This is a joy

It’s been a while since I properly blogged, apologies!

 

There has been BIG NEW NEWS since my last post and that is that I am now the official Youth Worker at Haywards Heath Baptist Church – of which I am employed 14 hours per week. This is incredibly exciting, a massive answer to prayer and a new journey I am beginning.

 

I begun my new role on October 1st, and it’s been a great start. Many of you know that HHBC has always been my ‘home’ church. I came to faith through the youth work there, and so it’s always been close to my heart. To be able to give something back to the church by working with the children and young people at the Church, is just a massive privilege and blessing to me, I am so grateful to God for this opportunity.

My prayer for this new season is simply that I will give my all to God, and that through this there will be breakthrough with the children and young people I work with. For them, things may change as I seek His will, and I hope that keeping it God-centered will be an example for them all.

 

Sometimes I just want to jump up and down with joy because of what Jesus has called me to do, firstly working with young people and where He currently has called me to at HHBC. This is a joy.

 

Just wanted to keep you updated on what I’m doing, and I will hopefully be blogging more regularly as I get settled into my new routine.

If you are a prayer please pray for me, the young people and children, HHBC and as I look for another part time job to go along side this one.

 

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Where I get inspired…

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of attending one of the UK’s main youth work conferences, the Youth Work Summit, which this year was held in Manchester. This, I think, was my 3rd time at the Summit, and year by year I just get more and more inspired, blessed and encouraged. This year was definitely no exception. I would whole heartedly recommend the summit to anyone who works with young people, voluntary or paid, in a church or not, get along to this event, I highly doubt you can come away from the event without your mind racing with thoughts from the day, and your heart breaking in compassion for the young people you know, that you work with. Plus the Summit is fantastic for people with short attention spans, like me, as each speaker has around 10 minutes to speak on a very specialist subject. The variety is incredible! (https://www.youthworksummit.com/inspire

I thought I’d share with you some personal highlights from the whole Summit experience. 

1. Meg Cannon’s ‘Come and find me’ – a spoken word piece about life as a 15 year old girl. This one blew me away. You won’t find any notes in my notebook for this one because Meg just rocked it so much, I won’t forget it! Meg gave us a real lift insight of being a 15 year old girl in 2014, insight gained through her regular work with girls and through her project: koko (http://thekokostory.com/about-koko/) I cannot do this justice but will link the talk in another post later on so you can be inspired too. This was one of the one’s which had my heart in shatters. Spend time with people, get to know them, be there. 

2. The train journey home – This might sound a strange one especially as the train was delayed by 2 hours which mean arrived home at 3am, however I was able to make new friends, catch up with old friends, walk up and down the train and know someone in nearly every carriage, have a dance on the train, play games, chat with Shane Claiborne and some of the other speakers and give prophetic words to some of the ‘new’ friends I’d made (I’ve never given prophetic words on the train before!) The fellowship, friendship and the ability to change stress into fun was what made this a highlight. 

3. Shane Claiborne – I was inspired by the glimpses Shane gave of what love can look like, the fact that the Gospel spreads most by fascination and that we are re-presenting Jesus to people. That we’ve made the Gospel too easy, that our lifestyles NEED to change as we encounter God and continue to encounter him through our walk.

4. Kenda Creasy Dean – Was able to spend the pre-day with a smaller group of youth workers listening to this awesome lady as well as during the main day of the Summit – Kenda was able to bring insight to why young people leave the church, what needs to happen to help them stay and managed to work both Doctor Who and Downton Abbey as representations of the church! ‘God sized visions but the churches canvas is too small’ and this is part of why young people are leaving. 

5. LGBT discussions – I liked the fact this was not just a debate that could have got really heated and dramatic but a look at pastorally how we approach situations with LGBT young people. We were privileged to hear the testimonies of two Christian young adults, one transgender and one who is gay – this made it more real for people – especially for those that have never had this come up in their ministry. I salute the organisers of the Summit for putting in the subjects that can be tricky, that can often be avoided but are SO SO important, and for doing this so well. 

6. Seth Pinnock – I loved Seth’s portrayal of the passage of the 5 loaves and 2 fish; feeding of the 5000, found in John 6: 1 – 13. His main points really encouraged me, and when I shared them with my young people the following day, were a blessing them to them too. The boy was in the crowd; you have to be present to be used by God. The boy gave what he had to Jesus; it wasn’t enough, he didn’t think it was good enough but we need to give what we have. It took an “Andrew” to see what he had encourage him to give that to Jesus; this puts us in prime positions as youth workers, to notice that in our young people and encourage them to give that to Jesus so they can see this multiply and grow and made enough because of Jesus. 

