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YWS13 Live Blog

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Below are my notes from Youthwork the Summit 2013.  As it’s been typed live please excuse any typos and spelling mistakes:

Seth Pinnock
Hebrews 12:2 – moving to the summit as ambassadors of the one true God. We have gathered to this summit to get our marching orders, to change the world.

Session 1 – He Is Greater
Slam Theology – Conrad Gempf & Harry Baker
God is greater than our obstacles. Rom. 8, Col. 1: “The one who is in you is greater than the whole world” and “Who can separate us from the love of Christ?” and “For He has rescued us”.

Future proofing your youth work – Dr. Patrick Dixon
The reason we’re here is to take influence, that’s the reason Jesus came, to take influence in our hearts and ourselves. God locked Paul up in a prison to distribute his words around the Empire, we may be in prison but God has a fruit from that. Each of you influencing another 12, maybe one or two letting you down. Think of 12,000 infused in faith and ready to change the world.

“Life is too short to do things you don’t believe in” resonates deeply with people. It is a key to touch youth as we live in an age where the CEO of M&S says that’s true, senior bankers resign from their job because they realise they don’t believe in it. It’s true for people at the pinnacle of business and government, it is also true for every 13 year, for every 18 year old.

We need to look through the eyes of those of whom we work with. There are 1 billion children, all of whom become adults in the next 18 years. And yet in Europe we have countries who on current trends will become extinct. You need 8 great grandparents to produce just one great grand child in Germany. Many churches are like this too. There is a famine of young people in the UK so you either have to make babies or import them. In the UK now seeing a baby boom – with large numbers of immigrants e.g. Poland, Romania, Nigeria and more (incidentally bringing faith with them).

The destruction of the stability of the home. Not just talking about marriage – although it is statistically stronger – and there is no Plan B – God completely is for his Plan A – women and men recreating together children as a miracle. You can’t divorce your parents and vice versa. Often have no idea of grandparents. Families with three or four dads having been through the household, five or six children living in a home with no dad. Teachers and youth workers pick up the pieces. Young people fall into inappropriate relationships – partly to fill a gap – there’s never been a greater need for relationships, mentoring – Attention, Listening – will be needed for the next 100,000 years. The primary issue which will dominate all the most effective youth work.

The digital world can connect computers to brains and vice versa, fusing brain cells onto computer chips. But we find most people don’t want digital connections, they want emotion – e.g. press back if web page doesn’t load in few seconds, spend time waiting on call centre queues. 1 in 3 people don’t watch TV as watch on the mobile, 70% of bandwidth is video, in the UK 90% of it is YouTube and BBC. We need to work with young people and parents to help form appropriate boundaries and filters.

You can win people through showing attention and by being a Faithful Example – children are all conformists – they learn the language of their parents – all youth are conformists – it is just which tribe they choose to conform to. You are a leader – people are following you – in the area of relationships and hyper-sexuality we need faithful examples.

Let Muslims change you – Tim Fawsett
All of you dream, pray for change in the young people’s lives that you work with. How could Islam change us? What could they do to make us more like followers of Jesus? Google images of the word Muslim have such varied emotions. Don’t study Muslims as you may not like them, get to know them and you may like them. Nervous about moving to Birmingham, didn’t know how to be amongst Muslims, but his world changed when he met Rosie Hussain – she welcomed them, she brings food – especially sweet noodles – play in each other’s houses, Rosie’s husband fixes Tim’s car for free every time.

Ahmjad also lives in Tim’s street, he asked Tim, been to see Friends with benefits saw a couple get out a Bible and swear on it that they would only have a sexual relationship. But that gave Tim an opportunity to share why faith meant something to him, and they could swap the best parts of their faiths, talking about key festivals. Ahmjad taught Tim that he could share his faith with clarity.

Hannah, a Muslim girl met a guy who she wished he had gone to their youth group because he said she would be going to hell. The young man said something Tim believes, but it struck Tim that the guy doesn’t love her as he would have found out about her. We often want to save Muslims but not to love them.

Here are the Google image pictures for Christian. They are awkward. It is interesting that Jesus took his disciples through Samaria, which Jews wouldn’t do; he praised the Roman centurion who again he didn’t need to praise, and then the need to love your neighbour, to love the Good Samaritan, or maybe the Good Muslim. To love someone sacrificially, radically, to befriend radically, to share our faith radically. Muslims are doing that to us.

Youth work means youth work of all faiths – Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews and more. Doing this enables young people to live their faith with boldness, vibrancy and love.

Live in crazy, scary spaces, take your young people their and to live with them. To take groups of young to your church who make people feel uncomfortable.

Apologetics for the apathetic – Ruth McGarahan
The time for playing games is over! In 1998 church attendance survey, 500k teenagers left the church in 9 years – that’s 10k a week! Things are beginning to look up but still a struggle. 40-50% of American teenagers leave the church after High School. Judges 2:10 – do we want our youth group to be part of a generation that don’t know God. Why are so many teenagers falling out of church? Many reasons but one is that we tell them in all but name to leave their brain at the door of church, which presents struggles for them when they do ethics and philosophy at school.

Helping the believer think: had heard every talk on sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll by aged 13 but couldn’t explain our hope in faith, e.g. 1 Peter 3:15. We think they couldn’t engage on suffering, reliability of scripture. Recently ran a seminar at the youth weekend away, the surprise was the suffering seminar was rammed, especially by 11-14 year olds. John 11:35 is the shortest, but in v. 33 and v. 38 it literally means Jesus snorted like a horse, he was angry and raging that the world shouldn’t be like that. This Greek word changed the way they saw God’s character.
Don’t just feed head, but often the questions block them giving their heart fully to God. Our young people are not too young when to engage critically in their faith. Jesus was 12yrs when he engages with Rabbis, new atheists lose faith before uni.

