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Rules young people want to add to Social Media.

For a young person social media can be a Crystal Maze of awkwardness and mind games – full of traps and ambushes with a prevailing sense of kill or be killed!

We run training for teachers, youth workers and young people themselves on how to stay safe in social media. Yesterday we shook this this up a bit and asked a bunch of young people what new rules or laws they would add to online behaviour.

This question came from the Youth For Christ, Rock Solid Playing Cards. A great resource available here.

Here are their responses, unchanged and unchallenged. What do you think? Particularly think about what fears these answers reveal and how we could respond to them:

– You should not be allowed to comment on something if you haven’t read or watched it through.

– If you wouldn’t say it to their face in front of a crowd, then don’t comment it on their status.

– Keep your opinions to yourself – no liking or disliking it at all.

– You should only be able to publicly comment on a post with the creator’s permission.

– Fake profiles should always have a ‘this person is fake, don’t trust them’ warning on them.

– When feeling bad, you should be able to ask for help and have people reply properly without trolling or silly jokes – real help.

– All comments should be made by video.

– No comments should be anonymous.

– All ‘offensive’ trolling should be banned.

– You should be able to see who is looking at your photos.

– Can’t tag random people without their permission first – or be allowed to share a photo of them anywhere without their permission first.

– Don’t allow friends to talk to you about social media if you don’t have social media.

– Don’t celebrate something others don’t have (like Christmas) in case it offends them.

– Use your real name .

– Stop correcting people’s English.

– No ALL CAPS!

– Ban all manipulative ‘scroll down to ignore, like or comment if you care’ posts.

– Stop trolling everyone!

– Clamp down on internet slang.

– Ban click bait pages that only make you like them just to give publicity to other pages.

– Limit on what & how much you can share – awful posts should be vetted first.

– Too many selfies!!!

– Don’t allow statuses about an ex .

– Don’t allow statuses about ‘people you know’ without saying their names – especially when it’s obvious!

– Clamp down on the crazy amount of likes people get when they have a baby.

– If you’re not a fan of a thing – don’t go on the page to knock it!

– Don’t allow anyone to change their name to ‘nobody’ – to stop the ‘nobody likes this’ gag.

– Two words: farmville requests

 

So there they are. Again, think about the fears and questions that these ideas reveal. I recommend asking the same question to your youth group, asking them what they think this reveals and asking how they would respond.

Youth Work Management. eBook.

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After a few weeks of compiling, editing and formatting ‘Random Thoughts On Youth Work Management‘ is finally a reality.

This is available from the iBooks / iTunes store.

Thank you to Katie Gough of Idiolalia for lots of help editing and to Joel Preston of Youth Ministry Management for writing a quality forward.

Summary

Random Thoughts On Youth Work Management is just that – a set of random blog posts that fits the bid. It is a short collection of thoughts on delivering quality youth work management in Christian settings. Specifically you will find ways to manage your team and develop good leaders; ways to manage yourself, developing personally and professionally; and ways to manage the tricky relationship between youth worker and youth work employer.

Download

On the iTunes / iBook store – click here.

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A Youthworker and a Bible Walk Into A Bar…

Culture and the Bible. These are the two indisputable pillars of effective youthwork. If you don’t get the former you can’t communicate the latter, if you can’t apply the latter you will make no difference to the former.

“There are two fundamental necessities in Christian Communication. One is that we take the world we live in seriously; and the other is that we take God’s revelation to us in the Bible seriously. If either is missing, the communication will be ineffective.” [Christian Youth Work, Mark Ashton & Phil Moon]

There is a youthwork culture in the UK that is really starting to push the envelop, dig deep and get innovative in cultural relevancy. This is absolutely fantastic! I fully embrace and stand by this.

I fear, however, that the Bible is taking more and more of a back seat.

The Famine of God’s Word in Youthwork Culture

I’ve been to almost every major, mainstream Christian youthwork gathering in the UK this year. These were amazing events with great people, and mostly solid, encouraging teaching. Most of all they were a showcase of good ideas to learn from! However they were also symptomatic of a serious famine of the Word of God.

I can count on one hand how many talks I’ve heard at Youthwork gatherings this year that genuinely opened up the Bible.

“Opening up the Bible means swimming around in its depths and drawing us into those hidden truths.”

This spills over to published materials too. Bible reading resources are driving further down the lane of ‘prooftext with reflection’ often without any discernible link between the passage and the attached thoughts.

If we don’t open up the Bible we lose perspective, focus, authority and foundations. What are we playing at?

