July 2011 Archives

Hyper snooze stasis

Whatever the blogging equivalent of Outlook's "Out of Office" is, this is it!


As I'm involved with a whole bunch of stuff over the summer (and let's face it, you'll have better things to do than reading blogs) I'm putting the blog into a state of suspended animation until September. Whilst it is in 'stasis,' the ability to comment will be 'OFF' meaning that not even spammers (oh and especially not Alien distress calls) can rouse the blog from hyper-snooze.

I'll be at Taize, I'm speaking at an 'Adventure Plus' camp, I'll be a day visitor at 'Soul Survivor' (Aug 16th) and will probably be at Greenbelt on the Sunday. Apart from that I'm planning a night on the tiles (finally, that is, finishing the flooring in the hallway) and taking a bit of time off but not particularly going anywhere (apologies to blog-trawling burglars). I am also in the office at various times piloting the desk and advising anyone who feels the need to be advised. I hope therefore to be bumping into people, across these travels in the real world.

In the virtual world I'll still be FB dwelling, as well as trying to work out what on earth "Google +" has got that FB hasn't (oh apart from privacy and circles)!

Every blessing for the summer
'Normal' service resumed in September! (In the meantime, 'no comment)

You, faith and engaging with teens

Just putting together a rough outline/content for the training day of the above name!

Given one day to explore Youth Ministry with a range of participants, in a way that helps them to look at what they bring to the role AND what the role might look like, what would you include? How would you put the day together? What would process look like?

Need Input my dear reflective youth work friends

Keep Off


Romance Academy


Romance Academy: Plea for more support for the fantastic work that they do.

A chance to hear ......

Want a chance to hear:

faith.jpgBart Campolo
Brian Houston
Shane Claiborne
Brian Mclaren

You do? Strongly suggest clicking here then and finding out more

Some blogging advice


Much needed writing tips that I'm recording here, "How to Write good!"
(ht to Si)

  1. Avoid alliteration. Always.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat.)
  4. Employ the vernacular.
  5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  7. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  8. Contractions aren't necessary.
  9. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
  10. One should never generalize.
  11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
  12. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
  13. Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
  14. Profanity sucks.
  15. Be more or less specific.
  16. Understatement is always best.
  17. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  18. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  19. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  20. The passive voice is to be avoided.
  21. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  22. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
  23. Who needs rhetorical questions?

High Ropes

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Cracking evening last night! We had a leaving 'do' for a colleague, and responding to her request, it was an evening at High Ropes Oxford.

There were a whole mix of us from the Department of Mission and our families. I was not going to be participating as I'd planned to keep 'H' company whilst my wife, Jo and other son and daughter had a bash. There turned out to be a spare space though and plenty of people for H to chat to so I joined in (This was quite comical as I had not dressed with climbing in mind, thus I was clad in smart shoes, nice shirt, best trousers and braces).


I was very impressed with the relaxed but professional approach of the centre, and of the great set up ropes wise. The equipment was 'top notch' and allowed you the freedom to move safely and at your own pace through the challenges. There were three separate zones (plus the training area) and even within those zones there were choices of difficulty and route at different points. It was also a great mix of challenge and of fun; the zip wire back down from each of the zones was a blast ... but don't wear your best shirt (lol) and also wear something that tucks in well as the bark chippings: a) scratch b) get everywhere :-)

It would make an excellent youth group outing, and be a talking point for a long time afterwards. (If you do take a group note that it takes longer than you think (we were there for 3.5 hours ... and there are no catering arrangements so flasks of hot chocolate and snacks would be well worth packing)

Making me smile

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Loving this series of photographs where people attempt to appear to be levitating by adopting relaxed poses in mid air.


Also making me smile are these 9 classic album covers re-visited with the characters/themes from Harry Potter. Photoshop and imaginative genius


Taize bound

Very excited that Saturday sees myself and a small group from the Diocese heading out to Taize to live an international spiritual adventure in community, rhythm of life, and worship.

Taize ian sign.jpg

I'm also taking H (my eldest with me) which will be a challenge but a good one, he's nervous but very excited to be going. I need to get into the workshop and see if I can fettle a way of being able to attach a tray to his wheelchair for meal times.

