No longer lost 2

Project helps Elim churches reach out to young people

Effective youth ministries can build faith foundations for life. 

That’s why LIMITLESS is helping Elim churches launch and strengthen their youthwork.

“Growing up in my youth group is the reason I’m in youth ministry today,” says Limitless pioneer Jamie Price.

“They championed me, let me ask questions and make mistakes. I felt accepted as part of a wider family, so I understand how important it is to come alongside teenagers and help them work out what it means to be a follower of Jesus.”

Jamie and his team are four years into an ambitious project to help Elim churches launch or reinvigorate youth ministries.

He has helped 20 churches establish youth ministries in places such as Antrim, Blackpool, Oxford and Wythall since joining Limitless in 2017.

Now, he is aiming to pioneer another 100 over the next ten years.

The project came about during Elim’s centenary in 2015 when research showed more than 100 churches had no youth ministry. Today, Jamie and his team come alongside churches to understand their communities, demographics, schools and existing youth work, then work with and train their teams.

The work expanded last year as three new team members signed up to focus on Northern Ireland, north-west, north-east and south-west England and Wales. They are already seeing fruit.

“Six months before lockdown we started a ministry in Weoley Castle in south Birmingham. We had seven or eight kids on the first evening, then that grew to the high 20s.

“When lockdown hit we struggled as people dealt with engaging online, so as soon as we were allowed to meet we ran a live Youth Alpha.

“We had a group of around eight and handed out Bibles. We’re on a really good journey with a number of them.”

Over in Blackpool, the team has seen great success as they have invited teenagers to attend their youth evenings.

“They give out free hot chocolate to kids walking past the church on their way home from school. They get talking and invite them to the group that evening.”

Elsewhere, other churches have organised community fun days with games and football cages to engage teenagers in youth nights.

Jamie and his team have also been invited into schools to present assemblies or run one-to-one mentoring. Jamie is also passionate about helping churches in an age where the gospel is under fierce challenge.

“We live in a generation where post-truth beliefs are coming out more and more. You’re talking about sexuality and gender identity.

“If this generation has an opinion and you have a counter-opinion they will really challenge you and ask what you believe and why. Responding to that begins with relationship and we’re helping churches navigate that.”

Jamie is keen to help more Elim churches develop strong youth ministries.

“If any church is reading this and what we’ve discussed resonates, just get in touch and we’ll see if we can support you and work together to establish or revitalise your youthwork.

“We want to help you begin the journey of exploring the gospel with teenagers – it’s as relevant today as it has ever been.”

I trust that as God moves we’ll see the heart of the church pulse with youthwork...

John Lindsay, pastor at Antrim Elim worked with LIMITLESS to launch its youth ministry in October 2021.

Why did you pioneer a youth ministry?
I had the blessing of growing up in a youth ministry. It’s such a foundation to grow from. I want that for my two teenage boys and the two girls in our church.

We’ve more than 100 school kids walking across our car park every day. I know how special it is to be part of a move of God when you’re young. I want my church to be somewhere we see God moving among young people.

How did working with Limitless help?
When we came to Antrim there was no youth work so my wife Hannah launched some.

It went well, but the kids needed it to be led by someone else and we didn’t have the time or the energy for it.

By working with LIMITLESS we have something we couldn’t have made on our own and the training has been great. It’s been an answer to prayer and we wouldn’t have had Adam and Lucy, our youth workers, without LIMITLESS.

What difference will having a youth ministry make to your church?
The church needs to shift its culture. I trust that as God moves, we’ll see the heart of the church pulse with youth work.

I just started a kid’s ministry and our heart is that by the time they go into secondary school we’ll have a youth ministry established for them.

Why should churches prioritise youth work?
Two words: Amy and Ethan.

Ethan came to our youth group last Friday night and didn’t want to leave. I don’t know his story, but for him to have the opportunity to be part of something is fantastic.

Amy is a girl in church with a difficult background. We picked her up for youth group last week and she was so excited.

I’d say start a youth-work because there are Amy's and Ethan's where you are too. And even if it’s just for a handful of young people to have a family on a Friday night, that’s the ballgame for me.
 

The teaching was helpful

LIMITLESS helped Ludlow Elim launch a youth ministry in January 2019, said Dane Pritchard, pastor of Ludlow Elim.

Why did you pioneer a youth ministry?
We’re an older congregation and my wife and I was the only parents of children in school. It was a desire to have youth in the church.

How did working with Limitless help?
It was amazing. A couple of years before we’d tried to launch a youth ministry and it all went wrong. But the guys from LIMITLESS came and helped us establish rhythms and patterns of how to engage with young people.

The teaching was really helpful for the volunteers; it helped them feel confident.

What difference will having a youth ministry make to your church?
We’re engaging with the mums and dads as the guys come in. That’s really cool and is something we wouldn’t have seen before. Also, there’s a lass in the church who’s really stepped up and it’s been amazing to see her grow.

From your experience, why should churches prioritise youth ministry?
A guy I know who’s been doing youth work for 15 years ran an Alpha last January. He’s seen four or five people come to faith through that, but that’s because of the effort he put in doing youth work and the connections he made in the past.

Because of his work, he’s now seeing people in their 20s and 30s come to faith.

 

This article first appeared in February's edition of Direction Magazine. For further details please click here.

 

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