All posts by Ben Mizen

I am the Youth and Children’s Work Adviser for the Diocese of Portsmouth. I cover all work with children and young people aged 0-18+ and work across Portsmouth, Havant, Gosport, Fareham, The Isle of Wight, Petersfield and Bishops Waltham. You can contact me at the diocesan offices on 02392 899652 and ben.mizen@portsmouth.anglican.org

Dangerous Youth Ministry

dangerI came across this challenging article, by beingministry.com, about how much we protect our children and young people. For your information it’s not really about doing crazy dangerous activities without due care or concern – no one is saying ditch all our good practice! However, it does peer deeper into some of our attitudes that may be making some things unnecessarily “safe”.  Read on:


I recently watched Gever Tulley’s TED talk 5 Dangerous Things. His presentation points to the problem of over protecting children, and makes a case for allowing danger in their lives for the sake of discovery. It’s a short watch if you want to see it for yourself.

This video got me thinking about youth ministry. Do we protect teenagers too much? Here are my five dangerous things:

1. Ask questions – Do we let them ask questions? Is it wrapped in the context of us always knowing the answers? It is hugely beneficial to let questions linger. The time spent finding answers almost always has more benefit than the answers themselves. Additionally, this prepares students for life when they have moved on from youth ministry.

2. Ask questions – Do we ask them hard questions? I’m not talking about hard questions like Do you believe in God? I’m talking about really hard questions like What is it about you that you love?

3. Live with tension – Inevitably, if we let questions linger, we have to acknowledge that mystery exists in our faith. There are just too many things we can’t understand about life, and especially God.

4. Work out their faith – So often in youth ministry we feel like we should fix students. This really is a lack of faith. We can’t even fix ourselves. Why would we think we could fix anyone else. It’s the Spirit’s work to bring people to repentance and sanctification.

5. Live with radical grace – If youth ministries aren’t willing to practice radical grace, going beyond forgiveness and into blessing those who hurt us, we really aren’t fully practicing our faith.

4 Ways to Keep Volunteers Happy

VolunteersYouth work and ministry in our churches and communities would not happen without volunteers. They are the lifeblood of 95% of what happens with young people… don’t believe the hype about paid workers! Anyway, Benjer McVeigh on his website offers some simple advice on sustaining volunteers. They’re simple and powerful – you’ll need to decode some of the “Americanisms” but you’ll get the gist.


It doesn’t matter what size church you lead, 100 people on a Sunday or 10,000: your church runs on volunteers. Without volunteers, your Sunday mornings would grind to a standstill, and much less ministry would get done during the week. When our volunteer teams are working well, ministry is fun and it feels like your church is really making a difference. When volunteers aren’t happy, however, working with your teams can feel like a drain. It doesn’t take long in pastoral ministry to realize that taking care of our volunteers is a make-or-break part of being a leader. Here are four ways to keep your volunteers happy:

1) Tell them what their job is (and how they know they’re doing it right). There’s not much more frustrating for a volunteer than not knowing what they are expected to do. When volunteers aren’t quite sure why they show up each week they’ll quickly get frustrated. And when they have no idea how they know whether they’re doing a good job, they’ll get even more frustrated. Even if you think a volunteer’s role should be clear, give them a quick two-sentence job description that let’s them know what they’re supposed to do and they “why” behind their role.

2) Give them a boss. This may seem counterintuitive, because who wants to have a boss on Sunday after working for one Monday through Friday? However, it’s crucial for a volunteer to have a “boss,” which is really just someone they can go to if they have questions. In addition, great volunteers want to know how to do their job right (see #1), and they’ll appreciate having a leader they know will guide them and let them know if there’s something the should be doing differently–even if that leader is also a volunteer. Good volunteers need to be supported by good leaders.

3) Remind them that they are part of something bigger. When it’s been a rough morning in the church nursery or a teenager mouths off to a youth leader, it’s your job to remind volunteers that their service is helping to accomplish a weighty mission: to see people experience a growing relationship with Jesus. When we help our volunteers keep that in view, they’ll bounce back after tough weeks ready to serve the next Sunday.

4) Say thank you. Seriously. If you’re not going through at least a few thank-you notes a month, you need to up your game. Whenever you email your volunteers–even if it’s a mass email–say “Thank you” to them. Whenever you call them to remind them about a meeting, say “Thanks for serving with us!” And at Christmas, send them a Starbucks gift card with a note that thanks them for another great year of serving. Five dollars goes a long way when it’s a thank you gift, and if you have 100 volunteers, it’s $500 well spent.