Let me know if you know of any other groups going this weekend.

On the wane



I'm down three places to number 12 in this years Youth Ministry blogs of influence.

Though in reality I'm actually incredibly chuffed to be in the list at all alongside such a host of Youth Ministry gurus ... and I need to re-do my blog-roll to include all of the 20 methinks.

Many thanks though to the readers who have been here through wane and shine!

Listen to young people

"......to alienate human beings from their own decision-making is to change them into objects".

Paulo Freire

(ht to Roy Hutchinson)


silohette blacktie.jpgLast night was the 'graduation' at St Nix Youth Group, "The Firm" ... and a grand occasion it was too. Champagne at the top of the Tower followed by a three course meal and speeches. I've known some of the young people for over a decade, others for a shorter time but regardless of for how long, it's such a joy to have journeyed with them in one way or another.

I love the church as a place of all-age community; celebrating and sharing in the stages and challenges of life lived to the full.

Very very good evening indeed.

Ex communicated

I have left my mobile phone at home today (absent mindedness rather than a lifestyle choice)!

Am feeling liberated but a tiny bit disconnected.


Yellow Braces day 3

Sunday morning and a lie in :-) Leaders meeting not until 8:00 and then breakfast at 08:30, yay! Time to pray, plan and laugh before joining the campers for "eggy bread" and cereal (not in that order).

The vibe around Yellow Braces was so mellow that there was no need to organise formal activities apart from some 'dorm group time' and the space up until drinks was filled with craft and the various sports options around the site.
After drinks though it was time to head up to the Swimming Pool and the usual malarky, competitions and convivial splashing; I even had chance to try out my new rescue aid (not an incident as such, just someone wanting to know how it worked).

YB clouds.jpg

Everyone then headed back to the dorms and the serious business of packing, tidying and cleaning before heading back down the hill with luggage in tow reading for the ...... (drum roll):

Roast Dinner!

I never know quite how the cook team manage to cook a roast dinner (including the most wonderful roast potatoes) for anything up to 100 people but they do, and it is legendary.
Nicely followed by Apple Crumble and Custard! Happy Days

cook snooze.jpg

(Note to self, next year allow Cooks out of the kitchen for a snooze)

Wash up and then into our final session of worship and a look at "Walking the LIne" (another film reference) before hugs, promises to meet up again next year and the young people departing.

At this point usually fatigue hits like a baseball blow and a degree of auto pilot is needed for the massive clean up, mop and pack operation. Wonderful team though and we were all done in an hour and a quarter, so well in fact that the site manager was in the pool with his family and I had to go and fetch him before we can sign out. (Having being stood by the pool Lifeguarding all weekend I took the chance to cool-off by jumping in)

Back to Church house to unload all the equipment!

Huge tribute to the most wonderful team and their work and commitment. It's the only camp I know where the team say, "see you next year" with such enthusiasm even as they are wearily heading towards home.

Thus it was smiles, fatigue and a knowledge that "God is Good"
Bath happened and sleep came and that was the last day

Those whose Laptops are falling apart


There is a somewhat cheesy adage that I spotted a few times (back in the day) on Christian Posters* that postulated:

"If a persons Bible is falling apart, their life probably isn't!"

I'm hoping this postulate can be extended to laptops (not a ridiculous leap given that my laptop has a Bible on it) as a possible defence when I.T want to know why my laptop is not the prescribed and traditional shape, and why there are bits missing.

I take my laptop every where with me and thus it suffers the wear and tear alluded to in the Bible quote. It has in addition though (eek) succumbed to gravity on more than one occasion and as such is down to one hinge for the screen, sporting several cracks, has a rounded corner ...... and indeed a section of the case missing leaving the PCB exposed.

Any plausible and usable excuses appreciated
(especially as this may be a second offence)

Am currently in hiding in case I.T make me pay for one of these


*You know the sort of thing, a beautiful picture that's been somewhat spoiled by slapping a Bible Verse on it. (I'm not talking here about the sub-genre of cutesy animals which to my mind needed more obscuring)

**My thanks to Truro Sarah that the poster was not just 'back in the day' although the word processing format seems to have suffered in this latter day version

Yellow Braces 2012

July 6th - 8th July 2012
(I'm thinking about an Olympic theme?)

