Saturday, July 31, 2010

"A New Kind of Youth Ministry" Introduction

In the 'Introduction' Chris Folmsbee does well at expressing the restlessness many of us feel about youth ministry in models that belong in the 1950s and for which our resistance attracts criticism. 'Restless' has become my normal state in recent months/years... not in an 'I'm over it!!' way but I mean with the state of things and our inability to make strides as the wider church, in reinventing ministry which is missionally and contextually sharp!!
Talk learner centred, non event based, discipleship and people stare at you as if you've just torn pages from a Bible!!
Folmsbee describes one restless experience after another and notes his encounter with the Tony Jones book "Postmodern Youth Ministry" and it's different take on the issues.
What he eventually begins to introduce us to is the notion and task of RE-CULTURING youth ministry. This is "a strategic and intentional process of change that involves concentrade critical assessment, passionate idea generation, implementation of new ideas and practices and the ongoing evalutaion of the changes implemented" and borrowing from 'Leading in a Culture of Change' Michael Fullan we're reminded it's not about one innovation after another but implementation of new ideas. The transformation is ongoing and extensive.
That's all great jargon but it's really saying that instead of entertainment, the latest technique or creative program idea... reculturing is about changing ministry with young people to genuinely reflect the context we're in!! To help earth it a little [this is still just the intro] Chris answers the conference q&a 'what will it look like?' with a few initial images:
- churches will embrace pomo youth ministry with optimism and hope
- churches working with their community towards discipleship regardless of doctrine
- Youth Workers would see themselves primarily as Spiritual Directors not program directors
- youth ministries would think tehologically before methodologically
- students would live out the vision of God's restorative mission, not just talk about it
- Youth Workers serving young people in cooperation with families & churches rather than in conflict with them
- youth ministries teaching for spirtual formation vs information
To name a few.....

Friday, July 30, 2010

"A New Kind of Youth Ministry"

I am currently reading/listening to Chris Folmsbee's book by this title [as part of my pile of 5-6 books on the go!!] It's great, timely and might just be the text to distribute to a bunch of our Workers and Leaders to get a conversation going about 're-culturing' or reinventing UCA youth ministry for the current times. It's full of things we've been advocating for and doing but as ever it's a coherent narrative of the times rather than an intuitive response to one off happenings along the way [which inevitably cause people to question your ideas] not that Chris' learnings and changes are immune from criticism!!
Chris writes succinctly and makes sharp observations about his context where not all the angles fit here in Oz but the point is valid for slightly different reasons.
I will review Chapter by Chapter from here... and am cavassing colleagues to see if there's energy foir a workshop/discussion day before years end where some of this could be explored as reflective practice for people in their contexts. We'd offer tools not just advocacy and ideas wedded to people's own situations...
The book will be available to be borrowed from the Camden Theological Library at North Parramatta which is open to posting books to any UCA person... just give me a week to finish it!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

U2 in Oz for December 2010?

Could it be that rumoured Suncorp concert depends on how Bono's back pulls up when the 360 tour resumes in Turin in coming days and beyond... the feeling is that Aussie stadiums are easier to book at short notice post footy season and there's no way the band will come to Oz for just one show!!
In other news that will infuriate old fans and readers alike, U2 recently made the Forbes rich list for an obscene amount of income in recent times!! [was it $130 million] making their offshore tax moves all the more dodgy given the message about 'making poverty history' which I guess they have certainly done for themselves!! Although again I will say the Irish government changed a long standing law about creative arts profits and their move was in some ways a protest on behalf of all film and music makers, not just their own bottom line!!
Anyhoo, bring on December if the rumoured Police security 'sign offs' and shipping movements are anything to go by!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Power of Images

I was reminded again this morning of how much of a story can be contained within one still image!! I made it to the Fairfax Media World Photo Exhibit 2010 at the Mitchell State Library and saw some amazing images!! I had assumed you wouldn't be able to take pics so I only had the iphone with me.
There's so much emotion, action, back story and imagination captured in the various snaps from these Australian pictures and no doubt they'll bob up elsewhere on display!! Here are some examples...

I wish I remembered to clip these pics or order a copy and I will try to remember the value and power of a photo essay, reflections, card sets etc

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Shoefiti and Flying Kicks'

Tristan sent me the link to an ABC story about a film to feature in the Melbourne Film Festival which explore the folklore phenomenon of pairs of sneakers hanging by their tied laces over powerlines that most will have seen somewhere.... turns out a number of the explanations may be true and it just depends.... is this a drug house, has someone lost their virginity or does it signify gang territory? It's certainly a worldwide phenomenon!!
Read the ABC story here and read about the film here

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Which Wallabies will turn up this week?

