Saturday, December 30, 2017

When God drew his breath

2017 Christmas Eve Sermon
John 1 & Hebrews 1
St Peter's Church, Guildford

Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright. In the noise and activity, the demands and the challenges of Christmas preparations, not much of our attention is able to rest in the silence of which the carol speaks.  We have written our cards and we have wrapped our presents. We have shopped, and then shopped some more and perhaps even this evening made our preparations for the impending Christmas lunch. In many ways the contemporary Christmas is an acceleration of the demands of our culture; imploring us to do more, to buy more and to never, ever sit still. When stillness and silence are the great enemy of our time, this night jars with us as much as it fills us with great wonder. Perhaps this is why, of all the Christmas services taking place throughout advent, for many of us, it is this silent night that resonates with us in the most meaningful of ways.

We know, of course, that there are different kinds of silence. We know all to well the silence that comes from apathy, from a lack of care, but this is not that silence. This is not the silence of slumber, the part presence of someone in body while the mind in dream. Nor is this the silence of death; an absence, a void and nothingness.

The silence of this night is a different kind of silence. It anticipates; it waits for something, it is poised and expectant. This is the silence of the theatre when the operatic singer draws breath before filling every space with the power and beauty of her voice.  This is the silence of the Olympic stadium after the cry of set, yet before the clap of the gun signals the start of the race. It is the silence of the liminal space; the threshold between what was and is and what is to come. Occurring only when the old has fallen apart yet before the new has emerged, this silence is pregnant with purpose, full of longing and it scans the horizon for the event, the happening, the realisation of the new that is to come.

This is the message of the gospels; that something has happened, that the event of all the events has occurred before our very eyes, and that happening was Emmanuel, God with us. Like any event, people see and record it from different angles, from unique perspectives, and this is true of the witness of the gospel writers. We have read John’s cosmological account of the Christmas story; it is the story of God as Trinity, the story of the whole of the created order, the story of humanity all rolled into just 18 verses of scripture.

What is the content of the event, of the occurring? John says that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”, or perhaps, like me, you’ll appreciate the message translation; “the Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood”. John is telling us God’s story; a story that is told by God, is about God and is for God. God is at once the narrator of the story, content of the plot line and the outcome of the climax. It is the story of God’s decision to love the world in spite its brokenness, the recording of his becoming as one of us in the life of Jesus Christ, and the reason for his coming; that we have the right to become children of God.

We know that God’s story is one that surprises us. Not conventional at all, His beginning is one of inhabiting a feeding trough for a crib in a damp and dusty stable. It is outrageous that God may be born a human, let alone to a peasant girl in a backwash village in the middle east. Yet this was not the Son’s beginning at all; he was, as the creed says, begotten and not made. John tells us that there has not been a time when he was not, that he was with God and was God from the beginning. It is here, perhaps, we encounter the limits of our language and concepts. John articulates the son as means through which God created the cosmos, and describes him as the life of which we all share. Perhaps one of the great mysteries of this story is this; that he lay there, vulnerable and profoundly reliant upon that which he himself had called into being.

And so at Christmas we celebrate his coming and marvel at what he reveals to us and the whole of creation. The person of Jesus Christ is the visible and exact representation of the Father, in whom we encounter the glory of God. He came as a provision of purification for sin, and we remember that he, like all gifts, must be received in faith, that we may be purified and adopted as Children of God. Yet as it was then and is still now, many remain unable to recognise him and many still refuse to acknowledge the gift of the Christ child to the world.

And so we wait in this the liminal space of what is and what is to come. This silent night, this holy night is when we remember again, that like the operatic singer, God drew his breath, preparing to speak. God was about to speak a word, a final word, of which the content is the life, death and resurrection of the Son, Jesus of Nazareth. This Christmas, God invites each one of us to look again at the content of that word, to recognise and encounter his glory, and then to receive his gift of new life.

Silent night, holy night!
Son of God love's pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pioneer Ministry as an Evangelical: Issues of theological integrity

I am an Ordinand (read trainee vicar) in the Church of England (evangelical branch). I also happen to be training to be a Pioneer Minister. As I come to the end of my training, I am starting to wonder just how compatible these three characteristics actually are. Can you be an evangelical pioneer and hold a coherent theology? This question has been an irritant for a while, like a stone in my shoe, and I just have to let it breathe. The following is as much a space for that, as it is a cry for insight, advice and challenge. If you make it to the bottom of this piece then great, if you have some thoughts then even better, I would love to hear from you.

