Friday, January 28, 2011

Can't sleep

I was teaching a seminar this week on Holy Spirit gifts to men and women on our year-out programme and there were loads of questions related to past experiences and inaccurate teaching in other places and it so reminded me that the church is CRYING out for solid theological and practical teaching on the Holy Spirit and his work in the world today. One of the personal highlights for me was Professor David Ford teaching on the gift of tongues with such clarity and insight. And he's Prof at Cambridge. CAMBRIDGE!

All of this stuff came flooding back to me, partly related to a proposed second conference on the Holy Spirit in the World today, down in London town.

It's a long, long way away and not cheap to get there...some things are worth investing in though!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pray Any Way

Today Mr HIWWC and I were leading an event called Pray Any Way for Scripture Union Scotland. Do you like the name of the event? About 6 months ago, three children from my church (aged 10) came up with the name at a planning meeting I took them to with SU staff. Pray Any Way nails it exactly - we did lots of different types of praying and whatever kind it was, I'm sure it all pleased God!

How did we get here?

Three and a half years ago I was sitting in a board-type meeting with leaders from many organisations and churches discussing ways to increase prayer for the nation and amongst and with young people. The highly successful Strictly Come Praying was being discussed, which is for secondary aged pupils.

Yours Truly pipes up in the corner: why can't we run an event for younger children to come to alongside their families?

(at that time, in my previous church the children were praying for anything that moved whenever they got the chance and I was leading smaller events of intergenerational prayer and worship). Long story to where we get to today but after more practice in local church settings I've really just come up with a pretty simple formula:
worship with a clean heart + a desire to pray + listen = presence of God = increased prayer and more worship of God.

Sung worship is an important gateway to prayer with kids (errrr, and not just kids....) - there are other gateways but this one is a biggie. I think the church can sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that if we do some all age songs (be honest: how often has your church half-heartedly sung "Our God is a great big God"?)we're there, all is cool in the world of the child.

Children need to be engaged - why am I at this event/service? what's it for? what are we doing? where are we going in it? Therefore couple your all age (NOT kid!!) songs with some clear direction from the Bible and from the event/worship leader as to where we're heading. We can't assume that children will know what to do as the adults waft along on a wave of LIWLP (Lost In Wonder, Love and Praise). Kids who don't understand what the worship's about end up pew-sitting, disengaged, DS-playing, hair-twirling or Match Attax-examinin' i.e. disengaged. We've got to bring them on the journey!

After some time to say sorry for stuff, we started with Psalm 95 today - so we were ready to understand that whatever tradition we came from, there were MANY different ways to worship God....but not (m)any of them involved sitting on your bum in a pew.....

An event like this isn't just about the ::::gasp:::: praying (I'll get into trouble for saying this). But it isn't. It's about real life intergenerational discipleship, and that's one of the main reasons I do it. Don't misunderstand me, the prayers are very important and in my pastoral and teaching role amongst the young I never understate the need to pray anywhere, anytime, about anything. But today was also about giving families the chance to BE together, to BE in the presence of the One who made them that family! So mums and dads and extended family and friends who are included as part of that family can share their faith together and hear of the amazing things that God has said and done in their lives.

The biggest encouragement in the email so far has been a mum who said their children didn't want to come and had a stinky attitude when they came in but ended up with their mood transformed and hearing God speak to them and going to write it down on the prayer wall! Isn't that so like Father God? He wants to transform us and children respond so quickly that you can see them opening up like flowers opening their petals up to the warm sunlight.

And so I honour the guys at SU who trusted "an outsider" and if we might work together. We presented today together - and we were a team together. We, the team, were from Salvation Army, Baptist, United Free church and Church of Scotland and God loved it. I know he did as we worked together with an ease and a flow.

One of my kids leaders from my home church observed a parent being prayed for by their child - she guessed by her reaction that it was perhaps for the very first time. The mum was moved to tears. We watched the adults pray some precious promises from the Bible over their child(ren). We brought intercession for local and global issues with some very large dice. We learned how to quieten down, fix our eyes on Jesus and listen to him to hear what he had to say to us; what he wanted us to pray for. And we saw children change, before our eyes.