Apologetics – not apologising for your faith, 1 Peter 3:15 appologia giving a reason. The verse assumes people are asking questions. But do our lives provoke questions, and do we encourage our young people to do this. What about those who even if we lived the most radical who wouldn’t ask anything. 150 questions asked by Jesus, and a 13 year old girl has a strong world lens, if we’re in a relationship we can ask questions – making people think, forcing discussion, getting rid of wrong assumptions, help expose faulty logic, expose people’s motives – finding out where they are coming from – shows them we care – not just lecturing ready made answers but answering their questions. Do it with gentleness and respect – we need to be willing to lose an argument to win a person.

Asking questions is harder as it generates more questions, and that means figuring out answers together. There will be lots of things we don’t know the answer to, some we can work together and find the answer, some things

The gospel should be simple enough for a child to understand and deep enough for a scholar to continually study – too often we leave it at the level a child can understand and they get bored.

Disrupting chaos – Dr. Kate Middleton
Thank you for everything you do with young people. What is going on in the mind of the young people you work with. The human mind is changing so rapidly. Uni of Cambridge are going to scan teenage brains through to adulthood.

Emotions: Imagine a 10 to -10 scale for emotions – adults are normally 5 to -2, a young person is 10 to -10 for a normal teenager. Particularly changes to the frontal zone means they are very easy to get excited and equally very dramatically low. It means they could be at risk of being overloaded – they’ve got more emotion than they can handle. For teenagers emotions are like a big storm so they have to get good at baling water – how do you deal with your emotions; you might have holes in your boat – childhood, experiences, characters and some of the leaks can become really apparent. When you feel lots of emotions you can have emotional hijack which can enable them to act without thinking literally.

Self-esteem: Teenagers are discovering so much about them. As a child you cannot cognitively understand the world outside of yourself. As a teenager you begin to ask if you are normal. They act as packs of wolves – big groups of friends is helpful, it is hard not to follow the crowd – it proves you are normal. As you get older they ask “Who am I?” where the world throws so much, 1-2-1 relationships become more important, early dating, powerful same sex relationships which aren’t necessarily sexual. They try out disguises trying to look like an adult, and they try to fit into cultures such as emo or highly sexualised. But the problem is if you get a big difference between who they feel they are and what they perceive they should be.

How what you do now affects the future – this doesn’t settle properly until the mid-20s. And yet we ask them to think about the future all the time – exams, don’t sleep around, don’t drink and do drugs. Young people get a bigger kick and a bigger low from substance abuse, alcohol but even caffeine. They take risks but that means they take more risks than we would.

What should we do:

  • Be a role model – they need another adult who isn’t mum or dad.
  • Get them talking – how few young people have a vocab to talk about their emotions – when their brain is struggling with what they’re feeling.
  • Give them a road map – we’ve all been teenagers, some more recently than us – they are taller than you, they have a more interesting social life, they can work your phone better, so show them the way.
  • Protect them from the worst consequences – they will make consequences but let’s protect them from the worst and biggest consequences.

Don’t despair, the chances are they will come out of this phase and enjoy life more. No matter how out of control remember you have a bigger power in God behind you.

Broken Sex – Beth Stout
We all have those moments that stick with us forever. Abby was referred to the organisation 18 months ago, aged 15 on her 20th sexual partner, hadn’t used any contraception, her view was skewed, partly because her dad systematically abused her from the age of 7. When she said “I like to go on top because then I can cry without the guy looking.” Massively passionate about her having the right to choose.

1 in 3 girls have been pressured into doing something sexual that they don’t want to do according to NSPCC. At an Easter Festival recently got questions such as is a blowjob okay to keep my virginity, where does anal sit within a Christian viewpoint.

Aged 13 the youth workers did the sex talk. They got a local Christian GP (also one of the other girls dad’s!). Birds and bees and never discussed again.

Three things we need to do each year talk about money, sex, and probably Easter! The average 14 year old watches 90 minute of porn a week so how does your 20 minute talk work. We say don’t do it, but they want the definition of “it”. Everyone seemed scared to answer it. Is that because we’re hypocrites because we didn’t just hold hands. Sick of people who had anal sex to keep their virginity. Sick of meeting Christian young adults which says if I don’t have sex then God will bless me with mind blowing sex, when the reality is it can be a little disappointing and painful!

Wanted to know what someone else thought, their story, not a booklet on what to do or not to do. You have a story whether or not you are married with 16 children and mind-blowing sex, celibate, have never had a relationship. Your story is real. My story wasn’t a great idea and I don’t want it to be yours. That is what teaching young people about sex is all about.

We think we need to do the sex ed, and show awful pictures of genital warts, it is not your job, you don’t need to do the handy banana demonstration! In your youth group they don’t need to know how to put a condom on, but to talk about what God thinks about sex, and how you’ve grappled with that in your relationships – your struggles and challenges. When the rest of the world is saying do it now in the most abusive way we have something more to say. God has greater things to say through us, you have young people you can influence through your story, and help them to share your story.

Session 2
Slam Theology – Conrad Gempf & Harry Baker
Do even greater things than these through faith in Jesus. Christ in you the hope of glory. Romans 8: “Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Meet the Parents – Dave Sharples
20 years ago Dave moved into Toxteth, inner city Liverpool. Didn’t want to be there, a lot of gang land shootings, young people running around with no hope, no one loving them. God put it on his heart to reach those kids to make a difference, and that can only be found in Jesus. Needed to communicate the gospel, make church accessible and relevant.

