Things that have got me thinking 5

These are a round-up of some things that have got me thinking this week.

When I was a full-time Youth Worker I was often asked to review other youth ministries and provide a health check and some pointers for improvement. It was always a great honour and privilege and I am certain that I learned more than I taught. One of the questions I always looked at was ‘Who is excluded from your youth ministry?’ We were reasonably used to asking this question about race and gender but I also applied it to economic groups. I wanted to find out if you had to be rich to participate in the life of the group. When I first raised this I would often be met by incomprehension and an explanation  that there were no membership or other fees and that anyone could join in. But the truth, as it usually is, was far more subtle than that. To participate didn’t just mean the church based meetings but the number of trips and activities that carried a price tag. Even more important was the ‘outside meetings’ culture of fast food, cafe’s, pizza or cinema and bowling. For some groups the hidden costs of participation could be quite high. A similar point is being made in this article about what the missional movement lacks. Are those of us who are committed to exploring and re-inventing ministry including the perspective of the last and the least as well as the lost? Are all those meaningful faith-journey conversations in coffee shops out of reach of the economically poor because of the price of the coffee? There is a powerful question in here for all ministry: “Do we evaluate our ministry from the perspective of the poor?” Not just what we do for the poor but how we welcome the poor into community. This is a powerful lens through which to view our work. Uncovering the hidden price tags for joining in is a useful first step.
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On of my favourite bloggers at the moment is Jamie Wright who blogs here. Her latest post is on grace and it blew me away. We all struggle with shame and guilt and sadly that has often been made worse by well-meaning Christians who believe that feeling the shame is the pathway to life. Even more sad is the fact that I have sometimes been that well-meaning Christian. The Bible teaches that there is a sorrow that leads to repentance but in my experience shame doesn’t have much to do with that process. It just leaves me embarrassed and hiding and giving up. When I catch a glimpse of God’s beauty and beautiful way lived out be others or when a Bible passage fills me with longing then there can be a sorrow that I am not there yet and courage to start the road of repentance. Grace is truly amazing!

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And my favourite quote of the week!

I believe the most important single thing, beyond discipline & creativity is daring to dare. -Maya Angelou