Thursday, December 14, 2006

mmmm chocolate log

Ok apologies for the poor quality of the picture - my phone isn't the best piece of photgraphic equipment known to mankind - but I thought I ought to post this picture of a chocolate log I made for youth group last Sunday night.

The piece of guttering (new) it is in was 2m long. It consists of 6 Tesco chocolate logs, a triple pack of chocolate fingers, lots of white maltersers, ready-to-roll icing carefully crafted into holly leaves and berries, and 2 bowlfuls of homemade chocolate icing. mmmmmm. unhealthy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


It's been far too long since I last posted, and I know that these sort of posts are really annoying, but....

sorry for not blogging in ages.

In brief, life is going well, but busy. I'm looking forward to Christmas, especially the time off that will allow me. I assure you that I will endeavour to keep blogging, perhaps with a little regularity, but it would be a little too predictable to make that some kind of resolution in three weeks time wouldn't it?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

wireless woes

The wireless broadband seems to be playing up. Which is tres annoying.

The connection seems ok so long as it is actually wired up, but thats not great cos the phone line only comes into the house upstairs (not sure why), and my office is downstairs.

Yes I've got a laptop, but it's still annoying to have to take it upstairs just to check email. grrr

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Got my final MA results earlier this week. I passed which is good. And I got my best mark of the whole course for my dissertation. Which is also good.

I seemed to follow this exact same pattern with my first degree, coincidently getting the same mark for both dissertations.

Should anybody wish to read my dissertation then let me know.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

to tolerate or not to tolerate, that is the question

When I was writing my MA dissertation, one of the things I became aware of, was the way in which whether you call the activity I do 'youth work' or 'youth ministry', it's really all concerned with the same thing - the passing on of a set of values from one generation to the next.

Whether those values are passed on explicitly, through what we say, or implicitly, through the way we act and relate to people, (one of)the aim(s) is undoubtedly to pass on a certain set of values.

In recent weeks, this notion of different sets of values has come back into the forefront of my mind. With so much talk in the media about those groups in society who we feel threatened by, and the alledged negative influence of religion, it seems to be the case that secularism is being promoted as a more healthy, inoffensive, all-round-nice way of thinking. But surely, or is it just me, secularism is equally a fixed worldview, with it's own set of values, just as is Christianity or Islam. Isn't it?

It seems to me, to be a worldview which says, other worldviews and other sets of values, are not as good as this one. I just don't get it. It seems hypocritical.

What also seems hypocritical, is those who promote tolerance, but in reality mean, we are tolerant of anybody so long as they themselves are tolerant. One issue which I found myself questioning at Greenbelt was the view which seemed to be saying 'we're inclusive of anybody, so long as they're not evangelicals'. This is just like saying, 'we're inclusive of anybody, so long as they themselves conform to our view of inclusivity'. This seems odd.

Surely we have to recognise, do we not, that we are all affected by values, we cannot escape them. None of us is value free. We are all shaped by the societies, cultures, and experiences in which, and through which, we have journeyed. Similarly, the worldviews to which we subscribe, and the sets of values we adopt, they too are not value neutral, they have been formed, shaped and influenced over time.

Surely, if we acknowledge the role of values in our lives, and the way in which those sets of values have been formed, it is a more helpful approach to consider 'how then do i relate to someone who holds different values to me' rather than saying 'that set of values is not as good as mine'.

Does what I have written make sense to anybody outside of my head?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

youth work conference

On Friday I'm off to the Youthwork Conference in Southport.

I've actually never been to the conference before, despite having been involved in Christian youthwork for over seven years.

I'm not quite sure what I'll make of it. If I'm honest, I've heard mixed reviews, and for that reason I'm a bit apprehensive. Not in terms of a 'worried' sense, rather, a 'what will I actually get out of it' sense.

I'm looking forward to going as I'll be able to hang out with some other youthworkers from Sheffield, and some of my volunteers, and hopefully that will be fun. It's also an opportunity to get out of Sheffield, to get away from everything that is going on here, and just have a bit of time away. I'm certainly not expecting it to be relaxing, though I'm hoping it will be fun......we shall wait and see.

networking, or not working

Roy poses an interesting question about networking. How much of the time we spend networking is actually useful, and how much of it is done just for the sake of it?

I've asked myself this question before, as have a number of my friends who have 'proper jobs'. I was having this conversation just the other day with a friend of mine who is a music producer - all he does is 'listen to CDs all day'.

How useful is networking? Does it 'build the kingdom' as Roy asks? To what extent do youth workers create work for themselves to justify their existence? I think their might be occasions when youth workers/church workers take advantage of the situation, and meet for endless cups of coffee, but there are times when networking is useful, if not essential. Here are some thoughts:

We are called to be the Body of Christ. If different churches are to be the Body of Christ, they might actually need to communicate with one another. This might mean spending time with one another.

On a practical level, the young people I work with do not live their entire lives in the local geographical community which may, or may not, form the parish. In the consumeristic society in which we find ourselves living and working, young people go to different events at different churches, as they journey through different experiences in their lives. It can be helpful to talk with other adults with whom these young peoeple are building relationships.

Youth workers need peer support. Let's face it - we're a funny lot. People don't entirely know what we do. Partly because we all do different things, partly because we're a relatively new phenomenon, and partly because it can be hard to tangibly demonstrate what we do. Postive, healthy relationships are not the most quantifiable outcome. But we need people to talk to, to be with. We need people to accompany us, just as we accompany young people. We need people who will listen to us, who will understand us, who can appreciate the struggles we go through in relating to the monster that is 'church'.

Sometimes we need people outside of our immediate work context to bounce ideas off, to inspire us, to challenge us, to dream dreams with.

All these points, I believe, are justifiable. Yes there are times when coffee will be drunk, and these things are not discussed. But just as in relationships with young people, sometimes the important thing is just being, being there, being together, listening, talking, sharing.

Yes there are times when it might appear that nothing constructive is being done, but equally I know that there are lots of times, outside of 'set hours' when my mind is devoted to thinking, praying, worrying about my youth work, and about the young people I work with. I have no problem with the amount of time I spend going for coffee, networking, being with other youth workers. I believe I'm self-disciplined enough to not take advantage of the situation.

But then, I suppose, just like all vicars, youth workers only do any work on Sundays ;o)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

google searches

Now, when I've checked my site statistics, you know, just under the little counter in the left hand column of this blog, and clicked on referrers, I've been intrigued to see some of the pages from which people have been referred to my blog.

It's particualrly interesting seeing the Google searches which lead people here. There have been some quite random things which have led people here, all of which slip my mind at this moment. But when people seach for "phil goodacre sheffield church", I'm guessing that they are searching for me.

It'd be really nice to know who you are, if you are looking for me. So feel free to leave a comment......;o)

alas, the dream is over

This evening Chesterfield were knocked out of the Carling Cup by Charlton. But we pushed them right to the limit. Having taken the lead at the start of each half, Charlton managed to pull back twice to make it 2-2 at the end of normal time.

With Charlton having snuck an early goal in the first added period, Chesterfield fought valiantly right until the end of the 120 minutes, when Wayne 'The Chief' Allison headed home to make it 3-3, and take the game to penalties.

Unfortunately it was not to be our night, and we lost, 4-3, on penalties.

The lads were fantastic, and were absolutley shattered by the end. Well, truth be told, some of them looked shattered half way through the second half of normal time. Having claimed the scalps of Wolves, Man City, and West Ham, this particular cup run has come to an end.

We play non-league Basingstoke in the first round of the FA Cup at the weekend. There's every chance we will transform from giant killers, to a killed giant.

Monday, November 06, 2006

today i bought....

...two new cds. Somewhat indulgent I know, but I thought I would.

I bought the new Damien Rice album, '9'. Which is good. I've only listened to it once through so far. But I'm liking it so far.

I absolutely adored his first album, 'O'. And second albums are always so much harder to write, but I do like it, and I'm sure it will grow on me in due course.

I saw Damien a few years back at Brixton Academy. He was utterly fantastic. I remember one of the support acts being particularly odd - a Scandinavian (poss. Norwegian) dance group. But Damien was brilliant, he help the audience wonderfully.

The second album I bought was Ray Lamontagne's 'Trouble'. I'm liking this a lot.

