The Golden Ticket event could be a one-off, or annual event, and there will be lots of positives to take from this. You will be putting down a clear marker that Church is still there for these young people at a time of big change in their life, showing them that you care about them and giving them a fun memory which could inform their thoughts about church as they grow older.
However, the potential strength of this programme is that it gives you an opportunity to launch something new and more deep rooted, from a solid base. It gives you the opportunity to welcome into your community a group of young people who you already have a relationship with; to strengthen it and build on it – and potentially move onto making new followers of Jesus to be discipled and nurtured.
There are as many ways of going about that task as there are churches in the Diocese, but here are a few ideas for ways forward.
At any point when thinking about setting up a group or running a new activity you can always get in touch with your Children and Youth Missioner for support, ideas, someone to talk to, or with any specific issues/questions.
Contact us by phone or email (preferable, as we are often out and about)
Becky: Brackley, Brixworth, Daventry, Northampton, Towcester and Wellingborough Deaneries
01604 887058 firstname.lastname@example.org
Chad: Corby, Higham, Kettering, Oundle, Peterborough and Rutland Deaneries
01604 887059 or email@example.com
On-going open youth group
The most straightforward option is to run an “open” youth group, where you open up a suitable space, provide some games and equipment, refreshments, music and people to monitor, listen and help. Then allow the young people space to chat, be with friends and hang out. This works well with groups of 12-20 but any less and they can get bored easily and might need some more structure to a session. Any more and it can get hard to control, so again, more structure, more leaders, dividing up the group into different activities can be solutions.
For those in Northants, the Christian based youth club charity NAYC (Northamptonshire Association of Youth Clubs) is a useful resource. They can provide consultancy and potentially some funding before you start up a regular youth group. For a small annual fee you can affiliate giving you access to area workers and specialists who will happily come out to your group and help you, run sessions, provide resources and ideas.
For more information, hints and tips on setting up a new regular youth group, see the Start Up page on our website
A great resource that could be a part of your open youth group or could be at the heart of a new initiative is Table Talk, a discussion starter board game from the Ugly Duckling Company.
This very simple but innovative and potentially ground-breaking “game” was developed after research into our culture, it’s patterns of belief, changes in attitudes and current ways of thinking about spirituality, faith and religion. They found that many people in Britain today, and particularly those from younger generations are culturally so far from the Church, in knowledge, understanding and even recognisable points of contact in common, that traditional pre-evangelism courses such as Alpha, Christianity Explored etc are still too big a jump for many people. Those courses expect people to be spoken to and listen, with an “authority figure” in charge of the session, they expect people to understand a basic Christian understanding of God, and a desire to hear more about Christianity.
Table Talk, amongst other resources from this company, is designed to give people the opportunity to talk about the big questions of life, interspersed with the not so big questions, making for a relaxed but potentially powerful session. Packaged and presented as a quality board game, it’s a great icebreaker/ tool for getting discussion going in a non-threatening way. You could serve food before or after playing the game to make a fuller session.
“Seekers” or Discipleship Courses
If you feel that the young people have a little more of a grounding in faith, perhaps from their contact with your church, they may be interested in learning more. There are a number of different youth discipleship courses which can be used as a framework for sessions. They usually feature food, games, activities and other fun elements, alongside the teaching and faith discussion elements. They are designed to be user-friendly and can be used “off the peg”.
Some examples include:
These courses have a limited time frame and so aren’t such a big commitment (from the young people or your team) as a weekly, monthly or fortnightly regular club.
Small, focussed Discipleship group
It may be that you pick up that there is a core of young people who would come along to a more focussed, in-depth discipleship group. This is likely to be a small group, but could be extremely important and strategic work. You would need to be open about what kind of group it will be – Christian teaching, nurturing young Christians, sharing issues and experiences, being a source of support and mentoring, and drawing into the wider Church family. There are many resources to help you with running regular sessions. You can find links to a number of established providers of session plans, ideas, discussion starters etc on the Resources page on our website
There are some other ways that we can help you to support your discipleship group with local Youth Worship Services, online worship gatherings and a young leader training programme. We also have a Facebook forum for youth leaders and helpers, Twitter feed and the chance to meet up with other leaders every now and then.
There are many other possibilities for the future of your group and they may well depend on the interests and make up of those who come along to the party. Try and get a chance to chat to them about what they would like. Perhaps the next step after your reunion party might be an evening of food, games and listening to the young people, where you try and find out what they would like to come to; what their hobbies or interests are. These need to be matched to what you can successfully offer – so, what are the interests, enthusiasms and skills that your team enjoy?
Some possible ideas to suggest to them may include:
Film nights: gather to watch a popular film, have popcorn and treats, maybe have some discussion of issues contained in it afterwards.
Trip out club: facilitate the group to be able to go on occasional trips to local places – fire station, cinema, country park, bowling etc
Special Interest group: could be anything from crafts to woodworking to watercolour painting to hip hop dancing…
Music Group: if you or someone in your church has musical ability, you could form a group around a choir, band or music group. It may be that you just meet to play for fun, or maybe you could feed into an event, or even a church service.
Sports group: a lot of young people enjoy sports and a football team, aerobics class or running club could form a core group to work with. Having an inclusive, fun and encouraging ethos could set your group apart from more competitive results driven teams in the local area.
Feel free to call in your Children & Youth Missioner to come along to your listening session and help bounce ideas around.