2015: A Year Of Youth Work In Preview

January: I was going to predict that the world would end and this would affect government funding but clearly that hasn’t happened. Sorry.

February: Marvel announce a film starring Mondo, Radioactive Man, and Robbie Baldwin’s cat. Finally your knowledge of comic books dries up and your ignorance is exposed. You realise you can’t live off half-remembered stories and what you googled the morning before youth club. You crack open the original comics and order the Marvel handbooks and vow to teach faithfully once more.

March: Your argument to church leadership that “if the youth department is going to be forced to have a pool table that converts to a table tennis table we may as well have it convert to a communion table and save even more money!” is flawed and shouldn’t be used.

April: More cuts! Your local council ceases to provide universal access youth services and your young people are devastated that they can’t go down the youth club any more as they don’t cross an arbitrary threshold confirming they have higher needs. They ask for a five week training session on “discovering our problems and higher needs”. Alas, you can’t get funding for the course.

May: A dull end of season to the football means you start hyping up the Rugby World Cup early to your young people. You remind them of Johnny Wilkinson and his drop goal to win England the World Cup. One particularly clued up young person reminds you that that was 12 years ago, and he was four at the time. Twelve years! But you watched that with a youth group! You used it to start discussions on fair play and good character! Has it been so long?

June: unseasonal snow storms should lead to a discussion with your youth about climate change and stewardship of God’s creation. Instead you spend five hours talking about how you’d survive in Arendelle if Queen Elsa’s ice curse was never lifted.

July: You get all twelve consent forms back a whole month before the big summer camp. As you scan them you realise you’ve mixed up the forms and the young people’s parents have consented to their son/daughter working as church cleaner. That wouldn’t be so bad but now you’ve got to explain to the applicants for the church cleaner job why going away for a week in a field is a valid job interview technique.

August: Rob Bell releases a new book to accompany his new TV show and the internet responds predictably. You do a 2 hour session explaining the inherent flaws / brilliance of the book and why it’s so dangerous / revolutionary. You ask for questions and a brave thirteen year old asks “who on earth is Rob Bell?” You realise Velvet Elvis came out ten years ago. My word, where did the years go? Have you really aged that much? Must everything pass so quickly?

September: Your series on “the vanity of owning stuff” would have gone better had you not queued up for 37 hours straight to buy an Apple Watch immediately before the youth club. For a start, you wouldn’t fall asleep halfway through.

October: Following on from American Football, parkour, 10km running, Ski-cross, and jujitsu the latest sport your young people are desperate to try out is chess-darts. A thrilling game combining chess and darts. Each turn a young person takes five minutes to decide which square of a dartboard to hurl a chess piece at. When all 32 pieces are hurled the winner is the one who hasn’t given up. To be honest, it’s still more preferable than playing football with them.

November: Playing FIFA 16 with a young person you stare at the screen as they incessantly switch around players and formations. Your eyes drift to the ages of the players. Jack Wilshire: 23. Theo Walcott: 26. Wayne Rooney: 30. Thirty! But it was only yesterday he was scoring for Everton! Are you really so old? Has time moved so quickly? You concede two quick goals while lost in contemplation.

December: Reviewing the year gone by you realise you’ve spent a lot of your time getting your church young people excited about sporting events so they’d come along to your church when you host sporting events and bring their friends not from church to the sporting events which are in your church. After pondering this for a bit, you wonder if you eliminated the sporting events and spent your time getting your young people excited about Jesus and his church they might bring their friends along anyway? Your review is brought to an end as you realise you’ve still got to sort out all the balloons and cake for the Frozen Christmas Party you’ve spent the last two months getting the young people excited about.