Children’s & Youth Work links

Here’s some links from the last few weeks that are worth taking a few minutes to read if you’re involved in children’s and youth work:

3 Ways to Use Student Leaders in Your Ministry: Austin McCann gives three great ways you can use young leaders in your youth ministry.

Gertrude Ederle’s Channel swim: an inspiring story of how at the age of 19, she crossed the 21-mile Channel in 14 hours and 45 minutes, beating the male record holder by more than two hours.

7 Ways To Cultivate Spiritual Curiosity: if we want our young people to ask questions about their faith, we have to cultivate spiritual curiosity argues Jen Bradbury.

Game – Full Speed Dictionary: an old classic for that moment when you need a game and have limited time to plan and nothing but paper and pen.

Helping young people take action on social justice issues: Latasha Morrison shares how we can help students create conversations about social justice issues in their communities.

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Welcoming people to church

Ben and the team over at the Diocese of Portsmouth have shared some brilliant resources by Margaret Pritchard Houston from St. Albans Diocese that your church can use to help welcome people:

Newcomers who aren’t familiar with what happens at church may be nervous and feel unsettled and conspicuous. I’ve made some simple handouts that you can make available when people come to church.

There’s a version for younger children, with very simple language, and a version for older children and adults, with some more detail. The explanations in the version for older children and adults are designed to be autism-friendly.

There’s also a sheet you can fill in with details about your specific church – where the toilets are, what happens after the service, etc. – to help people feel at home in your building. This is included in the PDF file, but there’s an editable Word version as well, so you can type your explanations in, instead of having to handwrite them!

Please note: when filling in the “Our Church” sheet, avoid jargon!  For example, here are two ways to answer the question “what books or leaflets will I need for the service?”

  • WRONG: The hymnal will be used for the processional, gradual, offertory, and recessional hymns – the insert will be used for the Psalm. Today’s lectionary readings are found on the insert, while the rest of the congregation’s words for the Eucharist may be found in the seasonal service sheet for Epiphany.
  • RIGHT: The green book has the words for the songs in it. We call these songs “hymns.” The vicar will tell you what number to turn to for every hymn.  The words we all say together are found in the leaflet with the coloured cover – we use different colours at different times of year.  When there’s a Bible reading, the words for that are on the sheet with the red top that’s stuck inside the leaflet with the coloured cover. One of these readings is a song from the Bible called a Psalm, which we all sing together. If you get confused, feel free look over someone’s shoulder to see what they’re doing, or ask someone sitting near you.

Resources

Teen carries brother for a whopping 111 miles to raise awareness of Cerebral Palsy

16-year-old Hunter Gandee and his brother, Braden, walked 111 miles — from his hometown of Temperance, Michigan, to the steps of the state capitol.  Hunter carried Braden almost all the way.

The feat was part of the Cerebral Palsy Swagger, an annual walk designed to raise awareness for the disorder. It’s been happening since 2014, when Hunter carried Braden for 40 miles. This trip took the pair five days. They left on April 20 and arrived April 25.

“Our goal is to get the attention of our up and coming leaders, doctors, engineers and entrepreneurs and show them the face of cerebral palsy,” reads the event’s Facebook page.

Organisers hope that increased attention on cerebral palsy will lead to increased focus and innovation when it comes to treating the condition.

This year, Hunter and his companions walked through numerous Michigan towns, stopping every few miles to rest and refuel.  They finally arrived at Lansing’s capitol building on Monday evening.

Acne and exam stress key factors that lead young people to suicide

Exam stress, acne and asthma are among the anxieties affecting children and young people who kill themselves, according to the first ever detailed national investigation of these cases.

Between January 2014 and April 2015, there were 145 suicides in England by children and young people aged 10 to 19. An inquiry looking at 130 of the cases has found some common factors, or “antecedents”, which the researchers hope may help families, friends, teachers or others to become aware that a child is struggling.

More than half (54%) of the 130 had self-harmed and 27% had expressed suicidal ideas in the week before they died, while in 16 cases (12%), they had searched online for information on it. But 43% had not been in contact with the health service or any other agency.