The Church of England defines Pioneers as those “called by God who are the first to see and creatively respond to the Holy Spirit's initiatives with those outside the church; gathering others around them as they seek to establish new contextual Christian community”.[1] The origin of pioneering is Christological; the author of the book of Hebrews refers to Christ as the “the pioneer and perfecter of faith”.[2] Christ’s pioneering is multi-faceted. Soteriologically he pioneered a new way of relating to God. Ecclesiologically he pioneered a new way of being with others, centred on the last supper. Anthropologically he pioneered a new humanity, for whom the triune life opens up to be a part of his end. Christ is the pioneer of God’s promise through the prophet Isaiah; “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”.[3] Pioneering then is firmly rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Pioneering is distinctively missional and often located far from the established church. Pioneers obsess about new things and are driven by questions, such as what if? How could we? We are a perceptive bunch too, always observing, reading and interpreting culture and looking for an opportunity or an edge to begin to work with, like when you come across an old roll of tape in the loft. Fundamentally, though, Pioneers adopt a posture of humility when it comes to culture. We go empty handed, believing that God is always at work before we arrive and if we listen and wait long enough, we will hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and join with his ongoing work.

In Models of Contextual Theology, Bevans surveys six models of mission and the theology behind them.[4] Pioneering sits closely aligned to two of these models, the anthropological and the transcendental model. The anthropological model is one in which the practitioner is to listen to the culture, in order to identify the gospel which is already present and at work in that culture. They then point to God, already present and at work. This model is one in which gospel and culture form a partnership and God works in and through human experience to draw people to him. To use a farming model, the seed (gospel) is in the ground (culture); the practitioner’s job is to identify it and point to it. A good example of this model is “Christianity Rediscovered” by the great Vincent Donovan.

The transcendental model, is closely related. This model assumes that God is implicitly at work in human experience, and it is through the discovery of our own individual subjectivity that we can begin to discuss and discover any dogmatic belief. Theology is less about learning doctrine, but more a process in which we grapple with our own existence and the existence of God in tandem. Revelation is happening all around us and the practitioner seeks to “bring to speech” the ongoing encounter with God. Returning to the farming analogy, in this model the seed (gospel) is in the ground (culture) and the practitioner is to cultivate it through the turning of the soil. This approach has much to offer us in the post-modern world in which individuals express that “they are spiritual but not religious”. Where propositional evangelism may be resisted, discursive evangelism may well be welcomed.[5]

So what is the problem? The Evangelical tradition can be traced back to the reformation and their cry “Sola Gratia” (Grace alone).[6] Salvation is granted by grace alone, not by the word or work of a Priest or any other man, and is solely dependent on God actions and work. This resulted in a shift in emphasis from the sacrament to the word. Berkof describes how “Luther gave great prominence to the Word of God as the primary means of grace. He pointed out that the sacraments have no significance apart rom the Word and are in fact merely the visible Word”.[7]. It is from this source that evangelicalism emerged, through the Puritan and Pietist movements, and the emphasis on scripture alone persisted. Two of the greatest influencers on the movement in the 20th Century were John Stott and Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Stott famously described the movement as “Bible people, Gospel people”. Lloyd-Jones held the same sentiments, arguing that one must begin and submit only to scripture. Consequently, “the evangelical distrusts reason, and particularly reason in the form of philosophy”.[8] As a result, evangelicals in the era of Stott and Lloyd-Jones were cautious when it comes to art and culture, with a reluctance at times, to see creation, ecology and social issues as Christian priorities.

The scripture alone principle naturally influences the missional model adopted by evangelicals. Bevans calls this the translation model. The gospel has a never changing core, though coming to us wrapped in the culture of first century Judaism under the influence of the Greco-Roman culture. The method is to unwrap the gospel from the culture, identify it and then rewrap it with the culture that you are in.  To return to the farming narrative, the church has the seed, the culture is the soil, and the church must plant it in the soil. This is why evangelical evangelism is often largely propositional, offering “something new” to the culture.

