Being Salt

Salt is versatile and unique. It is the only mineral we eat. It’s used on roads to keep them safe and in saline drip-feeds in hospitals; as a condiment on food and to soften hard water. It has over 14,000 uses and is referred to in The Bible more than thirty times.

 Some mentions from the Bible itself:

  1. It was used to bring out flavour (Job 6:6)
  2. It was a sign of friendship or covenant, including between God and David’s line (Numbers)
  3. Jesus said his disciples were the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13; Luke 14:34) and that retaining their saltiness was essential.
  4. Paul used salt as a metaphor for speaking with grace and consideration (Colossians 4:6).

On Saturday 40 delegates from St Davids Diocese met together to pray, to share and learn together and to consider those ways in which salt is referred to in the Bible and how are we called to be salt today in our churches in our ministry with children and young people.

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The day began with a prayer breakfast, there were some brief introductions and then two fantastic workshops.

Messy Church – Lesley Cox led a workshop on Messy Church with a particular focus on evaluating using the Self Review toolkit.

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Youth Ministry in a Rural Context – Ali Campbell from The Resource gave a workshop with this particular focus which is an area many in this Diocese are seeking to know more about to enable them to engage with young people.

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There was then some time for browsing resources from; Bible Explorer, Open the Book, our own Diocesan Team, The Fellowship of Vocation, Safeguarding, Scripture Union and Prayer Spaces in Schools.

We also had a Prayer Space set up which was used at various points by delegates during the whole day.

Lunch was shared together and this was an important time for networking and finding out more from one another.

In the afternoon session there were two more amazing workshops to choose from.

Scripture Union – Mike Adams led a very practical workshop on how to engage with local schools and offered some great resources as well as his own time and expertise to come along and help.

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Family Ministry – Mark Griffiths explored the need to engage with families as a whole and  for our churches to become places where the whole community as the body of Christ is active in children and youth ministry and passing on the story of Jesus to the next generation.

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After being inspired and excited to go out and begin new work we concluded the day in prayer and reflected on what we had shared and learned. We sprinkled salt in areas where we serve on a map and prayed that God might use us.

Here are some thoughts from someone who attended the day;

“This beautiful Saturday morning, I jumped in the car and headed out to the ‘other’ side of the Preselis and managed to find the place I was looking for – Canolfan Hermon. In all the manicness of the last few weeks, I hadn’t even been thinking about the event.  Walking in to the fabulous modern facility, it was great to see Clare’s friendly face, and the tea, coffee, orange juice and pastries too!

I’d been to a SALT (Sharing and Learning Together) training day before, so I knew it would be great to catch up with brilliant people I don’t get to see much. A hum of conversation grew as around 40 people arrived from across the three counties.  The morning was split into a prayer time, an introduction, the first workshop and time to browse resources and chat.  We took a break for lunch and then jumped back in to the second workshop, followed by a wrap up time and prayer.

I had chosen workshops with Ali Campbell (The Resource) and Mark Griffiths (Tutor at St. Padarn’s institute and author) as I wanted to learn more about youth work and engaging with families. For me, the highlight was Mark’s brilliant, surprising and inspirational unpacking of communicating living faith in the ‘God who does stuff’ through family, the community of faith and child evangelism.  I also find so much value in listening to and sharing with other people who are reaching out and ministering to children, youth and families in different ways across the varied communities scattered across our beautiful west Wales.  It was so great we had more time to do this, as I often find training events to be so overloaded, my head spins!

Sometimes, in all the busy juggling of life and ministry, we can get tired and sometimes a bit flat too. I found the SALT training day so encouraging and uplifting.  Thank you Clare, for organising such a great day, and thanks to everyone who attended and shared.  It’s great to hear how much is going on as we seek to communicate the ‘God who does stuff’ with the wonderful young people of our nation.”

 

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End of term

An idea to use for collective worship or an all-age service exploring the idea of ‘moving on’

Theme: Moving On

Bible Reading

Mark 6:7-13

Preparation

Prepare the three readers for the Introduction. You could take the part of mum/dad One female and one male reader from KS2 to play the brother and sister

Introduction

Starts with the three characters standing around a table. On the table is an open case.

Llinos: I just can’t wait for school to be over so we can go on holiday

Gethin: I just want to be there right now.

