I am Rachel Quinlan and I recently started a new role as Youth Participation Project Manager for the South East. The Youth Participation Strategy is about engaging with young people and recognising them as equals within the body of Christ, providing them with opportunities to contribute and influence who we are as a church. The Strategy also includes the One Programme, giving one young person in each district a gap-year opportunity to work for a church or project linked to the Methodist Church, tailored specifically for their development and empowering them to make a difference at a local level. My role is to advocate and agitate for youth participation across the South East
First things first: participation is about everyone, not just young people. It's part of the Methodist Church's bigger vision - part of the Children and Youth Team's wider strategy - to see the whole church participating more; making and moulding the shape and substance of the church, together.
Participation and involvement mean changing the way we run our meetings, plan our worship, make our decisions. Participation and involvement mean changing the way we are church together.
YPS - It's about everyone
area, as well as managing the One Programme Participants. This is an amazing project, summed up for me by a quote from one young person, who said "The YPS has made me feel proud to be a Methodist and has encouraged me to bring friends into the church".
My background has not always been in youth work. I actually started out as a Civil Engineer, but decided that concrete wasn't for me and that young people were ... so 11 years ago, I trained to be a Youth Worker. I am passionate about giving people the chance to believe in themselves and in all they have to offer, so this job is an amazing opportunity for me to try and do some of that.
Do contact me if you have any questions on 07929 503937, or firstname.lastname@example.org
The One Programme
The Methodist Church is committed to young people. More than that. We're committed to enabling you to really participate in shaping and making the Church.
We call it our Youth Participation Strategy. It's all about opening up space and time for you to make decisions about the way the Church looks and works - not just for you as young people, but for everybody.
As part of this, we've set up The One Programme to give you the opportunity to work for a year in your local churches and Districts in creative projects that are helping to show Jesus to others.
Please click here for more information.
Youth Participation Strategy
A group of passionate young people from the South East of England got together in February 2010 to talk about what the Youth Participation Strategy should be aiming for in its goal of involving young people more.
Young people need the Methodist Church to equip, support and release their young people; be willing and courageous enough to let them "call some of the shots", and to give their ideas a go. They have a wealth of experience, knowledge and ideas, and only they can truly understand and each their own generation.
Young people want the Youth Participation Strategy to create a culture in which everyone is involved ... to the point where young people and adults reach out to one another and barriers are broken down ... to the point where it is no longer noticeable that young people are not involved ... to the point where the church evolves naturally to become a body that will listen to and connect with the next generation. Young people want to help make decisions and be nurtured as they take part in shaping the way we do church. They recognise that this will take enthusiasm, flexibility, strength, communication and a change in attitude on both sides.
ADAPTING TO THE NEXT GENERATION
Young people want the chance to implement quality, well-advertised activities and events that their peers will want to come to. They want to show young people that Christians have a living faith, that they are normal and that there is more to church than Sunday mornings. They want to minister to their community and provide for them in a way that allows them to connect with God. And they want their churches to be places that are welcoming and based on supportive, accepting relationships with others.
WHAT ABOUT THE WAY WE DO CHURCH AND WORSHIP?
How can our churches be made more accessible and relevant to young people in and outside the church? Can worship styles be mixed? Should alternative options be offered within services or as a separate one? Can this happen midweek? Does worship even have to be sung at all?
Amongst this discussion was the key message that we should accept one another's styles and that worship shouldn't cause division ... Indeed, it was felt that worship should not even be restricted to a Sunday morning or be seen as one's entire spiritual upkeep for the week! Church should be an ongoing community of people who mutually support and nourish one another and can happen at any time and in any place.
PREPARE TO BE INSPIRED AND CHALLENGED
Please listen to the podcast and be inspired by what this group of young people have to say (video also coming soon!). Most of all, remember that young people are individuals. As this group said themselves, one group cannot represent the opinions of all young people. Please think about how you can empower the young people in your churches and circuits to be heard and prepare to be challenged! If you would like to know any more information about the Youth Participation Strategy in the South East, or would like any support in knowing how to go about making it happen, please contact Rachel Quinlan on 07929 503937 or email@example.com