Children, Young People and Families Round Table – March 2019
The Children, Young People and Families Round Table met in early March at BMS Birmingham. This national group aims to help our Baptist family join the dots between church, home and community.
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him
The gathering began with worship led by Pete James (representing our London Baptist Association) and we reflected on Lamentations 3 as a Biblical starting point for our time together. ‘The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him’ are words we reflected on and prayed into. We were certainly hopeful and are full of anticipation for what God has in store. There have been many and encouraging developments for CYF ministry over the past year with much more anticipated.
How can we inspire through our Baptist values?
We looked at the values we share as Baptists Together: We seek to be a movement of spirit led communities; feel like one team; embrace adventure; inspire others; and share a hunger for God’s coming kingdom.
We then reflected on how the Round Table can speak into these values from a CYF perspective.
These were the thoughts and themes that came from that conversation:
Share a hunger for God’s coming kingdom
We need to give space for the children and young people to model this for us, have the ability to see from God’s perspective and share stories that foster imagination.
We must be a prophetic voice. It’s about opportunities, confidence, permission giving. Show the way, share all stories, not just the good ones. It’s about the journey (process), not the end result (product).
Feel like one team
CYF understanding of group dynamics and an understanding of the role of power in groups. Everyone should have a voice. How can we listen and hear?
Can we inspire others through stories? Invitation to join the adventure. Vulnerability is good and key.
We seek to be a movement of spirit led communities
Challenging complacency, shatter stereotypes and sharing stories. It’s about being spontaneous, free flowing, not didactic in our communication and leading. What can be learnt? The need to listen and to speaking prophetically.
Since last time
Andrew Ginn shared exciting developments from 1277. This alliance exists to develop and implement a National Strategy to support church-based toddler groups and their associated activities. Their vision is to see universal access to excellent, safe, Christian toddler groups which are demonstrating God’s love at the heart of their communities. They are looking to resource Toddler Group leaders in the ways they can support the mental health of parents and equipping them on the issues around family breakdown and domestic violence.
They are also working with the question – what can we learn from toddler groups to do church better? It's just the toddler group: Toddlers and Mission resource from the Diocese of Bristol is one helpful resource.
Sian Hancock and Clare Hooper reported back on the Children’s Ministry Network which focused on Gender. They reflected on the title ‘A Gendered Practice: How understandings of gender shape children’s ministry’.Four theological perspectives on gender identity were well-presented and balanced. Case studies that churches may encounter were helpful.
A UK CYF denominational Round Table has now started, and Pete James and Amie Buhari attended. For now, it is about building relationships and staying involved.
Several members of the Round table reflected on the varied and positive conversations we are having with our Baptist Colleges regarding CYF. Both for CYF workers and as part of ministerial formation.
During our time we finalised our plans for the networking day at this years Baptist Assembly. We are excited by the opportunities the new Assembly format provides in helping churches engage with CYF mission and ministry. It is in effect our national conference and we will be available in numerous ways during Saturday 18th May at Telford. Between 11am and noon we are offering a fast-paced, engaging set of presentations which we hope inspires all those who attend to embrace more CYF adventure:
Spirituality of the child led by Clare Hooper
Relating to the values with our stories led by Andrew Ginn
Faith-full Play led by Sian Hancock
Hearing the voice of the young person and the child led by MaeveWhitchurch
Supporting LGBT young people led by Gemma Dunning
We will also be holding a CYF surgery at the Network Zone between 10-5pm. During this we will be offering specialist advice in these areas:
Intergenerational worship- 10-10.30am
Getting rid of the God slot– 10.30-11am
Messy Church– 12-12.30pm
Godly Play– 1.30-2pm
Resources and training options– 2-2.30pm
Employing CYF workers– 2.30-3pm
Toddler groups– 3-3.30pm
The CYF Round Table and how we can help– 3.30-5pm
Book your church in now. Bookings close 30th April.
The group also developed a national strategy for CYF Mission and Ministry that will be presented to the Baptist Steering Group in April. Some of these priorities were as a result of listening to how other Baptist Associations are engaging with CYF. This included a conversation with Adrian Argile, the Team Leader for our Heart of England Baptist Association.
We closed our time with Communion, giving thanks and praying into the relationships we have with each other and with God.
CYF Round Table March 2019
Children, Young People and Families Round Table – October 2018
THE CYF Round Table met in early October at the International Mission Centre in Birmingham. This national group aims to reflect, inform, inspire and raise the profile of CYF ministry across Baptists Together. Representatives from our Regional Associations attended along with Martin Sweet from Spinnaker (representing the Baptist Education Group) and Mike Lowe from the Faith and Society Specialist Team.
Since our last gathering
The Round Table last met in March and it has been a busy summer. This included delivering well attended seminars at the Baptist Assembly in May and Momentum – Baptist Assembly in Wales in June. Positive conversations have started with the Baptist colleges on how CYF training can be integral to ministerial formation. Two resources have also been produced – the CYF Toolkit and the CYF Employment Guide.
The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him
Our gathering was a rhythm of worship, reflection and discernment. Amie Buhari (from the Hebe Foundation and representing our London Baptist Association) lead opening worship and gave the group Lamentations 3:21-27 as a Biblical starting point for our time together. That need to wait on God was important to recognise and it ensured we gave sufficient time before discerning what was being said. The main aim of the gathering was to listen to what has been happening across the country and use that to inform a proposal we will be taking to Baptist Union Council in November.