We Don’t Know How To Open Up The Bible

Let me clarify what I mean by ‘opening up’ the Bible. Just reading a standalone verse and paraphrasing it a few different, interesting ways is not opening up the Bible. Reading a verse, picking a word from it and giving a talk on that word is also not opening up the Bible.

Opening up the Bible means swimming around in its depths and drawing us into those hidden truths. It means exegesis, context, study and clarity. It means bringing a passage to life by using the passage itself!

I’m becoming increasingly concerned that we don’t know how to do this.

My wife, an editor, is currently trying to re-write someones Bible Study that is trying to teach that David defeated Goliath because of his own prodigious experience and skill; not because he trusted in God despite his lack of experience and skill. How could we get a passage so dramatically wrong?

The Bible Makes Our Hearts Burn Within Us

Read Luke 24:13-35

How did Jesus reveal himself to the two followers walking to Emmaus? “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” v.27.

And how did they respond? They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” v.32.

“If you want young people’s hearts to burn within them in response to meeting with Jesus Christ, then you must, must, flippin’ must open up the Bible to them!”

If you want young people’s hearts to burn within them in response to meeting with Jesus Christ, then you must, must, flippin’ must open up the Bible to them! Yes, please be culturally relevant, but if you’re not going to bring God’s Word with you, you’re better off just staying at home!

If you want to communicate God’s heart, use His own words! There’s nothing wrong with the material – we must teach it until it burns within the hearts of this generation.

“However, if we have to err on one side or the other, we must not lose our hold on Christian truth. The simple message of God’s love for sinful humanity and of his forgiveness of our sins for the sake of his son has extraordinary and immense power: our incompetence as communicators is not able to destroy its ability to reach non-Christian young people.” [Christian Youthwork, Ashton & Moon]

Also See…

6 Ways to Train Teenagers to Read Their Bibles

Great Resource to Start Doing This…

  Dindexig Deeper: Tools for Understanding God’s World by
Andrew Sach & Nigel Beynon

A Youthworker and a Bible Walk Into A Bar…

Dear Youth Leader: Stop Trying To Be Hot!

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I understand that most of the people who you hang out with on any given day are young people. I understand that it’s important to be relevant and accessible. But please be an adult and don’t take your fashion cues from youth culture.

Far be it from me to be the fashion police (I look like my Granddad!) but clothing does speak volumes about culture, and how you dress sends clear signals.

“When you wear skin-tights, low-cuts, short-shorts, slips-with-slits and see-thrus, you’re setting the standard.”

I’ve been at a bunch of youth work conferences this year and I have been continually shocked by some of the things that male and female youth leaders are wearing – and the apparent obliviousness that led them there.

When you wear skin-tights, low-cuts, short-shorts, slips-with-slits and see-thrus, you’re setting the standard and communicating availability. This goes for lads and lasses.

One of my first youth leaders was a 21 year old girl on a gap year. She rocked up one day with a skin tight shirt with a picture of two watermelons and the tagline, ‘hands off my melons.’ I remember her being pretty put out when the Youth Pastor told her that wasn’t appropriate. As a 14 year old though, I was on her side; I remember the ‘shirt’ vividly.

A couple of months back we hired a mission group and one of the lads in the troop wore skinny jeans about a mile below the waistline and a v-neck pajama top that was so low you could almost see belly button. You didn’t know where to look! He was oblivious to every girl in the room that was making eyes at him.

I don’t want to go an a Victorian dress rampage. It’s important to take pride in how you look and enjoy creatively looking your best. Go for it – enjoy it.

Please remember though that you set the standards for what’s appropriate and modest.

If you are older, in a leadership position and confident then you have immediate attraction value to a young person. Wrap that in revealing clothes and you’re just begging for trouble.

Dear Youth Leader: Stop Trying To Be Hot! Be a grown up. Dress like one!

Here endeth another rant.

From Detached to Disciple by Andy & Laura Hancock

This was a live blog for Youthwork, The Conference originally published here.

 

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Husband and Wife double team, Youth Pastor Andy and YFC Church Resources Manager Laura will be moving us through the journey from detached to disciple – from first contact to Jesus follower. From ‘park bench to life group.’

It’s the last morning of Youthwork, the Conference 2014. The last seminar. People are gathering with a little bit less pace and a little more silent contentment than yesterday. The last day blues are setting in.

However, even through our minds are on the journey home, the luggage stored in the hotel lock up and the slowly increasing weight of our inboxes – there is still a feeling of anticipation and expectancy. This seminar is covering a vital topic.

