Sooooo I will start using this time to blog, and catch you, my committed readers (not committed in the neurological sense, but the loyalty sense), up on what I have been up to in the last year. It will be over a few posts, but my aim is to bring you up to speed, then carry on blogging after, sharing experiences, and building community. I am planning on moving to Sweden for a year (at least) in September, and realising the importance of sharing our skills and experiences to help each other and build each other up. Youth ministry can be lonely at times, but it doesn't need to be.
My amazing girlfriend has also gone skiing for a week, and has limited internet access, so I have a little spare time from that too. :)
I left you at Easter, after an exciting term with Friday Night Chill, and the 5 Weekender, and how they had been successful in different ways. At the end of term we hosted Time at the Cross for Youth, an interactive experience for 11 to 18s to experience and worship God, concentrating and reflecting on what the cross could mean for them. We have young people at all different stages of where they are at with their faith, so we had to cater for many areas. We ended up with a mural designed by my colleague Tristan, and painted by a group of young people. A prayer board drawn by one of the 16yr olds, and painted by 10 others, a chocolate cross, broken and given out at the end, which could be seen as a communion style ritual, each taking up a part of the Cross and choosing to 'nom' it (the local word for consume) and take it home. I know it isn't theologically sound, but it tasted good, and it was another way of breaking down how accessible the cross is to everyone. It also brought Tristan much closer to meeting Jesus on the day, when he choked on a part of the Cross, and ended up in me performing the heimlich maneuver on him to dislodge the oversized piece of chocolate. Well second time luck anyway. But fear not, he is still alive and well. This is the Cross in question:
The main youth hall consisted of a worship band, leading charismatic worship, followed by a dramatisation of a bullying story, written by Liz, our wonderful Youth Pastor. The story was read out in the pitch black room to really get a sense of being involved in the story. I could tell this touched on a few of the young peoples lives. This was then followed by more reflective worship involving lighting tealights as prayers and leaving them in a cliche but very fitting cross in the centre of the room.
St Barnabas is a church with a heavy missional focus, and the amount we do for the community, and the members and non-members alike is astounding, from the new-born children, through the youth, the young adults right up to the senior citizens. And reporting from the inside of this church, St Barnabas is a church with always brings the focus back to Jesus and give him the credit. Something that has stuck in my head which explains this perfectly is something I heard from David White, Vicar at a local church to us. That is 'I can't, You never said I could! You can! YOU always said you would!'.
It is a faith centered church, with sound biblical doctrine and the prefect place for me to train. I can even go as far as saying it has helped me love the church, Jesus' church. And it isn't a walk in the park either doing the work we do. I have never understood the need for unity in the body of Christ more than I did from the Summer Term 2011. We need to love our church, in all its glory and failings! It's family. Need I say more.
I am loving this trainee worker scheme, which Equip was re-labelled as in September last year. I am completely living and loving my calling to youth ministry. There is still so much to learn, and probably still fail in, but I rest in the fact that the more I fail, the more I learn. Isn't that how Jesus teaches us?
I am continuing to be driven from my passion to see young people grow in relationship with Jesus, and lead each other in the right directions. The testimony from a young person to a young person is volumes louder than a testimony from me, and the influences young people have on each other are so heavy. I am realising more and more the importance to sow seeds where necessary and regularly, then eventually, you will sow them without even realising.
If you are a youth worker of any kind, volunteer, employed, in the church, or the secular world, training or qualified, my hat goes off to you all. This is important work, and God has called us all for a reason, and in our humility we need to refresh ourselves of our calling and follow His lead. This is not only the next generation rising up, its the current generation.
I feel the need for a cup of tea before I talk about the summer conferences and more things I have learned from the front line of youth ministry. Maybe a nap for a night. Thank you for reading this, and feel free to comment on this post, either via facebook, twitter or the comments section below.
All the best, (until tomorrow or in half an hour...)
The Captain :)