Change. Some people love it and some people can really struggle with it. I’d say I am somewhere in the middle; it can scare me but excite me as well! Change is a constant part of our lives, whether it’s at church, in our family lives, at school or work. As I sit and write this blog it gives me the opportunity to reflect on what an exciting half-term we have just had with the young people here at Broadmead and how we have seen times of change, as we always do in September.
Starting a new school year can be challenging and stressful but also a real positive opportunity in terms of starting afresh. This is a time where we often as a team start new material with the groups that we run. This term we had the opportunity to get together on a Saturday morning with the youth team and parents for a Youth Vision Breakfast.
As part of this Youth Vision Breakfast we reflected on what we had done over the past academic year with the youth group. This included a visit to Boost Trampoline Park and Box-End Aqua Park, cake making challenges, XLR8 Youth Come Dine with Me, Youth Weekend Away 2019 as well as the usual sessions and our Church Weekend at Home. It is often only when you look back on events like those that you realise what a privilege it is to walk alongside such incredible young people in all sorts of ways.
Another part of the Youth Vision Breakfast was to share plans for the youth going forwardand as part of this we went over the current vision that we have for our young people atBroadmead. Our current vision statement is that we exist “to provide a welcoming community that is accepting and loving to ALL young people; enabling them to grow in relationship with each other and Christ”. Breaking this up into bullet points, we will:
• Develop spiritual growth and discipleship, building their knowledge in scripture
• Integrate ALL young people involved in and around Broadmead, developing their understanding on being a part of the wider church body.
• Organise social events where young people can come together as a group to develop relationships.
• Motivate the youth to take ownership of their own personal faith.
• Provide extra groups alongside church where young people have ‘during the week’ input.
• Empower young people by giving them opportunities to become young leaders.
• Offer mentoring sessions to youth for one to one provision and support.
As I was praying into this academic year’s plan’s I felt the real need to focus on developing the young people’s spiritual development. When I shared this with the team it was soon clear that God had also been speaking to them about this and many had different ideas going forward. As part of these plans we are currently working on developing Youth Huddles as well as creating a Mentoring programme as we feel this is where a real deepening of relationship with God will come from and can be nurtured within. This is a change within the youth work but something we feel is very much key to spiritual growth.
Why are youth huddles important?
1. Personal Discovery- there is room for conversations and feedback. Spiritual growth happens better with others when you can share and speak into one another’s lives
2. Smaller Communities are more effective- in a smaller group you’re more likely to feel able to share more and you can create your own ‘safe community’
3. Deeper friendships- as well as getting to know people better and creating deeper friendships, there’s also opportunities for accountability and being real with each other.
4. Maximum participation- there are more opportunities for all to participate- whether introvert or extrovert, it won’t only be the louder ones being heard.
I am extremely passionate about the need for mentoring. Mentoring offers personal connection, relationship building and a safe space to offload and be supported. Our goal as a youth team is to be able to offer every single young person from within the church, an adult mentor. Chris Sprigs, the director of Lifespace Trust says this; “I propose that the icons of love be changed. No more red hearts. No more flowers. To the many couples who send red roses on Valentine’s Day, I’m sorry. Something’s got to change. In their place, I suggest a new symbol of love: the human ear. I know you can’t easily pop a bunch of ears into a vase, and a box of caramel-coated lobes may not be met with loud whoops of delight, but hear me out.” He goes on to suggest that the best way to show love and genuine support is not by all the soppy stuff, but by listening. Finishing his article he says “Being listened to affirms our unique humanity and being made in the image of God.” I cannot tell you how excited this quote makes me.. it is incredibly important that ALL young people recognise how brilliantly unique they are and how they all matter.
Jesus was the best at showing how important it is to meet with those around you, to share and to learn from each other. Life isn’t meant to be something we do alone, and therefore we feel both huddles and mentoring are key, particularly for teenagers who have so much continually changing and stretching them. We can’t wait to get these going at Broadmead.
Something else that has felt like a real change recently is that we finally managed to launch TMX Youth Club again on the 12th September! (I hope you all cheered as you read that!) On our first week we had 19 young people turn up; a third from church, a third were new kids from the community and a third were young people who used to come to the youth club. As the weeks have gone by, we have been growing and now sit at around 40 young people attending each week. Overall we have had 66 different young people attend at some point in the past month or so. We’re currently using the whole downstairs of the church. We have one room which is set up with a craft activity, table football, the Wii and another game and the other is set up with either pool or air hockey and table tennis. We’re also using the atrium as a quiet space to chat and play boardgames and cards. It’s such a blessing to be able to use the space and we have had lots of positive feedback already.
As TMX continues to grow, we welcome more and more families in from the local areas, mainly Kingsley and Eastfield. This can be an area of tension as the young people are particularly loyal to their area and protective to those who live near them. Please continue to pray for peace over the youth club and that all young people find this building a safe place to come to. As I have been praying for the young people from TMX I have been reminded about the importance of learning names. If we learn names it shows we care, it shows we recognise them, it shows they’re known, and it shows they’re special unique. Psalm 147:4 is a verse is continually floating around my head. “He counts the stars and calls them by all by name”.
Over the past term we have been discussing and have seen different areas of change. However, all change for the good. Please continue to pray for every area of youth work within the church, particularly as we launch Youth Huddles and the Mentoring Programme. We cannot wait to continue to step out into the fun, challenging, chaotic and messy places where God is leading us to… that is exactly what youth work is about!