A splashing day off

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My Life-guarding renewal is looming (Monday) and so yesterdays’ day off provided the chance for some much needed practice. As it wasn’t actually raining I headed down to the Lido in Newbury, an outdoor pool of crazy proportions. Normally if you said, “I swam 10 lengths!” it wouldn’t sound that impressive (not that I actually did even that many) but each length at Newbury is 75 metres long, 50% longer than an Olympic pool! (In fact a positive danger to Eric the Eel)
The photo doesn’t do it justice; firstly because it can’t get the whole pool in, secondly because there were only three of us yesterday morning.
Note to self: I REALLY need to get some more swims in before Monday!

The Installation

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I was asked for a list of the statements that were the ‘snakes’ and the ‘ladders,’ so ever eager to help:
Ladders
Children and Young People are welcomed and valued
The leaders are trained and supported
Young people encounter God, and not just teaching about him
Adults listen and talk to the children and young people
Young people continue to encounter a bigger, deeper faith as they grow
The Church has (and works to) a Child Protection Policy
Children and Young people see (and join in with) making a difference in the world
There is vision for the young people’s work

Snakes
Children and Young people should be “seen and not heard”
The work with children and young people has not changed for years
The room where young people meet is also the ‘junk’ store
Rota and Programme has become more important than relationship
There is an assumption that young people will leave at a certain age
We don’t include children and young people in planning the services and groups that are for them
Faith is avoided in case it puts people off
The ‘all age service’ is actually only aimed at pre-schoolers

PS, Wondering why the game isn’t (given the British love of rhymes) called Adders and ladders?

Mend the Gap

I need to write something about ‘Mend the Gap’ and the memorable, challenging, useful and fun day it turned out to be. I’m perhaps not the best person to write about it being one of the co-organisers … and and one of the delivery team BUT so many people have connected with it (and contributed to its’ shape) through the blog, I felt I needed to get something down on html. I will link to others reflections via this post.
Things that struck me:

  • The enthusiasm of those who came
  • The commitment of ALL who played a part in making it happen
  • The fun and conversation that energised the day
  • The things that went pear-shaped but were absorbed in good grace 🙂

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We started the day talking about the bad news and the good news that were the prompts to a strategic day looking at our engagement with Children and Young People. The bad news being some of the statistic, the good news being the stories from all sorts of churches in all sorts of places being ‘good news’ for young people, making a difference to them and their communities. In fact this idea of ‘how can we be good news for young people?’ was the framing question for everything during the day. Encouraging all of us to look with fresh eyes (and not assumed models) at where, how and in what ways we can be ‘good news!’
Our first speaker, Dr Mark Griffiths spoke powerfully on the ‘framing narratives’ that define lives, the stories we (consciously or unconsciously) choose to live in. It was a story fuelled ‘tour de force’ and deeply moving. His whole talk leading to the ‘framing narrative’ that we have in THE Good News that the Kingdom of God is here, what that means for us and therefore for children and young people.
We then moved into (a time of) a choice of ‘electives,’ these being:
1. Messy Church with Lucy Moore
2. Outreach clubs for Children with Mark Griffiths
3. Starting youth work from scratch. This was hosted by CYM and comprised a panel from Boys Brigade, Urban Saints and Youth Cafes
4. Using festival to connect with young people and communities with Fusion YAC
From there, an extended lunch time to chat, discuss, think, pray with team and exhibitors. Also the opportunity to walk or play the Snakes and Ladders installation.
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The afternoon saw Dr Graeme Codrington brilliantly showing how different generations are shaped in their world view and experience … and what that means for how the see and react, both to the world and to the people around them. Graeme combined humour with great insight to usefully open up a fresh look at the differences and points of connection between generations. (Talking to folk afterwards I found that this had been of enormous help not just in engaging with this current generation of young people but also giving them a deeper understanding of why the ‘Boomers’ and the ‘Silent Generation’ of adults in the church saw the world as they did, and why some of the ‘normative’ for them was so different to those of the ‘Xers’)
Mend the Gap was always meant to be only a pivot point, and so the next half an hour over a cup of tea was spent exploring what next for the individuals and churches present. The chance to seek help from the organisations exhibiting, sign up for training, support or further discussion, to ask questions and the like.
I’m sure the day raised more questions that it answered but there seemed to be a real buzz about what had been encountered and experienced during the day.
Finally Bishop John rounded things off, celebrating what we have to offer as church and challenging us further on what it might mean for our churches to be good news for Young People. He also announced that from September we’ll be offering a “Child and Youth Friendly award” (So Yvonne and I had better get on with that).
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My enormous thanks to everyone who played a part, whether in prayer, design or delivery.

Getting your kids through church

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This event looks useful! I’ll be really interested to hear what wisdom is dispensed (as a parent, as a member of a mission team and as a youth worker) when I attend the Reading event.
More details here
Bizarrely the dates and venues have dropped off the web page (they were there earlier under “events”) but if memory serves I’ll be trucking over to Reading on November 23rd

Snakes and Ladders

Creativity is easier in the ideas than the making it happen
My idea for a giant ‘Snakes and Ladders’ installation whereby the ladders and snakes would be labelled with ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ of what churches do or could do in their approach to working with young people.
To make it a workable project each ‘square’ is an A3 sheet of paper pre printed with the number and any snakes or laddery type instruction. The plan being then to add the snakes and the ladders, cut the edges and add laminate each ‘square’
Printing the 100 sheets on coloured paper went ok.
Last night began the serious business of adding snakes and ladders to them. Arrrrghghgh Chaos. Any ‘squares’ that require a snake or a ladder need laying out as a block to facilitate this. Two and a half hours last night saw only the completion of some smaller blocks comprising lesser snakes and ladders.
Managed to do 29 squares last night
Can I finish this (with everything else) by the event on Saturday? Will the laminator co-operate? Why did I start this?

Been there, got the T shirt

Mend the Gap is now only 3 days away, bookings are still coming in and all is looking good. I think there is enough time to get everything done …. including finishing the ‘Snakes n Ladders’ Installation (100 ‘squares’ printed with numbers and text added. Just have to finish making the snakes and the ladders and laminating each ‘square’)
Further excitement this morning when the T shirts arrived. Ta da ……
(The text you can see showing from the back says, “Be good news for young people”)
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Meanwhile
Trying not to get distracted by an epic battle with the blog spammers, *Grrrrrrr* They are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their ability to mimic genuine comments but still come unstuck very easily on this blog. How so you ask? (“How so Ian?”)
Two examples spring to mind:
1. Gushing praise for wisdom and insight on posts that are plainly my own special brand of idiocy
2. And this is a good one. Concern that the blog is looking overly RED? (Quite unusual for the Monochromatic theme here)
God loves spammers. I however am finding it difficult at the moment