In my first six months with Pais UK, working in Southport where we partner with the Southport and Area Schools Worker Trust, I noticed a few things.
1) I got to talk about God in schools, which in my home country (America) is unthinkable, and
2) There were always young people hanging out at McDonald’s. At least that is, until they get kicked out and then they hang out outside McDonald’s. Later when I moved to Walsall and then Burnley, I realised that the McDonald’s thing is consistently true; young people are always there. They are not hard to find.
Paul Gibbs, the founder of Pais noticed something similar in 1992. Working in Manchester, he realised that young people weren’t showing up to church but schools were full of them. So why not take the kingdom into schools? 25 years on, we have more than 20 teams of young adults throughout the nation going into schools on a daily basis, doing ministry and reaching young people, often in participation with great local churches and schools work organisations.
So when Martin Saunders says, in response to the recent Talking Jesus research released by Hope Together: “What if all those school assemblies and cultural mentions of Jesus haven’t gone un-noticed”, we hope he’s right and that they haven’t!
And we absolutely agree that we, the Church, need to “get out of our buildings and start meeting young people’s spiritual needs where they’re at, including school”. Including school and including McDonald’s.
But when we meet them, what do we do next? How do we engage with them? How do we help them move forward?
In Rachel Gardner’s response to the Talking Jesus research, she says: “I think it matters hugely that we have a Church-wide conversation about how we talk with teens about Jesus, because I’m not sure we’re doing it all that much.”
To this we shout yes! But let’s take it further. How do we engage young people in discipleship relationships where they can grow and be empowered to reach those around them as well?
Every year we at Pais hold a three-day conference called Swap, where delegates connect and inspire one another through thought-provoking conversations, exploring and exchanging ideas with others who together bring a wide range of knowledge and experience to the table. We focus specifically on mission, discipleship and Bible study and how we can improve our ministry with young people in order to serve them effectively.
As part of an international organisation of missionaries making missionaries, we encounter young people in schools, churches and communities throughout the nation. Our desire in ministry is not only to reach young people with the gospel message, but to raise them up as missionaries in their own schools and communities. We serve to reach young people for the kingdom, but we want to go further than simply introducing them to Jesus. We want them to grow, own their faith and be equipped to share it with their peers so that they can powerfully impact their generation.
How do we effectively do this? We have some ideas and we know you do too! So let’s talk about it! Come to Swap 2018 and join the Church-wide conversation with us and be inspired to improve what you do to help your young people live out their faith and advance the Kingdom in their communities.