Youth and Children's Work Policy

 ‘To know the love of Jesus and to faithfully follow him’

Following our consultations with the Diocesan advisors for children and youth work and several meetings across the Benefice, we have drafted a document setting out our thinking and overall approach in the development of our mission and ministry to families, children and young people.  Draft copies of that document were circulated to the PCCs in 2015.

Summary of the Policy

 We believe that our ministry to our young people should be continuous from cradle to adulthood.
 
For practical reasons, we believe that we should approach that in three phases:

  • Babies, toddlers and their parents
  • Primary School
  • Secondary School. 

We believe that this ministry should be framed within the Diocesan Vision of Living God's Love, with its three strands of Going Deeper into God, Making New Disciples and Transforming Communities
 
We believe that there are five aspects of Christian life which need to be addressed during each phase:

  • Worship
  • Study
  • Prayer
  • Service
  • Fellowship 

In view of that strategy, we believe that for each phase we need to:

  • identify a number of activities to address each of the five aspects
  • identify the resources needed to carry out those activities.  We recognize that resources within the Benefice may not enable us to meet the needs of all the age groups, so some activities by necessity will take place off-site.
  • Set achievable goals for the next five years and implement a sustainable plan. 

 

Detailed Policy

Introduction
Having met with the Diocesan officers who deal with children’s and youth work and also following several meetings across the Benefice, below is a draft document for consideration by both PCC’s.  Once agreed, this document will become the benefice strategy for the development of our mission and ministry to families, children and young people.
 
We have taken as our starting point the Diocesan vision of Living God’s Love with its three strands of Going Deeper into God, Making New Disciples and Transforming Communities
 
In addition, each strand of the Diocesan vision will consider the four areas of Christian life – study worship, prayer and service in an age-appropriate way.
 
Living God’s Love
The challenge to all Christians is that not only do we meet regularly for acts of worship and celebrate our faith, but that we should be modelling that Christian faith to each other, to our neighbours and the wider communities in which we are involved.  There is an acknowledgment that people are often brought to faith through the development of relationships with Christians. A sense of belonging and being in fellowship with others helps to re-enforce this.
As part of our meetings, we have decided to look at our children’s and young people’s work under the three categories: Parents, Babies & Toddlers, Primary School Children and Secondary school to pre-University. 
 
 
1. GOING DEEPER INTO GOD
Parents, Babies & Toddlers
The first category that we looked at begins primarily in our parishes, with families wishing to come forward to have their children baptised.  This carries on through the early years and into Reception at junior school.  Opportunities will also arise in working alongside these very young children in toddler groups, in connecting with our local schools, plus there are natural opportunities as this group of children grow up, to encourage their families to engage with church through family services.  These often occur at the big festival times: Mothering Sunday, Harvest, Easter and Christmas.  Also an opportunity could be taken to develop coffee mornings with parents and toddlers.
eg:
Run parenting classes in the evening or over a coffee morning.(Christian dvd’s on this)
Getting to know the parents by chatting to them at coffee after the All Age

Asking parents to help with jobs that are needed by the church eg Hollyberry Fair, Flower Festival, setting up the services, clearing up afterwards.

Baptism preparation with church members as well as Michele

Run more regular services of Kids Praise (similar to St Lawrences’)

Creche and Sunday School 
Most of this work has normally been carried out as part of our regular church activities and has to date been driven by individuals in the two churches.  We believe that we need to explore the possibility of having someone employed, part-time or full-time to co-ordinate this work. Also, to have Church representation at the Parent and Toddlers group in Chipperfield.
 
 
Primary School Children
 
This particular group, if the families attend church, will often still attend, either with parents or mostly grandparents and it is felt that opportunities to engage with them would occur as a continuation from the parents, toddlers and babies group, but as an introduction to small groups on their own.  For example, Sunday School, where these children can be introduced to who God is and how they can relate to him.  This again has primarily been led by lay people but in recent years at St. Paul’s, was an aspect of the Youth Worker’s responsibilities.  This work could be carried out, full time and part-time and be a natural overlap from the parent, baby and toddler group.  This could form a bridge where the young people start in small groups and develop as they grow older into study groups for older young people.
 
eg:
Church presence in the schools.

