Still being early days in my new job, I’m actually 40 miles away in the student accommodation of Loughry College, just outside Cookstown.
I’m here for the Youth Ministry Summer School organised by a bunch of people including the PCI. On the one hand it’s a slight pain to be away for a week so close to starting somewhere new, but on the other it’s handy to get to meet some people and hear a little about what’s going on over here - since it all seems very different to six years ago when I left.
There are a lot more people here than I expected, which is great. Seems to be plenty of people involved in youth ministry, and in a deliberate way where a chance to get a little bit of training from some big names is welcomed. I doubt it would have been quite so packed five or six years ago.
Ah, yes. Those big names. Two American guys (Chap Clark, Duffy Robbins) and their wives, plus a couple of UK bods. I fully admit to being a little cyncial (yes, I realise that those of you who know me IRL may be shocked by this admission), and my first reaction was to wonder why fly people in from the States when there are so many talented and expert practitioners in the UK whom we could all probably benefit from spending a little time with?
But, it is true that there is a longer standing academic approach to youth ministry in the States than in the UK, and these two guys are pretty heavy hitters. And having had the first teaching session this morning, it does look like it’s going to be a good - and a very useful - week here. Sometimes I feel much too jaded.