Loving our ‘Leavers’

One of the core ideas of Sticky Faith is that young people need to feel a part of their church community at each age and stage of their development in order for them to grow a faith that sticks with them through life.

The big faith challenge for a young person comes when they leave their home (and their home church), and step out into a world which doesn’t provide the foundation and routines that they’ve come to lean on.  So where does our responsibility lie when a young person in our church comes of age and leaves home?  Do we wave them off with our best wishes and hope to see them again at Christmas… or are they still a part of our community, even after they’ve left?

There are many ways which we could communicate to our young people that we still consider them part of our church family.  One easy way is to celebrate with them as they finish school and acknowledge their achievement.  Get them up at the front on a Sunday morning when they’ve finished their exams.  Tell them we’re proud of them.  Tell them we’re praying for them no matter what.  Tell them we’d love to hear from them and they’re welcome any time.  Give them a slot in the newsletter to share about their new experiences, or invite them to come back and speak to the youth about what college or Uni is like.

Another way is to reach out and remind them that we’re thinking of them.  What young person doesn’t glow a little- even the lads!- when you offer them some unexpected encouragement.  I’ve come across a website that I adore called Giver’s Log which is all about, well, giving.  The category ‘Happy Mail’ is dedicated to ideas for care parcels that you could send to a uni student to let them know you’re thinking about them.  And get this- all of the parcel ideas weigh 13 oz or less!  (As it’s an American site, this weight is what separates a letter from a parcel.  It’s probably not the same here, but it will still be pretty cheap to send!)  Check it out:

As our young people are finishing exams and taking next steps, let’s get encouraging!

Grace & Peace

Fresh Ideas for a New Term

We’ve joined Pinterest!

Pinterest is an online ‘notice board’ for sharing ideas and inspiration.  Parents, children’s volunteers and local preachers are welcome to have a look and find resources for Bible stories, crafts and prayer- as well as encouragement and ideas for living our faith as a family at home.  Have fun!  (click on the image to go to our shiny new Pinterest board)

Pinterest

If you have any ideas our resources you’d like to pin on the board, get in touch!

How are we encouraging spirituality in our children?

This week I’m attending a conference run by the Methodist Church for its Lay Workers (ie. those of us whose name doesn’t begin with Rev.)  One of our keynote speakers is Dr. Rebecca Nye, an expert in the field of Childhood Spirituality.  She’s given us a lot of great things to think about, and one question that has really got me mulling over our own practices in our churches—

 Is all child-friendly practice necessarily friendly to children’s spirituality?

Dr. Nye outlined six key things to reflect on as we evaluate our ministry with children and young people and how we communicate spiritual concepts to them.

Space

What influence does the space we’re in have?.  What is the language of our space? Does it tell children to run and shout?  Or does it remind them of being in school (and for some, the feeling of being clever or dumb?)  Does it invite children to play with toys- or, for some in the same space, ‘I’m too old for this.’? Does it communicate that God is here? Or that this is a holy and safe space to be yourself?

 Process

Not product. Spiritual life is an ongoing work, not something which is completed. Prayer and worship are ways in which we grow, not things we achieve. Do we need to shift the focus of our time spent with children from learning outcomes to reflecting on the feelings and thoughts that a bible story bring? And how do we avoid turning prizes into a game of ‘guess what the teacher wants us to say. ‘. Do we give uninterrupted, unrushed time to creative response like arts and crafts?  And do we acknowledge the children whose work reflects their journey with the story- or just those who complete the best ‘product.’?

 Imagination

Children- particularly older ones- have to be given permission to use their imagination. Too often they get the impression that spiritual knowledge is a lot like maths, with clear and correct answers. And when I tell a Bible story, is it about my imagination- or about enabling the children to use theirs?

 Relationship

Are we attending to the quality of relationships we have with one another?  Are we evaluating how to make children feel like equals in the group, when we as leaders are a lot bigger and may have a lot more ‘answers’?  Also (and here’s a concept that got my imagination whirling)- relationship is not just about affecting one another, but about the quality of space between us as well.  How was the space between us this week- Was it holy? Friendly? Imaginative? Questioning and learning?

Dr. Nye didn’t get time to go into detail about the final two…

Intimacy

and

Trust

…but perhaps that gives us space to explore and work out our own values on these things.  Are the ways we communicate with our children and young people fostering in them a sense of intimacy and trust- with ourselves?  With God?  With their church family?  With the world around them?