How do we go from that very first meeting with a young person to a place where we are confident that we will know them in heaven? How do we help young people make these transitions in a healthy and organic way? How do we move young people from detached to disciple?

Andy and Laura will be telling us stories of what has worked in their local church in Halesowen and how they have helped young people be part of their church community.

  (Sorry about any dodgy spelling or awkward grammar – this is a live blog!)

A couple of caveats…

Attendance in church is not the endgame. Bums on seats is not the idea. However an increasing membership in the community is a good indicator of healthy youth work.

Andy and Laura want us to know that they’re not claiming what they’re doing is the best model of youthwork. There are many areas where they are praying for a breakthrough. Think strategically at how you can apply these stories to your own local context. Some of these stories and ideas will work, some will not.

Moving on…

Youth workers by nature tend to be incredible at relationship building. Youth leaders need this too; the ability to be there for young people and to invest in their lives. However we should as youth workers also be committed to building relationships with the friends of the young people that we know. This is a great place to start strategically thinking about how to gather more young people on this journey to follow Jesus.

Strategy in youth ministry though is not something that’s talked about very much. At a recent training course, youth leaders we’re asked if they had a clear coherent strategy for their youthwork. 1 in 50 said yes.

Trying to distill a clear strategy from youth projects can be like getting blood from a stone. Youthwork is often chaotic and messy and this is great, but it’s also missing the clear intentionality needed to bring people along on a journey to Jesus and into the church community.

What’s a win?

We know we’re doing a good job if a young person is following Jesus and making disciples of their mates when they are 25 years old. It’s about the long game. Not ‘are they a Christian today?’ but are they being equipped to follow Jesus in the long term?

When we pack for holiday we checklist off all the things we will need to pack. The same is true for youth work. We need to consider what to teach and impart that will equip our young people long term.

For Andy’s youth ministry there are 7 principles that they continually teach – and these will make their way in some form to the new Youth For Christ Resources. Two of these are teaching the young people to make wise decisions, and equipping them to fall more in love with Jesus so that they will tell their mates.

Thinking strategically about the journey

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Look at the diagram above. This is a movement of real young people on a journey from outreach, to a followup space to, to intentional discipleship and finally to church community.

It’s not always clear cut, some young people come and go at various stages and some don’t fit in into this at all. However this progression demonstrates how a strategically thought out journey can move young people through to relationship with Jesus.

The basic pattern begins with outreach where they go into young people’s own territory in schools and on the streets. Moving on from this into a large open youth group that’s looked after by committed Christians with the skills needed to mingle and talk about Jesus.

This youth group is like the ground floor of Debenhams. You can spend as long as you want down there but at some point you will want to find the elevator to the next level. That elevator is the Alpha course and the next level is the Life Groups.

Life Groups create an intentional, unapologetic discipleship space. They use accessible language to talk Bible, prayer, spiritual gifts and church. Here they provide a safe environment to prepare young people to be part of the church community.

The final stage of this journey is to belong to the church community. It’s vital that you prepare both the church itself and the young people for this.

To make each transition as easy as possible Andy and Laura use the same team and the same venue. This makes each new group feel safe and familiar. Great idea!

If a wife and husband are miles apart, say the husband in Eastbourne and the wife in London, they only need one form of transport – a car – to see each other. However if the wife moves to Brazil they will need to change vehicles mid journey to see each other.

The same is true for a quality youth work strategy. To help a young person journey through, you will need to change vehicles. You can’t necessarily hope that just schools work or just a youth group will do it. You need to help them through by adapting to their needs.

Your approach trumps your goal. Unless your approach adapts, you won’t reach your goal. You need to constantly make decisions to help reach your goal.

Finishing up

Andy summed up the session like this: Teach your church young people to love Jesus and create spaces that are comfortable enough for them to invite their non-church friends too.

It’s important to think strategically and commit that strategy totally to God.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labour in vain. [Psalm 127:1a]

A few quotable quotes!

There were huge chunks of wisdom given in this seminar and a fair few nuggets of wise one-liners too. Here’s a few:

“The only barrier for young people becoming a Christian should be the cross. We don’t want as church to put any more barriers in the way of meeting with him.”

“Youth work success is not when a young person meets with Jesus. Success is when they make a step on their journey.”

“A win at the youth group is when a young person feels safe and comfortable enough to come back and bring a friend.”

“I want to do everything I can to get young people in front of the cross, in front of Jesus.”

