We had a cracking day yesterday with generous youth advisers and youth ministers from Wales, Canterbury, Winchester, Portsmouth, Rochester, Bristol, the Baptist Church and CMS.
Things are really starting to pick up speed, we are getting more and more of your stories about Teenagers in your Messy Church and they are so inspiring! We are hearing from young people how Messy Church is bringing them closer to God and that is something that we need to be proud of and thank God for. Not only are we gaining the views of Messy Church from Young People but also the views of Youth Advisers. We had a good discussion with around 12 youth ministers or advisers focusing on Young People’s discipleship; isn’t it amazing that they couldn’t distinguish any difference between discipleship in teenagers and discipleship in adults? We all have room to grow in our faith regardless of our age! Have any views or stories about this? Then get in touch; Follow me on Twitter @MessyChurchTeen or email me at email@example.com.
We’ll pull together the notes from the day in due course, but just a few headlines to whet your appetite:
We were chewing over two big areas of discipleship and leadership as regards teenagers but, as James says, quickly found that what applies to teenagers also applies to everyone else; just as what applies to Messy Church applies equally to any church.
There was a marked enthusiasm for encouraging small groups meeting as well as the large Messy Church itself, but keeping the DNA and values of Messy Church, so that real friendships and ‘alongside’ discipleship can happen.
Together with this was a sense that ‘one size won’t fit all’ – by which we meant there is no one answer as all teenagers are different and all churches are different.
Other ideas that shone through were around
‘signposting’ to all the church can offer
the need for a very practical piece of work on encouraging Messy Churches to include activities that appeal to older people, not just to children
that no one form of church can do the whole job for every single person, so we shouldn’t worry!
that we are ‘cuspers’ and in a liminal space in so many ways between the present and the future
that we want to discourage consumerism on any level
that it would be great to have an example of a Messy Church run by teenagers with adult help
that leadership is about character not competence
We talked about whether or not it’s a good thing if a youthworker gets involved in a Messy Church as an opportunity to nurture young people but that we don’t want the young people (or anyone) to be considered ‘cheap labour’.
We wondered about ‘team’ being a better wording than ‘leadership’.
Andy Hughes gave us a quotation from Rob Burns (Going Public) about discipleship:Discipling can begin while a person is ‘on the way’ to Jesus and doesn’t end until we end our lives on this earth. Many things disciple us. It may be a person or several people who walk alongside us at key points in our lives or our own personal devotionals, formal study and practical walk with God as we learn with our head, hands and heart. Also, successes and failures, suffering and victory and the circumstantial things that God allows us to experience all disciple us and give us the opportunity to become more like Jesus which of course is the goal of discipleship.
So watch this space for more thoughts in due course… and please send James your ponderings in the meantime.