What’s Working?

As I travel around the Archdeaconry I see things working well. Usually quite gentle & unassuming,  small steps in changing culture, so that working with and involving children and young poeple becomes a golden thread through everything we do…

Here are a few snapshots of things that have made me smile…

Persistence snip

It made me smile …

When I asked what had led to a new youth ministry, and the answer was a toddler group being set up 25 years ago, and the faithful prayer, action and persistence of a determined lady now in her 80’s…

When I got an email titled “Alleluia” from a vicar who had persistently and patiently, over 5 years of relationship building, finally been asked to take a whole assembly – not just a prayer, in a school that had seemed closed.

When I heard about a secondary school referring struggling children in year 7 to a church run lunchtime club, and I was told that this was a result of years of hard work, determination and grace shown to the school.

When I asked why the proportion of young people in a small village church on a Sunday was so high, and I was told that one lay woman had set up an after school club in the local primary a number of years ago, and she had kept in touch with the young people and invited some of the regulars personally to come and help out on a Sunday.

Involvement snip

It made me smile…

when I went to that same small new service, in a village church which has seen painful problems in recent years, and I was greeted on the door by two teens, another read the Bible reading, another was involved in the teaching and two more took the collection. Young people formed about a third of the small congregation and they were all involved in one way or another.

when I went to speak at a PCC and there was a young person there; being listened to and consulted about decisions.

when a bunch of young people from different churches in a Deanery area get together on a Sunday evening and bring something to share, so that we end up with a worship experience that can be chaotic and not at all slick but that young people have thought about and care about and that reflects them and their experiences.

When families keep coming back to a weekly service, partly because they bring cakes they’ve made, because they have invested in the themes and activities, they’ve shared their ideas on What’s App and they know that they will be listened to. And partly because its fun, and their friends come…

Welcome Snip

It makes me smile…

When I go to one of my many Sunday morning visits to a church and instead of being handed the usual pile of books and papers, and a look that says “I don’t know you but maybe I should so I’d better not say anything”  instead I’m offered a cup of tea – and even better, a bacon buttie or a cake – and a friendly conversation to go with it.

When I go into a church building and one of the first things I see is a really nice, bright, well-cared for children’s corner, with inviting-looking activities, books, toys and a strong message that small children and their families.

When I arrive at a church and there are young people or children, together with people of other generations, working together to welcome people –  handing out the books, making them tea, pointing out the loo or the children’s corner. Smiling at me.

It always made me smile, when I used to go to a church many years ago and the same couple used to stand outside the church on the main road, literally in rain or shine, snow or sleet to guide people inside, greet them and have a chat.

Listening snip

It has made me smile…

when at my own church we’ve begun a new intergenerational active learning pattern and actively encouraged people to talk to and listen to people of other generations. It made me smile and actually quite emotional to see people move about, engage with and listen to people they had never spoken to or just in passing. Seeing a 6 year old boy deep in conversation with a grandad or great-grandad age chap during a service, and the new warmth that sharing the peace had afterwards…

when I’m out and about and I see an older person get down on their haunches to talk to a child by name. When I hear clergy talk to their young people and children by name.

when I hear about activities that enable young and old to tell stories, share food and activities together, such as “Holidays at Home” for older people when young families are invited to join in…

culture change snip

It makes me smile when I see a shift in the culture of our churches towards listening to, including and involving the younger generations, and where there may seem little hope, when I see a patience, persistence and perseverance to continue taking small steps on that journey.

Becky Wills Nov 15th 2018