I first heard this album a few months back at a friend's BBQ. It rained that day. We attmepted to shelter from the rain whilst cooking, to varying degrees of success.

As some wise bod at the Guardian said, "Trouble sounds like a long lost masterpiece". It kind of does. I'm listening to my copy right through for the first time as I type, but it does have a kind of familiar feel to it. Not in the sense that it is just copying what someone else has done, but in the sense that it is almost comforting. Does that sound odd? Not sure. The vocals and the music are just sumptuous. I think I'm going to enjoy owning this album.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Sunday was another busy day, as Sundays have a habit of being.

In the morning, the young people were discussing the question "Why do some people in the world have more than others?" One of the activities we did with was to play the game where you have to roll a dice until you get a 6, then put on glove, hat and (Chesterfield F.C.) scarf, and eat chocolate with a knife and fork.

I was amazed at how well this game work, and how good the following discussion was as well. During the game, one young person got to eat so much chocolate that they ended up feeling sick. Another young person didn't get to eat any chocolate at all. That was until the group realised that we'd nearly finished the chocolate, and that this one person was yet to have any. They then decided to split the remain few segments between the group equally.

This prompted a really good discussion about the way in which the world's wealth is divided up - where some people have so much stuff they don't know what to do with it all, and others have nothing at all.

We then went on to talk about how we felt about the way the world's resources are divided up, and I shared a few scary statistics about the fact that we, in Britian, are amongst the 20% of the world who have 80% of the world's stuff, and that the 3 richest individuals in the world have more money than the 48 poorest countries in the world.

Having though about what we can do in terms of recycling, and simply not using stuff in the first place, we filled in some Christian Aid postcards addressed to Gordon Brown, which I posted this morning.

Sunday evening, having finished youth group, I went up to another local church, where there was a guy speaking who works for A Rocha. A Rocha is a Christian nature conservation organisation. The talk had the potential to be a bit of a dull science lesson, but it was actually really good, with some interesting/challenging science bits, and some good theological thinking as well. A Rocha are the group behind Climate Stewards, a group who are challening people to think about the amount of CO2 they use, especially in travelling by car and air.

Go check out their websites, and think about what you can do to help look after God's creation.


Saturday saw me attend the St. Mark's Centre for Radical Christianity October Conference. St. Mark's is a liberal Anglican church here in Sheffield. I went there briefly in the year I spent in Sheffield before starting work in Millhouses.

It was a bit of an odd day really. In essence, it felt a bit like I was eavesdropping on a conversation that this group of liberal Christians were engaging in. The theme of the day was "Building a Progressive Christian Spirituality". I say it felt like I was eavesdropping, because it felt as though the conversation(s) that were being had throghout the day were very much to do with working out where this 'Progressive Christianity' movement is heading. (St. Mark's has strong links with PCN Britian - The Progressive Christianity Network for Great Britian and Ireland.)

I came away from the day with mixed feelings. I was saddened by hearing comments and conversations from individuals, not the 'up-front' speakers, that were pretty harsh towards the evangelical side of the Church. I understand that there is hurt, and pain, and anger, about the way that different parts of the church put their beliefs into practice, but that saddens me.

I was intgrigued by the fact that the conversation concering disillusionment with certain elements of ritual and practice, and questions about the future of the Church, remind me of very similar conversations which have occurred, and continue to occur, in other parts of the Church.

I have a sense of longing, longing that these different parts of the Church would talk to each other, and recognise that so many of the questions which they face in their own seperate churchmanships, are being asked right across the whole spectrum of churchmanships.

I have a sense of hope that in this collective questioning about the future of the Church, that a certain amount of 'coming together to ponder these questions' might just possibly occur.

I recogise that in this account, I've not actually said a whole lot about what was said at the conference. I'll try and type up some of my notes and post them.

I went to this conference with my friend and fellow youthworker Joel, who gives his take on the day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

curry with kendrick's trumpeter

A select few who read this blog will remember a post from nearly a year ago.

On Saturday night, well Sunday morning really, I had curry with a guy named Raul D'Oliveira, who plays trumpet for, amongst others, Graham Kendrick. I had been helping out at a concert at a church up the road from me, where Graham had been performing/leading a time of worship.

After we had finished packing down a few of us went out for curry. Raul was to be one of those few - a fact unbeknown to me at the time of agreeing to go for curry. Yes, I just like curry. But that is beside the point. I had already spoken to Raul in a kind of 'you're like, really good at playing trumpet' kind of a way. Earlier in the evening he had performed the most immense trumpet solo, that must have lasted 5 or 6 minutes, and involved him walking the length of the church and back. It was really moving - hairs on the back of the neck stuff.

But what made this experience more special, was the fact that Raul had been something of an inspiration to me growing up. I used to play trumpet (am considering picking it up again now) when I was younger. Hearing him play trumpet in a worship band context partly inspired me to do so during my teenage years - an experience I look back on very fondly - it was one of the reasons I kept coming to church.

Basically, I got to hang out with a guy who inspired me when I was younger.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

oh what a night........again

Another incredible evening's entertainment at the home of giant-killing football antics that is 'Fortress Saltergate'. Amazing. Incredible, utterly fantastic.

In case you're unaware of what I'm wittering on about, this evening Chesterfield F.C. knocked West Ham out of the Carling Cup. You can read more about it here or here.

It really was an incredible night. I'm not sure I've ever felt quite as nervous going into a football match. After beating Man City in the last round, I'm really not sure I thought we'd be able to beat Premiership opposition twice. But evidently we can. COME ON YOU BLUES!!!!!

at last....'s time for Chesterfield to play West Ham in the third round of the Carling Cup. I've not felt this nervous before a match in a very long time.....

Monday, October 16, 2006


....for not blogging in ages. Sorry. For various reasons I've either not got round to posting, or just not felt like posting.

Over the past couple of weeks life just seems to have got a bit busy, and there have been times when things have just got a bit on top of me. But today is a day off. Which is lovely. And I've got a few more days off in the diary as well. So that's good.

For those people who are interested, work is going really well. Keeping busy! I'm finding it no problem to fill the four days a week which church now pay me for. Though I never expected it would be too arduous a task.

As I've said before, I've finished my dissertation, though I am kind of missing studying already. I've started a new course (not academic), run by the Sheffield Diocese, called "Discipleship and Spiritual Growth", or something like that. Went to the first proper day of that last Thursday. I'm doing the course as part of work, which is nice - professional development and all that. I think it will be good for me - just to have a bit of structured time for me to use to process some of where I'm at at the moment. Might blog a little more on that in due course, might not though. We'll see.

I've got a cold at the moment :o( , and yes, I did think you'd want to know that.....

If anyone is interested, I'm contemplating going to this in Sheffield, and to this in Manchester. Let me know if you might be going as well.

Right, think that's about all for now, other than to say that in eight days time it'll be time for Chesterfield to play West Ham in the Carling Cup, and I'm very excited. I bought my ticket on Saturday after a rather disappointing result against Swansea (The fact that 3-2 would have made for a thrilling game for a neutral does not cheer me up). May well go to watch Chesterfield play away at Doncaster this coming Saturday with my vicar - who is a Doncaster fan. Hopefully we'll still be on speaking terms come 5pm.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

the future of youth ministry/youth work contd.

Ok, here are some more thoughts on the future of youth ministry/youth work.

Pete talks about the sustainability of church-employed youth workers. Apart from wondering about my career prospects (!), I wonder what implications this will have. I know the Anglican church for one is in a bit of a mess financially, and I guess this I kind of agree that unless a rather large source of income is found, that church based youth workers will be unsustainable in the majority of churches which currently employ them. I expect there will still be a few large churches, whose attendance and financial support, will mean that they can still employ a variety of staff.

But what might this mean for other churches. I guess it would mean that there would have to be an increase in volunteering - this would mean some changes would have to be made to current attitudes. OR, perhaps there might be other ways which churches could continue to 'minister to young people', perhaps through negotiating partnerships with statutory organisations, schools, etc

I remember writing an essay about the deprivatisation of religion some time ago. In thinking about the future of youth work/youth ministry, do we have to limit ourselves to working solely by ourselves? Perhaps churches need to investigate further the possibility of working alongside other organisations, and perhaps rediscovering a greater place in the public sphere in terms of meeting the needs of young people.

