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What makes your blood boil? June 30, 2009

Posted by Richard in Justice, Youth Work.
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My favourite sporting event is nearly over, in fact it is as good as finished. I have the shirt, I have watched nearly all the matches even having to sneak off to watch some of them. I am now going to have to wait 4 years for it to come around again.

When the final whistle blew on Saturday I was furious and I can feel this emotion rising upeverytime some one wants to talk to me about it. Lions lose series in last gasp penalty explains why. Of course losing hurts and missed tackles and giving away stupid penalties in the dying seconds is deeply irritating. But it is more than that. Since when was eye-gouging part of any sport. To only get a yellow card, then only an 8 week suspension and have a coach who initially was totally unapologetic makes me angry… it makes me more than angry. To hear certain ex-players say rugby is ‘a mans sport’ does not help my blood pressure either. Men do not insert fingers into other people’s eyes

Not wishing to sound like a child but it is not fair and justice seems to be lacking. As I begin to calm down I still make no apologies for caring about sport and being angry. However I wonder if this sense of injustice is matched in other areas of my life. Does noticing injustice motivate me in my life and faith? Does it affect the places I choose to go and young people I choose to work with? Are we just too interested in being comfortable?

Flickering Pixels June 30, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Media.
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Flickering PixelsI discovered that Shane Hipps has written a new book on relating to the digital worls. Its sub-title is ‘How technology shapes your faith’. Shane writes clearly and there are some stimulating ideas – not all of it new. I am at a synposium in a couple of weeks ‘Christianity in the Digital Space’ where I hope we might get further thinking done.

Anyway my plan is to post my thoughts and summaries on the book here over the next week or so – return here regularly for updates. If you have the book why not read along with me and post your thoughts.

In the meantime perhaps we could start with a question: ‘Does technology shape your faith?’

Ethical Evangelism? June 29, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Youth Work.
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I saw this article on the Metro News website about a Muslim Evangelist converting (or ‘reverting’ as Muslims call it) a young lad on the streets of Birmingham. According to the article Ibrahim Mogra described the action as ‘unethical’. Was it? Do we ever get young children to say, pray or say things that they might not really believe or understand?

This news came at an interesting time. I was with Ibrahim last week for the launch of the Christian-Muslim forum’s ethical guidelines for Christian and Muslim Witness. We wrote them to help both Christians and Muslims think about the way they do evangelism, and we would describe the sort practice as described in the news article as unethical.

The guidelines mark a significant moment in Christian-Muslim relations in the UK. For the first time Christians and Muslims are discussing publicly not whether we should do evnagelism amongst people of different faiths, but how can we do it ethicaly. You can download the guidelines from the Youth Encounter section of the SU website. Take a look do they affirm what you do or raise some questions?

Transforming Preaching June 25, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Bible, Youth Work.
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I have always enjoyed the stuff that Jonny Baker writes about Alternative Worship. I had been doing stuff with teenagers for 10 years before I discovereed a label for it. Others have also picked up on this and Scripture Union have a whole series of books in their Multi-Sensory… series

But I have also had two parallel feelings about the movement.

a) It’s come out of dissatisfaction  with the current practices of church. I would feel more comfortable if it was driven by a clear missiology

b) It has focussed on individuals or small groups rather than transforming existing practices (hence the term alternative).

So it was interesting to receive the latest Grove booklet from Jonny on preaching. It does seem as if most of the book is not about preaching at all. There are great examples of interactive activities and worship gatherings and a few nuggets for sermons. Perhaps what is missing at the start is a definition of preaching since most of the time we hear preaching and think sermons/talks. This is all hinted at in the book without being explicit.

The key feature for me is that our goal is surely that we want people to have space to encounter the living God. It is that encounter that transforms not our clever activities. But choosing activities that allow the space for that encounter is a significant tool. That’s where the grove booklet hits the nail on the head. I have recently been involved with two books focussed on that from a ‘Using the Bible’ perspective – check them out

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So this weekend where will our youth work allow the space for life transforming encounters with God? Worth reflecting on that as we sit down to plan.

Lack of contentment June 21, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Media, Youth Work.
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I’ve had a busy week and there are a number of items that I’ve read but haven’t had time to post about sio will spread them out over the next few days.

On Tuesday the Times reported on the fact that we are better off than we have ever been, but we have lost any sense of contentment. The reason? The Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggests that this is because the institutions of the past – including family and church – provided ‘commitment devices’ that stopped us thinking only of our own interests. We lose things because of the rampant march to individualism. This is all part of their publication ‘Contemporary Social Evils’.

As I think about youth work I am left wondering if we are pampering to societies norms rather than offering alternatives that enable young people to think differently about the world?

East West June 18, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Youth Work.
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Had a great time at Sanctuary on Sunday. This is a service run by East West that seeks to bring a fusion of Western and Asian culture into Christian worship. They’ve got some really creative ideas that would enhance worship in a variety of situations not just those with British Asian Christians.

Neets Increasing June 17, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Young people.
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There’s an article on the BBC Website that makes for sobering reading. It highlights the latest statistic that the number of young people Not in Employment Education or Training (NEET) has risen to more than 1 in 10.

Redeem the Chains June 15, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Youth Work.
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At the recent Scripture Union conference the Bible readings were from Philipians. The Speaker, Colin Sinclair, highlighted the part in chapter one where Paul comments that being chained in prison was actually advancing the Gospel. Colin used the phrase that Paul didn’t moan about his chains or protest his innocence rather he redeemed his chains. He saw then as a way of advancing the Gospel with the Palace Guard.

It would have been so easy to have seen God’s plans being hindered by his chains. Paul could have urged people to pray for release, for more opportunities and resources to spread the Gospel. He could have said ‘If only we had more freedom / money / people then we could do more’.

I’ve sat in so many meetings with Christian organisations where we have bemoaned the chains that limit our work. The chains of not enough money usually or not enough people or space or time. I’ve rarely, if ever, been in meetings where we’ve redeemed the chains and seen those things as actually advancing the Gospel. With the recession continuing I’m sure I’ll be in meetings like that again soon. Next time I’m going to try and see the chains differently.chains

Youth Work in a digital world June 12, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Education, Media, Youth Work.
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I noticed an interesting article in the Times on Wednesday about the governor of California getting rid of textbooks and replacing them with digital versions. Of course his motivation is saving money.

It did make me wonder about the Bible. With the growth of the digital world and e-books will the next generation be likely to read on-line and what does that do to Bible Study and understanding

Shane HippsI need to read Shane Hipps book ‘The Hidden Power of the Electronic Media’ again but also think about the digital age. Social networking is a massive area for today’s community building. What difference might it make to learning in the future? How is involvement in the digital world affecting the way that faith develops and grows?

What are we building? June 11, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Youth Work.
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I recently had the joy of flying from terminal 5 at Heathrow. I have to say it was pleasant experience (and no my luggage didn’t get lost!). Now I’m one of those people who take notice of my surroundings. So whilst I was witing for my flight I looked at the building and rembered seeing various news items about what a large and radical design the building is, and it is very big and impressive. But as I looked at my fellow passengers it seemed that they were far more interested in buying food, magazines, shortbread, caviar and expensive watches than noticing what sort of the building they were in. (What is it about shops at airports by the way? Is there really that much of a market for posh watches and oysters?) Anyway it did make me wonder whether the architects and designers couldn’t have saved money by building something much simpler with lots of shops in.

So what do we build in our youthwork? Do we build impressive progammes, structures or presentations that young people aren’t very impressed by or interested in because they are so focussed on what it is they come for?

Have we ever taken the time to find out?