Category Archives: youthwork

The gospel in Tech

So i’m just back from Tech Camp 2011, recovering from lack of sleep and reflecting on what was a great few days exploring all things Tech and how this integrates with our faith.  Video editing, animation, Audio Visual setup, voxpop interviews and a geek-hunt at Queens were all part of our few days together.  Lots to learn from my point of view, but refreshing to see young teenagers expressing their creativity and using their God given gifts in all things Tech, exploring how faith and technology can be expressed and explored in their lives.

It was a fresh challenge for me, something different from what i’m used to and perhaps feel more comfortable with, but enjoyable none the less.  It forced me to step out of what I’m more comfortable with, get my “geek” on and connect with kids who were more into Mac’s and YouTube than football and Match of the Day.  As I sought to lead some devotions on the theme of Identity, Being part of the Body, and Using the Gifts we have been given for God, I was faced with a challenge :

  • How can I attempt to connect these messages from Gods word to their world?
  • How can I translate the gospel, and express these themes from scripture in a way that connects to the world of a tech-savvy teen?

This is a challenge i’m used to  with my youth group on a regular basis, but this was a younger group of teens with different interests and different backgrounds than my youth group who I’ve gotten to know and journeyed with over the past 7 years.  While these groups of teens have different interests, and probably wouldn’t associate that much with one another in schools, they have similar needs, hopes and fears. And so do I, so do you, so does all of mankind. And this is where the gospel unites, and communicating it’s truth is what’s essential : we’re all sinners in need of rescuing, we all need to know and experience grace and forgiveness, we all long to belong and experience something more than this world has to offer, we all have something to offer when we get connected to the body and get involved with kingdom work. Diversity in the body should be celebrated and not lead to division.

So here was my attempt to incarnate the gospel for tech-savvy teen’s.

  • There’s a tension that exists in our lives: we have been programmed by the creator to live in relationship with Him, but this good programme has been infected by a virus (sin) that changes everything.  It destroys the function the good programme was designed to do and it affects everything it is connected to.  We experience broken-ness in relationship, pain, hurt, rejection, separation and ultimately death as a result of this virus called sin.  We can try to reverse the effects and un-do the damage the virus has done, but we are merely scratching the surface: it’s damaged the kernel and its effects are irreversible.
    The creator steps in to rescue and reverse the damage the virus called sin has done to his programme for life.  He sends a master-key from the original design to unlock the effects of the virus, and enable us to be re-programmed again with the creator’s good programme.  We need to run the anti-virus and remove the infection so that we can re-download the good programme and start living by it’s design.  The master key was Jesus, and at Calvary he took on the effects of the virus called sin, quarantining and destroying it’s effects forever, allowing himself to be destroyed and then re-programmed on our behalf, so that we can have the chance to re-download the good programme. It’s effect is instant, but it’s power comes from utilising the effects of the new programme in our lives. We need to remain plugged in to the source, and listen to the prompts of the anti-virus programme that alerts us of the attack of the bad programme called sin seeking to interrupt the download and break through and destroy the effects of the good programme as it re-formats and re-installs in our lives.

So there you have it: a blog post inspired by a bunch of tech-savvy teens and leaders @pcitechcamp, who have much to offer a church seeking to communicate afresh the unchanging biblical truths of the gospel to a constantly changing and increasingly technological world in need.

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Discipline

Discipline seems to be abit of a dirty word these days, it’s often said the “youth of today” are lacking in discipline and respect for authority, and there’s an element of truth in that statement.  But as with many statements like this, discipline is a virtue that is better caught than taught, and how have we embodied these values and passed them onto the next generation?  Submerged in a culture that revels in sin, promotes single-mindedness and celebrates ill-discipline it takes significant effort for us, never mind young people, to go against the flow and choose to dance to a different beat than the culture we swim in.  As a DISCIPLE of Christ, a youthworker who seeks to influence the next generation for Him, how am I SUBMITTING myself to His DISCIPLINE in my life, how am I DISCIPLINING myself to live counter-culturally and resist the sin that prevails in the society in which I am to be an AMBASSADOR.

