Friday, 2 December 2011

Achieving the unthinkable - feeding a zombie

When I wrote the first of my 'zombie' posts this week  realised that I was putting myself in the stocks by asserting that I had the answer as to how the church should reach out to that massive chunk of disaffected youth who have never known Jesus Christ other than as a casual blasphemy.

The truth is, I do not have a cast iron answer, but I do have a number of strategies which is, perhaps more than most Bishops have in their war chest.

For this initiative to be successful it requires government support and, possibly, even changes to legislation. It may also be an unpalatable fact that the initiative may not come in time for this generation, maybe we are aiming at those who are currently in the 12-14 age group and we have to forget their older brothers and sisters.

It is also much easier to state what will not work.

Priests dressing up in trainers and shellsuits won't work, youth clubs, won't work and heavy metal Masses won't work.
A zombie can smell condescension a mile off and remember, this group are the walking dead; to bring them back to life is going to take something more than a parish disco to wean them off blood sucking.

OK, let me assert a few 'facts' from my limited experience of "yoof".

Firstly, as my friend Andy used to say: "If you scare them half to death and they enjoy it, they won't want to vandalise a phone box ever again."
 Andy runs an outward bound centre and specialises in taking zombies young people with behavioural problems, out to sea in very small rubber boats, RIBS as they are called.
 They spend a day clinging to bits of rope, white knuckled and white faced, whilst ploughing through vicious waves as can only be experienced off the most westerly part of the Pembrokeshire coast - the area of sea is known on maps as "The Bitches" and that says it all.

This then is the foremost spanner in my toolkit. Take a programme such as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, (except that this will be the Prince William Achievement Scheme) make it mandatory for all and adapt it so that it is focused on achievements that include passing a series of 'experience' tests. Things such as taking a kayak up a mountain stream, living off the land (yes, really) for 3 days, climbing a cliff, coasteering (Google it), trekking cross country with horses and map reading thrown in for good measure.

The last module they will have to complete will be a three day stint at the local undertakers, cemetery or crematorium. They will do the gopher tasks but, most importantly, having experienced 'life' on the programme, they will now experience' death' - Oh Mummy! (or, Oh Mommy, if you are an American).

Now please be clear; this is not a boot camp regime I am advocating. They will start off hating it but end up loving it.

Why? Because this is the first step to them appreciating self respect - not self esteem, respect. And self respect, for this group is a pre-requisite to the process of understanding why they exist and who made it possible for them to exist.

This achievement scheme will be compulsory within the school system and will carry a qualification rating equivalent to 3 GCSEs.

But that is not the end of it, it is only just beginning. After they finish school and before they start work, University or the benefits system they will have to do  a 6 month assignment that will involve them in a range of community and good citizen type projects. This will be followed by a further 6 month period spent in a hospital, care home or similar environment and one month of that time must be spent in a hospice.
The state will pay them for doing this. It will have the rating of a National Diploma vocational qualification.

Yes, you heard correctly, they will receive a retainer for undertaking this one year programme, paid by month but restrospectively.
Have a cold for two days and fail to attend and you won't get your monthly allowance.

But, but you can the country afford it?....and what on earth has it got to do with evangelising in the first place?

Well, the country can afford it because it will then not have to pay out benefits for these people (many of whom would remain on benefits for the rest of their lives).
The country will not have to pay out in terms of crime prevention and drug abuse schemes, they will not be needed to the same degree and the country will not have to pay out for the massive amount of damage caused by anti social behaviour.

And as for evangelisation?  Well once a sense of self respect has been engendered, the desire to play computer games around the clock or watch endless television quenched and an awareness of their fellow man  embedded, the real bringing to life process begins (more on that next week).

Of course, you say: "It will never happen - the lefties won't stand for it, there will be rioting on the streets" But....we have that already!


  1. Richard,
    Excellent post-you are absolutely spot on with your sentiments! Maybe it's about time that some of our spiritually sound Catholic and competent laity should re-evangelise our Episcopal Conference and some of our dubious heretical ultra modernist and disloyal clergy also!

    God Bless,


    God Bless,


  2. Yes, some great ideas there Richard.
    I think the physical challenges are more suitable for the boys though. I think boys really need to be physically challenged, to feel a bit of fear and to "do it anyway".
    Girls benefit from physical challenges too, but not in the same way, and I think they need a different, and slightly less straightforward, approach.

