When I first arrived at St Mark’s 6 years ago, one of the first things I did in my new role as the Youth Minister was hold a ‘Parents Evening’. An opportunity for parents to feed into the vision for the youth work for the next season and share their thoughts on what their young people wanted and needed from our church. As I was clearing out my office over summer – I found their responses on a bunch of post-it notes…
As I look back over the past 6 years, the main focus of my role has been to get alongside and to disciple the young people at St Mark’s. During that time, we have worked with a large group and seen many of them go through their years at high school and on to start their adult lives. It has been a privilege to walk alongside the young people who have come along to the different groups we have run. And even more so to have seen them grow into the young adults they have become. This group of young (and some now not-so-young) people are incredible; They are gifted, kind and compassionate, they are vulnerable with each other, funny and fun-loving, they look out for each other and carry each other’s burdens, pursue God together and love and encourage one another. This, in my mind, is what church should look like.
It is easy to dismiss young people and to let them ‘do church’ in their own groups until they join the adults – but don’t underestimate what they will bring if you let them. No one has helped me to grow in my own faith more than young people. Their questions have shaped my own understanding of who God is and they constantly reveal what God is like in their character and with their gifts.
The parents were right (as they often are) when they described what their young people needed – to feel like they are an important part of the church family, to be welcomed and valued, to explore their faith together in fun and friendship – after all, isn’t this what we all desire from church? …
I have also enjoyed getting involved in the graphics and website during my time at St Mark’s…
As I look back over all of these events (of which these are just a few), my first thought is how amazing it is that God has blessed a local church in Chester with the people and gifts to connect with others in so many creative ways.
My second thought is that we are ready for this next season of rest! We are ready for a break, to stop – to see all that God has done with His church in Lache and Saltney, to give thanks and make space to rest in Him and hear from Him.
As I step down from my role, many of you have asked what I am going on to do next, the answer is nothing! Not quite ‘nothing’ but intentionally resting for a while. I am resisting the urge to keep busy and the potential to drown out what God is saying to me for this next season of life - I am excited that we are being invited into this space as a church too, it feels rare and precious, let’s make the most of it.
Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you to you, for your love, support and friendship during my time as the Youth Minister at St Mark’s. I won’t be disappearing entirely, I will still be involved with The Space on Sundays but as my role changes, I’d like to say a huge thank you in particular to all of those who have volunteered their time to be part of the youth work over the last 6 years – in whatever way that might have been. We do this ultimately to see young people come to know God and have a personal relationship with Him. This is both a privilege and a joy – one which I share with you as we look back at all that God has done but also forward, to all the fruit that these amazing young people will go on to bear for His kingdom.