Theology for Breakfast and Sustaining Faith

Just got back from the Diocesan Curates conference which was SO cool. The theme was ‘Sustaining Faith’ and the input was built around sustaining faith in self and others. I was leading workshops around ‘young people and faith’ and thoroughly enjoyed the energy and engagment of the two groups I ‘work-shopped’ with.
I presented a critique of the way we, as the church, are getting it wrong at the moment IMHO and explored these themes:
Words as a default and complete approach to sharing faith
Dualism between Church and Everyday (especially school) life
Programme Orientated
Black and White trite answers
Hierarchical Structure
Material religion
Dull
An established and unquestionable ecclesiology
Conformity model of discipleship
Failure to share and listen to faith stories of how God is at work in people’s lives

I also celebrated what I believe we are doing well as a Church, i.e:

All age community
The possibility of spirituality
A real heart and concern for young people

The workshops were really honest and one or two of the Curates shared their anxieties about talking to teenagers. I was really encouraged by the conversations and especially how able the curates were able to look at young people and the opportunities presented with fresh eyes.
About ten of us in the bar last night ended up having a top time with the conversation ranging from the profound to the idiotic and back again constantly, a celebration of life, faith, the divine and the ridiculous. (Enormous thanks to the curate who produced a bottle of single malt once the bar closed). Hit the sack at about 1am this morning and am consequently ‘a little’ drowsy. Didn’t stop an awesome discussion on theology, philosophy and constructed narratives this morning at breakfast in which we explored Existensial Psychotherapy and critiqued its approach WHILE tackling a full english! Nice!

Values and detached youth work

Richard has posted a question on SUNDAY PAPERS about the values that drive detached youth work and how people define and understand their detached work. Truck on over to his blog and give him some of your thoughts and feedback (and whether that view has changed).
I would like to know the answer to this too? (but I’ll read the comments at Richards blog)
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Random chats

Having a mad week this week with stuff going on every night including Saturday and Sunday (Ug) although I am looking forward to the preach on Sunday evening. The other cool thing though has been LOADSA time with young people this week and some great conversations. Last night I was interviewing a group for the grove Booklet I am supossed to be writing and had a fun discussion. The teens were really good at articulating why their group was important to them and why adults they trust (who aren’t their parents) are so important. I have a whole tape of stuff to transcribe but at least it’s full of laughter.
The group are linked to a church who are looking for a new vicar. The girls were very keen that the Vicar was ‘fit’ and young! How’s that for evaluation criteria!

Death by powerpoint

Am CURRENTLY in a lecture on ‘How to use Powerpoint’ as part of my JNC course. I need the course credit for being here but it’s a VERY VERY BASIC how to create a slide type gig and I’m bored. I’ve produced my slide and am now messing about on-line and if there is ANYONE out there, here is my slide ….. I knew you’d be interested 😉
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I have some questions about video formats useable within powerpoint and whether it’s possible to disable the sound of a video and have a sound file overplaying, but I don’t think it’s the right time to ask?
Fifteen minutes until the redemptive refreshment of the Tea break, YES!
This ‘post’ filed under ‘Inflicting my boredom on the world wide web’

Auf wiedersehen

Well I left club last night, or at least ended my regular twice a week commitment. It was a good evening overall with some real encouragments including one of the parents specifically coming down to the club to wish me well. A couple of the young people were more ambivalent about me going ……
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But I had nice comments from some of the teens and one of the lads who we have really struggled to engage with shook my hand which was odd but really great. It feels strange to be closing this chapter, part relief and part regret. I shall miss the young people but not the constant battles.
Good fun with the team afterwards though and we have quite a few shared laughs and experiences after 12 months together on this project. We have developed the sort of camaradery you’d find in wartime bomber crews ….. and the same amounts of nervous twitches!

Youthwork job adverts

I blogged last month about the diversification of job adverts in Youthwork magazine and this trend contnues. Legendary youth workers Y & A just contacted me about the ad’ in which a Christian Farmer is seeking employment through this months mag? I’m unsure whether it’s a spoof in response to my suggestion …. or for real. I’m tempted to ring the number but last time I tried that (in response to a Help Line number on a packet of MARGERINE!!!!) I encountered someone with no sense of humour and it was a bit awkward.

Contemplative Youth Ministry

contemplative.jpg Contemplative Youth Ministry by Mark Yaconelli …… ROCKS! This is a REALLY important book if you have a heart for sharing your faith with young people, I’m reading it with an incredible feeling of ‘Yes’ inside me and gradually turning the pages a different colour with the amount of highlighter I’m using as I stumble across resonant theme after resontant theme. Go BUY this book!
Mark’s charge is that communicating faith has become words, words words! His thesis is that the real crisis for those of us who seek to share faith with youth is:
We don’t know how to be with our kids
We don’t know how to be with ourselves
We don’t know how to be with God’

The book goes on to tell the stories from the ‘youth Ministry and Spirituality’ project offering models to be learned from, embraced and tried
I know I’ve been a bit slow to pick this one up, Jonny B was recommending it a month ago 🙂

Dazzled

‘One day you’re waiting for the sky to fall.
The next you’re dazled by the beauty of it all’

Drop-in at the Youth Centre on Friday was a real encouragment, especially given my previous post. Numbers were small but for the few that were there it was an awesome session. For possibly the first time during my placement there, a conversation started in which there was genuine discussion, honesty and empathy. It was a beautiful moment and we let things go over time a bit as the young people didn’t want to leave. There was no great recordable outcome, it would be hard to match against ECM oucomes BUT it was a beautiful time and I’m thrilled to have been able to listen, chat and be allowed into the experiences that were shared.
I approach my last official session on Tuesday with interest. There is going to be a ‘sending off’ party for me and I’m not sure how the teens’ will react. I guess I’ll find out BUT for at least a small group they have glimpsed the ‘possible’ rather than the usual and I pray that will set the agenda for the future!
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* Quote is from Bruce Cockburn and blatantly out of the context of the song!

Aaaaarrrrrggghghghgh

My placement is nearly at an end, I only have two more sessions left to do. Sadly I don’t feel like I’m leaving on a high as things have kicked-off again big time!
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The residential was so good with me feeling like we had at last broken through to a place of trust in terms of the way the young people viewed the team and the centre. I printed off all the photos and laminated them for a great diplay at the centre, a focal point for the shared memories and for the young people to see what they had achieved. HOWEVER the Easter holidays have seen several steps backwards! One incident I can’t write about and several I can, such as eggs being pushed through the door (sadly not chocolate!), posters ripped down, abusive behaviour and language towards the team.
I feel really frustrated. This is the first bunch of young people EVER I have not been able to build a relationship with. I will miss the team enormously and I feel very low about leaving without having made a difference to the young people who I really like despite everything.

Having fun, fun, fun

Currently writing up 450 hours of placement up against the National Occupational Standards for youth work and evidencing competency in each of the 26 demands! If that sounds like fun to you then YOU NEED to get out more. Hey Ho! It will mean though that soon I will be Pukka full-on reflective informal educator and qualified card carrying, hoody wearing Yoof Wurka! Result!
I probably should stop blogging and get on eh?