    My oldest son showed me a programme he was watching on iPlayer about a lifestyle swap between US Amish and UK teenagers.
    I didn't watch the whole thing but was very struck by the massive difference in maturity between the two groups. And the huge amounts of recreation time that many of the UK teens had compared to their Amish counterparts for whom hard physical work was an essential part of their way of life since childhood.
    They work from dawn till dusk, the men outside in the fields, and the women engaged in domestic work. They all had a sense of community and a sense of purpose.
    The Amish teens seemed to cope remarkably well in th UK environment, were quite confident and sophisticated in their assesment of the differences and were apparently not at all bothered by thoughts of how they appeared in the eyes of others.

  3. Clare, you are right, I worked once with groups of Welsh schoolchildren and their Australian counterparts. The differences were unbelievable, appearance, culture, outlook etc. Sorry to say the Aussies were the more mature!

  4. Afford it? Afford it? What are they thinking about.
    It is an investment!
    You have to speculate before you accumilate, dontchaknow?

    I vote Richard as ruler of England. Who seconds it?

  5. Hi Richard,

    I saw this post a while back and nearly responded then.

    There is an answer to 'How to evangelise a zombie' but the problem is so deep that no normal man made strategies will ever work.

    Also, the Catholic church in this country has few people left for the spiritual battle to deal with it (I will explain why at the end).

    I have not got a point by point solution for you but have you ever heard of Jackie Pullinger? Unfortunately for us she is not Catholic. I have two hero's who are alive in the Christian world. Number one at the top of the list is Jackie Pullinger. Number two is John Varnier who set up the Lasrsh Foundation (he is thankfully Catholic).

    Jackie is English and is an evangelical protestant. She went out to the slums of Hong Kong in the 1960's. She set off as a missionary on her own and set up a youth centre right in the middle of the slums where all the heroine and crack dens where.

    She was totally clueless about spiritual warfare when she left and didn't understand what to do but, she kept persevering despite never getting any answer to prayer or without anyone being saved. Her life was also regularly under threat. However, one day after the youth club was attacked and human excrement was smeared over the wall she decided that she wouldn't give in even then and as she was cleaning the sewage up off the walls she still praised God anyway through gritted teeth. The rest is history. She went out in to the drug dens and brought some of the younger vulnerable youths back and they started going out in the spirit, started speaking in tongues and being instantly healed of illness, as well as their addictions. She has since saved many thousands of people for the kingdom of God and started the St Stephens Foundation in Hong Kong. They now take people out of the drug dens and volunteers stay up with them praying for ten whole days without sleep so that they are healed of their addictions and saved for the Kingdom.

    Now, this is obviously not the same as the youth in this country (though there are some similarities). However, the reason that I mentioned it was because once you have seen the most extreme example of people being saved then the job of dealing spiritually with those youths in the UK does not actually look so daunting.

    However, you are almost correct in calling them zombies. This is because the barriers between them and God are so strong that virtually nothing will get through.

    There are two types of intercessors in the Christian world. Those who pray and those who go and 'open the doors' on the ground. When I say pray I am not refering to the average person who prays, I am talking about mature intercessors who understand the spiritual nature of what has happened to these people and understand what they are praying about. I am afraid that there are not many of these in the Catholic world. Why? It all comes down to three generations of lost teaching. We have the sacraments but they (by they, I mean the evangelicals, pentecostals, and the protestant evangelicals) have the teaching (albeit not the full deposit of faith). However, what they have been taught they use to the nth degree and keep passing it on to the next generation. These people actually understand what they are doing.

    I think that a National Service idea is good but, man made solutions will never work. It is only through God, intercessions and then people opening the doors 'on the ground' that will actually evangelise and save people.

    I have included a link to an interview with Jackie Pullinger if you are interested. She may look like a normal person but, I can assure you that the experiences she had make it look like Mother Teresa had an easy time. The reason that she looks tired is because all the workers, as well as herself, stay up praying over the addicts through the night for ten days at a time. They get very little sleep.

  6. Hi OPN and thank you. I agree totally and will look at the link you sent me.
    I am wrestling with the final solution (no, not that one).
    Will feature it after Christmas now I think.