Conversations with young people continue to be challenging and exciting.
They continue to challenge their purpose and place on this earth, ask the simple yet sometimes difficult questions about faith and spirituality and are still willing to share with us the things that they struggle with in life. These conversations can be tough but they are also inspiring as they highlight that we still have a place in the lives of young people and a part to play.
We have seen a real shift from events based work to opportunities to work with young people in a deeper way, whether that is through small group work, 1:1 mentoring or Chaplaincy style work.
We have been so encouraged by discussions in schools following our first term of Chaplaincy work. In High School settings, we are getting great feedback on how our Chaplains are fitting it, becoming part of the school and simply being available to students and staff in a way that they haven’t experienced before.
The vast majority of conversations that we are having with young people are centered around self-image, worth and value. It feels like young people are crying out for people to love them, accept them for who they are and champion them.
That is one of our biggest challenges; to ensure that we are available and ready to support them appropriately.
In terms of youth ministry, I believe that we have to find new and creative ways to engage young people with the context of ‘church’.
We don’t appear to be overflowing with young people in church, yet there are plenty of young people out there! How do we engage with them? How do we show the love of Jesus Christ to them in a relevant and meaningful way? How can we be ‘church’ to them without having to meet with them inside a church building on a Sunday morning?
As we start our journey with Chaplaincy work, we genuinely believe that more and more opportunities will arise throughout Ipswich. Many schools are showing interest in the work that we are already doing and so we are encouraged that the approach we are taking has some worth and value to the school setting. I always hope and pray for real and genuine partnership across churches and organisations such as ourselves, including opportunities to work together, share ideas, successes, failures and genuinely encourage each other would be fantastic!
Our dream is to see young people supported, valued and loved for, in their school settings, in a way that they haven’t experienced before. We dream of working seamlessly with local youth workers and other organisations; all with the intention of seeing God’s Kingdom grow.
Can we achieve that by 2020?
Who knows; but I’m up for trying!
About the Author
Simon is the Director of Christian Youth Ministries (CYM) in Ipswich. CYM deliver Chaplaincy, Children's Work, Residentials and more in schools across Ipswich.