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Faith, teamwork and prayer 

How a youth club, open to all, has grown numerically and spiritually. By Bob Morris

Bob Morris
 
Have you ever started or inherited something in youth and children’s ministry that you’ve felt is a bit like a runaway train? Welcome to FUSION, Cirencester Baptist Church’s open youth club which now regularly attracts 100 young people each week.

When I arrived in 2004 this small outreach youth club was running every other week and mainly attracted children in Year 6 at a local primary school because their teacher helped to run the club. As part of my interview process I was asked to do the “God Slot” (remember, this was 12 years ago) and 20 fresh faced youngsters were made to wait for the tuck shop to open until I’d finished. Twelve years on we’ve come a long way, faced some crazy issues and grown both numerically and spiritually.

This is not the story of hundreds of kids being saved and finding Jesus – we pray that this is still to come - but one of slow and steady growth showing the benefits of being in it for the long haul. It’s a story of faithfulness and loyalty of volunteers and of years of hard work and excellence paying off in so many different ways.

If we had a secret it’s “teamwork”. My definition of teamwork is to get people around me who are not like me. This means we have volunteers between the ages of 15 and 80 from all sorts of work backgrounds, from students to lawyers, financial advisers, salesmen, music industry moguls and the unemployed. We also have a variety of activities going on around the building each week. After all that’s what FUSION means – the coming together of many different things. Our 80 year old is the “tuck shop manager”. Brian used to trade all over the world when he was in business and getting paid for it. This has set him up nicely to fulfil his current role and if you want to know the price of a chocolate bar or J2o within a 30 mile radius of Cirencester then he is your man. Of course every child knows him because they all visit the tuck shop.

They all know my colleague Naomi too as she registers them each week while I patrol the streets making sure everyone gets in and out in a relatively orderly fashion without disturbing the neighbours too much. Our volunteers deserve so much credit as they turn up week in and week out to serve God by serving the youth of our town.

We run two sessions back to back each Thursday during term time. The first session unusually crosses the primary and secondary school sector and is for youth in years 6, 7 and 8 whilst the second session called FUSION+ is for those in Years 9, 10 and 11. Each group has a good number of adult volunteers who love being a part of the Fusion family and each wear a t shirt with our names on the front and our vision statement emblazed on the back “Sharing God’s Love”.

 


A story of slow and steady growth showing the benefits of being in it for the long haul


It’s important that each volunteer is able to share God’s love and we recognise that this might be different for each individual. At a recent retreat (which we have annually for a whole weekend) we came up with a list of about 20 ways we could share God’s love from a smile on the door to a nice welcome in the building to sharing your testimony or boosting a child’s self-esteem. All of these things are Godly things to do – it’s not just about talking all of the time.
All of our activities (pool, hockey, football, table tennis, craft, tuck shop and games consoles) give us the opportunity to get alongside and be Christ like. These things coupled with “Question of the week” which is posted on the walls help us to be able to engage with the young people that God sends our way.

All of this is backed by a team of 20 or so pray-ers who each receive a prayer sheet every month and weekly feedback to let them know what’s been going on. We wouldn’t want to do this without them and their prayers are key to our ministry. Because of their faithfulness in prayer, often for certain individuals, we have seen the atmosphere and environment change over the years and young people are becoming more receptive to the God that we are trying to share with them.

More recently we have run Alpha courses and follow up courses that have been tailor made to the needs of the young people. Showing short videos, eating pizza together and having interesting guest speakers who are able to share their lives with these youngsters have all served to help many young people with no or little church background realise that there is a journey of faith to make. One young person was heard to say recently “I think I am one step closer to being a Christian after hearing that guy’s story”. How good is that?

It’s been a long journey so far and one that the Fusion team are prepared to keep taking because they can see progress and the benefit of offering stability to young people who live in such an unstable world. In the early years it was tough but as we grew together and went through various circumstances together the unity came and we began to be more committed to prayer, to one another and to excellence in youth ministry. Now we have one of the biggest youth clubs in the Cotswolds and everyone knows what we are trying to achieve. The good favour built up across the town among parents and schools is tangible, and our relationship in the local community is a positive one. We have been hampered by lack of space in our current building but by early 2017 our new building will be ready: we hope to be able to expand activities there and especially make space for those who want to hang around with us once they’ve left school and Fusion+. Our vision is for “Fusion Infinity” to take off!

Faith, teamwork and prayer – this is what it boils down to.  If we continue to demonstrate these things then we will continue to see God at work.
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living”   Psalm 27 v 13

 

 
Bob Morris is the Youth and Children’s Pastor at Cirencester Baptist Church


This article appears in the Autumn 2016 edition of Baptists Together magazine


What's worked at your youth club? Please share below!



 

 

Baptists Together, 09/09/2016
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