Archives For Christian Gap Year

The highlight of each season of our Greenhouse Gap Year is seeing the journeys each of our students embark on. What stories have our Gap Year students got to share with you this year?

Are you interested in coming on our Greenhouse Gap Year? Or do you know a college-leaver in your youth group who is thinking of embarking on a gap year journey?

Find out more information here, or you can get in touch if you would like to speak to us. We love hearing your story! Funding options are available for our 2019-2020 intake.

How do I help those I am discipling to understand and identify the emotions they feel?

This year, we’ve been investing in a series on mental health to support our students, staff and young people. As part of this, in Bicester and Witney we’ve put some time into understanding Emotional Intelligence.

The GreenHouse Gap Year students have been very fortunate to have had different mental health practitioners come in and run workshops with us.  We learned a lot and we grew a lot.

We’d love to share some of their insights with you – in the hope that they can be useful for yourself and be resources for other those you might be journeying with.

Perceiving Emotions

Perceiving emotions is a crucial step in handling emotions with maturity.  We are used to just feeling what we feel without reflecting on the why’s behind our emotions.  To overcome that lack of awareness, we set out to track out our emotions.

For a week, all of the GreenHouse Gap Year students and leaders documented our emotions with the help of ‘Mood Trackers’. By tracking our moods daily we began to see the patterns, scope, and range of emotions which we have throughout the week.

Both Gap Year students and staff have begun to share their new insights and revelations found in tracking their moods. Ready to embark on their next step in Understanding emotions. 

We found many downloadable mood trackers online like this one. You can download one, or make your own simple form.

Understanding Emotions

How do we help those we are discipling to learn to perceive their emotions? And, at the same time, how do we learn that emotions do not have to drive our behaviours? Jon Bloom shares that;

“God designed your emotions to be gauges, not guides. They’re meant to report to you, not dictate you. The pattern of your emotions (not every caffeine-induced or sleep-deprived one!) will give you a reading on where your hope is because they are wired into what you believe and value — and how much.

“That’s why emotions like delight (Psalm 37:4), affection (Romans 12:10), fear (Luke 12:5), anger (Psalm 37:8), joy (Psalm 5:11), etc., are so important in the Bible. They reveal what your heart loves, trusts, and fears.”

Jon Bloom – Your Emotions Are a Gauge Not a Guide

You can find Jon Bloom’s article in its entirety here. It is well worth the read!

Tools to Reflect on Emotions

Helping people reflect on their emotions is so important to guide them into emotional maturity. Here are two resources you can use. These help us to see we have a choice in how we respond to our emotions. And, how we choose to not be ruled by emotions.

Reflection tool 1

You are driving by and notice an emotion. You slow down and let it hop inside.

  • can you identify the emotion?
  • What are you going to do now you have let it come inside the car?
  • Are you going to move over and put it in the driver’s seat?
  • Is it going in the Passenger seat? Back Seat?

You have the choice of whether you let the emotion drive you. Or be next to you, giving you directions. Or, be a back seat passenger, not in control but still present. Even thrown in the boot and not given a chance to affect the journey! 

Reflection Tool 2

A train (emotion) goes by every minute. Am I going to get on it or do I just let the train pass me by? Where is the train going to take me? Do I want to go there? Does it match with the destination I am trying to get to?

Like the list of stations telling us the drop off points on a train line, our emotions can do similar things. If you can be aware of what track a certain emotion will take you on, you can begin to manage your emotions. Manage your emotions in a more healthy way by choosing whether to ‘board that train’ or board another that leads to the place of your choosing. 

This has been a very quick snapshot of some of the things we have been discussing around emotional maturity. We hope you can glean some useful pieces to take away and use these to support others in their journeys.

If you’d like any more information on any subjects mentioned in this article or source materials, then please do get in touch. We’ve found these examples and talking points extremely useful and we hope you do too.

featured image – https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/emoji-faced-young-friends_4246727.htm

Carina is in her first year of the degree programme working towards a BA in Theology and Mission. Her placement is split between the GreenHouse Gap Year programme and St. Mary’s Cogges church in Witney. How is God equipping her to have gospel conversations?

“Marie (name changed) and I went to school together in Austria and have been friends for a long time. Marie is a very openminded and curious person and I have intentionally taken opportunities to share my faith with her. A couple of months ago I was reading one of my favourite Christian books, and as I was reading it, I kept thinking about Marie. I felt God nudge me to send her the book. So I did.

“A few weeks later she sent me a message. She had read the book, and it inspired her to pick up her Bible and read it. Her message said: “I have questions. Can we talk about it?”.

“I was really excited but also nervous before our talk. I knew this could be a turning point in Marie’s faith journey. Marie told me that she had started reading the Bible from the beginning and as she made her way through Genesis there was one big thing she did not understand: Why is a loving God judging and punishing people?

