Some true things

for me to remember

when living here feels hard.

I’ve moved 3894 miles away from home to a country I’ve never even visited before.
“Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” – Joshua 1:9

I can’t sleep at night or stay awake during the day, I can’t work out the tax on anything I buy, I struggle to remember that named streets go north/south and numbered go east/west.
“What is impossible with man is possible with God” – Luke 18:27

I can’t have a social security number unless I have a job, and it’ll costs a lot to apply for working status (which I may not get).
My identity doesn’t come from this world instead “our citizenship is in heaven” – Philippians 3:20

Everything I own is in this one room; I do not own most of the things in this room.
I have the “incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2:7

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Sunday School Teachers and Youth Workers

You’re doing a great job

and a very necessary one!

In case you didn’t already know: check out this article on Children, Youth and the Church it’s not very recent so it would be interesting to see if those stats have changed. Those needs in churches and particularly the need to pool resources and ideas won’t have changed much.

On that note I’d love to hear from you; what have your best ideas been? Where do you go for resources? What support have you found helpful? Let me know in the comments!

How to think about…

Planning All Age Services

and including children and young people

I’ve added a couple of pages of suggestions for how to include children and youth in a church service – any church service really but particularly the kind where Sunday School isn’t on and the kids are staying in. It’s my usual pic ‘n’ mix style so if you’re struggling to get yours serving practically there’s a subheading for that, or if you know that little ones aren’t following the reading let alone the sermon there are ideas for both of those as well: I hope you can find what you need!

Because this is a Sunday School blog my ideas are focused on youth and children, but it also could serve as a good checklist to check you’re celebrating diversity, in race, gender, age, ability and background  and creating role models for serving the church while walking with the Lord.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Check out our other pages on inclusion, under the ‘how to…’ menu including this one on hearing impairment and one on helping dyslexics.

Exciting opportunites

For your youth

and their understanding of the gospel

Not my snappiest title ever – but it’s true (if you live in England) because REBOOT is back in London.

We took a joint youth group trip down last year and loved it – despite 3 hours of train travel! They gave us doughnuts, water, sweets, anchor pendants (as a reminder of faith), questions, answers, fun, some worship songs we hadn’t heard before, an opportunity to chat …
Our group was a mixture of Christians and regular church-going teenagers and it worked well for all of them, speaking into issues that are big in our culture, in their lives and showed us how a relationship with Jesus affects every aspect of living.

I’ll let the Zacharias Trust introduce this year in their own words:

We wanted to let you know about this year’s event on 23rd September 2017 at the Emmanuel Centre, London. Tickets are going fast and it promises to be another great opportunity to ask your big questions about God.  As before, no question is off limits; you can ask anything at all!
 
The speaking team will be there and you will be able to ask your questions from your phones, just like at last year’s REBOOT. The more difficult the questions the better.

They mean it about no question being off limits: One of last year’s questions was “Can Christians play Pokémon Go?” as well as the ones on topics you’d expect like homosexuality, gender, creation, sex, and other beliefs.

Here’s a quick video from last year. There’s a very brief shot of our youth in there.

If you’re interested (and you should be) you can read more on the rebootglobal website or book tickets.

I loved it. If you can, you should go.

A whole heap of things…

…is an accurate description of what I’m supposed to be doing…

…and what’s in this blog post.

Apologies for not posting earlier this week: we’re moving house (to a different continent!) and are spending the summer holidays packing, organising, getting rid of things,  visiting friends and family, having visitors, throwing parties, throwing away junk and researching our new city/country/culture.

What this means is…

I will be posting erratically (more so than usual!) this summer. But once we’ve arrived and settled (October-ish) I’m not able to work so will have more time to write material for this blog. I’m also looking forward to seeing church and children’s work in a different – albeit still western – culture and will have lots to learn from how things are done differently. You’ll get my thoughts on that when I have some.

In the future…

  • Writing up thoughts on children and youth engagement in church with a particular eye on those tricky beasts known as all age or family services.
  • Partially written a series on the 10 commandments for children which I’ll finish and post.
  • Checking this site to make sure that all my currently posted content is up to date and easily accessible – Spelling and grammar check on!
  • Games young people love to play – for all group sizes and situations!
  • Linking to other fantastic websites and blogs with great resources for teaching kids and young people in a Christian context. Any you use regularly or think are brilliant (especially your own) let me know!