6 Youth Group Tactile Discussion Activities

Starting genuine conversations in a youth group can be a nightmare! Keeping them rolling while staying on track doubly so. Small group conversations tend to oscillate between pulling teeth and taming out of control petrol fires.

One of the best ways to engage different personalities and create real dynamic conversation is to use tactile (hands-on) activities. These can also be useful or easily adapted if your group contains young people with additional learning needs.

Here are some easy activities that create conversation on spiritual topics with an element of hands-on fun.

1. Story Cubes.

A brilliant invention that encourages you to make up your own rules. You start by group members choosing a cube and creating a story based off what’s on those cubes. You can get more specific by introducing a particular theme or topic for them to keep to.

This works best when you break into the story to ask the golden questions: who, what, when, where, why and how to get the group to elaborate and clarify the story they are telling.

Buy story cubes from here and follow them on twitter.

2. Question Jenga

Find a cheap Jenga set and, using a sharpie, write simple questions on each brick. Take turns to pull out a brick and ask a question to the group.

The questions can be as simple as ‘what’s your favourite colour?’ or as controversial as ‘can gay people go to heaven?’.

3. Collage Clips

Cut out quotes, words, colours, pictures and textures from a bunch of different magazines. Make sure you have lots and lots. Display them by tacking then to the wall or laying them out on the floor or a table.

Set the group the challenge to find a picture each and to explain to the group why they picked that picture.

You could ask them just pick one they like, or one that explains how their day went, or one that best describes who God is to them.

Another option is to use art postcards that you buy from galleries, artcards on specific God and ethics ideas from Youthscape or perspective cards available to buy from Agape.

4. Values Pyramid

Create 10 values on a theme or a topic and have the group rank them from most important at the top of the pyramid to least important on the bottom row. If you have enough people have several sets of this around and brake the group up.

Once you’ve done this ask the golden questions again (who, what, when, where, why, how) to challenge their answers. Compare the different pyramids and give people the opportunity to remove a row and re-rank the remaining.

Once finished you can give them a white piece of paper each and encourage them to add or replace a value with one of their own. Two sets available for free to download below. Just cut them out and if you want, laminate them.

Relationships And Sex Values Pyramid

Worldview And Ethics Values Pyramid

5. Values Washing Line

This effectively works the same way as the values pyramid however instead of moving around a hierarchical triangle you have a washing line stretched across the room with the values pegged to it.

Get a group to rank them most to least important left-to-right and explain why. Keep moving and dropping some off.

Free Download: Relationship Stages Washing Line. Enlarge, Print, Laminate & add Peggs!

6. playing cards

The best examples of these are made by Youthscape and specifically Romance Academy on the theme of sex and relationships.

You can use them just like regular playing cards, however each card comes with its own unique discussion question.

These are also easy enough to make your own.

 

 

6 Youth Group Tactile Discussion Activities

YC14 Session: 2 Challenges From Youth Work Works

This was a live blog for Youthwork, the Conference, originally published on their webpage here.

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“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you might have life and have it to the full” (Jesus, John 10:10). Youthwork pioneer Mark Yaconelli famously said that youthorkers “are passing on the way to stay alive.”

In the midst of the crazed, gut-wrenching frenzy of youthwork there is a constant, sometimes subversive and sometimes outright battle between the thief and the life bringer. A battle between darkness and light, between death and life. There’s nothing less than life at stake in what we do.

It’s appropriate then that this morning we heard stories from people on the frontline. Youthwork Conference’s opening session today, ‘Youth Work Works’ brought us compassion-driven youth projects from all over the UK. They were, without exception, incredible examples of youthwork passing on the way to stay alive. Check out the live blog for the session here.

I’m particularly encouraged by two values that came up in one way or another in just about every presentation. These make for two great challenges for us to talk about with our teams back home.

1. Meet genuine needs with what God has given you. See what the young people in your area are struggling with, and by working with the resources that God has provided reach to address those specific needs.

The youth work works speakers demonstrated that we don’t need any more flat-packed, cookie cutter youth projects. Instead we need a step out in faith to do something new and innovative and to take risks for the Kingdom where we live.

2. Give more responsibility to young people. Billy Graham fervently believed that the best way to bring a young person to Jesus is through another young person. It’s amazing therefore, to see youth workers inviting young people into the planning, problem solving and practice behind youth projects.

This was probably demonstrated best by Theresa and Hannah who are both involved in Mission Academy and through the simple and effective ‘you are loved’ cards from Naomi Robinson and the Pais Project.

