The cinema is awash with adverts for Alien vs Predator but today’s press is dealing with an even hotter battle, Scooby vs Bart. It’s good to see that Scooby (for the moment) has won, having officially the most episodes of any cartoon! Not sure how much this is youth culture but I know that Scooby Doo matters deeply to Youth workers!
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Youthblog …. the T shirt

As threatened, I invested some of the weekend in making youthblog the T shirt, modelled here by my daughter!
As is typical of me, I don’t know when to stop, I was having such fun making the T shirts that I decided, Youthblog … the boxer shorts would be a good idea!
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Can’t for the life of me work out why though?

Recipriversexclusions and the Preach

If you’ve read the Hitchikers Galaxy by Douglas Adams you’ll be familiar with Bistromathics (you’ll have to read it). Importantly within this field is the brilliant concept of the recipriversexclusion, this is “a number whose existence can only be defined as being anything other than itself”
There exists a similar but broader concept within Ministry too, whatever the details you have been told about the Speaking gig, it will ALWAYS differ in one important (but variable) area. The defining and detailing of the gig will automatically negate one section of the brief you have been given.
For example, from my own experience:
The last minute (forgot to inform you) venue change
The Youth Service with an average age of sixty plus
The wrong date
The “just say a few words” which turns out to mean they are expecting a twenty minute full-on sermon
The Massively prepared Sermon which was actually, we just want you to introduce yourself.
The, ooops run out of time, we’ll need to to come back on another occasion.
A talk to our youth group ….. in fact the Sunday School and Toddlers
Now, I’m not moaning, it’s all part of the fun once you know the unexpected will happen, It’s good for both my prayer life and my humility.
Thought you’d enjoy this example of the phenomena from this morning though:
I glanced over my notes just before the readings, yep All prepared to speak on the topic I’ve been given from the readings I was e-mailed. Slightly nervous, but then I always am just before preaching. I listen to the readings to hear them one more time and earth them in my mind BUT it’s not the readings I was told!!!!!! Quicly flick to the e-mail that’s still on my PDA confirming that I have prepared on the passages that I was sent AND that the ones being read are not, in fact, them! I have less than a minute to pray, panic, think (not neccesarily in that order) before I have to speak.
First sermon I’ve started with the words, “Do you like surprises?”
I think I managed to pull a thread together from the new readings but it was a tough call.
Really great Church to be at though and my son didn’t disrupt the sermon (maybe that would have been a good thing to buy me some thinking time). He did however get very excited about seeing the bell ringers who were ringing before the service and managed to trip into them! If you were wandering through Great Missenden this morning and wondered why the bells came to a discordant halt at 9:16 …. that’s why, Sorry!

Ministry Risks

Off to Great Missenden to Preach! They’ve given me this as a title,
“Reading the Culture, Christianity for real teenagers” Should be fun (bizzarely however, I was told on Friday that, none of the teenagers will be in Church during the talk!)
What’s the risk? Well, I’m taking my 9 year old son with me, he has an unusual but distinctive AND loud voice (he has Cerebral palsy). The last time I took him to a preaching gig he managed to reduce the whole Church to laughter by heckling from his wheel chair in the aisle with an immaculately timed, exasperated, “HURRY UP!” half way through the sermon!
I’m hoping that I’ve convinced him not to heckle, throw things or wheel himself out during this one! I’ll let you know.

Youth work memories

Don’t worry I’m not going off-on-one about eighteen years of working with young people ….. this is about memory in general and its relationship to Youth work.
I watched “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” this week. The film is a masterpiece, it’s also disturbing, sad, funny and profound. I don’t want to spoil it for you (stop reading here if you haven’t seen it) but the idea of being able to erase something/someone from our memories is a fascinating one I think ….. and what that would then mean if we could. This led me to quite a bit of reflection about memory, both postive and negative.
I think Memory plays an important part in Youth work!
One of my philosophies when we’re doing youth stuff is “memory making” the act of creating wonderful memories for the future, anything along the lines of “I can’t believe we did that!” or “Hey, do you remember …” I love that stuff, creating memories that are a fusion of fun, people, faith and life (one of the reasons I am such a fan of residentials).
But the flip side is working with young people to “own” stuff that has happened or mistakes they’ve made without these negative memories then restrictively shaping who they are and become. I find it incredible humbling when I’m listening to what some young people have been through and experienced, then even more so by their resilience.
“When your heart’s beset by memories
You wish you’d never made”

