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Stories to trust

12 September 2014

Richard Lamey reads suggested plans for youth-group sessions

Creative Ideas for Frontline Evangelism with Young People
Simon Rundell
Canterbury Press £19.99 (includes CD-ROM)
Church Times Bookshop £18 (Use code CT263 )

SIMON RUNDELL is a parish priest in Plymouth who states (on his wonderfully titled website "parishLife: Me liturgy, you drains") that his likes include mission, youth work, and espresso coffee, and his dislikes include prejudice and the Anglican Covenant.

His latest book on exploring faith with young people draws together most of his confessed passions, and is practical and worth while. It is made up of 30 fully planned youth-group sessions.

It would be a good resource for those who plan their youth programme many months ahead, and also for those who need to pick up a resource on their way to leading an accessible and yet challenging session for their youth group. It has the most detailed explanation imaginable of how to blow the yolk out of an egg before you paint it. It also has the great virtue of doing simple things really well, and of making the reader think that he or she could do this, while also setting the bar on vision and preparation very high.

The most impressive thing of all is Rundell's confidence in the treasures found in the Bible. In his Introduction, he writes: "the stories of Christ and the early Church are so alive, so captivating and dynamic that they cannot fail to engage new audiences, hungry for timeless stories and the eternal truths that God reveals through them."

Rundell argues very strongly, and very convincingly, that secondary-school children have the great advantage of coming to the stories of the Good Samaritan or Jonah or Doubting Thomas without preconceptions, which makes them particularly open to good storytelling, and then to reflecting on the responses that the story evokes from them.

The sessions start with an introduction of the theme, followed by a modern retelling of a Bible story, and then a practical exploration of the theme raised by the story - for example, a craft activity, an act of penitence, a drama, or some baking. Each one ends with a closing thought that drives home the point of the story.

Rundell is not shockingly radical or painfully trendy. His great strengths are his calm confidence in the stories that we have inherited, stories that speak afresh to each generation, and bring people face to face with the living God; and his ability to do simple things extremely well. It is a book to read, use, and be inspired by.

The Revd Richard Lamey is Rector of St Paul's, Wokingham, with St Nicholas's, Embrook, and Woosehill Community Church, Berkshire.

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