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Music Interlude: Days of Elijah

It's a bit chessy, but still an amazing song...

Just ONE WEEK to go...

Yeah, that's right... this time next week we'll all be packing Wembley Arena for the largest Catholic youth event the UK has ever seen.

In the last few weeks I've seen the programme, seen the booklets, seen the screen content, found out more about the speakers, and it is all really - REALLY - exciting.

We are planning a series of articles after Flame to reflect on what it all means. We'll also have details about how we're going to be covering Flame in the next few days.

In the meantime, why not help us to make the #flame2012 Twitter hashtag as popular as possible...

On being a role model...

One theme we return to quite a lot in youth ministry, is the issue of what it means to be a role model.

If you put yourself 'out there' then you are a role model. And, putting yourself 'out there' can mean anything from speaking at huge conferences, right down to occasionally volunteering at the parish youth group.

When I used to manage volunteers, one thing that I sometimes had trouble getting across was exactly what it meant to be in this position. It was often hard to get across the fact that being a youth minister wasn't just about what we said and did 'on duty, but also about how we acted. It was about the mood we were in; it was about the clothes we wore; it was about what we posted on Facebook; it was even about what we were doing (or not doing) when they saw us in town on a Saturday afternoon. It was even about what we did when there was little chance that any young people could be watching - simply because that sort of focus on our own behaviour caused us to reflect on who we were and on whether we were true to the messages we were giving.

Obviously, the more attention is likely to be on you in life, the more of a role model you are and the more you have to watch your behaviour. Case in point: if you make an influential video which goes viral and gets the whole world talking, it's probably not a good idea to get yourself arrested for running around in your underwear!

How to help volunteers maintain healthy boundaries...

For the uninitiated, is an excellent youth ministry discussion site. They pose a question and then get some very clever people to answer it. 

In this case, the question is how do you help volunteers maintain healthy boundaries?

Having managed volunteers, I know this is a huge issue. Check out the answers on and feel free to add your own in our combox below.

Free Resource for Lent

I've just been reading about this on Doug Franklin's site. Here's the blurb...

This free lesson will help you effectively teach students about the significance of sacrifice in the Christian faith. In the days and weeks leading up to Easter, it is common for us to focus on Christ's ultimate sacrifice, yet it is also an important time to examine our own hearts, to see if we are truly leading a life of significant sacrifice, one that brings honor to Christ. We hope this lesson helps you in this process.

It's not a Catholic resource, so be certain to check it through before using it. You can download it here.

Music Interlude: Matt Redman - Facedown

I love this song. It's very much a marmite song though - some love it; others hate it!

New free online forum for the youth sector

This week, the National Youth Agency (NYA) working on behalf of the Local Government Association (LGA) and in partnership with the Department for Education (DfE) and the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS) has launched the Supporting Services for Young People community. The community is a free learning environment where people with an interest in the youth sector, not just those in local government, can discuss issues, access resources and take part in discussions.

All members will be able to fully interact with the community posting questions, seek help from others, showcase their own research and case studies and find the latest information that they need. Over the coming year the community will host a number of 'Hot Seats' from key figures in our sector where you will be able to ask questions and join the discussions.

The community will also be the online place to be if you want to find out about Positive for Youth, the Government's youth strategy. Running in tandem with the DfE's consultation on its draft statutory guidance for local authorities on services and activities to improve young people's well-being we will be posting our thoughts on the guidance and would welcome your comments and ideas.

NYA Chief Executive Fiona Blacke commented, 'This community represents a real opportunity to our sector. It is for the sector, and we want it to be owned by the sector. As part of our programme of work with the LGA we are pleased to have established a partnership that brings for the first time the statutory and voluntary sector providers and practitioners together in a way in which will help to improve the services that we all provide to young people. We would urge all of you to join up now!'

