Are we persistently acceptant?

Acceptance is one of those things that is regularly spoken about, and probably most regularly in regard to young people. How could we, and even should we be continuously or persistently acceptant?

Are we meant to accept the way they speak?
Are we meant to accept the way they act?
Are we meant to accept the way they do things?
Are we meant to accept the fact that their way of expression will be different to ours?

So many forms of acceptance, and not all listed above, but how can we work out a way of acceptance?

If we are to be acceptant in our approach, then we have to come at it from a foundation, of understanding that recognises that we will not understand things straight away, and things will not necessary change or adjust straight away. Acceptance takes time! time to show! time to receive! Time to believe that it is actually truly given!
Acceptance is often viewed with a lens of suspicion, not believing that people are being true to what they say, or even a level of scepticism because it is often something that a lot of people, and maybe young people more than most, do not experience truly in their lives. We live in a culture where blame, shame, unforgiveness all exist at high levels, but yet we are called to be different, live differently, demonstrate different values, and so live out a culture of persistent acceptance.

when we work with young people, living this out will be a challenge, as parents, church members, and others will all have viewpoints on young people and their behaviour, but as god demonstrated persistent acceptance to us, inviting us into that relationship with him, continuously, persistently, we should aim to live out that which has been demonstrated to us.

so what od we need to do if we are to demonstrate this?

1: Where a young person continues to be around us, never give up on them. Obviously, at some points young people will choose to walk away, but often they will not, so regardless of what is happening, we do not walk away from them.
2: recognise the long hall for us. Acceptance is not going to happen over night, so we need to involve, engage, in a long term process.
3: Keep the invitation open. Even if there are boundaries that you are agreeing with young people, and they need to be stuck by, always ensure that the young person knows the door is open, there is never a permanence to their removal or exclusion. the door is there, open, the invitation is there and remains.
4: ensure the conduct of your team shows this as well. So it isn’t just reliant upon you the leader, but is always part of the whole teams approach to people, situations, the premise of acceptance is at the heart of all that you are about.

god continues to show acceptance to us, so where and how do we show it to others around us?

The end of the youth group

“what would you like in your community if money, people and space were not issues?” A question that was asked to a group of young people in a school recently where we were involved. Interestingly the response from some came back, saying that they didn’t want youth groups, people puting stuff on for them, they would actually really like their own venue, their own space, their own place to hang out, be, chat, have fun. When exploring this further there was quite a voice that spoke up saying that they would love to be involved in helping set something up, being part of making sure things happened, and being part of making it move forward. Could this kind of idea be the end of the traditional youth group?

A while ago I wrote a booklet, short booklet, which was called the P’s and C’s of youth work, where I argued that the terminology of group needed to change to the idea of community. I wonder whether this is at the heart of what these young people were saying? More community, where they were part of it, and part of the ownership of it, rather than a group, where things were put on for young people, by others, by adults!!

What would discipleship look like in this kind of context? A place where more relationship could grow, where life could be shared, where people are listened too, as well as spoken with. A place where the reality of life could collide with the fullness of life that Jesus offered in John10.10. community also brings in the idea that life can be engaged with more regularly than the 1.5 hours on a friday evening or whenever it might be, and then no engagement in-between times. If we look at how Jesus engaged with the Disciples, he gathered, he did life, he showed, he shared, he enabled, he invited, he released, he involved, he valued. Could it be that some of these values have been missed out, forgotten, ignored from our engagement with young people, or even with the teams that we lead.

Is it time to re-explore our discipleship approach, both with the young people we engage with, but also the teams we lead? Is discipled leadership something worth exploring further so that the phrase, disciples who make disciples is truly lived out? A group settles with what is, a community invites others to be part of what is happening, there is much more to write, but you can read more on some of this at www.rolltherock.org.uk/resources and click on P’s and C’s of youth work. A second part of this will be coming later this year.

Are you, you?

Leaders can very easily become other people, due to pressures, expectations, and many other reasons. U2 in a recent song, had the line: ” Free yourself, to be yourself, if only you could see yourself.” Powerful words, But sometimes it is hard to see ourselves, for who we really are due to other stuff around us. Here is our video blog for this, watch, reflect, comment. https://youtu.be/WuU53vGWLPk

The rhythm of time

this months video looks at the pressures and issues around our time. the expectations that others have upon us, and the expectations that we have upon ourselves. We also look at the rhythm that Jesus engaged with, and what that might mean for us.