Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What is significance in youth ministry

This is a very telling posting from Sam Harvey. Less fluff! more substance.

Liturgy Website

This site offers all kinds of liturgical resources for Anglicans in Aotearoa - New Zealand. Bosco is really passionate about Liturgy. What he offers is not everyones cup of tea, but it is still really good to have a New Zealand Anglican resource.

he also has all sorts of other material there.

worth a look

What is good “Anglican” worship?

I am trying to put together a sheet with some thoughts around what good anglican worship might look like with young people, to help those doing worship with young people. So here are some inititial thoughts. Please comment on this, be as harsh as you like


Some thoughts:
§ it has a flow (it is more than singing praise songs)
§ it invites everyone to take part however they are able
§ creative use of the prayer book (?)

Use of scripture
§ Big chucks are read out so that we can hear it
§ Uses the Lectionary

Sacramental - includes communion
§ More than words and thoughts but:

  • Visible word of God
  • Non verbal
  • Non intellectual
  • Affective

Outward Focusing:
§ Not so much concerned about us but with what God is doing in the word – invites us to be concernced about the world and to prayer for the world

§ Anglicans are a people who worship in common

  • Those in this church/place/camp
  • Those across country and around the world – we worship with them as well.

§ Use of plural language

  • Not about me,
  • but about us
  • and God
  • and God’s world

Colourful and Dramatic

§ Starting point of life of faith cf, individual acts
§ Identity is found in common worship cf adherence to confessional faith or particular theology
§ Long term sandpaper affect

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lenten Resource

I wrote this resource for Lent last year based on the writings of St. Augustine of Hippo. It is a prayer resource, to be prayed with each day. Let me knwo what you think

Final Posting on "We and I" music... for now?

This is the edited version of what Ben has sent me. My response follows.

Hey Ya

I actually don’t disagree with any of this – I think there is an inherent weakness in taking the “I” model too far, but I think the same about taking “we” too far as well. In fact if you’d just simple said

Yes, we as individuals need to respond and make it out own, and so we need the “I” songs, but they need to be put into the context of us as God’s community

In your blog then I would have been in complete agreement – a balance that allows for individual ownership of a relationship with God as a member of all of God’s people both living and departed.

We actually facilitate this by

a) writing songs that reflect “we” (like - We want to walk with you or Almighty God…which is actually just from the prayerbook) cos to be honest there aren’t that many good “we” songs out there
b) Changing songs that can easily be changed such as Jesus be the centre (be OUR source…) and “Open the eyes of OUR heart”

However I also think that young people find a great sense of community by singing their personal commitment in amongst a crowd of people doing the same. It feels real, it’s feels committed, it feels like community. Like a U2 concert. I do feel somewhat that you are trying to provide an answer a question that no one is asking and disregarding the way that young people build a sense of community even through singing “I” songs. The proof is in the pudding of the wonderful sense of community that springs up at camps like RR in spite of or even perhaps because of the songs sung. And with some of your other criticisms of the camp I feel like you either missed or weren’t there for important parts and then criticised the camp for not having the things you missed

This has been a bit of a rushed response cos I’m dashing off on Holiday, but I hope that explains somewhat….


Hi Ben
Just for the record, I was at every worship but one, when one of the leaders wanted to talk to me. So I feel I am on reasonably solid ground. We used “we” rarely. It was wonderful when we did.

I think there is a fundamental difference between a U2 concert and worship. I love U2, and really enjoyed the sense of community at the concert. But we were a group of individuals who just happened to be at the concert together. Being followers of Christ is a much different thing. The Proverb I put up captures it… “We are, therefore I am”. I am not an individual but a member of the body of Christ. So I suggest it is really risky to rely on a concert feeling of community to inform that when a lot of our words emphasise my being an individual. My experience is that it is the words that stick, and shape our understanding, not the setting we sang the words in.

This is my last comment on this. I suspect people are bored. But I invite people to think about what kind of theology and understanding about being a Christian they want young to develop, and to explore the words of the songs to see how well they either support or undermine that theology.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Youth Ministry

I wrote this a few years ago. it is a summary of what I think youth ministry is all about.

Youth Ministry is an umbrella term that describes the systematic attention the faith community gives to young people which enables them to reach their full God created potential. That is, everything the faith community is involved in that promotes both healthy development and faith growth in adolescents.
v As a communal and relational ministry, it encompasses the whole faith community's work of nurturing, encouraging, and sustaining the relationship young people have with God as part of the church and the world.
v As an incarnational ministry, it takes seriously the whole person and all their needs, including physical, cognitive, emotional, social, moral and spiritual.
v As an incarnational ministry it also takes seriously all the contexts in which the young people live. This includes working to both provide a climate within our faith communities, and in the wider community, which fosters positive development; and to remove obstacles to this development.
v As an empowering and enabling ministry it takes seriously the gift each young person is. It empowers young people to discover their giftedness, and enables others to receive the ministry of young people as they live this out.

