Apologies for the blog fast but a mixture of busy times at work and some personal stuff has meant that free time has been precious and not involved blogging. One cool thing happening recently has been Unite! Enfield has something called the LEP (Local Ecumenical Partnership) who every 2 years run a load of lent courses for people from various churches. One of the things that happens as part of this is a youth lent course.
When I first started a couple of years ago, I ran 6 sessions on prayer called Connect with the curate from the local Anglican church. This year, I was linked up with someone from the Salvation Army
and it has been really cool getting to know people connected with youth work there. I thought I knew quite a few of the youth leaders in the area already through N:Flame
and other links, but I hadn't realised that there was cool stuff happening at the local Army. As well as young people, there are also various people in their twenties, which remains a rarity in many churches.
We have been looking at the theme of unity and thinking about the things that unite all of us from different denominations as well as things that we may not agree on. Last night we had a question and answer panel which went well, especially the heated discussion over baptism between my hubby and the Army Major... didn't know until recently that Salvationists don't practice communion or baptism... but afterwards the youth leaders and some of the sixth formers went out for a curry which was even better! A great opportunity to get to know each other and have some fun. I really hope that these sessions will be a platform for working together in the future.
On a more disappointing note, the turn out from my church has been disappointing. I have cancelled one of the groups that was running with low numbers over this half term to ensure that they have got time to come to this, but it just hasn't caught on. Publicity has gone out and I have reminded everyone, but i just don't think people want to come. It is frustrating as I think it is so important for young people to mix with people from different churches and think about different perspectives/theology but people don't seem that bothered. Being a reflective practitioner (!) I am reviewing why people aren't coming and it may be because of a lack of ownership. I think it is really important that we don't just provide a programme and activities for young people, but we engage them and motivate them. We need to include them in the planning of events and use their gifts and abilities, not just as a token gesture but because this is how they grow and develop.
However, i have found practically, it is hard if not impossible to get a good level of ownership over everything and I had hoped and prayed that the young people would want to come to Unite! as it is an interesting subject and a good opportunity to meet new people. But people are fairly apathetic and not too bothered about coming, with no clear reasons why. Any thoughts/comments from other youth leaders (or young people) would be cool...
To end positively, this has been a good experience and great to get to know other people of similar minds and ages in the area. And it has been healthy to discover and discuss our differences as well as focusing on the One that unites us.