Cavy cabin construction complete

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A very pleasant, if soggy, morning in the garden fettling an old fence panel into two doors meaning that the Cavy Cabin is complete. The Guinea pigs can now fret less about the approaching winter and get on with doing what ever Guinea pigs like to do.
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Youth Specialities “release” Marko

ys marko blogger.jpgREALLY HOT OFF THE PRESS
I can’t track down any details at the moment but a press release by Youth Specialities yesterday announced that they have “released” Marko! It’s difficult to imagine Youth Specialities without Mark Ostreicher.
I have no idea what this means and whether this was by amicable agreement or more of a cull?
Anyone got any more info?
Further: Various links in the comments and an update here from The Christian Post

My week by Ian

I seem to be having a bit of a crisis of confidence when it comes to blogging. I’m happy that the blog is a quirky mix of personal stuff, youth ministry stuff and the interface of the two, but this week I’ve been unsure as to what constitutes blog-worthy and what is more in the realms of get-a-life. This is still not quite resolved in my mind yet; especially as what seems to be emerging from the bloggy bit of my brain, for a post, is a kind of, ‘my week’ by Ian Macdonald aged 42. I’m going to write it up anyway tho’ as it’ll serve as a reminder of the things I need to do a proper write up of (and maybe to just, Get a Life!)
diary 2009.jpgSo, beginning randomly at last Wednesday, which saw me in London at the LICC listening to Nick Shepherd present some research and thinking about discipleship. It proved to be a valuable session and started a whole bunch of thinking about “Intentional Christian Community” which I must write about. Had lunch with a fellow Youth work veteran and thoroughly enjoyed the reflection, challenge and encouragement that involved. Worked on the train on the way home and did a few more e-mails/phone calls from home.
Thursday: Dropped our German guest off at the coach station and hit the road, arriving at my desk at 07:30 (great news as this meant an hour of work with the radio on before anyone arrived and asked me to switch it off.) Mainly a management and paperwork sort of a day but had meetings also in Faringdon and Burford with a youth work volunteer about training, then some non managerial supervision for an employed youth work (while eating cake, yay!). Picked up my eldest son, took him out for chips on the way to a drama performance he was in with his youth. group.
Friday: Day off and catching up on some reading (including Youthwork magazine). Took the offspring swimming and then helped to cook a celebration meal in the evening for a bunch of friends.
Saturday: Family trip to Westonbirt Arboretum but didn’t see much as there were too many trees in the way!! Got back in time to pick up the three teenagers that make up the cafe team for VERTIGO and head up to Oxford. Slight flap on the way there when someone from VERTIGO phoned to say ‘help, we have to feed 25 people before the event’ but we managed to solve that ……. one of the teenagers ordered £120 worth of Pizza from the car which we were able to pick up. Fab event; hundreds of teenagers, great conversation and a good vibe …. and although i was running the cafe all the time the worship/talk sounded great.
Sunday: Hit the gym (felt like it hit back) then onto Church followed by a Sunday School lunch. Hit the office at about 5pm to catch up with some stuff and prepare a session for the evening. Onto Headington to be with a wonderful bunch of young people who’d invited me to do a session on ‘boys and girls’ (but not the sex bit) and I adapted this session which went down really well. I enjoyed the great observations, discussion and reflections from the teenagers.
Monday: My department residential at Douai Abbey as we worked together on the structural changes that will see us and the Board of Social responsibility morph into the Board of Mission. Exhausting but rewarding day. Phone chat with a youth worker about boundaries in ministry.
Tuesday: Residential continued with the whole morning being taken up with looking at a survey on Biblical Literacy and what it might mean for Discipleship and Mission.
Cracking evening at home with a friend popping round and our German guest returning. The highlight of the evening being translating “On top of Spaghetti” into German; then my daughter and I attempting to sing it.
Wednesday: Youth work project meeting on the Blackbird Leys estate and catching up with paperwork, answering queries, phone calls and quite a bit of management stuff. Glimpses of the desk by the end of the day.

Today:
Various management meetings, a great chat about a possible network of schools workers in Oxford, writing a response to the “Oxfordshire Children and Young People’s plan”. Oh and a really interesting conversation with a fellow youth adviser that morphed into an interesting piece of theological reflection on nurture and service in youth ministry. I’m heading straight out from the office tonight over to meet a group of volunteers in a West Oxfordshire village who would like to help their church engage with young people.

