25 February 2020 | London, UK [SEC Youth Ministries]
In a world where there can be a frustrating struggle to find and encourage youth leadership at a local church level, the South England Conference Youth Leadership Conference (YLC) stimulated over ninety leaders towards innovative development.
Those leaders responded calling it “Epic!”, “Refreshing”, and “Just what we needed” as they met from 24 -26 January at the Crowne Plaza, in East Grinstead, London.
Under the theme ‘Rebuilding the Walls’ leaders from across the whole of the South England Conference (SEC) focused on creating dialogue around the realities of Youth Ministry (YM), including the one of dying youth leadership in local churches whilst challenging the status quo with Spirit-led innovation. YLC successfully met the objectives for attendees to realise the need for change and innovation; to create an intimate platform to discuss best YM practices with leading experts and to ensure relevant specialist training and resources producing real solutions and new leaders.
Attending YLC as specially invited keynote speakers were Naomi Burgess, development and leadership coach for Team GB; Pastor Laurent Grosvenor, senior pastor of the Alpha Adventist church in the US; Fabian Thorpe, business director and entrepreneur; Jennie Hall, Senior Youth Leader Award assistant; and Pastor Tihomir Lazić, Trans-European Division Student Ministries director with special appearances from British Union Conference Youth Director Dejan Stojković and Pastors Nathan Stickland and Lon Jones.
Workshops throughout the weekend included the introduction of the specialist youth training ‘Senior Youth Leadership Award’ organised by the General Conference Youth department; Values and Conflict Resolution; AY and Strategic Planning; Youth leadership and the Holy Spirit; and Youth and Innovation. Each presentation was thought-provoking as well as relevant which allowed young people and leaders to adapt the information to their respective areas, churches and individual lives. The youth leaders in attendance took opportunities to network and share their leadership challenges and success stories.
In one of the interactive sessions, ‘The youth leaders challenge‘, the participants were invited to split into four groups, each of which was tasked to come up with a youth project from a business perspective with the budgets of £100, £1000, and £1,000,000. The ideas and creativity resulted were remarkable. One such idea was to set up an allotment and health store run by young entrepreneurs that would be growing and selling organic and healthy food products.
One of the major problems the leaders highlighted during the group activity was that youth leaders and other key stakeholders in the youth fields are not sufficiently aware of the dynamics and processes from higher leadership levels and thus leading to marginalisation and exclusion. There is, therefore, a need for leaders from division, union and conference levels to be more conscious of this and try to work more closely together.
Cathy Boldeau, who represented ADRA and Urban Ministries, promoted up-and-coming community projects and the SEC Youth Director Anthony Fuller, encouraged that over 60 youth leaders had committed to the Senior Youth Leadership Award specialist programme, closed the conference by highlighting the plans he has for the coming. He assured that the SEC would be doing more to collaborate with youth leaders and youth in the local churches and committed to improving the quality and professionalisation of youth work.
tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Deana Stojković, associate editor
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