Knocking on doors, visiting kids, the initial reaction was who was this weird guy, but accepted. In the last 20 years made 100,000 home visits, some weeks was doing 300 home visits. Children will know they are loved, they want to come to church. Parents come to him and ask him for help, e.g. a lad saying he wants revenge, he wants to kill someone who had harmed his family. The scary thing was the lad was 6 years old. If you heard what was coming out of his mouth your heart would break. Even if all the schools are shut due to snow, Mighty Men will be on if one child turns up, and they came. Seen hundreds of thousands of children come to church and hear the message that God loves them. Young people need us to demonstrate God’s love to them – go and meet the parents. Meet parents with tears in their eyes who say “thank you for all you’ve done”.

He’s now seeing the children of the children he originally worked with. God put it on his heart to be something more than just a worker and a mentor. God challenged him to spiritually adopt these children, the children desperately want a dad.

Eve came England aged 6, doesn’t know his dad. Went to Kidz Klub, but still getting into fights daily in one of the roughest schools in Liverpool. He went to Mighty Men and slowly he changed, his heart was changed, the school noticed, by the time he was year 11 they didn’t want him to leave the school as he became a role model. He became the school caretaker, he has keys to the school, he won Liverpool’s young person of the year award. It could have been so different, his mates were selling hard core drugs, he was a cage fighter who would rough you up.

Young people need us to adopt them to be a family, and they need a mission. Doing the 4 spiritual points as a mission across the city of Liverpool – every home have the 4 points have hand delivered.

How the other half learn – Oliver West
Struggle with multi-tasking. Use a grid that can be helpful to see the big picture. Fold piece of paper into half and then four times. Who understands and knows their audio/kinaesthetic/visual balance. If you understand your balance you can see the balance more clearly in the young people you work with.

Being linear logical – thinking one word at a time – writing sentences – has become such an overload that we don’t know much of what is being put into us. We need to ask how we were wonderfully and fearfully made – what were the balances and sense God gave us that we don’t use because we’re working on a track.

The left side of the brain can’t filter out the additional information. John was someone who at university find his organisational skills a problem. Used so frequently it has become a real habit, and the week is mapped out in the 7 day grid so no confusion and no what I’m facing, I want to get up early to do these challenges. Played the example of Dwayne, a young offender who was helped to realise he was a visual learner.

Take teams into areas where the western way of thinking hasn’t got there. In Prince Albert two twins who have featal-alcohol syndrome and in that area more than 70% have that symptom and so the government lost their confidence. But the gird enabled children to draw what they’re feeling and thinking.

Hope in the inner city – Camila Batmanghelidjh
Founder of Kids Company. Kids Company currently supports 36,000 children and young people each year through 300 staff and 11k volunteers. 84% who come to Street Level Centres arrive homeless. Recent research shows 1 in 5 of children had been shot at or knifed in the last year, and 50% witnessing those crimes. They have been abandoned by the political thinkers and adults. Social work and medical systems are at breaking points. Churches and youth work are at an absolute lifeline.

Carrying out research on the brain with Uni of Cambridge and UCL across the world is that the structure and functioning of our brains is entirely dependent on how we are treated. Our genetics determine the boundaries as to how much we develop, but, for example, how aggressive we become is dependent on those around us. It is not a lack of morality but a lack of controlling emotional energy because someone hasn’t treated them well. Lack of interaction means the brain is unable to develop as it should have. But as a result of interaction we can change that developmental progress. Corpus callosum is responsible for processing decision making, co-ordinating the left and right sides of the brain – with neglect this shrinks. You need you pre-frontal cortex to calm down your limbix system. But because children are chronically frightened they release vast umbers of fright hormones, their frontal lobe is not developed enough to calm the emotionally driven parts of the brain down to neglect, leading to an inability to soothe themselves.

But love is the key ingredient to affect recovery. Love is at the pre-frontal cortex so it helps calm down the brain. Loving helps you to release oxytocin significantly reducing amygdala activation (KIrsch et al., 2005) meaning they can tolerate pain much better. The love should be available to people as a result of the family environment, but if that is ruptured because of the parents own malnourishment in their childhood, then strangers need to step in and provide the love and care.

You are crucial because through role-modelling and care you are on a day-to-day basis rebuilding the possibility of recovery in these children’s brain. The greatest love of all is the experience of God, and religion, whether or not you have faith God is a continuous father figure in the care of children. Your greatest gift to a child is your ability to love – science is beginning to produce the evidence for the non-believers.

Growing Up Poor – Lillie Jenkins & Katie Rice
1 in 5 low income families report skipping meals. The street always has easy ways to make money, getting a job is the hard route. On the programme Growing up Poor works because not trying to intervene or change or judge but observe. Become friends with those who they film building great relationships. Some groups were very chaotic so had to get into their minds and play by their rules rather than dictating when and where they need to meet.

People are people and so everyone can connect with someone else on some level, finding things you can talk about and discuss. Hanging out on the streets in Rotherham, one of the girls got arrested, Katie as producer was spoken to as she looked young by the police and it was a really rude experience even though she hadn’t done anything wrong so police and social workers can be viewed negatively. Not all the young people are from families who are full of alcoholics and drug addicts.

Frankie (young person who was filmed) was happy to give other people an opportunity to see the challenges of his life. It was real-life, no false pretences. The local community really respect him for going out there and saying the things – fortunately it never went bad. Young people can be money motivated and further education doesn’t provide that fast money. They don’t see the big picture, they work up the ladder to be a manager at Sainsbury’s when if they go to university they could be a photographer that earns a lot more and enjoys it. Had to become determined not to let prison become a cycle.