“I was so glad she asked, because this question gave me the chance to explain the good news of Jesus to her, how he died on the cross for us to take this punishment for our sin on himself. After my explanation there were a few seconds of silence, then Marie said: “That makes so much sense!”. What an amazing moment!”

“One of the things we help our students in the GreenHouse Gap Year programme with is how to talk about Spiritual things and ultimately, have gospel conversations with our friends. On that same day that I spoke with Marie, I was preparing to teach the students about a resource we call the Pie Shape (no points for creativity, there).

“The Pie Shape is a tool which helps to illustrate what holds people back from deciding that they want to follow Jesus. Basically, there are three areas that might stop people from asking Jesus to be their leader and forgiver: knowledge, will and experience.

“One important question we must ask if we are going to grow in having gospel conversations with our friends is ‘What is holding you back from making a commitment to follow Jesus?’

The Pie-Shape

“If a person feels like they need more experiences with God, you can pray with them for specific things and help them to engage with prayer for themselves. Another good thing to do is to show them how to connect with God in different ways and help them to see how God is actively involved in their lives.

“If they think they need more knowledge ask them what they don’t understand and help them to discover the answers to their questions. You could go through the Stir Pack, an Alpha course with them or start reading the Bible together.

“If they are not making a commitment because it is a question of their will, then you can challenge them why they are sitting on the fence. There also might be some misconception about what it means to be a Christian that you need to correct.

“Back to my conversation with Marie…I asked her what she thinks she needs before she can make a commitment herself, and she said she feels like she needs more knowledge about God.

“Since that conversation, we are now Skyping nearly every week and reading through the Gospel of Luke together. Marie asks very deep questions about what we read and I am really challenged to think about these things and try to answer them as clearly as possible.

“It is exciting to see how God has worked in her life over the last few years and how she is now exploring what faith means for her own life.”

Applications are still open for our Degree and Gap Year Programmes. We would love to hear your story, so get in touch by following the above links.

We also have a new cycle of our volunteer training starting in January 2020. This community of like-minded learners is a place where you can train your volunteer team about discipleship and set a vision for your youth ministry.

“This is the closest description of what we’ve seen the team develop in. It’s drawing upon the strengths and talents God has given each of us – and using that in a team for His Glory. To make Him famous!”

Emily Spicer, Moveolution Europe Team, Moldova 2019

It has been one week since our Moveolution Europe team landed back in the UK from their 10-day mission trip in Moldova. How did God stir up faith in the community and our team?

From Moldovan-style horse and carriage commutes to sharing the love of God with over 65 children, our team were taken on a whirlwind of a journey with God this February.

We partner with OM Moldova, a mission organisation who started sharing the love of God in Moldova by smuggling Bibles into the country during the Soviet reign, to reach children and families in Palanca.

“Having the pastor share his vision on the first night then enabled our team to know how to partner, get on board and be one cohesive team working together. “

Emily, in our team, helped keep us updated while in Palanca, Moldova. You can read her awesome diary updates for further reading, but here are some of our highlights from this years mission trip.

“We thank God because it has been the most incredible experience, living in the wonderful village of Palanca.”

Moveolution Europe Team, Moldova 2019

Time with God

The team started each day in quiet time with God, centred around a morning talk with one of our partners. This quiet time was an incredible way to focus on how God was speaking to the team and the Moldovan people and to put Him at the centre of our lives.

“At first it may have seemed a lot, but has been a divine treasure for truth and talking point amongst the team,” Emily shared. “It starts the day with God first and our priority, which is a model for life back home.”

The team felt encouraged to praise God and give thanks in all circumstances for what He has already done and promised – before the situation! The team’s trust in God grew and each step unfolded with God’s provision.

Time with God helped the team grow spiritually and ignited communications with God. Reflecting on God moving in the situations and praising Him for how he was working in Palanca brought a model for back home!

Family Visits

Visiting families in their homes was an amazing way to share the love God has for the people in Moldova.

Each house was different, however the team all agreed that the Moldovan people are all extremely hospitable. The team were deeply touched by their need and love for God!

Visiting the families was an incredible opportunity to share our story, pray for their individual needs and listen to the circumstances of the families.

“When visiting people in houses it was challenging to be in small groups – but it meant we were encouraged to speak up and share our story”.

Moved by the powerful stories of the families, our team were so encouraged to share the stories of how God had moved in their lives. Many families faced difficult circumstances, who needed the hope of Jesus.

“A lot of houses we went to wanted us to pray for health because the access to healthcare isn’t great,” shared Ali. “A lot of Moldovan’s struggle to make it to 60,70 years of age; they work hard young and get worn down.”

