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?
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.
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 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.