Dear Lord, bless the families tonight who invested an afternoon to be together seeking after you. And thank you for Scripture Union, I constantly love what they do and their deep desire for young people and families to know more of you and about you.And thank you for my home church who love me enough to let me go, releasing me from my pastoral duties to have one of the best (but tiring) afternoons ever!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Album Cover Game

HT: That Hideous Man

Here's how the "Album Cover Game" works.
1 - Go to wikipedia and hit random. The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.
2 - Go to and hit random. The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.
3 - Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”. Third picture no matter what ...will be your album cover.
4 - Use photoshop or similar ( is a free online photo editor) to put it all together.

Note: picnik is great! I found it so easy to use!!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

We need a champion

Children's ministers need a champion.
I use the word children's minister in its widest sense - that's everyone who works with children. I like the use of this word and was corrected by my friends in Bethel Church who told me that this is the term they prefer as children's worker does not do justice to what they feel they are bringing into children's lives. It's not work, its ministry from the Father.

Most of you who read this know how important this is, as I doubt you'd be sticking around reading this blog if you felt differently! God wants our churches to reach out to, love on and minister to the young. They have an incredibly high priority to him.

But it feels like an uphill struggle sometimes - do you find you are fighting for space and time for children's and youth work?

When you reflect on your church's services, do you talk about the worship in the service, the response to the about a thought being: what was God doing amongst the children/young people? How did the delivery of the Bible go? What was the response like?

I wouldn't ask this because the kids's leaders want a spotlight on them, but because they are seeing encouraging fruit - all over the country when I get the opportunity to speak to others, it's happening - God is moving amongst the young!

But sometimes - let's be honest - churches can have mediocre childrens' ministry, suffering from low expectations, fulfilling the base requirement of the church parents or senior minister or congregation who like it quiet and respectful - or it can be a POWERHOUSE for the kingdom of God to advance amongst the young who we so desperately want to stay in our churches and become fully led into all that God has for them.

Let's "up the ante" on our expectation of what God might do amongst our young. Do you know what? He wants them set free to live victoriously for him. He doesn't want simpering, frightened children who pray thinking that just maybe, someone Up There just might listen to them.

This morning I saw some major stuff kick off. We'd been looking at the call on David's life from a young age, where God saw what was within that others could not see as they were judging on surface appearances. The team were praying over 60 or so kids who had asked God what HE thought of them. They'd heard different words spoken to them by the Holy Spirit as they listened to the track "He says that you're amazing" on Great Big God 3. There were lies that needed broken off these young lives(in a quiet and appropriate manner)as some of the children revealed that they had begun to believe lies about themselves. Some fears and worries came out, and I arranged some liasion with parents after the service (very important, that).

But I and my teams *are* struggling this January. We meet in extraordinarily difficult circumstances (up to 100 children in 2 cold, fairly scabby rooms in a rented facility. No sound system so I was hoarse this morning, and I have a loud voice!). I have skills and knowledge about kids and theology and can think fast on my feet and have a great team, but *I* still need a champion for children. I want to scream from the rooftops that this isn't about personal affirmation, it's support for these precious, precious children, for everything that is attempted with them and for them in the name of Jesus.

At the end of the day, I will get my affirmation from the Father, from sitting/lying at his feet doing my thing, usually with a Bible, some music and hankies (and a cushion!) He's so, so good.

Every church needs a champion for the children/young people, people who are not directly involved who cheer the staff and volunteers on from the side. And sometimes it isn't just cheering from the side, it's a little card, or email, or a listening ear when its most needed. When all is going well, we are so often left to it and then the danger is that the only noise that is made is when there is something going wrong.

Folks get fed up of you if you only talk about the things that are difficult and hard and THAT'S when you really need a champion! They'll speak up for you, email your elders or bring you a cup of tea at the end when there is a queue of people waiting to speak to you, a team to debrief, things to be put away and (yet again) the young child who needs collected and hasn't been.....!

Ecclesiastes talks about how two (people) are better than one. When one is tired, the other lifts them up. I hope and pray that on each church staff and elders team there will be one who will ask regularly what's happening in the world of children and youth ministry, and ask what is needed (I'm hoping for that, as we move buildings. I'm after a luxurious creche, plenty of room and hunnerds of cushions....)

Any church leaders - pop in! Come and see the children. Pop into the youth programme. Speaking personally, you will be remembered for doing that and you might just get a surprise too! (thinking about the Executive Pastor in my place getting deluged by children laying hands on him and praying for him).