Scripture Union have recently undertaken some research, and have published it over the course of a series of events in the last week. They point to the reality that the church is only connecting with 5% of young people in the UK, therefore there are 95% other young people not connected to church based youth provision.
Im not sure whether the 5% includes uniformed organisations like Brigades or Brownies, though I imagine not. What I also imagine, and have no proof of, is that where the local church has a gathered community from a few miles around, then it is even less likely that the young people it does connect with on a regular basis, might be truly local to the church in its community. Of course there are exceptions, but as a general observation.
Even that 5% might include the moments when the young people that you have ‘bring a friend’ – the slow process of friendship evangelism, or social events.
Of course, this may also imply that the church only connects with a small number of adults too, but thats beside the point.
What if i told you that in one year your church could begin connecting with 10% of the young people in your local estate? what if i told you that this would be possible without paying for a FT youthworker..
Where are 10% of the young people you may ask?
They’re on the streets at least one or two evenings a week. They’re the young people you drive past to get to the evening prayer meeting, or house group. yes them.
Over the course of one year, by being on the streets you will connect with 10% of the young people in your local community. And begin to have an impact with their parents too and other people. The walls of the church need not be your barrier.
Of course it doesnt happen overnight. Meeting young people on the streets is a slow process.
Not every young person is on the streets, but more young people are there than are in church based youth groups. In a recent survey by YFC, they said 35% of young people liked being on the streets with their friends. Every detached youthwork project i have been involved in has connected with 10% or more young people in a specific community over the course of a year, and this only increases.
If as a church you’re serious about what mission looks like, and mission looks like being sent into the world, being vulnerable in the world, then making the first move is to walk around the streets, to observe and listen to young people and build rapport, conversation, relationships and faith – will not only enable you to develop new disciples on the streets, but be discipled yourself.
But its scary out there? What do I say?
Dont worry, if you’re serious about meeting the 10% – then training, that involves role plays, discussions and scenarios can be delivered by me to your church group and volunteers. Just costing £500 for 2 days + travel. You get professional training, handouts, resources and the opportunity to ask questions, share stories, and learn from some of the challenges and delights of the 11 years of street based detached youthwork that i have been involved in. Attractional work with young people doesnt, hasnt worked, and wont maintain an ongoing connection with the young people on the streets, the 10% waiting for you to connect with them.
As a bonus: If you’re reading this and you’re in a church based in the Durham or Newcastle Diocese – then FYT have funding to enable you to access this training for absolutely free. No catch. Free training to start connecting with the 10%. Yes its pioneering, it might be different to the church down the road. But if you have a heart to do mission locally, and young people are already visible – then why not – theres nothing to lose! Every moment is a possibility – and nothing is lost by trying.
So, Start a process of meeting young people where they’re at. Start redeeming spaces and connecting in their home space. Start wandering the streets like the saints, and develop spirituality with the marginalised. Connecting with 10% might be the best decision your church will make as a testament to how it loves the local community.
Double or even Treble your influence and connections with young people within a year. Starting meeting the 10% where theyre at. Of course you could try and connect with the 85% – but theyre inside on xboxes or in school lessons, they put up more barriers to be found.
Please just fill in your details below with your location, questions, suggestions or scenario, and James will get back to you, to help you start this process of exploring and navigating through a new land to get to a new place with young people. Alternatively contact me via the details in the contact menu above.