Young people taking a lead in mission
The Talking Jesus research (www.talkingjesus.org.uk) found that one in six young people wants to know more, when a Christian friend talks to them about Jesus. In response, young people are being encouraged to pray for six friends, asking God for opportunities to talk about Jesus with them.
One girl from St Peter’s Church in the Cambridgeshire village of Yaxley near Peterborough is one of these young people. She is part of a HOPE Revolution Mission Academy Live group and has been praying for six of her friends and invited them to a Neon Glo Party, staged as part of the Mission Academy initiative.
Mission Academy Live is series of 10 innovative, video-based sessions. Each session provides teaching, with time for discussion and testimony in small groups. The focus is on peer to peer evangelism, all leading to a practical response that’s relevant to youth culture. As well as meeting as small groups in villages, towns and cities, the Mission Academy Live groups are encouraged to join a Regional Hub.
Regional Hubs are bringing Mission Academy Live groups together for large-scale evangelistic events in 2018. These events, like youth fun days, Neon Glo parties, a worship outreach service, or a celebration event, offer the opportunity to celebrate all that God has been doing through the small groups, whilst also providing a large-scale evangelistic event for the young people to invite their six friends.
The Peterborough Hub held a Neon Glo Party in March with music, dancing, and crazy activities, with a guest DJ, glow bar, inflatables, football cage, performances, games, an inspirational message and more. More than 500 young people attended and 167 young people responded to Jesus; of those 66 were first time decisions.
The girl from St Peter’s Church, Yaxley is part of a group led by Suzanne Delegate, from the church. Suzanne says, ‘Last October we went to the Soul Survivor evening at Kingsgate Church in Peterborough, where I heard about Mission Academy Live.’
She signed up and downloaded the 10 Mission Academy Live films. ‘I wanted to share them with our older group, ’ she says. ‘Unfortunately, most of them were doing exams. So I prayed really hard, as I knew that these films would be so good for our kids. I approached our vicar and suggested that I do a stand-alone, 10 week session, once a fortnight for our year 7-9s.’
Suzanne led the group with two other leaders. She was thrilled at the response: ‘The first session I had six young people around a kitchen table sharing hot chocolate and homemade cookies…. The feedback from the parents the following Sunday was amazing.’
One parent said that it wasn’t really something that would interest her daughter, but after the group she said: ‘I don’t know what Suzanne did … but whatever it was, she has captured the attention of my daughter. She couldn’t stop talking about the evening.’
Suzanne says, ‘I only showed the first film and talked about it. Thanks to Mission Academy I have captured the attention of seven young people.’
Pete Skivington, the youth and children’s pastor at Lighthouse Community Church in Sheringham, Norfolk, has also been using the Mission Academy Live videos. Small groups of three or four watch a video each week, discuss it and pray for their friends, asking God for opportunities to share faith with them.
‘The majority of them are needing confidence to talk about their faith,’ Pete says. ‘We have found it really beneficial. You can run it with just a handful of young people. They encourage each other and they are encouraged to know they are part of something bigger up and down the country.’
Roy Crowne, HOPE’s executive director, says, ‘Mission Academy Live is ideal for village churches. Three or four young people can watch the videos together and can pray for their friends. The Regional Hubs can organise larger events, which serve the local church by staging an event that individual congregations couldn’t manage.’
The HOPE Revolution Partnership includes the Church of England, Elim Pentecostal Churches, and eight Christian youth organisations. To find out more about Mission Academy Live, visit www.hopetogether.org.uk/HOPErev