Today’s Discipleship, Tomorrow’s Disciples by Nathan Iles and Phil Knox

This was a live blog for Youthwork, the Conference, originally published on their webpage here.

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It’s ​9:08​ in Devonshire 1, and the room is slowly filling up to experience the first seminar of Youthwork​,​ the Conference 2014; “Today’s Discipleship, Tomorrow’s Disciples”. The air conditioning is whirring, the awkward ‘chair-next-door conversations’ have started​,​ and the title, ​​Today’s Discipleship, Tomorrow’s Disciples is stirring interest.

Our speakers, Nathan Iles and Phil Knox, are here holding the torch for British Youth For Christ, so we’re expecting this to be fuelled by a drive and passion to ‘take the good news of Jesus Christ relevantly to every young person in the UK.’

(This is live, sorry about any mistakes!)

An opening question “how good was your breakfast?” with a hearty response breaks the ice and kicks us into gear. This is a fast paced, high energy presentation with masses of important information and deeply applicable challenges – so buckle up!


Ten Unique Challenges of The Millennial Generation

Sociologists have been saying ​that ​‘there​’​s something different about this generation’​, something that​ creates new categories, reaches for new terms and raises new questions for how we do youthwork today. They go by many names​:​​​ ​​the millennials,​​ the paradoxical generation, ​​the dot-coms,​​ the emerging adults,​​ the 18s-20s –​ ​and they come with unique wordviews which require us to ta​i​lor our approach to youthwork accordingly.

So what is unique about this generation and what are some of the ways that we can speak truth to them?


1. They are digital pioneers.

They don’t just go online, they are online. Over half will check their social media as soon as they wake up. They live in the moment and that moment is on the smartphone, the tablet and the laptop.

Paradoxically this hyper-connectiv​ity​​ ​with a whole net of other digital users also creates a sense of isolation, and often a polarisation between the persona in reality and the persona online.

There needs to be a definite level of incarnational involvement in that world. We need to be God incarnate online, and help our young people be responsible digital pioneers and good citizens of the online world.


2. They are anti-institutional

Once upon a time we trusted politicians, we trusted organisation and we trusted institution. Those days are rapidly wearing thin. There is a pandemic lack of desire to belong to, or be a card-carrying member of any kind of institution.

However, this does not mean that this generation is not deeply spiritual. They are! There is a rejection of organised religion but a widespread searching for a deeper sense of reality.

We need to tackle nominal church going. Phil reminded us that ‘small is beautiful’ and that we need to see a de-emphasis on the Sunday morning service and a greater emphasis on the small group. We further need to give young people a bigger image of what church can be, moving away from consumerist models. “We need a society to contribute to rather than a church to consume.”


3. They are instant consumerists

The mo​t​to of this generation is tesco ergo sum, I shop therefore I am. This is the first generation to identify as consumerists, and specifically instant consumerists. We can go from hearing a song on TV to downloading and owning it within thirty seconds. There used to be a day where we browsed video rental shops – now we feel hard don​e​ by if we can’t stream a video within seconds.

We can address this by speaking out on generosity and speaking out against consumerism and the desire craze. What kinaesthetic experiences can we give to our young people (like visiting homeless kitchens) to teach them about generosity?


4. They are influenced more by friends than romance or family

Peers have replaced parents. Friends have become the most dependable unit. Even in popular culture, TV shows have moved away from the family unit (The Simpsons) to the friendship circles (Big Bang Theory).

The church, however​,​ can uniquely give people a broader vision of family through all-age community. When young people were asked in a recent study, ‘what do you look for in a youth leader?’ 85% responded with a parent or grandparent figure.

Nathan gave us a great example of a program called ‘sponsor a young person.’ The deal is the young person has to say hello to an older person, and the older person has to commit to pray for that young person and give £1 a month to support them to go on a residential. Brilliant!


5. They have paradox between need for community and increasing isolation

There is a deep desire for individualism and a parallel longing for community. They are the ‘have it your way’ generation but​ they​ also have a deep need to be part of something bigger than themselves.

In youth ministry we need to hold these tensions and speak into these paradoxes. We need to speak into individual decision and church community  This should be easy for the church! Faith is rooted in individual decision, in light of a whole community.


6. They are a post-christendom generation

Religion is no longer at the centre of public life. Jesus is a swear word and ​N​oah is a myth. In 1985 520,000 18-30s were going to church​; ​in the 20 years since that has more than halved. This generation no longer has the context, the background or the language to engage directly with Christian culture.