Young people can be uneasy with the police and social workers. Youth workers have young person’s best interests at heart but listen and take their opinions into account rather than focussing on the project. If you listen and then say we’ve got this project that works for you they’ll jump out of bed for it.

Food can always be squeezed that little more. It creates parents who don’t eat so the children can. It creates pack lunches with 3 cold fish fingers and families eating chips as they fill you up and are warm. 1.5m children are entitled to free school meals but many don’t take them for a variety of reasons.

More likely to suffer obesity, blood pressure, cancer, heart disease, mental health and more. Only 34% of children on Free School Meals get 5 GCSEs A*-C compared with 64% in more affluent communities. During the school holidays where do they go?

Rachel Warwick watched Poor Children and heard as she prayed “we need to feed the children’. Churches are good at feeding people, and so lunch was served! Lunch helps churches to feed hungry children. Over the last year served 5,000 meals. With 6 volunteers a day – at £1 a head – you can serve a hot meal with pudding and play. Another way for the church to love the community.

We all know that God is a generous God – we know that he can do more than we could imagine. Who knew the power of pasta, who knew the power of pasta given freely, offered in love, without expectation, because He asks us to, we need to feed the children, we need to feed the children, we need to feed the children.

The Christian Youth Work Awards 2013 – Ruth Corbett
We do great things for great young people. Who’s stood out for you as a great youth worker, maybe they’ve led your youth project in a brilliant way, maybe they’ve helped one person to help change their life. The Awards encourage you to say thank you. Who is who has inspired you? In the room today so many youth workers who qualify for brilliant things, pick up a postcard, pick up a pen and say thank you to your youth worker.

Your youth group can raise Lazarus – Lydia Corbett
Blown away at what is going on in the nation, and the need of young people, but also aware we have a God who is full of hope and compassion and the answers. Run an open youth group called The Bridge – with young people who are always get into trouble and injured. A great playground for praying for healing. Girls ankle gets healed after prayer. Owen had been beaten up and asked for prayer for healing – he came back saying it all cleared up so quickly God must have healed me and asked for a Bible.

When was the last time your prayed for healing with someone. When was the last time you stood in front of your youth group saying “Come Holy Spirit” and you know God is doing something even when they’re all fidgeting. When did we last time wait for words of knowledge. We are called to Greater Things and Jesus did so much we’ve got a long way to go.

Mark 16: you read the New Testament and they are walking about in power and authority healing people. That reality is still here today. Those people are like us, just everyday people, fishermen, accountants, parents, friends. They were just walking through the streets of Jerusalem, and that is what God has called us to do – to do the stuff in the everyday.

In youth work it can be so busy that this stuff gets squeezed out of the things. It comes to the Festivals and it happens and the kids get excited. We get home and the busyness returns. Have a sense God is saying I don’t change, it is only our expectations. God is for the youth clubs, the streets, the skate parks. The young people love it, seeing healing, receiving words of knowledge – signs for the unbeliever. In Acts thousands were being added to their number daily. They see revival and that’s what we want.

We can’t let busyness stop us and we can’t let fear stop us. We’re called to be obedient and pray. It’s ok if someone doesn’t get healed – it is the not yet of the kingdom. Praying for a skate park under the flyover in Hammersmith and then a card from Justin arrives saying he’s a skatepark designer – rings him and he says the Council have agreed funding and want their young people to design them.

Wait until it is uncomfortable. Pray for the young people – they will ask questions and love the prayer.

Raise expectations.

Session 3 – The Takeover!
Sam Donaldson & Luke Lonergan – For Christian Teens
Run a website to help young people learn and expand their faith. When asking God about direction for his life instantly this vision of a website for Christian young people by Christian young people happened in his life. Important verse fro them 1 Tim 4:12.

Range of pages from music to culture to missions to bible studies. Do a mixture of blogs and vlogs. Believe been called to lead a revolution in this nation. Within 6 months it has grown hugely. Not about them but God has chosen them which is beyond comprehension.

How often are you seeking exactly what God has to say for you in your youth ministry, vision and community. Often we let the world takeover, we have to let go of it ourselves, but always God brings such a great answer. Leaving society for a minute and saying “God I’m here”.

Egpyt
A really powerful Skype chat with a Christian father and son from Egypt. Challenges to being a young person following Jesus in Egypt include not being influenced by the current changes and political unrest in Egypt, after the revolution there has been a lot of freedom to express what people think which leads to people showing their dark side more often which is not good. As people speak out that includes fanatics, the accelerating pressure of fanatic groups picking Christians out as different saying they need to move to a different faith.

Listen to the young people that are struggling with their faith and God – what is preventing them getting closer to God. There has to be something that is preventing them from getting it. Brothers and sisters from the UK, stay shining, shine and reflect the light of Jesus to your young people.

Leanne Jones – Zion Catholic Community for Evangelism
Reach out 10,500 young people a year. 5 years ago she was an atheist, something big happened! Woke up one morning and thought she would go to church, and there she found some truth that was missing in her life. Got involved in all kinds of events and churches continuing her search for truth. Hope 2008 mission week in Leeds had a big affect – serving the communities during the day – picking up litter, putting on youth cafe’s, singing at old peoples luncheons – and then in the evening get together having times of teaching, prayer and worship. During one of the worship sessions God captivated her with “you’re the God of the city, you’re the God of this nation”. The leaders next to her were still pressing into God, she thought they already knew everything. That challenged her.

Hope 2014 is coming, hoping that young people will reach out for Jesus. Young people can be inspired by music, books, art, anything. But they are truly inspired by their leaders. It’s time for young people to inspire their leaders, remember they have all the original ideas! Hope Mission groups aren’t just about a week of mission but living a life of mission.