The team gave food parcels to the families to help nourish their bodies and told stories of hope to bring the love of God in those situations.

“Refreshing and real, the experience of house visits has been a mixture of challenge and inspiration”

In the home of one of the families the team visited, a mother with a four-month-old baby felt God in a personal way. Through the love she had for her son, she was able to understand how God unconditionally loved her and died for her. She “would die for him”, her son, just as Jesus died for her. God showed up.

Another family felt particularly touched by one of the team sharing how God had shaped them. They became more interested in how the Bible was relevant in their lives today. They began to understand how God could speak into their needs and circumstances through the bible.

Children’s and Youth Programmes

During the mission trip, our team ran and hosted children’s programmes at one of the local churches in Palanca.

Venturing out into the village, our team also went into the community to invite youth to an evening service which they also hosted.

Eager and excited, the team welcomed over 40 children on the first day and over 65 children the other days to watch plays of bible stories, do arts, crafts and games, as well as pray for the children.

The children became more open and eager to participate over the course of the programme whether it was through listening or playing games.

Things got serious during the making of paper aeroplanes and they enjoyed playing with them afterward. The games brought them such joy!

At the end of the programme the team prayed individually with each child who attended the programme, bringing an opportunity to speak God into their lives and fill their hearts with the deep love of Jesus.

The team felt grateful then to have specific time with the youth. There is something special about “Teenagers reaching Teenagers!”.

So many of the teenagers in Palanca came to the programme and engaged with what the team shared. The evening was extremely powerful.

“We reflected a generation that was listening to God and that was evident in testimonies.”

“It was great to hear the pastor of the church say he was incredibly grateful for what we did. The impact it had on the children and youth was so great, it filled his heart with joy.”

Life Back Home

Re-familiarising themselves with life back home after being taken out of their comfort zones and into God’s hands, the team are putting what they have learnt into action!

One week since returning, how is God continuing to impact our team?

Physical and Spiritual Thankfulness

Physical

Culture shock sunk in this week, as the team were faced with the luxuries which we take for granted.

During their time in Moldova, the team were faced with seeing a lack of healthcare, sanitation and safe water.

The team have come home truly appreciating and thanking God for those things which some of the world do not have access to, sometimes out of no fault of their own.

Spiritual

During the mission trip, one of our leaders, Tom, guided the team through a quiet time. In this time he highlighted that in order to live like Jesus we must thank God ahead of the situations we face.

“This isn’t just a nice saying,” says Emily. “We saw this embedded into Jesus’ ministry, such as before raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41-43, Luke 9:16)”

The team are integrating both forms of thankfulness into their personal lives, but also in their youth ministries back home.

In Bicester, the team are putting God first by challenging themselves to praise God before their youth groups or places they serve in. Thanking God ahead of what happens.

Appreciating God’s Provision

Fabian, a member of our team, says he has been changed since the mission trip in Moldova. “I am thankful to God that He will always provide and meet every need we have, both physical and spiritual,” he says – even if this isnt how we always expect.

Facing desperate circumstances, the team sometimes felt helpless. One of the things that the team has appreciated since being home is trusting God to meet these needs and not relying on our personal strength.

The most powerful reaction is prayer and to trust God with providing for us.

Vicky was overwhelmed with the hospitality of the Moldovan people. “I am looking for ways to carry the hospitality of the Moldovan people into my core values in my personal life and in ministry.” Vicky shared.

To learn more about what the team got up to, read our Mission Diary, written by the wonderful Emily on our Gap Year Programme.

Thinking of taking your youth on a mission trip? Click here for our Overseas and UK Mission Trips.

Our students spent the week preparing for the FUTURE!  We are crazy about these young men and women and we think God is going to use them in mighty ways to build his Kingdom.  They have avoided the path of least resistance and are doing hard and holy things.  Take two minutes to see how God prepared them this week.

 

Greenhouse student, Julia Konzella, recently shared this simple game at the drop-in club she helps lead.  We think it’s a great tool to get young people to mix outside their normal social group and begin to form authentic community.  It’s simple!

What you need to bring:

  • A copy of this clock for each young person
  • Pens
  • This list of mixer questionsJulia

How it works:

  1. Every young person gets a pen and a clock.
  2. The young people mingle and set a time to “meet up” with another young person or volunteer on each hour.  When they agree on a meeting time each person writes the name of the other on that hour.  When they finish they should have 12 appointments scheduled.
  3. The leader then starts to call out times and reads the corresponding question for the young people to discuss.  For example, the leader might say, “It’s 2 o’clock!”  All the young people look at their clock and see who they have scheduled to meet up with.  The leader works his or her way through the clock in random order.