Evangelicalism has reached a more nuanced position on culture since Lloyd-Jones gave this address at the IFES conference in the 1970s. In a piece on the evangelical response to the arts, Lundin argues that evangelicalism rejected the arts and popular culture because of a lack of a coherent theology. As evangelicalism has softened to culture, there is still a reluctance to engage at the cutting edge and “evangelicals have often responded to innovations with fear and then waiting for the bizarre to become, through time, domesticated… the pattern has been for new theories to surface and circulate for a decade or more before evangelical scholars begin to appropriate them”.[9] I have seen this at work in my lifetime; as a child, I had a Christian friend whose evangelical parents refused to let him watch the Simpsons. After a while evangelicals warmed to the show. Later still, evangelical youth workers were using clips to teach Christianity to their young people about the faith.

Here we reach the root of the issue – the stone in my shoe. Can I be an evangelical and a pioneer? Pioneers make assumptions about the creation and culture (and have a methodology that follows) that seem incompatible with evangelical theology. Pioneers operate at the forefront of cultural change and innovation, yet evangelicals situate themselves a way back from the frontline. While it seems Pioneers want to affirm culture and get in the mix of cultural change, evangelicals have historically wanted to deny it as a theological source and call it to account, but in modern times are more cautious and reactive. As Pioneering establishes itself in the Church of England, the challenge to develop a coherent theology and methodology is the challenge set before evangelical pioneers.

[2] Hebrews 12:2, NIV
[3] Isaiah 43:19, NIV
[4] Stephen B. Bevans, Models of Contextual Theology, 2002
[5] For more on this, see the research report by Haye and Hunt entitled “Understanding the Spirituality of People who don’t go to Church”
[6] Martin Luther, God's grace received must be bestowed, (, 31.
[7] Louis Berkof, Systematic Theology, 607.
[8] Martin Lloyd-Jones, What is an Evangelical?, 44.
[9] Lundin, Roger, The Arts, in McDermott, Gerald R, The Oxford Handbook of Evangelical Theology, 427.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Loving your Enemies

The following is a short devotional written for the Emmanuel Church magazine.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:44.

I can recall working through the Sermon on the Mount with a group of young people when this particular verse came into view. They were stunned to silence (a rare and precious occasion indeed) when having explored what it was that Jesus meant, I asked them to name one or two of their enemies. We too may be hard-pressed and reluctant to label anyone in our life with such severe terminology. Jesus’ Jewish audience lived under roman dictators, and the disciples were soon to face rampant persecution, but we do not live in such circumstances, so how may this verse be relevant to us?

Who is my enemy? One dictionary defines it as “a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something”. The concept broadens by considering the synonyms: rival, nemesis, challenger, opposer. I may not experience oppression or persecution, but I certainly have a few rivals (usually of my own making). I encounter people whose values are very different to mine and I know what it feels like to be challenged unfairly. From time to time, my work and my ideas are opposed by others too. My life is a mix of positive and negative interactions with others, with the latter leaving me feeling misunderstood, hurt and resentful. Alas, it seems I have more enemies than I first imagined to be so.

When we read Jesus’ command to “pray for those that persecute us”, it would seem that we are simply to pray for them to repent. Yet as we explore the original text further, the term opens up. The New King James version reflects this when it says we should “bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you”. Jesus wants more than I am often prepared to give; to both pray a blessing and be a blessing to those who we find most difficult. I am to pray that they are blessed in every sense and in every area of life.  Bonhoeffer called this the supreme command as “through the medium of prayer we go to our enemy, stand by his side, and plead for him to God”. It seems Jesus’ words reach much further than we first thought.

I have found that this kind of prayer is utterly transformative. Following a challenge at college, I decided to keep a (hit) list of people for whom I would pray for every day in this manner. My experience has been that people do not stay on my list for very long. While I may not have had much love for them at the start, as I pray for them my heart begins to change and I begin to love them too. 

Perhaps this is a part of what Jesus meant when he speaks of us becoming children of heaven; that we see as He sees and love as He loves. To obey this command is to align ourselves to and participate in with the will and work of God. When we forgive those who have hurt, opposed or misunderstood us our lives embody the gospel. They tell the world something of the loving God who died for his enemies, even you and I. May God help us to pray and may our prayers transform our hearts into love and when we love, may we remember that “we love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Harnessing the Power of Community

There were two particular conversations with young people that stood out to me over the past week. This was the week when the clocks had just changed, the sun was shining and they had two whole weeks free from the demands of school life. The Easter holidays were upon us and I was dying to know what they had planned. One young man explained to me that he rarely goes out, choosing instead to socialise through the medium of online gaming. Another young lady explained how she gets cranky if she doesn't get her quiet time. When I delved a little deeper I found that in the holidays, this quiet time consists of several hours of sitcoms while scanning social media on her phone. As I reflected on my pre-Facebook, pre-mobile phone, prehistoric adolescence, I was struck by how different life is for the technological savvy teen living in the modern i-world.

