Dangerous Wonder

Still much taken with the art of being
“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” Jesus
beach jpeg.jpg
One of the things that really winds me up is when people say to me (or anyone else with a playful zest for life) “You’re just a big Kid!”
Is the idea that adults don’t play? Bizarre. Our society seems to have a really bizarre view of maturation, that is, becoming mature equals becoming boring! Maturing is about handling responsibility, growing in wisdom and developing empathy NOT losing a sense of wonder and play. (People often fail to make the distinction between Childish and Childlike). Maybe its the striving to “do” that squeezes out fun. Maybe the fun of being a youth worker is time spent with young people … just being.
Mike Yaconelli (one of my youth work heroes) wrote a fab book called Dangerous Wonder. In it he explore the attributes of a Childlike faith:
Dangerous Wonder
Risky Curiosity
Wild Abandon
Daring Playfulness
Wide-eyed listening
Irresponsible Passion
Happy Terror
Naive Grace
Childlike Faith

and a final thought:

“Mistaking the active life of faith for an institutionally backed and culturally bound belief system is similar to reducing the Mona Lisa to paint-by-numbers”
Dan Taylor

2 Replies to “Dangerous Wonder”

  1. Interesting !
    Not sure I entirely know the boundary between childlike and childish myself yet – and as a parent of 3 children they definitely prefer the childlike.
    Being with young people keeps you young, youth is a state of mind and (as you seem to like quoting people) Roald Dahl says children need parents who are SPARKY. And whoever got evangelised by someone who was dull and unenthusiastic ?

  2. I was talkng about this matter of “having fun” only today and was reminded of something I heard a long time ago and I honestly can’t remember who it was who said it then or who said it first but the words of wisdom were as follows:
    “We do not stop playing because we grow old rather we grow old because we stop playing”
    Here’s to play and long, youthful life!

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Human Be-ings not Human Do-ings

I think it was reading some Pip Wilson where I first came across a challenge to be a Human Be-ing not a Human Do-ing. For us to be be more fully the people we are, the people God made us to be!
Soul Shaper has some great stuff to say on this in it’s entry on Silence and Solitude (p53):
“For we find our true selves when we’re swallowed up in God. We discover our true identity, not as do-ers but as be-ers. Our tasks in this life boil down to “Be still and know that I am God.” indeed this is why many of us avoid silence and solitude, because our self-identities are bound up in our busy-ness” ……. the section goes on to quote Richard Foster,
“the fruit of solitude is increased sensitivity and compassion for others. There comes a new freedom to be with people. There is a new attentiveness to their needs, new responsiveness to their hurts”
Could silence make us better Youth Workers?

What do you see?

“Little Round Planet in a big universe
Sometimes it looks blessed
Sometimes it looks cursed
Depends on what you look at, obviously
But even more it depends on the way that you see”

Bruce Cockburn
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else”
CS Lewis

The School of Rock

Just watched “School of Rock” and I have to say, I loved it!
The premise of the film is this:
Hell-raising guitarist with delusions of grandeur Dewey Finn (Jack Black) has been kicked out of his band. Desperate for work, he impersonates a teacher and turns a class of 10 year olds into high-voltage rock and rollers.
Its kind of “Dead Poets Society” but with Rock Music as the inspiration and a zany, crazy humour in delivery and wry observation. It, quite Literally, Rocks”
Bloggable bit is this! Its a great piece of Youth work (yes, I know the kids are only ten so it’ll definitely turn up in the Tweenagers training evening) but we are talking, youth work!
Dewey Finn is bored by the idea of teaching, the kids are not excited about being taught. It’s only when they find something they are passionate about and use, develop their gifts and talents that some great learning starts to take place … for the group and for individuals. The Kids are dominated by a strict school and pushy parents (I liked the way the car park on parents evening is full of safe but dull Volvos) but once they are given opportunity to do, they discover lots about who they are and grow through that process.
Ready to use Training Evening:
Watch “School of Rock”
Question? In what ways is our programme, the school? In what ways is our programme, Dewey Finn? How does this challenge our programme?

2 Replies to “The School of Rock”

  1. i think school of rock rocks! it rocks my world & it rocks my socks – hedrick thinks it rocks too!