Mum/Dad: Well, we are not going until next week! But we do need to do some packing so why don’t you help me? What do we need to take?

Llinos: I want to take my teddy, and my drawing book and my ipad and my library book and my bucket and spade of course and…

Gethin: And I want my football and my football kit and my football boots and my ipad and my skateboard and a beach ball and…

Mum/Dad: And that’s not to mention your clothes, your swimming things, your shoes, your jeans, your shorts, your night clothes, your coats, towels, washing kit, suntan lotion, books, camera and …

Gethin: Don’t forget the tickets…

Llinos: And a pen so we can write a postcard to grandma…

Gethin: And some games to play in the car…

Llinos: And some snacks for the journey…

Gethin: And sun glasses…

Llinos: And…

Mum/Dad: I think we shall have to go and buy another case!

Leader

One day Jesus surprised his closest friends. Up to then they had spent their time with him. They had heard him speak to the crowds, seen him healing people and always felt that he was close by. Now Jesus told his twelve friends that they had a special job to do. They were to go out in pairs to speak to people about Jesus. Perhaps some of them started to think about what they would take with them. Going away always seems to be a bit like that. We want to take a lot of things just in case we think we might need them. Often when we come home again we find we haven’t used half of it.

Money for food, a change of clothes, food in case they got hungry.

‘No,’ said Jesus, ‘you are to take nothing with you at all. You are to trust me that all will be well. People will give you hospitality, and if they don’t, just move on until you find someone who will.”

And all was well. The friends of Jesus went from village to village telling the people the good news about Jesus and healing people. They had a great time. They learned to trust Jesus.

Sometimes you and I worry – not just about packing for a holiday but other things too. Jesus says don’t worry so much but learn to trust me. Worries are like big suitcases we don’t have to carry around.

This would be an opportunity to talk about children and adults who are moving on at the end of the school term, if you wish. Maybe ask if there are any worries and, if so, who we could talk to or what we could do to help us.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, Thank you that we can trust you in both the small things and the big things in life. Help us not to carry around big suitcases full of worry. Amen

Rural Mission

Sometimes we can feel overshadowed in the rural church by larger urban churches. Sometimes we don’t always think that small churches ‘do mission’.

Rural Mission Sunday is promoted by ‘Germinate’: The Arthur Rank Centre. They are passionate about the importance of small churches: they (like we!) know they do mission and we want to celebrate that fact.

Rural Mission Sunday is an annual event celebrating the work of small rural churches. Get involved by holding a special service at your church or in your community.

There are some great resources available here http://germinate.net/resources-search/

You might also be able to do some exciting things with your church building or grounds to celebrate its role in the community, the environment and the history and culture of your local area; see more ideas here

https://www.nationalchurchestrust.org/50things

building on our ideas for summer last week you could also have a specific outdoor focus and use our idea for a churchyard scavenger hunt for children, young people and families

What can you find? (all objects must be natural)

  • Something fuzzy
  • Two kinds of seeds
  • Something straight
  • Something round
  • Something smooth
  • Two different types of leaves
  • Something rough
  • Something that makes a noise
  • A pinecone
  • Something green
  • Something smaller than your fingernail
  • Something bigger than your palm
  • Something you think is beautiful
  • Something you think is a treasure

It’s never too late

Summer SaltIt may be the end of June already (how did that happen?) and past the longest day of the year. Schools are not far away from breaking up for the holidays and perhaps the summer weather has been and gone! But whatever your situation it is not too late to plan something for THIS summer.

Schools – why not? Purchase the amazing Scripture Union resource for year 6 leavers entitled ‘It’s Your Move’ you can get a pack of 10 for just £20 so why not bless your school with a gift for the end of term and something which could really help the lives of school leavers. https://content.scriptureunion.org.uk/resource/its-your-move?variant_id=28981658571&options%5B10084233547%5D=Single

Community – why not? Get involved in a local event such as a Carnival or Fun Day by offering free refreshments, running some games, joining in with what’s happening on the day or offering some children’s activities and stories during the event.