JOB VACANCY WITH CHURCHES TOGETHER IN WEST WIGHT

West Wight Churches Together are looking for someone to engage with this fantastic initiative.

method

A fantastic one-year opportunity for someone aged 16 – 23* to:

  • Make a contribution to your local community.
  • Learn about yourself.
  • Enjoy a challenge.
  • Meet other young people across the country doing similar things.
  • Work alongside an experienced Youth Worker in an ecumenical project.
  • Contribute to and use your abilities, skills and interests to plan, organise and deliver a programme of exciting activities.
  • Applicants must be aged 16 to 23 on 1 September 2014 Interested? Email Recruitment (recruitment@methodistchurch.org.uk) quoting reference number: OPP/CTWW/MK/0414 for an application pack. Closing date for applications: Thursday, 1 May 2014 Interview date: Thursday, 22 May 2014 This is a part-time job, working an average of 65 hours per calendar month, to include the following dates, for which applicants must be available:
  • 1st Training Weekend – Friday 5 to Sunday 7 September 2014
  • 2nd Training Weekend – Friday 17 to Sunday 19 October 2014
  • 3Generate Children & Youth Assembly – Friday 14 to Sunday 16 November 2014
  • 3rd Training Weekend – Friday 13 to Sunday 15 February 2015
  • 4th Training Weekend – Friday 26 to Sunday 28 June 2015

This post holds an Occupational Requirement for the post holder to be a young person within the age range of 16-23 – Standing Order 250, Youth Participation Strategy and the Missing Generation Report, Conference 2009. This appointment will be made subject to a satisfactory enhanced disclosure by the Disclosure and Barring Service (*for applicants aged 18-23). An annual salary of £15,520 pro-rata (£6,651 per annum for an average of 65 hours per calendar month) salary subject to review in September 2014. All applicants must have the right to live and work in the UK and must hold a current NI number and valid proof of ID (passport or British birth certificate, please go to www.gov.uk/check-an-employees-right-to-work-documents for more information). More details about the scheme here:

 

5 tasty treats to cook with your youth group

Pete Maidment from Wincandy has some excellent easy-to-do cooking ideas for your youth group. I’ve no idea about the calories but they do look tasty.


5-tasty-treats2

Cooking with your youth group is great fun, and a good way to get discussion going. Here are five simple things for you to cook together.

  1. Rocky Road. Really simple, and totally adaptable, mix together melted chocolate with biscuit, marshmallows, cherries, sweets, chocolates… whatever you fancy! Spoon into cupcake cases and leave to set.
  2. Tea Light S’mores. This american classic can easily be adapted for any situation; stick marshmallows onto sticks and toast over tea lights. When they’re toasted sandwich them between two biscuits and a chunk of chocolate. The ultimate campfire delicacy. (Keep a bowl of water to hand for any accidentally combusting marshmallows).

  3. Pizzas. Either buy ready made pizza bases or if you’re feeling adventurous make bread dough with your group from scratch. Have a jar of tomato sauce (tomato pasta sauce works great) a big bowl of grated cheese and a selection of toppings.

  4. Chocolate Dipping. use up any unwanted(?) Easter Eggs… break the chocolate up into a bowl and melt it in the microwave or over a bain marie. Prepare stuff to stick on skewers: strawberries, grapes, marshmallows, cake chunks… include a few crazier options: salted pretzels, crispy bacon and ritz crackers are all good, and then get dipping…

  5. Pasta. Making your own pasta is great fun, really simple, and something just a little bit different… Mix together 600g of pasta flour and 6 large eggs. Use your fingers and keep mixing and kneading until you have a good smooth dough (either do this in one big bowl and give everyone a chance to have a go at kneading – or make 6 bowls each with 100g flour and 1 egg). Knead and knead (and chat and chat!) Once your dough is smooth and springy you’ll need to roll it out into a thin sheet. If you’re using a pasta machine you’ll have lots of fun, make sure everyone has a go! Otherwise, dust a surface with more flour, get out a rolling pin, and get rolling. You’ll need to roll it really thin (tagliatelle thin) and then carefully cut into strips with a sharp knife. Dump in boiling water for a couple of minutes and serve with a choice of sauces, or just butter and grated cheese…

What recipes would you add to our list?

Four Words That Can Transform Your Conversations With Young People

four_words_2_750_367If we are going to respond adequately to the doubting experiences of youth, we need to ensure that young people … have patient, understanding companions who can guide and care for them through the twists and turns of the journey of doubt.

Find out what four words every parent, leader, and mentor should keep handy in their back pocket for moments like these… click here for a stunning article from The Fuller Youth Institute