Tag Archives: London

This is Always about That

At a holiday club meeting a couple of weeks ago, one of the volunteers got really annoyed because the club would be running at the same time as her group (it also meets in the church) and she hadn’t been told about this. She was adamant that her group couldn’t be moved (even though it was still 3 months until the club).

Three weeks ago my wife went to speak to someone else in the church who had wronged her. the person got very defensive and started hurling insults.

At the Youthwork Summit in London on Saturday, Professor William Struthers talked about pornography. He stated that people who turn to pornography are trying to fill an area of intimacy that is currently not been fulfilled.

This is always about that. We do not act in a vacuum. Our actions are always linked to something. The issue staring at you is often not the real issue. There is always something else. This is always about that.

The volunteer was annoyed because for years her group has not been recognized by the leaders in the church. She got angry, not because of us, but because of years of hurt. This ‘issue’ is actually about that ‘issue’.

The person who went off the handle at my wife wasn’t annoyed at my wife. They were annoyed that someone had told my wife what they had done. Their issue was not about the fact that my wife came to speak to them. It was that someone had told my wife. This is always about that.

Pornography is not the issue. It’s about what has led someone to it that is the issue.

Behind ever action is a reason; a story; a life.

Sometimes we see the action and ask: “why are they reacting like that?” “Why are they over-reacting?”

Because all we sometimes see is the action, the conclusion. More often than not, we do not see what has led up to this. We try to solve the issue. But the issue we are trying to solve isn’t really the issue. It’s the issue behind the issue that we need to look.

We need to take a step back and realise that

This

is

always

about

that.

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Our Youthwork Summit Talk: The Responses

As I said yesterday,  Marc Williamson and I spoke at a national youth work event, “The Youthwork Summit” in London on Saturday around the issue of film and youthwork. You can read the transcript here.

The feedback from our talk has been brilliant and I have had the opportunity to engage with people through twitter and face-to-face about some of the concerns or issues they have surrounding it.

What I’d like to do now is to respond to some of the general queries people have had about what we said so that dialogue can continue. That is the main reason we want to explore films. We want to engage in conversation and I am only too happy to talk to those who agree or disagree with what we have to say.

Foreword

Let me say first of all that we were not endorsing any of the films that we spoke about. I do not agree that we should be endorsing any film over another regardless of what we think of it. Rather, I am keen to see dialogue with films that young people are watching. We may disagree with what they watch, and there are times when we should say that, but what I want to see more of is youth workers talking about those films with their young people. There were a couple of people who said they didn’t pick up on that aspect so I wanted to state that before I go any further.

Where are the other themes?

We only had ten minutes to try and communicate kingdom themes in five films. Everyone has a different opinion of what the Kingdom is and its values. But we had a limited time to speak of what we say as the overarching narratives: return from exile, reconciliation, incarnation, identity and sacrifice. There are many more and a longer presentation would have allowed us to tease out more of these concepts.

We shouldn’t be encouraging young people to watch horrible films

One of the films we discussed during the talk was “Saw 3D”. I knew that picking this film would cause an issue.  Some others also disagreed with our choices of “Twilight” and “Bridesmaids”. I understand that. People have very strong opinions to films; whether it be ones they like or dislike. There are many reasons why we may dislike certain films. We may find them offensive or sick or whatever but we have to be aware of our own preferences and not try to push them them on to others.

I understand that many people will consider “Saw” and other horror films sinful and corrupt and that we should not be encouraging our young people to watch them. I have no issue with that. But in my experience simply telling young people not to watch something often results in them watching it. What I’d rather see is that if you’re young people are watching films like this, rather than simply ignore it or give them a lecture, engage with them. That doesn’t mean you need to watch the film but find out about its theme so that you can discuss it. Talk to them about the good and the bad things about it and help the young people make informative choices.

You won’t be able to work with them all their lives and it is better to give them the tools to critically watch all kinds of films so that they will do this long after they’ve left the youth group.

