Over the last few days I have been a little more involved in my YFC responsibilities which I have found has really energised me as well as given me opoortunity to catch up with old friends.

Last week I travelled to YFC head office in Halesowen for the AGM and a board meeting.YFC is an exciting ministry to be part of at the moment and there are some great job opportunities at the moment. Nationally we are looking fr an HR manager and a street dance team leader – details here. Locally we are looking for directors for both Norwich and Epping Forest YFC. These are two of our longest standing centres with great and diverse ministries … check them out here. It’s amazing to see that we now have 72 centres across the country … interesting that as the church is in decline, the number of YFC centres  seeking to engage with young people across the nation is increasing.

wHile at head office i learned about this new 18+ resource on you tube. You can check out discussion starter videos here.

Yesterday, as a trustee of GIllingham YFC, I was involved in an away day with the other trustees and team members. The day was led by Richard Bromley and was just great. We had fun, we worked together, we thought alone … and I think the upshot will be a better worked out strategy resulting in new and creative ways of working with young peiple. Please hold GIllingham YFC in your prayers! I am convinced we are going to see some exciting stuff happening over the next year or so.

Free Gap Year

I still keep in touch with youth ministry and miss that kind of work …. sometimes!
I saw this free gap year opportunity on the Isle of Man on Ian’s blog. It looks great and there are 11 spaces – you can contact Ian via his blog for more details. The video gives a taster of last year. Why not pass this great opportunity on to a young person you know.

psalm consequences

A number of youth leaders and Christian Union members at Angelspace asked for the instructions to this and so I am posting them here. The Psalms produced from this activity are amazing; I’ve used this a few times and always been amazed with what has been produced by both adults and young people.

I can’t remember where I got this from (it may be a Jonny Baker worship trick or something from Scripture Union … – I just know it’s not my idea, but it’s a great idea to use in worship.

This i best done in a group of 5 or more

Psalm Consequences

Fold the paper into 8 horizontal sections sections

1 Write an address of praise to God such as ‘Lord I worship you’

2 Fold the paper backwards so you can’t see the writing and pass it to your left

3 Write an aspect of God’s character starting with because … ‘because you are good’ Fold and pass again.

4 Write another aspect of God’s character starting with ‘and’. Fold and pass

5 Write 2 things about how wonderful God’s creation is ‘Your mountains are magnificent, your rivers shine in the sun.’ Fold and pass.

6 Write something God does for you personally. ‘You guide me’ Fold and pass

7 Write a personal message to Jesus with ‘because’ in the middle ‘I thank you Jesus because you died for me’. Fold and pass

8 Write a resolution – ‘therefore I will follow you for ever’ Fold and pass last time

The Psalms produced were fantastic and I shall try and get some typed up so that hey can be put on the Angelspace website.

Children … not animals!

Barnardo’s has launched a new campaign to highlight what it calls “disturbing intolerance” of children with a video that may be seen here.

This made me angry and sick at the same time – it’s sickening to think these comments are actual comments of people referring to children.

10 Reasons to cheer our teenagers

Great for a change to see some positive about our young people posted here and well done ti Ian for drawing attention to it.

Did you know young people are 10 times more likely to be volunteering in our communities than regularly being antisocial in them.

Read more good stuff on Ian’s post.

Every Organisation Matters

I had a long day in London yesterday which started at the Commonwealth Club for the presentation of the Every Organisation Matters whic is the first ever mapping of the children and young people’s voluntary and community sectors and was undertaken by a

team from the University of Hull led by Professor Gary Craig as part of NCVYS and NCVCCO’s Speaking Out project.

There were some interesting headlines and I was particularly struck by:

The children and young people’s voluntary and community sector employs over 160,000 people in England – as many as 1 in 3 of all those employed by voluntary and community organisations – and generates income in excess of £1.5 billion a year.

Children aged 7-13 appear to be poorly provided for, with an emphasis on early years provision and a growing government agenda around services for young people leading to this transitional age group missing out.

Voluntary and community sector organisations need to be doing more to measure the long-term impact of their work.

I could not find out how the faith sector, and particularly Christians, contribute and figure in this, but there is an acknowledgment that it will be significant. I also find it interesting to note that the sector generally is not good at seeing what long term effects we have on the young people we work with. We need to collect more stories and shout a little more about what we are doping maybe!