Youth work in a digital age

Excellent article from Tim Davies in ‘Young People Now’ exploring the opportunities and methodologies for youth work in a digital age. It’s an EXCELLENT two page summary whether you are an embracer of tech’ or a media virgin. Well worth a read!
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You’ll find further wisdom and discussion over at Tim’s blog

(I’m also very impressed with his card system whereby he gives audiences red cards to wave if he is no longer being understood ………….. this could be GREAT for sermons!!)

Editorial eloquence

martin saunders editor.jpgI’m a regular (and long term) reader of Youthwork the mag!’ One of the things I enjoy is the editorial that martin Saunders writes each month. It could so easily be just a page filler but Martin always has something challenging to say, and a great way of saying it.
This months’ challenge to embrace unity is well worth reading! In particular I find myself loving this quote for its humour, its insight and its prophetic kick to our collective backsides:
“The lack of genuine church unity isn’t the elephant in the room; it’s the steaming pile of elephant dung on our mission statement”

Growing leaders (Youth edition) Training day

A quick reminder that Ruth Hassall is coming to Oxford on November 12th to run a training day on the Youth Edition of Growing Leaders. The day will enable you to run the leadership and discipleship course with the young people you work with.
There are more details here
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A couple of notices …

Firstly a job in the Diocese ……………..

Youth Worker in North Oxfordshire

supported by churches but based in the Schools and Community
We are seeking a trained youth worker with a
compassionate heart for young people to be a mentor and
leader and provide pastora l care and spiritual support.
Salary £16,000–£19,000 plus housing depending on experience and qualifications.
For further details contact Mike Tydeman on 01295 721525.
Closing date for applications: 17 November 2009 Interview date: 30 November 2009

Secondly, an opportunity ……..

A Church in the Diocese are having a Parish weekend away and are looking for youth leader/worker(s) to head up the youth programme. The dates are 22nd – 24th October 2010.
If you are interested let me know and I’ll put you in touch

The view from Middle age

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I had lunch with a friend and fellow “Youth Work veteran” yesterday. It was great to be reflecting on the past, enjoying the now, as well sharing stories of hope for the future. Thanks Roy ….. I saw this book cover and thought it fitted our musings on life, faith and ministry 🙂

Engament with adolescents

Quite a few Dioceses are facing huge financial challenges brought on by the recession and having to make some difficult decisions. Whilst I fully understand the difficulties of this I am very concerned that youth work seems to be an immediate target for cuts, with at least two Dioceses making Diocesan Youth Adviser posts redundant and then creating a new combined youth and children’s (and in some case … and something else) post.
At the very least this reduces support and development of youth work/ministry by 50% but in reality I think, much more. Youth work and Children’s work are very different skills, it’s unusual for someone to have both and I have seen many many more examples of these combined roles being occupied by children’s practitioners than I have by youth workers. Futhermore Children’s work pulls in more numbers, more ‘feel good factor’ and more volunteers meaning that even people trying to balance the roles will be (in my opinion) pulled in the children’s work direction.
I believe that this idea of an obvious saving being made by lumping support, advice and training for all young people from 0-20 under one category is unrealistic, unhelpful and unworkable (in effective delivery). Cutting deeper and therefore removing all support for work with young people is obviously even worse.
Yes, I know I am biased BUT I passionately believe that any further steps back from the Churches engagement with adolescents is to fail the young people we should be serving AND to miss out on how much we can learn from them.
I have just written the following statement in support of one project that looks like being axed. I know another Diocese that is looking at where it will cut (and there will be others). So if it’s anyway useful, feel free to quote me as saying …….
“I firmly believe that our mission with, to and among young people is critical, both for the teenagers of our country AND indeed for the life of the church(es).
In the post Christendom landscape, and current cultural climate where adolescents are frequently scape-goated for societal failings, the church standing along side young people and engaging with them is both prophetic and vital. I believe we should be the advocates, the listeners to their stories and the brokers of spiritual conversations where young people can explore meaning, identity and purpose. We have much to give and importantly, much to learn from teenagers.
In the last few years many factors together have led to many churches being completely disconnected from teenagers. Diocesan support of existing work AND pro-actively helping churches to re-engage with the teenagers needs to be a priority of our resourcing, time and energy. We are good at working with children, and experts with the elderly; but in danger of failing to help, nurture and engage with the adolescents in our parishes and deaneries.
Cutting posts in this area of Church life and mission is damaging in the now, and may prove disastrous in the long term”