Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Grappling with participation

This is going to be a messy start and it tackles a subject dear to my heart - youth work and the mission of God. However, we have to start somewhere. In all that I write I want to reassure you that in the churches of this diocese there are stacks of volunteers and young people taking part in church life. There probably needs to be some deep theological reflection too. The young people that I have met in getting my head around this are passionate about God and what to do exciting and challenging things. They are full of life and want to run free with the Spirit as part of the church. They are into mission, they love to worship, they are not iconoclasts, they want to take risks and they need leaders and friends to journey with them in it.

Participation is big news for the government and the Every Child Matters Agenda. See these webages here. This is all well and good for the politically correct amongst us, but we need to see beyond the spin and actually grapple with what it means for our churches, youth groups, clubs etc.

What does it mean for young people to participate in church life?

In youth work and ministry, participation has always been there... it is nothing new. It forms the core of relational work and is the way the gospel has been spread in the lives of people for years. In fact, faith without the participation of people of all ages petrifies the living presence of Jesus into a museum relic. The challenge is how to let each generation make their own special contribution to the growing community of the church.

The church is not purely about the preservation of itself and traditions. It is alive! Without the spring time of young people there would be no new life - we need all the seasons of the year in the church. If there is no forward momemtum in the church, no sense of change, no place for risk and growth - then this is no place for young people. We need to be bold and allow young people to play their part in the kingdom of God on earth NOW.

So where do we start? LISTENING!!! Young people, whether in our groups or simply living in parishes across our diocese are a blessing with something unique to contribute. They see the world different from the way I do. I need that view! We need that view! Their passions and perspectives matter! We also need to act on them.

So we need newer ways of working with Gospel and how to participate in that with young people.

This is a great quote by Vincent Donovan:

Evangelization is a process of bringing the gospel to people where they are, not where you would like them to be… When the gospel reaches a people where they are, their response to the gospel is the church in a new place…

How can we bring the gosepl to where young people are? How can they be part of it? Are we prepared to be in a new place as a church?

This is raw and unrefined. What could we do to allow young people to be the "history makers" they are called to be? Answers on a postcard or in the comment section below.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Young People & Spiritual Formation

Here's a sample clip of some of the input that took place at a training and learning session in Portsmouth Diocese. It was on the theme of young people and spiritual formation.

You can buy a full copy for only £4.00 including postage and packaging. So, if you would like a copy of the DVD for personal study, please send cheques (made payable to Diocese of Portsmouth DBF) to: Ben Mizen Youth & Children's Adviser Diocese of Portsmouth First Floor, Peninsular House Wharf Road, Portsmouth PO2 8HB

Alternatively, you can download audio (mp3 format) files courtesy of Max from Aftershock here:

Session 1 - Spiritual Formation & Young People - Rev Tim Sledge
Session 2 - Growing Up and Getting On - Ali Campbell
Session 3 - Youth Emmaus 1 & 2 - Rev Tim Sledge

Here are the accompanying Powerpoint presentations:

Session 1 - Spiritual Formation & Young People - Rev Tim Sledge
Session 2 - Growing Up and Getting On - Ali Campbell
Session 3 - Youth Emmaus 1 & 2 - Rev Tim Sledge

The files are pretty large... so you'll need a good internet speed to download them.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

christian youth work: evangelism or social action?

Here's a great article from infed where Carole Pugh raises questions about evangelical approaches to youth work and argues for informal education practice.

It covers some of the history of youth work and looks at the churches role in it over the years. I am not sure about the conclusions in light of current government developments in bundling youth work into schools. However, i find it helpful in reminding me that we are developing young hearts and minds... which is a spiritual activity!

Essential Reading: The Godbearing Life

Dean, K. C. and Foster, R. (1998) The Godbearing Life. The art of soul tending for youth ministry, Nashville, Tennessee: Upper Room Books. 221 pages.

An influential exploration of youth ministry that argues against ministry as something we 'do' to someone else. Instead, it is approached as 'a holy way of living toward God and toward one another' (1998: 9). The writers argue for a shift from a focus on program to relational ministry: 'contact ministry, showing up, hanging out, earning the right to be heard' (ibid.: 26) and then on to incarnational ministry.

