Urban Saints / Crusaders have always been passionate about starting up new groups.
We’re very much focused on this but it’s our long-standing groups who are the core of the movement and we look to them to be the model for what works really well. There are some key common values that hold true for many of our ‘successful’ groups. Gordon Menzies has been a leader of Lenzie Boys in Scotland since 1984 and talks about how they have kept their group thriving for so long.
“Lenzie Boys’ Crusaders, now Urban Saints, was formed in Autumn 1968 and as we head towards our 50th birthday, we are very grateful for the many young people that have attended our Group and all that God has done through it. In our earlier years we were numerically strong, regularly averaging 100+ boys with a wide spread of ages 8-18. Numbers are smaller now but we are showing signs of some re-growth and we highly value the relationships being built with our members and their parents.
“Different ‘characteristics’ have contributed to our longevity – the main ones that stand out are:-
“Deeply committed and prayerful leadership with a love for young people and vision for youthwork in our locality (founders Bill Crawford and Mike Hooper set the example for the rest of us following).
“Our Group tries to remain faithful to the “Looking to Jesus” motto, both when planning our teaching programme and in our overall plans for moving forward.
“Unity among our leaders, with a strong bond coming from each of us knowing Jesus personally and wanting to serve Him.
“A passion for residential work - we have always aimed to offer at least one opportunity for our members to go on a camp or holiday each year; more often it’s a weekend now but we previously found great benefit in joining in National Holidays or running a week at a Christian Outdoor Centre.
“Retaining our own identity and being different from other local youth organisations has been an advantage with the mission/ outreach element key, no uniform necessary, participation encouraged more than competition and us being known as a Christian group yet not part of a formal church.
“We have previously used sport successfully as a “carrot” for our members and, as well as athletics, chess, golf, rugby etc, our annual football trips to the National UK Finals in Birmingham are legendary and have provided great memories for our older boys, parents, ex-members and leaders.
“Nowadays, sport is less prominent and we look at other ways of attracting and retaining members. Current feedback from our boys and parents is that, as well as learning, our weekly meetings are great fun in a safe environment. We see establishing friendships and building relationships with those who attend as vital.
“God has very good to us and we look forward to what He has in store for our Group in the future!”
[PHOTO: Lenzie Boys. Gordon MacDonald (right) giving a short lesson and Mike Hooper (left) who has been with the Group since it started.]
What about the Girls?
The Lenzie Girls group began in 1970 and Moira Kerr has been leading since 1998. She adds,
“I’ve been thinking about things that might have helped to keep the group going all these years and am aware that from the beginning prayer has underpinned the group. Over the years the group leaders have prayed every week at the end of the meeting.
“Also, we have had many leaders who have ‘grown up’ in the class and this has been such a great benefit to our group. These young leaders have shown loyalty and commitment as well as benefitting from experience in leadership. They have also been great role models for the girls as well as having the ‘cool’ factor as opposed to us ‘oldies’.”