Suitability of films

This sort of ties in with the last point but I think its slightly nuanced. What are suitable movies? That’s a good question. Those that had issue with some of the films we talked about said that they weren’t ‘suitable’. Either because of violence, or the oppression of women etc. Again, I understand that. But again I ask, what is suitable? If our young people are all over 18, can we not show them an 18 rated film just because it has violence and sex? Is it wrong to show them these kinds of film? Who decides that?

My problem is that in most christian films discussion resources, the only films that are used are ‘safe’ films. Ones that have positive themes and are rated for children. But is this healthy? What is that telling our young people? Now I’m not saying that just because a horror film is really big at the time, that we show that to them. But if they have all seen it then it might be worth discussing it. We too easily put culture into good and bad categories. But that’s not good practice.

I hope this has been helpful and please feel free to comment and keep the discussion going.

 

Youth Work Summit Talk

Hi

Last weekend I, along with my colleague Marc Williamson, spoke at the Youthwork Summit in London on “The Kingdom of God in 5 films”. I really enjoyed the talk and speaking to folks afterwards (those who agreed and disagreed). I’ll be blogging about the whole event soon and also replying to a few of the comments that people share about our talk specifically.

We are keen for dialogue in film. We want to discuss and explore ideas together. Both with those who agree and disagree with our opinions.

A full transcript of our talk (including the bits we had to cut out for time) is now up online on our film site. please take a look at it here and let me know what you think.

45 Reasons Why You Should Come to the Youthwork Summit in May

The Youthwork summit isn’t for everyone. We know that. But it is for some people. Check out our list of the sorts of people who should come to the 2012 summit – and see if any of these categories include you…
1. Employed youth workers –because you’re going to hear more than 30 people share big ideas, dreams and visions about the future of youth ministry.

2. Volunteer youth leaders –because we’ve got some practical talks to help you build your youth work toolkit – from using film to understanding mental health issues.

3. Church leaders– because we’re passionate about whole-church youth ministry and good line management. We’ve got Andy Hickford coming to talk about exactly that.

4. Parents– because you’ll hear the truth about what’s really going on in your teenager’s lives – from the proliferation of adult content, to the positive and negative effects of music.

5. Christians in statutory youth work– because our talks aren’t only relevant to those of us working in church contexts – for instance we’ll help you understand the teenage brain, think through the influence of youth language, and explore your own creativity.

6. Comedy fans– because we’ve got Tim Vine coming. And don’t worry – he’s coming to tell jokes. A lot of them.

7. Arty creative types – because Jamie Treadwell is going to help you to unleash your God-given creativity in every area of your life and work.

8. Tired people – because we’ve asked 40-year youth ministry veteran Les Comee to talk to you about how ‘letting go’ can help you rediscover the energy you’ve lost.

9. Big Picture strategists – because we’re bringing youth ministry consultant and coach Mark Oestreicher over a day early to help you think about the vision behind your youth ministry.

10. Evangelicals – because many of the speakers are.

11. Non-Evangelicals – because many of the speakers are.

12. Bad singers –because we’re going to be bringing together many of the youth work community’s ‘finest’ crooners for our early-day ‘Curryoke’ event.

13. Curry fanatics – because ‘Curryoke’ wouldn’t make much sense otherwise.

14. Wannabe beat poets – becausewe’ve got the reigning European Poetry Slam champion, Harry Baker, performing live.

15. People who like coffee – because our incredibly generous friends at Starbucks are again providing free coffee all day for everyone!

16. People who don’t like coffee– because there’s also tea.

17. Schools workers– because we’ll be filling you in on the new ‘School Pastors’ scheme, exploring how mentoring makes a difference, and looking in depth at the culture your young people live in.

18. People with ears– because our House Band – the incredible Rend Collective Experiment are back, and bigger than ever before, with London youth choir Walk da Walk in tow.

19. Youth ministry teams – because you will hear so many new ideas – you’ll want to implement some of them. Come and listen together – then use the breaks to figure out how this stuff is going to work in practice.

20. Young leaders– because they’ll love the pace of the day, the focus on big ideas, and the fact that many of our speakers are young leaders themselves.

