Archive for the “Youth Work” Category

loom

There are times when it’s ok to let something pass quietly.

There are other times when something has to be said.

I was charged with leading worship at the URC Youth Assembly last weekend and as we neared the end of our time together it grew more and more apparent that we should acknowledge the moving on of those aged 25, who would be old to return next year.

I saw a loom like this one on Twitter last week.  Someone created one for the Deep Impact conference in Aviemore.  It looked great, so I stole it.  I was going to use it for something else but as the young people wove their brightly coloured strands together it struck me that this could be something we could use to mark a rite of passage.

Here’s what was said between the singing of Guide me, O thou great Jehovah and I, the Lord of sea and sky:

“Could those for whom this is their last Youth Assembly please stand if you are able or raise your hand to let us know who you are.

You know that I like songs and that extends, perhaps surprisingly, beyond Abba’s greatest hits. There’s a song by Semisonic called ‘closing time’. Everyone thinks it’s about chucking out time at the pub. But it’s not. It’s actually about a man contemplating the birth of his child. It has one of my favourite lines in it, and I think it says something for us all, but especially for you at this time. It’s this:

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Youth Assembly is one of those things that come into our lives and it can be a hugely significant part of both our journey of faith and our journey through life. For those who have come to the upper age limit today, passing the grand old age of 25, this time of worship marks the end of your time with this particular part of the church.

And that is how it should be. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time and a season for everything under the sun. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here. And that’s as it should be.

God needs you. The church needs you.

So we want to take the opportunity to thank you, for you’re the gifts you have shared with us, for your enthusiasm and most of all for your friendship. You have blessed this community. Your stories, just like the strips of cloth on the loom, are woven into the story of this church and have been an integral part of the fabric of our life together, bringing colour and beauty.

We would like to bless you as you step out from this place and set out on new journeys of faith.

We would encourage you to take all that this place has meant and still means to you with you, to take the best of us, to take your passion for God, and share it with those you meet along the way, wherever your journey takes you.

When we bless people and send them out we have a tradition of ‘laying on hands’. So, could those around the people who are moving on gather round them and just lay your hands on their shoulders as we pray a blessing on them.

 

A Commissioning (adapted from Spill the Beans)

The Gospel,

The Good News of Jesus Christ

is demanding,

and challenging,

and subversive.

It is nothing short of revolutionary.

 

This is the message we preach.

This is the story we live.

It’s not an easy life.

But is a life like no other.

 

The call to you

is to stand up and be counted,

exactly as Jesus did:

to go after the big fish,

to make disciples of all people

often leaving familiar things behind.

 

It’s time to step out

Time to embrace your calling

Time to break cover

Time to follow Jesus

into the world

 

But go with our friendship

go with the love of God almighty

go with the leading of Jesus, the Christ, your saviour

go with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit

to guard and keep you safe

this day and always.

Amen”

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Pilots Worship Pack Lost and Found

 

I’m delighted to see the new Pilots Worship Pack: Lost and Found, which Soo and I wrote, is about to be sent out into the wild. It’s a pack with 4 sessions which help young people to explore the idea of Lost and Found along with some resources for a worship service led by young people.  The resource comes from Pilots but would be suitable for use with any groups of children and young people.

I’ll post the details of where you can get a copy as soon as it is available.

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Does church maintain the status quo?  We talk a good game about transformation and renewal but are we organisationally set up to avoid it?

Broken Rhythms

This isn’t a new question for me.

I remember thinking about it when I was training for youth work at Jordanhill in 1991.  Apparently other people had been thinking about organisational inertia it for longer than that because there were books written about it.

In youth work this questions appears in the guise of ‘Do we train young people to be good, middle class, well mannered high achievers?’ or ‘Do we just want young people to be like us?’.

There is some really interesting stuff around at the moment about how we might work with young people to develop an authentic expression of church with no expectation that they should or would even want to worship and gather in community in the same way we might.

There is another aspect to this question… Does the church maintain the political and social status quo?

I remember sitting in a Church of Scotland General Assembly where someone suggested a change.  The Principle Clerk stood up and stated that such a change would require an Act of Parliament.  The clear implication taken was that this would be too difficult and the proposer should sit down and shut up.  Which they did.  This is just one fairly extreme example but in many ways all of our decision making processes mitigate against change.  We consult widely, we need broad agreement, we take ages to change.

These can all be good things.  Taking time prevents lurching from one position to another, making snap decisions and encourage reflection and consultation.  It gives time for discussion, consideration and prayer.  These ‘safeguards’ prevent the loudest voice winning out, include a wide range of people in the process and hopefully listen to what God might be saying to the church.

They can also kill enthusiasm, limit growth and stifle innovation.

What really baffles me is when the church seems to be in agreement about the need for change but is completely unable to make that change happen.  Perhaps it is be cause too many things would need to change all at once.  Perhaps it is because we don’t have a clear idea what that change would actually look like.  Perhaps it is because we aren’t training people to be creative, risk taking leaders.