More than a third (36%) had sought help for some sort of medical condition, the most common being acne and asthma, while 27% were dealing with academic pressures, says the report.  Of the 20 young people facing current or pending exams or awaiting results, 11 were known to be stressed by their exams and four died on the day of an exam or the day after.

More than a quarter of the young people (28%) had recently experienced the death of somebody close to them, and six had lost more than one. Nine had lost a parent, while 17 (13%) had experienced the suicide of either somebody in their family or a friend.

More than a fifth (22%) had been bullied in previous months, mostly face to face (93%). Eight had been targeted by online bullying – as well as face to face or instead of it. Mostly the bullying had occurred more than three months before the person died, but in eight cases it was more recent.

The findings come from the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness, a collaboration of academics and other experts, who have collected data from Coroners’ inquests, official investigations and other case reviews.

The report, summarised in a paper in the Lancet Psychiatry journal, is the first of its kind.  Prof Louis Appleby, director of the inquiry at the University of Manchester said

“There haven’t been very systematic studies of a very young group.  Suicide is one of the main causes of death but it is not at all common. What is happening in their lives? That is the question we started with.”

The suicide rate is very low among the youngest children – there were 11 cases under the age of 15 in the year. But Appleby said: “Something happens to them in that five-year period from 15 to 20.”  At each age after 15, there is a significant jump in the numbers, reaching 49 at the age of 19. Most – 70% – are male.

Do read the rest of the Guardian article to understand the reason for this significant jump.

A learning opportunity from Tearfund

Our vision of God’s Kingdom coming here on earth includes a fair and sustainable world where all people can flourish, and creation is cared for.

To get there, we need a prophetic movement of people working for transformation in the way we live our daily lives, as well as political change on poverty, the environment and inequality. We believe the church is a crucial part of this movement, and so at Tearfund we’re working to enable more Christians to be part of this change.

Does this idea excite you? Would you like to come together with others to develop and hone your change-making skills?

We’re working together with Christian Aid, the URC and CAFOD to take a group of people on a year-long learning journey. It’ll start with a weekend retreat (in Manchester) on 16-17th July where we’ll be learning about community organising from the Centre for Theology and Community. Going forward from the retreat there will be support, coaching and regular input from Tearfund and from each other.

If you are interested in this, please email us (campaigns@tearfund.org) ASAP for more details. Please do also forward this email onto others you think might be interested.

Thanks,

Billie Anderson
Tearfund Campaigns

PS We’d also love to hear your stories of how you or your church are already part of this prophetic movement for change, do email them to us!

Liverpool FC sign Loris Karius from FSV Mainz

Liverpool today officially completed the signing of FSV Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius in a bargain £4.7M deal.

Having already secured the services of Joel Matip and Marko Grujic for next season, Liverpool have today completed the signing of Loris Karius after the club triggered his £4.7M release clause. The goalkeeper will officially become a Liverpool player at the start of next month, and the club have officially announced his signing today.

With Matip a free transfer and Grujic signed in Janaury before being loaned straight back to Red Star Belgrade, Karius is the first paid transfer of the summer for Liverpool, and given his low release clause it’s quite the bargain for a player voted second best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga last season by his peers. The only shot stopper rated higher was Manuel Neuer.

Loris Karius

Karius will arrive at Liverpool expecting to become the starting goalkeeper, and he will look to use that as a platform to succeed Neuer as Germany’s goalkeeper following the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The only question is how long it takes him to become Liverpool’s starter, which could be complicated by rumours he will be called up to Germany’s Olympic squad.

If so, it would mean he will miss his first pre-season with the Reds, potentially allowing Mignolet to hold on to the number one job for at least a little while longer. Karius spent two and a half seasons with Manchester City, leaving him six months shy of being eligible to count as homegrown. He started 36 games for FSV Mainz last season and recorded ten clean sheets.