21. Hip Hop connoisseurs – becausewe’ve got the MOBO-winning Guvna B performing live, and explaining how gospel music can reach young people.

22. People who owned ‘Powerpack’ – becauseBob Moffett, author of the first youth ministry resource known to man, will be taking part in our early evening session.

23. Southerners – because frankly this year, you’ve got no excuse

24. Northerners – because last year all the Southerners came up your way.

25. Midlanders – because you simply can’t wait until May 18th 2013.

26. Theology buffs – because we’ve got Dr Conrad Gempf and his planet-sized brain, delivering massive revelations in bite sized chunks.

27. Student workers – because Miriam Swaffield is going to fire you up about making the transition from youth group to university life without losing faith.

28. Students – because you’ll hear big ideas at the cutting edge of youth ministry – and get more great essay quotes than you could ever need.

29. Manga fans – because ‘Manga Bible’ creator Siku will be on-hand to tell us about his groundbreaking new project.

30. Babies – because for the first time, we’re going to run a parent and baby room with a video relay.

31. Church treasurers – because you should see how well your £30 has been spent.

32. People stuck in a rut – because hearing scores of new ideas will jolt your ministry into a whole new lease of life.

33.Youthwork magazine readers – becauseyou’ll hear some of the best-loved contributors from 21 years of the magazine, from John Allan and Pip Wilson to the founding father himself, John Buckeridge.

34. PCC and church committee members – because you’ll gain priceless insight into why your youth workers are so passionate – and why they desperately need your support.

35. People who feel isolated – because you’ll get an amazing opportunity to meet over a thousand youth workers who share your passion for God and for young people, as we’ll give you purpose-built opportunities to network with them.

36. Activists – because you’ll hear from world-changers like Patrick Regan and Emad, an Egyptian youth worker who has ministered to teenagers through the Arab Spring.

37. Contemplators – becausewe’ve asked Catholic pioneer Avril Baigent to help you to practically explore the Spiritual Disciplines with young people.

38. Film nuts – because Steven Mitchell and Marc Williamson are going to present the best five movies to help you talk to young people about the Kingdom of God.

39. Future speakers – because at least six of this year’s contributors have previously attended the Summit as a delegate.

40. Fans of The Blobs – because Blob tree creator Pip Wilson will be in the house, which from previous experience means anything could happen.

41. People who care – becauseyou’ll hear first hand the story of Layla, a teenager who’s life in the care system has been hugely impacted for the better by the influence Christian youth workers.

42. People who are feeling old – becausewe’ve gathered together a wise ‘council of the elders’ to look both forwards and back, dreaming together about how youth ministry might learn the lessons of the
last three decades.

43. Tech-heads – becausenot only will Twitter again be awash with live summit micro-blogging, you’ll also get an incredible demonstration of new technology previously only seen within the boundaries of NASA.

44. Happy Campers – because if you’re staying overnight at London School of Theology, you can take advantage of our super-cheap accomodation option.

45. Belgians* – because YWS welcomes delegates from beyond this Sceptred Isle. Last year we had visitors from Brazil, Japan and Germany. Who’s coming in 2012?

*Other nationalities also very welcome

Practical ways of using film in youth work: Part 1

I run a website with fellow ICC graduate Mark Williamson called reel faith which seeks to offer an alternative view on how films should be used in youth work. I taught an open evening lecture on the subject at the international christian college on Thursday 1st March and myself and Mark are speaking about the same issue at the youthwork summit in London on May 19th. I have also written a number of blog posts on the subject of why we should no longer be using two minute clips from films to simply make a theological point. Read them here or here.

As you can see, dialogue between film and faith is incredibly important to me.

At the lecture at ICC I offered a couple of practical ways films could be introduced into your youth work programme and over the next couple of blogs, I want to outline those ideas.

One Month Film Study

Start by showing the film at your group on the first week of the month. Show the film in its entirety and have a discussion using the questions I have suggested previously. What will become obvious is that there will be two or three major themes that the young people highlight from any given film and on that evening you can have a brief discussion about those themes and find out what the young people think about them.