Using relationships for the sake of meeting developmental needs represents a misguided concept of church. Youth ministry focuses on relationships, not only because of who teenagers are but because of who God is. God is a relationship - Christian tradition uses the relational language of Father, Son and Holy Spirit to describe the persons of the Trinity - and this God's love is so generous that the Godhead alone cannot contain it. Significant relationships with other Christians matter because they teach us something about what God is like - the One who can love us in spite of ourselves and who loves us passionately enough to suffer willingly on our behalf.

For this reason, we prefer the term incarnational to relational when we speak of ministry. Anybody can have a relationship but only God takes on flesh in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster (1998) The Godbearing Life, page 27

Buy a copy online at

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Emergency Youth Kit

I don't know about you, but I have myself in situations when a speaker hasn't turned up for an event, or a volunteer who was supposed to do the session this morning hasn't turned up and I haven't had a contingency plan! How about you? Found the same?

Last month I finally put together my Emergency Youth Session together. I bought a funky box from paperchase and put inside the following items:

1. a list of quick, easy and fun games
2. a youth talk/session and a copy of the Bible verse typed out
3. a worship idea
4. a DVD of Veggietales and a NOOMA
5. pens and some scrap paper

It sits in the boot of my car so it goes wherever I go, just in case!

What would you put in your emergency kit?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Schools Specialist

There's a job going at Scripture Union for the post of Kent Field Worker, with the emphasis on schools. Here are the detsails:

Kent Field Staff Worker – Schools Specialist
C. £20k plus benefits

Scripture Union is a national mission-movement whose aims are to make God’s good news known to children, young people and families, and to encourage people of all ages to meet God daily through the Bible and prayer. It pursues these aims through a variety of specialist ministries and this job, like all others within Scripture Union, is required for that purpose. In all its work, Scripture Union aims to be Bible-based, prayerful, Christ-centred, Spirit-inspired and dependent on God.

We are looking for someone to join our South East team who will continue the development of Scripture Union’s schools ministry in Kent through:

• Supporting Christian pupils and staff
• Recruiting, encouraging and training volunteers to use Scripture Union’s exciting programmes
• Helping churches to build closer links with schools
• Networking with others involved in children’s, youth and schools ministries.

The person we appoint will:

• Share our vision for Christian work in schools
• Have experience of working in schools
• Be excited by seeing others get involved in schools ministry
• Be able to communicate effectively with both adults and young people.

If you believe that you might be this person we would love to hear from you.
For further details or an information pack visit our website at or telephone 01908 856000.

This post will require an Enhanced Disclosure from the Criminal Records Bureau.

Closing date: Friday 11 May
Interview date: Friday 18 May

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

HOPE 2008

The dream....
In over 500 villages, towns and cities across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland churches will work together like never before.

In urban centres the church will engage in town & city wide mission initiatives that will impact the whole community. In 100's more neighbourhoods there will be localised events and activities that will bring words of truth and acts of service to 1000's of people across the UK.

By working in partnership with the police, local authorities and primary care trusts as well as other local churches, your church could help provide services to address issues such as debt dependency, hunger, homelessness and drug and alcohol addictions. There will be many schools and university missions, fun days, bbq's, kids clubs, estate clean-ups and much, much more......

‘Hope08 is a really remarkable vision that has grown out of the success of a number of local urban projects,’ said Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams.‘Christians have to learn how to give an absolutely clear answer to the question, “why is this good news?”. Now, with Hope08, this vision is being extended, with great boldness to the whole country – and even more widely.’
The diverse range of churches across the United Kingdom are on a constant mission to serve and communicate with the 58 Million residents and many visitors. 'Hope' proposes to support this on-going work, by facilitating intensified, united, focused prayer and a year of activities, communicating the Gospel through words and actions, creating a lasting legacy of both physical and spiritual change in the lives of communities and individuals.

Find out more here

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