Going and growing in youth ministry
Every church has hundreds, perhaps thousands of young people living in their parish – but how do you connect with them? What kind of youth work could you start – and, more to the point, how do you begin anything if you don’t happen to have an army of volunteers at hand, or the funds to employ a youth worker?
That might be the point where a church could easily give up – but a group of vicars in the Kensington Area are doing just the opposite as part of a new initiative birthed out of Capital Youth.
They have an ambition to start something, even with limited resources. They’re part of a pilot project being run as part of the Capital Youth initiative offering the chance to learn about new models of youth ministry and how to put them into action.
“The strength of the course is it’s giving us the confidence and courage to start youth work with authenticity in our different contexts, in our part of Kensington.”
– Revd Karen Wellman
Getting Youth Going and Growing in Your Church is working with nine vicars from churches where there was little or no youth work at present – but recognised by Bishop Graham Tomlin as having the potential to begin something new and exciting. Some will be running the youth work themselves; others will be recruiting and supporting volunteers: in both cases, the leadership and drive of the vicars is crucial to success.
The programme is being facilitated by Youthscape, a national ministry focused on innovation in youth work. Chris Curtis, one of the team and the organisation’s CEO said, “It’s fantastic to see the enthusiasm and commitment of the vicars involved. It’s not easy for churches to find ways to engage young people. But this programme shows churches can come up with some amazingly innovative ways, even where resources seem limited.”
The programme helps vicars explore what discipleship and mission looks like in a fast-changing culture, through a series of training sessions and parish visits from the Youthscape team. “Starting from scratch allows fresh thinking and often results in new and exciting ways to serve young people in the parish,” says Chris Curtis.
Revd Karen Wellman is one of the incumbents learning on the course. “I signed up because I was planning for the future. I can see there are opportunities, but youth culture changes so fast, I felt like I needed to learn another language.”
Bishop Graham is keen to see programmes like this usher in a new era of progress for the Diocese:
“Making church accessible for young people is one of the major priorities for the church in London. Youthscape have a great deal of expertise and experience in this area and I am sure this course will be an excellent resource to help clergy develop youth work in their parishes.”
The pilot programme concludes this summer, when two new phases will be planned for different areas in 2018 and early 2019.
There are estimated to be over 340,000 young people aged 11-18 in our Diocesan area, yet only 2,000 attend our churches on Sundays. As a Diocese, we need to be doing more to connect with and minister to this generation. Young people growing up who have never experienced the transforming love of Christ, or the support of a local church community.
Capital Youth is an opportunity to be more radical; for people across the Diocese to increase the focus on young people as part of our ministry, and see this work as too important to delegate or avoid.
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