Friday, July 29, 2005


Well tomorrow morning I leave the country for the first time in a few years. (Wales doesn't count as a different country). I'm going to Taize, an ecumenical monastic community in France. There'll be somewhere in the region of 3-5000 young adults from all over the world there at the same time. Which is a bit mind boggling.

I'm going with a group from the Diocese of Wakefield. I've never been before, and I don't know anyone else who I'm going with. I'm currently feeling a mixture of excitement, nervousness and anticipation. It should be really good, and it will be a much needed break from Sheffield, and the UK as a whole.

I doubt I'll be spending much time on the internet while I'm there, so I won't be blogging for a little while. I also won't be wasting my time surfing the net, playing with my new mobile and watching crap tv.

See you in the middle of August.....

Saturday, July 23, 2005

the football season begins

OK. So the football season hasn't quite begun yet, but this afternoon I went to Scarborough to watch Chesterfield play a pre-season friendly. Not wholly convinced that the football I watched was worth the trip, but it really got me in the mood for the coming season. Bring it on!!!

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Every so often, in Christian circles, I am asked the question of whether I am doing youth work of youth ministry. I tend to say that I do youth work, because there are certain models of youth ministry out there that kinda scare me (Follow these 5 steps and you too can get loads of kids 'saved').

But youth ministry does not always look like this. My undergraduate degree was run by an organisation called the Centre for Youth Ministry. Throughout the course of doing this degree I was certainly not given set ways of doing things that would lead to however many kids getting saved each week. Rather, I was encouraged to think for myself, to doubt, to question, to work out possible solutions for myself.

That's all well and good, but it doesn't really help me answer the question of what it is that I do - youth work or youth ministry. The title of the most recent issue of Perspectives, a Christian youth work journal I subscribe to was "Christian Youth What?" There are four articles each written from a different perspective (!!) discussing what it is that Christians, churches, youth groups, clubs, ministries etc are actually doing with young people. It certainly makes for an interesting read.

I recently bought a book called Experiential Youth Ministry by John Losey. I've not read it all yet, but what I have read has got me wanting to read a bit more. Quite a lot of the book is full of ideas for "how intentional activity can make the spiritual stuff stick". Now the idea of pre-written youth work sessions is something that doesn't sit massively comfortably with me, I guess I prefer to take my ideas from the young people I work with, and work out some kind of a programme with them, that is right for where they are at at the moment. Thankfully John Losey gets this point, and acknowledges that what he has done in writing this book kinda goes against those very principles.

He suggests we make what we will of his suggestions and ideas for youth work sessions, but what definitely is useful are the early pages in the book, outlining the theory behind what he (and me and lots of other people) is (are) doing. He presents an easily digestable outline of praxis, and some of the basics of (what I understand to be) informal education. I think that these early pages would be the kind of thing you could easily show to other people, volunteers, church leaders, youth workers/ministers etc. Its good stuff.

I am aware that one of the reasons why youth work and youth ministry have become somewhat confused has been the American influence. In America, from what I gather, all activites and programmes done by the church to engage with young people are referred to as youth ministry, while in the UK, there is still a fair bit of confusion and questioning going on.

I wait to be corrected, challenged, questioned.....

Monday, July 11, 2005

the guardian today

A few things caught my eye in The Guardian today.

Firstly an interesting piece on CMS 'missionary' Mark Berry working in Telford. Definitely worth a read.

Secondly, in the Media Section (I think you need to register here to access this)there was a fascinating article about the use of new media in the aftermath of the London bombings. The headline on the front of the Media Section read "We are all reporters now", in reference to way in which ordinary people's photographs and video footage captured on mobile phones, have been used in the reporting of Thursday's events.

The article goes on to talk about the way blogs were used on Thursday, as people sought to find a place for "communal comfort" and to "debate the issues". I really felt this to be the case on Thursday - I spent a lot of time on the internet, reading blogs, talking on msn. As I shared my experiences of Thursday at church on Sunday, this was one of the things we tried to create space for. I was in no position to 'tell' people how to feel, rather we needed a time to talk, share and discuss, we needed to embrace and acknowledge peoples different feelings and reactions. At the end of the service a lady of advancing years came up to me and shared how she had felt on Thursday. She had just wanted to talk to people, to share her feelings with others. She, like me, like many of us, could not comprehend what was happening on Thursday, and needed simply to connect with others.