7. Catching up with old friends – It was just a blessing to catch up with old friends over the weekend, one’s I hadn’t seen in a long time, seeing many other friends and as I mentioned before, making new friendships, which I know that weekend will not be the end of.

8. Sarah Percival – Sarah’s talk really challenged me and is definite food for thought. She talked of how for young people rest CAN be found through their phones, through the right ways, and when we are encouraging our young people to rest we need to stop telling them to turn their phones off but instead be encouraging them to find rest through appropriate ways. Technology doesn’t have to stand in the way of rest.

9. Chris Russell – Chris challenged us in whether we are preaching the ‘happiness’ gospel to our young people, but actually that Jesus didn’t come to give us happiness but to give us LIFE. The happiness gospel is one that put ourselves first, not God, it’s all focussed on self-fulfilment and it’s very dangerous if we sell the gospel as daily satisfaction. Chris made me a lot more aware of how I communicating the gospel to the young people I work with.

 

Apologies this was such a long post, I think what you can take from that is that it was a great time from which I gained a lot. Was inspired a lot. Was encouraged a lot. Was challenged a lot. My heart was broken a lot, and my drive to work with young people was rekindled again and again throughout the day. 

 

 

The togetherness of Churches

Last weekend we held a youth service, One, which was the first of hopefully many, the start of a new adventure of a joint church once termly youth service. Three churches youth pastors/ workers joined together to plan this event months ago, and it was kicked off to an incredible start. Other churches joined in on the journey and about 6 churches were represented on the night. We had a round 40 young people, which for the first event is a brilliant number. Matt Summerfield from Urban Saints spoke, and he spoke so well, with 17 young people responding to the message, another Church led worship, another hosted and we each took a different role. There was a lounge which involved a local youth pastor interviewing our guest speaker, we played games and ate pizza, united as a group of young people and youth workers from the local area. The atmosphere and vibe was amazing, we really sensed God’s blessing in what we were doing and in the unity that this event has bought to Churches locally.

When Churches unite together there is a visable declaration of a shared passion; Jesus. And this can speak volumes to those not involved in Church or on the borders of Church to show that Churches can and do work together, and that this can have an impact on the local community, it is also a reminder to those within Churches that we are family, united, ultimatley, because of Jesus. The little differences in the Churches beliefs and traditions do not affect us working together, and there is beautiful moments of togetherness created if we can put these aside. We, the Church, want to express that Jesus saves and loves everyone, and the events like One highlight this common message.

On Saturday there was also a huge kid’s event, with 110 children, which also bought together many of the local Churches, and their children. Although I did not attend, I have heard brilliant things, a really blessed time with unity at the core.

Church is a community, a group of people, and when the local Churches can look past tradition, denomination etc, new communites are formed and an example is set to adults, children and young people alike that we are all family, who love Jesus, and love people. The message version speaks of God being Lord in our community, it says “The word became flesh and moved into the neighbourhood.” This is what these events are about, showing our community that the Church is one. That the Church love their neighbourhood.

Since moving to the South Woodford area I have sensed a really good vibe of togetherness between the Churches, especially with the youth workers, but even more so in the last few months, with monthly youth workers breakfasts and events such as One, and a The Big One, as well as joint work in schools, with Christian Unions and mentoring.

This togetherness is something we should be celebrating, as we see God’s blessing on what we are doing.

My challenge to you is what does the Churches unity look like in your town or area? What examples are you setting in your working together? Is there scope for local pastors or youth pastors to meet regularly or run events together?

 

Have a think, and a pray about it. Feedback is very welcome.

God Bless,

Steph x Image

“You of little faith, why do you doubt me?” Jesus… Why doubt is NOT from God…

It’s so easy to doubt isn’t it?

It’s such an easy habit to fall into; doubting yourself, doubting others and doubting God.

I have found myself doubting myself far too often recently, and it’s not healthy and not what God wants for me, or for any of us, His children. In recent weeks I’ve had many situations where I have doubted myself where there was no need. To name a couple, situation one was at a group I work with where a young person revealed to me an incident she had witnessed, apologies I can not detail this further but it is very personal for the young person, as a follow up I needed to liaise with another leader about it, and talk again to the young person about the situation. But during the ‘in-between’ time of this process I started asking myself, did I hear her right, did I pass on the correct information, did I deal with it in the right way? In fact, I had. I had heard it right, I had communicated well with the right information and I dealt with it in exactly the right way. Secondly, another recent example, is when I heard squealing at about half midnight, human squealing. With living next to a public alleyway I decided to wake one of who I live with to find out if everything was okay, but again, in that ‘in-between’ time before making that decision I doubted  myself, I asked myself, did I really hear that, did that really sound like how I think it did? And no, it wasn’t human squealing (stupid foxes!) but I did the right thing and doubt nearly stopped me doing that.