But I guess all this kind of assumes the continuing existence of institutionalised religon in some format. I'm not sure if its safe to assume this.

One thing the aforementioned article did pick up on was the notion that young people (perhaps people in general) want some sense of community. Maybe I need to think about that some more.....though if dis-institutionalisation is the way things might progress, I can't help but remember the kind of things Shane Claibourne was talking about at Greenbelt (I never really blogged on that as properly as I might have done) - the kind of verging on anarchic, underground, protestifying (protesting combined with prophesying), community lifestyle thing.

Just some doubt I'll have some more.....

the future of youth ministry/youth work

There's an interesting article in Christianity Today (US magazine), on the future of youth ministry. One or two other people have blogged about this as well. If you're at all interested, I suggest you go read the article, and also the blog of Mark Oestreicher (youth specialties bod) Then, if you're still interested, come back and read what response it provoked in me.....

First, I acknowledge that the research seemed predominantly interested in the views of "evangelical leaders" - not quite sure what I think of this, but anyway. The article itself, paints a picture which basically says - "yeah, things are gonna have to change a bit". Mark Oestreicher's view seems to say that "things are gonna change whether we like it or not, and not necessarily in a way that we might choose".

The initial article seems talks about needing to root youth ministry (read youth ministry, youth work, youth whatever you prefer) in the needs of the local context, and also talks about the need for young people to feel a sense of community. To be honest, this doesn't strike me as particularly revolutionary - almost seems a bit obvious to me. (I don't mean to sound at all big-headed here, it's just the kind of message that I've picked up through my training and reading over the last few years, esp. reading stuff about mission - David Bosch, Vincent Donovan etc.) Basically it seems to be saying that the 'traditional' evangelical process of preaching for response is not going to cut it any more. (That's how I interpreted it anyway)

Mark Oestriechers response is a bit more interesting (imho). Not only does he talk about the change in practice that the article talked about, but he also talked about the potential "de-professionalisation" that my have to occur, esp. as churches come upon hard times financially, and they decide/are forced to lay off staff. Now he is very much talking from US perspective, and to be honest, I'm not quite sure if 'professionalisation' in the US means the same as it does in the UK. While there has definitely been an increase in employed members of staff doing youth ministry/youth work in the UK AND the US, in the UK we have also experienced a certain amount of 'coming into line' with the statutory youth service - the growth of JNC qualifying Christian courses for example.

However I know that in this country too, the future of the church is in some doubt due to decreasing finances. Now I don't think I have a major problem with the 'return' to volunteer-run groups etc, as the Oestreicher suggests might happen, but is that really likely to happen? Maybe I just need a bit more faith, but I hear time and again stories of churches struggling to get volunteers to run stuff. I'm not saying that their won't be a sudden influx of willing volunteers, but something needs to change if the future of church based youth ministry/youth work is going to rely solely on volunteers.

ok, rant over.

Basically, it may well be the case that we will see a reduction in employed youth ministers/youth workers, and this will necessitate a change in the way youth ministry/youth work is practiced. But this change cannot be seen in isolation. The fact of the matter is that institutionalised church as a whole will need to undergo some changes if it is to continue. Of course it may be the case that we consider it unnecessary for there to be an institutionalised church, in which case there are a whole load of other questions which need to be thought about. But whichever way things go, the church as a whole needs to consider its approach to community, context and mission, to passing on sets of values from one generation or people group, to the next generation or another people group.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

ups and downs

Today has been a good day because I handed in my dissertation. Which means I need to do no more study for my MA. Fantastic. The title of my dissertation was "Youth work and youth ministry: a critical analysis of the meaning and significance of the terms in contemporary Britain".

I may well blog a bit more about this in due this space.

Today has been a bad day because Chesterfield lost miserably to Scunthorpe this evening. It wasn't miserable because we lost by a lot of goals. It was miserable because it was one of the most lacklustre performances I have seen in some time.

Oh well. You've gotta take the rough with the smooth I guess.

Monday, September 25, 2006

i really ought to go to bed but....

......I thought I'd post just before I did.

It's been a really long weekend, but a really good one. On Friday morning I (kind of) finished writing my dissertation - I've still got things like a bibliography and an abstract to do, but the main writing bit is done. On Friday afternoon I helped with some setting up for a youth conference/event type thing (more on this later), and then on Friday evening it was Youth Club, where we had a 'top-score' of 50 young people. I know, I know, I really shouldn't get hung up on numbers, but the fact of the matter is that we had 50 kids, inside all night, and there was no real trouble - that's the amazing bit.

On Saturday I was working at a youth conference. It went really well. The only downside was that it was a really long day.

On Sunday, which is yesterday now, I did three groups, though one of which was just some of the older young people hanging out eating cake, so that was almost relaxing.

All in all, I'm now knackered. But throughout the weekend, and throughout my knackered-ness, I've been reminded time and again how God does stuff in the midst of my weakness, our weakness. Despite the fact that I've been dead on my feet since getting up on Saturday morning, God has got me through the weekend.

I know that some of this stuff might seem pretty basic - it's possibly not what a lot of people would consider to be cutting edge theology - but maybe it is. Maybe we just need to get back to some of the simple things in life. Like the fact that God, who we can spend an awfully long time deciding how to worship, is there with us no matter what.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

good news

No, I'm not still going on about last night's cracking result, well, not too much. I've just been listening to Radio 5 Live, where Tim Evans (of Worth Unlimited and Dave Wiles (of Frontier Youth Trust)have been interviewed about a journey their making from Bristol to Liverpool via Cardiff and Birmingham. More details about their trip can be seen here.

If you missed it then you'll be able to listen again to the interview on Thursday's morning phone-in (that's Thursday 21st no Thursday 14th). The interview started at about quarter past 10 or there abouts. Not sure when it will be uploaded, maybe later today, but definitely tomorrow (Friday 22nd).

Tim was my boss when I worked in Birmingham a few years ago, we still meet up every so often. Caught up with him at Greenbelt this summer, where was did a good session about working with 'difficult' young people.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

oh what a night

Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. Tonight the mighty Spirites have humbled Premiership opposition Manchester City with a wonderful display of teamwork and skill. Beautiful. Just beautiful. More can be read about this wonderous event here. This result made it as the top sport headline on this evening.

Paul Shaw and Kevan Hurst celebrate with Derek Niven

A cracking goal by Derek Niven secured the win after Caleb Folan had headed home an equaliser just after half time.

Caleb Folan and Derek Niven celebrate after the final whistle.

The final whistle sparked a pitch invasion, reminiscent of the final day of the season a couple of years back when Chesterfield's two-goal come back in the final three minutes rescued them from relegation.

The celebrations at Saltergate begin

This was, without doubt, one of the greatest games of football I have seen at Saltergate.

last night

Last night I went to The Boardwalk, in Sheffield, and was treated to a multitude of rather good musical acts. (Does three count as a multitude?)

King Quentin are Sheffield based duo consisting of Jo (my housemate) and Harry. I've been treated to a lot of Jo's song-writing and generaly musical ability since he moved in, but it was cool to see them playing a venue other than the living room.

Bill Mallonee is, erm.... Jo's hero - musically speaking at any rate. I'd never seen him live before, though I've been hearing his stuff on CD for a number of months now. Bill was fantastic. He was incredibly 'human' - good stories in between songs, and songs that told stories as well. Some of his lyrics were excellent, really clever use of words. He also finished his set talking about Jesus on myspace - "cos Jesus has done the whole incarnate flesh thing, how might God want to speak to us today?.......I like to think of God as an innovator"

The third act of the night was Stewboss. To be honest, none of us were massively bothered about seeing these guys. We wanted to see King Quentin, and we wanted to see Bill Mallonee cos Jo and gone on and on about him. But these guys turned out to be really good. I'd heard them briefly on the radio show of the legend that is Bob Harris. The crowd was, to be fair, pretty quiet for the most part of their set. But some gratuitous solos, ridiculous facial expressions and head movements (esp. from the bass player), threats of nudity and general raucousness livened things up. At one point the guitarist jumped down from the stage into the audience, and encouraged/forced us to sing along, while balancing precariously on a rather small table. I'd definitely recommend you to go see these guys live if you get the chance. They've got the potential, as they so modestly state on their myspace page, to be "your next favourite band".

