Alex is a freelance writer, editor and trainer, working for part of his time as resources editor for YCW. He tells us about this week in Milton Keynes, where he lives, both inside and outside work.
In the morning, I was on online hosting duties. My church has just changed its online provision, moving from pre-recorded services to live-streaming the sermon. To help enable more interaction, two online hosts present the meeting, responding to the comments of those watching online as well as giving out notices and generally chatting.
The rest of the day was taken up with a quick Zoom call with my family, followed by a marathon audition session for my theatre group’s next production, Evita. I have been on the steering committee of Company MK for over ten years now.
I’m generally a big show-off, and so being involved in community theatre gives me the chance to get onstage. In addition to that more selfish reason (!), there are two other main priorities for me: building a place of community where people can make friends and pursue common interests, and meeting people who aren’t Christians.
Working in Christian ministry means that you rarely meet non-Christians, so it’s a great way to meet ‘normal’ people!
I managed to get the part of Agustin Magaldi, a sleazy tango singer of limited talent. I hope it wasn’t type-casting.
On Mondays, I spend most of the day creating the children’s ministry resources for my church. They pay me a few hours a week to write a programme that follows the same subjects and Bible passages as the adults cover. I put together activities and record videos that tell the Bible stories, teach memory verses and welcome children to the group.
At the moment, the adults are exploring a series based on Mike Pilavachi and Andy Croft’s book, Everyday Supernatural. It’s fair to say that this sermon series wasn’t conceived with children in mind – some of the sessions have been pretty tricky to create! However, I have been involved in putting together the sermon series going forward, and I have been able to wave the flag for children as part of that process.
The make-up of the rest of the week very much depends on what needs doing (and at what point of the monthly schedule we’re at with Premier Youth and Children’s Work magazine). This Tuesday brought material for NexGen that needed to be edited, as well as an article for the magazine.
As the readership of this esteemed publication is wide, we need to make sure we cover a variety of viewpoints – this can be a challenging thing for me when a writer doesn’t share my views on things! However, I think we do a good job of amplifying a wide range of voices.
This Wednesday saw me writing an event plan for the whole church family to use during the summer holidays, based on the parable of the lost son (available on our website).
To be able to do intergenerational ministry well is a tricky thing, so I had to consider how different age groups might encounter the story together and learn from each other, as well as having lots of fun! I’ll have to see what the editor thinks, before I declare the event plan a success…
In the evening, I held a rehearsal for a one-off concert that my theatre group is putting on at a local retirement village; we have performed for them many times in the past.
I think we’ve put together a varied programme of songs from shows and we’ve included ‘You’ll never walk alone’ from the musical Carousel, as this fulfils one of my rules for life: “Leave them crying”. (If you’re interested, my other rules for life are “Sell the cheese” and “Always know where the camera is”.)
As well as writing and editing, I volunteer at MK Museum as a room guide. This Thursday I was there helping out with a large group of adults who’d come all the way from…Dunstable. The museum is housed in a Victorian farmhouse, and covers much of Victorian life in its exhibits. I was in the servants’ room, demonstrating Victorian vacuum cleaners and talking about how the servants would recycle the urine from the household’s chamber pots.
What I enjoy about the museum is similar to working with children and young people – each group you talk to has different interests and will react in different ways. Although you might be in the same room of the museum all day, you never have the same conversation twice.
Older visitors will remember things from their own childhood, while children will be fascinated with Victorian ingenuity. The museum tries to get visitors involved, so there is lots to get your hands on! This Thursday, I made more than one pensioner vacuum up ash from the floor…
The evening was spent on more Evita auditions. We had some people to see who wanted to be in the company for the show. We try to be professional in everything we do, apart from being paid!
So while auditioning might seem a tough process, we want to make sure we produce the best show we can. If we’re asking people to pay to come and see it, it should be worth the money!
Today was a day spent in front of the TV (for work purposes, you understand). In May, Scripture Union launched an initiative called Be More Micah, which seeks to engage all young people (regardless of faith background) in the ministry of social justice as outlined in Micah 6:8.
One strand is a collection of watch parties, where young people can watch a film and then discuss the issues arising, with an appropriate level of faith content to where they are on their journey with Jesus.
In the past few months, I have written watch parties for films such as In the Heights, Selma and A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. This next batch of parties focus on the environment and the climate crisis, so most of this Friday was taken up by watching and writing about my favourite disaster movie, The Day After Tomorrow.
Saturday morning is Parkrun time – there are three in Milton Keynes, but I usually go to the one in a place called Linford Wood. I’m trying to reduce my time, but not doing very well at it. It seems that when I don’t plan to do a quicker time, I do; when I try, it all seems to fall apart!
Then it’s chores and maybe a nap (I’m getting old now). In the evening I might go out for dinner with friends. During lockdown, because I live on my own, I was able to form a support bubble with some friends (they saved me from spending Christmas 2020 all alone).
In the early months of 2021, we tried to cook a different national cuisine every week and we still do that every so often, even though restrictions have disappeared. However, we celebrated the Platinum Jubilee with pizza and tarte au citron – we didn’t plan that one very well!