Something for today…

The BBC posted this info on Makaton today. I often turn to Makaton or BSL when looking for actions for song words or to help teach memory verses. There are some great reasons why parents will find it a useful tool and I see no reason why Sunday School teachers wouldn’t find it helpful too!

More Youth Work

Philemon:

Onesies and gospel centered living

I just can’t say Onesimus. Is it On-ee-see-muss? Won-si-muss? On-eh-si-muss? None of the above. So I’ve settled for Onesies (Won-sees). I’ll also refer to Philemon as Phil because File doesn’t sound like a real name.

So, two studies on Philemon. It’s one of my favourites as there was an ‘Oh, that’s so much better than I thought!’ moment for me when reading this. It’s not just about church politics, or how Paul and Phil’s lives are shaped by the gospel. But about how the gospel itself is reflected in their actions. It’s a living metaphor for the rescue of every Christian bought back from certain punishment to a loving relationship with God. It’s so excellent!

Why not get your youth group to wear their onesies as you study it? – it’s not so long since the onesie craze; I bet most of them still own them.

The end of the journey

Pilgrim’s Progressed

and we reached the end of this series

Weeks four, five and six of Pilgrim’s progress are up!

As part of the story Bunyan wrote this song (well not this exactly but it’s pretty similar) and I think it’s fantastic in its teaching. I do find the traditional tune stirring: it is also pretty fun to rap! Here it is for your encouragement:

He who would valiant be ’gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy follow the Master.
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.

Who so beset him round with dismal stories
Do but themselves confound—his strength the more is.
No foes shall stay his might; though he with giants fight,
He will make good his right to be a pilgrim.

Since, Lord, you do defend us with your Spirit,
We know we at the end, shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away! I’ll fear not what men say,
I’ll labor night and day to be a pilgrim.

I really hope that this is true of me and all of us on this journey with Jesus; not in our own strength but reliant on our king, our guide and our protector!

New Series!

A Pilgrim’s Progress

and how it helps us realise what it really means to be a Christian

I cried the first time I read it.

When Christian loses his burden in the shadow of the cross: I broke down.  I knew what that felt like and to my embarrassment I knew (and still know) I was picking up that discarded burden again and again; fighting Jesus for the right to carry it. That’s why although PP isn’t one of my favourite books – I really value it as an allegory. There are no perfect Christians here only redeemed sinners struggling along.

I hope that this series, which is a heavily abridged version of the story accompanied by questions to link it to its Biblical inspiration and apply it to our lives, helps your young people. It may prepare them for struggles ahead or help them to realise they’re not trusting Jesus yet.

It’s largely adapted from Geraldine McCaughrean’s retelling of the classic, although I turned to the original for help sometimes. I also used Jason Cockroft’s beautiful pointillist illustrations in my powerpoint where I could (because they’re stunning!) but since I have no rights to them I haven’t shared them. You could buy the book and scan them in as I did. That’s why, in my version, Christian is young and Hopeful is female – it matched the illustrations.

More in this series next week.

Distinctives

Living a life that’s different

because that’s what following Jesus looks like

Here’s another short youth work series: Distinctive Living. I adapted Vaughn Roberts book Distinctives into five short studies for teens. The idea being; it’s hard as a teenager to stand out from the crowd and they need all the encouragement they can get that it’s a) not just them and b) the right thing to do.

It’s worth checking out the book, not only for the two chapters I didn’t adapt, but also for the in-depth thinking, explaining and examples that I couldn’t remotely do justice to in half an hour. I may adapt Purity in a World Obsessed with Sex and Certainty in a World in which Everything is Relative at some future date: the only reason I haven’t already is that I had a five week term and those two were harder. I myself occasionally use the book for my morning devotionals as it’s nicely divided up with thoughtful questions on each chapter. And it’s not just teenagers who need to be reminded that living distinctively is plausible, possible and profitable.

Check out…

This excellent post I just found

on an excellent parenting blog

Check out: Helping your kids engage with church on the excellent Gospel Centered Parenting blog written by parents for parents – it contains some good ideas (ones I’ve seen worked out in practice by multiple parents in multiple churches), praise for Sunday Schools (yay!) and, for the non-parents among us, implies some ways in which we can be useful to parents in our church families.