I’m going to read the full report to see what else was discovered. The full report may be found via NCVYS here.

when can 12% be exaggerated to 70%? …

… when it’s adults having a moan about teenagers!
Find more from Mark here.

Faith and Identity

Yesterday I was at the NCVYS annual conference and AGM to launch Factor in Faith.
Factor in Faith is a document that aims to assist organisations in responding to the needs of young people of all faiths and culture, and also those of no faith. Factor in faith provides principles and recommendations to help make organisations that work with young people more faith and culturally sensitive.

It’s also about getting organisations to agree to support the following principles:
• build bridges between young people who have different faiths and cultures, including those who have no religious faith.
• make links with other organisations which are based on different faiths or cultures.
• create spaces where young people can talk freely about their faith, culture and beliefs.
• help young people to oppose prejudice and oppression based on a person’s faith or culture.
• do all it can to be sensitive to young people’s faiths and cultures.

I think these are great principles which should undergird all youth work and hope that organisations will support this.

During the day I had 2 opposing experiences that both excited and frustrated me. In the morning two people on the panel challeneged me positively ‘n my thinking. Aviva Dautch, of the Board of Deputies of Britsh Jews (amongst many other things) challenged whether we are a tolerant or a pluralistic society as, she felt, we interchange the terms in society.

Aviva suggested that a tolerant society is one that ‘tolerates’ faith differences withb the expectation that these faith differences will be restrained and be kept to a minimum. A pluralistic society on the other hand acknowledges that who you are makes a difference to society as your faith affects your identity and so cannot really be kept to a minimum, but rather needs to be embraced.

I sat and wondered what would Jesus wish to encourage. Of course, it is an impossible question to answer, but ‘to tolerate’ or ‘to embrace’ that is the question. Ethically, and on reading of scripture, tolerate is not a word that seems to fit.

Joy Madeiros of Oasis and Faithworks suggested that although society gets ‘religion’ it does not get ‘faith’. Madeiros stated that our identity influences inclusion; if we do not know what makes us distinctive and accept that how are we able to accept others? ‘Knowing our own identity is the root of inclusion’

Again, it was great to hear this because it means we should not dumb down who we are, but be distinctive in a loving and respectful way. Being who you are with integrity is the only way to achieve community of mutual love and respect.

During the afternoon I was in a group with a youth worker with a different way of working. That is great and fine and adds to diversity but I struggled with this, tradtional ‘professional’ view of youth work which was saying that we should not share anything of ourselves with young people so that we did not place any value, and so pressurem on a particular behaviour. I find this view simply ridiculous.

I am so tired of the view that we can influence young people to copy us. The belief that because I have a certain faith or belong to a certain political party will cause a young personto adopt that for themselves is just not real. This value-less style of youth work is all take from the youth worker with the young person expected to offer information but receive nothing in return. That is not building relationship or earning trust, that is clinical, cold information gathering and moving on.

If we believe we need to develop relationship and trust, that means we need to invest more than a program done to our young people; we need to invest our lives, not in an abuisve way that says ‘I am right and you should do the same’ but in a way that shows we do not live in a vlaue-less vacuum but that things do matter. Surely our role is to develop young people, which means we are to discuss, to encourage and YES to challenge!

I’m on a rant … I’ll stop and listen for any comments!

Create space

Today I have been able to catch up with Hugh and Lyndsay, the directors of Greenwich YFC and Chislehurst YFC. Amazing to think they are only a few miles apart and yet their respective areas, the the young people they work with, are vastly different in so many ways. This is reflected in the differences in their respective ministries which are unique to them and has come from reflection with God.

The many places I go and speak with church and youth leaders always seems to lead to the same question which is shrouded in many different ways but is the same nonetheless – ‘what is the secret?’ or ‘what one thing do I need to do?’

I have long thought there no such thing as youth culture. Over 3 years ago we used to have this discussion as a Gillingham YFC team. Rather than one ‘youth culture’ there are many sub-cultures within cultures. This gives us the challenge of not being able to use a tried and tested system that has worked elsewhere. This means there is no blueprint.

Not strictly true I guess – there is a blueprint of principles, such as respect, love, time … and it is from these that what we do needs to be developed.

The secret must have something to do with observing our young people and creating space to listen and reflect with God. As we watch, notice, reflect and listen maybe we can then we can start to think about how we may join with God in reaching his young people.

What do you think?

ASBO award

This is an excellent idea from FYT. More here.