Can blogging serve Youth Ministry?

I’m gearing up for my seminar-thingy at the MATRIX conference (of the above title) and although I’ve not heard anything from MATRIX I assume I’ve not been scratched from the line up! I want to cover Bebo, MySpace et al in the process as well, exploring the opportunity AND the Child Protection issues that arise!
SO (can’t you just feel that request for help coming), If you have set up a site for your group I’d LOVE to hear from you.
Thanks 🙂
Captains Log Supplemental: Now have all the details of MATRIX (they were sent on Feb 12th but didn’t arrive). So the low down is thus: There are now 117 peeps booked in. (Three people have booked in this morning …….. It must be a nightmare organising things for us Yoof Wurkas).
I’m doing my Workshop twice, so I’d recommend coming to the one on Wednesday morning when I’ll have got the hang of it and beside which, How popular is the one at 19:30 on Monday going to be?

Church Survey UK

chrchsurvey.jpgAnyone know anything about this Church Survey UK? I got a flyer for it this morning in an envelope claiming to be “personal mail” and looking hand written. On checking, several other people in the office have one too. Checking the web, the report seems to be genuine although the citations on the web site from a “Church of england Bishop” and a “Clergy wife” don’t ring of authenticity.
Also, looking at the questions asked, one of them seems very loaded, (What purpose does the ‘Maxim’ in the question serve other than influencing the answer)
“The traditional custom of ‘clergy visiting’ has steadily declined in spite of the maxim ‘a house going minister makes a chuch going people’. Do you think the demise of the customary visiting role is significant?”
I may be a bit biased because I’m reacting to the dishonest way it got onto my desk BUT I’m happy to hear that it does contain some useful information and data if anyone can tell me more?

Woody’s (Youth Ministry) Round Up

woody's.jpg Rootin Tootin type greetings Blogdonia. Here’s a whole load of stuff that I’ve lassoed and penned here in case it’s a) Useful, b) Funny or c) Stops people getting cross with me for not mentioning it 🙂
Last night I preached at a sung Evensong! Some Churches up in Buckinghamshire have Deanery services and hence the country church was filled and actually, I enjoyed the service (even if I didn’t understand some of the words AND my attempts to sing the Magnificat were surreal at best, criminally horrible at worst.)
The congregation (age wise) was, for the main, at least 50 plus BUT I wanted to record my thanks to the small posse of young people who came along …. It was great to see you 🙂

Anyway, here’s the round up:

Looking for games? John e-mailed me to flag up a new Games Site they are working on, well worth bookmarking I think as I reckon it’ll grow!
Want a web page? The Captain of My Small Boat has been testing Google’s facility to rapidly create a simple but elegant web-site and rates it highly! Lay out, hosting et al All sorted! Fab!
Campaigns: Couple of things that you/your group should check out. This Oxfam campaign against Predatory debt collection from Zambia. The ‘Flush out’ Campaign from Christian Aid is a fab campaign that should spark the imagination of youth groups, check it out here.
Video Stuff: Some people who read the, How to rip YouTube videos piece pointed out that they weren’t actually allowed to download any software (I.T control) so here’s a neat online solution! It’s called Vixy and although it has a limited number of Outputs, it works well and is online so free of I.T restriction, Job Done!
Thinky Bit: Brian on remembering what it was like to be young!

Today’s feel good tune

For a fun breakfast vibe, check out Herman Dune and play ‘I wish I could see you’. A funky feel good ditty that seems to fuse a gazillion different styles of music* but gets away with it. A smiley sing along!
Relevence to Youth Ministry: er ………….. none!
*Ok a Gazillion is a slight exageration but I love the mixture which includes a Jonathan Richman type talk dialogue in the singing.

Transport to Matrix

The transport co-operation post for MATRIX is still going strong, including one person who has managed to offer themself a lift! Do have a look and see if you can be useful.
I’m now bringing Simo(n) from Farringdon.
(Please let me know who else has blagged or succesfully offered transport)

