cms youth team monthly podcast trax16 goes live today
an encouraging trend in youth ministry over the last 5-10 years has been the growth of contemplative practices in youth ministry. one of the real pioneers in this in the usa has been mark yaconelli who developed and ran the youth ministry and spirituality project for 7 years. the question he wanted to explore was what would happen if you took youth groups in a range of denominations and worked to introduce them to ways of contemplative prayer. would this have any transformative effect? the results were dramatic... youth ministers and young people that learned how to pray were transformed.
mark has written a book contemplative youth ministry (which has just been published in the uk) in which he shares his insights and approach. it is a wonderful book. if you are involved in youth ministry you must get it. i actually think you should get it and read it if you are in any kind of leadership in church. this isn't really another model to buy off the shelf as the latest quick fix solution which is probably the last thing we need. it goes much deeper than that.
mark says that
contemplation is being with god within the reality of the present moment. contemplation is about presence. it's about attentiveness, opening our heart's eye to god, ourselves, and others. contemplation is an attitude of the heart, an all embracing hospitality to what is...
and so contemplative youth ministry is simply being with god, and learning to be attentive to god's presence in the lives of young people. mark suggests that youth ministry needs to slow down.
i have observed too many churches and youth ministries who embody a sense of urgency that communicates a god who is either a relentless taskmaster or completely incompetent... this is the endless parade of duded up rock stars, hyperactive activities, word heavy programmes... there is a tangible sense that god must be dressed up or hidden behind high energy music, and charismatic speakers. our churches and ministries seem to be deathly afraid of any kind of downtime. all silence and stillness is eradicated for fear that young people might find god disappointing, boring or absent. it's as if our church and ministry leaders have an anxious suspicion that god has left the building and so they stall with jabbering words and meaningless activities in the hope that the crowd won't become restless. in contrast jesus isn't afraid of doubts, or downtime or disappointment or boredom - in fact i might even claim that he finds doubt, boredom and disappointment critical to spiritual growth! ... jesus asks us to stop, he invites us to come away to quiet and deserted places. he asks us to be still and know. he calls us to take a moment to do nothing. he calls us to turn our attention away from our anxiety and busyness and just simply notice the work god is already doing.
the book is full of encouraging stories and it's very practical. as well as outlining some specific practices of prayer mark suggests how to help a church start from scratch to build a youth team, help that team learn to practise discerning god's presence and voice in their midst, and then to begin to introduce that attentiveness to god's presence with the young people. this includes a simple outline for running meetings mark devised called a liturgy of discernment that looks very easy to use but shifts the emphasis of planning quite significantly. the last section uses a threefold approach taken from spiritual direction as a framework for working with young people - noticing (helping young people become aware of their experience of god), naming (helping them find a language to describe it), and nurturing (helping young people develop practices that deepen their understanding and relationship with god). the journey is as much about us changing and learning to pray and be attentive as it is about the young people.
if you think this is a consumer choice or personality type thing i.e. your young people won't be into it, don't dismiss it so quickly. it's really not about stopping having fun and just engaging in prayer and being serious all of a sudden...
the purpose of integrating contemplative presence in youth ministry is not to form kids into monks, nor is it to make us experts in contemplative prayer - it is to deepen our (youth and adults) awareness of god and others and self so that we might become fully alive.
what is encouraging about the stories and process that mark used in the youth ministry and spirituality project and written about here is that the churches that used this are not your uber cool ones. they sound like bog standard denominational set ups, in some cases with no youth ministry to speak of. and from the descriptions those with a call to get involved with young people don't need to be young and cool themselves.
this complements other books such as tony jones soul shaper, jenny baker and moya ratanyake's tune in chill out and kenda creasy dean's practising passion. together these are opening up a very hopeful way forward for youth ministry. i think it especially opens up very hopeful possibilities for youth ministry in traditional and denominational settings. it has sometimes felt as though the only way offered to do radical stuff with young people has been to get them into charismatic worship where they experience god. that is transformative for some groups but problematic for others. there are lots of traditions and groups of young people for whom that just isn't what they are looking for or going to get into or it cuts them off from their tradition. it may also be for more charismatic groups that this will open up whole new possibilities as well.
