Vision 4 Life

June 21, 2008

The URC is about to enter into the first year of its Vision 4 Life project.  When I say ‘about to’ that’s obviously church speak for in 6 months.

So hear’s my tuppence worth on V4L…

I like the idea.  I think that encouraging our congregations to engage with ‘The Bible’, ‘Prayer’ and ‘Evangelism’ is a good thing but it has to go beyond that to make any difference because I’m sure if this is seen as just another bible study programme or house group then the people who usually take part in these things will take part in this and nothing much will change.

Change is the goal.  Transformation.

OK.  That sounds great.  If the bible and prayer and evangelism are anything then transforming should be at the top of the list.  If not I think we have missed the point.

I got to have a look at some of the draft ‘bible’ material the other day.  ‘The Bible’ is the first theme.  My honest opinion?  Disappointing.  Very disappointing.

For me (and that’s the only opinion I can give) the materials look far too much like every other bible study I’ve ever seen.  And the bit that’s missing is the ‘transformation’.

The questions that never seem to make it into bible studies ar ‘So what?’ and ‘How will this change my life?’.  ‘What do YOU think this means?’ and ‘How does it help you understand your life and faith?’.

Those for me are the transforming questions.  I guess you might call it ‘contextual’.  I’m a big fan of contextual bible study because it is about you, your understanding, your insight, your life.  Academic theology is important but only if it informs how people understand their faith.

Jesus did contextual all the time.  He pointed to sheep, goats, mustard seeds, water, trees, wine, bread and said the Kindgdom of God is like this.  People understood because they recognised the context of the stories.  We don’t live in the Galilee of 2000 years ago so our context is different.  OUR faith has to make sense in OUR context.  That’s why churches are empty, that’s why fresh expressions of church appear.  People need to make sense of their faith in their life or else is makes no sense at all.  Faith stops being transforming and becomes an academic exercise.

So, if V4L is going to be Visionary and For LIFE then it has to help people make the connection.



June 13, 2008

This weekend is the 10th Crossover Festival.  Crossover is a brilliant event and I’ve been proud to be part of it.  But this year I’ve not been involved.  After the last event I felt it was time to step back and to allow others to bring their ideas and dreams to the event.

I have a sense that this might be the last one.  That would be a shame but perhaps it has run it’s course.  Only time will tell with that question.

I’ve been invited to visit and I might pop in at some point over the weekend but maybe not.  I’m not sure yet.

Christian Youth Work?

June 7, 2008

On Friday I spent the morning at a meeting of Christian Youth Workers who are discussing setting up a network. To help us think about what the network should be and how we could describe it Neil Pratt from ICC led us through a discussion on ‘what is Christian Youth Work?’.

I’ve always been a little skeptical of the term. I agree that there are youth workers who are Christian but I see little that defines youth work as Christian beyond the motivation of the worker.

We ended up in a discussion about motivation, evangelism v education. For me, youth evangelism is not the same as youth work. Youth work is educational and not dependent on young people coming to faith.

What do you think?

christian aid week

May 5, 2008

birthday boys

May 4, 2008

Jack is 6 today and Ben is 9 on Wednesday so birthday celebrations were this weekend’s activity and new bikes for all!

Mark Yaconelli – Comtempative Youth Ministry

May 2, 2008

Making a difference

May 1, 2008

Ramble Alert! OK. I’m not sure where this post is going but stick with me and hopefully it will get somewhere…

I’m working on some aims and objectives for my job. I tell everyone I train to do it so it’s practice what you preach time.

The thing is… I can write down the stuff I do/will do/can do standing on my head OR I can do all that and try to do something that will make a difference. We have been talking a lot in our little Synod Team about ‘Culture Carrying’. That discussion has grown from a feeling that we have to do better than maintaining the church. To do that we need to embody something else. We need to be culture carriers.

So my quandary is twofold:

Does any of the stuff I do make a difference? And if it does, who or what does it make a difference to? And are those the right people?

What culture should I be carrying? I start where I always do. Asking for thoughts and ideas.

Headphonaught suggests I keep being me. I’m not sure I can be anything else, or that I can write that down on my forward plan!

1. Be me.

2. see 1

I think he’s right though. I need to be authentic. And so does the church. If it’s not about life and living it then what’s the point?

Avril asked me what difference the church can make to the lives of people in and out of it? I don’t really know the answer to that question. I’m sure it makes a bigger difference than we might at first think because the ‘organisation’ isn’t the be all and end all of being church thank God. The people live and move in the world, loving, caring, helping and supporting as they go. But then so do lots of others who have no involvement in church.

My thing is children and young people and the adults that work with them. At least that’s what my job is. My problem is that sometimes I have no idea what to do with that. (is that something I should be admitting?) I sometimes wonder if the church as it exists is anyplace for our children and young people? In some cases yes and in some no.

What I have noticed is that the churches that are willing to invest some time, money and most of all themselves are the ones that do well with children and young people. And yet few of our churches are growing significantly. That isn’t because they are not good places full of good people. I would recommend a number of them to anyone.

I wonder if it is because we don’t advertise our existence? Is that a confidence thing? Are we silent because we don’t know who we are or what we are for?

I wrote a chapter in a book called Inside Verdict which I began with the words “This isn’t working anymore.” Well, is it any better now? Of course some of it is. The Together@MCT project I’ve been working with people on perhaps sheds some light. Engaging worship. Discussion with no pressure. Hopefully some community building. But I’m not sure we have gotten our heads around who it is for and how we should move forward yet. We need to keep the bigger picture before us. That will come though.

The pervasive themes of personalisation and participation return to my thinking again and again. The world, my world, seems to value both of these. How does that fit with community? It seems to in the world of facebook and bebo. I can be me. I can have my personal page but I belong to the community and can participate and add and contribute. How does/could/should that work in church?

Media that targets you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for.

Clay Shirky

So just a few questions to answer. I’ll get back to my aims and objectives now and see if any or all of those thoughts make it onto the page.

Your thoughts would be much appreciated. Really. They would.