And here once again, The Monday Splurge

hohum sign.jpg The Monday splurge has happened four times now so in Anglican terms it is firmly routed in tradition! Dearly Beloved, welcome to the Monday Splurge ……..
It’s quiet out there in Youth Ministry blogdom (too quiet!) and I’m debating whether I have to cull some links from the blog-roll? In the mean time here’s the goss’ The Connect Conference for (Christian) Youth Work trainers will be on 31st Jan until the 1st Feb at Swanick. The two Youthwork conference’s have just finished and they are inviting feedback. The 2006 conference(s) will again be in November and themed, “Infinite Possibilities – Reimagining mission to the digital generation!” [On my to-do list is to prepare a comprehensive conference list for ’06/’07 so pleeeez e-mail me any obscure ones you’ve come across … failing that, make one up :-)]
Locally: Next Saturday is the training day from FUSION, hope to see you there. For Berkshire Bods, Newbury St Nix & Thatcham Baptist are putting on a youth service on the 17th December at Speen Church, more details when I get them. Let me know other stuff!
This week on the blog I plan to write some stuff around confirmation that I’ve been mulling over!
I started off the splurge via ‘tradition’ .. I’ve just remembered a cool talk a few years back from Steve Gaukroger on the importance and dangers of tradition. He polarised the good and the bad stuff as:
Tradition: The living faith of the dead
Traditionalism: The dead faith of the living

Your homework for today is to go through the forthcoming Christmas programme and mark things as ‘tradition’ or ‘traditionalism’

Rockmass Service

Had a preaching gig tonight and found myself at a ROCKMASS being held at St Mary’s Thatcham. The theme (as per the church calender) was “Christ the King!” I arrived half an hour early and the place was already buzzing with the light rig, smoke machine, band, amp etc all up and running and quite a few folk in the congregation for what has become a kind of youth service for all ages! The Format, as they describe it is, “exactly what it says on the tin” … Rock music (worship) plus a liturgical Eucharist. This liturgy provided a great skeleton for the service which helped avoid the possibility of so many youth services, that stray too far into performance.
rockmass3.jpg The band were awesome and led well, there was a mix of new stuff and semi-trad. Interestingly though, incorporated into the worship was a couple of mainstream songs, What if God was one of us? (Joan Osbourne) was a very bold move and worked well. What a great question to be asking, albeit with some interesting speculation thrown in! Lean on Me worked well as a very anthemic piece but I have to admit I struggled with the Rap version of “The First Nowell” Loads of credit though for boldness, creativity and experimenting.
The preach was difficult for me, trying to do a youth service with SUCH a wide age range. It went OK(ish) but I will link to any critiques that surface. The text was from Luke 19 where two disciples ‘steal’ a Donkey that Jesus rides into Jerusalem on. The crowd of Disciples declaring “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord” [vs 38] and Jesus responding to the Pharisees saying that if the crowd didn’t shout out then, “the stones will cry out!”
I used Lord of the Rings, Return of the King as a way in and how the White tree in Minas Tirith begins to bud once more as Aaragorn is recognised as the rightful king of Gondor. The challenge of the preach being to
1. Seek the King
2. Serve the King

I really appreciated it as a service. There was a passion in worship, an engagement with the senses … and in the middle of all this, a simple and meaningful Eucharist.

Help I’m a Woman in Youth Ministry

help i'm a woman.jpg I recently read this book as I thought it may be an aid to understanding ministry from a female perspective. It’s a quirky book in many ways as it ranges from exploring calling to advocating a hobby, from discussing accountabilty to giving housework strategies. For this reason I’ve not really felt able to review it as the book seems kind of sexist to me even though it’s subtitled as “practical empowerment”
But maybe it’s just a very practical and honest book and it is the first youth ministry book I’ve read that has made a strong case for the usefulness of Slow Cookers
I was at a meeting last night that was hosted by a female youth worker who had in fact cooked us a top notch meal. I mentioned this book and my uncertainty on what to do with it blogwise. It was rightly questioned why there wasn’t a “Help I’m a man in youth ministry?” book and some speculation as to whether, if there was one, it would advocate Microwave ovens as you were then able to eat when you were really disorganised and rushing!
Any attempt to disagree with the book though were undermined when the youth worker hosting us confessed that the meal had been cooked in a Slow Cooker!
I’m certain that this ramble has nothing to add to the gender debate and I continue to be glad that both Marsians and Venusians are involved in youth ministry!