Sunday school for many in this generation is a thing of the past. People don’t know the Bible stories now. We need to translate the language and use words that young people understand. We also need to look at a different paradigm for the communication of Gospel, using stories works more often now than using something like the 4 points Gospel. Not least because the lack of prior understanding also means that the stories also now have a real freshness.


7. They are spending more time in adolescence

The average age of Adolescence is extending and now sits somewhere between the ages of 10-27. They are also sometimes called the ‘Peter Pan’ generation because ‘they never grow up.’

There are ways, like being sexually active, where they are growing up faster​,​ however transitioning into full adulthood is getting harder and taking longer.

As church and youthworkers we need to intentionally celebrate the translations into adulthood by inten​t​ionally addressing transition issues and by supporting parents more. One of the things Youth For Christ has done is changed the age spectrum in its constitution from 11-18 to 7-25. We should consider running our youth groups older.


8. They have a ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deist’ worldview

The way that emerging adults view God is like Santa Claus or like a cosmic butler. He helps us be happy by bringing us good things and encouraging people to be nice and fair. The ultimate purpose of life is hedonistic – that is to be happy. ​(​Ideal moment to kick in with Pharall Williams.​)​

Bottom line here: We need to get uncomfortable. Comfort is the enemy of growth. We should as youth workers give our young people a sense of adventure and of mission. It’s not enough to entertain young people and show them a good time. We need to dare young people to do incredible things in their world for Jesus Christ.


9. They are anti-commitment

The average ​A​merican has 7 jobs in their 20s and on​e​ of the most downloaded apps in the UK today is ‘try before you buy dating’ which allows you to hook up with no strings attached. This bleeds into our profession too: the average time a UK church leader spends at a church is 7-10 years, however the average time a youth leader spends at a church is 18 months.

What does commitment to Jesus look like to an ant​i​-commitment generation? We must help young people to chose day in day out for Jesus Christ. The challenge is enabling teenagers to dream again. Helping them think big, aim high and work hard to get there. All the while we must constantly remind ourselves that generationally, things do shift. Things can change.


10. They have a happy midi-narrative – worldview

Happiness is the central goal of life. Period. This isn’t necessarily new, however​ what​ might be is how that is achieved. You don’t pursue happiness through metanarrative (the big picture of life), but on a much more modest scale that you can control in your microcosm of your own contacted life. An interesting picture this is our Facebook profiles. A small reality that we can control and protect.

We need to tell the big story though. We need to tell the whole story of God, creation, life, Jesus Christ. We must tell the metanarrate and challenge the microcosms. One of the best ways we can do this is to invite them into it. They too are part of this great story!

 

Capturing God’s Heart For Young People

Capturing God’s Heart For Young People. A talk I gave at Antioch Church in Colwyn Bay, North Wales. This is a version of a relatively standard talk that I give regularly on young people across North Wales.

Two passages:

Luke 18:1-17

Acts 20:7-12

3 Reasons Why I’m Learning Welsh as a Youthworker

S’mae. Bore Da. Tim Dw i. Dw i dysgy Cymraeg. Dw i ofnadwy!
Y’alright? Good morning. I’m Tim. I’m learning Welsh. I’m pants!

Why am I learning Welsh? Here’s three reasons:

There are schools and areas that are first language Welsh.

Although most, if not all Welsh speakers will also speak English, this will not be the natural, native first language. It can be more difficult to find a word in English than Welsh. Some of these schools will not let you in unless you are at least reasonably bilingual. You are after all in a different country.

Welsh is the heart language of Wales.

People by nature respond better when you communicate to them in the language that is near, dear and natural to their heart. This is making a cultural effort that is always responded to well.

It gives me an immediate common learning experience with every young person in Wales.

Bar very few, every young person in Wales is learning Welsh. This means I have an immediate point of connection, of humour, of learning and of conversation. Sometimes I will start a conversation with the young person in Welsh when I meet them for the first time because you can almost guarantee you will be laughing with each other within a minute. This also means I come from an area of less knowledge and they are able to teach me. It’s humble and it’s fun.

 

If you’re interested in learning Welsh there are many great courses. I’m taking Bangor Universitie’s Cwrs Wlpan which is always very highly rated and recommended.

I’ve written two posts about ministry in Wales as distinct and different to English ministry too:

Ministry in Wales… some observations

Youthwork in Wales… some thoughts

 

 

Learning Welsh as a Youthworker