Discover Video Games at Greenbelt

This blog is by a friend Andy Robertson who is running a stream at this year’s Greenbelt looking at how we can engage meaningfully in video games and is running the interACT stream. Have a read and why not come along to this year’s Greenbelt to check it out?

Discover Video Games at Greenbelt with Andy Robertson


Vote Remain, Take Back Control: A Personal View on the EU Referendum

Politics and Analysis

By Danny Rye

Many of you have already made up your mind: some of you like me are, instinctively, ‘Remainers’, others of you ‘Leavers’. Some of you may genuinely have been persuaded by the arguments of one side or the other. Some of you perhaps have still not made up your minds which way to go. Nearly all of you, I imagine, can’t wait for this to be over.  I have already voted Remain by post, but I have spent much of the time since attempting to formulate why I am doing so. I realise that as I have tried to do so, many of my feelings are contradictory, muddled and inconsistent. I suspect I am not alone in this.

Part of the problem is that the EU, rather like the constitution, is something that our attention has always been deflected from: we have been told ‘people are more concerned…

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Reaching Out

The other day I experienced something quite profound in human nature. I was at a football match with my 15 year old son Dom to see his team who were playing really badly and were looking like they were going to get beaten by a far better team.

As my son got more and more tense at the prospect of the pasting we were witnessing I had tried and failed to console him. During the match I noticed a young toddler with a dummy in his mouth who probably hasn’t even started speaking in the row in front of us. He had no interest in the game but instead was facing Dom who was upset and visibly (and vocally) stressed at what was happening on the pitch.
I continued to try to calm him down and try to put things into perspective as his dad – I just made it worse (isn’t that what dad’s of teenagers are for ?). As the game went on I saw Dom motioning to the boy in front as he tried to move the toddlers hand which was reaching out and touching his leg and Dom complained that he kept doing it. I realised then what was going on. As he looked into Dom’s eyes I could see that he recognised his emotions and that he was going through something painful. So without even realising it he empathetically was trying to reassure Dom. He didn’t have words to say but he knew someone was upset and rather than be bound by social conventions he reached out to try and reassure my son that everything was going to be OK.
About a year ago my wife and I laughed at the bizarrely inappropriate language when trying to get a running watch fixed and all the emails from the customer service thanked her for “reaching out to them” when actually all she wanted was for a broken watch to be fixed. During that match a toddler with a dummy in his mouth and an inbuilt sensitivity to human emotions helped me experience what reaching out can really look like. It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. Let’s not forget that children are just as much a part of our village (or cities). Maybe we should watch and learn more from children if we are all to be raised.

A Nation Grieving

I remember really clearly waking up one Sunday morning to hear the news of Princess Diana’s passing away. This month has not been the same as that but we have lost so many. Lemmy from Motherhead, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Joe Cocker and now Terry Wogan. Many very talented high profile people who have lived their lives giving much to so many. It is not just those who are high profile though someone I know (lets call him Peter) lost not only 2 friends during January but one of them was his former business partner.

All who have passed away have family and friends whether the nation takes note of the their passing or not. The fact that the grieving is more private it is no less acute for those dealing with their loss. Peter’s friend wasn’t religious and neither were his family. There was no church to carry him through and very little money with definitely no life insurance either.

Peter had a night at the pub where he had invited everyone who knew his friend and asked them to tell stories as he put a eulogy together and at the same time a whip round to help pay for the funeral. He took on the role of the minister/ priest and pastored the mother and children as well as plan a funeral. All this he did while holding down his regular job and continuing to perform even if he didn’t feel like it one bit for a few days.

The most touching thing to me was that he used his skills to craft a temporary epitaph and even after saying they were not religious he made and carved a cross to mark the grave and have as a marker to the life that again touched many and will continue to be missed into the future.

