Redefining Music As You Know It

As an English student, I spend a lot of my time studying the meanings and implications of words, phrases, sentences, chapters and texts.
There are some words that are very easily defined – “candlestick”, for example, or “front door”.
Then you have words like “match” which could mean one of the following: an easily ignited cord, wick or piece of wood; to correspond exactly; to compare; a game or contest; an equal competitor; a prospective marriage partner.
And, finally, there are very subjective words. I’m going to use “music” as an example, because it’s something which society has for generations struggled to define. I’m going to put an end to any hope that we may hold for the future of good quality music by revealing to the civilised world the latest horror show to emerge from Wilson’s box of tricks – a rather scratchy cover of a Mumford & Sons song. This is my attempt at redefining [a polite word for “murdering” in this instance] music as we know it:


Go For The Hard Cell

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it means to be a Christian at University, and how exactly I/we fit into society and the church. I have often marvelled at how the life a student leads is perpetually estranged from the “real world”, and how we as students tend to warmly embrace this unhealthy notion by pro-actively ensuring that our contact with those outside of University circles is restricted to a few words over a shop counter. The average modern day student, Christian or not, seems to have a chip in their brain which convinces them that they are the centre of the world/ are in some way different to the rest of society in terms of what they are entitled to. Admittedly the blame does not fall completely at the feet of the student – you need only walk down the High Street to see that shops and businesses have identified students as a key target market in their advertising campaigns – but It saddens me that this is a particularly common problem within Christian circles. That sounds a little harsh, I know, but please give me a couple of minutes to provoke a thought or two.

In relation to my introductory paragraph, I would like to call into question the helpfulness of the infamous “Student Cell Group.” I’m aware that they’re hardly a new phenomenon, and most churches these days seem to have adopted them into their vision, but I’m unconvinced that they hold a great deal of value [although I do appreciate that there are advantages to them].  I was having a conversation with my Pastors at the beginning of the summer about how to cater for the students at my home church, and they were quick to point out that students, of all people, do not need “catering” for. Students have the most time and energy out of everyone so surely, they reasoned, it is only logical that we are the ones doing the giving? We discussed the pros and cons of setting up a student study group at the church, and arrived at the conclusion that it was neither a biblical nor a beneficial move for the students and church alike. Why, Pastors Roy and Ryan reasoned, should students feel the need to separate themselves from the rest of the church when in Jesus’ eyes they are deemed the same as all other adults? At what age do young adults stop considering themselves to be walking the Christian faith differently to other folk in the church and instead embrace the wisdom and experience that they can glean from those who have already been through University and the world of work?

This also raises the question as to where in the Bible we are instructed to slice the church into age brackets and enforce exclusivity. I would suggest that a glance at the Early Church shows us that folk from every background imaginable met together and enjoyed one another’s fellowship. I’m aware that it’s much more cosy/easy to just hide away from everyone else in our little student world and set up what I now like to call “Cell lite” [because how can we get the full meat out of a discussion if everyone involved has the same experience?], but Jesus doesn’t instruct us to seek out convenience and exclusivity. Church is about meeting under Jesus’ name with all of his family together – young, old, poor, rich, funny, annoying. Sometimes you have to put up with it, but tolerance teaches patience and patience is a fantastic Fruit of the Spirit. Can we get a more perfect example of how to do fellowship  than Jesus, who spent loads of time hanging out with some spectacularly diverse groups of people from many different walks of life? Acts 20:35 and Leviticus 19:32 also spring to mind.

You [the young adult] also have to remember that when you go to a mixed-age house group, you become an incredible blessing to the elderly folk with whom you have fellowship. Imagine yourself, if you will, at the age of 80. Do you not think it would be a little saddening to see a Christian generation growing up intent on separating themselves from you and your peers and you’re not really sure why. When the young you shows a desire to invest time and interest into sharing your Christian experiences with the unemployed man in his mid-40s or the 60 year-old cleaning lady, it is immeasurably more rewarding than discussing the quotidian nuances of University life. Although it is not always the case, most Christians tend to grow in maturity and wisdom through time. That man in his mid 40s and that 60 year old lady will have an excellent grasp of the scriptures and a wiser head upon their shoulders. Obviously I generalise somewhat, but it’s undeniably a trend. Does your church have mixed-age cell groups? If so, I encourage you to attend one of them.

I appreciate that there are a lot of stones that I’ve left unturned, some of them rather heavier than others. I hope you have felt sufficiently challenged by this article to leave a comment, drop me an email or – even better – just “Go For The Hard Cell”.

Star Wars and The Gospel: A Formidable Combination

This is a fantastic video of a young girl summarising the plot of one of the Star Wars movies through the eyes of a 3 year old. Whilst some of us might chuckle at her childish interpretations, it’s actually a surprisingly accurate review! Being young and culturally/socially ignorant means that she literally tells the story as she sees it, making for some simple but refreshing feedback.

Sometimes I feel we can get so caught up in the ins and outs of the Gospel that we lose our focus on the basics of it! Maybe if we were to hammer home the essentials of Jesus’ life and death, our understanding would be clearer and our faith would be more defined. As Jesus says in Luke 18:17: “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”


20? I’d quite like my teenage years back, please.

I turn 20 today, and that’s a pretty terrifying prospect for me. I’ve enjoyed my teen years a lot, and it’s strange to think that I’ll never get them back – regardless of how childish my behaviour might be. I’m not one for sentimentality, but I’d like to mark the end of teen-hood by ironing out a few common misconceptions about teenagers.

1. “All teenagers carry knives!”
WRONG. In fact, I know several people who don’t even carry a knife at night! Most of my friends only wear small knives, nothing to be scared of. Not ALL teenagers are cool enough to be in a turtle gang…

2. “Teenagers don’t have real feelings.”
Pur-lease! When a 14 year-old boy pronounces his unwavering love for his girlfriend of 2 weeks, don’t doubt the guy. He’s travelled the seven seas looking for the perfect gal, so to suggest that his relationship won’t withstand the test of time would be to scorn Cupid himself. Teenagers have 5-year plans these days.

3. “All teenagers do is play video games.”
This is definitely not true. Teenagers spend at least 30% more time than the average adult in bed. This is an incredible attestation to the “play hard, rest hard” approach to life that the majority of teenagers adopt. Inspirational.

4. “Today’s youth are so unimaginative, when I was a boy/girl…”
This statement is normally followed by a long, dreary tale of how Old Person X and Old Person Y would invent all sorts of games and would take long walks in the countryside. Bully for you! If you’d ever played Fifa or Mario Kart, you wouldn’t need to invent any other game..!

5. “Today’s teenagers haven’t mastered the English language…”
I will literally kill the next person who tries to convince me of this!

There are plenty of other misconceptions out there that I’d love to correct, but I need to go sharpen my knives before bed. It’s been a fun 8 years for me, but I’m now looking forward to what’s ahead. In 2 years time I’ll have finished with University; in 5 years time I’ll be in full-time employment with a house of my own. Well, that’s my 5-year plan anyway!