As CEO, my primary concern is rolling out the national strategy and it is a delight to see new Groups starting across the UK in Ireland, Scotland and Manchester etc, but it is also very special to be able to lead a Group myself and share the gospel on a weekly basis.
My Group has around 15 young people who come each week. We run for two hours putting on a mix of games, discussions, Bible studies, life questions and food. I have one 16 year old young man who is an entrenched atheist but he is also the first person to turn up each week! Already we have local parents coming up and saying, ‘Thank you for what you are doing for my child. It’s such an important thing – please don’t give up.’ I say this to encourage you that there is still a huge need, especially on more deprived estates for youth provision, and there is a corresponding appetite from the young people and their parents to take part.
There is a huge question that I think we should all be wrestling with both nationally and locally. 2,000 years ago Jesus commanded us to ‘Go and make disciples’. So the burning question for all following Jesus is, "Who are you discipling?’ For me it is primarily in my local Group but I wonder what it is for you?
At its simplest level, disciple making is a regular commitment through relationship to train and teach and equip and challenge someone else to be more like Jesus. At Urban Saints, we do that primarily through Groups, a lot like Jesus did 2,000 years ago.
On the front page of our website we ask the question, ‘Who is discipling our young people?’ Friends, the reality is clear – by and large it is the world who is discipling our young people and often the world is far more effective at it – social media, YouTube, the press – everything is going in with clear, secular messages which are not bringing young people closer to Jesus. If we as the church don’t answer this question, I believe the world will win the disciple-making battle. Therefore we have set up our website and message primarily to recruit volunteers who can be trained, equipped and supported to disciple the next generation of young people.
Answering this question, ‘Who is discipling our young people?’, is absolutely essential and it is really what Urban Saints is all about. We are committed to discipling young people through Groups but we pray and hope other people, in their own ways, will be wrestling with this question, and encouraged and re-energised to make disciples for Jesus.
Our strapline for the website is 'We believe you can' - a positive encouragement to everyone who wonders whether they can do this. Everyone who is going on with the Lord is invited to disciple others. I’ve heard people say, ‘I’m too old to be involved in a youth group’ but if you can turn up, then you can be involved because your witness and the way you conduct yourself IS discipling. After a few weeks of coming to the Group, when young people start to trust their leaders more, it’s often the wise grandparent-age people to whom they go with their big issues and questions. Therefore, we need all sorts of people. Everyone is invited.
I want to encourage you that people all over are going for it and even if you think you might not be the right person, we believe you can be the right person, and volunteering your time in whatever capacity makes a huge difference.