2011: Year Of Youth Work In Preview

January: On the way home from your January residential weekend, you wait until all the young people fall asleep in the minibus and then update their phones to 2012, and stick on a false beard. Then you wake them up with a loud scream and tell them that they all fell into a magical sleep and have been unconscious for the entire year. You show them your beard to prove it. A panic ensues, such that you have to shout to communicate that the point of all this was to illustrate how you should be ever watchful for the return of Jesus. You’re sure they heard that it was an illustration though. Sure.

February: You organise a Superbowl Youth Group Evening after church, because while it kicks off late, it’s a match of four 15 minute quarters, so it can’t go on that long right?

March: The first 3D projectors are rolled out to trial churches across the country. It turns out that putting the Words of God into floating 3D text do not make them any more awe-filled, though it does mean that the former church horrors of words being put up back to front, upside down, and a verse too soon are now joined with words being put up to far backwards, to far forwards, and with too much exploding out of the screen and into your faces.

April: You finally finish your six year series on Ezekiel. It should have been six weeks, but what with the special one-off on dating, the special one-off on giving, the special one-off on “why what you did on the residential weekend was completely in-appropriate”, it took a bit longer.

May: Due to budget cuts, the recession, government spending plans, and all that palaver, Youth For Christ, the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Centre For Youth Ministry, and Frontier Youth Trust all merge into one organisation. The new name is alright but the new acronym is awesome.

June: The YFCYMCACYMFYT split back up, after they realise it’s costing them more money to print their new name than it saved them merging into one charity. You keep the fold-out annual report as a souvenir.

July: Your youth group’s Olympic evangelism event goes badly. I mean terribly badly. One person comes, and he doesn’t even realise the Olympics are on. The young people are baffled as to why, while you’re just baffled. That is until one young person says “I know we had a year less preparation time than everyone else, but we still did a good job of it right?”

August: Due to various complicated reasons, you take your young people to New Wine, Soul Survivor, Greenbelt, and three other Christian festivals you’ve never heard of till now. Surprisingly enough, they go without incident, but the first week of September is ruined as, like a lion raised in a zoo being released into the wild, you have to spend seven days being reintroduced to the concept of a soft bed, healthy food, and showering.

September: You finally get around to updating the Child Protection Policy at work. The policy itself isn’t that long, but the accompanying appendix that explains the circumstances on which you can touch a child, written in a helpful “Choose Your Own Adventure” style format took forever.

October: There is great rejoicing as two of your former young people announce their engagement to each other, and there’s special rejoicing for you, as you’re asked to speak at their wedding. You ask them if you can tell the story about that time when you found the two of them in the same tent, they say no. You ask them if you can tell the story about how they got together the night he split up with his previous girlfriend, they say no. You ask if at the start you can do that ice-breaker that seven years ago ruined her dress, make-up, and friendship with the rest of the group for two years. They ask someone else to speak.

November: This year you get your Christmas programme in place before advent actually starts. While theoretically this is no bad thing, it does mean you run out of things to say about the incarnation by the time you light the first advent candle. And then it hits you, run out of things to say about the incarnation? How on earth is that even possible? You are knocked over by the power and majesty and great humility of God, and spend the new few weeks weeping over the goodness of the Gospel. Which completely messes up your Christmas programme.

December: You scrap your child protection policy and revert to the old one. Having to flick across seventy-five pages of tightly written prose whenever you want to shake a young person’s hand turns out to be quite the burden.