Loss is a difficult thing to measure and go through. Comedian Justin Moorhouse on his podcast said that he was in bits all day when he found out about Bowie as he had made such an influence on his youth and life since. I vividly remember listening to the laughing gnome in my childhood and even now I think it is underrated as so much more than a one hit wonder. I’m not sure if it gets easier the more we experience grief or we learn to dull our senses to the pain the more we experience it. But talking about it, remembering those who have gone and spending time honouring their lives beyond the formal service in small ways seems to help. Maybe it all contributes to how we deal with and process those emotions ourselves. Recognising our own needs and others we may have lost in the past.

I’m going to listen to the laughing gnome and remember a genius who I didn’t know personally but knew of and is missed by his family just as Peters friend will be. Maybe in doing so I am coming to terms with the loss of my youth, and that small act of remembrance will be echoed by many who have lost heroes, culture icons or simply their own loved ones.

Lessons from a Loser: Part 2

I too have been positively influenced by Richard Rohr and frequent fail and mess up so enjoyed reading this very much.

Blogging Off

Failing to Learn

I am great at mistakes. Given that I mess up on a daily basis it seems somewhat strange that I still struggle with failure. For the second piece in this short series I am indebted to three very successful people who are helping me learn how to lose.

One of the best books I’ve read this year is “Falling Upward,” by the Franciscan, Richard Rohr. Rohr makes a bold and, to me at least, frightening claim. In the second half of life, he suggests, our successes have nothing left to teach us. Rohr’s logic follows. In the first half of life we rightly dwell on our successes. We are confident of our strengths, come to know what skills we have to offer and grow in self-belief. While vital, these lessons only get us so far. If we’re to go further Rohr contends, then we must put success…

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Get your tent and pitch it for a while…a flexible model for mission

It is the time of year when tented cities at festivals appear all over the UK and families take to living under the hallowed canvas, normally in the UK as with this year to shelter from the rain. But the glory of camping is the flexibility to pitch our tent at will to become a temporary home. My family have had our main holiday under canvas for the past consecutive 8 years and as a regular festival goer for years before that and even having walked the West Highland Way with just a tent on my back I have appreciated the benefits of camping.

I used to think that we needed new models of church and innovation in mission that was something like scaffolding being put up around our old church buildings so that if they did crumble one day there would still be something standing in their place.

Now I’m not so sure,

I think we need still need the scaffolding approach in some places but if that is our only plan then I fear for the future of mission in the UK. For a start scaffolding is only ever going to be in the same place as our existing churches, whether they are physical buildings or communities of interest. Also those scaffolds will take the same shape and form of the existing buildings they are attempting to replace even though they will be made of newer materials, which may also not be as long lasting – give me a house made from stone any day over a temporary metal one.

At this point please also excuse my metaphor for churches based on buildings as I firmly advocate that a church is the community of people who comprise it, not the bricks and mortar that they meet in however useful a resource that might be.

In the “Foundation Series” by Isaac Asimov, Asimov paints the picture of a whole civilisation and how it moves through some significant crisis points where it could either become extinct or flourish, fade out or become reenergised. I have often heard, and used myself, in sermons about the Chinese symbol for “crisis” being two symbols meaning both “danger” and “opportunity”.

Crisis - Danger and Opportunity2

There has been lots of research highlighting the crisis in decay of church attendance in the UK and although there are some areas of growth and new congregations, a larger part of the established church and wider denominations still seems to be declining or at best staying static. The church as we know it is in great danger, but that brings with it great opportunity.

A lot is at stake and many of those of us who attend church and enjoy the structure that we have grown up with struggle as we are disorientated that the current status quo is not sustainable for the long term. I believe we do need those existing structures, I’m an active member of my local church, but we also need those scaffolding type churches too, some of which might be temporary, others that could become new established churches, but in order to engage in real mission especially with young people and with those who have not been a part of the church we need to go into new places we and they haven’t been to before, becoming more of a tented community leaving our rigid building materials behind for a time.