Sadly alot of our churches have maybe tradionally taken the religious position of BEHAVE, BELIEVE, BELONG in their approach to reaching teenagers : come to our programmes, behave in a way we find acceptable, believe what we tell you and at some stage you will be accepted and therefore belong.  But the counter-cultural gospel of grace as demonstrated by Christ flips this approach completely on it’s head, insisting that first we find our BELONGING and sense of worth and value in Him, as a result we come to BELIEVE in his all sufficient act of salvation on the cross, taking the place of our sin, and then with His help we begin to BEHAVE in a way which brings honour and glory to Him.  We no longer desire to remain in our sin dead lives, but rather seek to live afresh in response to the His Amazing Grace that saved a wretch like me.
As I read his word I realise that I am to surrender myself to His discipline as a son submits to the discipline of a loving father who wants the best for him, and as a result I am changed.

Proverbs 3:11-12 (MSG) 11 But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction.12 It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this.”

I am also to begin a journey as his disciple, and that involves disciplining myself to resist the sinful desires of my human nature, and strive for the holiness that brings glory to the Saviour who has saved me.  Paul in his writings likens it to an athlete training for a race, or a boxer training for a fight, and the discipline required to keep their body in prime condition as they strain for the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (MSG) “26 I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me!27 I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”

So am I leading a DISCIPLINED life as I progress along this journey as a DISCIPLE of Christ?  That’s the challenge I’ve been left to ponder over recent months, what about you?

Back to blog

So this blog has been a barren place of late – no posts at all last year, a few thoughts shared of late, but largely it has been void of content.  A number of reasons really for this : other things going on in life, busy-ness, the rise of facebook/twitter/RSS feeds/emails to keep ontop of  (you easily become consumed by the volume of information out there you think you should consume), and I guess a case of the initial desire fading over time (i’ve been blogging since 2003).  Has been surprising though that some people still stumble across it daily, often stumbling into this post when searching for the lyrics to the Script song Break Even.

So this is me re-visiting the land of blog again, and attempting to re-engage with some more regular updates : will try and record some musings each month, for my own benefit if nothing else. In the past i always found it helpful to work through some thought’s /musings, or reflect on some cultural observations and how I flesh out my faith as I carry on in this journey of faith.

Have been challenged / refreshed / encouraged by some thoughts recorded by one of our youth on a blog he set up recently, you can check it out here.  I for one actually believe in this generation, i’m loving how God’s working in and through them in our context at Boardmills, and believe God will use them to redeem his church and bring revival in these days as they seek to live out loud against society’s flow.

1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV) “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

IDENTITY

Who are ya?

What are some of the things that make me, me?

What are the influences that shape and mould my life?

On what is my identity founded?

These are some of the things i’ve been pondering in recent weeks as I prepare for sharing a few thoughts on this theme at our youth service at church next week.  Identity is a huge thing in life, something that shapes many of life’s decisions big and small – we all want to feel like we belong, we have purpose, we are valued and significant.  And I guess as I’ve thought through some of the things that give us a sense of Identity, it comes down to what others think about us : status/popularity/success/money/image…..

These words found in verse 17 of Colossians 1 have captivated me somewhat, speaking of Jesus: “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” These words speak of how our lives without Christ are missing something, He is the glue that holds our lives together, our Identity centres on Him, and without Him our lives fall apart.  Other things in life : money/popularity/success/status : they’re all temporary and fail to satisfy the longing in our heart.  Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Him.

So where is your identity found, something i’m pondering along the journey at present, what about you?  Feel free to comment below and share thoughts and viewpoints.

First post of 09

A belated Happy New Year, a week and abit into January and I thought i’d better post something to try and keep this blog alive. Christmas was a restful and enjoyable break from what’s been a pretty hectic time, which was nice. It’s back to busy again which I really don’t like as much, but sometimes there are seasons of life that are just like that. I am attempting to maintain a more balanced rhythm amidst the busyness, but am already wondering how I’ll maintain it over a few busy weeks ahead. Have been asked to speak with our elders in church about our youthwork, the challenges we face, and where we go from here. It’s encouraging, if somewhat daunting, but hopefully a step in the right direction into developing a more strategic approach to connecting with a generation / society.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.”

Further thoughts to come

Well it’s nearly a week since I’m back from the Youth Ministry Summer School, lots to take in, think and pray through and ponder.  It’s good to step back from the “doing” of ministry, and think through the why and how.  Was reminded again that our ministry comes out of the depth of our own relationship with God, and the necessity amidst the busy-ness to maintain sabbath, resting in Him and seeking his guidance and strength.  It’s not our ministry, or what we do, but that God invites us to join him in what he’s already doing in redeeming his church, and reaching a generation with his timeless life-changing Good News.  What a priviledge that he chooses to invite a fallen sinner like me to be a part of his world-changing mission.

