Redefining Success

A few months ago I was having a conversation with a year 9 pupil at school who told me that he ‘could not do maths’.  I pointed out to him that he was ridiculous, that of course he could do maths, and that almost everything he did involved doing maths. When he walks, he is working out how far to move to legs, the distance, speed, and timings of which to pick up and put down each foot.  When he picks something up, he’s calculating the distance it is away from him, the force of the grip he’ll need, the weight of the object, and the amount of energy required.  All these things he was doing without even thinking about.

This interaction shows us (or at least me) that maths and numbers are important, and a big part of our lives, so it’s no wonder that we often fall into using numbers as our measure for success.

IMG_9620.JPGLast month WYWT had the first “event” that we had put together.  It was a board game evening for young people from ages about 10 to 14.

A week or so before, I was feeling good about the games night. We had recruited 8 adults who were going to be there to help out, we’d advertised to specific parents, as well as generally on social media, and we were encouraging both young people and parents to reach out to people who might be interested.  All in all it was looking like it was going to be a very successful event.  I was half right.

A few days later, I found out that several of the young people I was anticipating attending, were unable, or unwilling to, and that despite having 8 people helping to lead the evening, we’d be lucky to have 10 young people.

Before the young people arrived at 7, we gathered the team together at 6:30 for a bit of training.  The training centred on the purpose behind the evening, not to have hundreds of kids show up and give their lives to God, but for young people to come, and for adults to start building relationships with them as a means of sharing faith.  We looked at how to have conversations with young people, and how to ask questions as a means of building trust, and relationship.  When the kids left at 9, we had a debrief session, where we talked through how it had gone, and most importantly, celebrated our successes- not how many young people had shown up, but the things we had learned about the young people.  These were seemingly small things, like the fact that one boy had just got a memory foam mattress, or that one girl played on her school basketball team, but there are the things that will make a difference, and the next time we see these young people, and we can ask specific follow-up questions, will communicate care and interest in them.

In the end, we had 8 leaders, and 6 young people. While at face value this does not look like success, by all means it was.  Our team learned that they could build relationship with young people.  They learned that they aren’t as irrelevant as they thought they might be.  They learned that people of all ages could come together without it feeling awkward and not really working.  And finally, they learned things about the young people that they can follow-up with when they see them again.

That, to me, is success.

Hold On To What Is Deer

Depending on your personality and grasp of the English language, right now your fingers might be twitching towards the “comment” button to point out that I’ve used the wrong form of “dear”, but stick with it and (hopefully) it will make sense in a couple of paragraphs.

A few weeks ago, WYWT attended a learning community.  This learning community has been a 2 year cycle that we have now come to the end of.  The idea behind them is that every 6 months different youth work teams come together for a bit of youth work training, setting the vision for youth work, and to plan on the priorities for the next months for each ministry.  In between these conferences, the key leaders from each team meet for coaching on these 6 month goals and to pray for each other.

This conference was the fourth and final on this 2 year cycle, and the focus was Legacy.

I know that in my life I have noticed that for better or worse, people are very good at naturally replicating themselves in others. Often this is a good thing, when you see yourself having a positive effect on others, but there are times when it is less than desirable.  I’ve never been a parent, but I have discipled people before, and one of the times that I feel the biggest letdown as a discipler is when I see shortcomings from my own life replicated in the life of those I disciple.  One of the key ideas at this conference was that in order to build legacy that represents what we stand for as a ministry, we must first examine what is core to us. The picture we were given was of a 3-year old with their safety blanket, and when put in the position of giving it up had a meltdown.  We were then challenged to think through the things about our identity that we wanted to protect with that much fervour.

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For WYWT, this came down to four things:

  • Discipleship
  • Evangelistic (Missional)
  • Ecumenical
  • Relational

Potentially, these phrases won’t all make sense to you, so here’s a brief description of what they mean generally, and specifically to WYWT.

1. Discipleship

Dallas Willard describes discipleship as ‘the process of becoming who Jesus would be if He were you.’ I really like this picture of moving towards the same goal of being like Jesus, but keeping the individuality of who you are.  This is the heart of discipleship, and something that is key for us, both for all of us working for/with WYWT, and the picture that we want to instil in all the young people that we are working with as we help them to navigate this.

2. Evangelistic (Missional)

Personally, I prefer the word ‘missional’ to the word ‘evangelistic’, but missional doesn’t work as well when I was trying to come up with an acronym, and I really like the “deer” acronym as a means of remembering our core values.  Being a missionary usually conjures up the idea of going overseas, but in todays world we need domestic missionaries as much as international ones.  Being missional is the idea that church is not just for the people who are already going, but for everyone, and in the world we are now a part of we can no longer expect the world to come to us, but we need to be stepping into their context and being a light in their setting.  Being evangelistic is about helping people to move closer to God; it’s the same idea, but being missional (to me) implies a higher level of intentionality that I think is important.

3. Ecumenical

Ecumenical is just a fancy word to say that the different denominations of the Church are working together on one venture.  One of the proudest facets of WYWT is the fact that 3 of the major churches in Woodstock are all involved with and supporting us.  This is definitely something we want to hold onto.

4. Relational

Being relational feeds in really nicely to being missional.  It’s the idea of being intentional in relationships as a means of sharing life and faith to cultivate that interest in others. Young people today have a vacuum in their lives for people that believe in them and take the time to care for them.  This leaves the perfect opportunity for us to step in and fill that role in their lives as a basis for being missional and doing discipleship.

These are the 4 values that are core to WYWT, and are at the centre of all that we decide to do.  Hopefully now you can see how these factor into all the different things that we do and run.