spent monday exchanging ideas with cms ireland in belfast. then in the evening headed down to the opening of one colour red at the waterfront. this has been commissioned for multicultural week in belfast. the installation is a series of small cards of images and quotes representing facets of different cultures all unified through the colour red. cards have been spread through the building - i suspect some may be found weeks later. the idea is that you can take a card (or as many as you like) so the installation gradually disappears as pieces of the one colour red disperse around the city. the blurb on the poster says
this installation is designed so that you can take a piece of it home so please do. we hope that by taking home an idea from another culture thousands of our customers will show an acceptance of those cultures and perhaps even gain a greater understanding of them.
if you like the poster image there is a limited 200 edition print run of those posters being sold at five pounds each.
was great to catch up with jonny, susan, jane, carrie, kyle, pete, gareth and others from ikon. in true ikon fashion they are running an athiests for lent course - give up god and explore the works of freud, nietche, and marx (i think it was those three). i loved the sound of the monthly last suppers as well where 12 people gather with an invited guest. over a three course meal in a cafe the speaker presents material, it's discussed around the meal table and then explored further with the speaker.
was also good to see david brown from CIYD (church of ireland youth dept), spike and others from cms, mark and heather houston, dave from echo... i didn't see a lot of belfast as it rained most of the time.
birmingham ReSource weekend went really well... good to see people again. we explored the theme of culture - postmodern, contextualisation, gospel and culture, mapping local ones etc. i arrived a bit early and wandered round the city centre. i do love the selfridges building covered in circles - it's strangely compelling. took a few photos of it of course. this one's my favourite...
flickr is brilliant - if you follow the blog you'll know i am a fan. i have been accused of being a flickr evangelist. when i discovered it i described it here but i thought it worth an update after 3 months use so let me give you an idiot's guide to flickr and try and convert you (again)...
flickr is an online photo sharing application - you should be interested if
a) you take photos
b) you look at photos
c) you use photos in presentations/worship/desktop/artwork
go to flickr and sign up. you will be able to look at photos and participate much better if you sign up. it doesn't cost anything to sign up.
your own photos
upload your photos
if you take photos you can then upload them. the free account lets you upload up to 20mb a month and see 200 pics. you quickly realise that it's worth paying for the pro version which is incredibly cheap and gives you a huge amount of space each month. as well as being able to upload within flickr itself there are free tools to upload photos for both mac and pc - i have downloaded two for mac - one so i can upload directly from iphoto and one that is a stand alone uploader. both are incredibly easy to use and especially useful for uploading in batches or sets..
i upload photos at full size - for me it provides a great way of backing them up. flickr is worth it for that alone. flickr resizes them into a number of different sizes for people interested in looking at or downloading them from thumbnail through to the original size.
tag your photos
you can tag any photo with as many words as you like. this isn't so much a description as a facility to enable you to retrieve your photos at a later date either by you or others when you search on a particular tag or combination of tags.
decide who you want to see your photos
you can set who can see any photo as family, friends, contacts, or public (anyone).
arrange your photos
it is easy to arrange photos into sets - you can then share them with people by them watching them in a slideshow - it's very well done. so you might have favourites, art pics, london photos or whatever...
share your photos
flickr is a photo sharing site - this is where it is really brilliant.
a) add family friends and contacts
you can have a set of family, friends and contacts. you can either invite someone or add them when you see photos you like or if you know them. when you have added contacts, you can check your contacts page and see who has uploaded any photos - you will be shown their latest photo. at first i added people i knew - family and friends but quickly realised that contacts are worth adding if you like particular peoples photos or if they like yours.
b) choose what level of copyright you want
your photos are protected by copyright but this can limit what other people do with them (technically anyway). but you can choose to have a creative commons license that means you give permission for people to use your photos in different ways. the one i have chosen means anyone can use my photos and manipulate them as they wish for any non commercial use.
c) add your photos to groups
flickr has hundreds of groups. to add a photo to a group pool you have to join the group. then when a photo is open you simply click on a button to select one of your groups to add it to. there are groups for everything imaginable - light, colours, portraits, religious kitsch etc...
d) create a group
if you want to share photos on a particular theme create a group. i've created gracelondon so we can share pics from grace. there are also discussion boards as part of the group.
cultivate interest in your photos
this may or may not be of interest to you. i confess that it is of interest to me. if i take a great photo there's nothing like having other people notice it. rather than me share from my limited experience read thomas hawk's article top ten tips for getting attention on flickr (btw have a look at his photos - fab). these include making peoples photos favourites, adding them as contacts, joining groups, adding your best one last so it is top on your contacts pile, and so on...