Moorlands, Gap and One Year courses

In response to an invitation, I headed down South yesterday to talk with Moorlands College about young-leaders and training. Now it doesn’t take much to impress me I admit but I was well chuffed with the welcome. On the wall behind the reception was one of those funky red and gold hotel conference type notice boards and ……..
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The other thing that impressed me is that all the tutors I met were passionate and enthusiastic about their subjects and courses, the place had a real buzz.
My time there was spent in discussion about discipleship and training for young leaders. It was good to be able to share experience, best practice and good examples. Obviously part of the reason for being there was to discover what they can offer and whether any of it could be useful to Oxford Diocese (and beyond). Moorlands offer 3 different 1 year courses, they all look really good from a training, learning and experience point of view but there’s one which could be a real assett to anyone running gap year projects.
They run e-livate (in fact pronounced el-ivate), Ace-lerate (in fact pronounced accelerate) and a Foundation Year (bizarrely it’s pronounced as it reads!)
E-livate is a distance and residential learning package that could really add value to a gap year placement. It provides learning in the areas of self, bible/theology and missiology. It’s delivered as two residentials and then distance learning/portfolio. I can think of projects that have gap-year-bods but are patchy in providing input and I can think of Churches that offer a gap-year-placment but struggle to “add value” to the offer to make the position attractive. I reckon E-livate could be great for these!

To stay or not to stay? (that is a question!)

Am driving down to Eastbourne for the Yoof wurk Conference on Saturday but have just noticed that the £40 for being a day delegate (weird word, ‘delegate’?) only allows you to participate up until 5pm! I can’t decide whether to invest a further £9 to attend the evening stuff? Decisions Decisions, I’ve not experienced this pay-as-you-view approach to conferencing before! Ho Hum, don’t want to fuel what is already a bit of a conference over-indulgence this year, but don’t want to miss key stuff.
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To stay or not to stay: that is the question!
whether it’s nobler in the mind to suffer
slings and arrows (having heard you missed a GREAT session)
or to take arms and pay the extra roubles
And then by staying (and it being naff) To die, To Sleep

Excuse me, I’ve had one of those weeks (already)


I have from time to time reviewed films via the vague excuse of critiquing them for Youth work/ministry. And in that vein …… Valiant
Valiant.jpg Valiant is a British CGI film (up to now we’ve generally done plasticene and the U.S have done CGI) which is interesting in itself and it has managed to recruit lots of great UK actors to voice the characters.
The film is set in 1944 and follows the exploits of Valiant, a pigeon who joins the Royal Pigeon Service to serve his country. it’s a witty idea as it is then able to parody elements of the RAF as well as working with the fact that Pigeons did play a key part in the second world war (I kid you not) and won several medals (again true!). Valiant obviously is the under … (well) pigeon who saves the day and along the way teaches Bugsy (Ricky Gervais) the value of friendship, loyalty and living for something other than yourself.

“It’s not your wingspan that counts … it’s the size of your spirit”
Valiant (Ewan McGregor)

It’s strong points are that it’s fun, it’s well animated and perculiarly British (hints of Black Adder). I liked it, an enjoyable ‘family’ film with a feel good ending. It’s weaker points are that it’s short (75 mins) and is maybe a tad predictable but that’s not neccessarily a bad thing. I reckon that “The Incredibles” was clearly an adult film (that Children tend to enjoy too) while “Robots” was clearly a Childrens film (loved by adults). Valiant seems to sit somewhere in the middle!
I reckon I may hi-jack some teaching/discussion stuff on “it’s the size of your spirit” that counts as well as the way Bugsy grows in character as he is offered challenge, opportunity and friendship.
Watchability for a youth weekend
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Usability for teaching or discussion
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Eastbourne and Youthwork THE conference

I’m heading down to Eastbourne for the day on Saturday to Youthwork the conference! I’ll be a complete Norman-No-Mates so if anyone fancies meeting up for a coffee then drop me an e-mail and we’ll arrange something. I’m always up for a chat!
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Oh and on the conference theme, I’ve booked in for the Spirituality Is Forum at Sarum! Who is else is going?

How much of a friend can you be?

Met with my tutor group from CYM today who are a top top bunch. One of the students led a discussion exploring how far we can be friends with young people within ‘professional’ youth work. The group flagged up the attributes of friendship and the attributes of professional practice, then compared the two. Obviously there were overlaps and area’s where they were incompatible but it proved a valuable exercise and re-inforced the need to examine and define where boundaries lay in ALL youth work situations.
Needless to say that we wouldn’t/couldn’t have achieved a universal consensus but identified some useful principles around:
1. Never letting young people meet our emotional needs
2. Not creating a dependancy on us.

We were really into cliches today (as we were looking at concepts around ‘team’) So the cliched summary was
“We are friends to young people, not friends with young people!” or ” We Befriend rather than Be Friends”
None of which stops us investing our time, talents, love and energy in the lives of the young people we serve!