When churches team up: the story of First Fridays
Hannah Thelan shares how she and a number of other volunteers started a monthly event for young people in the Islington borough that now involves a number of churches.
Nine years ago, I did a gap year in the King’s Cross area and my heart broke for what I saw, especially on the Bemerton estate. I decided to make it a priority to pray every morning to see breakthrough in young people’s lives in the local area.
Fast-forward a bit: after my gap year, I moved away for a few years, got married, did a bit of training and then my husband and I ended up returning to the Kings Cross area, carrying a vision together to see young people in King’s Cross, Camden and Islington falling in love with Jesus and having their hearts and lives transformed.
Our dream was to create a safe space for young people to build friendships and explore worship and faith in a new way. This became First Fridays, an accessible church service on the first Friday of every month, hoping to draw marginalised young people.
The aim is to get young people aged 12-18 connected into local churches, but we also wanted to create an event that leaves young people wanting to come back and bring along friends. For the first hour, we usually have something fun, like laser tag or an inflatable obstacle course. Then we move onto the “church service” part of the evening, where we have worship and a short talk.
One year in…
We have been running First Fridays for just over one year now and already have seen around 20 young people become Christians. We have a good mix of Christians and non-Christians attending and we are beginning to explore bigger topics in the talks, such as loving yourself the way God loves you.
Because it’s been funded by multiple churches and only runs monthly, it’s been sustainable and well-funded, too. As a volunteer it’s still hard work to organise everything but we’ve got a great team of volunteers and others bringing young people from their churches, too.
One recent highlight has been the First Fridays weekend away, where we took different youth groups away for a weekend and just did community. Every day we worshipped together, looking over what it means to be a disciple, as well as doing a lot of outdoor team building activities. Friendships were made and confidence was built. It was such a blessed weekend.
“It is a brilliant ecumenical initiative which came out of youth leaders’ passion for young people. In every possible way it is collaborative and the reason it has worked so well is because churches have got together and invested in it together; whether that is with leaders, volunteers, prayer, or funding.”
— Jess Swift, Area Dean of Islington
One of our biggest hopes for 2019 is to have an increasing number of young people come to know God. And we’re always trying to find bigger and better entertaining things to book for the first half too – it seems to be a brilliant draw for young people, since it’s free and novel fun.
We want to keep growing the young people up in their faith and into leadership. It is so powerful to see 40 young people from different post codes worshipping in the same space. God has carried this vision further than we ever could have imaged and we cant wait to see what’s going to happen next!