Let me tell you about two brothers I met last Sunday. I went to a small local church on a council estate in one of the most deprived areas in the UK. Two friendly boys aged about 10 and 8 were kicking a football around in the church car park and invited me to join them. We had a brilliant kickabout before we all trooped in to the service.
What struck me was that although this was a church with lovely people, there was no one available to look after these young lads. The vicar told me they are part of a large family with quite a hectic background. Every week they take themselves off to church on their own steam because they have found that church is a welcome place of peace compared to their normal life - even though there is often nobody there to look after them.
Luke 10:2 tells us, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few’. The brothers I met instinctively recognised and wanted to discover the peace that only Jesus Christ can bring. It’s crystal clear to me that the problem is NOT that there’s a generation of young people who don’t have time for God. The problem is a profound lack of equipped volunteers who see the potential harvest and want to roll up their sleeves and get involved. Therefore we are committed to working hard to raise up volunteers across the UK.
For me, 2019 is exciting as I move onto a council estate and start an Urban Saints’ Group as a volunteer. The Church is most in decline in urban, deprived areas and I believe we are called to start Urban Saints’ Groups in any setting where there is a need for the gospel. Whether the area be rich or poor, rural or urban, we have to inspire volunteer missionaries who are sharing God’s love with unreached young people.
Without more volunteers committing to help young people, we will continue to see what we are seeing in the dreadful news – with limited or no growth in the kingdom in this country.
There are challenges. The ways we care for young people and the level of training and reporting needed is unquestionably different from even ten years ago. The last two years of going back to our roots have been Phase One as we focused on recruiting a staff team that can provide first class support to volunteers. Now we are moving into Phase Two. We want to reach out to existing and new volunteers, and begin to build a united movement that I know former Crusaders would love to see again.
Leaders can expect a real uplift in support in 2019, and not just about policies and legalities, important though they are! We want to provide the best possible spiritual training, discipleship, support and encouragement to a growing movement of volunteers. We want to help support fantastic Camps, regional events, sports tournaments, brilliant discipleship materials and Overseas Adventures. It’s all about the ‘long walk in the same direction’ - doing all we can to support volunteers for the long haul.
CEO, Urban Saints