Archive for the “Training” Category

So, after three years of study my diploma arrived in the post today.  I kew I had passed but I didn’t know I had passed with merit!  I’m not altogether sure what that means.  Probably an average of over 60%.

To say I’m pleased would be an understatement.  I’m delighted.  I loved my time studying with the Scottish Episcopal Institute.  I have made some wonderful friends and learned so much.

I finish studying with the URC at the end of this academic year.  I’ve been on placement with fantastic people of Shawlands URC for a year and will start a new placement with the East Kilbride and Hamilton churches in the new year.

In the meantime I’m exploring a call to a church so hopefully I’ll have some news about what happens next in the adventure of ministry very soon!

Comments No Comments »

Sorry for the gap.  I’m not off blogging for Lent.  It was just that life and as a consequence a lack of time and internet access got in the way.

We’ve moved house and the interweb access was only just turned on so I’m back…

I’ll write more soon but I wanted to draw your attention to Angus Presbytery’s Big Day Out.  It’s on May 4th (Star Wars Day) and I’m leading a seminar and the programme has some great people.  I’m talking about:


For twenty years Stewart Cutler has been running away from things. It started with bigger boys, progressed to exams and then full on career avoidance. It turns out he’s not the only one avoiding things. As we look around our churches we see that people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, are missing. They have gone. But where? And why? And what can we do about it? Join Stewart for a surprising look at why everything is his father’s fault.


Comments No Comments »

No, not me… although I might give it a go soon…

Five Things I've Learned

“Showcasing great examples of the best in education, Five Things I’ve Learned is a collection of personal reflections from education leaders devoted to improving the fortunes of others through learning.”

These are great insights from some smart people.  Have a look.  You’ll be glad you did.

Tags: ,

Comments No Comments »

“We tried that once.  It didn’t work”

Imagine a golfer saying that.  “Yeah, I picked up a club once when I was 7 and had a swing but the ball only went 10 feet off to the right so I never bothered trying again.”

What nonsense.

To get something right takes practice.  Apparently 10,000 hours is the time it takes to be excellent at something.  That’s a lot of commitment.  And hard work.  And patience.  And frustration.  And fun.

I was astonished at just how far I’ve run in the last 20 weeks.  625km.  When I started the thought of running for longer than 20 minutes was just a distant dream.  On Sunday I ran 21km.  That took 62 hours of practice.

Getting better at things requires commitment.

It needs us to understand that we won’t get it right the first time and that we will find things difficult along the way.

It needs repetition.

Tags: , ,

Comments 4 Comments »

On Wednesday I led a session for a group of ministers from the United Reformed Church in Scotland.  We were exploring what the church could learn from younger people and from youth work methods.

Young people fail.  A lot.  It’s part of learning.

They try something, get it wrong, then learn from that and try again.

Can you imagine a toddler giving up on walking because it fell over a couple of times?  No, of course not.  Failing isn’t always a bad thing.  And failure is almost always relative.

Failure is a judgement made according to the parameters that have been set.  But how realistic are those parameters?

No-one gets up and walks first time.  Well except that guy that came through the roof, but you know what I mean.  It takes practice.  Not doing it perfectly first time wouldn’t be failure.  Repetition is important in learning.

If I had a pound for every time I’d heard a young person say that…

‘I’m bored’ doesn’t really mean that.  I think it means that ‘I’ve finished what I was doing and now I can’t think what to do next.  Can you help me to decide please?’

Part of the ‘boredom’ comes from a limited range of options.

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

Most of us don’t have any experience of a range of churches.  Most people have been in their church for a long time.  Their experience of variety is when a new minister comes, or someone publishes a new hymnbook.

Our ‘box’ or ‘jar’ is just as real as the fleas’.  It’s hard to think outside that box when you have only ever been in it.

One of the great things about our work with children is that it encourages creativity and imagination and exploration.  Loads of churches do holiday clubs where for a whole week kids come for a morning or afternoon and explore a topic through games, songs, art, crafts, drama and story.

Can you imagine doing that with the grown ups?

If you can’t, why not?  Don’t adults like those things?

When we are babies we need a lot of looking after.  The whole household is focused on the needs of one little person.  As we grow we become more independent, more self sufficient.  And that is as it should be.

But we all have needs.  And our needs are not all the same.

Youth work is, at it’s best, needs led.  It considers the social, emotional, spiritual and physical needs of each young person and tries to address those needs through activities and opportunities which will enable that young person to develop to their full potential.

We do that by offering choice.  There are many ways to explore a topic.  Just think about that holiday club… all those ways to learn about one topic.

When was the last time you were offered a choice in worship on a Sunday morning?

I believe that churches have become self-selecting communities and that self-selection has nothing to do with faith.  It has everything to do with style.

Style is about how something appears.  It’s about content and format and who is involved and who is not and how it smells and feels and tastes and sounds and looks like.

It is also about seeing yourself in that place.  Someone mentioned that a new minister had come to a church they were working with.  The minister is a mother with two small children.  All of a sudden there are 20 young families coming to church who didn’t come before.  Why?  Because they can see themselves in that church.

