Of course there was good stuff at the conference too. You can download individuals mp3s here for £4.50. Or the whole lot here for £75.
It was great to see a reasonable crowd at the Sophia Network launch including Amanda who is writing something for our Women in Youth Ministry site. Jenny Baker introduced everyone to the reasoning behind the network as improving not only the place of women in youth ministry but of making youth ministry (as part of God's creation) a balance of male and female. It's not just about women being women but enabling men and women to work well together.
Fuzz Kitto led the Early day and used the model of a meal (appetiser, starter, main course and dessert) as the structure for his four talks. I have to admit I took a while getting in to what he was doing but his take on things was pretty refreshing as he got us to taste various things (including chocolate!) as we reflected and he urged us to think about the "flavour" of our ministry and the flavour of God. He also sent us out to stand by the sea and reflect then went on, in the main course, to identify some of the key ingredients of good youth ministry and I hope to get those from him at some point as there were LOTS of sub points but they were summarised as:
- Being available
- Showing Interest
- Building Relationships
- Creating Community
- Encouraging Involvement
"Truth is relational"
and finally from the great Dead Poet's Society (which I must watch again as it was SUCH an influence when I was a teenager!)
"We don't work for the church. We work for God WITH the church."
"No matter what anyone tells you words and ideas can change the world"Another bit that I took away was about the need for creativity in people-centred work. We never finish with people so it is important to have something which we can finish. I sat there partly desperate to get home to the HUGE pair of canvasses Michael had bought me for my birthday and get painting something that was screaming to get on the canvas!
and then Fuzz said:
"It is only in creative activity that we externalise our nature as in the image of God"Wow! REALLY need to paint this now!
Jeff Lucas was very entertaining in the first main talk but also had some words of wisdom. Callin on us all to avoid burnout and cynicism:
"Dream your dreams through me again and let me see the wide screen picture and let me do the small things well"
For me, Juliet Kilpin (from Urban Expression) was probably the highlight of the main talks as she challenged us to be more daring in our servanthood. She also used one of Dave Walker's cartoons (the facebook one!) so I was almost certainly going to like what she said!
She also co-led a session with Jonny Baker on Fresh Expressions and the Emerging church (using one of Dave Walker's cartoons again[this time the where the church scratches one] and the marvellous but sometimes painfully accurate ASBO Jesus). There were also references to Mark Berry and Richard Passmore so I felt rather at home! My friend and I both went to this and, although we both said it included much we had heard before, we still found it really good. For me, it was a great reminder of how to look at CHURCH and I'm sure I'm going to use some of the theory when I'm working with St Anne's and St Peter's in helping them look at their future plans for youth ministry in their community.
The worship at Early day was led by a guy called Darren Baird from Knock in Belfast who was AMAZINGLY FANTASTIC. He picked the perfect song each time and was really prayerful in leading us without dominating. The main worship sessions for me were not so good in comparison but they were in the theatre which was rather cramped so that may have had an impact. That said, the poems (someone PLEASE tell me they know where I can find them!) and some amazing cello playing really made an impact.
Yet in all this the time I felt closest to God all weekend was on the beach when I should have been in a seminar on personal spirituaity - yes I liked the irony too! It was really windy and it reminded me of a great time in Taizé during the storm this summer.
Back home now and started working on the painting that was screaming to be let out. It's based on the idea of that still centre within each of us and reminding me of that St Augustine line which someone (might have been Jeff Lucas!) used this weekend:
"Human beings are not bodies with souls but souls with bodies"