Year One student, Craig, recently shared this story with us about the breakthrough they are seeing in their youth ministry.
Year One student, Craig, recently shared this story with us about the breakthrough they are seeing in their youth ministry.
“When we were younger we had a really inspiring youth leader – actually my auntie – we had a very mixed youth group. Many of us weren’t Christians at the time and she loved us anyway and did life with us. She loved being with us and was there for everything. I guess I wanted to do what she did for us for other young people. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be walking with Jesus today. I love being a youth leader – you get to hang out with young people and be a kid again too!” – Olivia Dicksons, York
Click here to read more stories like Olivia’s.
Follow this link to hear more about the course.
In this, our third and final podcast, we talk with Reign Ministries Director, Kyle McKinnon and youth practitioners Brad Laing, Meghan Murphy and Sam Williams, as well as researcher Phoebe Thompson about the implications of the Losing Heart report for youth ministry training organisations.
If you have a heart to change the trend in your local context and could use support and training, contact us to see how we could help prepare you to develop an effective, disciple-making ministry in your church or youth project.
Today’s podcast is fifteen minutes long.
The team at Youthscape Centre for Research surveyed over 2000 churches regarding their youth and children’s work. It’s key three findings are that:
The Losing Heart report suggested a crisis of confidence that churches have in their ability to reach young people.
Yesterday we began our podcast series with researcher, Phoebe Thompson sharing a summary of the Losing Heart report. If you missed yesterday’s introduction podcast, you can listen to here.
In todays podcast we discus the report with a team of youth ministers. We discuss how the church can better prepare itself to receive youth, and the role of the volunteer in the future of youth ministry. Today’s podcast is 15 minutes long.
In December 2016 a sobering report was released by Youthscape Centre for Research. It highlighted the crisis of confidence that churches are having about their ability to engage young people.
Many simply can’t seem to provide any youth work or don’t have any young people left to work with, and it’s hard to know what comes first: young people leaving the church, or a lack of youth provision. For many of these churches, the workers are few and they are losing heart and confidence.
Losing Heart Report, Page 8
Since our heartbeat at Reign Ministries is to train youth ministers and volunteers and spark movements of discipleship among young people we thought it imperative to sit down with researcher Phoebe Thompson and discuss her findings. We’ve broken our podcast into three parts which we will run over the next three days.
If you would like to read the research for yourself you can download it at: https://www.youthscape.co.uk/research/publications/losing-heart
Today’s podcast is just over eight minutes long.
Year three student Annabel Stott brought four young people from St. Francis Church in Doncaster to Moldova with us last week. Here are her reflections on how the trip will transform those who participated:
“…The five of us from Doncaster were part of a much larger group totalling 19 from England; Scotland, Portugal and America…
As this was the first time that we have taken a group from this church away on a mission trip, it felt important to take a group of young leaders who could be influential in our own mission and ministry back home in Doncaster; with the hope that the trip would inspire them to come back and be role models for the younger youth in our church and community. Who knows, hopefully next year we will take even more out to Moldova! For all of them this was their first mission trip, for a few it was the first time away from home and for a couple the first time out of the country, so don’t feel like you have to be well travelled to join one of these trips! The experience has completely changed their lives and they have all come home more inspired and much bolder.
At the start of the trip we flew out to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova to meet with the OM (Operation Mobilisation) team and to prepare for the culture that we were to submerse ourselves in for the next week. The following day we headed out to Bravicea, a village 2 hours away from the capital to join a church which was to be our base for the week of ministry; there were mixed emotions and nerves at this point from the team but we already felt like we had known each other for more than the three days we had been together, with so much morale and positivity going around!
From this base we went out to deliver food parcels and do home visits to vulnerable members of the community in the villages of Bravicea, Schinoasa and Hoginesti. The home visits were a very challenging part of the trip for many of the group as they opened our eyes to the extremely poor conditions that most of the people in these villages were living in.
In the winter in Moldova, people often use only one or two rooms in their houses in order to stay warm and keep the house heated during the freezing months. This presented a challenge when we tried to fit a good 15 people into one bedroom (and some funny pictures too!), but these spaces were also where we had the opportunity to spread hope, hear people’s stories, speak words of truth over people from the Bible, pray for healing and salvations. During the week the team saw 10 healings and 12 salvations…how amazing is that! This was such an encouragement to us as looked at our own communities and ministries back in the UK.
As well as home visits we also participated in church services, youth services and kids clubs where we shared testimonies and a word, did games and activities and prayed for the churches and their members. This was such a fun way to get involved with the communities as we could see how God was working and pulling people together for his common good.
We were blessed with amazing accommodation and food for the whole trip; the OM centre and the church in Bravicea were incredible examples of how to be hospitable. One of the main things we saw from this trip was how generous the people of Moldova are as they continuously wanted to serve us and extend generosity and hospitality to us. For example, a lady in her 80’s who was so filled with joy ensured that all 11 of us were seated in her bedroom before she sat on a tiny stool with us! As well as this, an inspiring group of ladies from the village cooked for us all three times a day everyday to ensure we were prepared to go out and do ministry; they not only served us but loved on us too. One girl on the trip turned 15 mid-week and as the UK leaders frantically rushed out to a local shop to find a cake, they returned to plates of ice cream, baskets of chocolates and biscuits, fizzy pop and TWO gigantic homemade cakes! A definitive picture of love and generosity from such humble women.
