Thursday, 10 February 2011

Culture Clash

I’ve had this blog for a few months and struggled a bit with what to write in it. I could recount tales of my exciting travels around the district- although as a lot of my work involves sitting at my desk and phoning/emailing/planning, that might prove a little boring! Besides- I write another blog as youth president of the Methodist church where I do that and I wanted to do something a bit different with this one. So I thought instead I could use this blog to reflect on the real issues of participation. It’s all very well throwing the word around, but what does it mean to real people in real churches? What are the challenges? What are the rewards?

Recently I was in a church hall having a meal after the service, when someone came up to me and asked what I would do about a “culture clash” that had just occurred. Some young men had come into the hall for the meal and were wearing baseball caps. A few older ladies who regularly attended the church were deeply offended by this and found it to be highly disrespectful- but to those boys, it didn’t even cross their minds that wearing their hats might upset someone. It was just an issue of fashion.  In another church one of the workers pointed out that a lot of the older people in the church feel detached from the young people because they seem so different. Stories like these are fairly common in a lot of churches and it made me think- 

When different ages come together in church is it really a clash of cultures and is there more to it than just age?

And something for you to think about-

How would you respond if this happened in your church?

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Who, What, Where, When, Why?

One girl- Christy-Anna Errington
One Year- 2010/11
One District- Southampton

It’s a difficult concept in a society that is used to power being so unevenly distributed, but true participation means consulting everyone- especially in things that directly affect them.
It’s not simple and certainly not easy, but the starting point has to be respect and a willingness to listen from everyone involved.
Participation is
-          Active involvement
-          Being a contributor, not just a consumer
-          Having a say and being involved in the issues and services which affect our lives
-          Fair representation of all groups

So what does this all have to do with youth work in our churches?
The YPS (Youth Participation Strategy) is the Methodist Church’s way of making participation an integral part of the way we do things- connexionally and locally. The Methodist Church website says this about the YPS;
“First things first: participation is about everyone, not just young people. It’s part of the Methodist Church’s bigger vision – part of the Children and Youth Team’s wider strategy – to see the whole church participating more; making and moulding the shape and substance of the church, together.
Participation and involvement mean changing the way we run our meetings, plan our worship, make our decisions. Participation and involvement mean changing the way we are church together.
At its heart, participation is essentially about how we relate to each other. It is an idea that values all humans as equal and valuable. And that’s how Jesus interacted with people. It’s why He had disciples; why He chose to speak with people not just to them. It’s also how God treats us, allowing us to be co-creators in God’s creation. And it’s how the Holy Spirit works, as the One who comes alongside.”
How does this affect our district?
Within the Southampton District, we’re looking at ways in which we can realise this vision. We plan to have a youth weekend and 2 children’s days in the district this year. These will be organised by groups made up predominantly of children and young people. We’ll also be looking at what we can do to encourage wider participation within individual church’s and circuits.
More information coming soon...