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

just some thoughts

Last night I went to the first session of "Spiritual Growth and Discipleship: A course in Listening to God, self and others" - which is a course run by Sheffield Diocese, which I will be undertaking over the next few months.

To be honest I don't feel like I've given the course a whole lot of thought. Last night was suddenly there. Not quite sure how I'm feeling about it really. I'd been warned in advance that the majority of the people on the course would be middle-aged women. And they were.

I think it might be an interesting experience to be a minority group for a change. Most youth workers round here seem to be young-ish males. I think it might do me good to be in a different situation. One thing that I am looking forward to having that time and space to pray, and to be silent, and to be. That's one thing that I've really learnt this summer, to appreciate times of silence.

Speaking of which, at the moment the tv aerial in my house is broken, which means no tv. Obviously. But actually I've come to quite enjoy it. Its great not having the distraction there when I'm meant to be working at home during the day. And its meant that I've rediscovered listening to the radio. All good.

Monday, September 11, 2006

this is really useful

For those of you who use Firefox you can download this rather cool extension that allows you to see what other bloggers are saying about any particular web page that you are viewing.

Thanks to Matt for alerting me to this.

what a fruitful weekend

On Saturday I went to my first Chesterfield match of the season (with Moog). We won 2-1, against Rotherham. Fantastic.

Also on Saturday I spent some time with Jo (with whom I was at uni), her husband Al, and various other relatives/friends of theirs. It was Jo's birthday. While we were out and about, we managed to procure various fruits, namely damsons and sloes. Yesterday and today, I have made damson and apple jam, some damson cheese (a really thick set preserve with a similar consistency to cheese) and have started off some damson gin. I'll get the sloe gin started once I've been to Tesco later today. This follows last weeks production of plum jam (plums from my Mum n Dad's house) and some lemon curd. Soon I'll need to go get some blackberries.....

I love autumn. I love the fact that there is so much food you can get for free from the countryside. I think it's healthy to remind myself where food comes from, and not just go to the shops everytime I need to get something. I also enjoy making preserves like this, cos it just slows down the pace of life for a bit. You can't rush it, you just have to be patient. In a world where everything is about speed and efficiency, I think it is good to slow down every so often.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

first match of the season

This afternoon I'm off to watch my first Chesterfield match of the season - against Rotherham. I've hardly watched any football this season so far, due to our TV aerial not working, thus meaning Match of the Day and Football Focus are mere memories from seasons past.

Little bit nervous as to how we're going to do, in our last two games Chesterfield have conceded 6, and scored 0. Maybe it is time for a change in fortune......Let's hope so.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

sad news

Saddened to hear of the death of Steve Irwin. Read more about it here. The man was, and will continue to be, an absolute legend.

Steve Irwin
1962 - 2006

Monday, September 04, 2006

this weekend.....

.....I have mostly been writing my dissertation. Apologies for not blogging.

I've got a tutorial on Wednesday and thought it might be prudent to do some work in advance of my trip down to Birmingham. Amazingly I got the work done that I needed to get done in relatively good time. I'm not entirely sure how satisfied I am with what I've written. I think this bit may need looking at again, or at least some loose ends tying up when I write my conclusion. We shall have to see.

When I started thinking about writing this dissertation, I had in my mind the idea that it would be possible to accurately define where 'youth work' ends and 'youth ministry' begins. At the moment I'm not sure this is the case. Now some of you youth workerish/ministryish types reading this might be thinking "duh....obviously", and some of you might disagree, thinking things along the lines of "stop being so vague and wishy-washy". But as I've written about both 'youth work' and 'youth ministry', I have started to think that the two disciplines are actually pretty similar in many ways, and that while it may well be possible to distinguish between different practices, perhaps the dividing line does not fall neatly along the line where people start giving different names to the work/ministry we do. Maybe there are other factors such as our attitudes towards values, education and empowerment that are more helpful in categorising the different practices which exist.

Friday, September 01, 2006

it really is the end of the summer now....

Back to work properly now. hmmmm. Tis good really I suppose, but it does mean the summer has ended, and the current weather is making it feel autumnal all too quickly.

At the moment I'm in the middle of writing my dissertation. Those of you who read this blog every so often will know that I'm writing about the terms 'youth work' and 'youth ministry'. If I may be so bold to say, it's actually going quite well. I know I've got loads of work to do yet, but it ain't going badly.

Initially when I started writing my disseration I quite wanted to come up with a nice clear cut definition of what constitutes 'youth work' and what constitutes 'youth ministry'. I'm not sure I'm really gonna manage that. I'm not entirely sure that is a manageable task. However what I do think I will do is explore different understandings of the two terms, and discuss some ways in which they differ, but more interestingly (imho) some ways in which they might actually be very similar. We'll see. But I'll definitely post some more on this by the end of the month (when I have to hand my work in), so keep checking back to see what I've got to say - if you're interested that is.

Anyway, thought I'd also link to some friend's blogs which I've recently discovered. In no particular order: Matt, Andrew and Jen and Harry and Zoey.

So there you go.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

greenbelt 06

Had a good time at Greenbelt. Was somewhat unsure about stuff before going really. I guess I hadn't given it a lot of thought, and all of a sudden it was there, and I was going.

Went to hear Shane Claiborne, who I had heard at Spring Harvest back at Easter, and whose book I finally finished reading at Taize. He was very good, though I have to admit most of the stories he told I had either heard before or had read in his book, "Irresistible Revolution", which is very good. You should read it.

Also went to hear Jim Wallis a couple of times as well, including his informative and thought provoking talk on terrorism. Music-wise I enjoyed Courtney Pine, Daniel Bedingfield, Verra Cruz and Brian Houston.

I have to admit that up until Sunday night I didn't really feel that anything had particularly challenged me. Then I went to the 'Ikon'-led service on the theme of Fundamentalism. (Jonny Baker has blogged briefly on this, a few people have added their comments, and it would be no surpise if others followed suit). There were various parts to this service, obviously designed to stimulate and provoke. It did that. Speaking to friends after the service, and the following day, there were a range of opinions. Some felt it was all a bit pretentious for the sake of it, and I can see their point. Some felt it needed a bit more explaining. I don't know.

I think it served a purpose in that it got people talking, but I'm not quite convinced exactly what people are going to be talking about - the service itself or the theme and the message presented throughout the service. We shall see.....Anyway, I liked the fact that I was challenged to reflect about the way I believe, and the way I might view others beliefs.

I also really enjoyed catching up with a few old friends from back in Birmingham. It was good to spend time, not just reminiscing for the sake of it, but catching up, hearing where people are up to now, and for me at least, reflecting on my journey over the past few years. One thought that has spanned the summer, from Taize to Greenbelt, has been this kind of 're-discovering who I am', being reminded of things which in the past I have said "this is important to me, and to who I am". This train of thought is one which I want to pursue a bit more, and may blog about in due course.

end of the summer?

Having come back from Greenbelt today, it now really does feel like the end of the summer. There's so many thoughts going round in my head at the moment - reflections from Greenbelt, reflections from Taize earlier in the summer, wonderings about where life is heading etc etc.

One of the things I really found helpful at Greenbelt was the Taize worship services on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday. One song which was sung at at least two of the services, was "In manus Tuas, Pater":
In manus tuas, Pater, commendo spiritum meum
Into your hands, Father, I commend my spirit
This trusting things to God has been something on my mind particularly over the summer, including when I lost my mobile phone at Greenbelt. Thankfully it was handed in to the lost property place, and I was able to reclaim it, but the thought of losing my phone, with the contacts for both my social and professional lives was quite overwhelming.

But having sung that song at the Taize service, after which I discovered I had lost my phone, the feeling of being overwhelmed really didn't last that long. It was just a natural thing to say "ok God, I need some help here, I need a miracle here" and God did His stuff, and my phone is sitting next to me now, dried out from the rain and working fine.