For the three remaining three weeks I would suggest looking at one theme a night. I find this a great way to do youth work as the talks and discussions you will then be giving for the rest of the month have been suggested by the young people. It is issues that they want to wrestle and grapple with and the young people should be more engaged with you because of that. It also means that rather than coming with your own agenda for a particular film, you are letting the film speak for itself and allowing open dialogue to flow out of it.

So in theory you could do two or three films over a year and spend a month looking at each one of them. You are no longer spoon feeding young people about issues within films and instead are giving them the tools to critically engage with film and culture in general themselves.

An example could be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Week 1-      show the film

Week 2-      ‘Going against the flow’

Week 3-      ‘Integrity’

Week 4-      ‘Sacrifice’

Have a go yourselves and put your comments and thoughts up on here or on the reel faith site. We’d love to hear them.

Youth Work Summit 2012



If you have to go to one youthwork training event this year…make it this one.

Don’t believe me? Go to the site and have a look or check out my review of last years summit below:

part 1: exploring culture

part 2: inspiring ideas

part 3: deepening faith 1

part3: deepening faith 2

part 4: final thoughts

You’ll be glad you did.

Rite of Passage in Youth Work 2

Yesterday, I wrote a post that looked at Rite of Passages in Youth Work. Read it here.

Reflecting on it some more, I think there are some questions we need to ask ourselves as we reflect on how we travel with our young people through these experiences.

When are young people ready?

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, our culture tends to put an ‘age’ on when cultural rite of passages should happen. ie first sexual experience, smoking, drinking etc. But adolescent development teaches us that there is no set age for when someone is ready for this. An indicator for me is when young people start reflecting on things outside of themselves. The moments when they begin to realise that the world is bigger than them and they start to care about what else is going on in the world. These are signs that young people may be ready to move into a new ‘status’ and that a rite of passage experience may be helpful here.

What rite of passage?

Yesterday I reflected on how my first mission to London with my youth group was probably a rite of passage as it allowed me to put into practice some of the theology (god talk) that my youth worker had been teaching us. There is no one size fits all when it comes to this but an understanding of the young person will aid this discussion.

Who joins them on the journey?

Generations ago, men join with the young boys and lead them into adulthood. the same with women and girls. Children of both sexes had older examples that they could look up to and imitate. This has all but been lost in our generation because rather than seeing adolescent as a transitional stage between two fixed stages “child”/ “adult”, we have turned it into its own fixed stage “teenager”. Faith communities have the opportunity now to bring some of those ancient practices back to the forefront. There must be older men and women joining in for the rite of passage. I am not saying there needs to be a set age but it cannot simply be just their peers and there must be older guys for boys and older women for girls.

Any further thoughts? Have I missed things?

Youth Work Media Resource1

Over the years I’ve made a number of little short films.

Many of these I have used with youth groups to spark discussions.

And I wanted to make them available for other groups to use.

Included here is an embed to the short film and some basic discussion questions. If you would like a ‘hard’ copy of the films then please message me and I can get one done for you. The cost would be £5 and all funds would go towards making another short.

Short film #1- “Shore”

A man awakes alone on a beach, haunted by a figure in black.

For me, the film deals with a number of themes including hell and the choices that we make in life. The character in the film commits an act that haunts him for eternity. He becomes trapped in his own personal hell because of the guilt and shame that has built up.

Questions for discussion

1) Have you ever felt the way the man in the film does?

2) Where do you think the man is? Is he in hell? What is hell to you?

2) What kinds of things do you feel guilty about?

3) Do you struggle to forgive yourself for these things? Why/ Why not?

4) Do you think God can forgive you for these things?


“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28)

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)


Creative Response

1) Fill a large jar with water and have a number of small soluble tablets. Ask the young people drop the tablets into the water and watch them dissolve, explain to them that this is just like God forgiving the bad things they have done.

or

2) The rocket confessional on proost

an interactive flash confession created by Jon Birch. Type in your confession and watch as it is launched into space and be absolved.