What’s been happening in our youth groups during lockdown?
Core has been running regularly on Sunday evenings. It is a relatively small group, with six regular members, plus two or three who are irregular. The leadership team for this group has been predominantly myself and the Moorlands students. When the Moorlands students have been away, we have been joined by Lesley Barry, Lucy Cox-O’Rourke, and Lizzie Dibden. I am very grateful to the Moorlands students for stepping in and leading when I am on furlough.
Since the lockdown we have continued the group over Zoom. This hasn’t been without its challenges. It has made it difficult to engage the young people in the same way and to make sessions interactive. However, it also has had its benefits: some of the young people who aren’t always comfortable sharing out loud are happy to share over written chats; and using features on Zoom like the whiteboard has given some of the young people opportunities to share where they often wouldn’t feel comfortable. Since the lockdown I have opened up Core to younger ages as well, as I want to keep in touch with as many young people as possible.
Up until February we were following a series in which we were focusing on the Holy Spirit, who he is to us and what his role is in our lives. This series was split into two parts: the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit. The aim of these sessions was to make the young people more comfortable with the idea that we have a present God. He wasn’t only doing things thousands of years ago, but also moves with us today. We looked at how He is still working within us and uses us in all sorts of ways, including ways we might call supernatural, but also in ways which should change our hearts to be more Christ-like. Since then we have been following a series on Romans, working our way through it together and trying to explore God’s grace in our weaknesses. The complete resources we have been using can be found here (Holy Spirit) and here (Romans).
Furnace has been running on Wednesday evenings. It targets ages 11-14. However, a large segment of the group is made up of 15-18 year olds and has a large crossover with those who come to Core. We have 18 young people on the register and see an average attendance of approximately 13 young people. This group is a lot more relaxed than Core and normally consists of some free time to play games and do crafts, followed by a short Christian message and then organised group games.
Over the last six months we have been following three series: firstly, following David and emphasising that God wants to go on a journey with each of us; secondly, following the Storylines video resource, which covers several of the main themes that run through the Bible; and most recently, working our way through Jesus’ parables. Sadly we have not been able to continue Furnace during lockdown. The nature of the group doesn’t lend itself to online youth groups, so it is temporarily suspended.
We have also been running Youth Alpha. We have eight regular attendees. Thankfully it lends itself to Zoom, being predominantly a video resource, so we have been able to continue into this lockdown period.
In the lockdown we have been trying to maintain an online presence. We have been working alongside St Paul’s Throop – creating video resources for the young people to watch each week, on top of the online youth groups we have been able to continue with.
Looking to the future and post-lockdown, one of my priorities is to support individual young people and do more one-to-one sessions. I also want to explore the possibilities of working on schools and how we might go about that.
Jez Ferguson, youth minister
Please be praying for our young people, and for Jez and the team as they continue to meet together.