Pop Up – why not? The beauty of the ‘pop up’ model is that you don’t need too much planning or preparation you can see what’s happening with the families in your area and wait on the weather forecast and then decide to run a morning of activities in the park or on the beach with our Summer Salt planning. Email clarewilliams@churchinwales.org.uk for help and advice

Day trip – why not? If you have a group of children and young people in your church, why not take a group of families off for the day together? Of course there are some great places around like Folly Farm but a free day out to the beach or to our beautiful Cathedral in St Davids with a picnic would work really well. Let us know if you need any help with permission forms or some activities you can do while you are out and about.

Fun day – why not? If you want to really get your whole church family together for a summer celebration why not let us help you plan a fun day together? We can offer a BBQ, games and activities, help with leading the day, resources and crafts. All we ask is for you to provide some helping hands, food and drink and of course – get people gathered together on the day.

Why not? Summer only comes round once a year so please do use it this year as an opportunity for your church to take a step forward in mission together.

Lighthouse

Lighthouse1Unashamedly Christian. Amazingly Popular. Locally Proven.

Welcome to Lighthouse…

Today we welcome Patricia Reading as our guest blogger. Patricia is the Director of Lighthouse Central and is here to tell us all about this amazing holiday programme package.

“Lighthouse is a week long summer holiday programme for children aged 4 to 11, run by local churches working together. It is staffed and run entirely by volunteers of all ages (our oldest is a young 93!) and is totally free, funded by donations.

We are passionate about seeing children from all walks of life and abilities encountering God in a fun-filled week. For five days in early August children and volunteers enjoy worshipping, dancing and praying together, messy games including the all important Gunge, Discovery (bible teaching), Craft, Drama and Sport.

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Children are in a Lighthouse group of 12, with a Lighthouse Keeper, helped by two Lamplighters, usually teenagers. There is a job for everyone at Lighthouse, you can join our smallest visitors in the Creche, be with the band, get creative in Craft, express yourself in Drama, get sweaty in Sport – and then there’s so many back of house jobs that need doing, there really is something for everyone.

We have Lighthouses in schools and on school fields in marquees, we have Big Tops, Little Tops, Creches, mother and toddler ‘Little Lighthouse’, cafes, ‘The Space’ for additional needs children – and the best bit is this is tried and tested, we know it works!

Many people describe Lighthouse as ‘the best week of the summer holidays’. Today it is attended by around 5000 children with 3000 volunteers of all ages, 2000 of which are teenagers, in ten Lighthouse locations.

We have seen God working consistently through Lighthouse over many years and seen tens of thousands of children, young people and adults touched by Lighthouse. We’d love to share what God has taught us so that you can see the fruit we have witnessed take place in your town or city as well.

A local Lighthouse is not just a church summer holiday club, it’s an investment in the whole community with long term results!

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We would love to show you a Lighthouse in action. Please let us know if you would like to see one and we will arrange a visit

We’d love to hear from you! www.lighthouscentral.org”

“My children love Lighthouse and I mean love it. The team are fantastic and truly put their heart and soul into everything. An amazing week, well organised, fun, exciting and 2 very happy and tired children who can’t wait for next year”

If you’d like to find out more about Lighthouse we are keen to offer an information day in Llanelli before the end of the year. Please contact us if you are interested clarewilliams@churchinwales.org.uk

Summer Planning

This planning spans right across the summer and explores the lectionary of the church. This is the set of readings for each Sunday. One taken from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, a Psalm and the Gospel reading.

The lectionary is a rich resource which shouldn’t be overlooked. It works across a three-year cycle which allows for a huge breadth of reading of the Biblical Canon and doesn’t focus wholly on one part of Scripture.

The lectionary also means there will be great variety in what your Sunday sessions might be looking at. This planning includes;

  • A focus on one of the psalms – more of a tricky area to focus on with no ‘story’ but rather a poetic exploration of what God is like.
  • Some thematic work e.g. a session for ‘Sea Sunday’ on 8th July
  • Opportunities to spend time outside and take part in some ‘summer’ activities
  • Gospel-focused planning for most sessions looking at the stories of the life of Jesus and what that means for us today
  • A simple structure of introduction, story, game and craft. We suggest a version of the text but there are many places to find good, ‘child friendly’ versions of the Biblical lectionary. We also leave it up to you to expand on this teaching and explore what the children can ‘take away’ from the session – how will it change you this week?

So here is your 11 week plan lasting from this Sunday up until the end of August – enjoy!

