group that meets midweek or Saturday. Don’t go to Sunday church as am a member of the Messy Church.
Jane: preached in a church, did the singing and liturgy, and the Vicar said we will go to groups, if want arty and crafty go here, if film go here, if discussion go here, and if want to listen to Jane go here. As started preaching someone interrupted with a question and ended as a dialogue sermon.
Teresa: a common theme from all-ages in Godly Play is that they have their own spirituality, it is visual and so they taken in from where they are.
Andy: don’t need to dumb it down, too many parishioners don’t attend as think it will be dumbed down,
Colin: what is church, a relationship with God and each other, a discussion with church leaders sounds important.