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!

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  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) – 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.

Greenbelt Festival

Off to Greenbelt festival in an hour, it’s tipping down with rain, blowing a gale and generally not the sort of weather you want to camp in, still I’d better Carpe the Diem and get on the road.
Greenbelt has been a significant influence in my life and Christian faith. It was at greenbelt that I met Christians that were engaging with a hurting world, debating the difficult stuff, making a difference and celebrating/using God given creativity.

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Going Downhill

Yesterday I took one of the young people I mentor to Xscape at Milton Keynes. Its a ski slope with “real” snow in a shopping/leisure complex. I could get all metaphoric and write a load of cheesy stuff about youthwork in a culture that is fed poor substitites for things of real value, image instead of worth, power instead of significance and the like. However, I’ll just say it was FANTASTIC fun and a piece of youth work that was going downhill for all the right reasons.