see if any of your photos have made it
flickr identifies 500 photos a day as interesting - these then change over time. you can use scout to see if any of yours have been deemed worthy. i have had three make it...
blog your photos
if you have a blog you can set it up so that you can blog directly from a photo page in flickr which is pretty neat. this relates to the previous point as well as it lets people know about your best photos.
print your photos
there are various third parties who work with flickr so that you can print books of your photos - anyone tried it? qoop looks pretty good... i haven't tried it yet but no doubt will.
other peoples photos
there are loads of photos in flickr. so there must be loads you would love. when you find one you like just click favourite to add it to your favourites so you can find it again. and while you are at it why not leave a comment on it to let the person know what you think of it. if you look at their photos and decide you like the look of their photos then add them as a contact as well. you can come back and look at your favourites any time and if you make someone a contact you will be able to see their latest photos at any time.
how do you find good photos?
thomas hawk has saved me the trouble again by writing a piece top 10 ways to find great photos on flickr but this is what i do (and it's much shorter)...
add people whose photos i like as contacts and track them
use flickr leech - this is an unbelievably brilliant search tool. i mentioned it before but it was down at the time so you probably didn't check it out. you can use it to either type in a date to search by interestingness, a tag, a group or a user ID and it fills your screen with a sheet of thumbnails. i generally have a look at the 500 photos labelled most interesting each day by flickr - it sounds a lot but they are all on one page of thumbnails. here's a screen grab (click on the thumbnail to see it) so you can see what i mean... it's simplicity is its genius. i have found it loads better than using the flickr explore page though that often highlights interesting groups and picks out a good photo.
Technorati Tags: flickr
in case you don't remember or missed the series of posts kester has published sic via lulu. lulu is a site created for people wanting to self publish. you create a word or pdf file, upload it and lulu publish your book - people can order online and you make a royalty on each sale (amount decided by you). there's no big outlay for publishing a minimum number of books. i loved the idea when kester told me about it but wondered what the book would actually look like. well i am impressed - it looks fabulous - hardback with a colour sleeve/jacket and the print is good. it looks like any other hardback book... this is a publishing revolution. kester is an early adopter i'm sure but i can really see this taking off. and rumour has it that lulu will be setting up in the uk as well (currently the cost of postage from the usa is offputting).
sic is a record of kester's blog entries and comments on them through 2005. i think he got it done so he had a record for himself but it makes an excellent book. i really recommend you getting a copy. it made me realise...
sic makes a great book - it doesn't sound like it would - a year of blog entries?! but it does. i read the whole thing cover to cover in a weekend... and it is a great follow up to the complex christ which is of course what kester set the blog up to be. hardback | paperback | order via kester from uk
so thanks kester for blazing the trail. you've got me thinking about if and what i should publish via lulu...
don't know if you're following the grace lent blog? there have been a few posts related to some of the wonderful stations people set up at the last grace. joel as ever produced something brilliant - a slideshow in flash on the desert. this links to the grace lent blog entry. the animation is about 6mb. a direct link to it is here...
i'm making it worship trick 60 [second series]
today i gave a presentation/seminar to the communcators of the porvoo churches. it was on communicating the gospel creatively on the internet/new media environment. for anyone who was there and asking for the slides i have made them into a pdf file porvoo.pdf. it's about 11mb so make sure you have broadband. i didn't have any notes - sorry... just the slides to trigger my thoughts.
in terms of other links. these were the ones i mentioned i think...
small ritual network church pages
probes (including movie)
the complex christ
what is web 2.0?
out of bounds church
i enjoyed the session - had to create some new stuff which is always good. i was particularly struck again by the connections between the new media and emerging church. (thanks to all the people who unknowingly helped me with this - steve c, steve t, kester, rachel, mark w, tallskinnykiwi, ben by way of quotes, thoughts, pics, inspiration or just genius)
a few flickr tools...
fd's flickr toys - scout is handy if you want to find out if you have been deemed worthy of flickr's interestingness rating. my umbrella made it to no 1 in interestingness for the day it was uploaded but has now slipped back down to 227!
flickr leech is a good way of scanning lots of images from a group or tag