Wednesday, October 31, 2012


   The Uniting Church in the Hunter has enjoyed a rich tradition of edgy [sometimes annoying] and dynamic ministry with young people since it's beginnings. The Youthleaders at the time of Union in 1977 chose to launch 'something new' to work on together... Easter Camp 1978 at Glenrock Campsite... and we have witnessed several 'waves' of young people, leaders, events that filled calendars, worship and that experience of various places being the 'latest' congregation to enjoy a growth spurt across the years....
   The Hunter UYF rode the wave of social change from the 1960s and 70s because of a radical discipleship vision and story. It became something more of a maintaining the energy beyond the 1980s and into the 1990s with Youth Workers funded or not at different periods and 'groups' of young people in their hundreds experiencing all that this had to offer.
   Over the last 5 or so years generation Y have come through into young adulthood and have wrestled with increasingly busy working and studying lives. They have embraced opportunities beyond the increasing generation gap in mainstream congregations but have engaged in those to greater or lesser extent along the way. It's true of the Hunter community but even moreso of our churches, that numbers thin around the age of 20 and certainly in our churches there's a gap in the age range which means that group of young adults have not been able to [and sometimes unwilling or unable to] hand on responsibilities to a next group of young people. It's been some years since the UYF had a raft of activities for all UCA youth alongside Easter Camp during each year. Thise events which have happened have often been attended by particular peer groups.
All this work has left a group tired, moving on to 'the next thing' or just 'moving on' in some cases and it's been tough for some. Youth Groups in the Hunter are mostly High Schoolers, at the younger end of the scale. Many are just 'dipping toes in the water' of faith and other have little or no concept they are part of a Uniting Church... To reinvigorate regional ministry with young people in the Hunter will require a unifying vision that excites young people and draws them in 'right where they are.' It raises questions way beyond 'will we or won't we do Easter Camp?'
   What to do about the UYF and regional ministry with young people in this scenario, especially having seen the enthusiasm of a group of adults lead to 'trying' Easter 24 as a measure for 2012 and it being 'not quite Easter Camp' and only attracting low numbers?
   This would have been a burden for the younger leaders who would have managed but would have needed to work pretty hard to sustain a 24hr+ program with 30+ people as a 'fun' event for those registered. It was cancelled very late in the scheme of things...
   There are at least three fronts to work on...
[1] growing a vision and identity for regional ministry
[2] equipping and encouraging young adults to be disciples in the next stage of their lives e.g. in congregations, new faith communities or experimental approaches to being people of God with an underlying goal of growing people who live out their faith in daily life whether they find a community to connect with or not
[3] to work with existing youthleaders to grow regional ministry that unites and multiplies their efforts... these things will or should determine the WHAT of this challenge...

As YOUTH MINISTRY DEVELOPMENT WORKER my role in part encourages me to engage in ministry that will...
- facilitate communication between different networks
- encourage the youth & young adult network to initiate intentional and creative ways for discipleship building and belonging
- resource, mentor and train youth & leaders towards mature discipleship with leadership skills for their roles
- assist the Youthleaders to develop their combined activities
- equip congregations to develop youth ministry
-facilitate connections with the wider church and community
-work towards connecting smaller groups in
There's a focus on 'sustainable' events or programs and leadership practice...

  As someone whose life and leadership were findamentally shaped by Easter Camp I too grieve it's loss in 2012... for me it's not about doing what ot takes to hold Camp... but doing what it takes to encourage young adults in their journey and to fashion what might work for the next generation. The younger generations already feel the pressure of being involved for a 'whole Easter Weekend', working part time, needing to fund University studies at some point and living. These young people have a more tenuous sense of belonging within the UCA and are at present mostly early to mid High School age so rely on parents and others for transport etc.
   These young people value choice and lots of activities compete for their time... entertainment is sought in lots of places so the church needs to focus on it's uniqueness and what will excite and motivate young people to invest, not just opening the doors or the flyers and expecting them to come... it's tough...
- individual conversations with those who've given UYF leadership to care for and encourage them
- a celebratory event with food, to celebrate all things UYF and thank lots of people for their recent years of engagement and allow some to 'let go of' feelings of responsibility and in some cases 'guilt'
- a gathering or series of gatherings of any young people and young adults who do want to continue offering regional leadership, to see if we can't envisage some possibilities alongside the Youthleaders and their local groups
- equipping and supporting local group leaders to build grassroots ministry with young people so regional connections make sense and help grow beyond local borders
- we now know some significant adults would help with whatever is tried... but the shaping of that needs to be generated by the young people or we are just floating our own version. However valuable it has been or could be,
ownership of what is planned is crucial to it's chances of success...
I'd welcome questions, comments, offers, energy, waiting, prayer and encouragement in this important time!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Upper Hunter "Muster" October 21st

This is a terrible phtot but the adults and kids were hooked in...

Here's what we did before a BBQ and Salads Lunch to mark about 12 months of the agreed Upper Hunter Resource Ministry approach across Merriwa, Muswellbrrok and Scone and Districts... there's some great progress, some hard work ahead and some slow moving transformation in train!!

