What Teenagers Really Need From Church

A Conversation With Kenda Creasy Dean
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Kenda explores some key questions around young people and faith, answering questions such as:
* What do teenagers respond to in their youth pastors or other church leaders?
* What are some of the big turnoffs for teens when it comes to church and youth group? …. What makes their eyes glaze over?
* What do you see some churches doing well?
Have a read here, ht to Ben
Oh and whilst I am bigging up the stuff Ben has unearthed he also found Kenda’s list, What Are the Top 10 Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry?

Is a happier society possible?

I’m just listening to the Joint Joseph Rowntree Foundation/University of York Annual Lecture 2011 on the whole subject of happiness. There is a pdf summary here but if you would like to listen to the lecture then click through here.
The lecture also promoted the Action for Happiness campaign. An existential, ‘construct your own meaning,’ approach but boldly suggesting 10 keys/actions which will aid a move into being happier.
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I thought these were interesting and had a strong connection to a discourse around spirituality. Especially great to see the direct link between wealth and happiness so strongly challenged.
There’s some great posters too. I liked this one that although borderline tautologous is a useful credal statement and summary for existential philosophy.
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New media

The department day on engaging with ‘new media’ yesterday turned out to be really valuable in terms of the conversations it has generated on the impact and opportunities of new media.
Given the range of engagement with new media represented in the room, from zero to ubergeek, it was always going to a tough call on the training front. Even more given that the wireless signal was digital in two senses, the annoying one being that sometimes it was ‘on’ and sometimes if was ‘off’ But we actually had a lot of fun and it’s real benefit was in terms of relationship and in terms of the thinking and discussion that was generated.
(Plus any event where being on-line is a pre-requisite, has to be good)
The only negative I can see is that I can’t get “United breaks Guitars” out of my head

I’d read about it but never actually seen it. Having watched it as an illustration of the democracy and power of the internet it’s now firmly planted in my head, and is now my hum of choice (replacing ‘Ben’ by Michael Jackson colleagues will be relieved to know).
Our biggest debates though were around:

  • Communicating as ‘role’ or ‘organisation as opposed to being out there as ‘you!’
  • Trivia vs Serious content
  • Investment of time vs potential returns (and even, saving of time)

I was musing with a colleague on the triviality that drives so much of what’s ‘out there’ whilst acknowledging that it’s at the heart of the fun, connection and relationship. It did occur to me that the big leaps in ‘adoption’ have often been driven by the trivial, so for example. The legendary internet coffee pot opened people eyes to possibilities, whilst events like the Frylift incident took Twitter into more mainstream consciousness, and hence wider use.
I’m left thinking about the importance of the seemingly trivial … and the markers these events can become. Not limited to our current age either, I’m sure Newton had better more scientific things to be doing than lounging around in an Orchard.
*singing* …… “united breaks guitars”

The future of Christian Youth work

Had a really interesting chat recently about the future of Christian Youth work training t’other day. (man, that is an incredibly boring opening sentence!! I’ll try again)
The whole canvas on which Youth work training is currently painted has been radically changed! What then should the palette now look like? (nah, too pretentious)
Is the JNC dead as the underpinning framework for Christian Youth work? (oh, I like that)
Interesting question!
Up until now the likes of Oasis and CYM have run JNC validated courses affiliated to a university body and enjoyed the fact that the Government has contributed financially a whole heap to the education of Christian Youth Workers.
However we are now in a very different world though where students will need to pay large fees to access a degree programme. Given that there is no career or structure for faith sector youth work, how attractive an option is that going to be?
Allied to that is the fact that the statutory sector has cut so much of the youth work that is fuelled by the JNC values, and instead moved to a model of targetted work more akin to Social Work than youth work. Does the ‘JNC’ as a currency still have any clout or is the JNC a bit up in the air at the moment (cue, corny visual to reinforce point:)
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Don’t hear me wrongly here though, I’m still absolutely passionate about the values of JNC youth work (informal ed, voluntary partcipation etc) and consider them to be in fact principles that we see in the life, ministry and approach of Jesus.
However, given the changed ‘canvas’ and that the faith sector is the driver and doer of so much youth work maybe it’s time to strike out on our own with a modular course that enshrines the JNC (and thus the historic christian principles) and can be accessed at different levels right up to a professional qualification. A ‘qualification’ that is validated by effectiveness and reputation rather than because it is aligned to a statutory bench mark. A qualification that freed from the tie up with the university system could be delivered in a more cost effective way.
But, what do you think?
“The end” (nicked that ending off Taylor Swift’s ‘Story of Us’ although I suspect she borrowed it too)

The Faith Element

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This looks rather good as a resource provider for Bible Study and application. The stuff is free (I know you like that word) creative and available to be used. So ….. check it out
In their words:
“Free materials that help your group Grow in Faith
FaithElement is a discipleship system that offer a simple but effective way for Bible study groups to grow in faith. Each week, we offer a combination of creative Session Pages, weekday prompts through Facebook, Twitter or email, and a brief Bible commentary video on the chosen passage”

Predictive text

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A while back now ‘book’ was a piece of slang for ‘cool’ given that predictive text offered ‘book’ ahead of cool if you typed it. May have come up with the Diocesan version this morning (not of cool though, you understand).
We tend to talk about Diocesan Church House as ‘DCH’ but my phone then renders this as ‘FBI’ …….. quite like that 🙂
I mustn’t waste time now working out other arenas of Ecclesial speak that have cool substitutes, but do be careful if you use the word ‘pew’ in a message.