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In Frontier Youth Trust we use a quote from Donavan, “in working with young people do not call them to where they were and do not call them to where you are as beautiful a place as they may seem to you. You must have the courage to go with them to a new place that neither you nor they have been before”

Walter Bruggemann talks about the 3 stages of where we are in our faith or: Orientation, Disorientation and Re-Orientation. (Nigel Pimlott succinctly covers this in his book Youth Work After Christendom, p49-50). The sense of disorientation that we feel can be described in the way that we sense the danger we are in but often aren’t able to take the opportunity to leap into another paradigm of mission as in a process of reorientation our thoughts and concepts are not fully formed – feel intangible or difficult to visualise.

Therefore people of faith at the moment experience that disorientation as we experience a world outside of the church that is moving away from where we are at a velocity faster that we can keep up with and the distance we need to travel in meaningful mission continues to grow. We are therefore living in a time of Faith in Transition and we need to explore ways that we move from church to mission. Just as in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series we are experiencing multiple crises which are moments of great danger but also great opportunity.

When Christianity or the church has been in crisis in the past there have sometimes been revivals in faith. The Welsh revival of 1904 was one of those revivals, along with others, that were youth led. A colleague Richard Passmore ( @richardpassmore) shared with me the words of the Welsh Youth Poet Laureate who has prompted him and me to think around the phrase he used,

“We call the walls to dust”

I love the image this statement paints, the idea of shredding to dust that which separates us. Many young people face ever taller and thicker walls and equally as I lead Frontier Youth Trust (FYT) which is a dispersed community of faith based youth workers we need to pay attention to the walls between us. We continue to seek shalom as expressed in Ephesians 2v14.

Skate Park Art resize

At a time when young people seem to be under attack by society and when the UK government are removing benefits and opportunities from the under 25s in a significant manner, how do we live as a learning community with young people and offer them hope?

Do we only invite young people to be part of a slightly more energetic version of what we already have or how dangerous are we going to be with our mission? Unless we hold our mission lightly we will always be pulled back to the conventional model by a gravitational pull that we are unable to reach escape velocity.

We have been talking in FYT about the need to enable the translators of mission. In doing so we want to release the interpreters who can journey with those young people and help them to reimagine and redefine the terms that are cultural while still seeking the Kingdom and pointing to the person of Jesus and building community.

So at a time when as a nation we choose canvas as a place to live under even temporarily, will we move to a camping model of mission away from our scaffolding and building model of mission?

Streetspace Gathering 2015

I’m only just back from the StreetSpace Gathering 2015 and my tent is still drying in the garage while another participant has already composed some thoughts on the weekend. Worth reading …

Learning from the Streets

Imagine if you will the following:

A Field in Derbyshire, on a small community farm

13 tents, two marquees and a shelter

4 portaloos, and 2 showers that needed people outside the door to adjust the temperature.

A fire

A mobile Pizza Van courtesy of Rustic Pizza’s

2 BBQ’s

35 People, some youthworkers, project leaders, volunteers, new junior leaders, some children.

Now imagine that with all of those contingents, a conference was held;

Imagine a conference, where the attendees decided what the main themes were

and where thats what was actually discussed in sessions- so themes such as;

Homelessness, Management skills, politics, change management, age transitions, philosophy of  youthwork, Hope

imagine that these sessions were well attended by people who decided on them.

imagine the energy that created

imagine how it felt that people created actions out of that energy and passion

imagine how many ideas might have been ignored…

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There is no path

There are no easy answers but it helps to share with others who are asking questions as they live through their own experiences.
I found this really helpful with my own.

Run for your life


This week is the anniversary of my dad’s death and so, unsurprisingly, over the last few weeks I have had many moments of thinking ‘this time last year…’ and a reliving of the end of his life.

I have been reading Edward Hirsch’s beautiful poem Gabriel, which tells the story of the life and death of his adopted son. It’s a raw, profoundly human work which has been described as a masterpiece of sorrow. It’s a poem without punctuation which meant that often I realised that I had read the lines wrongly and would need to go back and put a pause or an emphasis in a different place. This style fits the subject so well because reading about the death of a man in his twenties should not be smooth or easy; it seems right that it’s halting and complex.

He says

‘I did not know that the…

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