Why youth leaders are often to afraid to scatter the seed

This may be true for many Christians, not just youth leaders, but it does strike me that there is often a singular issue that restricts the sowing of the good seed that God has given us. And what is that restriction? The fact that we define what the result has to be!

So many times I have heard youth leaders say that they are reluctant to do anything missional, because they don’t know what the thing will look like in the end! they need to have the totality of the picture in place, so they either engage themselves or encourage their young people to engage. But what would it look like if we didn’t have the complete picture in mind? If we were not so dictative about how things must look once a seed is sown? As Jesus invited the disciples to follow him, as he engaged with others during his journeys, there was no complete picture given, no definable absolute to how things had to be that was shared. There was a journey that was invited into, and life discipleship worked out as the journey was embarked upon. Why is it that we restrict ourselves to defined pictures of how things have to be, rather than enjoying the journey that God invites us on, and seeing where he leads? The farmer scattered the seed, some fell on 4 different types of ground. but it did not restrict him from scattering the seed. He never said to himself, “I have no idea whether this flower will grow into the exact flower, shape, size, colour that i want, so i won’t scatter the seed.” If anything he probably knew the reality that some of the seed would not grow into anything at all, but he still knew that there wold be great stuff out of his sowing, and so he sowed. Could we adopt a similar approach?

Rather than defining what the outcome has to be, could we scatter some seed, and believe, that good things would come from that? Is our reluctance to scatter more about our own lack of belief and trust? Do we hold on to the seed that we have been given because we do not believe that it could grow into anything that God would want? Where do we place our trust?

Isaiah, 55.11 says that the word that goes out will not come back empty. But do we believe that? Do we believe that the word that we speak out from God will not come back empty?

so rather than placing our defined pictures, or personal restrictions upon being missional, sowing the seed, sharing what god has given us, do this in a spirit of trust, belief, and enthusiasm.

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.

The importance of strategic thinking for youth leaders

There has been a lot of thinking re strategy in terms of working wth, engaging with young people recently, particularly due to the nature of the work. Not knowing how many young people you are going to have on a weekly basis, or who is going to stick around post schools nd so on. So the question was posed about strategic thinking, due to its difficulties.

There are some good reasons for strategic thinking, and here are just a few:

1: gathering team: yes this is a lot to do with vision, but it also includes strategy, as a team is vital to see the vision come into fruition. Different people will play different parts along the journey of the strategy, and offer different gifting, some of which, maybe all of which will be useful to help see the vision come into fruition. Team also helps bring the creativity that is definitely required, but the reality is that most people are unlikely to join a team if they don’t see a vision, or a framework of strategy of how the vision will come into fruition. There needs to be a plan of some description for people to see how they can play their part in enabling the strategy to be worked out.

2: direction: linked to the gathering of team, people need to have an idea of direction. strategic thinking can and should bring some direction to where people are heading. In regard to youth discipleship, there are steps to seeing the depth of growth in the discipleship of young people, plus also a growth in the number of young people who are going to be involved. Strategic thinking leads to growth.

3: growth: Often regarded as a bad word in relation to discipleship for some reason. Peoples person growth is important yes, but so is the growth of sphere of influence, impact, and people engaging with what is going on. Strategic thinking should lead to growth, otherwise things remain as they are, and that small grouping remains that small grouping, which is not lined up to a God who is moving in peoples lives, and a kingdom that is at hand for all.

4: people joining in: This is partly linked the gathering team, but it also enables others to get involved, and play their part in what is going on. young people are more likely to join in, invite others to join in, if they know where things are heading, and know that it isn’t just going to stay static. to invite others to be part of something there needs to be an understanding of what it is people are being invited too, and where the journey is heading.

These are just some initial thoughts re strategy and work with young people. there will undoubtedly be more.

Discipline of Waiting

We do not read much after she is told about her pending pregnancy of how Mary must have felt about what was about to happen. There is some detail in the Bible, but not much. But what is clear is her patient waiting; waiting for what she knew was going to happen; waiting because she knew that what was about to happen was coming from God. She gave herself to God, gave herself to the waiting and gave herself despite of herself.

Waiting is often a difficult thing. It is difficult to practice, especially in a culture that is becoming more and more immediate in its response and activity.

There is something that is both challenging and yet prophetic about the discipline of waiting that maybe our culture could do with experiencing, noticing and even recognising that it is missing out on.

Amidst the activity, all the expectations of all that people think should happen at this time, where are we waiting? What are we showing to the culture around us if we do not engage in the discipline of the waiting?

We can wait expectantly – this is different to impatience – and we should be expectant about what God is doing and will do. But as Mary knew what it was that she was waiting for, what is it that you are expectant for this season? What are you waiting for God to deliver in your life?

Wait in expectancy, but wait in spending time with God, so you know what it is that he wants to give you.