1 John 1:6-7. If you step out of the light the young people will follow you out of the light and vice versa. Let’s not just do mission, let’s live a life of mission.

Luke Jones – L Sharp
Faced a lot of challenges in his life but using music and rap to tell his story. Life is wonderful as long as you have great people walking alongside you. Problems included brother being born deaf, parents slipping up. Was bullied and abused, socially inept then ended up falling into the wrong crowd doing drugs and vandalism. In January 2009 when he was arrested he realised his life was worth more. He left the gang and seemed to do ok, but the gang turned on him and his family, including vandalism etc.

In 2009 moved to Shropshire – life improved dramatically – school and behaviour much better – turned his focus on to music. Before his exams he was working as a chef, by the end of his exams he was full-time. 18 months later he had a quarter of his left kidney taken out due to cancer. He had to move back home to have parental support. At the end of 2012 with health improving he moved into to live with his partner. The accommodation went wrong, but the youth emergency service have helped to house him and eventually they are now settled. Everyone deserves a chance. Lots of people want the support, but don’t feel able to ask for it, look out for people like these. Not everyone in gangs manages to turn it around for a better life. Look out for people like him to help young people find the path.

Pass The Baton
I am a mentor and am mentored. Quote from Karate kid: “First learn to stand, then learn to fly.” But how can we do that if we don’t have anyone to teach us. Denzel Washington has won loads of Oscars and Grammies, but he wouldn’t be the man he is without his mentor.. Oprah Winfrey wouldn’t be where she was if people hadn’t spoken into her life and built her self-esteem. Pastored
A street person, earliest mentors were football coaches, showing him how to channel his energy into playing football whereas other mates were still on the street. Played in the Emirates Stadium for top teams – but that was just a hobby. Helped him to progress. One of his mates is serving time for attempted murder. Ryan Giggs said “He’s been the biggest single influence on my career” on Sir Alex Ferguson. Moved into rap music and his mentor helped him to develop his lyrics to be deeper, and his other mentor Daniel took him into where he worked in the City, and they ate big steak together. No one showed him how to reach the goals in his life if it wasn’t for these mentors. You could relate to someone but you’ll never know if you don’t ask them.

Developed an acting scheme, as leaders-in-training they are mentored continually. Wouldn’t be the actor or leader if her mentor wasn’t there. She’s a great women of God who shares scripture with me.

Passing the baton who could you share it with?

Jacob Lloyd
Started up in a Christian family, and grew up going to church. Aged 7 Dad walked out, leaving mum and 3 sisters at home. Dad was his hero, he was angry, used to run around destroying things in the living room. Shook the faith as both his parents were youth leaders in the church, and his Dad left to be with someone else in the church. His mum stayed really strong, she never questioned why, she wasn’t negative, she prayed about it. His mum staying strong allowed him to see that the person coming off worst was his mum and if she was strong and going in the faith there was something to believe in.

Aged 11 decided to get confirmed, saw himself growing in his faith. Mum re-married and now have a father-son relationship with step-dad. Was bullied in year 7 physically and verbally for being a Christian, being academic, having acne. It then went on to social media, see a negativity to what he was standing up for when so many of people in his year were abusing him anonymously. Tend to not turn to God straight away, but later see God is faithful.

He needed an outlet, and step-dad taught him guitar and he wrote his song “I am me” about the emotions of who he was. Owes a lot to youth workers who helped him to write his first album, reflecting on his faith, his journey as God has transformed his life and want to tell as many people as possible so their lives could be transformed. As we’re broken into pieces God has strong superglue which turns us into something great and wonderful.

Session 4
Slam Theology – Conrad Gempf & Harry Baker
“In all these things we are more than conquerors.” “He must become greater I must become less.”

Followship – Jill Garrett
How do leaders help others to be better followers?
In 2006 did a study of 5,000 followers for the Government. Probably only 25 Christians, but the leader they say is very like Jesus:

  • Ability to manage and engage people: they listen, involve, trust, appreciate, have fun, they care.
  • Personal Makeup: honest, open, respectful, committed, focused, determined, courageous, humble, patient, vulnerable, energised, reflective, passionate, non-jargony, curious.
  • A Novel Outlook: look laterally, bend rules, love pressure, highly accessible, strongly visionary, “customer obsessed”.

Asking ordinary people made in the image of God said we were looking for someone like Jesus. Then look at things that help followers do a great job.

What does being a “great follower” look like? What is a great follower?

  • I know what I am expected to do
  • My manager or someone at work cares about me as a person and as a worker
  • I have the chance to do the things I do really well every day at work
  • I have the tools, the information and processes in place that I need to do my job well.
  • I have opportunities to learn and grow at work – if people don’t have responsibility by the age of 30 it affects their leadership levels.
  • Our team has a culture of praise and appreciation.
  • My views are listened to/valued
  • I understand how my work impacts on the lives of the people we sere, how I contribute to the bigger scheme of things,
  • Everyone in my team is committed to do good work.

The Qualities of Followers

  • Focus on the community/organisation’s purpose and not themselves
  • Self awareness and self management
  • Commitment to the cause / purpose and not just to the leader; see leaders as co-adventurors in the purposes
  • Ability and focus
  • Team players; enthuse and support others
  • Courage

Followers build better leaders by

  • Doing a great job for the people they serve and serve with
  • Caring for their leader; giving them the support they need to be more effective
  • Challenging others – including their leader; sharing ideas
  • Advocacy
  • The multiply impact – growing new generations and trusting them with significant responsibility before the age of 30.