At face value, the average teenager of today is far more connected than their counterpart 20 years ago. When we scratch at the surface, we see that all is not as it seems. While we may be more connected, the truth is that loneliness has become an epidemic in Britain. In a 2014 study, the Office of National Statistics labelled Britain as the loneliness capital of Europe. The consequences of loneliness are significant. Loneliness is strongly linked to mental health issues and for older people, loneliness is believed to be twice as harmful as obesityJohann Hari argues for a fresh look at the nature and causes of addiction, proposing that the root of all addiction is a lack of human connection.

While more aware, our self-medicating techniques only compound the issue. We upgrade the TV package and jump on the next social networking fad to combat the overwhelming feelings of disconnection. We seek solutions to numb the feeling but they only seem to make the problem worse. We have created a culture that mimics connection, packaging and sugar-coating it in the latest consumer fad. Community is the great spectator activity that we watch from behind a glass screen rather like a child at the zoo. We long to break through the glass and experience it but we find ourselves trapped, unsatisfied and disempowered by insufficient alternatives. It is time to break through the glass and rediscover the power of community. It’s time to meet the historical figure of Basil the Great.

St. Basil was born in Caesarea in 330 to a relatively prosperous and prominent family. He was the beneficiary of a good education against a backdrop of what he eventually adjudged to be a morally bankrupt society. This morality had infiltrated the life of the church, which led Basil to believe that its practices was out of kilter with biblical teaching. Basil’s dissatisfaction drove him to explore the aestheticism of the monks who rejected all civilisation in favour of a radical lifestyle in the solitude of the desert. He also had a rocking hipster beard!

The root of the asthetic life was a set of rules that were the means of living a pure life. While Basil was impressed with the endeavour of the desert monks, he believed that their enthusiasm sidestepped the most significant of resources. For Basil, being in community is both the basis on and the place in which the perfect life is lived. The life of virtue requires both a love for God and a love for our friends and neighbours. The key to a fulfilled life is connection, which is housed within community.

Basil’s love of the aesthetics and his belief in the power of community led him to pioneer a new expression of faith in community. This community was not based on isolation but connection. It was not found in the far reaches of the desert but in the hubbub of urban life. Not disinterested in issues of the ordinary people but driven by a mission to transform the city to how God intended it to be. He took the ordered life of prayer modelled by the desert fathers and coupled it with the power of community and connection. Urban monasticism was born.

Basil’s new community was based on the idea that authentic community can enable transformation in every area of human life. He believed that only through living side by side could we truly identify each one’s strengths and weaknesses. Members of the community were not to hide their inadequacies and failings, but to regularly confess them to one another. The community had a strong ethic of mentoring, with the superior being known as a physician. The physician gave out punishments as remedies, seeking to enable a person to overcome individual failings. In this community it was acceptable to show weakness, to share fears and struggles. The community shared one another’s burdens and help was available as each person to live well. In this community, people were truly known.

The power of this community had an impact far beyond the individual members. As each person offered their time and energy to the community, humanitarian projects quickly developed. A distribution centre for donations to the poor was established. They became a shelter for the homeless and provided medical services for the sick. This radical community changed both the members and the wider society.

You might be wondering what St. Basil the Great and his urban monasticism might have to say to us. While most of us may find urban monasticism a stretch too far, the principles behind Basil’s community have something valuable to say. In this age of individualism and disconnection, we would do well to remember the power of real, vulnerable, authentic and committed community. The individualism of our time implores us to look inside of ourselves for the resources of a full life, but the consequences of the loneliness epidemic suggest that these resources are insufficient.

Basil reminds us that the extent in which an individual can flourish directly correlates to their connectivity within a wider community. What leads us to a full life is not self-connection but the quality of our relationships beyond ourselves. What if the power to change ourselves and our world is not within but is found in the life-giving, inspiring act of belonging? Basil’s community also reminds us of the relationship between good communities and a healthy society. When communities function well, they are capable of extraordinary achievements for the betterment of the wider world.