She finished the seminar with a thought which, I felt, empowers and encourages us as Sunday school leaders, local preachers, and volunteers:

Spirituality in childhood is not an ‘extra luxury’- it is an essential!  Without it our kids won’t have real nourishment. 

What do you think??  Share your comments below!

Inspire 7

Have you checked out Inspire lately?

Inspire2013-A4-WebCopy

It’s an annual conference organised by the Lancashire Methodist District, and is truly a day packed with heart-felt worship and practical teaching.  Plus, creche and day programmes are available for children under 18.  I highly recommend it!

This year’s workshops include:

• Rest (and stillness) in ‘God’s economy’
• Faith at Work
• Church & Retirement
• Why the Church Struggles to Celebrate
Rest & Leisure
• The Church Celebrating the Family
• Street Pastors
• Ambassadors in Sport
• Action for Children (the children’s charity of
the Methodist Church)
The world we experience
• All Things Bright & Beautiful
Creating urban gardens
• Children Unite
Giving child domestic workers a voice
• Wake Up and Smell the Coffee…
• Jubi-what?
• Adoption: God’s plan & you
• Celebrating & Affirming Wisdom
A global perspective
• The Last Taboo: Death & Dying Well
• Have you heard the one about the Vicar,
the Hairdresser and the Chiropodist?
Addressing the spiritual needs of frail older
people in care homes.
• Being a Christian in my family is tough!
• Talk about Jesus at work, you’re kidding!
• Talk about Jesus at the gym you’re kidding!
• Too old to talk about Jesus – you’re kidding!

Intriguing, right??

Lat year there were lots of folks from our Circuit in attendance, so if you want to come along but don’t want to go on your own, get in touch and we’ll link you up with someone from your church.  Hope to see you there!

Safeguarding… With A Smile

Safeguarding is one of the subjects I look forward to talking about.

No, seriously, I do.  Why?  Because as a parent it’s vitally important to me.  I’ve seen the films and thought ‘Yeah it’s possible, but it doesn’t actually happen in the real world.’  And I’ve read the papers and realised it really does.

For over 10 years I’ve been working with children and young people, and more than once I’ve walked with an individual through the healing process as they deal with the consequences of their own poor decisions- or someone else’s.  And the truth is, it never really heals.  It’s heart-breaking.  And we can’t fix the past, but we can try and build a better future.

That’s why I’m grateful for Child Protection Policy.  I’m proud of our Methodist Church and its bold approach to safeguarding.  I will happily give ten minutes to fill out a form, and  a few hours each year to attend a course, so that we can joyfully say to parents, ‘Your children are safe with us.  We will look after them to the very best of our ability.  We are here with no other motive than to tell them of God’s perfect love.’  

As a parent, nothing less is good enough for my child- how about yours?

——

The Methodist Church asks that ALL children and youth volunteers attend the following course, and your last chance to do so within our Circuit is below.  If you haven’t done the module yet, please book yourself on.  Christine does an excellent job, and I guarantee you will find it useful.
Creating Safer Space: Foundation Module

Safeguarding training session for presbyters, workers with children & young people, stewards, pastoral visitors, choir/music group/drama leaders, local preachers and worship leaders.

Monday 28th January – 6.15pm for 6.30pm start, finish by 9pm – held at Whalley Methodist Church.  

This is the very last local training opportunity for those in the Circuit who hold the above roles.  If you have not attended this training before, please ensure you book a space on this course, or you will not be able to continue in your role, until you have attended the training.

To book a place, please contact:  Christine Moss  –  01254 240413 or email christine@orchardtraining.com

 

 

Circuit Messy Morning

06-12 Circuit Messy Morning

The Circuit Messy Morning was a big success!

Volunteers from every church in the Circuit gathered on Saturday morning for some training led by Sylvia Lee, our District Children’s Worker. She even gave us some time to ‘get messy’ and try some prayer and worship stations ourselves. We finished the morning with a bring & share lunch and some good conversation.

Such a lovely time was had that many of us felt we should do it again sometime! So…. here’s your chance to have a say:

If we offered training and fellowship mornings through the year for our children & youth volunteers, what topics would you like to learn more about?

Post your thoughts below!