I want to take this trusting on into my work life over the next few months and beyond.....

truth isn't sexy

 The Truth Isn't Sexy

Go check this out, if you havn't already done so.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

the weekend starts here

Am off to Greenbelt tomorrow morning. At last. It's been a mixed week, for a variety of reasons which I really can't be bothered to go into now. I've been looking forward to Greenbelt for a while, and I still am, though I'm knackered before I even arrive.....not sure I'm gonna catch up on sleep while I'm there. Oh well.

Most looking forward to the Taize stuff, Daniel Bedingfield, Courtney Pine and also the magicians from channel 4 who did the miracles of Jesus series. Last year I made the mistake of going to too much stuff. This year I don't intend to make the same mistake again....ok, so I may be forced to take those words back in due course. Also hoping to hear Shane Claiborne, Walter Wink and Dave Andrews, all of whose books I have read in recent years.

Just need to pack now. And sleep in a bed for the last time for a few days. And possibly have a shower for the last time in a few days!!!

Thursday, August 17, 2006


While I was at Taize I went to a fantastic talk by one of the brothers (br Hector), about how we can know that call God has placed on our lives. Throughout the talk I was busy scribbling away, trying to note down as much as possible. I found the talk very helpful, and it cetainly influenced my reflections for the rest of my time at Taize, especially during the week in silence.

What allows me to discover how God is calling me? How do I find my way?

There is no magical answer, each of us is unique therefore there are no ready-made answers.

Luke 5:4-11

God created things with a purpose, with meaning. Creation is not an accident. We are created as part of a larger story.

Jesus entered the lives of the fishermen, and widened their horizons, so God enters our lives and widens our horizons, opening our eyes to a whole new future. God places our lives in a wider context.

Jer 29:11 We are made for hope, not for hopelessness

God’s project for humanity is a project of love. God wishes us to participate in this project, to be inventive and creative, to be co-creators with him. God’s work of creation is not finished. God does not force us to choose one way or the other, rather He invites us to fulfil His project with Him. God places in our hearts the desire to love.

Maybe some things will remain a mystery. Jesus believes Simon Peter is able to go beyond himself. So too are we able to go beyond what we currently think we are able to do.

So what do I want to do with my life? My life finds its meaning when I participate in God’s wider plan.

What gifts have I got? God’s call is not abstract. God calls us through our own story, through who we are.

God cares about each individual (Luke 15). It is NOT logical or efficient. It is Gospel economics. We must really believe that ‘God loves me’, not just everybody en masse.

In the Bible, names signify who people really are, their true self. When God calls us by, He calls us by name, by our deepest identity.

So how do we discover who we really are? What is my deepest desire?

Desires are not all bad. We must have the courage to confront our desires, to accept that we cannot have everything, to look at our deepest desires. What are my likes? What are my fragilities? Where in my life do I need God? We must get to know ourselves. God works through who we are. We must learn what our gifts are and be willing to share something of ourselves.

We need space for us to be honest. By being listened to we begin to listen to ourselves. We cannot know everything about ourselves. There are times when we will have to take risks. But the reality of God’s love cannot be taken away.
You do not choose your name, your identity etc. God gives you your name. God knows us more than we know ourselves.

When God calls us there can be resistance. This resistance can, though not always, be a sign of having been touched. But then, how do we break through this resistance and go beyond our fears. It can be in this struggle that we discover who we are (like Jacob). We shouldn’t run away from the struggle.

God can use everything for good, even our sin.

“The glory of God is a human being fully alive.” Ireneus

“Wherever there is a human being, God is present.” Br Roger

In the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), he comes to himself, came to his senses, he realises who he is.

In summary:

1. Get to know yourself.

2. Make a decision – in times of joy and peace, not in times of struggle.

3. At certain times we must take risks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

back from taize

Got back home from Taize on Monday, having caught up on a bit of sleep, answered some emails, wrote some dissertation, thought it might be nice to post on here again.

Had a great time at Taize, will blog more about it in due course. I was there for two weeks this time, the second of which I did in silence (eek). It went well. Again, it's something I might blog about in due course, but I'm still processing some of what I was thinking about.

While I was away however, this happened. Fantastic. I can't remember the last time Chesterfield scored 5 goals in a match.

In the next couple of weeks I'll be writing some more dissertation, helping out at a summer school in our local secondary school, and going to Greenbelt. V much looking forward to it.

Friday, July 28, 2006

taking a break

Just thought I'd let anyone who happens to be reading this know that I'll be taking a break from blogging for the next couple of weeks, as I'll be at Taize....

Friday, July 21, 2006

possibly the first thing i've ever won at sport

Humorously the 5-a-side team I play in were runners up in our league. Thus I won quite possibly my first ever sporting medal - tis made of such high quality plastic.

Note that a number of our squad weren't playing on the final match of the season after which the presentation was made, and another couldn't be bothered to wait around for the photo and medal-giving.

There's an enthralling article here. The evening was made even more funny by the fact the team we were playing were rather poor, so much so that me, not having scored all season, managed to net a hat-trick. There were some utterly comical moments which would not have looked out of place on Danny Baker's Own Goals and Gaffs.

We're gonna get slaughtered in the next division up.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


So summer (as in the '6 week holidays') are almost upon us now. I've got just a couple of weeks - not even that - of 'work' left, and then I'll be off to Taize. Am looking forward to going very much. I'm going for two weeks, the first week I'm going with a group of people from Leicester Diocese, some of whom were in Taize at the same time as me last summer. The second week I'm there, I'm not entirely sure what I'll be doing. I'm currently contemplating doing a week in silence, though that might be a bit hard core.....we'll have to wait and see.

Then I'm back in Sheffield for a bit. Got a week of working on my disseration, as well as doing some prep for the autumn, then I'll be in our local secondary school for a week, helping out at their summer school. I did this last year as well - it was really good fun actually, as I get to spend a week hanging out with young people, while playing with digital video cameras and computers.

Then I'll be off to Greenbelt, about which I am also quite excited. Last year was my first time going, and the lesson I learned was not to try and do so much. I went to a few too many seminars and stuff, and think this year I need to chill out a bit more. If anybody reading this is also going to Greenbelt, do comment, it would be good to put faces to commenters, and lurkers. I know there are some of you out there, cos you've been searching for my name in Google.....who are you?

Anyway, thats about it from me for now.....nine days till I go to Taize!!!!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

i know, i know, it's been ages since i last blogged.........again

Sorry. Life has just been too busy.

Dissertation is going ok so far. Had a good tutorial down in Birmingham last week. Just need to get a bit more done before I GO TO TAIZE NEXT SATURDAY!!!! (yes, I am quite excited)

On Saturday I did another days training for Engage. Engage is run by the Centre for Youth Ministry, and if you want a good year long course for a year out person, or a volunteer youth leader, you could do a lot worse than looking at Engage.

Yesterday morning I went into town (ok, so Sheffield is a city, but you know what I mean), and ended up parking on the very top floor of the multi-storey car-park, from where I took this photo on my fone:

It seems hard to believe that we're still in England at the moment - this weather is really bizarre. I do like it, don't get me wrong, but it just doesn't feel like England.

Anyway, I went into SPCK (cartoon from Dave Walker's wonderful site), and while I was perusing the second hand books section I cam across a book that I found really helpful while doing my first degree - Let's Do Theology - by Laurie Green. It's a really easy introduction to the pastoral cycle (Experience, Exploration, Reflection, Response).

Reading this book got me into exploring more about Liberation Theology, and thinking about the way in which practical theology - actually doing theology in a community, reflecting on our current experiences, reflecting theologically, and then responding appropriately - really can make a difference.

Unfortunately the book is out of print now (I think), but if you should happen to see a copy languishing somewhere, have a look at it.

Friday, July 07, 2006


Well so far its gone ok. I've done a chunk of work and emailed it off to my tutor in advance of our meeting next week. We'll see how it goes.....

I'm writing about youth work and youth ministry, the actual terms themselves, what they mean, whether there is a difference between the two, whether its ok to use them interchangeably of not, etc. etc.

I'm currently not sure what I think, which is kind of the reason for me doing this piece of work. I've always thought of myself as a youth worker, but every so often other people refer to me as a youth minister.

