Edit:

I found Narnia!

Not at the back of my wardrobe unfortunately.

Instead I updated the Narnia page on this blog with the talks and powerpoint from that series. I’m not entirely sure how or why they disappeared in the first place. Nevermind, they’re back now!

Take a journey

With Paul

from the comfort of your own youth group

First in a new series of Bible Studies for teenagers. This series takes us through the first two of Paul’s Missionary Journeys.
Check out the menu above for more studies written for a youth group setting. (It’s under Youth Work).

PS I’ve just spotted that the Narnia page is very broken (just the word Narnia – nothing useful)! Sorry about that; I’ll fix it soon and let you know when everything’s back in place.

Shadows of the Carnegie

Some thoughts about culture

Inspired by Children’s Literature

The Carnegie Prize is awarded to the best in Children’s Literature (although the short list is mostly what we’d call Young Adult) you can find out more about it here. They run a shadowing scheme in which libraries, schools, book clubs etc. can read the short list and offer opinions at the same time as the judges do – although I’m pretty sure public opinion makes no difference.

I’ve been shadowing this years shortlist with work and thought that some of the themes in these books for children were worth talking about. Of the five books I’ve read so far the main characters are:
A young girl threatened with near murderous bullying.
An orphaned young carer in temporary accommodation.
A teenage thief from a single parent family on the run.
A boy born in a refugee camp who hasn’t realised his mother is dying.
A girl left brain damaged after being raped and beaten, whose mum is gone, dad has died, grandfather is in prison and grandma is slowly dying from emphysema.

As you can imagine they are, on occasion, very sad stories. Even the sci-fi stories are filled with real people facing real events: lies, betrayal, confusion, cruelty, loss and death.

But there is also hope in these stories, in fact it is often the case that stories themselves bring hope. (Which is only to be expected when the creators of the stories are authors.)

I think it’s natural to be drawn to these kind of stories as writers, judges and readers; they are the same type of stories Jesus told. His parables are brief but full of realistic characters – the whiny older brother, the self-obsessed successful farmer/businessman, the nagging widow, the woman who manages to lose something very valuable then has to panic clean the house until she finds it (yep, been there!) They fully live in a world that is far from ideal and yet there is hope, the hope of rescue, restoration, retribution, reward and relationship.

There is definitely a role in using the excellent literature aimed at young adults and children as a starting point for discussion of some real world issues, the effects of sin in this world and the role of hope. It’s great motivation to praying for and serving the vulnerable and damaged in our society and others.

It’s also great as a way of evaluating how we teach. Are we realistic about the falleness of our world and the ways that affects young people? Are there issues we would never talk about or do we realise that our young people may be experiencing them? Are we teaching historical events with as much interest, personality and excitement as the real world has?

And most importantly when we talk about hope; are we talking about a hope that helps and heals even the most broken? Are we seeing that gospel hope threaded throughout the Bible? Are we talking about the difference hope has made in our own experiences? Are we talking about a hope that is built on the real person of Jesus – who invites the broken and abandoned into his family and makes them whole?

Another parable

The Power of Stories

to change people’s lives

I was a visitor in a small village church this Sunday and something said in the sermon struck me: about the terrorist attack in Manchester last week the vicar asked, ‘What was this young man’s story that lead him to this point?’ That was not something I had considered before, but how did he become radicalised? At what point had he decided that this was to be his path?

What difference does the gospel make to people’s stories? We never know the ‘what ifs’ but what if someone had shared the gospel with him? What if he had met the risen Lord Jesus? What if I hadn’t become a Christian – what might my life look like?

We make massive changes in people’s lives when we share God’s good news with them. Whether it is our friends and family, the children and youth that we teach, or a stranger who we took the opportunity to talk to. Jesus had among his twelve closest disciples Simon the Zealot who fought against the Roman government: his chosen messenger to the gentiles was Saul, a man whose religious beliefs led him to persecute others. We know Jesus changed their stories and the stories of countless others. Let’s pray for him to continue to do so.

I’ve added another parable: The Rich Fool. Someone who did not let God change his story and never even considered the possibility. I don’t want that to be anyone I know so hard as it is, Lord, would I be courageous enough to give everyone I know the chance to hear of you and to make their decision. Amen

More Parables

Things that are lost and found

And heavenly parties: lots of them!

I really love planning a party! Usually more than I enjoy actually being at said party. However, celebrating with Jesus when someone else comes and joins the family is one set of parties I’m really looking forward too (assuming that Jesus doesn’t come back first and we skip straight to the wedding feast – aka BEST PARTY EVER!)

