Whats going on with the blogs!?!

Whats going on with the blogs!?!

This year I ventured into contracted, freelance writing – which has proved excellent fun! This has also whetted my appetite for writing more broadly than simply on youth work and theology.

For instance; did you know I was a raving, left-wing lunatic with a penchant for stuffed animals, superfoods and tech-savvy activism? No? Well we obviously have more to talk about then!

From now on all my youth work blogging will be a curated and collaborative effort at Youth Work hacks.com.

Youth Work Hacks will be a blog as before, but will also include downloadable resources and training opportunities. Some excellent Youth Workers will also start adding to the author list to keep the broad base growing.

Timgough.co will revert back to being a self-aggrandising, neo-marxist collection of awe and wonder. Specifically I’ll be writing on philosophy, politics, activism, the class systems, economics and most likely lego.

You will see both a redesign and redistribution of posts over the coming weeks.

Some clumplicated bits.
(That’s like a lump of complication… with an extra C for good measure.)

If you are subscribed to timgough.co via email, you will continue to receive updates. However, if you signed up for the sole purpose of reading about youth work then I suggest you unsubscribe from that list and then subscribe afresh to Youth Work Hacks – which will work in exactly the same way (and you’ll get a free eBook out of it!).

Here’s a helpful wee link for that: http://timgough.us3.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=0c06b1e1a33139812fe5f2542&id=62e02c9c0b

Thanks for following me on the journey. Please don’t leave me alone to my ramblings, but comment, throw things, share and enjoy! Thanx.

Surviving Camp With A Fully Charged Mobile Phone

Youth Work Posts have all moved to YouthWorkHacks.com – check it out!

Getting though summer camp with a fully charged mobile phone is like running down the side of a mountain with a dirty martini trying desperately not to spill it – good luck!

From hurrying up the tardy group member, to locating the mini bus, to checking in with concerned parents, every precious little bit of juice matters.

If you’re at something like Soul Survivor, finding a charging port can be the difference between going to the right seminar (you know, the quiet one with the wall sockets) and having to queue in the tool shed for half an hour while feigning interest in a gap year that you’re obviously ten years too old for.

Follow these simple geeky tips to be economic with your juice and stay on top of the battery game this year:

Make your software work for you, not without you.

This is an easy one! Simply make sure you’re not using power-draining apps and background software that you don’t need.

  1. Go to your battery settings and find out what apps are using power. If you don’t need them, close them!
  2. Also check out what background apps are running in your settings – close those too. Always close apps from the background after you use them.
  3. Switch off wi-fi, tethering, bluetooth, data roaming and push email clients. Also switch from 3g or 4g to 2g (or GSM).
  4. Switch off location services and GPS (once you get there!).
  5. f you have a high deff or AMOLED screen, make sure your background and lock screen are set to just black.
  6. Speaking of the screen, manually set the brightness to the lowest you can handle and drop the timeout/standby time to as low as it will go (usually 15 seconds).
  7. Get rid of your phone’s vibrate setting, and put a boring but audible single tone ringtone on instead.
  8. Look into power management apps and widgets like ‘Power Control’ or ‘DU Battery Saver.’

Discover new ways of charging your phone.

A few little tweaks, and maybe a little money will go a long way to recharge your phone without having to stand on a friend’s shoulders to reach the maintenance plugs above the loos!

  1. Turn on aeroplane mode when charging. Aeroplane mode shuts down the processing power usually used to communicate to towers. This can speed up charging time by 10-25% depending on your phone.
  2. Invest in a car charger, and spend 30 mins to yourself in an evening charging your phone. If you’ve got a small petrol engine, then you’ll be wanting to run the car for 20 mins of that time.
  3. If you’ve got the option then go for a leisure battery or electric hook up so you can charge at camp.
  4. Invest in a decent power bar / portable battery with a high capacity. Amazon are selling Anker E6 20800mAh bars right now for about twenty quid!!! These should charge your phone 3-7 times.
  5. Don’t leave your charger anywhere! Not every nice Christian person is a nice Christian person.

Be thrifty with the vanity.

If you’re on camp – be on camp! I’m a big tweeter, instagramer and facebook user, but y’know what? I’m camping!!! so I can use those data-heavy and power-hungry apps when I get home! Bring a digital camera with you instead, or just photobomb everyone else!

Running A Trip To Soul Survivor – Complete Kit Free Download

Youth Work Posts have all moved to YouthWorkHacks.com – check it out!

I’ve run a trip to soul survivor almost every year for the last 8 years with group numbers from 8-35. I know just how stressful it can be and how much needs to be done.

