The following quotes stood out for me as I have finalised by Engage Module 2 submission. I know I’m cutting it fine with this one, but life has been a bit mad for the last couple of months.
“…we must also understand that spirituality on the basis of human effort alone, no matter how well-intentioned, will be little more than half-filled people trying to overflow.” (emphasis mine)
Duffy Robbins – This Way To Youth Ministry: An Introduction To The Adventure
“Spirituality is not the latest fad but the oldest truth. Spirituality, the alert attention we give to a living God and the faithful response we make to him in community, is at the heart of our scriptures and is on display throughout the centuries of Israel and the Church. We have been at this a long time.”
“It would be wonderful if youth ministry were only about those great breakthrough moments of new birth and recommitment. But that is not the story of true spirituality. True spirituality is about miracles of God and pushing hard, pains of labour and moments of wonder, first steps and occasional falls. It is a great work of God, but it doesn’t always look particularly grand.”
I love this quote from Real Live Preacher:
“If our love of humanity was as radical as Jesus called it to be, then we would never have to say a word.”
It reminds me of the following quote which is commonly attributed to St.Francis of Assisi:
“Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words.”
…and also the following lyrics from Casting Crowns:
But if we are the Body
Why aren’t His arms reaching
Why aren’t His hands healing
Why aren’t His words teaching
And if we are the Body
Why aren’t His feet going
Why is His love not showing them there is a way
There is a way
Jesus is the way
A reminder that now is a great time to start taking your medication if you’re a hayfever sufferer. You may not be suffering yet, but it’s coming.
“…take a deep breath and savo[u]r the unusually high pollen count.”
“More than 1 billion people worldwide are burdened with the ravages of Youth, and approximately one out of every one person will suffer the symptoms of Youth at some point in their life. But the crushing effects of Youth extend well beyond just the afflicted: teachers are driven to the brink of insanity, old people endure the indignity of having their lawn used as a short cut, and bands such as System of a Down continue to thrive.
But now there’s hope.”
I’ve been in the fortunate position of being a youth leader to the same group of young people from the age of 10 to 20-somethings. Obviously the group membership has changed along the way, but the core of the group has remained. In the last two years, the core of the group has moved on to University and the task of supporting them has become much more challenging.
In the current academic year alone I’ve found myself supporting Uni students in the following situations:
- clinical depression
- agonising over a change our course and career-path
- traumatic family situation
It’s difficult enough dealing with those situations in person, but doing so at a distance adds an extra challenge. I definitely have a long way to go, and I’m learning all the time, but I just wanted to share some of the methods/tools/approaches I’ve used so far, and some which I’m considering for the future. I make no apology for the ones which simply seem to be common sense – isn’t that the best approach?
email them every month or two
- find out how they’re getting on
- share news from back home
- share the students’ news with the current members/fellowship
check in with their parents/friends
- get a different perspective on how things are going
make the most of home visits
- keep informed of their visits back home
- invite them to meetings/events whilst they’re around
- do lunch/dinner, hang out
drop in on them
- if you’re nearby, or simply passing by, call in to see them
- just a coffee or snack and a good chat, doesn’t have to be a whole day
online discussion forum/group blog
- provides some continuity for those at Uni and at home
- enables a form of community to continue
youth group website
- regularly update the group website with news and reports on activities
- enables them to see what’s going on in their absence
be available and approachable
- make it clear that although you’re not close by, you’re still available to chat/listen/pray/etc
local Church & Christian Union
- encourage them to get involved in their CU
- encourage them to find a good local Church
- will encourage them to worship/study/grow whilst away
- will also act as another support mechanism
- offer to find suitable contacts if required
distance learning Bible study
- encourage them to join a Bible study whilst away
- instead of face-to-face discussions share comments using some of the tools above
- a great way to have a quick chat at (almost) any time of the day/night
- most of them are online well into the early hours – but ignoring email
- also, it’s possible to judge their mood/state-of-mind by reading their MSN name
I hope that they will help those who find themselves in similar situations, and that you’ll add suggestions so we can learn together. Many of you will have much more experience of doing this than me, and I look forward to your comments/contributions.