 

Prayer Spaces

 

As I’m sure you picked up, a couple of weeks ago we had our Prayer Spaces.  It was a huge success, and couldn’t have been done without everyone’s help and support, so if you’re one of the people that helped it happen: THANK YOU!

If you’re interested in seeing what Prayer Spaces actually looked like, here’s a quick post to give you a run down of the different stations to journey through, and what they were for.


1. Hopes and Dreams

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The first station was called “Hopes and Dreams”, were the students were encouraged to write their hopes and dreams onto an acetate, and hang it up from string that was hanging around the room.  The end result was that all their hopes and dreams looked like Nepal Prayer Flags.

 

 


2. Our World

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“Our World” was an opportunity for the students to reflect on the world around them.  Whether they no people or events that are happening around the world, it provides a space for them to sit, reflect, and pray for the world around that they’re a part of.


3. Forgiveness
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“Forgiveness” is  all about letting go of the ways that you’ve been hurt by others in your life.  Whether that was intentional, unintentionally, or even unknown, this station gave the students an opportunity to sit quietly, and listen to an MP3 track that walked them through the process of letting go.


4. Thank You

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“Thank You” was the station where students could reflect on all the things that they are thankful for, write it on a post-it and stick it onto the wall in the form of a prayer.

 

 

 


5. Big Questions

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What are some of the “Big Questions” that you have?  At this station, the students were invited to think about what questions they have about the world around them, then write it on a piece of cardboard, and hang it up as a way of giving it over to God.


6. Please

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The bubble tube was very popular for the students to sit and reflect on the things that were worrying them, or that they wanted to ask for.  Then they wrote their “Please” on a post-it and stuck it onto the bubble tube.


7. Pipe People

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“Pipe People” was the station for the students to reflect and pray for the important people in their lives.  As they use a pipe cleaner to make a representation of their significant person, they were encouraged to reflect on what they like about that person, and how they  can go and say thank you to them for that.


8. Sorry Sand

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Saying sorry is the other half of forgiveness.  At “Sorry Sand”, students were given the opportunity to write the word ‘sorry’ in the sand, and then wipe it away as a reflection of how when we repent, Jesus wipes away our sins.


All in all, Prayer Spaces was a really good week.  So if you were involved AT ALL in making it happen, or praying for us, then you can rest assured that your name is on our metaphorical “Thank You” wall, and we really are thankful for you!

Watch this space for more updates on some highlights of how Prayer Spaces went.

Co-Labourers

Recently, as part of my Bible reading, I have been journeying through the New Testament, starting with Acts and have now made it all the way to Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians.  Upon reading that, I came across the following verse.

“Our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”

-2 Corinthians 1:7

Paul’s intentions in writing this were to convey encouragement to the people of Corinth that while they undergo suffering, they can be hopeful, as Paul himself had come through similar suffering and God sustained him.

Something slightly different stuck out to me, though.

What stuck out to me, is the idea of “co-labourers”; the idea that are we all working for common purpose, and common goals.  In the journey to get Woodstock Youth Work Trust as an existing entity, there has been joys, successes, frustrations and failures, and if you are reading this, then you have been a co-labourer for at least part of that journey.

By taking interest, liking the Facebook page, following us on Twitter, praying for us, capturing the vision in any way, you have become a co-labourer. By becoming a co-labouring, you have shared and are sharing in both our sufferings, and our comforts.  By sharing in our sufferings and our comforts, our hope for you is firm.

We could not be more thankful for your co-labouring.

Thank you for joining us on the journey, and hopefully you stay with us on the journey ahead.

Walking Together. Stepping Out.

Walking Together- Even when it feels like we’re walking alone, there are always those who are on the same journey that we can be in community with.

Stepping Out- We are called to go where God is calling us, and often, be counter-cultural in how we approach others with our faith.

This is the idea behind the Southern Counties Baptist Association (SCBA) pioneers community day that we were invited to attend today at Winchester Baptist Church.  It was an opportunity for the leaders of pioneering movements across the southern counties to come together, pray, worship, and encourage one another.

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Some highlights from the day:

  • Arriving and having a name tag with not just my name, but making me an official representative of WYWT- it was one of those small moments that really struck me that we are official!
  • Worshiping God with a room of 65 other people who have all committed to being obedient to God, and reaching out to their communities.
  • Networking with some other people who are doing youth work in schools, and hearing their heart for the next generation.
  • Sharing my vision, and encouraging people looking how to make the next steps with the young people in their church.
  • Praying for the good works of others, and having our labour prayed for.

It is always a blessing to go to events like this, and be encouraged by all the ways that God is working across the UK.  Whether it is with young people, in allotments, or in new residential areas, today was a great reminder that God is doing things not just in Woodstock, but all across the UK.

Thanks to SCBA for putting the day together for us!

New Logo

If you’ve been clicking around on our website recently, you may have noticed that we have a shiny new logo.  In case you’ve someone missed it, but are reading this, then here’s a look at it:

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The exciting thing about this logo, is that it was made a year 11 student, Harry Rolfe, at Marlborough.  This really promotes what we’re trying to do at Woodstock Youth Work Trust, and give teenagers from this community opportunities to explores their gifts and strengths.

We hope you like it as much as we do!

New Website

Well, if you’re reading this, you have probably discovered this already, but WYWT now has it’s own website! Feel free to have a click around and see what you think- and if you find any problems/blogs, then head over to the “contact” page and send a message over and we will do our best to fix the problem!

Thanks for taking an interest, and hopefully we will hear from you soon.

-Matt