Youthwork Conference and beyond….

Just got back from an intensive weekend of inspiration for youth ministry up in Southport. I say inspirational guardedly, because some of it was a bit naff, but generally, it was great. As much for catching up with friends and colleagues and hearing what God is doing where they are.

After provoking a nice wee discussion with the last post, I came across a quote by a guy called Duffy Robbins (American, if you hadn’t already guessed!) that says it all – “there can be no witness without withness” – I know, slick and cheesy, but at the same time remarkably clear and concise. Comes back to the whole thing about not the ‘how…’ but ‘why…’. We try to get alongside people because we value them as people, and also, because we know of the fullness of life that God promises, and because, yes, it is Jesus or hell (sorry Andrew, I’m gonna have to use that comment more often!).

Another observation would be that it seems that more and more people are realising that the whole emergent church thing, whilst being important in helping us to think about the ‘how’ question, is actually distracting us too much. I saw a load of people this weekend (ok, I’m getting all judgmental now – please forgive me!) who were desperately trying to look like the latest photo shoot in cosmo or GQ. Hairstyles from literally the cutting edge…sorry! But again and again, this issue of authenticity came out. What’s the point of chasing ‘relevance’ if our message is empty because we’ve spent too long thinking about what we look like? And what’s the point of looking like a fashion model if underneath all that we haven’t got the journey with God bit sorted? Last year, Gerard Kelly said something about “don’t bother with looking cool”, this year, someone else said “just love ’em”.

My understanding of being what I’m called to be is that comment. That authenticity, removed of all it’s post-modern dressing up, is about living the life that I talk about with those I work with. After all, if we’re not careful, getting all relevant will just lead us to that passage from Amos again – that whilst getting carried away with religious meetings and quality worship we forget the point of real worship:


Flowing like a river.

Walking side by side with God.

God, let me be truly authentic.


3 thoughts on “

  1. Martin, yes to “authenticity”. There is such a pull within the church scene to be cool and trendy and much of it is just surface stuff. People are really searching for genuineness and there are so many who have never experienced genuine love and care. I am glad that someone in your position (I am guessing you are the DY from what I’ve read in your blog comments) has such an attitude, our young people need to learn this. My son (15 YO) did the rounds of the trendy churches because this was appealling but he soon discovered that he needed more, that all the hype etc lost its attractiveness when he saw the cars that the pastors drove etc etc. He came back to the SA because what he found was genuiness. I struggle sometimes because yes there are huge crowds at some of the happening churches, but there has to be more that a Sunday Performance, what counts is what happens all week.

    God Bless you in your ministry


  2. Very true. Though “coolness” of church and genuineness don’t have to be mutually exclusive. And also, the SA and genuineness do not always go hand in hand.

    Yes, it’s Jesus or hell, but I’m trying to understand at the moment exactly what that means. I think I’m going to blog on it soon.

  3. Totally agree Carl. I think we need to be thinking about new and radical ways to spread the gospel, and particularly about our events so that they are youth culture friendly. At the same time, however, I don’t want to spend the next few years chasing after youth culture. That’s why I want to see youth planning and running the events themselves.

    Agree with your comment about TSA too, mate. I think we do a good deal of genuine stuff, but also dress up and play silly games a lot of the time.

    Will look forward to your stuff on ‘Jesus or Hell’ mate.

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