Sunday, July 30, 2006

10 Lies of Student Ministry REVIEW

Michael Lukaszewski was offering free review copies of his book 10 Lies of Student Ministry and I just can't resist a free book so I got him to send one all the way across the atlantic.

Before my own review, which is forthcoming, here are some existing reviews by Chris Marsden and Ben Boles at Fusionlife. There's also a promise of a review here.

Chris M says:
"It was all those little things that I picked up over the years, through trial and error, that were the difference between what I thought youth ministry was all about, and what God was teaching me youth ministry should be all about."

Ben says :

"10 Lies in my mind is a great reminder book peppered with truth about what are job is really about and fresh thinking about the lies that hold us back from doing ministry that glorifies God and build disciples not just fills seats."

So what are these ten lies?

  1. It's all about relationships
  2. Students are the future of the church
  3. The bigger the event, the better the impact
  4. Students need to understand what we are teacing
  5. The primary job of the student pastor is to reach students
  6. Students want to be entertained at church
  7. Student Ministry must be cutting edge
  8. We must be family friendly
  9. We can use the popular students to reach others
  10. A growing ministry is a healthy ministry

The title of the book reflects a passion in Michael not to criticise student ministry but to see it done in the true service of God. To those curious like me I can say yes he does say what the TRUTHS of youth ministry are in his opinion... but I won't steal his thunder.

I have to say that from my initial reading of the book I found it told me a lot of what I've already picked up so I'd say it is probably of more use to the newer youth minister than the more experienced. More than that though, I found that the book seemed to talk to a youth worker that wasn't me. I think there is a definite American style to the kind of situations Michael talks about and I think, missiologically, it is not particularly like my own experience of Anglican youth ministry. 10 Lies of Student Ministry seems to address ministry from churches driven hard by results and bringing large numbers of people to faith rather than the more accompanying, "narrative theology" model I find works here. Michael certainly does a lot to question the priorities of some of the ministry models and it is abundantly clear that he has a wide experience of "doing well" and "doing not so well" and has learnt great lessons from both.

He calls his reader to focus on drawing young people into relationship not with themselves as the youth minister but rather into a relationship with Jesus. He does this in a simple and accesible way but I must admit I, personally, found the complex and heavily theoretical examination of this as an example of mimetic desire in Kenda Creasy Dean's book Practicing Passion more appealing. Now I know I'm a little unusual in being a youth minister and WANTING a heavily academic book that references sources and refers to theology and sociological theory but that's me. If it's not you then this book will appeal as it speaks from the heart about experience of ministry.

I like for example:

"You're not as important as you think you are. God can reach students without your help. Your church will not go out of business when you leave." (p.67)

He stresses that youth ministers are not there to minister alone but to draw, encourage, inspire and VALUE a team of leaders around them. I couldn't agree more. He also speaks against the numbers game which is always pleasing to see and fotunately increasingly common nowadays. he says "a better measure of real success is health not growth" (p. 141).

I think what this book does well is challenge some preconceptions of youth ministry. Of course if you don't HAVE those preconceptions, it may not all be for you but it's an easy read and clearly set out so you can dip in quite easily. Anyone local wanting a look just let me know!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Not so progressive...

Having tried to tie in with the Progressive Christian Bloggers Network for MONTHS now and as the site is STILL not been updated with any new blogs it is now disappearing of the website. More space for other things!

Ducks of Hazard??!!

Great querky programme on Radio 4 today about the thousands of plastic ducks that made a bid for freedom from a ship in the north Pacific and have been travelling the high seas since 1992. Apparently these intrepid little ducks have been changing views on sea currents and the object of the study of many oceanographers. They are now travelling across the Atlantic and heading towards Cornwall! Finding one of these ducks can get you $100 reward. Brilliantly apparently some of the ducks got stuck in the arctic where there are formations known as "pancakes" and they would have been frozen for three or four months. Only radio 4 could do a programme in which they recreated the episode and DESCRIBE the movement of 48 duck re-enactors. You really do have to listen to this rather surreal affair!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Blogging the world smaller every day

So massive coincidence that my friend Matt (just back from Israel and at Fresh Cafe last night - AWESOME!) was in fact sharing a room with Chris who'd been on my blogroll for ages now! Have a look at Chris's reflections on the whole thing.

