“Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me.” Jesus, (Mark 9:37 NIVUK)
Mission goes online!
I was talking to a long-standing supporter on the phone recently. They were ever so worried about children and young people during the pandemic. We talked about the ways that Urban Saints is helping and as we said goodbye, I realised that I should share our conversation with you.
So how difficult is the situation for children and young people at the moment?
- 54% now feel anxious - always or often (The Prince’s Trust, YouGov)
- Socialising is the most missed activity with 54% naming it first, over three times more than the next mentioned activity (YouthSight)
- 41% feel lonelier (Barnardo’s, YouGov)
- 33% have more trouble sleeping (Barnardo’s, YouGov)
Back in 2018, Urban Saints started to focus again on launching new Groups for young people. With 95% not setting foot in a church, we are reaching out again, gathering young people together to love and disciple them for Jesus.
Many of you are praying to make this decision a reality – with 75 Groups up and running.
“We also do Zoom groups and often the whole family join in - families who don’t normally attend Church services.” - Jo Matthews, Leader of Kinmel Bay Urban Saints
How have we adapted during the pandemic?
We decided to continue our mission of making young disciples for Jesus – by going online! Groups, Camps, Energize, Additional Needs ministry and Youth Leader training have continued in a new form - with literally hundreds of new digital and downloadable resources. The Westbrook team have been able to share their brilliantly engaging outdoor and craft activities through Energize while the centre has been closed.
Groups – but not as we knew them!
Many Groups are meeting on the Zoom digital platform. Some have found alternative ways to connect – socially-distant doorstep catchups, phone calls and texts, dropping off fun items and resources, and reaching new families through food banks for schools. In the last few weeks, some are returning to small-scale face-to-face meetings and camp-style activities.
Jo Matthews is the leader of Kinmel Bay Urban Saints, “We deliver the Kids Club by Post to the children who attended our Groups and to the families we are delivering packed lunches for. Some parents have said they struggle to get their children to complete schoolwork but they love doing the Kids Club! We also do Zoom groups and often the whole family join in - families who don’t normally attend Church services.”
TS is a youth worker in Clydebank, “I was recommended the Pick ‘n’ Mix resources and have been using them ever since. They are fantastic and have really helped our leaders during lockdown.“
Camps – without a 5am alarm call?
Volunteer teams have come together to put on amazing Camp programmes and activities for young people over the summer at home. They’ve used a variety of digital platforms and some have sent resources for use in the online sessions by post or drop-offs. The creativity and engagement has been astounding.
“It’s been wonderful watching (our son) just fall in love with Nefyn as a camper. He’s excited about every bit, can’t wait for every quiet time, desperate to tell us about every activity - you are all doing an amazing job.” Nefyn Camp parents
"This was the best part of lockdown." - Boy, aged 10, virtual camp participant
In May, Manchester University held their annual Volunteer of the Year Awards. We were so delighted to hear that Gorton Urban Saints volunteer, Shanta Coles, received the staff award. The judges watched Anna, our Impact Team Leader for the North West, describe the difference that Shanta has made to the young people of east Manchester and you can click here to watch too:
Helping at home
We offered Energize to parents and carers in subscribing churches for free. We also produced the weekly “Energize at Home” sessions to help during lockdown, “We were struggling to keep our teens (age 12,15,17) interested in attending conventional church services but these resources have really met our need for vibrant, relevant Bible teaching. The interactive small group learning has drawn us together in our faith.” Sarah Walker, mum.
Youth Leader Training
Urban Saints is part of the South East Partnership of children’s and youth organisations. We have been so encouraged by the “Faith at Home” online training feedback, “Inspirational and affirming”, “Worthwhile and insightful”, “What an amazing morning!” Claire Burton from Care for the Family’s Kitchen Table project helped facilitate, “It was an absolute privilege to be involved. It was so inspiring to hear people’s thoughts and questions. Well done for all your hard work in organising such a high-quality event.” The next training, “Wellbeing in the New Normal” takes place as we go to print and “Effective Evangelism Online” is in October.
Together we can turn the tide
We want to follow the example of Jesus, remaining faithful to what he taught:
“But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3: 14-15 NLT.
We want to give every young person the opportunity to hear and learn from the Word of God, and to understand and experience the difference that Jesus makes.
There are no short cuts to lasting disciple-making. Our weekly Groups have strong foundations – bringing together groups of volunteers who are committed for the long-haul, well-trained, well-led and faithfully devoted to walking with Jesus and young people.
The needs are so great but Urban Saints’ Leaders are working hard to turn the tide of anxiety and loneliness.
God is in the restoration business and over the next 20 years our vision is to start Groups in every community of the UK and Ireland.
Could you help us in these difficult times by giving today? We want to continue the valuable work with young people. We also only have funding for new Groups in eight of the twelve UK regions. This is one more region than six months ago and we are so grateful to everyone who has contributed.
So, you really could help us to continue and to start new Groups in every region in 2021. That will require an extra £200,000 p.a., but with the needs being so great, we believe we should ask.
Whether you give £1 or £1,000, please know that your gift will be fruitful. Some supporters donate monthly and that helps us to plan ahead and commit long-term to young people, communities and churches. Could you consider giving monthly?
If you receive our individual ministry emails, please look out for these over the coming weeks.
Claire Murphy - Interim CEO
"All your children will be taught by the Lord and great will be their peace ... This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord." (Isaiah 54: 13,17c NIVUK)
Why not join us in prayer too at the end of October? Sign up for a prayer slot as part of our 24/2 Prayer event. Click here to find out more.