Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Missing comments

Hi folks,
If you posted a comment and it hasn't appeared - they have been going missing.Wondering if the kind person new to commenting I think, who posted a comment referring to the last entry could re-post - I want to find out what is happening! Blogspot - are you misbehaving? Sorry to BK too; I published one of your comments; put a reply to it and it still didn't appear......

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spring Harvest Days 4, 5 and 6.

I didn't really complete the Spring Harvest sextuplet posting -
Day 4 was great. After the fulfillment of all the volunteers team duties, putting our own kids to bed etc, we managed to go to a late night soaking and worship session led by Nick Herbert and his musicians and it was absolutely awesome.

We felt like we were:

and during this session we felt this:-

So needed. To be in the presence of God letting all the cares and worries and stresses of life just wash away.

On Day 5 we (adults) witnessed an incredible response time amongst the children we were working with. After some simple teaching about Jesus and what he has done for us, I wept as I watched children crowding round a 6 foot high cross to say sorry for all the wrong things they had done. One little girl was literally clinging to the cross with both hands, with her head bowed. I imagined that she was telling Jesus she was sorry and that she loved him with all her heart. Oh God....my tears were rolling down my face as just watching this scene before me showed me as an adult something that of course these little ones have - honest and open hearts. Then and there I heard God say: let these little ones come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

There were so many children kneeling around the cross. No adults were there telling children what to do - the team had stood back after facilitating the children to respond to Jesus in a variety of different ways around the room.

On Day 6, after a 2 hour morning meeting with the children, we left Sunny Skegness and went home. For a rest you would think but it was 6 hours back and then I leapt into a baptismal tank with the SP to baptise three people. What an awesome privilege!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring Harvest interruption

We interrupt this transmission from Spring Harvest for the following……

I’ve been doing some work in the afternoons on research on mission expressions and children and also on children and the charismata – the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

I have just read something which has had me pounding the table (in a public place as well. Not a good look)

Right at the moment of typing this blog entry, the speaker from the live feed from The Big Top has just said: one thousand young people and children a week are leaving the church. He’s just said: “the church is only one generation away from extinction”. Please, please, if you are just passing by this blog and don’t usually work with children or have much to do with children’s leaders and pastors, please do read on.

I face an uphill journey in changing attitudes and practices in the church towards children. Well meaning as we are, the attitude “out of sight, out of mind” pervades the church in Britain. When new initiatives/church plants/plans are made, don’t just consider the resourcing of the under 18s (though that is a great first step!), but consider putting their needs high, high, high up on the agenda. If the church is statistically one generation away from extinction, then we need to pour our time, effort and money into the younger generation. Don’t just assume that good leaders in that area mean that is all OK. They need YOU! Your interaction. Your prayers. Your talk about The Walk. Please hear me out in what I am going to outline below and which has flavoured this blog from the moment of its inception back in 2006.

I am, at heart, a discipler. I have pastoral training and background. I didn’t start out as someone who works with under 12s – God called me into this out of a more general pastoral context. I have now discovered that when I write about issues for children, like teaching about why we worship and how we worship, I could just as easily use the words “new Christians”. And yet…..sometimes in our churches it feels as if new Christians are more important than children. (are we helping our new Christians grow? Are we meeting their needs? Have we found them mentors? Are we welcoming these new baby Christians into the church?) Do we ask those questions at a strategic leadership level about our children and young people?

I have been refreshing my ex-teacher knowledge of Vygotsky’s theories. Len Vygotsky is a developmental psychologist who has examined the connections between growing children and their culture (or community). He wrote that children’s development occurs in their culture and in turn TRANSFORMS THE CULTURE.

I’m reading about how this relates to a faith development context i.e. the church and I am relating this to the work of Urie Bronfenbrenner who has proposed that the growing human person is influenced by what he calls “a series of nesting structures, each inside the next, like a set of Russian dolls”.

(please bear with me!)

A child’s immediate setting – the home, the classroom, the church, is called a microsystem.
The second level is called the mesosystem; which refers to the interconnections between microsystems (for example, the connection between church and home). There are two further levels but as this is a blog and not a research paper I’ll not outline them further here.

It is proposed by secular developmental psychologists that children grow and develop in all of their Microsystems under the influence of all of the persons within that microsystem. Cynthia Neal writes that the Microsystems contain the building blocks of faith development and I agree. Ongoing, lifelong commitment to Christ is made or broken in these Microsystems.

Therefore, we ignore the child in context of the faith community at our peril. Is at any wonder children are leaving the church in their thousands?
She writes: “children are to be part of a faith community and share in its life”.

Share in its life.
What does that mean to you?

“When we leave Christian education to solely a Sunday school setting, we remove faith from context”.

“The separation of the Christian faith from relationships and dynamic life gives [children] an artificial understanding of the Christian walk”.

Which is why I have set up intergenerational cell groups in the past. Which is why I want occasional interaction between adults and children and teenagers in the same gathering place for a few minutes sometimes. Not to make people feel uncomfortable at having to be starkly open but because children’s FAITH and COMMITTMENT to this amazing God is cemented when they hear and see adults and older teenagers talking of him, praying, encouraging.

When a child hears an adult praying for God to help them, they learn that its not a sign of weakness to ask for help from this God they have learned about perhaps only from books.
When a child hears an adult thanking God for his faithfulness in x or y, they learn that God is a God who can be trusted and who looks after his people.
When a child sees an adult worshipping, they learn that God is worthy of worship no matter how old one is.