We were due to be in Israel this October but have (somewhat sensibly) postponed until next year, may be in May. Seeing Chris's pictures tho makes me wanna go even though now is not the time!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Lighthouse the Witch and the Wardrobe

Iwas speaking yesterday at our town's Christian holiday club for children called lighthouse.

They've chosen The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe as the skeleton on which to hang their teaching and this was my intended offering.

In the end I linked it in more tightly to ROLE MODELS (which the young people are being this week to the children they're woking with) and how I actually think Edmund is the best role model in the book because although he is tempted he repents and makes amends

In many ways I think Edmund IS the true hero of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for it is he who overcomes the temptations offered by the queen : Hot chocolate, Turkish delight, the chance to be SOLE king over Narnia and perhaps most importantly for him over his sisters and his older brother Peter.

Like Adam and Eve in the stories you’ll explore today Edmund was faced with a temptation and succumbed.

Would it be better if God had made it impossible for Adam and Eve, Edmund, you and me to be tempted?

Free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book II, Ch. 3.

When Edmund has betrayed first a total stranger, Tumnus (who had risked his own life to protect Edmund’s sister) and then his brother and sisters, he KNOWS he has done wrong. As C S Lewis said in his book Mere Christianity

It is after you have realized that there is a real Moral Law, and a Power behind the law, and that you have broken that law and put yourself wrong with that Power—it is after all this, and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk.” Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book I, Ch. 5.

Edmund goes through great trials of hardship and cruelty at the hands of the queen and still on his return he faces the toughest challenge yet. FACING UP to his family and apologising.

It is often the hardest thing to do but something that is IMPERATIVE to all Christians

Jesus urged people to put things right with others:
He talks of murder being a great sin but then implies that a far greater sin is not to make amends for something that you have done wrong WHATEVER it is:
when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5

As John says in his first letter:

Whoever says, "I am in the light," while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.

We cannot be in a true loving relationship with God unless we endeavour to be in a loving relationship with those around us.
For as John says later

Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.

In fact the very act of apologising for a wrong done can be the act of Christian witness that makes a massive difference in the life of someone else.

For someone to see a Christian apologise (perhaps when others wouldn’t have thought it necessary or when they could have “got away with it”) that is a moment that can open up the conversation with that person about WHY? It is in that humility of confessing to another that we show our true faith in a God who loves us so much that he forgives us when we confess our sins. A god who loves YOU so much that he sent his son to die for your sins so you could be forgiven

We are all tempted and we all sin

As St paul says:
Sin came into the world through one man, and his sin brought death with it. As a result, death has spread to the whole human race because everyone has sinned. …But God's grace is much greater, and so is his free gift to so many people through the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. And there is a difference between God's gift and the sin of one man. After the one sin, came the judgment of "Guilty"; but after so many sins, comes the undeserved gift of "Not guilty!" Romans 5.12-16 paraphrased

Summarised even better in his letter to the people in Corinth:
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22

It is part of our humanity to sin but it is part of our Christianity to face up to that sin:

It is after you have realized that there is a real Moral Law, and a Power behind the law, and that you have broken that law and put yourself wrong with that Power—it is after all this, and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk.” Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book I, Ch. 5.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bible translations

Whilst searching for a passage for my talk at Lighthouse tomorrow I found this site called scripturetext. It seems pretty cool because you can find a bible passage in all SORTS of different languages including the original (and also the most, marvellous, beautiful, amazingly lovely Latin!)

Just thought it might be handy

God lived in a tent

These are the words from my sermon on Sunday that resounded with a lot of people apparently. God lived in a tent.

I was talking about the readings set for the day 2 Samuel 7:1-14a, Ephesians 2:11-22 &
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, we heard about David, settled in his house of cedar, looking at the tent which house the ark of the covenant and offering to build God a house and God saying he would build him a "house" (a family, heirs, a lineage) and a son who would build a church.

First I got people to look round the big medieval church we were in and experience the vastness and the silence of the place (something I regularly do with schools visiting!) Then I talked about how CHURCH for us meant a building but that it hadn't always been that way. In fact God had lived in a tent (cue arrival of small 3 person dome tent carried by two young people).

I explained how Moses had met God first not in a Church but on a mountain and how God had given him the tablets with the ten commandments which were then placed in the ark of the covenant. I described how the Israelites travelled around and wherever they stopped the ark would live in a tent and people would go ther to meet with God.