Lunch time and after school clubs

Periodic Saturday morning clubs and holiday clubs

All Age Services to continue

Run more regular services of Kids Praise (similar to St Lawrences’) 
 
 Secondary School to pre-University years
 
This group of young adults have been the focus over the last ten years with youth work, which has involved connections with the schools, and working alongside young people as they prepared themselves for university.  This group has often helped to run events for the younger children and this has been an opportunity to have reference points and people to talk to about a relationship with God.  To date this has been carried out almost exclusively by a youth worker, as the children need a contact outside of the adults that they know, (primarily parents and teachers), whom they can connect with to explore a relationship with God.
 
eg:
 
Outreach clubs to the unchurched

Weekly youth meetings to develop personal faith of the young people

Link with other churches and their youth groups

Attend monthly Soul Survivor celebrations

Run youth led services

Weekends away

Soul Survivor in the summer

Attend One Life conferences

Socials where they can invite non- Christian friends 
 
2. MAKING DISCIPLES
 
Parents, Babies & Toddlers
Making disciples will focus primarily on the parents that we encounter, with facilities for their toddles and children to be a part of exploring how to become disciples of Christ.  The opportunities for this will be in similar ways as outlined in the first section but maybe focussed on having bible study groups incorporated in our encounters, both in church and outside in the community - e.g. coffee shops and homes. 
 
Primary School Children
With very young children who are beginning to speak and think for themselves and are exploring their worlds outside of them, making disciples with this particular group would be centred around Sunday School.  This could work in enquiry groups, which may have an element of social encounter, and relationship activities; opportunities to have days out away from parents and homes and would create a sense of fellowship with each other and being part of God’s people in our benefice.
 
Secondary School to pre-University years
We need to make the distinction here that with this particular group of young people we will never be able to complete with what the world offers.  There needs to be clear ideas as to how we are different, through the way we behave and relate to each other.  This primarily will be done in small groups, being involved in supporting younger groups and taking part in church activities and together being involved in the community.  This would also create opportunities to join with other churches with a youth emphasis so that will be opportunities for them to celebrate with large numbers of people their own age who have either made commitments or are enquiring on their journeys with God.  For example, Soul Survivor, Christ Church Chorleywood and Christian youth festivals in the summer.
 
 3. TRANSFORMING COMMUNITIES
 
Parents, Babies & Toddlers
Our commitment to ongoing work, both with baptismal parents and children leads us into connecting with these families in our communities.  Our ability to transform the communities that they and we are a part of will be determined by this commitment, not just on Sundays, but throughout the rest of the week.  With this group, there is a real opportunity to offer additional services such as support through parenting classes, supporting each other through mentoring and connecting.  In addition, creating new Home Groups where this group can feel relaxed and able to learn and develop their faith, thereby transforming their own families and the families around them.
 
Primary School Children
Our engagement with this group of young people, again primarily through contact with their parents and through our schools gives us an opportunity to take church into the school and their homes and vice-versa where they begin to feel ‘at home’ in church.  Our work with the first group (Parents, Babies & Toddlers) and preparation for continuing to work with this group going forward will create opportunities to see families and neighbourhoods changed by our commitment to this work, both lay and employed.
 
Secondary School to pre-University
The opportunity arising with this particular group is not only to see our communities transformed but to see the young people going into universities and helping to transform them.  A strong relational base and good communications through social media will give this group a sense of security as they move forward.
 
 
 
CONCLUSION
The strategy outlined above will give us the basis to begin to work out what this means for us as a Benefice.  How we are able to co-operate and collaborate with each other, utilising as many of us committed to the church life of the Benefice and also recognising that there will need for others brought in; often paid, to offer continuity as this work develops.  No one person could achieve the goals outlined above for the groups alone, therefore collaboration, support and manpower is our main way forward.
In addition, engaging with what already exists in our communities and demonstrating our commitment as a Benefice and for the people of God to be involved in community activities.  In other words, we don't need to reinvent the wheel!  Strategic partnerships with others and co-operation with each other can only be developed through committed relationships - primarily to God and with each other, and we will see this work succeed. 
 
 
Youth & Children’s working group,
October 2015