Youthwork Summit 2014

17 May

The following is an unofficial live blog (hopefully with some inane rumblings thrown in for good measure) from the Youthwork Summit 2014 in Manchester.
All talks will be able to be found at

So far it has all been running as planned, that is to say we are late!

After a bit of sung worship (with some not-very-easy-to-read words on the screen) we are now being introduced to some of what we can expect to see and hear today.
Martin Saunders asks us to leave our preconceptions at the door and open ourselves up to what God has to say to us.

Session 1
Open Up Your Soul – Kenda Creasy Dean
Kenda asks how we can reach young people with God-sized visions who see a Church who are not open to or able to deal with such things.
She tells us about how disconnected the Church can often be with society.
She also says that when it is capable of connecting it can end up being incredibly complicated and chaotic.
She is definitely speaking about ideals. It is an incredible challenge to how we view Church, but at the same time it seems to be more than a little naive. This may be coming from my more conservative theology perspective, but it does seem to be a bit disconnected to reality.
That said, she is saying that we need to be fully aware of things around us and the wisdom to be able to respond and connect in a relevant way, which I fully agree with. She also recognises the change in how people connect to community. It is no longer necessarily local, so we need to recognise that in how we communicate.
Kenda closes by showing us a video of a young girl who was singing the American national anthem at a basketball game, and forgot the words. And as she forgot, a member of one of the teams came up alongside her and, despite being less than gifted at singing, he sang alongside her, wrapping his arm around her and supporting her through to the end of the anthem.

Session 2
Open Up Your Mind
Selling Out – Chris Russell
Ministry to/with/for/among young people that just talks about God bringing happiness is verging on blasphemy.
If we sell the Gospel as a product to solve young people’s problems we do them a huge disservice.
The gospel MUST include

#shabbat – Sarah Percival
25 years ago the internet didn’t exist. Since then millions of videos, photos and comments have been put on there and continue to be posted.
If our desire for our young people is that they have rest we need to stop telling them to put their phones down and pick Shabbat up.
God thinks that rest is so important that it was the first thing that He did with us and in His top 5 things to do in life.
Exodus 20:8-11 – rest is stopping work, doing it together and honouring God.
Doing this does not mean getting rid of mobile phones and the internet. Use of the internet can be for work or rest, for community or against it and honouring to God or dishonouring to Him.

Developing world changers – Loretta Minghella
Tells us about how we sometimes don’t properly engage when we see a problem because we don’t actually understand it, because we are often disconnected from it.
She shows us a video about sending leftovers to Africa as an example.

A brief interlude about Christian advertising art

Down but not out – Katherine Welby-Roberts
Katherine shares with us what can happen when people suffer from depression.
She points put that we can often miss the signs because those that suffer are good at hiding them and simply deal with it when on their own.
They can also be perfectly fine and yet not look it.
Use of language is important, because how you speak to those that suffer from mental illness can be interpreted in light of that illness even if it is not intended.
I highly recommended going and watching her talk when it is uploaded. It is truly inspiring and informative.

Hacking Christianity – Joshua Jost
There are 500 million gamers around the world
1/5 young people believe they have no future.
When we change how we communicate we change the way we relate. We have moved from the age of argument to the age of exploration.
The Information Age has created endless possibilities, just look at Minecraft and what is possible.
What motivates gamers? In the gaming world they can be super-empowered hopeful individuals.
If we are to engage with gamers we need to stop making them the cause and instead give them a cause.

In Christ there is no… LGBT people? – Rachel Mann
In secular LGBT spaces the Church (and us by extension) are often seen as the enemy.
Rachel, who self-identifies as trans and lesbian, talks about the way that the world has changed from one where LGBT people were persecuted and marginalised to one where they are accepted in many areas of life.
I cannot blog any more on this because I am unable to take anything in above the fact that her delivery is coming across as very angry and her theological content is severely lacking in accuracy.

We then hear testimonies from 2 young people, 1 who is a trans female to male 22 year old and 1 who is a 19 year old gay man. They share their stories and how they have felt because of how they have been treated. I really struggle with the theology that they have used, but their experiences needed to be heard.

Love is an orientation – Andrew Marin
Andrew has lived in the gay neighbourhood in Chicago and worked with the LGBT community.
He says that we need to make sure that we form our views on Scripture on our own, not just through the views that others take. Speakers and writers are fine, but they cannot be allowed to be the only way that we form our understanding of the Bible.
If someone disagrees with you that does not mean that they hate you.
We need to go after scriptural reconciliation.
It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and our job to love!

After a brief pizza break (lunch) we are back with session 3
Open Up Your Eyes
Restoring hope – Andy Hawthorne
Preaching the gospel is ALWAYS needed!
The first step towards growing disciples is preaching the gospel
If we want our youth ministry to see revival we need to preach the gospel

Can’t love, won’t love – Amie Aitken
Young people who have had family issues, whether it’s adoption, broken family or problems with their parents, can often have problems with attachment. This can mean that they have a completely different focus on things than we do. For example, they can focus on a God who floods the earth, ignoring the God who creates the rainbow.
We need to be aware of this focus, as it will impact on how they respond to you.
And, if they can’t this means that they can struggle to engage with Christianity, because Christianity is all about relationship with God.

The hunger game – Ian Henderson
It all started with Esau, who traded his inheritance for a meal.
For some this hunger can be pornography.
At the end of the day, people exchange things that are of value to feed a hunger.
1 in 3 10 year olds have been exposed to porn. 1 in 3 viewers of porn are women. 32% of teen boys and 18% of girls have seen bestiality online
Dealing with addiction, of any kind, includes needing to know when you are vulnerable and what is valuable.

And I am going to have to leave it there as my neck is killing me and I need to head home before it gets much worse


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