We changed the 'outdoors' decision taking account of musicians we knew we had vs those we hoped to have and so moved [4] pews etc to create a Godly Play story space and room to move

1. CD/iTunes music x 3 in lead up to 11am (Rob)
Though we ended up using instrumentals from the band
2. "on New & Risky Paths" CALL TO WORSHIP (4) Voices
“New and Risky Paths” Call to Worship” [4] Voices

Voice ONE:
Now is the time to worship.
We come together today in hope and expectation.
We bring ourselves, we bring our lives.

Voice TWO:
Today and every day we are called to be the people of God.
We wait and listen for God’s Spirit in our world.
Called to new and risky paths we aren’t always ready…

Voice THREE:
Look for God’s action in the world.
Feel the need for change and have courage.
Know God is with us always, even in our questions and doubts.

Voice FOUR:
Today let’s celebrate.
We are part of a ‘big story’ and God offers us reconciliation and grace.
How will we live in response?

3. PRAYER (Ross and others)
With a confessional response to close
Come now is the time to Worship
Gather Us In TiS 474
On New and Risky Paths
6. GODLY PLAY STORY Leonie O'Keefe (10-15mins)
'The risk of leaving Egypt'
includes Video Camera attached to projector for those who won't move closer
7. SHARING STORY 'the new paths'
including "Stuck by Oliver Jeffers with images onscreen and sharing about what motivates me to 'keep going' in encouraging 'missional thinking and action'
then opportunity to REFLECT on pictures spread around the space as a Prayer for Others
11. SONG/S
On New and Risky Paths
Here I Am Lord TiS 658
Go out from this place,
With less fear of ‘new and risky paths’
Aware of God who sends you,
Jesus Christ who goes ahead of you
And God’s Spirit who gives energy and spark for the journey…
including explanation of GTKY cards/activity
13. Band play instrumental [no sung blessing]

It was what, after some feedback on earlier 'stations' plans, we felt people could cope with being stretched by...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Idiot Footballers and their Club!!

   I wasn't at the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs 'Mad Monday' so called celebrations the other day but I have read some of the media reports about their boorish behaviour and sexist and inappropriate interactions with the media who showed up for post Grand Final coverage.
   Surely in 2012 the Club, the minders and the players themselves have this 'sorted'... assemble at an arranged time [costumes and all] and do some interviews, pose for the TV news and then politely remove yourselves to a secure private location for whatever antics, food and fun times you choose. This should include security/welfare minders who help players enjoy but not overdo the partying. Some will drink to excess, others will be sensible and enjoy a 'let down' party but stay within reasonable limits.
   There's no doubt the media's desire to 'get the story' the day after a Grand Final [win or lose] is a provocative and silly opportunity to show players in tights/costumes/drunk/being silly. Maybe they could be left at that point to just be a team and mark the end of months of hard physical work themselves.
   Either way the insensitive players/staff who've done stupid things should be accountable for their actions and should be fined and warned about the consequences of any further foolishness.
   I've been part of some amazing, euphoric, consoling, bonding and fun celebrations in 25 years of rugby union and seen the occasional idiocy of over indulgence and I understand the significance of the chance to 'let your hair down' after months of hard work' but stupidity doesn't have to be part of the deal!! Canterbury Bulldogs club didn't do enough to prevent what happened and the players shouldn't have done what they did!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

A Lots Been Happening in September

 Ok so not entirely sure why I wrote and saved the following blog entry the other day BUT here goes...
  I've been quiet on blogging as family and vocation have taken up a busy time this month...
I've also been working on my monthly Dynamo email as an annual edition that's taken plenty of time but will be emailed out tonight!!

September has been a busy time:
- the VMAs highlighted Psy's Gangnam Style
- Bernard Tomic tanked at the US Open Tennis
- 'Trolls' hit the news, not just their twitter accounts
- another 9/11 went by
- Kate Windsor nee Middleton became even more popular
- several serious car or bus accidents cost lives
- Quade Cooper played his last game for the Wallabies
- US Presidential hopefuls came [and perhaps went]
- ABC Melbourne staffer Jill Meagher sadly lost her life
To name just a few...

   I'm getting back into catching up with people who need support, ideas, encouragement and challenge!! There are some important threads to draw together in what's left of 2012 and it's also been a sad and tough time!!
   I read lots of the quotable quotes, platitudes, cliches and frankly 'crap' people write all over Facebook and other places. I'm aware of the struggles, mishaps and issues faced by lots of people alongside some outstandingly celebratory moments for others!!
But if some of what I read is our best effort to understand the mystical, the creator and the spirit amongst and within us, no wonder we are in trouble!!!!
   It reminds me of the wisdom of reflection, listening and taking pause... it reminds me to think of 'others' and to take ideas to their sometimes logical or illogical conclusions and it helps me know that the search for meaning in the middle of all this is a journey accompanied [not manipulated] by God and truly explored in all dimensions by a the son of a tradie in the middle/near East over 2000 years ago...
   Who is Jesus Christ in our lives and all it's happenings? How can I best tell that story? How do I best allow others their story, though we often cannot share the same path... especially a 'path of least resistence' Hmmnn... might save this post and let it sit for a day!!