Children’s Group Summer Lectionary planning

Good luck! Let us know what you get up to this summer

Volunteers’ Week

Today forms part of National Volunteers Week so we would like to use this blog to thank all those who volunteer in children and youth ministry.

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Across our Diocese – and much further too of course – there are hundreds of volunteers who give freely of their time to work with children and young people, to build relationships with families, to lead and plan worship, to work with schools, to help with publicity, to make food, to open their homes and gardens, to raise money, to plan sessions, to attend training, to pray and to take children and young people away together. This huge commitment should not go unrecognised.

There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, however we also believe that it takes a church to raise a child and without the many volunteers, alongside clergy and paid workers, those vital relationships with children and families which help to build faith would just not be possible.

As we visit churches and groups across the Diocese it is evident that lots of volunteers also work in isolation without a lot of support, sometimes without leadership from clergy, often with little thanks, with not enough opportunities for training and development, are left wondering if there is more they could be doing, without the chance to link up with other churches and teams and sometimes because there is no-one else to do it.

We also know that lots of volunteers work hard in this ministry because they feel called to do so, because they want to serve the church, because they have a passion to see children and young people walking with Jesus, because they want to see their local church grow, because someone has encouraged them in this ministry, because they have spend their whole life doing so, because they are gifted, because they feel part of an important team, because the love it!

Whatever your circumstances, whatever your struggles and whatever your reason for being involved in this ministry we want to thank you.

We hope we can do this in a number of ways

  1. By saying it loudly and publicly right here and right now and by making known the work you do to others, especially those in leadership in the Diocese
  2. By coming to visit you as you live out this calling – if we haven’t been to your group or church yet please do invite us to come along
  3. By linking you up with other teams. This can be done formally through partnering together, however there are lots of opportunities through the events we run and particularly through prayer breakfasts where those from your area meet together to pray and support one another (the next prayer breakfast is on Wednesday 12th September)
  4. By offering you training. Don’t forget that our next event is Saturday 14th July – our SALT training day offers inspiration, support, training and practical help.
  5. A ‘thank you’ event. On Saturday 13th October we are offering a number of free tickets to a comedy night being organised at the Merlin Theatre, Haverfordwest. We would also like to meet together for a meal before hand to continue in sharing and support. Please email clarewilliams@churchinwales.org.uk to reserve your free ticket or to talk about any of the other opportunities we offer

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This comes, as ever, with our prayers and best wishes

Sharing and Learning Together

We are delighted to have final confirmation of our venue for our training day on 14th July.

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This will now take place in Canolfan Hermon, North Pembrokeshire, SA36 0DT from 9.30am – 3pm (workshops from 10.30am).

The day is being offered FREE with a free breakfast and hot and cold drinks throughout the day. Please bring a packed lunch for the day.

We have some amazing contributors coming along;

Ali Campbell from ‘The Resource’ to inspire and excite us about youth work https://theresource.org.uk/

Lesley Cox will be coming to share her immense experience and expertise about Messy Church

Mike Adams will be representing Scripture Union, sharing insight into schools’ work with a highlight on the amazing resources available from Scripture Union

Mark Griffiths from St Padarn’s will be offering a workshop on Family Ministry, following the recent publication of his book ‘Changing Lives’

Please join us for this day where we will also be showcasing our ‘Prayer Spaces in Schools’ starter pack.

Book now SALT booking form

Reporting from Budapest

During the last week I have had the amazing privilege of being part of an international conference in Budapest. This was the 10th gathering of the Global Children’s Forum, a dynamic, inspirational and truly global gathering of those involved in children’s ministry at a national or organisational level.

The week began with a dinner on Monday evening where we recognised the great task of reaching children everywhere. There was also a feeling of celebration as the GCF celebrated its 10 year anniversary and we had balloons – both to celebrate, and to bring children we represented into the room with us too. There was a wonderful welcome right from the beginning and an amazing opportunity to be placed with people from so many different nations.

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Tuesday we began the journey of looking at the new theme for the conference and for the organisation ‘Children everywhere walking with Jesus’ both a theme to explore from an academic and theological point of view, as well as a real mission for the people gathered to take back to their contexts, as well as exploring together on a global level.

