Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rob Bell's latest effort...

Just finished reading 'Sex God' by Rob Bell wich according to the subtitle 'explores the endless connections between sexuality and spirituality'. It's an excellent read with Rob Bell's unique and creative style of writing, and ability to draw so much context and depth from Scripture. The highlights of the book for me where around the following issues/quotes:
  • how we value ourselves and others.
  • how with every action 'we're continuing the ongoing creation of the world.'
  • 'freedom isn't being able to have whatever we crave. Freedom is going without whatever we crave and being fine with it.'
  • how stealing is the ultimate selfish act and giving stuff away is the ultimate act of generosity.
  • 'Love is handing your heart to someone and taking the risk that they will hand it back because they don't want it.'
  • 'Jesus always chooses the path of love, not power.'
He also writes about singleness which resonated a lot with a conversation i had recently with a friend. Have you ever been chatting with someone who you maybe haven't seen in a while and they say to you 'well any girlfriends?' (or boyfriends, if that's your preference!). I have no problem with that question, and more often than not over the last 5 years my answer is 'No'! It's what sometimes happens next that i find frustrating. Their facial expression will change and their head will tilt a little to the side and they will say something like 'Ach well, sure it'll happen sometime!' Words of pity, as if my life is in some way incomplete or unfulfilled - it kinda makes me mad!

Rob Bell talks about this:
'It's possible for destructive messages to be sent to people who are single. That they are second class, less than, that they don't fit, that they should find someone, get married, and join the rest of us who are "normal."

If you are single, and you've been sent messages or it's been hinted at or even said to your face that you are somehow missing something, that you aren't good enough, that you don't fit in - that is not true. It's not just that you're fine single. The premise of the Scriptures is that you are able to connect with God and serve God in ways that those who are married can't. The tilt is for being single, not away from it.'
I meet people and their life revolves around finding a man/woman. They feel incomplete and believe their life will only really begin when they meet someone and get married. The sad thing is that God has a plan for their life NOW and they are completely missing out on it. I'm not saying relationships are wrong, on the contrary i think relationships are good, but being single is good too. I can't accept the view that one status is better than the other, they are just different. What do you think???

By the way, Rob Bell is speaking at Spires Conference Centre in Belfast on 12th June as part of his 'Calling all Peacemakers' tour. Click here for further info. Note that tickets can be purchased from Wesley Owen bookstore without having to pay the online £2 booking fee.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

One year in...

So last week saw me complete my first year with WPC - hard to believe! The year has gone incredibly fast and so i still feel incredibly new to the role but yet at the same time i feel very settled in the church with lots of very strong relationships as if i have been here for many years! With all that has gone on in the last couple of weeks i haven't had much time to reflect on the last year as my thoughts are still very much with Alain and both family circles. However, i did have to complete a report for church leadership which forced me to reflect and evaluate to some degree.

I have to say it was an encouraging process as i considered the progress of youth ministry in the church in the last 12 months. The most encouraging things are as follows:
  • Passionate and enthusiastic leaders. When i started, several youth leaders 'retired' from service and the remaining few were a bit disillusioned and tired. The last year, especially since Christmas, has seen this change dramatically. We now have a group of 18 leaders (some came back from retirement!) who are passionate and enthusiastic about the youth ministry in church!
  • Young people growing in faith. We have a fantastic group of young people in church who are passionate about engaging with God through WORSHIP and hungry to hear what God is saying to them through the TEACHING OF GOD'S WORD. This such an exciting place for me and the rest of the leaders to be.
  • Youth work outside of church. This was started from scratch last summer with detached youth work and has now developed into a drop-in centre that opens 3 afternoons and 2 evenings per week. We have 9 leaders involved and have contact with approximately 40 different young people and the centre has around 250 users each month. I was also involved in running a Youth Alpha group with 8 lads which was a fantastic experience.
  • Church family. I have been made very welcome at WPC from the outset which has made it a joy to build relationships. I have found the people in this family very encouraging to me directly (on a personal and professional level) with both their words and actions, and also indirectly as i watch people seeking to live out their faith in a way that makes a difference to those around them.
So what are the hopes for the next year? That's a really difficult question! Yes i want to see the ministry grow so that we have contact and relationships with more young people. Yes i want to see new areas of ministry develop so that we don't stagnate and just do the same things. However, I can honestly say that i am more excited about youth ministry now than i have ever been, so above all i want to feel as encouraged in May 2008 as i do now which will come from the 4 things highlighted earlier:
  • passionate leaders
  • young people growing in faith
  • progress with youth work outside of church
  • encouraging church family.
Check back in 12 months time for another evaluation!