Flannelgraph …. the powerpoint of the 1960’s

Respect to Dave for being the number one google search if you are looking for flannelgraph. Anyone who’s looking to re-create lost Church traditions by reinstating flannelgraph (kinda like fuzzy-felt but bigger and with Bible type scenes) may be amused by these anarchic and theologically interesting offerings on the wib site.

Onion moments and vinyl paint

On Camp this summer, for the sort of reasons that don’t make sense outside of camp, each night at the roadshow I would have to answer a surprise question while sitting in a leather armchair in the glare of a spotlight. Favourite question was,
“Ian can you describe your favourite onion moment?”
I love the level of profound absurdity that teenagers come up with, fantastic creativity. I’ve also noticed that if you can cope with the absurd, then the serious may follow.
Once after doing some fairly serious input with a group I don’t know and opening it up to questions, I was asked, “Do you find vinyl paint too reflective?”
“on the whole, no” I replied …. “but are you reflecting on what I’ve said?”
We then had a wonderful session which would throw up deep questions punctuated with more of the absurd.
Maybe all Youth work jobs should take a leaf out of the dating ad’s, “Must have a Good sense of humour!”

Aim it at the teens

Just got back from preaching at the gig which I turned up at last night, finally got there with me and a congregation tonight!
It was a Eucharist specifically aimed at young people and I prepared accordingly. As it happened there were a vast range of ages there but I spoke specifically in a way that would engage the teens. Really good evening and the teens were involved in the service including all the music, readings and the like.
The Bloggable bit is this: Great reaction from the adults, they were really really enthusiastic about the preach. It seems to me that adult-format sermons impact some of the adults and none of the teens. A teen-format sermon engages the teens and a lot of the adults.
I know that this is a huge generalisation but look at how many adults turn up to youth-led services! Why?

2 Replies to “Aim it at the teens”

  1. Here’s a theory. The adults know what it’s like to be a teenager, so probably find youth type services vaguely familiar, or at least relatable-to. The teenagers, on the other hand, don’t know what it’s like being an adult, and so the reverse is true for them. Aside from that, youth services are always more fun – fact. And any adult who tells you that they’d rather have a serious and more theologically challenging sermon rather than one which deliberately engages them in culturally relevant ways is probably fibbing. And, of course, “culturally relevant” shouldn’t mean “not theologically challenging”. P.S. ‘Cool but weird’ shall be updated soon – am having a small period of blogger’s block. Added to this, I have a 3rd year dissertation to be planning!

  2. Aim it at the teens
    can’t speak for all adults but most feel insecure about what’s being taught these days and I am this intimidating for the teens for there too many adults there , like we’re being censored man. Because the adults wants to be involved for a couple of reasons ,and nunmber # 1 is they’re still a kid themselves with lots of mixed up fellings, so their inner kid gets ministered to too and allow to grow up.

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Unusual Youth Work tools no.1

Was early for a gig I was supposed to be speaking at, so I went for a ride on the Brompton (a folding bike), dropped down a hill into a village and through a load of teenagers. Inevitable (and slightly sarcastic) shout of “Nice Bike Mr!” so I stopped to say Hi, once I’d shown them that the bike would fold into a package in 15 seconds they were really impressed and we had a good chat. They all had a turn at riding it and they taught me a better way of controlling speed on a Skateboard (not convinced I can do it though!) Anyone want to pay me to run a course on “Detached work using folding bicycles”
Anyway, very glad I had a fun time as it turns out they’d given me the wrong date for the gig and it is, in fact, tomorrow!!!!!

TV or not TV? that is still a question

Good Post from Sarah. I agree TV is useful, I’m not anti TV as such and yes, Danger Mouse is of course, awesome. I think I have a problem with the way everything is packaged and sound-bited (new word!) for TV. The Lyrics of 1991’s “TV the drug of the nation” I reckon are still profound …. for example,
“Where straight teeth in your mouth
are more important than the words
that come out of it”

I want to understand and appreciate the culture around me but I guess my prefered mediums are listening/talking, radio and Films. I’m very grateful to everyone who keeps me up to date with TV though (and lets me watch theirs!)and every year I buy the DVD compilation of the best adverts of the year as I’m very intersted in the way that advertisers target culture(s)! Interestingly TV viewing figures overall have been going down. Let the debate continue …………

3 Replies to “TV or not TV? that is still a question”

  1. I suppose it ought to be sound-bitten… Adverts are definitely very useful for studying cultural developments. However, it is also very interesting to see the ads in the context of what sort of target audience is expected for certain TV programmes. Cars, dishwashers and insurance companies are favoured during ad breaks for an evening’s whodunnit drama, while the interval in the middle of Friends on C4 sees plenty of shampoo, hair dye and Immac easy leg-wax. I’ve been taught by a critical theory lecturer: “Text without context is a con”, and I think that that principle can probably be applied fairly effectively to a number of other areas of cultural study.