 

GH Leaving Party

They’re off! This year’s Season 5 Greenhouse students have completed their gap year. So you may be curious about what’s next for them. We’re excited about their commitments to continue working with young people and in churches across the UK and Europe. We’re also excited about everything they’re taking with them from the year they spent in Bicester ministering to teenagers, growing closer to God, and exploring their calling. See how each of them answer these questions about their gap year:

1. What about the Greenhouse experience has impacted you the most?

2. What’s one thing you’ve learned that you’ll take with you as you continue to make disciples?

IMG_3197Marlene

Next steps: Joining the Youthwork Theology Degree programme with a placement in Ramsau, Austria.

  1. There have been so many things which impacted me. To live together with Christians in a flat helped me in so many different ways. For example how to deal with conflicts or how to share faith things, praying for each other and just helping each other grow.
  1. I learned how important it is to build up a relationship with the teenagers and that living an authentic life alongside them helps them to realize more what living as a Christian means.

SamDSC00027

Next steps: Beginning Year 2 in the Youthwork Theology Degree programme with a placement in Bicester, UK.

  1. The Greenhouse course has helped me so much in terms of knowing where a teenager is and what the next step could be for them. We learn lots of scales, shapes and tools that help us in actual ministry and that have affected my youth work.
  1. I have grown with seeking out God’s wisdom and asking more about what he wants and his plans for my life, the church and the conversations I have. Whether that’s mentoring or just talking to individuals in groups. This will be one of my greatest tools going forward next year and that constant reminding that’s its God doing these things and that he allows us to be a part of that and can use us.

DanielleDSC00025

Next steps: Beginning Year 2 in the Youthwork Theology Degree programme with a placement in Nottingham, UK.

  1. I have grown spiritually in my walk with God; through many people I have learnt more about my faith, been stretched and challenged which has then brought me to the place I’m in now. I have watched Christians living in a different way to others, living church in everyday life and it has been inspiring to see them and teach me how I can do the same.
  1. I’ve learnt how I want a youth ministry to look like and where my strengths lie in order for me to create that ministry. I worked alongside many people this year and they have all individually taught me about different youth ministries, what they look like, how they work, and how I can work in them. I have learnt how to interact with people who work differently to me and I believe this is very important to be able to do as there will always be people who have different ways of completing tasks.

BjörnIMG_3212

Next steps: Training and serving with Elim Church in Hamburg, Germany.

  1. The most impacting thing has been the community of christians that lived the everyday church life and talking about the ups and downs authentically, not just in sessions, but in daily living.
  1. I’ll keep using the LifeShapes and a lot of the tools like “Story of the Bible” and how to read the bible.

It definitely sounds like their year out in Bicester has been life changing. We continue to pray God will use them in their next steps. And we prepare to welcome Season 6 students in September for another incredible year of training and disciplemaking!

The degree year is complete! Our final conference was all about relaxing, celebrating, and learning in community together. We loved having Steve Addison, author of Movements that Change the World, with us this conference. And it was great to have our alumni visit as well! For a look at the fun and learning that took place with all our students and staff, click play and enjoy the next 90 seconds.

The following reflection is written by Leslie, one of our 2012-2013 Gap-Year students, as she processes her first 5 months in the Greenhouse Programme:

“Where you invest your love, you invest your life” – Awake My Soul by Mumford & Sons

Investing can mean many different things.  You can invest money into an up and coming business because you believe they have something new to add to the market or you foresee a gain for yourself in the future.  You can invest time into a new project because you have hopes and dreams of taking something that may begin as rubbish and turn it into something beautiful.

What GreenHouse has taught me is that youth ministry requires a heavy amount of investing.  I’ve learned that in order to really love people the way Jesus loved people and to disciple the way that He discipled, I have to be willing to invest more than just my time, effort, or energy, even though those are all important elements.  Truly investing requires investing all of my life.

First and foremost, I’ve learned that investing takes all of my heart and soul and a great deal of love.  As I am investing my heart, soul, mind, and strength into Jesus first, I am able to take the love, grace, and mercy that He instills in me and invest that into the teens we work with.  I think the more attributes of Christ, like His love or grace, that we are willing to invest and proclaim into our relationships with others through practical actions, the more we can have a radical impact for furthering the God’s Kingdom on earth.  Investing means we have to be intentional to reflect and mirror Christ in all of our actions and words.

So what does investing look like for us GreenHousers? It’s going to football matches in the cold to cheer on our teens.   It’s spending a couple Saturdays to help clean, organize, and paint a teenagers room.  It’s meeting up for coffee, playing video and board games, sharing meals, and always being available to talk through good times and hard times.  We’re investing ten months of our words, our actions, and our lives into seeing the teens of Bicester transformed by Jesus.