My final newsletter

My post as Young Adults Missioner is coming to an end this week and so here is my final newsletter.  I am returning to parish ministry in Droylsden but hope that all that I have learnt during my time as missioner will continue to inspire me in this new ministry.  This website will remain live, providing resources for a range of different aspects of mission and ministry with young adults. July 2016 newsletter

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Latest Newsletter – April 2016

Capture  My latest newsletter can be found here : April 2016

There’s a reflection on whether we can be too busy for mission, news about the Church of England’s new website on Christening, the MakeLunch project for feeding families who live in poverty during the school holidays and details of some resources on “Creative Pastoral Liturgy”.

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The Missing Generation

 

I’ve just come across this article by Miriam Swaffield at  https://segmentmag.com/archives/article/the-missing-generation which is an interesting read and makes a good point about what our churches should look like.

Miriam-Swaffield1

I’m a little bit worried we might throw the baby out with the bath water. Well, not the baby, more the fully grown parent-aged adult out with the bath water… An equally disturbing image. Weird phrase all round come to think about it. But that’s beside the point.

As a 26 year old female in church leadership I am smack bang in the middle of the scarily labelled ‘missing generation’, the 18-30s aged group of people the UK church has realised aren’t really present in our communities, our leadership teams and our mission.

I am one of those statistical exceptions to the rule and I am therefore just the kind of ‘younger leader’ churches and organisations are seeking to find, involve and ‘release’ as the buzz word goes.

Trouble is, with all this emphasis on raising younger leaders and reaching my generation, I’m slightly concerned we might also be creating another problem, opening up a different void, moving the focus rather than transforming the process, and therefore not really strengthening the awesome and dysfunctional family that is the local church for the long run at all.

If it’s all about the 18-30s, if it’s all about bringing the younger generation front and centre otherwise the church dies out and retires out of existence in the next decade or so, then I would have thought we’d need the existing family members of the church more than ever?

Rather than those in their 40s and 50s feeling ‘passed it’, or redundant or overlooked now that we’re freaking out about the lack of Gen Y in the room, I would have thought those in the generations above would need to be mobilised like never before.

I AM THE GENERATION THAT IS SO RELATIONAL WE ACTUALLY CRAVE CONNECTION.

We want to be part of a family, and that means if you’re in a different age or life stage to us and you actually chose to make friends with us, you are one of the major reasons we feel able to belong in a church community.

As a student worker, one of the big things I say to local churches who worry they won’t connect with students because they don’t have big numbers of that age group to start with is, “students might come for students, but they stay for family”.

If we don’t feel part of a family, in the end, we won’t really settle, dig in, serve and become the younger leaders everyone is hoping for. Because we won’t commit if we don’t realise we are invited to, that we can belong, and that we are a real part of shaping and forming the church community.

It isn’t actually all about the 18-30s. If we don’t have older siblings in their 40s, and parents in their 50s and 60s and grandparents in their 70s and above, also empowered and given the permission and encouragement to be present, active and vital members of the family, then a bunch of us young lot are going to be set off like fireworks and eventually burn up, crash, fall down or explode.

ON OUR OWN WE CAN’T DO IT AND WE WERE NEVER MEANT TO.

Please don’t ‘release’ us to shoot off on our own with our black and white opinions, our naivity and our lack of life experience. Go with us, jog alongside us, stay near us. Don’t control us but don’t leave us alone to work out how to lead by being as close a follower of Jesus as we can be. Coach us, pray for us, ask us to serve you, but then also serve our ideas too.

Please don’t hand us your vision and hope that we can carry it on for you, but instead share with us how you got a vision in the first place and help us hear the voice of God for ourselves. Please don’t count yourself out when you have kids, but add us as a plus one to the family table at tea time. Tell us about marriage and the workplace, and pensions and priorities. Learn to laugh at your own comfort zone rather than get offended when we do something outrageously different to you, or approach church community with a completely different language or sound or look. Talk to us about it. Ask us good questions. Prepare to leave changed too.

If you are reading this and  you do not count yourself as a younger leader, or you feel like you might have been made redundant in all the recent 18-30s chat, I just want to apologise.

Sorry if you have been made to feel anything less than a capable and necessary part of the body that is the church.

Please don’t get apathetic or bitter or cynical. Please instead step in as our older siblings, our spiritual mums and dads and grandparents and show us the story of Jesus unfolding in your life.

Please know that without you, the church won’t thrive and flourish and grow and represent the fullness of God and life.