LGA Children and Young People's Board Member Councillor Apu Bagchi commented, 'Councils firmly believe that giving councils and their partners a platform to share best practice is the best way to improve public services. As part of our work with NYA we commissioned the Agency to develop a community of practice for promoting excellence in services for young people. Opening the community to all our partners who support young people locally is an exciting development. We look forward to seeing a lively debate about how we can best support young people to achieve their potential and fulfil their ambitions.'

NCVYS Chief Executive Susanne Rauprich commented, 'We are very excited about offering a space to our membership to explore key issues affecting young people with their statutory sector partners. We hope that the community will provide a place for conversation and knowledge exchange that can help to share practice and shape new thinking across the sector.'

DfE commented, 'The Department for Education welcomes this new forum. Positive for Youth embraces supporting and facilitating those people working closely together at the forefront of reforming youth services. The community makes an important contribution to the support that is being given to the sector to help them share knowledge and learning from each others experiences'.

To register to join the Knowledge Hub, click here. Once you have registered you will need to click on 'Groups' and search using the ABC list for the 'Supporting Services for Young People' hub and ask to join.

What I wish I knew when I was younger...

This is a photo of me (front - geeky shirt) when I was, I think, 19. Specifically, it's at the end of a water fight in our first year of University.

My reason for taking this little trip down memory lane is an article I read on called What I Wish I Knew When I was 16

(Yeah, the only photos I have to hand of me at 16 are taken on an airfield wearing the world's ugliest flight suit, and for some bizarre reason, they're in Black and White!)

Anyway... I'll be 34 next week. How time flies. And I know that I'm a lot more confident, capable and self-assured than I was back then. That's what happens when you grow up - you learn and grow. And that's why youth ministry is so important - because we're dealing with people who haven't learned that much, but have no idea that they haven't.

It all makes me wonder how best to communicate our wisdom (such as it is). How can we put it in language that's understandable without sounding hideously out of touch?

I'll leave you with that Friday morning teaser...

What would Jesus Tweet

Ever wondered what the big guy would make of the internet?

This rather interesting piece from helps you to like social media and faith and to put it into a format workable with young people.

Read about it here...

Love is the Key...

Well, when St. Paul said that nothing really has any value with out love, it turns out that he actually knew what he was talking about.

We know, of course, that love matters. It's the nature of God. It's the true nature of all those he created, and in the end it's the only thing that really makes a difference in people's lives.

According to a CNN article love is the key to brain development in children. Those who are loved do much, much better than those who aren't. This is obvious stuff, but it reminds us of the importance of helping young people to feel that they are loved and cared for.

I'll leave you with that thought...

Sheldon Cooper - Legend of Dating...

In my last job, I was forever looking for interesting clips to introduce sessions on relationships. Being a fan of the Big Bang theory, I think I've found just the thing...

Youth Leader Insecurities

Over the years I've met a ton of people in important positions who are really insecure. In fact, relatively recently I saw one particular youth minister's insecurities rip apart a team and threaten a project which had had hundreds of thousands invested in it.

We all get insecure at times. It's only natural. And part of youth ministry, perhaps, is about encountering ourselves - as well as God and the young people - in a deeper way and building up something more positive. has an article on signs that you are insecure. Some good stuff to reflect on. If I can add two pieces though, they would be these... firstly, if you are insecure, relax. Start to believe that you are worth your job, and if there is something or somebody constantly knocking your self-esteem, get away quick! 

Secondly, if you are working with somebody whose insecurities are causing damage, try to help them. If it becomes obvious that you can't help them, then you need to seek life elsewhere.

These may sound like rather obvious - or maybe even random - bits of advice. Believe me though, I've learned them both the hard way. The very hard way!

[Source | image hotlinked from Flickr user Christina Welsh]

Why Small groups are worth it

Josh Griffin has a great post about why Small group work is a must in youth ministry.

No time for intelligent analysis from us at the minute unfortunately. You'll just have to go read it...

[image hotlinked from Flickr user micmol]

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