For more information on this Understanding, refer to “A Theology of Relational, Incarnational and Communal Youth Ministry” by John Hebenton.

Response to Ben

Thanks Ben.
This is what I am hoping this blog will do at times, and that is encourage people to take my up on my outrageous statements.

First off, I clearly have overstated my case. I am not even remotely interested in having an "I vs. We" debate. I believe that both are needed for all the reasons you laid out Ben. That is my real issue, that I attend event after event and all we ever sign is "I songs". We need more we songs, and we need songs that are both I and we. It isn't that hard to write them, I change the words of songs all the time to we, and it works. Sometimes I just change the chorus words, sometimes just the verse words.

Now, I really can't let Ben get away with some of what he said.

Yes Scripture uses "I", as do a lot of our great hymns and prayers. But to intimate that the Hebrew Scriptures only use "I" is false. Their great creedal statements of identity all use we. "We were slaves in Egypt...." Again and again these creeds are recited at major festivals. Prayers using we are chanted every Sabbath. Yes the Psalms use I a lot, but that is only a small part of their prayer life, and the "we" part is just as important, if not more important. But the biggest thing for me is the prayer Jesus taught us. It begins "Our Father..." Our! I am going to go with Jesus on this one, sorry Ben.

I really did not understand you logic on individualism coming out of using "We" language. Partly because in fact the Book of Common Prayer and as I said a lot of our hymns use "I" language. I am often intrigued when I hear Christian speakers bemoan our individualistic culture without any hint that we helped create it with our language. If I constantly talk in terms of "God and Me" (which our music does) then I am going to believe it is about God and Me. then church becomes much less important, because it is up to God and me, so if I choose not to go, because life is too busy or because I don't agree with the preacher, that is ok, because it is really about God and me. And so many people over the years have seen church as an optional extra, or even a hindrance. And that is in part because we have kept on with "I" language, and through our hymns and songs and liturgy reinforced the message that is it about God an Me. But the Bible is really clear on this; it is not about God and me, but about God and God's community, of which I am a part. Yes, we as individuals need to respond and make it out own, and so we need the “I” songs, but they need to be put into the context of us as God’s community. It is not all about me and God, not by a long shot!

The problem is not the "I" language, but the sole use of "I" language.

Finally, as I have said before on this blog, music is very important, because it is what really shapes peoples theology. We don't remember all the great talks really. But we do remember the music, because it is repeated often, and with the tune it sticks. When my dad died, it was not all the great sermons and youth group teachings I thought of. It was a Larry Norman song. It shaped my response to this event. John and Charles Wesley realised this, and they made sure that it was their theology that shaped the hymns they used, which is why Methodists are known as people who sing their theology.

Music is a most powerful tool for shaping people's world view and understanding of God and he Christian life. So please, can we have some balance. Can we please please please have songs that use "We"! The risks are too great to not!

Finally Ben thanks. I hope you respond. And thanks for putting your name on the end. It helps me respond.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

There is nothing like getting an absolute pasting on your blog.

I put this in the comments section as well, but thought I would put it here to. While some of the comments reveal how passionate people feel, I am glad that it has sparked that passion and response. But I do feel I have been slightly misunderstood, so I make the following responses.

Firstly, I am really sorry if I caused hurt. I thought that the event was a great event overall. And those who commented are right, I should have said so on the blog. I did tell some of the organisers that at the time, and again in my evaluation. And I did raise these issues in my evaluation, and other issues I felt needing addressing. Yet overall it was a well run event.

But part of my role in to “to work with others to broaden & deepen the church's understanding of youth ministry so that it is seen as ministry: to youth, for youth, with youth & from youth.” One of the ways I do that is through this blog and offering comments on what I experience at various youth ministries. Were these comments based on one event? No! There are similar comments throughout this blog.

What is more, my comments were NOT aimed at the organisers, but at those who had some leadership roles at the event, like the musicians, almost all of whom I would call adults. And I have made those comments to some of those musicians in the past. Yes, some of these issues are long standing, like the “I”, and the use of “I” in our music has cost us dearly as a church. We have generations of people who went to Anglican Churches, made their individual communion, spoke to no-one and then went home. Was this good for the church? Ah……no! So why perpetuate it? It is bad theology. So to the adults who run the music groups, who perform at the events, stop using songs that only speak of “I” and “me”. Music is such a powerful influence is shaping our theology and worldview. We need to be more helpful in what we offer young people in our music.

Like many of those who have commented my passion is also young people and their being offered all they need to grow in the faith. As I understand it I am being questioned for wanting this. Interesting.

So to those who were hurt, I apologise. But my comments were not aimed at you. The team that organised this event did a great job. But to the adults who work with them, including me, we need to pick up our gaime. We are letting them down.