Posts Tagged “young people”

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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Here are 5 ways you can improve your work with young people.

1. Consult

Ask your young people what they like, what they don’t like and what they want to learn/do/try.  Sounds simple doesn’t it, but very few youth leaders actually do this well.  Lots of us have an agenda, or we think we do.  The second part of step 1 is to ask the adults in the church what they expect of the youth work to see if there really is an agenda or if it is all in your head!

2. Plan

Don’t just list what you will do each time you meet.  Actually plan.  Plan for months in advance.  Decide who will do what, what resources you will need, how each session progresses the theme or topic.  Set an aim (broad goal) and some objectives (the steps you will take to achieve the aim).

Make sure the plan is interesting, inspiring even (see Kenny Wilson’s guest post to see why that’s important!) and varied.  Don’t do the same thing every week.  And stop telling people the answer.  Questions are good.  Learn to live with the doubt and imagination it takes to answer questions.

3. Now do it

But recognise that your plan is an excuse to build relationships with young people.  I’m sure it is important that your group learn about Job/Jonah/Jesus but it is also important that they learn what a good, healthy, supportive, nurturing relationship is.  They are much more likely to learn about anything if the learning happens in this kind of environment.

And work on practices.  Cramming every night with games/videos/activity/nonsense doesn’t help young people develop and deepen their faith.  Don’t be scared to spend some time being quiet.  Don’t be scared to talk about God.

4. Evaluate

How was it for you?  How was it for the group?  You should evaluate often.  More often than you think you should.  Part of your evaluation should be time at the end of each session to check that the young people have learned something and if that something is what you hoped they might learn.  But also spend time talking through how things are going.

Does your plan from step 2 need to change to take account of developments, progress or unexpected issues?

Does you group still meet its aims and objectives?  Do they need altered?

How are the leaders?  Do they need help?  Training?

5. Communicate

Too much youth work happens in isolation.  It’s almost a secret.  Tell people what you do.  Tell your church.  Tell the world.  Tell parents.

Those are my top 5 tips.  What would you add?  Or take away?

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Over the next few weeks for the first time there will be some guest posts appearing here on


Well, because sometimes a change of voice, a different perspective and some interesting insights help us to get our heads around a problem or an issue.

I think my guests will bring some great words which will encourage and challenge us.

If you have something you’d like to share then drop me a message.

Our first guest will appear on Tuesday… so stay tuned.

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Who knew that reading was so… enlightening!

I’m in the final (hopefully) throws of the dissertation and I’m battering away at a couple of sections before editing my findings.

The parts getting attention just now are about ‘the Church and social capital’ and ‘youth work strategy’.

The social capital discussion has been really interesting.  I asked in twitter and facebook if the church should have a role in social capital and got some great examples of how it already is, why it should be and some of the dangers.

So, what do you think?  Should the church be part of ‘Call me Dave’s’ Big Society?  After all, that’s a social capital drive if ever there was one!  Does the church have something unique to offer?  Or should it stand apart as a prophetic voice?

The second part on Youth Work strategy is a quick wade through Moving Forward, the Scottish Government’s youth strategy which, like those of England and Wales, don’t really pay much attention to spiritual development, despite it being one of the core areas of youth development.

Should the church be saying more about this?  Are we any good at helping young people to develop spiritually?  Or do we just play games and go bowling?

What do you think?

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This morning the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland heard the report of the Church and Society Committee.

First up was the ‘Growing Up in Scotland‘ report.  I was on the group which wrote the report so I was glad to see some good deliverences (motions) coming from the report.  I’ll pick out the highlights for me…

Child Friendly Churches

3. Instruct the Church and Society Council to work with other Councils to introduce a Child Friendly Church initiative based on the United Reform Church’s model.

This was amended to welcome the work the Mission and Discipleship council has already done on preparing a Child Friendly Church initiative, based on the United Reformed Church model.

Hearing Children

4. Urge Scottish and UK Governments to evidence as a matter of course how young people’s voices are heard in the development of legislation and policy.
5. Instruct the Church and Society Council, together with Presbyteries and other Councils of the Church, to bring to the General Assembly of 2010 a report on the ways in which each is enabling the voices of young people to be heard in their decision-making processes.

Great to see an emphasis on listening to children in decision making.  I wonder how congregations and the Assembly will make that happen?

8. Instruct the Church and Society Council to work with representatives of the National Youth Assembly to develop awareness of models of support in congregations on the issues involved in mental illness among young people.

This issue is one that has become ever more important to me.  My wife is a soon to qualify mental health nurse and her training has confirmed my belief that the church can and should play a role in supporting people with mental ill-health.  Like the other deliverence, the question will be how?

10. Urge Scottish and UK Governments to strengthen their commitment to end child poverty by 2020 and ensure that policies and adequate resources are in place to achieve that aim.
11. Urge the Scottish Government to ensure that resources, including partnerships with Churches and others, are in place to deliver the ambitions of the Early Years Framework.
12. Demand that HM Government uphold, respect and protect the rights of children who are asylum seekers or who are trafficked into our country.

For me these show that the church is where it should be, campaigning on behalf of the poor and those who’s rights are overlooked.

Engaging with Technology, Science and the Environment
Climate Change

16. Instruct Presbyteries, in association with the Church and Society Council, to produce a plan for each congregation in their bounds, setting out how they will measure energy consumption in their church
buildings, ascertain their carbon footprint and achieve a year-on-year reduction of 5% of their carbon
footprint using the Eco-Congregation Scotland carbon footprint module; and instruct the Church and Society Council, in consultation with the General Trustees, to report to the General Assembly of 2010 on the implementation of this instruction.
17. Welcome the proposed incorporation of Eco-Congregation Scotland as a Charitable Company and continue to support the work of eco-congregations.
18. Affirm the current commitment of the Church and Society Council to the ‘Responding to Climate Change Project’ and instruct the Church and Society Council, in partnership with other Councils, to complete the review of this project with a view to its development.

The climate change debate threw up some interesting discussion around how ambitious the church should be about targets, with 5% perhaps not being nearly enough of a reduction.

This raised the question again about the suitability of buildings for me.  Is the reduction of carbon footprints the catalyst needed to get rid of unsuitable buildings once and for all?  Can the church really claim to be good stewards while pouring money into drafty and expensive to heat buildings?  And the church’s central offices in Edinburgh won’t escape the carbon audit…

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I think I’ve decided to do my research for my masters on the use of social media in church-based youth work in Scotland.  I could of course change my mind again but on reflection this seems to be something that would be both interesting and worth doing.

I’d still like to have a go at ‘does youth work work?’ but think that might make a better large scale project for me and my lovely colleagues at the URC.

So, If you’re reading this and are involved in church-based youth work in Scotland let me know so I can come and interview you and your young people some time in the new year.

Anyone with any ideas and/or suggestions, please feel free to contribute said ideas anytime you like.

And I’ll try not to bore you all.  Honest.

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We’re working on a level 1 youth work course.  That is, a basic course for volunteers and people who are new to youth work.

What would you include?  What do you think youth workers need to know?

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