Here’s the Lost Coin and the Lost Sheep – an explanation of how helpless we are in our lostness and just how much we’re loved! I’m praying that the children we teach might soon be the cause of another heavenly party as they put their trust in Jesus!

Updates:

Dealing with Exam Stress

and more on Parables

So exam stress first: GCSEs started this week which means plenty of stressed out teenagers. Here‘s a study that aims to put exams in their proper place with a bit of Biblical perspective.

I’ve also updated the parables I posted last week. They now have a full complement of games, talk, prayer and songs to go with the dramas I put up already.

Subscribe if you like them as there will be more parables in the coming weeks; and more studies for youth looking at living as a disciple of Jesus in a fallen world.

New Series

Parables

First told by Jesus; retold by me

The audience has changed – the meaning has not.

We’re kicking it off with a bit of material on the Good Samaritan and the Pharisee and the Tax Collector: find it here.

There will be more later on but next week with GCSEs imminent and A levels not far behind; I’ll be posting some Exam Stress tips for your youth.

Watch this space…

The Discouraged Sunday School Blog

Well, it’s been a long time…

Sorry about that!

I stopped posting because Christmas was a bit busy.

Then I thought I’d start again at New Year, but when I’d missed that deadline it got awkward.

Then I thought that maybe I should re-start with some Easter stuff. Post something Lenty just before Lent then my large pile of Easter things during Lent itself.

But there wasn’t anyone who was crying out for Sunday School bits and pieces.

All the Sunday School teachers I know are more than competent. The Youth Workers I meet are full of great ideas. There is fantastic, comprehensive material being produced by Scripture Union, The Good Book Company, these guys and many others.

So what was the point?  Who actually needed a badly organised blog with a mixture of kids work, youth work and my own ramblings? Honestly, not anyone.
(And I felt super awkward after not having posted for so long!)

However:

I’m a competent Sunday School teacher who sometimes looks things up online to get me started.

I’m an occaisional children’s worker who has excellent and skilled crafters, organisers and teachers around me whose help I need to get things done.

I’m a youth worker who’s full of ideas but works full time and has a social life and often wants something that I can just adapt rather than start from scratch.

So here, whether anyone needs it or not, is

The Disorganised Sunday School Blog

Where I’ll be posting my ideas, plans, dramas, powerpoints, talks, crafts, as near to once a week as I can make it.

Where I can ramble about my thoughts on SEN, children, church, teaching, culture etc. as a way of organising them for myself and encouraging others to share.

Where I can take a break from blogging when I need to without having to feel guilty and can restart without feeling awkward.

I hope there is something here you find useful.

Enjoy!

Advent’s completed…

We’re nearly there

and I’m nearly ready

At last! Four advent scripts for four advent Sundays. Head on over and enjoy hearing from fictionalised (but I hope plausible) Biblical characters about some the events in the run up to Christmas. Joseph wonders how the start of his new family will play into the promise that God made to his ancestor King David. One of Herod’s advisors investigates rumours that the true king will come from Bethlehem. Elizabeth considers the strange circumstances that have led to her old age pregnancy and Mary’s mum shares the shame that her daughter’s pregnancy will ring on their family.

As I’ve been writing these I’ve been considering (with a lot of help from Tim Chester’s book One True Story) different perspectives on the story we all know and love. People weren’t expecting God to do what he did: to come into the world as a vulnerable baby, to be part of a human family with all its complications and challenges, to work miracles in ordinary and unimportant lives, to fulfil reams of OT prophecies yet not to act in the way we expect and people just weren’t ready for it.

Advent is a time to get ready then. I, with a lot of help, have completed my Christmas shopping, also bought presents for December family birthdays, visited and been visited by relatives and friends, wrapped presents and decorated the tree. I could consider myself ready for Christmas but there is much more to it than that.

I’m ready to celebrate but am I ready to embrace the fullness of God as a saviour, as a judge, as God with us? Am I ready for him to come again? Am I ready to admit where I fail to trust God in my life? Am I ready to admit where my understanding of God is wrong? Am I ready to change my life and my attitudes this Christmas?

I think, once again, I am going to need a lot of help with this. Thank God, then, that I have it!

More Advent Stuff

Just in the nick of time

or was I aiming to post on the relevant day?

(It’s the first one.)

The script for Second Sunday is up and on the second Sunday of Advent. This one was a little harder to write as I didn’t get the inspiration I had with the others. It’s also been a busy week with people visiting, but I’ve definitely got inspired for the next one so see you on Tuesday as usual!