In the spirit of feeling a wee bit generous, here are is my invitation letter, medical & consent form and complete delegates pack (timetable, rules, pack list etc.) for you to have / take / adapt / eat – whatever!

Obviously – please change names, dates and details as you need, and if you would be interested in a copy in word / pages let me know.



soul survivor delegates pack
soul survivor invitation letter
soul survivor medical and consent form

A Cantankerous Old Man’s Guide To Youth Work

Youth Work Posts have all moved to YouthWorkHacks.com – check it out!

When I was 15 one of my best friends was a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, called Cliff.

Being paralysed from the waist down after a bad car accident, Cliff hadn’t left his flat in 10 years. He was old, he was moody, he was racist, he smoked like a chimney (not just tobacco!), he swore like a sailor and drunk like a very thirsty fish.

Why on earth was this cantankerous old man one of my best friends? 2 reasons:

1. He just liked having me around!

Cliff took a genuine interest in the things I cared about. He would just sit and listen to me talk about guitars and computer games. He even bought me a large power kite one day after hearing me rave about them. He didn’t try to be like me, or pretend to be ‘one of the guys,’ he just genuinely cared about me and really did like spending time with me.

When I had major surgery, he got Iceland Home Delivery to send six large crates of junk food to my hospital bed (which fed all three Children’s wards in Blackpool Victoria Hospital). When I turned 16, he paid a taxi driver to bring a magnum bottle of champagne to my front door. What a freaking legend!

2. He gave me responsibility.

Cliff allowed me to rebuild his computers, cook him meals and do his shopping. I would tidy his house, sort his mail and charge the batteries in his wheelchair. I never had any doubt that I was valuable to him.

By the end of his life Social Services would no longer work with him. He would rage and throw things at them. I had the keys to his flat, became his next of kin and his sole carer. When Cliff died I organised his funeral – at 17. His estranged family didn’t come.

Short Safeguarding Note: For those of you with Spidey senses tingling (rightly so), my parents kept up a relationship with Cliff themselves and kept a closer eye than I was aware of.


Cliff’s Guide to Youth Work

In terms of healthy boundaries, this might not be the ideal job description for a youth worker. It does however, give us two very clear principles for youth work:

1. Show young people that you genuinely value your time with them.

Don’t fake it, don’t milk it and don’t try to be one of them. Just like them, and like hanging out with them. Show them extravagant acts of love. Don’t know how – here’s 55 ideas!

2. Give them clear genuine responsibility.

Young people don’t want to be consumers, they are wired for producing. Simple entertainment-driven youth work is now going to way of the dodo – and good riddance to bad sugar-fueld nonsense!

Get them to run things, to work on things, to lead things, to learn things, to research things, to design their own programs, to tell you what they want to learn about and to help teach each other. Let them know that they’re valuable because they are valuable, not because they boost your youth group numbers.

Let’s learn from Cliff and take the words value, extravagance and genuineness to their youth work ideals.

Thank you Cliff.

8 easy tips for small group dynamics

Youth Work Posts have all moved to YouthWorkHacks.com – check it out!

8 easy tips for small group dynamics

Part 3 of a 3 part podcast on ‘Small Group Dynamics.’


You can find part 1 here: http://wp.me/p4r1vu-Dy

& Part 2 here: http://wp.me/p4r1vu-DH

You can find a transcript and sources on my blog here: http://www.timgough.co/the-awkward-bunch-small-group-dynamics-in-youth-work/

My Youth Work Survival Kit!

Ever had to do a last minute session on the fly? Me too – and it can be a real knock to your youth work ego and savvy when you’re fumbling around trying to make a point from a can of tinned carrots and run a game using your own rolled up sock!

Therefore I keep in my car at all times a ‘youth work survival pack.’ This includes a few Bibles (obvs!) but a few other things as well:

– Deck of cards
– A set of story cubes
– Gaffer tape
– Pens & Paper
– A ball of string
– Pegs
– Post It Notes
– Mini frisbee
– A copy of ‘name your top three’
– An inflatable beach ball / ice-breaker ball
– Blu Tac
– A power extension lead
– A bluetooth speaker
– A ping pong ball
– A packet of straws
– A couple of tealights & matches

This all fits in a shoe box under my driver seat – right next to my first aid kit! – and it has saved my youthy bacon on several occasions!

I’d love to know what you keep in yours, so post a comment and let me know!

Responding to tricky characters in your youth group (Small Group Dynamics part 2)

Youth Work Posts have all moved to YouthWorkHacks.com – check it out!

Responding to those tricky characters in your youth cell group.

Part 2 of a 3 part podcast on ‘Small Group Dynamics.’