We were also put into ‘Focus Groups’ to allow us to look in more detail at some of the key questions for us in a specific ministry context. I took part in discussions as a ‘Denominational leader’ with others from the UK, USA, Kenya, the Philippines and Australia.

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During the week we did have some free time to explore the amazing city and I enjoyed spending time with others in this setting, as well as some long walks discovering some of the most beautiful sights.

Each day began with devotion and Bible study which set the whole conference in a context of prayer. There was also time set aside for prayer in two sessions – one which focused on prayer for our situations and the children we work with and one where we could pray for our own needs. We were also put into prayer groups and prayed throughout the week for our own specific intentions. I was in a group with people from Mexico, the UK and the UAE.

As we unpacked each area of focus from ‘Children everywhere walking with Jesus’ – we looked at a word in each session – I was both challenged and inspired. I was challenged to look differently at some of the ways we engage with children. Firstly to have a more inter-generational approach and look more at church as ‘family’. Secondly to look at the ways we really empower children to explore what faith means in their lives and how they can come to a mature relationship with God. Finally, how we work with children to enable them to become evangelists and labourers in the harvest of bringing the message of good news to others. There were great moments of inspiration too, particularly through listening to the experiences of others.

As part of our last session we were given workbooks for leaders and participants to take part in a course entitled ‘Children everywhere walking with Jesus’. This is not a ‘how to’ course but a challenge to church leaders and volunteers to consider why we do this work and to think more deeply about some of the ways in which we do it – taking into account the challenges I have mentioned above.

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Watch this space for some sessions on ‘Children everywhere walking with Jesus’ coming soon…!

Pray Until Something Happens

When I was at secondary school this phrase was on one of the ‘fashionable’ accessories you could purchase as a young Christian. You would often see youngsters at Christian gatherings or youth events with plastic wristbands emblazoned with this phrase – PUSH or other phrases which I am sure will be familiar – WWJD – what would Jesus do? and FROG – fully rely on God. Some of these encapsulations of the Christian faith have received criticism for trying to be too simplistic or not exploring the full depths of faith. Of course, anything which you wear around your wrist will surely fail to do so.

However, I would argue that the first one PUSH – pray until something happens, does have something significant to say, particularly in relation to our work with children and young people. Prayer surely should be the first step to beginning any new work or even seeking out what work we should be pursuing. Prayer is the gateway to reaching the new level in this ministry. Prayer then, can even be understood sometimes as a spiritual ‘push’ motivating others or ourselves into doing something new. Prayer cannot be the only answer – we must act! – but it must always be part of the answer.

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Prayer certainly then is a good place to begin. This is even more of a vital argument when relating to work with our local schools, particularly secondary schools. It is therefore significant that we are committing to purchasing a ‘starter pack’ for churches to begin Prayer Spaces in Schools. These resources can be used to pray for this work initially in your churches and raise awareness of the kind of things Prayer Spaces seek to do in their engagement with schools.

The ‘starter pack’ will also enable you to run a Prayer Space for a day, a week or as a regular slot as part of the academic year. See more information on the Prayer Spaces in schools website about how to get a Prayer Space started. The starter pack will contain the resources to set up eight prayer spaces out of the top 10 identified by Prayer Spaces in Schools. These are;

Be Still – a pop up tent or gazebo giving students the opportunity to pause and have space on their own.

Big Questions – large pieces of cardboard and pegs used in a creative way to allow students to ask big questions about life and faith

Bubble Tube – using this sensory piece of equipment and some post-it notes it encourages students to think about their prayers reaching God

Cardboard Home – a large cardboard box set up for students to get right inside and reflect; to think and pray about children around the world who have no home

Fizzy Forgiveness – a creative and visual way of exploring forgiveness, encouraging students to forgive and let go of hurt and anger

Mirrors – using a full length mirror; this activity encourages students to consider how they see and feel about themselves.

Pray for the World – the large world map encourages students to pray for areas and issues in the world

Thankful Playdough – another sensory experience which encourages students to express their thankfulness in a creative way.

All resources for these eight prayer spaces will be available to borrow from the Children and Youth Team from September with accompanying bilingual material. Email clarewilliams@churchinwales.org.uk for more information.

We encourage you to begin some new work with your local schools and really put into practice the mantra of ‘Pray Until Something Happens’