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!

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!

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.

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?

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!