The section of my dissertation I've done so far has just been about trying to establish what youth work is, in all contexts not just a Christian context. I'm not wholly satisfied with what I've written, I think there are some more things I ought to have covered, but perhaps they'll fit in later on the dissertation. Suppose I'll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, tomorrow I'm helping to clear out the church cellar......

smile back at me

Recently purhcased the debut album from a rather fine Sheffield band - The Gentlemen. Its good. You should get it.

The members of The Gentlemen are all Christians, and the band have grown out of Nail The Truth, which is a kind of citywide youth work/ministry network in Sheffield.

You can listen to some clips from the album here and order it as well.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

34 days to go.....

.....until Chesterfield's first competetive match of the new season.

Well we have to focus on the positives in life, and to be fair, those of us who watch a fair bit of lower league football are quite used to inconsistent refereeing. grrr.

Monday, June 26, 2006

as if by magic its monday again

It's been a busy few days really. We've had an Art Festival at church over the weekend, which has been pretty good. I've also had to keep up to date with all the latest World Cup happenings. So far so good for the Eng-er-land.

But now I really must get on with my dissertation. For regular readers of this blog it will come as no surprise that I'm gonna be thinking about youth work, and in particular the difference (if there is such a thing) between youth work and youth ministry.

Also, just in case you were interested, I recently purhcased Third Day's new(ish) album - Wherever You Are - it's rather good.

Monday, June 19, 2006

where's the time going.....

I can't believe where time is going at the moment, it can't be nine days since I last posted, and even longer since I wrote something of substance.


Today has been a really good day. Just one of those days that has been full of hanging out with people - both young people and friends. It's been one of those days when I've consciously said 'God, I can't do this in my strength' and God has shown just how incredible He is - not in the big things, but just in the little things, just the peace and contentment throughout the day.

And during communion this morning, I'm really not sure what the choir were singing (but it sounded in tune, which is good), but I just felt utterley overcome with how gracious God is.

I'm not really sure where time is going at the moment. There's so much to do in what my mind tells me is not a lot of time. Guess I'm gonna have to say to God that I'll have to rely on His strength not mine again......

I'm also counting down the days till I go to Taize again - 40 days to go. :o)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Thursday, June 08, 2006

it can't be thursday already can it

Really not sure where this week has gone. It seems no time at all since I was lazing around at the weekend.

Monday saw me out for lunch with some youth worker friends, one of whom is in the process of moving to Solihull. Lunch was v nice. I had Caesar Salad. On Monday evening I played football and hurt my foot when I (accidentally) kicked someone elses heel.

On Tuesday I went down to Birmingham to meet with my dissertation tutor. It was an encouraging and thought provoking time, and I feel somewhat clearer about where my dissertation is going, or will go when I get my head down and do some work. Being down in Birmingham also provided me with an opportunity to have my second Caesar Salad of the week when I was out to lunch with a friend. In a worryingly re-occurring theme, I played football again on Tuesday evening.

Yesterday (Wednesday) saw me out to lunch for the third time in a week (v nice, but not so good for the wallet). Being the radical that I am I broke with tradition and didn't have my third Caesar Salad of the week. Lunch had been preceeded by coffee in the morning with Andrew.

Just to reassure you, I have been doing some work in between these various social occasions. I'm not a complete slacker.....

I'm continuing to do some thinking about where the youth work at church is going, and we've arranged a 'vision' evening kinda thing. The point of this being to spend time together as members of the church family, to think together about the youth work, and how it fits into the wider vision of the church in terms of nurture and fellowship, as well as outreach and service within the local community.

I've got lots of ideas about how the youth work could be developed - nothing that in my mind feels particularly radical - but as ever the question is going to be other people to run activities with. While I am keen to spend time doing some more one-to-one pastoral stuff, I do also really value small group work, and the opportunities that presents for people to learn from one another. In a day and age when child protection policies exist, (and quite rightly so - don't get me wrong here, I understand their importance) there are some new challenges which will force/stimulate/encourage a little bit more creativity in our planning I think/hope.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

lazy weekend

This weekend has been really rather nice. I've done very little. I think I deserved it after the energy sapping experience of last weekend (scout camp).

After a lazy Saturday morning, which consisted of me getting up, getting my hair cut, and buying a paper, Saturday afternoon saw me enjoy England's 6-0 victory over Jamaica in the football. Peter Crouch showed us a few moves, video footage of which Moog has found.

That evening me and my housemate went to Blockbuster to get a couple of films. This first of which was The New World, with Colin Farrell and Christian Bale. Basically it is the story of Pocohontas, set in the early years of 'America'. It's a very nice looking film, and it is clear to see the simiarities between this and The Thin Red Line, both of which are beautifully directed by Terrence Malick.

The second film we got out was Seven Swords. Again, this was a very good looking film, though it was in Mandarin with English subtitles. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining, really nicely shot film, with some well crafted fight scenes. If you can cope with the subtitles, and the sometimes slow pace of the story, then I'd say that it is worth a watch.

I've not (really) had to work today either. Sundays normally keep me quite busy, but we decided to cancel both Sunday youth groups with it being half-term. Not having to plan the groups gave me a bit of time during the week to do a bit more thinking about my looming dissertation.

I've got a tutorial on Tuesday, down in Birmingham. It'll be nice to go down to Birmingham, I've actually quite missed going down there every week since lectures stopped at Easter. My dissertation will be something to do with exploring the terms 'Youth Work' and 'Youth Ministry', something I've blogged about before, as have quite a few other people. It's probably something I bang on about a bit more on here over the coming months.

Friday, June 02, 2006

mmmmm tasty

I recently bought this book, from those nice people at innocent.

I've made a couple of the recipes in there so far, and they're tasty. And easy. And healthy. Which is pretty cool.

It's a really nicely made book, written and produced in the same vain as the Howies catalogues. In fact there's a recipe in the book from the people at Howies.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

scout camp

Apologies for not blogging in a few days. This weekend I went on Scout Camp. I went last year, but this year was more fun. This was mainly due to the fact that the lads were better behaved.

I help at our local Scouts most weeks. Its generally good fun, though often a bit manic.

Camp was good fun. I learned that I'm quite good at shooting. I've done very little shooting in my life, with proper guns (air rifles) that is - I don't think that the guns at lazer quest count. But I actually quite enjoyed it. Twas just about being calm, and being patient - not attributes I display all the time, especially not when driving. I'd quite like to do it some more.

The weather was good, except for the rain on the last day, when we still had the biggest tent to take down. grrrr.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

da vinci disappointment

Yesterday I went to watch the much-hyped Da Vinci Code.

I was disappointed.

For me, the page-turning excitment of the book just didn't come across in the film. Now I accept that this might be because I'd read the book, only once mind you, and so I knew what was going to happen. But there are other films (Bourne Identity + Bourne Supermacy being just two examples), where I can watch them time and again, knowing exaclty what is going to happen next, and still feel excited.

As has been said in the press and on the radio, Paul Bettany was very good in his role as self-mutilating albino monk Silas. I can see what people mean when they say Tom Hanks was a bit wooden, possibly mis-cast, but for me that wasn't what let the film down. It simply didn't excite me.

Having said all this, I am glad I went to see it. The film refreshed my mind of certain parts of the book. All in all it is a good film, but as has also been said in other places, the film is possibly a victim of its own hype.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


This morning I went to a small exhibition in town, entitled 'Glory'.

I found out about the exhibition on the Showroom cinema's regular email. I didn't know who was putting on the exhibition, or who was exhibiting, but was intrigued, so went along anyway.

The participating artists had simply been given that one word as their brief. It turned out that a considerable number of the artists involved were evidently influenced by a Christian understanding of the word glory, with a few quoting Biblical texts in the comments accompanying some of the pictures....

Psalm 130:6 "My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen waiting for the morning, more than watchmen waiting for the morning" accompanied a couple of paintings of women waiting for glory.

2 Corinthians 3:18 "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" accompanied a painting of a face being uncovered.

One of my favourite paintings (which was too dark to photograph well with my mobile phone) was accompanied by the following words:

"For me true glory is reflected in the small, the humble and the seemingly insignificant, the smouldering wick that is not snuffed out, the saviour kneeling down to wash his friends feet. This world that gives glory to and exalts the rich, the powerful and the glamorous so often misses the small thing, the faint glimmer of light. We don’t realise it is there each moment of the day in the unlikeliest of places."
Richard Stott (the artist)
Another piece I liked was made up of lots of small photographs of incredibly mundane things, which when put together created this image:

For me it resonates with the comment by Richard Stott, that there is glory in the small, mundane things, that there is glory in everyone who is created in the image of God, that is, all of us. I guess this also ties into the 2 Corinthians 3:18 passage as well.