YB logo px320.jpg

The Hustler returns

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Dean Pusey.jpg

Very excited to hear that one of the people who mentored me in the Jedi art of Diocesan Youth Advising is coming back into the business. Dean 'Hustle' Pusey was the Adviser for Southwark before they sadly axed the role. He'll now be inspiring, helping and hustling Youth Ministry in the Diocese of St Albans. Great news!

Yellow Braces day 2


The day began with the insistent buzz of the alarm at 07:00, giving just enough time to dress, stick my head under the tap, take in the wonderful view of the surrounding countryside from outside, the appropriately named, 'High Dorm' .... and then stroll down to the Leaders meeting.

Coffee, prayer and planning then head into breakfast with the young people. More coffee and a very welcome Bacon Roll provided by the fabulous cook team.

Morning meeting: Worship and a look together at 'hope'

Refuelled by flapjack and squash it was into a mass game of Crocker (If you've not played crocker I'll cover it in a subsequent post but it is one of the essential trinity of softball bat camp games ... that have been handed down from generation to generation. The 'holy' three being Crocker, Podex and Danish Longball).

yb crocker.jpg

The rest of the morning was occupied by some discussion in dorm groups, followed by a mellow range of options that included Kubb, Crafts, tennis and the serious business of just sitting around and chatting.

Lunch then off to the Swimming Pool (with a safe digestion break between in case you are thinking, 'hang on Ian there's an elemental risk assessment goof!')

The Swimming Pool is fabulous and a source of endless fun, not least getting in to the 'Solar-heated' water! The usual walking race, doggy paddle championships and splash competitions providing some of the entertainment.

yb doggy paddle.jpg

Team challenges and the Traverse wall, as well as more craft ... and a monster session of balloon modelling took us into the BBQ.

Evening meeting was fabulous, looking at and then sharing communion. Sarah used one of the sessions from Moving Images, Changing Lives that is around the clip from Ratatouille where 'Anton Ego' is taken back to his childhood by the meal he is served. This was a great way of unpacking communion and the dangerous memory of Jesus.

The 'Night Hike' became more of an evening stroll, as the night obstinately refused to fall in any meaningful way despite the late hour.

Hot Chocolate fest and then the optional late night 'contemplative worship' .... entirely optional but really poplular.

My abiding memory of the day was the amazing conversations with young people. The rhythmn of christian communal life and the great atmosphere lead to all sorts of sharing of stories and lives. Truly humbling to listen to some of the stories and challenges being shared.

Night finally conceded the point and fell
People Yawned and Torches went on
Thus it was the end of the second day

Google +

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Google Plus.jpg

I have briefly left the safe, familiar and known shores of Facebookville and arrived (after a short virtual flight) blinking into the alien sunlight and different culture of GooglePlusworld.

I'm taking my first few tentativeness steps in this new and exciting land that wants me to not just have to a holiday here, but to emigrate.

I will send you a postcard to let you know how I'm getting on once I've exchanged some currency and found my hotel. (I'm hoping then to establish some sort of circle of friends?)

Yellow Braces 2011 day 1

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What a weekend!
What a team!
What a great bunch of young people!

The weekend has come and gone and I am (and here I'm quoting a member of the team who felt similarly) "exhausted but feeling refreshed!" Not as mad as it sounds, 'exhausted' from the setting up, delivery and set-down of the weekend, 'refreshed' by knowing what a difference it made to so many of the young people who came. (I wish I could share the stories here but clearly I can't).

YB banter.jpg

We have access to the site (Hill End, Oxford) from 4pm and so pitched up just as the heavens opened* The young people arrived at 6pm and it was 'all systems go' albeit with much more of an indoor focus than usual (last year we had to open the pool as everyone was so hot). The team set such a great ethos that the rain was not even a bit of a dampner (metaphorically speaking).