One of the biggest encouragements from this trip was seeing young people from three groups across the UK (plus a couple ‘nomads’ and an American!) come together under one name; Reign Ministries UK, without really knowing each other but with one heart and purpose; to love the people of Moldova, to love God and connect the two together. As a leader on this trip, I found it inspiring watching these young people join with one vision and an endless stream of passion to join in God’s mission for a week in a country that most of them had never been to. They served, the stepped out, they showed great faith and most of all they never stopped loving. They never stopped loving Moldova, they never stopped loving each other and they never stopped loving God. Their love just grew
I have tried to summarise this trip in several ways, yet the only way I seem to find most fitting is with this statement that we focused on in our devotions during the week; it became the heart beat for our ministry and will stick with us as we continue to serve God back home.
‘I am deeply loved by God, completely forgiven, fully pleasing, powerfully equipped, totally accepted and complete in Christ.’
As this sunk into our hearts it spread out into our ministry and my prayer is that it continues to do that here in the UK.
If you, or a young person you know feels they want to step out in seeing God work across Europe, to be inspired and to become part of a team family, then definitely consider a trip to Moldova with Reign Ministries UK! Our Doncaster team hope to return next year, if not sooner! Get in touch with Reign Ministries UK or myself if you want to know more.”
“I think the thing about young people that gets me passionate about working with them is my own story. Growing up, I never really had anyone around like a youth worker or someone influential in my life that I could look up and say ‘yeah, this is someone that I admire or want to be like’. I think that drives me because I wish I had that when I was growing up so that makes me passionate to be that for young people. To be someone they look up to, someone who is there for them and someone they can journey with. That’s the main reason I want to mentor and help young people but when I was at university I began to see the world through God’s eyes. Many of the people I was around were just completely lost. We have different values and different ways that we lived and I just felt desperate to show them Jesus. I wanted them to know God.”
– Tilly, London, UK
“Many years ago I had the feeling that God wanted me to work for him. I had an experience that made me think ‘I have to do youth work’ and was eager to learn all of the theology related to young people. I had a difficult time when I was younger – there were a few relationships that were difficult with my family but this made me have a strong relationship with Jesus. God gave me a picture about working with young people and I started youth work at my church. This is when I became really passionate about it. Kids are important. Often they grow up and they say “I don’t want to live with God anymore”. Young people, you can talk to them, and when they have problems you can help. It’s an important time of their life where they are discovering their values and making decisions for their life and what they believe in. I want to be there for them.”
– Rebecca, Hamburg Germany
As our students learn about how to boldly and relevantly take the gospel into the ordinary places of life they walk the line between making the gospel as attractive as possible and Jesus’ call to discipleship. Third year student, Lucy Butler shares her passion to call young people to respond to the gospel. Lucy regularly combines creativity with the concepts in The Stir Pack to help young people experience God for the first time
“I expect that no one wants to be a sales person for Jesus. It just doesn’t sound appealing. In fact, to me it sounds manipulative and it seems to make God seem small and incapable of being that good if we are having to persuade people into following him. I wonder, if at some point in your ministry you have had a time or a one off where you found yourself acting like you were selling God? Has there been a moment where you felt under pressure to make the gospel look as attractive as possible so that a young person didn’t say no?
I actually like selling things but I really hate selling God. I don’t see Jesus presenting the gospel that way. Through the gospels he is able to let people walk away from him if they choose to. He is also really clear that he is hard to follow and that it will demand a cost of commitment from the start, which will only increase throughout a lifetime with him.
But us youth worker types are dreamers. We have big ideas for our ministries and big hopes for our young people. I wonder, how many of us have considered how we currently present Jesus to our young people? Have we already practiced what we say about how wonderful life is with God? Do we feel apologetic when we share about how hard it is to follow Jesus? I have felt apprehensive about having that conversation because it is hard to tell someone with a fledgling faith that God will get you into trouble and will really mess up your own plans, mostly because that can cause people to say no to God.
A heart of discipleship is key to a young person’s understanding of God. They need to know their identity as a disciple and their personal responsibility to disciple others throughout the rest of their life. This is the challenge that Jesus came to call people to, so why do we leave it out? An empty invite isn’t exciting and that’s probably why a lot of Christian youth are bored and confused about when the abundant life they were promised actually begins. I wonder if young people who know that they are disciples from the very beginning of their faith journey, find it easier to embrace that call to follow Jesus and disciple others.
At Reign conference, we looked at different frameworks for challenging young people with the gospel. I felt prompted to make sure that the challenge is present very early on in my discipling relationships with young people. For example, young people who come along to a Stir group, haven’t signed up to hear about Jesus but they have shown an interest in being part of the group.
Because of that, I think it’s very important that Jesus is talked about early on in the group and we communicate well about who Jesus is and what following him. We should be clear and open about our passion for disciples to be made but we need to recognise what the group currently is about and where young people are at. In time we can create decision points where young people have the choice to hear more about Jesus and to decide to practice this way of living. It’s all about timing and listening to the present reality whilst still dreaming about the end goal of the group. The challenge needs to be obvious in any place where the gospel is being talked about.
Speaking from my own experience of coming to faith, just before I turned 18, I was actually completely inspired by the realisation that I was a disciple and that I had a call to go and disciple others. I remember sitting at a youth evening and physically feeling adrenaline at the thought of that responsibility. It set my faith into motion and made it exciting. I don’t want young people to miss out on that. I want discipleship to inspire people to grow in their faith and be a catalyst for movement to take place. We need to put challenge alongside our invitation.”
We are all learners when it comes to sharing the gospel. Do you resonate with Lucy’s struggle? How do you balance the invitation to the gospel with the challenge of discipleship? Let us know how you’ve wrestled through this in your own mission or youth group.