Faith in Crisis – Gavin & Anne Calver
Anne decided she wanted to have a baby, Gavin decided to go along with the plan. After a while felt sorry for Anne, but they went for testing, discovered Anne was fine but Gavin was not quite sterile but nearly. Gavin was happy to take one for the team and try as often as possible, but Anne wasn’t so keen on the jokes. Anne was asking where was God when things get tough.

Clive was back from the USA, Gavin goes back to pick up the curry and comes home to discover Anne was pregnant. They had an early scan and found the baby was dead, and so they shut the door on this process.

A year later God challenged Anne about why are you letting fear take charge of you, trust me that I can take care of you. Pregnant, obviously Gavin had been healed, but not hands laid on! Scan shows 5% survival as too much liquid in the womb, they’d do a blood transfusion but had nearly zero chance of it going well. Got to Tesco’s car park and broke down going why God, thought you were promising. But would rather live with hope in God rather than no hope at all. In the place of brokenness and pain would you make me not break me.

Baby was too small, so they had to put the blood into the stomach and a pink water seemed to come out. After 3 hours they would scan, Anne slept, and Gavin was asking where is God when you suffer – a profound sense of God holding his hand. If this baby lives you are good, if this baby dies you are good. Anne had 9 blood scans, 38 scans, never complain about taxes, the system has done well. At 31 weeks they delivered by caesarean, by the same Doctor who had done all the transfusions, held the baby up, who weed on the doctor, and then attached him and put him into a incubator. The power of prayer carried us through in such an incredible and powerful way. A few weeks after he was born they were allowed to hold him, April 9th he was born, August 31st he was declared fine. He is now 3 and is fine, looks like he’s eaten a baby.

We’ve swallowed a prosperity gospel which is false. Aware now of all his brokenness  now the challenge is to keep going and press on. THe promise is not that all will be perfect but that simple promise that God says “I am with you” whatever is happening, whatever pooh is hitting the fan. God will minister to your life in a way that you could never imagine or dream.

Dealing with your dark side – Rachael Costa
We all have one, a side of us we don’t like to talk about, a side we don’t like to remember exists, hidden behind facades. Here to talk about the way some people deal with darkness. Chronic in the way some people have asthma etc., OCD is something that you can’t be healed from but can be managed. You can’t be a bit OCD – it isn’t it is a chronic illness with which there is no cure. OCD seven circles of hell: checking the oven hasn’t been left on, washing the kitchen services again, touching the back of every chair you pass, reopening the sealed job application to check for mistakes, phoning to check you didn’t leave the gas on, try to risk-assess for everything that might go wrong when on holiday.

Done most of those things in the last month several times. So what makes a quirk a disorder. It is when it effects the quality and function of life. Obsession comes from the latin obsedera “Under siege” – the brain attacking itself unnecessarily. Obsessions, Anxiety, Compulsions, Relief which is short-lived leading back to obsessions. The brain reinforces these obsessions through this cycle. Compulsions includes checking, contamination. OCD was known at the doubting disease in the 19th century.

As Christians we have doubt and forgiveness all sorted, right! With OCD faith can be another expectation to meet, and yet the message of hope and freedom in Christ is even more important. However dark the disease there is someone to reach out a hand – it was a distinctive of Jesus’ ministry, and it should be a hallmark of our ministry. Our behaviour has a sense of safety which says that “we build sea walls in our mind to keep the forces at bay”. OCD is a sea wall for 700,000 people in the UK, but we don’t really talk about it. Having a way to deal with your dark side, your gym honed physique, your intellect, your charisma. We may know in our minds and hearts that our security comes from God but we all needs a reminder at some point. “Grown ups are complicated creatures with all sorts of quirks” Roald Dahl once said. We all have a dark side, OCD is a way some people deal with theirs, how do you deal with yours.

Prayer without ceasing – Celia Apeagyei-Collins
People think prayer is boring, laborious and hard work. Robbie was a young man with behaviour problems, in a Catholic borstal. He goes to Mother Superior asking for a red bike, she says pray for it but say be good to 6 weeks. He realised he couldn’t do this, so he negotiated it down to 30 minutes, but he’s never done it before. He spots a statue of Mary and says to Jesus if you ever want to see your mum again give me a red bike!

God so loves prayer, he so wants to engage with us, it is a supernatural way for you and your lover of your life Jesus to connect together. Prayer is also based on your belief in God: call on me and this is what I will do! Prayer is essential because it is based on your concept of God. If you say you can’t pray it means something must be wrong. If you really believe he is listening to you where else would you go?

Tell Satan to come, no one will do it as you believe he will do it. Insult God, but you won’t do it because you believe it impacts you and him. You see him as real so why don’t you believe he listens to your prayers.

A lady had a house on the edge of Ireland. She was wealthy but very frugal. The meter reader was a concern, is the electricity working, yes I use it to turn on the lights and light the candles and then turn the lights off again!

Prayer gives God permission to intervene in situations. The first time God asked man to pray, he said men ought to prayer and not give up. There are no options, you must pray. He shares the parable of asking for bread when everyone is in bed, he goes on to say Mrs Jones is very upset, but the neighbour keeps knocking and asking for it, and Mrs Jones gives in to the persistence. Why did the friend not go elsewhere, because no one else had bread. We pray because we have no options elsewhere.

Video on 1-2-3|

  • 9 million children know Jesus as a swear word, which lined up could go from Lands End to John O’Groats three times!
  • 50% of all churches have no provision for children and young people at all.
  • 1 person to be your guide, 2 people to hold you accountable, and pass the baton of faith to three other people to live like Jesus did. The 2 Timothy 2 shows that we need to have those who hold us accountable and then pass it on.
  • If 100 people did this in 1 year there would be 300 people then 1200 then 3900 then 12000, within 10 years over 2 million children and young people.