As commented upon by a number of people on Tuesday I haven’t been doing a very good job of keeping this site updated. Not only has the site been light on content, but also light on news. So here’s a much needed update in note form.
Filling out – I need to exercise more and eat a little less, but that’s not really news to anyone who knows me
Filling in – concentrate, here comes the science:
There are changes afoot. I have resigned from my position at Unipath and am currently working out my notice. My last day is Friday 1st September and I’m currently handing my projects and responsibilities over to the other members of my team.
In September I will be heading off to University embarking on the Degree in Youth & Community Work and Applied Theology at the Oxford Centre for Youth Ministry and Oxford Brookes University. We’re currently in the middle of lots of meetings to finalise the details of the work placement and on Monday 22nd the plans will be presented to the Church Meeting for approval.
So it won’t be long before I become a poor student and come out the other end of the course with, hopefully, a Degree and, probably about £11,000 in debt to the Government. Deep joy!
But the intention behind the change from career to vocation is to respond to an increased sense to calling to Youth Ministry. I’ve been involved in youth work on behalf of my Church for approximately 14 years, and over the last 3 years the calling to Youth Ministry has been gradually refined and made much clearer. Eventually it reached the point where I could do nothing to avoid the calling – despite my best efforts. So here I am…
It’s all very exciting, enormously challenging, and just a little scary. Do you have any budgeting advice to offer?
In other news – I have another Threadless order in transit and will update the t-shirts page with the latest additions when they arrive.
On Tuesday I attended the Kenda Creasy Dean day conference at the Oxford Centre for Youth Ministry. It was a fantastic day (except for the roadworks outside the Park and Ride) and I can’t wait until I find the time to read through Kenda’s three books properly instead of simply dipping into them. As I left CYM I found a quiet coffee shop and sat for an hour an re-read my notes (there’s a first!) and made a whole load more – testament to the quality of the content presented on the day.
The strangest experience of the day was meeting some of the bloggers who have been on my “regular reads” list for the last year or two. I recognised Sarah from the picture on her blog (although I was disappointed that she wasn’t wearing her wedding shoes); stood close by was someone I thought I recognised, but had no idea where from. It turned out to be Lev – I guess his picture is a better likeness than I expected.
Things got even stranger during lunch. I was sitting chatting with a few people when someone came bounding up and started talking to me as if they knew me, asking questions about how the Engage course is going, etc. I tried to be polite and play along – but as much as I tried I couldn’t work out who on earth it was, so I asked. He simply introduced himself as YouthBlog – and suddenly it all made sense. Also during the course of lunch I was introduced to two more bloggers, both introduced by their blog title and not their own name. One was Holy Phil (the infamous Phil G) and the other was On Me Bus, whose real name (Simon) I had to look up on his blog.
One theme of the day was excellent thought-provoking content, another was people being introduced by their blog title and not their name. The third theme of the day was the way the phrase “oh, EasyRew – yeah, you haven’t blogged for a while have you…” was dropped into every conversation within seconds of an introduction. So here I am blogging again – and I have four other half-written posts waiting in the wings. As this post has been uninspiring and largely content-free, I thought I’d link to something potentially useful, and on a slightly related topic. Yesterday I spotted this article entitled The Name Game on the Life Hack blog. In the context of getting good service it discusses the importance of using names when meeting new people and introducing yourself to others. Some of the advice will also be useful in the context of our contact with Young People.
People love hearing their own name. It’s something built in. For whatever reason, it makes a little touch, a “ping” against our inner validity when people know and remember our names.
I have an appalling memory – especially for names (I’ve already forgotten most of them from Tuesday – but some beards were quite memorable). Does anyone have any good advice or tips? How do you remember the names of the young people you minister to?