What does partnership look like for you in YCF ministry? Maybe there’s partnership between parents and leaders? Maybe there’s partnership with a local school? Well, this summer, a couple of churches from different ends of the diocese decided to try partnership through their summer residential.
At the end of August. Christ Church Winchester, St Peter’s Yateley and Above Bar Church, clubbed together to run a residential week for their youth groups.
We loved that they were bold enough to try something new, and we asked if they’d share a bit about how they found that experience.
Dave Thornton, Director of Youth, Christ Church Winchester
Christ Church’s Download youth ministry (14s-18s) had been running an annual summer residential for many years, but in 2016, we decided to team up with St. Peter’s Yateley and Above Bar Church in Southampton.
Our Download leaders were very excited, but I was surprised that not all the young people were positive about it. One said, ‘I’m not sure if I’m going to come, because it won’t be the same with other groups involved…’ Such comments actually encouraged me on, as I felt that we were in danger of becoming isolated. The reality of it is, our youth group already has young people in it from at least 4 other churches. There were some challenges, including different youth groups having different ages of young people involved.
With the challenges in mind, we worked together to some extent to try and make links before the summer. Leaders had a joint planning meeting. The young people had a joint BBQ and a carload of Christ Church leaders and young people visited the other youth groups.
Some great working together amongst leaders happened before the event, with a mixture of leaders preparing talks, seminars and activities. It was great to add new skills and personalities in to the team. I had thought we had older leaders (Christ Church’s oldest leader is 46) but one of the other churches brought an older leader than that – a great guy in his 60s. He led a small group of 17-18 year old boys on the week away, and they loved him and valued his wisdom and experience.
It was fantastic during the week to see the groups blurring. At the start you could see where one group stopped and the next one started. By the Friday, you couldn’t see that. Everyone was just one big group.
It will be interesting to see the difference this makes to Download as we continue forward.
Sarah Yetman, Curate, St Peter’s Yateley
This year, we were in a position where we felt it would be impossible to take away a group to Soul Survivor because we didn’t have the leaders to be able to manage properly and look after the other young people. We were also aware that as a smaller group, events like Soul Survivor don’t provide many opportunities for groups to mix and make new friends – our experience was our group only got to know each other better in that time. I came to Dave to ask whether our group would be able to join with Download so that they could have a taster of being part of a larger group, and see that there were other Christians of their age out there.
Surprisingly not all our young people were on board to begin with and a few had holidays booked at inconvenient moments. Not going to Soul Survivor was an unpopular decision for a church that has taken a group for many years. However, there were some young people who booked in as soon as was possible because they were so keen about the possibilities.
It was really good and very affirming to be part of a much larger team and to celebrate all the gifts and talents involved in the team of leaders. For us as a small team often on the verge of needing to cancel things because we don’t have enough people, it was revitalising and ministered deeply to us. In particular, we are lacking younger leaders who have the time and energy to come alongside our young people, so working on a team full of them was inspiring.
The young people came back changed and challenged and hungry for more. We’re hoping and praying that it will continue to have a lasting impact on them as they become leaders in our group. They made new friends and new connections and had a ball while doing it, alongside going Deeper with Jesus.
The whole experience has really encouraged me to try and break down some of the boundaries with other local churches and invite them to partner with us particularly with social activities.
What could partnership look like where you are?
Want to have a think about this further or chat it through? Drop an email to Sarah or Andy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Or have you got stories of partnership work you’ve been doing? We’d love to hear them!