This reminded me of a point Andrew Jones made at the Re:source day in Birmingham, that new media helps us to read the emerging culture, people are longing to connect, to share feelings, voice opinions. Technology means there are now more ways to do this.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


Well. What a week its been. I was doing the talk at church this morning, and it wasn't easy. Reflecting on this week's events there have just been so many different emotions, feelings, questions, doubts.

In the end the sermon slot was just a time where people could share their thoughts etc with one another. It seemed to go ok, the right thing to do in the end.

We finished the time of sharing with a prayer, taken from The Book of Uncommon Prayer by Steve Case. I've blogged about this book before, in fact I used some of this stuff in the aftermath of the Asian tsunami. The prayers I used then, and this morning are available online. They're worth checking out, though I would recommend you buy the book, it's got a lot of useful/helpful stuff in it.

This afternoon I'm off to a wedding. Andrew is the youth worker/minister at St. Chad's, Woodseats here in Sheffield, and I used to work with Michelle in Birmingham. Should be good.

Friday, July 08, 2005

life goes on....

I totally recognise that the next thing I blog about risks seeming inappropirate following yesterday's events. I will blog more about yesterday, probably once I've reflected more on it, especially as I'm doing the talk/sermon thing at church on Sunday morning. But life does go on. It must.

One of the things that Andrew briefly talked about at the Re:source day attention spans. It's not that people in the emerging culture have short attention spans, rather they are used to a broad range of media, choice, and the freedom to choose.

This got me thinking about the way I engage with 'church', especially with worshipping together during church services. I know that I like silence, guitar-led songs, Taize chants, (some) hymns, stuff from the 'alt-worship' scene. I know that I like a mix of these things, time to reflect, time to engage, participate, do stuff.

It's not that I have a short attention span when it comes to this corporate worship time, rather I like a mix, a broad range of options and ways to participate/engage. I also like the freedom to choose.

I wonder. Is this selfish? Or healthy?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

reaction to the london bombings

I've been watching the news for most of the morning. I've noted a number of different reactions from various people. I'm not trying to say that I am happy about what has happened. Of course I'm not. But just because we are now the victims of violence, we can not forget those who have been victims of violent acts committed in our name over recent years. You might find this prayer helpful.

Ken Livingstone (Mayor of London) talked about the indiscriminate killing of working class Londoners - Christian, and Muslim, Hindu and Jew, young and old. But how indiscriminate were the killings that have taken place throughout Iraq and Afghanistan?

Tony Blair spoke about respect for human life. How have we showed respect for human life in the way we have conducted ourselves in other countries? He says that these people are extremists trying to enforce their views on others. But what does he think we are doing by enforcing our version of ‘democracy’ on people, the empire of capitalism, forcing people to trade on our terms and our terms only?

George Bush, coherent as ever, wittered on about his homeland security folks. Thanks George.

Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury), came out of a meeting where he was actually TALKING with Muslim leaders in West Yorkshire. Novel approach.

My own reaction has just been a wanting to talk with people about it, to connect with others and share feelings. I've experienced a number of people seeming to feel like this. One of my friends told me about a trolley collector in Asda preaching in the car park to anyone who would listen. This got me thinking about people's need/desire to talk, to voice their opinions, which has been discussed in the emerging culture conversation.


Well. What can you say that will do justice to the situation.

I first heard something was up while I was in a meeting this morning, somebody got a phone call before the TV coverage really kicked off.

Just spoke to a couple of my friends in London. There seems to almost be a lack of surprise that it has happened, almost a sense of inevitability. I know that in the lead up to the G8 summit the thought crossed my mind that London might be a bit of a target with all the police efforts focused on Scotland.

One of my friends in London said that although these things were happening just a few miles away, it almost felt like it was in another country.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

hmmm...makes you think doesn't it

I'm the 670,349,289 richest person on earth!

Discover how rich you are! >>

Which means there are approximately 5,329,650,711 people poorer than me on this planet.