Further thoughts will follow………………

Busy Times

It’s been a hectic few weeks, alot of meetings, hardly a nite in, and often I find myself running from pillar to post without taking time to catch a breath. It’s kinda a love/hate relationship with busyness and me : I love being busy and having lots on, but at the same time I hate it when I fail to have time to catch a breath and simply chill. Today has been a welcome calm amidst the chaos as I had the day off work, and have had a little time to just chill and reflect. So whats been going on and whats coming up………….

  • Celebration Of Hope – was involved in the counselling/encourager team at the event on the Friday and Saturday nights. Incredibly well organised event, great response on the youth night, appropriate means used to communicate the gospel through dance/song/testimony and proclamation of the biblical truth
  • Meetings – involved in a number of church committee’s, trying to gradually bring about change and rock the boat abit in our traditional, comfortable, highly frustrating church setting. Hoping that the community outreach mission planned for October 08 will re-focus our attention on the taking the gospel outside the 4 walls of church building. Hope to building bridges into a community that has become distant and uninterested in what the church has to say, meeting people where they are at with the unchanging gospel using appropriate means to establish this connection through which the gospel will flow, and God willing reap a mighty harvest.
  • Reachout Prep – planning for Reachout 08 begins tonight, with the week hopefully happening at the start of August. Trust God will continue to grow this ministry that he has birthed, and use it for his glory, impacting many lives young and old in the communities we are placed in.
  • Turning Point – this weekend i’ll be involved with a team of counselors, mainly guys who have been involved as leaders in Reachout, at a Christian event run for young people at Ganaway, organised through the Belfast Battalion of the BB. Really exciting event, first time we’ve been involved, but sounds like a scaled down version of Summer Madness.

MAD

Just getting round to penning a few thoughts on the MAD weekend, organised by PCI hosted in Coleraine university.  This was the ninth year that MAD has ran, but the first year our church has taken a group of young people to it.  Things take a while to filter out to the sticks obviously, but it was worth the wait, weekends are tremendous relationship builders and memory makers, and our young people loved it.  Worship was by Andy Flannaghan, and speaking led by Mark Oestriecher, both gifted at communicating gospel truth in culturally relevant, biblically based methods.

Definately a beneficial weekend, something that God willing will be built on, not alot of sleep, but plenty of conversations, memories and challenges that will last a lifetime.

Organised Chaos

So as another term of youthwork stuff begins again this weekend, seems in a way never to have stopped with taking football and doing a couple of outreach teams over the summer, but normal service resumes from Friday night.  The moderator is opening our refurbished hall this weekend as well which i’m guessing must be a big deal judging by all the fuss, a major bun and sandwich delegation is underway.  If we were more passionate about reaching the lost perhaps, but maybe thats just me being cynical again, have to watch what I say sometimes.

Anyway I think i’m more dis-organised than ever this year, or at least it feels that way, but have the assurance that God will be at work despite my failings, and have to trust in Him and try and be abit more organised to serve him better.  Anyway my beauty sleep is calling, and boy do i need that!!  Adios to all who drop by, till I blog again………..

Alot to ponder…… A few thoughts

Back a couple of days from the Youth Ministry Summer School, still pondering alot of what was said and thought throughout the course of the weekend in the teaching, conversations, devotions and times of solace. A big thing that spoke to me throughout all that was said was the way in which we communicate the gospel: if we are not communicating in a manner in which they can hear and understand the gospel, then it’s impact will be limited. We need to find culturally relevant, creative ways to communicate the “Old but ever New” Good News of the gospel, looking to the great cross cultural communicators like the missionaries, Paul and Christ himself for guidance.

Another point that spoke to me was a warning against busyness, a trap I am prone to falling into, somehow thinking that the more I do, the more effective I can be. The reality is God can do it all without me, he simply in his grace invites me to be a part of what he is already doing, and enjoy that privilege and blessing of serving.

He calls us not to busyness, but simply to BE, to dwell in his presence, to be still and know he is God. And from the health of our relationship primarily with Him, our family and loved ones, and others comes the health of our ministry.