We can’t all go and hire a minister like that but how we portray ourselves is important.  It’s a huge part of how young people (and adults) identify with each other.  Clothes and music define us much more than we might imagine.  Many of us cling to the music that we liked when we were teenagers.  Don’t believe me?  Check your itunes…

If I like electronica or metal or house or classical music would I see myself in your church?  If I’m a skater or a goth or a 40 year old geek or a mum or a student would I see myself in your church?

I do.  I really do.  We have watched our children drift away from church and we have done nothing but wring our hands.  And I’m talking about myself too.

I don’t think we need to change Sunday morning worship.  It works for that self-selecting group that come.  Why should we take that away from them?

What we do need to do is to give people permission to get on with doing other things at other times.  Our job as ministers is not to provide everything.  Youth work is all about enabling.  Sometimes the best way to do that is the easiest.  Just say ‘yes’.

Variety is good.  It’s healthy.  At home our extended family rarely all sit in one room.  When we do it usually ends in disaster.  Why?  Because we all have different needs, likes and tolerances.

What are the values of your church community?

Youth work in Scotland has a statement of values.  They are:

It’s a broad value base.  But is there any reason it shouldn’t be your church communities value base too?

Shouldn’t we respect each other?  Value equality?  Engage in learning through our whole lives?  Respect others who are different from us?  Isn’t that what loving your neighbour is?  And why do we feel the need to tell people what they should think or what the answer is?  Don’t we trust God to work in some one’s life?

Shouldn’t we be working together to build the kingdom of God?  Doesn’t that mean that everyone should have a say?  That everyone should play a part?

I like this phrase.

I’m going to use it often.

I think this is what the church, particularly the United Reformed Church, needs to be.

We don’t need (or want) to be mega-churches.  We don’t need (or want) to be parish churches.

We do need (and want) to be small, passionate communities.

Young people form small passionate communities all the time.  They often form around issues and then disappear with the problem.  They are often about getting something done, solving a problem, making a point or raising an issue.

These small passionate communities aren’t static.  They change and grow.  They involve different groups, make partnerships and co-operatives.  They are active not passive.

Remember that small passionate communities change the world.

We have a story.  That story is one of small passionate communities and their journey with God.

Children love stories.  Young people love stories, even if they pretend they have grown out of all that.  Adults love stories.

How will we tell our story?  And can we please stop explaining what it means to people?  Do you explain a bedtime story to your kids?  Of course not.  But they will want to hear that same story over and over and over again.


So they can see themselves in it.  So they can imagine what it feels like and smells like and tastes like and sounds like and looks like.

If we don’t tell our story how can people imagine themselves into it?

So, what am I trying to say?

Good question.  And one that I’m not going to answer.  Because you can work it out for yourself.  You can imagine yourself in this story or take it and imagine it in your place.

If you do, please share your story.  Tell it often.  You can start in the comments section if you want, but tell it somewhere…

Tags: , ,

Comments No Comments »

The Mission and Discipleship Council of the Church of Scotland invites you to the beautiful Paisley Abbey to explore ways of doing worship that celebrates and nourishes our whole life together as well as engage people who are not connected with us.

Main Speaker: Doug Gay, lecturer in Practical Theology at Glasgow University

There will be five different themes explored in the workshops, each with morning and afternoon options.

11:30am Growing our own inner life in worship
13:30pm Helping others to grow their inner life in worship

11:30am Singing out in worship
13:30pm Helping others sing out in worship

11:30am Including adults with learning disabilities in worship
13:30pm Worship in priority areas

Working Together
11:30am Hub Church – working with other churches in your area to develop worship
13:30pm Annandale and Eskdale Worship Resourcing Network – Local people resourcing one another.

Children and families
11:30am Messy Church Worship and what has been happening in Helensburgh
13:30pm Born Contemplative – quiet forms of prayer for children

Other Details
The day will start at 10:00am with tea and coffee, with our main speaker at 10:30am. Lunch will be provided for
all participants. We will end the day with some “Weaving Worship” a form of inclusive worship that ties up all the
threads of life and faith. The day will finish at 4:00pm

How to get to the Abbey
Paisley Abbey is situated in Paisley Town Centre and directions can be found on their website:
The nearest train station is Paisley Gilmour Street.

How to register
For registration and enquiries, please contact:
Anna Reid
Senior Administrator
Faith Expression Team.
Tel: 0131 225 5722 ext 359
Email: areid [at] cofscotland [dot] org [dot] uk
Online booking:

£15 per person

Weaving Worship Leaflet

Tags: , , , ,

Comments No Comments »

Deep Impact is back in 2011.

McDonald Highand Resport, Aviemore. 21-23 January 2011




We’ve gone back to the core of Deep Impact’s purpose.

New. Seminar streams focussing on Kingdom: Living: God in our lives; Working: God in our workplace; Thinking: God in our planning; Building: God in our nation.

More: Inclusive and broader worship styles.

Better: Marketplace, Social areas and Entertainment

Still: empowering Christian Youth Workers in Scotland to share the love of Christ. Online booking: Website:

Tags: , ,

Comments No Comments »