Tag Archives: Saturday

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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Youth Work Summit Musings Part 4: Final Thoughts

On Saturday 20th October, 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

read part 2 here

read part 3a here 

read part 3b here

So we finally reach the end.

Session 4 brought us a powerful and thought provoking drama from ‘in yer face’ theatre company and then an extended time of worship with the brilliant Rend Collective Experiment. It was freeing and God soaked but then…they advertised their new album right in the middle of it. That put me off a little. Not enough to stop listening to them, but I think it was a mistake. They brought it back though with a final play of “we are the church”. an incredible song.

Then out came Mark Yaconelli to bring everything to a close. I really enjoyed his talk. It was inspiring and uplifting and I want to talk about it a little but let me talk about it first from an objective point of view. Yaconelli’s talk seemed to be a closing of the retreat day, not the summit. Does that make sense? He spoke about slowing down and spiritual disciplines. I couldn’t make it to the Friday but I sensed that this was wrapping up what he talked about then. It was a great talk, but I think it should have ended the Friday, not the Saturday. But that’s a small gripe and didn’t detract from what he had to say. Plus his sermon ended in the best way possible (with a dance) and my heart has swept slightly at the end of every sermon I have listened to since because they didn’t end in the same way.

I could see Jesus getting down with his bad-self at the end of the ‘the sermon on the mount’. Could you?

So, let’s discuss the talk a little.

Yaconelli spoke about the soul and how it knows God in three ways: through wonder, through suffering, and through joy.

We get caught up in the busyness of life and miss our soul shouting out to us “slow down!” Yaconelli told the story of his son’s ‘slow club’ and how one day he joined it after his son invited him.

God invites each of us into this club each day and most of the time we ignore it. Every so often we need to stop and remember we are created to live. it’s an obvious statement but one I know I forget a lot. Recently I had forgotten it all together and had been working completely out my own strength and skills. And I was getting quite burnt out by it all. This was a timely remember to ‘chill the **** out’ and embrace more of life. To spend more time with God and with my family. I won’t always get it right, but I’m trying.

And then Yaconelli danced. Have I already mentioned that he danced?

Final Thoughts

So how do I finish this series of blogs? How do I sum up that incredible, challenging, inspiring, thought provoking day?

I’ve really enjoyed writing these posts as it’s helped me to digest what was said during the day and implement some of it. I hope its been helpful to some of you. If it has, please encourage me. I’m an insecure guy sometimes.

Thanks to everyone who put so much hard work into the event. May you know how much it has blessed me and others (i noticed martin saunders also slipped a ‘rob bell-ism’ during his presenting)

i’m slightly disappointed that i won’t be going to the summit next year as london is too far (and expensive) to travel for one day but look forward to hopefully going in 2013.

Thanks again.

the world does not end because of an increase in knowledge but because of a lack of wonder…” (Mark Yaconelli)

Youth Work Summit Musings Part 3: Deepening Faith 2

On Saturday 20th October, 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

read part 2 here

read part 3a here

Krish Kandiah left the stage and we were then greated by Tim Plyming who talked  about “the unmissable olympic opportunity” for youth groups. Now if you manage to find someone less enthusiastic about sport than me, you’ve done well. Saying that, I was incredibly challenged and inspired by what Plyming had to say and I’m already trying to think of ways that we could use these events for our young people as many of them are huge sport fans.

An aside note. During his presentation, did he unwittingly reveal the location for next years Radio 1’s Big Weekend?

That’s quite a scoop!

Next up was Hannah Delaney with her presentation on “why are we scared of the supernatural in youth work?” At the risk of offending a few (and some of my previous comments on the summit have seemingly offended some) I felt sorry for Delaney, as early in to her talk, she appeared to be drowning.

What I mean by that is that the talks before, and after her, were informed by deep theology. they gave you concepts to wrestle with. I felt Delaney’s talk had none of this and I feel her talk would have worked better had it been in the “inspiring ideas” session rather than in session 3.

Don’t get me wrong. I think what she had to say was important. Do we rely on the spirit enough in our youth work? what makes us distinct? Let’s not be afraid of praying for the sick! But her talked lacked the theological depth of the other talks in this session and it showed in her presentation. There is not doubt that Delaney is doing an incredible work and God is moving mightily in it but she really was out of her depth in this session.

Up next was the Summit’s first (so-called) debate with Pete Wynter and Rich Atkinson on the subject of “Grow don’t grow?”. I call it a (so-called) debate because although they started off disagreeing with each other on whether we should reach lots of young people or focus on a few, they ended up agreeing with each other by the end. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that but don’t call it a debate if they actually agree with each other deep down.

The scriptural basis for their debate came from Jesus’ mission call at the end of the gospel of Matthew: “go into all the world and make disciples”. And I guess they are right to agree. We have a call to reach everyone but the key word in the passage  is disciples.

It is very hard for one youth group to reach thousands and make sure that they become disciples. Because discipleship is costly. Discipleship takes time and commitment. And in youth work we normally see one of the other. We either see a church with loads of young people (and little discipleship) or a church with a few young people and no vision to reach the thousands.

How do you do both?

The answer coming from them is that there needs to many ‘discipleship families’. Groups of seven or eight young people meeting together and being discipleship. I think this is a great vision but practically it’s a big ask. Because at the head of each ‘family’ you need a ‘parent’ who is going to lead that discipleship.

How do we go about recruiting ‘discipleship parents’ who will lead these groups and give so much of themselves?

That’s a great question to end on.

Finally, up stepped Ben Cooley with his passionate (and loud) call to “growing a wilberforce generation“. I loved this guy! Yes he was loud (which put a lot of people off) but this passion is often missing in the local church. He was infectious! He challenged us to take risks in our youth work and to stand up for justice and freedom. He spoke of the story of Gideon and how it doesn’t matter how many people we have standing with us because with God on our side, nothing is impossible.

I’m still reeling from it!

Youth Work Summit Musings Part 2: Inspiring Ideas

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?

Challenging stuff.

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.