It’s not your ministry anyway – Danny Curtin
You don’t have a ministry (God does). Cardinal dedicated his life to working with young people, especially the hard to reach in Brussels, hearing all of them going to the factory in the morning. He would walk and talk with them, hearing all their concerns.

The sign at the factory said “No clerics”. He couldn’t go where he knew he needed to go. But he became more and more convinced that each of them had a vocation that no one else could do but them. “You young people are worth more than all the gold in all the world as they were children of God. He began to realise he could only walk so far, God is present in those children. The seven sacraments are moments when God speaks, but he speaks in other ways in sacramentality – David Wells “God isn’t the bit you do before getting on with it … God is the getting on with it.” As children of God whether or not we engage with them or not they are children of God – they must therefore be signs of God. Where in encounters with young people have you encountered Christ? We all have those wow moments, those moments of encounters – something more than just me. That is because it is ins’t our ministry, it is bigger than me, it belongs to God, it belongs to the church, it belongs to the young people. Find that very freeing.

Working in East London, a Priest took him out on detached work, engaging young people through a smoke of cannabis he had to trust in God. Had to be humble, accepting that he was an outsider, being genuinely interested in them, seeking value in them. The young people shared deep insights of Christ. As soon as we say this isn’t our ministry we bring a deep insight. We have to realise that we are not the experts, young people are the experts. It is their relationship in Christ, with others. They will need help in putting into practice our calling. We can talk about what we can leave with them, but instead a genuine search inside of them for Christ you discover so much. We need to dump our agendas. Rather than asking young people to do things our way, to value our traditions, our worship, we need to find what we can find value in them; rather than giving them our treasures wrapped up in inaccessible ways we should allow them to reveal their treasure. Otherwise it is not love.

How can we ensure “Called to a noble adventure” published by the Catholic bishops:

  • Accompany – meaning literally with bread, to be in relationship
  • Call – seeing what is of value and calling it forth to Christ
  • Form – allowing them to engage in themselves with our assistance
  • Send – sending them to serve other young people, to serve with them.

MillionMinutes.org uses silence to speak up for those without a voice. It lets them know they are worth more than all the gold in the world. Help them to see their unrestricted value. As Donovan said: “Do not try to call them to where you are. Have courage to go with them to a new place that neither you or them have gone before.”

Session 5

Jon Egan
Nights of Desperation – building a culture of prayer, it takes time. If you build a culture of entertainment then you have to continue that. If you build a culture of prayer that continues. Led a worship session with 3 people in a prayer room last week – it was more successful than big numbers. Doing it is what makes it successful. Young people get excited when they see prayer answered – revival in their schools and communities. Instead of maintaining entertainment you are trying to support what God is doing in each place.

Becoming students of prayer you see that all prayer movements become mission movements. You capture God’s heart for the broken and the poor. You realise that God is calling you to be the answer. A girl has a passion for Uganda, told the few hundred young people wanted to raise $30k in 8 weeks to build an orphanage, after the weekly offerings they had $120k they’ve built four orphan homes. In 3 years they’ve raised over $750k on the basis of what is happening in the prayer room.

Week of dates around 18th November, Mission & Worship Conference, want to do events around the country doing nights of worship and prayer. In 2014 hoping to do three nights of desperation – praying and fasting.

Rachel Gardner & Tony Campolo
RG: What a great day, what brilliant youth work is happening here in the UK. We’ve talked about sex, mental health and more – what a promise that we will do greater things!

You will hear this message in lots of conferences because it is the truth, but at this time of day it begins to feel like a big pressure – we’ve got to do more, more activity  got to go to this event. What started as a vision cast becomes an obligation cast. Not very good at being provocative unless SRE. But we’re not called to be world changers any more or any less than the generation before or after us. God is looking for obedient followers – we need to see that we have identity to be people of authority.

Matthew 16, going for a walk in unfamiliar territory in Casarea Philippi, Jesus asks who do you think I am. They talk about different prophets, but Peter says Lord of all. Jesus says yes and I am going to give you the keys of heaven.

We are people with authority, who give up so much for young people, who love them so much, are already people of authority. So why don’t we pick it up more, why don’t we exercise this authority? Five years did a cell group of girls and not one of them is walking with Jesus – probably a dormant faith rather than abandoned faith – but why? Possibly because we don’t tell them we’ve been given a real key to unlock our life.

TC: Overwhelmed by RG – speaking with authority and charisma! The grace of God has to be understood, that things are given to us, we’re saved by grace not works. His son was in youth work, with a group of tough inner city kids on retreat in the mountains, he’s a great pied piper. He doesn’t take care of details – he’s only got two counsellors – the kids are destroying it. As he pushes to go faster in the minibus, but he gets a blowout, changes the tyre, but the van falls off the jack and the son shouts out a serious of words. A kid decides to become a Christian, says it is because when you swore I understood I could be a Christian. God loves you just as you are – giving you authority. But the world doesn’t recognise authority. Social and Economic Organisation power is the ability to set a course, but authority e.g. mum was only little and I could have kicked her down the steps, but she had authority because she made 1,001 sacrifices over and over again.

Guy who worked in the mission organisation in the Dominican Republic  He set up medicine in Chicago but God challenged him to go back home. He did 3 days a week srugery earning money and then spent it ALL on medicine which he’d take for 3 days a week to slums who couldn’t afford doctors. At the end of the day he’d climb on the truck and preach the gospel. There was the leader of the Che Guevara society, wound him up by saying “Who are you going to have left if he keeps converting people” but hte guy responds “He has earnt authority to be heard.” If sacrificial love earns authority then who did the biggest sacrifice – Jesus – Ephesians 2 “he sacrificed everything on calvary therefore God has highly exalted him, giving him a name that is above all others names.” His authority was contingent upon what he did on calvary – the church doesn’t sacrifice enough in love – you can give your body, give all your money away but if you don’t do it in love then it is worthless as Paul said.