This week sees the Wallabies open their 2010 Tri Nations with a 'home fixture' at our best performed venue in Brisbane!! BUT which team will front?
We have moved past the first round of inventive selections [which should continue as we go along in search of a belnd of youth and experience] and started putting together the best performed from the bunch... thank goodness our front rowers are back from injury... but make no mistake the key player in the mix is Quade Cooper!! If he's allowed to play by a fair share of possession and a forward pack making metres then anything could happen. Traditionally however the Boks are physical, fired up and nasty off the ball stuff intimidates our ball players so we'll see!! No predictions...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Brief Break

I am still exhausted from the 2 weeks effort needed to be ready for and then carry out my role of 'Input Facilitator' at Winter Camp this year... in coming days I will post about our theme and some stuff we did... I think most things worked well... though we used way too much time and need to overhaul our program... which we will do so that's cool!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Winter Camp "Reading Between the Lines"

I'm just a day and a half into 'time off' after a good time at Winter Camp so I will soon blog some of the input outlines and some new and old clips and songs. It has inspired me to seek some new tactile creative activities for groups and to think about seeing if we can send another two leaders to Montreat in North Carolina to experience the Camp which inspired Learning Groups and to again gather some ideas!!
The key leader team was working hard all week to lift those 10 percenters which would move Summer/Winter Camp from good to excellent. We have some way to go in lots of intuitive, programmed and leader ethos areas to just nail a few aspects of Camp. Everyone worked hard and some new younger leaders were really pushed by challenging groups and would have been exhausted by week's end... all in the name of helping young people shape identity, belonging, meaning and faith!!
I am always amazed and humbled by those offering leadership and paying for the privilege.... good job!!!! [to quote the film 'Hancock'!!] Anyhow.... more on that in a day or two!!

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Street University and Matt Noffs

For the second time in only a few weeks I heard Matt Noffs on the radio again today and was impressed!! He has started a ;fairwear' very cool shoes label which will raise money for those in need and you can pursue that here

But today Matt spoke about the 'Street University' he and partner Naomi have founded in an old city building in Sydney. The space looks run down outside but inside has basketball courts, rooms and slowly developing spaces for learning where young people come who have experienced some difficulty at school or in other learning environments and who somehow find their way to the space... which was opened by 'Public Enemy'!!
It was a study in post modern Gen Y generational differences to hear Matt talk about wanting to create opportunities for young people to take best advantage of.... rather than language of helping or serving... yet that is what they do... He spoke of dislike for beaurocracy etc and yet wanting to 'somehow' get organised and grow their efforts.
He was speaking today because Phillip Adams had given his weekend column over to a letter from Matt about the need for funding help for the University. He shared a couple of great stories about different young people and how this approach had really found and helped them!! It was inspiring and made me want to volunteer to do some 'leadership' stuff with them or listening skills training as my contribution.
Seeing a few spots on the net where Matt was offering to visit anyone to talk about young people motivates me to invite him to a training day and/or to suggest him as an excellent candidate for the 2011 'May McLeod Lecture' offered by our Board of Education annually at North Parramatta!!
Matt is grandson of Tedd Noffs who founded the 'Wayside Chapel' which is doing such great work in the city and he speaks fondly of what he learnt from Ted as someone who doesn't espouse a Christian faith but has the same drive to serve and help others out of a sense of empathy and humanity which is obvious and inspiring as he talks.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Life in a Day

Fascinating new project from Ridley Scott and collaborators who are inviting us all to film our day on 24th July this year! They look like using [20] to create a film where the winners will join them at the premiere at the Sundance Film Festival!!

I'm too tired to write anything insightful about this but my stream of thinking runs towards:
The links between this and flash mobs, reality TV, youtube and movies
Following the 1 Giant Leap Project and films like Baraka, this will be interesting as it starts with individuals filmsand works towards [1] movie Directed by two legends...

Read more here and see the promo footage on youtube here

Sunday, July 04, 2010

'The Break' at Newcastle's Queens Wharf Brewery

If you like 60s surf music played loud and long then head to the Brewery tonight for a free gig from 'The Break' which is three former members of 'The Oils' plus Brian Ritchie from 'The Violent Femmes'!! They were great at Bluesfest and I think would be even better when I hadn't just been hospitalised and on intravenous antiobiotics!! Here they are from 'Spicks n Specks'!!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Just a Small Writing Project

Time to 'bite the bullet' and start a "small" writing project I've had in mind since doing some study in 'missiology for local leaders'!! While my '101 Things I Wish I'd Known...' project is also sitting there I have decided to try to do something I reckon we need BUT is not my first thought when I think about work to do or a way forward.... here's the working only title of my little project and a few headings...

"Identity, Meaning, Belonging and Faith Shaping:
Towards a Theology of Ministry with Young People through the Uniting Church in Australia"

Foundational [though I have questions about how that should be something more like 'Liquid']

I have resisted starting before because I believe there would be multiple 'theologies' so I wonder whether a 'symposium' might not be a way to stimulate some responses which could become a book and at the same time assist in creating some ownership of one or more central ideas leading to some ethos development and ways forward for a church struggling to overcome models of ministry with young people superbly suited to the 1950s and 1960s...

You might like to send me a page or offer to write a paper or simply comment and maybe point me towards good writing from our context or anywhere?

Friday, July 02, 2010

Wordle or Word Clouds

I notice this week that the mainstream media have just discovered 'Wordle' or equivalent Word Cloud software!! Wordle is an online site where you can plug in a whole lot of text and produce a groovy word picture where weighting is given to words mentioned most often. It's an 'at a glance' way of checking your emphasis. The weekend papers used it to compare a narrative about Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott and their key messages. Today they followed up with more on Julia [our new Oz PM, our first female PM]!! To illustrate here's a news story about the new PM in Wordle form!!