Keynote speaker – Jason Gardener

19 Nov

So our keynote speaker this morning was Jason Gardener, speaking about the future of youthwork. First Jason pointed to the invention of the internet and what they predicted it would be used for. However it is clear that they were so wrong that it should point to us not being able to predict the future from where we are now, particularly in that we are only about 10 years into the freely available access of the internet.
The question then became how technology impacts young people and also how it affects our work with them. Are they falling under the waves of information and games or are they making good use of it and being a part of what’s going on?

Jason then pointed to how we can take hold of the future, shaping and moulding it. He pointed us to 4 British “trailblazers” – Winston Churchill, Ellen MacArthur, Ranulph Fiennes and Ray Mears. All 4 went where few, if any, had gone before. They took control and created their future, rather than letting it control them.
He then showed us clips from the start of Fellowship Of The Ring, and asking the question “Have we forgotten things that we shouldn’t have?” Are there ways of doing things that the modern world has removed from our understanding?
This then led to a frightening comment that apathy has become normalised in society. This may seem strange given that it’s only a month or so ago that the Occupy campaigners started their camps in America and outside St Pauls, but maybe part of the reason that it has got so much press coverage is because it is such a rare thing to see? Maybe we are all a bit too apathetic?

Jason then pointed to something that I have noticed in my own young people and as a result of my involvement with the gaming world: the growing cultural remoteness that people exist in. People don’t feel like they have a connection any more. Which can lead to a complete lack of interaction with society.

But Jason pointed to a glimmer of hope, the fact that as the internet has evolved it has gone from just being a place to go and get information to a place where people look to get involved, either with movements or actually creating the information. And the fact is that many young people are involved in this aspect of technology. The challenge to us is not to just sit back and absorb stuff but to influence our surroundings and enable our young people to do the same. That means creating leadership structures that are low control and high accountability!

Jason then referred to Dallas Willard’s book The Divine Conspiracy and how Western Christianity has become stunted, commenting that young people often don’t know the true cost of being a disciple of Christ because they are so focussed on self.

Jason then showed us a mosaic of inspirational film clips and ended with the prayer of St Brendan:

Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries, the soft comforts of home? Shall I turn my back on my native land, and turn my face towards the sea?
Shall I put myself wholly at your mercy, without silver, without a horse, without fame, without honour? Shall I throw myself wholly upon You, without sword and shield, without food and drink, without a bed to lie on? Shall I say farewell to my beautiful land, placing myself under Your yoke?
Shall I pour out my heart to You, confessing my manifold sins and begging forgiveness, tears streaming down my cheeks? Shall I leave the prints of my knees on the sandy beach, a record of my final prayer in my native land?
Shall I then suffer every kind of wound that the sea can inflict? Shall I take my tiny boat across the wide sparkling ocean? O King of the Glorious Heaven, shall I go of my own choice upon the sea?
O Christ, will You help me on the wild waves?

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