on Saturday, I attended the youthwork summit in Manchester: An incredible thought provoking, God soaked, challenging and inspiring day.
Over the next few days, I hope to explore what I thought worked well (as well as what didn’t), what inspired and challenged me, what I disagreed with and what, frankly, bored me. sadly I couldn’t make the retreat or the other activities on the Friday so my posts will focus solely on the Saturday event.
So let’s dive in. read part 1 here
With stream 1 finished, we had some time to relax, get some much needed coffee, and for me, spot a number of #ywchat folks that I was too introverted to go and talk to ( @dancrouch, @beccadean, @GabriellaRusso and @easyrew).
After that, we were thrown into session 2: inspiring ideas (another mixed bag).
First up was Jason Royce and the “survival school” initiative. It’s an incredible piece of youth work and it was great to learn more about it. There were two challenges that I took from this talk.
1) what do I do with the young people that I hope WON’T turn up to my youth group.
2) Am I too nice? Have I compromised my boundaries because I want young people to like me?
Up next was a full blown assault by Lyn Edwards as she reflected on “lesson from rural youth work”. With a toilet brush in hand, she spouted forth that no dream is impossible with God and that good youth work breaks all the rules.
As Martin Saunders quipped afterwards, she truly reminded me of OT prophets like Jeremiah and Isaiah with just a hint of John the Baptist about her. On reflection, I think she could be a very difficult person to work alongside but there is no doubt God is doing powerful stuff through her.
Like a tornado she entered and like a tornado she left, leaving the Rend Collective to orchestrate some kazoo worship. As Loyd Harp quipped on twitter:
“Just to clarify . . . “kazoo worship” is not the worship OF kazoos, but worship via kazoos.”
It was then the job of Lat Blaylock to bring us back to reality with his mild mannered talk on “God is missing and is missed here” (the schools work imperative). I was familiar with much of what Blaylock presented as I’ve been to ‘prayer spaces in schools’ workshop and am the proud owner of schoolswork.co.uk art cards but it was still great to hear.
We were challenged to join with God in a divine game of hide and seek in school. Brilliant stuff.
Up next was 90 year old youth worker John Langdon sharing why “youthwork needs grand parents”. From the yws11 hashtag on twitter, it was a clear there was a large number of the audience who wanted to adopt him as their grandpa.He talked about the work he does and the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone.
It was fitting that what followed the oldest youth worker in the UK (probably) was a discussion of the biggest youth event in the UK as Andy Croft shared “Soul Survivor: what we get right and what we got wrong”. Glancing again at the yws11 hashtag on twitter, I couldn’t help but smirk (and feel a little inadequate) as most of the tweets referred to Crofts’ physique. I half expected someone to shout out ‘Get your kit off!”
What Croft managed to do was to turn the question round to us. What do we get right and what do we get wrong in our youth work? Too often church youth workers, including myself, can be guilty of not critically reflecting on their own practice and I think this is essential if we are to keep on course with Gods vision.
Croft also stated that “being attractive and being biblical are not always the same thing” and this is a huge challenge. We need to be continually reflecting on our work and aligning ourselves with what Gods big idea for our work is.
To finish off the second set of seminars, Patsy McKie spoke about “what comes from gangs and guns”. There is no doubt her story is a powerful and dramatic one but honestly I felt this talk was a missed opportunity. Personally I would either liked to have heard more about her story and how she overcame the death of her son or what she actually does.
I felt we got neither of those. disappointing. But again, from speaking to others, I know some people were really challenged and inspired by what she said.
And with that it was time for lunch. Again the session met its aims with a varied mix of talks and there was definitely something for everyone. In my next post I’ll talk about session 3. The most challenging and controversial stream.