Monday, July 04, 2005

reflections on "creating church in the emerging culture"

On Saturday I was at the Custard Factory in Birmingham for the Re:source conference. I found the conference to be encouraging, inspiring, challenging. It got me thinking about the work I'm doing in Millhouses at the moment, and where stuff could go in the future.

The large part of the day was spent listening to a guy called Andrew Jones, aka TallSkinnyKiwi.

He started off by reflecting on how the Kingdom of God is like yeast (Matthew 13:33). As yeast is worked throughout the dough the yeast cells divide, yet it's impact is what makes the bread rise and grow. This cell division is so small, microscopic, invisible to the human eye. For us, as members of God's church, must not our actions also be almost secret and meek rather than proud and showy, just as Jesus warns against in Matthew 16:6 - also talking about yeast.

He also talked about Luke 8, when Jesus was on His way to Jairus' house. Jesus was stopped by an 'unclean' woman on the way there. Yet Jesus stopped, and spent time with this woman, her faith having healed her. Who are we called to work with? The cool, important people, or the inclean, those that nobody else will even touch?

We then moved on to look at Luke 10, from which I noted down a number of things that grabbed me.

We are told to enter other people's houses, rather than us dragging them into ours. What does this say about the way we do mission, and the way we do church???

God HAS prepared a harvest. The harvest IS out there. We must learn to find where God's favour is.

The 72 were told to go out, eat, drink, heal etc etc. THEN tell people about the Kingdom of God. Is this the way we do it? Or are we often in a hurry to get all the 'God stuff' in right at the beginning. People need to experience the Kingdom of God before we start banging on about it verbally.

We must ask God - the Lord of the Harvest - to send out workers. But these workers might not include us.

In the afternoon we started off by looking at a bit of emergence theory. Now I have to be honest, this is an area about which I knew very little. But it was actually quite interesting (though probably simplified somewhat).

In Proverbs 6:6-8 we are told to go and look at the ants, and it is with ants that this emergence theory was explanined.

Ants don't have a leader or a queen ant or anything like that, but they still manage to accomplish a whole lot. Some characteristics of both ant colonies, and this whole emergence thing are:
1. low-level chaos leads to high-level sophistication without orders being given.
2. everyone communicates with everyone.
3. simple structures.

Interesting stuff, especially when you reflect on the way churches often operate.

We then looked a bit at the role of 'new media' within the emerging church/culture context. There has been/is happening, something of a renaissance where everybody is now writing (this is happening virtually, online, eg blogging). We are co-creators, co-producers. Questions were raised on this issue - what about those people who can't use computers/don't have access to computers etc. In answer to the use of new media in a church context, the answer seemed to be that this new media should be used to augment the existing relationships, rather than play an central part. On reflection, I now wonder what the increasing use of new media in culture/society at large will mean for those who don't have access to it, or don't know how to use it. Will people just be left behind??? What does the church/the emerging church have to say about this?

The point was made, and I appreciated this, that people's attention span is not necessarily getting shorter, rather they are becoming used to a broad spectrum of media happening simultaneously. For example, (and this might not be the best example)channel surfing is not about a short attention span, rather it is about comparing the different channels simultaneously, making decisions about what we want to watch.

A definition of ministry was presented that seems so simple, but is really quite profound:
1. giving gifts
2. telling stories
3. throwing parties
4. making friends

Questions were raised about how success is measured in the emerging church context. Does the emerging church itself need to set out such indicators?

With the increased use of new media and all that, it is easy to think that the emerging church is quite a 'cool' thing, but the point was made that it is not just being 'cool' for the sake of it, rather, this new technology allows us to read the emerging culture. Culture itself is relational, interactive, connecting. These are the characteristics which need to shape our churches.

You can find more about the stuff that was said on this day here and here

Friday, July 01, 2005


On Thursday I spent most of the day hanging out with Suzanne and Gav. I grew up with Suzanne in Chesterfield. But then she spent some time travelling and ended up moving out to New Zealand and marrying Gav.

I'd not seen Suzanne in a couple of years, and I'd never met Gav. We spent the day in Sheffield, eating, drinking, chatting and shopping. I really enjoyed spending time with them - just one of those really cool days.