I feel like for many of the young people I work with and may do so in the future, self doubt will be something they need to fight against and as a youth worker I need to be equipped to tell them that this is not what God wants for them. He made them self confident beings that are able to live their lives to the full because of Christ, where doubt does not hold them back, where they do not miss God’s works, where they do not miss opportunities and where doubt does not stop them doing what is right. Doubt is NOT from God and this ultimately is the message I not only need to learn for myself but also pass onto others.

Even when Jesus was right there, visibly right in front of Peter, when asked to walk on water, (Matthew 14 from verse 22) doubted,  he doubted Jesus, when He had said directly “Yes, come” walk on the water, but I also feel Peter doubted himself, he believed he was not good enough, he didn’t have the ability to walk on water, even after Jesus had commissioned him to do so. The enemy, through doubt, spoke to Peter,  and Peter fell for it.

Let’s not fall for the words of the enemy any more  lets remember the words of Paul in Philippians 4: 13 “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Speak this out, often and you will learn to believe it. God made us self confident, He wants our minds to be clear of doubt and full of belief and determination.

I pray against the spirit of doubt, doubt in Jesus, doubt in other people, doubt in ourselves  in Jesus’ name remove this doubt and help us live life, in its fullness, like you designed for us.  Amen

 

One point I would like to add is that doubt is not the same as personal reflection and whilst it can lead to reflect on something, which is the positive that often comes out the situation you can self reflect on situations WITHOUT beginning the process with doubt, and this is the best way.

Awkward laughter and shrugging it off – how our reactions speak volumes.

I felt challenged to write about how our reactions speak volumes. Often it is said that our actions do, but so do our reactions. This thought came from a scenario after our youth group a couple of weeks ago. Every Monday afternoon me and my line manager get together and pray for all the young people associated with our church, even if they have only been to one of our groups once. This has only been happening for a few weeks, but already it’s one of my favourite times of the week where God has really spoken to us about many of the young people. This particular week we received images for many of the young people and after our youth session felt compelled to tell 2 of them. These 2 young people, lets call them J and F have been coming regularly for at least a year and a half,  they have a lot going on in their lives, struggles and their teenage lads who just are striving for happiness. Neither are Christians but with clear pictures for each of them, we felt the need to share these.

Their reactions consisted of some awkward shrugs, nods and then when praying for them there was some giggles – the true fact coming out that they are teenage boys and what we told them was a bit weird, a bit new and something which may have been confusing.

I believe their reactions really spoke to me and my line manager, Katie. In our debrief we shared with the other leaders how this went, and what their reactions were, I feel that their reactions spoke of 2 boys boys searching for answers in life, that when confronted with God speaking to them through other people, it freaked them out, weirded them out. Confused them, surprised them and probably was not what they had expected in their evening.

But we can use their reactions, we can cling on to the nods, and hope that just something of what we said they related to, we can pray about where to go next with them . I think they actually listened, that they let us pray for them spoke to us, and encouraged us and is helping us move on in our relationship with them and hopefully in their relationships with God.

This also reminded me about a situation in the Bible, in Luke 5,  starting at verse 1, where Simon Peter was challeneged to put his boat out further by Jesus, even when he had been trying to catch fish all night. I can imagine Simon thinking, “Come on Jesus I’m the pro here, this is my job, and I haven’t caught anything and then you, a carpenter come along and tell me how to do my job. I don’t think so mate.” Obviously this is me reading into it slightly (!!) but Simon does confront Jesus he says “Master, we worked hard all night and didn’t catch a thing.” But then he carries on, and his obiedence to Jesus in this passage stands out, “But if you say do, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this results in a massive catch, so many fish the boats were nearly sinking. With this is Simons reaction, the one this situation made me think of, Simon fell on his knees before Jesus, and was ‘awestruck.’ Simon also declared himself too much of a sinner to be in Jesus’ presence, but Jesus is not like this, we can all come into his presence, however much we sin, because of what he did on the cross for us.

Simons reaction spoke to me as well as J and F’s,

I wonder how Sim0ns reaction spoke to Jesus at that moment?!226114_10150252825756508_694361_n