  2. Definitely sound bitten! That’s what I was going to say! I’m trying to ignore mediums instead of media!

  3. aaaarrggghh, can’t help responding. Normally I defer in all matters grammatical and the like however I have decided to stand my ground over “sound-bited”. The rationale for not using “sound bitten” is this, that sound-bite relates to the bite size chunk of information packaged not to the active biting thereof. Therefore, bite relates to the piece and not to the act of removing the piece. “Sound-bited” is meant to convery that this is a continual process whereby information is compressed, packaged and (over)simplified to a “sound-bite”, the acvtive nature of this therefore in this tense is “sound-bited”. Sound-bitten would merely imply taking a chunk out of it, not the full outworking of the process rendered by “sound-bite” in it’s understood media and cultural context.
    This is what I am going to nail (metaphorically) to the OED door as the need for this unique but neccessary construct.

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TV or not TV

I don’t have a TV! Had some good discussions with teenagers at Camp when they discovered this serious omission from the Macdonald household. Sometimes wonder whether we should get one but actually from a youthwork point of view it’s great ‘cos I have to get my TV info from the teenagers. Surprisingly too most of them were more open to not having a TV than I thought they would be.
Just been reading some John Stott, he’s got a much snappier argument against TV than me, he reckons TV makes people: physically lazy, intellectually uncritical, emotionally insensitive, psychologically confused and morally disordered. He’s got a point but I don’t think it’d make for an open dialogue!

One Reply to “TV or not TV”

  1. I’m partly sympathetic with what John Stott was saying but I think I must disagree with him in part. His argument tends towards the idea of living outside the modern secular culture. I find it hard to be “in the world but not of the world” without at least dipping my toe in the water.
    I’m not defending all TV as some of it is APPALLING but I think TV (and indeed film) can both be an excellent starting point for discussions with young people about difficult situations such as relationships, families, bullying, violence and pretty much anything else that is going on in their lives.
    Last night I caught a few minutes of a rather contraversial dramatisation of the terrorists preparing for the bombings of 11th September which was very challenging. Then later I watched “Sikhs in the City” which was very informative about modern Sikhism.
    The “TV is so informative” is such an old argument but it does hold true. However aside from the educational potential of TV, what about the fact that we can watch things which are amsuing, enjoyable and just plain fun??
    Apparently all conversations eventually turn to children’s TV but in defence of television, Ian, surely there is one word which will suffice…

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Soul Shaper

I’m reading a fantastic book called “Soul Shaper” by Tony Jones all about “exploring spirituality and contemplative practices in youth ministry.” I bought the book because I’m interested in how spiritual disciplines and practices from across Church history can impact youth work. However it’s proving first and foremost a challenge to me! Tony Jones quotes Eugene Peterson to make the point, “I think the most important thing a pastor does is who he or she is” There’s a challenge when we tend to justify ourselves/our ministry by our doing, at the expense of our being!
Soul Shaper.jpg

2 Replies to “Soul Shaper”

  1. All very inspiring so far – I think you’re pretty good as ‘being you’…
    After our conversation, I, too, have set up a blog (don’t want to get behind the times, after all) – http://coolbutweird.blogspot.com Nothing as challenging as yours yet, but we’ll see…

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Measuring Success

How do you measure the success of youthwork? The effects of good youth/community work spread out and have a wider impact than just the target group, especially when we are talking about God changing lives. But how do you quantify the success (if you wanted to). The current government have a bit of an obsession with targetting and monitoring but it does throw up some good stuff. Today in the Times (p20) is a report on the “On the streets” youth project in Manchester that has reduced crime on an estate by 70% which is a fantastic result. It’s definitely great to see youth work having such a dynamic impact for the whole community INCLUDING the young people (unlike ASBO’s).
I wonder if we need to be doing more work on measuring? I know that it’s more about being Salt and Light but quantifiable results are so encouraging …. hey and faith based work needs funding too.
There’s a fantastic Christian project in Woodley called “Just around the Corner” which is making a great impact, I wonder if it and others would benefit from more stats to prove it?

Greenbelt Festival

Fab last day at Greenbelt but was definitely missing having a youth group around. Couple of great youth work moments though: Randomly teaching a teenager I didn’t know to ride a unicycle (without success but with great fun) and bumping into two lasses from a camp earlier in the summer! Even cooler ‘cos they were saying “that’s sooooo weird, we were talking about you five minutes ago!”
There were some truly inspiring people at the festival, great to see Anita Roddick (of Body Shop fame) and she loved Greenbelt too, how’s this for a quote, “I am cheering the Greenbelt festival from the top of every bloody mountain…for me, it’s like a heartbeat. And it’s youth. I’m ashamed of my bloody prejudices, but I’m delighted to be a convert. I find it wonderful.”

Greenbelt Festival

Finally made it into the internet cafe after two blog free days. Theme this year is “Freedom Bound” which is a pretty good theme for the crazy, wonderful, honest, inspiring weekend that Greenbelt is. The Morning service this morning was awesome and it was great to be celebrating the Freedom we have and being challenged on how we use that freedom.
A few years ago “Fat n Frantic” sang all about “Freedom for a few who have bought the right to tell us that their freedom lie is true” and went on to say “Freedom without justice grows up into slavery if you’re not a Barclaycard carrying member of the free”.
Started a whole bunch of youthwork ideas in my mind on how we help young people engage what freedom means and how we help them to see the injustices that the world economy accepts as the norm! Not sure where this would fit into the Governments “Transforming Youth Work” agenda.