So it was that David's son came to build the "church" over many years. A building MUCH bigger than our parish church (which is pretty big but we don't like to boast! no please really would you like to pay our heating bills!?!?! ;oP)

However another "Son of David" built a church EVEN bigger than the one Solomon built. Jesus, born to the house of David built the church of people. He didn't limit himself to building his CHURCH in a building but travelled. Wherever he travelle, people followed, even when he was seeking some rest.

Interestingly the Gospel reading misses out a section and that contains the story of the feedin gof the 5,000. So Jesus had a church where there were 5000 people (and some!). You coldn't get 5000 people in our church but I'll tell you where you'll find gatherings like that.

This week IN TENTS at the Lighthouse clubs in High Wycombe, Hazlemere, Great Missenden, Princes Risborough & Burnham there'll be at least 5,000 people coming together. Over the summer weeks there'll be Soul Survivor, Greenbelt and Taize where people will gather IN TENTS as a church.

I went on to talk about how, over the summer people might be away and that even if they weren't in church it didn't mean that church wasn't in them during that time.

Church is not something confined to the building in which we meet every week. In meeting together we grow together as a CHURCH it is that bonding of people no matter who they are, what age they are, male or female, whatever race they are. By coming together we build CHURCH and even if we're away for a few weeks, that CHURCH doesn't stop.

Just as Solomon and Jesus were sons of David so we are members of God's family.
As Paul said in his letter to the Ephesians:
"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone."

If we have Christ as our focus we can build church for as Paul continues:

"In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God."

That's what we can be. So yes we'll miss those who are away in the summer (some of them staying maybe in TENTS others in more splendid buildings) but this time gives people the chance to take church out of the building. To focus on Jesus wherever they are (for where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them). My challenge to our congregation was to come back to us and tell us where they built church while they were away.

note: unfortunately this was one of those sermons where I prepared lots and then just spoke so it may not be wholly accurate. It seemed to be appreciated though which is always pleasing.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Timeless classic

I just wanted to share a priceless moment from the year 6 leavers assembly at the school today.

The headteacher was handing out prizes for 100% attendance to some of the pupils. After three or four had come up, smiled, shaken hands and gone back to their seat, the headteacher called out another name and there was a pause followed by isolated murmurs of "She didn't come in today!!!" Priceless!

I'm still pondering the concept of 100% attendance prizes though. Of course it's good to be dedicated but if a child gets ill that child SHOULD stay off school or what about children with serious illnesses that might have necessitated extended periods off. Ok if these children were healthy all year and not taking "sickies" that's great. However, I can't help picturing the scenario of child feeling ill but parents need to work so send the child in anyway. I suppose it's always good to reward children for things if it means they feel good about things and NOT to do so just because other children have been ill and would be upset might not be a good option either.

What do people think?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Worse than death?

It was our church fete on Saturday (and we raised over £2000 which was great!) and the young people had volunteered to run the music for event. They had got together amps and a computer based DJ system and a funky gadget to fade from one song to another (ok I'm _sure_ it had a name but that's why the young people were running it not me!). They had spent the week running up to the event choosing music to give the fete a vibrant buzz and encourage people to hang around and visit the stalls and, of course, spend money.

Unfortunatley, even though the young peopel had thought carefully about tracks (and trust me we later at the youth club we heard the ones they decided NOT to play at the fete!) some people disagreed with the volume and the choice of music. They wanted the young people to play classical and hymns.

It is the eternal difficulty when churches want young people to be involved but don't want them to be themselves. Sometimes it seems that people at church to want young people to be there
but want them to conform to their idea of what church should be rather than be PART of the church and allow the church to be CHANGED by them.

I understand that the music the young people chose may not have been what everyone at the church would have chosen but I wanted the adults to acknowledge that it wasn't what the young people would have chosen as their ideal either. The young people had made an effort ot be there when they hadn't done so before and they had made compromises on their choice of music. I wanted the adults to acknowledge that so I spent some time chatting with some of those who had wanted quieter classical music. Some of the adults actually congratulated the young people on some of their choices which was really good. Others said they just found it too loud and that was because their stall was close to the amps so they found it hard to hear people who came to the stall.

As the youth worker it was quite right that it was my role to mediate between the young people and those who weren't entirely happy with the music the young people chose. Unfortunately it was also my job later that day to talk with the young people who walked in tothe youth club carrying the music equipment saying "at least we won't be told to turn the music down here!" At least the church DOES offer them a place where they do feel that way even if it is not within the church as a whole.