I’ve banged on about this final point in many other posts which you can find by looking back through this blog using labels if you like, but I am going to end with this quote from Cynthia Neal (in “Nurture that is Christian”):
It is a sad commentary when Christian education is relegated to the Sunday School teacher; thereby relieving the rest of the congregation of the responsibility for the faith development of the children of the church. It is someone else’s job (get on with the job, Lynn!)
That is in DIRECT contrast to the scriptural understanding of faith. Fostering an evolving faith community (or microsystem to use Bronfenbrenner’s terminology) requires us to unite the learning of biblical doctrines and creeds with the collaborative sharing of our faith experiences.

Day Three - Spring Harvest

Feeling a bit tired today on account of
1. working with children
2. concentrating hard
3. keeping my own children going when most people can crash for an hour in the afternoon
4. trying to read a heavy duty theology book
5. going to late night comedy with these guys

Go check them out if you ever get the opportunity - it was a great night! So feeling sleepy is entirely my own fault.

Following on what seems like a duplicate from yesterday's post; had a great conversation with this guy who truly does the miraculous (makes Maths fun!) and is also a mega-talented kids/family worker from the 'Shire. Loving this networking melarky which just kinda happens at an event like Spring Harvest.

And because the theme of "walking in his footsteps", looking at different learning styles, examines something educationalists have been saying for years; that we are all different and the talk talk talk sit in rows style of doing church does not suit everybody and interaction and listening and reflection and practicing are very important.

Very interesting to hear Steve Chalke talk on something (cough) kids leaders have been talking for years........

::::::::: flee!!! ::::::::::::

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Day Two - Spring Harvest

Headlong into the programme today with hundreds of fairly excited 5 to 7 year olds and a few anxious parents (please just go! trust us - the minute you leave your child will be singing and cheering and jumping and joining in with the whole programme!)

Great activities, brilliant band and an exciting theme (copy Jesus - be his disciple) looking at the kinds of "greater things" we will do grabbed the attention of the children. It was a long morning (8am team meeting and we finished just before 1.30pm) but went by in a flash.

Grabbed some lunch and now attempting to do some reading on children, developmental stages and spiritual gifts.....I feel like crashing out for a bit but no can do this week!

Had a great chat with this man last night. Bent his ear something rotten about theology and children's ministry and Scottish churches. Gracious man!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Day one - Spring Harvest

After the obligatory marital bust up over navigation - A68 ....never again!! - here we are in the springtime cold of Skegness. Slightly disappointed to be lugging wheeled objects and heavy bags for four people, two of whom can't even carry a sweatshirt for fear it overloads their wee arms, up to the upper floor of accomodation. We have been spoilt in years past by having ground floor chalets.

Just about to practice accent modification for the benefit of the children and fellow team members of the Shire - thankfully the more colloquial edges of our accents have been evened out by eight months in our new home.

Looking forward to the fast moving programme that characterises the truly wonderful Powerpack - the website has been recently updated so if you haven't looked at it recently, do look at it again.

And buy a copy of Shine (the album) too - its great (available on the resource page)!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Challenge the culture......

Thanks to nakedpastor for this (don't copy the cartoon without making a donation to him via his website? please?) It has made me chuckle. Double click on the pic to see it bigger.

Never forget who you are doing church for. Discouragement will always be with us, its a sad fact of our fallen humanity and each of us is as capable of spreading it as the next. No-one is excluded.

However, I can't wait to soak in and absorb the culture of honour I have learned so much about from friends at Bethel and will be covered at a leaders school I hope to attend in the autumn.

The reality of my life is:

I remember the one negative and forget the 99 positive.
I recount the one negative and not the 99 positive.
I spend too much of my time talking about, thinking about and planning for the one negative and not on the 99 positive.
I must go out of my way to encourage with the 99 positive and not with the one negative.

I see in the church something that I saw in teaching (I taught teenagers for 11 years full time) - the child who kicks off and disrupts the learning, who struggles with life the universe and everything, for a whole variety of reasons, (most often because of loss/neglect/addiction at home), lets you know about it and can take up so much of your time and energy. And the others who are getting on with their work, doing the stuff, working through the tasks, on message, getting results? They were often ignored and left to get on with it. This is the true story often for many teachers, primary and secondary. Remember to praise them and spend time with them and honour what they are doing :-)

Oh, and in Scotland if you ever dare recount even one or two of the 99 positive you're a big head blowing your own trumpet and you're setting yourself up for a fall because the one negative will creep up on you and get ya anyway.

(the last paragraph is a Lynn paraphrase of a short talk Rev Peter Neilson of the C of S gave at the end of Brian McLaren's presentation here in December. He was appealing to us to encourage and bless the good and not focus on the negative).

Monday, April 06, 2009

I'm twittering!...or is it tweeting?

It's been an excellent weekend for technological advances (guess who had a Sunday off?)

first up, I've had loads of opportunity to play with google's streetview, even managing to find a friend walking across the street as the google car went by....I can see why people are complaining about privacy - the wee blurry mark did not stop me recognising him from his lunchtime outing on a public pavement nowhere near his house (but near his place of work).

secondly, I have joined twitter! Should you so desire, you can get regular updates on www.twitter.com\lynnos

Friday, April 03, 2009

Dedicated to my friends....

HT to Anne for this.....

My favourite lines:
"even though it isn't Christmas he lets youngsters in the church....."

and "now the organ's got the scrap, every vicar's got the clap"