So how well are we truly known? What is the quality of our relationships? St. Basil teaches us that authentic community is powerful, relationships are life-changing and vulnerability is transforming. So step away from your devices and invest in your relationships. Release the power of connection.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Some thoughts on Passion

The following blog post on passion was for my good friend Stephen as a past of the 'Summer of Wholeness' project.

This morning my son had the TV remote and he was flicking through the channels trying to find something to watch. He got to ESPN and let out a shriek of excitement. He’d found the WRC Rally show. Neither I nor my wife have ever really found cars that exciting. As long as it works, as long at it does its job, we’re good with that. That all changed when our boy started to talk. Of his first ten words, I think 6 of them were types of cars. Since that moment, cars have been his passion for cars just spills out of him and into our family life. Even though I’m not into cars, I love these moments and I chase them with him. It’s amazing to see him so full of energy and full of joy. This is when he feels most alive.

So when do you feel most alive? What is it that gives you energy? What is it that makes you say “wow”? Today we are thinking about living our passions and how you answer these questions will tell you a lot about what your passions are. Maybe it’s chasing down a PB when you run. Maybe it’s walking. Maybe it’s music, painting, driving or drinking a really great cup of coffee. For me, it’s reading scripture or Christian books, taking in great views and helping people grow.
Sometimes we have to approach it from the other direction to discover our passions. Sometimes our passions arise from what makes us angry. I have a friend who is passionate about justice and spends her time campaigning on behalf of others. This is what makes her feel so alive. It was and is her anger that drives her passion. Interesting huh?

Psalm 139:13 says “you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb.” (Message). This tells me that my passions are God placed. He shaped me so that I would really hate math but really love reading. So when I get the buzz I get from a new idea or seeing that person grow, I am living out my God-placed passions. These are holy moments.

So, how can we live out our passions? It’s all about being intentional. We need to create space in our diaries specifically for these passions. Regularly. Make them a priority and do as much as you can without ignoring other important duties. We then need to find places. For me, I read in Starbucks, I walk in our local area of natural beauty and I am fortunate enough to have a job that enables me to help others grow. I’ve also found it helpful to share this with those around me. My wife is very aware that I need this time and she understands that it pays dividends in our family time. I’m much less cranky when I’ve had my time! So there you have it. What makes you feel most alive? Find out what it is and make time for it, find the right place for it and share it with those who love you.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Playing away from the gain line

Stuart Barnes wrote an interesting piece in about Alex Goode, the England full back, in the Times today. He makes the point that, while Alex Goode is not technically the best full back in the England squad, he is the best choice. This is not on the basis of not his technical ability but his intelligent reading of the game and how he brings the best out of his team-mates, especially Toby Flood. He writes:

"Flood is a fly-half who needs assistance. There is no doubting bravery of his attacking game. He relishes playing on the gain line but the balance of when to step back and seek space elsewhere is often anything but in evidence.

Goode sees the braoder canvas. He realises that the best pictures need and depth as well as all that furious foreground action". Stuart Barnes, The Times. 11.11.12.

I like the scrap of frontline youth ministry. I have a thirst for the dramatic. Taking new ground, through conversation, through strategy, through big, bold, brave moves. Nothing fires me up more than a new relationship formed, new trust being shared and seeing a young person or project make radical progress in their lives. My heart just pumps a little faster when I'm at the gainline.

I'm not so keen on sitting back and surveying the game and watching others scrap it out on the frontline. My soul doesn't quite fizz in the same way when I'm passing the ball to someone else and watching them put their body on the line, making yards and getting the accolades.

While being Toby Flood is fun for me, it isn't neccasarily what my church, or my young people need. They need me to be an Alex Goode. If my time at my church is to leave a legacy that lasts, I need to pass others the ball and let them run. So I'm resolving to step back, read the game and pass the ball to others. I'm resolving to say no to my own preferences, and my pride, and allow others to take the ground and the glory.

If only I could actually play like Alex Goode! Swiiiiiiiing low!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Seasons of Youth Ministry

What is Growth in Youth Ministry? How do we measure it? Increased numbers? Increased committment? Deeper relationships? Intergration with the wider church? Sometimes in youth ministry we can feel we face an impossible job in which the goalposts of success move depending on who you are talking to.

There is always an ebb and flow to youth ministry, as there was with Jesus’ ministry. There were times when he had thousands of people following him, yet other times he seemed to play down the attention of thousands, in a bid to invest in just a few.