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The Lords Prayer

Following on from yesterday, I was at a service recently where we were encouraged to use the “modern” form of the Lords prayer! Not sure that “sin” and “trials” is anymore understandable culturally!
It’s been around for a while now but I love the txt version of the Lords Prayer and really enjoyed being at a Youth Led service once where the whole congregation were led together in saying:
[email protected],ur spshl.
we want wot u want
&urth2b like hvn
giv us food
&4giv us
lyk we 4giv uvaz.
don’t test us!
save us!
bcos we kno ur boss,
ur tuf&ur cool
4 eva!ok

And lets not debate how it fits into a liturgical framework!
Supplemental: Over at Coyote Mercury you can see the Lords Prayer’s English translation in both Old and Middle English.

5 Replies to “The Lords Prayer”

  1. Yep. Its important to understand what we pray. But maybe, just maybe, understanding comes AFTER learning. Maybe we shoudn’t criticise rote learning of the Lord’s prayer – after all, the alternative would be not to teach it until or unless the children understoond it.
    I think it is very important that schools teach an agreed version of the Lord’s prayer by rote, and that learning what it means is a life-long process!
    When I was 7 I lived right by the Thames. For a long time I thought the prayer included the phrase: “lead us not into Thames Station”. But I am still glad, along with 90% of the rest of the nation, that I learned the Lord’s prayer by rote. Research tells us that most people learned the Lord’s prayer not in Church, nor from their parents, but in School. And that one of the biggest reasons for Schools dropping this teaching was confusion over which version to say!
    I’d happily trade my concern about big words for a rote learning of the traditional version, with understanding to follow later!

  2. Thanks for the comment Richard, don’t entirley disagree either but am passionate about the emphasis being on real learning not just being satisfied with having taught something. An emphasis on learning will mean a desire to engage with context and therefore what will be understood (and why we want it to be understood).
    There is an old expresion that says “To teach John Latin, one must know Latin but also must know John”
    I’m sure teaching by Rote has some place, I’m very glad I learnt several of Wordsworths poems (particularly the last verse of Daffodils) but I understood them when I learnt them, ensuring they were filed in my brain as important not irrelevant.

  3. I wouldn’t DREAM of debating the liturgical structures with you! My thoughts were more about the fact that we have the old and new versions of the Lord’s prayer (well the Methodists’ modern version is a bit different as well in fact) and yet we have lots of translations of the bible. In the New Revised Standard Version which is the version used by the lectionary the prayer is:
    “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.”
    and the Message has:
    “Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best – as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes”
    Yet no matter how many versions there are, what is important is that this was Jesus’ model for prayer. He didn’t say pray THIS EXACTLY but pray LIKE this. Surely it’s more important to help children udnerstand how to pray and what it means to pray?

  4. How about this one – included in the Night Prayer service in the New Zealand Prayer Book (equivalent of our Common Worship)
    Eternal Spirit Earth-maker, Pain-Bearer, Life-giver,
    Source of all that is and that shall be.
    Father and Mother of us all,
    Loving God, in whom is heaven:
    The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
    The way of your justice be followed by peoples of the world!
    Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
    Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.
    With the bread we need for today, feed us.
    In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
    In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
    From trials too great to endure, spare us.
    From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
    For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and for ever.