Without you there is no family, without you there won’t be many space-makers, mentors, role-models and cheerleaders.

Without you we are being set up, in both panic and passion, for what will ultimately be a fall.

But with you, we might just learn how to journey in the faith from generation to generation looking a lot more like heaven will be, all ages, tribes and languages present and loving life.

That’s all from me. One of many, many younger leaders I know God is raising up and equipping for this time.

Not to become the answer to the missing generation problem, but instead just play our part in the story of a massive family on a mission where everyone is invited.

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Latest Newsletter – October 2015

CaptureMy latest newsletter focusses on some of the reasons why young people aged 18-29 leave the church: October 2015

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“A love story”

One of the most rewarding parts of my role as Young Adults Missioner is listening to the stories young adults tell of their journey with Christ.  In the August 2015 edition of Crux, Amy Sheridan tells her story. amy sheridan

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Think Opportunities rather than programmes

In this year’s Archdeacons’ Visitation News, my colleague Peter Matthews, Young Adults Missioner for Manchester Archdeaconry wrote this article about engaging with young adults…

Snap 2015-06-07 at 15.12.06

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A welcoming church

The website Faith in Homes has included a series of articles recently on the issue of welcome and the church.

To help you think more about this issue, you might find these interesting:

Blessed but not with a child :  Introduction by Jane Butcher ” This thought-provoking article touches on so many issues that exist in churches. How does a church offer a place of belonging to all people so they feel valued for who they are? Highlighted here are the issues of engaging with couples who have no children – possibly due to infertility – and the way they can feel at times when the church is insensitive. But, it goes beyond that… The issues extend to those who have made a conscious choice not to have children or those who are foster or adoptive parents, whether married or single – again, whether due to infertility or a conscious choice – and those who are single of any age.  This article offers a variety of opinions, some of which you may agree with and some you may not. To me, what is important is that we recognise these aspects and as churches we do everything we can as individuals and as a gathered community to ensure all people are valued equally.”  To read the article in full, follow this link

Taking Spider-Man to church: Sunday morning rush to get ready for church… child appears dressed as Spider-Man ready to go! The question flashes through your mind… ‘Is it acceptable’? Or can they go just as they are… and can we as adults come ‘just as we are’? Some may have experienced church as a place where we feel we have to make ourselves good enough. Dressing correctly, behaving correctly, pretending everything is fine with our family, faith, work, home… when actually it’s not. For those who are new to church, how might it feel to enter into a new environment feeling like this? Are there those who have been in church for many years who feel the same and feel a need to have things ‘sorted’?  Beyond this, how do children perceive their welcome in church? Do they feel there are expectations to sit quietly, behave in a certain way and maybe wear certain clothes – or is dressing as a princess or Spider-Man perfectly acceptable?

FIH_SpiderManIn his article ‘Why my kids wore Spider-Man costumes to church today’ Micah J. Murray explores just that!  When his boys asked to wear their superhero costumes, he found himself facing an issue that went beyond the need to get to church on time. In a down-to-earth way, he shares his insights and his desire that his children (and all people) know that they are worthy of love just because they exist! And the photo is here to prove it!  Read the full article

Everybody welcome: two words, two meanings by Jane Butcher

Our church services may work very hard at including those of all ages and backgrounds but it goes far beyond that…

Once we leave ‘main church’, this ‘welcome’ needs to continue, and it is noFIH_Welcome handst only the role of church leaders to make families or individuals feel welcome – it is the role of everyone – of all ages.
As we have refreshments, do we look around to talk to those who are new or on their own? I am sure I am not alone in admitting I have sometimes held back, apprehensive about starting a conversation as all the ‘what ifs’ spring to mind. But should that be a barrier?

They may look quiet and shy but they wouldn’t be standing there if they didn’t want to talk. They could have left straight away. They may be waiting for someone to speak to them.

For those of us who have been in church for many years, we maybe don’t realise how difficult it is for some people to step through the front door of church – the fears they may have. But what will bring them back again? It may be the amazing teaching, music or children’s/youth ministry but there’s a strong chance it will be how welcome they felt.

FIH_CakeSo, two simple words ‘Everybody welcome’ may offer the invitation ‘Everybody is welcome’ but equally may stress the importance that ‘Everybody offers welcome’.

So, let’s encourage one another to ‘WOW’ – ‘work on welcome’. If it’s something your church does well that’s great but ‘celebrate and keep encouraging’ – ‘CAKE’ – sounds good!

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