On the same theme but with a different take was this image:

It was created by someone who's sister had been serving overseas in the armed forces. She descibed how she struggled with idea of saying that soldiers 'died for their country', when in fact they had been 'killed'.

(Apologies for the quality of the photos. When taking the photos I was trying to avoid any glare from the lighting in the gallery, as well as the hideous reflections from the windows.)

worship and a church?

We had our PCC meeting on was ok. I guess.

During the 'correspondence' item on the agenda, we were informed of a questionnaire which had been sent to us by some university researcher or other. They were looking into the way in which volunteers play their part in various organisations.

One of the criteria for determining what can be included in this piece of research, was that none of the voluntary work could be anything to do with 'worship or evangelism'. that rules out just about our entire lives then.....

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

red independent

Alerted to this via Jonny Baker's blog, thought it might be a good idea to go to a shop and pick up a copy.

On the front cover, along with the headline "NO NEWS TODAY - Just 6,500 Africans died today as a result of a preventable, treatable disease. (HIV/Aids)", there is also a Bible reference - Genesis 1.27.....

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

This particular bit of the Bible has been on my mind quite a bit recently. A few weeks back I went to Spring Harvest where during (at least) one of the sessions this verse was explored. What does it actually mean that we are all, every single human being, created in the image of God? What does it mean in terms of the way we value human life, in our families, in our communities, in this country and around the world? Do we, do I, really treat people as if they are made in the image of God? I think not.

But I/we should.

We've since looked at this idea with one of my youth groups. I think we may do again.

It's also Christian Aid Week. So when your envelope comes through your letter box, put lots of money in it or go set up a standing order and give them lots of money throughout the year.


Yesterday evening, before going to the cinema, I had dinner with a friend I used to go to school with. We'd caught up at another school-friend's wedding a couple of weeks ago, and on realising that we were living kinda close decided meeting up again would not be beyond the realms of possibility.

During our conversation, when we were talking about our respective jobs, she said words to the effect of 'you must find it very fulfilling'. I laughed at this, explaining why I found these repeatedly uttered words something of a cliché. Perhaps I shouldn't have done.

But later on in the evening it got me thinking. Is it fulfilling me? Do other people's jobs fulfill them?

I think I do feel a certain sense of fulfillment in what I do. I enjoy it. I'm doing something which is not just about a 9-5 commitment. I'm doing something which I believe in. But then surely lots of other people feel this way about their work as well? Do they? I think I need to carry on this conversation....

Monday, May 15, 2006


Well having not been to the cinema in ages, I've now been twice in a week. Tonight I went to see Brick.

I've got to be honest, I'm not entirely sure I followed everything that happened in the film, and I'm not quite sure I could really tell you what happened, or what the 'point' of the film was. But I quite enjoyed it. It was nicely shot, quirky at times you could say. But good.

One thing it certainly did demonstrate was the 'screwed-up-ness' of the world....the bad choices young people I write this I can here the repeated thud of wheelie bins being knocked over one at a time as some kids go up the road.

Here's what The Guardian has to say about the film, in a far more eloquent way than I ever could. Well. Certainly not at this time of night.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

16 blocks

For ths first time in what felt like absolutely ages, I went to the cinema last night. I went to see 16 Blocks (though we were torn between watching that and Mission Impossible 3 - MI:III).

I really enjoyed the film, and if you felt so inclined there are all number of threads you could reflect on, especially with young people (it's a 12A - which is good), subjects such as doing the right thing, truth, whether or not people can really change, it's a good film.

The film stars Bruce Willis (who is definitely getting older), and Mos Def (who put in a brilliant performance imho). Bruce is an ageing detective, and Mos Def is a petty criminal who has an inability to stop talking. Yes it is an action film, with a fair bit of shooting and chasing, but I thought it was pretty well thought out, with some interesting characters in there. If you don't go to see it at the cinema, it's definitely worth renting when it becomes available.

a few more pictures

Here are a few more pictures (hurriedly taken on my phone), from the weekend...

On Saturday afternoon some of us went down to Whitby and walked out to the end of the pier (I guess that answers your question Pete). The weather wasn't too bad, relatively speaking, but I can imagine it being horrible out there at times. Right at the end of the pier we climbed down a rather rusty ladder onto the lower level, where it was a little more sheltered, and I took this photo.

This is a view of Whitby, taken from the end of the pier. You can just about make out Whitby Abbey on top of the cliffs on the left hand side of the picture.

And here's another picture of the Abbey. Although it's ruined now, there's still quite a feel to the place.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Not quite back into the pattern of blogging regularly. Sorry.

I'm currently enjoying a day off today. It's great. I've done very little.

This weekend was our church weekend away. We went to a conference centre called Sneaton Castle, near Whitby. It's a very nice place. As well as being a conference centre type place, it is also home to a community of nuns.

Yesterday afternoon, before driving home, I went into Whitby to go and have a look at Whitby Abbey. Having had fairly good weather the previous couple of days, Sunday was really quite grim. It was damp and horrible, quite misty.....

Even so, it was cool to go for a wander round. It's perched right on the cliff top, and must have been a really bleak place to be in the winter, and most of the rest of the year.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

some good stuff

Some good stuff here. Especially the 'Why I Do/Not Care For.....' stuff.

Check it out.

next year....????

At the moment I'm being paid to work part-time (16hrs/week) for church. Now I've come to recognise that 16hrs isn't very much time. It's sooooo easy to fill that time with meaningful things to do. In the autumn I will be increasing my hours (due to some more funding which we have secured), but at the moment I'm not quite sure whether it'll be just an increase in part-time hours of to full time.

I recognise that I would probably be able to fill my hours if I was full-time, but I wonder how much of that would be with meaningful stuff, and how much would just be doing stuff for the sake of doing stuff. This arguement kind of makes me think I should just opt for the increase in part-time hours. However, I'm aware that just as I've managed to work (slightly) more than 16hrs/week at the moment, surely I would end up working more than my set hours come the autumn as well. (Theres a whole other issue about whether I feel I should do some stuff voluntarily as well - just like a lot of other members of the church.)

The good thing about remaining part-time is that it gives me opportunities to pursue other things that I want to do as well - study, writing, training and tutoring stuff.

But in all of these thoughts I'm conscious of what is actually 'right' for the church and the context in which I find myself. There's a limit to what I can do working by myself - if we want to increase the amount of group work etc. then that will need more volunteers. Now while there are already some v willing volunteers helping at the mo, I'm not sure where any more will come from, or whether current volunteers would feel able to give any more of their time.

I'm also keen to make sure that whatever happens is not just about me, the youth worker, doing some crazy stuff with no accountability to the rest of the church, and no ownership held by a wider number of people within the church. I want whatever I do to fit within the vision of the church - but I'm not quite sure what this is....

I know that in this decision making process, and in the following weeks and months I need to trust God. It's just that doubts and fears can sometimes be invitiations to trust God, but at other times be signs that we're not heading in the best direction.

For the time-being at least, I think an increase in part-time hours is the way to go.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

back to life. back to reality

Well, I returned from Spring Harvest today, having had a pretty good week. More about that in due course (ie.not tonite).

I've got to hand in an essay tomorrow. I'd written it before going away, but took my computer away with me so that I could edit it down to the necessary word limit.

Unfortunately I forgot to take the power lead for my computer, and have therefore got to finish it off tonight. Grrrr.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

at last its tuesday

Well, my essay is nearly done....I've done more than enough words, just need to cut it down a little bit now. Reluctantly I'll be taking my computer with my to Spring Harvest, but at least I've done most of the work now.

I can't guarantee a huge amount of internet access while I'm away. Though I may find some kind of t'internet cafe - I think there might have been one last time I was there. We'll have to see.....

Sunday, April 16, 2006

happy easter!!! (hello again)

Happy Easter!!!