Bruce Cockburn
I guess youth work is about helping young people to work through these things and move on, to recognise they still have choices. Youth ministry moves things up a gear, helping young people to experience/practice forgiveness and to discover that God can weave great stuff out of “memories we wish we’d never made (or had)”. Exciting, though often painful stuff.
Creating and redeeming memories!
Worth remembering what a great ministry we’re involved in eh?

Fun Friday again

Ok here’s a great game for youth groups and come to think of it, youth leaders. It’s called Guggenheim and is a little bit similar to Scattergories but cheaper and more fun.
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Everyone gets a grid as in the picture (click to enlarge). As a group you then decide what catergories are to go down the left hand side. Five letters are then given out for the top five boxes and you then have THREE minutes to come up with a category beginning with each of the letters, thus you try and fill each square with ONE appropriate answer. This may sound a bit lame at first but stick with me on this one. The THREE minute deadline is crucial as it adds a great dynamic and really hinders the thought process. The spice that then goes into the mix is the scoring system:
You get 1 point for an agreed correct answer
You get 1 bonus point if you get an answer no-one else has got
You get 1 bonus point per word for illiteration.
(For example: If the catergory was electrical items and the letter was “S:” … If you wrote “Stereo” and someone else also had this you would score 1 point. If however no-one else had this it would then become 2 points. If however you had “Sony Surround Sound Stereo System” you’d still get the 2 points for a unique answer PLUS an extra 4 points for the additional aliteration …. making 6 points)
Trying to come up with high scoring words while under time presure is frustratingly difficult. From a youth work point of view this is a great game because of the discussion that ensues on what is, and isn’t allowed! It gives the leader chance to affirm some really creative/unusual answers …. it also creates quite a lot of humour. The way that you lead will maximise the fun! We often pick a random page from a book and the first five letter word forms the letters for the top and that signals the start of the game!
So this is the offering for today AND if you have a spare 3 minutes, print off this example and have a go, BUT no cheating! (If you really get into it, e-mail me your answer sheet and I’ll announce a winner on Monday) Download file

I couldn’t possibly comment

Thanks to everyone who comments on Youthblog, I’ve loved the debate it has sparked and the way it has stretched/challenged my thinking. It’s also fascinating to see that more people are coming across Youthblog, Hi to Dave Swain, todays addition. Only problem is that if people are on BLOGGER, I can’t post unless they allow anonymous comment, I have to have a Blogger account to be able to do so. Arrrggghhhhh I’m gagged.
So, always happy to get comment but if you don’t allow anonymous comment on your blog you can also e-mail so we can continue a discussion.

It’s the wrong Shark!

I was out with one of the Lads I mentor last night and he really wanted to go to the cinema to see “Open Water!” I however, really didn’t (not into frightening movies, especially for some reason, if they involve Sharks). There’s quite a bit of stuff that I am challenging with him at the moment so decided that I’d leave the film debate for another time and we’d go anyway.
Great news though (well for me) “Open Water” has now finished and he elcted, to my surprise, to see “Sharks Tale!” (It was quite funny that I was going to be watching a film about Sharks anyway …. but one that I’d enjoy)
I’d write a description of the film but came across this one that I just can’t better:
“The Sopranos meet Nemo in this underwater mafia tale in which a small bottom feeder fish poses as a shark slayer to gain sea cred.”
Shark tale poster.jpg
I really liked the film. It wasn’t groundbreaking in the way that Nemo or Shrek was, but good fun. It was maybe written a bit too much around the star voice-over cast, especially Will Smith, at the expense of story but the piscine interpretation of the stars was one of the things that was delightful. The Sharks as an Italian mob family worked really well and the exploration (at a very low-level) of coming to terms with one of the sons (or whatever the Shark equivalent is) being a Vegetarian could make for an interesting discussion.
Overall I reckon, highly enjoyable, well made with some superb animation, but not a Classic! You should see if though!