Muffin Wars

I had a lesson in marital life this weekend...

It was our church fete and, as the good little youth worker that I am, I made three dozen muffins for the cake stall (having already given some books for the bookstall etc etc). I said to Michael that he could choose ANY one but just one. If he wanted more he'd have to pay the stall for them. He was rather disgruntled by this, asserting that baked goods made in OUR house should be OURS until they leave the house. Anyway he picked his one muffin.

We happened to be going out to friends for supper so I also purchased four muffins for us all. (So Michael did get TWO muffins.

The next day I dutifully carried my delicious double chocolate muffins (and hook-a-duck!) down to the church. Michael went for his weekly "fry" and was due to come home to do some carpentry for the church whilst I was at the fete. When I got home at 1pm (for a quick lunch before setting up for youth club in the afternoon) I walked into the kitchen to find TWENTY FIVE muffins!

Apparently Michael had gone and bought ALL the muffins (though someone had beaten him to it and bought seven before he got there!)

I took this as a massive compliment to my baking skills though Michael says it is an act of defending his territorial rights to muffins!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

FeminYM update

Hi everyone!

Nothing new on here today but PLEASE do pop over to FeminYM to have a look at a posting by one of my CYM students. She's used a metaphor for youth ministry which I think is just fabulous. Well done Hannah!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Yellow Braces 06

Incredibly Ian and Simon are both alert enough to have blogged in detail ALREADY about Yellow Braces. Personally I'm still peky and buzzing but rather knackered!

It was a fab time and for more details have a look at their blogs for now. More from me anon. Til then this one pictorial highlight!! Balloons courtesy of Simo, modelling them into the creation thanks to Jane and the audacity/tomfoolery to wear it on the part of Ian!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Busy bee time

I've got a rather busy week this week ending in a residential at the weekend so not much time at home with Michael which I've been used to a lot lately so it's going to be odd. So I'm worrying about being busy and yesterday I was at the Centre for Youth MInistry parity meeting for fieldwork tutors and we got to discussing the hours some of the students had ended up working on top of study and lectures. They're supposed to do 460 hours in their MAIN placement over three terms and one had done nearly 700 hours on top of an additional palcement and essays and journals and lectures. All the fulltimers were keen to discourage that kind of overworking with real concern for the students and of course ironically I was commenting on it in a week when I myself am VERY busy.

Then this morning at morning prayer there was some FANTASTIC commentary on the busy-ness of leaders in the church:

"That the ruler relax not his care for the things that are within in his occupation among the things that are without, nor neglect to provide for the things that are without in his solicitude for the things that are within. The ruler should not relax his care for the things that are within in his occupation among the things that are without, nor neglect to provide for the things that are without in his solicitude for the things that are within; lest either, given up to the things that are without, he fall away from his inmost concerns, or, occupied only with the things that are within bestow not on his neighbours outside himself what he owes them. For it is often the case that some, as if forgetting that they have been put over their brethren for their souls' sake, devote themselves with the whole effort of their heart to secular concerns; these, when they are at hand, they exult in transacting, and, even when there is a lack of them, pant after them night and day with seethings of turbid thought; and when, haply for lack of opportunity, they have quiet from them, by their very quiet they are wearied all the more. For they count it pleasure to be tired by action: they esteem it labour not to labour in earthly businesses. And so it comes to pass that, while they delight in being hustled by worldly tumults, they are ignorant of the things that are within, which they ought to have taught to others. And from this cause undoubtedly, the life also of their subjects is benumbed; because, while desirous of advancing spiritually, it meets a stumbling-block on the way in the example of him who is set over it. For when the head languishes, the members fail to thrive; and it is in vain for an army to follow swiftly in pursuit of enemies if the very leader of the march goes wrong. No exhortation sustains the minds of the subjects, and no reproof chastises their faults, because, while the office of an earthly judge is executed by the guardian of souls, the attention of the shepherd is diverted from custody of the flock; and the subjects are unable to apprehend the light of truth, because, while earthly pursuits occupy the pastor's mind, dust, driven by the wind of temptation, blinds the Church's eyes."
Fabulous critique of the life of those in full time ministry... and writtn by Pope Gregory the Great in his Pastoral Rule Chapter VII circa 600 AD! Life has not changed much then!?