In total, the 22-year-old has made 96 senior appearances for Mainz since he moved there from City in January of 2013. Though he has yet to make a single senior appearance for the German team, he has represented his country at every youth level, and getting him signed quickly was a priority for Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool’s staff following the end of the season.

Jürgen Klopp said:

“I am really pleased that we were able to move so quickly to get him and that Loris has shown such a desire to come to Liverpool with a lot of other clubs interested in him.  I know he will add to the quality we have in this position and I look forward to working with him and all our players when we return for pre-season.”

Teenage pregnancy rate halved in Hampshire

Teenage pregnancy rates across Hampshire have more than halved over the last 16 years according to figures from the Office of National Statistics, thanks to a sustained and successful multi-agency focus.

Councillor Keith Mans, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, said:

“This is really good news and shows that the County Council’s investment in education programmes targeting young people over the years is paying off.

“Working to reduce the rate of teenage conceptions among girls aged 15-17 is a priority in the Hampshire Children and Young People’s Plan (CYPP 2015-18). The focus, commitment and hard work of all the partner agencies has seen the teenage conception rate reduce year on year since 2009. For young people who go on to become young parents, support is available to ensure positive outcomes for them and their children.

“Data over the years has shown that teenage parents tend to do less well at school and are more likely to become NEETs (not in education, employment or training). This means that they often face a future of low paid jobs or unemployment. In turn, the children of teenage parents are more likely to live in poverty and are more likely to become teenage parents themselves. Reducing the number of teenage conceptions has been a priority for the Council for many years and a lot of work has gone into identifying the most vulnerable teenagers in the county and supporting them with information so that they are able to make informed safer sex and lifestyle choices.”

In Hampshire free multi agency SRE training is provided for all practitioners working with young people. ‘Girl Talk, Boy Talk’ is a single gender SRE programme delivered in small groups. This programme is aimed at supporting young people make positive choices around relationships and sexual health.

Sexual health information, advice and contraception services are provided by the specialist integrated sexual health service and access to free condoms is available from a number of trained advisors across Hampshire. Young women can access free emergency hormonal contraception from many accredited pharmacies in Hampshire. The ‘Get It On‘ website has full details of available local services.

Overall Hampshire has seen a 55.7 per cent reduction in teenage conception rates since 1998 to 2014, with rates steadily declining in all 11 districts in Hampshire. This is above the national reduction of 51.1 per cent and South East region reduction of 50.3 per cent.

The Hampshire annual 2014 provisional teenage conception rate was 15.9 per 1,000 female population aged 15 to 17. This is an 18.5 per cent reduction from 2013 when there were 465 conceptions compared to 377 conceptions in 2014.

 

What do you want from a sermon?

Christian Research has recently published a report on what people look for from a sermon?  Some of their key findings include:

Most Christians still believe sermons are important, but wish vicars would stop trying to be funny. In a survey launched by Resonate on 21st April, only 1.6% said they saw humour to be the most important element in a sermon. Men in particular said they felt Biblical exposition to be the most important aspect in a sermon, at 49%, with women at 39%. Sermons containing more practical application elements were seen more favourably by women, at 44% versus 36% for men. When asked if they felt sermons on the whole were outdated, 88% of the respondents either disagreed or strongly disagreed.

2016-05_sermons2016-05_male-and-female-preachers2016-05_young-people

 

Exam tips for young people

Here’s some tips we’ve put together for young people and parents for dealing with revision and exams.  You can download a pdf version here.

Revision

As Benjamin Franklin said: “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”

 

  • Have a revision timetable but make sure it is realistic!
  • You need a balance of revision and relaxation. Always take one day off a week from school work, no matter how much pressure you feel, God     designed us to have one day’s rest per week.
  • Split the day into three: morning, afternoon and evening – use two of the three for focussed study and revision – the other is for relaxing and exercise.
  • Revise for an hour and then stop. Have a break, have a kit kat!  Then come back to it.  Take time to switch off and do something completely different.

 

  • Organise your place of revision – make sure you have your notes, text books, writing implements, computer, drink and nibbles etc. all in easy reach.
  • Create a playlist of motivational music to get you going.