  5. I came across this posting through a Google search today – scored first place on Google! As a read of our blog will show, this is one of my pet topics, so I thought I’d post a (big) comment!
    I would wholeheartedly agree that with what was said at the service, we should be teaching the modern form. As Ian has said, sins and temptation (in the Church of England version) is still not overly comprehensible, but at least the modern version is consistent with the rest of the liturgy. Also, from a personal point of view over the last 30 years I have grown up with the modern version (Series 3, ASB, Common Worship), my familiarity is with the modern wording.
    In some of the articles reporting the Church of Englands decision back in 1998 to include both modern versions of the Lord’s Prayer, and the 1967 traditional revision, a survey was quoted that said that 80% of the adult population of the UK could recite the Lord’s Prayer. However the key point was that the figure dropped to 50% for 18-25’s. From my schooling, in two mainstream comprehensive’s, with no Church association, I was never taught the prayer in school. The Lord’s Prayer is increasingly not part of mainstream schooling. I would imagine that if the survey were repeated today, six years later, the figure would be below 50%.
    To my mind, if increasingly the people we are looking towards are a blank slate with regards to the prayer, the familiarity argument looses weight, ultimately it becomes a question of looking at whether our choice is being driven by what *we* are familiar with. Are we holding on to the traditional version, and in a wider sense many of our traditions because of what we want, because of what makes us comfortable, or because it is better for those we are trying to reach? Do we need to step back from what we as members of the Church do, and be objective, looking at how what we do is percieved by an increasingly secular society? If, as is sometimes said, we are seen as being an organisation stuck in the past, lacking in relevance to modern life, if in our modern liturgy such as we have in Common Worship, we suddenly leap into a form of English that has not been commonly used in centuries, and as quickly leap back, what message does that give?
    The version of the Lord’s Prayer I quoted in my previous comment is an attempt to try and clear up a lot of the confusion in the current wording, but not suprisingly recieved a lot of criticism, (the page from which I copied the text follows it up with the comment “And, yes, I’ve suffered through services where it was used. *yuk*”) and yet I’ve seen pages and pages of debate between Christians about the meaning of the words of the traditional Lords Prayer, and the modern version is still not much better, the points where the traditional wording is confusing to a modern ear (“Lead us not into temptation” implies that God is tempting us, “Trespass” relates to land, etc etc) are still not much better.
    As with many things in the Church it is a balance between tradition, and our calling to preach the Gospel. Between those ‘in the club’, and those we are trying to reach to invite to join.
    Currently I don’t think either the traditional or current C of E modern version are particularly comprehensible to adults, let alone youth. The modern version we have I see as a compromise, an attempt to move forward, trying to keep some familiarty. It’s chief advantage it is a compromise that is a coherent part of our liturgy, rather than the apparently anachronistic reversion to BCP that we get using the traditional within a Common Worship service, and as such if we are commited to preaching to people in their own language, rather than expecting them to try and learn the language of our club, it is a step in the right direction, and a step we all should be taking.

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Mission and understanding

Fantastic training session this week led by Nigel Pimlott of Frontier Youth Trust. We were looking at mission and how we understand the culture we are working in. We all know that we are in a post-Christian country but need to be recognising what that means for the way we communicate.
Nigel gave a great example: The question to a teen was,
“do you think the Christmas story is true?”
“No” …. was the reply
“Why not?”
“Well, Reindeers can’t fly can they!”

I was doing some work in a School a few years ago and the Vicar came in to do an assembly. He led the whole school in a rendition of the Lords Prayer, which they recited, word perfect.
I was surprised/impressed but wanted to see what it had meant to them so in one of the lessons I asked,
“You all prayed the Lords Prayer this morning ….. what does trespass mean?”
There was a sea of thirty blank expressions but one lad was determined to have a stab at it and attempted to give the word, as he understood it, some sort of religious context. “Is it,” he asked, “Walking on Jesus’s grave?” (Good try I thought)
Huge assumption from the vicar that anyone would understand what they’d been taught to pray, I wonder what assumptions we make?
We’re missionairies in a culture where all the reference points have gone!

Short termismitus

Short termism is the Kryptonite to the heroic work that goes on with young people!
At the network (of youth workers) meeting yesterday we were encouraged to “Fly Kites” and work out where we’d like our ministry to be in 10 years! It was an exciting way to be thinking but with funding struggles, two or three year contracts and visions that tend to be short term ….. not practically useful.
It’s not by any means limited to the faith based sector and is apparent across the board. Neighbourhood Regeneration projects suffer greatly …… just when trust and ownership is beginning to emerge, funding runs out breeding more cycnicism and frustration.
West Berkshire Nightstop (emergency accommodation for homeless young people) have been running succesfully for two years but are now looking for continuation funding. Amazingly many trusts will only fund new (unproven) projects but will not offer any continuation funding to projects that have proven to make a difference.
All very frustrating but some good news! My friend Yvonne has been the youth and community worker at a church for 9 years and is on a permanent contract! May this catch on!