“There’s no ‘I’ in team”. I wonder how many times you have heard that? Too many I’m sure! We understand that in life we have to get used to the idea of teamwork. Whether it be at work, at church or in our family lives etc. For some, teamwork will be something that comes naturally to them which they love, for others they will not particularly enjoy it but must tolerate it to a certain level. As a church, we act out 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. “For the body is not one member, but many” (verse 12). This is perhaps the simplest and clearest statement about teamwork in the bible. I am so grateful to have people that are brilliant at admin around me, who know how to do the ‘techy’ stuff that I struggle with and who will be patient with me when I am trying to work out the budgeting and costing of youth events! I know that although my gifts do not rest in those areas, others truly excel and that’s why working together allows us to not only survive but thrive.
But what about when it comes to working with other churches? How does that settle with us? When I first started training as a youth worker with the church I remember finding it quite difficult to network and work with other churches and leaders. Not through people being unkind but through people very protective over their own projects/groups/young people. However, in the past few years, this dynamic seems to have changed and there seems an openness for collaborative community work.
Back in November of 2018 as a church, we were invited to be involved in a project called Redeeming Our Communities (ROC), where people of goodwill, representatives from churches, faith organisations, police and local authorities were all called to get together to make positive changes in our community. Frank Green (operations director for ROC) said “God loves the towns and cities of our nation, but he hates the mess they’re in. And in these days, with urban populations hitting record levels, he’s calling the church more loudly and clearly than ever before to co-operate in prayer and action to begin to turn things around for His glory”.
Since ROC Northants began, I have been meeting regularly with a youth action group with youth leaders and other professionals to discuss and plan ways in which we can support young people of Northampton. We cannot wait to launch our ROC Café here at Broadmead Community Church once we get upstairs. This will be a safe place for young people aged 14-18 to come and relax after school between 3:30-5pm. They will be welcome to use the space to catch up on their schoolwork or they can relax, play some board games and chat with others around them. Jesus was a great believer of meeting people where they’re at and therefore we want to be led by what the young people need rather than decide for them.
In November 2019 I supported the first Youth Summit in Northampton which originated from conversations within the ROC youth action group. This was an event held at the Guildhall and led by young people, for young people across the county. We had over 40 youth providers attend as well as many secondary schools send groups of young people from across the county. The young leaders led interactive workshops focussing on wellbeing and safe spaces and all young people had a question and answer session in the council chamber with a local councillor. There was something extremely powerful about seeing the young people of Northampton sat in the seats of their leaders. I pray that we’re given more opportunities like this for young people to turn things around for His glory.
We’re so blessed in Broadmead to have our very own young people stepping up into leadership positions. We’re currently training and working with 3 young people who are young leaders in our Storylines group. Storylines is a group for school year 4-6 where we meet to play games, engage with a variety of activities and learn about what God has to say in our day to day lives. We’re super proud of our young leaders who have stepped up to present talks, lead games and discussion groups, and come alongside the children to help them with their activities. We can’t wait to see where God leads them and are excited to see the gifting He’s put on them.
We have now been back at TMX for 5 months and we continue to build relationships with the young people and get to know them better. As I wrote in my last blog, back in October we had an incident involving two different groups outside youth club which impacted our weekly numbers. However, since coming back from Christmas we’re thankful to God that our numbers are increasing again. We have also built positive links with our local Police Community Support Officer’s (PSCO’s) who enjoy visiting TMX to build relationships with the local young people (play a game of table tennis and pool!) As is always with youth club, every week is different but when we look at Jesus’ life we see Christianity in it’s rawest form… it’s messy unpredictable and hands-on. This is why these types are groups are crucial in church.
“When we get to know young people through detached work we soon realise that there is a big difference between our expectations and values and theirs. It often comes down to basic right and wrong. Young people inhabit the same world but may seem on a different planet. Theirs is a different culture, a different language with different norms and values. What is more confusing is that groups of young people can differ from one area of the town to another, from north to south, rural to urban, black to white. The good news for Christians is that we are not called to see young people as a group, but to love them as the unique individuals God created them to be”. (Richard Passmore, Meet them where they’re at).
I am grateful that as the youth club continues to gradually grow again, we’re able to get to know the young people more personally and individually. Although on a Thursday night we may all come from different areas, different family dynamics and different cultures, there seems to now be a feeling of ‘togetherness’ and respect. God is so clearly working and I believe it can be felt in the atmosphere of the building when you come in. As leaders we were reflecting that in previous years we have almost had to ‘pick our battles’ with behaviour management, however, since October there seems to be a certain level of peace reigning. We praise God for that.
Finally, we were privileged to be nominated numerous times at the NAYC Awards dinner last Monday night. I was put forward for the leader for the year, TMX and Broadmead Youth was nominated for church group of the year and Jean and Crawford Lindsay were nominated for Outstanding Contribution to Youth Work for many years of volunteering and working with young people. We’re extremely happy to say that Jean and Crawford were the winners in their category and we’re so thankful for what they do within the church and local community. As a church, we’re enormously blessed with a brilliant team of youth workers and I am sure you will join me in continuing to pray for them and cheer them on.
- That we continue to work well for the glory of God together across Northampton with other churches and organisations, specifically focussing on young people.
- That peace continues to reign at TMX, enabling purposeful relationships to grow.
- For our young leaders. That they continue to grow in confidence, stretching and challenging themselves, stepping into God’s gifts for them.
- That young people within the church will truly grasp who Jesus is to them, engaging in a personal relationship with Him.
- For new team members within different aspects of the youth team- contact me if you’re interested!