Mistakes for Church based Youth Workers #1

A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece on mistakes Churches make that undermine an employed youth worker project. This has been quite useful to send to Churches who are exploring the employment of a Youth worker.
I reckon I should perhaps give some thought to things that youth workers do (or fail to do) that undermine a project too.
Drawing from experience (ouch) and observation I reckon one of the key ones is:
HAZ1.jpgFailing to communicate with the Church!
Parish based Youth Work becomes a very busy world and a world that happens, for the main, away from the majority of the congregation. The congregation are paying for the project and hold all sorts of realistic and unrealistic , conscious and subconscious expectations of what the youth work will look like and what it will achieve! It doesn’t take much for muttering concerns (valid or invalid) to really damage the support for the youth work.
Now this doesn’t normally happen until the end of the first year BUT if you’ve not worked hard at communication in the first year then you are left ‘fire fighting!’ and there is a huge danger of resentment in the congregation and in the youth worker.
My theory is that communication with/to the church and key members (parents, funders, people in different congregations) is a priority. Communicating what you are doing (what you are not doing) and why, the challenges and the successes, the frustrations and the difficulties and the way that you spend your time is vital.
One of the real dangers is that quite a few members of the congregation will be expecting the results to be BUMS ON SEATS in the Sunday morning service*, which isn’t likely to happen without the church changing significantly. We need to be communicating what is realistic to expect and what is not, helping Church to understand the young people, and young people the Church.
So, getting practical I reckon:
1. Spend time with key people in the Church, tell stories, share vision, listen and where appropriate respond. Make communicating what you are doing and how you spend your time a priority.
2. Work at getting young people more involved in the life of the Church, and the Church in the life of the young people
3. Avoid the numbers game BUT DO collect (and keep collecting) data. That is, make sure the work is not assessed on BUMS on SEATS (either in Church or youth group) but do present hard data. e.g “Last year we didn’t have anyone involved in Camp ministry but this year we have 4 young people putting their faith into action on Camps and mission trips” or “The youth group has moved from being just social to seeing lots of the young people praying, exploring and putting their faith into action” or “For the last few years we’ve had no one under 30 coming forward to use their gifts in Church but now we have 5 young people actively involved in the life of the Church!”

4. Invest time in being present at Prayer group, House group BBQ etc and where appropriate take a couple of the young people with you. Conversely take a member of the congregation along to some of the ‘youth things’
5. Share Vision with the congregation and the leadership team.

6. Don’t assume that because you’ve written stuff, people know or understand. The written stuff has a use but is no substitute for the upfront spiel and more importantly the conversations. (Thanks for inspiring number 6, Simo)
I’m not sure this list is definitive BUT I am convinced the principal is vital, YOU are part of the Church and the Church want to know, understand and share in that ministry (even if it doesn’t always appear that way!).
(*BTW I am not a huge fan of the Youth work being divorced from the body of the church but it takes this communication and understanding to begin a process of greater integration).

Instant German

germn 3mnth.jpgI’ve been working through my well thumbed copy of “German in Three Months” for about 15 years now (nearly half way through!) but this relies on a goodly chunk of time to sit down and actually study the book (hence the limited progress). However when I was helping a friend move some furniture yesterday I stumbled across a Free CD that had dropped out of a copy of the Independent (Newspaper) many moons ago, it’s called “Instant German” and I have salvaged it.
Now this is even more optimistically titled than my book but I figured as it was CD based I could at least ‘instantly’ learn while washing up or the like.
instger2.jpg So …. tonight while tackling Mt Washing Up I fired up the CD player for some ‘Instant’ Learning. It turns out there should be a booklet (presumably this is in the long since lost copy of the newspaper) but I gave it a go anyway. I particularly liked the very practical advice in the introduction to chapter one.
“Please open the book at ‘week one’ so you can follow along; but if you are currently behind the wheel of a car or jogging I wouldn’t advise you to do this!”

I also enjoyed their suggestion of pronouncing a certain vowel combination (and I quote) “like the letter ‘i’ in the english word ‘fly’ “ ?????
Anyway I’ve learned a bit more vocab (as well as a new way to spell ‘fly!’)
It was also today that I spotted an advert for a Youth work job in Germany! Very tempting BUT I may need another three months of Instant learning yet.

Giving up, embracing and exploring

lent.jpg We did the Shrove Tuesday Pancake fest last night which was fab, I went for the very orthodox Lemon and Sugar approach. A tad’ unadventurous perhaps but hey, it tasted GOOD!
Anyway, to LENT! I find myself wanting to keep in the rhythm of Lent more than ever before. And this year for me Lent will also contain a fantastic ministry opportunity because I speak on a Ski trip in the week leading up to Easter.
Anyway I want Lent to consist of a giving up, an embracing and an exploring! So, Chocolate and biscuits are out of the window for the next 40 days (no Mars Bars!!!!!) , I want to spend more time in Silence and reflection, I also want to be more open to listening to the people I encounter and opportunities to make a difference that then open up. This is my hope and prayer for the next few weeks! I’m recording this here as otherwise it is in danger of remaining more in the realms of diet than discipleship.
LENT LINKS: (please add more via comments)
I see that Andy Goodliff will also be going Cold Turkey on the Mars Bar front and has included some useful Lentan links (including the story of a woman who is giving up supermarkets which I thought was fab). There’s the Love Life, Live Lent campaign that the Church of England have put together (This is a great thing that you can get your young people involved with). Some good links on the Dave de la Cartoon site and on Tim Abbotts site.
Along the lines of the text messages, Andy Goodliff has a fab one-a-day challenge resource!