Reports, Breakfasts & Sermons

Last week I had to face the PCC. Every 2 years or so I’m required to write a report about how youth work is going at church. This is actually quite a daunting thing. Whilst certain areas might be going well it’s hard not to wince as you have to detail the areas that are perhaps weak, especially as you know that if questioned on it, the best excuse you’ll be able to muster is that you just haven’t quite got round to it yet! Still, writing it was also quite a helpful exercise in getting me to think about the varying stages that different groups are at as well as individuals. It probably didn’t hurt that I had to write it during a period of changing some areas of my work, which I was able to detail and which probably gave the impression that I was more forward thinking than maybe I am.

The face to face reporting turned out not to be quite as daunting as I thought it might be. Everyone had already had the report emailed to them prior to the meeting and so all I really had to do was field some questions, which really wasn’t that bad. I felt I was able to give a good account of where we were at and some of the reasons behind changes being made and people seemed to be happy with what I said. It was nice too that there were a couple of parents there who were able to vouch for me by saying how much their teenagers enjoyed the groups and thus far hadn’t gone off the rails on a cocktail of sambuca and class B drugs all whilst under my influence. And on an even more positive note, once I had finished answering questions, they let me leave! Back home by 9pm and not feeling even the slightest bit of sympathy for the rest of the PCC who were most likely going to be there until 10.30pm!

On a different note last ┬áSaturday was the first Saturday I was working under my new timetable and I’m pleased to say it was a great start. I met one of our teenagers in the morning for breakfast (hello full English on expenses!) I felt it was a really productive time together, talking about everything from music, schoolwork, plans for uni and quiet times. I was also really pleased that he agreed to start meeting for One2One bible reading beginning in April, which I think will be really good for both him and me.

Saturday afternoon was primarily spent playing table tennis, Mario Kart and Goldeneye and humiliating my teenagers as I quickly trounced them at all of the above. I’ve still got it! The curate, who line manages me, said that he was once told that you should always lose at games to your young people so as to build them up or something. We both agreed this was a completely ridiculous idea and really ┬áthere are only so many ways you can throw a game of Connect 4 before they realise you’re up to something! It’s fine to win but just be a gracious winner. And if any of my young people ever read this I just want to say “HA, in your face losers!”

Our evening service last night was led by our 14-18’s group, or at least those who weren’t off on holiday. Half term is not a good time to schedule a youth led service! Anyway, one of our older boys led the service for the first ever time and he was great. He was clearly a bit nervous about it but he got up there and did brilliantly, even in the face of some failing technology which meant a quick re-shuffle of the service on the fly. It was all the more encouraging to see him up there as a year ago I don’t think he would have said boo to a goose. He even said afterwards that he’d quite like to do it again. Top stuff.

The service was also the first time I had preached at an evening service. I’d done a couple of 10 minuters at one of our smaller services before but the evening service is generally supposed to be a bit more meaty. We’re talking 25-30 minutes here. It was a pretty nerve wracking experience in the build up, again as it’s easy to fear man and not God, but it came together really well in the end. I’m not sure if it was recorded but if it was I might pop it up on here. I’ve only had one email so far from someone telling me they interpret the passage completely differently but I’m not too concerned as my thoughts tied up with the commentaries and my line manager was really pleased with what had been said as well so I’ve just got to trust God knew what He was doing. He’s got a pretty good track record so far.

Now just a couple of days off before a manic end to the week in the form of preaching at our cafe church and taking part in an evangelistic music cafe. Who said half term was a chance for a break?

Minibuses and Maltesers

It’s simply down to my own bad diary management that I booked an 11-14’s weekend away for the weekend immediately following 4 days away on conference. Definitely a facepalm moment! However, having now ridden out the storm I can honestly say that it was great fun and I don’t really know what I was worrying about.

I think youth weekends away are possibly one of the most important times for a church youth group. Not only do they help to cement relationships between the group itself, but as leaders we get to spend far more time with our young people than we would like to…I mean than we normally do! And on top of that they can often be a time when you can really spend some good one2one time with your young people chatting over the material they’ve been looking at during the spiritual programme for the weekend.

We had three sessions across the weekend looking at Romans, led by one of our associates. Quite frankly it was great stuff and clearly laid out the choice that we all have to make between choosing life or choosing death. This allowed us to have some really good conversations with our kids about what they were learning and I was really encouraged to have some chats with two of our boys, one of whom has aspergers and one who has a little bit of everything really. They can sometimes be difficult to handle in a group but one2one they’re fantastic and I felt I really connected with them. Probably helps that we all love Dr Who just a little bit as well. Prayer of the weekend though goes to one of our 12 year old girls. “Dear Lord, please help us to accept you…when we’re older!” Kids eh!

But apart from some interesting prayers, things went bizarrely smoothly. There was however, one rather disconcerting moment on the Saturday afternoon as I drove the kids to laser quest in the church minibus. It dawned on me that as I was driving a minibus I must really be grown up now. This is very worrying and highly disturbing. Still I feel I learnt a lot that afternoon, mostly about how not to let out a stream of expletives in front of the whole group as the bus refused to find third gear yet again, as well as how to manoeuvre a 5 metre vehicle into a parking space seemingly designed for something you find in a Scalectrix box. But the kids had a great time at laser quest and frankly so did we all. It’ll definitely be a place that we’ll be bookmarking for future reference I feel.

We also had messy games and a shiver still runs down my spine every time I think of them. The first one was fine. Simply move as many Maltesers from one end of the room to the other by dunking your face in a bowl of chocolate sauce, then into a bowl of Maltesers and then running back. But the second game was the old ‘hunt the Chewit in the bowl of flour’ game, basically just using your face. Needless to say, one child, who will remain nameless, proceeded to backwash most of the flour he was sifting through back into the bowl along with a healthy dose of his own saliva. I don’t think I need to tell you who was next in line. When Phil Moon said that youth workers today don’t sacrifice as much as they used to, he clearly hadn’t experienced this game. Nothing can quite crown that glorious moment when you announce that you’ve found a Chewit, only to be informed that it’s not a Chewit you’re holding between your lips, merely a clump of solidified flour and saliva.

I love youth work!