I am a regular user of MSN and AIM to keep in touch with fellow youth workers, young people, friends and colleagues.
The curious thing is that SOMETIMES you can get very deep over MSN, often in a way you can't if you're face to face with someone. It's like being on the phone but even less vulnerable. Not ony can the person at the other end not SEE you, they can't HEAR you either. This can make communication difficult but it can also make it easier if you're discussing something deep and personal.
In the last couple of days I've been held by some very deep convos on MSN. Whether it's discussing women bishops, celibacy and the Immaculate Conception with my friend Ben, hearing about a break up with a boyfriend or discussing Christianity and homosexuality, I find I can have time to choose my words carefully (though I don't always manage to type them as carefully as I'd like). I can refer someone to a website with information (or indeed read yet another Roman Catholic tract! - Thanks mate!)
What's actually amazing about being in touch with my young people via MSN is that, when I am sitting at my desk planning youth events or reflecting on things, I have the tangible presence of the young people with me to keep me with them in mind. On a very basic level I can ASK them for their opinions about things (ok today's was do you REALLY want to play sleeping lions at the Christmas party?? really????). However on a deeper level, it helps me to avoid that administrative spiral that one can get into when planning an event which forgets the PEOPLE and focuses only on the EVENT. I am reminded that what youth work is ABOUT is about building relationships with young people so that we can encourage and inspire them and that it is NOT about WHAT we do, rather the FACT that we do it or even just the fact that we are THERE.
One of my young people said tome today:
"u no since our chat i been feeling alot beta dat gd int it?"
I was thrilled.
This week so far I have preached, produced, the newsletter for next term, created a flyer for our next event and sent that out to all the young people, I've spent the day planning and reflecting with the vicar, I've been to morning prayer, I've written a letter with details of some forthcoming services yadda yadda...
Yet all this is NOTHING (a clanging cymbal you might say) ...
For one young person I made the day better. Wow!
You don't get many jobs in life where you can list that among your achievments.