The recent Church Growth Research from the Church of England seems to paint a clear picture of the recipe for growth:

Church Growth

 

 

I’ve managed to get myself nominated to be on a United Reformed Church task group considering 20-40s.  It would seem to be ‘money where your mouth is’ time.

So, what do we need to do to become the kind of church that people in the 20-40s would engage in?  What might that kind of church look like?  What are the things that really stop people engaging with church?  Are they big philosophical issues?  Are they relational?  Are they about time and energy?

Answers on postcard, Facebook comment, tweet, email, text or more preferably over a coffee… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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YA2014 PCard f CropSo… here are my first keynotes from URC Youth Assembly 2014.

As always, your thoughts, comments and observations are welcome…

Here are the pdfs

URCYA14 Keynote 1

“When the world was dark…” Spill the Beans

“Exile is…” comes from Rob Bell’s book Jesus Wants to Save Christians.

URCYA14 Keynote 2

“Open Arms” by Elbow

“And they asked Jesus…” Spill the Beans

“Vine grower…” Spill the Beans

URCYA14 Keynote 3

“exile is not always the darkest corner of the earth. Sometimes it is lush and plentiful, sometimes it is full of life…” Carola PerlaGibbin House

 

 

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spill the beans conferenceThe big, long awaited Spill the Beans Conference is just around the corner!  Come and find out more about Spill the Beans, how it works, why it works and how you can use it in your church.

Saturday 31st August

Wellington Church on University Avenue, Glasgow.

10am – 4pm

Cost £8 (includes lunch)

 for application forms.

 

 

Workshops include:

  • Storytelling with Adults and Young People
  • Worship Space and Art Installations
  • Community Engagement
  • Worship Teams
  • Using Age Group Materials

Download the  Poster: StB Conference Final

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recovery-sign-resizeIn the west, we encourage goal setting. In fact, we’re obsessed with goals – that end point we are striving so hard to reach.

We jump through hoop after hoop, stepping-stone after stepping-stone, sacrificing everything just to get to that finish line. But once we get there, we realize our thinking was flawed.

Now we’re unhappy again and need to set another goal.

We just spent however many hours, days, or years, sacrificing our health, our happiness, our every-single-day, to reach some goal – only to realize that it was the hours, days, months and years we skipped that actually was our life.

The Change Blog

How many ministers, deacons, church related community workers, youth workers and children’s workers do you know who work for a church or denomination and are quite simply knackered?  They are burnt out, stressed, worried, anxious and deflated.

How many people in churches do you know who are the same?

We, the western church, have fallen into the busyness trap.  We have bought into a ‘success narrative’ hook, line and sinker.  We believe that being busy, doing stuff, being productive is what we should be about.

I get paid to work for a denomination and they are entitled to have expectations of what I will do in return for that salary.

This isn’t a complaint.  I think goals and plans can be helpful, but I have the same feeling as the person who wrote the quote at the start of this post.  In fact I have a bigger question:

Does busyness build the kingdom?

I think we use busyness as a way of hiding from what being church is really about, relationship and service.  We get caught up in meetings, programmes, committees, initiatives, fund raising, groups, work parties and even worship.

We never take time to sit, talk, eat, relax, enjoy… to get to know each other, to share our hopes and dreams, our questions and worries.

We talk endlessly about prayer, meditation, retreat and relationship.  These are all those helpful, non-busy practices and then model the absolute opposite.  We justify ourselves by how much we do, how many hours over our contract we work, how many meetings we have been at this week.

Why?  Where in the Bible does Jesus tell us that we will get eternal life if we only work hard enough?

If the church is going to be a place that is helpful and healthy then we really need to break this destructive narrative of busyness. Busyness leads to stress, anxiety and depression.  We know it does, and yet we still plough on… even though Jesus says ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’

Recovery is about regaining balance.  Taking time to do the things which keep you well, which provide support and about creating a narrative of realistic expectations.

It’s not about settling for less, for an easy life, for never taking risks or pushing yourself, but it is about applying your energy in the right direction to the right things.

The next committee meeting you have, take some cakes and coffee, scrap the agenda and talk about why people are still here in the church.

Ask them their hopes and dreams.

Talk.

Then meet again and talk some more.

The last thing we should be doing is creating communities that people feel stressed and anxious in.  And busyness doesn’t work.

Beth Keith’s report ‘Authentic Faith: Fresh expressions of church among young adults’ give some very helpful insight into what does work…

 

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spill beans 8 coverThe new edition of Spill the Beans is out and the material starts from Trinity Sunday (26 May) and goes through to Pentecost 14 (25 August).  As usual there are great resources from a hugely talented team for children and young people and those who lead and enable worship.

You can download a free sample if you want to try before you buy.

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