The I.D Weekend

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Berkshire only I’m afraid but I’m very excited that Bishop Andrew and I are inviting teenagers from the Archdeaconry of Reading to join us for a weekend of chat, exploring and questioning; A look at Faith, life (and confirmation).
It’s at Kintbury and will be November 3rd and 4th
(I’m looking for a female youth worker too please).
Grap the publicity here: publicityFINAL.pdf

Greenbelt Festival 2012

Once a decade there tends to be a Greenbelt where a storm of epic proportions rages through the festival bestowing relentless mud, wetness and chaos; leading to a shared camaraderie akin to that of a wartime bomber crew. And 2012 was exactly that …. but no less brilliant a festival as a result (although sadly some people had to abandon as their tents were destroyed, washed away or became a swimming pool where all their kit was unhappily floating or sinking).
I was volunteering in the Performance Cafe this year and thoroughly enjoyed that. It’s a great venue that allies a smallish staged venue (with a great stage and sound) and the wonderful folk of ‘Nuts’ vegetarian food. I therefore enjoyed the vibe, the food and some GREAT music. The atmosphere was even more fun on the Saturday when it became a refuge from the elements and we managed to keep going despite being in a sea of mire, and having two separate ‘rivers’ flowing through the venue … as well as (and I kid you not) our own waterfall.
Highlights for me this year were hearing Mr Bruce Cockburn twice (the Big Top gig was sublime as he was on top top form and only the die hard fans had crossed the mudscape to get there so it was a very intimate gig). The Sunday morning communion was great … oh and the quirkily anarchic country folk of Folk On were brilliant and hilarious in equal measure. Also finally got to see “The Artist” which I really enjoyed.
I didn’t make it to any ‘talks’ this year (as I was too busy either talking or working) so will need to catch up via MP3 on the input and discussion.
Managed to wade into ‘The Jesus Arms’ (Ale tent) and thoroughly enjoyed a pint of ‘Bad Christian!’ Also made it onto the GB website (fame for THE hat) thanks to this photo by the lovely Andy Stonehouse.
Next year will be the 40 year special titled “Life Begins!” …. I’ll see you there!

A moment

I was in town last week and genuinely overheard this conversation in Superdrug. I just made it back out into the shopping centre before laughing out loud.
A man walked in and said to the assistant (surprisingly loudly), “excuse me, where will I find Anusol?” to which she genuinely replied (and failed to spot the inherent humour), “It’s down at the bottom!”


Spam comments are out of control at the moment and I’m having to manually delete several hundred a day. I’ve had to turn the Spam filter up to 11 (as it were). If you comment (and I love it when you do) but it does not appear PLEASE PLEASE let me know …. or as a precaution ‘copy’ it before you post and then you can always e-mail me with the text.
So sorry for the inconvenience but in this particular war I am being out-gunned and out-manoeuvred by the legion of Spam bots. AAAArrrghghghhghgh

Teens benefit from time with Parents

I’ve had more conversation with parents of teens this summer than ever before. Normally when people discover I am a Youth Worker it doesn’t flow naturally into conversation, this year though it’s opened up a whole bunch of questions around adolescence and parenting.
A regular theme of these chats has been the role of parents through adolescence and the vital self-esteem battery charger they can (and need to) be, and what this might look like.
Great therefore to come across this article and research on the benefit that time with parents is to teenagers. (Admittedly it’s a narrow and small focus group but useful nevertheless in flagging up a more positive role for parents than they sometimes feel they have at this stage).
Musing in my ‘Coffice’ I thought I’d have a stab at a kind of list of principles.
1. Friends become the significant peer group for teens but don’t underestimate your role or importance through adolescence.
2. Try to cultivate listening above talking
3. Don’t be discouraged that teens don’t want to talk when you want to …. but embrace the opportunity when they do (this will be at odd times (and especially LATE at night) or when you are busy.
4. Put creativity and play into what you do together as a family or one-to-one with your teen. Create memories, celebrate landmarks, engender family traditions.
5. Teens absorb everything that is happening around them. What we say will only have any weight at all if it is consistent with what we are and do (or if we are honest about when it is not).
Hope that’s not too preachy a list but I throw it out there in case it’s useful. Adolescence is an incredible time of transition, change and development and yes it gets complex, messy and a bit bewildering on the way (brief pause whilst you nod or scream) but it is an important formative process. It’s bit like a caterpillar transitioning into a butterfly and I’ll bet there’s some real messy stuff happening there too.

Back to blogging (tomorrow)

It’s been a great summer but I’m now back fully on planet work and re-acclimatising to the different (and increased) level of gravity. Blogging in earnest will re-start tomorrow but today has mainly been about clearing several hundred spam comments off the blog which has been about as much fun as root canal work …. and even more annoying. Hopefully by tomorrow the blog will be cleaned up ready for the usual stream of usefulness, nonsense and anywhere in between; Youth Ministry, adolescence, life, faith and how I see the world as a Youth Minister.
My head is still here:
but I’m working on being back and look forward to your virtual company or bumping into you out and about in the grand old Diocese of Oxford (or beyond).

Church in Wales Review

I’ve just been reading a summary (sorry, edited highlights) of the review that the Church in Wales did on it’s life and health. Of particular interest to me was the paragraph on young people, below:
“Young people and outreach to those outside the church
We met a delegation of young people who impressed us by the work they were doing trying to reach other people of their age group. From what they said and gave us to read there is imaginative work going on in some places.
However, what they conveyed to us underlined the dire seriousness of the situation facing the Church in Wales.
In addition to congregations declining, a high percentage of the clergy retiring and a shortage of ordinands,
the number of young people with whom the church is in contact is miniscule.
Those parishes that do have any serious work with young people are tiny compared to the number that do not.
This situation cannot be addressed as the church is organised now.
There need to be far more trained and full time people to work with young people.
We recognise that as the finance is organised at the moment money is not available to employ the staff needed. However, one of the consequences of our other recommendations is that there will be money available in provincial funds to finance new priority work such as this. If the work is going to develop in the long run, however, then some of the extra money will have to come out of the share system.
It is not only the majority of young people who are outside the church.
The population as a whole is now very unfamiliar with the church, finding its language and services strange.

Therefore we think there should in due course be one person in each Ministry Area leadership team with the gifts and training to relate to such people, many of whom but not all, will be young. It might be appropriate, for example, to appoint someone able to focus full time on families, working with a local school”
I was impressed with the recommendation, “This situation cannot be addressed as the church is organised now. There need to be far more trained and full time people to work with young people”
I would want to go beyond the word ‘training’ though. A lot of what I see believes that it is just better methodology that is required. I want to see a great recognition of the ministry of those (currently or who will be) engaging with young people and a corresponding commitment to ministerial/faith development alongside youth work skills.
We need growing disciples who can think theologically. The call for more lay ministry could be a great opportunity to work in this way. I don’t see much work with young people that is recognised, equipped and trained … as a key lay ministry.
If you want to see the full report: Church in Wales Review July 2012 Huws edited highlighted text.docx

Soul Survivor 2012

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Had a fantastic day at Soul Survivor, managing to pick a blisteringly hot day (the only downside was that pushing H in the wheelchair was extreme) and loved soaking up the vibe. Managed to get to both main meetings which were excellent and a lot of fun (johannes, I salute you).
Managed to catch up with some folk but clearly managed to miss quite a few. Highlights included hanging out with the group from St Nix. Their costumes for the fun run were awesome …. I especially liked Thor, Iron Man and Hawkeye 🙂