Posts Tagged “youth work”

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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Since my design thinking epiphany the other day I’ve been looking around for more information on what it is and how it works.  I thought posting some links might help me remember where I found things and help you explore this a bit further.

Design Thinking on Wikipedia @ stanford university has some great downloads to help you think about what design thinking is and how it works.

design thinking for educators has evolved the process to fit an educational context:

discovery interpretation ideation experimentation evolution

They have a toolkit you can download.

I know this approach has been around for a while but I really think it offers some great opportunities for youth work and for churches.  Starting with people, hearing their stories and then involving them in generating solutions to their problems has to be a good way forward!

I’ve met lots of youth workers and ministers who feel just like this teacher…

Why Design Thinking? from Design Thinking for Educators on Vimeo.

Are you one of them?  Could this way of thinking help?

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Anyone who knows me will not be surprised by the heading of this post.  I’m good at finding problems!  But Problem Finding isn’t about complaining.

Ewan McIntosh spoke at TEDx London in September about re-framing the way learners engage with problems.

Currently, the world’s education systems are crazy about problem-based learning, but they’re obsessed with the wrong bit of it. While everyone looks at how we could help young people become better problem-solvers, we’re not thinking how we could create a generation of problem finders.

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Learning doesn’t only happen in school.  Young people learn in many contexts and it seems to me that Problem Finding seems to me to be at the heart of informal education.  It’s Friere’s ‘conscientization’, naming your world and taking action to change it.

Problem Finding changes the focus.  Using the ‘design process’ Ewan shows that ‘teachers’ traditionally do all the hard work at the start of the process in the ‘understand’ and ‘observe’ phases. design process

Answering a question no one is asking is a charge that has been levelled at the church for too long.  That’s because we do the first two stages of the ‘design process’ for people.  The church ‘understands’ and ‘observes’ the world and then frames a worldview and presents it to people rather than enabling people to ‘name’ their world and then engage with them, bringing the rich resources of two thousand years of thought to support that exploration.

In worship we (and I’m talking about me too) deliver lectures to people every Sunday about things they have no input into, and probably little interest in!

In youth work we too often assume that drugs and sex are the most important things in a 15 year old’s life.  They well might be for some but our response is too often to tell them what they should think about that.

How about something different?

In the classrooms in which I work, students explore the twenty or so themes upon which our planet really depends, immerse themselves in the ideas and information their teachers, peers and whole communities can impart, find the problems they feel are worth solving, theorise which ones will work and then try them out in a prototype. In their world, we don’t just write an essay or create yet another wiki or blog to describe what our idea is, but we actually build the solution to the problem with our own hands

Ewan McIntosh

Problem Finding means letting go of our agendas, of our issues and our priorities and engaging young people in exploring and engaging with their world by naming their problems and working to find their solutions.

Youth work has to be about resourcing that journey.  Church has to be about resourcing that journey.

I’m really interested in applying ‘Problem Finding’ and ‘design thinking’ to youth work.  What do you think?

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Deep Impact is the National Training conference for all those involved in Youthwork.

It is for those who are volunteers, or paid employees; for those working for local authorities, local churches and agencies; for those with heaps of experience or just starting out.

Deep Impact provides both practical and Biblical input from skilled youth practitioners and theologians; to equip you with the knowledge, tools, skills and connections, that will enable you to reach teenagers in Scotland with the love of Christ.

New for 2012 Conference!!!

We’re delighted to announce that there will be a brand new stream added to the Seminar Programme which will have a sole focus on Children’s Work – This will be run by experience Children’s Work Practitioners and in partnership with the Children and Church ACTS Group!

Apprentice leaders

Deep Impact is a training conference for youthworkers over 18. However we recognise that some youthworkers are mentoring apprentice leaders, following Biblical examples like Paul and Timothy. If you are mentoring a 16 or 17 year old specifically to become a youthworker, then they may accompany you. Only one apprentice leader per adult mentor delegate. Apprentice leaders are the responsibility of their adult mentor with whom they share accommodation. There is space on your booking form to also book in your apprentice leader.

Who is running it?

The conference is being organised by Scottish Christian Youth Work Forum (SCYWF); who desire to continue the brilliant work of previous years; and build on Deep Impact’s well deserved reputation for high quality and innovative training.

Where is it?

MacDonald Aviemore Highland Resort

When is it?

20th to 22nd January 2012


Early Bird is £135 and ends 30th Sept 2011
Middle Rate is £150 and ends 30th Nov 2011
Final booking Rate is £160 and bookings close 6th Jan 2012

All of these prices exclude the Single supplement of £45

If interested in exhibiting at Deep Impact the cost is £140 for a standard space plus delegate fee.


Book online at

Email: jillian [at] ymcascotland [dot] org

Download the Cheque and postal booking form or download the flyer

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There’s a tension in youth work between process and product.

We talk more and more about ‘outcomes’ and ‘results’ and ‘objectives’ which are all about the product, the end result.  We are more and more scared of process because it’s hard to measure and define.

It’s easy to make Easter all about the product.  But if we do then we miss the benefits of the process.

Process is all about how you get there.

Process is all about what you learn along the way.

Process is about travelling.

Lent is a process time.

Don’t rush ahead to the end.

Value the journey.

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I was watching an old TED talk by Seth Godin yesterday where he was talking about getting people’s attention.

His primary context is marketing but I think what he was talking about transfers into pretty much any context where you want people to engage or listen or pay attention.  His advice:

Be remarkable.

Of course ‘remarkable’ has come to mean amazing, great, cool or whatever superlative you want to use but remarkable also means ‘worthy of remark’.

Shouldn’t what we do be worth talking about?

Shouldn’t our preaching or worship at the very least be ‘remarkable’?

Shouldn’t our work with young people be at the very least ‘remarkable’?

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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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