Last May, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland designated 2018 as ‘The Year of Young People’ (YoYP). Throughout Scotland churches are being challenged to engage with a number of pressing issues which are effecting us all, such as how to encourage young people to engage more with their faith, and how to make sure that they know they are an important part of the church.
Here at Liberton we have been trying to address these questions for a number of years now, particularly with our Forward Together campaign in 2001 to raise money for the appointment of our first full time youth worker, and, more recently, in the various ways we have been trying to include and involve younger people in our worship and in our communion services.
There is one important area, however, in which we still have some way to go. In March 2017, I wrote of the image in the Bible of church as the ‘Family of God’ and the need for us to be more ‘intergenerational’. I had been challenged by the words of Andy Chittick, spoken two years before, who had said…
Statistics show that, unless each one of our young people feel known, loved and accepted by at least five other church members who are not in their
immediate family, then, when they grow older, they will be unlikely to want to remain part of our church.
A year has now passed since I wrote this article, but the challenge still remains, and so, to make it more real, here is an exercise for us all to do. Please write the names of five school-age children known to you personally, who you are not directly related to, and who are part of our church family here at Liberton.
This year we have the incredible opportunity to start the first Scottish Young Life camp at Loch Monzievaird in July 2015. So the last couple of weeks have been busy meeting with young people and their families, telling them about camp and inviting the young people to come. The official sign up date was the first of April but we have booked a couple of extra spaces with the confidence that God will fill them with the right young people. It has been great feeling the buzz about it this early and seeing the young people so engaged and energetic at the fundraisers. Camp is such a great opportunity to share not just a week of amazing fellowship with the young people but also to share the gospel with them. There are a lot of young people who haven’t decided to follow Christ yet, so please pray with us that God would speak to them during such an awesome week. Please also pray that the last spaces would be filled and the preparations for it would go smoothly, July seems so far away and yet time runs so quickly especially if it’s sunny!
I am back and as this is my first youth report of the year – Happy New Year!!
I thought I would take this time to reflect a little bit about my time in America and how valuable it has been for my ministry here in Liberton Kirk. While I was there I spent 2 weeks having the full Young Life Experience. I stayed with a Young Life family, ran a program (program is all the activities which happen at a camp – both morning and evening clubs and activities) at a camp for 800 young people, saw how they run weekly clubs and bible studies, and met some incredible people who are on fire to spread the Gospel.
The biggest thing that hit me while I was there was at the camp. With 800 teens aged between 15 – 18 and over 100 leaders, I was one of the two leaders who were paid to do youth work. This blew my mind. There were over 100 volunteers, mainly aged in their 20s, giving up their weekends to be shining lights to the young people who they work with every week. Not only that, but almost all of these volunteers run a 2 hour club (like our Delta) every week, a bible study (like our Connection Groups) every week and give up their time to build relationships with kids in their own free
evenings – all around a full time job.
This sort of commitment and vision is there because many of them were Young Life kids themselves, and saw their YL leaders commit their lives to serving them in as many ways as possible. What struck me so hard is the amount they give every week to serve the lives of these kids. For me, this was inspirational. Youth work is way more than a job or a
profession, for these volunteer leaders it is a way of life. Every meal is shared, every spare moment is filled, and every life they touch is one touched by Jesus. Imagine what this area would be if we, together, had this vision for our
local teens. Imagine if every table had an extra space set, if every moment was a chance to share and if every teen was touched by Christ . . . Imagine.
For some dates for your diary, through to the Summer, see box at the top of the next page.
Another busy month at Liberton Kirk and another month of awesome praise and worship!
Power Point and Sleepover
This month was PowerPoint, and afterwards we had another great sleepover!!
PowerPoint was held in Destiny Church on Gorgie Road and attracted over 600 young people. A speaker
from an organisation in London called ‘One Life’ really challenged many of our young people on the position
of Leadership, and how they can be leaders within their churches. We are looking forward to seeing our young people transformed into future leaders of the church! After PowerPoint we held a sleepover where more than 50 young people from Gorgebridge, Liberton Kirk, Liberton Northfield, and our St Andrews friends, all gathered together, and spent an awesome night playing “Just Dance” on the Wii, basketball in the Recreation Hall, and hanging out in the foyer. And, as if that wasn’t enough, our German friends were over and offered
the chance to spend the whole night worshipping God. We turned the Wilson Hall into a worship space in which Karen and Markus spent the whole night singing and praying. It was a fantastic experience for both
leaders and young people alike. 19 young people spent the whole night in the worship room. Some slept, some read their bibles and others just sat in the presence of God. And in the morning, after very few hours of sleep,
we were greeted by bacon rolls and tea!!
I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who helped in the organisation and running of the most awesome Friday night.
Once again, the young people have been given the chance to take over and run their own evening service. This service will be on the 4th December and be looking at God’s Hope in Times of Trial. They are very excited about putting their new found passion for Leadership in to action!!
There are so few Youth Workers in my privileged position.
I have an inspirational and understanding boss, a caring and supportive church family, abundant opportunities to share God’s love with lost teens and children, and a deep call in my heart to do that here in South Edinburgh. I count all these as a great blessing. Thank you for loving me so deeply and for welcoming my growing family to your hearts. We are delighted by your affection.
Weekly Friday afternoon Transformers clubs continue in Burdiehouse, run by a team of volunteers led by John and Morag Ross, who share the Gospel with the local Primary School children. The Gracemount Primary School club, led by myself with help from KLM and Kirk members, has increased to fortnightly afternoon events, with more than 20 attending.
Through all the fun, games, crafts, DVDs and Dice of Danger, our prayer is still that we see children ‘transformed by the love and power of Jesus’.
Keep praying for God’s growing work.
Delta is also growing just now. Summer saw an influx of new teens through the work of Stage’n’slam and Summer Buzz (you will have seen some new faces on Sunday mornings – have you had the chance to get to know any new names yet?) These boys and girls are now enthusiastically bringing their friends along to join the fun and find out more about the Gospel’s power for them.
New members comment on how loving and non-judgemental the group is. They positively want to be a part of this new life. Please pray for over 50 to attend, for leaders to meet needs, and about how you can love and support these new and vulnerable family members.
Parents met in October to discuss Liberton Kirk’s ministry to our families.
We want to support all our families effectively and to support our families as they bring their friends to church for the first time. Can I leave you with some information and some thoughts?
- Summer Buzz will be from August 6-13 next year (last week of the holidays)
- Please keep inviting new children who came to Summer Buzz back to Sunday Buzz each month
- Please look out for families you know at Christingle and invite them to Messy Church or Sunday Buzz in the New Year
- Why not relax with a coffee at Libby’s as you wait for your child to finish their Uniform Group? Share 10 minutes there with a close friend who doesn’t yet know Christ
Thank you, and God bless you all.