 

  • Ensure that you have regular food and drink, and exercise breaks – exercise helps to release endorphins – the feel good feeling and is an important stress factor.

 

Different ways to learn include:

  • Going through past papers (and model answers) is often very helpful.
  • Read it, doodle it, hear it, write it, speak it, etc, the more different ways you find to express it the more you will remember – also be aware that your teacher’s favourite teaching style may not be your best learning style.
  • Use different colours so you can quickly scan the really important stuff.
  • Make short notes, revise them the following day, then a week later. Repetition transfers info from short to longer term memory.       Cramming is not productive.

 

  • Stop all electronics at least half hour before bed.
  • Make sure you still make time for the one thing you love, the thing that fuels your energy rather than just saps it.
  • Get your parents to chill a bit!

 

The Exam

  • Get a good night’s sleep, set your alarm, have a good breakfast and give yourself plenty of time, allowing for traffic hold ups, etc.
  • Check you have all your necessary stationary and equipment, including a watch!

 

  • Know exactly where the exam is going to be held – I still have nightmares about not being able to find the right room and I left school a long time ago!
  • Go to the toilet before the exam.
  • Avoid talking to people about the exam, what you have revised etc., while waiting to go in as it can make you feel nervous that you haven’t revised enough – instead make plans for fun things to do after the exams or chat about last night’s TV!

 

  • Listen carefully to any instructions, read the top sheet and complete it properly.
  • Know your candidate number.

 

  • Always take a deep breath before you start and know that people are praying for you
  • Go for it – if you don’t know the answer go onto the next one – don’t sit there panicking.
  • Read all the questions and make sure you know what you are being asked. Possibly start with stuff you are comfortable with, which may not necessarily be the first question.
  • Know how much time to spend on each question. Time is crucial in exams – don’t waste it.  If a question is only worth a few marks don’t spend ages on it.  Always answer multiple choice questions even if it’s only a guess.
  • If something is not clear then ask (just not the person sat next to you!)
  • Check all sides of the paper – don’t miss a back page!
  • Label all answers clearly and be as neat as you can. Show all working out and attach any notes made on questions you fail to complete.
  • Leave 5 minutes at the end to go through and tidy up.

 

Supporting transitions in children’s & youth work

Here are my notes from a session I led at Moorlands College on the area of transition – reflecting on transition from pre-school to primary school; primary school to secondary school and out of secondary school.  The powerpoint can be found here.

Introduction

Psalm 84 challenges us to a holistic view of children’s and youth ministry.  To help meet the physical, social, emotional, and mental needs as well as their spiritual needs.

 

Transition is a critical area for children’s and youth ministry.  In the 0-18 age group there are three major transition periods:

  • Moving to primary school
  • Moving to secondary school
  • Moving to university or apprenticeship or work

 

Outside of these three main areas we must also reflect on the occasional transitions that happen with moving home or parents work place changing, for example Forces families.

 

Each of these transitions has four contexts for the child or young person

  • Education
  • Church
  • Social
  • Home

 

If we are attempting to deliver a children’s and youth ministry that is holistic, as I believe we are challenged to do from scripture, than we need to attempt to engage and support each of these four areas.

 

The largest UK based report into transition is unsurprisingly based in education.  The Government have for many years sponsored the EPPSE 3-14 research (Effective Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education 3-14 Project).  This is led by researchers from the University of Oxford, Institute of Education (University of London), and the University of Nottingham.

 

It examines transitions across six Local Authorities with a range of pre-schools, primary and secondary schools, children and parents participating in the research.

 

Pre-school

Preschool children

Toddlers see the biggest transition in our lifetime.  Their development physically, socially, mentally, morally and religiously outstrips any other point in their lifetime.

Education

In partnership with our two local pre-schools we are involved in supporting trips to the local primary schools for the taster sessions.  This brings a bigger sense of continuity for the children as we are involved regularly in the pre-school and their Infant education through Collective Worship, RE, pastoral care and trips.

