Youthwork volunteers

Interesting reflections from agent K on the challenges of being a volunteer, I particularly liked the re-hashing of this famous quote on greatness:
Some are born great youthworkers.
Others achieve great youthwork.
Others have youthwork thrust upon them

I think a lot of volunteers have entered youth work by way of number three, this has been the churches recruitment “strategy” a lot of the time. However or whatever reasons that volunteers volunteered, there are thousands of committed people in this role making a difference week by week (I was at a FABULOUS group yesterday morning). It is fair to say though that it is increasingly difficult to find people who are happy to volunteer to work with young people!
Roy wonders if, “the history of poor recruitment in youthwork counts against us?” and I certainly think the answer is yes! I’ve seen churches where the youth work has been “thrust upon” someone without support and resources, then them being stuck in that role til they die or move! I’m pleased that I am beginning to see clearer expectations being written for volunteer roles as well as a time boundary for reviewing and discussing the role.
wanna b a yoof leeda.jpg I still think though that the Church are suffering from not supporting youth leaders enough in their role, either by not providing resources/training/finance OR by expecting youth leaders to do several other roles in the church too. I would love to see MUCH more support for the volunteers and a recognition that if young people are their ministry that is where they should invest their energy.
Probably about 95% of Church Youthwork is delivered by volunteers. If you’re a volunteer, what could the Church be doing better? If you’re a Youth worker, what are you doing to support, enable and encourage your volunteers? Comments Please ……
(for those that know Mark Berry … is it just me or does that cartoon look incredibly like him?)

A Youthworkers CV

I love the stuff the teenagers say about you when you’re a youth leader. It’s fair to say that you need a sense of humour and to be able to not take yourself too seriously. My favourite ever comment about me was from Dave, a member of the youth group. Someone had asked about me as the Parish youth worker and Dave had responded,
“Well there’s two things you ned to know about Ian!
Firstly he’s very good in a crisis …..
Secondly, he was probably THE cause of the crisis!”

Can’t argue with either and it still makes me laugh, I would love the first line on my CV but possibly not the second! (Rather unfairly too Dave often reminds me of the time I accidently set fire to his leg!)

Wrist Bands: The Continuing Saga

wrist band.jpg Youthblog is being deluged with hits by people seeking wrist-bands! Hopefully the link to Ben Bell’s definitive guide will furnish them with he information that they need! I have though tracked down a company that produces them to a minimum order of 200! How cool is that, I’m tempted to order some of my HWHGITMITFP ones but I reckon there must be some more creative ideas!
I’ve found a Christian ABC one, which is “Admit Believe Confess” and is billed as, “This year’s witnessing wristband!” (I haven’t found what last year’s one was!) I also found a lurid green band which bears the motto “be a testimony
I reckon I’d like a “Live Strong” one to support the Lance Armstrong Cancer work (and because he is awesome!) but would have “John 10:10” after it to show how!
Youthblog’s conclusion: The wrist band thing has been done to death! But what will the emerging post-wristband theological expression be? (being ironic here!)
The above is my suggestion for the “Ok, I’m done turning the other cheek now” wristband!

Teenage Misery

bliss.jpg This BBC news article on a survey done for Bliss magazine among 14/15 year old girls makes for some tough reading. All sort of stuff in there but I’m very interested in the self-harm findings. These figures are certainly higher than the oficial statistics AND there is not enough research being done in this area …. I’m hoping that’s about to change though, especially as this is a growing area in which I am asked for advice from youth leaders. (Please leave a link for any resources that you have come across or use)
The report also draws out, as ever, the need for someone for young people to talk to!
Thanks to Tim for the link to this web site which is really good!

The problem with teenagers: A story

To a certain extent we all respond in the manner to which we are treated, or at least have to work much harder at responding positively when we are dealt with negatively! Faith or no faith!
This equation of: ‘how we are treated = how we behave’ though is a much more decisive feature of work with young people. The way that you treat teenagers will very much dictate the response that you get. This is enormously ironic of course because those who view teenagers as a problem and therefore approach them on that basis often have their negative prejudices “confirmed!” A person who engages with young people on a warmer level will often experience the encounter much more positively! Now this is obvious at one level but not to everyone! I am often saddened when I have heard accounts of the “shocking behaviour of teenagers” when it seems obvious to me that the aggrieved person has viewed (and indeed treated) them like dirt.
The following is an interesting story and a true one although I am changing a few of the details:
There’s a row of shops where young people like to hang out and the car park of the “Co-Op” is a usual gathering place. On this particular day there were quite a few teenagers congregated although not identifiable as one group. A couple of the lads were getting a bit out of hand and their behaviour was without doubt, out of order.
They were approached by a local businessman who challenged them and the encounter descended into the man being assaulted by one of the youths.
This was reported in the press as “Man assaulted by Youth” and fed the local negative view of young people as a problem.
What the press failed to report and I only heard about via local youth and community workers is very interesting. The man who challenged the youths had not tackled the behaviour but verbally rubbished the teenagers involved, he then allegedly spat in the face of one of the teenagers, it was this I believe that triggered the assault. This is no way condones the assault but sheds an interesting light on it, especially given episodes like John Prescott taking a swing at a protester who threw an egg at him AND I certainly don’t recall any talk of MP’s being barred from public places or being subject to curfew arrangements!
The press also failed to report that it was the other teenagers that had come to the rescue and willingly co-operated with the police over the incident.

The Infinite Cat Project

If you end up talking about eternity with your group OR if you just love obscure web sites then this may be of interest! It’s called the infinite cat project and involves a picture of a cat looking at a flower, then a cat looking at the image of the cat looking at the flower, then ….well you can work it out:
It all began innocently enough when a user on an Apple help forum posted a picture of his cat, Frankie, contemplating the beauty of a flower. Shortly afterwards another user posted a picture of his cat bristling at the image of Frankie on the monitor. I decided this was too much fun and advanced the concept as The Infinite Cat Project which is, simply, cats regarding cats regarding cats in an electronic melieu
infinite cat project.jpg

How to be a Christian and still be cool?

Someone stumbled into Youthblog last night after googling for the above information! What would your advice be? The way I figure it is being a Christian means also being on a journey on which you discover more about God, more about the world AND more about yourself. Ultimately that will help you to Know and be able to value yourself. The coolest people I know are people who are happy to be who they are, however different that may be! However that may be too simplistic and not very practical for the enquirer.
Assuming it’s a teenager asking the question, what would your answer be?