The Spark Fund: A conversation starter that can help young people share their faith
Jacob Holme shares how you can challenge young people to be missional through The Spark Fund – regardless of how big or proactive the group is currently.
The Spark Fund is already helping a diverse range of ideas become reality. Young people are setting up projects to combat the climate and ecological crisis, running mental health events that offer opportunities to explore our faith alongside, composing contemporary sacred music, making Bible videos in Fortnite and running youth gatherings and events tackling knife crime and injustice. So far, The Spark Fund has supported 14 entirely different projects led primarily by young people in parishes and schools across our Diocese.
All of these projects have two things in common: they invite young people aged 11-18 to explore an element of Christianity; and they are young people’s ideas.
The Spark Fund is now open again for a fourth round of funding, which presents an opportunity to start conversations in your own church about how young people can share their faith with others in their generation. It doesn’t have to be complex or grand – often, simple is better.
Three ways to start the conversation
Here’s three different approaches you can try to bring out some ideas:
- Order some pizza and hold a ‘what if…’ discussion night, all about dreaming up the ideal event they would invite friends to. Make sure they know it doesn’t have to look like ‘church’!
- Start a discussion about climate justice or a similar issue, what each of us can do to raise awareness of it, and how we might share our faith in the process.
- Write a list together of celebrities who are public about their faith, then examine what talents/skills they have and where you see their faith on display. Talk about your own hobbies/skills and find some mediums through which they can share their faith (e.g. art, dance, music, sport).
When you hear a great idea, see what reaction you get when you say “Did you know there’s a fund that will get behind your idea?” You can go wherever you want from there on encouraging them to consider running something, or at least applying with an idea.
The prospect of starting a new project at this time may seem a little daunting, but this is a great opportunity to engage with young people and encourage them with a sense of purpose as things restart again. There will be plenty of support for anyone running a project along the way, with help available in the planning and execution.
What you need to know
- All they need to begin the application is an idea (think elevator pitch).
- The idea for the project should be missional.
- The idea must come from a young person (or group of), as they will be in charge of running the project with support from an adult sponsor.
What do we mean by missional? In short, sharing the love of God. The Spark Fund will consider projects that align to at least one of the Five Marks of Mission:
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptise and nurture believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth
Ideas must be submitted by 15 October to be included in this round of funding and must be submitted by one or more young people with an agreed adult sponsor from their church or school (youth worker, vicar or chaplain).