Get Ready Go
In July we give each child a copy of Get Ready Go! which is a Scripture Union resource helping both the child and parents to think abut getting ready for the big adventure of starting school.  The main booklet uses simple words, colourful artwork and fun activities to explain what school is going to be like during the excitement of their first term together.
But that’s not all, Get Ready, Go! comes with a companion guide for parents, packed full of advice on:

  • parents evenings
  • working with your child
  • looking at school through the eyes of a child
  • dealing with bullying
  • leaving your child at the school gates

and much more so that they can help their child on their way to primary school.

 

Another tool we have found to be helpful is the You’re not Alone guide from the Evangelical Alliance.

 

Church & Social

  • Toddler Groups
  • Sunday Groups are run across age boundaries to ensure the transition doesn’t happen at the same time.

 

Home

Faith Development

I have found that when working with parents, running a session on development can be really helpful.  Parents worry about their child, especially if it is their first.  Everything is so unknown.  It is helpful for them to see that as we look at how children develop, if we look with a big picture, we can make some broad generalisations, some broad brush strokes.  I’ve often used these diagrams from Core Skills for Children’s Work which is written by The Consultative Group on Ministry among Children, a inter-denominational group.

 

Parents find these reassuring to be able to plot where their child is on these diagrams.  To see that to some degree their child is average or normal.

 

Secondary school

secondary school

Helpfully in the latest EPPSE secondary transition research the team identified five keys to a successful transition:

 

  • developing new friendships and improving their self esteem and confidence
  • having settled so well in school life that they caused no concerns to their parents
  • showing an increasing interest in school and school work
  • getting used to their new routines and school organisation with great ease
  • experiencing curriculum continuity.

 

Education

In terms of school transition this requires partnership working between primary and secondary schools.  In my experience this can be patchy, and churches can play a role in helping to strengthen this relationship.

 

Other things that promoted a positive transition among children included: looking forward to going to secondary school; the friendliness of the older children at secondary school and those in their class; having moved to the same secondary school with most of their primary school friends; having older siblings who could offer them advice and support; and finding their new school work interesting.

 

Overall, children with special educational needs (SEN) or those from other vulnerable groups did not experience a less successful transition than other children. However, the survey data did highlight some interesting findings. Children with SEN, approximately 20 per cent of children in the sample, were more likely to be bullied – which is a key inhibitor of a successful transition. Out of the 110 children with SEN in the sample 37 per cent had problems with bullying compared with 25 per cent of children without SEN who had problems with bullying. On the positive side, children with SEN and other health problems were experiencing greater curriculum continuity between Years 6 and 7. It may be that the earlier and more individual transfer process that these children experience has prepared them better for the move and the work they will do in Year 7.

 

Of the 102 children living in low SES households 72 per cent did not get used to the new routines with great ease and 58 per cent did not settle in very well. In comparison, of the 186 high SES children, 50 per cent did not get used to the new routines with great ease and 39 per cent did not settle in so well that they would cause no concern to their parents. However, children of low SES did look forward to secondary school, which had a positive effect on them developing an interest in school and school work.

 

It's your move landscape

We support schools by providing a one hour It’s Your Move lesson that helps young people to explore changes, challenges and

This links heavily to the It’s Your Choice resource from Scripture Union which we give every Year 6 pupil in our parish a copy of.

 

In addition we provide transition support for SEN and vulnerable children from the May half-term, by working with the two main secondary schools to host an afternoon session at their school each week.  This brings together 10-12 children from the area to provide a stronger transition with additional time to meet teachers, learn their way around the building etc.

 

Church & Social

What is particularly alarming is the rate at which we are losing those who grow up in the Church, but whose faith does not transition into adulthood. According to Christian Research, the Church in the UK will have lost an estimated 1.1 million children between 1990 and 2020. They also predict that in the year 2020, 183,700 children aged under-15 will attend church compared to 375,300 in 2010. Unless we do something about it now.