Know that God is very much with you
Our reflection began by asking ourselves where we are personally in our ministry, calling and practice in a session led by Clare Hooper (CYF Regional Minister for the Southern Counties Baptist Association). The group focused on a river scene and we were asked where are you amidst the ‘river’? Would you like to be somewhere else?
Be it ice, water, dry land, stepping stones or waterfall. God is in it all. This was explored further when Sian Hancock (Associate Tutor at Bristol Baptist College, Oasis College and a Trainer for Godly Play UK) led A Godly Play prayer time on the Good Shepherd.
Mike Lowe (Communications Enabler for the Faith and Society Specialist Team) set the current context of Baptists Together. Opening with Acts 2.42-7, Mike reflected on this wonderful image of the early church which is still experienced today when Christian communities are at their best. Whatever we know of Baptists Together it is probable that we don’t feel Acts 2.42-7 about it. Our Baptists Together family does not exist to be an institutional club that churches belong to but a Kingdom building union that creates stories of God’s grace at work. The vision of growing healthy churches in relationship for God’s mission is set alongside our culture and priorities.
Mike shared popular stories from the past year that our vision has generated, aiming to show that we’ve every reason to feel Acts 2.42-7 about the union we are part of.
What’s flourishing? God’s Spirit at work, What’s in decline? Practice, Trends, Opportunities
A key time of sharing and listening was when the group shared their association experiences of what’s in decline, opportunities and God’s Spirit at work.
Out of the many stories that were shared, consistent observations were that the traditional Youth Club is in decline and a shift towards digital communication as a primary form of contact. There were multiple examples of schools being very open to allowing Christian groups in to lead assemblies, Prayer Spaces, after school clubs amongst others, but that is juxtaposed by the increased Safeguarding measures and GDPR limitations.
We recognise the future will be very different to the past, we need to have the courage to go to a new place and release people in new ways. This informed our discernment over the remaining time as we shaped a commitment we wish the Baptist Together family to embrace.
A quote bringing all that we had done together and beckons us onward in our shared journey is this from Vincent Donovan’s book ‘Christianity Rediscovered’:
“In working with young people, do not try to call them back to where they were, and do not try to call them to where you are, as beautiful as that place may seem to you. You must have the courage to go with them to a place that neither you nor they have ever been before”.
Please share this update with your church.
Children, Young People and Families Round Table – March 2018
THE CYF Round Table met in early March at the International Mission Centre in Birmingham. This national group aims to reflect, inform, inspire and raise the profile of CYF ministry across Baptists Together. Representatives from our Regional Associations attended along with Sian Hancock from Bristol Baptist College, Martin Sweet from Spinnaker, Mike Lowe from the Faith and Society Specialist Team and Jenni Entrican, President of the European Baptist Federation. Phil Knox from Youth for Christ was guest speaker.
The group spent time in theological reflection looking at an extract from ‘Faith Generation’ by Nick Shepherd. It considered the movement from faith development to faith generation amongst young people. How can we enable a self-sustaining discipleship? The main response the group discerned were these two points
Allowing the telling of personal stories. A culture of testimony needs to exist in our communities
Allowing young people to theologically reflect, in group settings we must allow and explore the question ‘where is God in all this’?
The group heard from Phil Knox, Evangelism and Leadership Director for Youth for Christ. Phil passionately shared the stories that they are hearing and the reflections they have made on research they commissioned with 1000 young people, ‘Gen Z: Rethinking Culture’ (https://yfc.co.uk/gen-z-rethinking-culture-report-released/). There were some remarkable findings. It shows where we will find young people spending their time:
Youth for Christ – We’re about seeing young people’s lives changed by Jesus
It revealed a love/hate relationship with social media.
A high proportion (59%) called themselves followers of Jesus and yet only 32% believed in God.
We are definitely ministering to a ‘screenager’ generation and we must help them understand the implications of technology. Phil reflected on this with a humorous poem he has written based on Psalm 23:
My phone is my shepherd, I shall not disconnect
It makes me lie down in fields of distraction
It leads me beside noisy, colourful waterfalls of pixels
It clutters my soul
It guides me along paths of likes and shares
For my ego’s sake
Even though I walk through the darkest valley of no wifi
I will fear no signal
For your 4G and offline features
They comfort me
You prepare a notification for me
In the presence of my followers
You anoint my thumbs with apps
My cloud storage overflows
Surely your updates and new features will follow me all the days of my life
And you will dwell in the palm of my hand forever.
Copyright Phil Knox 2018
Phil concluded by offering a Word God had shared with him for our engagement with young people. Empowerment and encouragement is key – we have a new generation of leaders to build up and released.
YFC resources for youth groups and children’s work – https://resources.yfc.co.uk
Sync: a Youtube channel and group resources to help young people share their faith:
All other aspects of Youth for Christ – www.yfc.co.uk
Where next for CYF in Baptists Together?
Key discernment and reflections included positively affecting CYF training in ministerial formation and developing links with Mission Forum. The CYF Round Table will be delivering a seminar at the Baptist Assembly in May and Momentum All Wales Baptist Assembly in June. They will also be offering thoughts to Baptist Union Council in November.
Please share this update with your church.