Schools Visits

I’ve been completely blown away this week. A matter of months ago, I had no idea we even had a Methodist school, but now I’m completely blown away by the work they do.
This week I’ve visited four Methodist schools:

· Hippings, Oswaldtwistle
· Westleigh, Leigh
· St Andrew’s, Salford
· Rosehill, Ashton-under-Lyne

All four of these schools have a lot in common; they all have good or outstanding Ofsted reports, all have enthusiastic, well-behaved kids, all have a strong Christian ethos, and all are meeting a need in their community.

All of them are placed in the vicinity of deprived estates, therefore a lot of their kids come from these less advantaged backgrounds. The schools are a place of support and advice for the parents and all of the family, and in some cases are the first port of call whenever there is a problem.

I guess this is where we should be as a church. I spoke to one head, who saw her school as ‘the church’s mission’. What these schools are doing is what we should be doing as churches! These schools are going out to those who are in need, are meeting a need in their communities – what a lesson we, as a church, could learn from that.

I talked to a lot of kids and asked them what they thought of church – most answers were that church is dull and boring, they don’t know when to stand up or sit down, or they have no interest in it (there were some positive ones thrown in too!); then when I asked them what they thought of their morning worship in school, it was completely different! They were able to participate, they sang good songs, they were allowed to have a bit of a laugh...again, what a lesson we can learn as a church. How much of our worship is fun and engaging without being patronising to these kids who are actually very capable of a mature spirituality!

I’ve had my eyes widely opened this week, to what an asset we have in our Methodist schools.

Let’s pray for them, and the continuing part they have to play in our church.

OPPs & Schools visits

It's an exciting, but very busy time at the moment! With meetings about Greenbelt, Bible Project, Connecting Disciples, Interfaith Organisations, JPIT, YPS Reference Group, a week of schools visits, Methodist Council and the small matter of a National Methodist Student Conference; there are a few busy weeks coming up!

I feel very proud, as should you, to be a part of a church that does so many exciting things! We should be celebrating more and more of that.

As you know, our OPPs are currently in Tajikisthan - they especially need your prayers! It seems strange to think that we're already thinking about next years intake of One Programme Participants. If you know of any projects that you think will make good OPP placements, either get in touch with your local PPM or with me and we can start the application process!

Next week, I'm visiting four North West schools in the North West region. I've never claimed to be a children's worker, and schools work is something that lies way outside of my comfort zone!!

However...I've definitely got used to being thrown in at the deep end, and I actually think that doing some work in the Methodist schools is crucial to our work as a church. In our 65 schools, most are not from church backgrounds, and often they are from families that aren't quite so well off as others.

These are the children and young people that we need to be working with! These are the children and young people that we should be trying to share the word of God with, in as creative a way as possible.

I'm feeling very nervous about next week, but I can see that it is realy valuable work - your prayers would be very much appreciated :)

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Some people seem to think that the fact its a new year changes doesn’t. I arrived at the first cell group of 2012, and yes they were still annoying and rowdy and messy as all good youth groups are!

The spend most of their time moaning that I’m never there! I would like to take this opportunity to say that this is not the case, and I never miss it on purpose. I, in fact, love leading my cell group. Its probably one of the most infuriating yet at the same time rewarding things I do with my week!

I want to share with you what I did with my Cell Group yesterday, and want to challenge you to do it yourself as we head into the new year...

Take some time to think about what it is you’re hoping for this year. What do you want to be proud of by the time 2013 comes around? What changes do you want to have made to your lifestyle? What resolutions do you want to have kept?

Think about some of the big decisions that might be coming up... Which job to go for? Which Uni to go for? Which sixth form to go to? Which church to go to?

Make list of a few of the hopes and dreams you have for 2012, and write them on a piece of paper and seal them in an envelope.

As you seal the envelope, take some time to reflect on this verse from scripture...

I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

Jeremiah 29:10-11 (The Message)

Think about what this verse means for you as you go into this new year. Think about the incredible promise that God has made us, the part we have to play in his place.

In the lead up to Christmas, I’m sure we’ll all have read about the extraordinary thing that God called Mary to, let’s all be excited NOW for the extraordinary things that God has in store for us as individuals, for us as Methodists, for us as part of a global Christian movement.

I pray that you are richly blessed in 2012, and maybe that you’ll consider some of these things in your prayers this year...

· OPPs trip to Tajikistan
· Think. Talk. Be (an exciting new project you’ll be hearing lots more about very soon!)
· Connecting Disciples Conference
· Methodist Israel & Palestine Visit
· YPS Review