Good food and then our evening meeting laying out the experiment in Christian community that Yellow Braces is. We worshiped and responded with a liturgical lego commitment to living out community.

YB liturgical lego.jpg

Sadly the 'Night Hike' was a no-go (for the first time this century) and we instead had a pub quiz whilst quaffing hot chocolate. Here's the round where you have to name the celebrity (or the character if they are a cartoon or animation) : celebs 2011.pdf

YB hot choc.jpg

The 'hike' back to the dorms was more entertaining than usual as because of the rain no-one had been back up for their torches whilst it was light. Has a new game of dodge the unseen Rabbit hole been invented?

Our usual actual 'Fire Drill' was abandoned as it was more dangerous to get people out of their dorms and down the hill in the rain that it was to stay put. I was happy with the theoretical drill that replaced it.

There was snoring and there was sleep
And that was the first day!

* PS I should add (for the benefit of the international readership, you both know who you are) that 'heavens opened' is a euphemism for rain, not a theological experiential descriptor

* PPS See also:
Raining cats and dogs
Tipping it down
Cloud burst
Chucking it down

Celebrating Young People

Picked up the story on a media trawl this morning and it made me happy:

Who said it wouldn't last! Couple who became parents at 13 and 15 are still together a decade on

Story and pictures here. Defintely a couple to applaud and celebrate that they have not only made it, but succeeded against all sorts of odds and pressures. Love the photo of the family.

Yellow Braces


This is not what you want the weather forecast to look like heading into an outdoor activity weekend

yb weekend weather.jpg

Kung Fun Panda 2

Awesomeness returns!
Kung Fu Panda 2


An exploration of the framing narratives that we consciously or unconsciously choose to live on a journey that will either build-on or be ruled-by the past. A film about choices and the quest for identify, 'Inner Peace' and purpose.

Ok, all of that is true BUT more importantly it's an hilarious and witty homage to Kung Fu films that grabs, entertains and surprises. There's awesome action ... and a story, script and series of locations that give the voice actors (and hence their characters) a huge canvas to play from.

Po: [stares up a long passage] "Ah. My old enemy... stairs!"


Loiving it

faith you and engaging.jpg

I had a great meeting with CYM (Centre for Youth Ministry) who are co-delivering the training day "You, Faith and Engaging with Teens" that is a follow up to Mend the Gap being repeated four times in different quadrants of the Diocese. I'm really pleased with the way the day(s) is shaping up .... It'll be good to see what flows from it.

I'd be grateful if you would "Sell" this for me though. The day is FREE! A good venue, good food and all of this on top of a day that will equip, challenge and help. Youth Ministry day MtG.pdf

24th Sept 2011   Oxford  9:45 to 4pm
15th October 2011    Berkshire  9:45 to 4pm
12th Nov 2011    South Bucks  9:45 to 4pm
14th Jan 2012    North Bucks  9:45 to 4pm

People come to stuff through personal invite and not so much from blog/flyer or poster.

Herding Cats


Taize and Yellow Braces are both imminent and like all Youth Leaders/Workers I am at the 'pulling it together' stage where it feels like herding cats as you chase up everyone and everything. A few more grey hairs methinks but all part of the fun and it will get there.

Latest challenge is one of the dorms at 'Hill End' being unusable, eek. Back to the drawing board with the sleeping arrangements!

Much mellowness

I had a fabulous weekend in Herefordshire alongside and on the river Wye. My youngest and I joined the Gold Hill group at the Mainstream Canoe weekend, an annual event near Hoarwithy.

Great weather, great company and a sublimely beautiful bit of river to play on and explore.

On the Saturday afternoon we headed out en mass for a paddle, forming a convoy of about 100 boats that included canoes, sea kayaks, touring boats, play boats and probably a thirty year range of fibreglass and plastic general-purpose kayaks. A few mellow miles down the river through stunning countryside in the sunshine, fab! (oh and importantly, a free ride back via a convoys of vans and trailers)

Here's a picture of Lausboob soaking up the mellowness of the campsite:

lausboob enjoying the view.jpg

Back at the desk today, but with a far away look in my eye.


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This page is an archive of entries from July 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

June 2011 is the previous archive.

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