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.