Likewise, this ebb and flow is accentuated by the nature of young people. Young people are in a constant state of growth: There’s the physical stuff; the physical transition from childhood to adulthood. But there is more than meets the eye: They are growing their sense of identity, they are constantly testing out their moral compass and making changes to who they are. They are growing their worldview and trying out new ideologies, trying to see what fits best. All in the context of a post-modern, fast moving, upgrading culture. 

In her book 'Practicing Passion', Kenda Creasey Dean calls this the Patchwork self. Young people are constantly applying new and discarding old patches. The Patches represent moral views and cultural nuances.This is the growth context in which we work. And I for one wouldnt change that for the world!

Therefore a growing youth ministry is always changing and responding to the changing reality. Just because it works right now, doesn’t mean it will work tomorrow. I'm convinced that every September is a new start; you may have the same young people, team and environment, but your group will have grown and changed significantly over the past year (or even over the summer). Don’t get complacent and don’t make assumptions!

A growing ministry recognises that youth ministry is a process of observing, responding and shaping your ministry. The youth worker is a contrast tinkerer, tweaking, developing and responding to the changing landscape.

So which is best? Does God want us to have increasing ministries or should we resist growth and keep things small? At the risk of sitting on the fence, I think that the answer is both. Ministry is about seasons, there will be seasons of numerical growth (spring) and new commitments, equally there will be seasons of depth (autumn).

Recently I learned that trees grow all year round. In Spring, the tree grows in height and colour. It is a time when the growth is at its most evident for all to see. The growth seems effortless and the tree is at it's boldest and most striking. In autumn, the tree loses it's colour, it stops growing upward, but it continues to grow. The growth is unseen, in the depths, as the tree grows it's roots. It is much harder to see and celebrate growth and to the untrained eye it seems as if there is no growth at all.

Youth ministry is like a tree. There, I said it. Spring is the season of evangelism and numerical growth. It's not hard for you (and your church) to see the fruits of the growth. You are surrounded by colour and your ministry just seems a bit taller. The hallmarks of a youth ministry spring is increased attendance, increased interest, new relationships being formed and an increased sense of momentum.

The autumn season is marked by unseen growth, but growth is still taking place. In autumn, our groups feel routine, it can be hard to be encouraged and there may be some numberical loss. But it reveals the young people that are not going to last the winter. 
In youth ministry, this is the season to grow deep. Numbers may fall, but this is time to give more attention to less young people.

How can I grow in the Spring season?
If God is calling us to a season of growth, where should I start? Observation. Observe your current situation. Are there any young people in your youth group? Is it possible for them to bring friends? What is the level of buy in from your young people? Involve them in the process. Friends of the young people is the obvious place to start.

But what if you feel called to reach out to a new group of young people? I would start by asking lots of questions: What does mission look like? Who is God calling us to? Is the ‘mission group’ compatible with my existing group? How will discipleship need to look like for this new group?

Young people exist in subcultures: bmxer, sporty, music. Therefore I would advocate a youth ministry that takes this in to consideration. Marko (in the book Youth Ministry 3.0) suggests that youth ministies should have multiple youth ministries to multiple subcultures. He says: 

‘One youth ministry will only reach one kind of kid, one subculture. Multiple youth ministries within the same church have the opportunity to establish contextualised, present (not driven) ministries of communion and mission in multiple youth culture contexts’. Mark Oestreicher

How to grow in the Autumn Season
The autumn season is the time to grow deep. It is the season for discipleship. Think mentoring, exploring the gifts of your young people and allowing them to use them and think integration into wider church. This would be the time to invest in your small groups.

In July's Youthwork Magazine, Krish Kandiah suggests a radical rethink of how we disciple. His reason? 7 out of 10 young people will not make it to their 20’s and still be in church. Inspired by the Sticky Faith initiative, he suggests three ways to stop the rot:

1. Desegregate the church whenever possible
2. Discover the gifts of your young people and allow them to use these to shape the church
3. Reverse that ratio: work towards having five adults investing in every one young person

And finally: Essential building blocks for growth
  • Prayer and discernment: Seek God and observe your environment
  • Be intentional: know what you are setting out to achieve in this season
  • Seek out the right help: Get the right people in the right places that model discipleship and are prepared to commit for a generation
  • Be faithful: To God, to you, to your church
  • Keep moving: Recognise that you never arrive
  • Sell the vision: Get buy in from the whole church. Shout about what you do.