And hello again to the blogosphere. I know its been a little while since I was last on here....sorry. Initially I was busy, then it got into Lent, and I thought to myself that I'd stop blogging for the duration of Lent (along with giving up take-aways), and see how I felt about blogging at Easter (which is now).

I have to say the break did me good. I quite enjoyed not having the pressure of feeling I ought to blog. Towards the end of Lent, esp. during Holy Week, I came to realise that I had quite missed I'm back. (try to contain your emotions now)

Thanks to those people who got in touch one way or another to check I was ok. I recognise that it might have been a good idea to post stating that I was taking a break, but I just didn't get round to it. It's also been interesting to note how the whole blogging community works (or doesn't) when somebody ceases to blog.

Anyhoo...I'm currently trying to finish off my final essay for univeristy before going to Spring Harvest on Tuesday. I'll still have my dissertation to do over the summer, but for now, "A critique of 21st century British theologians proposals for a Christian recovery in Britain"(or words to that affect), is keeping my amused.

That'll do for now methinks. Will try to post again before I go away on Tuesday....


Sunday, February 19, 2006

the BAFTAs

Just been watching the BAFTA's on tv. Stephen Fry was funny/surreal as ever - I'm not sure how many of the American's in the audience 'got' his humour. Oh well.

Of the five films up for best film I'd seen three of them - Crash, Good Night and Good Luck and the Constant Gardener (never got round to blogging about that one). I've yet to see (the much talked about, and rather successful) 'Brokeback Mountain' or 'Capote'.

But for me, as for a number of people in the audience it seemed, the best/most moving bit of the evening was the acceptance speech by the winner of the BAFTA Fellowship, David Puttnam. He was producer on all number of great films, including 'The Mission' and 'Chariots of Fire'. Amongst the moving things he said during his speech, he spoke of the power of films to heal, to speak into people's lives, into the parts of people's lives they consider secret, hidden from the rest of the world. I think this is so true.

I can hardly remember the number of times I've been in tears watching films. I don't get emotional because of soppy love stories (as beautiful as the may be), rather, on reflection, I think I get emotional when something in a film resonates with what I consider to be important in life. I blogged about some of this a while ago. It still stands.

Basically, I think what I'm saying, is that I like films. I like stories in films. I like stories which resonate with me, and who I am.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

ketchup and camels

Had a really enjoyable day today.

We did a day of drama with some of our young people. We were making a video of the parable of the Good Samaritan.

But why ketchup and camels? Well....the Dramatised Bible states that the Good Samaritan put the beaten up person on his (unspecified) animal, and we just happen to have a camel costume knocking about at church. Admittedly it seems to make regular appearances at any and every opportunity, but one more outing isn't gonna hurt.

And was squirted over the face of the person who'd been beaten up, to oh so realistically represent blood!! Nice.

Its days like today that remind me how much I enjoy working with young people.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

ebay atheist

Don't know if you've seen this yet. It all looks quite intriguing.

An atheist in the USA put himself up for sale on ebay, wanting Christian organisation to 'buy' him and send him to church. An organisation called Off the Map, who describe themselves as "helping Christians be normal", have done just that. So far he has been sent to a Catholic Mass, as well as to Willowcreek. This looks as if it could be a fascinating project, and def. worth keeping an eye on.

Hemant Mehta, the atheist in question, is also running a blog.

Thanks to Ben Askew for sharing this one.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

well it could have been a worse day

Ok, ok. So those are hardly the words of an optimist. But consider my cold and general feeling a bit down, it's not been a bad day.

This morning I was 'interviewed' bu my friend Rich. Rich is another youth worker in Sheffield. He too is doing an MA, but at Durham. He was interviewing me as the 'pilot' for his reseach project - something about why church based youth workers do (or do not) work with other agencies.

As part of the interview process, which as it was being recorded I made sure there were plenty of coughs and splutters aimed at the dictophone, there were a number of questions about my job, and particularly the way in which I am managed or supervised.

This got me thinking about how much I actually like/need/thrive off supervision, and it got me wondering about whether I'm making the most of my current situation. As you can probably guess by what I'm saying, I have a hunch that my current situation could be improved....might have to be all pro-active and see what I can do.

Also, as I was perusing t'interweb this evening I discovered that my friend Anna is blogging. So go and say hello to her. If you want to.


Currently got myself a rather severe bout of man-flu. OR, depending upon your level of sympathy - I've got a slight cold.

But (and here comes the product placement) I am currently loving the smooth to touch nature of these Kleenex Balsam tissues. They're so kind on your nose....

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

bono and bush

A number of people have blogged about Bono's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in the US.

It's pretty's an excerpt

"But the reason I am here, and the reason I keep coming back to Washington, is because this is a town that is proving it can come together on behalf of what the scriptures call the least of these.

This is not a Republican idea. It is not a Democratic idea. It is not even, with all due respect, an American idea. Nor it is unique to any one faith.

'Do to others as you would have them do to you' (Luke 6:30). Jesus says that.

'Righteousness is this: that one should...give away wealth out of love for him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and the beggars and for the emancipation of the captives.' The Koran says that (2.177).

Thus sayeth the Lord: 'Bring the homeless poor into the house, when you see the naked, cover him, then your light will break out like the dawn and your recovery will speedily spring fourth, then your Lord will be your rear guard.' The Jewish scripture says that. Isaiah 58 again.

That is a powerful incentive: 'The Lord will watch your back.' Sounds like a good deal to me, right now.

A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small, I was always seeking the Lord's blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after it. I have a family, please look after them. I have this crazy idea...

And this wise man said: stop.

He said, stop asking God to bless what you're doing.

Get involved in what God is doing - because it's already blessed.

Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing.

And that is what he's calling us to do."

You might want to think about checking it out in full.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

the weekend

Has been a fairly good weekend actually.

On Saturday I went to watch Chesterfield. Bless 'em. We drew again. 1-1 against Gillingham. The positive spin on the result is that we're 15 games unbeaten. The negative spin is that we've only won 4 matches in our last 15 games.

Ah well. We're still 7th. Every so often I catch myself thinking that we've got a chance of promotion.

Saturday evening I went out for drinks and a curry with some mates. Was a good night. I do like Indian food - I developed quite a taste for it when I loved in Birmingham.

Sunday (=busy) hasn't been too bad either. It was Family Service at church this morning (we still don't have a website so I can't link to it). Family Service means Parade for the Uniformed Organisation. There was also a baptism going on. Even so, attendance was really good. There must have been over 150 people there, and bearing in mind there are just under 180 chairs, that's not bad going. I know I shouldn't get hung up on numbers, but it was pretty encouraging to stand at the back of church and struggle to find somewhere to sit down.

Youth group this evening also went well (I could get used to this...). We were doing stuff on priorities - what infleunces our decisions etc (Matt 6:25-34 and Col 3:15-17). It went well. This particular group was struggling with numbers at the beginning of term (again - I know numbers aren't the be all and end all - but when no-one turns up you have to reflect). But over the last couple of weeks (nearly) everyone has been attending regularly (6 of them), and it's been really encouraging.

So there are the highlights of my weekend.

OOOOH - I also realised that Harry Collier of Kubb fame used to be in a band I absolutely loved when I was growing up - Rootjoose. He (Harry) was being interviewed on Jonathan Ross on Saturday morning. Am loving what Kubb are putting out. It could never compare with the legendary stuff 'the joose' used to put out, well, maybe it could. Anyway. I should to go bed now....

Friday, February 03, 2006

looking forward...

This morning I was perusing the website for the Winter Olympics in Turin which kick off next weekend. I really like watching the Olympics. Admittedly Britain never do very well at the Winter Olympics, and it's good to see we're continuing the trend of aiming high this year. Even if we don't get any medals I'll still enjoy watching it.

It is one of my ambitions in life to learn to ski. By that I don't just mean the introductory lesson you do each time you take the youth group to the dry ski slope. I mean properly. On snow.

Also looking ahead, I've just booked plane tickets to go and see my brother who lives in Marburg, Germany. He moved out there last August/September time, and I've not been out to see him yet. (I know, I know, but life has just been too busy). Anyway, I've managed to squeeze in a couple of days in March when I can escape from work without really being missed (that can't have been hard I hear you say). But it should be cool. And I get to go on a plane. Which is something I haven't done in a good few years.