You can find part 1 here: http://wp.me/p4r1vu-Dy

& Part 3 here: http://wp.me/p4r1vu-DH

You can find a transcript and sources on my blog here: http://www.timgough.co/the-awkward-bunch-small-group-dynamics-in-youth-work/

Bible Study Showdown – A plea to ditch the classic formula and strike out on your own

There are Bible studies and there are ‘Bible studies’, the former are awesome – and the latter, perhaps not so much.

It looks to me pursuing the shelves of my local Christian bookstores, that the vast majority of youth Bible study resources on the market today are the prefabricated and pre-answered formulaic type. You don’t necessarily study any Bible! Instead you study somebody else’s thoughts on studying the Bible. Does anyone else feel cheated and cheesed by this? If we don’t it’s possible that we too were reared on these ‘prefab Bible studies.’

Tell me, does this excerpt look familiar?

Title: David, Giant Slayer!
Aim: To show that even the smallest person can knock down their giants with a little faith.
Read: 1 Samuel 17:31-50
Ask: Do you think David was afraid to face goliath? Why not?
Say: David had faith that God would fight for him!
Ask: A giant doesn’t have to be a real giant. A giant could be a school test or a bully. What giants do you face at home and at school?
Ask: How do you think having faith like David’s would help you face those giants?


There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this short excerpt, but it’s not really a Bible study is it? It’s a thematic, application-driven chat bouncing around a couple of verses in a passage without cracking them open and getting to the goo-of-awesomeness inside.

How about approaching a question set like this instead:

Read: 1 Samuel 17:48 (in context of vv.31-50)

– What did you notice in the verse – Anything at all?

– If you we’re leading, what questions would you ask from this verse?

– Who was ‘The Philistine’ and how did he compare with David?
– What is ‘the Battle line’ and why were only two of them on it?
– How did both of them approach each other?
– Why do you think Goliath first arose, then came, and then drew near? Why three stages?
– Why do you think David ‘ran quickly’?

– What or who was running with David? (Look back at v.47)

– What do you think this verse teaches us about God? (Don’t be satisfied with one answer).
– How does it teach us about people who follow God and people who hate God?
– What does it teach us about size?

– How about fear?

– When you face obstacles, how do you approach them?
– What things in your world mock God like Goliath did – how do you think David would respond to them?
– What ‘David qualities’ from this verse would you like to add to your identity?

– What Goliath qualities could you do without?

There’s some key differences in this approach:

First, the verse itself is dictating what questions should be asked.

Most people you work with are not going to be Bible scholars. Every other word is going to create complications and confusion. So why not let that be the way into reading the passage?

Second, the questions begin observationally, move onto interpretation and end with the application and reflection.
The train is led by what you see, how you read the passage then follows, which informs how you act on the passage. This is often the exact opposite to the approach demonstrated earlier.
Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 14.20.08
Third, this is question-driven not formula-driven.

Question-driven relies off who, what, when, where, why and how – whereas formula-driven relies on seeking exact answers to set up the teaching point that you (or your handy resource book!) need to make. Prefabricated studies are like knock knock jokes; the person hearing the joke needs to understand the joke formula or the punchline will fail!

Forth, the application flows directly from the passage it doesn’t have to be shoehorned in.

You might end up in a similar place application wise, but the grounding for it is much more secure.

Fifth, this teaches a method of reading the Bible that doesn’t rely on you – it relies on the text.

You and me – we’re fallible; shock, horror. The Bible? Not so much! Young people will be able to use this Bible reading technique on their own, carry it with them to university and help them spot Bible loving churches throughout their life.

Sixth, the Holy Spirit has more room.

The Holy Spirit is never divorced from the Bible itself, so you are allowing the Holy Spirit to speak more clearly because you are allowing the Word to speak more clearly. You also trusting conversation and discussion to the Holy Spirit for guidance and quality.

Seventh, the young people are directing the discussion.

Particularly in the early and late questions. This allows you to know much more about the young people that you’re working with, it helps them feel like they’re being heard and it develops you as a family, a team and a community.

11 of the Most Common Personalities in Small Groups

Youth Work Posts have all moved to YouthWorkHacks.com – check it out!

Part 1 of a 3 part podcast on ‘Small Group Dynamics.’

11 negative traits of personalities that you are likely to meet in your youth work’s small group.


find Part 2 on responding to these tricky characters here: http://wp.me/p4r1vu-DH

& Part 3 here: http://wp.me/p4r1vu-DH


You can find a transcript and sources on my blog here: http://www.timgough.co/the-awkward-bunch-small-group-dynamics-in-youth-work/

(sorry about the peaking microphone – I will get that fixed!!)