Church engagement with young people is in decline, but it doesn’t have to be. Launchpad is an informed, practical and hopeful project that teaches church leaders how they can initiate youth work in their church.
Only a quarter of churches in the UK have youth work during a Sunday service or youth activities midweek. That leaves most churches wondering if it's possible to do anything and, if so, how to start. Most churches can't afford a paid worker and find it difficult to recruit volunteers. They're also acutely aware that the kind of youth work needed may need to look very different to accommodate the changing culture. No wonder it's often overwhelming and intimidating to think about starting something from scratch.
Launchpad is Youthscape's answer to this challenge. It's a new programme designed to give church leaders the insights, strategies and confidence they need to help the church take this step forward. Piloted with the Capital Youth programme in the Diocese of London, initially in 2017, more than thirty vicars have completed the course in the first twelve months.
Who is the course for?
Launchpad is exclusively for church leaders, whether or not they will be involved hands-on with the youth work they plan to get started. It's normally organised by the Diocese or other denominational body. Youthscape work with them to identify churches where there is some interest in starting youth work. The church leaders are invited to come and hear about the programme and decide if they'd like to take part. It's important they're committed to the challenge of thinking through and developing a strategy, but it's not just for churches who have lots of resources. Many churches have very limited capacity to get youth work started, but in most cases something is possible.
What is involved?
Over five two-hour sessions Launchpad features expert, insightful teaching on youth culture, case studies of different types of youth work, and guidance on how to build a team of volunteers. Participants complete simple exercises that build into a concrete strategy. Some will learn how to develop youth work from successful children's work; others will explore starting with a handful of teenagers already in the church; or taking the bigger step of reaching out to young people in the community to begin a project. Launchpad is a chance to think again, to see the possibilities that arise through innovation, informed strategy, and a renewed vision for youth work in church.
The final session is a chance for the wider church to engage with the project and find the confidence and momentum to put a strategy into action.
What difference does it make?
The programme puts church leaders in a position where they can be confident about what's needed and how to get started. Of course, that doesn't guarantee it's going to happen, but it's an important first step. It allows the church to narrow down the options and being to imagine what youth work could look like in their context. By the end of Launchpad, the aim is for every church leader to be able to say:
- "I have some insight into the needs of young people in my community."
- "I'm going to make youth ministry more of a priority in my church."
- "I feel a growing confidence my church might be able to do some youth ministry."
- "I understand more about what my church needs in place to begin youth ministry."
- "I can begin to imagine the model of youth ministry that could happen here."
- "I can identify the potential resources and people in my church to help start youth ministry."
- "I want to take this to the next stage and get started."
How to get involved?
Contact Alex Drew to find out if Launchpad is available in your region.