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Being Human May 21, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Youth Work.
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‘We are not human beings having a spiritual moment but spiritual beings having a human moment’

Someone said that to a group of youth workers I was working with today. I’ll tell you later who said it – it might colour your response to the sentiment.

I’d be interested to know what you think about it.

Human or Spiritual?

Human or Spiritual?

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Love and Respect May 14, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Uncategorized.
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I heard the Grand Mufti of Bosnia (He’s an important Muslim Leader) give a talk a few months ago and I’ve just found a quote from the talk that I wrote down.

‘Muslims love each other but don’t respect each other. Europeans don’t like each other but respect professionals’

Was he on to something, or is it just a nice neat quote?

Does God get angry? May 11, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Youth Work.
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I’ve noticed a bit of a trend amongst some youth workers I mix with. They are so keen to present God as always loving, always gracious, always forgiving, always pleased with us, always affirming us that the end result can be a rather benign passive God – the old man in the sky smiling at us idea.

Now I know that many of these people talk about God’s anger at injustice , poverty the environment and other big global issues. But what about on a personal level. Does God sometimes get angry or upset with his children when they sin? Does he discipline his children and ‘prune them’ to produce better fruit? Or are these images of God that are a bit too uncomfortable to our western mindset?

I don’t want a return to preaching a fire and brimstone God who just wants to punish us and has to restrain himself . But as often happens in the church we seem to swing from one extreme to the other. God’s either always angry with us or never. Is that really the best way for us to teach the next generation?

So how would the young people you work with describe God, and what might that say about the balance of teaching they get?

Does spelling matter? May 10, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Families.
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spelling blocksJust caught up with a great story about Morrisons withdrawing spelling blocks sold for £3.22 because of incorrect spelling. There is an article here and a picture to the right.

Everyone makes mistakes but its amazing that it survived the most simple checks. Just goes to show no-one gets it right all the time.

Keeping Going May 8, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Youth Work.
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Not long ago I was wandering through the Byzantium Exhibition at the Royal Academy. Along with all the icons and artefacts was a painting depiciting Monks on a ladder to heaven. They walked up a precarious ladder towards God whilst small devils tried to drag them off with long hooks.

The obvious message was the challenge to avoid temptation and keep on to the end of the journey. But was fascinated me was that some of the devils were succesful in pulling monks off the ladder, but not just the ones at the bottom starting out, but some at the top who were so near.

It was a really honest reflection on the challenge of keeping going in the Christian life and it’s just as easy to fall away due to temptation as an old timer as a fresh faced young enthusiast.

This theme came up again at a recent Scripture Union Conference when we looked at the life of Gideon, and the challenge was given to ‘End Well’.

We’re often good at starting and think about the middle of the journey, but it got me to thinking what is it I’m doing now to make sure I end well (hopefully not for may years).

Youth work or family ministry? May 7, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Families, Youth Work.
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Interesting short piece on the Sydney Anglicans website that challenges the investment in youth/children’s workers rather than equipping families to nurture their children.

‘The great responsibility to bring children up in the ‘instruction of the Lord’ is not given to children’s workers or youth ministers. And yet so many churches act as though it is. ‘

Some of the comments are worth reading too. It did set me thinking about how easily we act as if the only thing that matters is the youth group or the youth work. I wonder what it would look like if we did try to help parents in this task? What difference would it make? Or are we so convinced that teenagers need an alternative adult role model that we undermine the role of parents?

Lots to ponder!

God is back May 4, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Media, Youth Work.
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God is back

God is back

A couple of economists have written a book – ‘God is back: How the global rise of faith is changing the world’. The brief description says

‘Since the Enlightenment, intellectuals have assumed that modernization would kill religion, and that religious America is an oddity. This title argues that religion and modernity can thrive together, and that the American way of religion is becoming the norm.’
The book also promoted a really interesting article about this issue in the Times on Saturday – summarising much of the content. You can find that here.
One of my questions is really around how much of this takes account of two issues
a) Globalisation and
b) the world of young people.
Although they may not influence politics they do have the power to shape the future. As Bono sings on the latest U2 album ‘ Each generation gets the chance to change the world’. What will today’s young people do and how will today’s youth workers help them? Perhaps that is the biggest challenge of all