God is my Director

Youth ministry, movies, no drugs and a variable amount of Rock ‘n Roll

Archive for November 30th, 2006

England – Phoenix from the flames?

Posted by Martin on November 30, 2006

As I write, there are about four hours to go before the Second Ashes Test between Australia and England.

So I go to bed tonight with a simple prayer – please don’t let the Australian cricket team be as mean and nasty and generally superior this week as they were last. Please God.

Posted in Sport | Leave a Comment »

Amazing thing at Eastbourne (2 of 2)

Posted by Martin on November 30, 2006

The other big thing that happened to me at the Eastbourne Youthwork the conference was much more personal, but hopefully goes some way to finally explaining (to me as much as to anyone else) the title of this blog.

As I’ve explained in other posts, I’ve felt two different callings from God over the past few years, and they’re both crystal clear. One is to youth ministry; the other is to the Hollywood screenwriting industry. I’ve had huge, God-ordained ‘breaks’ in both areas, and I’ve often found myself scratching my head as to how on earth they fit together. Many around me have confidently predicted that at some point it’ll all just fit into place, but right now I’m not sure if that’s prophecy or just wishful thinking.

This incident went a long way towards confirming the both/and sense of calling I’ve had to these two seemingly distinct areas, and also a little way towards demonstrating how they might begin to feed and inform and link with one another.

To recap then, I both find myself heavily involved in the UK youth ministry scene, and simultaneously in the movie industry. I have one script with ‘attachments’ which the producer is looking to take into production soon, a great manager who’s trying to shape my career, and a bunch of opportunities with some great execs at some massive studios. I talk to one of these people most nights, and through those conversations am learning more about film and writing than I could ever hope to pick up from any film course. Recap over.

I was delivering a seminar on the impact of media on young people’s lives, and unsurprisingly found myself majoring on the film industry as a point of focus. I gave an overview of Hollywood’s current obsession with high-concept, and went on to talk about some of the movies which I think are particularly good for prompting spiritual and life discussion among young people. But then we had time for questions, and that was when it happened…

I’d revealed my secret screenwriting double-life, and it had clearly caught the interest of the delegates. The questions began to rain in, both on my writing, and on using film in youth ministry. And what really surprised me was not that I was able to give half-decent answers, but that those answers were being directly informed by what I’d learned on the phone to those movie execs. To cut to the chase: the things which I was learning and experiencing in my ‘other’ life – those things which I thought were supposed to be kept separate from my life in youth ministry world – were now becoming directly useful in a youth ministry context. I was answering difficult questions, and resourcing youth workers, thanks directly to what I’d picked up in film world. It dovetailed. At last!

Clearly that’s not as big a collision between the worlds as I was hoping for, but it was a start, and a massive indicator for me that in some way, it’s all part of a much bigger plan. I continue to enjoy the journey.

Posted in Spiritual is everything, Youth Ministry | Leave a Comment »

God bless the homeless man

Posted by Martin on November 30, 2006

Was on the train home from work just now when a homeless guy appeared, walking his way through the carriages and asking for money. It’s a fairly regular occurrence, and I’m ashamed to say that most times – just like today – I tend to look out of the window, find a point a thousand feet in the distance, and stare at it while he passes. I say I’m ashamed because when I write it out for all to see, it suddenly feels particularly un-Christ-like.

What I was struck by, however, was the guy’s response to the two people in my carriage who did find some loose change for him. To both of them, he repeated the same phrase:

‘God bless you.’

I don’t suppose these people, statistically speaking, would have been Christians. I don’t presume that our homeless friend was either. But yet he chose that phrase to thank them. A fuller version of that sentiment might be – ‘for the generosity that you have shown to me today, may God bless you.’ He was somehow recognising God’s role in the act of generosity – even if he was doing so subconsciously.

To take that further – and stop me if I’m leaping ahead too far – it’s as if, since God is love, the homeless guy saw God in what these people gave to him. They showed him love, ergo they showed him God. So his response, ‘God bless you’, actually makes perfect sense.

I’ve noticed this response many times before from people in need. They may not be people of faith, yet on some level, they devolve part of their thanks to ‘God’ when they receive help from a fellow human. We’re so used to hearing the phrase that we usually dismiss it as a colloquialism that has detached itself from faith and is now little more than a generic form of thanks. But is that missing the point? Actually, are these people acknowledging God, all around us, day by day?

If we look at the life of Jesus, we know he was biased to the poor and the needy. Is it a surprise then, that these are the people who are best at recognising His hand at work, even if the human hands He’s using aren’t aware of the fact?

Posted in Spiritual is everything | Leave a Comment »

What is youth ministry? An unfolding thought…

Posted by Martin on November 30, 2006

Youth ministry is, in it’s broadest sense, discipleship, right? I mean really broadly speaking – everything we do in Christian youth ministry fits somewhere under that heading. We’re either leading young people, or trying to reach them in order to lead them somewhere; or at least trying to serve them in the hope of reaching them in order to lead them… right? Anybody still with me?

So if that’s the case, in order to learn how to be effective youth ministers, we need to keep an eye firmly on the best model we have for discipleship. And that, unsurprisingly, is Jesus. There’s compelling evidence to suggest that some of the disciples were actually what we’d term ‘young people’. So he was doing youth work!

So that makes me think – does our youth work look like Jesus’ youth work? Do I ever really stop to look at what Jesus’ model of discipleship was? And if I did, would it radically impact the way I approach youth ministry?

As I say, an unfolding thought, but one which won’t leave me. I know it sounds – on one level – incredibly simple and obvious, but in reality – does much of our ministry resemble His? And if not, maybe this is worth revisiting.

On this then, more later.

Posted in Spiritual is everything, Youth Ministry | 2 Comments »

New, improved, easier

Posted by Martin on November 30, 2006

You can now get here using the simpler URL: www.gimd.co.uk

The things I do for you…

Posted in General | Leave a Comment »

Sing and sign – oh, go on

Posted by Martin on November 30, 2006

Sitting here with my 14-month-old son, who can’t speak, but can communicate. He only knows three words – ‘Mumma’, ‘Dadda’, and something approaching ‘banana’ – but he knows a lot more sign language. That’s right – real BSL sign language.

He’s not deaf though. He’s learned, and continues to learn, through this now-fairly well-known innovation called baby signing. If you’ve seen the movie Meet the Fockers, you’ll probably know what I’m talking about. Children learn to connect words to their meanings, and then to the relevant hand sign. ‘Milk’ is a squeezing action for instance; ‘no’ is a dismissive swipe of the hand.

For the last six months, my wife has been taking him along to baby signing classes, run by a franchised business called ‘Sing and sign’. It’s kind of like the earliest kind of school you can possibly send a child to. She sits in a circle with a bunch of other mums and babies, and they sing songs which use the signs. Now I have to admit, sceptical doesn’t cover how I felt about it. It sounded frankly ridiculous, and certainly for the first few months it appeared to be going completely over my son’s head. Which, considering his age, is acceptable.

But now, things have changed. Among lots of other things, he can tell me when he needs food, drink, a nappy change or a sleep. He can tell me if he’s in pain, and show me where that pain is coming from. All those things that frustrate babies into regular bursts of tears because they can’t communicate. But he can communicate, so he doesn’t get frustrated, or upset. It’s brilliant.

I sit watching a DVD of a typical sing and sign class, most evenings. He’s addicted to it, and has even worked out how the DVD player operates in a desperate attempt to watch it even more. My brain is melting from the repetition, but he positively thrives on it.

[Visit www.singandsign.com for more info and to learn their ‘signs of the week’. Go on, you know you want to.]

Posted in Family | 3 Comments »