“I wish I’d known about all this support 13 years ago when I began my last pastorate. It would have been so much easier to begin youth and children’s work there like this.”
Many people, all over the UK and Ireland, have probably seen the need...
- caught a glimpse of a group of teenagers seemingly with nothing to do but hang around
- become aware of anti-social behaviour or worse, young people drifting into substance abuse or crime
- read the statistics on teenage mental health
- realised that their church has failed to reach out to anyone under 40
- had young family members who are not interested in church but for whom they crave something else that will point them to Jesus
I would argue that seeing the need is the first step to doing something about it. The problem is that most Christians in this position don’t believe that they can do anything. They may believe the lies that say, ‘I can’t actually do anything because:
- I’m too old
- I couldn’t run around after them
- I have no experience
- I don’t have enough Bible knowledge
- I’m not trendy enough.’
In reality the number one criteria for doing something with young people is to have a heart for young people.
A close second is, of course, to find other people to start something with. This is usually the point at which an Urban Saints Impact Team Leader would get involved - the team have experience and expertise in helping to recruit volunteers and love to talk with potential volunteers about what might be possible.
We would then go on to offer a programme of support to new Groups which looks something like this:
a) Recruit potential team – often from across churches in a community but sometimes from a single church.
b) Hold a vision event – a chance to explore what is on people’s hearts and share with them what might be possible and how Urban Saints can help.
c) Lead the new team through our ‘Initial Training Programme’ – this looks at everything from the aims and objectives, the practicalities of planning and running a Group to safeguarding, managing behaviour, publicity, programme and journeying with young people to make disciples. The last (7th) session is a ‘dry run’ where we take the team through their first session but without the young people. While completing the training, the volunteers would go through Urban Saints’ safer recruitment process. We would help access grant funding for equipment etc for the new Group.
d) The Impact Team Leader would then work with the Group volunteers to publicise and launch the Group. They would remain involved for a number of weeks – as long as is necessary to ensure that the Leaders are confident in running the Group themselves.
e) On an ongoing basis we would remain in touch, visit from time to time, offer additional training as required, give advice, offer resources and seek to provide opportunities to engage with other Groups locally and with Camps and other events.
All of this help is offered without charge to those wanting to set up a new Group. Only a year after the Group launches is there a nominal subscription to Urban Saints.
One Group Leader – a retired minister – said to me at the end of the training, “I wish I’d known about all this support 13 years ago when I began my last pastorate. It would have been so much easier to begin youth and children’s work there like this.”
Of course, it’s not always easy to begin something new and it’s demanding as well as rewarding to keep going for the long term. But there is a huge amount of training and support available and there is so much need for new Groups in these nations. As Jesus said, "The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields." Matthew 9:37-38 NIV
Andy Hughes, Senior Impact Team Leader
If you, or someone you know, might be interested in exploring starting a Group where you are, get in touch with Andy and he’ll put you in touch with your nearest Impact Team Leader.