When I look at you youth workers I hope this generation will undo the mess that my generation has laid out. So feel obliged to resolve this.

RG: We are ascribed authority and grace by the man who has sacrificed much and he says we already have this authority – we have to twin it with living sacrificial lives so our actions match up. Some of us youth workers are urban, or very affluent areas with very need children e.g. spiritual needs. So what does a sacrificial life look like? How do we earn authority in a generation of entitlement and consumerism.

TC: Pretty hard to get young people to take us seriously at taking Jesus serious. If you’re going to follow Jesus how sacrificial will they be?

RG: The text book answer is it links to how much we sacrifice. Have a lot of self-doubt and questions as to whether I am really called. Begin to realise all the areas I’m not sacrificial in. Can we live middle-class lives and still be sacrificial.

TC: Didn’t a young middle class man walk up to Jesus and say what should I do, and Jesus responds sell everything and take up your cross  The disciples are amazed but Jesus says I know it is tough but I think we’ve been trying to avoid these things.

Eastern University is near a Mental Health hospital which wanted to create 5 half-way houses. The local residents weren’t too pleased with this. The City Council called a meeting, with 500 people in a room for 400 people. The City Council voted to reject the proposal. No sooner had she done that then Mother Theresa comes down the aisle, gets on her knees, “In the name of the Lord please receive these people into your community, if you reject them you reject Jesus.” She repeats this several times with several news camera crews filming this. They reversed this decision unanimously  Hundreds of people who were shouting opposition moments earlier didn’t raise a voice because Mother Theresa had authority which she got from the streets of Calcutta. If the Pope had walked in and spoken he wouldn’t have swayed the crowd – he has too much power.

RG: But don’t we need to be careful we don’t make a thing out of earning authority. We have a saviour who is God, I am a human who messes up all the time. God forgives me all the time. See an ebb and flow of failure, if their authority is dependent on them earning then sometimes they will earn that but lots of times they will fail. At the end of John 21 Jesus reinstates Peter, we haven’t earnt the right to speak to some groups but in the Holy Spirit we can still speak. Is the challenge not to live authentic lives. How many sit on Governors, SRE boards, Local Council boards when others move on – it’s called sacrifice. We are seeing a shift in people’s attitudes because social services come and go, sure start comes and goes, the church is always there.

TC: St. Augustine says “Love God and do as you please” – the more you love God the more you will please him. Don’t get the idea you are a second rate Christian if you don’t sell your possessions and take up your cross. Only do it if you want to – don’t do it if you don’t want to. Acts 5 – Ananias and Sapphira didn’t want to give – they were stricken down because they lied, they pretended what they had done. Love God and out of that you will want to give more and more. The world is looking for Mother Theresa’s. Brian Stephenson graduated from Eastern University, went onto law at Harvard, came top of class he could do anything he wants, but is in a 1 bedroom flat in Alabama with people sending rent for him to live. He doesn’t see it as sacrifice. We don’t need more long faced Christians. Secular society is not listening to the church. The new Pope is saying I will be poor, and I want the church to be poorer.

RG: We are our most dangerous when we are most loved  What gives us the right to be listened to by young people we work amongst is when our lives are lived alongside in sacrificial ways. When we’ve earned this way what are we saying that is unlocking young peoples lives to transformation – restless to live a sacrificial life – want to say the things that count – not because have the perfect line but because this is the truth – see something in your life that is holding you back from all that God has for you and yet God seems to correct your mouth – is it political correctness, the source of funding, worried about the relationship. I want to make these years count – have a think, come and live with us if you need. Want a daily Gandulf moment, from the first Lord of the Ring, Frodo has the ring and the Beast of the Deep is about to grab Frodo, and Gandulph stands in-between the two and says “You shall not pass whilst we are here”. As youth ministers we are called to be Gandulph’s.

When we see things in society that threaten and steal from young people we need to commit to be in their lives, to stand and say “You shall not pass”, speaking louder as the church. Think we are beginning to earn the right, running CAP, running Food Banks, engaging with local young people, who do the police turn to, speaking at Westminster about SRE – always say representing Christian youth workers – more than twice the number of government youth workers – working with Brownies but also some of the most vulnerable young people. We are the church that has left the building. We should step into this authority more – stepping into these things – but ultimately what transforms the community and people is Jesus.

TC: As we come to the end, we’ve talked about all the wonderful things that youth workers do, you demand to be heard on the basis of what the youth workers have done. Belong to a black church, don’t like they’re enough black people in the congregation. It’s fun speaking to a black church, in a white church you never know what they’re thinking – the British sit still even if you say you’re back from the moon, whereas when it isn’t going well they shout “Help him Jesus”. On student recognition day 40 students come back from university and they say what they’re doing and the family woop and woop. You don’t hear music until you hear 500 grandmothers all proud that their young people have achieved what USA said you couldn’t do. Preacher says to young people “You’re going to die, they’ll drop soil on your face, they will eat potato salad. When you were born you were the only one who cried, everyone else was happy. What will you live for – will you be happy or not when you die – are you living for titles or testimonies.” Going through the whole bible in only the way Black preacher can go through this. Have titles for authorities but also the testimony and if there is a choice always choose the testimonies.

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About The Author

Married to the wonderful Hannah, dad to the amazing Daniel and Josh! Work for a parish on the edge of the New Forest, passionate about Jesus, children's & youth work & sport.

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