 

According to statistician Peter Brierley, it is possible to buck the trend if action is taken. He says the number of youth workers in recent years has meant that the Church has not lost as many young people as it could have done. He says that fewer people have left the Church than would have if we had not had as many of these dedicated workers.

A mere 104,200 under-15s left the Church between 1998 and 2005, compared to a predicted 256,000. A job well done? Clearly not. The Bible tasks us in Proverbs 22:6 to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”. With so many children choosing not to stick with the faith, have we failed? And what can we do about it now?

The Evangelical Alliance research ‘How’s the Family?’, revealed that 45.5 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement that “in my church many young people have stopped attending on Sundays in their teenage years”. There is lots of research about just why this is.  Most of the religious beliefs, behaviours and expectations that define a person’s life have been developed and embraced by the age of 13, according to Christian Research. If there isn’t a firm foundation in the Bible and the Christian life before that, children are more susceptible to succumbing to peer pressure, to doubting the faith and seeing church life as alien to the real world.

 

Research by Peter Brierley suggests that a thousand under-15s were leaving the church each week through the nineties, and, more recently, that the key time for early adolescents to leave the church is at the end of Junior/Primary school.  Peter’s research findings underlined that 11-14s are not happy with formality.  They want a more relaxed atmosphere, where it’s okay to wear what you like, sit comfortably, talk and enjoy meeting with others.  They key factor above even all of this, is relationships.  The lack of other young people of the same age, and unfriendliness from adults is the major reason why young people leave the church.

 

Early adolescence is the second most transformative time for a person developmentally, second to toddlerhood.  For the first time, they have the ability to make decisions for themselves, including whether they want to go to church or not (and early teenagers don’t want to do anything but sleep and eat).

 

The tweenagers and early teenagers go through so many transitions during this time period, whether it’s at school or in the home.  With so many transitions, they need a place that is stable.

 

This is a range of what we’ve done over the last few years

  • writing to all year 6s inviting them to the new groups at Easter
  • having youth leaders visit the children’s groups in advance of the change
  • having the children’s leaders (especially Junior Leaders) come into the youth groups for a few weeks to help them settle
  • joint leadership meetings between the volunteer teams to pass on pastoral awareness
  • formally offering transport to help any young people who are suddenly expected to get themselves to and from church
  • buddy system for young leaders from the youth team to support more vulnerable children.
  • opportunity for mentoring
  • one or two youth leaders attend special children’s activities such as children’s weekend away and the Holiday Club to work with the year 6s

 

Home

Parents by this stage are often more confident but are still nervous of these changes, especially around the area of latch-key kids and mobile phones and social media.

 

Each year we host a parents meeting to explain all the activities and options to them to help them understand what we can offer.

 

Sticky Faith

Sticky Faith logo

  • Intergenerational Insight #1: Involvement in all-church worship during high school is more consistently linked with mature faith in both high school and college than any other form of church participation.
  • Intergenerational Insight #2: The more students serve and build relationships with younger children, the more likely it is that their faith will stick.
  • Intergenerational Insight #3: High school seniors don’t feel supported by adults in their congregations.
  • Intergenerational Insight #4: By far, the number-one way that churches made the teens in our survey feel welcomed and valued was when adults in the congregation showed interest in them.

 

 

University / Apprenticeship / Work

University Drop Off

Finishing sixth form or college has gradually becoming another transition into the next stage of education rather than a time of adult-like living.  Certainly, there are adult characteristics in every university-age person, but we can also make the mistake of viewing them as more stable than maybe they really are.  University or Apprenticeship years have become a late adolescent stage of exploration versus a time of consistent maturity.

 

This is a range of what we’ve done over the last few years

  • Preparation for applying to uni/work
  • Summer term dedicated to Psalms and topics relevant to Yr 13s
  • Mentoring relationships adjusted and cemented
  • BBQ – including adults sharing their positive and negative experiences of the next stage
  • Goody bag and prayerful goodbye from church as missionaries
  • Postcards, chocolate and dominoes throughout the term
  • Where possible university visits

apprenticeships

Do NOT forget those who take other paths.